Live and Let Live/Chapter XXII
We feel sure of pleasing all but our very young readers, who always want a little more even of a dull story, by abruptly concluding our book with a letter from Lucy to her mother, written four years subsequent to Adéle's expulsion from Mr. Hartell's.
- Dear Mother,
"After deliberating and advising with Mrs. Hyde, who has been like the kindest of mothers to us, we have come to a decision which only waits for your approbation. The bakery is sold to Mr. Werner, a German, who, when a stranger and quite destitute, came to the Lovetts, as it seemed, accidentally. Werner was honest and industrious; he understood the business thoroughly, and introduced some improvements. For the last two years he has been a partner, and now he has bought out Charles. His two sisters and their old parents arrived a few weeks since, and a happier family I never saw. How strange that such a train of consequences should come from Werner just coming in to breakfast with us one morning at Mr. Lovett's. This is what Mrs. Hyde says we should call providential. Our Father in heaven provides the opportunity for doing good, and his faithful children improve it. But to our own affairs: it is not five years since Mr. Lovett went to Ohio, and there are already four thousand inhabitants in the village. The people, he says, are very anxious to have the bakery going; the bakehouse is built on the lot Mr. Lovett set off to Charles for his services when he was apprentice to him. Our house is nearly done, and large enough for us all. The ladies in the village will have plenty of work for the girls' millinery and dressmaking establishment, and dear Jemmie will keep Charles's books, and all of us will be in a way to earn an honourable living; all but you, dear mother; the remainder of your life must be rest. You shall be our queen-bee, and we will be your workers. Mrs. Hyde wishes you to consent to the wedding being here; she says it will save time (as we must return here on our way to Pittsburgh) and save the expense of a journey to Massachusetts. Charles likes this plan, and I want you to know our family before I leave it. Mrs. Hyde says she will provide lodgings for you all at a boarding-house near to us. Is not this most kind? Oh, mother, you will like her so much! She has such beautiful manners, not only in the drawing-room and to ladies, but to all, down to the man that sweeps off the flagging, and the poor that beg at her door. She truly seems to see the image of God in every human creature; it makes people civil to speak to her; her manners inspire them with self-respect She never lowers herself, but raises them. If some people looked as differently as they act to those above and those below them, they would sometimes appear like the "loathly ladie" in the ballad.
"How very kind of you, dear mother, to offer fifty dollars from your little pittance towards furnishing our house; but, indeed, I have no occasion for it. You remember my declining Mr. Hartell's gift at the time of that horrid affair of Adéle's; you and I both felt, and so did Charles, as if there was something discouraging and degrading to servants in paying their heart-service as well as their body-service. But Mr. Hartell could not take this view of it, so he gave Mr. Hyde one hundred dollars in trust for me, to be paid on my coming of age or at my marriage. I wonder he should have thought that could take place before I was twenty-one; but I believe he suspected, even then, that Charles and I had thoughts of one another. Well, out of the one hundred Mr. Hyde has made two, which, with my savings, is quite enough to furnish our house with comforts. Perhaps you will be surprised to know that I have saved anything more than I have sent to Jemmie. You first, dear mother, taught me to be content with a little, and that the best quality in dress is its adaptation to the wearer. When I came to live with Mrs. Hyde, she gave me an account-book, in which I set down every penny I earned and spent. She purchases her cotton and flannel at wholesale, and gives it to us at the same price; and if she or the family make us presents, it is not of their old clothes, which would not be serviceable for us, but some good article a little better than we should buy, a fur cape, an umbrella, or parasol. In all respects Mrs. Hyde has been a mother to me. She has qualified me to take charge of a family of my own, so that, with the blessing of God, I hope to perform my part well, and to contribute to Charles's prosperity as well as his happiness. Oh, mother, what a happy world this would be if there were plenty such as you and Mrs. Hyde—if the rich and the poor, in their respective stations, felt and acted right. How foolish and wicked are those who try to set one against the other; when, by being friends, and acting in agreement, so much good could be done, so much happiness gained. It seems to me as if it were necessary there should be rich and poor, to make all those seeds of virtue which God has planted—in our hearts spring up and grow. If Mrs. Hyde was not rich, how could she manifest such humility and self-denial, such wise generosity and such wise economy? and, dear mother, had you not been poor, very poor, could you have given us an example of such gentleness, long-suffering, patience, and self-reliance? Some think the rich can only be generous in giving; what a mistake! Mrs. Hyde does not give the half that Mrs. Ardley does in presents or in charity, but she gives her time, she imparts her knowledge, she infuses her spirit, and oh! none but those who live with her know how faithfully she tries to lay the foundation of religion. To do all this, she must, it is true, have other riches than the poor riches of money. I have done; if I were to write for ever, I could not tell what a blessing I esteem it to serve in the humblest place in such family as this.
"Charles sends much love. Mother, are not words very poor to express our strongest feelings? I seem always to be struck dumb when my heart is fullest, and now, when the time has come when I may suitably tell you how dearly I love Charles, how truly I have loved him ever since the cold morning he left us the loaf of bread, it seems as if the words I use every day, and in relation to other persons, were not strong enough to express a feeling so much stronger than any other.
"Don't read this to Jemmie—the love I feel for him is not any less because I love Charles more—but he might think it so. You won't think so, mother, for every woman knows that there is one love that masters all others—God has ordained it, and how can we help it?
"Here is Charles looking over my shoulder, and singing 'Haste to the wedding.' Answer our request by coming next Tuesday, dear mother, with Jemmie and the girls, and believe me
- "Your affectionate child,
- "Lucy Lee.
- "Your affectionate child,
"P.S. I forgot to mention that Mr. Hartell is married again. I felt sorry when I heard the children were going to have a stepmother—it seemed too much after having such a poor mother—but Mrs. Hyde knows the new lady, and she says it is one of the rare cases where the second mother will be a great deal better than the first. Dear little Eugene is as fond of me as ever. His father has never failed to send him to see me once a month, and yesterday he gave me, with his own dear little hand, a dozen silver teaspoons. How very thoughtful of Mr. Hartell! and the little fellow seemed to take as much delight in it as if it were his own thought. Mother, how can people complain so much of ingratitude? Every kindness I have ever done has been returned fourfold. Even poor Adéle came not long since to thank me, as she said, for my mercy to her—poor thing, she looks as if she were in great misery."