THURSDAY morning of what Percy called the “Irish week”:
At breakfast Mrs. Murray said, “You may come down into the town with me directly after breakfast, Bruey. . .it is too hot to start after your lessons.”
On the way, they stopped at the butcher’s. Bruey spoke to Mrs. Howcutt [the butcher’s wife] about the Irish work, asking for only a sixpence. Her mother announced she was going on to Chilton, the draper and Bruey stayed behind to tell the Howcutts about the sixpences and how the poor Irish people could not read the Bible, had no Bibles to read if they could, and there was no one to teach them.
“That’s very good, miss,” said Mr. Howcutt, who had come close to the open door and overheard the appeal. Bruey told him about the preacher.
“Yes, wife and I read that in the paper about him, and I’d a good mind to have gone, but we could not make it convenient.” [After further conversation] Mr. and Mrs. Howcutt figured on the card for sixpence each.
Mrs. Murray had not finished her purchases at Chilton’s, so Bruey went to show her card to Mr. Bainbrigge, the grocer. Another sixpence was the result.
The shop between them was a pastrycook’s; the door was open, and the mistress herself behind the counter. But this time it was a determined refusal.
Bruey found her mamma. Mr. Chilton himself had come forward to speak to Mrs. Murray. He bowed to Bruey and set a chair for her, drawing back while she eagerly showed her card: “Another sixpence, Mamma! It is getting on beautifully. . .can you think of anyone else I could ask while you are here?” Mr. Chilton stepped forward. “Will Miss Murray allow me to see her card?” he said, with the greatest politeness. He had heard her speak of sixpences and threepences. “If Miss Murray would accept such a small contribution as one shilling, I should be most happy,” he said. Miss Murray was “most happy” to receive it, whatever Mr. Chilton might feel in giving it, and she was more than very glad she had come out shopping with her mamma.
One or two more sixpences had been picked up by the time they reached Miss Benson’s [the dressmaker’s] and another before they left her.
The sun was very powerful as they returned home up the hill, and Bruey flagged a little.
A few days later, Bruey decided to write her Uncle Joseph about her work:
“8 CALTON TERRACE,
“DEAREST UNCLE JOSEPH: I send you a
collecting-card which I am trying to fill for the
Irish society. Mamma says she will post you
a newspaper which will tell you some interesting
things about it. Please to read the “Facts” on
the cover of the card. And if you would send
me a few stamps, I should be so much obliged.
Percy was so good; he collected for me from
some of his schoolfellows. He sends his love,
and so does mamma, and so does your very
“P. S. Please give my love to Aunt Joseph,
and to Jessie, and Allan, and Mary. Perhaps
they would send me two stamps apiece;
please ask them.”
After tea that evening, she called on the remaining houses in Calton Terrace. The next week the card had not only come back from Uncle Joseph’s with four names upon it–sum total 2s. 6d.–but it had made a journey to London and back, to her dear grandmother, and a whole half-crown in stamps came with the one name.
So now, when Thursday morning’s post brought the grandmother’s half-crown, the whole card was full. Actually thirty names! Her first visions had never reached more than half that number.
And yet there were further possibilities in more than one direction.
Never was her hat put on with greater pleasure than when, lessons being over, she was to go to No. 16 with the results of ten days’ work. And if anything could have made her happier still, it was poor Miss Allison’s warmly-expressed surprise and pleasure as she read the list of names and initials:
“I did not expect any one would get so many names as this, even if they might perhaps bring me more money. So I think I shall like your card best of all, because there is the most work in it. Was it very hard work, dear Bruey?
“Sometimes. It is not nice asking; but when you get something, it makes up for it.”
Bruey [remembered] that strong promise which came so sweet into her mind in the hot morning when she had tried three houses running and got nothing [and how it] made up for it. And the happiness of the thought, “For Him!” and of the thanksgiving and prayer which grew out of it, had been more than enough to make up for it, had been more than enough to make up for a dozen flat refusals. Miss Allison was so pleased and offered Bruey another card as the sums were not due for eight months yet to come. Bruey wanted to get forty names. She could not have been expected to endure an empty card very long.
Upon returning home, she asked for permission to visit yet another section of the town, with Percy escorting her for safety. Westwell Hill was not far and everyone there had carriages and footmen. Mrs. Murray laughed. “If you are prepared to come back without a halfpenny, you may go, but you had better not expect much there. . .”
Bruey was disappointed in her findings in this section of the town. People were busy or away from home or engaged in other activities “which could not be interrupted.” Although the footmen were courteous enough, they were sorry to return her card wthout any answer and that did not imrove the impression against Westwell Hill. For those who lived in grand houses like these could give if they liked. And if they did not like, so much the worse for them.
She did, however, come upon Mr. and Mrs. Courthope, who with a delicate inquiry, managed to bring out who she was and where she came from, and how she came to be a collector. Thereupon, Mr. Courthope addressed Burey, who was quite mystified as to what could be coming, and told her that he and Mrs. Courthope had been at the Irish meeting, and had felt inclined to become subscribers, that no one had called for any subscriptions and that they had thought of sending a contribution to the society’s house in Dublin; but as a little collector had called they would be glad to make her the channel of the subscription. And a sovereign and a shilling were laid upon the table before Bruey’s astonished eyes. A guinea for her card! Was that possible?
There was one last house, Mrs. Fitzgerald where Bruey wished to call. There was much talking and excuses about the outgo of income in the old woman’s house. In vain she tried to move the old lady’s pity with further representation of the spiritual needs of the poor Irish. It was hopeless altogether, so Bruey rose.
As the door was opened by the maid, behind Bruey’s back, a large white dog bounced upon her without any warning; and as the asault was from behind, she could not see whether it was in play or in earnest–in fact, she did not see the dog at all till its sudden irruption nearly knocked her down. She was not at all afraid of dogs in general, but she was startled and frightened.
“Down, Lily!” said the maid. “She will not hurt you, miss; it’s only her play.”
Bruey tried to be calm, though she could not help trembling. Her dress was torn and the maid stooped low to examine the damage; she felt Bruey’s hand heavy on her shoulder, and saw something was wrong. Burey felt very queer; her heart began to thump violently, and she thought she must have fallen down but the maid supported her and put her on the nearest sofa. She closed her eyes and felt too ill, though relieved by lying down, to notice much of what happened the next few minutes. They tried smelling salts to help Bruey. They wondered if she was dying. They gave her a glass of water.
“It’s only–I don’t know–my heart beats so, said she, closing her eyes again.
“It’s palpitations, ma’am, from the fright,” said one of the servants. In a little while the palpitations grew less, and after a long quarter of an hour, the little heart was tolerably quiet, though the pulse still fluttered.
One of the servants walked Bruey safely the short distance home.
Her mother had been expecting her for some time, but it was not late enough to cause anxiety. She was far more distressed than she allowed Bruey to see when she learned what had passed. She hoped the delicacy and weakness about the heart were being outgrown; and though there was nothing dangerous in such an attack in itself, it was in indication that care and watchfulness were still needed. Her heart was heavy when she tucked Bruey safely into bed and Mrs. Murray sat down by the window in the twilight to think it over.
Frances Ridley Havergal from BRUEY: A LITTLE WORKER FOR CHRIST