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HOME > Short Stories > Sue, A Little Heroine > CHAPTER XV. CONCENTRATION OF PURPOSE.
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 While these dreadful things were happening to Connie, Sue rose with the dawn, rubbed her sleepy eyes until they opened broad and wide, and went with all youthful vigor and goodwill about her daily tasks.  
First she had to light the fire and prepare Giles's breakfast; then to eat her own and tidy up the room; then, having kissed Giles, who still slept, and left all in readiness for him when he awoke, she started for her long walk from Westminster to St. Paul's Churchyard. She must be at her place of employment by eight o'clock, and Sue was never known to be late. With her bright face, smooth, well-kept hair, and neat clothes, she made a pleasing contrast to most of the girls who worked at Messrs. Cheadle's cheap sewing.
Sue possessed in her character two elements of success in life. She had directness of aim and concentration of purpose.
No one thought the little workgirl's aims very high; no one ever paused to consider her purpose either high or noble; but Sue swerved not from aim or purpose, either to the right hand or to the left.
She was the bread-winner in the small family. That was her present manifest duty. And some day she would take Giles away to live in the country. That was her ambition. Every thought she had to spare from her machine-work and her many heavy duties went to this far-off, grand result. At night she pictured it; as she walked to and from her place of work she dwelt upon it.
Some day she and Giles would have a cottage in the country together. Very vague were Sue's ideas of what country life was like. She had never once been in the country; she had never seen green fields, nor smelt, as they grow fresh in the hedges, wild flowers. She imagined that flowers grew either in bunches, as they were sold in Convent Garden, or singly in pots. It never entered into her wildest dreams that the ground could be carpeted with the soft sheen of bluebells or the summer snow of wood anemones, or that the hedge banks could hold great clusters of starry primroses. No, Sue had never seen the place where she and Giles would live together when they were old. She pictured it like the town, only clean—very clean—with the possibility of procuring eggs really fresh and milk really pure, and of perhaps now and then getting a bunch of flowers for Giles without spending many pence on them.
People would have called it a poor dream, for Sue had no knowledge to guide her, and absolutely no imagination to fill in details; but, all the same, it was golden in its influence on the young girl, imparting resolution to her face and purpose70 to her eyes, and encircling her round, in her young and defenseless womanhood, as a guardian angel spreading his wings about her.
She walked along to-day brightly as usual. The day was a cold one, but Sue was in good spirits.
She was in good time at her place, and sat down instantly to her work.
A girl sat by her side. Her name was Mary Jones. She was a weakly girl, who coughed long and often as she worked.
"I must soon give up, Sue," she panted between slight pauses in her work. "This 'ere big machine seems to tear me hall to bits, like; and then I gets so hot, and when we is turned out in the middle o' the day the cold seems to strike so dreadful bitter yere;" and she pressed her hand to her sunken chest.
"'Tis goin' to snow, too, sure as sure, to-day," answered Sue. "Don't you think as you could jest keep back to-day, Mary Jones? Maybe you mightn't be seen, and I'd try hard to fetch you in something hot when we comes back."
"Ye're real good, and I'll just mak' shift to stay in," replied Mary Jones. But then the manager came round, and the girls could say no more for the present.
At twelve o'clock, be the weather what it might, all had to turn out for half an hour. This, which seemed a hardship, was absolutely necessary for the proper ventilation of the room; but the delicate girls felt the hardship terribly, and as many of them could not afford to go to a restaurant, there was nothing for them but to wander about the streets. At the hour of release to-day it still snowed fast, but Sue with considerable cleverness, had managed to hide Mary Jones in the warm room, and now ran fast through the blinding and bitter cold to see where she could get something hot and nourishing to bring back to her. Her own dinner, consisting of a hunch of dry bread and dripping, could be eaten in the pauses of her work. Her object now was to provide for the sick girl.
She ran fast, for she knew a shop where delicious penny pies were to be had, and it was quite possible to demolish penny pies unnoticed in the large workroom. The shop, however, in question was some way off, and Sue had no time to spare. She had nearly reached it, and had already in imagination clasped the warm pies in her cold hands, when, suddenly turning a corner, she came face to face with Harris. Harris was walking along moodily, apparently lost in thought. When he saw Sue, however, he started, and took hold of her arm roughly.
"Sue," he said, "does you know as Connie came back last night?"
"Connie?" cried Sue. Her face turned pale and then red again in eagerness. "Then God 'ave heard our prayers!" she exclaimed with great fervor. "Oh! won't my little Giles be glad?"71
"You listen to the end," said the man. He still kept his hand on her shoulder, not caring whether it hurt her or not.
"She come back, my purty, purty little gel, but I 'ad tuk too much, and I were rough on her and I bid her be gone, and she went. She went to Father John; 'e were kind to her, and 'e were taking her to you, w'en some willain—I don't know 'oo—caught her by the arm and pulled her down a dark alley, and she ain't been seen since. Wottever is to be done? I'm near mad about her—my pore little gel. And to think that I—I should ha' turned her aw'y!"
Sue listened with great consternation to this terrible tale. She forgot all about poor Mary Jones and the penny pie which she hoped to smuggle into the workroom for her dinner. She forgot everything in all the world but the fact that Connie had come and gone again, and that Peter Harris was full of the most awful despair and agony about her.
"I'm fit to die o' grief," said the man. "I dunno wot to do. The perlice is lookin' for her 'igh an' low, and—— Oh Sue, I am near off my 'ead!"
Sue thought for a minute.
"Is Father John looking for her too?" she said.
"W'y, yus—of course he be. I'm to meet the perlice again this afternoon, an' we'll—we'll make a rare fuss."
"Yer'll find her, in course," said Sue. "W'y, there ain't a doubt," she continued.
"Wot do yer mean by that?"
"There couldn't be a doubt," continued the girl; "for God, who brought her back to us all, 'ull help yer if yer ax 'Im."
"Do yer believe that, Sue?"
"Sartin sure I do—I couldn't live if I didn't."
"You're a queer un," said Harris, he felt a strange sort of comfort in the rough little girl's presence. It seemed to him in a sort of fashion that there was truth in her words. She was very wise—wiser than most. He had always respected her.
"You're a queer, sensible gel," he said then—"not like most. I am inclined to believe yer. I'm gla............
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