Poor and Proud, or The Fortunes of Katy Redburn
Oliver Optic

Part 4 out of 4

"Yes, that's it," replied Mrs. Gordon, smiling. "Pride is a very
good thing in its place. It keeps people from being mean and
wicked sometimes."

"That's true pride," added Katy.

"Yes; for there is a false pride, which makes people very silly
and vain; which keeps them from doing their duty very often. You
have none of this kind of pride."

"I hope not."

"Your friend Simon Sneed, whom the mayor spoke to me about,
affords us a very good example of the folly of cherishing false
pride. Where is Simon now?"

"He keeps a store in Washington Street. He is a salesman now, and
I don't think he is so foolish as he was."

"Perhaps the lesson he learned did him good. But I am keeping you
away from your mother, Katy. Who stays with her while you are

"Mrs. Sneed--Simon's mother."

"Then she is a good woman."

"And Simon is very kind; he has done a great many things for me,
and I hope I shall be able to do something for him one of these

"That's right, Katy. Think well of your friends, though others
speak ill of them," said Grace. "Ah, there comes the carriage. I
am going home with you, Katy, to see your mother."

"You are very kind, Miss Grace."

"Here is the money," added Mrs. Gordon, handing her a little roll
of bills.

"Thank you, ma'am," replied Katy, as she placed the money in her
porte-monnaie. "But----"

Here she came to a full stop, and her face was as crimson as a
blush rose, but she took out the silver watch, and approached
Mrs. Gordon.

"What were you going to say, Katy?"

"I brought this watch up," stammered she.

"What for?"

"You know I am a poor girl, my mother is a poor woman, and we
didn't want you to think you were giving us the money, for we are
very proud; that is, my mother is very proud, and so am I;

Here Katy drew a long breath, and came to a full stop again,
unable to say what she wanted to say.

"If you want anything else, Katy, don't hesitate to mention it;
for I will not do anything to mortify your pride, even if it is
unreasonable," said Mrs. Gordon. "I understand you perfectly; the
twenty dollars is not a gift, but a loan."

"Yes, ma'am; but if we should never be able to pay it, then it
would be a gift."

"No, it wouldn't."

"I think so; and so I brought this watch, which you will please
to take as security for the payment of the loan," said Katy, much
confused, as she offered the watch to Mrs. Gordon.

"My dear child, I do not want any security. Your word is just as
good as your bond."

"But I would rather you would take it. My mother is prouder than
I am, for she wasn't always as poor as she is now."

Katy suddenly clapped her hand over her mouth, when she
recollected that this was a forbidden topic.

"Some time you may tell me all about your mother; and I will call
and see her to-morrow, and help you take care of her."

"Please to take the watch. ma'am."

"If you very much desire it, I shall do so, though I cannot take
it as security. Is this the watch you carried to the pawnbroker?"
said Mrs. Gordon as she took the treasure.

"Yes, ma'am. It belonged to my father."

Mrs. Gordon turned over the watch, and looked at it with
considerable interest, as she thought of it as a memento of the
dead, and how highly it must be prized by the poor woman.

"Mercy, what's this!" exclaimed she, starting back, and
staggering towards her chair.

"What is the matter, mother?" cried Grace, running to her side.
"Are you ill?"

"No, Grace; that inscription!" replied Mrs. Gordon, faintly, for
she seemed very deeply moved, and on the point of swooning.
"Bring me a glass of water."

There was no water in the room, but Michael was in the entry, and
was dispatched to procure it. He returned in a moment, and when
Mrs. Gordon had in some measure recovered from the sudden shock
she pointed to the inscription on the back of the watch:--

"M. G.
J. R.
All for the Best."

"What does, it mean, mother? I do not see anything very strange
about that."

"I have seen this watch before," she replied, stopping to think.
"Where did your mother get this watch, Katy?" she asked, as it
occurred to her that she might be arriving at a conclusion too

"It was my father's."

"Where did your father get it? Did you ever hear your mother say?

"Yes, ma'am; her father, who was a rich Liverpool merchant, gave
it to her husband, my father," replied Katy, who felt justified
in revealing what her mother had told her to keep secret.

"Mercy!" gasped Mrs. Gordon, almost overcome by her emotions.

"What is the matter, mother? What has all this to do with you?"
asked Grace, anxiously.

"Come here, Katy, my child," continued Mrs. Gordon, as she drew
the little candy merchant to her side, and warmly embraced her.
"Your mother, Katy, is my sister, I have scarcely a doubt."

"Why, mother! Is it possible?" exclaimed Grace.

"It is even so. Mrs. Redburn, whose name we have often heard
mentioned without thinking it might be the wife of John Redburn,
my father's clerk, is my sister. I had given her up, and have
regarded her as dead for more than ten years. But, Grace, get my
things, and I will go to her at once."

"Is that your portrait, ma'am?" asked Katy, pointing to the
picture of the mischievous lady.

"No, child; that is your mother's portrait."

"I almost knew it."

"It was taken when she was only sixteen years old. She was a gay,
wild girl then. I suppose she is sadly changed now."

The thought completely overcame Mrs. Gordon, and throwing herself
upon a sofa, she wept like a child. She thought of her sister
suffering from poverty and want, while she had been rolling in
opulence and plenty. Grace tried to comfort her, but it was some
time before she was in a condition to enter the carriage which
was waiting at the door.

"What an adventure, mother!" exclaimed Grace, as she seated
herself by the side of Katy; and it was evident she had a vein of
the romantic in her composition.

"Do not talk to me, Grace. My heart is too full for words."

"But I may talk to Katy--may I not?"


"Well, cousin Katy," laughed Grace; "I shall call you cousin,
though you are not really my cousin."

"Not your cousin?" said Katy, a shade of disappointment crossing
her animated features.

"No; for Mrs. Gordon is not really my mother; only my stepmother;
but she is just as good as a real mother, for I never knew any
other. Dear me! how strange all this is! And you will go up and
live with us in Temple Street, and----"

"I can't leave my mother," interrupted Katy.

"You mother shall go, too."

"She is too sick now."

Grace continued to talk as fast as she could, laying out ever so
many plans for the future, till the carriage reached Colvin
Court. I will not follow them into the chamber of the sick woman;
where Mrs. Gordon, by a slow process that did not agitate the
invalid too violently, revealed herself to her sister. The fine
lady of Temple Street had a heart, a warm and true heart, and not
that day, nor that night, nor for a week, did she leave the sick
bed of the sufferer. There, in the midst of her sister's poverty,
she did a sister's offices.

It was three weeks before Mrs. Redburn was in a condition to be
moved to her sister's house; and then she was once more in the
midst of the luxury and splendor of her early life. One day, when
she had improved so much as to be able to bear the fatigue of a
long conversation, Mrs. Gordon, who had thus far declined to
discuss any exciting topics with the invalid proposed to have
everything explained. Each had a very long story to tell; but as
the reader already knows Mrs. Redburn's history, I shall only
briefly narrate that of Mrs. Gordon and the Guthrie family, after
the departure of the former.

Mr. Guthrie, the father of both, died two years after the flight
of Margaret--Mrs. Redburn--when of course there was a large
property to be divided. Diligent search was made for Margaret in
America but her husband had declared to some person in Liverpool
that he had an engagement in Montreal. This place was thoroughly
canvassed, but without success. No trace of the runaways could be
discovered. Agents were sent to various parts of America, and no
tidings of Margaret had ever reached them.

About two year after her father's death, Jane--Mrs. Gordon--had
married a very wealthy gentleman from Baltimore. He was then a
widower with one child--Grace Gordon. She had come to America
with him, and resided in Baltimore till his death, a period of
only two years. Then, having never liked to live in that city,
she had removed to Boston, where she had a few friends. She had
invested her money and resided there, very happily situated, and
with no desire to return to her native land.

Her father's estate had been divided, and the portion which
belonged to Margaret was held in trust for seven years--when the
law presumed she was dead--and was then delivered to her sister,
who was the only remaining heir. Now that she had appeared, it
was promptly paid over to her, and Mrs. Redburn, before poor and
proud, was now rich, and humility never sat more gracefully on
the brow of woman than on hers.

Katy and her mother had entered upon a new life, and in the midst
of luxury and splendor, they could not forget the past nor cease
to thank God for His past and present mercies. Mrs. Gordon used
to declare it was strange she had never thought that Mrs. Redburn
might be her sister; but it was declared that stranger things
than that had happened.

Katy continued to go to school with great regularity, and became
an excellent scholar. She was beloved by all her companions and
Grace, who was married shortly after Katy entered the family,
always regarded her with the affection of a sister, insisting
that she should spend half the time at her house. Mrs. Redburn
was soon completely restored to health. She had a fortune to
manage now, and when Dr. Flynch proposed to collect her rents and
take charge of her affairs, she respectfully declined the offer.
Mrs. Gordon did not like him as well as formerly, for her sister
had opened her eyes in regard to his true character, and she soon
found an opportunity to discharge him.

Having carried Katy through her principal troubles and chronicled
the rise and fall of the candy trade we shall step forward ten
years to take a final look at her and her friends, and then bid
them farewell.



Ten years is a long time--long enough to change the child into a
woman, the little candy merchant into a fine lady. I suppose,
therefore, that my young friends will need to be introduced to
Miss Redburn. There she sits in the pleasant apartment in Temple
Street, where the picture of the mischievous girl still hangs,
though it looks very little like the matron at her side, for whom
it was taken. She is not beautiful enough to be the heroine of a
romance, neither has she done any absurd thing; she has only
supported her mother when she had no one else to care for her.
But Katy is irresistible if she is not pretty. She still looks as
pleasant as a morning in June, and smiles sweetly when any one
speaks to her and when she speaks to any one.

I am sorry I cannot inform my young lady friends how Miss Redburn
was dressed, or how she proposed to dress, at her birthday party,
which was to come off the following week--what silks, what laces
what muslins, and what jewels she was to wear. I can only say
that she was dressed very plainly, and that her garments were
exceedingly becoming; and that she had steadily resisted the
solicitations of sundry French milliners and dressmakers to
exceed her usual simplicity at the party--and I cordially command
her example to all young ladies.

While Miss Redburn sat at the window, the doorbell rang with
great violence; and Michael --yes, Michael--he is still there, a
veteran in the service of Mrs. Gordon, and fully believing that
Katy is an angel--Michael hastened to admit Grace. She is a
little older than when we saw her last, but she is the same
Grace. She enters the room, kisses Katy with as much zeal as
though she had not seen her for months, though they had met the
day before. She had scarcely saluted her cousin before a little
fat man of six came tumbling into the room, for he had not been
able to keep up with his mother.

"Come, aunty," said little Tommy, who persisted in calling her by
this title, as he rolled up to Miss Redburn, who gave him a
hearty kiss--"come, aunty, I want you to come right down into the
kitchen, and make me a lot of molatheth candy."

"Not now, Tommy"--would you believe it, reader? that little boy's
name is Thomas Howard Parker--"not now, Tommy. I came to tell
you, Katy, that the King of the Billows has been telegraphed."

"Has she?" exclaimed Katy, a deep blush suffusing her cheek.

"Yes; and you must go right down to the wharf, or we shall not be
in season to see Captain Howard, who is coming up in a pilot

Miss Redburn hastened to put on her things, and she and Mrs.
Parker seated themselves in the carriage that waited them.

Of course, you know Captain Howard, reader? He has followed the
sea only eleven years; and though but twenty-five years old, he
is the commander of a fine clipper, and sails in the Liverpool
line. He is frequently quoted as an example of what patient
perseverance will accomplish; for, with very little aid from
friends, he has worked his way from the forecastle into the
cabin. He is a self-educated man, and has the reputation of being
a thorough sailor and a perfect gentleman.

Pursuant to a little arrangement made between Captain Howard and
Miss Redburn, just as he departed on this voyage, they were both
seen in church on the following Thursday afternoon; and when they
came out, people addressed Katy as Mrs. Howard. But to pass on to
the occasions which she had chosen to call a birthday party,
though it was not exactly that; and as it came immediately after
the church service, some called it a levee.

There are a great many persons in the Gordon mansion, as many as
two hundred, I should think. Of course, I cannot stop to
introduce all of them, but there are a few who deserve this

"Mr. Sneed, I am delighted to see you," said Mrs. Howard, as a
very tall and very slim gentleman, elegantly dressed, approached.

"You do me honor, madam. It is the superlative felicity of my
sublunary existence to congratulate you on this auspicious
occasion," replied Mr. Sneed, as he gently pressed the gloved
hand of the lady.

That sounds just like Master Simon Sneed, only very much
intensified. Simon is a salesman still in a large
establishment--has never risen above that position and probably
never will; for, born to be a gentleman, he feels as much above
his business as his business really is above him.

Simon's father and mother say a pleasant word to the bride, and
pass on. And here comes a great fat woman, whose tongue flies
like the shuttle in a loom. Well, it is the captain's mother.
Since her son has been prosperous, she has had an easy time of
it, and has grown very corpulent.

"Who do you think has come, Katy?" puffed Mrs. Howard.

"I don't know. Who?"

"Mrs. Colvin, that was! Mrs. McCarty, that is."

Some of the very good-natured people laughed, and some of the
very fastidious ones turned up their noses, when they saw Mrs.
McCarty so warmly received by the bride; but she did not care who
laughed or who sneered; she was not too proud to welcome, in the
hour of prosperity and happiness, those who had been her friends
in adversity.

"Mrs. Howard, I congratulate you," said a fat man, who was
puffing and blowing at the heat of the room.

It was an ex-mayor and after he had said a few pleasant words, he
passed on to make room for a hundred more who were waiting to
speak to the bride.

That was a very pleasant party; but as we are opposed to crowded
rooms and late hours, we may as well retire.

The next day the happy couple started upon a bridal tour, and on
their return, Captain Howard sailed for Liverpool, in his fine
ship, with Mrs. Howard as a passenger.

And now my young friend, adieu. If you are poor, don't be too
proud to work at any honest occupation; but be too proud to do
wrong--too proud to degrade yourself in your own eyes, by doing a
mean act; and in this sense you may truly be "Poor and Proud."


Back to Full Books