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Chapter VI.: HOW TO ENTERTAIN BORROWERS. - Harriet Martineau, Illustrations of Political Economy, vol. 9 
Illustrations of Political Economy (3rd ed) in 9 vols. (London: Charles Fox, 1834). Vol. 9.
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HOW TO ENTERTAIN BORROWERS.
It was a strange way of visiting the old house in Budge-Row for the first time.
Sam was standing two inches taller than usuccal, from being left in sole charge of the shop. He did not know exactly how his master had died; and, with all his self-importance, was more likely to receive the information from the many inquisitive customers who came for pennyworths than to give them any. Morgan had not thought it necessary to be explicit with him. She advised him to mind his business, and let Miss Farrer see what he could do in a time of family distress. He was profuse in his assurances to Marie that his mistress could see no visitors to-day. Perceiving that she was a foreigner, he concluded that she was a stranger, and was very unwilling to let even Morgan know that any one wished to speak with her.
Marie thought she had never seen anything more forlorn than Jane's aspect as she sat in her little parlour. She seemed to be doing nothing, not even listening to Dr. Say, who was attempting soft condolence. There was not even the occupation of making mourning, which had been a resource on a former occasion. The bible lay open on the table; but Jane was sitting by the darkened window as Marie entered,—Dr. Say having established himself by the fire.
“You will thank me,” said Marie, “for bringing you occupation,—for enabling you to help us, sister.” And-she told her story, and what it was that she desired Jane to do.
Jane seemed duly shocked at first; but when she found that Henry was in no danger, and that the whole case resolved itself into a money matter, her sympathy seemed to cool. She was silent and thoughtful.
“Come,” said Marie, rising, “bring out the money; and will you not go with me?”
But Jane had something to say; or rather, she seemed to be thinking aloud. Who knew whether Michael had left a will, and whether Henry would have any of the money? Besides, she had not so much in her purse; and it seemed to her that this would not be the end of the business. If there was a conspiracy against Henry, and his enemies knew that his family had money, they would soon make up another charge, and nobody could foresee where it might end. Perhaps the best kindness to Henry would be for his family to do nothing, that it might be seen that there was no use in pursuing him for evil. Perhaps—
Dr. Say emphatically assented to the whole of Jane's reasoning.
“I am afraid of mistaking your English,” said Marie, losing her breath. “Do you mean that you will not help Henry?”
“Perhaps some other friend——It might be better for him that some one else——Henry must have many friends.”
“Perhaps. But in France we have sisters who have begged alms for their brother's defence, and thereby found a place beside them under the axe from which they could not save them. I thought there was one universal sister's heart.”
Jane called after her in vain. She was gone like lightning. Morgan, however, detained her an instant at the door.
“Wait, my dear young lady! They will follow you in the streets if you look so wild, ma'am!”
“Then I will tell them how I scorn your London rich sisters that keep their brothers prisoners for paltry gold!”
“Do not go, ma'am I Do stay till one call think a little,” urged the horror-struck Morgan.
“No, I will not stay. But I will not judge all till I have seen another sister.”
“Ah! Mrs. Peek. Go to Mrs. Peek, ma'am; and I would go with you, but.”
Marie thought this was a land of “buts.” She could not, however, have stayed till Morgan could get ready. She made all haste to Mrs. Peek's house.
She did not know how to believe that the woman she saw, nursing a baby, could be a sister of Henry's. The house was as noisy as Jane's was quiet; and the mistress as talkative and pliable as Jane was reserved and stiff.
In her untidy black bombazeen dress, she looked more like a servant than did her children's nursemaid in her black coarse stuff; and the various sounds of complaint that came from little folks in every corner of the house were less wearing than the mamma's incessant chiding and repining.—She did not know anything about whether her brother Henry was really married or not, she was sure; for Henry never came near them to let them know what he was doing.
“No wonder,” thought Marie, when she looked back upon the confusion of children's toys, stools of all sizes, and carpets (apparently spread to trip up the walker), among which she had worked her way to the seat she occupied.
“There are so many calls upon one, you see, ma'am; and those that have large families,—(what a noise those boys do make!)—so much is required for a large family like ours, that it is no easy matter to bring up children as some people do in these days. The burdens are so great! and I am sure we could never think of sending a son of ours to the university, if we were sure of his settling ever so well.—O, to be sure, as you would say, ma'am, that should make no difference in our helping Henry, hoping he would not get into any such scrapes again. Well, ma'am, I will ask Mr. Peek when he comes home, to see if anything can be done.—O, that would be too late, would it? Well, I don't know that that signifies so much, for I have a notion that as Mr. Peek is a king's servant, it might not be so well for him to appear. Dear me! I never have any money by me, ma'am, but just for my little bills for the family; and I should not think of parting with it while my husband is out.—Why, really, I have no idea where you could find him. My little girl shall see whether he is at home, though I am quite sure he is not. Grace, my dear, go and see whether your father is in the back room. O, you won't. Then. Jenny, you must go. There! you see they won't go, ma'am; but it is of no consequence, for I do assure you he went out after breakfast. I saw him go. Did not you, Harry?”
“To dare to call one of their dirty, rude boys after my Henry!” thought Marie, as she ran out of the house. Mrs. Peek stood looking after her, wondering one thing and another about her, till the baby cried so loud that she could not put off attcmling to him any longer.
Marie could think of no further resource but to go back to Morgan for advice. She was now very weary, and parched with thirst. She was not accustomed to much exercise, and had never before walked alone through crowded streets; her restless and anxious night was also a bad preparation for so much toil. She was near sinking at once when, on returning to the shop, she found from Sam that Morgan had just gone out, he did not know whither.
“She could not go out with me!” thought Marie. “My Henry is the only English person worthy to be French, after all.”
“Sure, mistress, you had better sit down,” observed Sam, wiping a stool with his apron. On being asked whether he could let her have a glass of water, he did more than fulfil the request. He found, in a dark place under the counter, part of a bottle of some delicious syrup, which he mixed with water, with something of the grace of an apothecary. Marie could not help enjoying it, miserable as she was; and Sam could not help smiling broadly at the effect of what he had done, grave as his demeanour was in duty bound to be this day.
Morgan's “but” proved one of the most significant words she had ever spoken. She did better than go with Marie.
She entered Jane's parlour, and stood beside the door when she had closed it.
“I must trouble you, ma'am, to pay me my wages, if you please.”
Jane stared at her in astonishment.
“What do you mean, Morgan?”
“I mean, ma'am, that I have had no wages for these eleven years last past, and I wish to have them now.”
“Morgan, I think you have lost your. senses! You never asked my father for these wages.”
“No, Miss Jane, because I held his promise of being provided for otherwise and better, and my little money from elsewhere was all that I wanted while here. But I have it under your hand, aa'am, what wages I was to have as long as I lived with you.”
“And you have my promise also that I would remember you in my will.”
“Yes; but I would rather have my due wages now instead.”
Jane could understand nothing of all this. People were not accustomed to be asked for money in so abrupt a way, especially by an old friend.
“Because, ma'am, people of my class are not often so much in want of their money as I am today. If I had not known that you have the money in the house, I should not have asked for it so suddenly. I will bring down the box, ma'am.”
She presently appeared, hauling along a heavy box with so much difficulty as to oblige Jane to offer to assist her. Morgan next presented a key.
“How came you by this key?” asked Jane, quickly, as she tried it, and the box lid flew open. Jane felt in her bosom for her own key, which was there, safe enough, on its stout black ribbon.
Morgan's master had secretly given her this key years before. He kept one thousand pounds in hard cash in this box; and it now appeared that he had set Morgan's fidelity and Jane's avarice as a cheek upon each other. Each was to count over the money once a-month.
“You can count it now, ma'am, at your leisure, when you have paid me. I shall not touch that key any more.”
“O, yes, do, Morgan,” said her mistress, with a look of distress.” All this is too much for me. I cannot take care of everything myself.”
“Then let it go, Miss Jane. I have not had this box under my charge so many years, to be now followed about by your eyes, every time I go near the place where it is kept. Better you were robbed than that.”
“And you are too proud to expect a legacy from me? That is the reason you want your money now? You would cut off all connexion between us?”
“Such is not my present reason, ma'am; but I do not say that I should like to see you planning and planning how you could—But I won't follow it out, my dear. My wages, if you please.”
And she laid down a formal receipt for the sum. and produced the canvass bag in which to deposit her wealth. She then observed that she must walk abroad for two or three hours, but hoped to be back before she was much wanted. If her mistress could spare her till dark, she should take it as a particular favour; but she could not say it was necessary to be gone more than three hours at farthest.
Jane seemed too much displeased or amazed to reply; and Morgan left her counting the guineas. She heard the parlour-door bolted behind her, so that no more Maries could gain access to her mistress.
How Marie reproached herself for her secret censure of Morgan, when she found Henry at liberty,—the fine having been paid by his faithful old friend! Morgan had slipped away as soon as the good deed was done. She awaited Henry and Marie, however, in their humble home, whither she had proceeded to prepare a delicate httle dinner for them, and see that all was comfortable for their repose from the troubles of the day. It was no fault of hers that they brought heavy cares with them; that Henry had to console his Marie under her father's misfortune,—his month of imprisonment, and sentence to leave the country at the end of it. What more could any one do than join with them in reprobating the tyranny of the Alien Act?