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The Thankless Office
by [?]

“AN object of real charity,” said Andrew Lyon to his wife, as a poor woman withdrew from the room in which they were seated.

“If ever there was a worthy object, she is one,” returned Mrs. Lyon. “A widow, with health so feeble that even ordinary exertion is too much for her; yet obliged to support, with the labor of her own hands, not only herself, but three young children. I do not wonder that she is behind with her rent.”

“Nor I,” said Mr. Lyon in a voice of sympathy. “How much did she say was due to her landlord?”

“Ten dollars.”

“She will not be able to pay it.”

“I fear not. How can she? I give her all my extra sewing, and have obtained work for her from several ladies; but, with her best efforts she can barely obtain food and decent clothing for herself and babes.”

“Does it not seem hard,” remarked Mr. Lyon, “that one like Mrs. Arnold, who is so earnest in her efforts to take care of herself and family, should not receive a helping hand from some one of the many who could help her without feeling the effort? If I didn’t find it so hard to make both ends meet, I would pay off her arrears of rent for her, and feel happy in so doing.”

“Ah!” exclaimed the kind-hearted wife, “how much I wish that we were able to do this. But we are not.”

“I’ll tell you what we can do,” said Mr. Lyon, in a cheerful voice–“or, rather what I can do. It will be a very light matter for, say ten persons, to give a dollar a-piece, in order to relieve Mrs. Arnold from her present trouble. There are plenty who would cheerfully contribute for this good purpose; all that is wanted is some one to take upon himself the business of making the collections. That task shall be mine.”

“How glad, James, to hear you say so,” smilingly replied Mrs. Lyon. “Oh! what a relief it will be to poor Mrs. Arnold. It will make her heart as light as a feather. That rent has troubled her sadly. Old Links, her landlord, has been worrying her about it a good deal, and, only a week ago, threatened to put her things in the street if she didn’t pay up.”

“I should have thought of this before,” remarked Andrew Lyon. “There are hundreds of people who are willing enough to give if they were only certain in regard to the object. Here is one worthy enough in every way. Be it my business to present her claims to benevolent consideration. Let me see. To whom shall I go? There are Jones, and Green, and Tompkins. I can get a dollar from each of them. That will be three dollars–and one from myself, will make four. Who else is there? Oh! Malcolm! I’m sure of a dollar from him; and, also, from Smith, Todd, and Perry.”

Confident in the success of his benevolent scheme, Mr. Lyon started forth, early on the very next day, for the purpose of obtaining, by subscription, the poor widow’s rent. The first person he called on was Malcolm.

“Ah, friend Lyon,” said Malcolm, smiling blandly. “Good morning! What can I do for you to-day?”

“Nothing for me, but something for a poor widow, who is behind with her rent,” replied Andrew Lyon. “I want just one dollar from you, and as much more from some eight or nine as benevolent as yourself.”

At the words “poor widow,” the countenance of Malcolm fell, and when his visiter ceased, he replied in a changed and husky voice, clearing his throat two or three times as he spoke,

“Are you sure she is deserving, Mr. Lyon?” The man’s manner had become exceedingly grave.

“None more so,” was the prompt answer. “She is in poor health, and has three children to support with the product of her needle. If any one needs assistance it is Mrs. Arnold.”