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Page 59 text:
L 'i feffrer, XR
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HE day was cold and rainy, and the people passing were wet and bedrag-
gled. But the little dressmaker stitching away in the third story of the
poor tenement building didn't have time to take any notice of the dis-
piriting weather, and bestowed only a casual glance, now and then, at the passers-
by. Mrs. Lawrence was to send for the dress at eight o'clock and it wasn't
nearly finished, and the light from the one window was getting dimmer and dim-
mer. Miss Ellis always waited to light her smoky kerosene lamp as long
as possible-partly because it was smoky, and partly because even kerosene must
be saved, and made to go as far as possible.
Her thoughts were keeping time with the needle which was fiying busily
in and out. Oh, if she could only finish the dress, then perhaps the wealthy, and
rather kind-hearted if somewhat hard to please, Mrs. Lawrence would send her
to the School of Designing. It was there that she had dreamed of going, and
thought of as a vague, delightful impossibility. The wealthy woman had sug-
gested sending her, when she came and brought the dazzling evening dress for
the girl to alter, and had even hinted that after Miss Ellis had been to school she
would engage her to make all her clothes. Because, as she said, her regular dress-
maker was getting more and more careless and indifferent as to whether she
pleased or not-as, indeed, the badly fitting evening gown testified.
By sewing steadily until eight o'clock she could finish the gown and Mrs.
Lawrence would wear it to the dinner, as she intended to do. But there would
not be time even for the usual cup of tea and baker's roll. lt was almost six
o'clock then. So, after lighting the lamp, the little dressmaker sat down, and
with every nerve tense began the race which meant so much to her. She crowded
the possibility of failure out of her mind, and thought only of the success which
she felt sure of obtaining, if only she could go to the school and learn new styles
and modern ideas about dressmaking. Then there would be the chance of mov-
ing from the tenement and setting up a small establishment of her own. Indeed,
it would be hard to leave her neighbors in the tenement-Mrs. Brown and Mrs.
Finnegan-who had been kind to her.
VVith the thought of Mrs. Brown her heart almost stopped beating. Oh,
oh, she thought, I promised to go and sit with her at a quarter past six, and it is
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Page 60 text:
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If only she had known about the dress yesterday, and it had been arranged
for Mrs. Brown to stayg but surely he had already gone to his work. She knew
that he went on duty at six o'clock. XVhy should she, Mattie Ellis, give up her
one hope of obtaining the dream of her life for Mrs. Brown, a woman she had
not seen-3 year ago? It was absurd! Ill as she was, she probably wouldn't die
if left alone a few hours, anyway. It seemed such a little thing to turn aside the
ambition of her life-just a dress to be finished for a woman whom she knew
would never understand conditions which would force a girl to give up her chance
of promotion to care for a sick neighbor.
Suppose Mrs. Brown should miss her medicine several hours and die?
Could she ever enjoy her prosperity, feeling that she had refused to save a hu-
man life, merely for the sake of her own selfish interests? No, it would never do.
She saw it all clearly now, and with a sob half choked back, she got up briskly
and resolutely and went to Mrs. Brown's, after having written a note for Mrs.
Lawrence. Mrs. Finnegan was impatient, and hastened awaykstopping only
long enough to give directions about Mrs. Brown's heart stimulant, and to say
that her heart had been acting rather queerly of late. There was nothing to do
for the sick woman, except to watch for signs of any change, and the little dress-
maker found it hard to put the idea of an independent establishment out of her
mind. The thought kept crowding in with all its charm.
Eight o'clock came and went, and she knew that Mrs. Lawrence's maid
had probably come for the dress and gone away with the note explaining, why
it could not be finished. The tears were refusing to be kept back, when she no-
ticed that the sick woman was breathing heavily and that her lips were blue. She
hastened to give the medicine from the little brown bottle, and sat down anx-
iously to await the result. The lips were becoming less blue and the breathing
less labored when Mrs. Finnegan returned, and told her that Mrs. Brown had
looked just that way when she was recovering from an attack in the afternoon.
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