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gle between the tall houses opposite and to shine into the third-floor back. Its coming cheered the canary, and old Betty nodded and smiled as the bird sang.
There was a footstep on the stairsa slow, unaccustomed footstep, but the canary's voice was so loud that old Betty did not hear the outside sound, until a knock at the door made her start up hastily.
"Well, there, my dear," she said later to a neighbor, "you could a' knocked me down with a feather when I opened that there door. I never see nothin' like her in my life!"
For standing on Betty Perkins's threshold was the very smartest lady Betty's eyes had ever fallen upon. She was tall and graceful and faultlessly dressed. She held a parasol in one hand, a parcel in the other. She panted a little, out of breath, after her long climb up the stairs.
Betty took the initiative, being, so she felt, on her own ground.
"Was there anything I could do for you ma'am?" she asked, looking at the smart lady with kindly eyes.
"I came to pay you a visit," the lady answered-"I am going to visit in this neighborhood," Her voice was condescending; she gathered her skirts daintily about her, and looked expectantly at Betty.
"I'm sure it's very kind of you, ma'am," the old woman said, in a bewildered tone; "will you please to come in?" And she drew the door wider open, that her visitor might enter. "And will you please sit down?" she added, drawing forward the one chair a somewhat dilapidated cane
asked, and the faintest flicker of surprise crossed her face as Betty seated herself upon the only other seat in the room, namely, the bed.
"My name is Perkins," Betty answered, simply, "and I haven't the pleasure of knowing your name,
The lady stared.
"Oh! my name is Lady Allerton," she said, shortly, “and I am coming to visit down here."
"Do you live in these parts, may I ask, ma'am?"
"Oh, no! I live a long way from here -in Eaton Square. Do you live only in one room?" she added, glancing round it with curious eyes as she spoke. "It must be rather cramped, I should think-"
"Well, no, ma'am, I don't seem to find it so. There's only me, you see, and one old woman don't seem to take much room, do she? And I couldn't manage not to pay for more than the one room. Rents is rather high in these parts," she added, apologetically.
"But I suppose you can get help from the parish, and things?" her ladyship asked, vaguely.
Betty drew herself up a little, but if her tone was a trifle stiff it was still very courteous. She knew the rules of hospitality and politeness.
"Oh, no, ma'am! I am glad to say I don't have no call to go to the parish, nor nothing of that, and I hope I never may have. Me and my pore husband we put away a mite, and what with odd jobs for the neighbors and that, I make my seven shillings a week." She spoke proudly.
"But you can't live on that?" A faint incredulous smile crept over the smart lady's face.
"Oh, yes, ma'am, and pay my three pence a week to the burial club, too," Betty answered with pride.
"Dear me, it's very surprising! I read, you know, about how the poor
live, but I never believed it. I thought
I should like to come and see. I've brought you some tea, by the way"and she laid the parcel she carried upon the rickety table.
Betty still looked puzzled.
"I'm sure it's very kind of you, ma'am," she said, turning over in her mind what in the world could have made this fine lady come here, and why she should have brought her that packet of tea. But her instincts as a hostess were very strong.
"You'll let me make you a cup of tea, won't you, ma'am?" she asked, and a kindly smile lit up her wrinkled old face. "The kettle is just on the boil, and a cup of tea 'ud do you good, after the long way as you've come."
Lady Allerton almost gasped. quite stared with amazement. Moreover, she always drank China tea at home. This courteous, hospitable old body was a new revelation to her.
"Oh, no-no, thank you," she said, hurriedly; "I think I won't have any tea." Betty looked and felt profoundly disappointed. "I must be getting on now"-and her ladyship rose with haste, and with her petticoats still held tightly about her. "I shall come and see you again some day-good-afternoon!"
She bowed to the old woman, who stood holding the door open for her, and eyed her with polite interest. "Good afternoon."
She passed rustling down the stairs, and Betty returned to her chair and to the contemplation of her kettle.
"Deary me," she spoke aloud, a habit she had acquired from much living alone "deary me, now! I wonder what brought that fine lady down here? And to see me, too! Pore thing! she haven't much idea of manners, neither, never to shake hands with me, nor nothin'. But there, perhaps she don't know no better, pore thing. I have heard say as the manners of the qual
ity isn't what they was, and she meant well, no doubt, a-bringing me a pound of tea. Though it do seem queer, to my thinkin', to go callin' on folks as you don't know, and takin' of 'em pounds of tea. Why, how did she know as I wanted for her to come and call?" Betty shook her head sagely. "But there, she meant well, no doubt, and we've a' got to take things as they're meant."
"And you know," Lady Allerton said to her husband that same evening, "the poor in the Borough are quite different from anything I expected. They didn't stand whilst I was in their rooms-they just sat and talked to me as if they were as good as I was."
"And so, no doubt, they are, my dear," Lord Allerton replied, lazily. "I daresay they wondered what on earth made you suddenly go and see them, and perhaps they thought it confoundedly impertinent of you. And so it was," he added, sotto voce.
Old Betty's views of etiquette were founded on those which held good in her immediate neighborhood, where, if anybody stepped in to see you in friendly fashion one day, you generally stepped in upon them in like fashion during the course of the week.
Three days after Lady Allerton's visit to her, Betty dressed herself in her best clothes, a very worn but perfectly tidy black dress, a bonnet of antediluvian design, and a neat black shawl, and prepared to sally forth.
"Wherever are you a-goin' to?" her neighbor below asked.
"I'm a-goin' to see a lady as called on me," Betty announced, placidly, but in a tone which forbade further questioning, and she went out in the glory of her best clothes, feeling, dear soul, that the least she could do to repay the kindness shown by the smart lady to her was to call upon the lady in return.
She had never before been to the Westend, and the length of the journey, the grandeur of the streets and shops when she did finally arrive impressed her mightily.
"I'd a' liked to a' took her a little somethin'," she thought, "just as a sort of a return like for that tea, but I dunno as I can afford anything much, unless it was a flower." And Betty's eyes brightened as she met a flower-girl laden with a basket of deep red roses. "Pick me out a nice one, my dear," she said to the girl; "I'm a-takin' of it to a lady as has been kind to me; I'm just a-goin' to return her call."
"There's a nice one, granny"-and the girl thrust a soft, deep-colored bud into the old woman's hand; "you looks a bit tired."
"Well, I be a bit tired, my dear-I've come a long way, but I'll get rested when I gets to the house, of course."
It took Betty some time to find the house, but a kindly postman pointed it out to her, and she climbed the steps a little wearily and rang the bell.
A gorgeous footman answered it. He looked her up and down with a supercilious air of surprise, but something in Betty's gentle old eyes and dignified manner made him ask her almost civilly what she wanted.
"I wanted to see Lady Allerton," she said.
"To see her ladyship?" The man stared. "I don't think she'll see you now-she've got company. Wait here a minute and I'll see."
So Betty stood humbly outside upon the steps and wondered over the curious treatment bestowed by the great upon their visitors, and over many other things, and longed very much to sit down and rest her aching old limbs, if it were only for a moment.
The footman returned to the door. "Her ladyship wishes to know what you want," he asked; "she is busy just now, and she doesn't know you."
"I-I just come to see her," Betty faltered; "if you was to say as 'twas Mrs. Perkins of 125 William Street, she 'ud remember. She come to see me the day before yesterday, so I just come round to see her to-day. Perhaps she 'ud see me for a minute."
The footman again left her standing on the doorstep, returning shortly to ask her to come inside a minute.
Old Betty drew a long breath of wonder when she saw the hall. She had never imagined anything so lovely and luxurious. The carpet was so soft and beautiful. The very wall paper impressed her. Overhead there was a murmur of voices and she could hear the rattle of tea-cups. It was a welcome sound. Old Betty thought of her far-off room, and the fire that would have to be lighted before the kettle would boil for her own tea. The footman had vanished-the old woman stood humbly in the middle of that gorgeous hall for several minutes whilst the clatter of tea-cups and chatter of voices went on upstairs. Then there came the rustling of a silk dress, and Lady Allerton came quickly downstairs, an impatient little frown puckering her forehead.
She nodded rather frigidly to old Betty.
"Well, Mrs. Perkins," she said, "did you want anything? Have you come to ask me to do something for you?"
"Dear me, no ma'am!"-there was unutterable surprise in Betty's voice. "I just come to see you, because you was good enough to come and see me, and-"
"You-came-to-see me?" Lady Allerton looked the old woman up and down with well-bred insolence. "That was very kind of you, I am sure." The sarcasm passed unheeded over the simple old soul's head, she only noticed the words.
"Not to say kind," she answered, "twas the least as I could do when
you was so nice as to come so far to see me, and me never knowin' you, nor askin' you to come, nor nothin'." The fine sarcasm of this was unintentional, and was lost on Lady Allerton.
"And brought me such fine tea, too," Betty added. "I'ud have liked to bring you a little trifle, ma'am, but you will excuse it, I know, me bein' a pore woman, so I just brought you this."
She held out the red rose in her hand to the smartly-dressed lady, and smiled her kind old smile into the pretty petulant face.
"You brought me a rose? Dear me, what a funny thing to do, but very kind of you, I am sure, only I am sorry you spent your money."
The little careless words did strike Betty as lacking in courtesy, only she did not put it quite in those words in her mind. "Pore thing," she thought to herself; "nobody didn't take much heed to her manners when she was a girl, that's plain to be seen."
"And now I'm afraid I can't stop any more," Lady Allerton went on. "I have friends upstairs. You know your way out, don't you?"-and she nodded towards the front door.
"Yes, thank you, ma'am, I can find my way out, and good day to you." Betty's manners were those of a wellbred duchess.
Lady Allerton rustled upstairs again, and in her smart drawing-room regaled her friends with an account of her first experience of "slumming" in the Boro', whilst they ate thin bread-and-butter and cake.
"Fancy that queer old person coming to see me because I had been to see her. Did you ever hear of such a thing? I don't know what the lower classes will do next! Some people might have told Temple Bar.
the old thing to her face that it was impertinence, but I didn't say that to her. No doubt she meant well, poor old thing."
"My dear, she did to you exactly what you had done to her. She called upon you uninvited, only she had some excuse. You had appeared to desire her acquaintance, seeing that you called upon her first," Lord Allerton said, drily.
"Don't be absurd, Dick-as if the two cases were in the least alike! You are so ridiculous about the poor, but of course she knew no better, poor soul." Lady Allerton shrugged her shoul ders and smiled.
Meanwhile old Betty, after fumbling with the latch of the front door, had finally got herself out into the street.
"Well, to be sure," she said to herself thoughtfully, as with tired feet she wearily wended her way home again, "the manners of the quality is stranger than I could ever a' thought they would a' bin. I'd never have guessed itnever! She never even asked me to sit down, nor to take a cup of tea, though I could hear as the tea was ready, the cups a-clinking and all. And me come all that way just for to see her! Well, well, it ain't for me to judge; perhaps she don't know no better, pore thingshe didn't never learn no manners when she was a girl, that's quite plain, and if you don't learn 'em as a girl, why, you don't never learn 'em, that's my idea. But maybe she meant better than she acted, pore thing-it ain't for me to judge."
Which shows that old Betty and her ladyship had curiously similar views about each other, from across that great gulf fixed between them!
L. G. Moberly.
THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT.
In last week's issue we discussed the constitution of the Central Government at Peking. It now remains to treat briefly the provincial administrations and the relations in which they stand to the Central Government.
administration of justice is left in the hands of the ordinary officials, who combine this with their other functions. The district magistrate, for instance, who is the lowest official on the provincial scale, is at once collector of revenue, judge, coroner, head of police and public prosecutor, and he may on occasions be required to take the field in person against rebels. The same functions may fall to the lot of any official on the scale up to the Viceroy himself. Any officer is supposed to be capable of undertaking any public duty whatsoever. Death sentences require in ordinary circumstances to be ratified from Peking, but each viceroy or governor is armed with extraordinary powers which he may use at discretion in times of public danger, and which enable him to deal out summary justice at the shortest notice. He is invested, in fact, with a share of that absolute and autocratic power which is inherent in the Central Government, to whom, however, he remains responsible. The charge of each governor is to maintain peace and order within his own bounds. So long as he does that and carries on the government in accordance with the established rules, the Central Government does not interfere with him. He is not concerned with what may be going on in a neigh
Excluding Manchuria, Mongolia and the Central Asian dominions, China is divided into eighteen provinces. At the head of each is a governor, and in several cases two or three are grouped together under a still higher official, whose proper title is governor-general, but who is more often spoken of as viceroy. The most important viceroyalties are the three that lie in the basin of the Yang-tze, having their headquarters at Nanking, Wuchang and Chengtu respectively. The first presided over at present by Liu Kun yi controls the three provinces of Kiangsu Anhwei and Kiangsi; the second, with the well-known Chang Chih-tung at its head, controls the two central provinces of Hupeh and Hunan, and the third controls the large and wealthy province of Szechuen, the head of which is a Manchu named Kwei Chun. Of almost equal importance is the viceroyalty of Canton, at the head of which is Li Hung Chang, controlling the two provinces of Kwang-tung and Kwang-si. These eight provinces contain a population of over 200 millions and contribute three-fourths of the revenue of boring province nor bound to spend his the Empire.
For all purposes of internal administration, the various provincial governments are practically independent. Each collects its own revenue, pays its own army and Civil Service, and in the riverine and seaboard provinces maintains a flotilla of war vessels and constructs coast defences. The
resources in its defence. Special orders, of course, may be sent from Peking directing him to assist, but the safety of his own province is his first charge, and any steps he may take will be subordinated to that paramount consideration.
The principal hold which the Peking Government has over the provincial