Page:Life of Octavia Hill as told in her letters.djvu/36

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16
chap.
LIFE OF OCTAVIA HILL

brought her in 1852 under the influence of my father, Rev. F. D. Maurice. She and Emily attended the daily morning service; and, after a time, my father used often to let them walk back with him, and he would answer many of Octavia's difficulties about religious and social questions. On one occasion she asked him if it would not be very nice if one could get rid of all responsibility. He laughed and said it would indeed be very comfortable. But that she did not shirk responsibility is shown by the following incident. It was in the early days of the Guild, when Octavia was only about fourteen, that she was alone in the house with the exception of Mrs. Horne,[1] who was at the top of the house. It was Sunday; and everyone else had gone to Church. On coming out of a second-floor room she saw a man standing near the door of a large cupboard, in which she supposed he must have hidden. "How did you come up here?" she asked. "I came up the stairs," replied the man. "Then you will please to walk down again," said Octavia in a quiet tone. He obeyed her, and she walked behind him down three long flights of stairs, and saw him out at the front door. Her sense of responsibility was the greater because some money, belonging to the Guild, had been paid late on Saturday and was in the office.

After the Guild had been carried on for some time, Mr. Neale was asked to take over a new kind of work, which a lady had started in order to employ some Ragged School children. This was the making of a special kind of toy which she had invented; and Mr. Neale appointed Octavia head of the work-room. The following account is given by my wife and her sister Miranda. The management of the toy-making helped to "develop Octavia's business faculties. She had to pass the children's work, which was paid by the piece, to assign the various processes to each child, to choose the shapes and colours of the toy furniture, to price it, and to see that, when the suites were finished, they were neatly packed in boxes and sent over to the show room, where the ladies' glass work was also exhibited. From time to time she had to take stock, and to see if the sales justified the expenditure.

  1. Wife of R. H. Horne,