The person who answered the door, took my message in insolent silence, and left me standing in the hall. She is the daughter of a heathen old man named Betteredge- long, too long, tolerated by my aunt’s family. I sat down in the hall to wait for my answer – and, having always a few tracts in my bag, I selected one which proved to be quite providentially applicable to the person who answered the door. The hall was dirty, and the chair was hard; but the blessed consciousness of returning good for evil raised me quite above any trifling considerations of that kind. The tract was one of a series addressed to young woman on the sinfulness of dress. In style it was devoutly familiar. Its title was “A Word With You On Your Cap Ribbons.”
“My lady is much obliged, and begs you will come and lunch tomorrow at two.”
I passed over the manner in which she gave her message, and the dreadful boldness of her look. I thanked this young castaway; and I said, in a tone of Christian interest, “Will you favour me by accepting a tract?”
She looked at the title. “Is it written by a man or a woman, Miss? If it’s written by a woman, I had rather not read it on that account. If it’s written by a man, I beg to inform him that he knows nothing about it.” She handed me back the tract, and opened the door. We must sow the good seed somehow. I waited till the door was shut on me, and slipped the tract into the letter box. When I had dropped another tract through the area railings, I felt relieved, in some small degree, of a heavy responsibility towards others.
The Moonstone, Wilkie Collins, p. 213