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          A NEW SERIAL TALE.


So, after a few more days, Hester was
transferred to a new abode, a needle and thread were
put into her hand, and she was told that she
had become a dressmaker's apprentice.

She sat in a gloomy room and sewed long
seams without lifting her eyes. All round her
were busy chattering young women, whose
conversation informed her that they were well
supplied with fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters.
Their gossip was of vulgar beaux and holiday
treats, the last visit to the pit of the theatre,
the next Sunday's excursion to Ranelagh or
Richmond. They criticised Hester, even audibly,
when the mistress was out of the room,
remarked on her outgrown frocks and broken
boots, and tittered at the blushes in her face.
By-and-by, when they began to suspect that
pride as well as shyness kept her sitting in her
corner aloof, they mercilessly sneered her down.
There was Hester, desolate, against a whole
laughing, joking, jeering band.

The mistress of the establishment was not an
unkind woman, but her windows full of millinery
were an ornament to Sloane-street, and
she lived amongst her bonnets and feathers.
Her shop was gay, and her customers were
many, and she had little time to notice Hester
Cashel. She did not know that the girl was
unhappy. But Hester was learning her business,
all the more surely and rapidly, because
of her painful isolation in the workroom. Hasty
stitches had to do instead of sighs, and anxiety
for the pattern of a trimming, or the goring of a
skirt, often held off the necessity for tears. But
by-and-by the assistant in the workroom began
to whisper to the mistress that "that girl 'Ester
had uncommon nice taste." And presently the
apprentices began to pause in their persecution
and stare when particular work was handed over
their heads, and entrusted to the fingers of
their victim.

After some time it dawned upon Hester that
she was growing quite expert at her business.
She could cut out a satin bodice, and plait in
a voluminous court train to fit a dainty waist
as deftly as any mistress of the art who ever
handled a needle. She had also devices of her
own in the matter of trimmings which were apt
to charm the fancy of fine customers. "Give it
to young Cashel," the mistress would say at
length, whenever there was anything pretty to
be done.

She was seventeen by the time this point was
gained, and womanhood was beginning to look
out of her troubled eyes. She was still shabby
Hester, untidy Hester, in spite of all her efforts
to be neat; and the envy of others did not fail
to make her conscious of her needs. Things
that had once been indifferent now pressed
upon her sorely. Shame oppressed, and
bitterness afflicted her. The past, with its
intervals of sunshine, was gone, and the fulness
of the present was swelling painfully around

There came a day, however, when the sneers
and the insults that had harassed her were
silenced. Hester spoke out once, and frightened
her bugbear away for ever.

One day an unusual supply of nice work fell
to her share. An envious spirit had been
making merry all the morning over the
"embroidery," as she called the poor stains and
discolourments of Miss Cashel's frock. Hester
suddenly stood up, and spoke as no one had
ever heard her speak before.

"Young women!" she said, "for two years
and a half I have borne your ill-usage; but I
give you notice that I will bear it no longer.
What if I am poor and friendless, and wear
shabby clothes? Is it an insult to you? You
should rather thank God that you at least have
got plenty of fine flaunting gowns, and brass
jewellery. If you please, then, you will annoy
me no more."

It happened that the mistress entered the
room just as Hester began to speak. The
words "for two years and a half  I have borne
your ill-usage" smote her ears like a reproach;
for she had known that there were many who
were jealous of Hester. The girl did not
attempt to hide her crimson cheeks and flashing
eyes, but held herself erect amidst the amazement
of the room, busying her trembling fingers
with her work.

The apprentices sat thunderstricken, expecting
a scene; but the mistress made no remark.
It was in the middle of the night before that
she had come upon Hester kneeling by her
baby's crib, hushing the child to sleep, while the