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The ministering wind, so sweet
With mountain-perfume, brought
A changeful robe of emerald moss,
By fairy fingers wrought.

Thus day by day, and year by year,
The little islet grew;
Its food, the flower-dust wafted by;
Its drink, the crystal dew.

By night the lonely stars look'd forth,
Each from his watch-tower high,
And smiled a loving blessing down,
Gently and silently.

And forest birds from distant isles,
A moment settled there;
And from their plumage shook the seeds,
Then sprang into the air.

The islet grew, and tender plants
Rose up amidst the dearth
Bloom'd, died, and dropt upon the soil,
Like gifts from Heaven to Earth.

Thus ages pass'd; a hundred trees
Graced that once barren strand;
A hundred ships its produce bore
To many a distant land.

And thus in every human heart
A germ of good is sown,
Whose strivings upward to the light
Are seen by God alone.


ONE morning, as Miss Matey and I sat at
our workit was before twelve o'clock, and
Miss Matey had not yet changed the cap with
yellow ribbons, that had been Miss Jenkyns'
best, and which Miss Matey was now wearing
out in private, putting on the one made in
imitation of Mrs. Jamieson's at all times
when she expected to be seenMartha
came up, and asked if Miss Betty Barker
might speak to her mistress. Miss Matey
assented, and quickly disappeared to change
the yellow ribbons, while Miss Barker came
up stairs; but, as she had forgotten her
spectacles, and was rather flurried by the
unusual time of the visit, I was not
surprised to see her return with one cap
on the top of the other. She was quite
unconscious of it herself, and looked at us
with bland satisfaction. Nor do I think Miss
Barker perceived it; for, putting aside the
little circumstance that she was not so young
as she had been, she was very much absorbed
in her errand; which she delivered herself of,
with an oppressive modesty that found vent
in endless apologies.

Miss Betty Barker was the daughter of the
old clerk at Cranford, who had officiated in
Mr. Jenkyns' time. She and her sister had
had pretty good situations as ladies' maids,
and had saved up money enough to set up a
milliners' shop, which had been patronised by
the ladies in the neighbourhood. Lady Arley,
for instance, would occasionally give Miss
Barkers the pattern of an old cap of hers,
which they immediately copied and circulated
among the élite of Cranford.  I say the élite,
for Miss Barkers had caught the trick of the
place, and piqued themselves upon their
"aristocratic connection." They would not
sell their caps and ribbons to anyone without
a pedigree. Many a farmer's wife or daughter
turned away huffed from Miss Barkers' select
millinery, and went rather to the universal
shop, where the profits of brown soap and
moist sugar enabled the proprietor to go
straight to (Paris, he said, until he found his
customers too patriotic and John Bullish
to wear what the Mounseers wore) London;
where, as he often told his customers, Queen
Adelaide had appeared only the very week
before in a cap exactly like the one he
showed them, trimmed with yellow and blue
ribbons, and had been complimented by King
William on the becoming nature of her

Miss Barkers, who confined themselves to
truth, and did not approve of miscellaneous
customers, throve notwithstanding. They
were self-denying, good people. Many a
time have I seen the eldest of them (she that
had been maid to Mrs. Jamieson) carrying out
some delicate mess to a poor person. They only
aped their betters in having " nothing to do"
with the class immediately below theirs. And
when Miss Barker died, their profits and
income were found to be such that Miss Betty
was justified in shutting up shop, and retiring
from business. She also (as I think I have
before said) set up her cow; a mark of
respectability in Cranford, almost as decided as
setting up a gig is among some people. She
dressed finer than any lady in Cranford; and
we did not wonder at it; for it was understood
that she was wearing out all the bonnets and
caps, and outrageous ribbons, which had once
formed her stock in trade. It was five or six
years since they had given up shop: so in
any other place than Cranford her dress
might have been considered passée.

And now, Miss Betty Barker had called to
invite Miss Matey to tea at her house on the
following Tuesday. She gave me also an
impromptu invitation, as I happened to be a
visitor; though I could see she had a little
fear lest, since my father had gone to live in
Drumble, he might have engaged in that
"horrid cotton trade," and so dragged his
family down out of "aristocratic society."
She prefaced this invitation with so many
apologies, that she quite excited my curiosity.
"Her presumption " was to be excused. What
had she been doing? She seemed so
overpowered by it, I could only think that she
had been writing to Queen Adelaide, to ask
for a receipt for washing lace; but the act
which she so characterised was only an
invitation she had carried to her sister's former
mistress, Mrs. Jamieson. " Her former
occupation considered, could Miss Matey excuse
the liberty? " Ah! thought I, she has found