Page:Life of Octavia Hill as told in her letters.djvu/100

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CHAPTER III


APRIL, 1856—DECEMBER, 1858


The appointment mentioned in the last letter of the previous chapter must have been surprising to some of those interested in the classes. It was certainly a most responsible position for a girl not much over seventeen. Not only had Octavia to superintend the business arrangements of the classes, but also to advise the women attending as to the subjects that would be most useful to them. And she was even expected to step into the place of any teacher who happened to be absent from her class. This was a sufficiently trying demand, even when the class dealt with subjects with which she was tolerably well acquainted; but on one occasion, at any rate, she found herself required to teach botany; and, us she explained to her sister Gertrude, “I knew nothing of botany, but a great deal about flowers; and as there happened to be a bunch of flowers in the room, I talked to the women about them, and I do not think the time was wasted.” When the Ladies’ Guild was broken up the toy work was continued by Mr. Neale for a time, in a room at Devonshire Street, which, being near the working women’s classes, was convenient for Octavia. She and her mother and sisters were in lodgings at Francis Street, and then moved back to 4, Russell Place, which was let out in furnished apartments, after the Guild left.

In 1857 a scholarship at Queen’s College, Harley Street, was founded in honour of Mr. Maurice, who was given the choice of the first scholar, in recognition of the time and money that he had devoted to the College. He knew that Emily was very anxious to become a teacher; and he offered the scholarship to

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