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HOME > Short Stories > The Children's Pilgrimage > CHAPTER XIV. WHAT JANE PARSONS KNEW.
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 When, a couple of hours later, Maurice, very tired and fagged after his long day's ramble, came upstairs, followed by Toby, and thrust into Cecile's hand a great hunch of seed-cake, she pushed it away, and said in an earnest, impressive whisper:  
"Oh, why?" asked Maurice; "you have been away all the whole day, Cecile; and Toby and me had no one to talk to, and now when I had such a lot to tell you, you say 'Hush' Why do you say 'Hush' Cecile?"
"Oh, Maurice! don't talk, darling, 'tis because Lord Jesus the guide is in the room, and I think He must be asleep, for I have prayed a lot to Him, and He has not answered. Don't let's disturb Him, Maurice; a guide must be so tired when he drops asleep."
"Where is He?" asked Maurice; "may I light a candle and look for Him?"
"No, no, you mustn't; He only comes to people in the dark, so Jane says. You lie down and shut your eyes."
"If you don't want your cake, may I eat it then?"
"Yes, you may eat it. And, Toby, come into my arms, dear dog."
Maurice was soon in that pleasant land of a little child's dreams, and Toby, full of most earnest sympathy, was petting and soothing Cecile in dog fashion.
Meanwhile, Jane Parsons downstairs was not idle.
Cecile's story, told after Cecile's fashion, had fired her honest heart with such sympathy and indignation that she was ready both to dare and suffer in her cause.
Jane Parsons had been brought up at Warren's Grove from the time she was a little child. Her mother had been cook before her, and when her mother got too old, Jane, as a matter of course, stepped into her shoes. Active, honest, quiet, and sober, she was a valuable servant. She was essentially a good girl, guided by principle and religion in all she did.
Jane had never known any other home but Warren's Grove, and long as Lydia Purcell had been there, Jane was there as long.
Now she was prepared—prepared, if necessary—to give up her home. She meant, as I said, to run a risk, for it never even occurred to her not to help Cecile in her need. Let Lydia Purcell quietly pocket that money—that money that had been saved and hoarded for a purpose, and for such a purpose! Let Lydia spend the money that had, as Jane expressed it, a vow over it! Not if her sharp wits could prevent it.
She thought over her plan as she bustled about and prepared the supper. Very glum she looked as she stepped quickly here and there, so much so that the dairymaid and the errand-boy chaffed her for her dull demeanor.
Jane, however, hasty enough on most occasions, was too busy now with her own thoughts either to heed or answer them.
Well she knew Lydia Purcell, equally well she knew that to tell Cecile's tale would be useless. Lydia cared for neither kith nor kin, and she loved money beyond even her own soul.
But Jane, a clever child once, a clever woman now, had not been unobservant of some things in Lydia's past, some things that Lydia supposed to be buried in the grave of her own heart. A kind-hearted girl, Jane had never used this knowledge. But now knowledge was power. She would use it in Cecile's behalf.
Ever since the finding of the purse, Lydia had been alone.
In real or pretended indignation, she had left Cecile to get out of her faint as best she could. For six or seven hours she had now been literally without a soul to speak to. She was not, therefore, indisposed to chat with Jane—who was a favorite with her—when that handmaid brought in a carefully prepared little supper, and laid it by her side.
"That's a very shocking occurrence, Jane," she began.
"Eh?" said Jane.
"Why, that about the purse. Who would have thought of a young child being so depraved? Of course the story is quite clear. Cecile poking about, as children will, found the purse; but, unlike a child, hid it, and meant to keep it. Well, to think that all this time I have been harboring, and sheltering, and feeding, and all without a sixpence to repay myself, a young thief! But wait till I tell Mr. Preston. See how long he'll keep those children out of the workhouse after this! Oh! no wonder the hardened little thing was in a state of mind when I went to search the attics!"
"Heaven give me patience!" muttered Jane to herself. Aloud she said, "And who, do you think, the money belongs to, ma'am?"
"I make no doubt whose it is, Jane," said Lydia Purcell quietly and steadily. "............
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