Page:Life of Octavia Hill as told in her letters.djvu/214

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192
chap.
LIFE OF OCTAVIA HILL

help to her in carrying out the repairs of the houses, and training unskilled men, whom she wished to employ.

The rest of the development of this period may be gathered from the letters. There is one to Mrs. Shaen, dwelling on her difficulties with the playground ; and at first they were very great. When the ground was being enclosed, the wall was twice pulled down. And, when Octavia and Emily went into the court, they were pelted. At the time of the opening, to which I and my father went, we were warned by a policeman that the court was too bad for us to go down. How great a change was wrought the following letters will show.

14, Nottingham Place, W.
December 13th, 1860.

Emily to Miranda.

We came here on Saturday ; and very delighted we are with our new quarters. Poor Ockey had such difficulty about getting the house, because of being a lady without property, and so young ; they thought it mere speculation. Mr. Maurice and Ruskin, who were her references, were so kind about it. Ruskin saw the landlord at the College about it ; and Ockey received a letter to the effect that Mr. Ruskin had borne testimony to her " energy and every estimable quality," and, if he and Mr. Maurice would, without giving a formal guarantee, say as much in writing as that they believed Ockey capable of managing the affair, it would be sufficient. These letters were written ; but, before they were both received, Miss Wodehouse had given a formal guarantee ; and 0. , to her delight, found that Mr. Shaen had arranged the matter. Was it not nice of Miss Wodehouse ? She heard from Miss J. B. of the difficulty, and said that she had perfect confidence in 0. and perfect confidence in the plan ; and she would give the

guarantee in a minute. . . . We did not know till nine