"But that's not all," said the lady. "Spend your time no more in weeding in my garden, you can employ yourself much better; you shall have the reward of your ingenuity as well as of your industry. Make as many more such mats as you can, and I will take care and dispose of them for you."
"Thank'e, ma'am," said Jem, making his best bow, for he thought by the lady's looks that she meant to do him a favour, though he repeated to himself, "Dispose of them, what does that mean?"
The next day he went to work to make more mats, and he soon learned to make them so well and quickly, that he was surprised at his own success.
In every one he made he found less difficulty, so that, instead of making two, he could soon make four in a day. In a fortnight he made eighteen.
It was Saturday night when he finished, and he carried, at three journeys, his eighteen mats to his mistress' house; piled them all up in the hall, and stood with his hat off, with a look of proud humility, beside the pile, waiting for his mistress' appearance. Presently a folding-door, at one end of the hall, opened, and he saw his mistress, with a great many gentlemen and ladies, rising from several tables.
"Oh! there is my little boy and his mats," cried the lady; and, followed by all the rest of the company, she came into the hall. Jem modestly retired whilst…