Page:Life of Octavia Hill as told in her letters.djvu/107

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III
87
VISIT FROM FORMER TOY-WORKER

what she thinks. There is not one-half the feeling about equality in classes in any of the others, notwithstanding all their talk, that there is in her, with her free, independent spirit. Twice, and twice only, have I seen it broken, and then but for a short time; once because she came late and I ordered her to leave work. Her mother it seems would not let her come without breakfast; her father had been out all night drinking, and had not returned with the money. And again when she heard she was to leave, she cried as though her little strong heart would break;—still, unlike the others, not complaining, but passionately. When the last day of work came, and the others were all miserable, she was laughing, calling it the day of judgment, and hopping about like a little spirit of evil. And, when the last moment came, she only made a bow, and said good-bye like a little cockatoo, and left us. Left us; and went where no mother's love was strong enough to call forth love which ought to direct that strong will, and mighty energy,—to Clerkenwell, where no gleam of beauty should gladden, and so soften, her little heart; where the angel face, that I have seen smile forth from below wreaths of flowers instinctively arranged, and most beautifully so, should cease to be beautiful because children's faces are often like deep water, reflecting only the images of what they see. The strength of her nature will not leave her; but to what will it be applied? who will direct the strong will? who will cultivate the latent powers? who will call forth the spirit of love?

I have written more than I intended, I only meant to let you know we had seen Elizabeth as you seemed to take an interest in her. She is coming to me on Thursday at Devonshire Street.