LIVE TO BE USEFUL
_THE STORY OF ANNIE LEE AND
HER IRISH NURSE._
_THOMAS NELSON AND SONS_
_London, Edinburgh, Dublin, and New York_
[Illustration: Annorah turned, and saw the shadow of a man on the
LIVE TO BE USEFUL.
Annie Lee was a cripple. Until her eighth summer she had been strong
and well, like most other children; but then disease began to appear,
and although she had skilful doctors and kind nurses, it was soon too
plain that she was never to be well again.
Five years of pain and weakness
had been her portion
at the time our
story commences. So accustomed had she become to her sad situation,
that it seemed like a delusive dream when she remembered the sportive
hours of her earlier childhood. Like other sick children, she was far
than was quite natural at her age, and very seldom in
her easiest moments laughed aloud. But she was not an unhappy
As soon as she was old enough to understand that she had a sinful
heart and needed salvation, she had earnestly
sought the Saviour of
sinners, and had been graciously
received by him, and made a lamb of
his flock. In the school of Christ she learned
to bear pain without
murmuring, and to submit
to her lot in life. Instead
of requiring comfort from her parents, who seemed to realize her
misfortune more fully than she did herself, she became their consoler,
failed in her efforts to lighten
their sorrow on her
"It might have been so much worse, mamma," she said one day, when Mrs.
Lee was lamenting her condition. "Only think of poor lame Phelim,
Biddy Dillon's little boy."
"What is the matter with him?" asked her mother.
"Have you not seen him? He is often in the back-yard when Biddy comes
to wash in the kitchen. I've watched him often. I think it was before
he came to this country--but I'm not sure--that a large stone, falling
from a wall, so mangled his poor limbs that one of them had to be cut
off. I never see him limping about on his crutches while Biddy is
washing without thanking God for my happier fate."
"Why, Annie, it is not probable
that he suffers one-half as much as
"As much _pain_, do you mean, mamma?"
"I wasn't thinking of that. They are very poor; and if he lives to be
a man, how can he earn the comforts of life? I need have no care on
"I daresay he has none. There are several trades that he might learn
which require a sitting posture; he might be a shoemaker, for
instance. Do not fret on his account, Annie."
"It seems to me, mamma," replied Annie, with a thoughtful
his only prospect
for the future is to be pushed about here and there
in the crowd, until at last he finds a refuge
in the grave."
"What foolish fancies!" said Mrs. Lee, rising, as a noise in the yard
below attracted her to the window. "We know nothing about the future,
and it is not quite right to make ourselves sad about it. It is hardly
like your usual trust in God, to be thus imagining trouble. There's a
little lame boy in the yard, who, I suppose, is Phelim; he seems happy
enough. Hark! don't you hear him sing? He is sitting on the bench
behind the clothes-frame, and his mother is hanging
out the clothes to
dry. Don't you hear her laugh at what he is singing?"
"What is it, mamma? Can you hear the words?" asked Annie, brightening
up, and raising herself on her elbow as she lay on her low couch.
"I hear them very well; but his Irish gibberish is as Greek to me. All
that I can make out is what seems to be the chorus:
"'O Ireland, green Ireland,
Swate gem o' the sae!'"
"Mamma," said Annie, after listening with smiling interest a while,
"it troubles me very often because Phelim knows nothing about our
Saviour. He has a sister, two years older than I am, who cannot read.
She never went to school; and none of the family can read a word."
"How did you learn this?"
"From Phelim. I speak to him sometimes when he plays under the
"Well, I don't know how we can help them. If we should offer to teach
them, they would not be willing
"Are you sure of it, mamma?"
"Not quite so sure, perhaps, as if I had tried to instruct
them; but I
know that they regard a book as a sort of Protestant trap, made on
purpose to catch them, soul and body. It is an evil that we cannot
remedy.--Have you more pain than usual, my dear?" said Mrs. Lee,
appearing a little startled, and bending anxiously
over Annie's couch
as she observed an unusual
flush on her pale cheek.
"No, mamma; but I was thinking of a plan that I have had for some
weeks, and hoping that you would not object to it."
"Object! You shall have whatever
you like, if it can be procured. What
is it, Annie?"
"Oh, dear mamma," said Annie, "I do so long to do some good! I cannot
bear to live such a useless
life. Every day, when I feel the goodness
of God and his great love to me, I long to do something for him. And I
think, mamma, that I have planned a way to do good without getting off
"You are always doing good, Annie. Do you suppose that your patience
is not a lesson to us in our smaller trials? There are
many ways in which you are a blessing
to us all; so do not weary
yourself with new schemes. If God had required active service from
you, he would have given you health and strength."
"But I can do something, mamma. Please to hear my plan. I want to tell
you something more about Phelim's sister. She has been Mrs. Green's
servant, and her business was to assist
in the nursery. She would have
done nicely, Phelim says, but for her violent
temper. Last week one of
the children was cross and provoking, and the girl got angry and
pushed him down-stairs. He was much bruised; and, of course, she was
dismissed at once."
"I should hope so. But your plan, Annie?"
"The poor girl has no place, mamma, and, with such a dreadful
is not likely to get one soon. And they are very poor. I know that
since Jessie left us, you are too closely confined here with me; and
my plan is to have this poor girl to wait on me, and--"
"Why, Annie, what a wild project!" interrupted her mother. "You must
not think of it. She would be throwing you out of the window, or
beating you to a jelly, in her first fit of ill-temper."
"Oh no, she won't, mamma," urged Annie. "She will not be so easily
vexed here, and no one is ever angry with me. Please to try her."
"Are you really in earnest, Annie?"
"Yes; and very anxious
to be indulged in my strange plan."
"Have you thought how awkward
she will be in assisting you?"
"I have thought of it all, over and over," replied Annie, "and I
think she will make a good nurse for me."
Mrs. Lee hesitated a long time. She could not bear to deny Annie, and
could not overcome
to the proposed arrangement. But
Annie's pleading look at length decided
"You wish very much to try this wild-goose plan!" she said, resuming
"Very much, mamma," replied Annie.
"Well, you shall have your own way about it. It will last but a few
days, I am sure; and the change will interest you at any rate, poor
thing!" Then going to the window, she looked down into the yard, and
said, "Mrs. Dillon, come up to Miss Annie's room, will you?"
In a minute the woman made her appearance at the door, with the suds
still lingering in foamy flakes upon her arms and along the folds of
"You have a daughter, I believe?" said Mrs. Lee.
"Two of them, an' ye plaze, ma'am," replied Biddy, wiping her arms as
"Are they both at home?"
"It's Bessie that is in service; and it's only Annorah that's at home,
"What is Annorah doing?" inquired Mrs. Lee.
"I mean, how does she get her living?"
"At service too, ma'am, when it is to be had. But, shure, it's a bad
timper she has, and will sthrike and scold whin her blood is up. An'
she has lost the fine, comfortable place she had with Mrs. Green, jist
for a thrifle of spaach."
"That is unfortunate."
"Oh, thin, ye may well say that. Anither mouth in a family like me own
is far from convenient
whin the cost of the mate and the flour is
beyond raach intirely."
"Well, Biddy, Miss Annie wants some one to wait on her in the place of
Jessie, who has gone. She has taken a fancy to try your girl. When can
"Coom! Why, this very hour, an' ye like. A blessin' on yer swate, pale
face!" said Biddy, looking pityingly towards Annie.
"She must be gentler here," said Mrs. Lee; "she must govern
temper. Miss Annie must not be excited and made worse by your girl's
fits of ill-humour."
"Leave her to me, mamma," said Annie. "I think, Mrs. Dillon, that
there will be no trouble. What did you say is her name?"
"Annorah, an' ye plaze, miss."
"Annorah? Very well. When shall she come, mamma?"
"Not until Monday, I think," replied Mrs. Lee. Then turning to Mrs.
Dillon, she added, "You may send her on Monday."
"An' she gets a mad streak
along o' that pritty crathur," said Mrs.
Biddy, as she went down-stairs, "she desarves the warm bating she'll
get from her own mother at home."
ANNORAH'S FIRST APPEARANCE IN THE SICK-ROOM.
Monday came, and Annorah came too. It was with a doubting heart and a
troubled look that Mrs. Lee introduced her into her daughter's
chamber. It would be difficult to find a plainer-looking or a more
Mrs. Lee looked at the monstrous
foot in its heavy shoe, and at the
hands, that seemed incapable
of the gentle services
that Annie's helplessness
required, and wondered at her own folly in
indulging the singular
caprice of her daughter. But a single look at
her that she, at least, felt no misgivings. Still, she
did not like to leave them by themselves until she had tested the new
"Annorah," she said, "what sort of work can you do? I'm afraid you
are not used to such services as Miss Annie will require."
"I can do most anything, ma'am," answered the girl resolutely.
"Indeed! Well, let me see how you would manage to place Annie on the
bed when she is tired of the sofa."
The words were scarcely out of her mouth before Annorah had lifted the
frail form of the invalid
in her arms and deposited her in the middle
of the bed. Annie burst into such a laugh as she had not indulged in
for a year.
"I think you may be satisfied, mamma," she said; "I never was moved
Mrs. Lee began to think better of Annie's plan, and joined quite
cordially in her daughter's mirth.
"And if she were too tired to rest in any position, what would you
"Carry her to the windows, or out in the air, for a change.--Will ye
plaze to thry it, Miss Annie?"
"Not now, Annorah." Then looking towards her mother, she said, "Mamma,
you may be easy; Annorah and I shall get on famously together."
Thus assured, Mrs. Lee left them, and went down-stairs with a better
opinion of the rough Irish girl than she had thought it possible to
entertain an hour previous.
Left by themselves, the two girls began to form an acquaintance
each other. Two persons more unlike
could not have been brought
together. Annorah was evidently
much interested in her young charge,
and felt the most unbounded sympathy
in her sufferings. Annie spoke
"Please draw my couch nearer the window, Annorah. That will do. Now,
sit down on this low stool, and tell me how long it is since you left
"It's two years, miss, coom April."
"So lately? Then you remember all about the old country?"
"Remember! An' it's me that'll niver forget that same. The beautiful
counthree it is!"
"Pleasanter than this, do you think?"
"A thousand times. There is no place in the world like it; the dear
"Why, then, did you leave it, Annorah?"
"Bad luck we had, miss; and a worse luck intirely here, the mane town
that this is."
"Tell me all about it."
"What for? That ye, too, may laugh like the rest, and call us the
mane, dirty set of Irish vagabonds?" asked the girl, her small eyes
kindling with a sense of imaginary
"No, no, Annorah. You don't think I would say such things, do you? But
you need not tell me a word if you had rather not. I only thought it
would make me forget my pain for a little time; and, besides, I love
dearly to hear about Ireland, or any place where I have never been,"
said Annie, with a tone of voice so calm and earnest
that the girl
could not doubt her sincerity.
"Do you, in truth? Why, thin, it's me that'll talk till I hoarse
meself dumb for yer good. It was the famine, miss, that came first,
and stole the bit o' food that was saved. The praties were rotten
the field; and the poor pigs starved that should have helped us out
wi' the rint. Och, but it was a sore time o' grief whin sorra a
mouthful were left for the bit childer and the ould people who were
weak before wi' ould age! In the worst time o' all, whin the need was
the sorest, our Bessie got into disgrace, and came home from service
wi' niver a penny to help herself or us. There was nought
to do and
nought to eat at all. The neighbours were faint wi' the hoonger; and
so, before the worst came, we left all that was dear and came here."
"How many of you came, Annorah?"
"Nine, miss, if we consider our uncles and cousins. We did not come
altogether; brother John, who is dead, and uncle Mike, came first. And
a fine chance to work they got directly, miss; and then they sent
money to pay the old folk's passage. Our hearts gathered coorage and
strength at once, miss, and we thought, shure, the great throubles