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A short story by Kate Dickinson Sweetser

Sissy Jupe

Title:     Sissy Jupe
Author: Kate Dickinson Sweetser [More Titles by Sweetser]

"Now, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will be of any service to them. This is the principle on which I bring up my own children, and this is the principle on which I bring up these children. Stick to Facts, sir!"

The scene was a bare, plain, monotonous vault of a schoolroom, and the speaker's square forefinger emphasized his observation. The emphasis was helped by his square wall of a forehead, by his thin and hardset mouth, by his inflexible and dictatorial voice, and by the hair which bristled on the skirts of his bald head, as if the head had scarcely warehouse room for the hard facts stowed inside. The speaker's obstinate carriage, square coat, square legs, square shoulders,--nay, his very neckcloth, trained to take him by the throat with an unaccommodating grasp, like a stubborn fact, as it was,--all helped the emphasis.

"In this life, we want nothing but Facts, sir! Nothing but Facts!"

The speaker, Mr. Thomas Gradgrind, and the schoolmaster, Mr. M'Choakumchild, and the third grown person present, all backed a little, and swept with their eyes the inclined plane of little vessels then and there arranged in order, ready to have imperial gallons of Facts poured into them until they were full to the brim.

"Girl number twenty," said Mr. Gradgrind, squarely pointing with his square forefinger, "I don't know that girl. Who is that girl?"

"Sissy Jupe, sir," explained number twenty, blushing, standing up, and curtseying.

"Sissy is not a name," said Mr. Gradgrind. "Call yourself Cecilia."

"It's father as calls me Sissy, sir," returned the young girl with another curtsey.

"Then he has no business to do it," said Mr. Gradgrind. "Tell him he mustn't. Cecilia Jupe. Let me see. What is your father?"

"He belongs to the horse-riding, if you please, sir."

Mr. Gradgrind frowned, and waved off the objectionable calling with his hand.

"We don't want to know anything about that here. Your father breaks horses, don't he?"

"If you please, sir, when they can get any to break, they do break horses in the ring."

"You mustn't tell us about the ring here. Very well, then. Describe your father as a horse-breaker. He doctors sick horses, I dare say?"

"Oh, yes, sir."

"Very well, then. He is a veterinary surgeon, a farrier and horse-breaker. Give me your definition of a horse."

(Sissy Jupe thrown into the greatest alarm by this demand).

"Girl number twenty unable to define a horse!" said Mr. Gradgrind, for the general behoof of all the little pitchers. "Girl number twenty possessed of no facts in reference to one of the commonest of animals! Some boy's definition of a horse. Bitzer, yours!"

"Quadruped. Graminivorous. Forty teeth, namely twenty-four grinders, four eye-teeth, and twelve incisive. Sheds coat in the spring; in marshy countries, sheds hoofs too. Hoofs hard, but requiring to be shod with iron. Age known by marks in mouth." Thus (and much more) Bitzer.

"Now, girl number twenty," said Mr. Gradgrind, "you know what a horse is."

She curtsied again, blushed, and sat down, and the third gentleman present stepped forth, briskly smiling and folding his arms. "That's a horse," he said. "Now, let me ask you, boys and girls, would you paper a room with representations of horses?"

After a pause, one-half of the children cried in chorus, "Yes, sir!" Upon which the other half, seeing in the gentleman's face that Yes was wrong, cried out in chorus, "No, sir!"

"Of course, No. Why wouldn't you?"

A pause. One boy ventured the answer, because he wouldn't paper a room at all, but would paint it.

"You must paper it," said Thomas Gradgrind, "whether you like it or not. Don't tell us you wouldn't paper it. What do you mean, boy?"

"I'll explain to you then," said the gentleman, after another pause, "why you wouldn't paper a room with a representation of horses. Do you ever see horses walking up and down the sides of rooms in reality--in fact? Of course, No. Why then, you are not to see anywhere what you don't see in fact; you are not to have anywhere what you don't have in fact. This is a new principle, a great discovery," said the gentleman. "Now I'll try you again. Would you use a carpet having a representation of flowers upon it?"

"There being a general conviction by this time that, 'No sir!' was always the right answer to this gentleman, the chorus of No was very strong. Only a few feeble stragglers said Yes; among them Sissy Jupe."

"Girl number twenty," said the gentleman, "why would you carpet your room with representations of flowers?"

"If you please, sir, I'm very fond of flowers," returned the girl.

"And is that why you would put tables and chairs upon them, and have people walking over them with heavy boots?"

"It wouldn't hurt them, sir. They wouldn't crush and wither, please sir. They would be the pictures of what was very pretty and pleasant, sir, and I would fancy--"

"Ay, ay, ay! but you mustn't fancy," cried the gentleman, quite elated by coming so happily to his point. "You are never to fancy."

"You are not, Cecilia Jupe," Thomas Gradgrind solemnly repeated, "to do anything of that kind. You don't walk upon flowers in fact; you cannot be allowed to walk upon flowers in carpets. You don't find that foreign birds and butterflies come and perch upon your crockery; you cannot be permitted to paint foreign birds and butterflies upon your crockery. You never meet with quadrupeds going up and down walls; you must not have quadrupeds represented upon walls. You must use," said the gentleman, "for all these purposes, combinations and modifications in primary colors of mathematical figures which are susceptible of proof and demonstration. This is the new discovery. This is fact. This is taste."

The girl curtseyed and sat down. She was very young, and she looked as if she were frightened by the matter-of-fact prospect the world afforded; while the teacher proceeded to give a lesson based upon hard Fact for the benefit of his visitors.

Mr. Gradgrind walked homeward from the school, in a state of considerable satisfaction. It was his school, and he intended it to be a model. He intended every child in it to be a model, just as the five young Gradgrinds were all models.

No little Gradgrind had ever seen a face in the moon; no little Gradgrind had ever learnt the silly jingle, "Twinkle, twinkle, little star, How I wonder what you are"; each little Gradgrind having at five years old dissected the Great Bear, and driven Charles's Wain like a locomotive engine-driver. No little Gradgrind had ever associated a cow in a field with that famous cow with a crumpled horn who tossed the dog, who worried the cat, who killed the rat, who ate the malt, or with that more famous cow who swallowed Tom Thumb. It had never heard of those celebrities, and had only been introduced to a cow as a graminivorous, ruminating quadruped with several stomachs.

To his matter-of-fact home, which was called Stone Lodge, Mr. Gradgrind directed his steps, walking on in a hopeful and satisfied frame of mind. He was an affectionate father, after his manner; but allowed no foolish sentiment to interfere with the practical basis of his childrens' education and bringing-up.

He had reached the outskirts of the town, when his ears were invaded by the sound of the band attached to the horse-riding establishment, which had there set up its rest in a wooden pavilion. A flag floating from the summit of the temple, proclaimed to mankind that it was Sleary's Horse-Riding which claimed their suffrages. Among the many pleasing wonders which must be seen to be believed, Signor Jupe was that afternoon to "elucidate the diverting accomplishments of his highly trained performing dog, Merrylegs," He was also to exhibit "his astounding feat of throwing seventy-five hundred weight in rapid succession back-handed over his head, thus forming a fountain of solid iron in midair, a feat never before attempted in this or any other country, and which having elicited such rapturous plaudits from enthusiastic throngs it cannot be withdrawn." The same Signor Jupe was to "enliven the varied performances at frequent intervals with his chaste Shakesperean quips and retorts." Lastly, he was to wind them up by appearing in his favorite character of Mr. William Button, of Tooley Street, in "the highly novel and laughable Hippo Comedietta of The Tailor's Journey to Brentford."

Thomas Gradgrind took no heed of these trivialities, but passed on, as a practical man ought to pass on. But, at the back of the booth he saw a number of children congregated in a number of stealthy attitudes, striving to peep in at the hidden glories of the place. What did he then behold but his own Louisa peeping with all her might through a hole in a deal board, and his own Thomas abasing himself on the ground to catch but a hoof of the graceful Tyrolean Flower-act!

Dumb with amazement, Mr. Gradgrind crossed to the spot where his family was thus disgraced, laid his hand upon each erring child, and said:

"Louisa!! Thomas!!"

Both rose, red and disconcerted.

"In the name of wonder, idleness, and folly!" said Mr. Gradgrind, leading each away by a hand; "what do you do here?"

"Wanted to see what it was like," returned Louisa shortly.

"You!" exclaimed Mr. Gradgrind. "Thomas and you, to whom the circle of the sciences is open; who may be said to be replete with Fact; who have been trained to mathematical exactness; Thomas and you, here! In this degraded position! I am amazed."

"I was tired, father," said Louisa.

"Tired? Of what?" asked the astonished father.

"I don't know of what--of everything, I think."

"Say not another word," returned Mr. Gradgrind. "You are childish. I will hear no more." With which remark he led the culprits to their home in silence, into the presence of their fretful invalid mother, who was much annoyed at the disturbance they had created. While she was peevishly expressing her mind on the subject, Mr. Gradgrind was gravely pondering upon the matter.

"Whether," he said, "whether any instructor or servant can have suggested anything? Whether, in spite of all precautions, any idle story-book can have got into the house for Louisa or Thomas to read? Because in minds that have been practically formed by rule and line, from the cradle upwards, this is incomprehensible."

"Stop a bit!" cried his friend Bounderby. "You have one of those Stroller's children in the school, Cecilia Jupe by name! I tell you what, Gradgrind, turn this girl to the right-about, and there is an end of it."

"I am much of your opinion."

"Do it at once," said Bounderby, "has always been my motto. Do you the same. Do this at once!"

"I have the father's address," said his friend. "Perhaps you would not mind walking to town with me?"

"Not the least in the world," said Mr. Bounderby, "as long as you do it at once!"

So Mr. Gradgrind and his friend immediately set out to find Cecilia Jupe, and to order her from henceforth to remain away from school. On the way there they met her. "Now, girl," said Mr. Gradgrind, "take this gentleman and me to your father's; we are going there. What have you got in that bottle you are carrying?"

"It's the nine oils."

"The what?" cried Mr. Bounderby.

"The nine oils, sir, to rub father with. It is what our people always use, sir, when they get any hurts in the ring," replied the girl, "they bruise themselves very bad sometimes."

"Serves them right," said Mr. Bounderby, "for being idle." The girl glanced up at his face with mingled astonishment and dread as he said this, but she led them on down a narrow road, until they stopped at the door of a little public house.

"This is it, sir," she said. "It's only crossing the bar, sir, and up the stairs, if you wouldn't mind; and waiting there for a moment till I get a candle. If you should hear a dog, sir, it's only Merrylegs, and he only barks."

They followed the girl up some steep stairs, and stopped while she went on for a candle. Reappearing, with a face of great surprise, she said, "Father is not in our room, sir. If you wouldn't mind walking in, sir? I'll find him directly."

They walked in; and Sissy having set two chairs for them, sped away with a quick, light step. They heard the doors of rooms above opening and shutting, as Sissy went from one to another in quest of her father. She came bounding down again in a great hurry, opened an old hair trunk, found it empty, and looked around with her face full of terror.

"Father must have gone down to the Booth, sir. I'll bring him in a minute!" She was gone directly, without her bonnet; with her long, dark, childish hair streaming behind her.

"What does she mean!" said Mr. Gradgrind. "Back in a minute? It's more than a mile off."

Before Mr. Bounderby could reply, a young man mentioned in the bills of the day as Mr. E.W.B. Childers,--justly celebrated for his daring vaulting act as the wild huntsman of the North American prairies, appeared. Upon entering into conversation with Mr. Gradgrind he informed that gentleman of his opinion that Jupe was off.

"Do you mean that he has deserted his daughter?" asked Mr. Gradgrind.

"I mean," said Mr. Childers with a nod, "that he has cut. He has been short in his leaps and bad in his tumbling lately, missed his tip several times, too. He was goosed last night, he was goosed the night before last, he was goosed to-day. He has lately got in the way of being always goosed, and he can't stand it."

"Why has he been--so very much--goosed?" asked Mr. Gradgrind, forcing the word out of himself, with great solemnity and reluctance.

"His joints are turning stiff, and he is getting used up," said Childers. "He has his points as a Cackler still, a speaker, if the gentleman likes it better--but he can't get a living out of that. Now it's a remarkable fact, sir, that it cut that man deeper to know that his daughter knew of his being goosed than to go through with it. Jupe sent her out on an errand not an hour ago, and then was seen to slip out himself, with his dog behind him and a bundle under his arm. She will never believe it of her father, but he has cut away and left her.

"Poor Sissy! he had better have apprenticed her," added Mr. Childers, "Now, he leaves her without anything to take to. Her father always had it in his head, that she was to be taught the deuce-and-all of education. He has been picking up a bit of reading for her, here--and a bit of writing for her, there--and a bit of ciphering for her, somewhere else--these seven years. When Sissy got into the school here," he pursued, "he was as pleased as Punch. I suppose he had this move in his mind--he was always half cracked--and then considered her provided for. If you should have happened to have looked in to-night to tell him that you were going to do her any little service," added Mr. Childers, "it would be very fortunate and well-timed."

"On the contrary," returned Mr. Gradgrind, "I came to tell her that she could not attend our school any more. Still, if her father really has left her without any connivance on her part!--Bounderby, let me have a word with you."

Upon this, Mr. Childers politely betook himself outside the door, and there stood while the two gentlemen were engaged in conversation.

Meanwhile the various members of Sleary's company gathered together in the room. Last of all appeared Mr. Sleary himself, who was stout, and troubled with asthma, and whose breath came far too thick and heavy for the letter s. Bowing to Mr. Gradgrind, he asked:

"Ith it your intention to do anything for the poor girl, Thquire?"

"I shall have something to propose to her when she comes back," said Mr. Gradgrind.

"Glad to hear it, Thquire. Not that I want to get rid of the child, any more than I want to thtand in her way. I'm willing to take her prenthith, though at her age ith late."

Here his daughter Josephine--a pretty, fair-haired girl of eighteen, who had been tied on a horse at two years old, and had made a will at twelve, which she always carried about with her, expressive of her dying desire to be drawn to the grave by two piebald ponies--cried "Father, hush! she has come back!" Then came Sissy Jupe, running into the room as she had run out of it. And when she saw them all assembled, and saw their looks, and saw no father there, she broke into a most deplorable cry, and took refuge on the bosom of the most accomplished tight-rope lady, who knelt down on the floor to nurse her, and to weep over her.

"Ith an infernal shame, upon my thoul it ith," said Sleary.

"O my dear father, my good, kind father, where are you gone? You are gone to try to do me some good, I know! You are gone away for my sake, I am sure. And how miserable and helpless you will be without me, poor, poor father, until you come back!" It was so pathetic to hear her saying many things of this kind, with her face turned upward, and her arms stretched out as if she were trying to stop his departing shadow and embrace it, that no one spoke a word until Mr. Bounderby (growing impatient) took the case in hand.

"Now, good people all," said he, "this is wanton waste of time. Let the girl understand the fact. Here, what's your name! Your father has absconded, deserted you--and you mustn't expect to see him again as long as you live."

They cared so little for plain fact, these people, that instead of being impressed by the speaker's strong common sense, they took it in extraordinary dudgeon. The men muttered "Shame!" and the women, "Brute!" Whereupon Mr. Gradgrind found an opening for his eminently practical exposition of the subject.

"It is of no moment," said he, "whether this person is to be expected back at any time, or the contrary. He is gone away, and there is no present expectation of his return. That, I believe, is agreed on all hands."

"Thath agreed, Thquire. Thtick to that!" from Sleary.

"Well, then. I, who came here to inform the father of the poor girl, Jupe, that she could not be received at the school any more, in consequence of there being practical objections, into which I need not enter, to the reception there of the children of persons so employed, am prepared in these altered circumstances to make a proposal. I am willing to take charge of you, Jupe, and to educate you, and provide for you. The only condition (over and above your good behavior) I make is, that you decide now, at once, whether to accompany me or remain here. Also, that if you accompany me now, it is understood that you communicate no more with any of your friends who are here present. These observations comprise the whole of the case."

"At the thame time," said Sleary, "I muth put in my word, Thquire, tho that both thides of the banner may be equally theen. If you like, Thethillia, to be prentitht, you know the natur' of the work, and you know your companionth. Emma Gordon, in whothe lap you're a lying at prethent, would be a mother to you, and Joth'phine would be a thithther to you. I don't pretend to be of the angel breed myself, and I don't thay but what, when you mith'd your tip, you'd find me cut up rough, and thwear a oath or two at you. But what I thay, Thquire, ith, that good tempered or bad tempered, I never did a horthe a injury yet, no more than thwearing at him went, and that I don't expect I thall begin otherwithe at my time of life, with a rider. I never wath much of a cackler, Thquire, and I have thed my thay."

The latter part of this speech was addressed to Mr. Gradgrind, who received it with a grave inclination of his head, and then remarked:

"The only observation I will make to you, Jupe, in the way of influencing your decision, is, that it is highly desirable to have a sound practical education, and that even your father himself (from what I understand) appears, on your behalf, to have known and felt that much."

The last words had a visible effect upon her. She stopped in her wild crying, and turned her face full upon her patron. The whole company perceived the force of the change, and drew a long breath, together, that plainly said, "She will go!"

"Be sure you know your own mind, Jupe," Mr. Gradgrind cautioned her; "I say no more. Be sure you know your own mind!"

"When father comes back," cried the girl, bursting into tears again after a minute's silence, "how will he ever find me if I go away!"

"You may be quite at ease," said Mr. Gradgrind calmly; he worked out the whole matter like a sum; "you may be quite at ease, Jupe, on that score. In such a case, your father, I apprehend, must find out Mr. Sleary, who would then let him know where you went. I should have no power of keeping you against his wish."

There was another silence; and then Sissy exclaimed sobbing, "Oh, give me my clothes, give me my clothes, and let me go away before I break my heart!"

The women sadly bestirred themselves to get the clothes together, and to pack them. They then brought Sissy's bonnet to her and put it on. Then they pressed about her, kissing and embracing her: and brought the children to take leave of her; and were a tender-hearted, simple, foolish, set of women altogether. Then she had to take her farewell of the male part of the company, and last of all of Mr. Sleary.

"Farewell, Thethilia!" he said, "my latht wordth to you ith thith: Thtick to the termth of your engagement, be obedient to the Thquire, and forget uth. But if, when you're grown up and married and well off, you come upon any horthe-riding ever, don't be hard upon it, don't be croth with it, give it a Bethpeak if you can, and think you might do worth. People must be amuthed, Thquire, thomehow," continued Sleary, "they can't be alwayth a working, nor yet they can't be alwayth a learning. Make the betht of uth; not the wurtht. I've got my living out of horthe-riding all my life, I know, but I conthider that I lay down the philothophy of the thubject when I thay to you, Thquire, make the betht of uth; not the wurtht!"

The Sleary philosophy was propounded as they went downstairs; and the fixed eye of Philosophy--and its rolling eye, too,--soon lost the three figures, and the basket in the darkness of the street.

To Mr. Bounderby's house the weeping Sissy was conducted, and remained there while Mr. Gradgrind returned to Stone Lodge to mature his plans for the clown's daughter. He soon came back to Mr. Bounderby's, bringing his daughter Louisa with him, and Sissy Jupe stood before them, with downcast eyes, while Mr. Gradgrind thus addressed her:

"Jupe, I have made up my mind to take you into my house; and when you are not at school, to employ you about Mrs. Gradgrind, who is rather an invalid. I have explained to Miss Louisa--this is Miss Louisa--the miserable but natural end of your late career; and you are to understand that the subject is not to be referred to any more. From this time you begin your history. You are at present ignorant, I know."

"Yes, sir, very," she answered curtseying.

"I shall have the satisfaction of causing you to be strictly educated; and you will be a living proof of the advantages of the training you will receive. You will be reclaimed and formed. You have been in the habit now of reading to your father, and those people I found you among, I dare say?" said Mr. Gradgrind.

"Only to father and to Merrylegs, sir. At least I mean to father, when Merrylegs was always there."

"Never mind Merrylegs, Jupe," said Mr. Gradgrind with a frown. "I don't ask about him. I understand you have been in the habit of reading to your father, and what did you read to him, Jupe?"

"About the fairies, sir, and the Dwarf, and the Hunchback, and the Genies," she sobbed out: "And about--"

"Hush!" exclaimed Mr. Gradgrind, "that is enough. Never breathe a word of such destructive nonsense any more."

Then Mr. Gradgrind and his daughter took Cecilia Jupe off with them to Stone Lodge, where she speedily grew as pale as wax, and as heavy-eyed as all the other victims of Mr. Gradgrind's practical system of training. She had not an easy time of it, between Mr. M'Choakumchild and Mrs. Gradgrind, and was not without strong impulses, in the first months of her probation, to run away. It hailed facts all day long, so very hard, and life in general was opened to her as such a closely ruled ciphering book, that assuredly she would have run away, but for only one restraint. She believed that her father had not deserted her; she lived in the hope that he would come back, and in the faith that he would be made the happier by her remaining where she was.

The wretched ignorance with which Jupe clung to this consolation, rejecting the superior comfort of knowing on a sound arithmetical basis that her father was an unnatural vagabond, filled Mr. Gradgrind with pity. Yet, what was to be done? Mr. M'Choakumchild reported that she had a very dense head for figures; that, once possessed with a general idea of the globe, she took the smallest conceivable interest in its exact measurements; that after eight weeks of induction into the elements of Political Economy, she had only yesterday returned to the question, "What is the first principle of this science?" the absurd answer, "To do unto others as I would that they should do unto me."

Mr. Gradgrind observed, shaking his head, that all this was very bad; that it showed the necessity of infinite grinding at the mill of knowledge, and that Jupe must be "kept to it." So Jupe was kept to it, and became low spirited, but no wiser.

"It would be a fine thing to be you, Miss Louisa!" She said one night, when Louisa had endeavored to make her perplexities for next day something clearer to her, to which Louisa answered, "I don't know that, Sissy. You are more useful to my mother. You are pleasanter to yourself, than I am to myself."

"But, if you please, Miss Louisa," Sissy pleaded, "I am--Oh so stupid! All through school hours I make mistakes. To-day for instance, Mr. M'Choakumchild was explaining to us about Natural Prosperity."

"National, I think it must have been," observed Louisa.

"National Prosperity," corrected Sissy, "and he said, Now, this schoolroom is a Nation, and in this nation there are fifty millions of money. Isn't this a prosperous nation? Girl number twenty. Isn't this a prosperous nation, and a'n't you in a thriving state? Miss Louisa, I said I didn't know. I thought I couldn't know whether it was a prosperous nation or not, and whether I was in a thriving state or not, unless I knew who had got the money, and whether any of it was mine. But that had nothing to do with it. It was not in the figures at all," said Sissy, wiping her eyes.

"That was a great mistake of yours," observed Louisa.

"Yes, Miss Louisa, I know it was now. Then Mr. M'Choakumchild said he would try me again. And he said, This Schoolroom is an immense town, and in it there are a million inhabitants, and only five-and-twenty are starved to death in the streets, in the course of a year. What is your remark on that proportion? And my remark was, that I thought it must be just as hard upon those who were starved, whether the others were a million or a million million. And that was wrong too. Then Mr. M'Choakumchild said he would try me once more. And he said That in a given time a hundred thousand persons went to sea on long voyages, and only five hundred of them were drowned or burned to death. What is the percentage? And I said, Miss;" here Sissy fairly sobbed in confessing to her great error; "I said it was nothing, Miss--to the relations and friends of the people who were killed--I shall never learn," said Sissy. "And the worst of all is, that although my poor father wished me so much to learn, and although I am so anxious to learn, because he wished me to, I am afraid I don't like it."

Louisa stood looking at the pretty, modest head, as it drooped abashed before her, until it was raised again to glance at her face. Then she asked:

"Did your father know so much himself, that he wished you to be well taught too?"

Sissy hesitated before replying, for this was forbidden ground, but Louisa insisted upon continuing the conversation.

"No, Miss Louisa," answered Sissy, "father knows very little indeed. But he said mother was quite a scholar. She died when I was born. She was"--Sissy made the terrible communication, nervously--"she was a dancer. We travelled about the country. Father's a"--Sissy whispered the awful word--"a clown."

"To make the people laugh?" said Louisa with a nod of intelligence.

"Yes." But they wouldn't laugh sometimes. Lately they very often wouldn't, and he used to come home despairing.

I tried to comfort him the best I could, and father said I did. I used to read to him to cheer up his courage, and he was very fond of that. Often and often of a night, he used to forget all his troubles in wondering whether the Sultan would let the lady go on with her story, or would have her head cut off before it was finished."

"And your father was always kind?" asked Louisa.

"Always, always!" returned Sissy, clasping her hands. "Kinder and kinder than I can tell. He was angry only one night, and that was not at me, but Merrylegs, his performing dog. After he beat the dog, he lay down crying on the floor with him in his arms, and the dog licked his face."

Louisa saw that she was sobbing, and going to her, kissed her, took her hand, and sat down beside her.

"Finish by telling me how your father left you, Sissy. The blame of telling the story, if there is any blame, is mine, not yours."

"Dear Miss Louisa," said Sissy, sobbing yet; "I came home from the school that afternoon, and found poor father just come home too, from the booth. And he sat rocking himself over the fire, as if he was in pain. And I said, 'have you hurt yourself father?' and he said, 'A little, my darling.' Then I saw that he was crying. The more I spoke to him, the more he hid his face; and shook all over, and said nothing but 'My darling'; and 'My love!' Then he said he never gave any satisfaction now, that he was a shame and disgrace, and I should have done better without him all along. I said all the affectionate things to him that came into my heart, and presently he was quiet, and put his arms around my neck, and kissed me a great many times. Then he asked me to fetch some of the stuff he used, for the little hurt he had had, and to get it at the best place, which was at the other end of town. Then after kissing me again, he let me go. There is no more to tell, Miss Louisa. I keep the nine oils ready for him, and I know he will come back. Every letter that I see in Mr. Gradgrind's hand takes my breath away, and blinds my eyes, for I think it comes from father, or from Mr. Sleary about father."

After this whenever Sissy dropped a curtsey to Mr. Gradgrind in the presence of his family, and asked if he had had any letter yet about her, Louisa would suspend the occupation of the moment, and look for the reply as earnestly as Sissy did. And when Mr. Gradgrind answered, "No, Jupe, nothing of the sort," the trembling of Sissy's lips would be repeated in Louisa's face, and her eyes would follow Sissy with compassion to the door. Thus a warm friendship sprang up between the girls, and a similar one between the mathematical Thomas and the clown's daughter.

Time with his innumerable horse-power presently turned out young Thomas Gradgrind a young man and Louisa a young woman. The same great manufacturer passed Sissy onward in his mill, and worked her up into a very pretty article, indeed.

"I fear, Jupe," said Mr. Gradgrind, "that your continuance at the school any longer would be useless."

"I am afraid it would, sir," Sissy answered with a curtsey.

"I cannot disguise from you, Jupe," said Mr. Gradgrind, "that the result of your probation there has greatly disappointed me. You are extremely deficient in your facts. Your acquaintance with figures is very limited. You are altogether backward, and below the mark, yet I believe you have tried hard. I have observed you, and I can find no fault with you in that respect."

"Thank you, sir. I have thought sometimes;" Sissy faltered, "that perhaps I tried to learn too much, and that if I had asked to be allowed to try a little less, I might have--"

"No, Jupe, no," said Mr. Gradgrind, shaking his head. "No. The course you pursued, you pursued according to the system, and there is no more to be said about it. I can only suppose that the circumstances of your early life were too unfavorable to the development of your reasoning powers, and that we began too late. Still, as I have said already, I am disappointed."

"I wish I could have made a better acknowledgment, sir, of your kindness to a poor forlorn girl who had no claim upon you, and of your protection of her." said Sissy, weeping.

"Don't shed tears," added Mr. Gradgrind, "I don't complain of you. You are an affectionate, earnest, good young woman, and we must make that do."

"Thank you, sir, very much," said Sissy, with a grateful curtsey.

"You are useful to Mrs. Gradgrind, and you are serviceable in the family also; so I understand from Miss Louisa, and indeed, so I have observed myself. I therefore hope," said Mr. Gradgrind, "that you can make yourself happy in those relations."

"I should have nothing to wish, sir, if--"

"I understand you," said Mr. Gradgrind; "you refer to your father. I have heard from Miss Louisa that you still preserve that bottle. Well! If your training in the science of arriving at exact results had been more successful, you would have been wiser on these points. I will say no more."

He really liked Sissy too well to have contempt for her. Somehow or other, he had become possessed by an idea that there was something in this girl which could hardly be set forth in a tabular form; that there was something in her composition which defied the cold analysis of Fact; that there was some great virtue in her loving-kindness which more than compensated for her deficiencies of mind.

From that time Sissy lived at Stone Lodge on equal terms with the rest of the family, and after Louisa's marriage, cared for fretful Mrs. Gradgrind in her invalidism, with a sweet patience that endeared her to the poor woman. Indeed the entire household were deeply attached to Sissy, and, seeing the unselfishness of her daily life, even Mr. Gradgrind himself was forced to acknowledge that there was a greater Teacher than M'Choakumchild, with a system of education superior to the Gradgrind system, and that the same great Teacher had educated the clown's daughter to a higher degree of usefulness and courage than the Gradgrind system had yet been able to produce.

In fact, as time went on, Mr. Gradgrind was slowly discovering the flaws in his mathematical theories; finding out that laws and logic can never take the place of love in the development of a nature, and the discovery was a bitter one to him.

Despite their careful bringing-up by rule and measure, neither Louisa nor Thomas Gradgrind, in their maturity, did any credit to their father's system, and when his mistakes with them became evident to the cold, proud man, and he realized how nearly he had wrecked their lives by those errors, the weight of his suffering was heavy upon him. Then, realizing that all the Facts in his storehouse of learning, could not teach him how to save his children, and win their love, it was to Sissy that he turned for the information that he needed.

When young Thomas Gradgrind robbed the Bank with which he was connected, and was obliged to flee from justice, it was Sissy who saved him from ruin. She sent him, with a note of explanation, to her old friend, Mr. Sleary,--whose whereabouts she happened to know at the time, and asked him to hide young Thomas until he should have further advice from her. Then she and Louisa and Mr. Gradgrind journeyed hurriedly to the town, where they found the Circus. A performance was just beginning when they arrived, and they found the culprit in the ring, disguised as a black servant.

When the performance was over, Mr. Sleary came out and greeted them with great heartiness, exclaiming; "Thethilia, it doth me good to thee you. You wath always a favorite with uth, and you've done uth credit thinth the old timeth, I'm thure."

He then suggested that such members of his troupe as would remember her be called to see her, and presently Sissy found herself amid the familiar scenes of her childhood, surrounded by an eager and affectionate group of her old comrades. While she was busily talking with them, Mr. Sleary entered into a consultation with Mr. Gradgrind upon the subject of his erring son's future. He then told the poor, distressed father that for Sissy's sake, and because Mr. Gradgrind had been so kind to her, he would help the culprit to escape from the country, secretly, by night Then, growing confidential, he added:

"Thquire, you don't need to be told that dogth ith wonderful animalth."

"Their instinct," said Mr. Gradgrind, "is surprising."

"Whatever you call it--and I'm bletht if I know what to call it"--said Sleary, "it ith athtonithing. Ith fourteen month ago, Thquire, thinthe we wath at Chethter. One morning there cometh into our Ring, by the thage door, a dog. He had travelled a long way, he wath in very bad condition, he wath lame and pretty well blind. He went round as if he wath a theeking for a child he know'd; and then he comed to me, and thood on hith two fore-legth, weak ath he wath, and then he wagged hith tail and died. Thquire, that dog wath Merrylegth."

"Sissy's father's dog!"

"Thethilia's fatherth old dog. Now, Thquire, I can take my oath, from my knowledge of that dog, that that man wath dead--and buried--afore that dog came back to me. We talked it over a long time, whether I thould write or not, but we agreed, No. There'th nothing comfortable to tell; why unthettle her mind, and make her unhappy? Tho, whether her father bathely detherted her; or whether he broke his own heart alone, rather than pull her down along with him, never will be known, now, Thquire, till we know how the dogth findth uth out!"

"She keeps the bottle that he sent her for, to this hour, and she will believe in his affection to the last moment of her life," said Mr. Gradgrind.

"It theemth to prethent two things to a perthon, don't it?" said Mr. Sleary musingly, "one, that there ith a love in the world, not all thelf-interest, after all, but thomething very different; t'other, that it hath a way of its own of calculating with ith as hard to give a name to, ath the wayth of the dogth ith!"

Mr. Gradgrind looked out of the window, and made no reply. He was deep in thought, and the result of his meditation became evident from that day in a gradual broadening of his nature and purposes. He never again attempted to replace nature's instincts and affections by his own system of education, and as the years went by he made no further attempt to destroy Sissy's loving faith in that father who had left her long ago; he only tried to compensate her for that loss as best he could;--and for the education which led to the softening of his hard, cold nature, the credit belongs to the daughter of a clown, to whom love meant more than logic.

[The end]
Kate Dickinson Sweetser's short story: Sissy Jupe