At this time she did not know the full extent of their losses. But they had given Mr. Hardie a power of attorney to draw out all their consols. That remorseless man had abused the discretion this gave him, and beggared them--they were his personal friends, too--to swell his secret hoard.
When "the sunshine of the poor" heard this, and knew that she was now the poorest of the poor, she clasped her hands and cried, "Oh, my poor sisters! my poor sisters!" and she could work no more for sighing.
The next morning found "the sunshine of the poor" extinct in her little bed: ay, died of grief with no grain of egotism in it; gone straight to heaven without one angry word against Richard Hardie or any other.
Old Betty had a horror of the workhouse. To save her old age from it she had deposited her wages in the bank for the last twenty years, and also a little legacy from Mr. Hardie's father. She now went about the house of her master and debtor, declaring she was sure he would not rob _her,_ and, if he did, she would never go into the poorhouse. "I'll go out on the common and die there. Nobody will miss _me._"
The next instance led to consequences upon consequences: and that is my excuse for telling it the reader somewhat more fully than Alfred heard it.
Mrs. Maxley one night found something rough at her feet in bed. "What on earth is this?" said she.
"Never you mind," said Maxley: "say it's my breeches; what then?"
"Why, what on earth does the man put his breeches to bed for?"