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   Chapter 33 No.33

A Girl of the People By L. T. Meade Characters: 4273

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03

The dread of corporal punishment, the dire sensation of fear, is about the only weapon which produces salutary results on certain individuals. They belong to the lowest of the race, but they undoubtedly do exist, and it is well to know how to deal with them. The Irish people in Paradise Row obtained from Isaac Dent what no amount of prayers and supplications would have won from him. Miss Vallence, when she arrived, took down from his lips a full and free confession of the evil part he had played. This paper was duly signed and attested, and the prisoner was given his liberty and an hour's grace. That he made good use of this hour is apparent; for no one has heard or Been anything of him in Liverpool again. The Irish folks were intensely triumphant; and Mother Bunch, in high good humor, invited every one of the conspirators to a banquet at her house on the day on which Will was let out of prison.

"And now to find Bet, and to see how the little cap'n is getting on," said Hester. "I'll run up and take a look at him now, Mother Bunch. I hope Biddy has not stirred from him during the evening."

"No fear of that, child," responded Mother Bunch, but in reality there was much fear; for the recreant Biddy, Mrs. O'Flaherty's eldest daughter, had been enjoying herself in a back part of the kitchen during the entire evening's entertainment. She slunk away now, afraid to meet her mother's wrath, should it descend upon her devoted head. Hester, accompanied by Miss Vallence, went upstairs.

"It's all very well," she said. "We ha' got rid of Isaac Dent, and poor Will is cleared. But where's Bet! It'll be a sad day for my lad when he gets his liberty, and can't get no tidings of the gel he have given his heart to."

"Oh, we must find her, and we will," said Miss Vallence. "God has helped us-we must not begin to doubt Him now."

Hester stared at her companion.

"I believe in Lord God Almighty," she then said in a solemn tone. "After to-night, I believe in God."

As she said this she stepped into the attic.

"Miss Vallence!" she said, with a glad cry. "Oh, Miss Vallence-come here!"

Hand in hand the

two girls approached Bet's humble little bed. A child lay there in a light and refreshing sleep; his head rested on a girl's breast, and her right arm was thrown protectingly over him. The girl, too, slept, and her disordered red-gold hair half covered her face.

In such a manner, therefore, this short history comes to an end. For the captain got well again, and the general was discovered to have found a home for himself in the shelter for children provided by the society for the prevention of cruelty to these defenceless and helpless little beings. Granger thought it best to leave Liverpool, and as soon as possible Will regained his liberty.

Yet again there came the eve of a wedding-day; and on this occasion the day itself dawned brightly and ended in happiness.

These things happened a few years ago, and Bet is a matron now, with golden-haired and beautiful children of her own. She is a grave-looking woman, and in some ways she will carry the sting of that two months' agony to her death. She is religious too; but she says little about her belief, she only acts on it. The sailor Will has the best home in Liverpool, and those who are in trouble have a way of coming to Bet for help and counsel. No one would recognize this sober and yet beautiful sailor's wife for the wild, impetuous, headstrong girl who had vainly made a promise by her mother's death-bed. She has made a promise now, however, which she is not likely to break; and Will says proudly that no one ever had such a wife as his Bet.

Hester was always a Bohemian, and will doubtless remain so to the end. She still sings to the children, and the old people, and the sorrowful. She won't sell her gift; therefore she is likely to remain in so-called poverty for the remainder of her days. In reality, however, she is rich; for a crown of love rests on her brow, and warms her heart.

"I'd rayther," she says now and then, in close confidence, to Bet-"I'd rayther be just what I am-a singer of the slums-than be the greatest lady in the land."

This statement may be difficult to believe, but in Hester's case it is literally true.


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