Infomotions, Inc.The Wide, Wide World / Warner, Susan, 1819-1885



Author: Warner, Susan, 1819-1885
Title: The Wide, Wide World
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): ellen; alice; miss; miss ellen; miss alice; miss sophia; miss fortune
Contributor(s): Γ§ois Pierre Guillaume, 1787-1874 [Translator]
Versions: original; local mirror; HTML (this file); printable
Services: find in a library; evaluate using concordance
Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 253,376 words (tome-like) Grade range: 7-9 (grade school) Readability score: 75 (easy)
Identifier: etext18689
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The Project Gutenberg eBook, The Wide, Wide World, by Elizabeth Wetherell


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Title: The Wide, Wide World


Author: Elizabeth Wetherell



Release Date: June 26, 2006  [eBook #18689]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE WIDE, WIDE WORLD***


Susan Warner (1849-1885), The Wide Wide World (1850),
Tauchnitz edition 1854


Produced by Daniel FROMONT


_The Wide, Wide World_ as seen by _The North American Review_, January
1853
'…Miss Warner… makes her young girl passionate, though
amiable, in her temper; fond of admiration, although withheld
by innate delicacy from seeking it unduly. She places her in
circumstances of peculiar trial to her peculiar traits, and
brings her, by careful gradations, to the state of self-
governed and stable virtue which fits woman for her great
office in the world; a fitness which would be impaired by the
sacrifice of a single grace, or the loss of one sentiment of
tenderness. To build such a character on any basis other than
a religious one, would have been to fix a palace upon the
shifting sands . . . Ellen and Fleda are reared, by their
truly feminine and natural experiences, into any thing but
"strong-minded women," at least if we accept Mr. Dickens's
notion of that dreadful order. They are both of velvet
softness; of delicate, downcast beauty; of flitting but
abundant smiles, and of even too many and ready tears… They
live in the affections, as the true woman must; yet they
cultivate and prize the understanding, and feel it to be the
guardian of goodness, as all wise women should… They are
conscious of having a power and place in the world, and they
claim it without assumption or affectation, and fill it with a
quiet self-respect, not inconsistent with modesty and due
humility. Such is the ideal presented, and with such skill
that we seem at times to be reading a biography. There is a
sweetness in the conception and execution that makes the heart
and the temper better as we read. So much for the _charm_ of the
books. But, on the other hand, we are compelled to say that
such magisterial lovers as Mr. Carleton and John Humphreys are
not at all to our taste, nor do we believe they would in
actual presence be very fascinating to most young ladies…'




COLLECTION

OF

BRITISH AUTHORS.


VOL. CCCVIII.


THE WIDE, WIDE WORLD BY ELIZABETH WETHERELL.


IN ONE VOLUME




THE WIDE, WIDE WORLD.


BY


ELIZABETH WETHERELL.




_AUTHOR'S EDITION_.




LEIPZIG

BERNHARD TAUCHNITZ

1854.




"Here at the portal thou dost stand,

And with thy little hand

Thou openest the mysterious gate, —

Into the future's undiscovered land

I see its valves expand,

As at the touch of FATE! —

Into those realms of Love and Hate."

LONGFELLOW.




THE WIDE, WIDE WORLD.




CHAPTER I.

Breaking the News.


"Mamma, what was that I heard papa saying to you this morning
about his lawsuit?"

"I cannot tell you just now. Ellen, pick up that shawl and
spread it over me."

"Mamma! — are you cold in this warm room?"

"A little, — there, that will do. Now, my daughter, let me be
quiet a while — don't disturb me."

There was no one else in the room. Driven thus to her own
resources, Ellen betook herself to the window, and sought
amusement there. The prospect without gave little promise of
it. Rain was falling, and made the street and everything in it
look dull and gloomy. The foot-passengers plashed through the
water, and the horses and carriages plashed through the mud;
gaiety had forsaken the side-walks, and equipages were few,
and the people that were out were plainly there only because
they could not help it. But yet Ellen, having seriously set
herself to study everything that passed, presently became
engaged in her occupation; and her thoughts travelling
dreamily from one thing to another, she sat for a long time
with her little face pressed against the window-frame,
perfectly regardless of all but the moving world without.

Daylight gradually faded away, and the street wore a more and
more gloomy aspect. The rain poured, and now only an
occasional carriage or footstep disturbed the sound of its
steady pattering. Yet still Ellen sat with her face glued to
the window as if spell-bound, gazing out at every dusky form
that passed, as though it had some strange interest for her.
At length, in the distance, light after light began to appear;
presently Ellen could see the dim figure of the lamplighter
crossing the street, from side to side, with his ladder; then
he drew near enough for her to watch him as he hooked his
ladder on the lamp-irons, ran up and lit the lamp, then
shouldered the ladder and marched off quick, the light
glancing on his wet oil-skin hat, rough greatcoat, and
lantern, and on the pavement and iron railings. The veriest
moth could not have followed the light with more perseverance
than did Ellen's eyes, till the lamplighter gradually
disappeared from view, and the last lamp she could see was
lit; and not till then did it occur to her that there was such
a place as indoors. She took her face from the window. The
room was dark and cheerless, and Ellen felt stiff and chilly.
However, she made her way to the fire, and having found the
poker, she applied it gently to the Liverpool coal with such
good effect, that a bright ruddy blaze sprang up, and lighted
the whole room. Ellen smiled at the result of her experiment.
"That is something like," said she, to herself; "who says I
can't poke the fire? Now, let us see if I can't do something
else. Do but see how these chairs are standing — one would
think we had had a sewing-circle here — there, go back to your
places — that looks a little better; now, these curtains must
come down, and I may as well shut the shutters too — and now
this tablecloth must be content to hang straight, and Mamma's
box and the books must lie in their places, and not all
helter-skelter. Now, I wish Mamma would wake up; I should
think she might. I don't believe she is asleep either — she
don't look as if she was."

Ellen was right in this; her mother's face did not wear the
look of sleep, nor indeed of repose at all; the lips were
compressed, and the brow not calm. To try, however, whether
she was asleep or no, and with the half-acknowledged intent to
rouse her at all events, Ellen knelt down by her side, and
laid her face close to her mother's on the pillow. But this
failed to draw either word or sign. After a minute or two,
Ellen tried stroking her mother's cheek very gently — and this
succeeded, for Mrs. Montgomery arrested the little hand as it
passed her lips, and kissed it fondly two or three times.

"I haven't disturbed you, Mamma, have I?" said Ellen.

Without replying, Mrs. Montgomery raised herself to a sitting
posture, and lifting both hands to her face, pushed back the
hair from her forehead and temples, with a gesture which Ellen
knew meant that she was making up her mind to some
disagreeable or painful effort. Then taking both Ellen's
hands, as she still knelt before her, she gazed in her face
with a look even more fond than usual, Ellen thought, but much
sadder too; though Mrs. Montgomery's cheerfulness had always
been of a serious kind.

"What question was that you were asking me a while ago, my
daughter?"

"I thought, Mamma, I heard papa telling you this morning, or
yesterday, that he had lost that lawsuit."

"You heard right, Ellen — he has lost it," said Mrs.
Montgomery, sadly.

"Are you sorry, Mamma? — does it trouble you?"

"You know, my dear, that I am not apt to concern myself
overmuch about the gain or the loss of money. I believe my
heavenly Father will give me what is good for me."

"Then, Mamma, why are you troubled?"

"Because, my child, I cannot carry out this principle in other
matters, and leave quietly my _all_ in His hands."

"What is the matter, dear mother? What makes you look so?"

"This lawsuit, Ellen, has brought upon us more trouble than I
ever thought a lawsuit could — the loss of it, I mean."

"How, Mamma?"

"It has caused an entire change of all our plans. Your father
says he is too poor now to stay here any longer; and he has
agreed to go soon on some government or military business to
Europe."

"Well, Mamma, that is bad; but he has been away a great deal
before, and I am sure we were always very happy."

"But, Ellen, he thinks now, and the doctor thinks too, that it
is very important for my health that I should go with him."

"Does he, Mamma? — and do you mean to go?"

"I am afraid I must, my dear child."

"Not, and leave _me_, mother?"

The imploring look of mingled astonishment, terror, and sorrow
with which Ellen uttered these words, took from her mother all
power of replying. It was not necessary; her little daughter
understood only too well the silent answer of her eye. With a
wild cry she flung her arms round her mother, and hiding her
face in her lap, gave way to a violent burst of grief, that
seemed for a few moments as if it would rend soul and body in
twain. For her passions were by nature very strong, and by
education very imperfectly controlled; and time, "that rider
that breaks youth," had not as yet tried his hand upon her.
And Mrs. Montgomery, in spite of the fortitude and calmness to
which she had steeled herself, bent down over her, and folding
her arms about her, yielded to sorrow deeper still, and for a
little while scarcely less violent in its expression than
Ellen's own.

Alas! she had too good reason. She knew that the chance of her
ever returning to shield the little creature who was nearest
her heart from the future evils and snares of life was very,
very small. She had at first absolutely refused to leave
Ellen, when her husband proposed it; declaring that she would
rather stay with her and die than take the chance of recovery
at such a cost. But her physician assured her she could not
live long without a change of climate; Captain Montgomery
urged that it was better to submit to a temporary separation,
than to cling obstinately to her child for a few months, and
then leave her for ever; said he must himself go speedily to
France, and that now was her best opportunity; assuring her,
however, that his circumstances would not permit him to take
Ellen with them, but that she would be secure of a happy home
with his sister during her mother's absence; and to the
pressure of argument Captain Montgomery added the weight of
authority — insisting on her compliance. Conscience also asked
Mrs. Montgomery whether she had a _right_ to neglect any chance
of life that was offered her; and at last she yielded to the
combined influence of motives no one of which would have had
power sufficient to move her, and though with a secret
consciousness it would be in vain, she consented to do as her
friends wished. And it was for Ellen's sake she did it, after
all.

Nothing but necessity had given her the courage to open the
matter to her little daughter. She had foreseen and
endeavoured to prepare herself for Ellen's anguish; but nature
was too strong for her, and they clasped each other in a
convulsive embrace, while tears fell like rain.

It was some minutes before Mrs. Montgomery recollected
herself, and then, though she struggled hard, she could not
immediately regain her composure. But Ellen's deep sobs at
length fairly alarmed her; she saw the necessity, for both
their sakes, of putting a stop to this state of violent
excitement; self-command was restored at once.

"Ellen! Ellen! listen to me," she said. "My child, this is not
right. Remember, my darling, who it is that brings this sorrow
upon us; — though we _must_ sorrow, we must not rebel."

Ellen sobbed more gently; but that and the mute pressure of
her arms was her only answer.

"You will hurt both yourself and me, my daughter, if you
cannot command yourself. Remember, dear Ellen, God sends no
trouble upon his children but in love; and though we cannot
see how, he will no doubt make all this work for our good."

"I know it, dear mother," sobbed Ellen, "but it's just as
hard!"

Mrs. Montgomery's own heart answered so readily to the truth
of Ellen's words, that for the moment she could not speak.

"Try, my daughter," she said, after a pause, — "try to compose
yourself. I am afraid you will make me worse, Ellen, if you
cannot; I am indeed."

Ellen had plenty of faults, but amidst them all, love to her
mother was the strongest feeling her heart knew. It had power
enough now to move her as nothing else could have done; and
exerting all her self-command, of which she had sometimes a
good deal, she _did_ calm herself; ceased sobbing; wiped her
eyes; arose from her crouching posture, and seating herself on
the sofa by her mother, and laying her head on her bosom, she
listened quietly to all the soothing words and cheering
considerations with which Mrs. Montgomery endeavoured to lead
her to take a more hopeful view of the subject. All she could
urge, however, had but very partial success, though the
conversation was prolonged far into the evening. Ellen said
little, and did not weep any more; but in secret her heart
refused consolation.

Long before this the servant had brought in the tea-things.
Nobody regarded it at the time, but the little kettle hissing
away on the fire now by chance attracted Ellen's attention,
and she suddenly recollected her mother had had no tea. To
make her mother's tea was Ellen's regular business. She
treated it as a very grave affair, and loved it as one of the
pleasantest in the course of the day. She used in the first
place to make sure that the kettle really boiled; then she
carefully poured some water into the teapot and rinsed it,
both to make it clean and to make it hot; then she knew
exactly how much tea to put into the tiny little teapot, which
was just big enough to hold two cups of tea; and having poured
a very little boiling water to it, she used to set it by the
side of the fire while she made half a slice of toast. How
careful Ellen was about that toast! The bread must not be cut
too thick, nor too thin; the fire must, if possible, burn
clear and bright; and she herself held the bread on a fork,
just at the right distance from the coals to get nicely
browned without burning. When this was done to her
satisfaction (and if the first piece failed, she would take
another), she filled up the little tea-pot from the boiling
kettle, and proceeded to make a cup of tea. She knew, and was
very careful to put in, just the quantity of milk and sugar
that her mother liked; and then she used to carry the tea and
toast on a little tray to her mother's side, and very often
held it there for her while she ate. All this Ellen did with
the zeal that love gives, and though the same thing was to be
gone over every night of the year, she was never wearied. It
was a real pleasure; she had the greatest satisfaction in
seeing that the little her mother could eat was prepared for
her in the nicest possible manner; she knew her hands made it
taste better; her mother often said so.

But this evening other thoughts had driven this important
business quite out of poor Ellen's mind. Now, however, when
her eyes fell upon the little kettle, she recollected her
mother had not had her tea, and must want it very much; and
silently slipping off the sofa, she set about getting it as
usual. There was no doubt this time whether the kettle boiled
or no; it had been hissing for an hour and more, calling as
loud as it could to somebody to come and make the tea. So
Ellen made it, and then began the toast. But she began to
think, too, as she watched it, how few more times she would be
able to do so — how soon her pleasant tea makings would be
over — and the desolate feeling of separation began to come
upon her before the time. These thoughts were too much for
poor Ellen; the thick tears gathered so fast, she could not
see what she was doing; and she had no more than just turned
the slice of bread on the fork when the sickness of heart
quite overcame her; she could not go on. Toast and fork and
all dropped from her hand into the ashes; and rushing to her
mother's side, who was now lying down again, and throwing
herself upon her, she burst into another fit of sorrow — not
so violent as the former, but with a touch of hopelessness in
it which went yet more to her mother's heart. Passion in the
first said, "I cannot;" despair now seemed to say, "I must."

But Mrs. Montgomery was too exhausted to either share or
soothe Ellen's agitation. She lay in suffering silence; till
after some time she said faintly — "Ellen, my love, I cannot
bear this much longer."

Ellen was immediately brought to herself by these words. She
arose, sorry and ashamed that she should have given occasion
for them, and tenderly kissing her mother, assured her, most
sincerely and resolutely, that she would not do so again. In a
few minutes she was calm enough to finish making the tea, and
having toasted another piece of bread, she brought it to her
mother. Mrs. Montgomery swallowed a cup of tea, but no toast
could be eaten that night.

Both remained silent and quiet awhile after this, till the
clock struck ten. "You had better go to bed, my daughter,"
said Mrs. Montgomery.

"I will, Mamma."

"Do you think you can read me a little before you go?"

"Yes, indeed, Mamma;" and Ellen brought the book. "Where shall
I read?"

"The twenty-third Psalm."

Ellen began it, and went through it steadily and slowly,
though her voice quivered a little.


" 'The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

" 'He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me
beside the still waters.

" 'He restoreth my soul; he leadeth me in the paths of
righteousness for his name's sake.

" 'Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I
will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff
they comfort me.

" 'Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine
enemies; thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

" 'Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of
my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.'
"


Long before she had finished, Ellen's eyes were full, and her
heart too. "If I only could feel these words as Mamma does!"
she said to herself. She did not dare look up till the traces
of tears had passed away; then she saw that her mother was
asleep. Those first sweet words had fallen like balm upon the
sore heart; and mind and body had instantly found rest
together.

Ellen breathed the lightest possible kiss upon her forehead,
and stole quietly out of the room to her own little bed.


CHAPTER II.

Gives sorrow to the winds.


Sorrow and excitement made Ellen's eyelids heavy, and she
slept late on the following morning. The great dressing-bell
waked her. She started up with a confused notion that
something was the matter: there was a weight on her heart that
was very strange to it. A moment was enough to bring it all
back; and she threw herself again on her pillow, yielding
helplessly to the grief she had twice been obliged to control
the evening before. Yet love was stronger than grief still,
and she was careful to allow no sound to escape her that could
reach the ears of her mother, who slept in the next room. Her
resolve was firm to grieve her no more with useless
expressions of sorrow — to keep it to herself as much as
possible. But this very thought, that she must keep it to
herself, gave an edge to poor Ellen's grief, and the
convulsive clasp of her little arms round the pillow plainly
showed that it needed none.

The breakfast-bell again startled her, and she remembered she
must not be too late down stairs, or her mother might inquire
and find out the reason. "I will _not_ trouble mother — I will
not — I will not!" she resolved to herself as she got out of
bed, though the tears fell faster as she said so. Dressing was
sad work to Ellen to-day; it went on very heavily. Tears
dropped into the water as she stooped her head to the basin;
and she hid her face in the towel to cry, instead of making
the ordinary use of it. But the usual duties were dragged
through at last, and she went to the window. "I'll not go down
till papa is gone," she thought — "he'll ask me what is the
matter with my eyes."

Ellen opened the window. The rain was over; the lovely light
of a fair September morning was beautifying everything it
shone upon. Ellen had been accustomed to amuse herself a good
deal at this window, though nothing was to be seen from it but
an ugly city prospect of back walls of houses, with the yards
belonging to them, and a bit of narrow street. But she had
watched the people that showed themselves at the windows, and
the children that played in the yards, and the women that went
to the pumps, till she had become pretty well acquainted with
the neighbourhood; and though they were for the most part
dingy, dirty, and disagreeable — women, children, houses, and
all — she certainly had taken a good deal of interest in their
proceedings. It was all gone now. She could not bear to look
at them; she felt as if it made her sick; and turning away her
eyes, she lifted them to the bright sky above her head, and
gazed into its clear depth of blue till she almost forgot that
there was such a thing as a city in the world. Little white
clouds were chasing across it, driven by the fresh wind that
was blowing away Ellen's hair from her face, and cooling her
hot cheeks. That wind could not have been long in coming from
the place of woods and flowers, it was so sweet still. Ellen
looked till, she didn't know why, she felt calmed and soothed
— as if somebody was saying to her softly, "Cheer up, my
child, cheer up; things are not so bad as they might be:
things will be better." Her attention was attracted at length
by voices below; she looked down, and saw there, in one of the
yards, a poor deformed child, whom she had often noticed
before, and always with sorrowful interest. Besides his bodily
infirmity, he had a further claim on her sympathy, in having
lost his mother within a few months. Ellen's heart was easily
touched this morning; she felt for him very much. "Poor, poor
little fellow!" she thought; "he's a great deal worse off than
I am. _His_ mother is dead; mine is only going away for a few
months — not for ever — oh, what a difference! and then the
joy of coming back again!" — poor Ellen was weeping already at
the thought — "and I will do, oh, how much! while she is gone
— I'll do more than she can possibly expect from me — I'll
astonish her — I'll delight her — I'll work harder than ever I
did in my life before — I'll mend all my faults, and give her
so much pleasure! But oh! if she only needn't go away! oh,
Mamma!" Tears of mingled sweet and bitter were poured out
fast, but the bitter had the largest share.

The breakfast-table was still standing, and her father gone,
when Ellen went down stairs. Mrs. Montgomery welcomed her with
her usual quiet smile, and held out her hand. Ellen tried to
smile in answer, but she was glad to hide her face in her
mother's bosom; and the long close embrace was too close and
too long; it told of sorrow as well as love; and tears fell
from the eyes of each, that the other did not see.

"Need I go to school to-day, Mamma?" whispered Ellen.

"No; I spoke to your father about that; you shall not go any
more; we will be together now while we can."

Ellen wanted to ask how long that would be, but could not make
up her mind to it.

"Sit down, daughter, and take some breakfast."

"Have you done, Mamma?"

"No — I waited for you."

"Thank you, dear Mamma" with another embrace — "how good you
are! but I don't think I want any."

They drew their chairs to the table, but it was plain neither
had much heart to eat; although Mrs. Montgomery with her own
hands laid on Ellen's plate half of the little bird that had
been boiled for her own breakfast. The half was too much for
each of them.

"What made you so late this morning, daughter?"

"I got up late, in the first place, Mamma; and then I was a
long time at the window."

"At the window? Were you examining into your neighbours'
affairs, as usual?" said Mrs. Montgomery, surprised that it
should have been so.

"Oh, no, Mamma, I didn't look at them at all, except poor
little Billy. I was looking at the sky."

"And what did you see there that pleased you so much?"

"I don't know, Mamma; it looked so lovely and peaceful — that
pure blue spread over my head, and the little white clouds
flying across it — I loved to look at it; it seemed to do me
good."

"Could you look at it, Ellen, without thinking of Him who made
it?"

"No, Mamma," said Ellen, ceasing her breakfast, and now
speaking with difficulty; "I did think of Him; perhaps that
was the reason."

"And what did you think of Him, daughter?"

"I hoped, Mamma — I felt — I thought — he would take care of
me," said Ellen, bursting into tears, and throwing her arms
around her mother.

"He will, my dear daughter, — he will, if you will only put
your trust in Him, Ellen."

Ellen struggled hard to get back her composure, and after a
few minutes succeeded.

"Mamma, will you tell me what you mean exactly by my 'putting
my trust' in Him?"

"Don't you trust me, Ellen?"

"Certainly, Mamma."

"How do you trust me? — in what?"

"Why, Mamma, — in the first place I trust every word you say —
entirely — I know nothing could be truer; if you were to tell
me black is white, Mamma, I should think my eyes had been
mistaken. Then everything you tell or advise me to do, I know
it is right, perfectly. And I always feel safe when you are
near me, because I know you'll take care of me. And I am glad
to think I belong to you, and you have the management of me
entirely, and I needn't manage myself, because I know I can't;
and if I could, I'd rather you would, Mamma."

"My daughter, it is just so — it is _just_ so — that I wish you
to trust in God. He is truer, wiser, stronger, kinder by far
than I am, even if I could always be with you; and what will
you do when I am away from you? And what would you do, my
child, if I were to be parted from you forever?"

"Oh, Mamma!" said Ellen, bursting into tears, and clasping her
arms round her mother again — "Oh, dear Mamma, don't talk
about it!"

Her mother fondly returned her caress, and one or two tears
fell on Ellen's head as she did so, but that was all, and she
said no more. Feeling severely the effects of the excitement
and anxiety of the preceding day and night, she now stretched
herself on the sofa, and lay quite still. Ellen placed herself
on a little bench at her side, with her back to the head of
the sofa, that her mother might not see her face; and,
possessing herself of one of her hands, sat with her little
head resting upon her mother, as quiet as she. They remained
thus for two or three hours without speaking; and Mrs.
Montgomery was part of the time slumbering; but now and then a
tear ran down the side of the sofa, and dropped on the carpet
where Ellen sat: and now and then her lips were softly pressed
to the hand she held, as if they would grow there.

The doctor's entrance at last disturbed them. Dr. Green found
his patient decidedly worse than he had reason to expect; and
his sagacious eye had not passed back and forth many times
between the mother and daughter before he saw how it was. He
made no remark upon it, however, but continued for some
moments a pleasant chatty conversation which he had begun with
Mrs. Montgomery. He then called Ellen to him; he had rather
taken a fancy to her.

"Well, Miss Ellen," he said, rubbing one of her hands in his,
"what do you think of this fine scheme of mine?"

"What scheme, Sir?"

"Why, this scheme of sending this sick lady over the water to
get well; what do you think of it, eh?"

"_Will_ it make her quite well, do you think, Sir?" asked Ellen,
earnestly.

" 'Will it make her well?' — to be sure it will. Do you think
I don't know better than to send people all the way across the
ocean for nothing? Who do you think would want Dr. Green if he
sent people on wild-goose-chases in that fashion?"

"Will she have to stay long there before she is cured, Sir?"
asked Ellen.

"Oh, that I can't tell; that depends entirely on circumstances
— perhaps longer, perhaps shorter. But now, Miss Ellen, I've
got a word of business to say to you; you know you agreed to
be my little nurse. Mrs. Nurse, this lady whom I put under
your care the other day, isn't quite as well as she ought to
be this morning; I am afraid you haven't taken proper care of
her; she looks to me as if she had been too much excited. I've
a notion she has been secretly taking half a bottle of wine,
or reading some furious kind of a novel, or something of that
sort — you understand? Now mind, Mrs. Nurse," said the doctor,
changing his tone — "she _must not_ be excited — you must take
care that she is not — it isn't good for her. You mustn't let
her talk too much, or laugh much, or cry at all, on any
account; she mustn't be worried in the least — will you
remember? Now, you know what I shall expect of you; you must
be very careful; if that piece of toast of yours should chance
to get burned, one of these fine evenings, I won't answer for
the consequences. Good-bye," said he, shaking Ellen's hand;
"you needn't look sober about it; all you have to do is to let
your Mamma be as much like an oyster as possible; you
understand? Good-bye." And Dr. Green took his leave.

"Poor woman!" said the doctor to himself, as he went down
stairs (he was a humane man) — "I wonder if she'll live till
she gets to the other side! That's a nice little girl, too.
Poor child! poor child!"

Both mother and daughter silently acknowledged the justice of
the doctor's advice, and determined to follow it. By common
consent, as it seemed, each for several days avoided bringing
the subject of sorrow to the other's mind; though no doubt it
was constantly present to both. It was not spoken of; indeed,
little of any kind was spoken of, but that never. Mrs.
Montgomery was doubtless employed, during this interval, in
preparing for what she believed was before her; endeavouring
to resign herself and her child to Him in whose hands they
were, and struggling to withdraw her affections from a world
which she had a secret misgiving she was fast leaving. As for
Ellen, the doctor's warning had served to strengthen the
resolve she had already made, that she would not distress her
mother with the sight of her sorrow; and she kept it, as far
as she could. She did not let her mother see but very few
tears, and those were quiet ones; though she drooped her head
like a withered flower, and went about the house with an air
of submissive sadness, that tried her mother sorely. But when
she was alone, and knew no one could see, sorrow had its way;
and then there were sometimes agonies of grief that would
almost have broken Mrs. Montgomery's resolution, had she known
them.

This, however, could not last. Ellen was a child, and of most
buoyant and elastic spirit naturally; it was not for one
sorrow, however great, to utterly crush her. It would have
taken years to do that. Moreover, she entertained not the
slightest hope of being able by any means to alter her
father's will. She regarded the dreaded evil as an inevitable
thing. But though she was at first overwhelmed with sorrow,
and for some days evidently pined under it sadly, hope at
length _would_ come back to her little heart; and no sooner in
again, hope began to smooth the roughest, and soften the
hardest, and touch the dark spots with light, in Ellen's
future. The thoughts which had just passed through her head
that first morning, as she stood at her window, now came back
again. Thoughts of wonderful improvement to be made during her
mother's absence; of unheard-of efforts to learn and amend,
which should all be crowned with success; and, above all,
thoughts of that "coming home," when all these attainments and
accomplishments should be displayed to her mother's delighted
eyes, and her exertions receive their long-desired reward; —
they made Ellen's heart beat, and her eyes swim, and even
brought a smile once more upon her lips. Mrs. Montgomery was
rejoiced to see the change; she felt that as much time had
already been given to sorrow as they could afford to lose, and
she had not known exactly how to proceed. Ellen's amended
looks and spirits greatly relieved her.

"What are you thinking about, Ellen?" said she, one morning.

Ellen was sewing, and while busy at her work her mother had
two or three times observed a light smile pass over her face.
Ellen looked up, still smiling, and answered, "Oh, Mamma, I
was thinking of different things — things that I mean to do
while you are gone."

"And what are these things?" inquired her mother.

"Oh, Mamma, it wouldn't do to tell you beforehand; I want to
surprise you with them when you come back."

A slight shudder passed over Mrs. Montgomery's frame, but
Ellen did not see it. Mrs. Montgomery was silent. Ellen
presently introduced another subject.

"Mamma, what kind of a person is my aunt?"

"I do not know — I have never seen her."

"How has that happened, Mamma?"

"Your aunt has always lived in a remote country town, and I
have been very much confined to two or three cities, and your
father's long and repeated absences made travelling impossible
to me."

Ellen thought, but she didn't say it, that it was very odd her
father should not sometimes, when he _was_ in the country, have
gone to see his relations, and taken her mother with him.

"What is my aunt's name, Mamma?"

"I think you must have heard that already, Ellen — Fortune
Emerson."

"Emerson! I thought she was papa's sister!"

"So she is."

"Then how comes her name not to be Montgomery?"

"She is only his half-sister — the daughter of his mother, not
the daughter of his father."

"I am very sorry for that," said Ellen, gravely.

"Why, my daughter?"

"I am afraid she will not be so likely to love me."

"You mustn't think so, my child. Her loving or not loving you
will depend solely and entirely upon yourself, Ellen. Don't
forget that. If you are a good child, and make it your daily
care to do your duty, she cannot help liking you, be she what
she may; and, on the other hand, if she have all the will in
the world to love you, she cannot do it unless you will let
her — it all depends on your behaviour."

"Oh, Mamma, I can't help wishing dear aunt Bessy was alive,
and I was going to her."

Many a time the same wish had passed through Mrs. Montgomery's
mind. But she kept down her rising heart, and went on calmly —

"You must not expect, my child, to find anybody as indulgent
as I am, or as ready to overlook and excuse your faults. It
would be unreasonable to look for it; and you must not think
hardly of your aunt when you find she is not your mother; but
then it will be your own fault if she does not love you, in
time, truly and tenderly. See that you render her all the
respect and obedience you could render me; that is your
bounden duty; she will stand in my place while she has the
care of you — remember that, Ellen; and remember, too, that
she will deserve more gratitude at your hands for showing you
kindness than I do, because she cannot have the same feeling
of love to make trouble easy."

"Oh, no, Mamma," said Ellen, "I don't think so; it's that very
feeling of love that I am grateful for; I don't care a fig for
anything people do for me without that."

"But you can make her love you, Ellen, if you try."

"Well, I'll try, Mamma."

"And don't be discouraged. Perhaps you may be disappointed in
first appearances, but never mind that; have patience; and let
your motto be (if there's any occasion), 'Overcome evil with
good'. Will you put that among the things you mean to do while
I am gone?" said Mrs. Montgomery, with a smile.

"I'll try, dear Mamma."

"You will succeed if you try, dear, never fear — if you apply
yourself in your trying to the only unfailing source of wisdom
and strength — to Him without whom you can do nothing."

There was silence for a little.

"What sort of a place is it where my aunt lives?" asked Ellen.

"Your father says it is a very pleasant place; he says the
country is beautiful, and very healthy, and full of charming
walks and rides. You have never lived in the country; I think
you will enjoy it very much."

"Then it is not a town?" said Ellen.

"No; it is not far from the town of Thirlwall, but your aunt
lives in the open country. Your father says she is a capital
housekeeper, and that you will learn more, and be in all
respects a great deal happier and better off, than you would
be in a boarding-school here or anywhere."

Ellen's heart secretly questioned the truth of this last
assertion very much.

"Is there any school near?" she asked.

"Your father says there was an excellent one in Thirlwall when
he was there."

"Mamma," said Ellen, "I think the greatest pleasure I shall
have while you are gone will be writing to you. I have been
thinking of it a good deal. I mean to tell you everything —
absolutely everything, Mamma. You know there will be nobody
for me to talk to as I do to you" (Ellen's words came out with
difficulty); "and when I feel badly, I shall just shut myself
up and write to you." She hid her face in her mother's lap.

"I count upon it, my dear daughter; it will make quite as much
the pleasure of my life, Ellen, as of yours."

"But then, mother," said Ellen, brushing away the tears from
her eyes, "it will be so long before my letters can get to
you! The things I want you to know right away, you won't know,
perhaps, in a month."

"That's no matter, daughter; they will be just as good when
they do get to me. Never think of that; write every day, and
all manner of things that concern you — just as particularly
as if you were speaking to me."

"And you'll write to me, too, Mamma?"

"Indeed I will — when I can. But, Ellen, you say that when I
am away, and cannot hear you, there will be nobody to supply
my place. Perhaps it will be so, indeed; but then, my
daughter, let it make you seek that Friend who is never far
away nor out of hearing. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw
nigh to you. You know he has said of his children — 'Before
they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I
will hear.' "

"But, Mamma," said Ellen, her eyes filling instantly, "you
know he is not my friend in the same way that he is yours."
And, hiding her face again, she added, "Oh, I wish he was!"

"You know the way to make him so, Ellen. _He_ is willing; it
only rests with you. Oh, my child, my child! if losing your
mother might be the means of finding you that better Friend, I
should be quite willing and glad to go — for ever."

There was silence, only broken by Ellen's sobs. Mrs.
Montgomery's voice had trembled, and her face was now covered
with her hands; but she was not weeping; she was seeking a
better relief where it had long been her habit to seek and
find it. Both resumed their usual composure, and the
employments which had been broken off; but neither chose to
renew the conversation. Dinner, sleeping, and company
prevented their having another opportunity during the rest of
the day.

But when evening came, they were again left to themselves.
Captain Montgomery was away, which indeed was the case most of
the time; friends had taken their departure; the curtains were
down, the lamp lit, the little room looked cozy and
comfortable; the servant had brought the tea-things, and
withdrawn, and the mother and daughter were happily alone.
Mrs. Montgomery knew that such occasions were numbered, and
fast drawing to an end, and she felt each one to be very
precious. She now lay on her couch, with her face partially
shaded, and her eyes fixed upon her little daughter, who was
now preparing the tea. She watched her, with thoughts and
feelings not to be spoken, as the little figure went back and
forward between the table and the fire, and the light shining
full upon her face, showed that Ellen's whole soul was in her
beloved duty. Tears would fall as she looked, and were not
wiped away; but when Ellen, having finished her work, brought
with a satisfied face the little tray of tea and toast to her
mother, there was no longer any sign of them left; Mrs.
Montgomery arose with her usual kind smile, to show her
gratitude by honouring, as far as possible, what Ellen had
provided.

"You have more appetite to-night, Mamma."

"I am very glad, daughter," replied her mother, "to see that
you have made up your mind to bear patiently this evil that
has come upon us. I am glad for your sake, and I am glad for
mine; and I am glad, too, because we have a great deal to do,
and no time to lose in doing it."

"What, have we so much to do, Mamma?" said Ellen.

"Oh, many things," said her mother, "you will see. But now,
Ellen, if there is anything you wish to talk to me about, any
question you want to ask, anything you would like particularly
to have, or to have done for you — I want you to tell it me as
soon as possible, now, while we can attend to it — for by-and-
by perhaps we shall be hurried."

"Mamma," said Ellen, with brightening eyes, "there is one
thing I have thought of that I should like to have — shall I
tell it you now?"

"Yes."

"Mamma, you know I shall want to be writing a great deal;
wouldn't it be a good thing for me to have a little box with
some pens in it, and an inkstand, and some paper and wafers?
Because, Mamma, you know I shall be among strangers at first,
and I shan't like asking them for these things as often as I
shall want them, and may be they wouldn't want to let me have
them if I did."

"I have thought of that already, daughter," said Mrs.
Montgomery, with a smile and a sigh. "I will certainly take
care that you are well provided in that respect before you
go."

"How am I to go, Mamma?"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, who will go with me? You know I can't go alone,
Mamma."

"No, my daughter. I'll not send you alone. But your father
says it is impossible for _him_ to take the journey at present,
and it is yet more impossible for me. There is no help for it,
daughter, but we must intrust you to the care of some friend
going that way; — but He that holds the winds and waters in
the hollow of his hand, can take care of you without any of
our help, and it is to his keeping above all that I shall
commit you."

Ellen made no remark, and seemed much less surprised and
troubled than her mother had expected. In truth, the greater
evil swallowed up the less. Parting from her mother, and for
so long a time, it seemed to her comparatively a matter of
little importance with whom she went, or how, or where. Except
for this, the taking a long journey under a stranger's care?
would have been a dreadful thing to her.

"Do you know yet who it will be that I shall go with, Mamma?"

"Not yet; but it will be necessary to take the first good
opportunity, for I cannot go till I have seen you off. and it
is thought very desirable that I should get to sea before the
severe weather comes."

It was with a pang that these words were spoken and heard, but
neither showed it to the other.

"It has comforted me greatly, my dear child, that you have
shown yourself so submissive and patient under this
affliction. I should scarcely have been able to endure it if
you had not exerted self-control. You have behaved
beautifully."

This was almost too much for poor Ellen. It required her
utmost stretch of self-control to keep within any bounds of
composure; and for some moments her flushed cheek, quivering
lip, and heaving bosom, told what a tumult her mother's words
had raised. Mrs. Montgomery saw she had gone too far, and,
willing to give both Ellen and herself time to recover, she
laid her head on the pillow again, and closed her eyes. Many
thoughts coming thick upon one another presently filled her
mind, and half an hour had passed before she again recollected
what she had meant to say. She opened her eyes; Ellen was
sitting at a little distance, staring into the fire —
evidently as deep in meditation as her mother had been.

"Ellen," said Mrs. Montgomery, "did you ever fancy what kind
of a Bible you would like to have?"

"A Bible, Mamma!" said Ellen, with sparkling eyes; "do you
mean to give me a Bible?"

Mrs. Montgomery smiled.

"But, Mamma," said Ellen, gently, "I thought you couldn't
afford it?"

"I have said so, and truly," answered her mother; "and
hitherto you have been able to use mine, but I will not leave
you now without one. I will find ways and means," said Mrs.
Montgomery, smiling again.

"Oh, Mamma, thank you," said Ellen, delighted; "how glad I
shall be!" And, after a pause of consideration, she added,
"Mamma, I never thought much about what sort of a one I should
like — couldn't I tell better if I were to see the different
kinds in the store?"

"Perhaps so. Well, the first day that the weather is fine
enough, and I am well enough, I will go out with you, and we
will see about it."

"I am afraid Dr. Green won't let you, Mamma."

"I shall not ask him. I want to get you a Bible, and some
other things that I will not leave you without, and nobody can
do it but myself. I shall go, if I possibly can."

"What other things, Mamma?" asked Ellen, very much interested
in the subject.

"I don't think it will do to tell you to-night," said Mrs.
Montgomery, smiling. "I foresee that you and I should be kept
awake too late if we were to enter upon it just now. We will
leave it till to-morrow. Now read to me, love, and then to
bed."

Ellen obeyed; and went to sleep with brighter visions dancing
before her eyes than had been the case for some time.


CHAPTER III.

The worth of a Finger-Ring.


Ellen had to wait some time for the desired fine day. The
equinoctial storms would have their way, as usual, and Ellen
thought they were longer than ever this year. But after many
stormy days had tried her patience, there was at length a
sudden change, both without and within doors. The clouds had
done their work for that time, and fled away before a strong
northerly wind, leaving the sky bright and fair. And Mrs.
Montgomery's deceitful disease took a turn, and for a little
space raised the hopes of her friends. All were rejoicing but
two persons — Mrs. Montgomery was not deceived, neither was
the doctor. The shopping project was kept a profound secret
from him, and from everybody except Ellen.

Ellen watched now for a favourable day. Every morning as soon
as she rose, she went to the window to see what was the look
of the weather; and about a week after the change above
noticed, she was greatly pleased one morning, on opening her
window, as usual, to find the air and sky promising all that
could be desired. It was one of those beautiful days in the
end of September, that sometimes herald October before it
arrives — cloudless, brilliant, and breathing balm. "This will
do," said Ellen to herself, in great satisfaction — "I think
this will do — I hope Mamma will think so."

Hastily dressing herself, and a good deal excited already, she
ran down stairs, and, after the morning salutations, examined
her mother's looks with as much anxiety as she had just done
those of the weather. All was satisfactory there also; and
Ellen ate her breakfast with an excellent appetite; but she
said not a word of the intended expedition till her father
should be gone. She contented herself with strengthening her
hopes, by making constant fresh inspections of the weather and
her mother's countenance alternately; and her eyes returning
from the window on one of these excursions, and meeting her
mother's face, saw a smile there which said all she wanted.
Breakfast went on more vigorously than ever. But after
breakfast it seemed to Ellen that her father never would go
away. He took the newspaper, an uncommon thing for him, and
pored over it most perseveringly, while Ellen was in a perfect
fidget of impatience. Her mother, seeing the state she was in,
and taking pity on her, sent her up stairs to do some little
matters of business in her own room. These Ellen despatched
with all possible zeal and speed; and coming down again, found
her father gone, and her mother alone. She flew to kiss her in
the first place, and then made the inquiry, "Don't you think
to-day will do, Mamma?"

"As fine as possible, daughter; we could not have a better;
but I must wait till the doctor has been here."

"Mamma," said Ellen, after a pause, making a great effort of
self-denial, "I am afraid you oughtn't to go out to get these
things for me. Pray don't, Mamma, if you think it will do you
harm. I would rather go without them; indeed I would."

"Never mind that, daughter," said Mrs. Montgomery, kissing
her; "I am bent upon it; it would be quite as much of a
disappointment to me as to you, not to go. We have a lovely
day for it, and we will take our time and walk slowly, and we
haven't far to go either. But I must let Dr. Green make his
visit first."

To fill up the time till he came, Mrs. Montgomery employed
Ellen in reading to her, as usual. And this morning's reading
Ellen long after remembered. Her mother directed her to
several passages in different parts of the Bible that speak of
heaven and its enjoyments; and though, when she began, her own
little heart was full of excitement, in view of the day's
plans, and beating with hope and pleasure, the sublime beauty
of the words and thoughts, as she went on, awed her into
quiet, and her mother's manner at length turned her attention
entirely from herself. Mrs. Montgomery was lying on the sofa,
and for the most part listened in silence, with her eyes
closed, but sometimes saying a word or two that made Ellen
feel how deep was the interest her mother had in the things
she read of, and how pure and strong the pleasure she was even
now taking in them; and sometimes there was a smile on her
face that Ellen scarce liked to see; it gave her an indistinct
feeling that her mother would not be long away from that
heaven to which she seemed already to belong. Ellen had a sad
consciousness, too, that she had no part with her mother in
this matter. She could hardly go on. She came to that
beautiful passage in the seventh of Revelation: —


"And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are
these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?
And I said unto him. Sir thou knowest. And he said to me,
These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have
washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the
Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve
him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the
throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more,
neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them,
nor any heat. For the Lamb, which is in the midst of the
throne, shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living
fountains of waters; and God shall wipe away all tears from
their eyes."


With difficulty, and a husky voice, Ellen got through it.
Lifting then her eyes to her mother's face, she saw again the
same singular sweet smile. Ellen felt that she could not read
another word; to her great relief the door opened, and Dr.
Green came in. His appearance changed the whole course of her
thoughts. All that was grave or painful fled quickly away;
Ellen's head was immediately full again of what had filled it
before she began to read.

As soon as the doctor had retired, and was fairly out of
hearing, "Now, Mamma, shall we go?" said Ellen. "You needn't
stir, Mamma; I'll bring all your things to you, and put them
on — may I, Mamma? then you won't be a bit tired before you
set out."

Her mother assented; and with a great deal of tenderness, and
a great deal of eagerness, Ellen put on her stockings and
shoes, arranged her hair, and did all that she could towards
changing her dress, and putting on her bonnet and shawl; and
greatly delighted she was when the business was accomplished.

"Now, Mamma, you look like yourself; I haven't seen you look
so well this great while. I'm glad you're going out again,"
said Ellen, putting her arms round her; "I do believe it will
do you good. Now, Mamma, I'll go and get ready; I'll be very
quick about it; you shan't have to wait long for me."

In a few minutes the two set forth from the house. The day was
as fine as could be; there was no wind, there was no dust; the
sun was not oppressive; and Mrs. Montgomery did feel refreshed
and strengthened during the few steps they had to take to
their first stopping-place.

It was a jeweller's store. Ellen had never been in one before
in her life, and her first feeling on entering was of dazzled
wonderment at the glittering splendours around; this was
presently forgotten in curiosity to know what her mother could
possibly want there. She soon discovered that she had come to
sell, and not to buy. Mrs. Montgomery drew a ring from her
finger, and, after a little chaffering, parted with it to the
owner of the store for eighty dollars, being about three-
quarters of its real value. The money was counted out, and she
left the store.

"Mamma," said Ellen, in a low voice, "wasn't that grandmamma's
ring, which I thought you loved so much?"

"Yes, I did love it, Ellen, but I love you better."

"Oh, Mamma, I am very sorry!" said Ellen.

"You need not be sorry, daughter. Jewels in themselves are the
merest nothings to me; and as for the rest, it doesn't matter;
I can remember my mother without any help from a trinket."

There were tears, however, in Mrs. Montgomery's eyes, that
showed the sacrifice had cost her something; and there were
tears in Ellen's, that told it was not thrown away upon her.

"I am sorry you should know of this," continued Mrs.
Montgomery; "you should not if I could have helped it. But set
your heart quite at rest, Ellen; I assure you this use of my
ring gives me more pleasure on the whole than any other I
could have made of it."

A grateful squeeze of her hand and glance into her face was
Ellen's answer.

Mrs. Montgomery had applied to her husband for the funds
necessary to fit Ellen comfortably for the time they should be
absent; and in answer he had given her a sum barely sufficient
for her mere clothing. Mrs. Montgomery knew him better than to
ask for a further supply, but she resolved to have recourse to
other means to do what she had determined upon. Now that she
was about to leave her little daughter, and it might be for
ever, she had set her heart upon providing her with certain
things which she thought important to her comfort and
improvement, and which Ellen would go very long without if _she_
did not give them to her, and _now_. Ellen had had very few
presents in her life, and those always of the simplest and
cheapest kind; her mother resolved that in the midst of the
bitterness of this time she would give her one pleasure, if
she could — it might be the last.

They stopped next at a book-store. "Oh, what a delicious smell
of new books!" said Ellen, as they entered. "Mamma, if it
wasn't for one thing, I should say I never was so happy in my
life."

Children's books, lying in tempting confusion near the door,
immediately fastened Ellen's eyes and attention. She opened
one, and was already deep in the interest of it, when the word
"_Bibles_" struck her ear. Mrs. Montgomery was desiring the
shopman to show her various kinds and sizes, that she might
choose from among them. Down went Ellen's book, and she flew
to the place, where a dozen different Bibles were presently
displayed. Ellen's wits were ready to forsake her. Such
beautiful Bibles she had never seen; she pored in ecstasy over
their varieties of type and binding, and was very evidently in
love with them all.

"Now, Ellen," said Mrs. Montgomery, "look and choose; take
your time, and see which you like best."

It was not likely that Ellen's "time" would be a short one.
Her mother seeing this, took a chair at a little distance, to
await patiently her decision; and while Ellen's eyes were
riveted on the Bibles, her own, very naturally, were fixed
upon her. In the excitement and eagerness of the moment, Ellen
had thrown off her little bonnet, and with flushed cheek and
sparkling eye, and a brow grave with unusual care, as though a
nation's fate were deciding, she was weighing the comparative
advantages of large, small, and middle-sized — black, blue,
purple, and red — gilt and not gilt — clasp and no clasp.
Everything but the Bibles before her Ellen had forgotten
utterly; she was deep in what was to her the most important of
business; she did not see the bystanders smile — she did not
know there were any. To her mother's eye it was a most fair
sight. Mrs. Montgomery gazed with rising emotions of pleasure
and pain that struggled for the mastery; but pain at last got
the better, and rose very high. "How can I give thee up!" was
the one thought of her heart. Unable to command herself, she
rose and went to a distant part of the counter, where she
seemed to be examining books; but tears, some of the bitterest
she had ever shed, were falling thick upon the dusty floor,
and she felt her heart like to break. Her little daughter, at
one end of the counter, had forgotten there ever was such a
thing as sorrow in the world; and she, at the other, was bowed
beneath a weight of it that was nigh to crush her. But in her
extremity she betook herself to that refuge she had never
known to fail: it did not fail her now. She remembered the
words Ellen had been reading to her but that very morning, and
they came like the breath of heaven upon the fever of her soul
— "Not my will, but thine be done." She strove and prayed to
say it, and not in vain; and after a little while she was able
to return to her seat. She felt that she had been shaken by a
tempest, but she was calmer now than before.

Ellen was just as she had left her, and apparently just as far
from coming to any conclusion. Mrs. Montgomery was resolved to
let her take her way. Presently Ellen came over from the
counter with a large royal octavo Bible, heavy enough to be a
good lift for her. "Mamma," said she, laying it on her
mother's lap, and opening it, "what do you think of that?
isn't that splendid?"

"A most beautiful page indeed; is this your choice, Ellen?"

"Well, Mamma, I don't know; what do you think?"

"I think it is rather inconveniently large and heavy for
everyday use. It is quite a weight upon my lap. I shouldn't
like to carry it in my hands long. You would want a little
table on purpose to hold it."

"Well, that wouldn't do at all," said Ellen, laughing. "I
believe you are right, Mamma; I wonder I didn't think of it. I
might have known that myself."

She took it back; and there followed another careful
examination of the whole stock; and then Ellen came to her
mother with a beautiful miniature edition, in two volumes,
gilt, and clasped, and very perfect in all respects, but of
exceeding small print.

"I think I'll have this, Mamma," said she; "isn't it a beauty?
I could put it in my pocket, you know, and carry it anywhere,
with the greatest ease."

"It would have one great objection to me," said Mrs.
Montgomery, "inasmuch as I cannot possibly see to read it."

"Cannot you, Mamma? But I can read it perfectly."

"Well, my dear, take it — that is, if you will make up your
mind to put on spectacles before your time."

"Spectacles, Mamma! I hope I shall never have to wear
spectacles."

"What do you propose to do when your sight fails, if you shall
live so long?"

"Well, Mamma, if it comes to that; — but you don't advise me,
then, to take this little beauty?"

"Judge for yourself; I think you are old enough."

"I know what you think, though, Mamma, and I daresay you are
right, too; I won't take it, though it's a pity. Well, I must
look again."

Mrs. Montgomery came to her help, for it was plain Ellen had
lost the power of judging amidst so many tempting objects. But
she presently simplified the matter by putting aside all that
were decidedly too large or too small, or of too fine print.
There remained three of moderate size and sufficiently large
type, but different binding. "Either of these, I think, will
answer your purpose nicely," said Mrs. Montgomery.

"Then, Mamma, if you please, I will have the red one. I like
that best, because it will put me in mind of yours."

Mrs. Montgomery could find no fault with this reason. She paid
for the red Bible, and directed it to be sent home.

"Shan't I carry it, Mamma?" said Ellen.

"No, you would find it in the way; we have several things to
do yet."

"Have we, Mamma? I thought we only came to get a Bible."

"That is enough for one day, I confess. I am a little afraid
your head will be turned, but I must run the risk of it. I
dare not lose the opportunity of this fine weather; I may not
have such another. I wish to have the comfort of thinking,
when I am away, that I have left you with everything necessary
to the keeping up of good habits — everything that will make
them pleasant and easy. I wish you to be always neat, and
tidy, and industrious; depending upon others as little as
possible; and careful to improve yourself by every means, and
especially by writing to me. I will leave you no excuse,
Ellen, for failing in any of these duties. I trust you will
not disappoint me in a single particular."

Ellen's heart was too full to speak. She again looked up
tearfully, and pressed her mother's hand.

"I do not expect to be disappointed, love," returned Mrs.
Montgomery.

They now entered a large fancy store.

"What are we to get here, Mamma?" said Ellen.

"A box to put your pens and paper in," said her mother,
smiling.

"Oh, to be sure," said Ellen; "I had almost forgotten that."

She quite forgot it a minute after. It was the first time she
had seen the inside of such a store, and the articles
displayed on every side completely bewitched her. From one
thing to another she went, admiring and wondering; in her
wildest dreams she had never imagined such beautiful things.
The store was fairyland.

Mrs. Montgomery meanwhile attended to business. Having chosen
a neat little japanned dressing-box, perfectly plain, but well
supplied with everything a child could want in that line, she
called Ellen from the delightful journey of discovery she was
making round the store, and asked her what she thought of it.
"I think it's a little beauty," said Ellen; "but I never saw
such a place for beautiful things."

"You think it will do, then?" said her mother.

"For me, Mamma! You don't mean to give it to me? Oh, mother,
how good you are! But I know what is the best way to thank
you, and I'll do it. What a perfect little beauty! Mamma, I'm
too happy!"

"I hope not," said her mother; "for you know I haven't got you
the box for your pens and paper yet."

"Well, Mamma, I'll try and bear it," said Ellen, laughing.
"But do get me the plainest little thing in the world, for
you're giving me too much."

Mrs. Montgomery asked to look at writing-desks, and was shown
to another part of the store for the purpose.

"Mamma," said Ellen, in a low tone, as they went, "you're not
going to get me a writing-desk?"

"Why, that is the best kind of box for holding writing
materials," said her mother, smiling; "don't you think so?"

"I don't know what to say!" exclaimed Ellen. "I can't thank
you, Mamma; — I haven't any words to do it. I think I shall go
crazy."

She was truly overcome with the weight of happiness. Words
failed her, and tears came instead.

From among a great many desks of all descriptions, Mrs.
Montgomery with some difficulty succeeded in choosing one to
her mind. It was of mahogany, not very large, but thoroughly
well made and finished, and very convenient and perfect in its
internal arrangements. Ellen was speechless; occasional looks
at her mother, and deep sighs, were all she had now to offer.
The desk was quite empty.

"Ellen," said her mother, "do you remember the furniture of
Miss Allen's desk, that you were so pleased with a while ago?"

"Perfectly, Mamma; I know all that was in it."

"Well, then, you must prompt me if I forget anything. Your
desk will be furnished with everything really useful. Merely
showy matters we can dispense with. Now let us see — here is a
great empty place that I think wants some paper to fill it.
Show me some of different sizes, if you please."

The shopman obeyed, and Mrs. Montgomery stocked the desk well
with letter-paper, large and small. Ellen looked on in great
satisfaction. "That will do nicely," she said; "that large
paper will be beautiful whenever I am writing to you, Mamma,
you know; and the other will do for other times, when I
haven't so much to say; though I am sure I don't know who
there is in the world I should ever send letters to, except
you."

"If there is nobody now, perhaps there will be at some future
time," replied her mother. "I hope I shall not always be your
only correspondent. Now, what next?"

"Envelopes, Mamma?"

"To be sure; I had forgotten them. Envelopes of both sizes to
match."

"Because, Mamma, you know I might, and I certainly shall, want
to write upon the fourth page of my letter, and I couldn't do
it unless I had envelopes."

A sufficient stock of envelopes was laid in.

"Mamma," said Ellen, "what do you think of a little note-
paper?"

"Who are the notes to be written to, Ellen?" said Mrs.
Montgomery smiling.

"You needn't smile, Mamma; you know, as you said, if I don't
know now, perhaps I shall by-and-by. Miss Allen's desk had
note-paper — that made me think of it."

"So shall yours, daughter; while we are about it, we will do
the thing well. And your note-paper will keep quite safely in
this nice little place provided for it, even if you should not
want to use a sheet of it in half-a-dozen years."

"How nice that is!" said Ellen, admiringly.

"I suppose the note-paper must have envelopes too," said Mrs.
Montgomery.

"To be sure, Mamma; I suppose so," said Ellen, smiling; "Miss
Allen's had."

"Well, now we have got all the paper we want, I think," said
Mrs. Montgomery; "the next thing is ink — or an inkstand,
rather."

Different kinds were presented for her choice.

"Oh, Mamma, that one won't do," said Ellen, anxiously; "you
know the desk will be knocking about in a trunk, and the ink
would run out, and spoil every thing. It should be one of
those that shut tight. I don't see the right kind here."

The shopman brought one.

"There, Mamma — do you see?" said Ellen. "It shuts with a
spring, and nothing can possibly come out. Do you see, Mamma.
You can turn it topsy-turvy."

"I see you are quite right, daughter; it seems I should get on
very ill without you to advise me. Fill the inkstand, if you
please."

"Mamma, what shall I do when my ink is gone? that inkstand
will hold but a little, you know."

"Your aunt will supply you, of course, my dear, when you are
out."

"I'd rather take some of my own, by half," said Ellen.

"You could not carry a bottle of ink in your desk without
great danger to every thing else in it. It would not do to
venture."

"We have excellent ink-powder," said the shopman, "in small
packages, which can be very conveniently carried about. You
see, Ma’am, there is a compartment in the desk for such
things; and the ink is very easily made at any time."

"Oh, that will do nicely," said Ellen, — "that is just the
thing."

"Now, what is to go in this other square place, opposite the
inkstand?" said Mrs. Montgomery.

"That is the place for the box of lights, Mamma."

"What sort of lights?"

"For sealing letters, Mamma, you know. They are not like your
wax taper at all; they are little wax matches, that burn just
long enough to seal one or two letters; Miss Allen showed me
how she used them. Hers were in a nice little box, just like
the inkstand on the outside; and there was a place to light
the matches, and a place to set them in while they are
burning. There, Mamma, that's it," said Ellen, as the shopman
brought forth the article which she was describing, — "that's
it exactly; and that will just fit. Now, Mamma, for the wax."

"You want to seal your letter before you have written it,"
said Mrs. Montgomery — "we have not got the pens yet."

"That's true, Mamma — let us have the pens. And some quills
too, Mamma?"

"Do you know how to make a pen, Ellen?"

"No, Mamma, not yet; but I want to learn very much. Miss
Pichegru says that every lady ought to know how to make her
own pens."

"Miss Pichegru is very right; but I think you are rather too
young to learn. However, we will try. Now, here are steel
points enough to last you a great while — and as many quills
as it is needful you should cut up for one year at least; — we
haven't a pen-handle yet."

"Here, Mamma," said Ellen, holding out a plain ivory one,
"don't you like this? I think it is prettier than these that
are all cut and fussed, or those other gay ones either."

"I think so too, Ellen; the plainer the prettier. Now, what
comes next?"

"The knife, Mamma, to make the pens," said Ellen, smiling.

"True, the knife. Let us see some of your best penknives. Now,
Ellen, choose. That one won't do, my dear; it should have two
blades — a large as well as a small one. You know you want to
mend a pencil sometimes."

"So I do, Mamma — to be sure — you're very right; here's a
nice one. Now, Mamma, the wax."

"There is a box full — choose your own colours." Seeing it was
likely to be a work of time, Mrs. Montgomery walked away to
another part of the store. When she returned, Ellen had made
up an assortment of the oddest colours she could find.

"I won't have any red, Mamma, it is so common," she said.

"I think it is the prettiest of all," said Mrs. Montgomery.

"Do you, Mamma? then I will have a stick of red on purpose to
seal to you with."

"And who do you intend shall have the benefit of the other
colours?" inquired her mother.

"I declare, Mamma," said Ellen, laughing; "I never thought of
that; I am afraid they will have to go to you. You must not
mind, Mamma, if you get green, and blue, and yellow seals once
in a while."

"I dare say I shall submit myself to it with a good grace,
said Mrs. Montgomery. "But come, my dear, have we got all that
we want? This desk has been very long in furnishing."

"You haven't given me a seal yet, Mamma."

"Seals! There are a variety before you; see if you can find
one that you like. By the way, you cannot seal a letter, can
you?"

"Not yet, Mamma," said Ellen, smiling again; "that is another
of the things I have got to learn."

"Then I think you had better have some wafers in the mean
time."

While Ellen was picking out her seal, which took not a little
time, Mrs. Montgomery laid in a good supply of wafers of all
sorts; and then went on further to furnish the desk with an
ivory leaf-cutter, a paper-folder, a pounce-box, a ruler, and
a neat little silver pencil; also some drawing-pencils, India-
rubber, and sheets of drawing-paper. She took a sad pleasure
in adding everything she could think of that might be for
Ellen's future use or advantage; but as with her own hands she
placed in the desk one thing after another, the thought
crossed her mind, how Ellen would make drawings with those
very pencils, on those very sheets of paper, which her eyes
would never see! She turned away with a sigh, and receiving
Ellen's seal from her hand, put that also in its place. Ellen
had chosen one with her own name.

"Will you send these things _at once?_" said Mrs. Montgomery; "I
particularly wish to have them at home as early in the day as
possible."

The man promised. Mrs. Montgomery paid the bill, and she and
Ellen left the store.

They walked a little way in silence.

"I cannot thank you, Mamma," said Ellen.

"It is not necessary, my dear child," said Mrs. Montgomery,
returning the pressure of her hand; "I know all that you would
say."

There was as much sorrow as joy at that moment in the heart of
the joyfullest of the two.

"Where are we going now, Mamma?" said Ellen again, after a
while.

"I wished and intended to have gone to St. Clair and Fleury's,
to get you some merino and other things, but we have been
detained so long already that I think I had better go home. I
feel somewhat tired."

"I am very sorry, dear Mamma," said Ellen; "I am afraid I kept
you too long about that desk."

"You did not keep me, daughter, any longer than I chose to be
kept. But I think I will go home now, and take the chance of
another fine day for the merino."


CHAPTER IV.

The Bitter-sweet of Life.


When dinner was over and the table cleared away, the mother
and daughter were left, as they always loved to be, alone. It
was late in the afternoon, and already somewhat dark, for
clouds had gathered over the beautiful sky of the morning, and
the wind, rising now and then, made its voice heard. Mrs.
Montgomery was lying on the sofa, as usual, seemingly at ease;
and Ellen was sitting on a little bench before the fire, very
much at _her_ ease, indeed, without any seeming about it. She
smiled as she met her mother's eyes.

"You have made me very happy to-day, Mamma."

"I am glad of it, my dear child. I hoped I should. I believe
the whole affair has given me as much pleasure, Ellen, as it
has you."

There was a pause.

"Mamma, I will take the greatest possible care of my new
treasures."

"I know you will. If I had doubted it, Ellen, most assuredly I
should not have given them to you, sorry as I should have been
to leave you without them. So you see you have not established
a character for carefulness in vain."

"And, Mamma, I hope you have not given them to me in vain,
either. I will try to use them in the way that I know you wish
me to; that will be the best way I can thank you."

"Well, I have left you no excuse, Ellen. You know fully what I
wish you to do and to be; and when I am away I shall please
myself with thinking that my little daughter _is_ following her
mother's wishes; I shall believe so, Ellen. You will not let
me be disappointed?"

"Oh no, Mamma," said Ellen, who was now in her mother's arms.

"Well, my child," said Mrs. Montgomery, in a lighter tone, "my
gifts will serve as reminders for you if you are ever tempted
to forget my lessons. If you fail to send me letters, or if
those you send are not what they ought to be, I think the desk
will cry shame upon you. And if you ever go an hour with a
hole in your stocking, or a tear in your dress, or a string
off your petticoat, I hope the sight of your workbox will make
you blush."

"Workbox, Mamma!"

"Yes. Oh, I forgot — you've not seen that."

"No, Mamma — what do you mean?"

"Why, my dear, that was one of the things you most wanted, but
I thought it best not to overwhelm you quite this morning; so
while you were on an exploring expedition round the store, I
chose and furnished one for you."

"Oh Mamma, Mamma!" said Ellen, getting up and clasping her
hands, "what shall I do? I don't know what to say; I can't say
anything. Mamma, it's too much."

So it seemed, for Ellen sat down and began to cry. Her mother
silently reached out a hand to her, which she squeezed and
kissed with all the energy of gratitude, love, and sorrow;
till, gently drawn by the same hand, she was placed again in
her mother's arms and upon her bosom. And in that tried
resting-place she lay, calmed and quieted, till the shades of
afternoon deepened into evening, and evening into night, and
the light of the fire was all that was left to them.

Though not a word had been spoken for a long time, Ellen was
not asleep; her eyes were fixed on the red glow of the coals
in the grate, and she was busily thinking, but not of them.
Many sober thoughts were passing through her little head, and
stirring her heart; a few were of her new possessions and
bright projects — more of her mother. She was thinking how
very, very precious was the heart she could feel beating where
her cheek lay — she thought it was greater happiness to lie
there than anything else in life could be — she thought she
had rather even die so, on her mother's breast, than live long
without her in the world — she felt that in earth or in heaven
there was nothing so dear. Suddenly she broke the silence.

"Mamma, what does that mean, 'He that loveth father or mother
more than me, is not worthy of me?' "

"It means just what it says. If you love anybody or anything
better than Jesus Christ, you cannot be one of his children."

"But then, Mamma," said Ellen, raising her head, "how _can_ I be
one of his children? I do love you a great deal better: how
can I help it, Mamma?"

"You cannot help it, I know, my dear," said Mrs. Montgomery,
with a sigh, "except by His grace, who has promised to change
the hearts of his people — to take away the heart of stone,
and give them a heart of flesh."

"But is mine a heart of stone, then, Mamma, because I cannot
help loving you best?"

"Not to me, dear Ellen," replied Mrs. Montgomery, pressing
closer the little form that lay in her arms; "I have never
found it so. But yet I know that the Lord Jesus is far, far
more worthy of your affection than I am; and if your heart
were not hardened by sin, you would see him so; it is only
because you do not know him that you love me better. Pray,
pray, my dear child, that he would take away the power of sin,
and show you himself; that is all that is wanting."

"I will, Mamma," said Ellen, tearfully. "Oh, Mamma, what shall
I do without you?"

Alas! Mrs. Montgomery's heart echoed the question — she had no
answer.

"Mamma," said Ellen, after a few minutes, "can I have no true
love to Him at all unless I love him _best?_"

"I dare not say that you can," answered her mother, seriously.

"Mamma," said Ellen, after a little, again raising her head,
and looking her mother full in the face, as if willing to
apply the severest test to this hard doctrine, and speaking
with an indescribable expression, "do _you_ love him _better than
you do me?_"

She knew her mother loved the Saviour, but she thought it
scarcely possible that herself could have but the second place
in her heart; she ventured a bold question, to prove whether
her mother's practice would not contradict her theory.

But Mrs. Montgomery answered steadily, "I do, my daughter;"
and, with a gush of tears, Ellen sank her head again upon her
bosom. She had no more to say; her mouth was stopped for ever
as to the _right_ of the matter, though she still thought it an
impossible duty in her own particular case.

"I do, indeed, my daughter," repeated Mrs. Montgomery; "that
does not make my love to you the less, but the more, Ellen."

"Oh, Mamma, Mamma!" said Ellen, clinging to her, "I wish you
would teach me! I have only you, and I am going to lose you.
What shall I do, Mamma?"

With a voice that strove to be calm, Mrs. Montgomery answered,
" 'I love them that love me, and they that seek me early shall
find me.' " And after a minute or two, she added, "He who says
this has promised, too, that he will 'gather the lambs with
his arm, and carry them in his bosom.' "

The words fell soothingly on Ellen's ear, and the slight
tremor in the voice reminded her also that her mother must not
be agitated. She checked herself instantly, and soon lay as
before, quiet and still, on her mother's bosom, with her eyes
fixed on the fire; and Mrs. Montgomery did not know that when
she now and then pressed a kiss upon the forehead that lay so
near her lips, it every time brought the water to Ellen's
eyes, and a throb to her heart. But after some half or three-
quarters of an hour had passed away, a sudden knock at the
door found both mother and daughter asleep; it had to be
repeated once or twice before the knocker could gain
attention.

"What is that, Mamma?" said Ellen, starting up.

"Somebody at the door. Open it quickly, love."

Ellen did so, and found a man standing there, with his arms
rather full of sundry packages.

"Oh, Mamma, my things!" cried Ellen, clapping her hands; "here
they are!"

The man placed his burden on the table and withdrew.

"Oh, Mamma, I am so glad they are come! Now, if I only had a
light — this is my desk, I know, for it's the largest; and I
think this is my dressing-box, as well as I can tell by
feeling — yes, it is, here's the handle on top; and this is my
dear workbox — not so big as the desk, nor so little as the
dressing-box. Oh, Mamma, mayn't I ring for a light?"

There was no need, for a servant just then entered, bringing
the wished-for candles, and the not-wished-for _tea_. Ellen was
capering about in the most fantastic style, but suddenly
stopped short at sight of the tea things, and looked very
grave. "Well, Mamma, I'll tell you what I'll do," she said,
after a pause of consideration; "I'll make the tea the first
thing, before I untie a single knot; won't that be best,
Mamma? Because I know if I once begin to look, I shan't want
to stop. Don't you think that is wise, Mamma?

But alas! the fire had got very low; there was no making the
tea quickly; and the toast was a work of time. And when all
was over at length, it was then too late for Ellen to begin to
undo packages. She struggled with impatience a minute or two,
and then gave up the point very gracefully, and went to bed.

She had a fine opportunity the next day to make up for the
evening's disappointment. It was cloudy and stormy; going out
was not to be thought of, and it was very unlikely that
anybody would come in. Ellen joyfully allotted the whole
morning to the examination and trial of her new possessions;
and as soon as breakfast was over and the room clear, she set
about it. She first went through the desk and everything in
it, making a running commentary on the excellence, fitness,
and beauty of all it contained; then the dressing-box received
a share, but a much smaller share, of attention; and lastly,
with fingers trembling with eagerness, she untied the pack-
thread that was wound round the workbox, and slowly took off
cover after cover; she almost screamed when the last was
removed. The box was of satinwood, beautifully finished, and
lined with crimson silk; and Mrs. Montgomery had taken good
care it should want nothing that Ellen might need to keep her
clothes in perfect order.

"Oh, Mamma, how beautiful! Oh, Mamma, how good you are! Mamma,
I promise you I'll never be a slattern. Here is more cotton
than I can use up in a great while — every number, I do think;
and needles, oh, the needles! what a parcel of them! and,
Mamma, what a lovely scissors! Did you choose it, Mamma, or
did it belong to the box?"

"I chose it."

"I might have guessed it, Mamma, it's just like you. And
here's a thimble — fits me exactly! and an emery-bag! how
pretty! — and a bodkin! this is a great nicer than yours,
Mamma — yours is decidedly the worse for wear; — and what's
this? — oh, to make eyelet-holes with, I know. And oh, Mamma!
here is almost everything, I think — here are tapes, and
buttons, and hooks and eyes, and darning-cotton, and silk-
winders, and pins, and all sorts of things. What's this for,
Mamma?"

"That's a scissors to cut button-holes with. Try it on that
piece of paper that lies by you, and you will see how it
works."

"Oh, I see!" said Ellen, "how very nice that is! Well, I shall
take great pains now to make my button-holes very handsomely."

One survey of her riches could by no means satisfy Ellen. For
some time she pleased herself with going over and over the
contents of the box, finding each time something new to like.
At length she closed it, and keeping it still in her lap, sat
awhile looking thoughtfully into the fire; till, turning
towards her mother, she met her gaze, fixed mournfully, almost
tearfully, on herself. The box was instantly shoved aside, and
getting up and bursting into tears, Ellen went to her.

"Oh, dear mother," she said, "I wish they were all back in the
store, if I could only keep you!"

Mrs. Montgomery answered only by folding her to her heart.

"Is there no help for it, Mamma?"

"There is none. We know that all things shall work together
for good to them that love God."

"Then it will be all good for you, Mamma — but what will it be
for me?" And Ellen sobbed bitterly.

"It will be all well, my precious child, I doubt not. I do not
doubt it, Ellen. Do _you_ not doubt it either, love; but from
the hand that wounds, seek the healing. He wounds that he _may_
heal. He does not afflict willingly. Perhaps he sees, Ellen,
that you never would seek him while you had me to cling to."

Ellen clung to her at that moment — yet not more than her
mother clung to her.

"How happy we were, Mamma, only a year ago — even a month."

"We have no continuing city here," answered her mother, with a
sigh. "But there is a home, Ellen, where changes do not come;
and they that are once gathered there are parted no more for
ever; and all tears are wiped from their eyes. I believe I am
going fast to that home; and now my greatest concern is, that
my little Ellen — my precious baby — may follow me, and come
there too."

No more was said, nor could be said, till the sound of the
doctor's steps upon the stair obliged each of them to assume
an appearance of composure as speedily as possible. But they
could not succeed perfectly enough to blind him. He did not
seem very well satisfied, and told Ellen he believed he should
have to get another nurse — he was afraid she didn't obey
orders.

While the doctor was there, Ellen's Bible was brought in; and
no sooner was he gone than it underwent as thorough an
examination as the boxes had received. Ellen went over every
part of it with the same great care and satisfaction — but
mixed with a different feeling. The words that caught her eye
as she turned over the leaves seemed to echo what her mother
had been saying to her. It began to grow dear already. After a
little she rose and brought it to the sofa.

"Are you satisfied with it, Ellen?"

"Oh, yes, Mamma; it is perfectly beautiful, outside and
inside. Now, Mamma, will you please write my name in this
precious book — my name, and anything else you please, mother?
I'll bring you my new pen to write it with, and I've got ink
here — shall I?"

She brought it; and Mrs. Montgomery wrote Ellen's name and the
date of the gift. The pen played a moment in her fingers, and
then she wrote below the date —


"I love them that love me; and they that seek me early shall
find me."


This was for Ellen; but the next words were not for her; what
made her write them?


"I will be a God to thee, and to thy seed after thee."


They were written almost unconsciously; and as, if bowed by an
unseen force, Mrs. Montgomery's head sank upon the open page,
and her whole soul went up with her petition: —


"Let these words be my memorial that I have trusted in thee.
And oh! when these miserable lips are silent for ever,
remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast
caused me to hope; and be unto my little one all thou hast
been to me! Unto thee I lift up mine eyes, O thou that
dwellest in the heavens!"


She raised her face from the book, closed it, and gave it
silently to Ellen. Ellen had noticed her action, but had no
suspicion of the cause; she supposed that one of her mother's
frequent feelings of weakness or sickness had made her lean
her head upon the Bible, and she thought no more about it.
However, Ellen felt that she wanted no more of her boxes that
day. She took her old place by the side of her mother's sofa,
with her head upon her mother's hand, and an expression of
quiet sorrow in her face that it had not worn for several
days.


CHAPTER V.

A peep into the Wide World.


The next day would not do for the intended shopping, nor the
next. The third day was fine, though cool and windy.

"Do you think you can venture out to-day, Mamma?" said Ellen.

"I am afraid not. I do not feel quite equal to it, and the
wind is a great deal too high for me, besides."

"Well," said Ellen, in the tone of one who is making up her
mind to do something, "we shall have a fine day by-and-by, I
suppose, if we wait long enough; we had to wait a great deal
while for our first shopping-day. I wish such another would
come round."

"But the misfortune is," said her mother, "that we cannot
afford to wait. November will soon be here, and your clothes
may be suddenly wanted before they are ready, if we do not
bestir ourselves. And Miss Rice is coming in a few days — I
ought to have the merino ready for her."

"What will you do, Mamma?"

"I do not know, indeed, Ellen; I am greatly at a loss."

"Couldn't papa get the stuffs for you, Mamma?"

"No, he's too busy; and besides, he doesn't know about
shopping for me."

"Well, what will you do, Mamma? Is there nobody else you could
ask to get the things for you? Mrs. Foster would do it,
Mamma."

"I know she would, and I should ask her without any
difficulty, but she is confined to her room with a cold. I see
nothing for it but to be patient and let things take their
course — though, if a favourable opportunity should offer, you
would have to go, clothes or no clothes; it would not do to
lose the chance of a good escort."

And Mrs. Montgomery's face showed that this possibility of
Ellen's going unprovided gave her some uneasiness. Ellen
observed it.

"Never mind me, dearest mother; don't be in the least worried
about my clothes. You don't know how little I think of them or
care for them. It's no matter at all whether I have them or
not."

Mrs. Montgomery smiled, and passed her hand fondly over her
little daughter's head, but presently resumed her anxious look
out of the window.

"Mamma!" exclaimed Ellen, suddenly starting up, "a bright
thought has just come into my head! _I'll_ do it for you,
Mamma!"

"Do what?"

"I'll get the merino and things for you, Mamma. You needn't
smile — I will, indeed, if you let me."

"My dear Ellen," said her mother, "I don't doubt you would, if
goodwill only were wanting; but a great deal of skill and
experience is necessary for a shopper, and what would you do
without either?"

"But see, Mamma," pursued Ellen, eagerly, "I'll tell you how
I'll manage, and I know I can manage very well. You tell me
exactly what colour of merino you want, and give me a little
piece to show me how fine it should be, and tell me what price
you wish to give, and then I'll go to the store and ask them
to show me different pieces, you know, and if I see any I
think you would like, I'll ask them to give me a little bit of
it to show you; and then I'll bring it home, and if you like
it, you can give me the money, and tell me how many yards you
want, and I can go back to the store and get it. Why can't I,
Mamma?"

"Perhaps you could; but my dear child, I am afraid you
wouldn't like the business."

"Yes, I should; indeed, Mamma, I should like it dearly, if I
could help you so. Will you let me try, Mamma?"

"I don't like, my child, to venture you alone on such an
errand, among crowds of people; I should be uneasy about you."

"Dear Mamma, what would the crowds of people do to me? I am
not a bit afraid. You know, Mamma, I have often taken walks
alone — that's nothing new; and what harm should come to me
while I am in the store? You needn't be the least uneasy about
me; — may I go?"

Mrs. Montgomery smiled, but was silent.

"May I go, Mamma?" repeated Ellen. "Let me go at least and try
what I can do. What do you say, Mamma?"

"I don't know what to say, my daughter, but I am in difficulty
on either hand. I will let you go and see what you can do. It
would be a great relief to me to get this merino by any
means."

"Then shall I go right away, Mamma?"

"As well now as ever. _You_ are not afraid of the wind?"

"I should think not," said Ellen; and away she scampered
upstairs to get ready. With eager haste she dressed herself;
then with great care and particularity took her mother's
instructions as to the article wanted; and finally set out,
sensible that a great trust was reposed in her, and feeling
busy and important accordingly. But at the very bottom of
Ellen's heart there was a little secret doubtfulness
respecting her undertaking. She hardly knew it was there, but
then she couldn't tell what it was that made her fingers so
inclined to be tremulous while she was dressing, and that made
her heart beat quicker than it ought, or than was pleasant,
and one of her cheeks so much hotter than the other. However,
she set forth upon her errand with a very brisk step, which
she kept up till, on turning a corner, she came in sight of
the place she was going to. Without thinking much about it,
Ellen had directed her steps to St.Clair and Fleury's. It was
one of the largest and best stores in the city, and the one
she knew where her mother generally made her purchases; and it
did not occur to her that it might not be the best for her
purpose on this occasion. But her steps slackened as soon as
she came in sight of it, and continued to slacken as she drew
nearer, and she went up the broad flight of marble steps in
front of the store, very slowly indeed, though they were
exceeding low and easy. Pleasure was not certainly the
uppermost feeling in her mind now; yet she never thought of
turning back. She knew that if she could succeed in the object
of her mission, her mother would be relieved from some
anxiety; that was enough; she was bent on accomplishing it.

Timidly she entered the large hall of entrance. It was full of
people, and the buzz of business was heard on all sides. Ellen
had for some time past seldom gone a-shopping with her mother,
and had never been in this store but once or twice before. She
had not the remotest idea where, or in what apartment of the
building, the merino counter was situated, and she could see
no one to speak to. She stood irresolute in the middle of the
floor. Everybody seemed to be busily engaged with somebody
else; and whenever an opening on one side or another appeared
to promise her an opportunity, it was sure to be filled up
before she could reach it, and, disappointed and abashed, she
would return to her old station in the middle of the floor.
Clerks frequently passed her, crossing the store in all
directions, but they were always bustling along in a great
hurry of business; they did not seem to notice her at all, and
were gone before poor Ellen could get her mouth open to speak
to them. She knew well enough now, poor child! what it was
that made her cheeks burn as they did, and her heart beat as
if it would burst its bounds. She felt confused, and almost
confounded by the incessant hum of voices, and moving crowd of
strange people all around her, while her little figure stood
alone and unnoticed in the midst of them; and there seemed no
prospect that she would be able to gain the ear or the eye of
a single person. Once she determined to accost a man she saw
advancing toward her from a distance, and actually made up to
him for the purpose, but with a hurried bow, and "I beg your
pardon, Miss!" he brushed past. Ellen almost burst into tears.
She longed to turn and run out of the store, but a faint hope
remaining, and an unwillingness to give up her undertaking,
kept her fast. At length one of the clerks in the desk
observed her, and remarked to Mr. St. Clair, who stood by,
"There is a little girl, Sir, who seems to be looking for
something, or waiting for somebody; she has been standing
there a good while." Mr. St. Clair, upon this, advanced to
poor Ellen's relief.

"What do you wish, miss?" he said.

But Ellen had been so long preparing sentences, trying to
utter them, and failing in the attempt, that now, when an
opportunity to speak and be heard was given her, the power of
speech seemed to be gone.

"Do you wish anything, Miss?" inquired Mr. St. Clair again.

"Mother sent me," stammered Ellen — "I wish, if you please,
Sir — Mamma wished me to look at the merinoes, Sir, if you
please."

"Is your Mamma in the store?"

"No, Sir," said Ellen, "she is ill, and cannot come out, and
she sent me to look at merinoes for her, if you please, Sir."

"Here, Saunders," said Mr. St. Clair, "show this young lady
the merinoes."

Mr. Saunders made his appearance from among a little group of
clerks, with whom he had been indulging in a few jokes by way
of relief from the tedium of business. "Come this way," he
said to Ellen; and sauntering before her, with a rather
dissatisfied air, led the way out of the entrance-hall into
another and much larger apartment. There were plenty of people
here too, and just as busy as those they had quitted. Mr.
Saunders having brought Ellen to the merino counter, placed
himself behind it, and leaning over it and fixing his eyes
carelessly upon her, asked what she wanted to look at. His
tone and manner struck Ellen most unpleasantly, and made her
again wish herself out of the store. He was a tall, lank young
man, with a quantity of fair hair combed down on each side of
his face, a slovenly exterior, and the most disagreeable pair
of eyes, Ellen thought, she had ever beheld. She could not
bear to meet them, and cast down her own. Their look was bold,
ill-bred, and ill-humoured; and Ellen felt, though she
couldn't have told why, that she need not expect either
kindness or politeness from him.

"What do you want to see, little one?" inquired this
gentleman, as if he had a business on hand he would like to be
rid of. Ellen heartily wished he was rid of it, and she too.

"Merinoes, if you please," she answered, without looking up.

"Well, what kind of merinoes? Here are all sorts and
descriptions of merinoes, and I can't pull them all down, you
know, for you to look at. What kind do you want?"

"I don't know without looking," said Ellen. "Won't you please
to show me some?"

He tossed down several pieces upon the counter, and tumbled
them about before her.

"There," said he, "is that anything like what you want?
There's a pink one — and there's a blue one — and there's a
green one. Is that the kind?"

"This is the kind," said Ellen; "but this isn't the colour I
want."

"What colour do you want?"

"Something dark, if you please."

"Well, there, that green's dark; won't that do? See, that
would make up very pretty for you."

"No," said Ellen, "Mamma don't like green."

"Why don't she come and choose her stuffs herself, then? What
colour does she like?"

"Dark blue, or dark brown, or a nice gray would do," said
Ellen, "if it is fine enough."

" 'Dark blue,' or 'dark brown,' or a 'nice gray,' eh? Well,
she's pretty easy to suit. A dark blue I've showed you already
— what's the matter with that?"

"It isn't dark enough," said Ellen.

"Well," said he, discontentedly, pulling down another piece,
"how'll that do? That's dark enough."

It was a fine and beautiful piece, very different from those
he had showed her first. Even Ellen could see that, and
fumbling for her little pattern of merino, she compared it
with the piece. They agreed perfectly as to fineness.

"What is the price of this?" she asked, with trembling hope
that she was going to be rewarded by success for all the
trouble of her enterprise.

"Two dollars a yard."

Her hopes and countenance fell together. "That's too high,"
she said, with a sigh.

"Then take this other blue; come — it's a great deal prettier
than that dark one, and not so dear; and I know your mother
will like it better."

Ellen's cheeks were tingling and her heart throbbing, but she
couldn't bear to give up.

"Would you be so good as to show me some gray?"

He slowly and ill-humouredly complied, and took down an
excellent piece of dark gray, which Ellen fell in love with at
once; but she was again disappointed; it was fourteen
shillings.

"Well, if you won't take that, take something else," said the
man; "you can't have everything at once; if you will have
cheap goods, of course you can't have the same quality that
you like; but now, here's this other blue, only twelve
shillings, and I'll let you have it for ten, if you'll take
it."

"No, it is too light and too coarse," said Ellen; "Mamma
wouldn't like it."

"Let me see," said he, seizing her pattern, and pretending to
compare it; "it's quite as fine as this, if that's all you
want."

"Could you," said Ellen, timidly, "give me a little bit of
this gray to show Mamma!"

"Oh, no!" said he, impatiently tossing over the cloths and
throwing Ellen's pattern on the floor; "we can't cut up our
goods; if people don't choose to buy of us, they may go
somewhere else; and if you cannot decide upon anything, I must
go and attend to those that can. I can't wait here all day."

"What's the matter, Saunders?" said one of his brother clerks,
passing him.

"Why, I've been here this half hour showing cloths to a child
that doesn't know merino from a sheep's back," said he,
laughing. And, some other customers coming up at the moment,
he was as good as his word, and left Ellen, to attend to them.

Ellen stood a moment stock still, just where he had left her,
struggling with her feelings of mortification; she could not
endure to let them be seen. Her face was on fire; her head was
dizzy. She could not stir at first, and, in spite of her
utmost efforts, she _could_ not command back one or two rebel
tears that forced their way; she lifted her hand to her face
to remove them as quietly as possible. "What is all this
about, my little girl?" said a strange voice at her side.
Ellen started, and turned her face, with the tears but half
wiped away, towards the speaker. It was an old gentleman — an
odd old gentleman, too, she thought — one she certainly would
have been rather shy of, if she had seen him under other
circumstances. But though his face was odd, it looked kindly
upon her, and it was a kind tone of voice in which his
question had been put; so he seemed to her like a friend.
"What is all this?" repeated the old gentleman. Ellen began to
tell what it was, but the pride which had forbidden her to
weep before strangers, gave way at one touch of sympathy, and
she poured out tears much faster than words, as she related
her story, so that it was some little time before the old
gentleman could get a clear notion of her case. He waited very
patiently till she had finished; but then he set himself in
good earnest about righting the wrong. "Hallo! you, Sir!" he
shouted, in a voice that made everybody look round; "you
merino man! come and show your goods. Why aren't you at your
post, Sir?" — as Mr. Saunders came up, with an altered
countenance — "here's a young lady you've left standing
unattended to, I don't know how long; are these your manners?"

"The young lady did not wish anything, I believe, Sir,"
returned Mr. Saunders, softly.

"You know better, you scoundrel!" retorted the old gentleman,
who was in a great passion; "I saw the whole matter with my
own eyes. You are a disgrace to the store, Sir, and deserve to
be sent out of it, which you are like enough to be."

"I really thought, Sir," said Mr. Saunders, smoothly — for he
knew the old gentleman, and knew very well he was a person
that must not be offended — "I really thought — I was not
aware, Sir, that the young lady had any occasion for my
services."

"Well, show your wares, Sir, and hold your tongue. Now, my
dear, what did you want?"

"I wanted a little bit of this gray merino, Sir, to show to
Mamma. I couldn't buy it, you know, Sir, until I found out
whether she would like it."

"Cut a piece, Sir, without any words," said the gentleman. Mr.
Saunders obeyed.

"Did you like this best?" pursued the old gentleman.

"I like this dark blue very much, Sir, and I thought Mamma
would; but it's too high."

"How much is it?" inquired he.

"Fourteen shillings," replied Mr. Saunders.

"He said it was two dollars!" exclaimed Ellen.

"I beg pardon," said the crest-fallen Mr. Saunders — "the
young lady mistook me; I was speaking of another piece when I
said two dollars."

"He said this was two dollars, and the gray was fourteen
shillings," said Ellen.

"Is the gray fourteen shillings," inquired the old gentleman.

"I think not, Sir," answered Mr. Saunders — "I believe not,
Sir, — I think it's only twelve — I'll inquire, if you please,
Sir."

"No, no," said the old gentleman, "I know it was only twelve —
I know your tricks, Sir. Cut a piece off the blue. Now, my
dear, are there any more pieces of which you would like to
take patterns, to show your mother?"

"No, Sir," said the overjoyed Ellen; "I am sure she will like
one of these."

"Now, shall we go, then?"

"If you please, Sir," said Ellen, "I should like to have my
bit of merino that I brought from home; Mamma wanted me to
bring it back again."

"Where is it?"

"That gentleman threw it on the floor."

"Do you hear, Sir?" said the old gentleman; "find it
directly."

Mr. Saunders found and delivered it, after stooping in search
of it till he was very red in the face; and he was left,
wishing heartily that he had some safe means of revenge, and
obliged to come to the conclusion that none was within his
reach, and that he must stomach his indignity in the best
manner he could. But Ellen and her protector went forth most
joyously together from the store.

"Do you live far from here?" asked the old gentleman.

"Oh, no, Sir," said Ellen, "not very; it's only at Green's
Hotel, in Southing-street."

"I'll go with you," said he; "and when your mother has decided
which merino she will have, we'll come right back and get it.
I do not want to trust you again to the mercy of that saucy
clerk."

"Oh, thank you, Sir!" said Ellen, "that is just what I was
afraid of. But I shall be giving you a great deal of trouble,
Sir," she added, in another tone.

"No, you won't," said the old gentleman; "I can't be troubled,
so you needn't say anything about that."

They went gaily along — Ellen's heart about five times as
light as the one with which she had travelled that very road a
little while before. Her old friend was in a very cheerful
mood, too, for he assured Ellen, laughingly, that it was of no
manner of use for her to be in a hurry, for he could not
possibly set off and skip to Green's Hotel, as she seemed
inclined to do. They got there at last. Ellen showed the old
gentleman into the parlour, and ran up stairs in great haste
to her mother. But in a few minutes she came down again, with
a very April face, for smiles were playing in every feature,
while the tears were yet wet upon her cheeks.

"Mamma hopes you'll take the trouble, Sir, to come up stairs,"
she said, seizing his hand; "she wants to thank you herself,
Sir."

"It is not necessary," said the old gentleman — "it is not
necessary at all;" but he followed his little conductor,
nevertheless, to the door of her mother's room, into which she
ushered him with great satisfaction.

Mrs. Montgomery was looking very ill — he saw that at a
glance. She rose from her sofa, and extending her hand,
thanked him, with glistening eyes, for his kindness to her
child.

"I don't deserve any thanks, Ma’am," said the old gentleman;
"I suppose my little friend has told you what made us
acquainted?"

"She gave me a very short account of it," said Mrs.
Montgomery.

"She was very disagreeably tried," said the old gentleman. "I
presume you do not need to be told, Ma’am, that her behaviour
was such as would have become any years. I assure you, Ma’am,
if I had had no kindness in my composition to feel for the
_child_, my honour as a gentleman would have made me interfere
for the _lady_."

Mrs. Montgomery smiled, but looked through glistening eyes
again on Ellen. "I am _very_ glad to hear it," she replied. "I
was very far from thinking, when I permitted her to go on this
errand, that I was exposing her to anything more serious than
the annoyance a timid child would feel at having to transact
business with strangers."

"I suppose not," said the gentleman; "but it isn't a sort of
thing that should be often done. There are all sorts of people
in this world, and a little one alone in a crowd is in danger
of being trampled upon."

Mrs. Montgomery's heart answered this with an involuntary
pang. He saw the shade that passed over her face, as she said
sadly —

"I know it, Sir; and it was with strong unwillingness that I
allowed Ellen this morning to do as she had proposed; but in
truth I was but making a choice between difficulties. I am
very sorry I chose as I did. If you are a father, Sir, you
know better than I can tell you, how grateful I am for your
kind interference."

"Say nothing about that, Ma’am; the less the better. I am an
old man, and not good for much now, except to please young
people. I think myself best off when I have the best chance to
do that. So if you will be so good as to choose that merino,
and let Miss Ellen and me go and despatch our business, you
will be conferring, and not receiving, a favour. And any other
errand that you please to intrust her with, I'll undertake to
see her safe through."

His look and manner obliged Mrs. Montgomery to take him at his
word. A very short examination of Ellen's patterns ended in
favour of the gray merino; and Ellen was commissioned, not
only to get and pay for this, but also to choose a dark dress
of the same stuff, and enough of a certain article called
nankeen for a coat; Mrs. Montgomery truly opining that the old
gentleman's care would do more than see her scathless — that
it would have some regard to the justness and prudence of her
purchases.

In great glee Ellen set forth again with her new old friend.
Her hand was fast in his, and her tongue ran very freely, for
her heart was completely opened to him. He seemed as pleased
to listen as she was to talk; and by little and little Ellen
told him all her history — the troubles that had come upon her
in consequence of her mother's illness, and her intended
journey and prospects.

That was a happy day to Ellen. They returned to St. Clair and
Fleury's — bought the gray merino and the nankeen, and a dark
brown merino for a dress.

"Do you want only one of these?" asked the old gentleman.

"Mamma said only one," said Ellen; "that will last me all the
winter."

"Well," said he, "I think two will be better. Let us have
another off the same piece, Mr. Shopman."

"But I am afraid Mamma won't like it, Sir," said Ellen,
gently.

"Pooh, pooh," said he, "your mother has nothing to do with
this; this is my affair." He paid for it accordingly. "Now,
Miss Ellen," said he, when they left the store, "have you got
anything in the shape of a good warm winter bonnet? for it's
precious cold up there in Thirlwall; your pasteboard things
won't do; if you don't take good care of your ears, you will
lose them some fine frosty day. You must quilt and pad, and
all sorts of things, to keep alive and comfortable. So you
haven't a hood, eh? Do you think you and I could make out to
choose one that your mother would think wasn't quite a fright!
Come this way, and let us see. If she don't like it, she can
give it away, you know."

He led the delighted Ellen into a milliner's shop, and after
turning over a great many different articles chose her a nice
warm hood, or quilted bonnet. It was of dark blue silk, well
made and pretty. He saw with great satisfaction that it fitted
Ellen well, and would protect her ears nicely; and having paid
for it, and ordered it home, he and Ellen sallied forth into
the street again. But he wouldn't let her thank him. "It is
just the very thing I wanted, Sir," said Ellen; "Mamma was
speaking about it the other day, and she did not see how I was
ever to get one, because she did not feel at all able to go
out, and I could not get one myself; I know she'll like it
very much."

"Would you rather have something for yourself or your mother,
Ellen, if you could choose, and have but one?"

"Oh, for Mamma, Sir," said Ellen — "a great deal!"

"Come in here," said he; "let us see if we can find anything
she would like."

It was a grocery store. After looking about a little, the old
gentleman ordered sundry pounds of figs and white grapes to be
packed up in papers; and being now very near home, he took one
parcel and Ellen the other, till they came to the door of
Green's Hotel, where he committed both to her care.

"Won't you come in, Sir?" said Ellen.

"No," said he, "I can't this time — I must go home to dinner."

"And shan't I see you any more, Sir?" said Ellen, a shade
coming over her face, which a minute before had been quite
joyous.

"Well, I don't know," said he, kindly — "I hope you will. You
shall hear from me again at any rate, I promise you. We've
spent one pleasant morning together, haven't we? Good-bye,
good-bye."

Ellen's hands were full, but the old gentleman took them in
both his, packages and all, and shook them after a fashion,
and again bidding her good-bye, walked away down the street.

The next morning Ellen and her mother were sitting quietly
together, and Ellen had not finished her accustomed reading,
when there came a knock at the door. "My old gentleman!" cried
Ellen, as she sprung to open it. No — there was no old
gentleman, but a black man with a brace of beautiful woodcocks
in his hand. He bowed very civilly, and said he had been
ordered to leave the birds with Miss Montgomery. Ellen, in
surprise, took them from him, and likewise a note which he
delivered into her hand. Ellen asked from whom the birds came,
but with another polite bow the man said the note would inform
her, and went away. In great curiosity she carried them and
the note to her mother, to whom the latter was directed. It
read thus —


"Will Mrs. Montgomery permit an old man to please himself in
his own way, by showing his regard for her little daughter,
and not feel that he is taking a liberty? The birds are _for
Miss Ellen_."


"Oh, Mamma!" exclaimed Ellen, jumping with delight, "did you
ever see such a dear old gentleman? Now I know what he meant
yesterday, when he asked me if I would rather have something
for myself or for you. How kind he is! to do just the very
thing for me that he knows would give me the most pleasure!
Now, Mamma, these birds are mine, you know, and I give them to
you. You must pay me a kiss for them, Mamma; they are worth
that. Aren't they beauties?"

"They are very fine, indeed," said Mrs. Montgomery; "this is
just the season for woodcock, and these are in beautiful
condition."

"Do you like woodcocks, Mamma?"

"Yes, very much."

"Oh, how glad I am!" said Ellen. "I'll ask Sam to have them
done very nicely for you, and then you will enjoy them so
much."

The waiter was called, and instructed accordingly, and to him
the birds were committed, to be delivered to the care of the
cook.

"Now, Mamma," said Ellen, "I think these birds have made me
happy for all day."

"Then I hope, daughter, they will make you busy for all day.
You have ruffles to hem, and the skirts of your dresses to
make — we need not wait for Miss Rice to do that; and when she
comes, you will have to help her, for I can do little. You
can't be too industrious."

"Well, Mamma, I am as willing as can be."

This was the beginning of a pleasant two weeks to Ellen —
weeks to which she often looked back afterwards, so quietly
and swiftly the days fled away, in busy occupation and sweet
intercourse with her mother. The passions, which were apt
enough to rise in Ellen's mind upon occasions, were, for the
present, kept effectually in check. She could not forget that
her days with her mother would very soon be at an end, for a
long time at least; and this consciousness, always present to
her mind, forbade even the wish to do anything that might
grieve or disturb her. Love and tenderness had absolute rule
for the time, and even had power to overcome the sorrowful
thoughts that would often rise; so that in spite of them peace
reigned. And perhaps both mother and daughter enjoyed this
interval the more keenly because they knew that sorrow was at
hand.

All this while there was scarcely a day that the old
gentleman's servant did not knock at their door, bearing a
present of game. The second time he came with some fine larks;
next was a superb grouse; then woodcock again. Curiosity
strove with astonishment and gratitude in Ellen's mind.

"Mamma," she said, after she had admired the grouse for five
minutes, "I cannot rest without finding out who this old
gentleman is."

"I am sorry for that," replied Mrs. Montgomery, gravely, "for
I see no possible way of your doing it."

"Why, Mamma, couldn't I ask the man that brings the birds what
his name is? He must know it."

"Certainly not; it would be very dishonourable."

"Would it, Mamma? — why?"

"This old gentleman has not chosen to tell you his name; he
wrote his note without signing it, and his man has obviously
been instructed not to disclose it. Don't you remember, he did
not tell it when you asked him, the first time he came? Now
this shows the old gentleman wishes to keep it secret, and to
try to find it out in any way would be a very unworthy return
for his kindness."

"Yes, it wouldn't be doing as I would be done by, to be sure;
but would it be _dishonourable_, Mamma?"

"Very. It is very dishonourable to try to find out that about
other people which does not concern you, and which they wish
to keep from you. Remember that, my dear daughter."

"I will, Mamma. I'll never do it, I promise you."

"Even in talking with people, if you discern in them any
unwillingness to speak upon a subject, avoid it immediately,
provided, of course, that some higher interest do not oblige
you to go on. That is true politeness, and true kindness,
which are nearly the same; and _not_ to do so, I assure you,
Ellen, proves one wanting in true honour."

"Well, Mamma, I don't care what his name is — at least I won't
try to find out; but it does worry me that I cannot thank him.
I wish he knew how much I feel obliged to him."

"Very well; write him and tell him so."

"Mamma!" said Ellen, opening her eyes very wide — "can I? —
would you?"

"Certainly — if you like. It would be very proper."

"Then I will! I declare that is a good notion. I'll do it the
first thing, and then I can give it to that man if he comes
to-morrow, as I suppose he will. Mamma," said she, on opening
her desk, "how funny! don't you remember you wondered who I
was going to write notes to? Here is one now, Mamma; it is
very lucky I have got note-paper."

More than one sheet of it was ruined before Ellen had
satisfied herself with what she wrote. It was a full hour from
the time she began when she brought the following note for her
mother's inspection: —


"Ellen Montgomery does not know how to thank the old gentleman
who is so kind to her. Mamma enjoys the birds very much, and I
think I do more; for I have the double pleasure of giving them
to Mamma, and of eating them afterwards; but your kindness is
the best of all. I can't tell you how much I am obliged to
you, Sir, but I will always love you for all you have done for
me.

"ELLEN MONTGOMERY."


This note Mrs. Montgomery approved; and Ellen having, with
great care and great satisfaction, enclosed it in an envelope,
succeeded in sealing it according to rule, and very well. Mrs.
Montgomery laughed when she saw the direction, but let it go.
Without consulting her, Ellen had written on the outside, "To
the old gentleman." She sent it the next morning by the hands
of the same servant, who this time was the bearer of a plump
partridge "To Miss Montgomery;" and her mind was a great deal
easier on this subject from that time.


CHAPTER VI.

Night and Morning.


October was now far advanced. One evening — the evening of the
last Sunday in the month — Mrs. Montgomery was lying in the
parlour alone. Ellen had gone to bed some time before; and
now, in the stillness of the Sabbath evening, the ticking of
the clock was almost the only sound to be heard. The hands
were rapidly approaching ten. Captain Montgomery was abroad;
and he had been so — according to custom — or in bed, the
whole day. The mother and daughter had had the Sabbath to
themselves; and most quietly and sweetly it had passed. They
had read together, prayed together, talked together a great
deal; and the evening had been spent in singing hymns; but
Mrs. Montgomery's strength failed here, and Ellen sang alone.
_She_ was not soon weary. Hymn succeeded hymn, with fresh and
varied pleasure; and her mother could not tire of listening.
The sweet words, and the sweet airs — which were all old
friends, and brought of themselves many a lesson of wisdom and
consolation, by the mere force of association — needed not the
recommendation of the clear childish voice in which they were
sung, which was, of all things, the sweetest to Mrs.
Montgomery's ear. She listened till she almost felt as if
earth were left behind, and she and her child already standing
within the walls of that city where sorrow and sighing shall
be no more, and the tears shall be wiped from all eyes for
ever. Ellen's next hymn, however, brought her back to earth
again; but though her tears flowed freely while she heard it,
all her causes of sorrow could not render them bitter.


"God in Israel sows the seeds

Of affliction, pain, and toil;

These spring up and choke the weeds

Which would else o'erspread the soil.

Trials make the promise sweet —

Trials give new life to prayer —

Trials bring me to his feet,

Lay me low, and keep me there."


"It is so, indeed, dear Ellen," said Mrs. Montgomery, when she
had finished — and holding the little singer to her breast —
"I have always found it so. God is faithful. I have seen
abundant cause to thank him for all the evils he has made me
suffer heretofore, and I do not doubt it will be the same with
this last and worst one. Let us glorify him in the fires, my
daughter; and if earthly joys be stripped from us, and if we
be torn from each other, let us cling the closer to him — he
can, and he will, in that case, make up to us more than all we
have lost."

Ellen felt her utter inability to join in her mother's
expressions of confidence and hope; to her there was no
brightness on the cloud that hung over them — it was all dark.
She could only press her lips, in tearful silence, to the one
and the other of her mother's cheeks alternately. How sweet
the sense of the coming parting made every such embrace! This
one, for particular reasons, was often and long remembered. A
few minutes they remained thus in each other's arms, cheek
pressed against cheek, without speaking; but then Mrs.
Montgomery remembered that Ellen's bed-time was already past,
and dismissed her.

For a while after, Mrs. Montgomery remained just where Ellen
had left her, her busy thoughts roaming over many things, in
the far past, and the sad present, and the uncertain future.
She was unconscious of the passage of time, and did not notice
how the silence deepened as the night drew on, till scarce a
footfall was heard in the street, and the ticking of the clock
sounded with that sad distinctness which seems to say — "Time
is going on — time is going on, — and you are going with it —
do what you will, you can't help that." It was just upon the
stroke of ten, and Mrs. Montgomery was still wrapped in her
deep musings, when a sharp, brisk footstep in the distance
aroused her, rapidly approaching; and she knew very well whose
it was, and that it would pause at the door, before she heard
the quick run up the steps, succeeded by her husband's tread
upon the staircase. And yet she saw him open the door with a
kind of startled feeling, which his appearance now invariably
caused her; the thought always darted through her head,
"Perhaps he brings news of Ellen's going." Something, it would
have been impossible to say what, in his appearance or manner,
confirmed this fear on the present occasion. Her heart felt
sick, and she waited in silence to hear what he would say. _He_
seemed very well pleased — sat down before the fire, rubbing
his hands, partly with cold and partly with satisfaction; and
his first words were — "Well! we have got a fine opportunity
for her at last."

How little he was capable of understanding the pang this
announcement gave his poor wife! But she only closed her eyes
and kept perfectly quiet, and he never suspected it.

He unbuttoned his coat, and taking the poker in his hand,
began to mend the fire, talking the while.

"I am very glad of it, indeed," said he; "it's quite a load
off my mind. Now we'll be gone directly, and high time it is —
I'll take passage in the _England_ the first thing to-morrow.
And this is the best possible chance for Ellen — every thing
we could have desired. I began to feel very uneasy about it —
it was getting so late; but I am quite relieved now."

"Who is it?" said Mrs. Montgomery, forcing herself to speak.

"Why, it's Mrs. Dunscombe," said the captain, flourishing his
poker by way of illustration; "you know her, don't you? —
Captain Dunscombe's wife — she's going right through
Thirlwall, and will take charge of Ellen as far as that, and
there my sister will meet her with a waggon and take her
straight home. Couldn't be anything better. I write to let
Fortune know when to expect her. Mrs. Dunscombe is a lady of
the first family and fashion — in the highest degree
respectable; she is going on to Fort Jameson, with her
daughter and a servant, and her husband is to follow her in a
few days. I happened to hear of it to-day, and I immediately
seized the opportunity to ask if she would not take Ellen with
her as far as Thirlwall, and Dunscombe was only too glad to
oblige me. I'm a very good friend of his, and he knows it."

"How soon does she go?"

"Why, that's the only part of the business I am afraid you
won't like — but there is no help for it; — and, after all, it
is a great deal better so than if you had time to wear
yourselves out with mourning; better, and easier too, in the
end."

"How soon?" repeated Mrs. Montgomery, with an agonized accent.

"Why, I'm a little afraid of startling you — Dunscombe's wife
must go, he told me, to-morrow morning; and we arranged that
she could call in the carriage at six o'clock to take up
Ellen."

Mrs. Montgomery put her hands to her face and sank back
against the sofa.

"I was afraid you would take it so," said her husband, "but I
don't think it is worth while. It is a great deal better as it
is; a great deal better than if she had a long warning. You
would fairly wear yourself out if you had time enough, and you
haven't any strength to spare."

It was some while before Mrs. Montgomery could recover
composure and firmness enough to go on with what she had to
do, though, knowing the necessity, she strove hard for it. For
several minutes she remained quite silent and quiet,
endeavouring to collect her scattered forces; then sitting
upright and drawing her shawl around her, she exclaimed — "I
must waken Ellen immediately!"

"Waken Ellen!" exclaimed her husband, in his turn; "what on
earth for? That's the very last thing to be done."

"Why, you would not put off telling her until to-morrow
morning?" said Mrs. Montgomery.

"Certainly I would; that's the only proper way to do. Why in
the world should you wake her up, just to spend the whole
night in useless grieving? — unfitting her utterly for her
journey, and doing yourself more harm than you can undo in a
week. No, no; just let her sleep quietly, and you can go to
bed and do the same. Wake her up, indeed! I thought you were
wiser."

"But she will be so dreadfully shocked in the morning!"

"Not one bit more that she would be to-night, and she won't
have so much time to feel it. In the hurry and bustle of
getting off, she will not have time to think about her
feelings; and once on the way, she will do well enough;
children always do."

Mrs. Montgomery looked undecided and unsatisfied.

"I'll take the responsibility of this matter on myself; you
must not waken her, absolutely. It would not do at all," said
the captain, poking the fire very energetically; "it would not
do at all; I cannot allow it."

Mrs. Montgomery silently arose and lit a lamp.

"You are not going into Ellen's room?" said the husband.

"I must — I must put her things together."

"But you'll not disturb Ellen?" said he, in a tone that
required a promise.

"Not if I can help it."

Twice Mrs. Montgomery stopped before she reached to door of
Ellen's room, for her heart failed her. But she _must_ go on,
and the necessary preparations for the morrow _must_ be made —
she knew it; and repeating this to herself, she gently turned
the handle of the door, and pushed it open, and guarding the
light with her hand from Ellen's eyes, she set it where it
would not shine upon her. Having done this, she set herself,
without once glancing at her little daughter, to put all
things in order for her early departure on the following
morning. But it was a bitter piece of work for her. She first
laid out all that Ellen would need to wear; the dark merino,
the new nankeen coat, the white bonnet, the clean frill that
her own hands had done up, the little gloves and shoes, and
all the etceteras, with the thoughtfulness and the carefulness
of love; but it went through and through her heart that it was
the very last time a mother's fingers would ever be busy in
arranging or preparing Ellen's attire; the very last time she
would ever see or touch even the little inanimate things that
belonged to her; and painful as the task was, she was loth to
have it come to an end. It was with a kind of lingering
unwillingness to quit her hold of them, that one thing after
another was stowed carefully and neatly away in the trunk. She
felt it was love's last act; words might indeed a few times
yet come over the ocean on a sheet of paper; but sight, and
hearing, and touch, must all have done henceforth for ever.
Keenly as Mrs. Montgomery felt this, she went on busily with
her work all the while, and when the last thing was safely
packed, shut the trunk and locked, it without allowing herself
to stop and think, and even drew the straps. And then, having
finished all her task, she went to the bedside; she had not
looked that way before.

Ellen was lying in the deep, sweet sleep of childhood; the
easy position, the gentle breathing, and the flush of health
upon the cheek, showed that all causes of sorrow were for the
present far removed. Yet not so far either; for once, when
Mrs. Montgomery stooped to kiss her, light as the touch of
that kiss had been upon her lips, it seemed to awaken a train
of sorrowful recollections in the little sleeper's mind. A
shade passed over her face, and with gentle but sad accent the
word "Mamma!" burst from the parted lips. Only a moment — and
the shade passed away, and the expression of peace settled
again upon her brow; but Mrs. Montgomery dared not try the
experiment a second time. Long she stood looking upon her, as
if she knew she was looking her last; then she knelt by the
bedside, and hid her face in the coverings — but no tears
came; the struggle in her mind, and her anxious fear for the
morning's trial, made weeping impossible. Her husband at
length came to seek her, and it was well he did; she would
have remained there on her knees all night. He feared
something of the kind, and came to prevent it. Mrs. Montgomery
suffered herself to be led away without making any opposition,
and went to bed as usual; but sleep was far from her. The fear
of Ellen's distress when she should be awakened and suddenly
told the truth, kept her in an agony. In restless wakefulness
she tossed and turned uneasily upon her bed, watching for the
dawn, and dreading unspeakably to see it. The captain, in
happy unconsciousness of his wife's distress, and utter
inability to sympathize with it, was soon in a sound sleep,
and his heavy breathing was an aggravation of her trouble; it
kept repeating, what indeed she knew already, that the only
one in the world who ought to have shared and soothed her
grief was not capable of doing either. Wearied with watching
and tossing to and fro, she at length lost herself a moment in
uneasy slumber, from which she suddenly started in terror, and
seizing her husband's arm to arouse him, exclaimed, "It is
time to wake Ellen!" but she had to repeat her efforts two or
three times before she succeeded in making herself heard.

"What is the matter?" said he, heavily, and not over well
pleased at the interruption.

"It is time to wake Ellen."

"No it isn't," said he, relapsing; "it isn't time yet this
great while."

"Oh, yes, it is," said Mrs. Montgomery; "I am sure it is; I
see the beginning of dawn in the east."

"Nonsense! it's no such thing; it's the glimmer of the lamp-
light; what is the use of your exciting yourself so, for
nothing? It won't be dawn these two hours. Wait till I find my
repeater, and I'll convince you." He found and struck it.

"There! I told you so — only one quarter after four; it would
be absurd to wake her yet. Do go to sleep, and leave it to me;
I'll take care it is done in proper time."

Mrs. Montgomery sighed heavily, and again arranged herself to
watch the eastern horizon, or rather with her face in that
direction; for she could see nothing. But, more quietly now,
she lay gazing into the darkness, which it was in vain to try
to penetrate; and thoughts succeeding thoughts in a more
regular train, at last fairly cheated her into sleep, much as
she wished to keep it off. She slept soundly for near an hour;
and when she awoke, the dawn had really begun to break in the
eastern sky. She again aroused Captain Montgomery, who this
time allowed it might be as well to get up; but it was with
unutterable impatience that she saw him lighting a lamp, and
moving about as leisurely as if he had nothing more to do than
to get ready for breakfast at eight o'clock.

"Oh! do speak to Ellen!" she said, unable to control herself.
"Never mind brushing your hair till afterwards. She will have
no time for any thing. Oh! do not wait any longer! what are
you thinking of?"

"What are _you_ thinking of?" said the captain; — "there's
plenty of time. Do quiet yourself — you're getting as nervous
as possible. I'm going immediately."

Mrs. Montgomery fairly groaned with impatience, and an
agonizing dread of what was to follow the disclosure to Ellen.
But her husband coolly went on with his preparations, which
indeed were not long in finishing; and then taking the lamp,
he at last went. He had in truth delayed on purpose, wishing
the final leave-taking to be as brief as possible; and the
gray streaks of light in the east were plainly showing
themselves when he opened the door of his little daughter's
room. He found her lying very much as her mother had left her
— in the same quiet sleep, and with the same expression of
calmness and peace spread over her whole face and person. It
touched even him, and he was not readily touched by any thing;
— it made him loth to say the word that would drive all that
sweet expression so quickly and completely away. It must be
said, however; the increasing light warned him he must not
tarry; but it was with a hesitating and almost faltering voice
that he said, "Ellen!"

She stirred in her sleep, and the shadow came over her face
again.

"Ellen! Ellen!"

She started up — broad awake now; — and both the shadow and
the peaceful expression were gone from her face. It was a look
of blank astonishment at first with which she regarded her
father, but very soon indeed that changed into one of bleak
despair. He saw that she understood perfectly what he was
there for, and that there was no need at all for him to
trouble himself with making painful explanations.

"Come, Ellen," he said, "that's a good child — make haste and
dress. There's no time to lose now, for the carriage will soon
be at the door; and your mother wants to see you, you know."

Ellen hastily obeyed him, and began to put on her stockings
and shoes.

"That's right — now you'll be ready directly. You are going
with Mrs. Dunscombe — I have engaged her to take charge of you
all the way quite to Thirlwall; she's the wife of Captain
Dunscombe, whom you saw here the other day, you know; and her
daughter is going with her, so you will have charming company.
I dare say you will enjoy the journey very much; and your aunt
will meet you at Thirlwall. Now, make haste — I expect the
carriage every minute. I meant to have called you before, but
I overslept myself. Don't be long."

And nodding encouragement, her father left her.

"How did she bear it?" asked Mrs. Montgomery, when he
returned.

"Like a little hero. She didn't say a word, or shed a tear. I
expected nothing but that she would make a great fuss; but she
has all the old spirit that you used to have — and have yet,
for any thing I know. She behaved admirably."

Mrs. Montgomery sighed deeply. She understood far better than
her husband what Ellen's feelings were, and could interpret
much more truly than he the signs of them; the conclusion she
drew from Ellen's silent and tearless reception of the news
differed widely from his. She now waited anxiously and almost
fearfully for her appearance, which did not come as soon as
she expected it.

It was a great relief to Ellen when her father ended his
talking, and left her to herself; for she felt she could not
dress herself so quick with him standing there and looking at
her, and his desire that she should be speedy in what she had
to do, could not be greater than her own. Her fingers did
their work as fast as they could, with every joint trembling.
But though a weight like a mountain was upon the poor child's
heart, she could not cry; and she could not pray, though, true
to her constant habit, she fell on her knees by her bedside,
as she always did: it was in vain: all was in a whirl in her
heart and head, and after a minute, she rose again, clasping
her little hands together with an expression of sorrow that it
was well her mother could not see. She was dressed very soon,
but she shrank from going to her mother's room while her
father was there. To save time she put on her coat, and
everything but her bonnet and gloves; and then stood leaning
against the bed-post, for she could not sit down, watching
with most intense anxiety to hear her father's step come out
of the room and go down-stairs. Every minute seemed too long
to be borne; poor Ellen began to feel as if she could not
contain herself. Yet five had not passed away when she heard
the roll of carriage-wheels, which came to the door and then
stopped, and immediately her father opening the door to come
out. Without waiting any longer, Ellen opened her own, and
brushed past him into the room he had quitted. Mrs. Montgomery
was still lying on the bed, for her husband has insisted on
her not rising. She said not a word, but opened her arms to
receive her little daughter; and with a cry of indescribable
expression, Ellen sprang upon the bed, and was folded in them.
But then neither of them spoke or wept. What could words say?
Heart met heart in that agony, for each knew all that was in
the other. No — not quite all. Ellen did not know that the
whole of bitterness death had for her mother she was tasting
then. But it was true. Death had no more power to give her
pain after this parting should be over. His after-work — the
parting between soul and body — would be welcome, rather; yes,
very welcome. Mrs. Montgomery knew it all well. She knew this
was the last embrace between them. She knew it would be the
very last time that dear little form would ever lie on her
bosom, or be pressed in her arms; and it almost seemed to her
that soul and body must part company too, when they should be
rent asunder. Ellen's grief was not like this; _she_ did not
think it was the last time; — but she was a child of very high
spirit and violent passions, untamed at all by sorrow's
discipline; and in proportion violent was the tempest excited
by this first real trial. Perhaps, too, her sorrow was
sharpened by a sense of wrong, and a feeling of indignation at
her father's cruelty in not waking her earlier.

Not many minutes had passed in this sad embrace, and no word
had yet been spoken; no sound uttered, except Ellen's first
inarticulate cry of mixed affection and despair, when Captain
Montgomery's step was again heard slowly ascending the stairs.
"He is coming to take me away!" thought Ellen; and in terror
lest she should go without a word from her mother, she burst
forth with, "Mamma! speak!"

A moment before, and Mrs. Montgomery could not have spoken.
But she could now; and as clearly and calmly the words were
uttered as if nothing had been the matter, only her voice fell
a little toward the last.

"God bless my darling child! and make her his own — and bring
her to that home where parting cannot be!"

Ellen's eyes had been dry until now; but when she heard the
sweet sound of her mother's voice, it opened all the fountains
of tenderness within her. She burst into uncontrollable
weeping; it seemed as if she would pour out her very heart in
tears; and she clung to her mother with a force that made it a
difficult task for her father to remove her. He could not do
it at first; and Ellen seemed not to hear any thing that was
said to her. He was very unwilling to use harshness; and after
a little, though she had paid no attention to his entreaties
or commands, yet, sensible of the necessity of the case, she
gradually relaxed her hold and suffered him to draw her away
from her mother's arms. He carried her down stairs, and put
her on the front seat of the carriage, beside Mrs. Dunscombe's
maid — but Ellen could never recollect how she got there, and
she did not feel the touch of her father's hand, nor hear him
when he bid her good-bye; and she did not know that he put a
large paper of candies and sugar-plums in her lap. She knew
nothing but that she had lost her mother.

"It will not be so long," said the captain, in a kind of
apologizing way; "she will soon get over it, and you will not
have any trouble with her."

"I hope so," returned the lady, rather shortly; and then, as
the captain was making his parting bow, she added, in no very
pleased tone of voice — "Pray, Captain Montgomery, is this
young lady to travel without a bonnet?"

"Without a bonnet! — no," said the captain. "How is this?
hasn't she a bonnet? I beg a thousand pardons, Ma’am — I'll
bring it on the instant."

After a little delay, the bonnet was found, but the captain
overlooked the gloves in his hurry.

"I am very sorry you have been delayed, Ma’am," said he.

"I hope we may be able to reach the boat yet," replied the
lady. "Drive on as fast as you can!"

A very polite bow from Captain Montgomery — a very slight one
from the lady — and off they drove.

"Proud enough," thought the captain, as he went up the stairs
again. "I reckon she don't thank me for her travelling
companion. But Ellen's off — that's one good thing — and now
I'll go and engage berths in the England."


CHAPTER VII.

"Strangers walk as friends."


The long drive to the boat was only a sorrowful blank to
Ellen's recollection. She did not see the frowns that passed
between her companions on her account. She did not know that
her white bonnet was such a matter of merriment to Margaret
Dunscombe and the maid, that they could hardly contain
themselves. She did not find out that Miss Margaret's fingers
were busy with her paper of sweets, which only a good string
and a sound knot kept her from rifling. Yet she felt very well
that nobody there cared in the least for her sorrow. It
mattered nothing; she wept on in her loneliness, and knew
nothing that happened, till the carriage stopped on the wharf;
even then she did not raise her head. Mrs. Dunscombe got out,
and saw her daughter and servant do the same; then after
giving some orders about the baggage, she returned to Ellen.

"Will you get out, Miss Montgomery, or would you prefer to
remain in the carriage? We must go on board directly."

There was something, not in the words, but in the tone, that
struck Ellen's heart with an entirely new feeling. Her tears
stopped instantly, and, wiping away quick the traces of them
as well as she could, she got out of the carriage without a
word, aided by Mrs. Dunscombe's hand. The party was presently
joined by a fine-looking man, whom Ellen recognised as Captain
Dunscombe.

"Dunscombe, do put these girls on board, will you? and then
come back to me; I want to speak to you. Timmins, you may go
along and look after them."

Captain Dunscombe obeyed. When they reached the deck, Margaret
Dunscombe and the maid Timmins went straight to the cabin. Not
feeling at all drawn towards their company, as indeed they had
given her no reason, Ellen planted herself by the guards of
the boat, not far from the gangway, to watch the busy scene
that at another time would have had a great deal of interest
and amusement for her. And interest it had now; but it was
with a very, very grave little face that she looked on the
bustling crowd. The weight on her heart was just as great as
ever, but she felt this was not the time or the place to let
it be seen; so for the present she occupied herself with what
was passing before her, though it did not for one moment make
her forget her sorrow.

At last the boat rang her last bell. Captain Dunscombe put his
wife on board, and had barely time to jump off the boat again
when the plank was withdrawn. The men on shore cast off the
great loops of ropes that held the boat to enormous wooden
posts on the wharf, and they were off!

At first it seemed to Ellen as if the wharf and the people
upon it were sailing away from them backwards; but she
presently forgot to think of them at all. She was gone! — she
felt the bitterness of the whole truth; — the blue water
already lay between her and the shore, where she so much
longed to be. In that confused mass of buildings at which she
was gazing, but which would be so soon beyond even gazing
distance, was the only spot she cared for in the world; her
heart was there. She could not see the place, to be sure, nor
tell exactly whereabouts it lay in all that wide-spread city;
but it was there, somewhere — and every minute was making it
farther and farther off. It's a bitter thing, that sailing
away from all one loves; and poor Ellen felt it so. She stood
leaning both her arms upon the rail, the tears running down
her cheeks, and blinding her so that she could not see the
place towards which her straining eyes were bent. Somebody
touched her sleeve — it was Timmins.

"Mrs. Dunscombe sent me to tell you she wants you to come into
the cabin, Miss."

Hastily wiping her eyes, Ellen obeyed the summons, and
followed Timmins into the cabin. It was full of groups of
ladies, children, and nurses — bustling and noisy enough.
Ellen wished she might have stayed outside; she wanted to be
by herself; but, as the next best thing, she mounted upon the
bench, which ran all round the saloon, and kneeling on the
cushion by one of the windows, placed herself with the edge of
her bonnet just touching the glass, so that nobody could see a
bit of her face, while she could look out near by as well as
from the deck. Presently her ear caught, as she thought, the
voice of Mrs. Dunscombe, saying in rather an undertone, but
laughing too, "What a figure she does cut in that outlandish
bonnet!"

Ellen had no particular reason to think _she_ was meant, and yet
she did think so. She remained quite still, but with raised
colour and quickened breathing waited to hear what would come
next. Nothing came at first, and she was beginning to think
she had perhaps been mistaken, when she plainly heard Margaret
Dunscombe say, in a loud whisper —

"Mamma, I wish you could contrive some way to keep her in the
cabin — can't you? she looks so odd in that queer sun-bonnet
kind of a thing, that anybody would think she had come out of
the woods; — and no gloves too; I shouldn't like to have the
Miss M'Arthurs think she belonged to us; — can't you, Mamma?"

If a thunderbolt had fallen at Ellen's feet, the shock would
hardly have been greater. The lightning of passion shot
through every vein. And it was not passion only: there was
hurt feeling and wounded pride; and the sorrow of which her
heart was full enough before, now wakened afresh. The child
was beside herself. One wild wish for a hiding-place was the
most pressing thought — to be where tears could burst and her
heart could break unseen. She slid off her bench and rushed
through the crowd to the red curtain that cut off the far end
of the saloon; and from there down to the cabin below — people
were everywhere. At last she spied a nook where she could be
completely hidden. It was in the far-back end of the boat,
just under the stairs by which she had come down. Nobody was
sitting on the three or four large mahogany steps that ran
round that end of the cabin, and sloped up to the little cabin
window: and creeping beneath the stairs, and seating herself
on the lowest of these steps, the poor child found that she
was quite screened, and out of sight of every human creature.
It was time, indeed; her heart had been almost bursting with
passion and pain, and now the pent-up tempest broke forth with
a fury that racked her little frame from head to foot; and the
more because she strove to stifle every sound of it as much as
possible. It was the very bitterness of sorrow, without any
softening thought to allay it, and sharpened and made more
bitter by mortification and a passionate sense of unkindness
and wrong. And through it all, how constantly in her heart the
poor child was reaching forth longing arms towards her far-off
mother, and calling in secret on her beloved name. "Oh, Mamma!
Mamma!" was repeated numberless times, with the unspeakable
bitterness of knowing that she would have been a sure refuge
and protection from all this trouble, but was now where she
could neither reach nor hear her. Alas! how soon and how sadly
missed!

Ellen's distress was not soon quieted, or, if quieted for a
moment, it was only to break out afresh. And then she was glad
to sit still and rest herself.

Presently she heard the voice of the chambermaid upstairs, at
a distance at first, and coming nearer and nearer. "Breakfast
ready, ladies! — Ladies, breakfast ready!" — and then came all
the people in a rush pouring down the stairs over Ellen's
head. She kept quite still and close, for she did not want to
see anybody, and could not bear that anybody should see her.
Nobody did see her — they all went off into the next cabin,
where breakfast was set. Ellen began to grow tired of her
hiding-place, and to feel restless in her confinement — she
thought this would be a good time to get away; so she crept
from her station under the stairs, and mounted them as quick
and as quietly as she could. She found almost nobody left in
the saloon — and, breathing more freely, she possessed herself
of her despised bonnet, which she had torn off her head in the
first burst of her indignation, and passing gently out at the
door, went up the stairs which led to the promenade deck — she
felt as if she could not get far enough from Mrs. Dunscombe.

The promenade-deck was very pleasant in the bright morning
sun: and nobody was there except a few gentlemen. Ellen sat
down on one of the settees that were ranged along the middle
of it, and much pleased at having found herself such a nice
place of retreat, she once more took up her interrupted
amusement of watching the banks of the river.

It was a fair, mild day, near the end of October, and one of
the loveliest of that lovely month. Poor Ellen, however, could
not fairly enjoy it just now. There was enough darkness in her
heart to put a veil over all nature's brightness. The thought
did pass through her mind, when she first went up, how very
fair everything was; but she soon forgot to think about it at
all. They were now in a wide part of the river, and the shore
towards which she was looking was low and distant, and offered
nothing to interest her. She ceased to look at it, and
presently lost all sense of everything around and before her,
for her thoughts went home. She remembered that sweet moment,
last night, when she lay in her mother's arms, after she had
stopped singing — could it be only last night? — it seemed a
long, long time ago. She went over again, in imagination, her
shocked waking up that very morning — how cruel that was! —
her hurried dressing — the miserable parting — and those last
words of her mother, that seemed to ring in her ears yet —
"That home where parting cannot be." "Oh!" thought Ellen, "how
shall I ever get there? Who is there to teach me now? Oh! what
shall I do without you? Oh, Mamma! how much I want you
already!"

While poor Ellen was thinking these things over and over, her
little face had a deep sadness of expression it was sorrowful
to see. She was perfectly calm — her violent excitement had
all left her — her lip quivered a very little, sometimes, but
that was all; and one or two tears rolled slowly down the side
of her face. Her eyes were fixed upon the dancing water, but
it was very plain her thoughts were not, nor on anything else
before her; and there was a forlorn look of hopeless sorrow on
her lip, and cheek, and brow, enough to move anybody whose
heart was not very hard. She was noticed, and with a feeling
of compassion, by several people; but they all thought it was
none of their business to speak to her, or they didn't know
how. At length a gentleman, who had been for some time walking
up and down the deck, happened to look, as he passed, at her
little pale face. He went to the end of his walk that time,
but in coming back he stopped just in front of her, and,
bending down his face towards hers, said, —

"What is the matter with you, my little friend?"

Though his figure had passed before her a great many times
Ellen had not seen him at all; for "her eyes were with her
heart, and that was far away." Her cheek flushed with surprise
as she looked up. But there was no mistaking the look of
kindness in the eyes that met hers, nor the gentleness and
grave truthfulness of the whole countenance. It won her
confidence immediately. All the floodgates of Ellen's heart
were at once opened. She could not speak, but rising, and
clasping the hand that was held out to her in both her own,
she bent down her head upon it, and burst into one of those
uncontrollable agonies of weeping, such as the news of her
mother's intended departure had occasioned that first
sorrowful evening. He gently, and as soon as he could, drew
her to a retired part of the deck, where they were
comparatively free from other people's eyes and ears; then,
taking her in his arms he endeavoured by many kind and
soothing words to stay the torrent of her grief. This fit of
weeping did Ellen more good than the former one; that only
exhausted, this in some little measure relieved her.

"What is all this about?" said her friend, kindly. "Nay, never
mind shedding any more tears about it, my child. Let me hear
what it is, and perhaps we can find some help for it."

"Oh, no! you can't, Sir," said Ellen, sadly.

"Well, let us see," said he — "perhaps I can. What is it that
has troubled you so much?"

"I have lost my mother, Sir," said Ellen.

"Your mother! Lost her! — how?"

"She is very ill, Sir, and obliged to go away over the sea to
France, to get well; and papa could not take me with her,"
said poor Ellen, weeping again, "and I am obliged to go to be
among strangers. Oh, what shall I do?"

"Have you left your mother in the city?"

"Oh yes, Sir! I left her this morning."

"What is your name?"

"Ellen Montgomery."

"Is your mother obliged to go to Europe for her health?"

"Oh yes, Sir; nothing else would have made her go, but the
doctor said she would not live long if she didn't go, and that
would cure her."

"Then you hope to see her come back by-and-by, don't you?"

"Oh yes, Sir; but it won't be this great, great, long while;
it seems to me as if it was for ever."

"Ellen, do you know who it is that sends sickness and trouble
upon us?"

"Yes, Sir, I know; but I don't feel that that makes it any
easier."

"Do you know _why_ he sends it? He is the God of love — he does
not trouble us willingly — he has said so; why does he ever
make us suffer? do you know?"

"No, Sir."

"Sometimes he sees that if he lets them alone, his children
will love some dear thing on the earth better than himself,
and he knows they will not be happy if they do so; and then,
because he loves them, he takes it away — perhaps it is a dear
mother, or a dear daughter — or else he hinders their
enjoyment of it, that they may remember him, and give their
whole hearts to him. He wants their whole hearts, that he may
bless them. Are you one of his children, Ellen?"

"No, Sir," said Ellen, with swimming eyes, but cast down to
the ground.

"How do you know that you are not?"

"Because I do not love the Saviour."

"Do you not love him, Ellen?"

"I am afraid not, Sir."

"Why are you afraid not? What makes you think so?"

"Mamma said I could not love him at all, if I did not love him
best; and, oh! Sir," said Ellen, weeping, "I do love Mamma a
great deal better."

"You love your mother better than you do the Saviour?"

"Oh yes, Sir," said Ellen; "how can I help it?"

"Then, if he had left you your mother, Ellen, you would never
have cared or thought about him?"

Ellen was silent.

"Is it so? — would you, do you think?"

"I don't know, Sir," said Ellen, weeping again — "oh, Sir! how
can I help it?"

"Then Ellen, can you not see the love of your heavenly Father
in this trial? He saw that his little child was in danger of
forgetting him; and he loved you, Ellen; and so he has taken
your dear mother, and sent you away where you will have no one
to look to but him; and now he says to you, 'My daughter, give
_me_ thy heart.' — Will you do it, Ellen?"

Ellen wept exceedingly while the gentleman was saying these
words, clasping his hands still in both hers; but she made no
answer. He waited till she had become calmer, and then went on
in a low tone —

"What is the reason that you do not love the Saviour, my
child?"

"Mamma says it is because my heart is so hard."

"That is true; but you do not know how good and how lovely he
is, or you could not help loving him. Do you often think of
him, and think much of him, and ask him to show you himself,
that you may love him?"

"No, Sir," said Ellen; "not often."

"You pray to him, don't you?"

"Yes, Sir; but not so."

"But you ought to pray to him so. We are all blind by nature,
Ellen; — we are all hard-hearted; — none of us can see him or
love him unless he opens our eyes and touches our hearts; but
he has promised to do this for those who seek him. Do you
remember what the blind man said when Jesus asked him what he
should do for him? — he answered, 'Lord, that I may receive my
sight!' That ought to be your prayer now, and mine too; and
the Lord is just as ready to hear us as he was to hear the
poor blind man; and you know he cured him. Will you ask him,
Ellen?"

A smile was almost struggling through Ellen's tears as she
lifted her face to that of her friend, but she instantly
looked down again.

"Shall I put you in mind, Ellen, of some things about Christ
that ought to make you love him with all your heart?"

"Oh yes, Sir, if you please."

"Then tell me first what it is that makes you love your mother
so much?"

"Oh, I can't tell you, Sir; — everything, I think."

"I suppose the great thing is that she loves _you_ so much?"

"Oh yes, Sir," said Ellen, strongly.

"But how do you know that she loves you? how has she shown
it?"

Ellen looked at him, but could give no answer; it seemed to
her that she must bring the whole experience of her life
before him to form one.

"I suppose," said her friend, "that, to begin with the
smallest thing, she has always been watchfully careful to
provide every thing that would be useful or necessary for you;
— she never forgot your wants, or was careless about them?"

"No indeed, Sir."

"And perhaps you recollect that she never minded trouble, or
expense, or pain, where your good was concerned; — she would
sacrifice her own pleasure at any time for yours?"

Ellen's eyes gave a quick and strong answer to this, but she
said nothing.

"And in all your griefs and pleasures you were sure of finding
her ready and willing to feel with you, and for you, and to
help you if she could? And in all the times you have seen her
tried, no fatigue ever wore out her patience, nor any
naughtiness of yours ever lessened her love; she could not be
weary of waiting upon you when you were sick, nor of bearing
with you when you forgot your duty — more ready always to
receive you than you to return. Isn't it so?"

"Oh yes, Sir."

"And you can recollect a great many words and looks of
kindness and love — many and many endeavours to teach you and
lead you in the right way — all showing the strongest desire
for your happiness in this world, and in the next?"

"Oh yes, Sir, "said Ellen, tearfully; and then added, "Do you
know my mother, Sir?"

"No," said he, smiling, "not at all; but my own mother has
been in many things like this to me, and I judged yours might
have been such to you. Have I described her right?"

"Yes, indeed, Sir," said Ellen — "exactly."

"And in return for all this, you have given this dear mother
the love and gratitude of your whole heart, haven't you?"

"Indeed I have, Sir;" and Ellen's face said it more than her
words.

"You are very right," he said, gravely, "to love such a mother
— to give her all possible duty and affection; — she deserves
it. But, Ellen, in all these very things I have been
mentioning, Jesus Christ has shown that he deserves it far
more. Do you think, if you had never behaved like a child to
your mother — if you had never made her the least return of
love or regard — that she would have continued to love you as
she does?"

"No, Sir," said Ellen — "I do not think she would."

"Have you ever made any fit return to God for his goodness to
you?"

"No, Sir," said Ellen, in a low tone.

"And yet there has been no change in _his_ kindness. Just look
at it, and see what he has done and is doing for you. In the
first place, it is not your mother, but he, who has given you
every good and pleasant thing you have enjoyed in your whole
life. You love your mother, because she is so careful to
provide for all your wants; but who gave her the materials to
work with? — She has only been, as it were, the hand by which
he supplied you. And who gave you such a mother? — There are
many mothers not like her; — who put into her heart the truth
and love that have been blessing you ever since you were born?
It is all — all God's doing, from first to last: but his child
has forgotten him in the very gifts of his mercy."

Ellen was silent, but looked very grave.

"Your mother never minded her own ease or pleasure when your
good was concerned. Did Christ mind his? You know what he did
to save sinners, don't you?"

"Yes, Sir, I know; Mamma often told me."

" 'Though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor, that
we through his poverty might be rich.' He took your burden of
sin upon himself, and suffered that terrible punishment — all
to save you, and such as you. And now he asks his children to
leave off sinning and come back to him, who has bought them
with his own blood. He did this because he _loved_ you; does he
not deserve to be loved in return?'

Ellen had nothing to say; she hung down her head further and
further.

"And patient and kind as your mother is, the Lord Jesus is
kinder and more patient still. In all your life so far, Ellen,
you have not loved or obeyed him; and yet he loves you, and is
ready to be your friend. Is he not even to-day taking away
your dear mother for the very purpose that he may draw you
gently to himself, and fold you in his arms, as he has
promised to do with his lambs? He knows you can never be happy
anywhere else."

The gentleman paused again, for he saw that the little
listener's mind was full.

"Has not Christ shown that he loves you better even than your
mother does? And were there ever sweeter words of kindness
than these? —


" 'Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them
not; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.'

" 'I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd giveth his life
for the sheep.'

" 'I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with
loving-kindness have I drawn thee.' "


He waited a minute, and then added, gently —

"Will you come to him, Ellen?"

Ellen lifted her tearful eyes to his; but there were tears
there too, and her own sank instantly. She covered her face
with her hands, and sobbed out in broken words —

"Oh, if I could! — but I don't know how."

"Do you wish to be his child, Ellen?"

"Oh yes, Sir — if I could."

"I know, my child, that sinful heart of yours is in the way,
but the Lord Jesus can change it, and will, if you will give
it to him. He is looking upon you now, Ellen, with more
kindness and love than any earthly father or mother could,
waiting for you to give that little heart of yours to him,
that he may make it holy, and fill it with blessing. He says,
you know, 'Behold, I stand at the door and knock.' Do not
grieve him away, Ellen."

Ellen sobbed, but all the passion and bitterness of her tears
was gone. Her heart was completely melted.

"If your mother were here, and could do for you what you want,
would you doubt her love to do it? would you have any
difficulty in asking her?"

"Oh no!"

"Then do not doubt his love who loves you better still. Come
to Jesus. Do not fancy he is away up in heaven out of reach of
hearing; he is here, close to you, and knows every wish and
throb of your heart. Think you are in his presence and at his
feet — even now — and say to him in your heart, 'Lord, look
upon me — I am not fit to come to thee, but thou hast bid me
come — take me and make me thine own — take this hard heart
that I can do nothing with, and make it holy and fill it with
thy love — I give it and myself into thy hands, O dear
Saviour!' "

These words were spoken very low, that only Ellen could catch
them. Her bowed head sank lower and lower till he ceased
speaking. He added no more for some time, waited till she had
resumed her usual attitude and appearance, and then said —

"Ellen, could you join in heart with my words?"

"I did, Sir — I couldn't help it — all but the last."

"All but the last?"

"Yes, Sir."

"But, Ellen, if you say the first part of my prayer with your
whole heart, the Lord will enable you to say the last too — do
you believe that?"

"Yes, Sir."

"Will you not make that your constant prayer till you are
heard and answered?"

"Yes, Sir."

And he thought he saw that she was in earnest.

"Perhaps the answer may not come at once — it does not always;
— but it will come, as surely as the sun will rise to-morrow
morning. 'Then shall we know, if we _follow on_ to know the
Lord.' But then you must be in earnest. And if you are in
earnest, is there nothing you have to do besides _praying?_"

Ellen looked at him without making any answer.

"When a person is in earnest, how does he show it?"

"By doing every thing he possibly can to get what he wants."

"Quite right," said her friend, smiling; "and has God bidden
us to do nothing besides pray for a new heart?"

"Oh yes, Sir, he has told us to do a great many things."

"And will he be likely to grant that prayer, Ellen, if he sees
that you do not care about displeasing him in those 'great
many things?' will he judge that you are sincere in wishing
for a new heart?"

"Oh no, Sir."

"Then, if you are resolved to be a Christian, you will not be
contented with praying for a new heart, but you will begin at
once to be a servant of God. You can do nothing well without
help, but you are sure the help will come; and from this good
day you will seek to know and to do the will of God, trusting
in his dear Son to perfect that which concerneth you. — My
little child," said the gentleman, softly and kindly, "are you
ready to say you will do this?"

As she hesitated, he took a little book from his pocket, and
turning over the leaves, said —

"I am going to leave you for a little while — I have a few
moments' business downstairs to attend to: and I want you to
look over this hymn and think carefully of what I have been
saying, will you? — and resolve what you will do."

Ellen got off his knee, where she had been sitting all this
while, and silently taking the book, sat down in the chair he
had quitted. Tears ran fast again, and many thoughts passed
through her mind, as her eyes went over and over the words to
which he had pointed —


"Behold the Saviour at thy door;
He gently knocks, — has knock'd before, —
Has waited long, — is waiting still, —
You treat no other friend so ill.


"Oh, lovely attitude! — he stands
With open heart and outstretch'd hands:
Oh, matchless kindness! — and he shows
This matchless kindness to his foes.


"Admit him — for the human breast
Ne'er entertain'd so kind a guest;
Admit him — or the hour's at hand
When at _His_ door, denied, you'll stand.


"Open my heart, Lord, enter in;
Slay every foe, and conquer sin.
Here now to thee I all resign —
My body, soul, and all are thine."


The last two lines Ellen longed to say, but could not: the two
preceding were the very speech of her heart.

Not more than fifteen minutes had passed when her friend came
back again. The book hung in Ellen's hand; her eyes were fixed
on the floor.

"Well," he said, kindly, and taking her hand, "what's your
decision?"

Ellen looked up.

"Have you made up your mind on that matter we were talking
about?"

"Yes, Sir," Ellen said, in a low voice, casting her eyes down
again.

"And how have you decided, my child?"

"I will try to do as you said, Sir."

"You will begin to follow your Saviour, and to please him,
from this day forward?"

"I will try, Sir," said Ellen, meeting his eyes as she spoke.
Again the look she saw made her burst into tears. She wept
violently.

"God bless you, and help you, my dear Ellen!" said he, gently
passing his hand over her head; — "but do not cry any more —
you have shed too many tears this morning already. We will not
talk about this any more now."

And he spoke only soothing and quieting words for a while to
her; and then asked if she would like to go over the boat and
see the different parts of it. Ellen's joyful agreement with
this proposal was only qualified by the fear of giving him
trouble. But he put that entirely by.


CHAPTER VIII.

Leaves us in the Street.


The going over the boat held them a long time, for Ellen's new
friend took kind pains to explain to her whatever he thought
he could make interesting; he was amused to find how far she
pushed her inquiries into the how and the why of things. For
the time her sorrows were almost forgotten.

"What shall we do now?" said he, when they had at last gone
through the whole — "would you like to go to your friends?"

"I haven't any friends on board, Sir," said Ellen, with a
swelling heart.

"Haven't any friends on board! — what do you mean? Are you
alone?"

"No, Sir," said Ellen, — "not exactly alone; my father put me
in the care of a lady that is going to Thirlwall; but they are
strangers and not friends."

"Are they _un_friends? I hope you don't think, Ellen, that
strangers cannot be friends too?"

"No, indeed, Sir, I don't," said Ellen, looking up with a face
that was fairly brilliant with its expression of gratitude and
love. But, casting it down again, she added, "But they are not
my friends, Sir."

"Well, then," he, said smiling, "will you come with me?"

"Oh yes, Sir! if you will let me — and if I shan't be a
trouble to you, Sir."

"Come this way," said he, "and we'll see if we cannot find a
nice place to sit down, where no one will trouble us."

Such a place was found. And Ellen would have been quite
satisfied though the gentleman had done no more than merely
permit her to remain there, by his side; but he took out his
little Bible, and read and talked to her for some time so
pleasantly that neither her weariness nor the way could be
thought of.

When he ceased reading to her, and began to read to himself,
weariness and faintness stole over her. She had had nothing to
eat, and had been violently excited that day. A little while
she sat in a dreamy sort of quietude — then her thoughts grew
misty and the end of it was — she dropped her head against the
arm of her friend, and fell fast asleep. He smiled at first,
but one look at the very pale little face changed the
expression of his own. He gently put his arm round her, and
drew her head to a better resting-place than it had chosen.

And there she slept till the dinner-bell rang. Timmins was
sent out to look for her, but Timmins did not choose to meddle
with the grave protector Ellen seemed to have gained; and Mrs.
Dunscombe declared herself rejoiced that any other hands
should have taken the charge of her.

After dinner Ellen and her friend went up to the promenade-
deck again, and there, for a while, they paced up and down,
enjoying the pleasant air and quick motion, and the lovely
appearance of everything in the mild hazy sunlight. Another
gentleman, however, joining them, and entering into
conversation, Ellen silently quitted her friend's hand, and
went and sat down at the side of the boat. After taking a few
turns more, and while still engaged in talking, he drew his
little hymn-book out of his pocket, and, with a smile, put it
into Ellen's hand as he passed. She gladly received it, and
spent an hour or more very pleasantly, in studying and turning
it over. At the end of that time, the stranger having left
him, Ellen's friend came and sat down by her side.

"How do you like my little book?" said he.

"Oh, very much indeed, Sir."

"Then you love hymns, do you?"

"Yes, I do Sir, dearly."

"Do you sometimes learn them by heart?"

"Oh yes, Sir, often. Mamma often made me. I have learnt two
since I have been sitting here."

"Have you?" said he; "which are they?"

"One of them is the one you showed me this morning, Sir."

"And what is your mind now about the question I asked you this
morning?"

Ellen cast down her eyes from his inquiring glance, and
answered, in a low tone, "Just what it was then, Sir."

"Have you been thinking of it since?"

"I have thought of it the whole time, Sir."

"And are you resolved you will obey Christ henceforth?"

"I am resolved to try, Sir."

"My dear Ellen, if you are in earnest, you will not try in
vain. He never yet failed any that sincerely sought him. Have
you a Bible?"

"Oh yes Sir! — a beautiful one; Mamma gave it to me the other
day."

He took the hymn-book from her hand, and turning over the
leaves, marked several places in pencil.

"I am going to give you this," he said, "that it may serve to
remind you of what we have talked of to-day, and of your
resolution."

Ellen flushed high with pleasure.

"I have put this mark," said he, showing her a particular one,
"in a few places of this book, for you; wherever you find it,
you may know there is something I want you to take special
notice of. There are some other marks here too, but they are
mine — _these_ are for you."

"Thank you, Sir," said Ellen, delighted; "I shall not forget."

He knew from her face what she meant — not the _marks_.

The day wore on, thanks to the unwearied kindness of her
friend, with great comparative comfort to Ellen. Late in the
afternoon they were resting from a long walk up and down the
deck.

"What have you got in this package that you take such care
of?" said he, smiling.

"Oh, candies," said Ellen; "I am always forgetting them. I
meant to ask you to take some. Will you have some, Sir?"

"Thank you. What are they?"

"Almost all kinds, I believe, Sir — I think the almonds are
the best."

He took one.

"Pray, take some more, Sir," said Ellen — "I don't care for
them in the least."

"Then I am more of a child than you — in this, at any rate —
for I do care for them. But I have a little headache to-day; I
mustn't meddle with sweets."

"Then take some for to-morrow, Sir — please do," said Ellen,
dealing them out very freely.

"Stop, stop!" said he — "not a bit more; this won't do — I
must put some of these back again; you'll want them to-morrow,
too."

"I don't think I shall," said Ellen; "I haven't wanted to
touch them to-day."

"Oh, you'll feel brighter to-morrow, after a night's sleep.
But aren't you afraid of catching cold? This wind is blowing
pretty fresh, and you've been bonnetless all day — what's the
reason?"

Ellen looked down, and coloured a good deal.

"What's the matter?" said he, laughing; "has any mischief
befallen your bonnet?"

"No, Sir," said Ellen, in a low tone, her colour mounting
higher and higher — "it was laughed at, this morning."

"Laughed at! — who laughed at it?"

"Mrs. Dunscombe, and her daughter, and her maid."

"Did they! I don't see much reason in that, I confess. What
did they think was the matter with it?"

"I don't know, Sir; they said it was outlandish, and what a
figure I looked in it!"

"Well, certainly that was not very polite. Put it on, and let
me see." Ellen obeyed.

"I am not the best judge of ladies' bonnets, it is true," said
he, "but I can see nothing about it that is not perfectly
proper and suitable — nothing in the world. So that is what
has kept you bareheaded all day? Didn't your mother wish you
to wear that bonnet?"

"Yes, Sir."

"Then that ought to be enough for you. Will you be ashamed of
what she approved, because some people, that haven't probably
half her sense, choose to make merry with it? — is that
right?" he said, gently. "Is that honouring her as she
deserves?"

"No, Sir," said Ellen, looking up into his face, "but I never
thought of that before — I am sorry."

"Never mind being laughed at, my child. If your mother says a
thing is right, that's enough for you — let them laugh."

"I won't be ashamed of my bonnet any more," said Ellen, trying
it on; "but they made me very unhappy about it, and very
angry, too."

"I am sorry for that," said her friend, gravely. "Have you
quite got over it, Ellen?"

"Oh yes, Sir — long ago."

"Are you sure?"

"I am not angry now, Sir."

"Is there no unkindness left towards the people who laughed at
you?"

"I don't like them much," said Ellen — "how can I?"

"You cannot, of course, _like_ the company of ill-behaved
people, and I do not wish that you should; but you can and
ought to feel just as kindly disposed towards them as if they
had never offended you — just as willing and inclined to
please them or do them good. Now, could you offer Miss —
what's her name? — some of your candies with as hearty
goodwill as you could before she laughed at you?"

"No, Sir, I couldn't. I don't feel as if I ever wished to see
them again."

"Then, my dear Ellen, you have something to do, if you were in
earnest in the resolve you made this morning. 'If ye forgive
unto men their trespasses, my Heavenly Father will also
forgive you; but if ye forgive not men their trespasses,
neither will my Father forgive your trespasses.' "

He was silent, and so was Ellen, for some time. His words had
raised a struggle in her mind; and she kept her face turned
towards the shore, so that her bonnet shielded it from view;
but she did not in the least know what she was looking at. The
sun had been some time descending through a sky of cloudless
splendour, and now was just kissing the mountain-tops of the
western horizon. Slowly and with great majesty he sank behind
the distant blue line, till only a glittering edge appeared —
and then that was gone. There were no clouds hanging over his
setting, to be gilded and purpled by the parting rays, but a
region of glory long remained, to show where his path had
been.

The eyes of both were fixed upon this beautiful scene, but
only one was thinking of it. Just as the last glimpse of the
sun had disappeared, Ellen turned her face, bright again,
towards her companion. He was intently gazing towards the
hills that had so drawn Ellen's attention a while ago, and
thinking still more intently, it was plain; so, though her
mouth had been open to speak, she turned her face away again
as suddenly as it had just sought his. He saw the motion,
however.

"What is it, Ellen?" he said.

Ellen looked again, with a smile.

"I have been thinking, Sir, of what you said to me."

"Well?" said he, smiling, in answer.

I can't _like_ Mrs. Dunscombe and Miss Dunscombe as well as if
they hadn't done so to me, but I will try to behave as if
nothing had been the matter, and be as kind and polite to them
as if they had been kind and polite to me."

"And how about the sugar-plums?"

"The sugar-plums! Oh," said Ellen, laughing, "Miss Margaret
may have them all, if she likes — I'm quite willing. Not but I
had rather give them to you, Sir."

"You give me something a great deal better when I see you try
to overcome a wrong feeling. You mustn't rest till you get rid
of every bit of ill-will that you feel for this and any other
unkindness you may suffer. You cannot do it yourself, but you
know who can help you. I hope you have asked Him, Ellen?"

"I have? Sir, indeed."

"Keep asking Him, and he will do everything for you."

A silence of some length followed. Ellen began to feel very
much the fatigue of this exciting day, and sat quietly by her
friend's side leaning against him. The wind had changed about
sundown, and now blew light from the south, so that they did
not feel it all.

The light gradually faded away, till only a silver glow in the
west showed where the sun had set, and the sober gray of
twilight was gently stealing over all the bright colours of
sky, and river, and hill; now and then a twinkling light began
to appear along the shores.

You are very tired," said Ellen's friend to her — "I see you
are. A little more patience, my child — we shall be at our
journey's end before a very great while."

"I am almost sorry," said Ellen, "though I _am_ tired. We don't
go in the steamboat to-morrow, do we, Sir?"

"No — in the stage."

"Shall _you_ be in the stage, Sir?"

"No, my child. But I am glad you and I have spent this day
together."

"Oh, Sir," said Ellen, "I don't know what I should have done
if it hadn't been for you."

There was silence again, and the gentleman almost thought his
little charge had fallen asleep, she sat so still. But she
suddenly spoke again, and in a tone of voice that showed sleep
was far away.

"I wish I knew where Mamma is now."

"I do not doubt, my child, from what you told me, that it is
well with her, wherever she is. Let that thought comfort you
whenever you remember her."

"She must want me so much," said poor Ellen, in a scarcely
audible voice.

"She has not lost her best friend, my child."

"I know it, Sir," said Ellen, with whom grief was now getting
the mastery — "but oh! it's just near the time when I used to
make the tea for her — who'll make it now? she'll want me —
oh, what shall I do!" and, overcome completely by this
recollection, she threw herself into her friend's arms and
sobbed aloud.

There was no reasoning against this. He did not attempt it;
but with the utmost gentleness and tenderness endeavoured, as
soon as he might, to soothe and calm her. He succeeded at
last; with a sort of despairing submission, Ellen ceased her
tears, and arose to her former position. But he did not rest
from his kind endeavours till her mind was really eased and
comforted — which, however, was not long before the lights of
the city began to appear in the distance. And with them
appeared a dusky figure ascending the stairs, which, upon
nearer approach, proved by the voice to be Timmins.

"Is this Miss Montgomery?" said she — "I can't see, I am sure,
it's so dark. Is that you, Miss Montgomery?"

"Yes," said Ellen, "it is I; do you want me?"

"If you please, Miss, Mrs. Dunscombe wants you to come right
down; we're almost in, she says, Miss."

"I'll come directly, Miss Timmins," said Ellen. "Don't wait
for me — I won't be a minute — I'll come directly."

Miss Timmins retired, standing still a good deal in awe of the
grave personage whose protection Ellen seemed to have gained.

"I must go," said Ellen, standing up and extending her hand;
"good-bye, Sir."

She could hardly say it. He drew her towards him and kissed
her cheek once or twice: it was well he did; for it sent a
thrill of pleasure to Ellen's heart that she did not get over
that evening, nor all the next day.

"God bless you, my child," he said gravely, but cheerfully;
"and good-night! — you will feel better, I trust, when you
have had some rest and refreshment."

He took care of her down the stairs, and saw her safe to the
very door of the saloon, and within it, and there again took
her hand, and kindly bade her good-night.

Ellen entered the saloon only to sit down and cry as if her
heart would break. She saw and heard nothing till Mrs.
Dunscombe's voice bade her make haste and be ready, for they
were going ashore in five minutes.

And in less than five minutes, ashore they went.

"Which hotel, Ma’am?" asked the servant who carried her
baggage — "the Eagle, or Foster's?"

"The Eagle," said Mrs. Dunscombe.

"Come this way, then, Ma’am," said another man, the driver of
the Eagle carriage; "now, Ma’am, step in, if you please."

Mrs. Dunscombe put her daughter in.

"But it's full!" said she to the driver; "there isn't room for
another one!"

"Oh yes, Ma’am, there is," said the driver, holding the door
open "there's plenty of room for you, Ma’am — just get in,
Ma’am, if you please — we'll be there in less than two
minutes."

"Timmins, you'll have to walk," said Mrs. Dunscombe. "Miss
Montgomery, would you rather ride, or walk with Timmins?"

"How far is it, Ma’am?" said Ellen.

"Oh, bless me! how can I tell how far it is? I don't know, I
am sure — not far; say, quick — would you rather walk or
ride?"

"I would rather walk, Ma’am, if you please," said Ellen.

"Very well," said Mrs. Dunscombe, getting in; — "Timmins, you
know the way."

And off went the coach with its load; but, tired as she was,
Ellen did not wish herself in it.

Picking a passage-way out of the crowd, she and Timmins now
began to make their way up one of the comparatively quiet
streets.

It was a strange place — that she felt. She had lived long
enough in the place she had left, to feel at home there: but
here she came to no street or crossing that she had ever seen
before; nothing looked familiar; all reminded her that she was
a traveller. Only one pleasant thing Ellen saw on her walk,
and that was the sky; and that looked just as it did at home;
and very often Ellen's gaze was fixed upon it, much to the
astonishment of Miss Timmins, who had to be not a little
watchful for the safety of Ellen's feet while her eyes were
thus employed. She had taken a great fancy to Ellen, however,
and let her do as she pleased, keeping all her wonderment to
herself.

"Take care, Miss Ellen!" cried Timmins, giving her arm a great
pull; "I declare I just saved you out of that gutter! Poor
child! you are dreadfully tired, ain't you?"

"Yes, I am very tired, Miss Timmins," said Ellen; "have we
much farther to go?"

"Not a great deal, dear; cheer up! we are almost there. I hope
Mrs. Dunscombe will want to ride one of these days herself,
and can't."

"Oh, don't say so, Miss Timmins," said Ellen, — "I don't wish
so, indeed."

"Well, I should think you would," said Timmins; "I should
think you'd be fit to poison her; — _I_ should, I know, if I was
in your place."

"Oh, no," said Ellen, "that wouldn't be right — that would be
very wrong."

"Wrong!" said Timmins; "why would it be wrong? she hasn't
behaved good to you."

"Yes," said Ellen; "but don't you know the Bible says, if we
do not forgive people what they do to us, we shall not be
forgiven ourselves?"

"Well, I declare," said Miss Timmins, "you beat all! But
here's the Eagle hotel at last, — and I am glad for your sake,
dear."

Ellen was shown into the ladies' parlour. She was longing for
a place to rest, but she saw directly it was not to be there.
The room was large and barely furnished; and round it were
scattered part of the carriage-load of people that had arrived
a quarter of an hour before her. They were waiting till their
rooms should be ready. Ellen silently found herself a chair,
and sat down to wait with the rest, as patiently as she might.
Few of them had as much cause for impatience; but she was the
only perfectly mute and uncomplaining one there. Her two
companions, however, between them, fully made up her share of
fretting. At length a servant brought the welcome news that
their room was ready, and the three marched up stairs. It made
Ellen's heart very glad when they got there, to find a good-
sized, cheerful-looking bed-room, comfortably furnished, with
a bright fire burning, large curtains let down to the floor,
and a nice warm carpet upon it. Taking off her bonnet, and
only that, she sat down on a low cushion by the corner of the
fire-place, and leaning her head against the jamb, fell asleep
almost immediately. Mrs. Dunscombe set about arranging herself
for the tea-table.

"Well!" she said — "one day of this precious journey is over!"

"Does Ellen go with us to-morrow, Mamma?"

"Oh, yes! quite to Thirlwall."

"Well, you haven't had much plague with her to-day, Mamma."

"No — I am sure I am much obliged to whoever has kept her out
of my way."

"Where is she going to sleep to-night?" asked Miss Margaret.

"I don't know, I am sure — I suppose I shall have to have a
cot brought in here for her."

"What a plague!" said Miss Margaret. "It will lumber up the
room so! There's no place to put it. Couldn't she sleep with
Timmins?"

"Oh, she _could_, of course — just as well as not — only people
would make such a fuss about it — it wouldn't do; we must bear
it for once. I'll try and not be caught in such a scrape
again."

"How provoking!" said Miss Margaret — "how came father to do
so, without asking you about it?"

"Oh, he was bewitched, I suppose — men always are. Look here,
Margaret — I can't go down to tea with a train of children at
my heels. I shall leave you and Ellen up here, and I'll send
up your tea to you."

"Oh no, Mamma!" said Margaret, eagerly — "I want to go down
with you. Look here, Mamma! she's asleep, and you needn't wake
her up — that's excuse enough; you can leave her to have her
tea up here, and let me go down with you."

"Well," said Mrs. Dunscombe, "I don't care — but make haste to
get ready, for I expect every minute when the tea-bell will
ring."

"Timmins! Timmins!" cried Margaret, "come here and fix me —
quick! — and step softly, will you? — or you'll wake that
young one up, and then, you see, I shall have to stay up
stairs."

This did not happen, however. Ellen's sleep was much too deep
to be easily disturbed. The tea-bell itself, loud and shrill
as it was, did not even make her eyelids tremble. After Mrs.
and Miss Dunscombe were gone down, Timmins employed herself a
little while in putting all things about the room to rights;
and then sat down to take _her_ rest, dividing her attention
between the fire and Ellen, towards whom she seemed to feel
more and more kindness, as she saw that she was likely to
receive it from no one else. Presently came a knock at the
door — "The tea for the young lady," on a waiter. Miss Timmins
silently took the tray from the man, and shut the door.
"Well!" said she to herself — "if that ain't a pretty supper
to send up to a child that has gone two hundred miles to-day,
and had no breakfast! — a cup of tea, cold enough, I'll
warrant — bread and butter enough for a bird — and two little
slices of ham as thick as a wafer! Well, I just wish Mrs.
Dunscombe had to eat it herself, and nothing else! — I'm not
going to wake her up for that, I know, till I see whether
something better ain't to be had for love or money. So just
you sleep on, darling, till I see what I can do for you."

In great indignation, down stairs went Miss Timmins; and at
the foot of the stairs she met a rosy-cheeked, pleasant-faced
girl coming up.

"Are you the chambermaid?" said Timmins.

"I'm _one_ of the chambermaids," said the girl, smiling;
"there's three of us in this house, dear."

"Well, I am a stranger here," said Timmins, "but I want you to
help me, and I am sure you will. I've got a dear little girl
up stairs that I want some supper for — she's a sweet child,
and she's under the care of some proud folks here in the tea-
room that think it's too much trouble to look at her; and
they've sent her up about supper enough for a mouse, and she's
half-starving; she lost her breakfast this morning by their
ugliness. Now ask one of the waiters to give me something nice
for her, will you? — there's a good girl."

"James!" said the girl, in a loud whisper to one of the
waiters, who was crossing the hall. He instantly stopped and
came towards them, tray in hand, and making several extra-
polite bows as he drew near.

"What's on the supper-table, James?" said the smiling damsel.

"Everything that ought to be there, Miss Johns," said the man
with another flourish.

"Come, stop your nonsense," said the girl, "and tell me quick
— I'm in a hurry."

"It's a pleasure to perform your commands, Miss Johns. I'll
give you the whole bill of fare. There's a very fine
beefsteak, fricasseed chickens, stewed oysters, sliced ham,
cheese, preserved quinces, with the usual complement of bread
and toast, and muffins, and dough-nuts, and new-year-cake, and
plenty of butter — likewise salt and pepper — likewise tea and
coffee, and sugar — likewise —"

"Hush!" said the girl. "Do stop, will you?" — and then
laughing and turning to Miss Timmins, she added, "What will
you have?"

"I guess I'll have some of the chickens and oysters," said
Timmins; "that will be the nicest for her — and a muffin or
two."

"Now, James, do you hear?" said the chambermaid; "I want you
to get me now, right away, a nice little supper of chickens
and oysters, and a muffin — it's for a lady upstairs. Be as
quick as you can."

"I should be very happy to execute impossibilities for you,
Miss Johns, but Mrs. Custers is at the table herself."

"Very well — that's nothing — she'll think it's for somebody
upstairs — and so it is."

"Ay, but the upstairs people is Tim's business — I should be
hauled over the coals directly."

"Then ask Tim, will you? How slow you are! Now, James, if you
don't, I won't speak to you again."

"Till to-morrow? — I couldn't stand that. It shall be done,
Miss Johns, instantum."

Bowing and smiling, away went James, leaving the girls
giggling on the staircase, and highly gratified.

"He always does what I want him to," said the good-humoured
chambermaid, "but he generally makes a fuss about it first.
He'll be back directly with what you want."

Till he came, Miss Timmins filled up the time with telling her
new friend as much as she knew about Ellen and Ellen's
hardships; with which Miss Johns was so much interested, that
she declared she must go up and see her; and when James in a
few minutes returned with a tray of nice things, the two women
proceeded together to Mrs. Dunscombe's room. Ellen had moved
so far as to put herself on the floor with her head on the
cushion for a pillow, but she was as sound asleep as ever.

"Just see now!" said Timmins — "there she lies on the floor —
enough to give her her death of cold; poor child! she's tired
to death — and Mrs. Dunscombe made her walk up from the
steamboat to-night, rather than do it herself; — I declare I
wished the coach would break down, only for the other folks. I
am glad I have got a good supper for her, though — thank you,
Miss Johns."

"And I'll tell you what, I'll go and get you some nice hot
tea," said the chambermaid, who was quite touched by the sight
of Ellen's little pale face.

"Thank you," said Timmins — "you're a darling. This is as cold
as a stone."

While the chambermaid went forth on her kind errand, Timmins
stooped down by the little sleeper's side. "Miss Ellen!" she
said — "Miss Ellen! — wake up, dear — wake up, and get some
supper — come! you'll feel a great deal better for it — you
shall sleep as much as you like afterwards."

Slowly Ellen raised herself, and opened her eyes. "Where am
I?" she asked looking bewildered.

"Here, dear," said Timmins — "wake up and eat something — it
will do you good."

With a sigh poor Ellen arose and came to the fire.

"You're tired to death, ain't you?" said Timmins.

"Not quite," said Ellen. "I shouldn't mind that, if my legs
would not ache so — and my head, too."

"Now I'm sorry!" said Timmins — "but your head will be better
for eating, I know. See here — I've got you some nice chicken,
and oysters, and I'll make this muffin hot for you by the fire
— and here comes your tea. Miss Johns, I'm your servant, and
I'll be your bridesmaid with the greatest pleasure in life.
Now, Miss Ellen, dear, just you put yourself on that low
chair, and I'll fix you off."

Ellen thanked her, and did as she was told. Timmins brought
another chair to her side, and placed the tray with her supper
upon it, and prepared her muffin and tea; and having fairly
seen Ellen begin to eat, she next took off her shoes, and
seating herself on the carpet before her, she made her lap the
resting-place for Ellen's feet, chafing them in her hands, and
heating them at the fire; saying there was nothing like
rubbing and roasting to get rid of the leg-ache. By the help
of the supper, the fire, and Timmins, Ellen mended rapidly.
With tears in her eyes, she thanked the latter for her
kindness.

"Now just don't say one word about that," said Timmins — "I
never was famous for kindness, as I know; but people must be
kind sometimes in their lives — unless they happen to be made
of stone, which I believe some people are. You feel better,
don't you?"

"A great deal," said Ellen. "Oh, if I only could go to bed
now!"

"And you shall," said Timmins. "I know about your bed, and
I'll go right away and have it brought in." And away she went.

While she was gone, Ellen drew from her pocket her little
hymn-book, to refresh herself with looking at it. How quickly
and freshly it brought back to her mind the friend who had
given it, and his conversations with her, and the resolve she
had made! and again Ellen's whole heart offered the prayer she
had repeated many times that day —


"Open my heart, Lord, enter in;
Slay every foe, and conquer sin."


Her head was still bent upon her little book when Timmins
entered. Timmins was not alone — Miss Johns and a little cot-
bedstead came in with her. The latter was put at the foot of
Mrs. Dunscombe's bed, and speedily made up by the chambermaid,
while Timmins undressed Ellen; and very soon all the sorrows
and vexations of the day were forgotten in a sound, refreshing
sleep; but not till she had removed her little hymn-book from
the pocket of her frock to a safe station under her pillow; it
was with her hand upon it that Ellen went to sleep; and it was
in her hand still when she was waked the next morning.

The next day was spent in a wearisome stage coach, over a
rough, jolting road. Ellen's companions did nothing to make
her way pleasant, but she sweetened theirs with her sugar-
plums. Somewhat mollified, perhaps, after that, Miss Margaret
condescended to enter into conversation with her, and Ellen
underwent a thorough cross-examination as to all her own and
her parents' affairs, past, present, and future; and likewise
as to all that could be known of her yesterday's friend, till
she was heartily worried, and out of patience.

It was just five o'clock when they reached her stopping-place.
Ellen knew of no particular house to go to, so Mrs. Dunscombe
set her down at the door of the principal inn of the town,
called the "Star," of Thirlwall.

The driver smacked his whip, and away went the stage again,
and she was left, standing alone, beside her trunk, before the
piazza of the inn, watching Timmins, who was looking back at
her out of the stage window, nodding and waving good-bye.


CHAPTER IX.

The little Queen in the Arm-Chair.


Ellen had been whirled along over the roads for so many hours
— the rattle of the stage-coach had filled her ears for so
long — that now, suddenly still and quiet, she felt half-
stunned. She stood with a kind of dreamy feeling, looking
after the departing stage-coach. In it there were three people
whose faces she knew, and she could not count a fourth within
many a mile. One of those was a friend, too, as the fluttering
handkerchief of poor Miss Timmins gave token still. Yet Ellen
did not wish herself back in the coach, although she continued
to stand and gaze after it as it rattled off at a great rate
down the little street, its huge body lumbering up and down
every now and then, reminding her of sundry uncomfortable
jolts; till the horses making a sudden turn to the right, it
disappeared round a corner. Still for a minute Ellen watched
the whirling cloud of dust it had left behind; but then the
feeling of strangeness and loneliness came over her, and her
heart sank. She cast a look up and down the street. The
afternoon was lovely; the slant beams of the setting sun came
back from gilded windows, and the houses and chimney-tops of
the little town were in a glow; but she saw nothing bright
anywhere; in all the glory of the setting sun the little town
looked strange and miserable. There was no sign of her having
been expected; nobody was waiting to meet her. What was to be
done next? Ellen had not the slightest idea.

Her heart growing fainter and fainter, she turned again to the
inn. A tall awkward young countryman, with a cap set on one
side of his head, was busying himself with sweeping off the
floor of the piazza, but in a very leisurely manner; and
between every two strokes of his broom he was casting long
looks at Ellen, evidently wondering who she was, and what she
could want there. Ellen saw it, and hoped he would ask her in
words, for she could not answer his _looks_ of curiosity — but
she was disappointed. As he reached the end of the piazza, and
gave his broom two or three knocks against the edge of the
boards to clear it of dust, he indulged himself with one good,
long, finishing look at Ellen, and then she saw he was going
to take himself and his broom into the house. So in despair
she ran up the two or three low steps of the piazza and
presented herself before him. He stopped short.

"Will you please to tell me, Sir," said poor Ellen, "if Miss
Emerson is here?"

"Miss Emerson?" said he — "what Miss Emerson?"

"I don't know, Sir — Miss Emerson that lives not far from
Thirlwall."

Eyeing Ellen from head to foot, the man then trailed his broom
into the house. Ellen followed him.

"Mr. Forbes!" said he — "Mr. Forbes! do you know anything of
Miss Emerson?"

"What Miss Emerson?" said another man, with a big red face and
a big round body, showing himself in a doorway which he nearly
filled.

"Miss Emerson that lives a little way out of town."

"Miss Fortune Emerson? — yes, I know her. What of her?"

"Has she been here to-day?"

"Here? what, in town? No — not as I've seen or heard. Why, who
wants her?"

"This little girl."

And the man with the broom stepping back, disclosed Ellen to
the view of the red-faced landlord. He advanced a step or two
towards her.

"What do you want with Miss Fortune, little one?" said he.

"I expected she would meet me here, Sir," said Ellen

"Where have you come from?"

"From New York."

"The stage set her down just now," put in the other man.

"And you thought Miss Fortune would meet you, did you?"

"Yes, Sir; she was to meet me and take me home."

"Take you home! Are you going to Miss Fortune's home?"

"Yes, Sir."

"Why, you don't belong to her, any way, do you?"

"No, Sir," said Ellen, "but she's my aunt."

"She's your what?"

"My aunt, Sir — my father's sister."

"You father's sister! You ben't the daughter of Morgan
Montgomery, be you?"

"Yes, I am," said Ellen, half-smiling.

"And you are come to make a visit to Miss Fortune, eh?"

"Yes," said Ellen, smiling no longer.

"And Miss Fortune han't come up to meet you! — that's real
shabby of her; and how to get you down there to-night, I am
sure is more than I can tell." And he shouted, "Wife!"

"What's the matter, Mr. Forbes?" said a fat landlady,
appearing in the doorway, which she filled near as well as her
husband would have done.

"Look here," said Mr. Forbes — "here's Morgan Montgomery's
daughter come to pay a visit to her aunt Fortune Emerson.
Don't you think she'll be glad to see her?"

Mr. Forbes put this question with rather a curious look at his
wife. She didn't answer him. She only looked at Ellen, looked
grave, and gave a queer little nod of her head, which meant,
Ellen could not make out what.

"Now, what's to be done?" continued Mr. Forbes. "Miss Fortune
was to have come up to meet her, but she ain't here, and I
don't know how in the world I can take the child down there
to-night. The horses are both out to plough, you know; and
besides, the tire is come off that waggon-wheel. I couldn't
possibly use it. And then it's a great question in my mind
what Miss Fortune would say to me. I should get paid, I
s'pose?"

"Yes, you'd get paid," said his wife, with another little
shake of her head; "but whether it would be the kind of pay
you'd like, _I_ don't know."

"Well, what's to be done, wife? Keep the child overnight, and
send word down yonder?"

"No," said Mrs. Forbes, "I'll tell you. I think I saw Van
Brunt go by two or three hours ago with the ox-cart, and I
guess he's somewhere up town yet; I han't seen him go back. He
can take the child home with him. Sam!" shouted Mrs. Forbes —
"Sam! — here! — Sam, run up street directly, and see if you
see Mr. Van Brunt's ox-cart standing anywhere — I dare say
he's at Mr. Miller's, or maybe at Mr. Hammersley's, the
blacksmith — and ask him to stop here before he goes home. Now
hurry! — and don't run over him, and then come back and tell
me he ain't in town."

Mrs. Forbes herself followed Sam to the door, and cast an
exploring look in every direction.

"I don't see no signs of him — up nor down," said she,
returning to Ellen; "but I'm pretty sure he ain't gone home.
Come in here — come in here, dear, and make yourself
comfortable; it'll be a while yet, maybe, afore Mr. Van Brunt
comes, but he'll be along by-and-by; — come in here and rest
yourself."

She opened a door, and Ellen followed her into a large
kitchen, where a fire was burning, that showed wood must be
plenty in those regions. Mrs. Forbes placed a low chair for
her on the hearth, but herself remained standing by the side
of the fire, looking earnestly, and with a good deal of
interest, upon the little stranger. Ellen drew her white
bonnet from her head, and sitting down with a wearied air,
gazed sadly into the flames that were shedding their light
upon her.

"Are you going to stop a good while with Miss Fortune?" said
Mrs. Forbes.

"I don't know, Ma’am — yes, I believe so," said Ellen,
faintly.

"Han't you got no mother?" asked Mrs. Forbes, suddenly, after
a pause.

"Oh, yes!" said Ellen, looking up. But the question had
touched the sore spot. Her head sank on her hands, and "Oh,
Mamma!" was uttered with a bitterness that even Mrs. Forbes
could feel.

"Now, what made me ask you that!" said she. "Don't cry! —
don't, love; poor little dear! you're as pale as a sheet;
you're tired, I know — ain't you? Now, cheer up, do — I can't
bear to see you cry. You've come a great way to-day, han't
you?"

Ellen nodded her head, but could give no answer.

"I know what will do you good," said Mrs. Forbes, presently,
getting up from the crouching posture she had taken to comfort
Ellen; "you want something to eat — that's the matter. I'll
warrant you're half starved; no wonder you feel bad. Poor
little thing! you shall have something good directly."

And away she bustled to get it. Left alone, Ellen's tears
flowed a few minutes very fast. She felt forlorn; and she was,
besides, as Mrs. Forbes opined, both tired and faint. But she
did not wish to be found weeping; she checked her tears, and
was sitting again quietly before the fire when the landlady
returned.

Mrs. Forbes had a great bowl of milk in one hand, and a plate
of bread in the other, which she placed on the kitchen table,
and setting a chair, called Ellen to come and partake of it.

"Come, dear — here is something that will do you good. I
thought there was a piece of pie in the buttery, and so there
was, but Mr. Forbes must have got hold of it, for it ain't
there now; and there ain't a bit of cake in the house for you;
but I thought maybe you would like this as well as anything.
Come!"

Ellen thanked her, but said she did not want anything.

"Oh, yes, you do," said Mrs. Forbes; "I know better. You're as
pale as I don't know what. Come! this'll put roses in your
cheeks. Don't you like bread and milk?"

"Yes, very much indeed, Ma’am," said Ellen; "but I'm not
hungry."

She rose, however, and came to the table.

"Oh, well, try to eat a bit, just to please me. It's real good
country milk — not a bit of cream off. You don't get such milk
as that in the city, I guess. That's right! — I see the roses
coming back to your cheeks already?"

"Is your pa in New York now?"

"Yes, Ma’am."

"You expect your pa and ma up to Thirlwall by-and-by, don't
you?"

"No, Ma’am."

Mrs. Forbes was surprised, and longed to ask why not, and what
Ellen had come for; but the shade that had passed over her
face as she answered the last question, warned the landlady
she was getting upon dangerous ground.

"Does your aunt expect you to-night?"

"I believe so, Ma’am — I don't know — she was to have met me;
papa said he would write."

"Oh, well! maybe something hindered her from coming. It's no
matter; you'll get home just as well. Mr. Van Brunt will be
here soon, I guess; it's 'most time for him to be along."

She went to the front door to look out for him, but returned
without any news. A few minutes passed in silence, for, though
full of curiosity, the good landlady dared not ask what she
wanted to know, for fear of again exciting the sorrow of her
little companion. She contented herself with looking at Ellen,
who, on her part, much rested and refreshed, turned from the
table, and was again, though somewhat less sadly, gazing into
the fire.

Presently the great wooden clock struck half-past five, with a
whirring, rickety voice, for all the world like a hoarse
grasshopper. Ellen at first wondered where it came from, and
was looking at the clumsy machine, that reached nearly from
the floor of the kitchen to the ceiling, when a door at the
other end of the room opened, and "Good day, Mrs. Forbes," in
a rough but not unpleasant voice, brought her head quickly
round in that direction. There stood a large, strong-built
man, with an ox-whip in his hand. He was well made, and rather
handsome, but there was something of heaviness in the air of
both face and person mixed with his certainly good-humoured
expression. His dress was as rough as his voice — a coarse
gray frock-coat, green velveteen pantaloons, and a fur cap
that had seen its best days some time ago.

"Good day, Mrs. Forbes," said this personage; "Sam said you
wanted me to stop as I went along."

"Ah, how d'ye do, Mr. Van Brunt?" said the landlady, rising —
"you've got the ox-cart here with you, han't you?"

"Yes — I've got the ox-cart," said the person addressed. "I
came in town for a barrel of flour; and then the near ox had
lost both his fore-shoes off, and I had to go over there; and
Hammersley has kept me a precious long time. What's wanting,
Mrs. Forbes? I can't stop."

"You've no load in the cart, have you?" said the landlady.

"No; I should have had, though, but Miller had no shorts nor
fresh flour, nor won't till next week. What's to go down, Mrs.
Forbes?"

"The nicest load ever you carried, Mr. Van Brunt. Here's a
little lady come to stay with Miss Fortune. She's a daughter
of Captain Montgomery, Miss Fortune's brother, you know. She
came by the stage a little while ago, and the thing is now to
get her down to-night. She can go in the cart, can't she?"

Mr. Van Brunt looked a little doubtful, and pulling off his
cap with one hand, while he scratched his head with the other,
he examined Ellen from head to foot, much as if she had been
some great bale of goods, and he were considering whether his
cart would hold her or not.

"Well," said he at length, "I don't know but she can; but
there ain't nothing on 'arth for her to sit down upon."

"Oh, never mind; I'll fix that," said Mrs. Forbes. "Is there
any straw in the bottom of the cart?"

"Not a bit."

"Well, I'll fix it," said Mrs. Forbes. "You get her trunk into
the cart, will you, Mr. Van Brunt? and I'll see to the rest."

Mr. Van Brunt moved off without another word, to do what was
desired of him — apparently quite confounded at having a
passenger instead of his more wonted load of bags and barrels.
And his face still continued to wear the singular doubtful
expression it had put on at first hearing the news. Ellen's
trunk was quickly hoisted in, however; and Mrs. Forbes
presently appeared with a little arm-chair, which Mr. Van
Brunt, with an approving look, bestowed in the cart, planting
it with its back against the trunk to keep it steady. Mrs.
Forbes then raising herself on tiptoe by the side of the cart,
took a view of the arrangements.

"That won't do yet," said she; "her feet will be cold on that
bare floor, and 'tain't over clean neither. Here, Sally! run
up and fetch me that piece of carpet you'll find lying at the
top of the back stairs. "Now, hurry! Now, Mr. Van Brunt, I
depend upon you to get my things back again; will you see and
bring 'em the first time you come in town?"

"I'll see about it. But what if I can't get hold of them!"
answered the person addressed, with a half-smile.

"Oh," said Mrs. Forbes, with another, "I leave that to you;
you have your ways and means. Now, just spread this carpet
down nicely under her chair; and then she'll be fixed. Now, my
darling, you'll ride like a queen. But how are you going to
get in? Will you let Mr. Van Brunt lift you up?"

Ellen's "Oh, no, Ma’am if you please!" was accompanied with
such an evident shrinking from the proposal, that Mrs. Forbes
did not press it. A chair was brought from the kitchen, and by
making a long step from it to the top of the wheel, and then
to the edge of the cart, Ellen was at length safely stowed in
her place. Kind Mrs. Forbes then stretched herself up over the
side of the cart to shake hands with her, and bid her good-
bye, telling her again she would ride like a queen. Ellen
answered only, "Good-bye, Ma’am;" but it was said with a look
of so much sweetness, and eyes swimming half in sadness and
half in gratefulness, that the good landlady could not forget
it.

"I do think," said she, when she went back to her husband,
"that is the dearest little thing, about, I ever did see."

"Humph!" said her husband, "I reckon Miss Fortune will think
so too."

The doubtful look came back to Mrs. Forbes' face, and, with
another little, grave shake of her head, she went into the
kitchen.

"How kind she is! how good every body is to me!" thought
little Ellen, as she moved off in state in her chariot drawn
by oxen. Quite a contrast this new way of travelling was to
the noisy stage and swift steamer. Ellen did not know at first
whether to like or dislike it; but she came to the conclusion
that it was very funny, and a remarkably amusing way of
getting along. There was one disadvantage about it certainly —
their rate of travel was very slow. Ellen wondered her
charioteer did not make his animals go faster; but she soon
forgot their lazy progress in the interest of novel sights and
new scenes.

Slowly, very slowly, the good oxen drew the cart and the
little queen in the arm chair out of the town, and they
entered upon the open country. The sun had already gone down
when they left the inn, and the glow of his setting had faded
a good deal by the time they got quite out of the town; but
light enough was left still to delight Ellen with the pleasant
look of the country. It was a lovely evening, and quiet as
summer; not a breath stirring. The leaves were all off the
trees; the hills were brown; but the soft, warm light that
still lingered upon them forbade any look of harshness or
dreariness. These hills lay towards the west, and at Thirlwall
were not more than two miles distant, but sloping off more to
the west as the range extended in a southerly direction.
Between, the ground was beautifully broken. Rich fields and
meadows lay on all sides, sometimes level, and sometimes with
a soft, wavy surface, where Ellen thought it must be charming
to run up and down. Every now and then these were varied by a
little rising ground, capped with a piece of woodland; and
beautiful trees, many of them, were seen standing alone,
especially by the roadside. All had a cheerful, pleasant look.
The houses were very scattered; in the whole way they passed
but few. Ellen's heart regularly began to beat when they came
in sight of one, and "I wonder if that is aunt Fortune's
house!" — "perhaps it is!" — or, "I hope it is not!" were the
thoughts that rose to her mind. But slowly the oxen brought
her abreast of the houses, one after another, and slowly they
passed on beyond, and there was no sign of getting home yet.
Their way was through pleasant lanes towards the south, but
constantly approaching the hills. About half a mile from
Thirlwall, they crossed a little river, not more than thirty
yards broad, and after that the twilight deepened fast. The
shades gathered on field and hill; everything grew brown, and
then dusky; and then Ellen was obliged to content herself with
what was very near, for further than that she could only see
dim outlines. She began again to think of their slow
travelling, and to wonder that Mr. Van Brunt could be content
with it. She wondered, too, what made him walk, when he might
just as well have sat in the cart; the truth was, he had
chosen that for the very purpose that he might have a good
look at the little queen in the arm-chair. Apparently,
however, he, too, now thought it might be as well to make a
little haste, for he thundered out some orders to his oxen,
accompanied with two or three strokes of his heavy lash,
which, though not cruel by any means, went to Ellen's heart.

"Them lazy critters won't go fast anyhow," said he to Ellen;
"they will take their own time; it ain't no use to cut them."

"Oh, no! Pray don't, if you please!" said Ellen, in a voice of
earnest entreaty.

" 'Tain't fair, neither," continued Mr. Van Brunt, lashing his
great whip from side to side without touching anything. "I
have seen critters that would take any quantity of whipping to
make them go, but them 'ere ain't of that kind; they'll work
as long as they can stand, poor fellows!"

There was a little silence, during which Ellen eyed her rough
charioteer, not knowing exactly what to make of him.

"I guess this is the first time you ever rid in an ox-cart,
ain't it?"

"Yes," said Ellen; "I never saw one before."

"Han't you never seen an ox-cart! Well — how do you like it?"

"I like it very much indeed. Have we much further to go before
we get to aunt Fortune's house?"

" 'Aunt Fortune's house?' a pretty good bit yet. You see that
mountain over there?" — pointing with his whip to a hill
directly west of them, and about a mile distant.

"Yes," said Ellen.

"That's the Nose. Then you see that other?" — pointing to one
that lay some two miles further south; — "Miss Fortune's house
is just this side of that; it's all of two miles from here."

And urged by this recollection, he again scolded and cheered
the patient oxen, who for the most part kept on their steady
way without any reminder. But perhaps it was for Ellen's sake
that he scarcely touched them with the whip.

"That don't hurt them, not a bit," he remarked to Ellen — "it
only lets them know that I'm here, and they must mind their
business. So you're Miss Fortune's niece, eh?"

"Yes," said Ellen.

"Well," said Mr. Van Brunt, with a desperate attempt at being
complimentary, "I shouldn't care if you was mine too."

Ellen was somewhat astounded, and so utterly unable to echo
the wish, that she said nothing. She did not know it, but Mr.
Van Brunt had made, for him, most extraordinary efforts at
sociability. Having quite exhausted himself, he now mounted
into the cart and sat silent, only now and then uttering
energetic "Gees!" and "Haws!" which greatly excited Ellen's
wonderment. She discovered they were meant for the ears of the
oxen, but more than that she could not make out.

They plodded along very slowly, and the evening fell fast. As
they left behind the hill which Mr. Van Brunt had called "the
Nose," they could see through an opening in the mountains, a
bit of the western horizon, and some brightness still
lingering there; but it was soon hid from view, and darkness
veiled the whole country. Ellen could amuse herself no longer
with looking about; she could see nothing very clearly but the
outline of Mr. Van Brunt's broad back, just before her. But
the stars had come out! — and brilliant and clear they were
looking down upon her, with their thousand eyes. Ellen's heart
jumped when she saw them, with a mixed feeling of pleasure and
sadness. They carried her right back to the last evening, when
she was walking up the hill with Timmins; she remembered her
anger against Mrs. Dunscombe, and her kind friend's warning
not to indulge it, and all his teaching that day; and tears
came with the thought, how glad she should be to hear him
speak to her again. Still looking up at the beautiful quiet
stars, she thought of her dear far-off mother — how long it
was already since she had seen her — faster and faster the
tears dropped — and then she thought of that glorious One who
had made the stars, and was above them all, and who could and
did see her mother and her, though ever so far apart, and
could hear and bless them both. The little face was no longer
upturned — it was buried in her hands, and bowed to her lap,
and tears streamed as she prayed that God would bless her dear
mother and take care of her. Not once nor twice — the fulness
of Ellen's heart could not be poured out in one asking.
Greatly comforted at last, at having as it were laid over the
care of her mother upon One who was able, she thought of
herself, and her late resolution to serve him. She was in the
same mind still. She could not call herself a Christian yet,
but she was resolved to be one; and she earnestly asked the
Saviour she sought, to make her and keep her his child. And
then Ellen felt happy.

Quiet, and weariness, and even drowsiness, succeeded. It was
well the night was still, for it had grown quite cool, and a
breeze would have gone through and through Ellen's nankeen
coat. As it was, she began to be chilly, when Mr. Van Brunt,
who, since he got into the cart, had made no remarks except to
his oxen, turned round a little and spoke to her again.

"It's only a little bit of way we've got to go now," said he;
"we're turning the corner."

The words seemed to shoot through Ellen's heart. She was wide
awake instantly, and quite warm; and leaning forward in her
little chair, she strove to pierce the darkness on either hand
of her, to see whereabouts the house stood, and how things
looked. She could discern nothing but misty shadows, and
outlines of she could not tell what; the starlight was too dim
to reveal any thing to a stranger.

"There's the house," said Mr. Van Brunt, after a few minutes
more, — "do you see it yonder?"

Ellen strained her eyes, but could make out nothing — not even
a glimpse of white. She sat back in her chair, her heart
beating violently. Presently Mr. Van Brunt jumped down and
opened a gate at the side of the road; and with a great deal
of "gee"-ing the oxen turned to the right, and drew the cart a
little way up hill — then stopped on what seemed level ground.

"Here we are!" cried Mr. Van Brunt, as he threw his whip on
the ground — "and late enough! You must be tired of that
little arm-cheer by this time. Come to the side of the cart,
and I'll lift you down."

Poor Ellen! There was no help for it. She came to the side of
the cart, and, taking her in his arms, her rough charioteer
set her very gently and carefully on the ground.

"There!" said he, "now you can run right in; do you see that
little gate?"

"No," said Ellen, "I can't see anything."

"Well, come here," said he, "and I'll show you. Here — you're
running agin the fence — this way!"

And he opened a little wicket, which Ellen managed to stumble
through.

"Now," said he, "go straight up to that door yonder, and open
it, and you'll see where to go. Don't knock, but just pull the
latch and go in."

And he went off to his oxen. Ellen at first saw no door, and
did not even know where to look for it; by degrees, as her
head became clearer, the large dark shadow of the house stood
before her, and a little glimmering line of a path seemed to
lead onward from where she stood. With unsteady steps, Ellen
pursued it till her foot struck against the stone before the
door. Her trembling fingers found the latch — lifted it — and
she entered. All was dark there; but at the right a window
showed light glimmering within. Ellen made towards it, and,
groping, came to another door-latch. This was big and clumsy;
however, she managed it, and, pushing open the heavy door,
went in.

It was a good-sized, cheerful-looking kitchen. A fine fire was
burning in the enormous fire-place; the white walls and
ceiling were yellow in the light of the flame. No candles were
needed, and none were there. The supper-table was set, and,
with its snow-white tablecloth and shining furniture, looked
very comfortable indeed. But the only person there was an old
woman, sitting by the side of the fire, with her back towards
Ellen. She seemed to be knitting, but did not move nor look
round. Ellen had come a step or two into the room, and there
she stood, unable to speak or to go any further. "Can that be
Aunt Fortune?" she thought; "she can't be as old as that!"

In another minute a door opened at her right, just behind the
old woman's back, and a second figure appeared at the top of a
flight of stairs which led down from the kitchen. She came in,
shutting the door behind her with her foot; and indeed both
hands were full, one holding a lamp and a knife, and the other
a plate of butter. The sight of Ellen stopped her short.

"What is this? and what do you leave the door open for,
child?" she said.

She advanced towards it, plate and lamp in hand, and setting
her back against the door, shut it vigorously.

"Who are you? and what's wanting?"

"I am Ellen Montgomery, Ma’am," said Ellen timidly.

"_What?_" said the lady, with some emphasis.

"Didn't you expect me, Ma’am?" said Ellen. "Papa said he would
write."

"Why, is this Ellen Montgomery?" said Miss Fortune, apparently
forced to the conclusion that it must be.

"Yes, Ma’am," said Ellen.

Miss Fortune went to the table, and put the butter and the
lamp in their places.

"Did you say your father wrote to tell me of your coming?"

"He said he would, Ma’am," said Ellen.

"He didn't! Never sent me a line. Just like him! I never yet
knew Morgan Montgomery do a thing when he promised he would."

Ellen's face flushed, and her heart swelled. She stood
motionless.

"How did you get down here to-night?"

"I came in Mr. Van Brunt's ox-cart," said Ellen.

"Mr. Van Brunt's ox-cart! Then he's got home, has he?" And
hearing this instant a noise outside, Miss Fortune swept to
the door, saying, as she opened it, "Sit down, child, and take
off your things."

The first command, at least, Ellen obeyed gladly; she did not
feel enough at home to comply with the second. She only took
off her bonnet.

"Well, Mr. Van Brunt," said Miss Fortune, at the door, "have
you brought me a barrel of flour?"

"No, Miss Fortune," said the voice of Ellen's charioteer,
"I've brought you something better than that."

"Where did you find her?" said Miss Fortune, something
shortly.

"Up at Forbes's."

"What have you got there?"

"A trunk. Where is it to go?"

"A trunk! It must go up stairs; but how it is ever to get
there, I am sure I don't know."

"I'll find a way to get it there, I'll engage, if you'll be so
good as to open the door for me, Ma’am."

"Indeed you won't! That'll never do! With your shoes!" said
Miss Fortune, in a tone of indignant housewifery.

"Well, without my shoes, then," said Mr. Van Brunt, with a
half-giggle, as Ellen heard the shoes kicked off. "Now, Ma’am,
out of my way! give me a road."

Miss Fortune seized the lamp, and, opening another door,
ushered Mr. Van Brunt and the trunk out of the kitchen, and up
— Ellen saw not whither. In a minute or two they returned, and
he of the ox-cart went out.

"Supper's just ready, Mr. Van Brunt," said the mistress of the
house.

"Can't stay, Ma’am — it's so late; must hurry home." And he
closed the door behind him.

"What made you so late?" asked Miss Fortune of Ellen.

"I don't know, Ma’am — I believe Mr. Van Brunt said the
blacksmith had kept him."

Miss Fortune bustled about a few minutes in silence, setting
some things on the table, and filling the tea-pot.

"Come," she said to Ellen, "take off your coat and come to the
table. You must be hungry by this time. It's a good while
since you had your dinner, ain't it? Come, mother."

The old lady rose, and Miss Fortune, taking her chair, set it
by the side of the table, next the fire. Ellen was opposite to
her, and now, for the first time, the old lady seemed to know
that she was in the room. She looked at her very attentively,
but with an expressionless gaze which Ellen did not like to
meet, though otherwise her face was calm and pleasant.

"Who is that?" inquired the old lady presently of Miss
Fortune, in a half whisper.

"That's Morgan's daughter," was the answer.

"Morgan's daughter! Has Morgan a daughter?"

"Why, yes, mother; don't you remember I told you a month ago
he was going to send her here?"

The old lady turned again, with a half shake of her head,
towards Ellen. "Morgan's daughter," she repeated to herself,
softly, "she's a pretty little girl — very pretty. Will you
come round here and give me a kiss, dear?"

Ellen submitted. The old lady folded her in her arms, and
kissed her affectionately. "That's your grandmother, Ellen,"
said Miss Fortune, as Ellen went back to her seat.

Ellen had no words to answer. Her aunt saw her weary down-
look, and soon after supper proposed to take her upstairs.
Ellen gladly followed her. Miss Fortune showed her to her
room, and first asking if she wanted any thing, left her to
herself. It was a relief. Ellen's heart had been brimful, and
ready to run over for some time, but the tears could not come
then. They did not now, till she had undressed and laid her
weary little body on the bed: then they broke forth in an
agony. "She did not kiss me! she didn't say she was glad to
see me!" thought poor Ellen. But weariness this time was too
much for sorrow and disappointment. It was but a few minutes,
and Ellen's brow was calm again, and her eyelids still, and,
with the tears wet upon her cheeks, she was fast asleep.


CHAPTER X.

Mud — and what came of it.


The morning sun was shining full and strong in Ellen's eyes
when she awoke. Bewildered at the strangeness of everything
around her, she raised herself on her elbow, and took a long
look at her new home. It could not help but seem cheerful. The
bright beams of sunlight, streaming in through the windows,
lighted on the wall and the old wainscoting; and paintless and
rough as they were, nature's own gilding more than made amends
for their want of comeliness. Still Ellen was not much pleased
with the result of her survey. The room was good-sized, and
perfectly neat and clean; it had two large windows opening to
the east, through which, morning by morning, the sun looked in
— that was another blessing. But the floor was without the
sign of a carpet, and the bare boards looked to Ellen very
comfortless. The hard-finished walls were not very smooth, nor
particularly white. The doors and wood-work, though very neat,
and even carved with some attempt at ornament, had never known
the touch of paint, and had grown in the course of years to be
a light-brown colour. The room was very bare of furniture,
too. A dressing-table, pier-table, or what-not, stood between
the windows, but it was only a half-circular top of pine-board
set upon three very long bare-looking legs — altogether of a
most awkward and unhappy appearance, Ellen thought, and quite
too high for her to use with any comfort. No glass hung over
it, nor anywhere else. On the north side of the room was a
fireplace; against the opposite wall stood Ellen's trunk and
two chairs; that was all, except the cot-bed she was lying on,
and which had its place opposite the windows. The coverlid of
that came in for a share of her displeasure, being of home-
made white and blue worsted, mixed with cotton, exceeding
thick and heavy.

"I wonder what sort of a blanket is under it," said Ellen, "if
I can ever get it off to see! Pretty good; but the sheets are
cotton, and so is the pillow-case!"

She was still leaning on her elbow, looking around her with a
rather discontented face, when some door being opened down-
stairs, a great noise of hissing and sputtering came to her
ears, and presently after there stole to her nostrils a
steaming odour of something very savoury from the kitchen. It
said as plainly as any dressing-bell that she had better get
up. So up she jumped, and set about the business of dressing
with great alacrity. Where was the distress of last night?
Gone — with the darkness. She had slept well; the bracing
atmosphere had restored strength and spirits; and the bright
morning light made it impossible to be dull or downhearted, in
spite of the new cause she thought she had found. She went on
quick with the business of the toilet. But when it came to the
washing, she suddenly discovered that there were no
conveniences for it in her room — no sign of pitcher or basin,
or stand to hold them. Ellen was slightly dismayed; but
presently recollected her arrival had not been looked for so
soon, and probably the preparations for it had not been
completed. So she finished dressing, and then set out to find
her way to the kitchen. On opening the door, there was a
little landing-place from which the stairs descended just in
front of her and at the left hand another door, which she
supposed must lead to her aunt's room. At the foot of the
stairs Ellen found herself in a large square room or hall, for
one of its doors on the east opened to the outer air, and was
in fact the front door of the house. Another Ellen tried on
the south side; it would not open. A third, under the stairs,
admitted her to the kitchen.

The noise of hissing and sputtering now became quite violent,
and the smell of the cooking, to Ellen's fancy, rather too
strong to be pleasant. Before a good fire stood Miss Fortune,
holding the end of a very long iron handle, by which she was
kept in communication with a flat vessel sitting on the fire,
in which Ellen soon discovered all this noisy and odorous
cooking was going on. A tall tin coffee-pot stood on some
coals in the corner of the fireplace, and another little iron
vessel in front also claimed a share of Miss Fortune's
attention, for she every now and then leaned forward to give a
stir to whatever was in it, making each time quite a spasmodic
effort to do so, without quitting her hold of the end of the
long handle. Ellen drew near, and looked on with great
curiosity, and not a little appetite; but Miss Fortune was far
too busy to give her more than a passing glance. At length the
hissing pan was brought to the hearth for some new arrangement
of its contents, and Ellen seized the moment of peace and
quiet to say, "Good morning, Aunt Fortune."

Miss Fortune was crouching by the pan, turning her slices of
pork. "How do you do this morning?" she answered, without
looking up.

Ellen replied she felt a great deal better.

"Slept warm, did you?" said Miss Fortune, as she set the pan
back on the fire. And Ellen could hardly answer. "Quite warm,
Ma’am," when the hissing and sputtering began again, as loud
as ever.

"I must wait," thought Ellen, "till this is over, before I say
what I want to. I can't scream out to ask for a basin and
towel."

In a few minutes the pan was removed from the fire, and Miss
Fortune went on to take out the brown slices of nicely-fried
pork and arrange them in a deep dish, leaving a small quantity
of clear fat in the pan. Ellen, who was greatly interested,
and observing every step most attentively, settled in her own
mind that certainly this would be thrown away, being fit for
nothing but the pigs. But Miss Fortune didn't think so, for
she darted into some pantry close by, and returning with a cup
of cream in her hand, emptied it all into the pork fat. Then
she ran into the pantry again for a little round tin box, with
a cover full of holes, and shaking this gently over the pan, a
fine white shower of flour fell upon the cream. The pan was
then replaced on the fire and stirred; and, to Ellen's
astonishment, the whole changed, as if by magic, to a thick,
stiff, white froth. It was not till Miss Fortune was carefully
pouring this over the fried slices in the dish, that Ellen
suddenly recollected that breakfast was ready, and she was
not.

"Aunt Fortune," she said, timidly, "I haven't washed yet —
there's no basin in my room."

Miss Fortune made no answer, nor gave any sign of hearing; she
went on dishing up breakfast. Ellen waited a few minutes.

"Will you please, Ma’am, to show me where I can wash myself."

"Yes," said Miss Fortune, suddenly standing erect, "you'll
have to go down to the spout."

"The spout, Ma’am," said Ellen, "what's that?"

"You'll know it when you see it, I guess," answered her aunt,
again stooping over her preparations. But in another moment
she arose and said, "Just open that door there behind you, and
go down the stairs and out at the door, and you'll see where
it is, and what it is too."

Ellen still lingered. "Would you be so good as to give me a
towel, Ma’am," she said, timidly.

Miss Fortune dashed past her and out of another door, whence
she presently returned with a clean towel, which she threw
over Ellen's arm, and then went back to her work.

Opening the door by which she had first seen her aunt enter
the night before, Ellen went down a steep flight of steps, and
found herself in a lower kitchen, intended for common
purposes. It seemed not to be used at all — at least there was
no fire there, and a cellar-like feeling and smell instead.
That was no wonder, for beyond the fireplace on the left hand
was the opening to the cellar, which, running under the other
part of the house, was on a level with this kitchen. It had no
furniture but a table and two chairs. The thick, heavy door
stood open. Passing out, Ellen looked around for water — in
what shape or form it was to present itself she had no very
clear idea. She soon spied, a few yards distant, a little
stream of water pouring from the end of a pipe or trough
raised about a foot and a half from the ground; and a well-
worn path leading to it, left no doubt of its being "the
spout." But when she had reached it, Ellen was in no small
puzzle as to how she should manage. The water was clear and
bright, and poured very fast into a shallow wooden trough
underneath, whence it ran off into the meadow and disappeared.

"But what shall I do without a basin?" thought Ellen; "I can't
catch any water in my hands, it runs too fast. If I only could
get my face under there — that would be fine!"

Very carefully and cautiously she tried it, but the continual
spattering of the water had made the board on which she stood
so slippery, that before her face could reach the stream, she
came very near tumbling headlong, and so taking more of a cold
bath than she wished for. So she contented herself with the
drops her hands could bring to her face — a scanty supply; but
those drops were deliciously cold and fresh. And afterwards
she pleased herself with holding her hands in the running
water till they were red with the cold. On the whole, Ellen
enjoyed her washing very much. The morning air came playing
about her; its cool breath was on her cheek, with health in
its touch. The early sun was shining on tree, and meadow, and
hill; the long shadows stretched over the grass, and the very
brown outhouses looked bright. She thought it was the
loveliest place she had ever seen. And that sparkling,
trickling water was certainly the purest and sweetest she had
ever tasted. Where could it come from? It poured from a small
trough, made of the split trunk of a tree, with a little
groove or channel, two inches wide, hollowed out in it. But at
the end of one of these troughs, another lapped on, and
another at the end of that; and how many there were, Ellen
could not see, nor where the beginning of them was. Ellen
stood gazing and wondering, drinking in the fresh air, hope
and spirits rising every minute, when she suddenly recollected
breakfast! She hurried in. As she expected, her aunt was at
the table; but to her surprise, and not at all to her
gratification, there was Mr. Van Brunt at the other end of it,
eating away, very much at home indeed. In silent dismay, Ellen
drew her chair to the side of the table.

"Did you find the spout?" asked Miss Fortune.

"Yes, Ma’am."

"Well, how do you like it?"

"Oh, I like it very much indeed," said Ellen. "I think it is
beautiful."

Miss Fortune's face rather softened at this, and she gave
Ellen an abundant supply of all that was on the table. Her
journey, the bracing air, and her cool morning wash,
altogether, had made Ellen very sharp, and she did justice to
the breakfast. She thought never was coffee so good as this
country coffee; nor anything so excellent as the brown bread
and butter, both as sweet as bread and butter could be;
neither was any cookery so entirely satisfactory as Miss
Fortune's fried pork and potatoes. Yet her teaspoon was not
silver; her knife could not boast of being either sharp or
bright; and her fork was certainly made for anything else in
the world but comfort and convenience, being of only two
prongs, and those so far apart that Ellen had no small
difficulty to carry the potato safely from her plate to her
mouth. It mattered nothing; she was now looking on the bright
side of things, and all this only made her breakfast taste the
sweeter.

Ellen rose from the table when she had finished, and stood a
few minutes thoughtfully by the fire.

"Aunt Fortune," she said at length, timidly, "if you've no
objection, I should like to go and take a good look all
about."

"Oh, yes," said Miss Fortune, "go where you like; I'll give
you a week to do what you please with yourself."

"Thank you, Ma’am," said Ellen, as she ran off for her bonnet;
"a week's a long time. I suppose," thought she, "I shall go to
school at the end of that."

Returning quickly with her white bonnet, Ellen opened the
heavy kitchen door by which she had entered last night, and
went out. She found herself in a kind of long shed. It had
very rough walls and floor, and overhead showed the brown
beams and rafters; two little windows and a door were on the
side. All manner of rubbish lay there, especially at the
further end. There was scattered about and piled up various
boxes, boards, farming and garden tools, old pieces of rope
and sheepskin, old iron, a cheese-press, and what not. Ellen
did not stay long to look, but went out to find something
pleasanter. A few yards from the shed door was the little gate
through which she had stumbled in the dark, and outside of
that Ellen stood still a while. It was a fair, pleasant day,
and the country scene she looked upon was very pretty. Ellen
thought so. Before her, at a little distance, rose the great
gable end of the barn, and a long row of outhouses stretched
away from it towards the left. The ground was strewn thick
with chips; and the reason was not hard to find, for a little
way off, under an old stunted apple-tree, lay a huge log, well
chipped on the upper surface, with the axe resting against it;
and close by were some sticks of wood both chopped and
unchopped. To the right, the ground descended gently to a
beautiful plane meadow, skirted on the hither side by a row of
fine apple-trees. The smooth green flat tempted Ellen to a
run, but first she looked to the left. There was the garden,
she guessed, for there was a paling fence which enclosed a
pretty large piece of ground; and between the garden and the
house a green slope ran down to the spout. That reminded her
that she intended making a journey of discovery up the course
of the long trough. No time could be better than now; and she
ran down the slope.

The trough was supported at some height from the ground by
little heaps of stones, placed here and there along its whole
course. Not far from the spout it crossed a fence. Ellen must
cross it, too, to gain her object, and how that could be done,
was a great question; she resolved to try, however. But first,
she played awhile with the water, which had great charms for
her. She dammed up the little channel with her fingers,
forcing the water to flow over the side of the trough; there
was something very pleasant in stopping the supply of the
spout, and seeing the water trickling over where it had no
business to go; and she did not heed that some of the drops
took her frock in their way. She stooped her lips to the
trough and drank of its sweet current — only for fun's sake,
for she was not thirsty. Finally, she set out to follow the
stream up to its head. But poor Ellen had not gone more than
half way towards the fence, when she all at once plunged into
the mire. The green grass growing there had looked fair
enough, but there was running water and black mud under the
green grass, she found to her sorrow. Her shoes, her
stockings, were full. What was to be done now! The journey of
discovery must be given up. She forgot to think about where
the water came from, in the more pressing question, "What will
Aunt Fortune say?" — and the quick wish came that she had her
mother to go to. However, she got out of the slough, and
wiping her shoes as well as she could on the grass, she
hastened back to the house.

The kitchen was all put in order, the hearth swept, the irons
at the fire, and Miss Fortune just pinning her ironing-blanket
on the table.

"Well — what's the matter?" she said, when she saw Ellen's
face; but as her glance reached the floor, her brow darkened.
"Mercy on me!" she exclaimed, with slow emphasis; "what on
earth have you been about? where have you been?"

Ellen explained.

"Well, you _have_ made a figure of yourself! Sit down!" said her
aunt, shortly, as she thrust a chair down on the hearth before
the fire — "I should have thought you'd have had wit enough at
your age, to keep out of the ditch."

"I didn't see any ditch," said Ellen.

"No, I suppose not," said Miss Fortune, who was energetically
twitching off Ellen's shoes and stockings with her fore finger
and thumb — "I suppose not; you were staring up at the moon or
stars, I suppose."

"It all looked green and smooth," said poor Ellen — "one part
just like another — and the first thing I knew, I was up to my
ankles."

"What were you there at all for?" said Miss Fortune, shortly
enough.

"I couldn't see where the water came from, and I wanted to
find out."

"Well you've found out enough for one day, I hope. Just look
at those stockings! Han't you got never a pair of coloured
stockings, that you must go poking into the mud with white
ones?"

"No, Ma’am."

"Do you mean to say you never wore any but white ones at
home?"

"Yes, Ma’am — I never had any others."

Miss Fortune's thoughts seemed too much for speech, from the
way in which she jumped up and went off without saying
anything more. She presently came back with an old pair of
gray socks, which she bade Ellen put on as soon as her feet
were dry.

"How many of those white stockings have you?" she said.

"Mamma bought me half a dozen pair of new ones just before I
came away, and I had as many as that of old ones besides."

"Well, now go up to your trunk and bring 'em all down to me —
every pair of white stockings you have got. There's a pair of
old slippers you can put on till your shoes are dry," she
said, flinging them to her — "They aren't much too big for
you."

"They're not much too big for the _socks_ — they're a great deal
too big for me," thought Ellen. But she said nothing. She
gathered all her stockings together and brought them down
stairs, as her aunt had bidden her.

"Now you may run out to the barn, to Mr. Van Brunt — you'll
find him there — and tell him I want him to bring me some
white maple bark when he comes home to dinner — white maple
bark, do you hear?"

Away went Ellen, but in a few minutes came back.

"I can't get in," she said.

"What's the matter?"

"Those great doors are shut, and I can't open them. I knocked,
but nobody came."

"Knock at a barn door!" said Miss Fortune. "You must go in at
the little cow-house door, at the left, and go round. He's in
the lower barn-floor."

The barn stood lower than the level of the chip-yard, from
which a little bridge led to the great doorway of the second
floor. Passing down the range of outhouses, Ellen came to the
little door her aunt had spoken of. "But what in the world
should I do if there should be cows inside there?" said she to
herself. She peeped in — the cow-house was perfectly empty;
and cautiously, and with many a fearful glance to the right
and left, lest some terrible horned animal should present
itself, Ellen made her way across the cow-house, and through
the barn-yard, littered thick with straw wet and dry, to the
lower barn-floor. The door of this stood wide open. Ellen
looked with wonder and pleasure when she got in. It was an
immense room — the sides showed nothing but hay up to the
ceiling, except here and there an enormous upright post; the
floor was perfectly clean, only a few locks of hay and grains
of wheat scattered upon it; and a pleasant sweet smell was
there, Ellen could not tell of what. But no Mr. Van Brunt. She
looked about for him, she dragged her disagreeable slippers
back and forth over the floor, in vain.

"Hilloa! what's wanting?" at length cried a rough voice she
remembered very well. But where was the speaker? On every
side, to every corner, her eyes turned without finding him.
She looked up at last. There was the round face of Mr. Van
Brunt peering down at her through a large opening, or trap-
door, in the upper floor.

"Well!" said he, "have you come out here to help me thrash
wheat?"

Ellen told him what she had come for.

"White maple bark — well," said he, in his slow way, "I'll
bring it. I wonder what's in the wind now!"

So Ellen wondered, as she slowly went back to the house; and
yet more, when her aunt set her to tacking her stockings
together by two and two.

"What are you going to do with them, Aunt Fortune?" she at
last ventured to say.

"You'll see — when the time comes."

"Mayn't I keep out one pair?" said Ellen, who had a vague
notion that by some mysterious means her stockings were to be
prevented from ever looking white any more.

"No — just do as I tell you."

Mr. Van Brunt came at dinner-time with the white maple bark.
It was thrown forthwith into a brass kettle of water, which
Miss Fortune had already hung over the fire. Ellen felt sure
this had something to do with her stockings, but she could ask
no questions; and as soon as dinner was over she went up to
her room. It didn't look pleasant now. The brown wood-work and
rough dingy walls had lost their gilding. The sunshine was out
of it; and what was more, the sunshine was out of Ellen's
heart too. She went to the window and opened it, but there was
nothing to keep it open; it slid down again as soon as she let
it go. Baffled and sad, she stood leaning her elbows on the
window-sill, looking out on the grass-plat that lay before the
door, and the little gate that opened on the lane, and the
smooth meadow and rich broken country beyond. It was a very
fair and pleasant scene in the soft sunlight of the last of
October; but the charm of it was gone for Ellen; it was
dreary. She looked without caring to look, or knowing what she
was looking at; she felt the tears rising to her eyes, and,
sick of the window, turned away. Her eye fell on her trunk;
her next thought was of her desk inside of it; and suddenly
her heart sprang — "I will write to Mamma!" No sooner said
than done. The trunk was quickly open, and hasty hands pulled
out one thing after another till the desk was reached.

"But what shall I do?" thought she — "there isn't a sign of a
table. Oh, what a place! I'll shut my trunk and put it on
that. But here are all these things to put back first."

They were eagerly stowed away; and then kneeling by the side
of the trunk, with loving hands Ellen opened her desk. A sheet
of paper was drawn from her store, and properly placed before
her; the pen dipped in the ink, and at first with a hurried,
then with a trembling hand, she wrote, "My dear Mamma." But
Ellen's heart had been swelling and swelling with every letter
of those three words, and scarcely was the last "a" finished,
when the pen was dashed down, and flinging away from the desk,
she threw herself on the floor in a passion of grief. It
seemed as if she had her mother again in her arms, and was
clinging with a death-grasp, not to be parted from her. And
then the feeling that she was parted! As much bitter sorrow as
a little heart can know was in poor Ellen's now. In her
childish despair she wished she could die, and almost thought
she should. After a time, however, though not a short time,
she rose from the floor and went to her writing again — her
heart a little eased by weeping, yet the tears kept coming all
the time, and she could not quite keep her paper from being
blotted. The first sheet was spoiled before she was aware; she
took another.


"MY DEAREST MAMMA,

"It makes me so glad and so sorry to write to you, that I
don't know what to do. I want to see you so much, Mamma, that
it seems to me sometimes as if my heart would break. Oh,
Mamma, if I could just kiss you once more, I would give
anything in the whole world. I can't be happy as long as you
are away, and I am afraid I can't be good either; but I will
try — oh, I will try, Mamma. I have so much to say to you,
that I don't know where to begin. I am sure my paper will
never hold it. You will want to know about my journey. The
first day was on the steamboat, you know. I should have had a
dreadful time that day, Mamma, but for something I'll tell you
about. I was sitting up on the upper deck, thinking about you,
and feeling very badly indeed, when a gentleman came and spoke
to me, and asked me what was the matter. Mamma, I can't tell
you how kind he was to me. He kept me with him the whole day.
He took me all over the boat, and showed me all about a great
many things, and he talked to me a great deal. Oh, Mamma, how
he talked to me! He read in the Bible to me, and explained it,
and he tried to make me a Christian. And oh! Mamma, when he
was talking to me, how I wanted to do as he said! and I
resolved I would. I did, Mamma, and I have not forgotten it. I
will try indeed, but I am afraid it will be very hard, without
you or him or anybody else to help me. You couldn't have been
kinder yourself, Mamma; he kissed me at night when I bid him
good-bye, and I was very sorry indeed. I wish I could see him
again. Mamma, I will always love that gentleman, if I never
see him again in the world. I wish there was somebody here
that I could love, but there is not. You will want to know
what sort of a person my aunt Fortune is. I think she is very
good-looking, or she would be if her nose was not quite so
sharp; but, Mamma, I can't tell you what sort of a feeling I
have about her; it seems to me as if she was sharp all over. I
am sure her eyes are as sharp as two needles. And she don't
walk like other people — at least, sometimes. She makes queer
little jerks and starts and jumps, and flies about like I
don't know what. I am afraid it is not right for me to write
so about her; but may I not tell you, Mamma? There's nobody
else for me to talk to. I can't like Aunt Fortune much yet,
and I am sure she don't like me; but I will try to make her. I
have not forgotten what you said to me about that! Oh! dear
Mamma, I will try to mind everything you ever said to me in
your life. I am afraid you won't like what I have written
about Aunt Fortune; but indeed I have done nothing to
displease her, and I will try not to. If you were only here,
Mamma, I should say it was the loveliest place I ever saw in
my life. Perhaps, after all, I shall feel better, and be quite
happy by and by; but oh! Mamma, how glad I shall be when I get
a letter from you! I shall begin to look for it soon, and I
think I shall go out of my wits with joy when it comes. I had
the funniest ride down here from Thirlwall that you can think;
how do you guess I came? In a cart drawn by oxen! They went so
slow, we were an age getting here; but I liked it very much.
There was a good-natured man driving the oxen, and he was kind
to me; but, Mamma, what do you think? — he eats at the table!
I know what you would tell me; you would say I must not mind
trifles. Well, I will try not, Mamma. Oh! darling mother, I
can't think much of anything but you. I think of you the whole
time. Who makes tea for you now? Are you better? Are you going
to leave New York soon? It seems dreadfully long since I saw
you. I am tired, dear Mamma, and cold; and it is getting dark.
I must stop. I have a good big room to myself; that is a good
thing. I should not like to sleep with Aunt Fortune. Good
night, dear Mamma. I wish I could sleep with you once more.
Oh! when will that be again, Mamma? Good night. Good night —
Your affectionate "ELLEN."


The letter finished, was carefully folded, enclosed, and
directed; and then, with an odd mixture of pleasure and
sadness, Ellen lit one of her little wax matches, as she
called them, and sealed it very nicely. She looked at it
fondly a minute when all was done, thinking of the dear
fingers that would hold and open it; her next movement was to
sink her face in her hands, and pray most earnestly for a
blessing upon her mother, and help for herself — poor Ellen
felt she needed it. She was afraid of lingering lest tea
should be ready, so, locking up her letter, she went down
stairs.

The tea was ready. Miss Fortune and Mr. Van Brunt were at the
table, and so was the old lady, whom Ellen had not seen before
that day. She quietly drew up her chair to its place.

"Well," said Miss Fortune, "I hope you feel better for your
long stay up stairs."

"I do, Ma’am," said Ellen — "a great deal better."

"What have you been about?"

"I have been writing, Ma’am."

"Writing what?"

"I have been writing to Mamma."

Perhaps Miss Fortune heard the trembling of Ellen's voice, or
her sharp glance saw the lip quiver and eyelid droop.
Something softened her. She spoke in a different tone; asked
Ellen if her tea was good; took care she had plenty of the
bread and butter, and excellent cheese, which was on the
table; and, lastly cut her a large piece of the pumpkin-pie.
Mr. Van Brunt, too, looked once or twice at Ellen's face, as
if he thought all was not right there. He was not so sharp as
Miss Fortune, but the swollen eyes and tear-stains were not
quite lost upon him.

After tea, when Mr. Van Brunt was gone, and the tea things
cleared away, Ellen had the pleasure of finding out the
mystery of the brass kettle and the white maple bark. The
kettle now stood in the chimney corner. Miss Fortune, seating
herself before it, threw in all Ellen's stockings except one
pair, which she flung over to her, saying, "There — I don't
care if you keep that one." Then tucking up her sleeves to the
elbows, she fished up pair after pair out of the kettle, and
wringing them out, hung them on chairs to dry. But, as Ellen
had opined, they were no longer white, but of a fine slate
colour. She looked on in silence, too much vexed to ask
questions.

"Well, how do you like that?" said Miss Fortune, at length,
when she had got two or three chairs round the fire, pretty
well hung with a display of slate-coloured cotton legs.

"I don't like it at all," said Ellen.

"Well, _I_ do. How many pair of white stockings would you like
to drive into the mud, and let me wash out every week?"

"_You_ wash!" said Ellen, in surprise — "I didn't think of _your_
doing it."

"Who did you think _was_ going to do it? There's nothing in this
house but goes through my hand, I can tell you, and so must
you. I suppose you've lived all your life among people that
thought a great deal of wetting their little finger! but I'm
not one of 'em, I guess you'll find."

Ellen was convinced of that already.

"Well, what are you thinking of?" said Miss Fortune,
presently.

"I'm thinking of my nice white darning cotton," said Ellen. "I
might just as well not have had it."

"Is it wound, or in the skein?"

"In the skein."

"Then just go right up and get it. I'll warrant I'll fix it so
that you'll have a use for it."

Ellen obeyed, but musing rather uncomfortably what else there
was of hers that Miss Fortune could lay hands on. She seemed
in imagination to see all her white things turning brown. She
resolved she would keep her trunk well locked up; but what if
her keys should be called for?

She was dismissed to her room soon after the dyeing business
was completed. It was rather a disagreeable surprise to find
her bed still unmade; and she did not at all like the notion
that the making of it in future must depend entirely upon
herself — Ellen had no fancy for such handiwork. She went to
sleep in somewhat the same dissatisfied mood with which the
day had been begun — displeasure at her coarse heavy coverlid
and cotton sheets again taking its place among weightier
matters! — and dreamed of tying them together into a rope by
which to let herself down out of the window; but when she had
got so far, Ellen's sleep became sound, and the end of the
dream was never known.


CHAPTER XI.

Running away with the brook.


Clouds and rain and cold winds kept Ellen within doors for
several days. This did not better the state of matters between
herself and her aunt. Shut up with her in the kitchen from
morning till night, with the only variety of the old lady's
company part of the time, Ellen thought neither of them
improved upon acquaintance. Perhaps they thought the same of
her — she was certainly not in her best mood. With nothing to
do, the time hanging very heavy on her hands, disappointed,
unhappy, frequently irritated, Ellen became at length very
ready to take offence, and nowise disposed to pass it over, or
smooth it away. She seldom showed this in words, it is true,
but it rankled in her mind. Listless and brooding, she sat,
day after day, comparing the present with the past, wishing
vain wishes, indulging bootless regrets, and looking upon her
aunt and grandmother with an eye of more settled aversion. The
only other person she saw was Mr. Van Brunt, who came in
regularly to meals; but he never said anything, unless in
answer to Miss Fortune's questions, and remarks about the farm
concerns. These did not interest her, and she was greatly
wearied with the sameness of her life. She longed to go out
again; but Thursday, and Friday, and Saturday, and Sunday
passed, and the weather still kept her close prisoner. Monday
brought a change, but though a cool drying wind blew all day,
the ground was too wet to venture out.

On the evening of that day, as Miss Fortune was setting the
table for tea, and Ellen sitting before the fire, feeling
weary of everything, the kitchen door opened, and a girl
somewhat larger and older than herself came in. She had a
pitcher in her hand, and marching straight up to the tea-
table, she said —

"Will you let granny have a little milk to-night, Miss
Fortune? I can't find the cow. I'll bring it back to-morrow."

"You han't lost her, Nancy?"

"Have, though," said the other; "she's been away these two
days."

"Why didn't you go somewhere nearer for milk?"

"Oh! I don't know — I guess your'n is the sweetest," said the
girl, with a look Ellen did not understand.

Miss Fortune took the pitcher and went into the pantry. While
she was gone, the two children improved the time in looking
very hard at each other. Ellen's gaze was modest enough,
though it showed a great deal of interest in the new object;
but the broad, searching stare of the other seemed intended to
take in all there was of Ellen from her head to her feet, and
keep it, and find out what sort of a creature she was at once.
Ellen almost shrank from the bold black eyes, but they never
wavered, till Miss Fortune's voice broke the spell.

"How's your grandmother, Nancy?"

"She's tolerable, Ma’am, thank you."

"Now, if you don't bring it back to-morrow, you won't get any
more in a hurry," said Miss Fortune, as she handed the pitcher
back to the girl.

"I'll mind it," said the latter, with a little nod of her
head, which seemed to say there was no danger of her
forgetting.

"Who is that, aunt Fortune?" said Ellen, when she was gone.

"She is a girl that lives up on the mountain yonder."

"But what's her name?"

"I had just as lief you wouldn't know her name. She ain't a
good girl. Don't you never have anything to do with her."

Ellen was in no mind to give credit to all her aunt's
opinions, and she set this down as in part at least coming
from ill-humour.

The next morning was calm and fine, and Ellen spent nearly the
whole of it out of doors. She did not venture near the ditch,
but in every other direction she explored the ground, and
examined what stood or grew upon it as thoroughly as she
dared. Towards noon she was standing by the little gate at the
back of the house, unwilling to go in, but not knowing what
more to do, when Mr. Van Brunt came from the lane with a load
of wood. Ellen watched the oxen toiling up the ascent, and
thought it looked like very hard work; she was sorry for them.

"Isn't that a very heavy load?" she asked of their driver, as
he was throwing it down under the apple-tree.

"Heavy? Not a bit of it. It ain't nothing at all to 'em.
They'd take twice as much any day with pleasure."

"I shouldn't think so," said Ellen; "they don't look as if
there was much pleasure about it. What makes them lean over so
against each other when they are coming up hill?"

"Oh, that's just a way they've got. They're so fond of each
other, I suppose. Perhaps they've something particular to say,
and want to put their heads together for the purpose."

"No," said Ellen, half laughing, "it can't be that; they
wouldn't take the very hardest time for that; they would wait
till they got to the top of the hill: but there they stand
just as if they were asleep, only their eyes are open. Poor
things!"

"They're not very poor anyhow," said Mr. Van Brunt; "there
ain't a finer yoke of oxen to be seen than them are, nor in
better condition."

He went on throwing the wood out of the cart, and Ellen stood
looking at him.

"What'll you give me if I'll make you a scup one of these
days?" said Mr. Van Brunt.

"A scup!" said Ellen.

"Yes — a scup! how would you like it?"

"I don't know what it is." said Ellen.

"A scup! — may be you don't know it by that name; some folks
call it a swing."

"A swing! oh, yes," said Ellen, "now I know. Oh, I like it
very much."

"Would you like to have one?"

"Yes, indeed I should, very much."

"Well, what'll you give me, if I'll fix you out?"

"I don't know," said Ellen, "I have nothing to give; I'll be
very much obliged to you, indeed."

"Well now, come — I'll make a bargain with you: I'll engage to
fix up a scup for you, if you'll give me a kiss."

Poor Ellen was struck dumb. The good-natured Dutchman had
taken a fancy to the little pale-faced, sad-looking stranger,
and really felt very kindly disposed toward her, but she
neither knew, nor at the moment cared about that. She stood
motionless, utterly astounded at his unheard-of proposal, and
not a little indignant; but when, with a good-natured smile
upon his round face, he came near to claim the kiss he no
doubt thought himself sure of, Ellen shot from him like an
arrow from a bow. She rushed to the house, and bursting open
the door, stood with flushed face and sparkling eyes in the
presence of her astonished aunt.

"What in the world is the matter?" exclaimed that lady.

"He wanted to kiss me!" said Ellen, scarce knowing whom she
was talking to, and crimsoning more and more.

"Who wanted to kiss you?"

"That man out there."

"What man?"

"The man that drives the oxen."

"What, Mr. Van Brunt?" And Ellen never forgot the loud ha! ha!
which burst from Miss Fortune's wide-open mouth.

"Well, why didn't you let him kiss you?"

The laugh, the look, the tone, stung Ellen to the very quick.
In a fury of passion she dashed away out of the kitchen, and
up to her own room. And there, for a while, the storm of anger
drove over her with such violence, that conscience had hardly
time to whisper. Sorrow came in again as passion faded, and
gentler but very bitter weeping took the place of compulsive
sobs of rage and mortification, and then the whispers of
conscience began to be heard a little. "Oh, Mamma! Mamma!"
cried poor Ellen, in her heart, "how miserable I am without
you! I never can like Aunt Fortune — it's of no use — I never
can like her; I hope I shan't get to hate her! — and that
isn't right. I am forgetting all that is good, and there's
nobody to put me in mind. Oh, Mamma! if I could lay my head in
your lap for a minute!" Then came thoughts of her Bible and
hymn-book, and the friend who had given it; sorrowful thoughts
they were; and at last, humbled and sad, poor Ellen sought
that great friend she knew she had displeased, and prayed
earnestly to be made a good child; she felt and owned she was
not one now.

It was long after mid-day when Ellen rose from her knees. Her
passion was all gone; she felt more gentle and pleasant than
she had done for days; but at the bottom of her heart
resentment was not all gone. She still thought she had cause
to be angry, and she could not think of her aunt's look and
tone without a thrill of painful feeling. In a very different
mood, however, from that in which she had flown up stairs two
or three hours before, she now came softly down, and went out
by the front door to avoid meeting her aunt. She had visited
that morning a little brook, which ran through the meadow on
the other side of the road. It had great charms for her; and
now, crossing the lane and creeping under the fence, she made
her way again to its banks. At a particular spot, where the
brook made one of its sudden turns, Ellen sat down upon the
grass, and watched the dark water — whirling, brawling over
the stones, hurrying past her, with ever the same soft,
pleasant sound — and she was never tired of it. She did not
hear footsteps drawing near, and it was not till some one was
close beside her, and a voice spoke almost in her ears, that
she raised her startled eyes and saw the little girl who had
come the evening before for a pitcher of milk.

"What are you doing?" said the latter.

"I'm watching for fish," said Ellen.

"Watching for fish!" said the other, rather disdainfully.

"Yes," said Ellen, — "there, in that little quiet place they
come sometimes — I've seen two."

"You can look for fish another time. Come now, and take a walk
with me."

"Where?" said Ellen.

"Oh, you shall see. Come! I'll take you all about and show you
where people live. You ha'nt been anywhere yet, have you?"

"No," said Ellen, — "and I should like dearly to go, but" —

She hesitated. Her aunt's words came to mind, that this was
not a good girl, and that she must have nothing to do with
her; but she had not more than half believed them, and she
could not possibly bring herself now to go in and ask Miss
Fortune's leave to take this walk. "I am sure," thought Ellen,
"she would refuse me if there was no reason in the world." And
then the delight of rambling though the beautiful country, and
being for a while in other company than that of her aunt
Fortune and the old grandmother! The temptation was too great
to be withstood.

"Well, what are you thinking about?" said the girl; "what's
the matter? won't you come?"

"Yes," said Ellen, "I'm ready. Which way shall we go?"

With the assurance from the other that she would show her
plenty of ways, they set off down the lane — Ellen with a
secret fear of being seen and called back — till they had gone
some distance, and the house was hid from view. Then her
pleasure became great. The afternoon was fair and mild, the
footing pleasant, and Ellen felt like a bird out of a cage.
She was ready to be delighted with every trifle; her companion
could not by any means understand or enter into her bursts of
pleasure at many a little thing which she of the black eyes
thought not worthy of notice. She tried to bring Ellen back to
higher subjects of conversion.

"How long have you been here?" she asked.

"Oh, a good while," said Ellen — "I don't know exactly; it's a
week, I believe."

"Why, do you call that a good while?" said the other.

"Well, it seems a good while to me," said Ellen, sighing — "it
seems as long as four, I am sure."

"Then you don't like to live here much, do you?"

"I had rather be at home, of course."

"How do you like your aunt Fortune?"

"How do I like her?" said Ellen, hesitating — "I think she's
good-looking, and very smart."

"Yes, you needn't tell me she's smart — everybody knows that;
that ain't what I ask you — how do you _like_ her?"

"How do I like her?" said Ellen, again — "how can I tell how I
shall like her? I haven't lived with her but a week yet."

"You might just as well ha' spoke out," said the other,
somewhat scornfully; "do you think I don't know you half hate
her already? and it'll be whole hating in another week more.
When I first heard you'd come, I guessed you'd have a sweet
time with her."

"Why?" said Ellen.

"Oh, don't ask me why," said the other, impatiently, "when you
know as well as I do. Every soul that speaks of you, says
'poor child' and 'I'm glad I ain't her.' You needn't try to
come cunning over me. I shall be too much for you, I tell
you."

"I don't know what you mean," said Ellen.

"Oh, no, I suppose you don't," said the other, in the same
tone — "of course you don't; I suppose you don't know whether
your tongue is your own or somebody's else. You think Miss
Fortune is an angel, and so do I — to be sure she is!"

Not very pleased with this kind of talk, Ellen walked on for a
while, in grave silence. Her companion meantime recollected
herself; when she spoke again it was with an altered tone.

"How do you like Mr. Van Brunt?"

"I don't like him at all," said Ellen, reddening.

"Don't you!" said the other surprised — "why, everybody likes
him. What don't you like him for?"

"I don't like him," repeated Ellen.

"Ain't Miss Fortune queer to live in the way she does?"

"What way?" said Ellen.

"Why, without any help — doing all her own work, and living
all alone, when she's so rich as she is."

"Is she rich?" asked Ellen.

"Rich! I guess she is! she's one of the very best farms in the
country, and money enough to have a dozen help, if she wanted
'em. Van Brunt takes care of the farm, you know?"

"Does he?" said Ellen.

"Why, yes, of course he does; didn't you know that? what did
you think he was at your house all the time for?"

"I am sure I don't know," said Ellen. "And are those Aunt
Fortune's oxen that he drives?"

"To be sure they are. Well, I do think you are green, to have
been there all this time, and not found that out. Mr. Van
Brunt does just what he pleases over the whole farm, though;
hires what help he wants, manages everything; and then he has
his share of all that comes off it. I tell you what — you'd
better make friends with Van Brunt, for if anybody can help
you when your aunt gets one of her ugly fits, it's him; she
don't care to meddle with him much."

Leaving the lane, the two girls took a footpath leading across
the fields. The stranger was greatly amused here with Ellen's
awkwardness in climbing fences. Where it was a possible thing,
she was fain to crawl under; but one or twice that could not
be done, and having, with infinite difficulty, mounted to the
top rail, poor Ellen sat there in a most tottering condition,
uncertain on which side of the fence she should tumble over,
but seeing no other possible way of getting down. The more she
trembled the more her companion laughed, standing aloof
meanwhile, and insisting she should get down by herself.
Necessity enabled her to do this at last, and each time the
task became easier; but Ellen secretly made up her mind that
her new friend was not likely to prove a very good one.

As they went along, she pointed out to Ellen two or three
houses in the distance, and gave her not a little gossip about
the people who lived in them; but all this Ellen scarcely
heard, and cared nothing at all about. She had paused by the
side of a large rock standing alone by the wayside, and was
looking very closely at its surface.

"What is this curious brown stuff," said Ellen, "growing all
over the rock — like shrivelled and dried-up leaves? Isn't it
curious? — part of it stands out like a leaf, and part of it
sticks fast; I wonder if it grows here, or what it is."

"Oh, never mind," said the other; "it always grows on the
rocks everywhere; I don't know what it is — and what's more, I
don't care. 'Tain't worth looking at. Come!"

Ellen followed her. But presently the path entered an open
woodland, and now her delight broke forth beyond bounds.

"Oh, how pleasant this is! how lovely this is! Isn't it
beautiful?" she exclaimed.

"Isn't _what_ beautiful? I do think you are the queerest girl,
Ellen."

"Why, everything," said Ellen, not minding the latter part of
the sentence; "the ground is beautiful, and those tall trees,
and that beautiful blue sky — only look at it!"

"The ground is all covered with stones and rocks — is that
what you call beautiful? — and the trees are as homely as they
can be, with their great brown stems and no leaves. Come! —
what _are_ you staring at?"

Ellen's eyes were fixed on a string of dark spots, which were
rapidly passing overhead.

"Hark!" said she; "do you hear that noise? what is that? what
is that?"

"Isn't it only a flock of ducks," said the other,
contemptuously; "come! do come!"

But Ellen was rooted to the ground, and her eyes followed the
airy travellers till the last one had quitted the piece of
blue sky which the surrounding woods left to be seen. And
scarcely were these gone when a second flight came in view,
following exactly in the track of the first.

"Where are they going?" said Ellen.

"I am sure I don't know where they are going; they never told
me. I know where _I_ am going; I should like to know whether you
are going along with me."

Ellen, however, was in no hurry. The ducks had disappeared,
but her eye had caught something else that charmed it.

"What is this?" said Ellen.

"Nothing but moss."

"Is that moss! How beautiful! how green and soft it is! I
declare it's as soft as a carpet."

"As soft as a carpet!" repeated the other. "I should like to
see a carpet as soft as that! _you_ never did, I guess."

"Indeed I have, though," said Ellen, who was gently jumping up
and down on the green moss to try its softness, with a face of
great satisfaction.

"I don't believe it a bit," said the other; "all the carpets I
ever saw were as hard as a board, and harder; as soft as that,
indeed!"

"Well," said Ellen, still jumping up and down, with bonnet
off, and glowing cheek, and her hair dancing about her face,
"you may believe what you like; but I've seen a carpet as soft
as this, and softer too — only one, though."

"What was it made of?"

"What other carpets are made of, I suppose. Come, I'll go with
you now. I do think this is the loveliest place I ever did
see. Are there any flowers here in the spring?"

"I don't know — yes, lots of 'em."

"Pretty ones?" said Ellen.

"_You'd_ think so, I suppose; I never look at 'em."

"Oh, how lovely that will be!" said Ellen, clasping her hands.
"How pleasant it must be to live in the country!"

"Pleasant, indeed!" said the other; "I think it's hateful.
You'd think so, too, if you lived where I do. It makes me mad
at granny every day because she won't go to Thirlwall. Wait
till we get out of the wood, and I'll show you where I live.
You can't see it from here."

Shocked a little at her companion's language, Ellen again
walked on in sober silence. Gradually the ground became more
broken, sinking rapidly from the side of the path, and rising
again in a steep bank on the other side of a narrow dell; both
sides were thickly wooded, but stripped of green now, except
where here and there a hemlock-fir flung its graceful branches
abroad, and stood in lonely beauty among its leafless
companions. Now the gurgling of waters was heard.

"Where is that?" said Ellen, stopping short.

" 'Way down — down, at the bottom there. It's the brook."

"What brook? Not the same that goes by Aunt Fortune's?"

"Yes, it's the very same. It's the crookest thing you ever
saw. It runs over there," said the speaker, pointing with her
arm, "and then it takes a turn and goes that way, and then it
comes round so, and then it shoots off in that way again and
passes by your house; and after that, the dear knows where it
goes, for I don't. But I don't suppose it could run straight,
if it was to try to."

"Can't we get down to it?" said Ellen.

"To be sure we can, unless you're as afraid of steep banks as
you are of fences."

Very steep indeed it was, and strewn with loose stones; but
Ellen did not falter here, and though once or twice in
imminent danger of exchanging her cautious stepping for one
long roll to the bottom, she got there safely on her two feet.
When there, everything was forgotten in delight. It was a wild
little place. The high, close sides of the dell left only a
little strip of sky overhead; and at their feet ran the brook,
much more noisy and lively here than where Ellen had before
made its acquaintance; leaping from rock to rock, eddying
round large stones, and boiling over the small ones, and now
and then pouring quietly over some great trunk of a tree that
had fallen across its bed and dammed up the whole stream.
Ellen could scarcely contain herself at the magnificence of
many of the waterfalls, the beauty of the little quiet pools
where the water lay still behind some large stone, and the
variety of graceful tiny cascades.

"Look here, Nancy!" cried Ellen; "that's the Falls of Niagara
— do you see? — that large one; oh, that is splendid! And this
will do for Trenton Falls — what a fine foam it makes! — isn't
it a beauty? And what shall we call this? I don't know what to
call it; I wish we could name them all. But there's no end to
them. Oh, just look at that one! That's too pretty not to have
a name; what shall it be?"

"Black Falls," suggested the other.

"Black," said Ellen, dubiously, "why! — I don't like that."

"Why, the water's all dark and black, don't you see?"

"Well," said Ellen; "let it be Black, then; but I don't like
it. Now, remember, — this is Niagara, that is Black, and this
is Trenton; and what is this?"

"If you are going to name them all," said Nancy, "we shan't
get home to-night; you might as well name all the trees —
there's a hundred of 'em, and more. I say, Ellen, suppos'n' we
follow the brook instead of climbing up yonder again; it will
take us out to the open fields by and by."

"Oh, do let's!" said Ellen; "that will be lovely."

It proved a rough way; but Ellen still thought and called it
"lovely." Often by the side of the stream there was no footing
at all, and the girls picked their way over the stones, large
and small, wet and dry, which strewed its bed; against which
the water foamed, and fumed, and fretted, as if in great
impatience. It was ticklish work getting along over these
stones; now tottering on an unsteady one, now slipping on a
wet one — and every now and then making huge leaps from rock
to rock, which there was no other method of reaching, at the
imminent hazard of falling in. But they laughed at the danger;
sprang on in great glee, delighted with the exercise and the
fun; didn't stay long enough anywhere to lose their balance,
and enjoyed themselves amazingly. There was many a hair-
breadth escape; many an _almost_ sousing; but that made it all
the more lively. The brook formed, as Nancy had said, a
constant succession of little waterfalls, its course being
quite steep and very rocky; and in some places there were
pools quite deep enough to have given them a thorough wetting,
to say no more, if they had missed their footing and tumbled
in. But this did not happen. In due time, though with no
little difficulty, they reached the spot where the brook came
forth from the wood into the open day; and thence, making a
sharp turn to the right, skirted along by the edge of the
trees, as if unwilling to part company with them.

"I guess we'd better get back into the lane now," said Miss
Nancy; "we're a pretty good long way from home."


CHAPTER XII.

Splitters.


They left the wood and the brook behind them, and crossed a
large stubble-field; then got over a fence into another. They
were in the midst of this when Nancy stopped Ellen, and bade
her look up towards the west, where towered a high mountain,
no longer hid from their view by the trees.

"I told you I'd show you where I live," said she. "Look up now
— clear to the top of the mountain, almost, and a little to
the right — do you see that little mite of a house there? Look
sharp — it's a'most as brown as the rock — do you see it? it's
close by that big pine-tree, — but it don't look big from here
— it's just by that little dark spot near the top."

"I see it," said Ellen — "I see it now; do you live away up
there?"

"That's just what I do; and that's just what I wish I didn't.
But granny likes it; she will live there. I don't know what
for, if it ain't to plague me. Do you think you'd like to live
up on the top of a mountain like that?"

"No, I don't think I should," said Ellen. "Isn't it very cold
up there?"

"Cold! you don't know anything about it. The wind comes there,
I tell you! enough to cut you in two; I have to take and hold
on to the trees sometimes, to keep from being blowed away. And
then granny sends me out every morning before it's light, no
matter how deep the snow is, to look for the cow; and it's so
bitter cold, I expect nothing else but I'll be froze to death
some time."

"Oh!" said Ellen, with a look of horror, "how can she do so!"

"Oh, she don't care," said the other; "she sees my nose freeze
off every winter, and it don't make no difference."

"Freeze your nose off!" said Ellen.

"To be sure," said the other, nodding gravely — "every winter;
it grows out again when the warm weather comes."

"And is that the reason why it is so little?" said Ellen,
innocently, and with great curiosity.

"Little!" said the other, crimsoning in a fury — "what do you
mean by that? it's as big as yours any day, I can tell you."

Ellen involuntarily put her hand to her face, to see if Nancy
spoke true. Somewhat reassured to find a very decided ridge
where her companion's nose was wanting in the line of beauty,
she answered in her turn —

"It's no such thing, Nancy! you oughtn't to say so; you know
better."

"I _don't_ know better! I _ought_ to say so!" replied the other,
furiously. "If I had your nose, I'd be glad to have it freeze
off; I'd a sight rather have none. I'd pull it every day, if I
was you, to make it grow."

"I shall believe what Aunt Fortune said of you was true," said
Ellen. She had coloured very high, but she added no more, and
walked on in dignified silence. Nancy stalked before her in
silence that was meant to be dignified too, though it had not
exactly that air. By degrees each cooled down, and Nancy was
trying to find out what Miss Fortune had said of her, when on
the edge of the next field they met the brook again. After
running a long way to the right, it had swept round, and here
was flowing gently in the opposite direction. But how were
they ever to cross it? The brook ran in a smooth current
between them and a rising bank on the other side, so high as
to prevent their seeing what lay beyond. There were no
stepping-stones now. The only thing that looked like a bridge
was an old log that had fallen across the brook, or perhaps
had at some time or other been put there on purpose; and that
lay more than half in the water; what remained of its surface
was green with moss and slippery with slime. Ellen was sadly
afraid to trust herself on it; but what to do? Nancy soon
settled the question, as far as she was concerned. Pulling off
her thick shoes, she ran fearlessly upon the rude bridge; her
clinging bare feet carried her safely over, and Ellen soon saw
her re-shoeing herself in triumph on the opposite side; but
thus left behind and alone, her own difficulty increased.

"Pull off your shoes, and do as I did," said Nancy.

"I can't," said Ellen; "I'm afraid of wetting my feet; I know
mama wouldn't let me."

"Afraid of wetting your feet!" said the other; "what a
chickaninny you are! Well, if you try to come over with your
shoes on, you'll fall in, I tell you; and then you'll wet more
than your feet. But come along somehow, for I won't stand
waiting here much longer."

Thus urged, Ellen set out upon her perilous journey over the
bridge. Slowly and fearfully, and with as much care as
possible, she set step by step upon the slippery log. Already
half of the danger was passed, when, reaching forward to grasp
Nancy's outstretched hand, she missed it — _perhaps_ that was
Nancy's fault — poor Ellen lost her balance, and went in head
foremost. The water was deep enough to cover her completely as
she lay, though not enough to prevent her getting up again.
She was greatly frightened, but managed to struggle up first
to a sitting posture, and then to her feet, and then to wade
out to the shore; though, dizzy and sick, she came near
falling back again more than once. The water was very cold;
and thoroughly sobered, poor Ellen felt chill enough in body
and mind too; all her fine spirits were gone; and not the less
because Nancy's had risen to a great pitch of delight at her
misfortune. The air rang with her laughter; she likened Ellen
to every ridiculous thing she could think of. Too miserable to
be angry, Ellen could not laugh, and would not cry, but she
exclaimed, in distress —

"Oh, what shall I do! I am so cold!"

"Come along," said Nancy; "give me your hand; we'll run over
to Mrs. Van Brunt's — 'tain't far — it's just over here.
There," said she, as they got to the top of the bank, and came
within sight of a house standing only a few fields off —
"there it is! Run, Ellen, and we'll be there directly."

"Who is Mrs. Van Brunt?" Ellen contrived to say, as Nancy
hurried her along,

"Who is she? — run, Ellen! — why, she's just Mrs. Van Brunt —
your Mr. Van Brunt's mother, you know — make haste, Ellen! —
we had rain enough the other day; I'm afraid it wouldn't be
good for the grass if you stayed too long in one place; hurry!
I'm afraid you'll catch cold — you got your feet wet after
all, I'm sure."

Run they did; and a few minutes brought them to Mrs. Van
Brunt's door. The little brick walk leading to it from the
courtyard gate was as neat as a pin; so was every thing else
the eye could rest on; and when Nancy went in, poor Ellen
stayed _her_ foot at the door, unwilling to carry her wet shoes
and dripping garments any further. She could hear, however,
what was going on.

"Hillo! Mrs. Van Brunt," shouted Nancy — "where are you? — oh!
Mrs. Van Brunt, are you out of water? — cos if you are I've
brought you a plenty; the person that has it don't want it;
she's just at the door; she wouldn't bring it in till she knew
you wanted it. Oh, Mrs. Van Brunt, don't look so, or you'll
kill me with laughing. Come and see! come and see!"

The steps within drew near the door, and first Nancy showed
herself, and then a little old woman — not very old, either —
of very kind, pleasant countenance.

"What is all this?" said she, in great surprise. "Bless me!
poor little dear! what is this?"

"Nothing in the world but a drowned rat, Mrs. Van Brunt, don't
you see?" said Nancy.

"Go home, Nancy Vawse! go home," said the old lady; "you're a
regular bad girl. I do believe this is some mischief o' yourn
— go right off home; it's time you were after your cow a great
while ago."

As she spoke, she drew Ellen in and shut the door.

"Poor little dear!" said the old lady, kindly, "what has
happened to you? Come to the fire, love, you're trembling with
the cold. Oh, dear! dear! You're soaking wet; this is all
along of Nancy somehow, I know; how was it love? Ain't you
Miss Fortune's little girl? Never mind, don't talk, darling;
there ain't one bit of colour in your face, not one bit."

Good Mrs. Van Brunt had drawn Ellen to the fire, and all this
while she was pulling off as fast as possible her wet clothes.
Then sending a girl who was in waiting, for clean towels, she
rubbed Ellen dry from head to foot, and wrapping her in a
blanket, left her in a chair before the fire, while she went
to seek something for her to put on. Ellen had managed to tell
who she was, and how her mischance had come about, but little
else, though the kind old lady had kept on pouring out words
of sorrow and pity during the whole time. She came trotting
back directly with one of her own short gowns, the only thing
that she could lay hands on that was anywhere near Ellen's
length. Enormously big it was for her, but Mrs. Van Brunt
wrapped it round and round, and the blanket over it again, and
then she bustled about till she had prepared a tumbler of hot
drink, which she said was to keep Ellen from catching cold. It
was anything but agreeable, being made from some bitter herb,
and sweetened with molasses; but Ellen swallowed it, as she
would anything else at such kind hands, and the old lady
carried her herself into a little room opening out of the
kitchen, and laid her in a bed that had been warmed for her.
Excessively tired and weak as she was, Ellen scarcely needed
the help of the hot herb-tea to fall into a very deep sleep;
perhaps it might not have lasted so very long as it did, but
for that. Afternoon changed for evening, evening grew quite
dark, still Ellen did not stir; and after every little journey
into the bedroom to see how she was doing, Mrs. Van Brunt came
back saying how glad she was to see her sleeping so finely.
Other eyes looked on her for a minute — kind and gentle eyes;
though Mrs. Van Brunt's were kind and gentle too; once a soft
kiss touched her forehead — there was no danger of waking her.

It was perfectly dark in the little bedroom, and had been so a
good while, when Ellen was aroused by some noise, and then a
rough voice she knew very well. Feeling faint and weak, and
not more than half awake yet, she lay still and listened. She
heard the outer door open and shut, and then the voice said —

"So, mother, you've got my stray sheep here, have you?"

"Ay, ay," said the voice of Mrs. Van Brunt; "have you been
looking for her? how did you know she was here?"

"Looking for her! ay, looking for her ever since sundown. She
has been missing at the house since some time this forenoon. I
believe her aunt got a bit scared about her; any how, I did.
She's a queer little chip, as ever I see."

"She's a dear little soul, _I_ know," said his mother; "you
needn't say nothin' agin her, I ain't agoing to believe it."

"No more am I. I'm the best friend she's got, if she only
knowed it; but don't you think," said Mr. Van Brunt, laughing,
"I asked her to give me a kiss this forenoon, and if I'd been
an owl she couldn't ha' been more scared; she went off like a
streak, and Miss Fortune said she was as mad as she could be,
and that's the last of her."

"How did you find her out?"

"I met that mischievous Vawse girl, and I made her tell me;
she had no mind to at first. It'll be the worse for Ellen if
she takes to that wicked thing."

"She won't. Nancy has been taking her a walk, and worked it so
as to get her into the brook, and then brought her here, just
as dripping wet as she could be. I gave her something hot and
put her to bed, and she'll do, I reckon; but I tell you it
gave me queer feelings to see the poor little thing just as
white as ashes, and all of a tremble, and looking so sorrowful
too. She's sleeping finely now; but it ain't right to see a
child's face look so — it ain't right," repeated Mrs. Van
Brunt, thoughtfully; — "You han't had supper, have you?"

"No, mother, and I must take that young one back. Ain't she
awake yet?"

"I'll see directly; but she ain't going home, nor you neither,
'Brahm, till you've got your supper — it would be a sin to let
her. She shall have a taste of my splitters this very night;
I've been makin' them o' purpose for her. So you may just take
off your hat and sit down."

"You mean to let her know where to come when she wants good
things, mother. Well, I won't say splitters ain't worth
waiting for."

Ellen heard him sit down, and then she guessed from the words
that passed, that Mrs. Van Brunt and her little maid were
busied in making the cakes; she lay quiet.

"You're a good friend, 'Brahm," began the old lady again;
"nobody knows that better than me; but I hope that poor little
thing has got another one to-day that'll do more for her than
you can."

"What, yourself, mother? I don't know about that."

"No, no; do you think I mean myself? — there, turn it quick,
Sally! Miss Alice has been here."

"How? this evening?"

"Just a little before dark, on her gray pony. She came in for
a minute, and I took her — that'll burn, Sally! — I took her
in to see the child while she was asleep, and I told her all
you told me about her. She didn't say much, but she looked at
her very sweet, as she always does, and I guess, — there — now
I'll see after my little sleeper."

And presently Mrs. Van Brunt came to the bedside with a light,
and her arm full of Ellen's dry clothes. Ellen felt as if she
could have put her arms round her kind old friend, and hugged
her with all her heart; but it was not her way to show her
feelings before strangers. She suffered Mrs. Van Brunt to
dress her in silence, only saying, with a sigh, "How kind you
are to me, Ma’am!" to which the old lady replied with a kiss,
and telling her she mustn't say a word about that.

The kitchen was bright with firelight and candlelight; the
tea-table looked beautiful with its piles of white splitters,
besides plenty of other and more substantial things; and at
the corner of the hearth sat Mr. Van Brunt.

"So," said he, smiling, as Ellen came in and took her stand at
the opposite corner — "So I drove you away this morning? You
ain't mad with me yet, I hope."

Ellen crossed directly over to him, and putting her little
hand in his great rough one, said, "I'm _very_ much obliged to
you, Mr. Van Brunt, for taking so much trouble to come and
look after me."

She said it with a look of gratitude and trust that pleased
him very much.

"Trouble, indeed!" said he, good-humouredly, "I'd take twice
as much any day for what you wouldn't give me this forenoon.
But never fear, Miss Ellen, I ain't a going to ask you that
again."

He shook the little hand; and from that time Ellen and her
rough charioteer were firm friends.

Mrs. Van Brunt now summoned them to table; and Ellen was well
feasted with the splitters, which were a kind of rich short-
cake, baked in irons, very thin and crisp, and then split in
two and buttered — whence their name. A pleasant meal was
that. Whatever an epicure might have thought of the tea, to
Ellen, in her famished state, it was delicious; and no epicure
could have found fault with the cold ham and the butter and
the cakes — but far better than all was the spirit of kindness
that was there. Ellen feasted on that more than on anything
else. If her host and hostess were not very polished, they
could not have been outdone in their kind care of her, and
kind attention to her wants. And when the supper was at length
over, Mrs. Van Brunt declared a little colour had come back to
the pale cheeks. The colour came back in good earnest a few
minutes after, when a great tortoise-shell cat walked into the
room. Ellen jumped down from her chair, and presently was
bestowing the tenderest caresses upon pussy, who stretched out
her head and purred as if she liked them very well.

"What a nice cat!" said Ellen.

"She has five kittens," said Mrs. Van Brunt.

"Five kittens!" said Ellen. "Oh, may I come some time and see
them?"

"You shall see 'em right away, dear, and come as often as you
like, too. Sally, just take a basket, and go fetch them
kittens here."

Upon this, Mr. Van Brunt began to talk about its being time to
go, if they were going. But his mother insisted that Ellen
should stay where she was; she said she was not fit to go home
that night, that she oughtn't to walk a step, and that "
'Brahm" should go and tell Miss Fortune the child was safe and
well, and would be with her early in the morning. Mr. Van
Brunt shook his head two or three times, but finally agreed,
to Ellen's great joy. When he came back, she was sitting on
the floor before the fire, with all the five kittens in her
lap, and the old mother cat walking around and over her and
them. But she looked up with a happier face then he had ever
seen her wear, and told him she was "_so_ much obliged to him
for taking such a long walk for her;" and Mr. Van Brunt felt
that, like his oxen, he could have done a great deal more with
pleasure.


CHAPTER XIII.

Hope deferred.


Before the sun was up the next morning, Mrs. Van Brunt came
into Ellen's room, and aroused her.

"It's a real shame to wake you up," she said, "when you were
sleeping so finely; but 'Brahm wants to be off to his work,
and won't stay for breakfast. Slept sound, did you?"

"Oh, yes, indeed; as sound as a top," said Ellen, rubbing her
eyes; "I am hardly awake yet."

"I declare it's too bad," said Mrs. Van Brunt — "but there's
no help for it. You don't feel no headache, do you, nor pain
in your bones?"

"No, Ma’am, not a bit of it; I feel nicely."

"Ah! well," said Mrs. Van Brunt, "then your tumble into the
brook didn't do you any mischief; I thought it wouldn't. Poor
little soul!"

"I am very glad I did fall in," said Ellen; "for if I hadn't I
shouldn't have come here, Mrs. Van Brunt."

The old lady instantly kissed her.

"Oh! mayn't I just take one look at the kitties?" said Ellen,
when she was ready to go.

"Indeed you shall," said Mrs. Van Brunt, "if 'Brahm's hurry
was ever so much; and it ain't, besides. Come here, dear."

She took Ellen back to a waste lumber-room, where, in a
corner, on some old pieces of carpet, lay pussy and her
family. How fondly Ellen's hand was passed over each little
soft back! how hard it was for her to leave them!

"Wouldn't you like to take one home with you, dear?" said Mrs.
Van Brunt, at length.

"Oh! may I?" said Ellen, looking up in delight; "are you in
earnest? oh, thank you, dear Mrs. Van Brunt! oh, I shall be so
glad!"

"Well, choose one then, dear — choose the one you like best,
and 'Brahm shall carry it for you."

The choice was made, and Mrs. Van Brunt and Ellen returned to
the kitchen, where Mr. Van Brunt had already been waiting some
time. He shook his head when he saw what was in the basket his
mother handed to him.

"That won't do," said be; "I can't go that, mother. I'll
undertake to see Miss Ellen safe home, but the cat 'ud be more
than I could manage. I think I'd hardly get off with a whole
skin 'tween the one and t'other."

"Well, now!" said Mrs. Van Brunt.

Ellen gave a longing look at her little black and white
favourite, which was uneasily endeavouring to find out the
height of the basket, and mewing at the same time with a most
ungratified expression. However, though sadly disappointed,
she submitted with a very good grace to what could not be
helped. First setting down the little cat out of the basket it
seemed to like so ill, and giving it one farewell pat and
squeeze, she turned to the kind old lady, who stood watching
her, and throwing her arms around her neck, silently spoke her
gratitude in a hearty hug and kiss.

"Good-bye, Ma’am," said she; "I may come and see them some
time again, and see you, mayn't I?"

"Indeed you shall, my darling," said the old woman; "just as
often as you like — just as often as you can get away. I'll
make 'Brahm bring you home, sometimes. 'Brahm, you'll bring
her, won't you?"

"There's two words to that bargain, mother, I can tell you;
but if I don't, I'll know the reason on't."

And away they went. Ellen drew two or three sighs at first,
but she could not help brightening up soon. It was early — not
sunrise; the cool freshness of the air was enough to give one
new life and spirit; the sky was fair and bright; and Mr. Van
Brunt marched along at a quick pace. Enlivened by the
exercise, Ellen speedily forgot everything disagreeable; and
her little head was filled with pleasant things. She watched
where the silver light in the east foretold the sun's coming.
She watched the silver change to gold, till a rich yellow tint
was flung over the whole landscape, and then broke the first
rays of light upon the tops of the western hills — the sun was
up. It was a new sight to Ellen.

"How beautiful! Oh! how beautiful!" she, exclaimed.

"Yes," said Mr. Van Brunt, in his slow way, "it'll be a fine
day for the field. I guess I'll go with the oxen over to that
'ere big meadow."

"Just look," said Ellen, "how the light comes creeping down
the side of the mountain — now it has got to the wood — oh, do
look at the tops of the trees! Oh! I wish Mamma was here!"

Mr. Van Brunt didn't know what to say to this. He rather
wished so, too, for her sake.

"There," said Ellen, "now the sunshine is on the fence, and
the road, and everything. I wonder what is the reason that the
sun shines first upon the top of the mountain, and then comes
so slowly down the side; why don't it shine on the whole at
once?"

Mr. Van Brunt shook his head in ignorance. "He guessed it
always did so," he said.

"Yes," said Ellen, "I suppose it does; but that's the very
thing — I want to know the reason why. And I noticed just now,
it shone in my face before it touched my hands. Isn't it
queer?"

"Humph! there's a great many queer things, if you come to
that," said Mr. Van Brunt, philosophically.

But Ellen's head ran on from one thing to another, and her
next question was not so wide of the subject as her companion
might have thought.

"Mr. Van Brunt, are there any schools about here?"

"Schools?" said the person addressed; "yes — there's plenty of
schools."

"Good ones?" said Ellen.

"Well, I don't exactly know about that; there's Captain
Conklin's, that had ought to be a good 'un; he's a regular
smart man, they say."

"Whereabouts is that?" said Ellen.

"His school? — it's a mile or so the other side of my house."

"And how far is it from your house to Aunt Fortune's?"

"A good deal better than two mile; but we'll be there before
long. You ain't tired, be you?"

"No," said Ellen. But this reminder gave a new turn to her
thoughts, and her spirits were suddenly checked. Her former
brisk and springing step changed to so slow and lagging a one,
that Mr. Van Brunt more than once repeated his remark that he
saw she was tired.

If it was that, Ellen grew tired very fast; she lagged more
and more as they neared the house, and at last fell quite
behind, and allowed Mr. Van Brunt to go in first.

Miss Fortune was busy about the breakfast, and as Mr. Van
Brunt afterwards described it, "looking as if she could have
bitten off a ten-penny nail," and, indeed, as if the operation
would have been rather gratifying than otherwise. She gave
them no notice at first, bustling to and fro with great
energy, but all of a sudden she brought up directly in front
of Ellen, and said —

"Why didn't you come home last night?"

The words were jerked out rather than spoken.

"I got wet in the brook," said Ellen, "and Mrs. Van Brunt was
so kind as to keep me."

"Which way did you go out of the house yesterday?"

"Through the front door."

"The front door was locked."

"I unlocked it."

"What did you go out that way for?"

"I didn't want to come this way."

"Why not?"

Ellen hesitated.

"Why not?" demanded Miss Fortune, still more emphatically than
before.

"I did't want to see you, Ma’am," said Ellen, flushing.

"If ever you do so again!" said Miss Fortune, in a kind of
cold fury; "I've a great mind to whip you for this, as ever I
had to eat."

The flush faded on Ellen's cheek, and a shiver visibly passed
over her — not from fear. She stood with downcast eyes and
compressed lips, a certain instinct of childish dignity
warning her to be silent. Mr. Van Brunt put himself in
between.

"Come, come!" said he, "this is getting to be too much of a
good thing. Beat your cream, Ma’am, as much as you like; or if
you want to try your hand on something else, you'll have to
take me first, I promise you."

"Now, don't _you_ meddle, Van Brunt," said the lady, sharply,
"with what ain't no business o' yourn."

"I don't know about that," said Mr. Van Brunt — "maybe it _is_
my business; but meddle or no meddle, Miss Fortune, it is time
for me to be in the field; and if you han't no better
breakfast for Miss Ellen and me than all this here, we'll just
go right away hum again; but there's something in your kettle
there that smells uncommonly nice, and I wish you'd just let
us have it, and no more words."

No more words did Miss Fortune waste on any one that morning.
She went on with her work, and dished up the breakfast in
silence, and with a face that Ellen did not quite understand;
only she thought she had never in her life seen one so
disagreeable. The meal was a very solemn and uncomfortable
one. Ellen could scarcely swallow, and her aunt was near in
the same condition. Mr. Van Brunt and the old lady alone
despatched their breakfast as usual; with no other attempts at
conversation than the common mumbling on the part of the
latter, which nobody minded, and one or two strange grunts
from the former, the meaning of which, if they had any, nobody
tried to find out.

There was a breach now between Ellen and her aunt that neither
could make any effort to mend. Miss Fortune did not renew the
disagreeable conversation that Mr. Van Brunt had broken off;
she left Ellen entirely to herself, scarcely speaking to her,
or seeming to know when she went out or came in. And this
lasted day after day. Wearily they passed. After one or two,
Mr. Van Brunt seemed to stand just where he did before in Miss
Fortune's good graces; but not Ellen. To her, when others were
not by, her face wore constantly something of the same cold,
hard, disagreeable expression it had put on after Mr. Van
Brunt's interference — a look that Ellen came to regard with
absolute abhorrence. She kept away by herself as much as she
could; but she did not know what to do with her time, and for
want of something better often spent it in tears. She went to
bed cheerless night after night, and arose spiritless morning
after morning; and this lasted till Mr. Van Brunt more than
once told his mother that "that poor little thing was going
wandering about like a ghost, and growing thinner and paler
every day; and he didn't know what she would come to if she
went on so."

Ellen longed now for a letter with unspeakable longing — but
none came; — day after day brought new disappointment, each
day more hard to bear. Of her only friend, Mr. Van Brunt, she
saw little; he was much away in the fields during the fine
weather; and when it rained, Ellen herself was prisoner at
home, whither he never came but at meal times. The old
grandmother was very much disposed to make much of her; but
Ellen shrank, she hardly knew why, from her fond caresses, and
never found herself alone with her if she could help it; for
then she was regularly called to the old lady's side, and
obliged to go through a course of kissing, fondling, and
praising she would gladly have escaped. In her aunt's presence
this was seldom attempted, and never permitted to go on. Miss
Fortune was sure to pull Ellen away, and bid her mother "stop
that palavering," — avowing that "it made her sick." Ellen had
one faint hope that her aunt would think of sending her to
school, as she employed her in nothing at home, and certainly
took small delight in her company; but no hint of the kind
dropped from Miss Fortune's lips; and Ellen's longing look for
this as well as for a word from her mother, was daily doomed
to be ungratified, and to grow more keen by delay.

One pleasure only remained to Ellen in the course of the day,
and that one she enjoyed with the carefulness of a miser. It
was seeing the cows milked morning and evening. For this she
got up very early, and watched till the men came for the
pails; and then away she bounded, out of the house and to the
barnyard. There were the milky mothers, five in number,
standing about, each in her own corner of the yard or
cowhouse, waiting to be relieved of their burden of milk. They
were fine, gentle animals, in excellent condition, and looking
every way happy and comfortable; nothing living under Mr. Van
Brunt's care was ever suffered to look otherwise. He was
always in the barn or barnyard at milking time, and under his
protection Ellen felt safe, and looked on at her ease. It was
a very pretty scene — at least, she thought so. The gentle
cows standing quietly to be milked as if they enjoyed it, and
munching the cud; and the white streams of milk foaming into
the pails; then there was the interest of seeing whether Sam
or Johnny would get through first; and how near Jane or Dolly
would come to rivalling Streaky's fine pailful; and at last
Ellen allowed Mr. Van Brunt to teach herself how to milk. She
began with trembling, but learnt fast enough; and more than
one pailful of milk that Miss Fortune strained, had been,
unknown to her, drawn by Ellen's fingers. These minutes in the
farm-yard were the pleasantest in Ellen's day. While they
lasted every care was forgotten, and her little face was as
bright as the morning; but the milking was quickly over, and
the cloud gathered on Ellen's brow almost as soon as the
shadow of the house fell upon it.

"Where is the post-office, Mr. Van Brunt?" she asked, one
morning, as she stood watching the sharpening of an axe upon
the grindstone. The axe was in that gentleman's hand, and its
edge carefully laid to the whirling-stone, which one of the
farm-boys was turning.

"Where is the post office? Why, over to Thirlwall, to be
sure," replied Mr. Van Brunt, glancing up at her from his work
"faster, Johnny."

"And how often do the letters come here?" said Ellen.

"Take care, Johnny! — some more water — mind your business,
will you? — Just as often as I go to fetch 'em, Miss Ellen,
and no oftener."

"And how often do you go, Mr. Van Brunt?"

"Only when I've some other errand Miss Ellen; my grain would
never be in the barn if I was running to the post-office every
other thing — and for what ain't there, too. I don't get a
letter but two or three times a-year I s'pose, though I call —
I guess — half-a-dozen times."

"Ah, but there's one there now, or soon will be, I know, for
me," said Ellen. "When do you think you will go again, Mr. Van
Brunt?"

"Now, if I'd ha' know'd that, I'd ha' gone to Thirlwall
yesterday — I was within a mile of it. I don't see as I can go
this week, anyhow, in the world; but I'll make some errand
there the first day I can, Miss Ellen — that you may depend
on. You shan't wait for your letter a bit longer than I can
help."

"Oh, thank you, Mr. Van Brunt — you're very kind. Then the
letters never come except when you go after them?"

"No; — yes — they do come once in a while by old Mr. Swaim,
but he han't been here this great while."

"And who's he?" said Ellen.

"Oh, he's a queer old chip that goes round the country on all
sorts of errands; he comes along once in a while. That'll do,
Johnny — I believe this here tool is as sharp as I have any
occasion for."

"What's the use of pouring water upon the grindstone?" said
Ellen; — "why wouldn't it do as well dry?"

"I can't tell, I am sure," replied Mr. Van Brunt, who was
slowly drawing his thumb over the edge of the axe; — "your
questions are a good deal too sharp for me, Miss Ellen; I only
know it would spoil the axe, or the grindstone, or both, most
likely."

"It's very odd," said Ellen, thoughtfully — "I wish I knew
everything. But, O dear! I am not likely to know anything,"
said she, her countenance suddenly changing from its pleased
inquisitive look to a cloud of disappointment and sorrow. Mr.
Van Brunt noticed the change.

"Ain't your aunt going to send you to school, then?" said he.

"I don't know," said Ellen, sighing — "she never speaks about
it, nor about anything else. But I declare I'll make her!" she
exclaimed, changing again. "I'll go right in and ask her, and
then she'll have to tell me. I will! I am tired of living so.
I'll know what she means to do, and then I can tell what _I_
must do."

Mr. Van Brunt, seemingly dubious about the success of this
line of conduct, stroked his chin and his axe alternately two
or three times in silence, and finally walked off. Ellen,
without waiting for her courage to cool, went directly into
the house.

Miss Fortune, however, was not in the kitchen; to follow her
into her secret haunts, the dairy, cellar, or lower kitchen,
was not to be thought of. Ellen waited a while, but her aunt
did not come, and the excitement of the moment cooled down.
She was not quite so ready to enter upon the business as she
had felt at first; she had even some qualms about it.

"But I'll do it!" said Ellen to herself — "it will be hard,
but I'll do it!"


CHAPTER XIV.
Work _not_ deferred.


The next morning, after breakfast, Ellen found the chance she
rather dreaded than wished for. Mr. Van Brunt had gone out;
the old lady had not left her room, and Miss Fortune was
quietly seated by the fire, busied with some mysteries of
cooking. Like a true coward, Ellen could not make up her mind
to bolt at once into the thick of the matter, but thought to
come to it gradually — always a bad way.

"What is that, Aunt Fortune?" said she, after she had watched
her with a beating heart for about five minutes.

"What is what?"

"I mean, what is that you are straining through the colander
into that jar?"

"Hop-water."

"What is it for?"

"I'm scalding this meal with it to make turnpikes."

"Turnpikes!" said Ellen — "I thought turnpikes were high,
smooth roads, with toll-gates every now and then — that's what
Mamma told me they were."

"That's all the kind of turnpikes your Mamma knew anything
about, I reckon," said Miss Fortune, in a tone that conveyed
the notion that Mrs. Montgomery's education had been very
incomplete. "And indeed," she added, immediately after, "if
she had made more turnpikes and paid fewer tolls, it would
have been just as well, I'm thinking."

Ellen felt the tone, if she did not thoroughly understand the
words. She was silent for a moment; then remembering her
purpose, she began again —

"What are these, then, aunt Fortune?"

"Cakes, child, cakes — turnpike-cakes — what I raise the bread
with."

"What, those little brown cakes I have seen you melt in water
and mix in the flour when you make bread?"

"Mercy on us! yes! you've seen hundreds of 'em since you've
been here, if you never saw one before."

"I never did," said Ellen. "But what are they called turnpikes
for?"

"The land knows! — I don't. For mercy's sake, stop asking me
questions, Ellen; I don't know what's gotten into you; you'll
drive me crazy."

"But there's one more question I want to ask very much," said
Ellen, with her heart beating.

"Well, ask it, then, quick, and have done, and take yourself
off. I have other fish to fry than to answer all your
questions."

Miss Fortune, however, was still quietly seated by the fire
stirring her meal and hop-water, and Ellen could not be quick;
the words stuck in her throat — came out at last.

"Aunt Fortune, I wanted to ask you if I may go to school."

"Yes."

Ellen's heart sprang with a feeling of joy, a little qualified
by the peculiar dry tone in which the word was uttered.

"When may I go?"

"As soon as you like."

"Oh, thank you, Ma’am. To which school shall I go, Aunt
Fortune?"

"To whichever you like."

"But I don't know anything about them," said Ellen — "how can
I tell which is best?"

Miss Fortune was silent.

"What schools are there near here?" said Ellen.

"There's Captain Conklin's down at the Cross, and Miss
Emerson's at Thirlwall."

Ellen hesitated. The name was against her, but nevertheless
she concluded on the whole that the lady's school would be the
pleasantest.

"Is Miss Emerson any relation of yours?" she asked.

"No."

"I think I should like to go to her school the best. I will go
there if you let me — may I?"

"Yes."

"And I will begin next Monday — may I?"

"Yes."

Ellen wished exceedingly that her aunt would speak in some
other tone of voice; it was a continual damper to her rising
hopes.

"I'll get my books ready," said she — "and look 'em over a
little, too, I guess. But what will be the best way for me to
go, Aunt Fortune?"

"I don't know."

"I couldn't walk so far, could I?"

"You know best."

"I couldn't, I am sure," said Ellen. "It's four miles to
Thirlwall, Mr. Van Brunt said; and that would be too much for
me to walk twice a day; and I should be afraid besides."

A dead silence.

"But Aunt Fortune, do please tell me what I am to do. How can
I know unless you tell me? What way is there that I can go to
school?"

"It is unfortunate that I don't keep a carriage," said Miss
Fortune — "but Mr. Van Brunt can go for you morning and
evening in the ox-cart, if that will answer."

"The ox-cart! But, dear me! it would take him all day, Aunt
Fortune. It takes hours and hours to go and come with the oxen
— Mr. Van Brunt wouldn't have time to do anything but carry me
to school, and bring me home."

"Of course — but that's of no consequence," said Miss Fortune,
in the same dry tone.

"Then I can't go — there's no help for it," said Ellen
despondingly. "Why didn't you say so before? When you said
yes, I thought you meant yes."

She covered her face. Miss Fortune rose with a half-smile and
carried her jar of scalded meal into the pantry. She then came
back and commenced the operation of washing up the breakfast-
things.

"Ah, if I only had a little pony," said Ellen, "that would
carry me there and back, and go trotting about with me
everywhere — how nice that would be!"

"Yes, that would be very nice! And who do you think would go
trotting about after the pony? I suppose you would leave that
to Mr. Van Brunt; and I should have to go trotting about after
you, to pick you up in case you broke your neck in some ditch
or gulley — it would be a very nice affair altogether, I
think."

Ellen was silent. Her hopes had fallen to the ground, and her
disappointment was unsoothed by one word of kindness or
sympathy. With all her old grievances fresh in her mind, she
sat thinking her aunt was the very most disagreeable person
she ever had the misfortune to meet with. No amiable feelings
were working within her; and the cloud on her brow was of
displeasure and disgust, as well as sadness and sorrow. Her
aunt saw it.

"What are you thinking of?" said she, rather sharply.

"I am thinking," said Ellen, "I am very sorry I cannot go to
school."

"Why, what do you want to learn so much? you know how to read
and write and cipher, don't you?"

"Read and write and cipher!" said Ellen — "to be sure I do;
but that's nothing; that's only the beginning."

"Well, what do you want to learn besides?"

"Oh, a great many things."

"Well, what?"

"Oh, a great many things," said Ellen; "French, and Italian,
and Latin, and music, and arithmetic, and chemistry, and all
about animals, and plants; and insects — I forget what it's
called — and — oh, I can't recollect; a great many things.
Every now and then I think of something I want to learn; I
can't remember them now. But I am doing nothing," said Ellen,
sadly — "learning nothing — I am not studying and improving
myself as I meant to; Mamma will be disappointed when she
comes back; and I meant to please her so much!"

The tears were fast coming; she put her hand upon her eyes to
force them back.

"If you are so tired of being idle," said Miss Fortune, "I'll
warrant I'll give you something to do; and something to learn,
too, that you want enough, more than all those crinkum-
crankums; I wonder what good they'd ever do you! That's the
way your mother was brought up, I suppose. If she had been
trained to use her hands and do something useful, instead of
thinking herself above it, maybe she wouldn't have had to go
to sea for her health just now; it doesn't do for women to be
bookworms."

"Mamma isn't a bookworm!" said Ellen, indignantly; "I don't
know what you mean; and she never thinks of herself above
being useful; it's very strange you should say so when you
don't know anything about her."

"I know she han't brought you up to know manners, anyhow,"
said Miss Fortune. "Look here — I'll give you something to do
— just you put those plates and dishes together ready for
washing while I am down stairs."

Ellen obeyed, unwillingly enough. She had neither knowledge of
the business nor any liking for it; so it is no wonder Miss
Fortune at her return was not well pleased.

"But I never did such a thing before," said Ellen.

"There it is now!" said Miss Fortune. "I wonder where your
eyes have been every single time that I have done it since you
have been here. I should think your own sense might have told
you! But you're too busy learning of Mr. Van Brunt to know
what's going on in the house. Is that what you call made ready
for washing? Now just have the goodness to scrape every plate
clean off and put them nicely in a pile here; and turn out the
slops out of the tea cups and saucers, and set them by
themselves. Well! what makes you handle them so? are you
afraid they'll burn you?"

"I don't like to take hold of things people have drunk out
of," said Ellen, who was indeed touching the cups and saucers
very delicately with the tips of her fingers.

"Look here," said Miss Fortune — "don't you let me hear no
more of that, or I vow I'll give you something to do you won't
like. Now, put the spoons here, and the knives and forks
together here; and carry the salt-cellar, and the pepper-box,
and the butter and the sugar into the buttery."

"I don't know where to put them," said Ellen.

"Come along then, and I'll show you; it's time you did. I
reckon you'll feel better when you've something to do, and you
shall have plenty. There, put them in that cupboard, and set
the butter up here, and put the bread in this box, do you see?
now don't let me have to show you twice over."

This was Ellen's first introduction to the buttery; she had
never dared go in there before. It was a long light closet or
pantry, lined on the left side, and at the further end, with
wide shelves up to the ceiling. On these shelves stood many
capacious pans and basins, of tin and earthenware, filled with
milk, and most of them coated with superb yellow cream. Midway
was the window, before which Miss Fortune was accustomed to
skim her milk; and at the side of it was the mouth of a wooden
pipe, or covered trough, which conveyed the refuse milk down
to an enormous hogshead standing at the lower kitchen door,
whence it was drawn as wanted for the use of the pigs. Beyond
the window in the buttery, and on the higher shelves were rows
of yellow cheeses; forty or fifty were there, at least. On the
right hand of the door was the cupboard, and a short range of
shelves, which held in ordinary all sorts of matters for the
table, both dishes and eatables. Floor and shelves were well
painted with thick yellow paint, hard and shining, and clean
as could be; and there was a faint pleasant smell of dairy
things.

Ellen did not find out all this at once, but in the course of
a day or two, during which her visits to the buttery were
many. Miss Fortune kept her word, and found her plenty to do;
Ellen's life soon became a pretty busy one. She did not like
this at all; it was a kind of work she had no love for; yet no
doubt it was a good exchange for the miserable moping life she
had lately led. Any thing was better than that. One concern,
however, lay upon poor Ellen's mind with pressing weight — her
neglected studies and wasted time; for no better than wasted
she counted it. "What shall I do?" she said to herself, after
several of these busy days had passed; "I am doing nothing — I
am learning nothing — I shall forget all I have learnt
directly. At this rate, I shall not know any more than all
these people around me; and what _will_ Mamma say? — Well, if I
can't go to school, I know what I will do," she said, taking a
sudden resolve — "I'll study by myself! I'll see what I can
do; it will be better than nothing, any way. I'll begin this
very day!"

With new life Ellen sprang up stairs to her room, and
forthwith began pulling all the things out of her trunk to get
at her books. They were at the very bottom; and by the time
she had reached them, half the floor was strewn with the
various articles of her wardrobe: without minding them in her
first eagerness, Ellen pounced at the books.

"Here you are, my dear Numa Pompilius," said she, drawing out
a little French book she had just begun to read; "and here you
are, old grammar and dictionary — and here is my history —
very glad to see you, Mr. Goldsmith! — and what in the world
is this? — wrapped up as if it was something great — oh! my
expositor; I am not glad to see _you_, I am sure; never want to
look at your face or your back again. My copy-book — I wonder
who'll set copies for me now; my arithmetic, that's you! —
geography and atlas — all right; — and my slate; but dear me,
I don't believe I've such a thing as a slate-pencil in the
world; where shall I get one, I wonder? — well, I'll manage.
And that's all — that's all, I believe."

With all her heart Ellen would have begun her studying at
once, but there were all her things on the floor, silently
saying, "Put us up first."

"I declare," she said to herself, "it's too bad to have
nothing in the shape of a bureau to keep one's clothes in. I
wonder if I am to live in a trunk, as Mamma says, all the time
I am here, and have to go down to the bottom of it every time
I want a pocket-handkerchief or a pair of stockings. How I do
despise those gray stockings! — But what can I do? it's too
bad to squeeze my nice things up so. I wonder what is behind
those doors? I'll find out, I know, before long."

On the north side of Ellen's room were three doors. She had
never opened them, but now took it into her head to see what
was there, thinking she might possibly find what would help
her out of her difficulty. She had some little fear of
meddling with anything in her aunt's domain; so she fastened
her own door, to guard against interruption while she was
busied in making discoveries.

At the foot of her bed, in the corner, was one large door,
fastened by a button, as indeed they were all. This opened,
she found, upon a flight of stairs, leading, as she supposed,
to the garret, but Ellen did not care to go up and see. They
were lighted by half of a large window, across the middle of
which the stairs went up. She quickly shut that door, and
opened the next, a little one. Here she found a tiny closet
under the stairs, lighted by the other half of the window.
There was nothing in it but a broad, low shelf or step under
the stairs, where Ellen presently decided she could stow away
her books very nicely. "It only wants a little brushing out,"
said Ellen, "and it will do very well." The other door, in the
other corner, admitted her to a large light closet, perfectly
empty. "Now, if there were only some hooks or pegs here,"
thought Ellen, "to hang up dresses on; — but why shouldn't I
drive some nails? I will! I will! Oh, that'll be fine!"

Unfastening her door in a hurry, she ran down stairs; and her
heart beating, between pleasure and the excitement of daring
so far without her aunt's knowledge, she ran out and crossed
the chip-yard to the barn, where she had some hope of finding
Mr. Van Brunt. By the time she got to the little cowhouse
door, a great noise of knocking or pounding in the barn made
her sure he was there, and she went on to the lower barn-
floor. There he was, he and the two farm-boys (who, by-the-by,
were grown men), all three threshing wheat. Ellen stopped at
the door, and for a minute forgot what she had come for in the
pleasure of looking at them. The clean floor was strewn with
grain, upon which the heavy flails came down one after
another, with quick, regular beat — one — two — three — one —
two — three, — keeping perfect time. The pleasant sound could
be heard afar off; though, indeed, where Ellen stood, it was
rather too loud to be pleasant. Her little voice had no chance
of being heard; she stood still and waited. Presently, Johnny,
who was opposite, caught a sight of her, and, without stopping
his work, said to his leader, "Somebody there for you, Mr. Van
Brunt." That gentleman's flail ceased its motion, then he
threw it down, and went to the door to help Ellen up the high
step.

"Well," said he, "have you come to see what's going on?"

"No," said Ellen, "I've been looking — but Mr. Van Brunt,
could you be so good as to let me have a hammer and half-a-
dozen nails?"

"A hammer and half-a-dozen nails; — come this way," said he.

They went out of the barn-yard and across the chip-yard to an
out-house below the garden, and not far from the spout, called
the poultry-house; though it was quite as much the property of
the hogs, who had a regular sleeping apartment there, where
corn was always fed out to the fatting ones. Opening a kind of
granary store-room, where the corn for this purpose was
stowed, Mr. Van Brunt took down from a shelf a large hammer
and a box of nails, and asked Ellen what size she wanted.

"Pretty large."

"So?"

"No, a good deal bigger yet, I should like."

"A good deal bigger yet — who wants 'em?"

"I do," said Ellen, smiling.

"You do! do you think your little arms can manage that big
hammer?"

"I don't know; I guess so; I'll try."

"Where do you want 'em driv?"

"Up in a closet in my room," said Ellen, speaking as softly as
if she had feared her aunt was at the corner; "I want 'em to
hang up dresses and things."

Mr. Van Brunt half smiled, and put up the hammer and nails on
the shelf again.

"Now, I'll tell you what we'll do," said he; — "you can't
manage them big things; I'll put 'em up for you to-night when
I come in to supper."

"But I'm afraid she won't let you," said Ellen, doubtfully.

"Never you mind about that," said he, "I'll fix it. Maybe we
won't ask her."

"Oh, thank you!" said Ellen, joyfully, her face recovering its
full sunshine in answer to his smile, and clapping her hands,
she ran back to the house, while more slowly Mr. Van Brunt
returned to the threshers. Ellen seized dustpan and brush, and
ran up to her room; and setting about the business with right
good will, she soon had her closets in beautiful order. The
books, writing desk, and work-box were then bestowed very
carefully in the one; in the other her coats and dresses,
neatly folded up in a pile on the floor, waiting till the
nails should be driven. Then the remainder of her things were
gathered up from the floor, and neatly arranged in the trunk
again. Having done all this, Ellen's satisfaction was
unbounded. By this time dinner was ready. As soon after dinner
as she could escape from Miss Fortunes's calls upon her, Ellen
stole up to her room and her books, and began work in earnest.
The whole afternoon was spent over sums, and verbs, and maps,
and pages of history. A little before tea, as Ellen was
setting the table, Mr. Van Brunt came into the kitchen with a
bag on his back.

"What have you got there, Mr. Van Brunt?" said Miss Fortune.

"A bag of seed-corn."

"What are you going to do with it?"

"Put it up in the garret for safe keeping."

"Set it down in the corner, and I'll take it up to-morrow."

"Thank you, Ma’am; — rather go myself, if it's all the same to
you. You needn't be scared, I've left my shoes at the door.
Miss Ellen, I believe I've got to go through your room."

Ellen was glad to run before, to hide her laughter. When they
reached her room, Mr. Van Brunt produced a hammer out of the
bag, and taking a handful of nails from his pocket, put up a
fine row of them along her closet wall, then, while she hung
up her dresses, he went on to the garret, and Ellen heard him
hammering there, too. Presently he came down, and they
returned to the kitchen.

"What's all that knocking?" said Miss Fortune.

"I've been driving some nails," said Mr. Van Brunt, coolly.

"Up in the garret?"

"Yes, and in Miss Ellen's closet; she said she wanted some."

"You should ha' spoken to _me_ about it," said Miss Fortune to
Ellen. There was displeasure enough in her face: but she said
no more, and the matter blew over much better than Ellen had
feared.

Ellen steadily pursued her plans of studying, in spite of some
discouragements.

A letter, written about ten days after, gave her mother an
account of her endeavours and of her success. It was a
despairing account. Ellen complained that she wanted help to
understand, and lacked time to study; that her aunt kept her
busy, and, she believed, took pleasure in breaking her off
from her books; and she bitterly said, her mother must expect
to find an ignorant little daughter when she came home. It
ended with "Oh, if I could just see you, and kiss you, and put
my arms round you, Mamma, I'd be willing to die!"

This letter was dispatched the next morning by Mr. Van Brunt;
and Ellen waited and watched with great anxiety for his return
from Thirlwall in the afternoon.


CHAPTER XV.

Mother earth rather than aunt Fortune.


The afternoon was already half spent when Mr. Van Brunt's ox-
cart was seen returning. Ellen was standing by the little gate
that opened on the chip-yard; and with her heart beating
anxiously, she watched the slow-coming oxen; — how slowly they
came! At last they turned out of the lane, and drew the cart
up the ascent; and stopping beneath the apple tree, Mr. Van
Brunt leisurely got down, and flinging back his whip, came to
the gate. But the little face that met him there quivering
with hope and fear made his own quite sober. "I'm really _very_
sorry, Miss Ellen" — he began.

That was enough. Ellen waited to hear no more, but turned
away, the cold chill of disappointment coming over her heart.
She had borne the former delays pretty well, but this was one
too many, and she felt sick. She went round to the front
stoop, where scarcely ever anybody came, and sitting down on
the steps, wept sadly and despairingly.

It might have been half an hour or more after, that the
kitchen door slowly opened, and Ellen came in. Wishing her
aunt should not see her swollen eyes, she was going quietly
through to her own room, when Miss Fortune called her. Ellen
stopped. Miss Fortune was sitting before the fire with an open
letter lying in her lap, and another in her hand. The latter
she held out to Ellen, saying, "Here, child, come and take
this."

"What is it?" said Ellen, slowly coming towards her.

"Don't you see what it is?" said Miss Fortune, still holding
it out.

"But who is it from?" said Ellen.

"Your mother."

"A letter from Mamma, and not to me!" said Ellen, with
changing colour. She took it quick from her aunt's hand. But
her colour changed more as her eye fell upon the first words,
"My dear Ellen," and turning the paper, she saw upon the back,
"Miss Ellen Montgomery." Her next look was to her aunt's face,
with her eye fired, and her cheek paled with anger, and when
she spoke her voice was not the same.

"This is _my_ letter," she said, trembling; "who opened it?"

Miss Fortune's conscience must have troubled her a little, for
her eye wavered uneasily. Only for a second, though.

"Who opened it?" she answered; "_I_ opened it. I should like to
know who has a better right. And I shall open every one that
comes, to serve you for looking so; — that you may depend
upon."

The look, and the words, and the injury together, fairly put
Ellen beside herself. She dashed the letter to the ground, and
livid and trembling with various feelings, — rage was not the
only one, — she ran from her aunt's presence. She did not shed
any tears now; she could not; they were absolutely burnt up by
passion. She walked her room with trembling steps, clasping
and wringing her hands now and then, wildly thinking what
_could_ she do to get out of this dreadful state of things, and
unable to see anything but misery before her. She walked, for
she could not sit down; but presently she felt that she could
not breathe the air of the house; and taking her bonnet, she
went down, passed through the kitchen, and went out. Miss
Fortune asked where she was going, and bade her stay within
doors, but Ellen paid no attention to her.

She stood still a moment outside the little gate. She might
have stood long to look. The mellow light of an Indian summer
afternoon lay upon the meadow and the old barn and chip-yard;
there was beauty in them all under its smile. Not a breath was
stirring. The rays of the sun struggled through a blue haze,
which hung upon the hills and softened every distant object;
and the silence of nature all around was absolute, made more
noticeable by the far-off voice of somebody, it might be Mr.
Van Brunt calling to his oxen, very far off and not to be
seen; the sound came softly to her ear through the stillness.
"Peace," was the whisper of nature to her troubled child; but
Ellen's heart was in a whirl; she could not hear the whisper.
It was a relief, however, to be out of the house and in the
sweet open air. Ellen breathed more freely, and pausing a
moment there, and clasping her hands together once more in
sorrow, she went down the road, and out at the gate, and
exchanging her quick, broken step for a slow, measured one,
she took the way towards Thirlwall. Little regarding the
loveliness which that day was upon every slope and roadside,
Ellen presently quitted the Thirlwall road, and, half
unconsciously, turned into a path on the left which she had
never taken before — perhaps for that reason. It was not much
travelled, evidently; the grass grew green on both sides, and
even in the middle of the way, though here and there the track
of wheels could be seen. Ellen did not care about where she
was going; she only found it pleasant to walk on, and get
further from home. The road or lane led towards a mountain
somewhat to the northward of Miss Fortune's; the same which
Mr. Van Brunt had once named to Ellen as "The Nose." After
three-quarters of an hour, the road began gently to ascend the
mountain, rising towards the north. About one-third of the way
from the bottom, Ellen came to a little footpath on the left,
which allured her by its promise of prettiness, and she
forsook the lane for it. The promise was abundantly fulfilled;
it was a most lovely, wild, woodway path; but withal not a
little steep and rocky. Ellen began to grow weary. The lane
went on towards the north; the path rather led off towards the
southern edge of the mountain, rising all the while; but
before she reached that, Ellen came to what she thought a good
resting-place, where the path opened upon a small level
platform or ledge of the hill. The mountain rose steep behind
her, and sank very steep immediately before her, leaving a
very superb view of the open country from the north-east to
the south-east. Carpeted with moss, and furnished with fallen
stones and pieces of rock, this was a fine resting-place for
the wayfarer, or loitering-place for the lover of nature.
Ellen seated herself on one of the stones, and looked sadly
and wearily towards the east, at first very careless of the
exceeding beauty of what she beheld there.

For miles and miles, on every side but the west, lay stretched
before her a beautifully broken country. The November haze
hung over it now like a thin veil, giving great sweetness and
softness to the scene. Far in the distance a range of low
hills showed like a misty cloud; near by, at the mountain's
foot, the fields and farmhouses and roads lay, — a pictured
map. About a mile and a half to the south, rose the mountain
where Nancy Vawse lived, craggy and bare; but the leafless
trees, and stern, jagged rocks were wrapped in the haze; and
through this the sun, now near the setting, threw his
mellowing rays, touching every slope and ridge with a rich,
warm glow.

Poor Ellen did not heed the picturesque effect of all this,
yet the sweet influences of nature reached her, and softened
while they increased her sorrow. She felt her own heart sadly
out of tune with the peace and loveliness of all she saw. Her
eye sought those distant hills — how very far off they were!
and yet all that wide tract of country was but a little piece
of what lay between her and her mother. Her eye sought those
hills — but her mind overpassed them, and went far beyond,
over many such a tract, till it reached the loved one at last.
"But, oh! how much between! I cannot reach her — she cannot
reach me!" thought poor Ellen. Her eyes had been filling and
dropping tears for some time, but now came the rush of the
pent-up storm, and the floods of grief were kept back no
longer.

When once fairly excited, Ellen's passions were always
extreme. During the former peaceful and happy part of her
life, the occasions of such excitement had been very rare. Of
late, unhappily, they had occurred much oftener. Many were the
bitter fits of tears she had known within a few weeks. But now
it seemed as if all the scattered causes of sorrow that had
wrought those tears were gathered together, and pressing upon
her at once, and that the burden would crush her to the earth.
To the earth it brought her, literally. She slid from her seat
at first, and, embracing the stone on which she had sat, she
leaned her head there; but presently in her agony quitting her
hold of that, she cast herself down upon the moss, lying at
full length upon the cold ground, which seemed, to her
childish fancy the best friend she had left. But Ellen was
wrought up to the last pitch of grief and passion. Tears
brought no relief. Convulsive weeping only exhausted her. In
the extremity of her distress and despair, and in that lonely
place, out of hearing of every one, she sobbed aloud, and even
screamed, for almost the first time in her life; and these
fits of violence were succeeded by exhaustion, during which
she ceased to shed tears, and lay quite still, drawing only
long, sobbing sighs, now and then.

How long Ellen had lain there, or how long this would have
gone on before her strength had been quite worn out, no one
can tell. In one of these fits of forced quiet, when she lay
as still as the rocks around her, she heard a voice close by
say, "What is the matter, my child?"

The silver sweetness of the tone came singularly upon the
tempest in Ellen's mind. She got up hastily, and, brushing
away the tears from her dimmed eyes, she saw a young lady
standing there, and a face, whose sweetness well matched the
voice, looking upon her with grave concern. She stood
motionless and silent.

"What is the matter, my dear?"

The tone found Ellen's heart, and brought the water to her
eyes again, though with a difference. She covered her face
with her hands. But gentle hands were placed upon hers, and
drew them away; and the lady, sitting down on Ellen's stone,
took her in her arms; and Ellen hid her face in the bosom of a
better friend than the cold earth had been like to prove her.
But the change overcame her; and the soft whisper, "Don't cry
any more," made it impossible to stop crying. Nothing further
was said for some time; the lady waited till Ellen grew
calmer. When she saw her able to answer, she said, gently —

"What does all this mean, my child? What troubles you? Tell
me, and I think we can find a way to mend matters."

Ellen answered the tone of voice with a faint smile, but the
words with another gush of tears.

"You are Ellen Montgomery, aren't you?"

"Yes, Ma’am."

"I thought so. This isn't the first time I have seen you; I
have seen you once before."

Ellen looked up, surprised.

"Have you, Ma’am? I am sure I have never seen you."

"No, I know that. I saw you when you didn't see me. Where, do
you think?"

"I can't tell, I am sure," said Ellen, — "I can't guess; I
haven't seen you at Aunt Fortune's, and I haven't been
anywhere else."

"You have forgotten," said the lady. "Did you never hear of a
little girl who went to take a walk once upon a time, and had
an unlucky fall into a brook, and then went to a kind old
lady's house, where she was dried, and put to bed, and went to
sleep?"

"Oh, yes," said Ellen. "Did you see me there, Ma’am, and when
I was asleep?"

"I saw you there when you were asleep; and Mrs. Van Brunt told
me who you were, and where you lived; and when I came here, a
little while ago. I knew you again very soon. And I knew what
the matter was, too, pretty well; but nevertheless, tell me
all about it, Ellen; perhaps I can help you."

Ellen shook her head dejectedly. "Nobody in this world can
help me," she said.

"Then there's One in heaven that can," said the lady,
steadily. "Nothing is too bad for him to mend. Have you asked
_His_ help, Ellen?"

Ellen began to weep again. "Oh, if I could, I would tell you
all about it, Ma’am," she said; "but there are so many things
— I don't know where to begin — I don't know when I should
ever get through."

"So many things that trouble you, Ellen?"

"Yes, Ma’am."

"I am sorry for that, indeed. But never mind, dear, tell me
what they are. Begin with the worst, and if I haven't time to
hear them all now, I'll find time another day. Begin with the
worst."

But she waited in vain for an answer, and became distressed
herself at Ellen's distress, which was extreme.

"Don't cry so, my child — don't cry so," she said, pressing
her in her arms. "What _is_ the matter? Hardly anything in this
world is so bad it can't be mended. I think I know what
troubles you so — it is that your dear mother is away from
you, isn't it?"

"Oh, no, Ma’am!" Ellen could scarcely articulate. But,
struggling with herself for a minute or two, she then spoke
again, and more clearly.

"The worst is, — oh! the worst is, — that I meant — I meant —
to be a good child, and I have been worse than ever I was in
my life before."

Her tears gushed forth.

"But how, Ellen?" said her surprised friend, after a pause. "I
don't quite understand you. When did you 'mean to be a good
child?' Didn't you always mean so? and what have you been
doing?"

Ellen made a great effort, and ceased crying; straightened
herself — dashed away her tears, as if determined to shed no
more; and presently spoke calmly, though a choking sob every
now and then threatened to interrupt her.

"I will tell you, Ma’am. That first day I left Mamma — when I
was on board the steamboat, and feeling as badly as I could
feel — a kind, kind gentleman — I don't know who he was — came
to me, and spoke to me, and took care of me the whole day. Oh,
if I could see him again! He talked to me a great deal — he
wanted me to be a Christian — he wanted me to make up my mind
to begin that day to be one — and Ma’am, I did. I did resolve
with my whole heart, and I thought I should be different from
that time from what I had ever been before. But I think I have
never been so bad in my life as I have been since then.
Instead of feeling right, I have felt wrong all the time,
almost — and I can't help it. I have been passionate and
cross, and bad feelings keep coming; and I know it's wrong,
and it makes me miserable. And yet, oh! Ma’am, I haven't
changed my mind a bit — I think just the same as I did that
day; I want to be a Christian more than anything else in the
world, but I am not — and what shall I do?"

Her face sank in her hands again.

"And this is your great trouble?" said her friend.

"Yes."

"Do you remember who said, 'Come unto me, all ye that labour
and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest'?"

Ellen looked up inquiringly.

"You are grieved to find yourself so unlike what you would be.
You wish to be a child of the dear Saviour, and to have your
heart filled with his love, and to do what will please him. Do
you? — Have you gone to him day by day, and night by night,
and told him so? — have you begged him to give you strength to
get the better of your wrong feelings, and asked him to change
you, and make you his child?"

"At first I did, Ma’am," said Ellen, in a low voice.

"Not lately!"

"No, Ma’am;" in a lower tone still, and looking down.

"Then you have neglected your Bible and prayer for some time
past?"

Ellen hardly uttered, "Yes."

"Why, my child?"

"I don't know, Ma’am," said Ellen, weeping — "that is one of
the things that made me think myself so very wicked. I
couldn't like to read my Bible or pray either, though I always
used to before. My Bible lay down quite at the bottom of my
trunk, and I even didn't like to raise my things enough to see
the cover of it. I was so full of bad feelings, I didn't feel
fit to pray or read either."

"Ah! that is the way with the wisest of us," said her
companion; "how apt we are to shrink most from our Physician
just when we are in most need of him! But, Ellen, dear, that
isn't right. No hand but His can touch that sickness you are
complaining of. Seek it, love — seek it. He will hear and help
you, no doubt of it, in every trouble you carry simply and
humbly to his feet; — he has _promised_, you know."

Ellen was weeping very much, but less bitterly than before;
the clouds were breaking, and light beginning to shine
through.

"Shall we pray together now?" said her companion, after a few
minutes' pause.

"Oh, if you please, Ma’am, do!" Ellen answered, through her
tears.

And they knelt together there on the moss beside the stone,
where Ellen's head rested and her friend's folded hands were
laid. It might have been two children speaking to their
father, for the simplicity of that prayer; difference of age
seemed to be forgotten, and what suited one suited the other.
It was not without difficulty that the speaker carried it
calmly through, for Ellen's sobs went nigh to check her more
than once. When they rose, Ellen silently sought her friend's
arms again, and laying her face on her shoulder and putting
both arms round her neck, she wept still — but what different
tears! It was like the gentle rain falling through sunshine,
after the dark cloud and the thunder and the hurricane have
passed by. And they kissed each other before either of them
spoke.

"You will not forget your Bible and prayer again, Ellen?"

"Oh, no, Ma’am."

"Then I am sure you will find your causes of trouble grow
less. I will not hear the rest of them now. In a day or two I
hope you will be able to give me a very different account from
what you would have done an hour ago; but, besides that, it is
getting late, and it will not do for us to stay too long up
here; you have a good way to go to reach home. Will you come
and see me to-morrow afternoon?"

"Oh, yes, Ma’am, indeed I will! — if I can; and if you will
tell me where."

"Instead of turning up this little rocky path, you must keep
straight on in the road — that's all: and it's the first house
you come to. It isn't very far from here. Where were you going
on the mountain?"

"Nowhere, Ma’am."

"Have you been any higher up than this?"

"No, Ma’am."

"Then, before we go away, I want to show you something. I'll
take you over the Bridge of the Nose; it isn't but a step or
two more: a little rough, to be sure, but you mustn't mind
that."

"What is the 'Bridge of the Nose,' Ma’am?" said Ellen, as they
left her resting-place, and began to toil up the path, which
grew more steep and rocky than ever.

"You know this mountain is called the Nose. Just here it runs
out to a very thin, sharp edge. We shall come to a place
presently where you turn a very sharp corner to get from one
side of the hill to the other; and my brother named it,
jokingly, the Bridge of the Nose."

"Why do they give the mountain such a queer name?" said Ellen.

"I don't know, I'm sure. The people say that from one point of
view this side of it looks very like a man's nose; but I never
could find it out, and have some doubt about the fact. But now
here we are! Just come round this great rock — mind how you
step, Ellen — now, look there!"

The rock they had just turned was at their backs, and they
looked towards the west. Both exclaimed at the beauty before
them. The view was not so extended as the one they had left.
On the north and south the broken wavy outline of mountains
closed in the horizon; but far to the west stretched an
opening between the hills, through which the setting sun sent
his long beams, even to their feet. In the distance all was a
golden haze; nearer, on the right and left, the hills were lit
up singularly, and there was a most beautiful mingling of
deep, hazy shadow, and bright, glowing mountain-sides and
ridges. A glory was upon the valley. Far down below, at their
feet, lay a large lake, gleaming in the sunlight; and at the
upper end of it, a village of some size showed like a cluster
of white dots.

"How beautiful!" said the lady again. "Ellen, dear, He whose
hand raised up those mountains, and has painted them so
gloriously, is the very same One who has said, to you and to
me, 'Ask and it shall be given you.' "

Ellen looked up; their eyes met: her answer was in that
grateful glance.

The lady sat down and drew Ellen close to her.

"Do you see that little white village yonder, down at the far
end of the lake? that is the village of Carra-carra; and that
is Carra-carra lake; that is where I go to church; you cannot
see the little church from here. My father preaches there
every Sunday morning."

"You must have a long way to go," said Ellen.

"Yes, a pretty long way, but it's very pleasant, though. I
mount my little gray pony, and he carries me there in quick
time, when I will let him. I never wish the way shorter. I go
in all sorts of weathers, too, Ellen; Sharp and I don't mind
frost and snow."

"Who is Sharp?" said Ellen.

"My pony. An odd name, isn't it? It wasn't of my choosing,
Ellen, but he deserves it, if ever pony did. He's a very
cunning little fellow. Where do you go, Ellen? to Thirlwall?"

"To church, Ma’am! — I don't go anywhere."

"Doesn't your aunt go to church?"

"She hasn't since I have been here."

"What do you do with yourself on Sunday?"

"Nothing, Ma’am; I don't know what to do with myself all the
day long. I get tired of being in the house, and I go out of
doors; and then I get tired of being out of doors, and come in
again. I wanted a kitten dreadfully, but Mr. Van Brunt said
aunt Fortune would not let me keep one."

"Did you want a kitten to help you keep Sunday, Ellen?" said
her friend, smiling.

"Yes, I did, Ma’am," said Ellen, smiling again. "I thought it
would be a great deal of company for me. I got very tired of
reading all day long, and I had nothing to read but the Bible;
and you know, Ma’am, I told you I have been all wrong ever
since I came here, and I didn't like to read that much."

"My poor child!" said the lady — "you have been hardly
bestead, I think. What if you were to come and spend next
Sunday with me? Don't you think I should do instead of a
kitten?"

"Oh, yes, Ma’am, I am sure of it," said Ellen, clinging to
her. "Oh, I'll come gladly, if you will let me — and if aunt
Fortune will let me; and I hope she will, for she said last
Sunday I was the plague of her life."

"What did you do to make her say so?" said her friend,
gravely.

"Only asked her for some books, Ma’am."

"Well, my dear, I see I am getting upon another of your
troubles, and we haven't time for that now. By your own
account, you have been much in fault yourself, and I trust you
will find all things mend with your own mending. But now,
there goes the sun! — and you and I must follow his example."

The lake ceased to gleam, and the houses of the village were
less plainly to be seen; still the mountain heads were as
bright as ever. Gradually the shadows crept up their sides,
while the gray of evening settled deeper and deeper upon the
valley.

"There," said Ellen, "that's just what I was wondering at the
other morning; only then the light shone upon the top of the
mountains first, and walked down, and now it leaves the bottom
first and walks up. I asked Mr. Van Brunt about it, and he
could not tell me. That's another of my troubles; there's
nobody that can tell me anything."

"Put me in mind of it to-morrow, and I'll try to make you
understand it," said the lady. "But we must not tarry now. I
see you are likely to find me work enough, Ellen."

"I'll not ask you a question, Ma’am, if you don't like it,"
said Ellen, earnestly.

"I do like, I do like," said the other. "I spoke laughingly,
for I see you will be apt to ask me a good many. As many as
you please, my dear."

"Thank you, Ma’am," said Ellen, as they ran down the hill;
"they keep coming into my head all the while."

It was easier going down than coming up. They soon arrived at
the place where Ellen had left the road to take the wood path.

"Here we part," said the lady. "Good night!"

"Good night, Ma’am."

There was a kiss and a squeeze of the hand; but when Ellen
would have turned away, the lady still held her fast.

"You are an odd little girl," said she. "I gave you liberty to
ask me questions."

"Yes, Ma’am," said Ellen, doubtfully.

"There is a question you have not asked me that I have been
expecting. Do you know who I am?"

"No, Ma’am."

"Don't you want to know?"

"Yes, Ma’am, very much," said Ellen, laughing at her friend's
look; "but Mamma told me never to try to find out anything
about other people that they didn't wish me to know, or that
wasn't my business."

"Well, I think this is your business decidedly. Who are you
going to ask for when you come to see me to-morrow? Will you
ask for 'the young lady that lives in this house?' or will you
give a description of my nose and eyes and height?"

Ellen laughed.

"My dear Ellen," said the lady, changing her tone, "do you
know you please me very much? For one person that shows
herself well-bred in this matter, there are a thousand, I
think, that ask impertinent questions. I am very glad you are
an exception to the common rule. But, dear Ellen, I am quite
willing you should know my name — it is Alice Humphreys. Now,
kiss me again, and run home; it is quite, quite time; I have
kept you too late. Good night, my dear! Tell your aunt I beg
she will allow you to take tea with me to-morrow."

They parted; and Ellen hastened homewards, urged by the
rapidly-growing dusk of the evening. She trod the green turf
with a step lighter and quicker than it had been a few hours
before, and she regained her home in much less time than it
had taken her to come from thence to the mountain. Lights were
in the kitchen, and the table set; but though weary and faint,
she was willing to forego her supper rather than meet her aunt
just then, so she stole quietly up to her room. She did not
forget her friend's advice. She had no light; she could not
read; but Ellen did pray. She did carry all her heart-
sickness, her wants, and her woes, to that Friend whose ear is
always open to hear the cry of those who call upon Him in
truth; and then, relieved, refreshed, almost healed, she went
to bed and slept sweetly.


CHAPTER XVI.

Counsel, Cakes, and Captain Parry.


Early next morning Ellen awoke with a sense that something
pleasant had happened. Then the joyful reality darted into her
mind, and jumping out of bed, she set about her morning work
with a better heart than she had been able to bring to it for
many a long day. When she had finished, she went to the
window. She had found out how to keep it open now, by means of
a big nail stuck in a hole under the sash. It was very early,
and in the perfect stillness, the soft gurgle of the little
brook came distinctly to her ear. Ellen leaned her arms on the
window-sill, and tasted the morning air; almost wondering at
its sweetness, and at the loveliness of field and sky, and the
bright eastern horizon. For days and days all had looked dark
and sad.

There were two reasons for the change. In the first place,
Ellen had made up her mind to go straight on in the path of
duty; in the second place, she had found a friend. Her little
heart bounded with delight and swelled with thankfulness at
the thought of Alice Humphreys. She was once more at peace
with herself, and had even some notion of being by-and-by at
peace with her aunt; though a sad twinge came over her
whenever she thought of her mother's letter.

"But there is only one way for me," she thought; "I'll do as
that dear Miss Humphreys told me — it's good and early, and I
shall have a fine time before breakfast yet to myself. And
I'll get up so every morning and have it! — that'll be the
very best plan I can hit upon."

As she thought this, she drew forth her Bible from its place
at the bottom of her trunk; and opening it at hazard, she
began to read the l8th chapter of Matthew. Some of it she did
not quite understand; but she paused with pleasure at the 14th
verse. "That means me," she thought. The 21st and 22d verses
struck her a good deal, but when she came to the last she was
almost startled.

"There it is again!" she said. "That is exactly what that
gentleman said to me. I thought I was forgiven, but how can I
be — for I feel I have not forgiven Aunt Fortune."

Laying aside her book, Ellen kneeled down; but this one
thought so pressed upon her mind, that she could think of
scarce anything else; and her prayer this morning was an
urgent and repeated petition that she might be enabled "from
her heart" to forgive her Aunt Fortune "all her trespasses."
Poor Ellen! she felt it was very hard work. At the very minute
she was striving to feel at peace with her aunt, one grievance
after another would start up to remembrance, and she knew the
feelings that met them were far enough from the spirit of
forgiveness. In the midst of this she was called down. She
rose with tears in her eyes, and "what shall I do?" in her
heart. Bowing her head once more, she earnestly prayed that if
she could not yet _feel_ right towards her aunt, she might be
kept at least from acting or speaking wrong. Poor Ellen! In
the heart is the spring of action; and she found it so this
morning.

Her aunt and Mr. Van Brunt were already at the table. Ellen
took her place in silence, for one look at her aunt's face
told her that no "good morning" would be accepted. Miss
Fortune was in a particularly bad humour, owing, among other
things, to Mr. Van Brunt's having refused to eat his breakfast
unless Ellen were called. An unlucky piece of kindness. She
neither spoke to Ellen nor looked at her; Mr. Van Brunt did
what in him lay to make amends. He helped her very carefully
to the cold pork and potatoes, and handed her the well-piled
platter of griddle-cakes.

"Here's the first buckwheats of the season," said he, — "and I
told Miss Fortune I warn't agoing to eat one on 'em if you
didn't come down to enjoy 'em along with us. Take two — take
two! — you want 'em to keep each other hot."

Ellen's look and smile thanked him, as, following his advice,
she covered one generous "buckwheat" with another as ample.

"That's the thing! Now, here's some prime maple. You like 'em,
I guess, don't you?"

"I don't know, yet — I have never seen any," said Ellen.

"Never seen buckwheats! why, they're most as good as my
mother's splitters. Buckwheat cakes and maple molasses —
that's food fit for a king, I think — when they're good; and
Miss Fortune's are always first-rate."

Miss Fortune did not relent at all at this compliment.

"What makes you so white, this morning?" Mr. Van Brunt
presently went on; — "you ain't well, be you?"

"Yes," said Ellen, doubtfully — "I'm well" —

"She's as well as I am, Mr. Van Brunt, if you don't go and put
her up to any notions!" Miss Fortune said, in a kind of choked
voice.

Mr. Van Brunt hemmed, and said no more to the end of
breakfast-time.

Ellen rather dreaded what was to come next, for her aunt's
look was ominous. In dead silence the things were put away,
and put up, and in course of washing and drying, when Miss
Fortune suddenly broke forth —

"What did you do with yourself yesterday afternoon?"

"I was up on the mountain," said Ellen.

"What mountain?"

"I believe they call it the Nose."

"What business had you up there?"

"I hadn't any business there."

"What did you go there for?"

"Nothing."

"Nothing! — you expect me to believe that? you call yourself a
truth-teller, I suppose?"

"Mamma used to say I was," said poor Ellen, striving to
swallow her feelings.

"Your mother! — I daresay — mothers always are blind. I
daresay she took everything you said for gospel!"

Ellen was silent, from sheer want of words that were pointed
enough to suit her.

"I wish Morgan could have had the gumption to marry in his own
country; but he must go running after a Scotchwoman! A Yankee
would have brought up his child to be worth something. Give me
Yankees!"

Ellen set down the cup she was wiping.

"You don't know anything about my mother," she said. "You
oughtn't to speak so — it's not right."

"Why ain't it right, I should like to know?" said Miss
Fortune; — "this is a free country, I guess. Our tongues ain't
tied — we're all free here."

"I wish we were," muttered Ellen; — "I know what I'd do."

"What would you do?" said Miss Fortune.

Ellen was silent. Her aunt repeated the question in a sharper
tone.

"I oughtn't to say what I was going to," said Ellen — "I'd
rather not."

"I don't care," said Miss Fortune; "you began, and you shall
finish it. I will hear what it was."

"I was going to say, if we were all free I would run away."

"Well, that _is_ a beautiful, well-behaved speech! I am glad to
have heard it. I admire it very much. Now, what were you doing
yesterday up on the Nose? Please to go on wiping. There's a
pile ready for you. What were you doing yesterday afternoon?"

Ellen hesitated.

"Were you alone, or with somebody?"

"I was alone part of the time."

"And who were you with the rest of the time?"

"Miss Humphreys."

"Miss Humphreys! — what were you doing with her?"

"Talking."

"Did you ever see her before?"

"No, Ma’am."

"Where did you find her?"

"She found me, up on the hill!"

"What were you talking about?"

Ellen was silent.

"What were you talking about?" repeated Miss Fortune.

"I had rather not tell."

"And I had rather you _should_ tell — so out with it."

"I was alone with Miss Humphreys," said Ellen; "and it is no
matter what we were talking about — it doesn't concern anybody
but her and me."

"Yes it does, it concerns me," said her aunt, "and I choose to
know; — what were you talking about?"

Ellen was silent.

"Will you tell me?"

"No," said Ellen, low, but resolutely.

"I vow you're enough to try the patience of Job! Look here,"
said Miss Fortune, setting down what she had in her hands — "I
_will_ know! I don't care what it was, but you shall tell me, or
I'll find a way to make you. I'll give you such a —"

"Stop! stop!" said Ellen wildly — "you must not speak to me
so! Mamma never did, and you have no _right_ to! If Mamma or
Papa were here, you would not _dare_ talk to me so."

The answer to this was a sharp box on the ear from Miss
Fortune's wet hand. Half stunned, less by the blow than the
tumult of feeling it roused, Ellen stood a moment, and then
throwing down her towel, she ran out of the room, shivering
with passion, and brushing off the soapy water left on her
face as if it had been her aunt's very hand. Violent tears
burst forth as soon as she reached her own room — tears at
first of anger and mortification only; but conscience
presently began to whisper, "You are wrong! you are wrong!" —
and tears of sorrow mingled with the others.

"Oh!" said Ellen, "why couldn't I keep still? — when I had
resolved so this morning — why couldn't I be quiet? — But she
ought not to have provoked me so dreadfully — I couldn't help
it." "You are wrong," said conscience again, and her tears
flowed faster. And then came back her morning trouble — the
duty and the difficulty of forgiving. Forgive her aunt
Fortune! — with her whole heart in a passion of displeasure
against her. Alas! Ellen began to feel and acknowledge that
indeed all was wrong. But what to do? There was just one
comfort, the visit to Miss Humphreys in the afternoon. "She
will tell me," thought Ellen; "she will help me. But in the
mean while?"

Ellen had not much time to think; her aunt called her down and
set her to work. She was very busy till dinner-time, and very
unhappy; but twenty times in the course of the morning did
Ellen pause for a moment, and covering her face with her hands
pray that a heart to forgive might be given her.

As soon as possible after dinner, she made her escape to her
room that she might prepare for her walk. Conscience was not
quite easy that she was going without the knowledge of her
aunt. She had debated the question with herself, and could not
make up her mind to hazard losing her visit.

So she dressed herself very carefully. One of her dark merinos
was affectionately put on; her single pair of white stockings;
shoes, ruffle, cape — Ellen saw that all was faultlessly neat,
just as her mother used to have it; and the nice blue hood lay
upon the bed ready to be put on the last thing, when she heard
her aunt's voice calling —

"Ellen! — come down and do your ironing — right away, now! the
irons are hot."

For one moment Ellen stood still in dismay; then slowly
undressed, dressed again, and went down stairs.

"Come! you've been an age," said Miss Fortune; "now make
haste; there ain't but a handful; and I want to mop up."

Ellen took courage again — ironed away with right good will;
and as there was really but a handful of things, she had soon
done, even to taking off the ironing blanket and putting up
the irons. In the mean time she had changed her mind as to
stealing off without leave; conscience was too strong for her;
and, though with a beating heart, she told of Miss Humphreys'
desire and her half engagement.

"You may go where you like — I am sure I do not care what you
do with yourself," was Miss Fortune's reply.

Full of delight at this ungracious permission, Ellen fled up
stairs, and dressing much quicker than before, was soon on her
way.

But at first she went rather sadly. In spite of all her good
resolves and wishes, everything that day had gone wrong; and
Ellen felt that the root of the evil was in her own heart.
Some tears fell as she walked. Further from her aunt's house,
however, her spirits began to rise; her foot fell lighter on
the greensward. Hope and expectation quickened her steps; and
when at length she passed the little wood-path, it was almost
on a run. Not very far beyond that, her glad eyes saw the
house she was in quest of.

It was a large white house; not very white either, for its
last dress of paint had grown old long ago. It stood close by
the road, and the trees of the wood seemed to throng round it
on every side. Ellen mounted the few steps that led to the
front door, and knocked; but as she could only just reach the
high knocker, she was not likely to alarm anybody with the
noise she made. After a great many little faint raps, which,
if anybody heard them, might easily have been mistaken for the
attacks of some rat's teeth upon the wainscot, Ellen grew
weary of her fruitless toil, and of standing on tiptoe, and
resolved, though doubtfully, to go round the house and see if
there was any other way of getting in. Turning the far corner,
she saw a long, low out-building or shed, jutting out from the
side of the house. On the further side of this, Ellen found an
elderly woman, standing in front of the shed, which was there
open and paved, and wringing some clothes out of a tub of
water. She was a pleasant woman to look at, very trim and
tidy, and a good-humored eye and smile when she saw Ellen.
Ellen made up to her, and asked for Miss Humphreys.

"Why, where in the world did you come from?" said the woman.
"I don't receive company at the back of the house."

"I knocked at the front door till I was tired," said Ellen,
smiling in return.

"Miss Alice must ha' been asleep. Now, honey, you have come so
far round to find me, will you go a little further and find
Miss Alice? Just go round this corner, and keep straight along
till you come to the glass-door — there you'll find her. Stop!
— may be she's asleep; I may as well go along with you
myself."

She wrung the water from her hands and led the way.

A little space of green grass stretched in front of the shed,
and Ellen found it extended all along that side of the house
like a very narrow lawn; at the edge of it shot up the high
forest-trees — nothing between them and the house but the
smooth grass, and a narrow, worn footpath. The woods were now
all brown stems, except here and there a superb hemlock and
some scattered silvery birches. But the grass was still green,
and the last day of the Indian summer hung its soft veil over
all; the foliage of the forest was hardly missed. They passed
another hall door, opposite the one where Ellen had tried her
strength and patience upon the knocker; a little further on
they paused at the glass-door. One step led to it. Ellen's
conductress looked in first through one of the panes, and then
opening the door, motioned her to enter.

"Here you are, my new acquaintance," said Alice, smiling and
kissing her. "I began to think something was the matter, you
tarried so late. We don't keep fashionable hours in the
country, you know. But I'm very glad to see you. Take off your
things, and lay them on that settee by the door. You see I've
a settee for summer and a sofa for winter; for here I am, in
this room, at all times of the year; and a very pleasant room
I think it — don't you?"

"Yes, indeed I do, Ma’am," said Ellen, pulling off her last
glove.

"Ah, but wait till you have taken tea with me half a dozen
times, and then see if you don't say it is pleasant. Nothing
can be so pleasant that is quite new. But now come here and
look out of this window or door, whichever you choose to call
it. Do you see what a beautiful view I have here? The wood was
just as thick all along as it is on the right and left; I felt
half smothered to be so shut in, so I got my brother and
Thomas to take axes and go to work there; and many a large
tree they cut down for me, till you see they opened a way
through the woods, for the view of that beautiful stretch of
country. I should grow melancholy if I had that wall of trees
pressing on my vision all the time; it always comforts me to
look off, far away, to those distant blue hills."

"Aren't those the hills I was looking at yesterday?" said
Ellen.

"From up on the mountain? — the very same; this is part of the
very same view, and a noble view it is. Every morning, Ellen,
the sun, rising behind those hills, shines in through this
door and lights up my room; and in winter he looks in at that
south window, so I have him all the time. To be sure, if I
want to see him set, I must take a walk for it but that isn't
unpleasant; and you know we cannot have everything at once."

It was a very beautiful extent of woodland, meadow, and hill,
that was seen picture-fashion through the gap cut in the
forest; the wall of trees on each side serving as a frame to
shut it in, and the descent of the mountain, from almost the
edge of the lawn, being very rapid. The opening had been
skilfully cut; the effect was remarkable, and very fine; the
light on the picture being often quite different from that on
the frame or on the hither side of the frame.

"Now, Ellen," said Alice, turning from the window, "take a
good look at my room. I want you to know it and feel at home
in it; for whenever you can run away from your aunt's, this is
your home — do you understand?"

A smile was on each face. Ellen felt that she was
understanding it very fast.

"Here, next the door, you see, is my summer settee; and in
summer it very often walks out of doors to accommodate people
on the grass-plat. I have a great fancy for taking tea out of
doors, Ellen, in warm weather; and if you do not mind a
musquito or two, I shall be always happy to have your company.
That door opens into the hall; look out and see, for I want
you to get the geography of the house. That odd-looking,
lumbering, painted concern is my cabinet of curiosities. I
tried my best to make the carpenter man at Thirlwall
understand what sort of a thing I wanted, and did all but show
him how to make it; but, as the southerners say, 'he hasn't
made it right nohow!' There I keep my dried flowers, my
minerals, and a very odd collection of curious things of all
sorts that I am constantly picking up. I'll show you them some
day, Ellen. Have you a fancy for curiosities?"

"Yes, Ma’am, I believe so."

"Believe so! not more sure than that? Are you a lover of dead
moths, and empty beetle-skins, and butterflies' wings, and dry
tufts of moss, and curious stones, and pieces of ribbon-grass,
and strange birds' nests? These are some of the things I used
to delight in when I was about as old as you."

"I don't know, Ma’am," said Ellen. "I never was where I could
get them."

"Weren't you? Poor child! Then you have been shut up to brick
walls and paving-stones all your life?"

"Yes, Ma’am, all my life."

"But now you have seen a little of the country — don't you
think you shall like it better?"

"Oh, a great deal better!"

"Ah, that's right. I am sure you will. On that other side, you
see, is my winter sofa. It's a very comfortable resting-place,
I can tell you, Ellen, as I have proved by many a sweet nap;
and its old chintz covers are very pleasant to me, for I
remember them as far back as I remember anything."

There was a sigh here; but Alice passed on, and opened a door
near the end of the sofa.

"Look in here, Ellen; this is my bedroom."

"Oh, how lovely!" Ellen exclaimed.

The carpet covered only the middle of the floor; the rest was
painted white. The furniture was common but neat as wax. Ample
curtains of white dimity clothed the three windows, and
lightly draped the bed. The toilet-table was covered with
snow-white muslin, and by the toilet-cushion stood, late as it
was, a glass of flowers. Ellen thought it must be a pleasure
to sleep there.

"This," said Alice, when they came out, "between my door and
the fireplace, is a cupboard. Here be cups and saucers, and so
forth. In that other corner beyond the fireplace you see my
flower-stand. Do you love flowers, Ellen?"

"I love them dearly, Miss Alice."

"I have some pretty ones out yet, and shall have one or two in
the winter; but I can't keep a great many here; I haven't room
for them. I have hard work to save these from frost. There's a
beautiful daphne that will be out by-and-by, and make the
whole house sweet. But here, Ellen, on this side, between the
windows, is my greatest treasure — my precious books. All
these are mine. Now, my dear, it is time to introduce you to
my most excellent of easy-chairs — the best things in the
room, aren't they? Put yourself in that; now do you feel at
home?"

"Very much indeed, Ma’am," said Ellen, laughing, as Alice
placed her in the deep easy-chair.

There were two things in the room that Alice had not
mentioned; and while she mended the fire, Ellen looked at
them. One was the portrait of a gentleman, grave and good-
looking; this had very little of her attention. The other was
the counter-portrait of a lady; a fine, dignified countenance
that had a charm for Ellen. It hung over the fireplace in an
excellent light; and the mild eye, and somewhat of a peculiar
expression about the mouth, bore such likeness to Alice,
though older, that Ellen had no doubt whose it was.

Alice presently drew a chair close to Ellen's side, and kissed
her.

"I trust, my child," she said, "that you feel better to-day
than you did yesterday?"

"Oh, I do, Ma’am — a great deal better," Ellen answered.

"Then I hope the reason is that you have returned to your
duty, and are resolved not to be a Christian by-and-by, but to
lead a Christian's life now?"

"I have resolved so, Ma’am — I did resolve so last night and
this morning; but yet I have been doing nothing but wrong all
to-day."

Alice was silent. Ellen's lips quivered for a moment, and then
she went on —

"Oh, Ma’am, how I have wanted to see you to-day to tell me
what I _should_ do! I resolved and resolved this morning; and
then, as soon as I got down-stairs, I began to have bad
feelings towards Aunt Fortune, and I have been full of bad
feelings all day; and I couldn't help it."

"It will not do to say that we cannot help what is wrong,
Ellen. What is the reason that you have bad feelings towards
your aunt?"

"She don't like me, Ma’am."

"But how happens that, Ellen? I am afraid you don't like her."

"No, Ma’am, I don't to be sure; how can I?"

"Why cannot you, Ellen?"

"Oh, I can't, Ma’am! I wish I could. But, oh! Ma’am, I should
have liked her — I might have liked her, if she had been kind,
but she never has. Even that first night I came she never
kissed me nor said she was glad to see me."

"That was failing in kindness, certainly, but is she unkind to
you, Ellen?"

"Oh, yes, Ma’am, indeed she is. She talks to me, and talks to
me, in a way that almost drives me out of my wits; and to-day
she even struck me! She has no right to do it," said Ellen,
firing with passion; "she has no _right_ to! and she has no
right to talk as she does about Mamma. She did it to-day, and
she has done it before. I can't bear it! and I can't bear _her!_
I can't _bear_ her!"

"Hush, hush," said Alice, drawing the excited child to her
arms, for Ellen had risen from her seat — "you must not talk
so, Ellen; you are not feeling right now."

"No, Ma’am, I am not," said Ellen, coldly and sadly. She sat a
moment, and then turning to her companion, put both arms round
her neck, and hid her face on her shoulder again; and, without
raising it, she gave her the history of the morning.

"What has brought about this dreadful state of things?" said
Alice, after a few minutes. "Whose fault is it, Ellen?"

"I think it is Aunt Fortune's fault," said Ellen, raising her
head; "I don't think it is mine. If she had behaved well to
me, I should have behaved well to her. I meant to, I am sure."

"Do you mean to say you do not think you have been in fault at
all in the matter?"

"No, Ma’am, I do not mean to say that. I have been very much
in fault, very often — I know that. I get very angry and
vexed, and sometimes I say nothing, but sometimes I get out of
all patience and say things I ought not. I did so to-day; but
it is so very hard to keep still when I am in such a passion,
and now I have got to feel so towards Aunt Fortune that I
don't like the sight of her; I hate the very look of her
bonnet hanging up on the wall. I know it isn't right; and it
makes me miserable; and I can't help it, for I grow worse and
worse every day — and what shall I do?"

Ellen's tears came faster than her words.

"Ellen, my child," said Alice, after a while, "There is but
one way. You know what I said to you yesterday?"

"I know it; but, dear Miss Alice, in my reading this morning I
came to that verse that speaks about not being forgiven if we
do not forgive others; and oh! how it troubles me! for I can't
feel that I forgive Aunt Fortune; I feel vexed whenever the
thought of her comes into my head; and how can I behave right
to her while I feel so?"

"You are right there, my dear; you cannot, indeed. The heart
must be set right before the life can be."

"But what shall I do to set it right?"

"Pray."

"Dear Miss Alice, I have been praying all this morning that I
might forgive Aunt Fortune, and yet I cannot do it."

"Pray still, my dear," said Alice, pressing her closer in her
arms — "pray still; if you are in earnest, the answer will
come. But there is something else you can do, and must do,
Ellen, besides praying, or praying may be in vain."

"What do you mean, Miss Alice?"

"You acknowledge yourself in fault; have you made all the
amends you can? Have you, as soon as you have seen yourself in
the wrong, gone to your aunt Fortune and acknowledged it, and
humbly asked her pardon?"

Ellen answered "No" in a low voice.

"Then, my child, your duty is plain before you. The next thing
after doing wrong is to make all the amends in your power;
confess your fault, and ask forgiveness, both of God and man.
Pride struggles against it — I see yours does; but, my child,
'God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.' "

Ellen burst into tears, and cried heartily.

"Mind your own wrong doings, my child, and you will not be
half so disposed to quarrel with those of other people. But,
Ellen, dear, if you will not humble yourself to this, you must
not count upon an answer to your prayer. 'If thou bring thy
gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath
aught against thee' — what then? — 'Leave there thy gift
before the altar; go first and be reconciled to thy brother,
and then come.' "

"But it is so hard to forgive!" sobbed Ellen.

"Hard? Yes, it is hard when our hearts are so. But there is
little love to Christ, and no just sense of his love to us, in
the heart that finds it hard. Pride and selfishness make it
hard; the heart full of love to the dear Saviour cannot lay up
offences against itself."

"I have said quite enough," said Alice, after a pause; "you
know what you want, my dear Ellen, and what you ought to do. I
shall leave you for a little while to change my dress, for I
have been walking and riding all the morning. Make a good use
of the time while I am gone."

Ellen did make good use of the time. When Alice returned, she
met her with another face than she had worn all that day,
humbler and quieter; and flinging her arms around her, she
said —

"I will ask Aunt Fortune's forgiveness; — I feel I can do it
now."

"And how about _forgiving_, Ellen?"

"I think God will help me to forgive her," said Ellen; "I have
asked him. At any rate I will ask her to forgive me. But oh!
Miss Alice, what would have become of me without you!"

"Don't lean upon me, dear Ellen; remember you have a better
Friend than I always near you; trust in Him; if I have done
you any good, don't forget it was He brought me to you
yesterday afternoon."

"There's just one thing that troubles me now," said Ellen, —
"Mamma's letter. I am thinking of it all the time; I feel as
if I should fly to get it!"

"We'll see about that. Cannot you ask your aunt for it?"

"I don't like to."

"Take care, Ellen; there is some pride there yet."

"Well, I will try," said Ellen. "but sometimes, I know, she
would not give it to me if I were to ask her. But I'll try, if
I can."

"Well, now to change the subject — at what o'clock did you
dine to-day?"

"I don't know, Ma’am — at the same time we always do, I
believe."

"And that is twelve o'clock, isn't it?"

"Yes, Ma’am; but I was so full of coming here and other
things? that I couldn't eat."

"Then I suppose you would have no objection to an early tea?"

"No, Ma’am — whenever you please," said Ellen? laughing.

"I shall please it pretty soon. I have had no dinner at all
to-day, Ellen; I have been out and about all the morning, and
had just taken a little nap when you came in. Come this way,
and let me show you some of my house-keeping."

She led the way across the hall to the room on the opposite
side; a large, well-appointed, and spotlessly neat kitchen.
Ellen could not help exclaiming at its pleasantness.

"Why, yes — I think it is. I have been in many a parlour that
I do not like as well. Beyond this is a lower kitchen, where
Margery does all her rough work; nothing comes up the steps
that lead from that to this but the very nicest and daintiest
of kitchen matters. Margery, is my father gone to Thirlwall?"

"No, Miss Alice — he's at Carra-carra — Thomas heard him say
he wouldn't be back early."

"Well, I shall not wait for him. Margery, if you will put the
kettle on and see to the fire, I'll make some of my cakes for
tea."

"I'll do it, Miss Alice; it's not good for you to go so long
without eating."

Alice now rolled up her sleeves above the elbows, and tying a
large white apron before her, set about gathering the
different things she wanted for her work, to Ellen's great
amusement. A white moulding-board was placed upon a table as
white; and round it soon grouped the pail of flour, the plate
of nice yellow butter, the bowl of cream, the sieve, tray, and
sundry etceteras. And then, first sifting some flour into the
tray, Alice began to throw in the other things one after
another, and toss the whole about with a carelessness that
looked as if all would go wrong, but with a confidence that
seemed to say all was going right. Ellen gazed in comical
wonderment.

"Did you think cakes were made without hands?" said Alice,
laughing at her look. "You saw me wash mine before I began."

"Oh! I'm not thinking of that," said Ellen; "I am not afraid
of your hands."

"Did you never see your mother do this?" said Alice, who was
now turning and rolling about the dough upon the board in a
way that seemed to Ellen curious beyond expression.

"No, never," she said. "Mamma never kept house, and I never
saw anybody do it."

"Then your aunt does not let you into the mysteries of bread
and butter-making!"

"Butter-making! Oh," said Ellen, with a sigh, "I have enough
of that!"

Alice now applied a smooth wooden roller to the cake with such
quickness and skill, that the lump forthwith lay spread upon
the board in a thin even layer, and she next cut it into
little round cakes with the edge of a tumbler. Half the board
was covered with the nice little white things, which Ellen
declared looked good enough to eat already; and she had quite
forgotten all possible causes of vexation, past, present, or
future, when suddenly a large gray cat jumped upon the table,
and coolly walking upon the moulding-board, planted his paw
directly in the middle of one of his mistress's cakes.

"Take him off — oh, Ellen!" cried Alice, — "take him off! I
can't touch him."

But Ellen was a little afraid.

Alice then tried gently to shove puss off with her elbow; but
he seemed to think that was very good fun, — purred, whisked
his great tail over Alice's bare arm, and rubbed his head
against it, having evidently no notion that he was not just
where he ought to be. Alice and Ellen were too much amused to
try any violent method of relief, but Margery happily coming
in, seized puss in both hands and set him on the floor.

"Just look at the print of his paw in that cake," said Ellen.

"He has set his mark on it, certainly. I think it is his now,
by the right of possession if not the right of discovery."

"I think he discovered the cakes too," said Ellen, laughing.

"Why, yes. He shall have that one baked for his supper."

"Does he like cakes?"

"Indeed he does. Captain Parry is very particular and delicate
about his eating."

"Captain Parry!" said Ellen, — "is that his name?"

"Yes," said Alice, laughing; "I don't wonder you look
astonished, Ellen. I have had that cat five years, and when he
was first given me, by my brother Jack, who was younger then
than he is now, and had been reading Captain Parry's _Voyages_,
gave him that name, and would have him called so. Oh, Jack!"
said Alice, half laughing and half crying.

Ellen wondered why. But she went to wash her hands, and when
her face was again turned to Ellen, it was unruffled as ever.

"Margery, my cakes are ready," said she, "and Ellen and I are
ready too."

"Very well, Miss Alice — the kettle is just going to boil; you
shall have tea in a trice. I'll do some eggs for you."

"Something — anything," said Alice; "I feel one cannot live
without eating. Come, Ellen, you and I will go and set the
tea-table."

Ellen was very happy arranging the cups and saucers and other
things that Alice handed her from the cupboard; and when, a
few minutes after, the tea and the cakes came in, and she and
Alice were cozily seated at supper, poor Ellen hardly knew
herself, in such a pleasant state of things.


CHAPTER XVII.

Difficulty of doing right.


"Ellen dear," said Alice as she poured out Ellen's second cup
of tea, "have we run through the list of your troubles?"

"Oh, no, Miss Alice, indeed we haven't; but we have got
through the worst."

"Is the next one so bad it would spoil our supper?"

"No," said Ellen, "it couldn't do that, but it's bad enough,
though; it's about my not going to school. Miss Alice, I
promised myself I would learn so much while Mamma was away,
and surprise her when she came back, but instead of that I am
not learning anything. I don't mean not learning _anything_,"
said Ellen, correcting herself; "but I can't do much. When I
found Aunt Fortune wasn't going to send me to school, I
determined I would try to study by myself; and I have tried;
but I can't get along."

"Well, now, don't lay down your knife and fork and look so
doleful," said Alice, smiling; "this is a matter I can help
you in. What are you studying?"

"Some things I can manage well enough," said Ellen — "the easy
things; but I cannot understand my arithmetic without some one
to explain it to me: and French I can do nothing at all with,
and that is what I wanted to learn most of all; and often I
want to ask questions about my history."

"Suppose," said Alice, "you go on studying by yourself as much
and as well as you can, and bring your books up to me two or
three times a week; I will hear and explain and answer
questions to your heart's content, unless you should be too
hard for me. What do you say to that?"

Ellen said nothing to it, but the colour that rushed to her
cheeks — the surprised look of delight — were answer enough.

"It will do, then," said Alice; "and I have no doubt we shall
untie the knot of those arithmetical problems very soon. But,
Ellen, my dear, I cannot help you in French, for I do not know
it myself. What will you do about that?"

"I don't know, Ma’am; I am sorry."

"So am I, for your sake. I can help you in Latin, if that
would be any comfort to you."

"It wouldn't be much comfort to me," said Ellen, laughing;
"Mamma wanted me to learn Latin, but I wanted to learn French
a great deal more; I don't care about Latin except to please
her."

"Permit me to ask if you know English?"

"Oh, yes, Ma’am, I hope so; I knew that a great while ago."

"Did you? I am very happy to make your acquaintance then; for
the number of young ladies who do know English is, in my
opinion, remarkably small. Are you sure of the fact, Ellen?"

"Why, yes, Miss Alice."

"Will you undertake to write me a note of two pages that shall
not have one fault of grammar, nor one word spelt wrong, nor
anything in it that is not good English? You may take for a
subject the history of this afternoon."

"Yes, Ma’am, if you wish it. I hope I can write a note that
long without making mistakes."

Alice smiled.

"I will not stop to inquire," she said, "whether _that long_ is
Latin or French; but Ellen, my dear, it is not English."

Ellen blushed a little, though she laughed too.

"I believe I have got into the way of saying that by hearing
Aunt Fortune and Mr. Van Brunt say it; I don't think I ever
did before I came here."

"What are you so anxious to learn French for?"

"Mamma knows it, and I have often heard her talk French with a
great many people; and papa and I always wanted to be able to
talk it too; and Mamma wanted me to learn it; she said there
were a great many French books I ought to read."

"That last is true, no doubt. Ellen, I will make a bargain
with you, — if you will study English with me, I will study
French with you."

"Dear Miss Alice," said Ellen, caressing her, "I'll do it
without that; I'll study anything you please."

"Dear Ellen, I believe you would. But I should like to know it
for my own sake; we'll study it together; we shall get along
nicely, I have no doubt; we can learn to read it at least, and
that is the main point."

"But how shall we know what to call the words?" said Ellen,
doubtfully.

"That is a grave question," said Alice, smiling. "I am afraid
we should hit upon a style of pronunciation that a Frenchman
would make nothing of. I have it!" she exclaimed, clapping her
hands; "where there's a will there's a way — it always happens
so. Ellen, I have an old friend upon the mountain who will
give us exactly what we want, unless I am greatly mistaken.
We'll go and see her; that is the very thing! — my old friend
Mrs. Vawse."

"Mrs. Vawse!" repeated Ellen; "not the grandmother of that
Nancy Vawse?"

"The very same. Her name is not Vawse — the country people
call it so, and I being one of the country people have fallen
into the way of it; but her real name is Vosier. She was born
a Swiss, and brought up in a wealthy French family, as the
personal attendant of a young lady to whom she became
exceedingly attached. This lady finally married an American
gentleman; and so great was Mrs. Vawse's love to her, that she
left country and family to follow her here. In a few years her
mistress died; she married; and since that time she has been
tossed from trouble to trouble — a perfect sea of troubles —
till now she is left like a wreck upon this mountain top. A
fine wreck she is! I go to see her very often, and next time I
will call for you and we will propose our French plan; nothing
will please her better, I know. By the way, Ellen, are you as
well versed in the other common branches of education as you
are in your mother tongue?"

"What do you mean, Miss Alice?"

"Geography, for instance; do you know it well?"

"Yes, Ma’am; I believe so; I am sure I have studied it till I
am sick of it."

"Can you give me the boundaries of Great Thibet or Peru?"

Ellen hesitated.

"I had rather not try," she said — "I am not sure. I can't
remember those queer countries in Asia and South America, half
so well as Europe and North America."

"Do you know anything about the surface of the country in
Italy or France — the character and condition of the people —
what kind of climate they have, and what grows there most
freely?"

"Why, no, Ma’am," said Ellen; "nobody ever taught me that."

"Would you like to go over the atlas again, talking about all
these matters, as well as the mere outlines of the countries
you have studied before?"

"Oh, yes, dearly!" exclaimed Ellen.

"Well, I think we may let Margery have the tea-things. But
here is Captain's cake."

"Oh, may I give him his supper?" said Ellen.

"Certainly. You must carve it for him; you know I told you he
is very particular. Give him some of the egg, too — he likes
that. Now, where is the Captain?"

Not far off; for scarcely had Alice opened the door and called
him once or twice, when, with a queer little note of answer,
he came hurriedly trotting in.

"He generally has his supper in the outer kitchen," said Alice
— "but I grant him leave to have it here to-night, as a
particular honour to him and you."

"How handsome he is! and how large!" said Ellen.

"Yes, he is very handsome; and more than that, he is very
sensible for a cat. Do you see how prettily his paws are
marked? Jack used to say he had white gloves on."

"And white boots, too," said Ellen. "No, only one leg is
white; pussy's boots aren't mates. Is he good-natured?"

"Very — if you don't meddle with him."

"I don't call that being good-natured," said Ellen, laughing.

"Nor I; but truth obliges me to say, the Captain does not
permit anybody to take liberties with him. He is a character,
Captain Parry. Come out on the lawn, Ellen, and we will let
Margery clear away."

"What a pleasant face Margery has!" said Ellen, as the door
closed behind them; "and what a pleasant way she has of
speaking! I like to hear her; the words come out so clear, and
I don't know how, but not like other people."

"You have a quick ear, Ellen; you are very right. Margery had
lived too long in England before she came here to lose her
trick of speech afterwards. But Thomas speaks as thick as a
Yankee, and always did."

"Then Margery is English?" said Ellen.

"To be sure. She came over with us twelve years ago for the
pure love of my father and mother; and I believe now she looks
upon John and me as her own children. I think she could
scarcely love us more if we were so in truth. Thomas — you
haven't seen Thomas yet, have you?"

"No."

"He is an excellent good man in his way, and as faithful as
the day is long — but he isn't equal to his wife. Perhaps I am
partial; Margery came to America for the love of us, and
Thomas came for the love of Margery — there's a difference."

"But, Miss Alice!" —

"What, Miss Ellen?"

"You said Margery came over _with you?_"

"Yes; is that what makes you look so astonished?"

"But then you are English, too?"

"Well, what of that? you won't love me the less, will you?"

"Oh, no," said Ellen; "my own mother came from Scotland, Aunt
Fortune says."

"I am English born, Ellen, but you may count me half American,
if you like, for I have spent rather more than half my life
here. Come this way, Ellen, and I'll show you my garden. It is
some distance off, but as near as a spot could be found fit
for it."

They quitted the house by a little steep path leading down the
mountain, which in two or three minutes brought them to a
clear bit of ground. It was not large, but lying very prettily
among the trees, with an open view to the east and south-east.
On the extreme edge, and at the lower end of it, was fixed a
rude bench, well sheltered by the towering forest trees. Here
Alice and Ellen sat down.

It was near sunset; the air cool and sweet; the evening light
upon field and sky.

"How fair it is!" said Alice, musingly — "how fair and lovely!
Look at those long shadows of the mountains, Ellen; and how
bright the light is on the far hills! It won't be so long. A
little while more, and our Indian summer will be over — and
then the clouds, the frost, and the wind, and the snow. Well —
let them come."

"I wish they wouldn't, I am sure," said Ellen. "I am sorry
enough they are coming."

"Why? all seasons have their pleasures. I am not sorry at all;
I like the cold very much."

"I guess you wouldn't, Miss Alice, if you had to wash every
morning where I do?"

"Why, where is that?"

"Down at the spout."

"At the _spout_ — what is that, pray?"

"The spout of water, Ma’am, just down a little way from the
kitchen door. The water comes in a little, long, very long,
trough from a spring at the back of the pig-field; and at the
end of the trough, where it pours out, is the spout."

"Have you no conveniences for washing in your room?"

"Not a sign of such a thing, Ma’am. I have washed at the spout
ever since I have been here," said Ellen, laughing in spite of
her vexation.

"And do the pigs share the water with you?"

"The pigs! Oh, no, Ma’am; the trough is raised up from the
ground on little heaps of stones; they can't get at the water,
unless they drink at the spring, and I don't think they do
that, so many big stones stand around it."

"Well, Ellen, I must say that is rather uncomfortable, even
without any danger of four-footed society."

"It isn't so bad just now," said Ellen, "in this warm weather;
but in that cold time we had a week or two back — do you
remember, Miss Alice? — just before the Indian summer began? —
oh, how disagreeable it was! Early in the morning, you know;
the sun scarcely up, and the cold wind blowing my hair and my
clothes all about; and then that board before the spout that I
have to stand on, is always kept wet by the spattering of the
water, and it's muddy besides, and very slippery — there's a
kind of green stuff comes upon it; and I can't stoop down for
fear of muddying myself; I have to tuck my clothes round me
and bend over as well as I can, and fetch up a little water to
my face in the hollow of my hand, and of course I have to do
that a great many times before I get enough. I can't help
laughing," said Ellen, "but it isn't a laughing matter, for
all that."

"So you wash your face in your hands, and have no pitcher but
a long wooden trough? Poor child! I am sorry for you; I think
you must have some other way of managing before the snow
comes."

"The water is bitter cold already," said Ellen; "it's the
coldest water I ever saw. Mamma gave me a nice dressing-box
before I came away, but I found very soon this was a queer
place for a dressing-box to come to. Why, Miss Alice, if I
take out my brush or comb, I haven't any table to lay them on
but one that's too high, and my poor dressing-box has to stay
on the floor. And I haven't a sign of a bureau — all my things
are tumbling about in my trunk."

"I think if I were in your place I would not permit that, at
any rate," said Alice; "if my things were confined to my
truck, I would have them keep good order there, at least."

"Well, so they do," said Ellen — "pretty good order; I didn't
mean 'tumbling about' exactly."

"Always try to say what you mean _exactly_. —

"But now, Ellen, love, do you know I must send you away? Do
you see, the sunlight has quitted those distant hills, and it
will be quite gone soon. You must hasten home."

Ellen made no answer. Alice had taken her on her lap again,
and she was nestling there with her friend's arms wrapped
around her. Both were quite still for a minute.

"Next week, if nothing happens, we will begin to be busy with
our books. You shall come to me Tuesday and Friday; and all
the other days you must study as hard as you can at home; for
I am very particular, I forewarn you."

"But suppose Aunt Fortune should not let me come?" said Ellen,
without stirring.

"Oh, she will. You need not speak about it; I'll come down and
ask her myself, and nobody ever refuses me anything."

"I shouldn't think they would," said Ellen.

"Then, don't you set the first example," said Alice,
laughingly. "I ask you to be cheerful and happy, and grow
wiser and better every day."

"Dear Miss Alice, how can I promise that?"

"Dear Ellen, it is very easy. There is One who has promised to
hear and answer you when you cry to him; he will make you in
his own likeness again; and to know and love him and not be
happy is impossible. That blessed Saviour!" said Alice — "oh,
what should you and I do without him, Ellen? 'as rivers of
waters in a dry place; as the shadow of a great rock in a
weary land;' — how beautiful — how true! —how often I think of
that!"

Ellen was silent, though entering into the feeling of the
words.

"Remember Him, dear Ellen; remember your best Friend. Learn
more of Christ, our dear Saviour, and you can't help but be
happy. Never fancy you are helpless and friendless while you
have him to go to. Whenever you feel wearied and sorry, flee
to the shadow of that great rock — will you? — and do you
understand me?"

"Yes, Ma’am — yes, Ma’am," said Ellen, as she lifted her lips
to kiss her friend. Alice heartily returned the kiss, and
pressing Ellen in her arms, said —

"Now Ellen, dear, you _must go;_ I dare not keep you any longer.
It will be too late now, I fear, before you reach home."

Quick they mounted the little path again, and soon were at the
house; and Ellen was putting on her things.

"Next Tuesday remember, — but before that! Sunday — you are to
spend Sunday with me; come bright and early."

"How early?"

"Oh, as early as you please — before breakfast — and our
Sunday morning breakfasts aren't late, Ellen; we have to set
off betimes to go to church."

Kisses and good-byes; and then Ellen was running down the road
at a great rate; for twilight was beginning to gather, and she
had a good way to go.

She ran till out of breath; then walked awhile to gather
breath; then ran again. Running down hill is a pretty quick
way of travelling; so before very long she saw her aunt's
house at a distance. She walked now. She had come all the way
in good spirits, though with a sense upon her mind of
something disagreeable to come; when she saw the house, this
disagreeable something swallowed up all her thoughts, and she
walked leisurely on, pondering what she had to do, and what
she was like to meet in the doing of it.

"If Aunt Fortune should be in a bad humour — and say something
to vex me — but I'll not be vexed. But it will be very hard to
help it; — but I _will not_ be vexed; — I have done wrong, and
I'll tell her so, and ask her to forgive me; — it will be hard
— but I'll do it — I'll say what I ought to say, and then,
however she takes it, I shall have the comfort of knowing I
have done right." "But," said conscience, "you must not say it
stiffly and proudly; you must say it humbly and as if you
really felt and meant it." "I will," said Ellen.

She paused in the shed, and looked through the window, to see
what was the promise of things within. Not good; her aunt's
step sounded heavy and ominous; Ellen guessed she was not in a
pleasant state of mind. She opened the door — no doubt of it —
the whole air of Miss Fortune's figure, to the very
handkerchief that was tied round her head, spoke displeasure.

"She isn't in a good mood," said Ellen, as she went upstairs
to leave her bonnet and cape there; — "I never knew her to be
good-humoured when she had that handkerchief on."

She returned to the kitchen immediately. Her aunt was busied
in washing and wiping the dishes.

"I have come home rather late," said Ellen, pleasantly; —
"shall I help you, Aunt Fortune?"

Her aunt cast a look at her.

"Yes, you may help me. Go and put on a pair of white gloves,
and a silk apron, and then you'll be ready."

Ellen looked down at herself. "Oh, my merino! I forgot about
that. I'll go and change it."

Miss Fortune said nothing, and Ellen went.

When she came back, the things were all wiped, and as she was
about to put some of them away, her aunt took them out of her
hands, bidding her "go and sit down!"

Ellen obeyed, and was mute; while Miss Fortune dashed round
with a display of energy there seemed to be no particular call
for, and speedily had everything in its place, and all
straight and square about the kitchen. When she was, as a last
thing, brushing the crumbs from the floor into the fire, she
broke the silence again. The old grandmother sat in the
chimney corner, but she seldom was very talkative in the
presence of her stern daughter.

"What did you come home for, to-night? Why didn't you stay at
Mr. Humphreys'?"

"Miss Alice didn't ask me."

"That means, I suppose, that you would if she had?"

"I don't know, Ma’am; Miss Alice wouldn't have asked me to do
anything that wasn't right."

"Oh, no! — of course not! — Miss Alice is a piece of
perfection; everybody says so; and I suppose you'd sing the
same song who haven't seen her three times."

"Indeed I would," said Ellen; "I could have told that in one
seeing. I'd do anything in the world for Miss Alice."

"Ay — I daresay — that's the way of it. You can show not one
bit of goodness or pleasantness to the person that does the
most for you, and has all the care of you — but the first
stranger that comes along, you can be all honey to them, and
make yourself out too good for common folks, and go and tell
great tales how you are used at home, I suppose. I am sick of
it!" said Miss Fortune, setting up the hand-irons and throwing
the tongs and shovel into the corner in a way that made the
iron ring again. "One might as good be a step-mother at once,
and done with it! Come, mother, it's time for you to go to
bed."

The old lady rose with the meekness of habitual submission,
and went up-stairs with her daughter. Ellen had time to
bethink herself while they were gone, and resolved to lose no
time when her aunt came back in doing what she had to do. She
would fain have persuaded herself to put it off. "It is late,"
she said to herself; "it isn't a good time. It will be better
to go to bed now, and ask Aunt Fortune's pardon to-morrow."
But conscience said, "_First_ be reconciled to thy brother."

Miss Fortune came down stairs presently. But before Ellen
could get any words out, her aunt prevented her.

"Come, light your candle and be off — I want you out of the
way; I can't do anything with half a dozen people about."

Ellen rose. "I want to say something to you first, Aunt
Fortune."

"Say it, and be quick; I haven't time to stand talking."

"Aunt Fortune," said Ellen, stumbling over her words — "I want
to tell you that I know I was wrong this morning, and I am
sorry, and I hope you'll forgive me."

A kind of indignant laugh escaped from Miss Fortune's lips.

"It's easy talking; I'd rather have acting. I'd rather see
people mend their ways than stand and make speeches about
them. Being sorry don't help the matter much."

"But I will try not to do so any more," said Ellen.

"When I see you don't, I shall begin to think there is
something in it. Actions speak louder than words. I don't
believe in this jumping into goodness all at once."

"Well, I will try not to, at any rate," said Ellen, sighing.

"I shall be very glad to see it. What has brought you into
this sudden fit of dutifulness and fine talking?"

"Miss Alice told me I ought to ask your pardon for what I had
done wrong," said Ellen, scarce able to keep from crying; "and
I know I did wrong this morning, and I did wrong the other day
about the letter; and I am sorry, whether you believe it or
no."

"Miss Alice told you, did she? So all this is to please Miss
Alice. I suppose you were afraid your friend Miss Alice would
hear of some of your goings on, and thought you had better
make up with me. Is that it?"

Ellen answered, "No, Ma’am," in a low tone, but had no voice
to say more.

"I wish Miss Alice would look after her own affairs, and let
other people's houses alone. That's always the way with your
pieces of perfection — they're eternally finding out something
that isn't as it ought to be among their neighbours. I think
people that don't set up for being quite such great things,
get along quite as well in the world."

Ellen was strongly tempted to reply, but kept her lips shut.

"I'll tell you what," said Miss Fortune — "if you want me to
believe that all this talk means something, I'll tell you what
you shall do — you shall just tell Mr. Van Brunt to-morrow
about it all, and how ugly you have been these two days, and
let him know you were wrong and I was right. I believe he
thinks you cannot do anything wrong, and I should like him to
know it for once."

Ellen struggled hard with herself before she could speak; Miss
Fortune's lips began to wear a scornful smile.

"I'll tell him!" said Ellen, at length; "I'll tell him I was
wrong, if you wish me to."

"I _do_ wish it. I like people's eyes to be opened. It'll do him
good, I guess, and you too. Now, have you anything more to
say?"

Ellen hesitated; — the colour came and went; she knew it
wasn't a good time, but how could she wait?

"Aunt Fortune," she said, "you know I told you I behaved very
ill about that letter — won't you forgive me?"

"Forgive you? yes, child; I don't care anything about it."

"Then you will be so good as to let me have my letter again?"
said Ellen, timidly.

"Oh, I can't be bothered to look for it now; I'll see about it
some other time; take your candle and go to bed now, if you've
nothing more to say."

Ellen took her candle and went. Some tears were wrung from her
by hurt feeling and disappointment; but she had the smile of
conscience, and, as she believed, of Him whose witness
conscience is. She remembered that "great rock in a weary
land," and she went to sleep in the shadow of it.

The next day was Saturday. Ellen was up early; and after
carefully performing her toilet duties, she had a nice long
hour before it was time to go down stairs. The use she made of
this hour had fitted her to do cheerfully and well her morning
work; and Ellen would have sat down to breakfast in excellent
spirits if it had not been for her promised disclosure to Mr.
Van Brunt. It vexed her a little. "I told Aunt Fortune — that
was all right; but why I should be obliged to tell Mr. Van
Brunt, I don't know. But if it convinces aunt Fortune that I
am in earnest, and meant what I say — then I had better."

Mr. Van Brunt looked uncommonly grave, she thought; her aunt,
uncommonly satisfied. Ellen had more than half a guess at the
reason of both; but make up her mind to speak she could not,
during all breakfast time. She ate, without knowing what she
was eating.

Mr. Van Brunt at length, having finished his meal, without
saying a syllable, arose, and was about to go forth, when Miss
Fortune stopped him. "Wait a minute, Mr. Van Brunt," she said;
"Ellen has something to say to you. Go ahead, Ellen."

Ellen _felt_ rather than saw the smile with which these words
were spoken. She crimsoned and hesitated.

"Ellen and I had some trouble yesterday," said Miss Fortune;
"and she wants to tell you about it."

Mr. Van Brunt stood gravely waiting.

Ellen raised her eyes, which were full, to his face. "Mr. Van
Brunt," she said, "Aunt Fortune wants me to tell you what I
told her last night — that I knew I behaved as I ought not to
her yesterday, and the day before, and other times."

"And what made you do that?" said Mr. Van Brunt.

"Tell him," said Miss Fortune, colouring, "that you were in
the wrong, and I was in the right — then he'll believe it, I
suppose."

"I was wrong," said Ellen.

"And I was right," said Miss Fortune.

Ellen was silent. Mr. Van Brunt looked from one to the other.

"Speak," said Miss Fortune; "tell him the whole, if you mean
what you say."

"I can't," said Ellen.

"Why, you said you were wrong," said Miss Fortune; "that's
only half of the business; if you were wrong, I was right; why
don't you say so, and not make such a shilly-shally piece of
work of it?"

"I said I was wrong," said Ellen — "and so I was; but I never
said you were right, Aunt Fortune, and I don't think so."

These words, though moderately spoken, were enough to put Miss
Fortune in a rage.

"What did I do that was wrong?" she said; "come, I should like
to know. What was it, Ellen? Out with it; say everything you
can think of; stop and hear it, Mr. Van Brunt; come, Ellen:
let's hear the whole!"

"Thank you, Ma’am, I've heerd quite enough," said that
gentleman, as he went out and closed the door.

"And I have said too much," said Ellen. "Pray forgive me, Aunt
Fortune. I shouldn't have said that if you hadn't pressed me
so; I forgot myself a moment. I am sorry I said that."

"Forgot yourself!" said Miss Fortune; "I wish you'd forget
yourself out of my house. Please to forget the place where I
am for to-day, anyhow; I've got enough of you for one while.
You had better go to Miss Alice and get a new lesson, and tell
her you are coming on finely."

Gladly would Ellen, indeed, have gone to Miss Alice, but as
the next day was Sunday, she thought it best to wait. She went
sorrowfully to her own room. "Why couldn't I be quiet?" said
Ellen. "If I had only held my tongue that unfortunate minute!
what possessed me to say that?"

Strong passion — strong pride — both long unbroken; and Ellen
had yet to learn that many a prayer and many a tear, much
watchfulness, much help from on high, must be hers before she
could be thoroughly dispossessed of these evil spirits. But
she knew her sickness; she had applied to the Physician; — she
was in a fair way to be well.

One thought in her solitary room that day drew streams of
tears down Ellen's cheeks. "My letter! — my letter! what shall
I do to get you?" she said to herself. "It serves me right; I
oughtn't to have got in a passion; oh! I have got a lesson
this time!"


CHAPTER XVIII.

Loses care on the cat's back.


The Sunday with Alice met all Ellen's hopes. She wrote a very
long letter to her mother, giving the full history of the day.
How pleasantly they had ridden to church on the pretty gray
pony — she half the way and Alice the other half, talking to
each other all the while; for Mr. Humphreys had ridden on
before. How lovely the road was, "winding about round the
mountain, up and down," and with such a wide fair view, and
"part of the time close along by the edge of the water." This
had been Ellen's first ride on horseback. Then the letter
described the little Carra-carra church — Mr. Humphreys'
excellent sermon, "every word of which she could understand;"
Alice's Sunday-school, in which she was sole teacher; and how
Ellen had four little ones put under _her_ care; and told how
while Mr. Humphreys went on to hold a second service at a
village some six miles off, his daughter ministered to two
infirm old women at Carra-carra — reading and explaining the
Bible to the one and to the other, who was blind, repeating
the whole substance of her father's sermon. "Miss Alice told
me that nobody could enjoy a sermon better than that old
woman, but she cannot go out, and every Sunday Miss Alice goes
and preaches to her, she says." How Ellen went home in the
boat with Thomas and Margery, and spent the rest of the day
and the night also at the parsonage; and how polite and kind
Mr. Humphreys had been. "He's a very grave-looking man,
indeed," said the letter, "and not a bit like Miss Alice; he
is a great deal older than I expected."

This letter was much the longest Ellen had ever written in her
life; but she had set her heart on having her mother's
sympathy in her new pleasures, though not to be had but after
the lapse of many weeks, and beyond a sad interval of land and
sea. Still she must have it; and her little fingers travelled
busily over the paper hour after hour, as she found time, till
the long epistle was finished. She was hard at work at it
Tuesday afternoon when her aunt called her down; and obeying
the call, to her great surprise and delight she found Alice
seated in the chimney-corner and chatting away with her old
grandmother, who looked remarkably pleased. Miss Fortune was
bustling round, as usual, looking at nobody, though putting in
her word now and then.

"Come, Ellen," said Alice, "get your bonnet; I am going up the
mountain to see Mrs. Vawse, and your aunt has given leave for
you to go with me. Wrap yourself up well, for it is not warm."

Without waiting for a word of answer, Ellen joyfully ran off.

"You have chosen rather an ugly day for your walk, Miss
Alice."

"Can't expect pretty days in December, Miss Fortune. I am only
too happy it doesn't storm; it will by to-morrow, I think. But
I have learned not to mind weathers."

"Yes, I know you have," said Miss Fortune. "You'll stop up on
the mountain till supper-time, I guess — won't you?"

"Oh, yes; I shall want something to fortify me before coming
home after such a long tramp. You see I have brought a basket
along. I thought it safest to take a loaf of bread with me,
for no one can tell what may be in Mrs. Vawse's cupboard, and
to lose our supper is not a thing to be thought of."

"Well, have you looked out for butter, too? for you'll find
none where you're going. I don't know how the old lady lives
up there, but it's without butter, I reckon."

"I have taken care of that, too, thank you, Miss Fortune. You
see I'm a far-sighted creature."

"Ellen," said her aunt, as Ellen now, cloaked and hooded, came
in, "go into the buttery and fetch out one of them pumpkin
pies to put in Miss Alice's basket."

"Thank you, Miss Fortune," said Alice, smiling; "I shall tell
Mrs. Vawse who it comes from. Now, my dear, let's be off; we
have a long walk before us."

Ellen was quite ready to be off. But no sooner had she opened
the outer shed door than her voice was heard in astonishment.

"A cat! — What cat is this? Miss Alice! look here! — here's
the Captain I do believe."

"Here is the Captain, indeed," said Alice. "Oh, pussy, pussy,
what have you come for?"

Pussy walked up to his mistress, and stroking himself and his
great tail against her dress, seemed to say that he had come
for her sake, and that it made no difference to him where she
was going.

"He was sitting as gravely as possible," said Ellen, "on the
stone just outside the door, waiting for the door to be
opened. How could he have come here?"

"Why, he has followed me," said Alice; "he often does; but I
came quick, and I thought I had left him at home to-day. This
is too long an expedition for him. Kitty, I wish you had
stayed at home."

Kitty did not think so; he was arching his neck and purring in
acknowledgment of Alice's soft touch.

"Can't you send him back?" said Ellen.

"No, my dear; he is the most sensible of cats, no doubt, but
he could by no means understand such an order. No, we must let
him trot on after us, and when he gets tired I'll carry him;
it won't be the first time, by a good many."

They set off with a quick pace, which the weather forbade them
to slacken. It was somewhat as Miss Fortune had said, an ugly
afternoon. The clouds hung cold and gray, and the air had a
raw chill feeling, that betokened a coming snow. The wind blew
strong, too, and seemed to carry the chillness through all
manner of wrappers. Alice and Ellen, however, did not much
care for it; they walked and ran by turns, only stopping once
in a while, when poor Captain's uneasy cry warned them they
had left him too far behind. Still he would not submit to be
carried, but jumped down whenever Alice attempted it, and
trotted on most perseveringly. As they neared the foot of the
mountain, they were somewhat sheltered from the wind, and
could afford to walk more slowly.

"How is it between you and your aunt Fortune now?" said Alice.

"Oh, we don't get on well at all, Miss Alice, and I don't know
exactly what to do. You know I said I would ask her pardon.
Well, I did, the same night after I got home, but it was very
disagreeable. She didn't seem to believe I was in earnest, and
wanted me to tell Mr. Van Brunt that I had been wrong. I
thought that was rather hard; but at any rate I said I would;
and next morning I did tell him so; and I believe all would
have done well if I could only have been quiet; but Aunt
Fortune said something that vexed me, and almost before I knew
it I said something that vexed her dreadfully. It was nothing
very bad, Miss Alice, though I ought not to have said it, and
I was sorry two minutes after; but I just got provoked, and
what shall I do? for it is so hard to prevent it."

"The only thing I know," said Alice, with a slight smile, "is
to be full of that charity which among other lovely ways of
showing itself, has this — that it is 'not easily provoked.' "

"I am easily provoked," said Ellen.

"Then you know one thing, at any rate, that is to be watched
and prayed and guarded against; it is no little matter to be
acquainted with one's own weak points."

"I tried so hard to keep quiet that morning," said Ellen; "and
if I only could have let that unlucky speech alone — but
somehow I forgot myself, and I just told her what I thought."

"Which it is very often best not to do."

"I do believe," said Ellen, "Aunt Fortune would like to have
Mr. Van Brunt not like me."

"Well," said Alice, "what then?"

"Nothing, I suppose, Ma’am."

"I hope you are not going to lay it up against her?"

"No, Ma’am, I hope not."

"Take care, dear Ellen — don't take up the trade of suspecting
evil; you could not take up a worse; and even when it is
forced upon you, see as little of it as you can, and forget as
soon as you can what you see. Your aunt, it may be, is not a
very happy person, and no one can tell but those that are
unhappy how hard it is not to be unamiable too. Return good
for evil as fast as you can, and you will soon either have
nothing to complain of or be very well able to bear it."

They now began to go up the mountain, and the path became in
places steep and rugged enough. "There is an easier way on the
other side," said Alice, "but this is the nearest for us."
Captain Parry now showed signs of being decidedly weary, and
permitted Alice to take him up. But he presently mounted from
her arms to her shoulder, and to Ellen's great amusement, kept
his place there, passing from one shoulder to the other, and
every now and then sticking his nose up into her bonnet as if
to kiss her.

"What _does_ he do that for?" said Ellen.

"Because he loves me, and is pleased," said Alice. "Put your
ear close, Ellen, and hear the quiet way he is purring to
himself — do you hear? That's his way; he very seldom purrs
aloud."

"He's a very funny cat," said Ellen laughing.

"Cat!" said Alice; "there isn't such a cat as this to be seen.
He's a cat to be respected, my old Captain Parry. He's not to
be laughed at, Ellen, I can tell you."

The travellers went on with good will; but the path was so
steep, and the way so long that when about half-way up the
mountain they were fain to follow the example of their four-
footed companion, and rest themselves. They sat down on the
ground. They had warmed themselves with walking, but the
weather was as chill and disagreeable and gusty as ever; every
now and then the wind came sweeping by, catching up the dried
leaves at their feet, and whirling and scattering them off to
a distance — winter's warning voice.

"I never was in the country before when the leaves were off
the trees," said Ellen. "It isn't so pretty, Miss Alice; do
you think so?"

"So pretty! No, I suppose not, if we were to have it all the
while; but I like the change very much."

"Do you like to see the leaves off the trees?"

"Yes, in the time of it. There's beauty in the leafless trees
that you cannot see in summer. Just look, Ellen — no, I cannot
find you a nice specimen here, they grow too thick; but where
they have room, the way the branches spread and ramify, or
branch out again, is most beautiful. There's first the trunk,
then the large branches, then those divide into smaller ones,
and those part and part again into smaller and smaller twigs,
till you are canopied, as it were, with a network of fine
stems. And when the snow falls gently on them — oh, Ellen,
winter has its own beauties. I love it all; the cold, and the
wind, and the snow, and the bare forests, and our little river
of ice. What pleasant sleigh-rides to church I have had upon
that river! And then the evergreens, — look at them; you don't
know in summer how much they are worth. Wait till you see the
hemlock branches bending with a weight of snow, and then, if
you don't say the winter is beautiful, I'll give you up as a
young lady of bad taste."

"I dare say I shall," said Ellen; "I am sure I shall like what
you like. But, Miss Alice, what makes the leaves fall when the
cold weather comes?"

"A very pretty question, Ellen, and one that can't be answered
in a breath."

"I asked Aunt Fortune the other day," said Ellen, laughing
very heartily, "and she told me to hush up and not be a fool;
and I told her I really wanted to know, and she said she
wouldn't make herself a simpleton if she was in my place; so I
thought I might as well be quiet."

"By the time the cold weather comes, Ellen, the leaves have
done their work, and are no more needed. Do you know what work
they have to do? — do you know what is the use of leaves?"

"Why, for prettiness, I suppose," said Ellen, "and to give
shade; I don't know anything else."

"Shade is one of their uses, no doubt, and prettiness too. He
who made the trees, made them 'pleasant to the eyes,' as well
as 'good for food.' So we have an infinite variety of leaves;
one shape would have done the work just as well for every kind
of tree, but then we should have lost a great deal of
pleasure. But, Ellen, the tree could not live without leaves.
In the spring, the thin sap which the roots suck up from the
ground is drawn into the leaves; there, by the help of the sun
and air, it is thickened and prepared in a way you cannot
understand, and goes back to supply the wood with the various
matters necessary for its growth and hardness. After this has
gone on some time, the little vessels of the leaves become
clogged and stopped up with earthy and other matter; they
cease to do their work any longer; the hot sun dries them up
more and more, and by the time the frost comes they are as
good as dead. That finishes them, and they drop off from the
branch that needs them no more. Do you understand all this?"

"Yes, Ma’am, very well," said Ellen; "and it's exactly what I
wanted to know, and very curious. So the trees couldn't live
without leaves?"

"No more than you could without a heart and lungs."

"I am very glad to know that," said Ellen. "Then how is it
with the evergreens, Miss Alice? Why don't their leaves die
and drop off too?"

"They do; look how the ground is carpeted under that pine-
tree."

"But they stay green all winter, don't they?"

"Yes; their leaves are fitted to resist frost; I don't know
what the people in cold countries would do else. They have the
fate of all other leaves, however; they live awhile, do their
work, and then die; not all at once, though; there is always a
supply left on the tree. Are we rested enough to begin again?"

"I am," said Ellen; "I don't know about the Captain. Poor
fellow! he's fast asleep. I declare it's too bad to wake you
up, pussy. Haven't we had a pleasant little rest, Miss Alice?
I have learnt something while we have been sitting here."

"_That_ is pleasant, Ellen," said Alice, as they began their
upward march; "I would I might be all the while learning
something."

"But you have been teaching, Miss Alice, and that's as good.
Mamma used to say, 'It is more blessed to give than to
receive.' "

"Thank you, Ellen," said Alice, smiling; "that ought to
satisfy me, certainly."

They bent themselves against the steep hill again, and pressed
on. As they rose higher, they felt it grow more cold and
bleak; the woods gave them less shelter, and the wind swept
round the mountain head and over them with great force, making
their way quite difficult.

"Courage, Ellen!" said Alice, as they struggled on; "we shall
soon be there."

"I wonder," said the panting Ellen, as, making an effort, she
came up alongside of Alice — "I wonder why Mrs. Vawse will
live in such a disagreeable place."

"It is not disagreeable to her, Ellen; though I must say I
should not like to have _too_ much of this wind."

"But does she really like to live up here better than down
below, where it is warmer? — and all alone, too?"

"Yes, she does. Ask her why, Ellen, and see what she will tell
you. She likes it so much better, that this little cottage was
built on purpose for her, near ten years ago, by a good old
friend of hers, a connection of the lady whom she followed to
this country."

"Well," said Ellen, "she must have a queer taste — that is all
I can say."

They were now within a few easy steps of the house, which did
not look so uncomfortable when they came close to it. It was
small and low, of only one story, though it is true the roof
ran up very steep to a high and sharp gable. It was perched so
snugly, in a niche of the hill, that the little yard was
completely sheltered with a high wall of rock. The house
itself stood out more boldly, and caught pretty well near all
the winds that blew; but so, Alice informed Ellen, the inmate
liked to have it.

"And that roof," said Alice, — "she begged Mr. Marshman when
the cottage was building, that the roof might be high and
pointed; she said her eyes were tired with the low roofs of
this country, and if he would have it made so it would be a
great relief to them."

The odd roof Ellen thought was pretty. But they now reached
the door, protected with a deep porch. Alice entered, and
knocked at the other door. They were bade to come in. A woman
was there stepping briskly back and forth before a large
spinning-wheel. She half turned her head to see who the comers
were, then stopped her wheel instantly, and came to meet them
with open arms.

"Miss Alice! Dear Miss Alice, how glad I am to see you!"

"And I you, dear Mrs. Vawse," said Alice, kissing her. "Here's
another friend you must welcome for my sake — little Ellen
Montgomery."

"I am very glad to see Miss Ellen," said the old woman,
kissing her also; and Ellen did not shrink from the kiss, so
pleasant were the lips that tendered it; so kind and frank the
smile, so winning the eye; so agreeable the whole air of the
person. She turned from Ellen again to Miss Alice.

"It's a long while that I have not seen you, dear — not since
you went to Mrs. Marshman's. And what a day you have chosen to
come at last!"

"I can't help that," said Alice, pulling off her bonnet, — "I
couldn't wait any longer. I wanted to see you dolefully, Mrs.
Vawse."

"Why, my dear? what's the matter? I have wanted to see you,
but not dolefully."

"That's the very thing, Mrs. Vawse; I wanted to see you to get
a lesson of quiet contentment."

"I never thought you wanted such a lesson, Miss Alice. What's
the matter?"

"I can't get over John's going away."

Her lip trembled and her eye was swimming as she said so. The
old woman passed her hands over the gentle head, and kissed
her brow.

"So I thought — so I felt, when my mistress died, and my
husband, and my sons, one after the other. But now I think I
can say, with Paul, 'I have learned, in whatsoever state I am,
therewith to be content.' I think so — maybe that I deceive
myself; but they are all gone, and I am certain that I am
content now."

"Then surely I ought to be," said Alice.

"It is not till one looses one's hold of other things, and
looks to Jesus alone, that one finds how much he can do.
'There is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother;' but I
never knew all that meant till I had no other friends to lean
upon; — nay, I should not say _no_ other friends; — but my
dearest were taken away. You have _your_ dearest still, Miss
Alice."

"Two of them," said Alice, faintly, — "and hardly that, now."

"I have not one," said the old woman, — "I have not one; but
my home is in heaven, and my Saviour is there, preparing a
place for me. I know it — I am sure of it — and I can wait a
little while, and rejoice all the while I am waiting. Dearest
Miss Alice — 'none of them that trust in him shall be
desolate;' don't you believe that?"

"I do, surely, Mrs. Vawse," said Alice, wiping away a tear or
two; "but I forget it sometimes; or the pressure of present
pain is too much for all that faith and hope can do."

"It hinders faith and hope from acting — that is the trouble.
'They that seek the Lord, shall not want any good thing.' I
know that is true, of my own experience; so will you, dear."

"I know it, Mrs. Vawse — I know it all; but it does me good to
hear you say it. I thought I should become accustomed to
John's absence, but I do not at all; the autumn winds all the
while seem to sing to me that he is away."

"My dear love," said the old lady, "it sorrows me much to hear
you speak so; I would take away this trial from you if I
could; but He knows best. Seek to live nearer to the Lord,
dear Miss Alice, and he will give you much more than he has
taken away."

Alice again brushed away some tears.

"I felt I must come and see you to-day," said she, "and you
have comforted me already. The sound of your voice always does
me good. I catch courage and patience from you, I believe."

" 'As iron sharpeneth iron, so a man sharpeneth the
countenance of his friend.' How did you leave Mr. and Mrs.
Marshman? and has Mr. George returned yet?"

Drawing their chairs together, a close conversation began.
Ellen had been painfully interested and surprised by what went
before, but the low tone of voice now seemed to be not meant
for her ear, and turning away her attention, she amused
herself with taking a general survey.

It was easy to see that Mrs. Vawse lived in this room, and
probably had no other to live in. Her bed was in one corner;
cupboards filled the deep recesses on each side of the
chimney; and in the wide fireplace, the crane and the hooks
and trammels hanging upon it showed that the bedroom and
sitting-room was the kitchen too. Most of the floor was
covered with a thick rag carpet; where the boards could be
seen they were beautifully clean and white, and everything
else in the room, in this respect, matched with the boards.
The panes of glass in the little windows were clean and bright
as panes of glass could be made; the hearth was clean swept
up; the cupboard doors were unstained and unsoiled, though
fingers had worn the paint off; dust was nowhere. On a little
stand by the chimney corner lay a large Bible and another
book; close beside stood a cushioned arm-chair. Some other
apartment there probably was where wood and stores were kept;
nothing was to be seen here that did not agree with the very
comfortable face of the whole. It looked as if one might be
happy there; it looked as if somebody _was_ happy there; and a
glance at the old lady of the house would not alter the
opinion. Many a glance Ellen gave her as she sat talking with
Alice; and with every one she felt more and more drawn towards
her. She was somewhat under the common size, and rather stout;
her countenance most agreeable; there was sense, character,
sweetness in it. Some wrinkles, no doubt, were there, too;
lines deep-marked, that spoke of sorrows once known. Those
storms had all passed away; the last shadow of a cloud had
departed; her evening sun was shining clear and bright towards
the setting; and her brow was beautifully placid, not as
though it never had been, but as if it never could be ruffled
again. Respect no one could help feeling for her; and more
than respect, one felt, would grow with acquaintance. Her
dress was very odd, Ellen thought. It was not American, and
what it was she did not know, but supposed Mrs. Vawse must
have a lingering fancy for the costume as well as for the
roofs of her fatherland. More than all, her eye turned again
and again to the face, which seemed to her, in its changing
expression, winning and pleasant exceedingly. The mouth had
not forgotten to smile, nor the eye to laugh; and though this
was not often seen, the constant play of feature showed a deep
and lively sympathy in all Alice was saying, and held Ellen's
charmed gaze; and when the old lady's looks and words were at
length turned to herself, she blushed to think how long she
had been looking steadily at a stranger.

"Little Miss Ellen, how do you like my house on the rock
here?"

"I don't know, Ma’am," said Ellen; "I like it very much; only
I don't think I should like it so well in winter."

"I am not certain that I don't like it then best of all. Why
would you not like it in winter?"

"I shouldn't like the cold, Ma’am, and to be alone."

"I like to be alone — but cold? I am in no danger of freezing,
Miss Ellen. I make myself very warm — keep good fires — and my
house is too strong for the wind to blow it away. Don't you
want to go out and see my cow? I have one of the best cows
that ever you saw; her name is Snow: there is not a black hair
upon her; she is all white. Come, Miss Alice; Mr. Marshman
sent her to me a month ago; she's a great treasure, and worth
looking at."

They went across the yard to the tiny barn or outhouse, where
they found Snow nicely cared for. She was in a warm stable, a
nice bedding of straw upon the floor, and plenty of hay laid
up for her. Snow deserved it, for she was a beauty, and a very
well-behaved cow, letting Alice and Ellen stroke her and pat
her, and feel of her thick hide, with the most perfect
placidity. Mrs. Vawse meanwhile went to the door to look out.

"Nancy ought to be home to milk her," she said; "I must give
you supper and send you off. I've no feeling nor smell if snow
isn't thick in the air somewhere; we shall see it here soon."

"I'll milk her," said Alice.

"I'll milk her!" said Ellen; "I'll milk her! Ah, do let me! I
know how to milk; Mr. Van Brunt taught me, and I have done it
several times. May I? I should like it dearly."

"You shall do it surely, my child," said Mrs. Vawse. "Come
with me, and I'll give you the pail and the milking-stool."

When Alice and Ellen came in with the milk, they found the
kettle on, the little table set, and Mrs. Vawse very busy at
another table.

"What are you doing, Mrs. Vawse, may I ask?" said Alice.

"I'm just stirring up some Indian meal for you; I find I have
not but a crust left."

"Please to put that away, Ma’am, for another time. Do you
think I didn't know better than to come up to this mountain
top without bringing along something to live upon while I am
here? Here's a basket, Ma’am, and in it are divers things; I
believe Margery and I between us have packed up enough for two
or three suppers — to say nothing of Miss Fortune's pie. There
it is — sure to be good, you know; and here are some of my
cakes, that you like so much, Mrs. Vawse," said Alice, as she
went on pulling the things out of the basket; — "there is a
bowl of butter — that's not wanted, I see — and here is a loaf
of bread; and that's all. Ellen, my dear, this basket will be
lighter to carry down than it was to bring up."

"I am glad of it, I am sure," said Ellen; "my arm hasn't done
aching yet, though I had it so little while."

"Ah, I am glad to hear that kettle singing," said their
hostess. "I can give you good tea, Miss Alice; you'll think
so, I know, for it's the same Mr. John sent me. It is very
fine tea; and he sent me a noble supply, like himself,"
continued Mrs. Vawse, taking some out of her little caddy. "I
ought not to say I have no friends left; I cannot eat a meal
that I am not reminded of two good ones. Mr. John knew one of
my weak points when he sent me that box of souchong."

The supper was ready, and the little party gathered round the
table. The tea did credit to the judgment of the giver and the
skill of the maker, but they were no critics that drank it.

Alice and Ellen were much too hungry and too happy to be
particular. Miss Fortune's pumpkin pie was declared to be very
fine, and so were Mrs. Vawse's cheese and butter. Eating and
talking went on with great spirit, their old friend seeming
scarce less pleased or less lively than themselves. Alice
proposed the French plan, and Mrs. Vawse entered into it very
frankly; it was easy to see that the style of building and of
dress to which she had been accustomed in early life were not
the only things remembered kindly for old times' sake. It was
settled they should meet as frequently as might be, either
here or at the parsonage, and become good Frenchwomen with all
convenient speed.

"Will you wish to walk so far to see me again, little Miss
Ellen?"

"Oh yes, Ma’am!"

"You won't fear the deep snow, and the wind and cold, and the
steep hill?"

"Oh no, Ma’am, I won't mind them a bit; but, Ma’am, Miss Alice
told me to ask you why you loved better to live up here than
down where it is warmer. I shouldn't ask if she hadn't said I
might."

"Ellen has a great fancy for getting at the reason of
everything, Mrs. Vawse," said Alice, smiling.

"You wonder anybody should choose it, don't you, Miss Ellen?"
said the old lady.

"Yes, Ma’am, a little."

"I'll tell you the reason, my child. It is for the love of my
old home, and the memory of my young days. Till I was as old
as you are, and a little older, I lived among the mountains
and upon them; and after that, for many a year, they were just
before my eyes every day, stretching away for more than one
hundred miles, and piled up one above another, fifty times as
big as any you ever saw; these are only molehills to them. I
loved them — oh! how I love them still! If I have one
unsatisfied wish," said the old lady, turning to Alice, "it is
to see my Alps again; but that will never be. Now, Miss Ellen,
it is not that I fancy when I get to the top of this hill that
I am among my own mountains, but I can breathe better here
than down in the plain. I feel more free; and in the village I
would not live for gold, unless that duty bade me."

"But all alone, so far from everybody," said Ellen.

"I am never lonely; and, old as I am, I don't mind a long walk
or a rough road, any more than your young feet do."

"But isn't it very cold?" said Ellen.

"Yes, it is very cold? — what of that? I make a good blazing
fire; and then I like to hear the wind whistle."

"Yes, but you wouldn't like to have it whistling inside as
well as out," said Alice. "I will come and do the listing and
caulking for you in a day or two. Oh, you have it done without
me! I am sorry."

"No need to be sorry, dear — I am glad; you don't look fit for
any troublesome jobs."

"I am fit enough," said Alice. "Don't put up the curtains;
I'll come and do it."

"You must come with a stronger face, then," said her old
friend; "have you wearied yourself with walking all this way?"

"I was a little weary," said Alice, "but your nice tea has
made me up again."

"I wish I could keep you all night," said Mrs. Vawse, looking
out; "but your father would be uneasy. I am afraid the storm
will catch you before you get home; and you aren't fit to
breast it. Little Ellen, too, don't look as if she was made of
iron. Can't you stay with me?"

"I must not — it wouldn't do," said Alice, who was hastily
putting on her things; "we'll soon run down the hill. But we
are leaving you alone — where's Nancy?"

"She'll not come if there's a promise of a storm," said Mrs.
Vawse; "she often stays out a night."

"And leaves you alone!"

"I am never alone," said the old lady, quietly; "I have
nothing to fear; but I am uneasy about you, dear. Mind my
words; don't try to go back the way you came; take the other
road; it's easier; and stop when you get to Mrs. Van Brunt's;
Mr. Van Brunt will take you the rest of the way in his little
waggon."

"Do you think it is needful?" said Alice, doubtfully.

"I am sure it is best. Hasten down. _Adieu, mon enfant_."

They kissed and embraced her, and hurried out.


CHAPTER XIX.

Showing that in certain circumstances white is black.


The clouds hung thick and low; the wind was less than it had
been. They took the path Mrs. Vawse had spoken of; it was
broader and easier than the other, winding more gently down
the mountain; it was sometimes, indeed, travelled by horses,
though far too steep for any kind of carriage. Alice and Ellen
ran along without giving much heed to anything but their
footing — down, down — running and bounding, hand in hand,
till want of breath obliged them to slacken their pace.

"Do you think it will snow soon?" asked Ellen.

"I think it will snow — how soon, I cannot tell. Have you had
a pleasant afternoon?"

"Oh, very!"

"I always have when I go there. Now, Ellen, there is an
example of contentment for you. If ever a woman loved husband
and children and friends, Mrs. Vawse loved hers; I know this
from those who knew her long ago; and now, look at her. Of
them all, she has none left but the orphan daughter of her
youngest son, and you know a little what sort of a child that
is."

"She must be a very bad girl," said Ellen; "you can't think
what stories she told me about her grandmother."

"Poor Nancy!" said Alice. "Mrs. Vawse has no money nor
property of any kind, except what is in her house; but there
is not a more independent woman breathing. She does all sorts
of things to support herself. Now, for instance, Ellen, if
anybody is sick within ten miles round, the family are too
happy to get Mrs. Vawse for a nurse. She is an admirable one.
Then she goes out tailoring at the farmers' houses; she brings
home wool and returns it spun into yarn; she brings home yarn
and knits it up into stockings and socks; all sorts of odd
jobs. I have seen her picking hops; she isn't above doing
anything, and yet she never forgets her own dignity. I think,
wherever she goes and whatever she is about, she is at all
times one of the most truly lady-like persons I have ever
seen. And everybody respects her; everybody likes to gain her
good will; she is known all over the country; and all the
country are her friends."

"They pay her for doing these things, don't they?"

"Certainly; not often in money; more commonly in various kinds
of matters that she wants — flour, and sugar, and Indian meal,
and pork, and ham, and vegetables, and wool — anything; it is
but a little of each that she wants. She has friends that
would not permit her to earn another sixpence if they could
help it, but she likes better to live as she does. And she is
always as you saw her to-day — cheerful and happy as a little
girl."

Ellen was turning over Alice's last words, and thinking that
little girls were not _always_ the cheerfullest and happiest
creatures in the world, when Alice suddenly exclaimed, "It is
snowing! Come, Ellen, we must make haste now!" — and set off
at a quickened pace. Quick as they might, they had gone not a
hundred yards when the whole air was filled with the falling
flakes, and the wind, which had lulled for a little, now rose
with greater violence, and swept round the mountain furiously.
The storm had come in good earnest, and promised to be no
trifling one. Alice and Ellen ran on, holding each other's
hands and strengthening themselves against the blast, but
their journey became every moment more difficult. The air was
dark with the thick-falling snow; the wind seemed to blow in
every direction by turns, but chiefly against them, blinding
their eyes with the snow, and making it necessary to use no
small effort to keep on their way. Ellen hardly knew where she
went, but allowed herself to be pulled along by Alice, or, as
well, pulled _her_ along — it was hard to say which hurried
most. In the midst of this dashing on down the hill, Alice all
at once came to a sudden stop.

"Where's the Captain?" said she.

"I don't know," said Ellen — "I haven't thought of him since
we left Mrs. Vawse's."

Alice turned her back to the wind, and looked up the road they
had come — there was nothing but wind and snow there; how
furiously it blew! Alice called "Pussy!"

"Shall we walk up the road a little way, or shall we stand and
wait for him here?" said Ellen, trembling, half from exertion
and half from a vague fear of she knew not what.

Alice called again; no answer, but a wild gust of wind and
snow that drove past.

"I can't go on and leave him," said Alice; "he might perish in
the storm." And she began to walk slowly back, calling at
intervals, "Pussy! kitty! pussy!" and listening for an answer
that came not. Ellen was very unwilling to tarry, and nowise
inclined to prolong their journey by going backwards. She
thought the storm grew darker and wilder every moment.

"Perhaps Captain staid up at Mrs. Vawse's," she said, "and
didn't follow us down."

"No," said Alice; "I am sure he did. Hark! wasn't that he?"

"I don't hear anything," said Ellen, after a pause of anxious
listening.

Alice went a few steps further.

"I hear him!" she said; "I hear him! poor kitty!" and she set
off at a quick pace up the hill. Ellen followed, but presently
a burst of wind and snow brought them both to a stand. Alice
faltered a little at this, in doubt whether to go up or down;
but then, to their great joy, Captain's far-off cry was heard,
and both Alice and Ellen strained their voices to cheer and
direct him. In a few minutes he came in sight, trotting
hurriedly along through the snow, and on reaching his mistress
he sat down immediately on the ground, without offering any
caress — a sure sign that he was tired. Alice stooped down and
took him up in her arms.

"Poor kitty!" she said, "you've done your part for to-day, I
think; I'll do the rest. Ellen, dear, it's of no use to tire
ourselves out at once; we will go moderately. Keep hold of my
cloak, my child; it takes both of my arms to hold this big
cat. Now, never mind the snow; we can bear being blown about a
little; are you very tired?"

"No," said Ellen, "not very; I am a little tired; but I don't
care for that, if we can only get home safe."

"There's no difficulty about that, I hope. Nay, there may be
some _difficulty_, but we shall get there, I think, in good
safety after a while. I wish we were there now, for your sake,
my child."

"Oh, never mind me," said Ellen, gratefully; "I am sorry for
_you_, Miss Alice; you have the hardest time of it, with that
heavy load to carry; I wish I could help you."

"Thank you, my dear, but nobody could do that; I doubt if
Captain would lie in any arms but mine."

"Let me carry the basket, then," said Ellen, — "do, Miss
Alice."

"No, my dear, it hangs very well on my arm. Take it gently;
Mrs. Van Brunt's isn't very far off; we shall feel the wind
less when we turn."

But the road seemed long. The storm did not increase in
violence — truly there was no need of that — but the looked-
for turning was not soon found, and the gathering darkness
warned them day was drawing towards a close. As they neared
the bottom of the hill, Alice made a pause.

"There's a path that turns off from this, and makes a shorter
cut to Mrs. Van Brunt's, but it must be above here; I must
have missed it, though I have been on the watch constantly."

She looked up and down. It would have been a sharp eye indeed
that had detected any slight opening in the woods on either
side of the path, which the driving snow-storm blended into
one continuous wall of trees. They could be seen stretching
darkly before and behind them; but more than that — where they
stood near together, and where scattered apart, was all
confusion, through the fast-falling shower of flakes.

"In a few minutes he came in sight."

"Shall we go back and look for the path?" said Ellen.

"I am afraid we shouldn't find it if we did," said Alice; "we
should only lose our time, and we have none to lose. I think
we had better go straight forward."

"Is it much further this way than the other path we have
missed?"

"A good deal — all of half a mile. I am sorry; but courage, my
child! we shall know better than to go out in snowy weather
next time — on long expeditions, at least."

They had to shout to make each other hear; so drove the snow
and wind through the trees, and into their very faces and
ears. They plodded on. It was plodding; the snow lay thick
enough now to make their footing uneasy, and grew deeper every
moment; their shoes were full; their feet and ankles were wet;
and their steps began to drag heavily over the ground. Ellen
clung as close to Alice's cloak as their hurried travelling
would permit; sometimes one of Alice's hands was loosened for
a moment to be passed round Ellen's shoulders, and a word of
courage or comfort in the clear calm tone, cheered her to
renewed exertion. The night fell fast; it was very darkling by
the time they reached the bottom of the hill, and the road did
not yet allow them to turn their faces towards Mrs. Van
Brunt's. A wearisome piece of the way this was, leading them
_from_ the place they wished to reach. They could not go fast,
either; they were too weary, and the walking too heavy.
Captain had the best of it; snug and quiet he lay wrapped in
Alice's cloak and fast asleep, little wotting how tired his
mistress's arms were.

The path at length brought them to the long-desired turning;
but it was by this time so dark, that the fences on each side
of the road showed but dimly. They had not spoken for a while;
as they turned the corner, a sigh of mingled weariness and
satisfaction escaped from Ellen's lips. It reached Alice's
ear.

"What's the matter, love?" said the sweet voice. No trace of
weariness was allowed to come into it.

"I am so glad we have got here at last," said Ellen, looking
up with another sigh, and removing her hand for an instant
from its grasp on the cloak to Alice's arm.

"My poor child! I wish I could carry you, too! Can you hold a
little longer?"

"Oh, yes, dear Miss Alice; I can hold on."

But Ellen's voice was not so well guarded. It was like her
steps, a little unsteady. She presently spoke again.

"Miss Alice — are you afraid?"

"I am afraid of your getting sick, my child, and a little
afraid of it for myself — of nothing else. What is there to be
afraid of?"

"It is very dark," said Ellen; "and the storm is so thick — do
you think you can find the way?"

"I know it perfectly; it is nothing but to keep straight on;
and the fences would prevent us from getting out of the road.
It is hard walking, I know, but we shall get there by-and-by;
bear up as well as you can, dear. I am sorry I can give you no
help but words. Don't you think a nice bright fire will look
comfortable after all this?"

"O dear, yes!" answered Ellen, rather sadly.

"Are _you_ afraid, Ellen?"

"No, Miss Alice — not much — I don't like its being so dark; I
can't see where I am going."

"The darkness makes our way longer and more tedious; it will
do us no other harm, love. I wish I had a hand to give you,
but this great cat must have both of mine. The darkness and
the light are both alike to our Father: we are in his Hand; we
are safe enough, dear Ellen."

Ellen's hand left the cloak again for an instant to press
Alice's arm in answer; her voice failed at the minute. Then
clinging anew as close to her side as she could get, they
toiled patiently on. The wind had somewhat lessened of its
violence, and, besides, it blew not now in their faces, but
against their backs, helping them on. Still the snow continued
to fall very fast, and already lay thick upon the ground;
every half hour increased the heaviness and painfulness of
their march; and darkness gathered till the very fences could
no longer be seen. It was pitch dark; to hold the middle of
the road was impossible; their only way was to keep along by
one of the fences; and, for fear of hurting themselves against
some outstanding post or stone, it was necessary to travel
quite gently. They were indeed in no condition to travel
otherwise, if light had not been wanting. Slowly and
patiently, with painful care groping their way, they pushed on
through the snow and the thick night. Alice could _feel_ the
earnestness of Ellen's grasp upon her clothes; and her clothes
pressing up to her, made their progress still slower and more
difficult than it would otherwise have been.

"Miss Alice," said Ellen.

"What, my child?"

"I wish you would speak to me once in a while."

Alice freed one of her hands, and took hold of Ellen's.

"I have been so busy picking my way along, I have neglected
you, haven't I?"

"Oh, no, Ma’am. But I like to hear the sound of your voice
sometimes; it makes me feel better."

"This is an odd kind of travelling, isn't it?" said Alice,
cheerfully; — "in the dark, and feeling our way along? This
will be quite an adventure to talk about, won't it?"

"Quite," said Ellen.

"It is easier going this way, don't you find it so? The wind
helps us forward."

"It helps me too much," said Ellen; "I wish it wouldn't be
quite so very kind. Why, Miss Alice, I have enough to do to
hold myself together, sometimes. It almost makes me run,
though I am so very tired."

"Well, it is better than having it in our faces, at any rate.
Tired you are, I know, and must be. We shall want to rest all
day tomorrow, shan't we?"

"Oh, I don't know!" said Ellen, sighing; "I shall be glad when
we begin. How long do you think it will be, Miss Alice, before
we get to Mrs. Van Brunt's?"

"My dear child, I cannot tell you. I have not the least notion
whereabouts we are. I can see no way-marks, and I cannot judge
at all of the rate at which we have come."

"But what if we should have passed it in this darkness?" said
Ellen.

"No, I don't think that," said Alice, though a cold doubt
struck her mind at Ellen's words; "I think we shall see the
glimmer of Mrs. Van Brunt's friendly candle, by-and-by."

But more uneasily and more keenly now she stove to see that
glimmer through the darkness; strove till the darkness seemed
to press painfully upon her eyeballs, and she almost doubted
her being able to see any light if light there were; it was
all blank thick darkness still. She began to question
anxiously with herself which side of the house was Mrs. Van
Brunt's ordinary sitting-room; — whether she should see the
light from it before or after passing the house; and now her
glance was directed often behind her, that they might be sure
in any case of not missing their desired haven. In vain she
looked forward or back; it was all one; no cheering glimmer of
lamp or candle greeted her straining eyes. Hurriedly now from
time to time the comforting words were spoken to Ellen, for to
pursue the long stretch of way that led onward from Mr. Van
Brunt's to Miss Fortune's would be a very serious matter;
Alice wanted comfort herself.

"Shall we get there soon, do you think, Miss Alice?" said poor
Ellen, whose wearied feet carried her painfully over the
deepening snow. The tone of voice went to Alice's heart.

"I don't know, my darling; — I hope so," she answered, but it
was spoken rather patiently than cheerfully. "Fear nothing,
dear Ellen; remember who has the care of us; darkness and
light are both alike to Him; nothing will do us any real
harm."

"How tired you must be, dear Miss Alice, carrying pussy!"
Ellen said, with a sigh.

For the first time Alice echoed the sigh; but almost
immediately Ellen exclaimed in a totally different tone,
"There's a light! but it isn't a candle — it is moving about;
what is it, Miss Alice?"

They stopped and looked. A light there certainly was, dimly
seen, moving at some little distance from the fence on the
opposite side of the road. All of a sudden it disappeared.

"What is it?" whispered Ellen, fearfully.

"I don't know, my love, yet; wait" —

They waited several minutes.

"What could it be?" said Ellen. "It was certainly a light; I
saw it as plainly as ever I saw anything; — what can it have
done with itself? — there it is again! going the other way!"

Alice waited no longer, but screamed out, "Who's there?"

But the light paid no attention to her cry; it travelled on.

"Halloo!" called Alice, again, as loud as she could.

"Halloo!" answered a rough deep voice. The light suddenly
stopped.

"That's he! that's he!" exclaimed Ellen, in an ecstasy, and
almost dancing — "I know it — it's Mr. Van Brunt! it's Mr. Van
Brunt! — oh, Miss Alice!" —

Struggling between crying and laughing Ellen could not stand
it, but gave way to a good fit of crying. Alice felt the
infection, but controlled herself, though her eyes watered as
her heart sent up its grateful tribute; as well as she could
she answered the halloo.

The light was seen advancing towards them. Presently it
glimmered faintly behind the fence, showing a bit of the dark
rails covered with snow, and they could dimly see the figure
of a man getting over them. He crossed the road to where they
stood. It was Mr. Van Brunt.

"I am very glad to see you, Mr. Van Brunt." said Alice's sweet
voice; but it trembled a little.

"Oh, Mr. Van Brunt!" sobbed Ellen.

That gentleman, at first dumb with astonishment, lifted his
lantern to survey them, and assure his eyes that his ears had
not been mistaken.

"Miss Alice! — how in the name of wonder! — and my poor little
lamb! — but what on 'arth, Ma’am — you must be half dead. Come
this way — just come back a little bit — why, where were you
going, Ma’am?"

"To your house, Mr. Van Brunt; I have been looking for it with
no little anxiety, I assure you."

"Looking for it! Why, how on 'arth! you wouldn't see the
biggest house ever was built half a yard off such a plaguy
night as this."

"I thought I should see the light from the windows, Mr. Van
Brunt."

"The light from the windows! the storm rattled so agin' the
windows, that mother made me pull the great shutters to. I
won't have 'em shut again of a stormy night, that's a fact;
you'd ha' gone far enough afore you'd ha' seen the light
through them shutters."

"Then we had passed the house already, hadn't we?"

"Indeed, had you, Ma’am. I guess you saw my light, han't you?"

"Yes, and glad enough we were to see it, too."

"I suppose so. It happened so to-night — now that is a queer
thing — I minded that I hadn't untied my horse; he's a trick
of being untied at night, and won't sleep well if he ain't;
and mother wanted me to let him alone 'cause of the awful
storm, but I couldn't go to my bed in peace till I had seen
him to his'n. So that's how my lantern came to be going to the
barn in such an awk'ard night as this."

They had reached the little gate, and Mr. Van Brunt with some
difficulty pulled it open. The snow lay thick upon the neat
brick walk which Ellen had trod the first time with wet feet
and dripping garments. A few steps further, and they came to
the same door that had opened then so hospitably to receive
her. As the faint light of the lantern was thrown upon the old
latch and door-posts, Ellen felt at home; and a sense of
comfort sank down into her heart which she had not known for
some time.


CHAPTER XX.

Head-sick and heart-sick.


Mr. van Brunt flung open the door, and the two wet and weary
travellers stepped after him into the same cheerful,
comfortable-looking kitchen that had received Ellen once
before. Just the same — tidy, clean swept up, a good fire, and
the same old red-backed chairs standing round on the hearth in
most cozy fashion. It seemed to Ellen a perfect storehouse of
comfort; the very walls had a kind face for her. There were no
other faces, however; the chairs were all empty. Mr. Van Brunt
put Alice in one and Ellen in another, and shouted, "Mother! —
here!" — muttering that she had taken herself off with the
light somewhere. Not very far: for in half a minute, answering
the call, Mrs. Van Brunt and the light came hurriedly in.

"What's the matter, 'Brahm? — who's this? — why 'tain't Miss
Alice! My gracious me! — and all wet! — oh, dear, dear! poor
lamb! Why, Miss Alice, dear, where have you been? — and if
that ain't my little Ellen! oh dear! what a fix you are in!
Well, darling, I'm glad to see you again a'most anyway."

She crossed over to kiss Ellen as she said this; but surprise
was not more quickly alive than kindness and hospitality. She
fell to work immediately to remove Alice's wet things, and to
do whatever their joint prudence and experience might suggest
to ward off any ill effects from the fatigue and exposure the
wanderers had suffered; and while she was thus employed, Mr.
Van Brunt busied himself with Ellen, who was really in no
condition to help herself. It was curious to see him carefully
taking off Ellen's wet hood (not the blue one) and knocking it
gently to get ride of the snow; evidently thinking that
ladies' things must have delicate handling. He tried the cloak
next, but boggled sadly at the fastening of that, and at last
was fain to call in help.

"Here, Nancy! — where are you? step here and see if you can
undo this here thing, whatever you call it; I believe my
fingers are too big for it."

It was Ellen's former acquaintance who came forward in
obedience to this call. Ellen had not seen before that she was
in the room. Nancy grinned a mischievous smile of recognition
as she stooped to Ellen's throat and undid the fastening of
the cloak, and then shortly enough bade her "get up, that she
might take it off!" Ellen obeyed, but was very glad to sit
down again. While Nancy went to the door to shake the cloak,
Mr. Van Brunt was gently pulling off Ellen's wet gloves, and
on Nancy's return he directed her to take off the shoes, which
were filled with snow. Nancy sat down on the floor before
Ellen to obey this order; and, tired and exhausted as she was,
Ellen felt the different manner in which her hands and feet
were waited upon.

"How did you get into this scrape?" said Nancy; "_this_ was none
of my doings anyhow. It'll never be dry weather, Ellen, where
you are. I won't put on my Sunday go-to-meeting clothes when I
go a walking with you. You had ought to ha' been a duck or a
goose, or something like that. — What's that for, Mr. Van
Brunt!"

This last query, pretty sharply spoken, was in answer to a
light touch of that gentleman's hand upon Miss Nancy's ear,
which came rather as a surprise. He deigned no reply.

"You're a fine gentleman!" said Nancy, tartly.

"Have you done what I gave you to do?" said Mr. Van Brunt,
coolly.

"Yes — there!" said Nancy, holding up Ellen's bare feet on one
hand, while the fingers of the other, secretly applied in
ticklish fashion to the soles of them, caused Ellen suddenly
to start and scream.

"Get up!" said Mr. Van Brunt. Nancy didn't think best to
disobey. "Mother, han't you got nothing you want Nancy to do?"

"Sally," said Mrs. Van Brunt, "you and Nancy go and fetch here
a couple of pails of hot water — right away."

"Go, and mind what you are about," said Mr. Van Brunt; "and
after that keep out of this room, and don't whisper again till
I give you leave. Now, Miss Ellen, dear, how do you feel?"

Ellen said in words that she felt "nicely," but the eyes and
the smile said a great deal more; Ellen's heart was running
over.

"Oh, she'll feel nicely directly, I'll be bound," said Mrs.
Van Brunt; "wait till she get her feet soaked, and then!" —

"I do feel nicely now," said Ellen. And Alice smiled in answer
to their inquiries, and said if she only knew her father was
easy, there would be nothing wanting to her happiness.

The bathing of their feet was a great refreshment, and their
kind hostess had got ready a plentiful supply of hot herb-tea,
with which both Alice and Ellen were well dosed. While they
sat sipping this, toasting their feet before the fire, Mrs.
Van Brunt and the girls meanwhile preparing their room, Mr.
Van Brunt suddenly entered. He was cloaked and hatted, and had
a riding-whip in his hand.

"Is there any word you'd like to get home, Miss Alice? I'm
going to ride a good piece that way, and I can stop as good as
not."

"To-night, Mr. Van Brunt?" exclaimed Alice, in astonishment.

Mr. Van Brunt's silence seemed to say that to-night was the
time and no other.

"But the storm is too bad," urged Alice. "Pray don't go till
to-morrow."

"Pray don't, Mr. Van Brunt," said Ellen.

"Can't help it; I've got business — must go. What shall I say,
Ma’am?"

"I should be _very_ glad," said Alice, "to have my father know
where I am. Are you going very near the Nose?"

"Very near."

"Then I shall be greatly obliged if you will be so kind as to
stop and relieve my father's anxiety. But how _can_ you go in
such weather? and so dark as it is."

"Never fear," said Mr. Van Brunt. "We'll be back in half an
hour, if 'Brahm and me don't come across a snowdrift a _leetle_
too deep. Good night, Ma’am." And out he went.

" 'Back in half an hour,' " said Alice, musing. "Why, he said
he had been to untie his horse for the night. He must be going
on our account, I am sure, Ellen!"

"On _your_ account," said Ellen, smiling. "Oh, I knew that all
the time, Miss Alice. I don't think he'll stop to relieve Aunt
Fortune's anxiety."

Alice sprang to call him back, but Mrs. Van Brunt assured her
it was too late, and that she need not be uneasy, for her son
"didn't mind the storm no more than a weather-board. 'Brahm
and 'Brahm could go anywhere in any sort of a time. He was
agoing without speaking to you, but I told him he had better,
for maybe you wanted to send some word particular. And your
room's ready now, dear, and you'd better go to bed, and sleep
as long as you can."

They went thankfully.

"Isn't this a pleasant room?" said Ellen, who saw everything
in rose colour; "and a nice bed? But I feel as if I could
sleep on the floor to-night. Isn't it a'most worth while to
have such a time, Miss Alice, for the sake of the pleasure
afterwards?"

"I don't know, Ellen," said Alice, smiling; "I won't say that;
though it _is_ worth paying a price for, to find how much
kindness there is in some people's hearts. As to sleeping on
the floor, I must say I never felt less inclined to it."

"Well, I am tired enough, too," said Ellen, as they laid
themselves down. "Two nights with you in a week! Oh, those
weeks before I saw you, Miss Alice!"

One earnest kiss for good night; and Ellen's sign of pleasure
on touching the pillow was scarcely breathed when sleep, deep
and sound, fell upon her eyelids.

It was very late next morning when they awoke, having slept
rather heavily than well. They crawled out of bed, feeling
stiff and sore in every limb, each confessing to more evil
effects from their adventure than she had been aware of the
evening before. All the rubbing and bathing and drinking that
Mrs. Van Brunt had administered, had been too little to undo
what wet and cold and fatigue had done. But Mrs. Van Brunt had
set her breakfast-table with everything her house could
furnish that was nice; a bountifully-spread board it was. Mr.
Humphreys was there, too; and no bad feelings of two of the
party could prevent that from being a most cheerful and
pleasant meal. Even Mr. Humphreys and Mr. Van Brunt, two
persons not usually given to many words, came out wonderfully
on this occasion; gratitude and pleasure in the one, and
generous feeling on the part of the other, untied their
tongues; and Ellen looked from one to the other in some
amazement, to see how agreeable they could be. Kindness and
hospitality always kept Mrs. Van Brunt in full flow; and
Alice, whatever she felt, exerted herself and supplied what
was wanting everywhere, like the transparent glazing which
painters use to spread over the dead colour of their pictures;
unknown, it was she gave life and harmony to the whole. And
Ellen, in her enjoyment of everything and everybody, forgot or
despised aches and pains, and even whispered to Alice that
coffee was making her well again.

But happy breakfasts must come to an end, and so did this,
prolonged though it was. Immediately after, the party, whom
circumstances had gathered for the first and probably the last
time, scattered again: but the meeting had left pleasant
effects on all minds. Mrs. Van Brunt was in general delight
that she had entertained so many people she thought a great
deal of, and particularly glad of the chance of showing her
kind feelings towards two of the number. Mr. Humphreys
remarked upon "that very sensible, good-hearted man, Mr. Van
Brunt, towards whom he felt himself under great obligation."
Mr. Van Brunt said "the minister warn't such a grum man as
people called him;" and more-over said, "it was a good thing
to have an education, and he had a notion to read more." As
for Alice and Ellen, they went away full of kind feeling for
every one, and much love to each other. This was true of them
before; but their late troubles had drawn them closer
together, and given them fresh occasion to value their
friends.

Mr. Humphreys had brought the little one-horse sleigh for his
daughter, and, soon after breakfast, Ellen saw it drive off
with her. Mr. Van Brunt then harnessed his own and carried
Ellen home. Ill though she felt, the poor child made an
effort, and spent part of the morning in finishing the long
letter to her mother, which had been on the stocks since
Monday. The effort became painful towards the last: and the
aching limbs and trembling hand of which she complained, were
the first beginnings of a serious fit of illness. She went to
bed that same afternoon, and did not leave it again for two
weeks. Cold had taken violent hold of her system; fever set
in, and ran high; and half the time little Ellen's wits were
roving in delirium. Nothing, however, could be too much for
Miss Fortune's energies; she was as much at home in a sick
room as in a well one. She flew about with increased agility;
was upstairs and downstairs twenty times in the course of a
day, and kept all straight everywhere. Ellen's room was always
the picture of neatness; the fire, the wood fire was taken
care of; Miss Fortune seemed to know, by instinct, when it
wanted a fresh supply, and to be on the spot by magic to give
it. Ellen's medicines were dealt out in proper time; her
gruels and drinks perfectly well made and arranged, with
appetizing nicety, on a little table by the bedside, where she
could reach them herself; and Miss Fortune was generally at
hand when she was wanted. But, in spite of all this, there was
something missing in that sick room — there was a great want;
and whenever the delirium was upon her, Ellen made no secret
of it. She was never violent; but she moaned, sometimes
impatiently, and sometimes plaintively, for her mother. It was
a vexation to Miss Fortune to hear her. The name of her mother
was all the time on her lips; if by chance her aunt's name
came in, it was spoken in a way that generally sent her
bouncing out of the room.

"Mamma," poor Ellen would say, "just lay your hand on my
forehead, will you? it's so hot! Oh, do, Mamma! — where are
you? Do put your hand on my forehead, won't you? Oh, do speak
to me! — why don't you, Mamma? Oh, why don't she come to me?"

Once, when Ellen was uneasily calling in this fashion for her
mother's hand, Miss Fortune softly laid her own upon the
child's brow; but the quick sudden jerk of the head from under
it told her how well Ellen knew the one from the other; and,
little as she cared for Ellen, it was wormwood to her.

Miss Fortune was not without offers of help during this sick
time. Mrs. Van Brunt, and afterwards Mrs. Vawse, asked leave
to come and nurse Ellen; but Miss Fortune declared it was more
plague than profit to her; and she couldn't be bothered with
having strangers about. Mrs. Van Brunt she suffered, much
against her will, to come for a day or two: at the end of
that, Miss Fortune found means to get rid of her civilly. Mrs.
Vawse she would not allow to stay an hour. The old lady got
leave, however, to go up to the sick room for a few minutes.
Ellen, who was then in a high fever, informed her that her
mother was downstairs, and her aunt Fortune would not let her
come up; she pleaded, with tears, that she might come, and
entreated Mrs. Vawse to take her aunt away, and send her
mother. Mrs. Vawse tried to soothe her. Miss Fortune grew
impatient.

"What on earth's the use," said she, "of talking to a child
that's out of her head? she can't hear reason; that's the way
she gets into whenever the fever's on her. I have the pleasure
of hearing that sort of thing all the time. Come away, Mrs.
Vawse, and leave her; she can't be better any way than alone,
and I am in the room every other thing — she's just as well
quiet. Nobody knows," said Miss Fortune, on her way down
stairs — "nobody knows the blessings of taking care of other
people's children that han't tried it. _I've_ tried it, to my
heart's content."

Mrs. Vawse sighed, but departed in silence.

It was not when the fever was on her and delirium high that
Ellen most felt the want she then so pitifully made known.
There were other times — when her head was aching, and, weary
and weak, she lay still there — oh, how she longed then for
the dear wonted face, the old quiet smile that carried so much
of comfort and assurance with it, the voice that was like
heaven's music, the touch of that loved hand to which she had
clung for so many years! She could scarcely bear to think of
it, sometimes. In the still, wakeful hours of night, when the
only sound to be heard was the heavy breathing of her aunt
asleep on the floor by her side; and in the long, solitary
day, when the only variety to be looked for was Miss Fortune's
flitting in and out, and there came to be a sameness about
that — Ellen mourned her loss bitterly. Many and many were the
silent tears that rolled down and wet her pillow; many a long-
drawn sigh came from the very bottom of Ellen's heart: she was
too weak and subdued now for violent weeping. She wondered
sadly why Alice did not come to see her; it was another great
grief added to the former. She never chose, however, to
mention her name to her aunt. She kept her wonder and her
sorrow to herself — all the harder to bear for that. After two
weeks Ellen began to mend, and then she became exceedingly
weary of being alone and shut up to her room. It was a
pleasure to have her Bible and hymn-book lying upon the bed,
and a great comfort when she was able to look at a few words,
but that was not very often, and she longed to see somebody,
and hear something besides her aunt's dry questions and
answers.

One afternoon Ellen was sitting, alone as usual, bolstered up
in bed. Her little hymn-book was clasped in her hand; though
not equal to reading, she felt the touch of it a solace to
her. Half-dozing, half-waking, she had been perfectly quiet
for some time, when the sudden and not very gentle opening of
the room door caused her to start and open her eyes. They
opened wider than usual, for, instead of her Aunt Fortune, it
was the figure of Miss Nancy Vawse that presented itself. She
came in briskly, and, shutting the door behind her, advanced
to the bedside.

"Well," said she, "there you are! Why, you look smart enough.
I've come to see you."

"Have you?" said Ellen, uneasily.

"Miss Fortune's gone out, and she told me to come and take
care of you; so I'm a going to spend the afternoon."

"Are you?" said Ellen, again.

"Yes; ain't you glad? I knew you must be lonely, so I thought
I'd come."

There was a mischievous twinkle in Nancy's eyes. Ellen for
once in her life wished for her aunt's presence.

"What are you doing?"

"Nothing," said Ellen.

"Nothing indeed! It's a fine thing to lie there and do
nothing. You won't get well in a hurry, I guess — will you?
You look as well as I do this minute. Oh, I always knew you
was a sham."

"You are very much mistaken," said Ellen, indignantly; "I have
been very sick, and I am not at all well yet."

"Fiddle-de-dee! it's very nice to think so; I guess you're
lazy. How soft and good those pillows do look to be sure.
Come, Ellen, try getting up a little. I believe you hurt
yourself with sleeping; it'll do you good to be out of bed
awhile; come, get up!"


She pulled Ellen's arm as she spoke.

"Stop, Nancy — let me alone!" cried Ellen, struggling with all
her force — "I musn't — I can't! I musn't get up! What do you
mean? I'm not able to sit up at all; let me go!"

She succeeded in freeing herself from Nancy's grasp.

"Well, you're an obstinate piece," said the other; "have your
own way. But mind, I'm left in charge of you; is it time for
you to take your physic?"

"I am not taking any," said Ellen.

"What are you taking?"

"Nothing but gruel and little things."

" 'Gruel and little things;' little things means something
good, I s'pose. Well, is it time for you to take your gruel or
one of the little things?"

"No, I don't want any."

"Oh, that's nothing; people never know what's good for them;
I'm your nurse now, and I'm going to give it to you when I
think you want it. Let me feel your pulse: — yes, your pulse
says gruel is wanting. I shall put some down to warm right
away."

"I shan't take it," said Ellen.

"That's a likely story! You'd better not say so. I rather
s'pose you will if I give it to you. Look here, Ellen, you'd
better mind how you behave; you're going to do just what I
tell you. I know how to manage you; if you make any fuss I
shall just tickle you finely," said Nancy, as she prepared a
bed of coals, and set the cup of gruel on it to get hot. "I'll
do it in no time at all, my young lady — so you'd better
mind."

Poor Ellen involuntarily curled up her feet under the bed-
clothes, so as to get them as far as possible out of harm's
way. She judged the best thing was to keep quiet if she could,
so she said nothing. Nancy was in great glee; with something
of the same spirit of mischief that a cat shows when she has a
captured mouse at the end of her paws. While the gruel was
heating, she spun round the room in quest of amusement; and
her sudden jerks and flings from one place and thing to
another had so much of lawlessness, that Ellen was in
perpetual terror as to what she might take it into her head to
do next.

"Where does that door lead to?"

"I believe that one leads to the garret," said Ellen.

"You _believe so?_ why don't you say it does, at once?"

"I haven't been up to see."

"You haven't! you expect me to believe that, I s'pose? I am
not quite such a gull as you take me for. What's up there?"

"I don't know, of course."

"Of course! I declare I don't know what you are up to exactly;
but if you won't tell me, I'll find out for myself pretty
quick — that's one thing."

She flung open the door and ran up; and Ellen heard her feet
trampling overhead from one end of the house to the other; and
sounds, too, of pushing and pulling things over the floor; it
was plain Nancy was rummaging.

"Well," said Ellen, as she turned uneasily upon her bed, "it's
no affair of mine; I can't help it, whatever she does. But oh!
wont Aunt Fortune be angry!"

Nancy presently came down with her frock gathered up into a
bag before her.

"What do you think I have got here?" said she, "I s'pose you
didn't know there was a basket of fine hickory-nuts up there
in the corner? Was it you or Miss Fortune that hid them away
so nicely? I s'pose she thought nobody would ever think of
looking behind that great blue chest and under the feather-
bed, but it takes me! — Miss Fortune was afraid of your
stealing 'em, I guess, Ellen?"

"She needn't have been," said Ellen, indignantly.

"No, I s'pose you wouldn't take 'em if you saw 'em; you
wouldn't eat 'em if they were cracked for you, would you?"

She flung some on Ellen's bed as she spoke. Nancy had seated
herself on the floor, and using for a hammer a piece of old
iron she had brought down with her from the garret, she was
cracking the nuts on the clean white hearth.

"Indeed I wouldn't!" said Ellen, throwing them back; "and you
oughtn't to crack them there, Nancy — you'll make a dreadful
mess."

"What, do you think I care?" said the other, scornfully. She
leisurely cracked and ate as many as she pleased of the nuts,
bestowing the rest in the bosom of her frock. Ellen watched
fearfully for her next move. If she should open the little
door and get among her books and boxes!

Nancy's first care, however, was the cup of gruel. It was
found too hot for any mortal lips to bear, so it was set on
one side to cool. Then taking up her rambling examination of
the room, she went from window to window.

"What fine big windows! one might get in here easy enough. I
declare, Ellen, some night I'll set the ladder up against
here, and the first thing you'll see will be me coming in.
You'll have me to sleep with you before you think."

"I'll fasten my windows," said Ellen.

"No, you won't. You'll do it a night or two, maybe, but then
you'll forget it. I shall find them open when I come. Oh, I'll
come!"

"But I could call Aunt Fortune," said Ellen.

"No, you couldn't, 'cause if you spoke a word I'd tickle you
to death; that's what I'd do. I know how to fix you off. And
if you did call her, I'd just whap out of the window and run
off with my ladder, and then you'd get a fine combing for
disturbing the house. What's in this trunk?"

"Only my clothes and things," said Ellen.

"Oh, goody! that's fine; now I'll have a look at 'em. That's
just what I wanted, only I didn't know it. Where's the key?
Oh, here it is, sticking in — that's good!"

"Oh, please don't!" said Ellen, raising herself on her elbow,
"they're all in nice order, and you'll get them all in
confusion. Oh, do let them alone!"

"You'd best be quiet, or I'll come and see you," said Nancy;
"I'm just going to look at everything in it, and if I find
anything out of sorts, you'll get it. What's this? ruffles, I
declare! ain't you fine! I'll see how they look on me. What a
plague! you haven't a glass in the room. Never mind — I am
used to dressing without a glass."

"Oh, I wish you wouldn't," said Ellen, who was worried to the
last degree at seeing her nicely-done-up ruffles round Nancy's
neck; — "they're so nice, and you'll muss them all up."

"Don't cry about it," said Nancy, coolly, "I ain't agoing to
eat 'em. My goodness! what a fine hood! ain't that pretty?"

The nice blue hood was turning about in Nancy's fingers, and
well looked at inside and out. Ellen was in distress for fear
it would go on Nancy's head, as well as the ruffles round her
neck; but it didn't; she flung it at length on one side, and
went on pulling out one thing after another, strewing them
very carelessly about the floor.

"What's here? a pair of dirty stockings, as I am alive! Ain't
you ashamed to put dirty stockings in your trunk?"

"They are no such thing," said Ellen, who, in her vexation,
was in danger of forgetting her fear — "I've worn them but
once."

"They've no business in here, anyhow," said Nancy, rolling
them up in a hard ball and giving them a sudden fling at
Ellen. They just missed her face, and struck the wall beyond.
Ellen seized them to throw back, but her weakness warned her
she was not able, and a moment reminded her of the folly of
doing anything to rouse Nancy, who, for the present, was
pretty quiet. Ellen lay upon her pillow and looked on, ready
to cry with vexation. All her nicely-stowed piles of white
clothes were ruthlessly hurled out and tumbled about; her
capes tried on; her summer dresses unfolded, displayed,
criticised. Nancy decided one was too short; another very
ugly; a third horribly ill-made; and when she had done with
each, it was cast out of her way, on one side or the other, as
the case might be.

The floor was littered with clothes in various states of
disarrangement and confusion. The bottom of the trunk was
reached at last, and then Nancy suddenly recollected her
gruel, and sprang to it. But it had grown cold again.

"This won't do," said Nancy, as she put it on the coals again
— "it must be just right; it'll warm soon, and then, Miss
Ellen, you're agoing to take it, whether or no. I hope you
won't give me the pleasure of pouring it down."

Meanwhile she opened the little door of Ellen's study closet
and went in there, though Ellen begged her not. She pulled the
door to, and stayed some time perfectly quiet. Not able to see
or hear what she was doing, and fretted beyond measure that
her work-box and writing-desk should be at Nancy's mercy, or
even feel the touch of her fingers, Ellen at last could stand
it no longer, but threw herself out of the bed, weak as she
was, and went to see what was going on. Nancy was seated
quietly on the floor, examining, with much seeming interest,
the contents of the work-box; trying on the thimble, cutting
bits of thread with the scissors, and marking the ends of the
spools — with whatever like pieces of mischief her restless
spirit could devise; but when Ellen opened the door, she put
the box from her and started up.

"My goodness me!" said she, "this'll never do. What are you
out here for? you'll catch your death with those dear little
bare feet, and we shall have the mischief to pay!"

As she said this, she caught up Ellen in her arms as if she
had been a baby, and carried her back to the bed, where she
laid her with two or three little shakes, and then proceeded
to spread up the clothes and tuck her in all round. She then
ran for the gruel. Ellen was in great question whether to give
way to tears or vexation; but with some difficulty determined
upon vexation as the best plan. Nancy prepared the gruel to
her liking, and brought it to the bedside; but to get it
swallowed was another matter. Nancy was resolved Ellen should
take it. Ellen had less strength, but quite as much obstinacy
as her enemy, and she was equally resolved not to drink a
drop. Between laughing on Nancy's part, and very serious anger
on Ellen's, a struggle ensued. Nancy tried to force it down,
but Ellen's shut teeth were as firm as a vice, and the end was
that two-thirds were bestowed on the sheet. Ellen burst into
tears. Nancy laughed.

"Well, I _do_ think," said she, "you are one of the hardest
customers ever I came across. I shouldn't want to have the
managing of you when you get a little bigger. Oh, the way Miss
Fortune will look, when she comes in here will be a caution!
Oh, what fun!"


Nancy shouted and clapped her hands. "Come, stop crying!" said
she; "what a baby you are! what are you crying for? come,
stop! — I'll make you laugh if you don't."

Two or three little applications of Nancy's fingers made her
words good, but laughing was mixed with crying, and Ellen
writhed in hysterics. Just then came a little knock at the
door. Ellen did not hear it, but it quieted Nancy. She stood
still a moment; and then, as the knock was repeated, she
called out boldly, "Come in!" Ellen raised her head "to see
who there might be;" and great was the surprise of both, and
the joy of one, as the tall form and broad shoulders of Mr.
Van Brunt presented themselves.

"Oh, Mr. Van Brunt," sobbed Ellen, "I am so glad to see you!
won't you please send Nancy away?"

"What are you doing here?" said the astonished Dutchman.

"Look and see, Mr. Van Brunt," said Nancy with a smile of
mischief's own curling; "you won't be long finding out, I
guess."

"Take yourself off, and don't let me hear of your being caught
here again."

"I'll go when I'm ready, thank you," said Nancy; "and as to
the rest, I haven't been caught the first time, yet; I don't
know what you mean."

She sprang as she finished her sentence, for Mr. Van Brunt
made a sudden movement to catch her then and there. He was
foiled; and then began a running chase round the room, in the
course of which Nancy dodged, pushed, and sprang, with the
power of squeezing by impassables, and overleaping
impossibilities, that, to say the least of it, was remarkable.
The room was too small for her, and she was caught at last.

"I vow!" said Mr. Van Brunt as he pinioned her hands, "I
should like to see you play blind man's buff for once, if I
warn't the blind man."

"How'd you see me if you was?" said Nancy, scornfully.

"Now, Miss Ellen," said Mr. Van Brunt, as he brought her to
Ellen's bedside, "here she is safe; what shall I do with her?"

"If you will only send her away, and not let her come back,
Mr. Van Brunt," said Ellen, "I'll be so much obliged to you!"

"Let me go!" said Nancy; "I declare you're a real mean
Dutchman, Mr. Van Brunt."

He took both her hands in one, and laid the other lightly over
her ears.

"I'll let you go," said he. "Now, don't you be caught here
again, if you know what is good for yourself."

He saw Miss Nancy out of the door, and then came back to
Ellen, who was crying heartily again from nervous vexation.

"She's gone," said he. "What has that wicked thing been doing,
Miss Ellen? what's the matter with you?"

"Oh, Mr. Van Brunt," said Ellen, "you can't think how she has
worried me; she has been here this great while; just look at
all my things on the floor, and that isn't the half."

Mr. Van Brunt gave a long whistle as his eye surveyed the
tokens of Miss Nancy's mischief-making, over and through which
both she and himself had been chasing at full speed, making
the state of matters rather worse than it was before.

"I do say," said he, slowly, "that is too bad. I'd fix them up
again for you, Miss Ellen, if I knew how; but my hands are
a'most as clumsy as my feet, and I see the marks of them
there; it's too bad, I declare; I didn't know what I was going
on."

"Never mind, Mr. Van Brunt," said Ellen, — "I don't mind what
you have done, a bit. I'm so glad to see you!"

She put out her little hand to him as she spoke. He took it in
his own, silently; but, though he said and showed nothing of
it, Ellen's look and tone of affection thrilled his heart with
pleasure.

"How do you do?" said he, kindly.

"I'm a great deal better," said Ellen. "Sit down, won't you,
Mr. Van Brunt? I want to see you a little."

Horses wouldn't have drawn him away after that. He sat down.

"Ain't you going to be up again some of these days?" said he.

"Oh yes, I hope so," said Ellen, sighing; "I am very tired of
lying here."

He looked round the room; got up and mended the fire, then
came and sat down again.

"I was up yesterday for a minute," said Ellen; "but the chair
tired me so, I was glad to get back to bed again."

It was no wonder; harder and straighter-backed chairs never
were invented. Probably Mr. Van Brunt thought so.

"Wouldn't you like to have a rocking cheer?" said he,
suddenly, as if a bright thought had struck him.

"Oh yes, how much I should!" said Ellen, with another long-
drawn breath; "but there isn't such a thing in the house, that
ever I saw."

"Ay, but there is in other houses, though," said Mr. Van
Brunt, with as near an approach to a smile as his lips
commonly made; "we'll see!"

Ellen smiled more broadly. "But don't you give yourself any
trouble for me," said she.

"Trouble, indeed!" said Mr. Van Brunt; "I don't know anything
about that. How came that wicked thing up here to plague you?"

"She said Aunt Fortune left her to take care of me."

"That's one of her lies. Your aunt's gone out, I know; but
she's a trifle wiser than to do such a thing as that. She has
plagued you badly, han't she?"

He might have thought so. The colour which excitement brought
into Ellen's face had faded away, and she had settled herself
back against her pillow with an expression of weakness and
weariness that the strong man saw and felt.

"What is there I can do for you?" said he, with a gentleness
that seemed almost strange from such lips.

"If you would," said Ellen, faintly, — "if you _could_ be so
kind as to read to me a hymn — I should be so glad. I've had
nobody to read to me."

Her hand put the little book towards him as she said so.

Mr. Van Brunt would vastly rather any one had asked him to
plough an acre. He was to the full as much confounded as poor
Ellen had once been at a request of his. He hesitated, and
looked towards Ellen, wishing for an excuse. But the pale
little face that lay there against the pillow — the drooping
eyelids — the meek, helpless look of the little child, put all
excuses out of his head; and though he would have chosen to do
almost anything else, he took the book, and asked her "Where?"
She said, "Anywhere;" and he took the first he saw.


"Poor, weak, and worthless though I am,
I have a rich, almighty Friend;
Jesus the Saviour is his name,
He freely loves, and without end."


"Oh," said Ellen, with a sigh of pleasure, and folding her
hands on her breast, — "how lovely that is!"

He stopped and looked at her a moment, and then went on with
increased gravity —


"He ransom'd me from hell with blood,
And by his pow'r my foes controll'd;
He found me wand'ring far from God,
And brought me to his chosen fold."


"Fold?" said Ellen, opening her eyes; "what is that?"

"It's where sheep are penned, ain't it?" said Mr. Van Brunt,
after a pause.

"Oh, yes!" said Ellen; "that's it; I remember; that's like
what he said — 'I am the good shepherd,' and 'the Lord is my
shepherd;' I know now. Go on, please."

He finished the hymn without more interruption. Looking again
towards Ellen, he was surprised to see several large tears
finding their way down her cheeks from under the wet eyelash.
But she quickly wiped them away.

"What do you read them things for," said he, "if they make you
feel bad?"

"Feel bad!" said Ellen. "Oh, they don't; they make me happy; I
love them dearly. I never read that one before. You can't
think how much I am obliged to you for reading it to me. Will
you let me see where it is?"

He gave it her.

"Yes, there's his mark!" said Ellen, with sparkling eyes.
"Now, Mr. Van Brunt, would you be so very good as to read it
once more?"

He obeyed. It was easier this time. She listened, as before,
with closed eyes, but the colour came and went, once or twice.

"Thank you, very much," she said, when he had done. "Are you
going?"

"I must; I have some things to look after."

She held his hand still.

"Mr. Van Brunt, don't _you_ love hymns?"

"I don't know much about 'em, Miss Ellen."

"Mr. Van Brunt, are you one of that fold?"

"What fold?"

"The fold of Christ's people."

"I'm afeard not, Miss Ellen," said he, soberly, after a
minute's pause.

"Because," said Ellen, bursting into tears, "I wish you were,
very much."

She carried the great brown hand to her lips before she let it
go. He went, without saying a word. But when he got out, he
stopped and looked at a little tear she had left on the back
of it. And he looked till one of his own fell there to keep it
company.



CHAPTER XXI.

Footsteps of Angels.


The next day, about the middle of the afternoon, a light step
crossed the shed, and the great door opening gently, in walked
Miss Alice Humphreys. The room was all "redd up," and Miss
Fortune and her mother sat there at work; one picking over
white beans at the table, the other in her usual seat by the
fire, and at her usual employment, which was knitting. Alice
came forward and asked the old lady how she did.

"Pretty well! — oh!, pretty well!" she answered, with the look
of bland good-humour her face almost always wore — "and glad
to see you, dear. Take a chair."

Alice did so, quite aware that the other person in the room
was _not_ glad to see her.

"And how goes the world with you, Miss Fortune?"

"Humph! it's a queer kind of world, I think," answered that
lady, drily, sweeping some of the picked beans into her pan:
"I get a'most sick of it, sometimes."

"Why, what's the matter?" said Alice, pleasantly; "may I ask?
Has anything happened to trouble you?"

"Oh, no!" said the other, somewhat impatiently; "nothing
that's any matter to anyone but myself; it's no use speaking
about it."

"Ah! Fortune never would take the world easy," said the old
woman, shaking her head from side to side; — "never would; — I
never could get her to."

"Now, do hush, mother, will you!" said the daughter, turning
round upon her with startling sharpness of look and tone; "
'take the world easy!' you always did; I am glad I ain't like
you."

"I don't think it's a bad way, after all," said Alice; "what's
the use of taking it hard, Miss Fortune?"

"The way one goes on!" said that lady, picking away at her
beans very fast, and not answering Alice's question; "I'm
tired of it; toil, toil, and drive, drive, from morning to
night — and what's the end of it all?"

"Not much," said Alice, gravely, "if our toiling looks no
further than this world. When we go we shall carry nothing
away with us. I should think it would be very wearisome to
toil only for what we cannot keep, nor stay long to enjoy."

"It's a pity you warn't a minister, Miss Alice," said Miss
Fortune, drily.

"Oh, no, Miss Fortune," said Alice, smiling, "the family would
be overstocked. My father is one, and my brother will be
another — a third would be too much. You must be so good as to
let me preach without taking orders."

"Well, I wish every minister was as good a one as you'd make,"
said Miss Fortune, her hard face giving way a little; "at any
rate, nobody'd mind anything you'd say, Miss Alice."

"That would be unlucky, in one sense," said Alice; "but I
believe I know what you mean. But, Miss Fortune, no one would
dream the world went very hard with you. I don't know anybody,
I think, lives in more independent comfort and plenty, and has
things more to her mind. I never come to the house that I am
not struck with the fine look of the farm, and all that
belongs to it."

"Yes," said the old lady, nodding her head two or three times;
"Mr. Van Brunt is a good farmer — very good — there's no doubt
about that."

"I wonder what _he'd_ do," said Miss Fortune, quickly and
sharply, as before, "if there warn't a head to manage for him!
— Oh, the farm's well enough, Miss Alice — tain't that; every
one knows where his own shoe pinches."

"I wish you'd let me into the secret, then, Miss Fortune; I'm
a cobbler by profession."

Miss Fortune's ill-humour was giving way, but something
disagreeable seemed again to cross her mind. Her brow
darkened.

"I say it's a poor kind of world, and I'm sick of it! One may
slave, and slave one's life out for other people, and what
thanks do you get? I'm sick of it."

"There's a little body up-stairs, or I'm much mistaken, who
will give you very sincere thanks for every kindness shown
her."

Miss Fortune tossed her head, and brushing the refuse beans
into her lap, she pushed back her chair with a jerk, to go to
the fire with them.

"Much you know about her, Miss Alice! Thanks, indeed! I
haven't seen the sign of such a thing since she's been here,
for all I have worked and worked, and had plague enough with
her, I am sure. Deliver me from other people's children, say
I!"

"After all, Miss Fortune," said Alice, soberly, "it is not
what we _do_ for people that makes them love us — or, at least,
everything depends on the way things are done. A look of love,
a word of kindness, goes further towards winning the heart
than years of service, or benefactions mountain high, without
them."

"Does she say I am unkind to her?" asked Miss Fortune,
fiercely.

"Pardon me," said Alice, "words on her part are unnecessary;
it is easy to see from your own that there is no love lost
between you, and I am very sorry it is so."

"Love, indeed!" said Miss Fortune, with great indignation;
"there never was any to lose, I can assure you. She plagues
the very life out of me. Why, she hadn't been here three days
before she went off with that girl Nancy Vawse, that I had
told her never to go near, and was gone all night; that's the
time she got in the brook. And if you'd seen her face when I
was scolding her about it! it was like seven thunderclouds.
Much you know about it! I dare say she's very sweet to you;
that's the way she is to everybody beside me; they all think
she's too good to live; and it just makes me mad!"

"She told me herself," said Alice, "of her behaving ill
another time, about her mother's letter."

"Yes — that was another time. I wish you'd seen her!"

"I believe she saw and felt her fault in that case. Didn't she
ask your pardon? — she said she would."

"Yes," said Miss Fortune, drily — "after a fashion."

"Has she had her letter yet?"

"No."

"How is she to-day?"

"Oh, she's well enough — she's sitting up. You can go up and
see her."

"I will, directly," said Alice. "But now, Miss Fortune, I am
going to ask a favour of you — will you do me a great
pleasure?"

"Certainly, Miss Alice — if I can."

"If you think Ellen has been sufficiently punished for her
ill-behaviour — if you do not think it right to withhold her
letter still — will you let me have the pleasure of giving it
to her? I should take it as a great favour to myself."

Miss Fortune made no kind of reply to this, but stalked out of
the room, and in a few minutes stalked in again with the
letter, which she gave to Alice, only saying shortly —

"It came to me in a letter from her father."

"You are willing she should have it?" said Alice.

"Oh, yes! — do what you like with it."

Alice now went softly up stairs. She found Ellen's door a
little ajar, and looking in, could see Ellen seated in a
rocking-chair between the door and the fire, in her double
gown, and with her hymn-book in her hand. It happened that
Ellen had spent a good part of that afternoon in crying for
her lost letter; and the face that she turned to the door, on
hearing some slight noise outside, was very white and thin
indeed. And though it was placid, too, her eye searched the
crack of the door with a keen wistfulness that went to Alice's
heart. But as the door was gently pushed open, and the eye
caught the figure that stood behind it, the sudden and entire
change of expression took away all her powers of speech.
Ellen's face became radiant; she rose from her chair, and as
Alice came silently in, and kneeling down to be near her, took
her in her arms, Ellen put both hers round Alice's neck, and
laid her face there; one was too happy and the other too
touched, to say a word.

"My poor child!" was Alice's first expression.

"No, I ain't," said Ellen, tightening the squeeze of her arms
round Alice's neck; "I am not poor at all now."

Alice presently rose, sat down in the rocking-chair, and took
Ellen in her lap; and Ellen rested her head on her bosom, as
she had been wont to do of old time on her mother's.

"I am too happy," she murmured. But she was weeping, and the
current of tears seemed to gather force as it flowed. What was
little Ellen thinking of just then? Oh, those times gone by! —
when she had sat just so; her head pillowed on another as
gentle breast; kind arms wrapped round her, just as now; the
same little, old double-gown; the same weak, helpless feeling;
the same committing herself to the strength and care of
another; — how much the same, and, oh! how much not the same!
— and Ellen knew both. Blessing, as she did, the breast on
which she leaned, and the arms whose pressure she felt, they
yet reminded her sadly of those most loved and so very far
away; and it was an odd mixture of relief and regret, joy and
sorrow, gratified and ungratified affection, that opened the
sluices of her eyes. Tears poured.

"What is the matter, my love?" said Alice, softly.

"I don't know," whispered Ellen.

"Are you so glad to see me? or so sorry? or what is it?"

"Oh, glad and sorry both, I think!" said Ellen, with a long
breath, and sitting up.

"Have you wanted me so much, my poor child?"

"I cannot tell you how much," said Ellen, her words cut short.

"And didn't you know that I have been sick, too? What did you
think had become of me? Why, Mrs. Vawse was with me a whole
week, and this is the very first day I have been able to go
out. It is so fine to-day, I was permitted to ride Sharp
down."

"Was that it?" said Ellen. "I did wonder, Miss Alice — I did
wonder very much why you did not come to see me, but I never
liked to ask Aunt Fortune, because —"

"Because what?"

"I don't know as I ought to say what I was going to; I had a
feeling she would be glad about what I was sorry about."

"Don't know _that_ you ought to say," said Alice. "Remember, you
are to study English with me."

Ellen smiled a glad smile.

"And you have had a weary two weeks of it, haven't you, dear?"

"Oh," said Ellen, with another long-drawn sigh, "how weary!
Part of that time, to be sure, I was out of my head; but I
have got _so_ tired lying here all alone; Aunt Fortune coming in
and out, was just as good as nobody."

"Poor child!" said Alice, "you have had a worse time than I."

"I used to lie and watch that crack in the door, at the foot
of my bed," said Ellen, "and I got so tired of it I hated to
see it; but when I opened my eyes I couldn't help looking at
it, and watching all the little ins and outs in the crack,
till I was as sick of it as could be; and that button too,
that fastens the door, and the little round mark the button
has made, and thinking how far the button went round. And
then, if I looked towards the windows, I would go right to
counting the panes, first up and down, and then across — and I
didn't want to count them, but I couldn't help it; and
watching to see through which pane the sky looked brightest.
Oh! I got so sick of it all! There was only the fire that I
didn't get tired of looking at; I always liked to lie and look
at that, except when it hurt my eyes. And oh! how I wanted to
see you, Miss Alice! You can't think how sad I felt that you
didn't come to see me. I couldn't think what could be the
matter."

"I should have been with you, dear, and not have left you, if
I had not been tied at home myself."

"So I thought, and that made it seem so very strange. But oh!
don't you think," said Ellen, her face suddenly brightening —
"don't you think Mr. Van Brunt came up to see me last night?
Wasn't it good of him? He even sat down and read to me — only
think of that! And isn't he kind? — he asked if I would like a
rocking-chair, and of course I said yes, for these other
chairs are dreadful — they break my back; and there wasn't
such a thing as a rocking-chair in Aunt Fortune's house — she
hates 'em, she says; and this morning, the first thing I knew,
in walked Mr. Van Brunt with this nice rocking-chair. Just get
up and see how nice it is; — you see the back is cushioned,
and the elbows, as well as the seat; it's queer-looking, ain't
it? but it's very comfortable. Wasn't it good of him?"

"It was very kind, I think. But do you know, Ellen, I am going
to have a quarrel with you?"

"What about?" said Ellen. "I don't believe it's anything very
bad, for you look pretty good-humoured, considering."

"Nothing _very_ bad," said Alice, "but still enough to quarrel
about. You have twice said '_ain't_ ' since I have been here."

"Oh," said Ellen, laughing, "is that all?"

"Yes," said Alice, "and my English ears don't like it at all."

"Then they shan't hear it," said Ellen, kissing her. "I don't
know what makes me say it — I never used to. But I've got more
to tell you — I've had more visitors. Who do you think came to
see me? — you'd never guess — Nancy Vawse! Mr. Van Brunt came
in the very nick of time, when I was almost worried to death
with her. Only think of _her_ coming up here — unknown to every
body! And she stayed an age, and how she _did_ go on! She
cracked nuts on the hearth; — she got every stitch of my
clothes out of my trunk, and scattered them over the floor; —
she tried to make me drink gruel, till, between us we spilled
a great parcel on the bed; — and she had begun to tickle me
when Mr. Van Brunt came. Oh! wasn't I glad to see him! And
when Aunt Fortune came up and saw it all, she was as angry as
she could be; and she scolded and scolded, till at last I told
her it was none of my doing — I couldn't help it at all — and
she needn't talk so to me about it; and then she said it was
my fault, the whole of it! that if I hadn't scraped
acquaintance with Nancy, when she had forbidden me all this
would never have happened."

"There is some truth in that, isn't there, Ellen?"

"Perhaps so; but I think it might all have happened whether or
no; and, at any rate, it is a little hard to talk so to me
about it now, when it's all over, and can't be helped. Oh, I
have been so tired to-day, Miss Alice! — Aunt Fortune has been
in such a bad humour."

"What put her in a bad humour?"

"Why, all this about Nancy in the first place; and then I know
she didn't like Mr. Van Brunt's bringing the rocking-chair for
me — she couldn't say much, but I could see by her face. And
then Mrs. Van Brunt's coming — I don't think she liked that.
Oh, Mrs. Van Brunt came to see me this morning, and brought me
a custard. How many people are kind to me, everywhere I go."

"I hope, dear Ellen, you don't forget whose kindness sends
them all."

"I don't, Miss Alice; I always think of that now; and it
seems, you can't think how pleasant, to me sometimes."

"Then I hope you can bear unkindness from one poor woman —
who, after all, isn't as happy as you are — without feeling
any ill-will towards her in return."

"I don't think I feel ill-will towards her," said Ellen; "I
always try as hard as I can not to; but I can't _like_ her, Miss
Alice; and I do get out of patience. It's very easy to put me
out of patience, I think; it takes almost nothing, sometimes."

"But, remember, 'charity suffereth long, and is kind.' "

"And I try all the while, dear Miss Alice, to keep down my bad
feelings," said Ellen, her eyes watering as she spoke; "I try,
and pray to get rid of them, and I hope I shall by-and-by; I
believe I am very bad."

Alice drew her closer.

"I have felt very sad part of to-day," said Ellen, presently;
"Aunt Fortune, and my being so lonely, and my poor letter,
altogether; but part of the time I felt a great deal better. I
was learning that lovely hymn — do you know it, Miss Alice? —


'Poor, weak, and worthless, though I am.' "


Alice went on: —


" 'I have a rich, almighty Friend,
Jesus the Saviour is his name,
He freely loves, and without end.'


"Oh, dear Ellen, whoever can say that, has no right to be
unhappy. No matter what happens, we have enough to be glad
of."

"And then I was thinking of those words in the Psalms —
'Blessed is the man' — stop, I'll find it; I don't know
exactly how it goes; — 'Blessed is he whose transgression is
forgiven; whose sin is covered.' "

"Oh, yes, indeed!" said Alice. "It is a shame that any trifles
should worry much those whose sins are forgiven them, and who
are the children of the great King. Poor Miss Fortune never
knew the sweetness of those words. We ought to be sorry for
her, and pray for her, Ellen; and never, never, even in
thought, return evil for evil. It is not like Christ to do
so."

"I will not, I will not, if I can help it," said Ellen.

"You can help it; but there is only one way. Now, Ellen, dear,
I have three pieces of news for you, that I think you will
like. One concerns you, another myself, and the third concerns
both you and myself. Which will you have first?"

"Three pieces of good news!" said Ellen, with opening eyes; "I
think I'll have my part first."

Directing Ellen's eyes to her pocket, Alice slowly made the
corner of the letter show itself. Ellen's colour came and went
quick as it was drawn forth; but when it was fairly out, and
she knew it again, she flung herself upon it with a desperate
eagerness Alice had not looked for; she was startled at the
half-frantic way in which the child clasped and kissed it,
weeping bitterly at the same time. Her transport was almost
hysterical. She had opened the letter, but she was not able to
read a word; and quitting Alice's arms, she threw herself upon
the bed, sobbing in a mixture of joy and sorrow that seemed to
take away her reason. Alice looked on surprised a moment, but
only a moment, and turned away.

When Ellen was able to begin her letter, the reading of it
served to throw her back into fresh fits of tears. Many a word
of Mrs. Montgomery's went so to her little daughter's heart,
that its very inmost cords of love and tenderness were wrung.
It is true, the letter was short and very simple; but it came
from her mother's heart; it was written by her mother's hand;
and the very old remembered hand-writing had mighty power to
move her. She was so wrapped up in her own feelings, that
through it all she never noticed that Alice was not near her,
that Alice did not speak to comfort her. When the letter had
been read time after time, and wept over again and again, and
Ellen at last was folding it up for the present, she bethought
herself of her friend, and turned to look after her. Alice was
sitting by the window, her face hid in her hands; and as Ellen
drew near, she was surprised to see that her tears were
flowing, and her breast heaving. Ellen came quite close, and
softly laid her hand on Alice's shoulder. But it drew no
attention.

"Miss Alice," said Ellen, almost fearfully, "_dear_ Miss Alice"
— and her own eyes filled fast again — "what is the matter? —
won't you tell me? Oh! don't do so! please don't!"

"I will not," said Alice, lifting her head; "I am sorry I have
troubled you, dear; I am sorry, I could not help it."

She kissed Ellen, who stood anxious and sorrowful by her side,
and brushed away her tears. But Ellen saw she had been
shedding a great many.

"What is the matter, dear Miss Alice? — what has happened to
trouble you? — won't you tell me?" — Ellen was almost crying
herself.

Alice came back to the rocking-chair, and took Ellen in her
arms again; but she did not answer her. Leaning her face
against Ellen's forehead, she remained silent. Ellen ventured
to ask no more questions; but lifting her hand once or twice
caressingly to Alice's face, she was distressed to find her
cheek wet still. Alice spoke at last.

"It isn't fair not to tell you what is the matter, dear Ellen,
since I have let you see me sorrowing. It is nothing new, nor
anything I would have otherwise if I could. It is only that I
have had a mother once, and have lost her; — and you brought
back the old time so strongly, that I could not command
myself."

Ellen felt a hot tear drop upon her forehead, and again
ventured to speak her sympathy only by silently stroking
Alice's cheek.

"It is all past now," said Alice; "it is all well. I would not
have her back again. I shall go to her, I hope, by-and-by."

"Oh, no! You must stay with me," said Ellen, clasping both
arms around her.

There was a long silence, during which they remained locked in
each other's arms.

"Ellen, dear," said Alice, at length, "we are both motherless,
for the present, at least — both of us almost alone: I think
God has brought us together to be a comfort to each other. We
will be sisters while He permits us to be so. Don't call me
Miss Alice any more. You shall be my little sister, and I will
be your elder sister, and my home shall be your home as well."

Ellen's arms were drawn very close round her companion at
this, but she said nothing, and her face was laid in Alice's
bosom. There was another very long pause. Then Alice spoke in
a livelier tone.

"Come, Ellen! look up! you and I have forgotten ourselves; it
isn't good for sick people to get down in the dumps. Look up,
and let me see these pale cheeks. Don't you want something to
eat?"

"I don't know," said Ellen, faintly.

"What would you say to a cup of chicken-broth?"

"Oh, I should like it very much!" said Ellen, with new energy.

"Margery made me some particularly nice, as she always does;
and I took it into my head a little might not come amiss to
you; so I resolved to stand the chance of Sharp's jolting it
all over me, and I rode down with a little pail of it on my
arm. Let me rake open these coals, and you shall have some
directly."

"And did you come without being spattered?" said Ellen.

"Not a drop. Is this what you use to warm things in? Never
mind, it has had gruel in it; I'll set the tin pail on the
fire; it won't hurt it."

"I am so much obliged to you," said Ellen, "for do you know I
have got quite tired of gruel, and panada I can't bear."

"Then I am very glad I brought it."

While it was warming, Alice washed Ellen's gruel cup and
spoon; and presently she had the satisfaction of seeing Ellen
eating the broth with that keen enjoyment none know but those
that have been sick and are getting well. She smiled to see
her gaining strength almost in the very act of swallowing.

"Ellen," said she, presently, "I have been considering your
dressing-table. It looks rather doleful. I'll make you a
present of some dimity, and when you come to see me you shall
make a cover for it, that will reach down to the floor and
hide those long legs."

"That wouldn't do at all," said Ellen; "Aunt Fortune would go
off into all sorts of fits."

"What about?"

"Why, the washing, Miss Alice — to have such a great thing to
wash every now and then. You can't think what a fuss she makes
if I have more than just so many white clothes in the wash
every week."

"That's too bad," said Alice. "Suppose you bring it up to me —
it wouldn't be often — and I'll have it washed for you — if
you care enough about it to take the trouble."

"Oh, indeed I do!" said Ellen: "I should like it very much,
and I'll get Mr. Van Brunt to — no, I can't, Aunt Fortune
won't let me; I was going to say, I would get him to saw off
the legs and make it lower for me, and then my dressing-box
would stand so nicely on the top. Maybe I can yet. Oh, I never
showed you my boxes and things."

Ellen brought them all out, and displayed their beauties. In
the course of going over the writing-desk, she came to the
secret drawer, and a little money in it.

"Oh, that puts me in mind!" she said. "Miss Alice, this money
is to be spent for some poor child; — now, I've been thinking
Nancy has behaved so to me, I should like to give her
something, to show her that I don't feel unkindly about it —
what do you think will be a good thing?"

"I don't know, Ellen — I'll take the matter into
consideration."

"Do you think a Bible would do?"

"Perhaps that would do as well as anything; — I'll think about
it."

"I should like to do it, very much," said Ellen, "for she has
vexed me wonderfully."

"Well, Ellen, would you like to hear my other pieces of news?
or have you no curiosity?"

"Oh, yes, indeed," said Ellen; "I had forgotten it entirely;
what is it, Miss Alice?"

"You know, I told you one concerns only myself, but it is
great news to me. I learnt this morning that my brother will
come to spend the holidays with me. It is many months since I
have seen him."

"Does he live far away?" said Ellen.

"Yes — he has gone far away to pursue his studies, and cannot
come home often. The other piece of news is, that I intend, if
you have no objection, to ask Miss Fortune's leave to have you
spend the holidays with me too."

"Oh, delightful!" said Ellen, starting up, and clapping her
hands, and then throwing them round her adopted sister's neck;
— "dear Alice, how good you are!"

"Then I suppose I may reckon upon your consent," said Alice —
"and I'll speak to Miss Fortune, without delay."

"Oh, thank you, dear Miss Alice; — how glad I am! I shall be
happy all the time from now till then thinking of it. You
aren't going?"

"I must."

"Ah, don't go yet! Sit down again; you know you're my sister —
don't you want to read Mamma's letter?"

"If you please, Ellen — I should like it very much."

She sat down, and Ellen gave her the letter, and stood by
while she read it, watching her with glistening eyes; and
though, as she saw Alice's fill, her own overflowed again, she
hung over her still to the last; going over every line this
time with a new pleasure: —


"New York, Saturday, Nov. 22, 18 — .

"MY DEAR ELLEN, — "I meant to have written to you before, but
have been scarcely able to do so. I did make one or two
efforts which came to nothing; I was obliged to give it up
before finishing anything that could be called a letter. To-
day I feel much stronger than I have at any time since your
departure.

"I have missed you, my dear child, very much. There is not an
hour in the day, nor a half hour, that the want of you does
not come home to my heart; and I think I have missed you in my
very dreams. This separation is a very hard thing to bear. But
the hand that has arranged it does nothing amiss; we must
trust Him, my daughter, that all will be well. I feel it is
well; though sometimes the thought of your dear little face is
almost too much for me. I will thank God I have had such a
blessing so long, and I now commit my treasure to him. It is
an unspeakable comfort to me to do this, for nothing committed
to his care is ever forgotten or neglected. Oh! my daughter,
never forget to pray; never slight it. It is almost my only
refuge, now I have lost you, and it bears me up. How often —
how often — through years gone by — when heart-sick and faint
— I have fallen on my knees, and presently there have been, as
it were, drops of cool water sprinkled upon my spirit's fever.
Learn to love prayer, dear Ellen, and then you will have a
cure for all the sorrows of life. And keep this letter, that,
if ever you are like to forget it, your mother's testimony may
come to mind again.

"My tea, that used to be so pleasant, has become a sad meal to
me. I drink it mechanically, and set down my cup, remembering
only that the dear little hand which used to minister to my
wants is near me no more. My child — my child! — words are
poor to express the heart's yearnings, — my spirit is near you
all the time.

"Your old gentleman has paid me several visits. The day after
you went, came some beautiful pigeons. I sent word back that
you were no longer here to enjoy his gifts, and the next day
he came to see me. He has shown himself very kind. And all
this, dear Ellen, had for its immediate cause your proper and
ladylike behaviour in the store. That thought has been sweeter
to me than all the old gentleman's birds and fruit. I am sorry
to inform you that, though I have seen him so many times, I am
still perfectly ignorant of his name.

"We set sail Monday, in the _England_. Your father has secured a
nice state-room for me, and I have a store of comforts laid up
for the voyage. So next week you may imagine me out on the
broad ocean, with nothing but sky and clouds and water to be
seen around me, and probably much too sick to look at those.
Never mind that; the sickness is good for me.

"I will write you as soon as I can again, and send by the
first conveyance.

"And now, my dear baby — my precious child — farewell! May the
blessings of God be with you! — Your affectionate mother,

"E. MONTGOMERY."


"You ought to be a good child, Ellen," said Alice, as she
dashed away some tears. "Thank you for letter me see this; it
has been a great pleasure to me."

"And now," said Ellen, "you feel as if you knew Mamma a
little."

"Enough to honour and respect her very much. Now, good-bye, my
love; I must be at home before it is late. I will see you
again before Christmas comes."


CHAPTER XXII.

Shows how Mr. Van Brunt could be sharp upon some things.


To Ellen's sorrow, she was pronounced next morning well enough
to come downstairs; her aunt averring that "it was no use to
keep a fire burning up there for nothing." She must get up and
dress in the cold, again; and winter had fairly set in now;
the 19th of December rose clear and keen. Ellen looked
sighingly at the heap of ashes and the dead brands in the
fireplace, where the bright little fire had blazed so
cheerfully the evening before. But regrets did not help the
matter, and shivering she began to dress as fast as she could.
Since her illness, a basin and pitcher had been brought into
her room, so the washing at the spout was ended for the
present; and, though the basin had no place but a chair, and
the pitcher must stand on the floor, Ellen thought herself too
happy. But how cold it was! The wind swept past her windows,
giving wintry shakes to the panes of glass, and through many
an opening in the wooden framework of the house it came in and
saluted Ellen's bare arms and neck. She hurried to finish her
dressing, and wrapping her double-gown over all, went down to
the kitchen. It was another climate there. A great fire was
burning, that it quite cheered Ellen's heart to look at; and
the air seemed to be full of coffee and buckwheat cakes; Ellen
almost thought she should get enough breakfast by the sense of
smell.

"Ah! here you are," said Miss Fortune. "What have you got that
thing on for?"

"It was so cold up-stairs," said Ellen, drawing up her
shoulders. The warmth had not got inside of her wrapper yet.

"Well, 'tain't cold here; you'd better pull it off right away.
I've no notion of people's making themselves tender. You'll be
warm enough directly. Breakfast'll warm you."

Ellen felt almost inclined to quarrel with the breakfast that
was offered in exchange for her comfortable wrapper; she
pulled it off, however, and sat down without saying anything.
Mr. Van Brunt put some cakes on her plate.

"If breakfast's agoing to warm you," said he, "make haste and
get something down; or drink a cup of coffee — you're as blue
as skim milk."

"Am I?" said Ellen, laughing; "I feel blue, but I can't eat
such a pile of cakes as that, Mr. Van Brunt."

As a general thing, the meals at Miss Fortune's were silent
solemnities; an occasional consultation, or a few questions
and remarks about farm affairs, being all that ever passed.
The breakfast this morning was a singular exception to the
common rule.

"I am in a regular quandary," said the mistress of the house,
when the meal was about half over.

Mr. Van Brunt looked up for an instant, and asked, "what
about?"

"Why, how I am ever going to do to get those apples and
sausage-meat done? If I go to doing 'em myself, I shall about
get through by spring."

"Why don't you make a bee?" said Mr. Van Brunt.

"Ain't enough of either on 'em to make it worth while. I ain't
agoing to have all the bother of a bee without some thing to
show for't."

"Turn'em both into one," suggested her counsellor, going on
with his breakfast.

"Both?"

"Yes — let'em pare apples in one room and cut pork in
t'other."

"But I wonder who ever heard of such a thing before," said
Miss Fortune, pausing with her cup of coffee half-way to her
lips. Presently, however, it was carried to her mouth, drunk
off, and set down with an air of determination.

"I don't care," said she, "if it never was heard of. I'll do
it for once anyhow. I'm not one of them to care what folks
say. I'll have it so! But I won't have 'em to tea, mind you —
I'd rather throw apples and all into the fire at once. I'll
have but one plague of setting tables, and that. I won't have
'em to tea. I'll make it up to 'em in the supper, though."

"I'll take care to publish that," said Mr. Van Brunt.

"Don't you go and do such a thing," said Miss Fortune,
earnestly. "I shall have the whole country on my hands. I
won't have but just as many on 'em as'll do what I want done;
that'll be as much as I can stand under. Don't you whisper a
word of it to a living creature. I'll go round and ask 'em
myself to come Monday evening."

"Monday evening; then I suppose you'd like to have up the
sleigh this afternoon. Who's acoming?"

"I don't know; I han't asked 'em yet."

"They'll every soul come that's asked — that you may depend;
there ain't one on 'em that would miss of it for a dollar."

Miss Fortune bridled a little at the implied tribute to her
housekeeping.

"If I was some folks, I wouldn't let people know I was in such
a mighty hurry to get a good supper," she observed, rather
scornfully.

"Humph!" said Mr. Van Brunt; "I think a good supper ain't a
bad thing, and I've no objection to folk's knowing it."

"Pshaw! I didn't mean _you_," said Miss Fortune; "I was thinking
of those Lawsons, and other folks."

"If you're agoing to ask _them_ to your bee, you ain't of my
mind."

"Well, I am, though," replied Miss Fortune; "there's a good
many hands of 'em; they can turn off a good lot of work in an
evening; and they always take care to get me to _their_ bees. I
may as well get something out of them in return, if I can."

"They'll reckon on getting as much as they can get o' _you_, if
they come, there's no sort of doubt in my mind. It's my belief
Mimy Lawson will kill herself some of these days upon green
corn. She was at home to tea one day last summer, and I
declare I thought —"

What Mr. Van Brunt thought he left his hearers to guess.

"Well, let them kill themselves if they like," said Miss
Fortune; "I am sure I am willing; there'll be enough; I ain't
agoing to mince matters when once I begin. Now, let me see.
There's five of the Lawsons to begin with — I suppose they'll
all come — Bill Huff and Jany, that's seven —"

"That Bill Huff is as good-natured a fellow as ever broke
ground," remarked Mr. Van Brunt. "Ain't better people in the
town than them Huffs are."

"They're well enough," said Miss Fortune. "Seven — and the
Hitchcocks, there's three of them, that'll make ten —"

"Dennison's ain't far from there," said Mr. Van Brunt. "Dan
Dennison's a fine hand at a'most anything, in-doors or out."

"That's more than you can say for his sister. Cilly Dennison
gives herself so many airs, it's altogether too much for plain
country folks. I should like to know what she thinks herself.
It's a'most too much for my stomach to see her flourishing
that watch and chain."

"What's the use of troubling yourself about other people's
notions?" said Mr. Van Brunt. "If folks want to take the road,
let them have it. That's my way. I am satisfied, provided they
don't run me over."

" 'Tain't my way, then, I'd have you to know," said Miss
Fortune; "I despise it! And 'tain't your way, neither, Van
Brunt; what did you give Tom Larkens a cowhiding for?"

" 'Cause he deserved it, if ever a man did," said Mr. Van
Brunt, quite rousing up; "he was treating that little brother
of his'n in a way a boy shouldn't be treated; and I am glad I
did it. I gave him notice to quit before I laid a finger on
him. He warn't doing nothing to _me_."

"And how much good do you suppose it did?" said Miss Fortune,
rather scornfully.

"It did just the good I wanted to do. He has seen fit to let
little Billy alone ever since."

"Well, I guess I'll let the Dennisons come," said Miss
Fortune; "that makes twelve — and you and your mother are
fourteen. I suppose that man Marshchalk will come dangling
along after the Hitchcocks."

"To be sure he will; and his aunt, Miss Janet, will come with
him, most likely."

"Well — there's no help for it," said Miss Fortune. "That
makes sixteen."

"Will you ask Miss Alice?"

"Not I; she's another of your proud set. I don't want to see
anybody that thinks she's going to do me a great favour by
coming."

Ellen's lips opened, but wisdom came in time to stop the words
that were on her tongue. It did not, however, prevent the
quick little turn of her head, which showed what she thought,
and the pale cheeks were for a moment bright enough.

"She is, and I don't care who hears it," repeated Miss
Fortune. "I suppose she'd look as sober as a judge, too, if
she saw cider on the table; they say she won't touch a drop
ever, and thinks it's wicked; and if that ain't setting one's
self up for better than other folks, I don't know what is."

"I saw her paring apples at the Huffs', though," said Mr. Van
Brunt, "and as pleasant as anybody; but she didn't stay to
supper."

"I'd ask Mrs. Vawse, if I could get word to her," said Miss
Fortune; "but I can never travel up that mountain. If I get a
sight of Nancy, I'll tell her."

"There she is, then," said Mr. Van Brunt, looking towards the
little window that opened into the shed. And there, indeed,
was the face of Miss Nancy pressed flat against the glass,
peering into the room! Miss Fortune beckoned to her.

"That is the most impudent, shameless, outrageous piece of —.
What were you doing at the window?" said she as Nancy came in.

"Looking at you, Miss Fortune," said Nancy coolly. "What have
you been talking about, this great while? If there had only
been a pane of glass broken, I needn't have asked."

"Hold your tongue," said Miss Fortune, "and listen to me."

"I'll listen, Ma’am," said Nancy; "but it's no use to hold my
tongue. I do try sometimes, but I never could keep it long."

"Have you done?"

"I don't know, Ma’am," said Nancy, shaking her head; "it's
just as it happens."

"You tell your granny I am going to have a bee here next
Monday evening, and ask her if she'll come to it."

Nancy nodded. "If it's good weather," she added,
conditionally.

"Stop, Nancy!" said Miss Fortune — "here!" for Nancy was
shutting the door behind her. — "As sure as you come here
Monday night without your grandma, you'll go out of the house
quicker than you come in; see if you don't!"

With another gracious nod and smile, Nancy departed.

"Well," said Mr. Van Brunt, rising, "I'll despatch this
business down-stairs, and then I'll bring up the sleigh. The
pickle's ready, I suppose."

"No, it ain't," said Miss Fortune, "I couldn't make it
yesterday; but it's all in the kettle, and I told Sam to make
a fire down-stairs, so you can put it on when you do down. The
kits are all ready, and the salt, and everything else."

Mr. Van Brunt went down the stairs that led to the lower
kitchen; and Miss Fortune, to make up for lost time, set about
her morning's work with even an uncommon measure of activity.
Ellen, in consideration of her being still weak, was not
required to do anything. She sat and looked on, keeping out of
the way of her bustling aunt as far as it was possible; but
Miss Fortune's gyrations were of that character, that no one
could tell five minutes beforehand what she might consider "in
the way." Ellen wished for her quiet room again. Mr. Van
Brunt's voice sounded downstairs in tones of business; what
could he be about? it must be very uncommon business that kept
him in the house. Ellen grew restless with the desire to go
and see, and to change her aunt's company for his; and no
sooner was Miss Fortune fairly shut up in the buttery at some
secret work, than Ellen gently opened the door at the head of
the lower stairs, and looked down. Mr. Van Brunt was standing
at the bottom, and looked up.

"May I come down there, Mr. Van Brunt?" said Ellen, softly.

"Come down here? to be sure you may! You may always come
straight where I am, without asking any questions."

Ellen went down. But before she reached the lowest step she
stopped with almost a start, and stood fixed with such a
horrified face, that neither Mr. Van Brunt nor Sam Larkens,
who was there, could help laughing.

"What's the matter?" said the former — "they're all dead
enough, Miss Ellen; you needn't be scared."

Three enormous hogs, which had been killed the day before,
greeted Ellen's eyes. They lay in different parts of the room,
with each a cob in his mouth. A fourth lay stretched upon his
back on the kitchen table, which was drawn out into the middle
of the floor. Ellen stood fast on the stair.

"Have they been killed!" was her first astonished exclamation,
to which Sam responded with another burst.

"Be quiet, Sam Larkens!" said Mr. Van Brunt. "Yes, Miss Ellen,
they've been killed, sure enough."

"Are these the same pigs I used to see you feeding with corn,
Mr. Van Brunt?"

"The identical same ones," replied that gentleman, as, laying
hold of the head of the one on the table, and applying his
long sharp knife with the other hand, he, while he was
speaking, severed it neatly and quickly from the trunk. "And
very fine porkers they are; I ain't ashamed of 'em."

"And what's going to be done with them now?" said Ellen.

"I am just going to cut them up and lay them down. You never
see nothing of the kind before, did you?"

"No," said Ellen. "What do you mean by 'laying them down,' Mr.
Van Brunt?"

"Why, laying 'em down in salt for pork and hams. You want to
see the whole operation, don't you? Well, here's a seat for
you. You'd better fetch that painted coat o' yourn and wrap
round you, for it ain't quite so warm here as up-stairs; but
it's getting warmer. Sam, just you shut that door to, and
throw on another log."

Sam built up as large a fire as could be made under a very
large kettle that hung in the chimney. When Ellen came down in
her wrapper, she was established close in the chimney corner;
and when Mr. Van Brunt, not thinking her quite safe from the
keen currents of air that would find their way into the room,
despatched Sam for an old buffalo robe that lay in the shed.
This he himself with great care wrapped round her, feet and
chair and all, and secured it in various places with old
forks. He declared then she looked for all the world like an
Indian, except her face; and, in high good-humour both, he
went to cutting up the pork, and Ellen from out of her buffalo
robe watched him.

It was beautifully done. Even Ellen could see that, although
she could not have known if it had been done ill. The knife,
guided by strength and skill, seemed to go with the greatest
ease and certainty just where he wished it; the hams were
beautifully trimmed out; the pieces fashioned clean; no ragged
cutting; and his quick-going knife disposed of carcass after
carcass with admirable neatness and celerity. Sam meanwhile
arranged the pieces in different parcels at his direction, and
minded the kettle, in which a great boiling and scumming was
going on. Ellen was too much amused for a while to ask any
questions. When the cutting up was all done, the hams and
shoulders were put in a cask by themselves, and Mr. Van Brunt
began to pack down the other pieces in the kits, strewing them
with an abundance of salt.

"What's the use of putting all that salt with the pork, Mr.
Van Brunt?" said Ellen.

"It wouldn't keep good without that; it would spoil very
quick."

"Will the salt make it keep?"

"All the year round — as sweet as a nut."

"I wonder what is the reason of that," said Ellen. "Will salt
make everything keep good?"

"Everything in the world — if it only has enough of it, and is
kept dry and cool."

"Are you going to do the hams in the same way?"

"No; — they're to go in that pickle over the fire."

"In this kettle? what is in it?" said Ellen.

"You must ask Miss Fortune about that; — sugar, and salt, and
saltpetre, and molasses, and I don't know what all."

"And will this make the hams so different from the rest of the
pork?"

"No; they've got to be smoked after they have laid in that for
a while."

"Smoked!" said Ellen; "how?"

"Why, han't you been in the smoke-house? The hams has to be
taken out of the pickle and hung up there! and then we make a
little fire of oak chips, and keep it burning night and day."

"And how long must they stay in the smoke?"

"Oh, three or four weeks or so."

"And then they are done?"

"Then they are done."

"How very curious?" said Ellen. "Then it's the smoke that
gives them that nice taste? I never knew smoke was good for
anything before."

"Ellen!" said the voice of Miss Fortune, from the top of the
stairs — "come right up here, this minute! you'll catch your
death!"

Ellen's countenance fell.

"There's no sort of fear of that, Ma’am," said Mr. Van Brunt,
quietly; "and Miss Ellen is fastened up so, she can't get
loose; and I can't let her out just now."

The upper door was shut again pretty sharply, but that was the
only audible expression of opinion with which Miss Fortune
favoured them.

"I guess my leather curtains keep off the wind, don't they?"
said Mr. Van Brunt.

"Yes, indeed they do," said Ellen; "I don't feel a breath; I
am as warm as a toast — too warm, almost. How nicely you have
fixed me up, Mr. Van Brunt!"

"I thought that 'ere old buffalo had done its work," he said;
"but I'll never say anything is good for nothing again. Have
you found out where the apples are, yet?"

"No," said Ellen.

"Han't Miss Fortune showed you? Well, it's time you'd know.
Sam, take that little basket and go fill it at the bin; I
guess you know where they be, for I believe you put 'em
there."

Sam went into the cellar, and presently returned with the
basket nicely filled. He handed it to Ellen.

"Are all these for me?" she said in surprise.

"Every one on 'em," said Mr. Van Brunt.

"But I don't like to," said Ellen; — "what will Aunt Fortune
say?"

"She won't say a word," said Mr. Van Brunt; "and don't you say
a word neither, but whenever you want apples, just go to the
bin and take 'em. I give you leave. It's right at the end of
the far cellar, at the left-hand corner; there are the bins
and all sorts of apples in 'em. You've got a pretty variety
there, han't you?"

"Oh! all sorts," said Ellen — "and what beauties! and I love
apples very much — red, and yellow, and speckled, and green —
what a great monster!"

"That's a Swar; that ain't as good as most of the others; —
those are Seek-no-furthers."

"Seek-no-further!" said Ellen; "what a funny name. It ought to
be a mighty good apple. _I_ shall seek no further, at any rate.
What is this?"

"That's as good an apple as you've got in the basket; that's a
real Orson pippin — a very fine kind. I'll fetch you some up
from home some day, though, that are better than the best of
these."

The pork was all packed; the kettle was lifted off the fire;
Mr. Van Brunt was wiping his hands from the salt.

"And now, I suppose I must go," said Ellen, with a little
sigh.

"Why, _I_ must go," said he; "so I suppose I may as well let you
out of your tent first."

"I have had such a nice time," said Ellen; "I had got so tired
of doing nothing up-stairs. I am _very_ much obliged to you, Mr.
Van Brunt. But," said she, stopping as she had taken up her
basket to go, "aren't you going to put the hams in the
pickle?"

"No," said he, laughing, "it must wait to get cold first. But
you'll make a capital farmer's wife, there's no mistake."

Ellen blushed, and ran up stairs with her apples. To bestow
them safely in her closet was her first care; the rest of the
morning was spent in increasing weariness and listlessness.
She had brought down her little hymn-book, thinking to amuse
herself with learning a hymn, but it would not do; eyes and
head both refused their part of the work; and when at last Mr.
Van Brunt came in to a late dinner, he found Ellen seated flat
on the hearth before the fire, her right arm curled round the
hard wooden bottom of one of the chairs, and her head pillowed
upon that, fast asleep.

"Bless my soul!" said Mr. Van Brunt, "what's become of that
'ere rocking-cheer?"

"It's upstairs, I suppose. You can fetch it if you've a mind
to," answered Miss Fortune, drily enough.

He did so immediately; and Ellen barely waked up to feel
herself lifted from the floor, and placed in the friendly
rocking-chair; Mr. Van Brunt remarking, at the same time, that
"it might be well enough to let well folks lie on the floor
and sleep on cheers, but cushions warn't a bit too soft for
sick ones."

Among the cushions Ellen went to sleep again with a much
better prospect of rest; and either sleeping or dozing, passed
away the time for a good while.


CHAPTER XXIII.

How Miss Fortune went out and pleasure came in.


She was thoroughly roused at last by the slamming of the
house-door after her aunt. She and Mr. Van Brunt had gone
forth on their sleighing expedition, and Ellen waked to find
herself quite alone.

She could not have doubted that her aunt was away, even if she
had not caught a glimpse of her bonnet going out of the shed
door — the stillness was so uncommon. No such quiet could be
with Miss Fortune anywhere about the premises. The old
grandmother must have been abed and asleep, too, for a cricket
under the hearth, and the wood fire in the chimney, had it all
to themselves, and made the only sounds that were heard; the
first singing out every now and then in a very contented and
cheerful style, and the latter giving occasional little snaps
and sparks, that just served to make one take notice how very
quickly and steadily it was burning.

Miss Fortune had left the room put up in the last extreme of
neatness. Not a speck of dust could be supposed to lie on the
shining painted floor; the back of every chair was in its
place against the wall. The very hearth-stones shone, and the
heads of the large iron nails in the floor were polished to
steel. Ellen sat a while listening to the soothing chirrup of
the cricket, and the pleasant crackling of the flames. It was
a fine, cold winter's day. The two little windows at the far
end of the kitchen looked out upon an expanse of snow; and the
large lilac-bush that grew close by the wall, moved lightly by
the wind, drew its icy fingers over the panes of glass. Wintry
it was without, but that made the warmth and comfort within
seem all the more. Ellen would have enjoyed it very much if
she had had any one to talk to; as it was, she felt rather
lonely and sad. She had begun to learn a hymn; but it had set
her off upon a long train of thought; and with her head
resting on her hand, her fingers pressed into her cheek, the
other hand with the hymn-book lying listlessly in her lap, and
eyes staring into the fire, she was sitting the very picture
of meditation, when the door opened, and Alice Humphreys came
in. Ellen started up.

"Oh, I'm so glad to see you! I'm all alone."

"Left alone, are you?" said Alice, as Ellen's warm lips were
pressed again and again to her cold cheeks.

"Yes, aunt Fortune's gone out. Come and sit down here in the
rocking-chair. How cold you are! Oh, do you know she is going
to have a great bee here Monday evening? What is a _bee?_"

Alice smiled. "Why," said she, "when people here in the
country have so much of any kind of work to do that their own
hands are not enough for it, they send and call in their
neighbours to help them — that's a bee. A large party in the
course of a long evening can do a great deal."

"But why do they call it a _bee?_"

"I don't know, unless they mean to be like a hive of bees for
the time. 'As busy as a bee,' you know."

"Then they ought to call it a hive, and not a bee, I should
think. Aunt Fortune is going to ask sixteen people. I wish you
were coming!"

"How do you know but I am?"

"Oh, I know you aren't. Aunt Fortune isn't going to ask you."

"You are sure of that, are you?"

"Yes, I wish I wasn't. Oh, how she vexed me this morning by
something she said!"

"You mustn't get vexed so easily, my child. Don't let every
little untowards thing roughen your temper."

"But I couldn't help it, dear Miss Alice; it was about you. I
don't know whether I ought to tell you; but I don't think
you'll mind it, and I know it isn't true. She said she didn't
want you to come because you were one of the proud set."

"And what did _you_ say?"

"Nothing. I had it just on the end of my tongue to say, 'It's
no such thing;' but I didn't say it."

"I am glad you were so wise. Dear Ellen, that is nothing to be
vexed about. If it were true, indeed, you might be sorry. I
trust Miss Fortune is mistaken. I shall try and find some way
to make her change her mind. I am glad you told me."

"I am _so_ glad you are come, dear Alice!" said Ellen again. "I
wish I could have you always!" And the long, very close
pressure of her two arms about her friend, said as much. There
was a long pause. The cheek of Alice rested on Ellen's head,
which nestled against her; both were busily thinking, but
neither spoke; and the cricket chirped, and the flames
crackled, without being listened to.

"Miss Alice," said Ellen, after a long time — "I wish you
would talk over a hymn with me."

"How do you mean, my dear?" said Alice, rousing herself.

"I mean, read it over and explain it. Mamma used to do it
sometimes. I have been thinking a great deal about her to-day;
and I think I'm very different from what I ought to be. I wish
you would talk to me, and make me better, Miss Alice."

Alice pressed an earnest kiss upon the tearful little face
that was uplifted to her, and presently said —

"I am afraid I shall be a poor substitute for your mother,
Ellen. What hymn shall we take?"

"Any one — this one, if you like. Mamma likes it very much. I
was looking it over to-day: —


'A charge to keep I have,
A God to glorify;
A never-dying soul to save
And fit it for the sky.' "


Alice read the first line, and paused.

"There, now," said Ellen — "what is a charge?"

"Don't you know that?"

"I think I do, but I wish you would tell me."

"Try to tell me first."

"Isn't it something that is given to one to do? — I don't know
exactly."

"It is something given one in trust to be done, or taken care
of. I remember very well once, when I was about your age, my
mother had occasion to go out for half an hour, and she left
me in charge of my little baby sister; she gave me a _charge_
not to let anything disturb her while she was away, and to
keep her asleep if I could. And I remember how I kept my
charge, too. I was not to take her out of the cradle, but I
sat beside her the whole time; I would not suffer a fly to
light on her little fair cheek; I scarcely took my eyes from
her; I made John keep pussy at a distance; and whenever one of
the little, round, dimpled arms was thrown out upon the
coverlet, I carefully drew something over it again."

"Is she dead?" said Ellen, timidly, her eyes watering in
sympathy with Alice's.

"She is dead, my dear; she died before we left England."

"I understand what a charge is," said Ellen, after a little;
"but what is this charge the hymn speaks of? What charge have
I to keep?"

"The hymn goes on to tell you. The next line gives you part of
it. 'A God to glorify.' "

"To glorify?" said Ellen, doubtfully.

"Yes, that is, to honour — to give him all the honour that
belongs to him."

"But can _I_ honour _Him?_"

"Most certainly; either honour or dishonour; you cannot help
doing one."

"I!" said Ellen, again.

"Must not your behaviour speak either well or ill for the
mother who has brought you up?"

"Yes, I know that."

"Very well; when a child of God lives as he ought to do,
people cannot help having high and noble thoughts of that
glorious One whom he serves, and of that perfect law he obeys.
Little as they may love the ways of religion in their own
secret hearts, they _cannot help_ confessing that there is a
God, and that they ought to serve him. But a worldling, and
still more, an unfaithful Christian, just helps people to
forget there is such a Being, and makes them think either that
religion is a sham, or that they may safely go on despising
it. I have heard it said, Ellen, that Christians are the only
Bible some people ever read; and it is true; all they know of
religion is what they get from the lives of its professors;
and oh! were the world but full of the right kind of example,
the kingdom of darkness could not stand. 'Arise, shine!' is a
word that every Christian ought to take home."

"But how can I shine?" asked Ellen.

"My dear Ellen — in the faithful, patient, self-denying
performance of every duty as it comes to hand — 'Whatsoever
thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.' "

"It is very little that I can do," said Ellen.

"Perhaps more than you think — but never mind that. All are
not great stars in the church; you may be only a little
rushlight — see you burn well."

"I remember," said Ellen, musing, "Mamma once told me, when I
was going somewhere, that people would think strangely of _her_
if I didn't behave well."

"Certainly. Why, Ellen, I formed an opinion of her very soon
after I saw you."

"Did you?" said Ellen, with a wonderfully brightened face —
"what was it? was it good? ah! do tell me!"

"I am not quite sure of the wisdom of that," said Alice,
smiling: "you might take home the praise that is justly her
right and not yours."

"Oh no, indeed," said Ellen; "I had rather she should have it
than I. Please tell me what you thought of her, dear Alice — I
know it was good, at any rate."

"Well, I will tell you," said Alice, "at all risks. I thought
your mother was a lady, from the honourable notions she had
given you; and, from your ready obedience to her, which was
evidently the obedience of love, I judged she had been a good
mother in the true sense of the term. I thought she must be a
refined and cultivated person, from the manner of your speech
and behaviour; and I was sure she was a Christian, because she
had taught you the truth, and evidently had tried to lead you
in it."

The quivering face of delight with which Ellen began to listen
gave way, long before Alice had done, to a burst of tears.

"It makes me so glad to hear you say that!" she said.

"The praise of it is your mother's, you know, Ellen."

"I know it — but you make me so glad!" And hiding her face in
Alice's lap, she fairly sobbed.

"You understand now, don't you, how Christians may honour or
dishonour their Heavenly Father?"

"Yes, I do; but it makes me afraid to think of it."

"Afraid! It ought rather to make you glad. It is a great
honour and happiness for us to be permitted to honour Him —


'A never-dying soul to save
And fit it for the sky.'


Yes — that is the great duty you owe yourself. Oh, never
forget it, dear Ellen! And whatever would hinder you, have
nothing to do with it. 'What shall it profit a man though he
gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?'


'To serve the present age,
My calling to fulfil —' "


"What is 'the present age?' " said Ellen.

"All the people who are living in the world at this time."

"But, dear Alice, what can I do to the present age?"

"Nothing to the most part of them, certainly; and yet, dear
Ellen, if your little rushlight shines well, there is just so
much the less darkness in the world — though perhaps you light
only a very little corner. Every Christian is a blessing to
the world — another grain of salt to go towards sweetening and
saving the mass."

"That is very pleasant to think of," said Ellen, musing.

"Oh, if we were but full of love to our Saviour, how pleasant
it would be to do anything for him! how many ways we should
find of honouring him by doing good."

"I wish you would tell me some of the ways that I can do it,"
said Ellen.

"You will find them fast enough if you seek them, Ellen. No
one is so poor or so young but he has one talent at least to
use for God."

"I wish I knew what mine is," said Ellen.

"Is your daily example as perfect as it can be?"

Ellen was silent, and shook her head.

"Christ pleased not himself, and went about doing good; and he
said, 'If any man serve me, let him _follow me_.' Remember that.
Perhaps your aunt is unreasonable and unkind — see with how
much patience and perfect sweetness of temper you can bear and
forbear; see if you cannot win her over by untiring
gentleness, obedience, and meekness. Is there no improvement
to be made here?"

"Oh me, yes!" answered Ellen, with a sigh.

"Then your old grandmother. Can you do nothing to cheer her
life in her old age and helplessness? can't you find some way
of giving her pleasure — some way of amusing a long and
tedious hour, now and then?"

Ellen looked very grave; in her inmost heart she knew this was
a duty she shrank from.

"He 'went about doing good.' Keep that in mind. A kind word
spoken — a little thing to smooth the way of one, or lighten
the load of another — teaching those who need teaching —
entreating those who are walking in the wrong way. Oh! my
child, there is work enough!


'To serve the present age,
My calling to fulfil;
Oh, may it all my powers engage
To do my Maker's will!


Arm me with jealous care,
As in thy sight to live;
And oh! thy servant, Lord, prepare,
A strict account to give!' "


"An account of what?" said Ellen.

"You know what an account is. If I give Thomas a dollar to
spend for me at Carra-carra, I expect he will give me an exact
_account_, when he comes back, what he has done with every
shilling of it. So must we give an account of what we have
done with everything our Lord has committed to our care — our
hands, our tongues, our time, our minds, our influence; how
much we have honoured him, how much good we have done to
others, how fast and how far we have grown holy and fit for
heaven."

"It almost frightens me to hear you talk, Miss Alice."

"Not _frighten_, dear Ellen — that is not the word; _sober_ we
ought to be — mindful to do nothing we shall not wish to
remember in the great day of account. Do you recollect how
that day is described? Where is your Bible?"

She opened at the 20th chapter of Revelation.

"And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from
whose face the earth and the heaven flew away; and there was
found no place for them.

"And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God: and
the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is
the book of life; and the dead were judged out of those things
which were written in the books, according to their works. And
the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell
delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged
every man according to their works. And death and hell were
cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

"And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was
cast into the lake of fire."

Ellen shivered. "That is dreadful!" she said.

"It will be a dreadful day to all but those whose names are
written in the Lamb's book of life; — not dreadful to them,
dear Ellen."

"But how shall I be sure, dear Alice, that _my_ name is written
there? and I can't be happy if I am not sure."

"My dear child," said Alice, tenderly, as Ellen's anxious face
and glistening eyes were raised to hers, "if you love Jesus
Christ, you may know you are his child, and none shall pluck
you out of his hand."

"But how can I tell whether I do love him really? Sometimes I
think I do, and then again sometimes I am afraid I don't at
all."

Alice answered in the words of Christ: — "He that hath my
commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me."

"Oh, I don't keep his commandments!" said Ellen, the tears
running down her cheeks.

"_Perfectly_, none of us do. But, dear Ellen, _that_ is not the
question. Is your heart's desire and effort to keep them? Are
you grieved when you fail? There is the point. You cannot love
Christ without loving to please him."

Ellen rose, and putting both arms round Alice's neck, laid her
head there, as her manner sometimes was, tears flowing fast.

"I sometimes think I do love him a little," she said; "but I
do so many wrong things. But he will teach me to love him if I
ask him, won't he, dear Alice?"

"Indeed he will, dear Ellen," said Alice, folding her arms
round her little adopted sister — "_indeed_ he will. He has
promised that. Remember what he told somebody who was almost
in despair — 'Fear not; only believe.' "

Alice's neck was wet with Ellen's tears; and after they had
ceased to flow, her arms kept their hold, and her head its
resting-place on Alice's shoulder for some time. It was
necessary at last for Alice to leave her.

Ellen waited till the sound of her horse's footsteps died away
on the road; and then, sinking on her knees beside her
rocking-chair, she poured forth her whole heart in prayers and
tears. She confessed many a fault and short-coming that none
knew but herself; and most earnestly besought help that "her
little rushlight might shine bright." Prayer was to little
Ellen what it is to all that know it — the satisfying of
doubt, the soothing of care, the quieting of trouble. She had
knelt down very uneasy; but she knew that God has promised to
be the hearer of prayer, and she rose up very comforted, her
mind fixing on those most sweet words Alice had brought to her
memory — "Fear not, only believe." When Miss Fortune returned,
Ellen was quietly asleep again in her rocking-chair, with a
face very pale, but calm as an evening sunbeam.

"Well, I declare if that child ain't sleeping her life away!"
said Miss Fortune. "She's slept this whole blessed forenoon; I
suppose she'll want to be alive and dancing the whole night,
to pay for it."

"I can tell you what she'll want a sight more," said Mr. Van
Brunt, who had followed her in — it must have been to see
about Ellen, for he was never known to do such a thing before
or since — "I'll tell you what she'll want, and that's a right
hot supper. She's ate as nigh as possible nothing at all this
noon. There ain't much danger of her dancing a hole in your
floor this some time."


CHAPTER XXIV.

Sweeping and dusting.


Great preparations were making all Saturday and Monday for the
expected gathering. From morning till night Miss Fortune was
in a perpetual bustle. The great oven was heated no less than
three several times on Saturday alone. Ellen could hear the
breaking of eggs in the buttery, and the sound of beating or
whisking, for a long time together; and then Miss Fortune
would come out with floury hands, and plates of empty egg-
shells made their appearance. But Ellen saw no more. Whenever
the coals were swept out of the oven, and Miss Fortune had
made sure that the heat was just right for her purposes, Ellen
was sent out of the way, and when she got back there was
nothing to be seen but the fast-shut oven door. It was just
the same when the dishes, in all their perfection, were to
come out of the oven again. The utmost Ellen was permitted to
see was the napkin covering some stray cake or pie that by
chance had to pass through the kitchen where she was.

As she could neither help nor look on, the day passed rather
wearily. She tried studying; a very little, she found, was
enough to satisfy both mind and body in their present state.
She longed to go out again and see how the snow looked, but a
fierce wind all the fore part of the day made it unfit for
her. Towards the middle of the afternoon she saw with joy that
it had lulled, and, though very cold, was so bright and calm,
that she might venture. She had eagerly opened the kitchen
door to go up and get ready, when a long weary yawn from her
old grandmother made her look back. The old lady had laid her
knitting in her lap, and bent her face down to her hand, which
she was rubbing across her brow, as if to clear away the tired
feeling that had settled there. Ellen's conscience immediately
brought up Alice's words — "Can't you do something to pass
away a tedious hour now and then?" The first feeling was of
vexed regret that they should have come into her head at that
moment; then conscience said that was very selfish. There was
a struggle. Ellen stood with the door in her hand, unable to
go out or come in. But not long. As the words came back upon
her memory — "A charge to keep I have" — her mind was made up;
after one moment's prayer for help and forgiveness, she shut
the door, came back to the fireplace, and spoke in a cheerful
tone —

"Grandma, wouldn't you like to have me read something to you?"

"Read!" answered the old lady — "laws a me! _I_ don't read
nothing, deary."

"But wouldn't you like to have _me_ read to you, Grandma?"

The old lady, in answer to this, laid down her knitting,
folded both arms around Ellen, and, kissing her a great many
times, declared she should like anything that came out of that
sweet little mouth. As soon as she was set free, Ellen brought
her Bible, sat down close beside her, and read chapter after
chapter; rewarded even then by seeing that, though her
grandmother said nothing, she was listening with fixed
attention, bending down over her knitting as if in earnest
care to catch every word. And when at last she stopped, warned
by certain noises downstairs that her aunt would presently be
bustling in, the old lady again hugged her close to her bosom,
kissing her forehead and cheeks and lips, and declaring that
she was "a great deal sweeter than any sugar-plums;" and Ellen
was very much surprised to feel her face wet with a tear from
her grandmother's cheek. Hastily kissing her again (for the
first time in her life), she ran out of the room, her own
tears starting, and her heart swelling big. "Oh! how much
pleasure," she thought, "I might have given my poor Grandma,
and how I have let her alone all this while! How wrong I have
been! But it shan't be so in future!"

It was not quite sundown, and Ellen thought she might yet have
two or three minutes in the open air. So she wrapped up very
warm and went out to the chip-yard.

Ellen's heart was very light; she had just been fulfilling a
duty that cost her a little self-denial, and the reward had
already come; and now it seemed to her that she had never seen
anything so perfectly beautiful as the scene before her — the
brilliant snow that lay in a thick carpet over all the fields
and hills, and the pale streaks of sunlight stretching across
it between the long shadows that reached now from the barn to
the house. One moment the light tinted the snow-capped fences
and whitened barn-roofs; then the lights and the shadows
vanished together, and it was all one cold, dazzling white.
"Oh, how glorious!" Ellen almost shouted to herself. It was
too cold to stand still; she ran to the barnyard to see the
cows milked. There they were — all her old friends — Streaky
and Dolly, and Jane and Sukey, and Betty Flynn — sleek and
contented; winter and summer were all the same to them. And
Mr. Van Brunt was very glad to see her there again, and Sam
Larkens and Johnny Low looked as if they were too, and Ellen
told them with great truth she was very glad indeed to be
there; and then she went in to supper with Mr. Van Brunt and
an amazing appetite.

That was Saturday. Sunday passed quietly, though Ellen could
not help suspecting it was not entirely a day of rest to her
aunt; there was a savoury smell of cooking in the morning,
which nothing that came on the table by any means accounted
for; and Miss Fortune was scarcely to be seen the whole day.

With Monday morning began a grand bustle, and Ellen was well
enough now to come in for her share. The kitchen, parlour,
hall, shed, and lower kitchen, must all be thoroughly swept
and dusted; this was given to her, and a morning's work pretty
near she found it. Then she had to rub bright all the brass
handles of the doors, and the big brass andirons in the
parlour, and the brass candlesticks on the parlour mantel-
piece. When at last she got through, and came to the fire to
warm herself, she found her grandmother lamenting that her
snuff-box was empty, and asking her daughter to fill it for
her.

"Oh! I can't be bothered to be running upstairs to fill snuff-
boxes," answered that lady; "you'll have to wait."

"I'll get it, Grandma," said Ellen, "if you'll tell me where."

"Sit down, and be quiet!" said Miss Fortune; "you go into my
room just when I bid you, and not till then."

Ellen sat down. But no sooner was Miss Fortune hid in the
buttery, than the old lady beckoned her to her side, and
nodding her head a great many times, gave her the box, saying,
softly —

"You can run up now; she won't see you, deary. It's in a jar
in the closet. Now's the time."

Ellen could not bear to say no. She hesitated a minute, and
then boldly opened the buttery door.

"Keep out! — what do you want?"

"She wanted me to go for the snuff," said Ellen, in a whisper;
"please, do let me — I won't look at anything, nor touch
anything, but just get the snuff."

With an impatient gesture, her aunt snatched the box from her
hand, pushed Ellen out of the buttery, and shut the door. The
old lady kissed and fondled her, as if she had done what she
had only tried to do; smoothed down her hair, praising its
beauty, and whispered —

"Never mind, deary — you'll read to Grandma, won't you?"

It cost Ellen no effort now. With the beginning of kind
offices to her poor old parent, kind feeling had sprung up
fast; instead of disliking and shunning, she had begun to love
her.

There was no dinner for any one this day. Mr. and Mrs. Van
Brunt came to an early tea; after which, Ellen was sent to
dress herself, and Mr. Van Brunt to get some pieces of board
for the meat-choppers. He came back presently with an armful
of square bits of wood; and sitting down before the fire,
began to whittle the rough sawn ends over the hearth. His
mother grew nervous. Miss Fortune bore it as she would have
borne it from no one else, but vexation was gathering in her
breast for the first occasion. Presently, Ellen's voice was
heard singing down the stairs.

"I'd give something to stop that child's pipe!" said Miss
Fortune; "she's eternally singing the same thing over and over
— something about 'a charge to keep' — I'd a good notion to
give her a charge to keep this morning; it would have been to
hold her tongue."

"That would have been a public loss, _I_ think," said Mr. Van
Brunt, gravely.

"Well, you _are_ making a precious litter!" said the lady,
turning short upon him.

"Never mind," said he, in the same tone — "it's nothing but
what the fire'll burn up, anyhow; don't worry yourself about
it."

Just as Ellen came in, so did Nancy by the other door.

"What are you here for?" said Miss, Fortune with an ireful
face.

"Oh, come to see the folks, and get some peaches," said Nancy;
— "come to help along, to be sure."

"Ain't your Grandma coming?"

"No, Ma’am, she ain't. I knew she wouldn't be of much use, so
I thought I wouldn't ask her."

Miss Fortune immediately ordered her out. Half-laughing, half
serious, Nancy tried to keep her ground, but Miss Fortune was
in no mood to hear parleying. She laid violent hands on the
passive Nancy, and between pulling and pushing, at last got
her out and shut the door. Her next sudden move was to haul
off her mother to bed. Ellen looked her sorrow at this, and
Mr. Van Brunt whistled _his_ thoughts; but that either made
nothing, or made Miss Fortune more determined. Off she went,
with her old mother under her arm. While she was gone, Ellen
brought the broom to sweep up the hearth, but Mr. Van Brunt
would not let her.

"No," said he; "it's more than you nor I can do. You know,"
said he, with a sly look, "we might sweep up the shavings into
the wrong corner!"

This entirely overset Ellen's gravity, and unluckily she could
not get it back again, even though warned by Mrs. Van Brunt
that her aunt was coming. Trying only made it worse, and Miss
Fortune's entrance was but the signal for a fresh burst of
hearty merriment. What she was laughing at, was of course
instantly asked, in no pleased tone of voice. Ellen could not
tell; and her silence and blushing only made her aunt more
curious.

"Come, leave bothering her," said Mr. Van Brunt, at last; "she
was only laughing at some of my nonsense, and she won't tell
on me."

"Will you swear to that?" said the lady, sharply.

"Humph! — no, I won't swear; unless you will go before a
magistrate with me; — but it is true."

"I wonder if you think I am as easy blinded as all that comes
to!" said Miss Fortune, scornfully.

And Ellen saw that her aunt's displeasure was all gathered
upon her for the evening. She was thinking of Alice's words,
and trying to arm herself with patience and gentleness, when
the door opened, and in walked Nancy as demurely as if nobody
had ever seen her before.

"Miss Fortune, granny sent me to tell you she is sorry she
can't come to-night; she don't think it would do for her to be
out so late; she's a little touch of the rheumatics, she
says."

"Very well," said Miss Fortune. "Now, clear out."

"You had better not say so, Miss Fortune; I'll do as much for
you as any two of the rest — see if I don't!"

"I don't care — if you did as much as fifty!" said Miss
Fortune impatiently. "I won't have you here; so go, or I'll
give you something to help you along."

Nancy saw she had no chance with Miss Fortune in her present
humour, and went quickly out. A little while after, Ellen was
standing at the window, from which, through the shed window,
she had a view of the chip-yard, and there she saw Nancy
lingering still, walking round and round in a circle, and
kicking the snow with her feet in a discontented fashion.

"I am very glad she isn't going to be here," thought Ellen.
"But, poor thing! I dare say she is very much disappointed.
And how sorry she will feel going back all that long, long way
home! What if I should get her leave to stay? wouldn't it be a
fine way of returning good for evil? But, O dear! I don't want
her here! — But that's no matter —"

The next minute, Mr. Van Brunt was half startled by Ellen's
hand on his shoulder, and the softest of whispers in his ear.
He looked up, very much surprised.

"Why, do _you_ want her?" said he, likewise in a low tone.

"No," said Ellen, "but I know I should feel very sorry if I
was in her place."

Mr. Van Brunt whistled quietly to himself. "Well!" said he,
"you _are_ a good-natured piece."

"Miss Fortune," said he, presently, "if that mischievous girl
comes in again, I recommend you to let her stay."

"Why?"

" 'Cause it's true what she said — she'll do you as much good
as half-a-dozen. She'll behave herself this evening, I'll
engage, or, if she don't, I'll make her."

"She's too impudent to live! But I don't care — her
grandmother is another sort; but I guess she is gone by this
time."

Ellen waited only till her aunt's back was turned. She slipped
down stairs and out at the kitchen door, and ran up the slope
to the fence of the chip-yard.

"Nancy! Nancy!"

"What?" said Nancy, wheeling about.

"If you go in now, I guess Aunt Fortune will let you stay."

"What makes you think so?" said the other, surlily.

" 'Cause Mr.Van Brunt was speaking to her about it. Go in and
you'll see."

Nancy looked doubtfully at Ellen's face, and then ran hastily
in. More slowly Ellen went back by the way she came. When she
reached the upper kitchen she found Nancy as busy as possible
— as much at home already as if she had been there all day;
helping to set the table in the hall, and going to and fro
between that and the buttery with an important face. Ellen was
not suffered to help, nor even to stand and see what was
doing; so she sat down in the corner, by her old friend Mrs.
Van Brunt, and with her head in her lap watched, by the fire-
light, the busy figures that went back and forward, and Mr.
Van Brunt, who still sat working at his bits of board. There
were pleasant thoughts in Ellen's head, that kept the dancing
blaze company. Mr. Van Brunt once looked up, and asked her
what she was smiling at; the smile brightened at his question,
but he got no more answer.

At last the supper was all set out in the hall, so that it
could very easily be brought into the parlour when the time
came; the waiter, with the best cups and saucers, which always
stood covered with a napkin on the table in the front room,
was carried away; the great pile of wood in the parlour fire
place, built ever since morning, was kindled; all was in
apple-pie order, and nothing was left but to sweep up the
shavings that Mr. Van Brunt had made. This was done; and then
Nancy seized hold of Ellen.

"Come along," said she, pulling her to the window — "come
along, and let us watch the folks come in."

"But it isn't time for them to be here yet," said Ellen; "the
fire is only just burning."

"Fiddle-de-dee! they won't wait for the fire to burn, I can
tell you. They'll be along directly, some of them. I wonder
what Miss Fortune is thinking of — that fire had ought to have
been burning this long time ago — but they won't set to work
till they all get here, that's one thing. Do you know what's
going to be for supper?"

"No."

"Not a bit?"

"No."

"Ain't that funny! Then I'm better off than you. I say, Ellen,
any one would think _I_ was Miss Fortune's niece, and you was
somebody else, wouldn't they? Goodness! I'm glad I ain't. I am
going to make part of the supper myself — what do you think of
that? Miss Fortune always has grand suppers — when she has 'em
at all; 'tain't very often, that's one thing. I wish she'd
have a bee every week, I know, and let me come and help. Hark!
— didn't I tell you? there's somebody coming this minute;
don't you hear the sleigh-bells? I'll tell you who it is now;
it's the Lawsons — you see if it ain't. It's good it's such a
bright night we can see 'em first-rate. There — here they come
— just as I told you — here's Mimy Lawson the first one — if
there's anybody I do despise, it's Mimy Lawson."

"Hush!" said Ellen. The door opened, and the lady herself
walked in, followed by three others — large, tall women,
muffled from head to foot against the cold. The quiet kitchen
was speedily changed into a scene of bustle. Loud talking and
laughing — a vast deal of unrobing — pushing back and pulling
up chairs on the hearth — and Nancy and Ellen running in and
out of the room with countless wrappers, cloaks, shawls,
comforters, hoods, mittens, and moccasins.

"What a precious muss it will be to get 'em all their own
things when they come to go away again," said Nancy. "Throw
'em all down there, Ellen, in that heap. Now, come quick —
somebody else'll be here directly."

"Which is Miss Mimy?" said Ellen.

"That big ugly woman in a purple frock. The one next her is
Kitty — the black-haired one is Mary, and t'other is Fanny.
Ugh! don't look at 'em; I can't bear 'em."

"Why?"

" 'Cause I don't, I can tell you; reason good. They are as
stingy as they can live. Their way is to get as much as they
can out of other folks, and let other folks get as little as
they can out of them. I know 'em. Just watch that purple frock
when it comes to the eating. There's Mr. Bob."

"Mr. who?"

"Bob — Bob Lawson. He's a precious small young man, for such a
big one. There — go take his hat. Miss Fortune," said Nancy,
coming forward, "mayn't the gentlemen take care of their own
things in the stoop, or must the young ladies wait upon them,
too? t'other room won't hold everything neither."

This speech raised a general laugh, in the midst of which Mr.
Bob carried his own hat and cloak into the shed, as desired.
Before Nancy had done chuckling came another arrival — a tall,
lank gentleman, with one of those unhappy-shaped faces that
are very broad at the eyes and very narrow across the chops,
and having a particularly grave and dull expression. He was
welcomed with such a shout of mingled laughter, greeting, and
jesting, that the room was in a complete hurly-burly; and a
plain-looking, stout, elderly lady, who had come in just
behind him, was suffered to stand unnoticed.

"It's Miss Janet," whispered Nancy — "Mr. Marshchalk's aunt.
Nobody wants to see her here; she's one of your pious kind,
and that's a kind your aunt don't take to."

Instantly Ellen was at her side, offering gently to relieve
her of hood and cloak, and with a tap on his arm drawing Mr.
Van Brunt's attention to the neglected person.

Quite touched by the respectful politeness of her manner, the
old lady inquired of Miss Fortune, as Ellen went off with a
load of mufflers, "who was that sweet little thing?"

"It's a kind of sweetmeats that is kept for company, Miss
Janet," replied Miss Fortune, with a darkened brow.

"She's too good for everyday use, that's a fact," remarked Mr.
Van Brunt.

Miss Fortune coloured and tossed her head, and the company
were for a moment still with surprise. Another arrival set
them agoing again.

"Here come the Hitchcocks, Ellen," said Nancy. "Walk in, Miss
Mary — walk in, Miss Jenny — Mr. Marshchalk has been here this
great while."

Miss Mary Hitchcock was in nothing remarkable. Miss Jenny,
when her wrappers were taken off, showed a neat, little, round
figure, and a round face of very bright and good-humoured
expression. It fastened Ellen's eye, till Nancy whispered her
to look at Mr. Juniper Hitchcock, and that young gentleman
entered, dressed in the last style of elegance. His hair was
arranged in a faultless manner — unless, perhaps, it had a
_little_ too much of the tallow-candle; for when he had sat for
a while before the fire, it had somewhat the look of being
excessively wet with perspiration. His boots were as shiny as
his hair; his waistcoat was of a startling pattern; his
pantaloons were very tightly strapped down; and at the end of
a showy watch-riband hung some showy seals.

The kitchen was now one buzz of talk and good-humour; Ellen
stood half-smiling to herself to see the universal smile, when
Nancy twitched her.

"Here's more coming — Cilly Dennison, I guess — no, it's too
tall; _who_ is it?"

But Ellen flung open the door with a half-uttered scream, and
threw herself into the arms of Alice, and then led her in; her
face full of such extreme joy, that it was perhaps one reason
why her aunt's wore a very doubtful air as she came forward.
That could not stand, however, against the graceful politeness
and pleasantness of Alice's greeting. Miss Fortune's brow
smoothed, her voice cleared, she told Miss Humphreys she was
very welcome — and she meant it. Clinging close to her friend
as she went from one to another, Ellen was delighted to see
that everyone echoed the welcome. Every face brightened at
meeting hers, every eye softened, and Jenny Hitchcock even
threw her arms round Alice and kissed her.

Ellen left now the window to Nancy, and stood fast by her
adopted sister, with a face of satisfaction it was pleasant to
see, watching her very lips as they moved. Soon the door
opened again, and various voices hailed the new-comer as
"Jane," "Jany," and "Jane Huff." She was a decidedly plain-
looking country girl; but when she came near, Ellen saw a
sober, sensible face, and a look of thorough good-nature,
which immediately ranked her next to Jenny Hitchcock in her
fancy. Mr. Bill Huff followed, a sturdy young man; quite as
plain, and hardly so sensible-looking; he was still more
shining with good-nature. He made no pretensions to the
elegance of Mr. Juniper Hitchcock; but, before the evening was
over, Ellen had a vastly greater respect for him.

Last, not least, came the Dennisons; it took Ellen some time
to make up her mind about them. Miss Cilly, or Cecilia, was
certainly very elegant indeed. Her hair was in the extremest
state of nicety, with a little round curl plastered in front
of each ear; how she coaxed them to stay there, Ellen could
not conceive. She wore a real watch — there was no doubt of
that — and there was even a ring on one of her fingers, with
two or three blue or red stones in it. Her dress was smart,
and so was her figure, and her face was pretty; and Ellen
overheard one of the Lawsons whisper to Jenny Hitchcock that
"there wasn't a greater lady in the land than Cilly Dennison."
Her brother was very different; tall and athletic, and rather
handsome, _he_ made no pretensions to be a gentleman. He valued
his fine farming and fine cattle a great deal higher than
Juniper Hitchcock's gentility.


CHAPTER XXV.

Shows what noise a bee can make when it gets into the house.


As the party were all gathered, it was time to set to work.
The fire in the front room was burning up finely now, but Miss
Fortune had no idea of having pork-chopping or apple-paring
done there. One party was despatched down-stairs into the
lower kitchen; the others made a circle round the fire. Every
one was furnished with a sharp knife, and a basket of apples
was given to each two or three. Now it would be hard to say
whether talking or working went on best. Not faster moved the
tongues than the fingers; not smoother went the knives than
the flow of talk; while there was a constant leaping of
quarters of apples from the hands that had prepared them into
the bowls, trays, or whatnot, that stood on the hearth to
receive them. Ellen had nothing to do: her aunt had managed it
so, though she would gladly have shared the work that looked
so pretty and pleasant in other people's hands. Miss Fortune
would not let her; so she watched the rest and amused herself
as well as she could with hearing and seeing; and standing
between Alice and Jenny Hitchcock, she handed them the apples
out of the basket as fast as they were ready for them. It was
a pleasant evening that. Laughing and talking went on merrily;
stories were told; anecdotes, gossip, jokes, passed from mouth
to mouth; and not one made himself so agreeable, or had so
much to do with the life and pleasure of the party, as Alice.
Ellen saw it, delighted. The pared apples kept dancing into
the bowls and trays; the baskets got empty surprisingly fast;
Nancy and Ellen had to run to the barrels in the shed again
for fresh supplies.

"Do they mean to do all these to-night?" said Ellen to Nancy,
on one of these occasions.

"I don't know what _they_ mean, I am sure," replied Nancy,
diving down into the barrel to reach the apples; "if you had
asked me what _Miss Fortune meant_, I might ha' given a guess."

"But only look," said Ellen — "only so many done, and all
these to do! — Well, I know what 'busy as a bee' means now, if
I never did before."

"You'll know it better to-morrow, I can tell you."

"Why?"

"Oh, wait till you see. I wouldn't be you to-morrow for
something, though. Do you like sewing?"

"Sewing!" said Ellen. But "Girls! girls! — what _are_ you
leaving the door open for!" sounded from the kitchen, and they
hurried in.

" 'Most got through, Nancy?" inquired Bob Lawson. (Miss
Fortune had gone downstairs.)

"Han't begun to, Mr. Lawson. There's every bit as many to do
as there was at your house t'other night."

"What on airth does she want with such a sight of 'em,"
inquired Dan Dennison.

"Live on pies and apple-sass till next summer," suggested Mimy
Lawson.

"That's the stuff for my money!" replied her brother; "taters
and apple-sass is my sass in the winter."

"It's good those is easy got," said his sister Mary; "the sass
is the most of the dinner to Bob, most commonly."

"Are they fixing for more apple-sass down-stairs?" Mr.
Dennison went on rather drily.

"No — hush!" said Juniper Hitchcock — "sassages!"

"Humph!" said Dan, as he speared up an apple out of the basket
on the point of his knife — "ain't that something like what
you can call killing two" —

"Just that, exactly," said Jenny Hitchcock, as Dan broke off
short, and the mistress of the house walked in. "Ellen," she
whispered, "don't you want to go downstairs and see when the
folks are coming up to help us? And tell the doctor he must be
spry, for we ain't agoing to get through in a hurry," she
added, laughing.

"Which is the doctor, Ma’am?"

"The doctor! — Doctor Marshchalk! — don't you know?"

"Is he a doctor?" said Alice.

"No, not exactly, I suppose, but he's just as good as the
real. There was a man broke his leg horribly at Thirlwall, the
other day, and Gibson was out of the way, and Marshchalk set
it, and did it famously they said. So go, Ellen, and bring us
word what they are all about."

Mr. Van Brunt was head of the party in the lower kitchen. He
stood at one end of the table, cutting, with his huge knife,
the hard-frozen pork into very thin slices, which the rest of
the company took, and, before they had time to thaw, cut up
into small dice on the little boards Mr. Van Brunt had
prepared. As large a fire as the chimney would hold was built
up and blazing finely; the room looked as cozy and bright as
the one upstairs, and the people as busy and as talkative.
They had less to do, however, or they had been more smart, for
they were drawing to the end of their chopping; of which Miss
Janet declared herself very glad, for, she said, "the wind
came sweeping in under the doors, and freezing her feet the
whole time, and she was sure the biggest fire ever was built
couldn't warm that room;" an opinion in which Mrs. Van Brunt
agreed perfectly. Miss Janet no sooner spied Ellen standing in
the chimney-corner, than she called her to her side, kissed
her, and talked to her a long time, and finally, fumbling in
her pocket, brought forth an old, little, three-cornered pin-
cushion, which she gave her for a keepsake. Jane Huff and her
brother also took kind notice of her; and Ellen began to think
the world was full of nice people. About half-past eight the
choppers went up and joined the company, who were paring
apples; the circle was a very large one now, and the buzz of
the tongues grew quite furious.

"What are you smiling at?" asked Alice of Ellen, who stood at
her elbow.

"Oh, I don't know," said Ellen, smiling more broadly; and
presently added — "they're all so kind to me."

"Who?"

"Oh, everybody — Miss Jenny, and Miss Jane Huff, and Miss
Janet, and Mrs. Van Brunt, and Mr. Huff — they all speak so
kindly, and look so kindly at me. But it's very funny what a
notion people have for kissing — I wish they hadn't — I've run
away from three kisses already, and I'm so afraid somebody
else will try next."

"You don't seem very bitterly displeased," said Alice,
smiling.

"I am, though — I can't bear it," said Ellen, laughing and
blushing. "There's Mr. Dennison caught me, in the first place,
and tried to kiss me, but I tried so hard to get away, I
believe he saw I was really in good earnest, and let me go.
And just now — only think of it! — while I was standing
talking to Miss Jane Huff, downstairs, her brother caught me,
and kissed me, before I knew what he was going to do. I
declare it's too bad!" said Ellen, rubbing her cheek very
hard, as if she would rub off the affront.

"You must let it pass, my dear; it is one way of expressing
kindness. They feel kindly towards you, or they would not do
it."

"Then I wish they wouldn't feel quite so kindly," said Ellen —
"that's all. Hark! — what was that?"

"What is that?" said somebody else; and instantly there was
silence, broken again, after a minute or two, by the faint
blast of a horn.

"It's old Father Swaim, I reckon," said Mr. Van Brunt; "I'll
go fetch him in."

"Oh, yes! bring him in — bring him in," was heard on all
sides.

"That horn makes me think of what happened to me once," said
Jenny Hitchcock to Ellen. "I was a little girl at school, not
so big as you are; and one afternoon, when we were all as
still as mice, and studying away, we heard Father Swaim's horn
—"

"What does he blow it for?" said Ellen, as Jenny stooped for
her knife, which she had let fall.

"Oh to let people know he's there, you know; did you never see
Father Swaim?"

"No."

"La! he's the funniest old fellow! He goes round and round the
country, carrying the news-papers; and we get him to bring our
letters from the post-office, when there are any. He carries
'em in a pair of saddle-bags hanging across that old white
horse of his — I don't think that horse will ever grow old, no
more than his master; — and in summer he has a stick — so long
— with a horse's tail tied to the end of it, to brush away the
flies, for the poor horse has had _his_ tail cut off pretty
short. I wonder if it isn't the very same," said Jenny,
laughing heartily: "Father Swaim thought he could manage it
best, I guess."

"But what was it that happened to you that time at school?"
said Ellen.

"Why, when we heard the horn blow, our master — the
schoolmaster, you know — went out to get a paper; and I was
tired with sitting still, so I jumped up, and ran across the
room and then back again, and over and back again, five or six
times; and when he came in, one of the girls up and told of
it. It was Fanny Lawson," said Jenny, in a whisper to Alice,
"and I think she ain't much different now from what she was
then. I can hear her now — 'Mr. Starks, Jenny Hitchcock's been
running all around the room.' Well, what do you think he did
to me? He took hold of my two hands, and swung me round and
round by the arms, till I didn't know which was head and which
was feet."

"What a queer schoolmaster!" said Ellen.

"Queer enough; you may say that. His name was Starks; — the
boys used to call him Starksification. We did hate him, that's
a fact. I'll tell you what he did to a black boy of ours — you
know our black Sam, Alice? — I forget what he had been doing;
but Starks took him so — by the rims of the ears — and danced
him up and down upon the floor."

"But didn't that hurt him?"

"Hurt him! I guess it did, he meant it should. He tied me
under the table once. Sometime, when he wanted to punish two
boys at a time, he would set them to spit in each other's
faces."

"Oh! don't tell me about him!" cried Ellen, with a face of
horror: "I don't like to hear it."

Jenny laughed; and just then the door opened, and Mr. Van
Brunt and the old news-carrier came in.

He was a venerable, mild-looking man, with thin hair as white
as snow. He wore a long snuff-coloured coat and a broad-
brimmed hat, the sides of which were oddly looped up to the
crown, with twine; his tin horn or trumpet was in his hand.
His saddle-bags were on Mr. Van Brunt's' arm. As soon as she
saw him, Ellen was fevered with the notion that perhaps he had
something for her; and she forgot everything else. It would
seem that the rest of the company had the same hope, for they
crowded round him, shouting out welcomes, and questions, and
inquiries for letters — all in a breath.

"Softly — softly," said the old man, sitting down, slowly;
"not all at once; I can't attend to you all at once; — one at
a time — one at a time."

"Don't attend to 'em at all till you're ready," said Miss
Fortune — "let 'em wait." And she handed him a glass of cider.

He drank it off at a breath, smacking his lips as he gave back
the glass to her hand, and exclaiming, "That's prime!" Then
taking up his saddle-bags from the floor, he began slowly to
undo the fastenings.

"You are going to our house to-night, ain't you, Father
Swaim?" said Jenny.

That's where I _was_ going," said the old man — "I _was_ agoing to
stop with your father, Miss Jenny; but since I've got into
farmer Van Brunt's hands, I don't know any more what's going
to become of me; — and after that glass of cider, I don't much
care! Now let's see — let's see — 'Miss Jenny Hitchcock,' —
here's something for you. I should like very much to know
what's inside of that letter — there's a blue seal to it. Ah,
young folks! — young folks!

Jenny received her letter amidst a great deal of laughing and
joking, and seemed herself quite as much amused as anybody.

" 'Jedediah B. Lawson' — there's for your father, Miss Mimy;
that saves me a long tramp — if you've twenty-one cents in
your pocket, that is; if you han't, I shall be obleeged to
tramp after that. Here's something for 'most all of you, I'm
thinking. 'Miss Cecilia Dennison' — your fair hands — how's
the squire? — rheumatism, eh? I think I'm a younger man now
than your father, Cecilly; and yet I must ha' seen a good many
years more than Squire Dennison; — I must, surely. 'Miss
Fortune Emerson' — that's for you; a double letter, Ma’am."

Ellen with a beating heart had pressed nearer and nearer to
the old man, till she stood close by his right hand, and could
see every letter as he handed it out. A spot of deepening red
was on each cheek as her eye eagerly scanned letter after
letter; it spread to a sudden flush when the last name was
read. Alice watched in some anxiety her keen look as it
followed the letter from the old man's hand to her aunt's, and
thence to the pocket, where Miss Fortune coolly bestowed it.
Ellen could not stand this; she sprang forward across the
circle.

"Aunt Fortune, there's a letter inside of that for me — won't
you give it to me? — won't you give it to me?" she repeated,
trembling.

Her aunt did not notice her by so much as a look; she turned
away and began talking to some one else. The red had left
Ellen's face when Alice could see it again — it was livid and
spotted from stifled passion. She stood in a kind of maze. But
as her eye caught Alice's anxious and sorrowful look, she
covered her face with her hands, and as quick as possible made
her escape out of the room.

For some minutes Alice heard none of the hubbub around her.
Then came a knock at the door, and the voice of Thomas Grimes
saying to Mr. Van Brunt that Miss Humphreys' horse was there.

"Mr. Swaim," said Alice, rising, "I don't like to leave you
with these gay friends of ours; you'll stand no chance of rest
with them to-night. Will you ride home with me?"

Many of the party began to beg Alice would stay to supper, but
she said her father would be uneasy. The old news-carrier
concluded to go with her, for, he said, "there was a pint he
wanted to mention to Parson Humphreys that he had forgotten to
bring for'ard when they were talking on that 'ere subject two
months ago." So Nancy brought her things from the next room,
and helped her on with them, and looked pleased, as well she
might, at the smile and kind words with which she was
rewarded. Alice lingered at her leave-taking, hoping to see
Ellen — but it was not till the last moment that Ellen came
in. She did not say a word, but the two little arms were put
around Alice's neck, and held her with a long, close
earnestness, which did not pass from her mind all the evening
afterwards.

When she was gone, the company sat down again to business; and
apple-paring went on more steadily than ever for a while, till
the bottom of the barrels was seen, and the last basketful of
apples was duly emptied. Then there was a general shout; the
kitchen was quickly cleared, and everybody's face brightened,
as much as to say, "Now for fun!" While Ellen and Nancy, and
Miss Fortune and Mrs. Van Brunt were running all ways with
trays, pans, baskets, knives, and buckets, the fun began by
Mr. Juniper Hitchcock's whistling in his dog, and setting him
to do various feats for the amusement of the company. There
followed such a rushing, leaping, barking, laughing, and
scolding on the part of the dog and his admirers, that the
room was in an uproar. He jumped over a stick; he got into a
chair, and sat up on two legs; he kissed the ladies' hands; he
suffered an apple-paring to be laid across his nose, then
threw it up with a jerk and caught it in his mouth. Nothing
very remarkable, certainly, but, as Miss Fortune observed to
somebody, "if he had been the learned pig, there couldn't ha'
been more fuss made over him."

Ellen stood looking on, smiling partly at the dog and his
master, and partly at the antics of the company. Presently Mr.
Van Brunt, bending down to her, said —

"What is the matter with your eyes?"

"Nothing," said Ellen, starting — "at least nothing that's any
matter, I mean."

"Come here," said he, drawing her on one side; "tell me all
about it — what is the matter?"

"Never mind — please don't ask me, Mr. Van Brunt, it's nothing
I ought to tell you — it isn't any matter."

But her eyes were full again, and he still held her fast
doubtfully.

"_I'll_ tell you about it, Mr. Van Brunt," said Nancy, as she
came past them — "you let her go, and I'll tell you by-and-
by."

And Ellen tried in vain afterwards to make her promise she
would not.

"Come, June," said Miss Jenny, "we have got enough of you and
Jumper — turn him out; we are going to have the cat now. Come!
— Puss, puss in the corner! Go off in t'other room, will you,
everybody that don't want to play. Puss, puss!"

Now the fun began in good earnest, and but few minutes had
passed before Ellen was laughing with all her heart, as if she
never had had anything to cry for in her life. After "puss,
puss in the corner" came "blind-man's-buff;" and this was
played with great spirit, the two most distinguished being
Nancy and Dan Dennison, though Miss Fortune played admirably
well. Ellen had seen Nancy play before; but she forgot her own
part of the game in sheer amazement at the way Mr. Dennison
managed his long body, which seemed to go where there was no
room for it, and vanish into air just when the grasp of some
grasping "blind man" was ready to fasten upon him. And when he
was blinded, he seemed to know by instinct where the walls
were, and keeping clear of them, he would swoop like a hawk
from one end of the room to the other, pouncing upon the
unlucky people who could by no means get out of the way fast
enough. When this had lasted awhile, there was a general call
for "the fox and the goose," and Miss Fortune was pitched upon
for the latter, she having in the other game showed herself
capable of good generalship. But who for the fox? Mr. Van
Brunt?

"Not I," said Mr. Van Brunt — "there ain't nothing of the fox
about me; Miss Fortune would beat me all hollow."

"Who then, farmer?" said Bill Huff; — "come! who is the fox?
Will I do?"

"Not you, Bill; the goose 'ud be too much for you."

There was a general shout, and cries of "Who then? who then?"

"Dan Dennison," said Mr. Van Brunt. "Now look out for a sharp
fight."

Amidst a great deal of laughing and confusion, the line was
formed, each person taking hold of a handkerchief or band
passed round the waist of the person before him, except when
the women held by each other's skirts. There were ranged
according to height, the tallest being next their leader, the
"goose." Mr. Van Brunt and the elder ladies, and two or three
more, chose to be lookers-on, and took post outside the door.

Mr. Dennison began by taking off his coat, to give himself
more freedom in his movements; for his business was to catch
the train of the goose, one by one, as each in turn became the
hindmost; while _her_ object was to baffle him and keep her
family together, meeting him with outspread arms at every rush
he made to seize one of her brood; while the long train behind
her, following her quick movements, and swaying from side to
side to get out of the reach of the furious fox, was sometimes
in the shape of the letter C, and sometimes in that of the
letter S, and sometimes looked like a long snake with a
curling tail. Loud was the laughter, shrill the shrieks, as
the fox drove them hither and thither, and seemed to be in all
parts of the room at once. He was a cunning fox that, as well
as a bold one. Sometimes, when they thought him quite safe,
held at bay by the goose, he dived under or leaped over her
outstretched arms, and _almost_ snatched hold of little Ellen,
who being the least, was the last one of the party. But Ellen
played very well, and just escaped him two or three times,
till he declared she gave him so much trouble, that when he
caught her he would "kiss her the worst kind." Ellen played
none the worse for that; however she was caught at last, and
kissed, too; there was no help for it, so she bore it as well
as she could. Then she watched and laughed till the tears ran
down her cheeks, to see how the fox and the goose dodged each
other, what tricks were played, and how the long train pulled
each other about. At length Nancy was caught, and then Jenny
Hitchcock, and then Cecilia Dennison, and then Jane Huff, and
so on, till at last the fox and the goose had a long struggle
for Mimy Lawson, which would never have come to an end if Mimy
had not gone over to the enemy.

There was a general pause. The hot and tired company were
seated around the room, panting and fanning themselves with
their pocket-handkerchiefs, and speaking broken sentences;
glad to rest even from laughing. Miss Fortune had thrown
herself down on a seat close by Ellen, when Nancy came up and
softly asked, "Is it time to beat the eggs now?" Miss Fortune
nodded, and then drew her close to receive a long, low whisper
in her ear, at the end of which Nancy ran off.

"Is there anything _I_ can do, Aunt Fortune?" said Ellen, so
gently and timidly, that it ought to have won a kind answer.

"Yes," said her aunt, "you may go and put yourself to bed;
it's high time, long ago." And looking round as she moved off,
she added, "Go!" with a little nod that as much as said, "I am
in earnest."

Ellen's heart throbbed — she stood doubtful. One word to Mr.
Van Brunt, and she need not go — that she knew. But as surely,
too, that word would make trouble and do harm. And then she
remembered, "A charge to keep I have!" She turned quick, and
quitted the room.

Ellen sat down on the first stair she came to, for her bosom
was heaving up and down, and she was determined not to cry.
The sounds of talking and laughing came to her from the
parlour, and there at her side stood the covered-up supper; —
for a few minutes it was hard to keep her resolve. The thick
breath came and went very fast. Through the fanlights of the
hall door, opposite to which she was sitting, the bright
moonlight streamed in; and presently, as Ellen quieted, it
seemed to her fancy, like a gentle messenger from its Maker
bidding his child remember Him; — and then came up some words
in her memory that her mother's lips had fastened there long
ago — "I love them that love me, and they that seek me early
shall find me." She remembered her mother had told her it is
Jesus who says this. Her lost pleasure was well nigh
forgotten; and yet, as she sat gazing into the moonlight,
Ellen's eyes were gathering tears very fast.

"Well, I _am_ seeking Him," she thought — "can it be that he
loves me! — Oh, I'm so glad!"

And they were glad tears that little Ellen wiped away as she
went upstairs, for it was too cold to sit there long, if the
moon was ever so bright.

She had her hand on the latch of the door, when her
grandmother called out from the other room to know who was
there.

"It's I, grandma."

"Ain't somebody there? Come in here — who is it?"

"It's I, Grandma," said Ellen, coming to the door.

"Come in here, deary," said the old woman, in a lower tone —
"what is it all? what's the matter? who's down stairs?"

"It's a bee, Grandma; there's nothing the matter."

"A bee! who's been stung? what's all the noise about?"

" 'T isn't that kind of bee, Grandma; don't you know? there's
a parcel of people that came to pare apples, and they've been
playing games in the parlour — that's all."

"Paring apples, eh? Is there company below?"

"Yes, Ma’am — a whole parcel of people."

"Dear me!" said the old lady, "I oughtn't to ha' been abed!
Why han't Fortune told me? I'll get right up. Ellen, you go in
that fur closet and bring me my paddysoy, that hangs there,
and then help me on with my things — I'll get right up. Dear
me! what was Fortune thinking about?"

The moonlight served very well instead of candles. After twice
bringing the wrong dresses, Ellen at last hit upon the
"paddysoy," which the old lady knew immediately by the touch.
In haste, and not without some fear and trembling on Ellen's
part, she was arrayed in it; her best cap put on, not over
hair in the best order, Ellen feared, but the old lady would
not stay to have it made better; Ellen took care of her down
the stairs, and after opening the door for her went back to
her room.

A little while had passed, and Ellen was just tying her
nightcap strings, and ready to go peacefully to sleep, when
Nancy burst in.

"Ellen! Hurry! you must come right downstairs."

"Downstairs! — why, I am just ready to go to bed."

"No matter — you must come right away down. There's Mr. Van
Brunt says he won't begin supper till you come."

"But does Aunt Fortune want me too?"

"Yes, I tell you! and the quicker you come the better she'll
be pleased. She sent me after you in all sorts of a hurry. She
said she didn't know where you was!"

"Said she didn't know where I was! Why, she told me herself,"
— Ellen began, and stopped short.

"Of course!" said Nancy; "don't you think I know that? But _he_
don't, and if you want to plague her, you'll just tell him.
Now come, and be quick, will you? The supper's splendid."

Ellen lost the first view of the table, for everything had
begun to be pulled to pieces before she came in. The company
were all crowded round the table, eating and talking, and
helping themselves; and ham and bread and butter, pumpkin-pies
and mince-pies and apple-pies, cake of various kinds, and
glasses of egg-nogg and cider, were in everybody's hands. One
dish in the middle of the big table had won the praise of
every tongue; nobody could guess, and many asked how it was
made, but Miss Fortune kept a satisfied silence, pleased to
see the constant stream of comers to the big dish, till it was
near empty. Just then, Mr. Van Brunt, seeing Ellen had
nothing, gathered up all that was left, and gave it to her.

It was sweet, and cold, and rich. Ellen told her mother
afterwards it was the best thing she had ever tasted except
the ice-cream she once gave her in New York. She had taken,
however, but one spoonful, when her eye fell upon Nancy,
standing at the back of all the company, and forgotten. Nancy
had been upon her good behaviour all the evening, and it was a
singular proof of this that she had not pushed in and helped
herself among the first. Ellen's eye went once or twice from
her plate to Nancy, and then she crossed over and offered it
to her. It was eagerly taken, and, a little disappointed Ellen
stepped back again. But she soon forgot the disappointment.
"She'll know now that I don't bear her any grudge," she
thought.

"Han't you got nothing?" said Nancy, coming up presently;
"that wasn't your'n that you gave me — was it?"

Ellen nodded, smilingly.

"Well, there ain't no more of it," said Nancy. "The bowl is
empty."

"I know it," said Ellen.

"Why, didn't you like it?"

"Yes — very much."

"Why, you're a queer little fish," said Nancy. "What did you
get Mr. Van Brunt to let me in for?"

"How did you know I did?"

" 'Cause he told me. Say — what did you do it for? Mr.
Dennison, won't you give Ellen a piece of cake or something?
Here — take this," said Nancy, pouncing upon a glass of egg-
nog, which a gap in the company enabled her to reach; "I made
it more than half myself. Ain't it good?"

"Yes, very," said Ellen, smacking her lips; "what's in it?"

"Oh, plenty of good things. But what made you ask Mr. Van
Brunt to let me stop to-night? you didn't tell me — did you
want me to stay?"

"Never mind," said Ellen; "don't ask me any questions."

"Yes, but I will though: and you've got to answer me. Why did
you? Come! do you like me? — say!"

"I should like you, I dare say, if you would be different."

"Well, I don't care," said Nancy, after a little pause; "I
like _you_, though you're as queer as you can be. I don't care
whether you like me or not. Look here, Ellen, _that_ cake there
is the best — I know it is, for I've tried 'em all. — You know
I told Van Brunt that I would tell him what you were crying
about?"

"Yes, and I asked you not. Did you?"

Nancy nodded, being at the moment still further engaged in
"trying" the cake.

"I am sorry you did. What did he say?"

"He didn't say much to _me_ — somebody else will hear of it, I
guess. He was mad about it, or I am mistaken. What makes you
sorry?"

"It will only do harm, and make Aunt Fortune angry."

"Well, that's just what I should like, if I were you. I can't
make you out."

"I'd a great deal rather have her like me," said Ellen. "Was
she vexed when Grandma came down?"

"I don't know, but she had to keep it to herself if she was;
everybody else was so glad, and Mr. Van Brunt made such a
fuss. Just look at the old lady, how pleased she is! I declare
if the folks ain't talking of going! Come, Ellen! now for the
cloaks! you and me'll finish our supper afterwards."

That, however, was not to be. Nancy was offered a ride home to
Mrs. Van Brunt's, and a lodging there. They were ready cloaked
and shawled, and Ellen was still hunting for Miss Janet's
things in the moonlit hall, when she heard Nancy close by, in
a lower tone than common, say —

"Ellen, will you kiss me?"

Ellen dropped her armful of things, and, taking Nancy's hands,
gave her truly the kiss of peace.

When she went up to undress for the second time, she found on
her bed — her letter! And with tears Ellen kneeled down and
gave earnest thanks for this blessing, and that she had been
able to gain Nancy's good-will.


CHAPTER XXVI.

Sundry things round a pot of chocolate.


It was Tuesday, the 22nd of December, and late in the day. Not
a pleasant afternoon. The grey snow-clouds hung low; the air
was keen and raw. It was already growing dark, and Alice was
sitting alone in the firelight, when two little feet came
running round the corner of the house; the glass door opened,
and Ellen rushed in.

"I have come! I have come!" she exclaimed. "Oh, dear Alice,
I'm so glad!"

So was Alice, if her kiss meant anything.

"But how late, my child! how late you are!"

"Oh, I thought I never was going to get done!" said Ellen,
pulling off her things in a great hurry, and throwing them on
the sofa — "but I am here at last. Oh, I'm so glad!"

"Why, what has been the matter?" said Alice, folding up what
Ellen laid down.

"Oh, a great deal of matter! — I couldn't think what Nancy
meant last night — I know very well now. I shan't want to see
any more apples all winter. What do you think I have been
about all to-day, dear Miss Alice?"

"Nothing that has done you much harm," said Alice, smiling —
"if I am to guess from your looks. You are as rosy as a good
Spitzenberg yourself."

"That's very funny," said Ellen, laughing, "for Aunt Fortune
said a while ago that my cheeks were just the colour of two
mealy potatoes."

"But about the apples?" said Alice.

"Why, this morning I was thinking I would come here so early,
when the first thing I knew, Aunt Fortune brought out all
those heaps and heaps of apples into the kitchen, and made me
sit down on the floor, and then she gave me a great big
needle, and set me to stringing them all together; and as fast
as I strung them, she hung them up all round the ceiling. I
tried very hard to get through before, but I could not; and I
am so tired! I thought I never should get to the bottom of
that big basket."

"Never mind, love — come to the fire — we'll try and forget
all disagreeable things while we are together."

"I have forgotten it almost already," said Ellen, as she sat
down in Alice's lap, and laid her face against hers; "I don't
care for it at all now."

But her cheeks were fast fading into the uncomfortable colour
Miss Fortune had spoken of; and weariness and weakness kept
her for awhile quiet in Alice's arms, overcoming even the
pleasure of talking. They sat so till the clock struck half-
past five; then Alice proposed they should go into the
kitchen, and see Margery, and order the tea made, which she
had no doubt Ellen wanted. Margery welcomed her with great
cordiality. She liked anybody that Alice liked, but she had
besides declared to her husband that Ellen was "an uncommon
well-behaved child." She said she would put the tea to draw,
and they should have it in a very few minutes.

"But, Miss Alice, there's an Irish body, out by, waiting to
speak to you. I was just coming in to tell you; will you
please to see her now?"

"Certainly — let her come in. Is she in the cold, Margery?"

"No, Miss Alice — there's a fire there this evening. I'll call
her."

The woman came up from the lower kitchen at the summons. She
was young, rather pretty, and with a pleasant countenance, but
unwashed, uncombed, untidy, — no wonder Margery's nicety had
shrunk from introducing her into her spotless upper kitchen.
The unfailing Irish cloak was drawn about her, the hood
brought over her head, and on the head and shoulders the snow
lay white, not yet melted away.

"Did you wish to speak to me, my friend?" said Alice,
pleasantly.

"If ye plase, Ma’am, it the master I'm wanting," said the
woman, dropping a courtesy.

"My father? Margery, will you tell him?"

Margery departed.

"Come nearer the fire," said Alice, "and sit down; my father
will be here presently. It is snowing again, is it not?"

"It is, Ma’am — a bitter storm."

"Have you come far?"

"It's a good bit, my lady — it's more nor a mile beyant Carra
— just right forgin the ould big hill they call the Catchback;
in Jemmy Morrison's woods — where Pat M'Farren's clearing is —
it's there I live, my lady."

"That is a long distance, indeed, for a walk in the snow,"
said Alice, kindly; "sit down, and come nearer the fire.
Margery will give you something to refresh you."

"I thank ye, my lady, but I want nothing man can give me the
night; and when one's on an arrant of life and death, it's
little the cold or the storm can do to put out the heart's
fire."

"Life and death! who is sick?" said Alice.

"It's my own child, Ma’am — my own boy — all the child I have
— and I'll have none by the morning light."

"Is he so ill?" said Alice; "what is the matter with him?"

"Myself doesn't know."

The voice was fainter; the brown cloak was drawn over her
face; and Alice and Ellen saw her shoulders heaving with the
grief she kept from bursting out. They exchanged glances.

"Sit down," said Alice again presently, laying her hand upon
the wet shoulder; "sit down and rest; my father will be here
directly. Margery — oh, that's right — a cup of tea will do
her good. What do you want with my father?"

"The Lord bless ye! — I'll tell you, my lady."

She drank off the tea, but refused something more substantial
that Margery offered her.

"The Lord bless ye! I couldn't. My lady, there wasn't a
stronger, nor a prettier, nor a swater child, nor couldn't be,
nor he was when we left it — it'll be three years come the
fifteenth of April next; but I'm thinking the bitter winters
of this cowld country has chilled the life o' him — and
troubles cowlder than all," she added, in a lower tone. "I
seed him grow waker and waker, an' his dair face grown thinner
and thinner, and the red all left it, only two burning spots
was on it some days; an' I worried the life out o' me for him,
an' all I could do, I couldn't do nothing at all to help him,
for he just growed waker an' waker. I axed the father wouldn't
he see the doctor about him, but he's an aisy kind o' man, my
lady, an' he said he would, an' he never did to this day; an'
John, he always said it was no use sinding for the doctor, an'
looked so swate at me, an' said for me not to fret, for sure
he'd be better soon, or he'd go to a better place. An' I
thought he was already like a heavenly angel itself, an'
always was, but then more nor ever. Och! it's soon that he'll
be one entirely! — let Father Shannon say what he will."

She sobbed for a minute, while Alice and Ellen looked on,
silent and pitying.

"An' to-night, my lady, he's very bad," she went on, wiping
away the tears that came quickly again — "an' I seed he was
going fast from me, an' I was breaking my heart wid the loss
of him, whin I heard one of the men that was in it say,
'What's this he's saying?' says he. 'An' what is it, thin?'
says I. 'About the gintleman that praiches at Carra,' says he
— 'he's a calling for him,' says he. I knowed there wasn't a
praist at all at Carra, an' I thought he was draiming, or out
o' his head, or crazy wid his sickness, like; an' I went up
close to him, an' says I, 'John,' says I, 'what is it you
want,' says I — 'an' sure, if it's anything in heaven above or
in earth beneath that yer own mother can get for ye,' says I,
'ye shall have it,' says I. An' he put up his two arms around
my neck, an' pulled my face down to his lips, that was hot wid
the faver, an' kissed me — he did — 'An',' says he, 'mother
dair,' says he — 'if ye love me,' says he, 'fetch me the good
gintleman that praiches at Carra, till I spake to him.' 'Is it
the praist you want, John, my boy?' says I — 'sure he's in
it,' says I'; for Michael had been for Father Shannon, an' he
had come home wid him half an hour before. 'Oh no, mother,'
says he, 'it's not him at all that I mane — it's the gintleman
that spakes in the little white church at Carra — he's not a
praist at all,' says he. 'An' who is he thin?' says I, getting
up from the bed, 'or where will I find him, or how will I get
to him?' 'Ye'll not stir a fut for him, thin, the night, Kitty
Dolan,' says my husband — 'are ye mad,' says he; 'sure it's
not his own head the child has at all at all, or it's a little
hiritic he is,' says he; 'an' ye won't show the disrespect to
the praist in yer own house.' 'I'm maining none,' says I —
'nor more, he isn't a hiritic; but if he was, he's a born
angel to you, Michael Dolan, anyhow,' says I; 'an' wid the
kiss of his lips on my face, wouldn't I do the arrant of my
own boy, an' he a dying? by the blessing, an' I will, if
twenty men stud between me an' it. So tell me where I'll find
him, this praist, if there's the love o' mercy in any sowl o'
ye,' says I. But they wouldn't spake a word for me, not one of
them; so I axed an' axed at one place an' other, till here I
am. An' now, my lady, will the master go for me to my poor
boy? — for he'd maybe be dead while I stand here."

"Surely I will," said Mr. Humphreys, who had come in while she
was speaking. "Wait but one moment."

In a moment he came back ready, and he and the woman set forth
to their walk. Alice looked out anxiously after them.

"It storms very hard," she said — "and he had not had his tea!
But he couldn't wait. Come, Ellen, love, we'll have ours. How
will he ever get back again? it will be so deep by that time."

There was a cloud on her fair brow for a few minutes, but it
passed away, and, quiet and calm as ever, she sat down at the
little tea-table with Ellen. From _her_ face all shadows seemed
to have flown for ever. Hungry and happy, she enjoyed
Margery's good bread and butter, and the nice honey, and from
time to time cast very bright looks at the dear face on the
other side of the table, which could not help looking bright
in reply. Ellen was well pleased, for her part, that the third
seat was empty. But Alice looked thoughtful sometime as a gust
of wind swept by, and once or twice went to the window.

After tea, Alice took out her work, and Ellen put herself
contentedly down on the rug, and sat leaning back against her.
Silent for very contentment for a while, she sat looking
gravely into the fire; while Alice's fingers drove a little
steel hook through and through some purse silk in a mysterious
fashion, that no eye could be quick enough to follow, and with
such skill and steadiness, that the work grew fast under her
hand.

"I had such a funny dream last night," said Ellen.

"Had you? what about?"

"It was pleasant, too," said Ellen, twisting herself round to
talk — "but very queer. I dreamed about that gentleman that
was so kind to me on board the boat — you know? — I told you
about him?"

"Yes, I remember."

"Well, I dreamed of seeing him somewhere, I don't know where —
and he didn't look a bit like himself, only I knew who it was;
and I thought I didn't like to speak to him for fear he
wouldn't know _me_, but then I thought he did, and came up and
took my hand, and seemed so glad to see me; and he asked me if
I had been _pious_ since he saw me."

Ellen stopped to laugh.

"And what did you tell him?"

"I told him yes. And then I thought he seemed so very
pleased."

"Dreamers do not always keep close to the truth, it seems."

"_I_ didn't," said Ellen. "But then I thought I had, in my
dream."

"Had what? kept close to the truth?"

"No, no — been what he said."

"Dreams are queer things," said Alice.

"I have been far enough from being good to-day," said Ellen,
thoughtfully.

"How so, my dear?"

"I don't know, Miss Alice — because I never _am_ good, I
suppose."

"But what has been the matter to-day?"

"Why, those apples! I thought I would come here so early, and
then, when I found I must do all those baskets of apples
first, I was very ill-humoured; and Aunt Fortune saw I was,
and said something that made me worse. And I tried as hard as
I could to get through before dinner, and when I found I
couldn't, I said I wouldn't come to dinner; but she made me,
and that vexed me more, and I wouldn't eat scarcely anything,
and then, when I got back to the apples again, I sewed so
hard, that I ran the needle into my finger ever so far — see
there, what a mark it left! — and Aunt Fortune said it served
me right, and she was glad of it, and that made me angry. I
knew I was wrong, afterwards, and I was very sorry. Isn't it
strange, dear Alice, I should do so when I have resolved so
hard I wouldn't."

"Not very, my darling, as long as we have such evil hearts as
ours are — it _is_ strange they should be so evil."

"I told Aunt Fortune afterwards I was sorry, but she said
'Actions speak louder than words, and words are cheap.' If she
only wouldn't say that just as she does! it does worry me so."

"Patience!" said Alice, passing her hand over Ellen's hair as
she sat looking sorrowfully up at her. "You must try not to
give her occasion. Never mind what she says, and overcome evil
with good."

"That is just what Mamma said!" exclaimed Ellen, rising to
throw her arms around Alice's neck, and kissing her with all
the energy of love, gratitude, repentance, and sorrowful
recollection.

"Oh, what do you think!" she said, suddenly, her face changing
again, — "I got my letter last night!"

"Your letter!"

"Yes, the letter the old man brought — don't you know? and it
was written in the ship, and there was only a little bit from
Mamma, and a little bit from Papa, but so good! Papa says she
is a great deal better, and he has no doubt he will bring her
back in the spring or summer quite well again. Isn't that
good?"

"Very good, dear Ellen. I am very glad for you."

"It was, on my bed last night. I can't think how it got there;
and I don't care, either, so long as I've got it. What are you
making?"

"A purse," said Alice, laying it on the table for her
inspection.

"It will be very pretty. Is the other end to be like this?"

"Yes, and these tassels to finish them off."

"Oh, that's beautiful," said Ellen, laying them down to try
the effect; "and these rings to fasten it with. Is it black?"

"No, dark green. I am making it for my brother John."

"A Christmas present!" exclaimed Ellen.

"I am afraid not; he will hardly be here by that time. It may
do for New Year."

"How pleasant it must be to make Christmas and New Year
presents!" said Ellen, after she had watched Alice's busy
fingers for a few minutes. "I wish I could make something for
somebody. Oh! I wonder if I couldn't make something for Mr.
Van Brunt! Oh, I should like to, very much."

Alice smiled at Ellen's very wide-open eyes.

"What could you make for him?"

"I don't know — that's the thing. He keeps his money in his
pocket; and besides, I don't know how to make purses."

"There are other things besides purses. How would a watch-
guard do? Does he wear a watch?"

"I don't know whether he does or not; he doesn't every day, I
am sure, but I don't know about Sundays."

"Then, we won't venture upon that. You might knit him a
nightcap."

"A nightcap? — you're joking, Alice, aren't you? I don't think
a nightcap would be pretty for a Christmas present — do you?"

"Well, what shall we do, Ellen?" said Alice, laughing. "I made
a pocket-pincushion for Papa once, when I was a little girl,
but I fancy Mr. Van Brunt would not know exactly what use to
make of such a convenience. I don't think you could fail to
please him, though, with anything you should hit upon."

"I have got a dollar," said Ellen, "to buy stuff with; it came
in my letter last night. If I only knew what!"

Down she went on the rug again, and Alice worked in silence,
while Ellen's thoughts ran over every possible and impossible
article of Mr. Van Brunt's dress.

"I have some nice pieces of fine linen," said Alice; "suppose
I cut out a collar for him, and you can make it and stitch it,
and then Margery will starch and iron it for you, all ready to
give to him. How will that do? Can you stitch well enough?"

"Oh, yes, I guess I can," said Ellen. "Oh, thank you, dear
Alice! you are the best help that ever was. Will he like that,
do you think?"

"I am sure he will — very much."

"Then, that will do nicely," said Ellen, much relieved. "And
now, what do you think about Nancy's Bible?"

"Nothing could be better; only that I am afraid Nancy would
either sell it for something else, or let it go to destruction
very quickly. I never heard of her spending five minutes over
a book, and the Bible, I am afraid, last of all."

"But I think," said Ellen slowly, — "I think she would not
spoil it, or sell it either, if _I_ gave it to her."

And she told Alice about Nancy's asking for the kiss last
night.

"That's the most hopeful thing I have heard about Nancy for a
long time," said Alice. "We will get her the Bible by all
means, my dear — a nice one — and I hope you will be able to
persuade her to read it."

She rose as she spoke, and went to the glass door. Ellen
followed her, and they looked out into the night. It was very
dark. She opened the door a moment, but the wind drove the
snow into their faces, and they were glad to shut it again.

"It's almost as bad as the night we were out, isn't it?" said
Ellen.

"Not such a heavy fall of snow, I think, but it is very windy
and cold. Papa will be late getting home."

"I am sorry you are worried, dear Alice."

"I am not _much_ worried, love. I have often known Papa out late
before, but this is rather a hard night for a long walk. Come,
we'll try to make a good use of the time while we are waiting.
Suppose you read to me while I work."

She took down a volume of Cowper, and found his account of the
three pet hares. Ellen read it, and then several of his
smaller pieces of poetry. Then followed a long talk about
hares and other animals; about Cowper and his friends, and his
way of life. Time passed swiftly away; it was getting late.

"How weary papa will be!" said Alice. "He has had nothing to
eat since dinner. I'll tell you what we'll do, Ellen," she
exclaimed, as she threw her work down, — "we'll make some
chocolate for him — that'll be the very thing. Ellen, dear,
run into the kitchen and ask Margery to bring me the little
chocolate-pot and a pitcher of night's milk."

Margery brought them. The pot was set on the coals, and Alice
had cut up the chocolate that it might melt the quicker. Ellen
watched it with great interest till it was melted, and the
boiling water stirred in, and the whole was simmering quietly
on the coals.

"Is it done now?"

"No, it must boil a little while, and then the milk must be
put in, and when that has boiled, the eggs — and then it will
be done."

With Margery and the chocolate-pot the cat had walked in.
Ellen immediately endeavoured to improve his acquaintance;
that was not so easy. The Captain chose the corner of the rug
furthest from her, in spite of all her calling and coaxing,
paying her no more attention than if he had not heard her.
Ellen crossed over to him, and began most tenderly and
respectfully to stroke his head and back, touching his soft
fur with great care. Parry presently lifted up his head
uneasily, as much as to say, "I wonder how long this is going
to last" — and finding there was every prospect of its lasting
some time, he fairly got up and walked over to the other end
of the rug. Ellen followed him, and tried again, with exactly
the same effect.

"Well, cat! you aren't very kind," said she as length; —
"Alice, he won't let me have anything to do with him!"

"I am sorry, my dear, he is so unsociable; he is a cat of very
bad taste — that is all I can say."

"But I never saw such a cat! he won't let me touch him ever so
softly; he lifts up his head and looks as cross; — and then
walks off."

"He don't know you yet, and truth is, Parry has no fancy for
extending the circle of his acquaintance. Oh, kitty, kitty!"
said Alice, fondly stroking his head, "why don't you behave
better?"

Parry lifted his head, and opened and shut his eyes, with an
expression of great satisfaction, very different from that he
had bestowed on Ellen. Ellen gave him up for the present as a
hopeless case, and turned her attention to the chocolate,
which had now received the milk, and must be watched lest it
should run over, which Alice said it would very easily do when
once it began to boil again. Meanwhile Ellen wanted to know
what chocolate was made of — where it came from — where it was
made best — burning her little face in the fire all the time,
lest the pot should boil over while she was not looking. At
last the chocolate began to gather a rich froth, and Ellen
called out —

"Oh, Alice! look here — quick! here's the shape of the spoon
on the top of the chocolate! do look at it."

An iron spoon was in the pot, and its shape was distinctly
raised on the smooth frothy surface. As they were both bending
forward to watch it, Alice waiting to take the pot off the
moment it began to boil, Ellen head a slight click of the lock
of the door, and turning her head, was a little startled to
see a stranger there, standing still at the far end of the
room. She touched Alice's arm without looking round. But Alice
started to her feet with a slight scream, and in another
minute had thrown her arms round the stranger, and was locked
in his. Ellen knew what it meant now, very well. She turned
away as if she had nothing to do with what was going on there,
and lifted the pot of chocolate off the fire with infinite
difficulty; but it was going to boil over, and she would have
broken her back rather than not do it. And then she stood with
her back to the brother and sister, looking into the fire, as
if she was determined not to see them till she couldn't help
it. But what she was thinking of, Ellen could not have told,
then or afterwards. It was but a few minutes, though it seemed
to her a great many, before they drew near the fire. Curiosity
began to be strong, and she looked round to see if the new-
comer was like Alice. No, not a bit — how different! — darker
hair and eyes — not a bit like her; handsome enough, too, to
be her brother. And Alice did not look like herself; her
usually calm, sweet face was quivering and sparkling now — lit
up as Ellen had never seen it — oh, how bright! Poor Ellen
herself had never looked duller in her life; and when Alice
said, gaily, "This is my brother, Ellen," her confusion of
thoughts and feelings resolved themselves into a flood of
tears; she sprang and hid her face in Alice's arms.

Ellen's were not the only eyes that were full just then, but
of course she did not know that.

"Come, Ellen," whispered Alice, presently, "look up! — what
kind of a welcome is this? come! — we have no business with
tears just now. Won't you run into the kitchen for me, love,"
she added, more low, "and ask Margery to bring some bread and
butter, and anything else she has that is fit for a
traveller?"

Glad of an escape, Ellen darted away that her wet face might
not be seen. The brother and sister were busily talking when
she returned.

"John," said Alice, "this is my little sister that I wrote you
about — Ellen Montgomery. Ellen, this is your brother as well
as mine, you know."

"Stop! stop!" said her brother. "Miss Ellen, this sister of
mine is giving us away to each other at a great rate; I should
like to know first what you say to it. Are you willing to take
a strange brother upon her recommendation?"

Half inclined to laugh, Ellen glanced at the speaker's face,
but meeting the grave though somewhat comical look of two very
keen eyes, she looked down again, and merely answered, "yes."

"Then, if I am to be your brother, you must give me a
brother's right, you know," said he, drawing her gently to
him, and kissing her gravely on the lips.

Probably Ellen thought there was a difference between John
Humphreys and Mr. Van Brunt, or the young gentlemen of the
apple-paring; for, though she coloured a good deal, she made
no objection, and showed no displeasure. Alice and she now
busied themselves with getting the cups and saucers out of the
cupboard, and setting the table: but all that evening, through
whatever was doing, Ellen's eyes sought the stranger as if by
fascination. She watched him whenever she could without being
noticed. At first she was in doubt what to think of him; she
was quite sure, from that one looking into his eyes, that he
was a person to be feared; — there was no doubt of that; as to
the rest she didn't know.

"And what have my two sisters been doing to spend the
evening?" said John Humphreys, one time that Alice was gone
into the kitchen on some kind errand for him.

"Talking, Sir," — said Ellen, doubtfully.

"Talking! this whole evening? Alice must have improved. What
have you been talking about?"

"Hares — and dogs — and about Mr. Cowper — and some other
things."

"Private affairs, eh?" said he, with again the look Ellen had
seen before.

"Yes, Sir," said Ellen, nodding and laughing.

"And how came you upon Mr. Cowper?"

"Sir?"

"How came you to be talking about Mr. Cowper?"

"I was reading about his hares, and about John Gilpin; and
then Alice told me about Mr. Cowper and his friends."

"Well, I don't know, after all, that you have had a pleasanter
evening than I have had," said her questioner, "though I have
been riding hard, with the cold wind in my face, and the
driving snow doing all it could to discomfort me. I have had
this very bright fireside before me all the way."

He fell into a fit of grave musing, which lasted till Alice
came in, then suddenly fell afumbling in his pocket.

"Here's a note for you," said he, throwing it into her lap.

"A note! — Sophia Marshman — where did you get it?"

"From her own hand. Passing there to-day, I thought I must
stop a moment to speak to them, and had no notion of doing
more; but Mrs. Marshman was very kind, and Miss Sophia in
despair, so the end of it was, I dismounted and went in to
await the preparing of that billet while my poor nag was led
off to the stables and a fresh horse supplied me — I fancy
that tells you on what conditions."

"Charming!" said Alice — "to spend Christmas — I am very glad;
I should like to, very much — with you dear. If I can only get
Papa — but I think he will; it will do him a great deal of
good. To-morrow, she says, we must come; but I doubt the
weather will not let us; we shall see."

"I rode Prince Charlie down. He is a good traveller, and the
sleighing will be fine if the snow be not too deep. The old
sleigh is in being yet, I suppose?"

"Oh, yes — in good order. Ellen? what are you looking so grave
about? you are going? too."

"I?" said Ellen, a great spot of crimson coming in each cheek.

"To be sure; do you think I am going to leave you behind?"

"But" —

"But what?"

"There won't be room."

"Room in the sleigh? Then we'll put John on Prince Charlie,
and let him ride there, postilion fashion."

"But — Mr. Humphreys?"

"He always goes on horse-back; he will ride Sharp or old
John."

In great delight, Ellen gave Alice an earnest kiss; and then
they all gathered round the table to take their chocolate, or
rather to see John take his, which his sister would not let
him wait for any longer. The storm had ceased, and through the
broken clouds the moon and stars were looking out, so they
were no more uneasy for Mr. Humphreys, and expected him every
moment. Still the supper was begun and ended without him, and
they had drawn round the fire again before his welcome step
was at last heard.

There was new joy then; new embracing, and questioning, and
answering; the little circle opened to let him in; and Alice
brought the corner of the table to his side and poured him out
a cup of hot chocolate. But, after drinking half of it, and
neglecting the eatables beside him, he sat with one hand in
the other, his arm leaning on his knee, with a kind of
softened gravity upon his countenance.

"Is your chocolate right, Papa?" said Alice, at length.

"_Very_ good, my daughter."

He finished the cup, but then went back to his old attitude
and look. Gradually they ceased their conversation, and waited
with respectful affection and some curiosity for him to speak;
something of more than common interest seemed to be in his
thoughts. He sat looking earnestly in the fire, sometimes with
almost a smile on his face, and gently striking one hand in
the palm of the other. And sitting so, without moving or
stirring his eyes, he said at last, as though the words had
been forced from him, "Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable
gift!"

As he added no more, Alice said, gently, "What have you seen
to-night, Papa?"

He roused himself, and pushed the empty cup towards her.

"A little more, my daughter; — I have seen the fairest sight,
almost, a man can see in this world. I have seen a little
ransomed spirit go home to its rest. Oh, that 'unspeakable
gift!' " He pressed his lips thoughtfully together while he
stirred his chocolate; but having drunk it, he pushed the
table from him, and drew up his chair.

"You had a long way to go, Papa," observed Alice, again.

"Yes — a long way there — I don't know what it was coming
home; I never thought of it. How independent the spirit can be
of externals! I scarcely felt the storm to-night."

"Nor I," said his son.

"I had a long way to go," said Mr. Humphreys; "that poor woman
— that Mrs. Dolan — she lives in the woods behind the Cat's
Back, a mile beyond Carra-carra, or more — it seemed a long
mile to-night; and a more miserable place I never saw yet. A
little rickety shanty, the storm was hardly kept out of it,
and no appearance of comfort or nicety anywhere or in
anything. There were several men gathered round the fire, and
in a corner, on a miserable kind of bed, I saw the sick child.
His eye met mine the moment I went in, and I thought I had
seen him before, but couldn't at first make out where. Do you
remember, Alice, a little ragged boy, with a remarkably
bright, pleasant face, who has planted himself regularly every
Sunday morning for some time past in the south aisle of the
church, and stood there all service time?"

Alice said no.

"I have noticed him often, and noticed him as paying a most
fixed and steady attention. I have repeatedly tried to catch
him on his way out of the church, to speak to him, but always
failed. I asked him to night, when I first went in, if he knew
me. 'I do, Sir,' he said. I asked him where he had seen me. He
said, 'In the church beyant.' 'So,' said I, 'you are the
little boy I have seen there so regularly; what did you come
there for?"

" 'To hear your honor spake the good words.'

" 'What good words?' said I; 'about what?'

"He said, 'About Him that was slain, and washed us from our
sins in his own blood.'

" 'And do you think he has washed away yours?' I said.

"He smiled at me very expressively. I suppose it was somewhat
difficult for him to speak; and, to tell the truth, so it was
for me, for I was taken by surprise; but the people in the hut
had gathered round, and I wished to hear him say more, for
their sake as well as my own. I asked him why he thought his
sins were washed away. He gave me for answer part of the
verse, 'Suffer little children to come unto me,' but did not
finish it. 'Do you think you are very sick, John?' I asked.

" 'I am, Sir,' he said — 'I'll not be long here.'

" 'And where do you think you are going, then?' said I.

"He lifted one little, thin, bony arm from under his coverlid,
and, through all the dirt and the pallor of his face, the
smile of heaven I am sure was on it, as he looked and pointed
upward, and answered, 'Jesus!'

"I asked him presently, as soon as I could, what he had wished
to see me for. I don't know whether he heard me or not; he lay
with his eyes half closed, breathing with difficulty. I
doubted whether he would speak again; and indeed, for myself,
I had heard and seen enough to satisfy me entirely; — for the
sake of the group around the bed, I could have desired
something further. They kept perfect stillness; awed, I think,
by a profession of faith such as they had never heard before.
They and I stood watching him, and at the end of a few
minutes, not more than ten or fifteen, he opened his eyes, and
with sudden life and strength rose up half-way in bed,
exclaiming, 'Thanks to be God for his unspeakable gift!' — and
then fell back — just dead."

The old gentleman's voice was husky as he finished, for Alice
and Ellen were both weeping, and John Humphreys had covered
his face with his hands.

"I have felt," said the old gentleman, presently, "as if I
could have shouted out his words — his dying words — all the
way as I came home. My little girl," said he, drawing Ellen to
him, "do you know the meaning of those sweet things of which
little John Dolan's mind was so full?"

Ellen did not speak.

"Do you know what it is to be a sinner? — and what it is to be
a forgiven child of God?"

"I believe I do, Sir," Ellen said.

He kissed her forehand and blessed her; and then said, "Let us
pray."

It was late; the servants had gone to bed, and they were
alone. Oh! what a thanksgiving Mr. Humphreys poured forth for
that "unspeakable gift!" — that they, every one there, had
been made to know and rejoice in it; for the poor little boy,
rich in faith, who had just gone home in the same rejoicing;
for their own loved ones who were there already; and for the
hope of joining them soon in safety and joy, to sing with them
the "new song" for ever and ever.

There were no dry eyes in the room. And when they arose, Mr.
Humpreys, after giving his daughter the usual kiss for good
night, gave one to Ellen too, which he had never done before,
and then going to his son, and laying both hands on his
shoulders, kissed his cheek also; then silently took his
candle and went.

They lingered a little while after he was gone, standing round
the fire as if loth to part, but in grave silence, each busy
with his own thoughts. Alice's ended by fixing on her brother,
for, laying her hand and her head carelessly on his shoulder,
she said, "And so you have been well all this time, John?"

He turned his face towards her without speaking, but Ellen as
well as his sister saw the look of love with which he answered
her question, rather of endearment than inquiry; and from that
minute Ellen's mind was made up as to the doubt which had
troubled her. She went to bed quite satisfied that her new
brother was a decided acquisition.


CHAPTER XXVII.

The jingling of sleigh-bells.


Before Ellen's eyes were open the next morning — almost before
she awoke — the thought of the Christmas visit, the sleigh-
ride, John Humphreys, and the weather, all rushed into her
mind at once, and started her half up in the bed to look out
of the window. Well frosted the panes of glass were, but at
the corners and edges, unmistakeable bright gleams of light
came in.

"Oh, Alice, it's beautiful!" exclaimed Ellen; "look how the
sun is shining! and 'tisn't very cold. Are we going to-day?"

"I don't know yet, Ellie, but we shall know very soon. We'll
settle that at breakfast."

At breakfast it was settled. They were to go, and set off
directly. Mr. Humphreys could not go with them, because he had
promised to bury little John Dolan; the priest had declared _he_
would have nothing to do with it; and the poor mother had
applied to Mr. Humphreys, as being the clergyman her child had
most trusted and loved to hear. It seemed that little John had
pursuaded her out of half her prejudices by his affectionate
talk and blameless behaviour during some time past. Mr.
Humphreys, therefore, must stay at home that day. He promised,
however, to follow them the next, and would by no means permit
them to wait for him. He said the day was fine, and they must
improve it; and he should be pleased to have them with their
friends as long as possible.

So the little travelling-bag was stuffed, with more things
than it seemed possible to get into it. Among the rest, Ellen
brought her little red Bible, which Alice decided should go in
John's pocket; the little carpet-bag could not take it. Ellen
was afraid it never would be locked. By dint of much pushing
and crowding, however, locked it was; and they made themselves
ready. Over Ellen's merino dress and coat went an old fur
tippet; a little shawl was tied round her neck; her feet were
cased in a pair of warm moccassins, which, belonging to
Margery, were of course a world too big for her, but "anything
but cold," as their owner said. Her nice blue hood would
protect her head well, and Alice gave her a green veil to save
her eyes from the glare of the snow. When Ellen shuffled out
of Alice's room in this trim, John gave her one of his grave
looks, and saying she looked like Mother Bunch, begged to know
how she expected to get to the sleigh; he said she would want
a footman indeed to wait upon her, to pick up her slippers, if
she went in that fashion. However, he ended by picking _her_ up,
carried her, and set her down safely in the sleigh. Alice
followed, and in another minute they were off.

Ellen's delight was unbounded. Presently they turned round a
corner and left the house behind out of sight; and they were
speeding away along a road that was quite new to her. Ellen's
heart felt like dancing for joy. Nobody would have thought it,
she sat so still and quiet between Alice and her brother; but
her eyes were very bright as they looked joyously about her,
and every now and then she could not help smiling to herself.
Nothing was wanting to the pleasure of that ride. The day was
of winter's fairest; the blue sky as clear as if clouds had
never dimmed or crossed it. None crossed it now. It was cold,
but not bitterly cold, nor windy; the sleigh skimmed along
over the smooth frozen surface of the snow as if it was no
trouble at all to Prince Charlie to draw it; and the sleigh
bells jingled and rang, the very music for Ellen's thoughts to
dance to. And then with somebody she liked very much on each
side of her, and pleasures untold in the prospect, no wonder
she felt as if her heart could not hold any more. The green
veil could not be kept on, everything looked so beautiful in
that morning's sun. The long, wide slopes of untrodden and
unspotted snow, too bright sometimes for the eye to look at;
the shadows that here and there lay upon it, of woodland and
scattered trees; the very brown fences, and the bare arms and
branches of the leafless trees, showing sharp against the
white ground and clear bright heaven; — all seemed lovely in
her eyes. For


"It is content of heart
Gives nature power to please."


She could see nothing that was not pleasant. And, besides,
they were in a nice little red sleigh, with a warm buffalo
robe, and Prince Charlie was a fine-spirited gray, that
scarcely ever needed to be touched with the whip; at a word of
encouragement from his driver, he would toss his head and set
forward with new life, making all the bells jingle again. To
be sure, she would have been just as happy if they had had the
poorest of vehicles on runners, with old John instead; but
still it was pleasanter so.

Their road at first was through a fine undulating country,
like that between the Nose and Thirlwall; farmhouses and
patches of woodland scattered here and there. It would seem
that the minds of all the party were full of the same
thoughts, for, after a very long silence, Alice's first word,
almost sigh, was —

"This is a beautiful world, John!"

"Beautiful! — wherever you can escape from the signs of man's
presence and influence."

"Isn't that almost too strong?" said Alice.

He shook his head, smiling somewhat sadly, and touched Prince
Charlie, who was indulging himself in a walk.

"But there are bright exceptions," said Alice.

"I believe it; — never so much as when I come home."

"Are there none around you, then, in whom you can have
confidence and sympathy?"

He shook his head again. "Not enough, Alice. I long for you
every day of my life."

Alice turned her head quick away.

"It must be so, my dear sister," he said, presently; "we can
never expect to find it otherwise. There are, as you say,
bright exceptions — many of them; but in almost all I find
some sad want. We must wait till we join the spirits of the
just made perfect, before we see society that will be all we
wish for."

"What is Ellen thinking of all this while?" said Alice,
presently, bending down to see her face. "As grave as a judge!
— what are you musing about?"

"I was thinking," said Ellen, "how men could help the world's
being beautiful."

"Don't trouble your little head with that question," said
John, smiling — "long may it be before you are able to answer
it. Look at those snow-birds!"

By degrees the day wore on. About one o'clock they stopped at
a farmhouse to let the horse rest, and to stretch their own
limbs, which Ellen, for her part, was very glad to do. The
people of the house received them with great hospitality, and
offered them pumpkin-pies and sweet cider. Alice had brought a
basket of sandwiches, and Prince Charlie was furnished with a
bag of corn Thomas had stowed away in the sleigh for him; so
they were all well refreshed and rested and warmed before they
set off again.

From home to Ventnor, Mr. Marshman's place, was more than
thirty miles, and the longest, because the most difficult,
part of the way was still before them. Ellen, however, soon
became sleepy, from riding in the keen air; she was content
now to have the green veil over her face, and sitting down in
the bottom of the sleigh, her head leaning against Alice, and
covered well with the buffalo robe, she slept in happy
unconsciousness of hill and dale, wind and sun, and all the
remaining hours of the way.

It was drawing towards four o'clock, when Alice, with some
difficulty, roused her to see the approach to the house, and
get wide awake before they should reach it. They turned from
the road, and entered by a gateway into some pleasure-grounds,
through which a short drive brought them to the house. These
grounds were fine, but the wide lawns were a smooth spread of
snow now; the great skeletons of oaks and elms were bare and
wintry; and patches of shrubbery offered little but tufts and
bunches of brown twigs and stems. It might have looked dreary,
but that some well-grown evergreens were clustered round the
house, and others scattered here and there relieved the eye; —
a few holly-bushes, singly and in groups, proudly displayed
their bright dark leaves and red berries; and one unrivalled
hemlock, on the west, threw its graceful shadow quite across
the lawn, on which, as on itself, the white chimney-tops, and
the naked branches of oaks and elms, was the faint smile of
the afternoon sun.

A servant came to take the horse, and Ellen, being first rid
of her moccassins, went with John and Alice up the broad
flight of steps, and into the house. They entered a large,
handsome square hall, with a blue-and-white stone floor, at
one side of which the staircase went winding up. Here they
were met by a young lady, very lively and pleasant-faced, who
threw her arms round Alice, and kissed her a great many times,
seeming very glad indeed to see her. She welcomed Ellen, too,
with such warmth, that she began to feel almost as if she had
been sent for and expected — told Mr. John he had behaved
admirably — and then led them into a large room, where was a
group of ladies and gentlemen.

The welcome they got here was less lively, but quite as kind.
Mr. and Mrs. Marshman were fine, handsome old people, of
stately presence, and most dignified as well as kind in their
deportment. Ellen saw that Alice was at home here, as if she
had been a daughter of the family. Mrs. Marshman also stooped
down and kissed her herself, telling her she was very glad she
had come, and that there were a number of young people there,
who would be much pleased to have her help them keep
Christmas. Ellen could not make out yet who any of the rest of
the company were. John and Alice seemed to know them all, and
there was a buzz of pleasant voices, and a great bustle of
shaking hands.

The children had all gone out to walk, and, as they had had
their dinner a great while ago, it was decided that Ellen
should take hers that day with the elder part of the family.
While they were waiting to be called to dinner, and everybody
else was talking and laughing, old Mr. Marshman took notice of
little Ellen, and drawing her from Alice's side to his own,
began a long conversation. He asked her a great many
questions, some of them such funny ones, that she could not
help laughing, but she answered them all, and now and then so
that she made him laugh too. By the time the butler came to
say dinner was ready, she had almost forgotten she was a
stranger. Mr. Marshman himself led her to the dining-room,
begged the elder ladies would excuse him, but he felt bound to
give his attention to the greatest stranger in the company. He
placed her on his right hand, and took the greatest care of
her all dinner-time; once sending her plate the whole length
of the table for some particular little thing he thought she
would like. On the other side of Ellen sat Mrs. Chauncey, one
of Mr. Marshman's daughters; a lady with a sweet, gentle,
quiet face and manner, that made Ellen like to sit by her.
Another daughter, Mrs. Gillespie, had more of her mother's
stately bearing; the third, Miss Sophia, who met them first in
the hall, was very unlike both the others, but lively and
agreeable and good-humoured.

Dinner gave place to the dessert, and that in its turn was
removed with the cloth. Ellen was engaged in munching almonds
and raisins, admiring the brightness of the mahogany, and the
richly-cut and coloured glass, and silver decanter-stands,
which were reflected in it; when a door at the further end of
the room half-opened, a little figure came partly in, and
holding the door in her hand, stood looking doubtfully along
the table, as if seeking for some one.

"What is the matter, Ellen?" said Mrs. Chauncey.

"Mrs. Bland told me, Mamma," she began, her eye not ceasing
its uneasy quest; but then breaking off and springing to
Alice's side, she threw her arms round her neck, and gave her,
certainly, the warmest of all the warm welcomes she had had
that day.

"Hallo!" cried Mr. Marshman, rapping on the table; "that's too
much for any one's share. Come here, you baggage, and give me
just such another."

The little girl came near accordingly, and hugged and kissed
him with a very good will, remarking, however, "Ah, but I've
seen you before to-day, Grandpapa!"

"Well, here's somebody you've not seen before," said he, good-
humouredly, pulling her round to Ellen, — "here's a new friend
for you — a young lady from the great city, so you must brush
up your country manners. Miss Ellen Montgomery, come from —
pshaw! what is it? — come from —"

"London, Grandpapa?" said the little girl, as with a mixture
of simplicity and kindness she took Ellen's hand, and kissed
her on the cheek.

"From Carra-carra, Sir," said Ellen, smiling.

"Go along with you," said he, laughing, and pinching her
cheek. "Take her away, Ellen, take her away, and mind you take
good care of her. Tell Mrs. Bland she is one of grandpapa's
guests."

The two children had not, however, reached the door, when
Ellen Chauncey exclaimed, "Wait — oh, wait a minute! I must
speak to aunt Sophia about the bag." And, flying to her side,
there followed an earnest whispering, and then a nod and smile
from aunt Sophia; and, satisfied, Ellen returned to her
companion, and led her out of the dining-room.

"We have both got the same name," said she, as they went along
a wide corridor; "how shall we know which is which?"

"Why," said Ellen, laughing, "when you say 'Ellen,' I shall
know you mean me; and when I say it you will know I mean you.
I shouldn't be calling myself, you know."

"Yes, but when somebody else calls 'Ellen,' we shall both have
to run. Do you run when you are called?"

"Sometimes," said Ellen, laughing.

"Ah, but I do always; Mamma always makes me. I thought perhaps
you were like Marianne Gillespie — she waits often as much as
half a minute before she stirs, when anybody calls her. Did
you come with Miss Alice?"

"Yes."

"Do you love her?"

"Very much! — oh, very much!"

Little Ellen looked at her companion's rising colour, with a
glance of mixed curiosity and pleasure, in which lay a strong
promise of growing love.

"So do I," she answered, gaily; "I am very glad she is come,
and I am very glad you are come, too."

The little speaker pushed open a door, and led Ellen into the
presence of a group of young people, rather older than
themselves.

"Marianne," said she to one of them, a handsome girl of
fourteen, "this is Miss Ellen Montgomery — she came with
Alice, and she is come to keep Christmas with us — aren't you
glad? There'll be quite a parcel of us when what's-her-name
comes — won't there?"

Marianne shook hands with Ellen.

"She is one of grandpapa's guests, I can tell you," said
little Ellen Chauncey; "and he says we must brush up our
country manners — she's come from the great city."

"Do you think we are a set of ignoramuses, Miss Ellen?"
inquired a well-grown boy of fifteen, who looked enough like
Marianne Gillespie to prove him her brother.

"I don't know what that is," said Ellen.

"Well, do they do things better in the great city than we do
here?"

"I don't know how you do them here," said Ellen.

"Don't you? Come! Stand out of my way, right and left, all of
you, will you? and give me a chance. Now then!"

Conscious that he was amusing most of the party, he placed
himself gravely at a little distance from Ellen, and marching
solemnly up to her, bowed down to her knees — then slowly
raising his head, stepped back.

"Miss Ellen Montgomery, I am rejoiced to have the pleasure of
seeing you at Ventnor. — Isn't that polite, now? Is that like
what you have been accustomed to, Miss Montgomery?"

"No, Sir — thank you," said Ellen, who laughed in spite of
herself. The mirth of the others redoubled.

"May I request to be informed then," continued Gillespie,
"what is the fashion of making bows in the great city?"

"I don't know," said Ellen; "I never saw a boy make a bow
before."

"Humph! — I guess country manners will do for you," said
William, turning on his heel.

"You're giving her a pretty specimen of 'em, Bill," said
another boy.

"For shame, William!" cried little Ellen Chauncey; "didn't I
tell you she was one of grandpapa's guests? Come here, Ellen,
I'll take you somewhere else."

She seized Ellen's hand and pulled her towards the door, but
suddenly stopped again.

"Oh, I forgot to tell you," she said; "I asked aunt Sophia
about the bag of moroccoes, and she said she would have 'em
early to-morrow morning, and then we can divide 'em right
away."

"We mustn't divide 'em till Maggie comes," said Marianne.

"Oh, no — not till Maggie comes," said little Ellen; and then
ran off again.

"I am so glad you are come!" said she; "the others are all so
much older, and they have all so much to do together — and now
you can help me think what I will make for Mamma. Hush! don't
say a word about it!"

They entered the large drawing-room, where old and young were
soon gathered for tea. The children, who had dined early, sat
down to a well-spread table, at which Miss Sophia presided;
the elder persons were standing or sitting in different parts
of the room. Ellen, not being hungry, had leisure to look
about her, and her eyes soon wandered from the tea-table in
search of her old friends. Alice was sitting by Mrs. Marshman,
talking with two other ladies; but Ellen smiled presently, as
she caught her eye from the far end of the room, and got a
little nod of recognition. John came up just then to set down
his coffee-cup, and asked her what she was smiling at.

"That's city manners," said William Gillespie, "to laugh at
what's going on."

"I have no doubt we shall all follow the example," said John
Humphreys, gravely, "if the young gentleman will try to give
us a smile."

The young gentleman had just accommodated himself with an
outrageously large mouthful of bread and sweetmeats, and if
ever so well-disposed, compliance with the request was
impossible. None of the rest, however, not even his sister,
could keep their countenances, for the eye of the speaker had
pointed and sharpened his words; and William, very red in the
face, was understood to mumble, as soon as mumbling was
possible, that "he wouldn't laugh unless he had a mind to,"
and a threat to "do something" to his tormentor.

"Only not eat me," said John, with a shade of expression in
his look and tone which overcame the whole party, himself and
poor William alone retaining entire gravity.

"What's all this? what's all this? — what's all this laughing
about?" said old Mr. Marshman, coming up.

"This young gentleman, Sir," said John, "has been endeavouring
— with a mouthful of arguments — to prove to us the
inferiority of city manners to those learned in the country."

"Will," said the old gentleman, glancing doubtfully at
William's discomfited face; then added, sternly, "I don't care
where your manners were learned, Sir, but I advise you to be
very particular as to the sort you bring with you here. Now,
Sophia, let us have some music."

He set the children a-dancing, and as Ellen did not know how,
he kept her by him, and kept her very much amused, too, in his
own way; then he would have her join in the dancing, and bade
Ellen Chauncey give her lessons. There was a little
backwardness at first, and then Ellen was jumping away with
the rest, and thinking it perfectly delightful, as Miss
Sophia's piano rattled out merry jigs and tunes, and little
feet flew over the floor as light as the hearts they belonged
to. At eight o'clock the young ones were dismissed, and bade
good-night to their elders; and, pleased with the kind kiss
Mrs. Marshman had given her, as well as her little
granddaughter, Ellen went off to bed very happy.

The room to which her companion led her was the very picture
of comfort. It was not too large, furnished with plain, old-
fashioned furniture, and lighted and warmed by a cheerful
wood-fire. The very old brass-headed hand-irons that stretched
themselves out upon the hearth with such a look of being at
home, seemed to say, "You have come to the right place for
comfort." A little, dark, mahogany book-case in one place — an
odd toilet-table of the same stuff in another; and opposite
the fire an old-fashioned high-post bedstead, with its
handsome Marseilles quilt and ample pillows, looked very
tempting. Between this and the far side of the room, in the
corner, another bed was spread on the floor.

"This is aunt Sophia's room," said little Ellen Chauncey; —
"this is where you are to sleep."

"And where will Alice be?" said the other Ellen.

"Oh, she'll sleep here, in this bed, with aunt Sophia; that is
because the house is so full, you know; — and here is your
bed, here on the floor. Oh, delicious! I wish I was going to
sleep here! Don't you love to sleep on the floor? I do. I
think it's fun."

Anybody might have thought it fun to sleep on that bed, for,
instead of a bedstead, it was luxuriously piled on mattresses.
The two children sat down together on the foot of it.

"This is aunt Sophia's room," continued little Ellen, "and
next to it, out of that door, is our dressing-room, and next
to that is where Mamma and I sleep. Do you undress and dress
yourself?"

"To be sure I do," said Ellen — "always."

"So do I; but Marianne Gillespie won't even put on her shoes
and stockings for herself."

"Who does it, then?" said Ellen.

"Why, Lester — aunt Matilda's maid. Mamma sent away her maid
when we came here, and she says if she had fifty she would
like me to do everything I can for myself. I shouldn't think
it was pleasant to have any one put on one's shoes and
stockings for you, should you?"

"No, indeed," said Ellen. "Then you live here all the time?"

"Oh, yes — ever since papa didn't come back from that long
voyage — we live here since then."

"Is he coming back soon?"

"No," said little Ellen, gravely — "he never will came back —
he never will come back any more."

Ellen was sorry she had asked, and both children were silent
for a minute.

"I'll tell you what," said little Ellen, jumping up — "Mamma
said we mustn't sit up too long talking, so I'll run and get
my things and bring 'em here, and we can undress together;
won't that be a nice way?"


CHAPTER XXVIII.

Scraps of Morocco and talk.


Left alone in the strange room with the flickering fire, how
quickly Ellen's thoughts left Ventnor and flew over the sea!
They often travelled that road, it is true, but now perhaps
the very home-look of everything, where yet _she_ was not at
home, might have sent them. There was a bitter twinge or two,
and for a minute Ellen's head drooped. "To-morrow will be
Christmas-eve — _last_ Christmas-eve — oh, Mamma!"

Little Ellen Chauncey soon came back, and sitting down beside
her on the foot of the bed, began the business of undressing.

"Don't you love Christmas time?" said she; "I think it's the
pleasantest in all the year; we always have a houseful of
people, and such fine times. But then in summer I think _that's_
the pleasantest. I s'pose they're all pleasant. Do you hang up
your stocking?"

"No," said Ellen.

"Don't you! why, I always did, ever since I can remember. I
used to think, when I was a little girl, you know," said she,
laughing — "I used to think that Santa Claus came down the
chimney, and I used to hang up my stocking as near the fire-
place as I could; but I know better than that now; I don't
care where I hang it. You know who Santa Claus is, don't you?"

"He's nobody," said Ellen.

"Oh, yes, he is — he's a great many people — he's whoever
gives you anything. _My_ Santa Claus is Mamma, and Grandpapa,
and Grandmamma, and Aunt Sophia, and Aunt Matilda; and I
thought I should have had Uncle George, too, this Christmas,
but he couldn't come. Uncle Howard never gives me anything. I
am sorry Uncle George couldn't come; I like him the best of
all my uncles."

"I never had anybody but Mamma to give me presents," said
Ellen, "and she never gave me much more at Christmas than at
other times."

"I used to have presents from Mamma and Grandpapa, too, both
Christmas and New Year, but now I have grown so old, Mamma
only gives me something Christmas and Grandpapa only New Year.
It would be too much, you know, for me to have both when my
presents are so big. I don't believe a stocking will hold 'em
much longer. But oh! we've got such a fine plan in our heads,"
said little Ellen, lowering her voice, and speaking with open
eyes and great energy — "_we_ are going to make presents this
year! — we children — won't it be fine? — we are going to make
what we like for anybody we choose, and let nobody know
anything about it; and then New Year's morning, you know, when
the things are all under the napkins, we will give ours to
somebody to put where they belong, and nobody will know
anything about them till they see them there. Won't it be
fine? I'm so glad you are here, for I want you to tell me what
I shall make."

"Who is it for?" said Ellen.

"Oh, Mamma! you know I can't make for everybody, so I think I
had rather it should be for Mamma. I _thought_ of making her a
needle-book with white backs, and getting Gilbert Gillespie to
paint them — he can paint beautifully — and having her name
and something else written very nicely inside; — how do you
think that would do?"

"I should think it would do very nicely," said Ellen — "very
nicely, indeed."

"I wish Uncle George was at home, though, to write it for me —
he writes so beautifully; I can't do it well enough."

"I am afraid I can't either," said Ellen. "Perhaps somebody
else can."

"I don't know who. Aunt Sophia scribbles and scratches, — and
besides, I don't want her to know anything about it. But
there's another thing I don't know how to fix, and that's the
edges of the leaves — the leaves for the needles — they must
be fixed — somehow."

"I can show you how to do that," said Ellen, brightening;
"Mamma had a needlebook that was given to her that had the
edges beautifully fixed; and I wanted to know how it was done,
and she showed me. I'll show you that. It takes a good while,
but that's no matter."

"Oh, thank you; how nice that is! Oh no, that's no matter. And
then it will do very well, won't it? Now, if I can only catch
Gilbert in a good humour — he isn't my cousin — he's
Marianne's cousin — that big boy you saw down-stairs — he's so
big he won't have anything to say to me, sometimes, but I
guess I'll get him to do this. Don't you want to make
something for somebody?"

Ellen _had_ had one or two feverish thoughts on this subject
since the beginning of the conversation, but she only said —

"It's no matter — you know I haven't got anything here; and
besides, I shall not be here till New Year."

"Not here till New Year! — yes, you shall," said little Ellen,
throwing herself upon her neck; "indeed you aren't going away
before that. I know you aren't — I heard Grandmamma and Aunt
Sophia talking about it. Say you will stay here till New Year
— do!"

"I should like to, very much indeed," said Ellen, "if Alice
does."

In the midst of half a dozen kisses with which her little
companion rewarded this speech, somebody close by said,
pleasantly —

"What time of night do you suppose it is?"

The girls started — there was Mrs. Chauncey.

"Oh, Mamma!" exclaimed her little daughter, springing to her
feet, "I hope you haven't heard what we have been talking
about?"

"Not a word," said Mrs. Chauncey, smiling; "but as to-morrow
will be long enough to talk in, hadn't you better go to bed
now?"

Her daughter obeyed her immediately, after one more hug to
Ellen, and telling her she was _so_ glad she had come. Mrs.
Chauncey stayed to see Ellen in bed, and press one kind,
motherly kiss upon her face, so tenderly that Ellen's eyes
were moistened as she withdrew. But in her dreams that night,
the rosy, sweet face, blue eyes, and little plump figure of
Ellen Chauncey played the greatest part.

She slept till Alice was obliged to waken her the next
morning; and then got up with her head in a charming confusion
of, pleasures past and pleasures to come — things known and
unknown, to be made for everybody's New Year presents — linen
collars and painted needlebooks; and no sooner was breakfast
over than she was showing and explaining to Ellen Chauncey a
particularly splendid and mysterious way of embroidering the
edges of needlebook leaves. Deep in this, they were still an
hour afterwards, and in the comparative merits of purple and
rose-colour, when a little hubbub arose at the other end of
the room, on the arrival of a new-comer. Ellen Chauncey looked
up from her work, then dropped it, exclaiming, "There she is!
— now for the bag!" — and pulled Ellen along with her towards
the party. A young lady was in the midst of it, talking so
fast, that she had not time to take off her cloak and bonnet.
As her eye met Ellen's, however, she came to a sudden pause.
It was Margaret Dunscombe. Ellen's face certainly showed no
pleasure; Margaret's darkened with a very disagreeable
surprise.

"My goodness! — Ellen Montgomery! — how on earth did you get
_here?_"

"Do you know her?" asked one of the girls, as the two Ellens
went off after "Aunt Sophia."

"Do I know her? Yes — just enough — exactly. How did she get
here?"

"Miss Humphreys brought her."

"Who's Miss Humphreys?"

"Hush!" said Marianne, lowering her tone — "that's her brother
in the window."

"Whose brother? — hers or Miss Humphreys'?"

"Miss Humphreys'. Did you never see her? She is here, or has
been here, a great deal of the time. Grandma calls her her
fourth daughter; and she is just as much at home as if she
was; and she brought her here."

"And she's at home, too, I suppose. Well, it's no business of
mine."

"What do you know of her?"

"Oh, enough — that's just it — don't want to know any more."

"Well, you needn't; but what's the matter with her?"

"Oh, I don't know. I'll tell you some other time — she's a
conceited little piece. We had the care of her coming up the
river — that's how I come to know about her; Ma said it was
the last child she would be bothered with in that way."

Presently the two girls came back, bring word to clear the
table, for Aunt Sophia was coming with the moroccoes. As soon
as she came, Ellen Chauncey sprang to her neck and whispered
an earnest question. "Certainly!" Aunt Sophia said, as she
poured out the contents of the bag; and her little niece
delightedly told Ellen _she_ was to have her share as well as
the rest.

The table was now strewn with pieces of morocco, of all sizes
and colours, which were hastily turned over and examined with
eager hands and sparkling eyes. Some were mere scraps, to be
sure; but others showed a breadth and length of beauty which
was declared to be "first-rate," and "fine;" and one beautiful
large piece of blue morocco in particular was made up in
imagination by two or three of the party in as many different
ways. Marianne wanted it for a book-cover; Margaret declared
she could make a lovely reticule with it; and Ellen could not
help thinking it would make a very pretty needlebox, such a
one as she had seen in the possession of one of the girls, and
longed to make for Alice.

"Well, what's to be done now?" said Miss Sophia— "or am I not
to know?"

"Oh, you're not to know — you're not to know, Aunt Sophy,"
cried the girls — "you mustn't ask."

"I'll tell you what they are going to do with 'em," said
George Walsh, coming up to her with a mischievous face, and
adding in a loud whisper, shielding his mouth with his hand —
"they're going to make pr —"

He was laid hold of forcibly by the whole party, screaming and
laughing, and stopped short from finishing his speech.

"Well, then, I'll take my departure," said Miss Sophia — "but
how will you manage to divide all these scraps!"

"Suppose we were to put them in the bag again, and you hold
the bag, and we were to draw them out without looking," said
Ellen Chauncey — "as we used to do with the sugar-plums."

As no better plan was thought of, this was agreed upon; and
little Ellen shutting up her eyes very tight, stuck in her
hand and pulled out a little bit of green morocco about the
size of a dollar. Ellen Montgomery came next; then Margaret,
then Marianne, then their mutual friend Isabel Hawthorn. Each
had to take her turn a great many times; and at the end of the
drawing, the pieces were found to be pretty equally divided
among the party, with the exception of Ellen, who, besides
several other good pieces, had drawn the famous blue.

"That will do very nicely," said little Ellen Chauncey — "I am
glad you have got that, Ellen. Now, Aunt Sophy! — one thing
more — you know the silks and ribbons you promised us?"

"Bless me! I haven't done yet, eh? Well, you shall have them;
but we are all going out to walk now; I'll give them to you
this afternoon. Come! put these away, and get on your bonnets
and cloaks."

A hard measure! but it was done. After the walk came dinner;
after dinner, Aunt Sophia had to be found and waited on, till
she had fairly sought out and delivered to their hands the
wished-for bundles of silks and satins. It gave great
satisfaction.

"But how shall we do about dividing these?" said little Ellen
— "shall we draw lots again?"

"No, Ellen," said Marianne, "that won't do, because we might
every one get just the thing we do not want. I want one colour
or stuff to go with my morocco, and you want another to go
with yours; and you might get mine and I might get yours. We
had best each choose in turn what we like, beginning at
Isabel."

"Very well," said little Ellen — "I'm agreed."

"Anything for a quiet life," said George Walsh.

But this business of choosing was found to be very long and
very difficult, each one was so fearful of not taking the
exact piece she wanted most. The elder members of the family
began to gather for dinner, and several came and stood round
the table where the children were; little noticed by them,
they were so wrapped up in silks and satins. Ellen seemed the
least interested person at table, and had made her selections
with the least delay and difficulty; and now, as it was not
her turn, sat very soberly looking on, with her head resting
on her hand.

"I declare it's too vexatious!" said Margaret Dunscombe —
"here I've got this beautiful piece of blue satin, and can't
do anything with it; it just matches that blue morocco — it's
a perfect match — I could have made a splendid thing of it,
and I have got some cord and tassels that would just do — I
declare it's too bad!"

Ellen's colour changed.

"Well, choose, Margaret," said Marianne.

"I don't know what to choose — that's the thing. What can one
do with red and purple morocco and blue satin? I might as well
give up. I've a great notion to take this piece of yellow
satin, and dress up a Turkish doll to frighten the next young
one I meet with."

"I wish you would, Margaret, and give it to me when it's
done," cried little Ellen Chauncey.

" 'Tain't made yet," said the other dryly.

Ellen's colour had changed and changed; her hand twitched
nervously, and she glanced uneasily from Margaret's store of
finery to her own.

"Come, choose, Margaret," said Ellen Chauncey; — "I dare say
Ellen wants the blue morocco as much as you do."

"No, I don't!" said Ellen, abruptly, throwing it over the
table to her; — "take it, Margaret, you may have it."

"What do you mean?" said the other, astounded.

"I mean you may have it," said Ellen — "I don't want it."

"Well, I'll tell you what," said the other — "I'll give you
yellow satin for it — or some of my red morocco!"

"No, I had rather not," repeated Ellen; "I don't want it — you
may have it."

"Very generously done," remarked Miss Sophia; "I hope you'll
all take a lesson in the art of being obliging."

"Quite a noble little girl," said Mrs. Gillespie.

Ellen crimsoned. "No, Ma'am, I am not, indeed," she said,
looking at them with eyes that were filling fast; "please
don't say so — I don't deserve it."

"I shall say what I think, my dear," said Mrs. Gillespie,
smiling; "but I am glad you add the grace of modesty to that
of generosity; it is the more uncommon of the two."

"I am not modest! I am not generous! you mustn't say so,"
cried Ellen. She struggled; the blood rushed to the surface,
suffusing every particle of skin that could be seen; then left
it, as with eyes cast down she went on — "I don't deserve to
be praised — it was more Margaret's than mine. I oughtn't to
have kept it at all — for I saw a little bit when I put my
hand in. I didn't mean to, but I did!"

Raising her eyes hastily to Alice's face, they met those of
John, who was standing behind her. She had not counted upon
him for one of her listeners; she knew Mrs. Gillespie, Mrs.
Chauncey, Miss Sophia, and Alice, had heard her; but this was
the one drop too much. Her head sunk; she covered her face a
moment, and then made her escape out of the room, before even
Ellen could follow her.

There was a moment's silence. Alice seemed to have some
difficulty not to follow Ellen's example. Margaret pouted;
Mrs. Chauncey's eyes filled with tears and her little daughter
seemed divided between doubt and dismay. Her first move,
however, was to run off in pursuit of Ellen. Alice went after
her.

"Here's a beautiful example of honour and honesty for you!"
said Margaret Dunscombe, at length.

"I think it is," observed John, quietly.

"An uncommon instance," said Mrs. Chauncey.

"I am glad everybody thinks so," said Margaret, sullenly; "I
hope I shan't copy it, that's all."

"I think you are in no danger," said John, again.

"Very well!" said Margaret, who, between her desire of
speaking and her desire of concealing her vexation, did not
know what to do with herself; — "everybody must judge for
himself, I suppose; I've got enough of her, for my part."

"Where did you ever see her before?" said Isabel Hawthorn.

"Oh, she came up the river with us — Mamma had to take care of
her — she was with us two days."

"And didn't you like her?"

"No, I guess I didn't! she was a perfect plague. All the day
on board the steamboat she scarcely came near us; we couldn't
pretend to keep sight of her; Mamma had to send her maid out
to look after her, I don't know how many times. She scraped
acquaintance with some strange man on board, and liked his
company better than ours, for she stayed with him the whole
blessed day, waking and sleeping; of course Mamma didn't like
it at all. She didn't go to a single meal with us; you know,
of course, that wasn't proper behaviour."

"No, indeed," said Isabel.

"I suppose," said John, coolly, "she chose the society she
thought the pleasantest. Probably Miss Margaret's politeness
was more than she had been accustomed to."

Margaret coloured, not quite knowing what to make of the
speaker or his speech.

"It would take much to make me believe," said gentle Mrs.
Chauncey, "that a child of such refined and delicate feeling
as that little girl evidently has, could take pleasure in
improper company."

Margaret had a reply at her tongue's end, but she had also an
uneasy feeling that there were eyes not far off too keen of
sight to be baffled; she kept silence till the group
dispersed, and she had an opportunity of whispering in
Marianne's ear that "_that_ was the very most disagreeable man
she had ever seen in her life."

"What a singular fancy you have taken to this little pet of
Alice's, Mr. John!" said Mrs. Marshman's youngest daughter.
"You quite surprise me."

"Did you think me a misanthrope, Miss Sophia?"

"Oh, no, not at all; but I always had a notion you would not
be easily pleased in the choice of favourites."

"_Easily!_ When a simple, intelligent child of twelve or
thirteen is a common character, then I will allow that I am
easily pleased."

"Twelve or thirteen!" said Miss Sophia; "what are you thinking
about? Alice says she is only ten or eleven."

"In years — perhaps."

"How gravely you take me up!" said the young lady, laughing.
"My dear Mr. John, 'in years perhaps,' you may call yourself
twenty, but in everything else you might much better pass for
thirty or forty."

As they were called to dinner, Alice and Ellen Chauncey came
back; the former looking a little serious, the latter crying,
and wishing aloud that all the moroccoes had been in the fire.
They had not been able to find Ellen. Neither was she in the
drawing-room when they returned to it after dinner; and a
second search was made in vain. John went to the library,
which was separate from the other rooms, thinking she might
have chosen that for a hiding-place. She was not there; but
the pleasant light of the room, where only the fire was
burning, invited a stay. He sat down in the deep window, and
was musingly looking out into the moonlight, when the door
softly opened, and Ellen came in. She stole in noiselessly, so
that he did not hear her, and _she_ thought the room empty, till
in passing slowly down towards the fire she came upon him in
the window. Her start first let him know she was there; she
would have run, but one of her hands was caught, and she could
not get it away.

"Running away from your brother, Ellie!" said he, kindly;
"what is the matter?"

Ellen shrunk from meeting his eye, and was silent.

"I know all, Ellie, said he, still very kindly — "I have seen
all — why do you shun me?"

Ellen said nothing; the big tears began to run down her face
and frock.

"You are taking this matter too hardly, dear Ellen," he said,
drawing her close to him; "you did wrong, but you have done
all you could to repair the wrong — neither man nor woman can
do more than that."

But though encouraged by his manner, the tears flowed faster
than ever.

"Where have you been? Alice was looking for you, and little
Ellen Chauncey was in great trouble. I don't know what
dreadful thing she thought you had done with yourself. Come!
lift up your head, and let me see you smile again."

Ellen lifted her head but could not her eyes, though she tried
to smile.

"I want to talk to you a little about this," said he. "You
know you gave me leave to be your brother — will you let me
ask you a question or two?"

"Oh, yes — whatever he pleased," Ellen said.

"Then sit down here," said he, making room for her on the wide
window-seat, but still keeping hold of her hand and speaking
very gently. "You said you saw when you took the morocco — I
don't quite understand — how was it?"

"Why," said Ellen, "we were not to look, and we had gone three
times round, and nobody had got that large piece yet, and we
all wanted it; and I did not mean to look at all, but I don't
know how it was, just before I shut my eyes I happened to see
the corner of it sticking up, and then I took it."

"With your eyes open?"

"No, no, with them shut. And I had scarcely got it when I was
sorry for it, and wished it back."

"You will wonder at me, perhaps, Ellie," said John, "but I am
not very sorry this has happened. You are no worse than
before; it has only made you see what you are — very, very
weak — quite unable to keep yourself right without constant
help. Sudden temptation was too much for you — so it has many
a time been for me, and so it has happened to the best men on
earth. I suppose if you had had a minute's time to think, you
would not have done as you did?"

"No, indeed!" said Ellen. "I was sorry a minute after."

"And I dare say the thought of it weighed upon your mind ever
since?"

"Oh, yes!" said Ellen; "it wasn't out of my head a minute the
whole day."

"Then let it make you very humble, dear Ellie, and let it make
you in future keep close to our dear Saviour, without whose
help we cannot stand a moment."

Ellen sobbed; and he allowed her to do so for a few minutes,
then said —

"But you have not been thinking much about Him, Ellie?"

The sobs ceased; he saw his words had taken hold.

"Is it right," he said, softly, "that we should be more
troubled about what people will think of us, than for having
displeased or dishonoured Him?"

Ellen now looked up, and in her look was all the answer he
wished.

"You understand me, I see," said he. "Be humbled in the dust
before him — the more the better; but whenever we are greatly
concerned, for our own sakes, about other people's opinion, we
may be sure we are thinking too little of God and what will
please him."

"I am very sorry," said poor Ellen, from whose eyes the tears
began to drop again — "I am very wrong: but I couldn't bear to
think what Alice would think — and you — and all of them."

"Here's Alice to speak for herself," said John.

As Alice came up with a quick step and knelt down before her,
Ellen sprang to her neck, and they held each other very fast
indeed. John walked up and down the room. Presently he stopped
before them.

"All's well again," said Alice, "and we are going in to tea."

He smiled and held out his hand, which Ellen took, but he
would not leave the library, declaring they had a quarter of
an hour still. So they sauntered up and down the long room,
talking of different things, so pleasantly, that Ellen near
forgot her troubles. Then came in Miss Sophia to find them,
and then Mr. Marshman, and Marianne to call them to tea; so
the going into the drawing-room was not half so bad as Ellen
thought it would be.

She behaved very well; her face was touchingly humble that
night; and all the evening she kept fast by either Alice or
John, without budging an inch. And as little Ellen Chauncey
and her cousin George Walsh chose to be where she was, the
young party was quite divided; and not the least merry portion
of it was that mixed with the older people. Little Ellen was
half beside herself with spirits; the secret of which,
perhaps, was the fact, which she several times in the course
of the evening whispered to Ellen as a great piece of news,
that "it was Christmas eve!"


CHAPTER XXIX.

Stockings, to which the "Bas Bleu" was nothing.


Christmas morning was dawning gray, but it was still far from
broad daylight, when Ellen was awakened. She found little
Ellen Chauncey pulling and pushing at her shoulders, and
whispering "Ellen! Ellen!" in a tone that showed a great fear
of waking somebody up. There she was, in nightgown and
nightcap, and barefooted, too, with a face brimfull of
excitement, and as wide awake as possible. Ellen roused
herself in no little surprise, and asked what the matter was.

"I am going to look at my stocking," whispered her visitor;
"don't you want to get up and come with me? it's just here in
the other room; come! — don't make any noise."

"But what if you should find nothing in it?" said Ellen,
laughingly, as she bounded out of bed.

"Ah, but I shall, I know; I always do — never fear. Hush! step
ever so softly — I don't want to wake anybody."

"It's hardly light enough for you to see," whispered Ellen, as
the two little barefooted white figures glided out of the
room.

"Oh, yes, it is — that's all the fun. Hush! — don't make a bit
of noise — I know where it hangs — Mamma always puts it at the
back of her big easy-chair; come this way — here it is! Oh,
Ellen! there's two of 'em! There's one for you! there's one
for you!"


In a tumult of delight, one Ellen capered about the floor on
the tips of her bare toes, while the other, not less happy,
stood still for pleasure. The dancer finished by hugging and
kissing her with all her heart, declaring she was so glad, she
didn't know what to do.

"But how shall we know which is which?"

"Perhaps they are both alike," said Ellen.

"No — at any rate, one's for me, and t'other's for you. Stop!
here are pieces of paper, with our names, on I guess — let's
turn the chair a little bit to the light — there — yes! —
Ellen M-o-n— there, that's yours; my name doesn't begin with
an M; and this is mine!"

Another caper round the room, and then she brought up in front
of the chair, where Ellen was still standing.

"I wonder what's in 'em," she said; "I want to look, and I
don't want, too. Come, you begin."

"But that's no stocking of mine," said Ellen, a smile
gradually breaking upon her sober little face; "my leg never
was as big as that."

"Stuffed, isn't it?" said Ellen Chauncey. "Oh, do make haste,
and see what is in yours. I want to know so, I don't know what
to do."

"Well, will you take out of yours as fast as I take out of
mine?"

"Well!"

Oh, mysterious delight, and delightful mystery, of the stuffed
stocking! Ellen's trembling fingers sought the top, and then
very suddenly left it.

"I can't think what it is," said she, laughing — "it feels so
funny."

"Oh, never mind! make haste," said Ellen Chauncey; "it won't
hurt you, I guess."

"No, it won't hurt me," said Ellen, — "but" —

She drew forth a great bunch of white grapes.

"Splendid! isn't it?" said Ellen Chauncey. "Now for mine."

It was the counterpart of Ellen's bunch.

"So far, so good," said she. "Now for the next."

The next thing in each stocking was a large horn of sugar-
plums.

"Well, that's fine, isn't it?" said Ellen Chauncey — "yours is
tied with white ribbon, and mine with blue; that's all the
difference. Oh! and your paper's red and mine is purple."

"Yes, and the pictures are different," said Ellen.

"Well, I had rather they would be different — wouldn't you? I
think it's just as pleasant. One's as big as the other at any
rate. Come, what's next?"

Ellen drew out a little bundle, which, being opened, proved to
be a nice little pair of dark kid gloves.

"Oh, I wonder who gave me this!" she said — "it's just what I
wanted. How pretty! oh, I'm so glad! I guess who it was."

"Oh, look here," said the other Ellen, who had been diving
into her stocking — "I've got a ball — this is just what I
wanted, too; George told me if I'd get one he'd show me how to
play. Isn't it pretty? Isn't it funny we should each get just
what we wanted? Oh, this is a very nice ball. I'm glad I've
got it. Why, here is another great round thing in my stocking!
— what can it be? — they wouldn't give me two balls," said
she, chuckling.

"So there is in mine!" said Ellen. "Maybe they're apples?"

"They aren't! they wouldn't give us apples; besides, it is
soft. Pull it out and see."

"Then they are oranges," said Ellen laughing.

"I never felt such a soft orange," said little Ellen Chauncey.
"Come, Ellen! stop laughing, and let's see."

They were two great scarlet satin pincushions, with E. C. and
E. M., very neatly stuck in pins.

"Well, we shan't want pins for a good while, shall we?" said
Ellen. "Who gave us these?"

"I know," said little Ellen Chauncey — "Mrs. Bland."

"She was very kind to make one for me," said Ellen. "Now for
the next!"

Her next thing was a little bottle of Cologne water.

"I can tell who put that in," said her friend — "Aunt Sophia.
I know her little bottles of Cologne water. Do you love
Cologne water? Aunt Sophia's is delicious."

Ellen did like it very much, and was extremely pleased. Ellen
Chauncey had also a new pair of scissors, which gave entire
satisfaction.

"Now, I wonder what all this toe is stuffed with," said she, —
"raisins and almonds, I declare! — and yours the same, isn't
it? Well, don't you think we have got enough sweet things?
Isn't this a pretty good Christmas?"

"What are you about, you monkeys?" cried the voice of Aunt
Sophia, from the dressing-room door. "Alice, Alice! do look at
them. Come right back to bed, both of you. Crazy pates! It is
lucky it is Christmas day — if it was any other in the year,
we should have you both sick in bed; as it is, I suppose you
will go scot free."

Laughing, and rosy with pleasure, they came back and got into
bed together; and for an hour afterwards the two kept up a
most animated conversation, intermixed with long chuckles and
bursts of merriment, and whispered communications of immense
importance. The arrangement of the painted needlebook was
entirely decided upon in this consultation; also two or three
other matters; and the two children seemed to have already
lived a day since day-break by the time they came down to
breakfast.

After breakfast, Ellen applied secretly to Alice, to know if
she could write _very_ beautifully — she exceedingly wanted
something done.

"I should not like to venture, Ellie, if it must be so
superfine; but John can do it for you."

"Can he? Do you think he would?"

"I am sure he will, if you ask him."

"But I don't like to ask him," said Ellen, casting a doubtful
glance at the window.

"Nonsense, he's only reading the newspaper. You won't disturb
him."

"Well, you won't say anything about it?"

"Certainly not."

Ellen accordingly went near, and said, gently, "Mr.
Humphreys!" — but he did not seem to hear her. "Mr.
Humphreys!" — a little louder.

"He has not arrived yet," said John, looking round gravely.

He spoke so gravely, that Ellen could not tell whether he were
joking or serious. Her face of extreme perplexity was too much
for his command of countenance.

"Whom do you want to speak to?" said he, smiling.

"I wanted to speak to you, Sir," said Ellen, "if you are not
too busy."

"_Mr. Humphreys_ is always busy," said he, shaking his head;
"but _Mr. John_ can attend to you at any time, and _John_ will do
for you whatever you please to ask him."

"Then, Mr. John," said Ellen, laughing, "if you please, I
wanted to ask you to do something for me, very much indeed, if
you are not too busy; Alice said I shouldn't disturb you."

"Not at all; I've been long enough over this stupid newspaper.
What is it?"

"I want you, if you will be so good," said Ellen, "to write a
little bit for me on something, very beautifully."

" 'Very beautifully!' Well — come to the library; we will
see."

"But it is a great secret," said Ellen; "you won't tell
anybody?"

"Tortures shan't draw it from me — when I know what it is,"
said he, with one of his comical looks.

In high glee, Ellen ran for the pieces of Bristol board which
were to form the backs of the needlebook, and brought them to
the library; and explained how room was to be left in the
middle of each for a painting, a rose on one, a butterfly on
the other; the writing to be as elegant as possible, above,
beneath, and roundabout, as the fancy of the writer should
choose.

"Well, what is to be inscribed on this most original of
needlebooks?" said John, as he carefully mended his pen.

"Stop!" said Ellen — "I'll tell you in a minute. On this one,
the front, you know, is to go, 'To my dear mother, many happy
New Years;' — and on this side, 'From her dear little
daughter, Ellen Chauncey.' You know," she added, "Mrs.
Chauncey isn't to know anything about it till New Year's day;
nor anybody else."

"Trust me," said John. "If I am asked any questions, they
shall find me as obscure as an oracle."

"What is an oracle, Sir?"

"Why," said John, smiling — "this pen won't do yet — the old
heathens believed there were certain spots on earth to which
some of their gods had more favour than to others, and where
they would permit mortals to come nearer to them, and would
even deign to answer their questions."

"And did they?" said Ellen.

"Did they what?"

"Did they answer their questions?"

"Did _who_ answer their questions?"

"The — oh, to be sure," said Ellen, "there were no such gods.
But what made people think they answered them? and how could
they ask questions?"

"I suppose it was a contrivance of the priests, to increase
their power and wealth. There was always a temple built near,
with priests and priestesses; the questions were put through
them; and they would not ask them except on great occasions,
or for people of consequence, who could pay them well, by
making splendid gifts to the god."

"But I should think the people would have thought the priest
or priestess had made up the answers themselves."

"Perhaps they did, sometimes. But people had not the Bible
then, and did not know as much as we know. It was not
unnatural to think the gods would care a little for the poor
people that lived on the earth. Besides, there was a good deal
of management and trickery about the answers of the oracle,
that helped to deceive."

"How was it?" said Ellen; — "how could they manage, and what
was the _oracle?_"

"The oracle was either the answer itself, or the god who was
supposed to give it, or the place where it was given; and
there were different ways of managing. At one place the priest
hid himself in the hollow body or among the branches of an
oak-tree, and people thought the tree spoke to them. Sometimes
the oracle was delivered by a woman, who pretended to be put
into a kind of fit — tearing her hair and beating her breast."

"But suppose the oracle made a mistake — what would the people
think then?"

"The answers were generally contrived so that they would seem
to come true in any event."

"I don't see how they could do that," said Ellen.

"Very well — just imagine that I am an oracle, and come to me
with some question; — I'll answer you."

"But you can't tell what's going to happen?"

"No matter — you ask me truly, and I'll answer you
oracularly."

"That means, like an oracle, I suppose?" said Ellen. "Well,
Mr. John, will Alice be pleased with what I am going to give
her New Year?"

"She will be pleased with what she will receive on that day."

"Ah, but," said Ellen, laughing, "that isn't fair; you haven't
answered me; perhaps somebody else will give her something,
and then she might be pleased with that, and not with mine."

"Exactly — but the oracle never means to be understood."

"Well, I won't come to you," said Ellen. "I don't like such
answers. Now for the needlebook!"

Breathlessly she looked on while the skilful pen did its work;
and her exclamations of delight and admiration when the first
cover was handed to her were not loud but deep.

"It will do, then, will it? Now let us see — 'From her dear
little daughter' — there; now, 'Ellen Chauncey,' I suppose,
must be in hieroglyphics."

"In what?" said Ellen.

"I mean, written in some difficult character."

"Yes," said Ellen. "But what was that you said?"

"Hieroglyphics."

Ellen added no more, though she was not satisfied. He looked
up, and smiled.

"Do you want to know what that means?"

"Yes, if you please," said Ellen.

The pen was laid down while he explained, to a most eager
little listener. Even the great business of the moment was
forgotten. From hieroglyphics they went to the pyramids; and
Ellen had got to the top of one, and was enjoying the prospect
(in imagination), when she suddenly came down to tell John of
her stuffed stocking and its contents. The pen went on again,
and came to the end of the writing by the time Ellen had got
to the toe of the stocking.

"Wasn't it very strange they should give me so many things?"
said she; — "people that don't know me?"

"Why, no," said John, smiling — "I cannot say I think it was
_very_ strange. Is this all the business you had for my hands?"

"This is all; and I am _very_ much obliged to you, Mr. John."

Her grateful, affectionate eye said much more, and he felt
well paid.

Gilbert was next applied to, to paint the rose and the
butterfly, which, finding so excellent a beginning made in the
work, he was very ready to do. The girls were then free to set
about the embroidery of the leaves, which was by no means the
business of an hour.

A very happy Christmas day was that. With their needles and
thimbles, and rose-coloured silk, they kept by themselves in a
corner, or in the library, out of the way; and sweetening
their talk with a sugar-plum now and then, neither tongues nor
needles knew any flagging. It was wonderful what they found so
much to say, but there was no lack. Ellen Chauncey especially
was inexhaustible. Several times, too, that day, the Cologne
bottle was handled, the gloves looked at and fondled, the ball
tried, and the new scissors extolled as "just the thing for
their work." Ellen attempted to let her companion into the
mystery of oracles and hieroglyphics, but was fain to give it
up; little Ellen showed a decided preference for American, not
to say Ventnor, subjects, where she felt more at home.

Then came Mr. Humphreys; and Ellen was glad, both for her own
sake and because she loved to see Alice pleased. Then came the
great merry Christmas dinner, when the girls had not talked
themselves out, but tired themselves with working. Young and
old dined together to-day, and the children not set by
themselves, but scattered among the grown-up people; and as
Ellen was nicely placed between Alice and little Ellen
Chauncey, she enjoyed it all very much. The large long table
surrounded with happy faces; tones of cheerfulness, and looks
of kindness, and lively talk; the superb display of plate and
glass and china; the stately dinner; and last, but not least,
the plum-pudding. There was sparkling wine, too, and a great
deal of drinking of healths; but Ellen noticed that Alice and
her brother smilingly drank all theirs in water; so, when old
Mr. Marshman called to her to "hold out her glass," she held
it out, to be sure, and let him fill it, but she lifted her
tumbler of water to her lips instead, after making him a very
low bow. Mr. Marshman laughed at her a great deal, and asked
her if she was "a proselyte to the new notions;" and Ellen
laughed with him, without having the least idea what he meant,
and was extremely happy. It was very pleasant, too, when they
went into the drawing-room to take coffee. The young ones were
permitted to have coffee to-night as a great favour. Old Mrs.
Marshman had the two little ones on either side of her, and
was so kind, and held Ellen's hand in her own, and talked to
her about her mother, till Ellen loved her.

After tea there was a great call for games, and young and old
joined in them. They played the Old Curiosity Shop; and Ellen
thought Mr. John's curiosities could not be matched. They
played the Old Family Coach, Mr. Howard Marshman being the
manager, and Ellen laughed till she was tired; she was the
coach door, and he kept her opening and shutting, and swinging
and breaking, it seemed all the while, though most of the rest
were worked just as hard. When they were well tired, they sat
down to rest and hear music, and Ellen enjoyed that
exceedingly. Alice sang, and Mrs. Gillespie, and Miss Sophia,
and another lady, and Mr. Howard; sometimes alone, sometimes
three or four, or all together.

At last came ten o'clock, and the young ones were sent off;
and from beginning to end that had been a Christmas day of
unbroken and unclouded pleasure. Ellen's last act was to take
another look at her Cologne bottle, gloves, pincushion,
grapes, and paper of sugar-plums, which were laid side by side
carefully in a drawer.


CHAPTER XXX.

Sunday at Ventnor.


Mr. Humphreys was persuaded to stay over Sunday at Ventnor;
and it was also settled that his children should not leave it
till after New Year. This was less their own wish than his; he
said Alice wanted the change, and he wished she looked a
little fatter. Besides, the earnest pleadings of the whole
family were not to be denied. Ellen was very glad of this,
though there was one drawback to the pleasures of Ventnor —
she could not feel quite at home with any of the young people,
but only Ellen Chauncey and her cousin George Walsh. This
seemed very strange to her; she almost thought Margaret
Dunscombe was at the bottom of it all, but she recollected she
had felt something of this before Margaret came. She tried to
think nothing about it; and in truth it was not able to
prevent her from being very happy. The breach, however, was
destined to grow wider.

About four miles from Ventnor was a large town called
Randolph. Thither they drove to church Sunday morning, the
whole family; but the hour of dinner and the distance
prevented any one from going in the afternoon. The members of
the family were scattered in different parts of the house,
most in their own rooms. Ellen with some difficulty made her
escape from her young companions, whose manner of spending the
time did not satisfy her notions of what was right on that
day, and went to look in the library for her friends. They
were there, and alone; Alice half reclining on the sofa, half
in her brother's arms; he was reading or talking to her; there
was a book in his hand.

"Is anything the matter?" said Ellen, as she drew near;
"aren't you well, dear Alice? Headache? oh, I am sorry. Oh! I
know" —

She darted away. In two minutes she was back again with a
pleased face, her bunch of grapes in one hand, her bottle of
Cologne water in the other.

"Won't you open that, please, Mr. John," said she; — "I can't
open it; I guess it will do her good, for Ellen says it's
delicious. Mamma used to have Cologne water for her headaches.
And here, dear Alice, won't you eat these? — do! — try one."

"Hasn't that bottle been open yet?" said Alice, as she
smilingly took a grape.

"Why, no, to be sure it hasn't. I wasn't going to open it till
I wanted it. Eat them all, dear Alice — please do!"

"But I don't think you have eaten one yourself, Ellen, by the
look of the bunch. And here are a great many too many for me."

"Yes, I have, I've eaten two; I don't want 'em. I give them
all to you and Mr. John. I had a great deal rather!"

Ellen took, however, as precious payment, Alice's look and
kiss; and then, with a delicate consciousness that perhaps the
brother and sister might like to be alone, she left the
library. She did not know where to go, for Miss Sophia was
stretched on the bed in her room, and she did not want any
company. At last, with her little Bible, she placed herself on
the old sofa in the hall above-stairs, which was perfectly
well warmed, and for some time she was left there in peace. It
was pleasant, after all the hubbub of the morning, to have a
little quiet time that seemed like Sunday; and the sweet Bible
words came, as they often now came to Ellen, with a healing
breath. But after half an hour or so, to her dismay she heard
a door open, and the whole gang of children come trooping into
the hall below, where they soon made such a noise that reading
or thinking was out of the question.

"What a bother it is that one can't play games on a Sunday!"
said Marianne Gillespie.

"One _can_ play games on a Sunday," answered her brother.
"Where's the odds? It's all Sunday's good for, _I_ think."

"William! — William!" sounded the shocked voice of little
Ellen Chauncey — "you are a real wicked boy!"

"Well, now!" said William, "how am I wicked? Now say — I
should like to know. How is it any more wicked for us to play
games than it is for Aunt Sophia to lie a-bed and sleep, or
for Uncle Howard to read novels, or for Grandpa to talk
politics, or for mother to talk about the fashions? — there
were she and Miss What's-her-name for ever so long this
morning doing everything but _make_ a dress. Now which is the
worst?"

"Oh, William! William! — for shame! for shame!" said little
Ellen again.

"Do hush, Ellen Chauncey, will you?" said Marianne, sharply; —
"and you had better hush too, William, if you know what is
good for yourself. I don't care whether it's right or wrong, I
do get dolefully tired with doing nothing."

"Oh, so do I!" said Margaret, yawning. "I wish one could sleep
all Sunday."

"I'll tell you what," said George — "I know a game we can
play, and no harm either, for it's all out of the Bible."

"Oh, do you? let's hear it, George," cried the girls.

"I don't believe it is good for anything if it is out of the
Bible," said Margaret. "Now stare, Ellen Chauncey, do!"

"I _ain't_ staring," said Ellen, indignantly; — "but I don't
believe it is right to play it, if it _is_ out of the Bible."

"Well, it is, though," said George. "Now listen; — I'll think
of somebody in the Bible — some man or woman, you know; and
you all may ask me twenty questions about him, to see if you
can find out who it is."

"What kind of questions?"

"Any kind of questions — whatever you like."

"That will improve your knowledge of scripture history," said
Gilbert.

"To be sure; and exercise our memory," said Isabel Hawthorn.

"Yes, and then we are thinking of good people and what they
did all the time," said little Ellen.

"Or bad people and what they did," said William.

"But I don't know enough about people and things in the
Bible," said Margaret; "I couldn't guess."

"Oh, never mind — it will be all the more fun," said George.
"Come! let's begin. Who'll take somebody?"

"Oh, I think this will be fine!" said little Ellen Chauncey; —
"but, Ellen — where's Ellen? — we want her."

"No we don't want her! — we've enough without her — she won't
play!" shouted William, as the little girl ran upstairs. She
persevered, however. Ellen had left her sofa before this, and
was found seated on the foot of her bed. As far and as long as
she could, she withstood her little friend's entreaties, and
very unwillingly at last yielded and went with her downstairs.

"Now we are ready," said little Ellen Chauncey; "I have told
Ellen what the game is; who's going to begin?"

"We have begun," said William. "Gilbert has thought of
somebody. Man or woman?"

"Man."

"Young or old?"

"Why, he was young first, and old afterwards."

"Pshaw, William! what a ridiculous question," said his sister.
"Besides, you mustn't ask more than one at a time. Rich or
poor, Gilbert?"

"Humph! — why, I suppose he was moderately well off. I dare
say I should think myself a lucky fellow if I had as much."

"Are you answering truly, Gilbert?"

"Upon my honour!"

"Was he in a high or low station of life?" asked Miss
Hawthorn.

"Neither at the top nor the bottom of the ladder — a very
respectable person indeed."

"But we are not getting on," said Margaret. "According to you,
he wasn't anything in particular; what kind of a person was
he, Gilbert?"

"A very good man."

"Handsome or ugly?"

"History don't say."

"Well, what _does_ it say?" said George — "what did he do?"

"He took a journey once upon a time."

"What for?"

"Do you mean _why_ he went, or what was the _object_ of his
going?"

"Why, the one's the same as the other, ain't it?"

"I beg your pardon."

"Well, what was the object of his going?"

"He went after a wife."

"Samson! Samson!" shouted William and Isabel and Ellen
Chauncey.

"No — it wasn't Samson either."

"I can't think of anybody else that went after a wife," said
George. "That king — what's his name? — that married Esther?"

The children screamed. "_He_ didn't go after a wife, George —
his wives were brought to him. Was it Jacob?"

"No, he didn't go after a wife, either," said Gilbert; "he
married two of them, but he didn't go to his uncle's to find
them. You had better go on with your questions. You have had
eight already. If you don't look out, you won't catch me.
Come!"

"Did he get the wife that he went after?" asked Ellen
Chauncey.

"He was never married that I know of," said Gilbert.

"What was the reason he failed?" said Isabel.

"He did not fail."

"Did he bring home his wife then? You said he wasn't married."

"He never was, that I know of; but he brought home a wife
notwithstanding."

"But how funny you are, Gilbert!" said little Ellen. "He had a
wife and he hadn't a wife: — what became of her?"

"She lived and flourished. Twelve questions: — take care."

"Nobody asked what country he was of," said Margaret, — "what
was he, Gilbert?"

"He was a Damascene."

"A _what?_"

"Of Damascus — of Damascus. You know where Damascus is, don't
you?"

"Fiddle!" said Marianne — "I thought he was a Jew. Did he live
before or after the Flood?"

"After. I should think you might have known that."

"Well, I can't make out anything about him," said Marianne.
"We shall have to give it up."

"No, no — not yet," said William. "Where did he go after his
wife?"

"Too close a question."

"Then that don't count. Had he ever seen her before?"

"Never."

"Was she willing to go with him?"

"Very willing. Ladies always are, when they go to be married."

"And what became of her?"

"She was married and lived happily, as I told you."

"But you said _he_ wasn't married?"

"Well, what then? I didn't say she married _him_."

"Whom did she marry?"

"Ah, that is asking the whole; I can't tell you."

"Had they far to go?" asked Isabel.

"Several days' journey — I don't know how far."

"How did they travel?"

"On camels."

"Was it the Queen of Sheba?" said little Ellen.

There was a roar of laughter at this happy thought, and poor
little Ellen declared she forgot all but about the journey;
she remembered the Queen of Sheba had taken a journey, and the
camels in the picture of the Queen of Sheba, and that made her
think of her.

The children gave up. Questioning seemed hopeless; and Gilbert
at last told them his thought. It was Eliezer, Abraham's
steward, whom he sent to fetch a wife for his son Isaac.

"Why haven't _you_ guessed, little mumchance?" said Gilbert to
Ellen Montgomery.

"I have guessed," said Ellen; "I knew who it was, some time
ago."

"Then why didn't you say so? and you haven't asked a single
question," said George.

"No, you haven't asked a single question," said Ellen
Chauncey.

"She is a great deal too good for that," said William; "she
thinks it is wicked, and that we are not at all nice, proper-
behaved boys and girls to be playing on Sunday; she is very
sorry she could not help being amused."

"_Do_ you think it is wicked, Ellen?" asked her little friend.

"Do you think it isn't right?" said George Walsh.

Ellen hesitated; she saw they were all waiting to hear what
she would say. She coloured, and looked down at her little
Bible, which was still in her hand. It encouraged her.

"I don't want to say anything rude," she began; "I don't think
it is quite right to play such plays, or any plays."

She was attacked with impatient cries of "Why not?" "Why not?"

"Because," said Ellen, trembling with the effort she made, "I
think Sunday was meant to be spent in growing better and
learning good things; and I don't think such plays would help
one at all to do that; and I have a kind of feeling that I
ought not to do it."

"Well, I hope you'll act according to your _feeling_, then,"
said William; "I am sure nobody has any objection. You had
better go somewhere else, though, for we are going on; we have
been learning to be good long enough for one day. Come! I have
thought of somebody."

Ellen could not help feeling hurt and sorry at the half-sneer
she saw in the look and manner of the others, as well as in
William's words. She wished for no better than to go away; but
as she did so, her bosom swelled, and the tears started, and
her breath came quicker. She found Alice lying down and
asleep, Miss Sophia beside her; so she stole out again, and
went down to the library. Finding nobody, she took possession
of the sofa, and tried to read again; reading somehow did not
go well, and she fell to musing on what had just passed. She
thought of the unkindness of the children; how sure she was it
was wrong to spend any part of Sunday in such games; what
Alice would think of it, and John, and her mother; and how the
Sundays long ago used to be spent, when that dear mother was
with her; and then she wondered how _she_ was passing this very
one — while Ellen was sitting here in the library alone, what
_she_ was doing in that far-away land; and she thought if there
only _were_ such things as oracles that could tell truly, how
much she should like to ask about her.

"Ellen!" said the voice of John from the window.

She started up; she had thought she was alone; but there he
was lying in the window-seat.

"What are you doing?"

"Nothing," said Ellen.

"Come here. What are you thinking about? I didn't know you
were there till I heard two or three very long sighs. What is
the matter with my little sister?"

He took her hand and drew her fondly up to him. "What were you
thinking about?"

"I was thinking about different things — nothing is the
matter," said Ellen.

"Then what are those tears in your eyes for?"

"I don't know," said she, laughing — "there weren't any till I
came here. I was thinking just now about Mamma."

He said no more — still, however, keeping her beside him.

"I should think," said Ellen presently, after a few minutes'
musing look out of the window, "it would be very pleasant if
there were such things as oracles — don't you, Mr. John?"

"No."

"But wouldn't you like to know something about what's going to
happen?"

"I do know a great deal about it."

"About what is going to happen!"

He smiled.

"Yes — a great deal, Ellen — enough to give me work for all
the rest of my life."

"Oh, you mean from the Bible — I was thinking of other
things."

"It is best not to know the other things, Ellie — I am very
glad to know those the Bible teaches us."

"But is doesn't tell us much, does it? What does it tell us?"

"Go to the window, and tell me what you see."

"I don't see anything in particular," said Ellen, after taking
a grave look out.

"Well, what in general?"

"Why, there is the lawn covered with snow, and the trees and
bushes; and the sun is shining on everything, just as it did
the day we came; and there's the long shadow of that hemlock
across the snow, and the blue sky."

"Now look out again, Ellie, and listen. I know that a day is
to come, when those heavens shall be wrapped together as a
scroll — they shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth
shall wax old like a garment — and it, and all the works that
are therein, shall be burned up."

As he spoke, Ellen's fancy tried to follow — to picture the
ruin and desolation of all that stood so fair, and seemed to
stand so firm before her; but the sun shone on, the branches
waved gently in the wind, the shadows lay still on the snow,
and the blue heaven was fair and cloudless. Fancy was baffled.
She turned from the window.

"Do you believe it?" said John.

"Yes," said Ellen — "I know it; but I think it is very
disagreeable to think about it."

"It would be, Ellie," said he, bringing her again to his side
— "very disagreeable — very miserable indeed, if we knew no
more than that. But we know more — read here."

Ellen took his little Bible and read at the open place.

" 'Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the
former shall not be remembered, neither come into mind.' "

"Why won't they be remembered?" said Ellen — "shall we forget
all about them?"

"No, I do not think that is meant. The new heavens and the new
earth will be so much more lovely and pleasant that we shall
not want to think of these."

Ellen's eyes sought the window again.

"You are thinking that it is hardly possible?" said John with
a smile.

"I suppose it is _possible_," said Ellen — "but" —

"But lovely as this world is, Ellie, man has filled it with
sin, and sin has everywhere brought its punishment, and under
the weight of both the earth groans. There will be no sin
_there;_ sorrow and sighing shall flee away; love to each other
and love to their blessed King will fill all hearts, and his
presence will be with them. Don't you see that, even if that
world shall be in itself no better than this, it will yet be
far, far more lovely than this can ever be, with the shadow of
sin upon it?"

"Oh, yes!" said Ellen. "I know, whenever I feel wrong in any
way, nothing seems pretty or pleasant to me, or not half so
much."

"Very well," said John — "I see you understand me. I like to
think of that land, Ellen — very much."

"Mr. John," said Ellen — "don't you think people will know
each other again?"

"Those that love each other here! — I have no doubt of it."

Before either John or Ellen had broken the long musing fit
that followed these words, they were joined by Alice. Her head
was better; and taking her place in the window-seat, the talk
began again, between the brother and sister now; Ellen too
happy to sit with them and listen. They talked of that land
again, of the happy company preparing for it; of their dead
mother, but not much of her; of the glory of their King, and
the joy of his service even here — till thoughts grew too
strong for words, and silence again stole upon the group. The
short winter-day came to an end; the sunlight faded away into
moonlight. No shadows lay now on the lawn; and from where she
sat Ellen could see the great hemlock all silvered with the
moonlight, which began to steal in at the window. It was very,
very beautiful — yet she could think now without sorrow that
all this should come to an end; because of that new heaven and
new earth wherein righteousness should dwell.

"We have eaten up all your grapes, Ellie," said Alice — "or
rather _I_ have, for John didn't help me much. I think I never
ate so sweet grapes in my life; John said the reason was
because every one tasted of you."

"I am very glad," said Ellen, laughing.

"There is no evil without some good," Alice went on. "Except
for my headache, John would not have held my head by the hour
as he did; and you couldn't have given me the pleasure you
did, Ellie. Oh, Jack! — there has been many a day lately when
I would gladly have had a headache for the power of laying my
head on your shoulder!"

"And if Mamma had not gone away, I should never have known
you," said Ellen. "I wish she never _had_ gone, but I am very,
very glad for this!"

She had kneeled upon the window-seat and clasped Alice round
the neck, just as they were called to tea. The conversation
had banished every disagreeable feeling from Ellen's mind. She
met her companions in the drawing-room, almost forgetting that
she had any cause of complaint against them. And this appeared
when in the course of the evening it came in her way to
perform some little office of politeness for Marianne. It was
done with the gracefulness that could only come from a spirit
entirely free from ungrateful feelings. The children felt it,
and for the time were shamed into better behaviour. The
evening passed pleasantly, and Ellen went to bed very happy.


CHAPTER XXXI.

Flowers and Thorns.


The next day it happened that the young people were amusing
themselves with talking in a room where John Humphreys,
walking up and down, was amusing _himself_ with thinking. In the
course of his walk, he began to find their amusement rather
disturbing to his. The children were all grouped closely
around Margaret Dunscombe, who was entertaining them with a
long and very detailed account of a wedding and great party at
Randolph, which she had had the happiness of attending.
Eagerly fighting her battles over again, and pleased with the
rapt attention of her hearers, the speaker forgot herself, and
raised her voice much more than she meant to do. As every turn
of his walk brought John near, there came to his ears
sufficient bits and scraps of Margaret's story to give him a
very fair sample of the whole; and he was sorry to see Ellen
among the rest, and as the rest, hanging upon her lips and
drinking in what seemed to him to be very poor nonsense. "Her
gown was all blue satin, trimmed here — and so — you know,
with the most exquisite lace, as deep as that — and on the
shoulders and here, you know, it was looped up with the most
lovely bunches of" — here John lost the sense. When he came
near again, she had got upon a different topic — " 'Miss
Simmons,' says I, 'what did you do that for?' 'Why,' says she,
'how could I help it? I saw Mr. Payne coming, and I thought
I'd get behind you, and so' " —. The next time the speaker was
saying with great animation, "And lo and behold, when I was in
the midst of all my pleasure, up comes a little gentleman of
about his dimensions —." He had not taken many turns, when he
saw that Margaret's nonsense was branching out right and left
into worse than nonsense.

"Ellen!" said he, suddenly — "I want you in the library."

"My conscience!" said Margaret, as he left the room — "King
John the second, and no less."

"Don't go on till I come back," said Ellen; "I won't be three
minutes; just wait for me."

She found John seated at one of the tables in the library,
sharpening a pencil.

"Ellen," said he, in his usual manner — "I want you to do
something for me."

She waited eagerly to hear what; but, instead of telling her,
he took a piece of drawing-paper, and began to sketch
something. Ellen stood by, wondering and impatient to the last
degree; not caring, however, to show her impatience, though
her very feet were twitching to run back to her companions.

"Ellen," said John, as he finished the old stump of a tree,
with one branch left on it, and a little bit of ground at the
bottom, "did you ever try your hand at drawing?"

"No," said Ellen.

"Then sit down here," said he, rising from his chair, "and let
me see what you can make of that."

"But I don't know how," said Ellen.

"I will teach you. There is a piece of paper, and this pencil
is sharp enough. Is that chair too low for you?"

He placed another, and with extreme unwillingness and some
displeasure, Ellen sat down. It was on her tongue to ask if
another time would not do, but somehow she could not get the
words out. John showed her how to hold her pencil, how to
place her paper, where to begin, and how to go on; and then
went to the other end of the room, and took up his walk again.
Ellen at first felt more inclined to drive her pencil _through_
the paper than to make quiet marks upon it. However, necessity
was upon her. She began her work; and once fairly begun, it
grew delightfully interesting. Her vexation went off entirely;
she forgot Margaret and her story; the wrinkles on the old
trunk smoothed those on her brow; and those troublesome leaves
at the branch end brushed away all thoughts of everything
else. Her cheeks were burning with intense interest, when the
library door burst open, and the whole troop of children
rushed in; they wanted Ellen for a round game in which all
their number were needed; she must come directly.

"I can't come just yet," said she; "I must finish this first."

"Afterwards will do just as well," said George; — "come,
Ellen, do! — you can finish it afterwards."

"No, I can't," said Ellen, — "I can't leave it till it's done.
Why, I thought Mr. John was here! I didn't see him go out.
I'll come in a little while."

"Did _he_ set you about that precious piece of business?" said
William.

"Yes."

"I declare," said Margaret, "he's fitter to be the Grand Turk
than any one else I know of."

"I don't know who the Grand Turk is," said Ellen.

"I'll tell you," said William, putting his mouth close to her
ear, and speaking in a disagreeable loud whisper, — "it's the
biggest gobbler in the yard."

"Ain't you ashamed, William!" cried little Ellen Chauncey.

"That's it exactly," said Margaret — "always strutting about."

"He isn't a bit," said Ellen, very angry; "I've seen people a
great deal more like gobblers than he is."

"Well," said William, reddening in his turn, "I had rather, at
any rate, be a good turkey gobbler, than one of those
outlandish birds that have an appetite for stones, and glass,
and bits of morocco, and such things. Come, let us leave her
to do the Grand Turk's bidding. Come, Ellen Chauncey, you
mustn't stay to interrupt her — we want you!"

They left her alone. Ellen had coloured, but William's words
did not hit very sore; since John's talk with her about the
matter referred to, she had thought of it humbly and wisely;
it is only pride that makes such fault-finding very hard to
bear. She was very sorry, however, that they had fallen out
again, and that her own passion, as she feared, had been the
cause. A few tears had to be wiped away before she could see
exactly how the old tree stood, — then, taking up her pencil,
she soon forgot everything in her work. It was finished, and
with head now on one side, now on the other, she was looking
at her picture with very great satisfaction, when her eye
caught the figure of John standing before her.

"Is it done?" said he.

"It is done," said Ellen, smiling, as she rose up to let him
come. He sat down to look at it.

"It is very well, he said — "better than I expected — it is
very well indeed. Is this your _first_ trial, Ellen?"

"Yes — the first."

"You found it pleasant work?"

"Oh, very, very pleasant. I like it dearly."

"Then I will teach you. This shows you have a taste for it,
and that is precisely what I wanted to find out. I will give
you an easier copy next time. I rather expected, when you sat
down," said he, smiling a little, "that the old tree would
grow a good deal more crooked under your hands than I meant it
to be."

Ellen blushed exceedingly. "I do believe, Mr. John," she said,
stammering, "that you know everything I am thinking about."

"I might do that, Ellen, without being as wise as an oracle.
But I do not expect to make any very painful discoveries in
that line."

Ellen thought, if he did not, it would not be her fault. She
truly repented her momentary anger and hasty speech to
William. Not that he did not deserve it, or that it was not
true; but it was unwise, and had done mischief; and "it was
not a bit like peace-making, nor meek at all," Ellen said to
herself. She had been reading that morning the fifth chapter
of Matthew, and it ran in her head, "Blessed are the meek" —
"Blessed are the peace-makers; for they shall be called the
children of God." She strove to get back a pleasant feeling
towards her young companions, and prayed that she might not be
angry at anything they should say. She was tried again at tea-
time.

Miss Sophia had quitted the table, bidding William hand the
dough-nuts to those who could not reach them. Marianne took a
great while to make her choice. Her brother grew impatient.

"Well, I hope you have suited yourself?" said he. "Come, Miss
Montgomery, don't you be as long; my arm is tired. Shut your
eyes, and then you'll be sure to get the biggest one in the
basket."

"No, Ellen," said John, who none of the children thought was
near — "it would be ungenerous — I wouldn't deprive Master
William of his best arguments."

"What do you mean by my arguments?" said William, sharply.

"Generally, those which are the most difficult to take in,"
answered his tormentor with perfect gravity.

Ellen tried to keep from smiling, but could not; and others of
the party did not try. William and his sister were enraged,
the more because John had said nothing they could take hold
of, or even repeat. Gilbert made common cause with them.

"I wish I was grown up for once," said William.

"Will you fight _me_, Sir?" asked Gilbert, who was a matter of
three years older, and well-grown enough.

His question received no answer, and was repeated.

"No, Sir."

"Why not, Sir?"

"I am afraid you'd lay me up with a sprained ankle," said
John, "and I should not get back to Doncaster as quickly as I
must."

"It is very mean of him," said Gilbert, as John walked away —
"I could whip him, I know."

"Who's that?" said Mr. Howard Marshman.

"John Humphreys."

"John Humphreys! You had better not meddle with him, my dear
fellow. It would be no particular proof of wisdom."

"Why, he is no such great affair," said Gilbert, "he's tall
enough, to be sure, but I don't believe he is heavier than I
am."

"You don't know, in the first place, how to judge of the size
of a perfectly well-made man; and, in the second place, _I_ was
not a match for him a year ago; so you may judge — I do not
know precisely," he went on to the lady he was walking with,
"what it takes to rouse John Humphreys; but when he is roused,
he seems to me to have strength enough for twice his bone and
muscle. I have seen him do curious things once or twice!"

"That quiet Mr. Humphreys?"

"Humph!" said Mr. Howard — "gunpowder is pretty quiet stuff,
so long as it keeps cool."

The next day another matter happened to disturb Ellen.
Margaret had received an elegant pair of ear-rings as a
Christmas present, and was showing them for the admiration of
her young friends. Ellen's did not satisfy her.

"Ain't they splendid?" said she. "Tell the truth, now, Ellen
Montgomery, wouldn't you give a great deal if somebody would
send you such a pair?"

"They are very pretty," said Ellen, "but I don't think I care
much for such things — I would rather have the money."

"Oh, you avaricious! — Mr. Marshman!" cried Margaret, as the
old gentleman was just then passing through the room — "here's
Ellen Montgomery says she'd rather have money than anything
else for her present."

He did not seem to hear her, and went out without making any
reply.

"Oh, Margaret!" said Ellen, shocked and distressed — "how
could you! how could you! What will Mr. Marshman think?"

Margaret answered she didn't care what he thought. Ellen could
only hope he had not heard.

But a day or two after, when neither Ellen nor her friends
were present, Mr. Marshman asked who it was that had told him
Ellen Montgomery would like money better than anything else
for her New Year's present.

"It was I, Sir," said Margaret.

"It sounds very unlike her to say so," remarked Mrs. Chauncey.

"Did she say so?" inquired Mr. Marshman.

"I understood her so," said Margaret — "I understood her to
say she wouldn't care for anything else."

"I am disappointed in her," said the old gentleman; "I
wouldn't have believed it."

"I do not believe it," said Mrs. Chauncey, quietly; "there has
been some mistake."

It was hard for Ellen now to keep to what she thought right.
Disagreeable feelings would rise when she remembered the
impoliteness, the half-sneer, the whole taunt, and the real
unkindness of several of the young party. She found herself
ready to be irritated, inclined to dislike the sight of those,
even wishing to visit some sort of punishment upon them. But
Christian principle had taken strong hold in little Ellen's
heart; she fought her evil tempers manfully. It was not an
easy battle to gain. Ellen found that resentment and pride had
roots deep enough to keep her pulling up the shoots for a good
while. She used to get alone when she could, to read a verse,
if no more, of her Bible, and pray; she could forgive William
and Margaret more easily then. Solitude and darkness saw many
a prayer and tear of hers that week. As she struggled thus to
get rid of sin, and to be more like what would please God, she
grew humble and happy. Never was such a struggle carried on by
faith in Him, without success. And after a time, though a
twinge of the old feeling might come, it was very slight; she
would bid William and Margaret good morning, and join them in
any enterprise of pleasure or business, with a brow as
unclouded as the sun. They, however, were too conscious of
having behaved unbecomingly towards their little stranger
guest to be over fond of her company. For the most part, she
and Ellen Chauncey were left to each other.

Meanwhile the famous needlebook was in a fair way to be
finished. Great dismay had at first been excited in the breast
of the intended giver, by the discovery that Gilbert had
consulted what seemed to be a very extraordinary fancy, in
making the rose a yellow one. Ellen did her best to comfort
her. She asked Alice, and found there were such things as
yellow roses, and they were very beautiful, too; and, besides,
it would match so nicely the yellow butterfly on the other
leaf.

"I had rather it wouldn't match!" said Ellen Chauncey; — "and
it don't match the rose-coloured silk, besides. Are the yellow
roses sweet?"

"No," said Ellen; "but _this_ couldn't have been a sweet rose at
any rate, you know."

"Oh, but," said the other, bursting out into a fresh passion
of inconsolable tears; "I wanted it should be the _picture_ of a
sweet rose! And I think he might have put a purple butterfly —
yellow butterflies are so common! I had a great deal rather
have had a purple butterfly and a red rose!"

What cannot be cured, however, must be endured. The tears were
dried, in course of time, and the needlebook, with its yellow
pictures and pink edges, was very neatly finished. Ellen had
been busy, too, on her own account. Alice had got a piece of
fine linen for her from Miss Sophia; the collar for Mr. Van
Brunt had been cut out, and Ellen with great pleasure had made
it. The stitching, the strings, and the very buttonhole, after
infinite pains, were all finished by Thursday night. She had
also made a needlecase for Alice, not of so much pretension as
the other one; this was green morocco, lined with crimson
satin; no leaves, but ribbon stitched in to hold papers of
needles, and a place for a bodkin. Ellen worked very hard at
this; it was made with the extremest care, and made
beautifully. Ellen Chauncey admired it very much, and anew
lamented the uncouth variety of colours in her own. It was a
grave question whether pink or yellow ribbon should be used
for the latter; Ellen Montgomery recommended pink, she herself
inclined to yellow, and, tired of doubting, at last resolved
to split the difference, and put one string of each colour.
Ellen thought that did not mend matters, but wisely kept her
thoughts to herself. Besides the needlecase for Alice, she had
snatched the time, whenever she could get away from Ellen
Chauncey, to work at something for her. She had begged Alice's
advice and help; and between them, out of Ellen's scraps of
morocco and silk, they had manufactured a little bag of all
the colours of the rainbow, and very pretty and tasteful
withal. Ellen thought it a _chef-d'oeuvre_, and was unbounded in
her admiration. It lay folded up in white paper in a locked
drawer, ready for New Year's day. In addition to all these
pieces of business, John had begun to give her drawing
lessons, according to his promise. These became Ellen's
delight. She would willingly have spent much more time upon
them than he would allow her. It was the most loved employment
of the day. Her teacher's skill was not greater than the
perfect gentleness and kindness with which he taught. Ellen
thought of Mr. Howard's speech about gunpowder— she could not
understand it.

"What is your conclusion on the whole?" asked John, one day,
as he stood beside her mending a pencil.

"Why," said Ellen, laughing and blushing, "how _could_ you guess
what I was thinking about, Mr. John?"

"Not very difficult, when you are eyeing me so hard."

"I was thinking," said Ellen, — "I don't know whether it is
right in me to tell it — because somebody said you —"

"Well?"

"Were like gunpowder."

"Very kind of somebody! And so you have been in doubt of an
explosion?"

"No — I don't know — I wondered what he meant."

"Never believe what you hear said of people, Ellen; judge for
yourself. Look here — that house has suffered from a severe
gale of wind, I should think — all the uprights are slanting
off to the right — can't you set it up straight?"

Ellen laughed at the tumble-down condition of the house, as
thus pointed out to her, and set about reforming it.

It was Thursday afternoon that Alice and Ellen were left alone
in the library, several of the family having been called out
to receive some visitors; Alice had excused herself, and
Ellen, as soon as they were gone, nestled up to her side.

"How pleasant it is to be alone together, dear Alice! — I
don't have you even at night now."

"It is very pleasant, dear Ellie! Home will not look
disagreeable again, will it, even after all our gaiety here?"

"No indeed! — at least, _your_ home won't — I don't know what
mine will. O me! I had almost forgotten Aunt Fortune!"

"Never mind, dear Ellie! You and I have each something to bear
— we must be brave, and bear it manfully. There is a Friend
that sticketh closer than a brother, you know. We shan't be
unhappy if we do our duty and love Him."

"How soon is Mr. John going away?"

"Not for all next week. And so long as he stays, I do not mean
that you shall leave me."

Ellen cried for joy.

"I can manage it with Miss Fortune, I know," said Alice.
"These fine drawing lessons must not be interrupted. John is
very much pleased with your performances."

"Is he?" said Ellen delighted. "I have taken all the pains I
could."

"That is the sure way to success, Ellie. But, Ellie, I want to
ask you something. What was that you said to Margaret
Dunscombe about wanting money for a New Year's present?"

"You know it, then!" cried Ellen, starting up. "Oh, I'm so
glad! I wanted to speak to you about it, so I didn't know what
to do, and I thought I oughtn't to. What shall I do about it,
dear Alice? How did you know? George said you were not there."

"Mrs. Chauncey told me; she thought there had been some
mistake, or something wrong; — how was it, Ellen?"

"Why," said Ellen, "she was showing us her ear-rings, and
asking us what we thought of them, and she asked me if I
wouldn't like to have such a pair; and I thought I would a
great deal rather have the money they cost, to buy other
things with, you know, that I would like better; and I said
so; and just then Mr. Marshman came in, and she called out to
him, loud, that I wanted money for a present, or would like it
better than anything else, or something like that. Oh, Alice,
how I felt! I was frightened; — but then I hoped Mr. Marshman
did not hear her, for he did not say anything; but the next
day George told me all about what she had been saying in
there, and oh! it made me so unhappy!" said poor Ellen,
looking very dismal. "What _will_ Mr. Marshman think of me? He
will think I expected a present, and I never _dreamed_ of such a
thing! It makes me ashamed to speak of it, even; and I _can't
bear_ he should think so — I can't bear it! What shall I do,
dear Alice?"

"I don't know what you can do, dear Ellie; but be patient —
Mr. Marshman will not think anything very hard of you, I dare
say."

"But I think he does already; he hasn't kissed me since that
as he did before; I know he does, and I don't know what to do.
How could Margaret say that! — oh, how could she! — it was
very unkind. What can I do?" said Ellen, again, after a pause,
and wiping away a few tears. "Couldn't Mrs. Chauncey tell Mr.
Marshman not to give me anything for that I never expected it,
and would a great deal rather not?"

"Why, no, Ellie, I do not think that would be exactly the best
or most dignified way."

"What then; dear Alice? I'll do just as you say."

"I would just remain quiet."

"But Ellen says the things are all put on the plates in the
morning; and if there should be money on mine — I don't know
what I should do, I should feel so badly. I couldn't keep it,
Alice! — I couldn't!"

"Very well, you need not; but remain quiet in the mean while;
and if it should be so, then say what you please, only take
care that you say it in the right spirit and in a right
manner. Nobody can hurt you much, my child, while you keep the
even path of duty; poor Margaret is her own worst enemy."

"Then, if there should be money in the morning, I may tell Mr.
Marshman the truth about it?"

"Certainly — only do not be in haste; speak gently."

"Oh, I wish everybody would be kind and pleasant always!" said
poor Ellen, but half comforted.

"What a sigh was there!" said John, coming in. "What is the
matter with my little sister?"

"Some of the minor trials of life, John," said Alice, with a
smile.

"What is the matter, Ellie?"

"Oh, something you can't help," said Ellen.

"And something I mustn't know. Well, to change the scene —
suppose you go with me to visit the greenhouse and hothouses.
Have you seen them yet?"

"No," said Ellen, as she eagerly sprang forward to take his
hand; — "Ellen promised to go with me, but we have been so
busy."

"Will you come, Alice?"

"Not I," said Alice, — "I wish I could, but I shall be wanted
elsewhere."

"By whom, I wonder, so much as by me?" said her brother.
"However, after to-morrow I will have you all to myself."

As he and Ellen were crossing the hall, they met Mrs.
Marshman.

"Where are you going, John?" said she.

"Where I ought to have been before, Ma'am — to pay my respects
to Mr. Hutchinson."

"You've not seen him yet! — that is very ungrateful of you.
Hutchinson is one of your warmest friends and admirers. There
are few people he mentions with so much respect, or that he is
so glad to see, as Mr. John Humphreys."

"A distinction I owe, I fear, principally to my English
blood," said John, shaking his head.

"It is not altogether that," said Mrs. Marshman, laughing;
"though I do believe; I am the only Yankee good Hutchinson has
ever made up his mind entirely to like. But go and see him —
do, he will be very much pleased."

"Who is Mr. Hutchinson?" said Ellen, as they went on.

"He is the gardener, or rather the head gardener. He came out
with his master some thirty or forty years ago, but his old
English prejudice will go to the grave with him, I believe."

"But why don't he like the Americans?"

John laughed. "It would never do for me to attempt to answer
that question, Ellie; fond of going to the bottom of things as
you are. We should just get to hard fighting about tea-time,
and should barely make peace by mid-day to-morrow, at the most
moderate calculation. You shall have an answer to your
question, however."

Ellen could not conceive what he meant, but resolved to wait
for his promised answer.

As they entered the large and beautifully-kept greenhouse,
Hutchinson came from the further end of it to meet them — an
old man, of most respectable appearance. He bowed very
civilly, and then slipped his pruning-knife into his left
hand, to leave the right at liberty for John, who shook it
cordially.

"And why 'aven't you been to see me before, Mr. John? I've
thought it rather 'ard of you: Miss h'Alice has come several
times."

"The ladies have more leisure, Mr. Hutchinson. You look
flourishing here."

"Why, yes, Sir — pretty middling, within doors; but I don't
like the climate, Mr. John — I don't the climate, Sir. There's
no country like h'England, I believe, for my business. 'Ere's
a fine rose, Sir — if you'll step a bit this way — quite a new
kind — I got it over last h'autumn — the Palmerston it is.
Those are fine buds, Sir."

The old man was evidently much pleased to see his visitor, and
presently plunged him deep into English politics, for which he
seemed to have lost no interest by forty years' life in
America. As Ellen could not understand what they were talking
about, she quitted John's side, and went wandering about by
herself. From the moment the sweet aromatic smell of the
plants had greeted her, she had been in a high state of
delight; and now, lost to all the world beside, from the
mystery of one beautiful and strange green thing to another
she went wondering and admiring, and now and then timidly
advancing her nose to see if something glorious was something
sweet too. She could hardly leave a superb cactus, in the
petals of which there was such a singular blending of scarlet
and crimson as almost to dazzle her sight; and if the pleasure
of smell could intoxicate, she would have _reeled_ away from a
luxuriant daphne odorata in full flower, over which she
feasted for a long time. The variety of green leaves alone was
a marvel to her; some rough and brown-streaked, some shining
as if they were varnished, others of hair-like delicacy of
structure — all lovely. At last she stood still with
admiration, and almost held her breath before a white
camellia.

"What does that flower make you think of, Ellen?" said John,
coming up. His friend the gardener had left him to seek a
newspaper in which he wished to show him a paragraph.

"I don't know," said Ellen — "I couldn't think of anything but
itself."

"It reminds me of what I ought to be — and of what I shall be
if I ever see heaven — it seems to me the emblem of a sinless,
pure spirit — looking up in fearless spotlessness. Do you
remember what was said to the old Church of Sardis? — 'Thou
hast a few names that have not defiled their garments; and
they shall walk with me in white, for they are worthy.' "

The tears rushed to Ellen's eyes, she felt she was so very
unlike this; but Mr. Hutchinson coming back prevented anything
more from being said. She looked at the white camellia; it
seemed to speak to her.

"That's the paragraph, Sir," said the old gardener, giving the
paper to John. " 'Ere's a little lady that is fond of flowers,
if I don't make a mistake; this is somebody I've not seen
before? Is this the little lady Miss h'Ellen was telling me
about."

"I presume so," said John. "She is Miss Ellen Montgomery — a
sister of mine, Mr. Hutchinson, and Mr. Marshman's guest."

"By both names h'entitled to my greatest respect," said the
old man, stepping back, and making a very low bow to Ellen,
with his hand upon his heart, at which she could not help
laughing. "I am very glad to see Miss h'Ellen; what can I do
to make her remember old 'Utchinson? Would Miss h'Ellen like a
bouquet?"

Ellen did not venture to say yes, but her blush and sparkling
eyes answered him. The old gardener understood her, and was as
good as his word. He began with cutting a beautiful sprig of a
large purple geranium, then a slip of lemon myrtle. Ellen
watched him as the bunch grew in his hand, and could hardly
believe her eyes as one beauty after another was added to what
became a most elegant bouquet. And most sweet, too; to her
joy, the delicious daphne and fragrant lemon blossom went to
make part of it. Her thanks, when it was given her, were made
with few words, but with all her face; the old gardener
smiled, and was quite satisfied that his gift was not thrown
away. He afterwards showed them his hothouses, where Ellen was
astonished and very much interested to see ripe oranges and
lemons in abundance, and pines, too, such as she had been
eating since she came to Ventnor, thinking nothing less than
that they grew so near home. The grapes had all been cut.

There was to be quite a party at Ventnor in the evening of New
Year's day. Ellen knew this, and destined her precious flowers
for Alice's adornment. How to keep them, in the meanwhile? She
consulted Mr. John, and according to his advice, took them to
Mrs. Bland, the housekeeper, to be put in water, and kept in a
safe place for her till the time. She knew Mrs. Bland, for
Ellen Chauncey and she had often gone to her room to work,
where none of the children would find and trouble them. Mrs.
Bland promised to take famous care of the flowers, and said
she would do it with the greatest pleasure. "Mr. Marshman's
guests," she added, smiling, "must have everything they
wanted."

"What does that mean, Mrs. Bland?" said Ellen.

"Why, you see, Miss Ellen, there's a deal of company always
coming, and some is Mrs. Gillespie's friends, and some Mr.
Howard's, and some to see Miss Sophia more particularly, and
some belong to Mrs. Marshman, or the whole family, maybe; but
now and then _Mr._ Marshman, has an old English friend or so,
that he sets the greatest store by; and then he calls _his_
guests; and the best in the house is hardly good enough for
them, or the country either."

"And so I am one of Mr. Marshman's guests?" said Ellen, "I
didn't know what it meant."

She saved out one little piece of rose-geranium from her
flowers for the gratification of her own nose; and skipped
away through the hall to rejoin her companions, very light-
hearted indeed.


CHAPTER XXXII.

The Bank-Note and George Washington.


New Year's morning dawned.

"How I wish breakfast was over!" thought Ellen as she was
dressing. However, there is no way of getting _over_ this life
but by going through it; so when the bell rang she went down
as usual. Mr. Marshman had decreed that he would not have a
confusion of gifts at the breakfast table; other people might
make presents in their own way; they must not interfere with
his. Needlecases, bags, and so forth, must therefore wait
another opportunity; and Ellen Chauncey decided it would just
make the pleasure so much longer, and was a great improvement
on the old plan. "Happy New Years" and pleasant greetings were
exchanged, as the party gathered in the breakfast-room;
pleasure sat on all faces, except Ellen's, and many a one wore
a broad smile as they sat down to table. For the napkins were
in singular disarrangement this morning; instead of being
neatly folded up on the plates, in their usual fashion, they
were in all sorts of disorder — sticking up in curious angles,
some high, some low, some half-folded, some quite unfolded,
according to the size and shape of that which they covered. It
was worth while to see that long tableful, and the faces of
the company, before yet a napkin was touched. An anxious
glance at her own, showed Ellen that it lay quite flat;
Alice's, which was next, had an odd little rising in the
middle, as if there were a small dumpling under it. Ellen was
in an agony for this pause to come to an end. It was broken by
some of the older persons, and then in a trice every plate was
uncovered. And then, what a buzz! — pleasure, and thanks, and
admiration, and even laughter. Ellen dreaded at first to look
at her plate; she bethought her, however, that if she waited
long, she would have to do it with all eyes upon her; she
lifted the napkin slowly; — yes — just as she feared — there
lay a clean bank-note — of what value she could not see, for
confusion covered her; the blood rushed to her cheeks and the
tears to her eyes. She could not have spoken, and happily it
was no time then; everybody else was speaking — she could not
have been heard. She had time to cool and recollect herself;
but she sat with her eyes cast down, fastened upon her plate
and the unfortunate bank-bill, which she detested with all her
heart. She did not know what Alice had received; she
understood nothing that was going on, till Alice touched her,
and said gently, "Mr. Marshman is speaking to you, Ellen."

"Sir!" said Ellen, starting.

"You need not look so terrified," said Mr. Marshman, smiling;
"I only asked you if your bill was a counterfeit — something
seems to be wrong about it."

Ellen looked at her plate and hesitated. Her lip trembled.

"What is it?" continued the old gentleman. "Is anything the
matter."

Ellen desperately took up the bill, and with burning cheeks,
marched to his end of the table.

"I am very much obliged to you, Sir, but I had a great deal
rather not — if you please — if you will please to be so good
as to let me give it back to you — I should be very glad."

"Why, hoity-toity!" said the old gentleman — "what's all this?
what's the matter? don't you like it? I thought I was doing
the very thing that would please you best of all."

"I am very sorry you should think so, Sir," said Ellen, who
had recovered a little breath, but had the greatest difficulty
to keep back her tears; "I never thought of such a thing as
your giving me anything, Sir, till somebody spoke of it; and I
had rather never have anything in the world than that you
should think what you thought about me."

"What _did_ I think about you?"

"George told me that somebody told you, Sir, I wanted money
for my present."

"And didn't you say so?"

"Indeed I didn't, Sir!" said Ellen, with a sudden fire. "I
never thought of such a thing!"

"What did you say then?"

"Margaret was showing us her ear-rings, and she asked me if I
wouldn't like to have some like them; and I couldn't help
thinking I would a great deal rather have the money they would
cost to buy something for Alice; and just when I said so, you
came in, Sir, and she said what she did. I was very much
ashamed. I wasn't thinking of you, Sir, at all, nor of New
Year."

"Then you would like something else better than money."

"No, Sir, nothing at all, if you please. If you'll only be so
good as not to give me this, I will be very much obliged to
you indeed; and please not to think I could be so shameful as
you thought I was."

Ellen's face was not to be withstood. The old gentleman took
the bill from her hand.

"I will never think anything of you," said he, "but what is
the very tip-top of honourable propriety. But you make _me_
ashamed now — what am I going to do with this? here have you
come and made me a present, and I feel very awkward indeed."

"I don't care what you do with it, Sir," said Ellen, laughing,
though in imminent danger of bursting into tears! — "I am very
glad it is out of _my_ hands."

"But you needn't think I am going to let you off so," said he
— "you must give me half a dozen kisses at least, to prove
that you have forgiven me for making so great a blunder."

"Half a dozen is too many at once," said Ellen, gaily; —
"three now, and three to-night."

So she gave the old gentleman three kisses, but he caught her
in his arms and gave her a dozen at least; after which he
found out that the waiter was holding a cup of coffee at his
elbow, and Ellen went back to her place with a very good
appetite for her breakfast.

After breakfast the needlecases were delivered. Both gave the
most entire satisfaction. Mrs. Chauncey assured her daughter
that she would quite as lief have a yellow as a red rose on
the cover, and that she liked the inscription extremely; which
the little girl acknowledged to have been a joint device of
her own and Ellen's. Ellen's bag gave great delight, and was
paraded all over the house.

After the bustle of thanks and rejoicing was at last over, and
when she had a minute to herself, which Ellen Chauncey did not
give her for a good while, Ellen bethought her of her flowers—
a sweet gift still to be made. Why not make it now? why should
not Alice have the pleasure of them all day? A bright thought!
Ellen ran forthwith to the house-keeper's room, and after a
long, admiring look at her treasures, carried them, glass and
all, to the library, where Alice and John often were in the
morning alone. Alice thanked her in the way she liked best,
and then the flowers were smelled and admired afresh.

"Nothing could have been pleasanter to me, Ellie, except Mr.
Marshman's gift."

"And what was that, Alice? I haven't seen it yet."

Alice pulled out of her pocket a small, round, morocco case,
the very thing that Ellen had thought looked like a dumpling
under the napkin, and opened it.

"It's Mr. John!" exclaimed Ellen. "Oh, how beautiful!"

Neither of her hearers could help laughing.

"It is very fine, Ellie," said Alice; "you are quite right.
Now I know what was the business that took John to Randolph
every day, and kept him there so long, while I was wondering
at him unspeakably. Kind, kind Mr. Marshman!"

"Did Mr. John get anything?"

"Ask him, Ellie."

"Did you get anything, Mr. John?" said Ellen, going up to him
where he was reading on the sofa.

"I got this," said John, handing her a little book which lay
beside him.

"What is this! Wime's — Wiem's — Life of Washington —
Washington? he was — may I look at it?"

"Certainly!"

She opened the book, and presently sat down on the floor where
she was, by the side of the sofa. Whatever she had found
within the leaves of the book, she had certainly lost herself.
An hour passed. Ellen had not spoken or moved except to turn
over leaves.

"Ellen!" said John.

She looked up — her cheeks coloured high.

"What have you found there?" said he, smiling.

"Oh, a great deal! But — did Mr. Marshman give you this?"

"No."

"O!" said Ellen, looking puzzled, "I thought you said you got
this this morning."

"No, I got it last night. I got it for you, Ellie."

"For me!" said Ellen, her colour deepening very much; "for me!
did you? Oh, thank you! — oh, I'm so much obliged to you, Mr.
John!"

"It is only an answer to one of your questions."

"This! is it? I don't know what, I am sure. Oh, I wish I could
do something to please you, Mr. John!"

"You shall, Ellie; you shall give me a brother's right again."

Blushingly Ellen approached her lips to receive one of his
grave kisses; and then, not at all displeased, went down on
the floor, and was lost in her book.

Oh, the long joy of that New Year's day! — how shall it be
told? The pleasure of that delightful book, in which she was
wrapped the whole day — even when called off, as she often
was, by Ellen Chauncey, to help her in fifty little matters of
business or pleasure. These were attended to, and faithfully
and cheerfully, but _the book_ was in her head all the while.
And this pleasure was mixed with Alice's pleasure, the flowers
and the miniature, and Mr. Marshman's restored kindness. She
never met John's or Alice's eye that day without a smile. Even
when she went to be dressed, her book went with her, and was
laid on the bed within sight, ready to be taken up the moment
she was at liberty. Ellen Chauncey lent her a white frock,
which was found to answer very well with a tuck let out; and
Alice herself dressed her. While this was doing, Margaret
Dunscombe put her head in at the door to ask Anne, Miss
Sophia's maid, if she was almost ready to come and curl her
hair.

"Indeed I can't say that I am, Miss Margaret," said Anne.
"I've something to do for Miss Humphreys, and Miss Sophia
hasn't so much as done the first thing towards beginning to
get ready yet. It'll be a good hour, and more."

Margaret went away, exclaiming, impatiently, that she could
get nobody to help her, and would have to wait till everybody
was downstairs.

A few minutes after, she heard Ellen's voice at the door of
her room, asking if she might come in.

"Yes — who's that? — what do you want?"

"I'll fix your hair if you'll let me," said Ellen.

"You? I don't believe you can."

"Oh, yes, I can; I used to do Mamma's very often; I am not
afraid, if you'll trust me."

"Well, thank you, I don't care if you try, then," said
Margaret, seating herself; "it won't do any harm, at any rate;
and I want to be downstairs before anybody gets here; I think
it's half the fun to see them come in. Bless me! you're
dressed and all ready."

Margaret's hair was in long, thick curls; it was not a
trifling matter to dress them. Ellen plodded through it
patiently and faithfully, taking great pains, and doing the
work well, and then went back to Alice. Margaret's thanks, not
very gracefully given, would have been a poor reward for the
loss of three-quarters of an hour of pleasure. But Ellen was
very happy in having done right. It was no longer time to
read; they must go downstairs.

The New Year's party was a nondescript — young and old
together; a goodly number of both were gathered from Randolph
and the neighbouring country. There were games for the young,
dancing for the gay, and a superb supper for all; and the big,
bright rooms were full of bright faces. It was a very happy
evening to Ellen. For a good part of it, Mr. Marshman took
possession of her, or kept her near him; and his extreme
kindness would alone have made the evening pass pleasantly;
she was sure he was her firm friend again.

In the course of the evening, Mrs. Chauncey found occasion to
ask her about her journey up the river, without at all
mentioning Margaret, or what she had said. Ellen answered that
she had come with Mrs. Dunscombe and her daughter.

"Did you have a pleasant time?" asked Mrs. Chauncey.

"Why, no, Ma'am." Said Ellen — "I don't know — it was partly
pleasant, and partly unpleasant."

"What made it so, love?"

"I had left Mamma that morning, and that made me unhappy."

"But you said it was partly pleasant?"

"Oh, that was because I had such a good friend on board," said
Ellen, her face lighting up, as his image came before her.

"Who was that?"

"I don't know, Ma'am, who he was."

"A stranger to you?"

"Yes, Ma'am — I never saw him before — I wish I could see him
again."

"Where did you find him?"

"I didn't find him — he found me, when I was sitting up on the
highest part of the boat."

"And your friends with you?"

"What friends?"

"Mrs. Dunscombe and her daughter."

"No, Ma'am — they were down in the cabin."

"And what business had you to be wandering about the boat
alone?" said Mr. Marshman, good-humouredly.

"They were strangers, Sir," said Ellen, colouring a little.

"Well, so was this man — your friend — a stranger, too, wasn't
he?"

"Oh, he was a very different stranger," said Ellen, smiling, —
"and he wasn't a stranger long, besides."

"Well, you must tell me more about him — come, I'm curious; —
what sort of a strange friend was this?"

"He wasn't a _strange_ friend," said Ellen, laughing; — "he was
a very, very good friend; he took care of me the whole day; he
was very good and very kind."

"What kind of a man?" said Mrs. Chauncey; — "a gentleman?"

"Oh, yes, Ma'am!" said Ellen, looking surprised at the
question. "I am sure he was."

"What did he look like?"

Ellen tried to tell, but the portrait was not very distinct.

"What did he wear? Coat or cloak?"

"Coat — dark brown, I think."

"This was the end of October, wasn't it?"

Ellen thought a moment and answered, "yes."

"And you don't know his name?"

"No, Ma'am; I wish I did."

"I can tell you," said Mrs. Chauncey, smiling; — "he is one of
my best friends, too, Ellen; it is my brother, Mr. George
Marshman."

How Ellen's face crimsoned! Mr. Marshman asked how she knew.

"It was then he came up the river, you know, Sir; and don't
you remember his speaking of a little girl on board the boat,
who was travelling with strangers, and whom he endeavoured to
befriend? I had forgotten it entirely till a minute or two
ago."

"Miss Margaret Dunscombe!" cried George Walsh, "what kind of a
person was that you said Ellen was so fond of when you came up
the river?"

"I don't know, nor care," said Margaret. "Somebody she picked
up somewhere."

"It was Mr. George Marshman!"

"It wasn't."

"Uncle George!" exclaimed Ellen Chauncey, running up to the
group her cousin had quitted; — "_my_ uncle George? Do you know
uncle George, Ellen?"

"Very much — I mean — yes," said Ellen.

Ellen Chauncey was delighted. So was Ellen Montgomery. It
seemed to bring the whole family nearer to her, and they felt
it, too. Mrs. Marshman kissed her when she heard it, and said
she remembered very well her son's speaking of her, and was
very glad to find who it was. And now, Ellen thought, she
would surely see him again some time.

The next day they left Ventnor. Ellen Chauncey was very sorry
to lose her new friend, and begged she would come again "as
soon as she could." All the family said the same. Mr. Marshman
told her she must give him a large place in her heart, or he
should be jealous of her "strange friend;" and Alice was
charged to bring her whenever she came to see them.

The drive back to Carra-carra was scarcely less pleasant than
the drive out had been; and home, Ellen said, looked lovely; —
that is, Alice's home, which she began to think more her own
than any other. The pleasure of the past ten days, though
great, had not been unmixed; the week that followed was one of
perfect enjoyment. In Mr. Humphreys' household there was an
atmosphere of peace and purity, that even a child could feel,
and in which such a child as Ellen throve exceedingly. The
drawing lessons went on with great success; other lessons were
begun; there were fine, long walks, and charming sleigh-rides,
and more than one visit to Mrs. Vawse; and what Ellen,
perhaps, liked the best of all, the long evenings of
conversation, and reading aloud, and bright fire-lights, and
brighter sympathy, and intelligence, and affection. That week
did them all good, and no one more than Ellen.

It was a little hard to go back to Miss Fortune's, and begin
her old life there. She went on the evening of the day John
had departed. They were at supper.

"Well!" said Miss Fortune, as Ellen entered, "have you got
enough of visiting? I should be ashamed to go where I wasn't
wanted, for my part."

"I haven't, Aunt Fortune," said Ellen.

"She's been nowhere but what's done her good," said Mr. Van
Brunt; "she's reely growed handsome since she's been away."

"Grown a fiddlestick!" said Miss Fortune.

"She couldn't grow handsomer than she was before," said the
old grandmother, hugging and kissing her little grand-daughter
with great delight; — "the sweetest posie in the garden she
always was!"

Mr. Van Brunt looked as if he entirely agreed with the old
lady. That, while it made some amends for Miss Fortune's
dryness, perhaps increased it. She remarked, that "she thanked
Heaven she could always make herself contented at home;" which
Ellen could not help thinking was a happiness for the rest of
the world.

In the matter of the collar, it was hard to say whether the
giver or receiver had the most satisfaction. Ellen had begged
him not to speak of it to her aunt; and accordingly, one
Sunday, when he came there with it on, both he and she were in
a state of exquisite delight. Miss Fortune's attention was at
last aroused; she made a particular review of him, and ended
it by declaring, that "he looked uncommonly dandified, but she
could not make out what he had done to himself;" a remark
which transported Mr. Van Brunt and Ellen beyond all bounds of
prudence.

Nancy's Bible, which had been purchased for her at Randolph,
was given to her the first opportunity. Ellen anxiously
watched her as she slowly turned it over, her face showing,
however, very decided approbation of the style of the gift.
She shook her head once or twice, and then said —

"What did you give this to me for, Ellen?"

"Because I wanted to give you something for New Year," said
Ellen — "and I thought that would be the best thing — if you
would only read it — it would make you so happy and good."

"_You_ are good, I believe," said Nancy, "but I don't expect
ever to be, myself — I don't think I _could_ be. You might as
well teach a snake not to wriggle."

"I am not good at all," said Ellen — "we're none of us good;"
and the tears rose to her eyes; "but the Bible will teach us
how to be. If you'll only read it! — please, Nancy, do! say
you will read a little every day."

"You don't want me to make a promise I shouldn't keep, I
guess, do you?"

"No," said Ellen.

"Well, I shouldn't keep that, so I won't promise it; but I
tell you what I will do, — I'll take precious fine care of it
and keep it always for your sake."

"Well," said Ellen, sighing — "I am glad you will even do so
much as that. But, Nancy, before you begin to read the Bible,
you may have to go where you never can read it, nor be happy
nor good neither."

Nancy made no answer, but walked away, Ellen thought, rather
more soberly than usual.

This conversation had cost Ellen some effort. It had not been
made without a good deal of thought and some prayer. She could
not hope she had done much good, but she had done her duty.
And it happened that Mr. Van Brunt, standing behind the angle
of the wall, had heard every word.


CHAPTER XXXIII.

A gathering cloud in the spring weather.


Ellen's life had nothing to mark it for many months. The rest
of the winter passed quietly away, every day being full of
employment. At home the state of matters was rather bettered.
Either Miss Fortune was softened by Ellen's gentle,
inoffensive ways and obedient usefulness, or she had resolved
to bear what could not be helped, and make the best of the
little inmate she could not get rid of. She was certainly
resolved to make the _most_ of her. Ellen was kept on the jump a
great deal of the time: she was runner of errands and maid of
all work — to set the table and clear it was only a trifle in
the list of her every-day duties — and they were not ended
till the last supper dish was put away and the hearth swept
up. Miss Fortune never spared herself, and never spared Ellen,
so long as she had any occasion for her.

There were, however, long pieces of time that were left free —
these Ellen seized for her studies and used most diligently;
urged on by a three or four-fold motive; for the love of them,
and for her own sake, that John might think she had done well
— that she might presently please and satisfy Alice — above
all, that her mother's wishes might be answered. This thought,
whenever it came, was a spur to her efforts — so was each of
the others; and Christian feeling added another, and kept all
the rest in force. Without this, indolence might have
weakened, or temptation surprised her resolution; little Ellen
was open to both; but if ever she found herself growing
careless from either cause, conscience was sure to smite her;
and then would rush in all the motives that called upon her to
persevere. Soon faithfulness began to bring its reward. With
delight she found herself getting the better of difficulties,
beginning to see a little through the mists of ignorance,
making some sensible progress on the long road of learning.
Study grew delightful — her lessons with Alice one of her
greatest enjoyments. And as they were a labour of love to both
teacher and scholar, and as it was the aim of each to see
quite to the bottom of every matter, where it was possible,
and to leave no difficulties behind them on the road which
they had not cleared away, no wonder Ellen went forward
steadily and rapidly. Reading also became a wonderful
pleasure. Weems' _Life of Washington_ was read, and read, and
read over again, till she almost knew it by heart; and from
that she went to Alice's library, and ransacked it for what
would suit her. Happily it was a well-picked one, and Ellen
could not light upon many books that would do her mischief.
For those, Alice's wish was enough — she never opened them.
Furthermore, Alice insisted that when Ellen had once fairly
begun a book she should go through with it — not capriciously
leave it for another, nor have half a dozen about at a time.
But when Ellen had read it once she commonly wanted to go over
it again, and seldom laid it aside until she had sucked the
sweetness all out of it.

As for drawing, it could not go on very fast while the cold
weather lasted. Ellen had no place at home where she could
spread out her paper and copies without danger of being
disturbed. Her only chance was at the parsonage. John had put
all her pencils in order before he went, and had left her an
abundance of copies, marked as she was to take them. They, or
some of them, were bestowed in Alice's desk; and whenever
Ellen had a spare hour or two, of a fine morning or afternoon,
she made the best of her way to the mountain; it made no
difference whether Alice were at home or not — she went in,
coaxed up the fire, and began her work. It happened many a
time that Alice, coming home from a walk or a run in the
woods, saw the little hood and cloak on the settee before she
opened the glass door, and knew very well how she should find
Ellen, bending intently over her desk. These runs to the
mountain were very frequent; sometimes to draw, sometimes to
recite, always to see Alice and be happy. Ellen grew rosy, and
hardy, and in spite of her separation from her mother, she was
very happy, too. Her extreme and varied occupation made this
possible. She had no time to indulge useless sorrow; on the
contrary, her thoughts were taken up with agreeable matters,
either doing or to be done; and at night, she was far too
tired and sleepy to lie awake musing. And besides she hoped
that her mother would come back in the spring, or the summer
at farthest. It is true Ellen had no liking for the kind of
business her aunt gave her — it was often-times a trial of
temper and patience. Miss Fortune was not the pleasantest
work-mistress in the world, and Ellen was apt to wish to be
doing something else; but, after all, this was not amiss.
Besides, the discipline of character, these trials made the
pleasant things with which they were mixed up seem doubly
pleasant — the disagreeable parts of her life relished the
agreeable wonderfully. After spending the whole morning with
Miss Fortune in the depths of house-work, how delightful it
was to forget all in drawing some nice little cottage, with a
bit of stone wall, and a barrel in front! or to go with Alice,
in thought, to the south of France, and learn how the peasants
manage their vines, and make the wine from them; or run over
the Rock of Gibraltar with the monkeys; or, at another time,
seated on a little bench in the chimney corner, when the fire
blazed up well, before the candles were lighted, to forget the
kitchen, and the supper, and her bustling aunt, and sail round
the world with Captain Cook. Yes — these things were all the
sweeter for being tasted by snatches.

Spring brought new occupation; household labours began to
increase in number and measure; her leisure times were
shortened. But pleasures were increased too. When the snow
went off, and spring-like days began to come, and birds' notes
were heard again, and the trees put out their young leaves,
and the brown mountains were looking soft and green, Ellen's
heart bounded at the sight. The springing grass was lovely to
see; dandelions were marvels of beauty; to her each wild wood-
flower was a never to be enough admired and loved wonder. She
used to take long rambles with Mr. Van Brunt when business led
him to the woods, sometimes riding part of the way on the ox-
sled. Always a basket for flowers went along; and when the
sled stopped, she would wander all around seeking among the
piled-up dead leaves for the white wind-flower, and pretty
little hang-head uvularia, and delicate blood-root, and the
wild geranium and columbine; and many others, the names of
which she did not know. They were like friends to Ellen; she
gathered them affectionately as well as admiringly into her
little basket, and seemed to purify herself in their pure
companionship. Even Mr. Van Brunt came to have an indistinct
notion that Ellen and flowers were made to be together. After
he found what a pleasure it was to her to go on these
expeditions, he made it a point, whenever he was bound to the
woods of a fine day, to come to the house for her. Miss
Fortune might object as she pleased; he always found an
answer; and at last Ellen, to her great joy, would be told,
"Well! go get your bonnet and be off with yourself." Once
under the shadow of the big trees, the dried leaves crackling
beneath her feet, and alone with her kind conductor — and Miss
Fortune and all in the world that was disagreeable was
forgotten — forgotten, no more to be remembered till the walk
should come to an end. And it would have surprised anybody to
hear the long conversations she and Mr. Van Brunt kept up —
he, the silentest man in Thirlwall! Their talk often ran upon
trees, among which Mr. Van Brunt was at home. Ellen wanted to
become acquainted with them, as well as with the little
flowers that grew at their feet; and he tried to teach her how
to know each separate kind by the bark and leaf and manner of
growth. The pine and hemlock and fir were easily learnt; the
white birch, too; beyond those, at first, she was perpetually
confounding one with another. Mr. Van Brunt had to go over and
over his instructions — never weary, always vastly amused.
Pleasant lessons these were! Ellen thought so, and Mr. Van
Brunt thought so too.

Then there were walks with Alice, pleasanter still, if that
could be. And even in the house, Ellen managed to keep a token
of spring-time. On her toilet-table, the three uncouth legs of
which were now hidden by a neat dimity cover, there always
stood a broken tumbler with a supply of flowers. The supply
was very varied, it is true; sometimes only a handful of
dandelions, sometimes a huge bunch of lilac flowers, which
could not be persuaded to stay in the glass without the help
of the wall, against which it leaned in very undignified
style; sometimes the bouquet was of really delicate and
beautiful wild-flowers. All were charming in Ellen's eyes.

As the days grew long and the weather warm, Alice and she
began to make frequent trips to the Cat's Back, and French
came very much into fashion. They generally took Sharp to ease
the long way, and rested themselves with a good stay on the
mountain. Their coming was always a joy to the old lady. She
was dearly fond of them both, and delighted to hear from their
lips the language she loved best. After a time they spoke
nothing else when with her. She was well qualified to teach
them; and, indeed, her general education had been far from
contemptible, though nature had done more for her. As the
language grew familiar to them, she loved to tell and they to
hear long stories of her youth and native country — scenes and
people so very different from all Ellen had ever seen or heard
of; and told in a lively, simple style, which she could not
have given in English, and with a sweet colouring of Christian
thought and feeling. Many things made these visits good and
pleasant. It was not the least of Alice's and Ellen's joy to
carry their old friend something that might be for her comfort
in her lonely way of life. For even Miss Fortune now and then
told Ellen "she might take a piece of that cheese along with
her;" or, "she wondered if the old lady would like a little
fresh meat; — she guessed she'd cut her a bit of that nice
lamb; she wouldn't want but a little piece." A singular
testimony this was to the respect and esteem of Mrs. Vawse had
from everybody. Miss Fortune very, very seldom was known to
take a bit from her own comforts to add to those of another.
The ruling passion of this lady was thrift; her next, good
housewifery. First, to gather to herself and heap up of what
the world most esteems; after that, to be known as the most
thorough housekeeper and the smartest woman in Thirlwall.

Ellen made other visits she did not like so well. In the
course of the winter and summer she became acquainted with
most of the neighbourhood. She sometimes went with her aunt to
a formal tea-drinking, one, two, three, or four miles off, as
the case might be. They were not very pleasant. To some places
she was asked by herself; and though the people invariably
showed themselves very kind, and did their best to please her,
Ellen seldom cared to go a second time — liked even home and
Miss Fortune better. There were a few exceptions; Jenny
Hitchcock was one of her favourites, and Jane Huff was
another; and all of their respective families came in, with
good reason, for a share of her regard — Mr. Juniper, indeed,
excepted. Once they went to a quilting at Squire Dennison's;
the house was spotlessly neat and well-ordered; the people all
kind; but Ellen thought they did not seem to know how to be
pleasant. Dan Dennison alone had no stiffness about him. Miss
Fortune remarked with pride, that even in this family of
pretension, as she thought it, the refreshments could bear no
comparison with hers. Once they were invited to tea at the
Lawsons'; but Ellen told Alice, with much apparent disgust,
that she never wanted to go again. Mrs. Van Brunt she saw
often. To Thirlwall, Miss Fortune never went.

Twice in the course of the summer Ellen had a very great
pleasure in the company of little Ellen Chauncey. Once Miss
Sophia brought her, and once her mother; and the last time
they made a visit of two weeks. On both occasions Ellen was
sent for to the parsonage, and kept while they stayed; and the
pleasure that she and her little friend had together cannot be
told. It was unmixed now. Rambling about through the woods and
over the fields, no matter where, it was all enchanting;
helping Alice garden; helping Thomas make hay, and the
mischief they did his haycocks by tumbling upon them, and the
patience with which he bore it; the looking for eggs; the
helping Margery to churn, and the helping each other to set
tables; the pleasant mornings, and pleasant evenings, and
pleasant mid-days — it cannot be told. Long to be remembered,
sweet and pure, was the pleasure of those summer days,
unclouded by a shade of discontent or disagreement on either
brow. Ellen loved the whole Marshman family now, for the sake
of one, the one she had first known; and little Ellen Chauncey
repeatedly told her mother in private that Ellen Montgomery
was the very nicest girl she had ever seen. They met with joy,
and parted with sorrow, entreating and promising if possible,
a speedy meeting again.

Amidst all the improvement and enjoyment of these summer
months — and they had a great deal of both for Ellen — there
was one cause of sorrow she could not help feeling, and it
began to press more and more. Letters — they came slowly — and
when they came, they were not at all satisfactory. Those in
her mother's hand dwindled and dwindled, till at last there
came only mere scraps of letters from her; and sometimes,
after a long interval, one from Captain Montgomery would come
alone. Ellen's heart sickened with long-deferred hope. She
wondered what could make her mother neglect a matter so
necessary for her happiness; sometimes she fancied they were
travelling about, and it might be inconvenient to write;
sometimes she thought, perhaps they were coming home without
letting her know, and would suddenly surprise her some day,
and make her half lose her wits with joy. But they did not
come, nor write; and, whatever was the reason, Ellen felt it
was very sad, and sadder and sadder as the summer went on. Her
own letters became pitiful in their supplications for letters;
they _had_ been very cheerful, and filled with encouraging
matter, and in part they were still.

For a while her mind was diverted from this sad subject, and
her brow cleared up, when John came home in August. As before,
Alice gained Miss Fortune's leave to keep her at the parsonage
the whole time of his stay, which was several weeks. Ellen
wondered that it was so easily granted, but she was much too
happy to spend time in thinking about it. Miss Fortune had
several reasons. She was unwilling to displease Miss
Humphreys, and conscious that it would be a shame to her to
stand openly in the way of Ellen's good. Besides, though
Ellen's services were lost for a time, yet she said she got
tired of setting her to work; she liked to dash round the
house alone, without thinking what somebody else was doing or
ought to be doing. In short, she liked to have her out of the
way for a while. Furthermore, it did not please her that Mr.
Van Brunt and her little handmaid were, as she expressed it,
"so thick." His first thought, and his last thought, she said,
she believed, were for Ellen, whether she came in or went out;
and Miss Fortune was accustomed to be chief, not only in her
own house, but in the regards of all who came to it. At any
rate, the leave was granted and Ellen went.

And now was repeated the pleasure of the first week in
January. It would have been increased, but that increase was
not possible. There was only the difference between lovely
winter and lovely summer weather; it was seldom very hot in
Thirlwall. The fields and hills were covered with green
instead of white; fluttering leaves had taken the place of
snow-covered sprays and sparkling icicles; and for the keen
north and brisk northwester, soft summer airs were blowing.
Ellen saw no other difference — except that, perhaps, if it
could be, there was something more of tenderness in the manner
of Alice and her brother towards her. No little sister could
have been more cherished and cared for. If there was a change,
Mr. Humphreys shared it. It is true, he seldom took much part
in the conversation, and seldomer was with them in any of
their pursuits or pleasures. He generally kept by himself in
his study. But whenever he did speak to Ellen, his tone was
particularly gentle, and his look kind. He sometimes called
her "My little daughter," which always gave Ellen great
pleasure; she would jump at such times with double zeal, to do
anything he asked her.

Now drawing went on with new vigour under the eye of her
master. And many things beside. John took a great deal of
pains with her in various ways. He made her read to him; he
helped her and Alice with their French; he went with them to
Mrs. Vawse's; and even Mr. Humphreys went there too, one
afternoon to tea. How much Ellen enjoyed that afternoon! They
took with them a great basket of provisions, for Mrs. Vawse
could not be expected to entertain so large a party; and
borrowed Jenny Hitchcock's pony, which, with old John and
Sharp, mounted three of the company; they took turns in
walking. Nobody minded that. The fine weather, the beautiful
mountain-top, the general pleasure, Mr. Humphreys' uncommon
spirits and talkableness, the oddity of their way of
travelling, and of a tea-party up on the "Cat's Back," and,
furthermore, the fact that Nancy stayed at home and behaved
very well the whole time, all together filled Ellen's cup of
happiness, for the time, as full as it could hold. She never
forgot that afternoon. And the ride home was the best of all.
The sun was low by the time they reached the plain; long
shadows lay across their road; the soft air just stirred the
leaves on the branches; stillness and loveliness were over all
things; and down the mountain and along the roads, through the
open country, the whole way, John walked at her bridle; so
kind in his care of her, so pleasant in his talk to her,
teaching her how to sit in the saddle, and hold the reins and
whip, and much more important things, too, that Ellen thought
a pleasanter thing could not be than to ride so. After that
they took a great many rides, borrowing Jenny's pony or some
other, and explored the beautiful country far and near. And
almost daily, John had up Sharp and gave Ellen a regular
lesson. She often thought, and sometimes looked, what she had
once said to him, "I wish I could do something for _you_, Mr.
John;" but he smiled at her, and said nothing.

At last he was gone. And in all the week he had been at home,
and in many weeks before, no letter had come for Ellen. The
thought had been kept from weighing upon her by the thousand
pleasures that filled up every moment of his stay; she could
not be sad then, or only for a minute; hope threw off the
sorrow as soon as it was felt; and she forgot how time flew.
But when his visit was over, and she went back to her old
place and her old life at her aunt's, the old feeling came
back in greater strength. She began again to count the days
and the weeks; to feel the bitter unsatisfied longing. Tears
would drop down upon her Bible; tears streamed from her eyes
when she prayed that God would make her mother well and bring
her home to her quickly — oh! quickly! — and little Ellen's
face began to wear once more something of its old look.


CHAPTER XXXIV.

The cloud overhead.


One day in the early part of September, she was standing in
front of the house at the little wicket that opened on the
road. With her back against the open gate, she was gently
moving it to and fro, half-enjoying the weather and the scene,
half-indulging the melancholy mood which drove her from the
presence of her bustling aunt. The gurgling sound of the brook
a few steps off was a great deal more soothing to her ear than
Miss Fortune's sharp tones. By-and-by a horseman came in sight
at the far end of the road, and the brook was forgotten. What
made Ellen look at him so sharply? Poor child! she was always
expecting news. At first she could only see that the man rode
a white horse; then, as he came nearer, an odd looped-up hat
showed itself — and something queer in his hand — what was it?
who is it? — the old newsman! Ellen was sure. Yes — she could
now see the saddle-bags, and the white horsetail set in a
handle, with which he was brushing away the flies from his
horse; the tin trumpet was in his other hand, to blow withal.
He was a venerable old figure, with all his oddities; clad in
a suit of snuff brown, with a neat, quiet look about him, he
and the saddle-bags and the white horse jogged on together as
if they belonged to nothing else in the world but each other.
In an ecstasy of fear and hope, Ellen watched the pace of the
old horse to see if it gave any sign of slackening near the
gate. Her breath came short, she hardly breathed at all, she
was trembling from head to foot. _Would_ he stop, or was he
going on? Oh! the long agony of two minutes! He stopped. Ellen
went towards him.

"What little gal is this?" said he.

"I am Ellen Montgomery, Sir," said Ellen, eagerly, "Miss
Fortune's niece — I live here."

"Stop a bit," said the old man, taking up his saddle-bags;
"Miss Fortune's niece, eh? Well, I believe as I've got
somethin' for her — somethin' here. Aunt well, eh?"

"Yes, Sir."

"That's more than you be, ain't it?" said he, glancing
sideways at Ellen's face. "How do you know but I've got a
letter for you here, eh?"

The colour rushed to that face, and she clasped her hands.

"No, dear, no," said he; "I han't got any for you — it's for
the old lady; there, run in with it, dear."

But Ellen knew before she touched it that it was a foreign
letter, and dashed into the house with it. Miss Fortune coolly
sent her back to pay the postage.

When she came in again, her aunt was still reading the letter.
But her look, Ellen _felt_, was unpromising. She did not venture
to speak — expectation was chilled. She stood till Miss
Fortune began to fold up the paper.

"Is there nothing for me?" she said then, timidly.

"No."

"Oh! why don't she write to me?" cried Ellen, bursting into
tears.

Miss Fortune stalked about the room, without any particular
purpose as far as could be seen.

"It is very strange," said Ellen, sorrowfully; "I am afraid
she is worse. Does papa say she is worse?"

"No."

"Oh! if she had only sent me a message! I should think she
might — oh! I wish she had! — three words! — does papa say why
she don't write?"

"No."

"It is very strange!" repeated poor Ellen.

"Your father talks of coming home," said Miss Fortune, after a
few minutes, during which Ellen had been silently weeping.

"Home! — then she must be better!" said Ellen, with new life;
"does papa say she is better?"

"No."

"But what does he mean?" said Ellen, uneasily; "I don't see
what he means; he doesn't say she is worse, and he doesn't say
she is better; what does he say?"

"He don't say much about anything."

"Does he say when they are coming home?"

Miss Fortune mumbled something about "spring," and whisked off
to the buttery; Ellen thought no more was to be got out of
her. She felt miserable. Her father and her aunt both seemed
to act strangely; and where to find comfort she scarcely knew.
She had one day been telling her doubts and sorrows to John.
He did not try to raise her hopes, but said —

"Troubles will come in this world, Ellie; the best is to trust
them and ourselves to our dear Saviour, and let trials drive
us to him. Seek to love him more, and to be patient under his
will; the good Shepherd means nothing but kindness to any lamb
in his flock — you may be sure of that, Ellie."

Ellen remembered his words, and tried to follow them now, but
she could not be "patient under his will" yet — not quite. It
was very hard to be patient in such uncertainty. With swimming
eyes she turned over her Bible in search of comfort, and found
it. Her eye lit upon words she knew very well, but that were
like the fresh sight of a friend's face for all that, — "Let
not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in
me. In my Father's house are many mansions." There is no
parting there, thought little Ellen. She cried a long time,
but she was comforted, nevertheless. The heart that rests on
the blessed One who said those words can never be quite
desolate.

For several days things went on in the old train, only her
aunt, she thought, was sometimes rather queer — not quite as
usual in her manner towards her. Mr. Van Brunt was not _rather_,
but _very_ queer; he scarce spoke or looked at Ellen; bolted
down his food, and was off without a word; and even stayed
away entirely from two or three meals. She saw nobody else.
Weather and other circumstances prevented her going to the
mountain.

One afternoon, she was giving her best attention to a French
lesson, when she heard herself called. Miss Fortune was in the
lower kitchen, dipping candles. Ellen ran down.

"I don't know what's got into these candles," said Miss
Fortune. — "I can't make 'em hang together; the tallow ain't
good, I guess. Where's the nearest place they keep bees?"

"They have got bees at Mrs. Hitchcock's," said Ellen.

"So they have in Egypt, for anything I know," said her aunt;
"one would be about as much good now as t'other. Mrs. Lowndes
— that ain't far off. Put on your bonnet, Ellen, and run over
there, and ask her to let me have a little bees'-wax. I'll pay
her in something she likes best."

"Does Mrs. Lowndes keep bee-hives?" said Ellen, doubtfully.

"No; she makes the bees'-wax herself," said Miss Fortune, in
the tone she always took when anybody presumed to suppose she
might be mistaken in anything.

"How much shall I ask for?" said Ellen.

"Oh, I don't know — a pretty good piece."

Ellen was not very clear what quantity this might mean.
However, she wisely asked no more questions, and set out upon
her walk. It was hot and disagreeable; just the time of day
when the sun had most power, and Mrs. Lowndes' house was about
half-way on the road to Alice's. It was not a place where
Ellen liked to go, though the people always made much of her;
she did not fancy them, and regularly kept out of their way
when she could. Miss Mary Lawson was sitting with Mrs. Lowndes
and her daughter, when Ellen came in and briefly gave her
aunt's message.

"Bees'-wax," said Mrs. Lowndes — "well, I don't know — How
much does she want?"

"I don't know, Ma'am, exactly: she said a pretty good piece."

"What's it for, do you know, honey?"

"I believe it's to put in some tallow for candles," said
Ellen; "the tallow was too soft, she said."

"I didn't know Miss Fortune's tallow was ever anything but the
hardest," said Sarah Lowndes.

"You had better not let your aunt know you've told on her,
Ellen," remarked Mary Lawson; "she won't thank you."

"Had she a good lot of taller to make up?" inquired the
mother, preparing to cut her bees'-wax.

"I don't know, Ma'am; she had a big kettle, but I don't know
how full it was."

"You may as well send a good piece, Ma, while you are about
it," said the daughter — "and ask her to let us have a piece
of her sage cheese, will you?"

"Is it worth while to weigh it?" whispered Mrs. Lowndes.

Her daughter answered in the same tone, and Miss Mary joining
them, a conversation of some length went on over the bees'-
wax, which Ellen could not hear. The tones of the speakers
became lower and lower; till at length her own name and an
incautious sentence were spoken more distinctly, and reached
her.

"Shouldn't you think Miss Fortune might put a black ribbon at
least on her bonnet?"

"Anybody but her would."

"Hush!" They whispered again under breath.

The words entered Ellen's heart like cold iron. She did not
move hand or foot; she sat motionless with pain and fear, yet
what she feared she dared not think. When the bees'-wax was
given her, she rose up from her chair, and stood gazing into
Mrs. Lowndes' face as if she had lost her senses.

"My goodness, child, how you look!" said that lady. "What ails
you, honey?"

"Ma'am," said Ellen — "what was that you said, about —"

"About what, dear?" said Mrs. Lowndes, with a startled look at
the others.

"About — a ribbon?" said Ellen, struggling to get the words
out of white lips.

"My goodness!" said the other; — "did you ever hear anything
like that? — I didn't say nothing about a ribbon, dear."

"Do you suppose her aunt han't told her?" said Miss Mary in an
under tone.

"Told me what?" cried Ellen; — "Oh! what? — what?"

"I wish I was a thousand miles off!" said Mrs. Lowndes; — "I
don't know, dear — I don't know what it is — Miss Alice
knows."

"Yes, ask Miss Alice," said Mary Lawson; "she knows better
than we do."

Ellen looked doubtfully from one to the other; then, as "Go
ask Miss Alice," was repeated on all sides, she caught up her
bonnet, and flinging the bees'-wax from her hand, darted out
of the house. Those she had left, looked at each other a
minute in silence.

"Ain't that too bad now!" exclaimed Mrs. Lowndes, crossing the
room to shut the door. "But what could I say?"

"Which way did she go?"

"I don't know I am sure — I had no head to look, or anything
else. I wonder if I had ought to ha' told her. But I couldn't
ha' done it."

"Just look at her bees'-wax!" said Sarah Lowndes.

"She will kill herself if she runs up the mountain at that
rate," said Mary Lawson.

They all made a rush to the door to look after her.

"She ain't in sight," said Mrs. Lowndes; — "if she's gone the
way to the Nose, she's got as far as them big poplars already,
or she'd be somewhere this side of 'em, where we could see
her."

"You hadn't ought to ha' let her go, Ma'am, in all this sun,"
said Miss Lowndes.

"I declare," said Mrs. Lowndes, "she scared me so, I hadn't
three idees left in my head. I wish I knew where she was,
though, poor little soul!"

Ellen was far on her way to the mountain, pressed forward by a
fear that knew no stay of heat or fatigue: they were little to
her that day. She saw nothing on her way; all within and
without were swallowed up in that one feeling; yet she dared
not think what it was she feared. She put that by. Alice knew:
Alice would tell her; on that goal her heart fixed, to that
she pressed on; but oh! the while, what a cloud was gathering
over her spirit, and growing darker and darker! Her hurry of
mind and hurry of body made each other worse; it must be so;
and when she at last ran round the corner of the house and
burst in at the glass door, she was in a frightful state.

Alice started up and faced her as she came in, but with a look
that stopped Ellen short. She stood still; the colour in her
cheeks, as her eyes read Alice's, faded quite away; words, and
the power to speak them were gone together. Alas! the need to
utter them was gone too. Alice burst into tears, and held out
her arms, saying only, "My poor child!" Ellen reached her
arms, and strength and spirit seemed to fail there. Alice
thought she had fainted; she laid her on the sofa, called
Margery, and tried the usual things, weeping bitterly herself
as she did so. It was not fainting, however; Ellen's senses
soon came back; but she seemed like a person stunned with a
great blow, and Alice wished grief had had any other effect
upon her. It lasted for days. A kind of stupor hung over her;
tears did not come; the violent strain of every nerve and
feeling seemed to have left her benumbed. She would sleep
long, heavy sleeps the greater part of the time, and seemed to
have no power to do anything else.

Her adopted sister watched her constantly, and for those days
lived but to watch her. She had heard all Ellen's story from
Mary Lawson and Mr. Van Brunt, who had both been to the
parsonage — one on Mrs. Lowndes' part, the other on his own —
to ask about her; and she dreaded that a violent fit of
illness might be brought on by all Ellen had undergone. She
was mistaken, however. Ellen was not ill; but her whole mind
and body bowed under the weight of the blow that had come upon
her. As the first stupor wore off, there were, indeed, more
lively signs of grief; she would weep till she wept her eyes
out, and that often, but it was very quietly; no passionate
sobbing, no noisy crying; sorrow had taken too strong hold to
be struggled with, and Ellen meekly bowed her head to it.
Alice saw this with the greatest alarm. She had refused to let
her go back to her aunt's; it was impossible to do otherwise;
yet it may be that Ellen would have been better there. The
busy industry to which she would have been forced at home
might have roused her; as it was, nothing drew her, and
nothing could be found to draw her from her own thoughts. Her
interest in everything seemed to be gone. Books had lost their
charm. Walks and drives and staying at home were all one —
except, indeed, that she rather liked best the latter.
Appetite failed; her cheek grew colourless; and Alice began to
fear that if a stop were not soon put to this gradual sinking,
it would at last end with her life. But all her efforts were
without fruit; and the winter was a sorrowful one not to Ellen
alone.

As it wore on, there came to be one thing in which Ellen again
took pleasure, and that was her Bible. She used to get alone
or into a corner with it, and turn the leaves over and over;
looking out its gentle promises, and sweet comforting words to
the weak and the sorrowing. She loved to read about Christ —
all he said and did; all his kindness to his people, and
tender care of them; the love shown them here and the joys
prepared for them hereafter. She began to cling more to that
one unchangeable Friend from whose love neither life nor death
can sever those that believe in him; and her heart, tossed and
shaken as it had been, began to take rest again in that happy
resting-place with stronger affection, and even with greater
joy, than ever before. Yet for all that, this joy often kept
company with bitter weeping; the stirring of anything like
pleasure roused sorrow up afresh, and though Ellen's look of
sadness grew less dark, Alice could not see that her face was
at all less white and thin. She never spoke of her mother,
after once hearing when and where she had died; she never
hinted at her loss, except exclaiming in an agony, "I shall
get no more letters!" and Alice dared not touch upon what the
child seemed to avoid so carefully: though Ellen sometimes
wept on her bosom, and often sat for hours still and silent,
with her head in her lap.

The time drew nigh when John was expected home for the
holidays. In the meanwhile they had had many visits from other
friends. Mr. Van Brunt had come several times, enough to set
the whole neighbourhood a-wondering, if they had only known
it; his good old mother oftener still; Mrs. Vawse as often as
possible; Miss Fortune once; and that because, as she said to
herself, "Everybody would be talking about what was none of
their business if she didn't." As neither she nor Ellen knew
in the least what to say to each other, the visit was rather a
dull one, spite of all Alice could do. Jenny Hitchcock, and
the Huffs, and the Dennisons and others, came now and then;
but Ellen did not like to see any of them all but Mrs. Vawse.
Alice longed for her brother.

He came at last, just before New Year. It was the middle of a
fine afternoon, and Alice and her father had gone in the
sleigh to Carra-carra. Ellen had chosen to stay behind, but
Margery did not know this, and of course did not tell John.
After paying a visit to her in the kitchen, he had come back
to the empty sitting-room, and was thoughtfully walking up and
down the floor, when the door of Alice's room slowly opened,
and Ellen appeared. It was never her way, when she could help
it, to show violent feeling before other people; so she had
been trying to steel herself to meet John without crying, and
now came in with her little grave face, prepared not to give
way. His first look had like to overset it all.

"Ellie!" said he; "I thought everybody was gone. My dear
Ellie!"

Ellen could hardly stand the tone of these three words, and
she bore with the greatest difficulty the kiss that followed
them; it took but a word or two more, and a glance at the old
look and smile, to break down entirely all her guard.
According to her usual fashion, she was rushing away; but John
held her fast, and, though gently, drew her close to him.

"I will not let you forget that I am your brother, Ellie,"
said he.

Ellen hid her face on his shoulder, and cried as if she had
never cried before.

"Ellie," said he after a while, speaking low and tenderly,
"the Bible says, 'We have known and believed the love that God
hath towards us;' — have you remembered and believed this
lately?"

Ellen did not answer.

"Have you remembered that God loves every sinner that has
believed in his dear Son? — and loves them so well, that He
will let nothing come near them to harm them? — and loves them
never better than when He sends bitter trouble on them? It is
wonderful! but it is true. Have you thought of this, Ellie?"

She shook her head.

"It is not in anger He does it; it is not that He has
forgotten you: it is not that He is careless of your trembling
little heart — never, never! If you are his child, all is done
in love, and shall work good for you; and if we often cannot
see how, it is because we are weak and foolish, and can see
but a very little way."

Ellen listened with her face hid on his shoulder.

"Do you love Christ, Ellen?"

She nodded, weeping afresh.

"Do you love him less since he has brought you into this great
sorrow?"

"No," sobbed Ellen, "_more!_"

He drew her closer to his breast, and was silent a little
while.

"I am very glad to hear you say that! — then all will be well.
And haven't you the best reason to think that all _is_ well with
your dear mother?"

Ellen almost shrieked. Her mother's name had not been spoken
before her in a great while, and she could hardly bear to hear
it now. Her whole frame quivered with hysterical sobs.

"Hush, Ellie!" said John, in a tone that, low as it was,
somehow found its way through all her agitation, and calmed
her like a spell; — "have you not good reason to believe that
all is well with her?"

"Oh, yes! — oh, yes!"

"She loved and trusted Him, too; and now she is with Him — she
has reached that bright home where there is no more sin, nor
sorrow, nor death."

"Nor parting either," sobbed Ellen, whose agitation was
excessive.

"Nor parting! — and though _we_ are parted from them, it is but
for a little; let us watch, and keep our garments clean, and
soon we shall be all together, and have done with tears for
ever. _She_ has done with them now. — Did you hear from her
again?"

"Oh, no! — not a word!"

"That is a hard trial. — But, in it all, believe, dear Ellie,
the love that God hath towards us; — remember that our dear
Saviour is near us, and feels for us, and is the same at all
times. — And don't cry so, Ellie!"

He kissed her once or twice, and begged her to calm herself.
For it seemed as if Ellen's very heart was flowing away in her
tears; yet they were gentler and softer far than at the
beginning. The conversation had been a great relief. The
silence between her and Alice on the thing always in her mind
— a silence neither of them dared to break — had grown
painful. The spell was taken off; and though, at first,
Ellen's tears knew no measure, she was easier even then; as
John soothed her, and went on with his kind talk, gradually
leading it away from their first subject to other things, she
grew not only calm, but more peaceful at heart than months had
seen her. She was quite herself again before Alice came home.

"You have done her good already," exclaimed Alice, as soon as
Ellen was out of the room; — "I knew you would; I saw it in
her face as soon as I came in."

"It is time," said her brother. "She is a dear little thing!"

The next day, in the middle of the morning, Ellen, to her
great surprise, saw Sharp brought before the door, with the
side-saddle on, and Mr. John carefully looking to the girth,
and shortening the stirrup.

"Why, Alice," she exclaimed, "what is Mr. John going to do?"

"I don't know, Ellie, I am sure; he does queer things
sometimes. What makes you ask?"

Before she could answer, he opened the door.

"Come, Ellen, go and get ready. Bundle up well, for it is
rather frosty. Alice, has she a pair of gloves that are warm
enough? Lend her yours, and I'll see if I can find some at
Thirlwall."

Ellen thought she would rather not go; to anybody else she
would have said so. Half a minute she stood still — then went
to put on her things.

"Alice, you will be ready by the time we get back? — in half
an hour."

Ellen had an excellent lesson, and her master took care it
should not be an easy one. She came back, looking as she had
not done all winter. Alice was not quite ready; while waiting
for her, John went to the book-case and took down the first
volume of Rollin's _Ancient History;_ and giving it to Ellen, he
said he would talk with her to-morrow about the first twenty
pages. The consequence was, the hour and a half of their
absence, instead of being moped away, was spent in hard study.
A pair of gloves was bought at Thirlwall; Jenny Hitchcock's
pony was sent for; and, after that, every day, when the
weather would at all do, they took a long ride. By degrees,
reading, and drawing, and all her studies, were added to the
history, till Ellen's time was well filled with business
again. Alice had endeavoured to bring this about before, but
fruitlessly. What she asked of her, Ellen indeed _tried_ to do;
what John told her, _was done_. She grew a different creature.
Appetite came back; the colour sprang again to her cheek; hope
— meek and sober as it was — re-lighted her eye. In her
eagerness to please and satisfy her teacher, her whole soul
was given to the performance of whatever he wished her to do.
The effect was all that he looked for.

The second evening after he came, John called Ellen to his
side, saying he had something he wanted to read to her. It was
before candles were brought, but the room was full of light
from the blazing wood fire. Ellen glanced at his book as she
came to the sofa; it was a largish volume, in a black leather
cover, a good deal worn; it did not look at all interesting.

"What is it?" she asked.

"It is called," said John, "_The Pilgrim's Progress from this
World to a better_."

Ellen thought it did not _sound_ at all interesting. She had
never been more mistaken in her life, and that she found
almost as soon as he begun. Her attention was nailed; the
listless, careless mood in which she sat down was changed for
one of rapt delight; she devoured every word that fell from
the reader's lips; indeed they were given their fullest effect
by a very fine voice and singularly fine reading. Whenever
anything might not be quite clear to Ellen, John stopped to
make it so; and with his help, and without it, many a lesson
went home. Next day she looked a long time for the book; it
could not be found; she was forced to wait until evening.
Then, to her great joy, it was brought out again, and John
asked her if she wished to hear some more of it. After that,
every evening while he was at home, they spent an hour with
the "Pilgrim." Alice would leave her work and come to the
sofa, too; and with her head on her brother's shoulder, her
hand in his, and Ellen's face leaning against his other arm,
that was the common way they placed themselves to see and
hear. No words can tell Ellen's enjoyment of those readings.
They made her sometimes laugh and sometimes cry; they had much
to do in carrying on the cure which John's wisdom and kindness
had begun.

They came to the place where Christian loses his burden at the
cross; and as he stood looking and weeping, three shining ones
came to him. "The first said to him, 'Thy sins be forgiven
thee;' the second stripped him of his rags, and clothed him
with a change of raiment; the third also set a mark on his
forehead."

John explained what was meant by the rags and the change of
raiment.

"And the mark in his forehead?" said Ellen.

"That is the mark of God's children — the change wrought in
them by the Holy Spirit — the change that makes them different
from others, and different from their old selves."

"Do all Christians have it?"

"Certainly. None can be a Christian without it."

"But how can one tell whether one has it or no?" said Ellen,
very gravely.

"Carry your heart and life to the Bible, and see how they
agree. The Bible gives a great many signs and descriptions, by
which Christians may know themselves — know both what they are
and what they ought to be. If you find your own feelings and
manner of life at one with these Bible words, you may hope
that the Holy Spirit has changed you, and set his mark upon
you."

"I wish you would tell me of one of those places," said Ellen.

"The Bible is full of them. 'To them that believe _Christ is
precious_,' — there is one. 'If ye love me, _keep my
commandments;_' — 'He that saith he abideth in him, ought
himself also _so to walk even as he walked_' — 'O how _love I thy
law!_' The Bible is full of them, Ellie; but you have need to
ask for great help when you go to try yourself by them; the
heart is deceitful."

Ellen looked sober all the rest of the evening, and the next
day she pondered the matter a good deal.

"I think I am changed," she said to herself, at last. "I
didn't use to like to read the Bible, and now I do very much;
— I never liked praying in old times, and now, oh! what should
I do without it! I didn't love Jesus at all, but I am sure I
do now. I don't keep his commandments, but I do _try_ to keep
them; — I _must_ be changed a little. Oh! I wish Mamma had known
it before!"

Weeping with mixed sorrow and thankful joy, Ellen bent her
head upon her little Bible to pray that she might be _more_
changed; and then, as she often did, raised the cover to look
at the texts in the beloved handwriting.

"I love them that love me, and they that seek me early shall
find me."

Ellen's tears were blinding her. "That has come true," she
thought.

"I will be a God to thee, and to thy seed after thee."

"That has come true, too!" she said, almost in surprise — "and
Mamma believed it would." — And then, as by a flash, came back
to her mind the time it was written; she remembered how, when
it was done, her mother's head had sunk upon the open page —
she seemed to see again the thin fingers tightly clasped — she
had not understood it then — she did now. "She was praying for
me," thought Ellen — "she was praying for me; she believed
that would come true."

The book was dashed down, and Ellen fell upon her knees, in a
perfect agony of weeping.

Even this, when she was calm again, served to steady her mind.
There seemed to be a link of communion between her mother and
her that was wanting before. The promise, written and believed
in by the one, realized and rejoiced in by the other, was a
dear something in common, though one had in the meanwhile
removed to heaven, and the other was still a lingerer on the
earth. Ellen bound the words upon her heart.

Another time, when they came to the last scene of Christian's
journey, Ellen's tears ran very fast. John asked if he should
pass it over, if it distressed her? She said, "Oh, no, it did
not distress her;" she wanted him to go on, and he went on,
though himself much distressed, and Alice was near as bad as
Ellen. But the next evening, to his surprise, Ellen begged
that before he went on to the second part, he would read that
piece over again. And when he lent her the book, with only the
charge that she should not go further than he had been, she
pored over that scene with untiring pleasure, till she almost
had it by heart. In short, never was a child more comforted
and contented with a book than Ellen was with the _Pilgrim's
Progress_. That was a blessed visit of John's. Alice said he
had come like a sunbeam into the house; she dreaded to think
what would be when he went away.

She wrote, him, however, when he had been gone a few weeks,
that his will seemed to carry all before it, present or
absent. Ellen went on steadily mending — at least she did not
go back any. They were keeping up their rides, also their
studies, most diligently; Ellen was untiring in her efforts to
do whatever he had wished her, and was springing forward,
Alice said, in her improvement.


CHAPTER XXXV.

"This working-day world."


The spring had come; and Alice and Ellen were looking forward
to pleasanter rides and walks, after the sun should have got a
little warmth, and the snow should be gone; when one morning,
in the early part of March, Mr. Van Brunt made his appearance.
Miss Fortune was not well, and had sent him to beg that Ellen
would come back to her. He was sorry, he said; — he knew Ellen
was in the best place; but her aunt wanted her, and "he
s'posed she'd have to go." He did not know what was the matter
with Miss Fortune; it was a little of one thing and a little
of another; "he s'posed she'd overdid, and it was a wonder,
for he didn't know she _could_ do it. _She_ thought she was as
tough as a piece of shoe-leather, but even that could be wore
out."

Ellen looked blank. However, she hurriedly set herself to get
her things together; and, with Alice's help, in half an hour
she was ready to go. The parting was hard. They held each
other fast a good while, and kissed each other many times,
without speaking.

"Good-bye, dear Ellie," whispered Alice at last — "I'll come
and see you soon. Remember what John said when he went away."

Ellen did not trust herself to speak. She pulled herself away
from Alice, and turned to Mr. Van Brunt, saying, by her
manner, that she was ready. He took her bundle, and they went
out of the house together.

Ellen made a manful effort, all the way down the hill, to
stifle the tears that were choking her. She knew they would
greatly disturb her companion, and she did succeed, though
with great difficulty, in keeping them back. Luckily for her,
he said hardly anything during the whole walk; she could not
have borne to answer a question. It was no fault of Mr. Van
Brunt's that he was so silent — he was beating his brains the
whole way to think of something it would do to say, and could
not suit himself. His single remark was, "that it was like to
be a fine spring for the maple, and he guessed they'd make a
heap of sugar."

When they reached the door, he told her she would find her
aunt upstairs, and himself turned off to the barn. Ellen
stopped a minute upon the threshold to remember the last time
she had crossed it — and the _first_ time: how changed
everything now! — and the thought came, was _this_ now to be her
home for ever? She had need again to remember John's words.
When bidding her good-bye, he had said, "My little pilgrim, I
hope you will keep the straight road, and win the praise of
the servant who was faithful over a few things." "I will try!"
thought poor Ellen; and then she passed through the kitchen,
and went up to her own room. Here, without stopping to think,
she took off her things, gave one strange look at the old
familiar place, and her trunk in the corner, fell on her knees
for one minute, and then went to her aunt's room.

"Come in," cried Miss Fortune when Ellen had knocked. "Well,
Ellen, there you are. I am thankful it is you; I was afraid it
might be Mimy Lawson, or Sarah Lowndes, or some of the rest of
the set; I know they'll all come scampering here as soon as
they hear I'm laid up."

"Are you very sick, Aunt Fortune?" said Ellen.

"La! no, child — I shall be up again to-morrow; but I felt
queer this morning, somehow, and I thought I'd try lying down.
I expect I've caught some cold."

There was no doubt of this; but this was not all. Besides
catching cold, and doing her best to bring it about, Miss
Fortune had overtasked her strength, and by dint of economy,
housewifery, and _smartness_, had brought on herself the severe
punishment of lying idle and helpless for a much longer time
than she at first reckoned on.

"What can I do for you, Aunt Fortune?" said Ellen.

"Oh, nothing as I know," said Miss Fortune — "only let me
alone, and don't ask me anything, and keep people out of the
house. Mercy! my head feels as if it would go crazy! Ellen,
look here," said she, raising herself on her elbow — "I won't
have anybody come into this house — if I lie here till
doomsday, I won't! Now, you mind me. I ain't agoing to have
Mimy Lawson, nor nobody else, poking all round into every hole
and corner, and turning every cheese upside down to see what's
under it. There ain't one of 'em too good for it, and they
shan't have a chance. They'll be streaking here, a dozen of
'em, to help take care of the house; but I don't care what
becomes of the house; I won't have anybody in it. Promise me
you won't let Mr. Van Brunt bring any one here to help; I know
I can trust you to do what I tell you; promise me!"

Ellen promised, a good deal gratified at her aunt's last
words; and once more asked if she could do anything for her.

"Oh, I don't know!" said Miss Fortune, flinging herself back
on her pillow; — "I don't care what you do, if you only keep
the house clear. There's the clothes in the basket under the
table downstairs — you might begin to iron 'em; they're only
rough dry. But don't come asking me about anything; I can't
bear it. — Ellen, don't let a soul go into the buttery except
yourself. — And, Ellen! I don't care if you make me a little
catnip-tea: the catnip's up in the store-room — the furthest
door in the back attic — here's the keys. Don't go to fussing
with anything else there."

Ellen thought the prospect before her rather doleful when she
reached the kitchen. It was in order, to be sure, and clean;
but it looked as if the mistress was away. The fire had gone
out, the room was cold; even so little a matter as catnip-tea
seemed a thing far off and hard to come by. While she stood
looking at the great logs in the fireplace, which she could
hardly move, and thinking it was rather a dismal state of
things, in came Mr. Van Brunt with his good-natured face, and
wanted to know if he could do anything for her. The very room
seemed more comfortable as soon as his big figure was in it.
He set about kindling the fire forthwith, while Ellen went up
to the store-room. A well-filled store-room! Among other
things, there hung at least a dozen bunches of dried herbs
from one of the rafters. Ellen thought she knew catnip, but
after smelling of two or three, she became utterly puzzled,
and was fain to carry a leaf of several kinds down to Mr. Van
Brunt to find out which was which. When she came down again,
she found he had hung on the kettle for her, and swept up the
hearth; so Ellen, wisely thinking it best to keep busy, put
the ironing blanket on the table, and folded the clothes, and
set the irons to the fire. By this time the kettle boiled. How
to make catnip-tea Ellen did not exactly know, but supposed it
must follow the same rules as black tea, in the making of
which she felt herself very much at home. So she put a pinch
or two of catnip leaves into the pot, poured a little water on
them, and left it to draw. Meanwhile came in kind Mr. Van
Brunt with an armful or two of small short sticks for the
fire, which Ellen could manage.

"I wish I could stay here and take care of you all the while,"
said he; "but I'll be round. If you want anything, you must
come to the door and holler."

Ellen began to thank him.

"Just don't say anything about that," said he, moving his
hands as if he were shaking her thanks out of them; "I'd back
all the wood you could burn every day for the pleasure of
having you hum again, if I didn't know you was better where
you was; but I can't help that. Now, who am I going to get to
stay with you? Who would you like to have."

"Nobody, if you please, Mr. Van Brunt," said Ellen; "Aunt
Fortune don't wish it, and I had rather not, indeed."

He stood up and looked at her in amazement.

"Why, you don't mean to say," said he, "that you are thinking,
or she is thinking, you can get along here without help?"

"I'll get along somehow," said Ellen. "Never mind, please let
me, Mr. Van Brunt; it would worry Aunt Fortune very much to
have anybody; don't say anything about it."

"Worry her!" said he; and he muttered something Ellen did not
quite understand, about "bringing the old woman to reason."

However, he went off for the present; and Ellen filled up her
teapot and carried it upstairs. Her old grandmother was awake;
before, when Ellen was in the room, she had been napping; now
she showed the greatest delight at seeing her — fondled her,
kissed her, cried over her, and finally insisted on getting up
directly and going downstairs. Ellen received and returned her
caresses with great tenderness, and then began to help her
rise and dress.

"Yes, do," said Miss Fortune; "I shall have a little better
chance of sleeping. My stars! Ellen, what do you call this?"

"Isn't it catnip?" said Ellen, alarmed.

"Catnip! it tastes of nothing but the tea-kettle. It's as weak
as dishwater. Take it down and make some more. How much did
you put in? — you want a good double-handful, stalks and all;
make it strong. I can't drink such stuff as that. I think if I
could get into a sweat I should be better."

Ellen went down, established her grandmother in her old
corner, and made some more tea. Then her irons being hot, she
began to iron; doing double duty at the same time, for Mrs.
Montgomery had one of her talking fits on, and it was
necessary to hear and answer a great many things. Presently
the first visitor appeared in the shape of Nancy.

"Well, Ellen!" said she, "so Miss Fortune is really sick for
once, and you are keeping house. Ain't you grand?"

"I don't feel very grand," said Ellen. "I don't know what is
the matter with these clothes; I _cannot_ make 'em look smooth."

"Irons ain't hot," said Nancy.

"Yes they are — too hot; I've scorched a towel already."

"My goodness, Ellen! I guess you have. If Miss Fortune was
down, you'd get it. Why, they're bone dry!" said Nancy,
plunging her hand into the basket: "you haven't sprinkled 'em,
have you?"

"To be sure," said Ellen, with an awakened face, "I forgot
it!"

"Here, get out of the way, _I'll_ do it for you," said Nancy,
rolling up her sleeves, and pushing Ellen from the table; "you
just get me a bowl of water, will you? and we'll have 'em done
in no time. Who's a-coming to help you?"

"Nobody."

"Nobody! you poor chicken; do you think you're a-going to do
all the work of the house yourself?"

"No," said Ellen, "but I can do a good deal, and the rest will
have to go."

"You ain't going to do no such thing; I'll stay myself."

"No, you can't, Nancy," said Ellen, quietly.

"I guess I will, if I've a mind to. I should like to know how
you'd help it: Miss Fortune's a-bed."

"I could help it, though," said Ellen; "but I am sure you
won't, when I ask you not."

"I'll do anything you please," said Nancy, "if you'll get Miss
Fortune to let me stay. Come do, Ellen! It will be splendid!
and I'll help you finely, and I won't bother you neither.
Come, go ask her; if you don't, I will."

"I can't, Nancy; she don't want anybody; and it worries her to
talk to her. I can't go and ask her."

Nancy impatiently flung down the cloth she was sprinkling, and
ran up stairs. In a few minutes she came down with a
triumphant face, and bade Ellen go up to her aunt.

"Ellen," said Miss Fortune, "if I let Nancy stay will you take
care of the keys, and keep her out of the buttery?"

"I'll try to, Ma'am, as well as I can."

"I'd as lief have her as anybody," said Miss Fortune, "if
she'd behave. She was with me a little in the winter. She is
smart, and knows the ways. If I was sure she would behave
herself — but I am afraid she will go rampaging about the
house like a wild cat."

"I think I could prevent that," said Ellen; who, to say truth,
was willing to have anybody come to share what she felt would
be a very great burden. "She knows I could tell Mr. Van Brunt
if she didn't do right, and she would be afraid of that."

"Well," said Miss Fortune, disconsolately, "let her stay,
then. O, dear, to lie here! — but tell her if she don't do
just what you tell her, I'll have Mr. Van Brunt turn her out
by the ears. And don't let her come near me, for she drives me
mad. And, Ellen, put the keys in your pocket. Have you got a
pocket in that dress?"

"Yes, Ma'am."

"Put 'em in there, and don't take 'em out. Now, go."

Nancy agreed to the conditions with great glee; and the little
housekeeper felt her mind a good deal easier; for though Nancy
herself was somewhat of a charge, she was strong, and willing,
and ready, and, if she liked anybody, liked Ellen. Mr. Van
Brunt privately asked Ellen if she chose to have Nancy stay;
and told her, if she gave her any trouble, to let him know,
and he would make short work with her. The young lady herself
also had a hint on the subject.

"I'll tell you what," said Nancy, when this business was
settled, — "we'll let the men go off to Mrs. Van Brunt's to
meals; we'll have enough to do without 'em. That's how Miss
Fortune has fixed herself— she would have Sam and Johnny in to
board; they never used to, you know, afore this winter."

"The men may go," said Ellen, "but I had a great deal rather
Mr. Van Brunt would stay than not — if we can only manage to
cook things for him; we should have to do it, at any rate, for
ourselves, and for grandma."

"Well — _I_ ain't as fond of him as all that," said Nancy, "but
it'll have to be as you like, I suppose. We'll feed him
somehow."

Mr. Van Brunt came in to ask if they had anything in the house
for supper. Ellen told him "plenty," and would have him come
in just as usual. There was nothing to do but to make tea;
cold meat and bread and butter and cheese were all in the
buttery; so that evening went off very quietly.

When she came down the next morning, the fire was burning
nicely, and the kettle on and singing. Not Nancy's work; Mr.
Van Brunt had slept in the kitchen; whether on the table, the
floor, or the chairs, was best known to himself; and before
going to his work, had left everything he could think of ready
done to her hand; — wood for the fire, pails of water brought
from the spout, and some matters in the lower kitchen got out
of the way. Ellen stood warming herself at the blaze, when it
suddenly darted into her head that it was milking time. In
another minute she had thrown open the door and was running
across the chip-yard to the barn. There, in the old place,
were all her old friends, both four-legged and two-legged; and
with great delight she found Dolly had a fine calf, and
Streaky another superb one, brindled just like herself. Ellen
longed to get near enough to touch their little innocent
heads, but it was impossible; and recollecting the business on
her hands, she too danced away.

"Whew!" said Nancy, when Ellen told her of the new inmates of
the barn-yard; — "there'll be work to do! Get your milk-pans
ready, Ellen; in a couple of weeks we'll be making butter."

"Aunt Fortune will be well by that time, I hope," said Ellen.

"She won't, then, so you may just make up your mind to it. Dr.
Gibson was to see her yesterday forenoon, and he stopped at
Miss Lowndes' on his way back; and he said it was a chance if
she got up again in a month and more. So, that's what it is,
you see."

"A month, and more." It was all that. Miss Fortune was not
dangerously ill; but part of the time in a low nervous fever,
part of the time encumbered with other ailments, she lay from
week to week, bearing her confinement very ill, and making it
as disagreeable and burdensome as possible for Ellen to attend
upon her. Those were weeks of trial. Ellen's patience and
principle and temper were all put to the proof. She had no
love, in the first place, for household work, and now her
whole time was filled up with it. Studies could not be thought
of. Reading was only to be had by mere snatches. Walks and
rides were at an end. Often, when already very tired, she had
to run up and down stairs for her aunt, or stand and bathe her
face and hands with vinegar, or read the paper to her, when
Miss Fortune declared she was so nervous she should fly out of
her skin if she didn't hear something besides the wind. And
very often, when she was not wanted upstairs, her old
grandmother would beg her to come and read to _her_ — perhaps at
the very moment when Ellen was busiest. Ellen did her best.
Miss Fortune never could be put off; her old mother sometimes
could, with a kiss and a promise — but not always; and then,
rather than she should fret, Ellen would leave everything, and
give half an hour to soothing and satisfying her. She loved to
do this at other times; now it was sometimes burdensome. Nancy
could not help her at all in these matters, for neither Miss
Fortune nor the old lady would let her come near them. Besides
all this, there was a measure of care constantly upon Ellen's
mind; she felt charged with the welfare of all about the
house; and under the effort to meet the charge, joined to the
unceasing bodily exertion, she grew thin and pale. She was
tired with Nancy's talk; she longed to be reading and studying
again; she longed — oh! how she longed! — for Alice's and
John's company again; and it was no wonder if she sometimes
cast very sad, longing looks further back still. Now and then
an old fit of weeping would come. But Ellen remembered John's
words; and often in the midst of her work, stopping short with
a sort of pang of sorrow and weariness, and the difficulty of
doing right, she would press her hands together and say to
herself, "I will try to be a good pilgrim!" Her morning hour
of prayer was very precious now; and her Bible grew more and
more dear. Little Ellen found its words a mighty refreshment;
and often when reading it she loved to recall what Alice had
said at this and the other place, and John, and Mr. Marshman,
and before them her mother. The passages about heaven, which
she well remembered reading to her one particular morning,
became great favourites; they were joined with her mother in
Ellen's thoughts; and she used to go over and over them till
she nearly knew them by heart.

"What _do_ you keep reading that for, the whole time?" said
Nancy, one day.

"Because I like to," said Ellen.

"Well, if you do, you're the first one ever I saw that did."

"Oh, Nancy!" said Ellen, — "your grandma?"

"Well, she does, I believe," said Nancy; "for she's always at
it; but all the rest of the folks that ever I saw are happy to
get it out of their hands, _I_ know. They think they must read a
little, and so they do, and they are too glad if something
happens to break 'em off. You needn't tell _me_ — I've seen
'em."

"I wish _you_ loved it, Nancy," said Ellen.

"Well, what do you love it for? Come, let's hear; maybe you'll
convert me."

"I love it for a great many reasons," said Ellen, who had some
difficulty in speaking of what she felt Nancy could not
understand.

"Well — I ain't any wiser yet."

"I like to read it because I want to go to heaven, and it
tells me how."

"But what's the use?" said Nancy — "you ain't going to die yet
— you are too young — you've time enough."

"Oh, Nancy! — little John Dolan, and Eleanor Parsons, and Mary
Huff — all younger than you and I; how can you say so?"

"Well," said Nancy — "at any rate, that ain't reading it
because you love it — it's because you must, like other
folks."

"That's only one of my reasons," said Ellen, hesitating, and
speaking gravely; — "I like to read about the Saviour, and
what he has done for me, and what a friend he will be to me,
and how he forgives me. I had rather have the Bible, Nancy,
than all the other books in the world."

"That ain't saying much," said Nancy — "but how come you to be
so sure you are forgiven?"

"Because the Bible says, 'He that believeth on him shall not
be ashamed,' and I believe in him — and that he will not cast
out any one that comes to him, and I have come to him — and
that he loves those that love him, and I love him. If it did
not speak so very plainly, I should be afraid, but it makes me
happy to read such verses as these. I wish you knew, Nancy,
how happy it makes me."

This profession of faith was not spoken without starting
tears. Nancy made no reply.

As Miss Fortune had foretold, plenty of people came to the
house with proffers of service. Nancy's being there made it
easy for Ellen to get rid of them all. Many were the marvels
that Miss Fortune should trust her house to "two girls like
that," and many the guesses that she would rue it when she got
up again. People were wrong. Things went on very steadily, and
in an orderly manner; and Nancy kept the peace as she would
have done in few houses. Bold and insolent as she sometimes
was to others, she regarded Ellen with a mixed notion of
respect and protection, which led her at once to shun doing
anything that would grieve her, and to thrust her aside from
every heavy or difficult job, taking the brunt herself. Nancy
might well do this, for she was at least twice as strong as
Ellen; but she would not have done it for everybody.

There were visits of kindness as well as visits of
officiousness. Alice and Mrs. Van Brunt and Margery, one or
the other every day. Margery would come in and mix up a batch
of bread; Alice would bring a bowl of butter or a basket of
cake; and Mrs. Van Brunt sent whole dinners. Mr. Van Brunt was
there always at night, and about the place as much as possible
during the day; when obliged to be absent, he stationed Sam
Larkens to guard the house, also to bring wood and water, and
do whatever he was bid. All the help, however, that was given
from abroad could not make Ellen's life an easy one; Mr. Van
Brunt's wishes that Miss Fortune would get up again began to
come very often. The history of one day may serve for the
history of all those weeks.

It was in the beginning of April. Ellen came downstairs early,
but come when she would, she found the fire made and the
kettle on. Ellen felt a little as if she had not quite slept
off the remembrance of yesterday's fatigue; however, that was
no matter, she set to work. She swept up the kitchen, got her
milk-strainer and pans ready upon the buttery shelf, and began
to set the table. By the time this was half done, in came Sam
Larkens with two great pails of milk, and Johnny Low followed
with another. They were much too heavy for Ellen to lift, but
true to her charge, she let no one come into the buttery but
herself; she brought the pans to the door, where Sam filled
them for her, and as each was done she set it in its place on
the shelf. This took some time, for there were eight of them.
She had scarce wiped up the spilt milk and finished setting
the table, when Mr. Van Brunt came in.

"Good morning!" said he. "How d'ye do to-day?"

"Very well, Mr. Van Brunt."

"I wish you'd look a little redder in the face. Don't you be
too busy. Where's Nancy?"

"Oh, she's busy, out with the clothes."

"Same as ever upstairs? — What are you going to do for
breakfast, Ellen?"

"I don't know, Mr. Van Brunt; there isn't anything cooked in
the house; we have eaten everything up."

"Cleaned out, eh? Bread and all?"

"Oh, no, not bread; there's plenty of that, but there's
nothing else."

"Well never mind; — you bring me a ham and a dozen of eggs,
and I'll make you a first-rate breakfast."

Ellen laughed, for this was not the first time Mr. Van Brunt
had acted as cook for the family. While she got what he had
asked for, and bared a place on the table for his operations,
he went to the spout and washed his hands.

"Now, a sharp knife, Ellen, and the frying-pan and a dish —
and that's all I want of you."

Ellen brought them, and while he was busy with the ham, she
made the coffee, and set it by the side of the fire to boil;
got the cream and butter, and set the bread on the table; and
then set herself down to rest, and amuse herself with Mr. Van
Brunt's cookery. He was no mean hand: his slices of ham were
very artist-like, and frying away in the most unexceptionable
manner. Ellen watched him, and laughed at him, till the ham
was taken out and all the eggs broke in; then, after seeing
that the coffee was right, she went upstairs to dress her
grandmother — always the last thing before breakfast.

"Who's frying ham and eggs downstairs?" inquired Miss Fortune.

"Mr. Van Brunt," said Ellen.

This answer was unexpected. Miss Fortune tossed her head over
in a dissatisfied kind of way, and told Ellen to "tell him to
be careful."

"Of what?" thought Ellen; and wisely concluded with herself
not to deliver the message, very certain she should laugh if
she did, and she had running in her head an indistinct notion
of the command, "Honour thy father and thy mother."

Breakfast was ready, but no one there when she got down-
stairs. She placed her grandmother at table, and called Nancy,
who all this time had been getting the clothes out of the
rinsing water and hanging them out on the line to dry; said
clothes having been washed the day before by Miss Sarah
Lowndes, who came there for the purpose. Ellen poured out the
coffee, and then in came Mr. Van Brunt with a head of early
lettuce, which he had pulled in the garden and washed at the
spout. Ellen had to jump up again to get the salt and pepper
and vinegar; but she always jumped willingly for Mr. Van
Brunt. The meals were pleasanter during those weeks than in
all the time Ellen had been in Thirlwall before; or she
thought so. That sharp eye at the head of the table was
pleasantly missed. They with one accord sat longer at meals;
more talking and laughing went on; nobody felt afraid of being
snapped up. Mr. Van Brunt praised Ellen's coffee (he had
taught her how to make it), and she praised his ham and eggs.
Old Mrs. Montgomery praised everything, and seemed to be in
particular comfort; talked as much as she had a mind, and was
respectfully attended to. Nancy was in high feather; and the
clatter of knives and forks and tea-cups went on very
pleasantly. But at last, chairs were pushed from the table,
and work began again.

Nancy went back to her tubs. Ellen supplied her grandmother
with her knitting, and filled her snuff-box; cleared the
table, and put up the dishes ready for washing. Then she went
into the buttery to skim the cream. This was a part of the
work she liked. It was heavy lifting the pans of milk to the
skimming shelf before the window, but as Ellen drew her spoon
round the edge of the cream, she liked to see it wrinkle up in
thick, yellow, leathery folds, showing how deep and rich it
was — it looked half butter already. She knew how to take it
off now, very nicely. The cream was set by in a vessel for
future churning, and the milk, as each pan was skimmed, was
poured down the wooden trough, at the left of the window,
through which it went into a great hogshead at the lower
kitchen door.

This done, Ellen went up stairs to her aunt. Dr. Gibson always
came early, and she and her room must be put in apple-pie
order first. It was a long, wearisome job. Ellen brought the
basin for her, to wash her face and hands; then combed her
hair, and put on her clean cap. That was always the first
thing. The next was to make the bed; and for this Miss
Fortune, weak or strong, wrapped herself up and tumbled out
upon the floor. When she was comfortably placed again, Ellen
had to go through a laborious dusting of the room and all the
things in it, even taking a dustpan and brush to the floor, if
any speck of dust or crumbs could be seen there. Every rung of
every chair must be gone over, though never so clean; every
article put up or put out of the way; Miss Fortune made the
most of the little province of housekeeping that was left her;
and a fluttering tape, escaping through the crack of the door,
would have put her whole spirit topsy-turvy. When all was to
her mind, and not before, she would have her breakfast, — only
gruel and biscuit, or toast and tea, or some such trifle, but
Ellen must prepare it, and bring it up stairs, and wait till
it was eaten. And very particularly it must be prepared, and
very faultlessly it must be served, or, with an impatient
expression of disgust, Miss Fortune would send it down again.
On the whole, Ellen always thought herself happy when this
part of her day was well over.

When she got down this morning she found the kitchen in nice
order, and Nancy standing by the fire in a little sort of
pause, having just done the breakfast dishes.

"Well!" said Nancy — "what are you going to do now?"

"Put away these dishes, and then churn," said Ellen.

"My goodness! so you are. What's going to be for dinner,
Ellen?"

"That's more than I know," said Ellen, laughing. "We have
eaten up Mrs. Van Brunt's pie, and washed the dish — there's
nothing but some cold potatoes."

"_That_ won't do," said Nancy. "I tell you what, Ellen — we'll
just boil pot for to-day; somebody else will send us something
by to-morrow most likely."

"I don't know what you mean by 'boil pot,' " said Ellen.

"Oh, you don't know everything yet, by half. _I_ know — I'll fix
it. You just give me the things, Miss Housekeeper, that's all
you've got to do; I want a piece of pork and a piece of beef,
and all the vegetables you've got."

"All?" said Ellen.

"Every soul on 'em. Don't be scared, Ellen; you shall see what
I can do in the way of cookery — if you don't like it you
needn't eat it. What have you got in the cellar?"

"Come and see, and take what you want, Nancy; there is plenty
of potatoes and carrots and onions, and beets, I believe — the
turnips are all gone."

"Parsnips out in the yard, ain't there?"

"Yes, but you'll have to do with a piece of pork, Nancy; I
don't know anything about beef."

While Nancy went round the cellar, gathering in her apron the
various roots she wanted, Ellen uncovered the pork barrel,
and, after looking a minute at the dark pickle she never loved
to plunge into, bravely bared her arm, and fished up a piece
of pork.

"Now, Nancy, just help me with this churn out of the cellar,
will you? and then you may go."

"My goodness! it is heavy," said Nancy. "You'll have a time of
it, Ellen; but I can't help you."

She went off to the garden for parsnips, and Ellen quietly put
in the dasher and the cover, and began to churn. It was
tiresome work. The churn was pretty full, as Nancy had said;
the cream was rich and cold, and at the end of half an hour
grew very stiff. It splattered and sputtered up on Ellen's
face and hands, and frock and apron, and over the floor; legs
and arms were both weary; but still that pitiless dasher must
go up and down, hard as it might be to force it either way —
she must not stop. In this state of matters she heard a pair
of thick shoes come clumping down the stairs, and beheld Mr.
Van Brunt.

"Here you are!" said he. "Churning! — Been long at it?"

"A good while," said Ellen, with a sigh.

"Coming?"

"I don't know when."

Mr. Van Brunt stepped to the door, and shouted for Sam
Larkens. He was ordered to take the churn and bring the
butter; and Ellen, very glad of a rest, went out to amuse
herself with feeding the chickens, and then up stairs to see
what Nancy was doing.

"Butter come?" said Nancy.

"No, Sam has taken it. How are you getting on? Oh, I am
tired!"

"I'm getting on first-rate; I've got all the things in."

"In what?"

"Why, in the pot! — in a pot of water, boiling away as fast as
they can; we'll have dinner directly. Hurra! who comes there?"

She jumped to the door. It was Thomas, bringing Margery's
respects, and a custard-pie for Ellen.

"I declare," said Nancy, "it's a good thing to have friends,
ain't it? I'll try and get some. Hollo? what's wanting? — Mr.
Van Brunt's calling you, Ellen."

Ellen ran down.

"The butter's come," said he. "Now, do you know what to do
with it?"

"Oh, yes," said Ellen, smiling; "Margery showed me nicely."

He brought her a pail of water from the spout, and stood by
with a pleased kind of look, while she carefully lifted the
cover and rinsed down the little bits of butter which stuck to
it and the dasher; took out the butter with her ladle into a
large wooden bowl, washed it, and finally salted it.

"Don't take too much pains," said he; "the less of the hand it
gets, the better. That will do very well."

"Now, are you ready?" said Nancy, coming down stairs, — "cause
dinner is. My goodness! ain't that a fine lot of butter?
there's four pounds, ain't there?"

"Five," said Mr. Van Brunt.

"And as sweet as it can be," said Ellen. "Beautiful, isn't it?
Yes, I'm ready as soon as I set this in the cellar and cover
it up."

Nancy's dish — the pork, potatoes, carrots, beets, and
cabbage, all boiled in the same pot together — was found very
much to everybody's taste, except Ellen's. She made her dinner
off potatoes and bread, the former of which she declared,
laughing, were very porky and cabbagy; her meal would have
been an extremely light one, had it not been for the custard-
pie.

After dinner, new labours began. Nancy had forgotten to hang
on a pot of water for the dishes; so, after putting away the
eatables in the buttery, while the water was heating, Ellen
warmed some gruel, and carried it, with a plate of biscuit,
upstairs to her aunt. But Miss Fortune said she was tired of
gruel, and couldn't eat it; she must have some milk porridge;
and she gave Ellen very particular directions how to make it.
Ellen sighed only once as she went down with her despised dish
of gruel, and set about doing her best to fulfil her aunt's
wishes. The first dish of milk she burnt; — another sigh and
another trial; — better care this time had better success, and
Ellen had the satisfaction to see her aunt perfectly suited
with her dinner.

When she came down with the empty bowl, Nancy had a pile of
dishes ready washed, and Ellen took the towel to dry them.
Mrs. Montgomery, who had been in an uncommonly quiet fit all
day, now laid down her knitting, and asked if Ellen would not
come and read to her.

"Presently, Grandma, — as soon as I have done here."

"I know somebody that's tired," said Nancy. "I tell you what,
Ellen, — you had better take to liking pork; you can't work on
potatoes. I ain't tired a bit. There's somebody coming to the
door again! Do run and open it, will you? my hands are wet. I
wonder why folks can't come in without giving so much
trouble."

It was Thomas again, with a package for Ellen, which had just
come, he said, and Miss Alice thought she would like to have
it directly. Ellen thanked her, and thanked him, with a face
from which all signs of weariness had fled away. The parcel
was sealed up, and directed in a hand she was pretty sure she
knew. Her fingers burned to break the seal; but she would not
open it there, neither leave her work unfinished; she went on
wiping the dishes, with trembling hands and a beating heart.

"What's that?" said Nancy; "what did Thomas Grimes want? —
what have you got there?"

"I don't know," said Ellen, smiling; "something good, I
guess."

"Something good? is it something to eat?"

"No," said Ellen — "I didn't mean anything to eat when I said
something good; I don't think those are the best things."

To Ellen's delight, she saw that her grandmother had forgotten
about the reading, and was quietly taking short naps, with her
head against the chimney. So she put away the last dish, and
then seized her package and flew up-stairs. She was sure it
had come from Doncaster; she was right. It was a beautiful
copy of the _Pilgrim's Progress_, — on the first leaf written,
"To my little sister Ellen Montgomery, from J. H.;" and within
the cover lay a letter. This letter Ellen read in the course
of the next six days, at least twice as many times; and never
without crying over it.

"Alice has told me," said John, "about your new troubles.
There is said to be a time 'when the clouds return after the
rain.' I am sorry, my little sister, this time should come to
you so early. I often think of you, and wish I could be near
you. Still, dear Ellie, the good Husbandman knows what his
plants want; do you believe that, and can you trust him? They
would have nothing but sunshine if that was good for them. He
knows it is not; so there come clouds and rains, and 'stormy
wind fulfilling his will.' And what is it all for? — 'Herein
is my Father glorified, _that ye bear much fruit;_' do not
disappoint his purpose, Ellie. We shall have sunshine enough
by-and-by — but I know it is hard for so young a one as my
little sister to look much forward; so do not look forward,
Ellie; look up! look off unto Jesus from all your duties,
troubles, and wants; he will help you in them all. The more
you look up to him, the more he will look down to you; and he
especially said, 'Suffer _little children_ to come unto me;' you
see you are particularly invited."

Ellen was a long time upstairs, and when she came down, it was
with red eyes.

Mrs. Montgomery was now awake, and asked for the reading
again; and for three-quarters of an hour Ellen and she were
quietly busy with the Bible. Nancy, meanwhile, was downstairs
washing the dairy things. When her grandmother released her,
Ellen had to go up to wait upon her aunt; after which, she
went into the buttery, and skimmed the cream, and got the pans
ready for the evening milk. By this time it was five o'clock,
and Nancy came in with the basket of dry clothes; at which
Ellen looked with the sorrowful consciousness that they must
be sprinkled and folded by-and-by, and ironed to-morrow. It
happened, however, that Jane Huff came in just then, with a
quantity of hot short-cake for tea; and seeing the basket, she
very kindly took the business of sprinkling and folding upon
herself. This gave Ellen spirits to carry out a plan she had
long had, to delight the whole family with some eggs,
scrambled in Margery's fashion; after the milk was strained
and put away, she went about it, while Nancy set the table. A
nice bed of coals was prepared; the spider set over them; the
eggs broken in, peppered and salted; and she began carefully
to stir them as she had seen Margery do. But instead of acting
right, the eggs maliciously stuck fast to the spider and
burned. Ellen was confounded.

"How much butter did you put in?" said Mr. Van Brunt, who had
come in, and stood looking on.

"Butter!" said Ellen, looking up; "oh, I forgot all about it —
I ought to have put that in, oughtn't I? — I'm sorry!"

"Never mind," said Mr. Van Brunt— " 'tain't worth your being
sorry about. Here Nancy — clean us off this spider, and we'll
try again."

At this moment Miss Fortune was heard screaming; Ellen ran up.

"What did she want?" said Mr. Van Brunt, when she came down
again.

"She wanted to know what was burning."

"Did you tell her?"

"Yes."

"Well, what did she say?"

"Said I mustn't use any more eggs without asking her."

"That ain't fair play," said Mr. Van Brunt; "you and I are the
head of the house now, I take it. You just use as many on 'em
as you've a mind; and all you spile, I'll fetch you again from
hum. That's you, Nancy! Now, Ellen, here's the spider; try it
again; let's have plenty of butter in this time, and plenty of
eggs, too."

This time the eggs were scrambled to a nicety, and the supper
met with great favour from all parties.

Ellen's day was done when the dishes were. The whole family
went early to bed. She was weary — but she could rest well.
She had made her old grandmother comfortable; she had kept the
peace with Nancy; she had pleased Mr. Van Brunt; she had
faithfully served her aunt. Her sleep was uncrossed by a
dream, untroubled by a single jar of conscience. And her
awaking to another day of labour, though by no means joyful,
was yet not unhopeful or unhappy.

She had a hard trial a day or two after. It was in the end of
the afternoon; she had her big apron on, and was in the
buttery skimming the milk, when she heard the kitchen door
open, and footsteps enter the kitchen. Out went little Ellen
to see who it was, and there stood Alice and old Mr. Marshman!
He was going to take Alice home with him the next morning, and
wanted Ellen to go too; and they had come to ask her. Ellen
knew it was impossible — that is, that it would not be right,
and she said so; and in spite of Alice's wistful look, and Mr.
Marshman's insisting, she stood her ground. Not without some
difficulty, and some glistening of the eyes. They had to give
it up. Mr. Marshman then wanted to know what she meant by
swallowing herself up in an apron in that sort of way? so
Ellen had him into the buttery, and showed him what she had
been about. He would see her skim several pans, and laughed at
her prodigiously; though there was a queer look about his
eyes, too, all the time. And when he went away, he held her in
his arms, and kissed her again and again; and said that "some
of these days he would take her away from her aunt, and she
should have her no more." Ellen stood and looked after them
till they were out of sight, and then went upstairs and had a
good cry.

The butter-making soon became quite too much for Ellen to
manage; so Jane Huff and Jenny Hitchcock were engaged to come
by turns, and do the heavy part of it; all within the buttery
being still left to Ellen, for Miss Fortune would have no one
else go there. It was a great help to have them take even so
much off her hands; and they often did some other little odd
jobs for her. The milk, however, seemed to increase as fast as
the days grew longer, and Ellen could not find that she was
much less busy. The days were growing pleasant, too; soft airs
began to come; the grass was of a beautiful green; the buds on
the branches began to swell, and on some trees to put out.
When Ellen had a moment of time she used to run across the
chip-yard to the barn, or round the garden, or down to the
brook, and drink in the sweet air, and the lovely sights,
which never had seemed quite so lovely before. If once in a
while she could get half an hour before tea, she used to take
her book and sit down on the threshold of the front door, or
on the big log under the apple-tree, in the chip-yard. In
those minutes the reading was doubly sweet; or else, the
loveliness of earth and sky was such, that Ellen could not
take her eyes from them, till she saw Sam or Johnny coming out
of the cow-house door with the pails of milk, or heard their
heavy tramp over the chips — then she had to jump and run.
Those were sweet half-hours. Ellen did not at first know how
much reason she had to be delighted with her _Pilgrim's
Progress:_ she saw, to be sure, that it was a fine copy, well-
bound, with beautiful cuts. But when she came to look further,
she found all through the book, on the margin, or at the
bottom of the leaves, in John's beautiful hand-writing, a
great many notes; simple, short, plain, exactly what was
needed to open the whole book to her, and make it of the
greatest possible use and pleasure. Many things she remembered
hearing from his lips when they were reading it together;
there was a large part of the book where all was new; the part
he had not had time to finish. How Ellen loved the book and
the giver, when she found these beautiful notes, it is
impossible to tell. She counted it her greatest treasure, next
to her little red Bible.


CHAPTER XXXVI.

The Brownie.


In the course of time Miss Fortune showed signs of mending;
and at last, towards the latter end of April, she was able to
come downstairs. All parties hailed this event, for different
reasons; even Nancy was growing tired of her regular life, and
willing to have a change. Ellen's joy was, however, soon
diminished by the terrible rummaging which took place. Miss
Fortune's hands were yet obliged to lie still, but her eyes
did double duty; _they_ were never known to be idle in the best
of times, and it seemed to Ellen now as if they were taking
amends for all their weeks of forced rest. Oh, those eyes!
Dust was found where Ellen never dreamed of looking for any —
things were said to be dreadfully "in the way" where she had
never found it out — disorder and dirt were groaned over,
where Ellen did not know the fact, or was utterly ignorant how
to help it — waste was suspected where none had been, and
carelessness charged where rather praise was due. Impatient to
have things to her mind, and as yet unable to do anything
herself, Miss Fortune kept Nancy and Ellen running, till both
wished her back in bed; and even Mr. Van Brunt grumbled, that
"to pay Ellen for having grown white and poor, her aunt was
going to work the little flesh she had left off her bones." It
was rather hard to bear, just when she was looking for ease,
too — her patience and temper were more tried than in all
those weeks before. But if there was small pleasure in
pleasing her aunt, Ellen did earnestly wish to please God: she
struggled against ill-temper, prayed against it, and, though
she often blamed herself in secret, she did so go through that
week as to call forth Mr. Van Brunt's admiration, and even to
stir a little the conscience of her aunt. Mr. Van Brunt
comforted her with the remark, that "it is darkest just before
day;" and so it proved. Before the week was at an end, Miss
Fortune began, as she expressed it, to "take hold:" Jenny
Hitchcock and Jane Huff were excused from any more butter-
making; Nancy was sent away; Ellen's labours were much
lightened; and the house was itself again.

The third of May came. For the first time in near two months,
Ellen found in the afternoon she could be spared awhile; there
was no need to think twice what she would do with her leisure.
Perhaps Margery could tell her something of Alice! Hastily and
joyfully she exchanged her working frock for a merino, put on
nice shoes and stockings, and ruffle again, and taking her
bonnet and gloves to put on out of doors, away she ran. Who
can tell how pleasant it seemed, after so many weeks, to be
able to walk abroad again, and to walk to the mountain! Ellen
snuffed the sweet air, skipped on the green sward, picked
nosegays of grass and dandelions, and at last, unable to
contain herself, set off to run. Fatigue soon brought this to
a stop; then she walked more leisurely on, enjoying. It was a
lovely spring day. Ellen's eyes were gladdened by it; she felt
thankful in her heart that God had made everything so
beautiful; she thought it was pleasant to think _He_ had made
them, pleasant to see in them everywhere so much of the
wisdom, and power, and goodness, of Him she looked up to with
joy as her best friend. She felt quietly happy, and sure He
would take care of her. Then a thought of Alice came into her
head; she set off to run again, and kept it up this time till
she got to the old house and ran round the corner. She stopped
at the shed door, and went through into the lower kitchen.

"Why, Miss Ellen, dear!" exclaimed Margery — "if that isn't
you! Aren't you come in the _very_ nick of time! How _do_ you do?
I am very glad to see you — uncommon glad, to be sure. What
witch told you to come here just now? Run in; run into the
parlour, and see what you'll find there."

"Has Alice come back?" cried Ellen. But Margery only laughed
and said — "Run in!"

Up the steps, through the kitchen, and across the hall, Ellen
ran — burst open the parlour door — and was in Alice's arms.
There were others in the room, but Ellen did not seem to know
it, clinging to her, and holding her in a fast, glad embrace,
till Alice bade her look up, and attend to somebody else. And
then she was seized round the neck by little Ellen Chauncey!
and then came her mother, and then Miss Sophia. The two
children were overjoyed to see each other, while their joy was
touching to see, from the shade of sorrow in the one, and of
sympathy in the other. Ellen was scarcely less glad to see
kind Mrs. Chauncey; Miss Sophia's greeting, too, was very
affectionate. But Ellen returned to Alice, and rested herself
in her lap, with one arm round her neck, the other hand being
in little Ellen's grasp.

"And now you are happy, I suppose?" said Miss Sophia, when
they were thus placed.

"Very," said Ellen, smiling.

"Ah, but you'll be happier by-and-by," said Ellen Chauncey.

"Hush, Ellen!" said Miss Sophia; — "what curious things
children are! — You didn't expect to find us all here, did
you, Ellen Montgomery?"

"No, indeed, Ma'am," said Ellen, drawing Alice's cheek nearer
for another kiss.

"We have but just come, Ellie," said her sister. "I should not
have been long in finding you out. My child, how thin you have
got."

"Oh, I'll grow fat again now," said Ellen.

"How is Miss Fortune?"

"Oh, she is up again and well."

"Have you any reason to expect your father home, Ellen?" said
Mrs. Chauncey.

"Yes, Ma'am; — aunt Fortune says perhaps he will be here in a
week."

"Then you are very happy in looking forward, aren't you?" said
Miss Sophia, not noticing the cloud that had come over Ellen's
brow.

Ellen hesitated— coloured — coloured more — and finally, with
a sudden motion, hid her face against Alice.

"When did he sail, Ellie?" said Alice, gravely.

"In the _Duc d'Orleans_ — he said he would —"

"_When?_"

"The fifth of April. — Oh, I can't help it!" exclaimed Ellen,
failing in the effort to control herself; she clasped Alice as
if she feared even then the separating hand. Alice bent her
head down, and whispered words of comfort.

"Mamma!" said little Ellen Chauncey, under her breath, and
looking solemn to the last degree — "don't Ellen want to see
her father?"

"She's afraid that he may take her away where she will not be
with Alice any more; and you know she has no mother to go to."

"Oh!" said Ellen, with a very enlightened face; — "but he
won't, will he?"

"I hope not; I think not."

Cheered again, the little girl drew near, and silently took
one of Ellen's hands.

"We shall not be parted, Ellie," said Alice — "you need not
fear. If your father takes you away from your aunt Fortune, I
think it will be only to give you to me. You need not fear
yet."

"Mamma says so too, Ellen," said her little friend.

This was strong consolation. Ellen looked up and smiled.

"Now come with me," said Ellen Chauncey, pulling her hand — "I
want you to show me something; let's go down to the garden—
come, exercise is good for you."

"No, no," said her mother smiling — "Ellen has had exercise
enough lately; you mustn't take her down to the garden now;
you would find nothing there. Come here!"

A long whisper followed, which seemed to satisfy little Ellen,
and she ran out of the room. Some time passed in pleasant talk
and telling all that had happened since they had seen each
other; then little Ellen came back and called Ellen Montgomery
to the glass door, saying she wanted her to look at something.

"It is only a horse we brought with us," said Miss Sophia.
"Ellen thinks it is a great beauty, and can't rest till you
have seen it."

Ellen went accordingly to the door. There, to be sure, was
Thomas before it, holding a pony bridled and saddled. He was
certainly a very pretty, little creature; brown all over
except one white forefoot; his coat shone, it was so glossy;
his limbs were fine; his eye gentle and bright; his tail long
enough to please the children. He stood as quiet as a lamb,
whether Thomas held him or not.

"Oh, what a beauty!" said Ellen — "what a lovely little
horse!"

"Ain't he!" said Ellen Chauncey — "and he goes so beautifully
besides, and never starts nor nothing; and he is as good-
natured as a little dog."

"As a _good-natured_ little dog, she means, Ellen," said Miss
Sophia — "there are little dogs of very various character."

"Well, he looks good-natured," said Ellen. "What a pretty
head! — and what a beautiful new side-saddle, and all! I never
saw such a dear little horse in my life. Is it yours, Alice?"

"No," said Alice, "it is a present to a friend of Mr.
Marshman's."

"She'll be a very happy friend, I should think," said Ellen.

"That's what I said," said Ellen Chauncey, dancing up and down
— "that's what I said. I said you'd be happier by-and-by,
didn't I?"

"I?" said Ellen, colouring.

"Yes, you — you are the friend it is for; it's for you, it's
for you! You are Grandpa's friend, aren't you?" she repeated,
springing upon Ellen, and hugging her up in an ecstasy of
delight.

"But it isn't really for me, is it?" said Ellen, now looking
almost pale — "oh, Alice!"

"Come, come," said Miss Sophia — "what will Papa say if I tell
him you received his present so? — come, hold up your head!
Put on your bonnet and try him — come, Ellen! let's see you."

Ellen did not know whether to cry or laugh — till she mounted
the pretty pony; that settled the matter. Not Ellen Chauncey's
unspeakable delight was as great as her own. She rode slowly
up and down before the house, and once a-going would not have
known how to stop if she had not recollected that the pony had
travelled thirty miles that day, and must be tired. Ellen took
not another turn after that. She jumped down, and begged
Thomas to take the tenderest care of him; patted his neck; ran
into the kitchen to beg of Margery a piece of bread to give
him from her hand; examined the new stirrup and housings, and
the pony all over a dozen times; and after watching him as
Thomas led him off, till he was out of sight, finally came
back into the house with a face of marvellous contentment. She
tried to fashion some message of thanks for the kind giver of
the pony; but she wanted to express so much that no words
would do. Mrs. Chauncey, however, smiled, and assured her she
knew exactly what to say.

"That pony has been destined for you, Ellen," she said, "this
year and more; but my father waited to have him thoroughly
well broken. You need not be afraid of him! he is perfectly
gentle and well-trained; if he had not been sure of that, my
father would never have sent him — though Mr. John is making
such a horsewoman of you."

"I wish I could thank him," said Ellen, "but I don't know
how."

"What will you call him, Ellen," said Miss Sophia. "My father
has dubbed him 'George Marshman;' — he says you will like
that, as my brother is such a favourite of yours."

"He didn't _really_, did he?" said Ellen, looking from Sophia to
Alice. "I needn't call him that, need I?"

"Not unless you like," said Miss Sophia, laughing — "you may
change it, but what _will_ you call him?"

"I don't know," said Ellen, very gravely — "he must have a
name, to be sure."

"But why don't you call him that?" said Ellen Chauncey;
"George is a very pretty name — I like that. I should call him
'Uncle George.' "

"Oh, I couldn't!" said Ellen — "I couldn't call him so; I
shouldn't like it at all."

"George Washington?" said Mrs. Chauncey.

"No, indeed!" said Ellen. "I guess I wouldn't!"

"Why, is it too good, or not good enough?" said Miss Sophia.

"Too good! A great deal too good for a horse. I wouldn't for
anything."

"How would Brandywine do, then, since you are so patriotic?"
said Miss Sophia, looking amused.

"What is 'patriotic?' " said Ellen.

"A patriot, Ellen," said Alice, smiling — "is one who has a
strong and true love for his country."

"I don't know whether I am patriotic," said Ellen, "but I
won't call him Brandywine. Why, Miss Sophia?"

"No, I wouldn't either," said Ellen Chauncey; — "it isn't a
pretty name. Call him Seraphine! — like Miss Angell's pony —
_that's_ pretty."

"No, no — 'Seraphine!' nonsense!" said Miss Sophia; — "call
him Benedict Arnold, Ellen; and then it will be a relief to
your mind to whip him."

"Whip him!" said Ellen; "I don't want to whip him, I am sure;
and I should be afraid too, besides."

"Hasn't John taught you that lesson, yet?" said the young
lady; "he is perfect in it himself. Do you remember, Alice,
the chastising he gave that fine black horse of ours we called
the 'Black Prince' — a beautiful creature he was — more that a
year ago? My conscience! he frightened me to death."

"I remember," said Alice; "I remember I could not look on."

"What did he do that for?" said Ellen.

"What's the matter, Ellen Montgomery?" said Miss Sophia,
laughing; "where did you get that long face? Are you thinking
of John or the horse?"

Ellen's eyes turned to Alice.

"My dear Ellen," said Alice, smiling, though she spoke
seriously — "it was necessary; it sometimes is necessary to do
such things. You do not suppose John would do it cruelly or
unnecessarily?"

Ellen's face shortened considerably.

"But what had the horse been doing?"

"He had not been doing anything; he would _not_ do — that was
the trouble; he was as obstinate as a mule."

"My dear Ellen," said Alice, "it was no such terrible matter
as Sophia's words have made you believe. It was a clear case
of obstinacy. The horse was resolved to have his own way, and
not do what his rider required of him; it was necessary that
either the horse or the man should give up; and as John has no
fancy for giving up, he carried his point — partly by
management, partly, I confess, by a judicious use of the whip
and spur; but there was no such furious flagellation as Sophia
seems to mean, and which a good horse-man would scarce be
guilty of."

"A very determined 'use,' " said Miss Sophia. "I advise you,
Ellen, not to trust your pony to Mr. John; he will have no
mercy on him."

"Sophia is laughing, Ellen," said Alice. "You and I know John,
do we not?"

"Then he did right?" said Ellen.

"Perfectly right — except in mounting the horse at all, which
I never wished him to do. No one on the place would ride him."

"He carried John beautifully all the day after that though,"
said Miss Sophia, "and I dare say he might have ridden him to
the end of the chapter if you would have let papa give him to
him. But he was of no use to anybody else. Howard couldn't
manage him — I suppose he was too lazy. Papa was delighted
enough that day to have given John anything. And I can tell
you, Black Prince the second is spirited enough; I am afraid
you won't like him."

"John has a present of a horse, too, Ellen," said Alice.

"Has he? — from Mr. Marshman?"

"Yes."

"I'm very glad! Oh, what rides we can take now, can't we,
Alice? We shan't want to borrow Jenny's pony any more. What
kind of a horse is Mr. John's?"

"Black — perfectly black."

"Is he handsome?"

"Very."

"Is his name Black Prince?"

"Yes."

Ellen began to consider the possibility of calling her pony
the Brown Princess, or by some similar title — the name of
John's two chargers seeming the very most striking a horse
could be known by.

"Don't forget, Alice," said Mrs. Chauncey, "to tell John to
stop for him on his way home. It will give us a chance of
seeing him, which is not a common pleasure, in any sense of
the term."

They went back to the subject of the name, which Ellen
pondered with uneasy visions of John and her poor pony
flitting through her head. The little horse was very hard to
fit, or else Ellen's taste was very hard to suit; a great many
names were proposed, none of which were to her mind, Charley,
and Cherry, and Brown, and Dash, and Jumper — but she said
they had "John" and "Jenny" already in Thirlwall, and she
didn't want a "Charley." "Brown" was not pretty, and she hoped
he wouldn't "dash" at anything, nor be a "jumper" when she was
on his back. "Cherry" she mused awhile about, but it wouldn't
do.

"Call him Fairy," said Ellen Chauncey — "that's a pretty name.
Mamma says she used to have a horse called Fairy. Do, Ellen!
call him Fairy."

"No," said Ellen; "he can't have a lady's name — that's the
trouble."

"I have it, Ellen!" said Alice — "I have a name for you — call
him the Brownie."

" 'The Brownie?' " said Ellen.

"Yes — brownies are male fairies; and brown is his colour; so
how will that do?"

It was soon decided that it would do very well. It was simple,
descriptive, and not common: Ellen made up her mind that 'The
Brownie' should be his name. No sooner given, it began to grow
dear. Ellen's face quitted its look of anxious gravity, and
came out into the broadest and fullest satisfaction. She never
showed joy boisterously; but there was a light in her eye
which brought many a smile into those of her friends as they
sat round the tea-table.

After tea it was necessary to go home, much to the sorrow of
all parties. Ellen knew, however, it would not do to stay;
Miss Fortune was but just got well, and perhaps already
thinking herself ill-used. She put on her things.

"Are you going to take your pony home with you?" said Miss
Sophia.

"Oh, no, Ma'am, not to-night. I must see about a place for
him; and, besides, poor fellow, he is tired, I dare say."

"I do believe you would take more care of his legs than of
your own," said Miss Sophia.

"But you'll be here to-morrow early, Ellie?"

"Oh, won't I?" exclaimed Ellen, as she sprang to Alice's neck
— "as early as I can, at least; I don't know when Aunt Fortune
will have done with me."

The way home seemed as nothing. If she was tired, she did not
know it. The Brownie! the Brownie! — the thought of him
carried her as cleverly over the ground as his very back would
have done. She came running into the chip-yard.

"Hollo!" cried Mr. Van Brunt, who was standing under the
apple-tree, cutting a piece of wood for the tongue of the ox-
cart, which had been broken — "I'm glad to see you _can_ run. I
was afeard you'd hardly be able to stand by this time; but
there you come like a young deer!"

"Oh, Mr. Van Brunt," said Ellen, coming close up to him, and
speaking in an undertone— "you don't know what a present I
have had! What do you think, Mr. Marshman has sent me from
Ventnor?"

"Couldn't guess," said Mr. Van Brunt, resting the end of his
pole on the log, and chipping at it with his hatchet — "never
guessed anything in my life — what is it?"

"He has sent me the most beautiful little horse you ever saw!
— for my own — for me to ride; and a beautiful saddle and
bridle; you never saw anything so beautiful, Mr. Van Brunt; he
is all brown, with one white fore-foot, and I've named him the
'Brownie;' and oh, Mr. Van Brunt! Do you think Aunt Fortune
will let him come here?"

Mr. Van Brunt chipped away at his pole, looking very good-
humoured.

"Because you know I couldn't have half the good of him if he
had to stay away from me up on the mountain. I shall want to
ride him every day. Do you think aunt Fortune will let him be
kept here, Mr. Van Brunt?"

"I guess she will," said Mr. Van Brunt, soberly, and his tone
said to Ellen, "_I_ will, if she don't."

"Then will you ask her and see about it, if you please, Mr.
Van Brunt! I'd rather you would. And you won't have him put to
plough or anything, will you, Mr. Van Brunt? Miss Sophia says
it would spoil him."

"I'll plough myself first," said Mr. Van Brunt, with his half-
smile; — "there shan't be a hair of his coat turned the wrong
way. _I'll_ see to him — as if he was a prince."

"Oh, thank you, dear Mr. Van Brunt! How good you are! Then I
shall not speak about him at all till you do, remember. I am
_very_ much obliged to you, Mr. Van Brunt!"

Ellen ran in. She got a chiding for her long stay, but it fell
upon ears that could not hear. The Brownie came like a shield
between her and all trouble. She smiled at her aunt's hard
words as if they had been sugar-plums. And her sleep that
night might have been prairie land, for the multitude of
horses of all sorts that chased through it.

"Have you heerd the news?" said Mr. Van Brunt, when he had got
his second cup of coffee at breakfast next morning.

"No," said Miss Fortune. "What news?"

"There ain't as much news as there used to be when I was
young," said the old lady; "seems to me I don't hear nothing
now-a-days."

"You might if you'd keep your ears open, mother. _What_ news,
Mr. Van Brunt?"

"Why, here's Ellen's got a splendid little horse sent her a
present from some of her great friends — Mr. Marshchalk—"

"Mr. Marshman," said Ellen.

"Mr. Marshman. There ain't the like in the country, as I've
heerd tell; and I expect next thing she'll be flying over all
the fields and fences like smoke."

There was a meaning silence. Ellen's heart beat.

"What's going to be done with him, do you suppose?" said Miss
Fortune. Her look said, "If you think I am coming round, you
are mistaken."

"Humph!" said Mr. Van Brunt, slowly — "I s'pose he'll eat
grass in the meadow, and there'll be a place fixed for him in
the stables."

"Not in _my_ stables," said the lady, shortly.

"No — in mine," said Mr. Van Brunt, half-smiling; "and I'll
settle with you about it by-and-by — when we square up our
accounts."

Miss Fortune was very much vexed, Ellen could see that; but
she said no more, good or bad, about the matter; so the
Brownie was allowed to take quiet possession of meadow and
stables, to his mistress's unbounded joy.

Anybody that knew Mr. Van Brunt would have been surprised to
hear what he said that morning; for he was thought to be quite
as keen a looker after the main chance as Miss Fortune
herself, only somehow it was never laid against him as it was
against her. However that might be, it was plain he took
pleasure in keeping his word about the pony. Ellen herself
couldn't have asked more careful kindness for her favourite
than the Brownie had from every man and boy about the farm.


CHAPTER XXXVII.

Timothy and his master.


Captain Montgomery did _not_ come the next week, nor the week
after; and what is more, the _Duck Dorleens_, as his sister
called the ship in which he had taken passage, was never heard
of from that time. She sailed duly on the fifth of April, as
they learnt from the papers; but whatever became of her, she
never reached port. It remained a doubt whether Captain
Montgomery had actually gone in her; and Ellen had many weeks
of anxious watching, first for herself and then for news of
him, in case he were still in France. None ever came. Anxiety
gradually faded into uncertainty; and by midsummer, no doubt
of the truth remained in any mind. If Captain Montgomery had
been alive, he would certainly have written, if not before, on
learning the fate of the vessel in which he had told his
friends to expect him home.

Ellen rather felt that she was an orphan, than that she had
lost her father. She had never learned to love him, he had
never given her much cause. Comparatively a small portion of
her life had been passed in his society, and she looked back
to it as the least agreeable of all; and it had not been
possible for her to expect with pleasure his return to
America, and visit to Thirlwall — she dreaded it. Life had
nothing now worse for her than a separation from Alice and
John Humphreys; she feared her father might take her away, and
put her in some dreadful boarding-school, or carry her about
the world wherever he went, a wretched wanderer from
everything good and pleasant. The knowledge of his death had
less pain for her than the removal of this fear brought
relief.

Ellen felt sometimes, soberly and sadly, that she was thrown
upon the wide world now. To all intents and purposes so she
had been a year and three-quarters before; but it was
something to have a father and mother living, even on the
other side of the world. Now, Miss Fortune was her sole
guardian and owner. However, she could hardly realize that,
with Alice and John so near at hand. Without reasoning much
about it, she felt tolerably secure that they would take care
of her interests, and make good their claim to interfere if
ever need were.

Ellen and her little horse grew more and more fond of each
other. This friendship, no doubt, was a comfort to the
Brownie; but to his mistress it made a large part of the
pleasure of her every-day life. To visit him was her delight,
at all hours, early and late; and it is to the Brownie's
credit that he always seemed as glad to see her as she was to
see him. At any time Ellen's voice would bring him from the
far end of the meadow where he was allowed to run. He would
come trotting up at her call, and stand to have her scratch
his forehead or pat him and talk to him; and though the
Brownie could not answer her speeches, he certainly seemed to
hear them with pleasure. Then throwing up his head he would
bound off, take a turn in the field, and come back again to
stand as still as a lamb as long as she stayed there herself.
Now and then, when she had a little more time, she would cross
the fence and take a walk with him; and there, with his nose
just at her elbow, wherever she went the Brownie went after
her. After a while there was no need that she should call him;
if he saw or heard her at a distance it was enough; he would
come running up directly. Ellen loved him dearly.

She gave him more proof of it than words and caresses. Many
were the apples and scraps of bread hoarded up for him; and if
these failed, Ellen sometimes took him a little salt, to show
him that he was not forgotten. There were not, certainly, many
scraps left at Miss Fortune's table; nor apples to be had at
home for such a purpose, except what she gathered up from the
poor ones that were left under the trees for the hogs; but
Ellen had other sources of supply. Once she had begged from
Jenny Hitchcook a waste bit that she was going to throw away;
Jenny found what she wanted to do with it, and after that,
many a basket of apples and many a piece of cold short-cake
was set by for her. Margery, too, remembered the Brownie when
disposing of her odds and ends; likewise did Mrs. Van Brunt;
so that among them all, Ellen seldom wanted something to give
him. Mr. Marshman did not know what happiness he was bestowing
when he sent her that little horse. Many, many were the hours
of enjoyment she had upon his back. Ellen went nowhere but
upon the Brownie. Alice made her a riding-dress of dark
gingham; and it was the admiration of the country to see her
trotting or cantering by, all alone, and always looking happy.
Ellen soon found that if the Brownie was to do her much good,
she must learn to saddle and bridle him herself. This was very
awkward at first, but there was no help for it. Mr. Van Brunt
showed her how to manage, and after a while it became quite
easy. She used to call the Brownie to the bar-place, put the
bridle on, and let him out; and then he would stand motionless
before her while she fastened the saddle on; looking round
sometimes, as if to make sure that it was herself, and giving
a little kind of satisfied neigh when he saw that it was.
Ellen's heart began to dance as soon as she felt him moving
under her; and once off and away on the docile and spirited
little animal, over the roads, through the lanes, up and down
the hills, her horse her only companion, but having the most
perfect understanding with him, both Ellen and the Brownie
cast care to the winds. "I do believe," said Mr. Van Brunt,
"that critter would a _leetle_ rather have Ellen on his back
than not." He was the Brownie's next best friend. Miss Fortune
never said anything to him or of him.

Ellen, however, reaped a reward for her faithful steadiness to
duty while her aunt was ill. Things were never after that as
they had been before. She was looked on with a different eye.
To be sure, Miss Fortune tasked her as much as ever, spoke as
sharply, was as ready to scold if anything went wrong; — all
that was just as it used to be; but beneath all that, Ellen
felt with great satisfaction that she was trusted and
believed. She was no longer an interloper, in everybody's way;
she was not watched and suspected; her aunt treated her as one
of the family, and a person to be depended on. It was a very
great comfort to little Ellen's life. Miss Fortune even owned
that "she believed she was an honest child, and meant to do
right" — a great deal from her; Miss Fortune was never over
forward to give any one the praise of _honesty_. Ellen now went
out and came in without feeling she was an alien. And though
her aunt was always bent on keeping herself and everybody else
at work, she did not now show any particular desire for
breaking off Ellen from her studies; and was generally
willing, when the work was pretty well done up, that she
should saddle the Brownie, and be off to Alice or Mrs. Vawse.

Though Ellen was happy, it was a sober kind of happiness — the
sun shining behind a cloud. And if others thought her so, it
was not because she laughed loudly or wore a merry face.

"I can't help but think," said Mrs. Van Brunt, "that that
child has something more to make her happy that what she gets
in this world."

There was a quilting party gathered that afternoon at Mrs. Van
Brunt's house.

"There is no doubt of that, neighbour," said Mrs. Vawse;
"nobody ever found enough here to make him happy yet."

"Well, I don't want to see a prettier girl that that," said
Mrs. Lowndes; "you'll never catch her, working at home or
riding along on that handsome little critter of her'n, that
she han't a pleasant look and a smile for you, and as pretty
behaved as can be. I never see her look sorrowful but once."

"Ain't that a pretty horse?" said Mimy Lawson.

"_I've_ seen her look sorrowful, though," said Sarah Lowndes;
"I've been up at the house when Miss Fortune was hustling
everybody round, and as sharp as vinegar, and you'd think it
would take Job's patience to stand it — and for all there
wouldn't be a bit of crossness in that child's face — she'd go
round, and not say a word that wasn't just so; you'd a thought
her bread was all spread with honey, and everybody knows it
ain't. I don't see how she could do it, for my part: I know _I_
couldn't."

"Ah, neighbour," said Mrs.Vawse, "Ellen looks higher than to
please her aunt; she tries to please her God; and one can bear
people's words or looks, when one is pleasing Him. She is a
dear child!"

"And there's 'Brahm," said Mrs. Van Brunt; "he thinks the hull
world of her. I never see him take so to any one. There ain't
an airthly thing he wouldn't do to please her. If she was his
own child, I've no idee he could set her up more than he
does."

"Very well!" said Nancy, coming up — "good reason! Ellen don't
set him up any, does she? I wish you'd just seen her once, the
time when Miss Fortune was a-bed — the way she'd look out for
him! Mr. Van Brunt's as good as at home in that house, sure
enough; whoever's down-stairs."

"Bless her dear little heart!" said his mother.

"A good name is better than precious ointment."

August had come, and John was daily expected home. One morning
Miss Fortune was in the lower kitchen, up to the elbows in
making a rich fall cheese; Ellen was busy upstairs, when her
aunt shouted to her to "come and see what was all that
splashing and crashing in the garden." Ellen ran out.

"Oh, Aunt Fortune," said she — "Timothy has broken down the
fence, and got in."

"Timothy!" said Miss Fortune — "what Timothy?"

"Why, Timothy, the near ox," said Ellen, laughing; "he has
knocked down the fence over there where it was low, you know."

"The near ox?" said Miss Fortune — "I wish he warn't quite, so
near this time. Look! he'll be at the corn, and over every
thing. Run and drive him into the barnyard, can't you?"

But Ellen stood still, and shook her head. "He wouldn't stir
for me," she said; "and besides, I am as afraid of that ox as
can be. If it was Clover, I wouldn't mind."

"But he'll have every bit of the corn eaten up in five
minutes! Where's Mr. Van Brunt?"

"I heard him say he was going home till noon," said Ellen.

"And Sam Larkens is gone to the mill — and Johnny Low is laid
up with the shakes. Very careless of Mr. Van Brunt!" said Miss
Fortune, drawing her arms out of the cheese-tub, and wringing
off the whey — "I wish he'd mind his own oxen. There was no
business to be a low place in the fence! Well come along! you
ain't afraid with me, I suppose."

Ellen followed, at a respectful distance. Miss Fortune,
however, feared the face of neither man nor beast; she pulled
up a bean pole, and made such a show of fight, that Timothy,
after looking at her a little, fairly turned tail, and marched
out at the breach he had made. Miss Fortune went after, and
rested not till she had driven him quite into the meadow; —
get him into the barnyard she could not.

"You ain't worth a straw, Ellen!" said she, when she came
back; "couldn't you ha' headed him, and driv' him into the
barnyard? Now that plaguy beast will just be back again by the
time I get well to work. He han't done much mischief yet —
there's Mr. Van Brunt's salary he's made a pretty mess of —
I'm glad on't! He should ha' put potatoes, as I told him. I
don't know what's to be done — I can't be leaving my cheese to
run and mind the garden every minute, if it was full of
Timothys; and _you'd_ be scared if a mosquito flew at you; you
had better go right off for Mr. Van Brunt, and fetch him
straight home — serve him right! he has no business to leave
things so. Run along, and don't let the grass grow under your
feet!"

Ellen wisely thought her pony's feet would do the business
quicker. She ran and put on her gingham dress, and saddled and
bridled the Brownie in three minutes; but, before setting off,
she had to scream to her aunt that Timothy was just coming
round the corner of the barn again; and Miss Fortune rushed
out to the garden as Ellen and the Brownie walked down to the
gate.

The weather was fine, and Ellen thought with herself, it was
an ill wind that blew no good. She was getting a nice ride in
the early morning, that she would not have had but for
Timothy's lawless behaviour. To ride at that time was
particularly pleasant and rare; and, forgetting how she had
left poor Miss Fortune, between the ox and the cheese-tub,
Ellen and the Brownie cantered on in excellent spirits.

She looked in vain, as she passed his grounds, to see Mr. Van
Brunt in the garden or about the barn. She went on to the
little gate of the courtyard, dismounted, and led the Brownie
in. Here she was met by Nancy, who came running from the way
of the barnyard.

"How d'ye do, Nancy?" said Ellen; — "where's Mr. Van Brunt?"

"Goodness, Ellen! — what do you want?"

"I want Mr. Van Brunt — where is he?"

"Mr. Van Brunt! he's out in the barn; but he's used himself
up."

"Used himself up; what do you mean?"

"Why, he's fixed himself in fine style — he's fell though the
trapdoor, and broke his leg."

"Oh, Nancy!" screamed Ellen — "he hasn't! How could he?"

"Why, easy enough, if he didn't look where he was going —
there's so much hay on the floor. But it's a pretty bad place
to fall."

"How do you know his leg is broken?"

" 'Cause he says so, and anybody with eyes can see it must be.
I'm going over to Hitchcock's to get somebody to come and help
in with him; for you know me and Mrs. Van Brunt ain't
Samsons."

"Where is Mrs. Van Brunt?"

"She 's out there, in a terrible to-do."

Nancy sped on to the Hitchcock's; and, greatly frightened and
distressed, Ellen ran over to the barn, trembling like an
aspen. Mr. Van Brunt was lying in the lower floor, just where
he had fallen, one leg doubled under him in such a way as left
no doubt it must be broken. He had lain there some time before
any one found him; and on trying to change his position, when
he saw his mother's distress, he had fainted from pain. She
sat by, weeping most bitterly. Ellen could bear but one look
at Mr. Van Brunt — that one sickened her. She went up to his
poor mother, and, getting down on her knees by her side, put
both arms round her neck.

"_Don't_ cry so, dear Mrs. Van Brunt" (Ellen was crying so she
could hardly speak herself), — "pray don't do so! — he'll be
better — oh, what shall we do?"

"Oh, ain't it dreadful!" said poor Mrs. Van Brunt; —
"oh,'Brahm, 'Brahm! My son, my son! — the best son that ever
was to me — oh, to see him there; ain't it dreadful? he's
dying!"

"Oh, no, he isn't," said Ellen — "oh, no, he isn't! what shall
we do, Mrs. Van Brunt? — what shall we do?"

"The doctor!" said Mrs. Van Brunt — "he said 'send for the
doctor;' — but I can't go, and there's nobody to send. Oh,
he'll die! Oh, my dear 'Brahm! I wish it was me!"

"What doctor?" said Ellen — "I'll find somebody to go — what
doctor?"

"Dr. Gibson, he said; but he's away off to Thirlwall; and he's
been lying here all the morning a'ready! — nobody found him —
he couldn't make us hear. Oh, isn't it dreadful!"

"Oh, don't cry so, dear Mrs. Van Brunt," said Ellen, pressing
her cheek to the poor old lady's; — "he'll be better — he
will! I've got the Brownie here and I'll ride over to Mrs.
Hitchcock's and get somebody to go right away for the doctor.
I won't be long — we'll have him here in a little while! _don't_
feel so bad!"

"You're a dear blessed darling!" said the old lady, hugging
and kissing her — "if ever there was one. Make haste, dear, if
you love him! — he loves you."

Ellen stayed but to give another kiss. Trembling so that she
could hardly stand, she made her way back to the house, led
out the Brownie again, and set off, full speed for Mrs.
Hitchcock's. It was well her pony was sure-footed, for,
letting the reins hang, Ellen bent over his neck, crying
bitterly, only urging him now and then to greater speed; till
at length the feeling that she had something to do came to her
help. She straightened herself, gathered up her reins, and by
the time she reached Mrs. Hitchcock's, was looking calm again,
though very sad and very earnest. She did not alight, but
stopped before the door, and called Jenny. Jenny came out,
expressing her pleasure.

"Dear Jenny," said Ellen — "isn't there somebody here that
will go right off to Thirlwall for Dr. Gibson? Mr. Van Brunt
has broken his leg, I am afraid, and wants the doctor
directly."

"Why, dear Ellen," said Jenny, "the men have just gone off
this minute to Mrs. Van Brunt's. Nancy was here for them to
come and help move him in a great hurry. How did it happen? I
couldn't get anything out of Nancy."

"He fell down through the trap-door. But, dear Jenny, isn't
there _anybody_ about? Oh," said Ellen, clasping her hands — "I
want somebody to go for the doctor _so_ much!"

"There ain't a living soul!" said Jenny; "two of the men and
all the teams are 'way on the other side of the hill,
ploughing, and pa, and June, and Black Bill have gone over, as
I told you; but I don't believe they'll be enough. Where's his
leg broke?"

"I didn't meet them," said Ellen; "I came away only a little
while after Nancy."

"They went 'cross lots, I guess — that's how it was; and
that's the way Nancy got the start of you."

"What shall I do?" said Ellen. She could not bear to wait till
they returned; if she rode back she might miss them again,
besides the delay; and then a man on foot would make a long
journey of it. Jenny told her of a house or two where she
might try for a messenger; but they were strangers to her —
she could not make up her mind to ask such a favour of them.
Her friends were too far out of the way.

"I'll go myself!" she said, suddenly. "Tell 'em, dear Jenny,
will you, that I have gone for Dr. Gibson, and that I'll bring
him back as quick as ever I can. I know the road to
Thirlwall."

"But Ellen! you mustn't," said Jenny; "I am afraid to have you
go all that way alone. Wait till the men come back — they
won't be long."

"No, I can't, Jenny," said Ellen, — "I can't wait; I must go.
You needn't be afraid. Tell 'em I'll be as quick as I can."

"But see, Ellen!" cried Jenny as she was moving off, — "I
don't like to have you!"

"I must, Jenny. Never mind."

"But see, Ellen!" cried Jenny again, — "if you _will_ go — if
you don't find Dr. Gibson, just get Dr. Marshchalk — he's
every bit as good, and some folks think he's better; — he'll
do just as well. Good-bye!"

Ellen nodded and rode off. There was a little fluttering of
the heart at taking so much upon herself; she had never been
to Thirlwall but once since the first time she saw it. But she
thought of Mr. Van Brunt, suffering for help which could not
be obtained, and it was impossible for her to hesitate. "I am
sure I am doing right," she thought; "and what is there to be
afraid of? If I ride two miles alone, why shouldn't I four?
And I am doing right — God will take care of me." Ellen
earnestly asked him to do so; and after that she felt pretty
easy. "Now, dear Brownie," said she, patting his neck, — "you
and I have work to do to-day; behave like a good little horse
as you are." The Brownie answered with a little cheerful kind
of neigh, as much as to say, Never fear me! — They trotted on
nicely.

But nothing could help that's being a disagreeable ride. Do
what she would, Ellen felt a little afraid when she found
herself on a long piece of road where she had never been alone
before. There were not many houses on the way; the few there
were looked strange. Ellen did not know exactly where she was,
or how near the end of her journey; it seemed a long one. She
felt rather lonely; a little shy of meeting people, and yet a
little unwilling to have the intervals between them so very
long. She repeated to herself, "I am doing right — God will
take care of me." Still there was a nervous trembling at
heart. Sometimes she would pat her pony's neck, and say, "Trot
on, dear Brownie, we'll soon be there!" — by way of cheering
herself: for certainly the Brownie needed no cheering, and was
trotting on bravely. Then the thought of Mr. Van Brunt, as she
had seen him lying on the barn floor, made her feel sick and
miserable; many tears fell during her ride, when she
remembered him. "Heaven will be a good place," thought little
Ellen, as she went; "there will be no sickness, no pain, no
sorrow; but Mr. Van Brunt — I wonder if he is fit to go to
heaven?" This was a new matter of thought and uneasiness, not
now for the first time, in Ellen's mind; and so the time
passed, till she crossed the bridge over the little river, and
saw the houses of Thirlwall stretching away in the distance.
Then she felt comfortable.

Long before, she had bethought her that she did not know where
to find Dr. Gibson, and had forgotten to ask Jenny. For one
instant Ellen drew bridle, but it was too far to go back, and
she recollected anybody could tell her where the doctor lived.
When she got to Thirlwall, however, Ellen found that she did
not like to ask _anybody_. She remembered her old friend Mrs.
Forbes, of the Star inn, and resolved she would go there, in
the first place. She rode slowly up the street, looking
carefully till she came to the house. There was no mistaking
it; there was the very same big star over the front door, that
had caught her eye from the coach-window, and there was the
very same boy or man, Sam, lounging on the sidewalk. Ellen
reigned up, and asked him to ask Mrs. Forbes if she would be
so good as to come out to her for one minute. Sam gave her a
long Yankee look and disappeared, coming back again directly
with the landlady.

"How d'ye do, Mrs. Forbes?" said Ellen, holding out her hand;
"don't you know me? I am Ellen Montgomery — that you were so
kind to, and gave me bread and milk when I first came here —
Miss Fortune's —"

"Oh, bless your dear little heart!" cried the landlady; "don't
I know you! and ain't I glad to see you! I must have a kiss.
Bless you! I couldn't mistake you in Jerusalem; but the sun
was in my eyes, in that way I was a'most blind. But ain't you
grown, though! Forget you? I guess I han't! There's one o'
your friends wouldn't let me do that in a hurry. If I han't
seen you, I've heered on you. But what are you sitting there
in the sun for? Come in — come in — and I'll give you
something better than bread and milk this time. Come! jump
down."

"Oh, I can't, Mrs. Forbes," said Ellen, "I am in a great
hurry; Mr. Van Brunt has broken his leg, and I want to find
the doctor."

"Mr. Van Brunt!" cried the landlady. "Broken his leg! The
land's sakes! how did he do that? _he_, too!"

"He fell down through the trap-door in the barn; and I want to
get Dr. Gibson, as soon as I can, come to him. Where does he
live, Mrs. Forbes?"

"Dr. Gibson? you won't catch him to hum, dear; he's flying
round somewheres. But how come the trap-door to be open? and
how happened Mr. Van Brunt not to see it afore he put his foot
in it? Dear! I declare I'm real sorry to hear you tell. How
happened it, darlin'? I'm cur'ous to hear."

"I don't know, Mrs. Forbes," said Ellen, "but oh, where shall
I find Dr. Gibson? Do tell me! — he ought to be there now; —
oh, help me! where shall I go for him?"

"Well, I declare," said the landlady, stepping back a pace, "I
don't know as I can tell — there ain't no sort o' likelihood
that he's to hum this time o' day. Sam! you lazy feller, you
han't got nothing to do but gape at folks — ha' you seen the
doctor go by this forenoon?"

"I seen him go down to Mis' Perriman's," said Sam, — "Mis'
Perriman was a-dyin', Jim Barstow said."

"How long since?" said his mistress.

But Sam shuffled and shuffled, looked every way but at Ellen
or Mrs. Forbes, and "didn' know."

"Well, then," said Mrs. Forbes, turning to Ellen, "I don' know
but you might about as well go down to the post-office; but,
if _I_ was you, I'd just get Dr. Marshchalk instead. He's a
smarter man than Dr. Gibson any day in the year; and he ain't
quite so awful high neither, and that's something. _I'd_ get Dr.
Marshchalk; they say there ain't the like o' him in the
country for settin' bones; it's quite a gift; he takes to it
natural like."

But Ellen said Mr. Van Brunt wanted Dr. Gibson, and if she
could she must find him.

"Well," said Mrs. Forbes, "every one has their fancies; I
wouldn't let Dr. Gibson come near me with a pair of tongs; but
anyhow, if you must have him, your best way is to go right
straight down to the post-office, and ask for him there, maybe
you'll catch him."

"Thank you, Ma'am," said Ellen; "where is the post-office?"

"It's that white-faced house down street," said the landlady,
pointing with her finger where Ellen saw no lack of white-
faced houses; "you see that big red store, with the man
standing out in front? — the next white house below that is
Mis' Perriman's; just run right in and ask for Dr. Gibson.
Good-bye, dear — I'm real sorry you can't come in — that first
white house."

Glad to get free, Ellen rode smartly down to the post-office.
Nobody before the door; there was nothing for it but to get
off here and go in; she did not know the people either. "Never
mind, wait for me a minute, dear Brownie, like a good little
horse as you are!"

No fear of the Brownie. He stood as if he did not mean to
budge again in a century. At first going in, Ellen saw nobody
in the post-office; presently, at an opening in a kind of
boxed-up place in one corner, a face looked out and asked what
she wanted.

"Is Dr. Gibson here?"

"No," said the owner of the face, with a disagreeable kind of
smile.

"Isn't this Miss Perriman's house?"

"You are in the right box, my dear, and no mistake," said the
young man; "but then it ain't Dr. Gibson's house, you know."

"Can you tell me, Sir, where I can find him?"

"Can't indeed; the doctor never tells me where he is going,
and I never ask him. I am sorry I didn't this morning, for
your sake."

The way, and the look, made the words extremely disagreeable;
and, furthermore, Ellen had an uncomfortable feeling that
neither was new to her. Where _had_ she seen the man before? she
puzzled herself to think. Where but in a dream had she seen
that bold, ill-favoured face, that horrible smile, that sandy
hair? She knew! It was Mr. Saunders, the man who had sold her
the merino at St. Clair and Fleury's. She knew him; and she
was very sorry to see that he knew her. All she desired now,
was to get out of the house and away; but on turning she saw
another man, older and respectable-looking, whose face
encouraged her to ask again if Dr. Gibson was there. He was
not, the man said; he had been there and gone.

"Do you know where I should be likely to find him, Sir?"

"No, I don't," said he; "who wants him?"

"I want to see him, Sir."

"For yourself?"

"No, Sir; Mr. Van Brunt has broken his leg, and wants Dr.
Gibson to come directly and set it."

"Mr. Van Brunt!" said he — "Farmer Van Brunt that lives down
towards the Cat's Back? I'm very sorry! How did it happen?"

Ellen told as shortly as possible, and again begged to know
where she might look for Dr. Gibson.

"Well," said he, "the best plan I can think of, will be for
you — how did you come here?"

"I came on horseback, Sir."

"Ah — well — the best plan will be for you to ride up to his
house; maybe he'll have left word there, and anyhow _you_ can
leave word for him to come down as soon as he gets home. Do
you know where the doctor lives?"

"No, Sir."

"Come here," said he, pulling her to the door — "you can't see
it from here; but you must ride up the street till you have
passed two churches, one on the right hand first, and then, a
good piece beyond, you'll come to another red brick one on the
left hand — and Dr. Gibson lives in the next block but one
after that, on the other side — anybody will tell you the
house. Is that your horse?"

"Yes, Sir. I'm very much obliged to you."

"Well, I will say! — if you han't the prettiest fit out in
Thirlwall — shall I help you? will you have a cheer?"

"No, I thank you Sir; I'll bring him up to this step; it will
do just as well. I am _very_ much obliged to you, Sir."

He did not seem to hear her thanks; he was all eyes; and, with
his clerk, stood looking after her till she was out of sight.

Poor Ellen found it a long way up to the doctor's. The post-
office was near the lower end of the town, and the doctor's
house was near the upper; she passed one church, and then the
other, but there was a long distance between, or what she
thought so. Happily, the Brownie did not seem tired at all;
his little mistress _was_ tired, and disheartened too. And
there, all this time, was poor Mr. Van Brunt, lying without a
doctor! She could not bear to think of it.

She jumped down when she came to the block she had been told
of, and easily found the house where Dr. Gibson lived. She
knocked at the door. A grayhaired woman with a very ill-
favoured countenance presented herself. Ellen asked for the
doctor.

"He ain't to hum."

"When will he be at home?"

"Couldn't say."

"Before dinner?"

The woman shook her head.

"Guess not till late in the day."

"Where is he gone?"

"He is gone to Babcock — gone to attend a 'consummation,' I
guess, he told me — Babcock is a considerable long way."

Ellen thought a minute.

"Can you tell me where Dr. Marshchalk lives?"

"I guess you'd better wait till Dr. Gibson comes back, han't
you?" said the woman coaxingly; — "he'll be along by-and-by.
If you'll leave your name I'll give it to him."

"I cannot wait," said Ellen, — "I am in a dreadful hurry. Will
you be so good as to tell me where Dr. Marshchalk lives?"

"Well — if so be you're in such a takin' you can't wait — you
know where Mis' Forbes lives?"

"At the inn? — the Star! — yes."

"He lives a few doors this side o' her'n; you'll know it the
first minute you set your eyes on it — it's painted a bright
yaller."

Ellen thanked her, once more mounted, and rode down the
street.


CHAPTER XXXVIII.

Wherein the black Prince arrives opportunely.


The yellow door, as the old woman had said, was not to be
mistaken. Again Ellen dismounted and knocked; then she heard a
slow step coming along the entry, and the pleasant, kind face
of Miss Janet appeared at the open door. It was a real
refreshment, and Ellen wanted one.

"Why, it's dear little — ain't it? — her that lives down to
Miss Fortune Emerson's? — yes, it is; — come in, dear; I'm
very glad to see you. How's all at your house?"

"Is the doctor at home, Ma'am?"

"No, dear, he ain't to home just this minute, but he'll be in
directly; Come in; — is that your horse? — just hitch him to
the post there, so he won't run away, and come right in. Who
did you come along with?"

"Nobody, Ma'am — I came alone," said Ellen, while she obeyed
Miss Janet's directions.

"Alone! — on that 'ere little skittish creeter? — he's as
handsome as a picture, too — why, do tell if you warn't
afraid? it a'most scares me to think of it."

"I was a little afraid," said Ellen, as she followed Miss
Janet along the entry — "but I couldn't help that. You think
the doctor will soon be in, Ma'am?"

"Yes, dear, sure of it," said Miss Janet, kissing Ellen and
taking off her bonnet; — "he won't be five minutes, for it's
a'most dinner time. What's the matter, dear? is Miss Fortune
sick again?"

"No, Ma'am," said Ellen, sadly, "Mr. Van Brunt has fallen
through the trap-door in the barn and broken his leg."

"Oh!" cried the old lady, with a face of real horror — "you
don't tell me! Fell through the trap-door! and he ain't a
light weight neither; — oh, that is a lamentable event! And
how is the poor old mother, dear?"

"She is very much troubled, Ma'am," said Ellen, crying at the
remembrance; — "and he has been lying ever since early this
morning without anybody to set it; I have been going round and
round for a doctor this ever so long."

"Why, warn't there nobody to come but you, you poor lamb?"
said Miss Janet.

"No, Ma'am; nobody quick enough; and I had the Brownie there,
and so I came."

"Well, cheer up, dear! the doctor will be here now, and we'll
send him right off; he won't be long about his dinner, I'll
engage. Come and set in this big cheer — do! — it'll rest you;
I see you're a'most tired out, and it ain't a wonder. There —
don't that feel better? now I'll give you a little sup of
dinner, for you won't want to swallow it at the rate Leander
will his'n. Dear! dear! — to think of poor Mr. Van Brunt! He's
a likely man, too; I'm very sorry for him and his poor mother.
A kind body she is, as ever the sun shined upon."

"And so is he," said Ellen.

"Well, so I dare say," said Miss Janet; "but I don't know so
much about him; — hows'ever, he's got everybody's good word as
far as I know; — he's a likely man."

The little room in which Miss Janet had brought Ellen was very
plainly furnished indeed, but as neat as hands could make it.
The carpet was as crumbless and lintless as if meals were
never taken there, nor work seen; and yet a little table ready
set for dinner forbade the one conclusion, and a huge basket
of naperies in one corner showed that Miss Janet's industry
did not spend itself in housework alone. Before the fire stood
a pretty good-sized kettle, and a very appetizing smell came
from it to Ellen's nose. In spite of sorrow and anxiety, her
ride had made her hungry. It was not without pleasure that she
saw her kind hostess arm herself with a deep plate and a tin
dipper, and carefully taking off the pot cover, so that no
drops might fall on the hearth, proceed to ladle out a goodly
supply of what Ellen knew was that excellent country dish
called pot-pie. Excellent it is when well made, and that was
Miss Janet's. The pieces of crust were white and light like
new bread; the very tit-bits of the meat she culled out for
Ellen; and the soup-gravy, poured over all, would have met
even Miss Fortune's wishes, from its just degree of richness
and exact seasoning. Smoking hot, it was placed before Ellen,
on a little stand by her easy-chair, with some nice bread and
butter; and presently Miss Janet poured her out a cup of tea;
"for," she said, "Leander never could take his dinner without
it." Ellen's appetite needed no silver fork. Tea and pot-pie
were never better liked; yet Miss Janet's enjoyment was
perhaps greater still. She sat talking and looking at her
little visitor with secret but immense satisfaction.

"Have you heard what fine doings we're a going to have here
by-and-by?" said she. "The doctor's tired of me; he's going to
get a new housekeeper; he's going to get married some of these
days."

"Is he?" said Ellen. "Not to Jenny?"

"Yes, indeed he is — to Jenny — Jenny Hitchcock; and a nice
little wife she'll make him. You're a great friend of Jenny, I
know."

"How soon?" said Ellen.

"Oh, not just yet — by-and-by — after we get a little smarted
up, I guess; — before a great while. Don't you think he'll be
a happy man?"

Ellen could not help wondering, as the doctor just then came
in and she looked up at his unfortunate three-cornered face,
whether Jenny would be a happy woman. But as people often do,
she only judged from the outside; Jenny had not made such a
bad choice after all.

The doctor said he would go directly to Mr. Van Brunt after he
had been over to Mrs. Sibnorth's; it wouldn't be a minute.
Ellen meant to ride back in his company; and having finished
her dinner, waited now only for him. But the one minute passed
— two minutes — ten — twenty — she waited impatiently, but he
came not.

"I'll tell you how it must be," said his sister, — "he's gone
off without his dinner calculating to get it at Miss
Hitchcock's — he'd be glad of the chance. That's how it is,
dear; and you'll have to ride home alone; I'm real sorry.
S'pose you stop till evening, and I'll make the doctor go
along with you. But, oh dear! maybe he wouldn't be able to
neither; he's got to go up to that tiresome Mrs. Robin's; it's
too bad. Well, take good care of yourself, darling; — couldn't
you stop till it's cooler? — well, come and see me as soon as
you can again, but don't come without some one else along!
Good-bye! I wish I could keep you."

She went to the door to see her mount, and smiled and nodded
her off.

Ellen was greatly refreshed with her rest and her dinner; it
grieved her that the Brownie had not fared as well. All the
refreshment that kind words and patting could give him, she
gave; promised him the freshest of water, and the sweetest of
hay, when he should reach home; and begged him to keep up his
spirits and hold on for a little longer. It may be doubted
whether the Brownie understood the full sense of her words,
but he probably knew what the kind tones and gentle hand
meant. He answered cheerfully; threw up his head and gave a
little neigh, as much as to say, _he_ wasn't going to mind a few
hours of sunshine; and trotted on as if he knew his face was
towards home — which no doubt he did. Luckily it was not a
very hot day; for August, it was remarkably cool and
beautiful; indeed, there was little very hot weather ever
known in Thirlwall. Ellen's heart felt easier, now that her
business was done; and when she had left the town behind her,
and was again in the fields, she was less timid than she had
been before; she was going towards home; that makes a great
difference; and every step was bringing her nearer. "I am glad
I came, after all," she thought; — "but I hope I shall never
have to do such a thing again. But I am glad I came."

She had no more than crossed the little bridge, however, when
she saw what brought her heart into her mouth. It was Mr.
Saunders, lolling under a tree. What could he have come there
for, at that time of day? A vague feeling crossed her mind,
that if she could only get past him she should pass a danger;
she thought to ride by without seeming to see him, and quietly
gave the Brownie a pat to make him go faster. But as she drew
near, Mr. Saunders rose up, came to the middle of the road,
and taking hold of her bridle, checked her pony's pace so that
he could walk alongside — to Ellen's unspeakable dismay.

"What's kept you so long?" said he — "I've been looking out
for you this great while. Had hard work to find the doctor?"

"Won't you please to let go of my horse," said Ellen, her
heart beating very fast — "I am in a great hurry to get home —
please don't keep me."

"Oh, I want to see you a little," said Mr. Saunders — "you
ain't in such a hurry to get away from me as that comes to,
are you?"

Ellen was silent.

"It's quite a long time since I saw you last," said he — "how
have the merinoes worn?"

Ellen could not bear to look at his face, and did not see the
expression which went with these words; yet she _felt_ it.

"They have worn very well," said she; "but I want to get home
very much — _please_ let me go."

"Not yet, not yet," said he — "oh no, not yet. I want to talk
to you; why, what are you in such a devil of a hurry for? I
came out on purpose; do you think I am going to have all my
long waiting for nothing?"

Ellen did not know what to say, her heart sprang with a
nameless pang to the thought, if she ever got free from this!
Meanwhile she was not free.

"Whose horse is that you're on?"

"Mine," said Ellen.

"Your'n! that's a likely story. I guess he ain't your'n, and
so you won't mind if I touch him up a little; I want to see
how well you can sit on a horse."

Passing his arm through the bridle as he said these words, Mr.
Saunders led the pony down to the side of the road where grew
a clump of high bushes, and, with some trouble, cut off a
long, stout sapling. Ellen looked in every direction while he
was doing this, despairing, as she looked, of aid from any
quarter of the broad, quiet, open country. Oh, for wings! But
she could not leave the Brownie if she had them.

Returning to the middle of the road, Mr. Saunders amused
himself, as they walked along, with stripping off all the
leaves and little twigs from his sapling, leaving it, when
done, a very good imitation of an ox-whip in size and length,
with a fine lash-like point. Ellen watched him in an ecstasy
of apprehension, afraid alike to speak or to be silent.

"There! what do you think of that?" said he, giving it two or
three switches in the air to try its suppleness and toughness;
— "don't that look like a whip? Now we'll see how he'll go!"

"Please don't do anything with it," said Ellen, earnestly — "I
never touch him with the whip — he doesn't need it — he isn't
used to it — pray, pray do not!"

"Oh, we'll just tickle him a little with it," said Mr.
Saunders, coolly — "I want to see how well you'll sit him —
just make him caper a little bit."

He accordingly applied the switch lightly to the Brownie's
heels, enough to annoy, without hurting him. The Brownie
showed signs of uneasiness, quitted his quiet pace, and look
to little starts and springs, and whisking motions, most
unpleasing to his rider.

"Oh, do not!" cried Ellen, almost beside herself — "he's very
spirited, and I don't know what he will do if you trouble
him."

"You let me take care of that," said Mr. Saunders; "if he
troubles me, I'll give it to him! If he rears up, only you
catch hold of his mane and hold on tight, and you won't fall
off; — I want to see him rear."

"But you'll give him bad tricks!" said Ellen. "Oh, pray, don't
do so! It's very bad for him to be teased. I am afraid he will
kick if you do so, and he'd be ruined if he got a habit of
kicking. Oh, _please_ let us go!" said she, with the most acute
accent of entreaty — "I want to be home."

"You keep quiet," said Mr. Saunders, coolly; "if he kicks,
I'll give him such a lathering as he never had yet; he won't
do it but once. I ain't agoing to hurt him, but I am agoing to
make him rear — no, I won't — I'll make him leap over a rail,
the first bar-place we come to — that'll be prettier."

"Oh, you mustn't do that." said Ellen — "I have not learned to
leap yet — I couldn't keep on — you musn't do that if you
please."

"You just hold fast, and hold your tongue. Catch hold of his
ears, and you'll stick on fast enough; if you can't, you may
get down, for I am going to make him take the leap, whether
you will or no."

Ellen feared still more to get off and leave the Brownie to
her tormentor's mercy, than to stay where she was, and take
her chance. She tried in vain, as well as she could, to soothe
her horse; the touches of the whip coming now in one place,
and now in another, and some of them pretty sharp, he began to
grow very frisky indeed; and she began to be very much
frightened, for fear she should suddenly be jerked off. With a
good deal of presence of mind, though wrought up to a terrible
pitch of excitement and fear, Ellen gave her best attention to
keeping her seat as the Brownie sprang, and started, and
jumped, to one side and the other; Mr. Saunders holding the
bridle as loose as possible, so as give him plenty of room.
For some little time he amused himself with this game, the
horse growing more and more irritated. At length a smart
stroke of the whip upon his haunches, made the Brownie spring
in a way that brought Ellen's heart into her mouth and almost
threw her off.

"Oh, don't!" cried Ellen, bursting into tears for the first
time — she had with great effort commanded them back until
now; — "poor Brownie! — How can you! Oh, please let us go! —
please let us go!"

For one minute she dropped her face in her hands.

"Be quiet!" said Mr. Saunders. "Here's a bar-place — now for
the leap!"

Ellen wiped away her tears, forced back those that were
coming, and began the most earnest remonstrance and pleading
with Mr. Saunders that she knew how to make. He paid her no
sort of attention. He led the Brownie to the side of the road,
let down all the bars but the lower two, let go the bridle,
and stood a little off, prepared with his whip to force the
horse to take the spring.

"I tell you I shall fall," said Ellen, reining him back. "How
can you be so cruel! — I want to go home!"

"Well, you ain't agoing home yet. Get off, if you are afraid."

But, though trembling in every nerve from head to foot, Ellen
fancied the Brownie was safer so long as he had her on his
back; she would not leave him. She pleaded her best, which Mr.
Saunders heard as if it was amusing, and without making any
answer, kept the horse capering in front of the bars,
pretending every minute he was going to whip him up to take
the leap. His object, however, was merely to gratify the
smallest of minds by teasing a child he had a spite against;
he had no intention to risk breaking her bones by a fall from
her horse; so in time he had enough of the bar-place; took the
bridle again, and walked on. Ellen drew breath a little more
freely.

"Did you hear how I handled your old gentleman after that
time?" said Mr. Saunders.

Ellen made no answer.

"No one ever affronts me that don't hear news of it
afterwards, and so he found to his cost. _I_ paid him off, to my
heart's content. I gave the old fellow a lesson to behave in
future. I forgive him now entirely. By the way, I've a little
account to settle with you — didn't you ask Mr. Perriman this
morning if Dr. Gibson was in the house?"

"I don't know who it was," said Ellen.

"Well, hadn't I told you just before he warn't there?"

Ellen was silent.

"What did you do that for, eh? Didn't you believe me?"

Still she did not speak.

"I say!" said Mr. Saunders, touching the Brownie as he spoke —
"did you think I told you a lie about it? — eh?"

"I didn't know but he might be there," Ellen forced herself to
say.

"Then you didn't believe me?" said he, always with that same
smile upon his face; Ellen knew that.

"Now that warn't handsome of you — and I'm agoing to punish
you for it, somehow or 'nother; but it ain't pretty to quarrel
with ladies, so Brownie and me'll settle it together. You
won't mind that, I dare say."

"What are you going to do?" said Ellen, as he once more drew
her down to the side of the fence.

"Get off and you'll see," said he, laughing — "get off and
you'll see."

"What do you want to do?" repeated Ellen, though scarce able
to speak the words.

"I'm just going to tickle Brownie a little, to teach you to
believe honest folks when they speak the truth; get off!"

"No, I won't," said Ellen, throwing both arms round the neck
of her pony; — "poor Brownie! — you shan't do it. He hasn't
done any harm, nor I either; you are a bad man!"

"Get off!" repeated Mr. Saunders.

"I will not!" said Ellen, still clinging fast.

"Very well," said he, coolly — "then I will take you off; it
don't make much difference. We'll go along a little further
till I find a nice stone for you to sit down upon. If you had
got off then, I wouldn't ha' done much to him, but I'll give
it to him now! If he hasn't been used to a whip he'll know
pretty well what it means by the time I have done with him;
and then you may go home as fast as you can."

It is very likely Mr. Saunders would have been as good, or as
bad, as his word. His behaviour to Ellen in the store at New
York, and the measures taken by the old gentleman who had
befriended her, had been the cause of his dismissal from the
employ of Messrs. St. Clair and Fleury. Two or three other
attempts to get into business had come to nothing, and he had
been obliged to return to his native town. Ever since, Ellen
and the old gentleman had lived in his memory as objects of
the deepest spite, — the one for interfering, the other for
having been the innocent cause; and he no sooner saw her in
the post-office, than he promised himself revenge, such
revenge as only the meanest and most cowardly spirit could
have taken pleasure in. His best way of distressing Ellen, he
found, was through her horse; he had almost satisfied himself;
but very naturally his feeling of spite had grown stronger and
blunter with indulgence, and he meant to wind up with such a
treatment of her pony, real or seeming, as he knew would give
great pain to the pony's mistress. He was prevented.

As they went slowly along, Ellen still clasping the Brownie's
neck, and resolved to cling to him to the last, Mr. Saunders
making him caper in a way very uncomfortable to her, one was
too busy, and the other too deafened by fear, to notice the
sound of fast-approaching hoofs behind them. It happened that
John Humphreys had passed the night at Ventnor; and having an
errand to do for a friend at Thirlwall, had taken that road,
which led him but a few miles out of his way, and was now at
full speed on his way home. He had never made the Brownie's
acquaintance, and did not recognise Ellen as he came up; but
in passing them, some strange notion crossing his mind he
wheeled his horse round directly in front of the astonished
pair. Ellen quitted her pony's neck, and stretching out both
arms towards him, exclaimed, almost shrieked, "Oh, John! John!
send him away! make him let me go!"

"What are you about, Sir?" said the new-comer, sternly.

"It's none of your business!" answered Mr. Saunders, in whom
rage for the time overcame cowardice.

"Take your hand off the bridle!" — with a slight touch of the
riding-whip upon the hand in question.

"Not for you, brother," said Mr. Saunders, sneeringly; — "I'll
walk with any lady I've a mind to. Look out for yourself!"

"We will dispense with your further attendance," said John,
coolly. "Do you hear me? do as I order you!"

The speaker did not put himself in a passion, and Mr.
Saunders, accustomed for his own part to make bluster serve
instead of prowess, despised a command so calmly given. Ellen,
who knew the voice, and still better could read the eye, drew
conclusions very different. She was almost breathless with
terror. Saunders was enraged and mortified at an interference
that promised to baffle him; he was a stout young man, and
judged himself the stronger of the two, and took notice,
besides, that the stranger had nothing in his hand but a
slight riding-whip. He answered very insolently, and with an
oath; and John saw that he was taking the bridle in his left
hand and shifting his sapling whip so as to bring the club end
of it uppermost. The next instant he aimed a furious blow at
his adversary's horse. The quick eye and hand of the rider
disappointed that with a sudden swerve. In another moment —
and Ellen hardly saw how, it was so quick — John had
dismounted, taken Mr. Saunders by the collar, and hurled him
quite over into the gulley at the side of the road, where he
lay at full length without stirring.

"Ride on, Ellen!" said her deliverer.

She obeyed. He stayed a moment to say to his fallen adversary
a few words of pointed warning as to ever repeating his
offence; then remounted and spurred forward to join Ellen. All
her power of keeping up was gone, now that the necessity was
over. Her head was once more bowed on her pony's neck, her
whole frame shaking with convulsive sobs; she could scarce
with great effort keep from crying out aloud.

"Ellie!" said her adopted brother, in a voice that could
hardly be known for the one that had last spoken. She had no
words, but as he gently took one of her hands, the convulsive
squeeze it gave him showed the state of nervous excitement she
was in. It was very long before his utmost efforts could
soothe her, or she could command herself enough to tell him
her story. When at last told, it was with many tears.

"Oh, how could he! how could he!" said poor Ellen — "how could
he do so! — it was very hard!"

An involuntary touch of the spurs made John's horse start.

"But what took you to Thirlwall alone?" said he — "you have
not told me that yet."

Ellen went back to Timothy's invasion of the cabbages, and
gave him the whole story of the morning.

"I thought when I was going for the doctor, at first," said
she, "and then afterwards when I had found him, what a good
thing it was that Timothy broke down the garden fence and got
in this morning; for if it had not been for that, I should not
have gone to Mr. Van Brunt's — and then again, after that I
thought, if he only hadn't!"

"Little things often draw after them long trains of
circumstances," said John — "and that shows the folly of those
people who think that God does not stoop to concern himself
about trifles; — life, and much more than life, may hang upon
the turn of a hand. But, Ellen, you must ride no more alone.
Promise me that you will not."

"I will not to Thirlwall, certainly," said Ellen — "but mayn't
I to Alice's? — how can I help it?"

"Well — to Alice's — that is a safe part of the country; but I
should like to know a little more of your horse before
trusting you even there."

"Of the Brownie?" said Ellen — "oh, he is as good as he can
be; you need not be afraid of him; he has no trick at all;
there never was such a good little horse."

John smiled. "How do you like mine?" said he.

"Is that your new one? Oh, what a beauty! — Oh me, what a
beauty! I didn't look at him before. Oh, I like him very much!
he's handsomer than the Brownie — do you like him?"

"Very well! — this is the first trial I have made of him. I
was at Mr. Marshman's last night, and they detained me this
morning, or I should have been here much earlier. I am very
well satisfied with him, so far."

"And if you had _not_ been detained!" said Ellen.

"Yes, Ellie — I should not have fretted at my late breakfast
and having to try Mr. Marshman's favourite mare, if I had
known what good purpose the delay was to serve. I wish I could
have been here half an hour sooner, though."

"Is his name the Black Prince?" said Ellen, returning to the
horse.

"Yes, I believe so; but you shall change it, Ellie, if you can
find one you like better."

"Oh, I cannot! — I like that very much. How beautiful he is!
Is he good?"

"I hope so," said John, smiling — "if he is not, I shall be at
the pains to make him so. We are hardly acquainted yet."

Ellen looked doubtfully at the black horse and his rider, and
patting the Brownie's neck, observed with great satisfaction
that he was very good.

John had been riding very slowly on Ellen's account; they now
mended their pace. He saw, however, that she still looked
miserably, and exerted himself to turn her thoughts from
everything disagreeable. Much to her amusement, he rode round
her two or three times, to view her horse and show her his
own; commended the Brownie; praised her bridle hand; corrected
several things about her riding; and by degrees engaged her in
a very animated conversation. Ellen roused up; the colour came
back to her cheeks; and when they reached home, and rode round
to the glass door, she looked almost like herself.

She sprang off as usual without waiting for any help. John
scarce saw that she had done so, when Alice's cry of joy
brought him to the door, and from that together they went in
to their father's study. Ellen was left alone on the lawn.
Something was the matter; for she stood with swimming eyes and
a trembling lip, rubbing her stirrup, which really needed no
polishing, and forgetting the tired horses, which would have
had her sympathy at any other time. What was the matter? Only
— that Mr. John had forgotten the kiss he always gave her on
going or coming. Ellen was jealous of it as a pledge of
sistership, and could not want it; and though she tried as
hard as she could to get her face in order, so that she might
go in and meet them, somehow it seemed to take a great while.
She was still busy with her stirrup, when she suddenly felt
two hands on her shoulders, and looking up, received the very
kiss the want of which she had been lamenting. But John saw
the tears in her eyes, and asked her, she thought with
somewhat a comical look, what the matter was. Ellen was
ashamed to tell, but he had her there by the shoulders, and
besides, whatever that eye demanded, she never knew how to
keep back; so with some difficulty she told him.

"You are very foolish child, Ellie," said he, gently, and
kissing her again. "Run in out of the sun, while I see to the
horses."

Ellen ran in, and told her long story to Alice; and then,
feeling very weary and weak, she sat on the sofa, and lay
resting in her arms in a state of the most entire and
unruffled happiness. Alice, however, after a while,
transferred her to bed, thinking, with good reason, that a
long sleep would be the best thing for her.


CHAPTER XXXIX.

Halcyon days.


When Ellen came out of Alice's room again, it was late in the
afternoon. The sun was so low that the shadow of the house had
crossed the narrow lawn and mounted up near to the top of the
trees; but on them he was still shining brightly, and on the
broad landscape beyond, which lay open to view through the gap
in the trees. The glass door was open; the sweet summer air
and the sound of birds and insects and fluttering leaves
floated into the room, making the stillness musical. On the
threshold pussy sat crouched, with his forefeet doubled under
his breast, watching, with intense gravity, the operations of
Margery, who was setting the table on the lawn, just before
his eyes. Alice was paring peaches.

"Oh, we are going to have tea out of doors, aren't we!" said
Ellen. "I'm very glad. What a lovely evening! isn't it? Just
look at pussy, will you, Alice? don't you believe he knows
what Margery is doing? Why didn't you call me to go along with
you after peaches?"

"I thought you were doing the very best thing you possibly
could, Ellie, my dear. How do you do?"

"Oh, nicely now! where's Mr. John? I hope he won't ask for my
last drawing to-night; I want to fix the top of that tree
before he sees it."

"_Fix_ the top of your tree, you little Yankee!" said Alice; —
"what do you think John would say to that? — _un_fix it, you
mean; it is too stiff already, isn't it?"

"Well, what _shall_ I say?" said Ellen, laughing. "I am sorry
that is Yankee, for I suppose one must speak English. — I want
to do something to my tree, then. Where is he, Alice?"

"He is gone down to Mr. Van Brunt's, to see how he is, and to
speak to Miss Fortune about you on his way back."

"Oh, how kind of him! — he's _very_ good; that is just what I
want to know; but I am sorry, after this long ride —"

"He don't mind _that_, Ellie. He'll be home presently."

"How nice those peaches look! they are as good as strawberries
— don't you think so? — better— I don't know which is best —
but Mr. John likes these best, don't he? Now you've done —
shall I set them on the table? — and here's a pitcher of
splendid cream, Alice!"

"You had better not tell John so, or he will make you define
_splendid_."

John came back in good time, and brought word that Mr. Van
Brunt was doing very well, so far as could be known; also,
that Miss Fortune consented to Ellen's remaining where she
was. He wisely did not say, however, that her consent had been
slow to gain, till he had hinted at his readiness to provide a
substitute for Ellen's services; on which Miss Fortune had
instantly declared she did not want her, and she might stay as
long as she pleased. This was all that was needed to complete
Ellen's felicity.

"Wasn't your poor horse too tired to go out again this
afternoon, Mr. John?"

"I did not ride him, Ellie; I took yours."

"The Brownie! — did you? — I'm very glad! How did you like
him? But perhaps _he_ was tired a little, and you couldn't tell
so well to-day."

"He was not tired with any work you had given him, Ellie —
perhaps he may be a little, now."

"Why?" said Ellen, somewhat alarmed.

"I have been trying him; and instead of going quietly along
the road, we have been taking some of the fences in our way.
As I intend practising you at the bar, I wished to make sure,
in the first place, that he knew his lesson."

"Well, how did he do?"

"Perfectly well — I believe he is a good little fellow. I
wanted to satisfy myself if he was fit to be trusted with you;
and I rather think Mr. Marshman has taken care of that."

The whole wall of trees was in shadow when the little family
sat down to table; but there was still the sunlit picture
behind; and there was another kind of sunshine in every face
at the table. Quietly happy the whole four, or at least the
whole three, were — first, in being together — after that, in
all things beside. Never was tea so refreshing, or bread and
butter so sweet, or the song of birds so delightsome. When the
birds were gone to their nests, the cricket and grasshopper,
and tree-toad and katydid, and nameless other songsters, kept
up a concert — nature's own — in delicious harmony with woods
and flowers, and summer breezes and evening light. Ellen's cup
of enjoyment was running over. From one beautiful thing to
another her eye wandered — from one joy to another her
thoughts went — till her full heart fixed on the God who had
made and given them all, and that Redeemer whose blood had
been their purchase-money. From the dear friends beside her,
the best loved she had in the world, she thought of the one
dearer, yet from whom death had separated her; — yet living
still — and to whom death would restore her, thanks to Him who
had burst the bonds of death, and broken the gates of the
grave, and made a way for his ransomed to pass over. And the
thought of Him was the joyfullest of all.

"You look happy, Ellie," said her adopted brother.

"So I am," said Ellen, smiling a very bright smile.

"What are you thinking about?"

But John saw it would not do to press his question.

"You remind me," said he, "of some old fairy story that my
childish ears received, in which the fountains of the sweet
and bitter waters of life were said to stand very near each
other, and to mingle their streams but a little way from their
source. Your tears and smiles seem to be brothers and sisters;
whenever we see one we may be sure the other is not far off."

"My dear Jack," said Alice, laughing — "what an unhappy
simile! Are brothers and sisters always found like that?"

"I wish they were," said John, sighing and smiling; "but my
last words had nothing to do with my simile, as you call it."

When tea was over, and Margery had withdrawn the things, and
taken away the table, they still lingered in their places. It
was far too pleasant to go in. Mr. Humphreys moved his chair
to the side of the house, and throwing a handkerchief over his
head to defend him from the mosquitoes, a few of which were
buzzing about, he either listened, meditated, or slept; most
probably one of the two latter, for the conversation was not
very loud nor very lively; it was happiness enough merely to
breathe so near each other. The sun left the distant fields
and hills; soft twilight stole through the woods, down the
gap, and over the plain; the grass lost its green; the wall of
trees grew dark and dusky; and very faint and dim showed the
picture that was so bright a little while ago. As they sat
quite silent, listening to what nature had to say to them, or
letting fancy and memory take their way, the silence was
broken — hardly broken — by the distinct far-off cry of a
whip-poor-will. Alice grasped her brother's arm, and they
remained motionless, while it came nearer, nearer, then quite
near, with its clear, wild, shrill, melancholy note sounding
close by them again and again — strangely, plaintively — then
leaving the lawn, it was heard further and further off, till
the last faint "whip-poor-will," in the far distance, ended
its pretty interlude. It was almost too dark to read faces,
but the eyes of the brother and sister had sought each other,
remained fixed till the bird was out of hearing; then Alice's
hand was removed to his, and her head found its old place on
her brother's shoulder.

"Sometimes, John," said Alice, "I am afraid I have one tie too
strong to this world. I cannot bear — as I ought — to have you
away from me."

Her brother's lips were instantly pressed to her forehead.

"I may say to you, Alice, as Colonel Gardiner said to his
wife, 'we have an eternity to spend together!' "

"I wonder," said Alice, after a pause, "how those can bear to
love or be loved, whose affection can see nothing but a blank
beyond the grave."

"Few people, I believe," said her brother, "would come exactly
under that description; most flatter themselves with a vague
hope of reunion after death."

"But that is a miserable hope — very different from ours."

"Very different indeed! and miserable; for it can only
deceive; but ours is sure. 'Them that sleep in Jesus will God
bring with him.' "

"Precious!" said Alice. "How exactly fitted to every want and
mood of the mind are the sweet Bible words!"

"Well!" said Mr. Humphreys, rousing himself — "I am going in!
These musquitoes have half eaten me up. Are you going to sit
there all night?"

"We are thinking of it, Papa," said Alice, cheerfully.

He went in, and was heard calling Margery for a liglit.

They had better lights on the lawn. The stars began to peep
out through the soft blue, and as the blue grew deeper, they
came out more and brighter, till all heaven was hung with
lamps. But that was not all. In the eastern horizon, just
above the low hills that bordered the far side of the plain, a
white light, spreading, and growing, and brightening, promised
the moon, and promised that she would rise very splendid; and
even before she came, began to throw a faint lustre over the
landscape. All eyes were fastened and exclamations burst, as
the first silver edge showed itself, and the moon, rapidly
rising, looked on them with her whole, broad, bright face:
lighting up not only their faces and figures, but the wide
country view that was spread out below, and touching most
beautifully the trees in the edge of the gap, and faintly the
lawn; while the wall of wood stood in deeper and blacker
shadow than ever.

"Isn't that beautiful!" said Ellen.

"Come round here, Ellie," said John; "Alice may have you all
the rest of the year, but when I am at home you belong to me.
What was your little head busied upon a while ago?"

"When?" said Ellen.

"When I asked you —"

"Oh, I know — I remember. I was thinking —"

"Well?"

"I was thinking — do you want me to tell you?"

"Unless you would rather not."

"I was thinking about Jesus Christ," said Ellen, in a low
tone.

"What about him, dear Ellie?" said her brother, drawing her
closer to his side.

"Different things; — I was thinking of what he said about
little children; and about what he said, you know — 'In my
Father's house are many mansions;' — and I was thinking that
Mamma was there: and I thought — that we all —"

Ellen could get no further.

" 'He that believeth in him shall not be ashamed,' " said
John, softly. " 'This is the promise that he hath promised us,
even eternal life; and who shall separate us from the love of
Christ? Not death, nor things present, nor things to come. But
he that hath this hope in him, purifieth himself, even as he
is pure;' — let us remember that too."

"Mr. John," said Ellen, presently — "don't you like some of
the chapters in the Revelation very much?"

"Yes — very much. Why? — do you?"

"Yes. I remember reading parts of them to Mamma, and that is
one reason, I suppose; but I like them very much. There is a
great deal I can't understand, though."

"There is nothing finer in the Bible than parts of that book,"
said Alice.

"Mr. John," said Ellen — "what is meant by the 'white stone?'
"

" 'And in the stone a new name written?' "

"Yes — that I mean."

"Mr. Baxter says it is the sense of God's love in the heart;
and, indeed, that is it 'which no man knoweth saving him that
receiveth it.' This, I take it, Ellen, was Christian's
certificate, which he used to comfort himself with reading in,
you remember?"


"Can a child have it?" said Ellen, thoughtfully.

"Certainly — many children have had it — you may have it. Only
seek it faithfully. 'Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and
worketh righteousness, those that remember thee in thy ways.'
— And Christ said, 'He that loveth me shall be loved of my
Father, and I will love him, and I will manifest myself to
him.' There is no failure in these promises, Ellie; he that
made them is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever."

For a little while each was busy with his own meditations. The
moon, meanwhile, rising higher and higher, poured a flood of
light through the gap in the woods before them, and stealing
among the trees, here and there, lit up a spot of ground under
their deep shadow. The distant picture lay in mazy brightness.
All was still, but the ceaseless chirrup of insects, and
gentle flapping of leaves; the summer air just touched their
cheeks with the lightest breath of a kiss, sweet from distant
hayfields, and nearer pines and hemlocks, and other of
nature's numberless perfume boxes. The hay harvest had been
remarkably late this year.

"This is higher enjoyment," said John, "than half those who
make their homes in rich houses and mighty palaces have any
notion of."

"But can not rich people look at the moon?" said Ellen.

"Yes, but the taste for pure pleasures is commonly gone, when
people make a trade of pleasure."

"Mr. John" — Ellen began.

"I will forewarn you," said he, "that Mr. John has made up his
mind he will do nothing more for you. So if you have anything
to ask, it must lie still — unless you will begin again."

Ellen drew back. He looked grave, but she saw Alice smiling.

"But what shall I do?" said she, a little perplexed, and half-
laughing. "What do you mean, Mr. John? What does he mean,
Alice?"

"You could speak without a 'Mr.' to me this morning, when you
were in trouble."

"Oh," said Ellen laughing, "I forgot myself then."

"Have the goodness to forget yourself permanently for the
future."

"Was that man hurt this morning, John?" said his sister.

"What man?"

"That man you delivered Ellen from."

"Hurt? no — nothing material; I did not wish to hurt him. He
richly deserved punishment, but it was not for me to give it."

"He was in no hurry to get up," said Ellen.

"I do not think he ventured upon that till we were well out of
the way. He lifted his head and looked after us as we rode
off."

"But I wanted to ask something," said Ellen — "oh — what is
the reason the moon looks so much larger when she first gets
up, than she does afterwards?"

"Whom are you asking?"

"You."

"And who is you? Here are two people in the moonlight."

"Mr. John Humphreys, Alice's brother, and that Thomas calls
'the young master,' " said Ellen, laughing.

"You are more shy of taking a leap than your little horse is,"
said John, smiling; "but I shall bring you up to it yet. What
is the cause of the sudden enlargement of my thumb?"

He had drawn a small magnifying-glass from his pocket, and
held it between his hand and Ellen.

"Why, it is not enlarged," said Ellen — "it is only
magnified."

"What do you mean by that?"

"Why, the glass makes it look larger."

"Do you know how, or why?"

"No."

He put up the glass again.

"But what do you mean by that?" said Ellen, "there is no
magnifying-glass between us and the moon to make _her_ look
larger."

"You are sure of that?"

"Why, yes," said Ellen, "I am perfectly sure; there is nothing
in the world. There she is, right up there, looking straight
down upon us, and there is nothing between."

"What is it that keeps up that pleasant fluttering of leaves
in the wood?"

"Why, the wind."

"And what is the wind?"

"It is air — air moving, I suppose."

"Exactly. Then there _is_ something between us and the moon?"

"The air? But, Mr. John, one can see quite clearly through the
air; it doesn't make things look larger or smaller."

"How far do you suppose the air reaches from us towards the
moon?"

"Why, all the way — don't it?"

"No — only about forty miles. If it reached all the way, there
would indeed be no magnifying-glass in the case."

"But how is it?" said Ellen. "I don't understand."

"I cannot tell you to-night, Ellie. There is a long ladder of
knowledge to go up before we can get to the moon, but we will
begin to mount to-morrow, if nothing happens. Alice, you have
that little book of _Conversations on Natural Philosophy_, which
you and I used to delight ourselves with in old time."

"Safe and sound in the book-case," said Alice. "I have thought
of giving it to Ellen before, but she has been busy enough
with what she had already."

"I have done Rollin, now, though," said Ellen; "that is lucky,
I am ready for the moon."

This new study was begun the next day, and Ellen took great
delight in it. She would have run on too fast in her
eagerness, but for the steady hand of her teacher; he obliged
her to be very thorough. This was only one of her items of
business. The weeks of John's stay were, as usual, not merely
weeks of constant and varied delight, but of constant and
swift improvement too.

A good deal of time was given to the riding-lessons. John
busied himself one morning in preparing a bar for her on the
lawn, so placed that it might fall if the horse's heels
touched it. Here Ellen learned to take first standing, and
then running leaps. She was afraid at first, but habit wore
that off; and the bar was raised higher and higher, till
Margery declared she "couldn't stand and look at her going
over it." Then John made her ride without the stirrup, and
with her hands behind her, while he, holding the horse by a
long halter, made him go round in a circle, slowly at first,
and afterwards trotting and cantering, till Ellen felt almost
as secure on his back as in a chair. It took a good many
lessons, however, to bring her to this, and she trembled very
much at the beginning. Her teacher was careful and gentle, but
determined; and whatever he said she did, tremble or no
tremble; and, in general, loved her riding lessons dearly.

Drawing, too, went on finely. He began to let her draw things
from nature; and many a pleasant morning the three went out
together with pencils and books and work, and spent hours in
the open air. They would find a pretty point of view, or a
nice shady place where the breeze came, and where there was
some good old rock with a tree beside it, or a piece of fence,
or the house or barn in the distance, for Ellen to sketch; and
while she drew and Alice worked, John read aloud to them.
Sometimes he took a pencil too, and Alice read; and often,
often, pencils, books, and work were all laid down; and talk —
lively, serious, earnest, always delightful — took the place
of them. When Ellen could not understand the words, at least
she could read the faces; and that was a study she was never
weary of. At home there were other studies and much reading;
many tea-drinkings on the lawn, and even breakfastings, which
she thought pleasanter still.

As soon as it was decided that Mr. Van Brunt's leg was doing
well, and in a fair way to be sound again, Ellen went to see
him; and after that rarely let two days pass without going
again. John and Alice used to ride with her so far, and taking
a turn beyond while she made her visit, call for her on their
way back. She had a strong motive for going in the pleasure
her presence always gave, both to Mr. Van Brunt and his
mother. Sam Larkens had been to Thirlwall and seen Mrs.
Forbes, and from him they had heard the story of her riding up
and down the town in search of the doctor; neither of them
could forget it. Mrs. Van Brunt poured out her affection in
all sorts of expressions whenever she had Ellen's ear; her son
was not a man of many words; but Ellen knew his face and
manner well enough without them, and read there, whenever she
went into his room, what gave her great pleasure.

"How do you do, Mr. Van Brunt?" she said, on one of these
occasions.

"Oh, I'm getting along, I s'pose," said he — "getting along as
well as a man can that's lying on his back from morning to
night; — prostrated, as Squire Dennison said his corn was
t'other day."

"It is very tiresome, isn't it?" said Ellen.

"It's the tiresomest work that ever was, for a man that has
two arms to be a-doing nothing, day after day. And what
bothers me is the wheat in the ten-acre lot, that _ought_ to be
prostrated too, and ain't, nor ain't like to be, as I know,
unless the rain comes and does it. Sam and Johnny'll make no
headway at all with it — I can tell as well as if I see 'em."

"But Sam is good, isn't he?" said Ellen.

"Sam's as good a boy as ever was; but then Johnny Low is
mischievous, you see, and he gets Sam out of his tracks once
in a while. I never see a finer growth of wheat. I had a sight
rather cut and harvest the hull of it than to lie here and
think of it getting spoiled. I'm a'most out o' conceit o'
trap-doors, Ellen."

Ellen could not help smiling.

"What can I do for you, Mr. Van Brunt?"

"There ain't nothing," said he; — "I wish there was. How are
you coming along at home?"

"I don't know," said Ellen — "I am not there just now, you
know; I am staying up with Miss Alice again."

"Oh, ay! while her brother's at home. He's a splendid man,
that young Mr. Humphreys, ain't he?"

"Oh, _I_ knew that a great while ago," said Ellen, the bright
colour of pleasure overspreading her face.

"Well, _I_ didn't, you see, till the other day, when he came
here, very kindly, to see how I was getting on. I wish
something would bring him again. I never heerd a man talk I
liked to hear so much."

Ellen secretly resolved something _should_ bring him; and went
on with a purpose she had had for some time in her mind.

"Wouldn't it be pleasant, while you are lying there and can do
nothing — wouldn't you like to have me read something to you,
Mr. Van Brunt? _I_ should like to, very much."

"It's just like you," said he, gratefully — "to think of that;
but I wouldn't have you be bothered with it."

"It wouldn't, indeed. I should like it very much."

"Well, if you've a mind," said he — "I can't say but it would
be a kind o' comfort to keep that grain out o' my head a
while. Seems to me I have cut and housed it all three times
over already. Read just whatever you have a mind to. If you
was to go over a last year's almanac it would be as good as a
fiddle to me."

"I'll do better for you than that, Mr. Van Brunt," said Ellen,
laughing in high glee at having gained her point. She had
secretly brought her _Pilgrim's Progress_ with her, and now with
marvellous satisfaction drew it forth.

"I han't been as much of a reader as I had ought to," said Mr.
Van Brunt, as she opened the book and turned to the first
page; "but, however, I understand my business pretty well; and
a man can't be everything to once. Now let's hear what you've
got there."

With a throbbing heart, Ellen began; and read, notes and all,
till the sound of tramping hoofs and Alice's voice made her
break off. It encouraged and delighted her to see that Mr. Van
Brunt's attention was perfectly fixed. He lay still, without
moving his eyes from her face, till she stopped; then thanking
her, he declared that was a "first-rate book," and he "should
like mainly to hear the hull on it."

From that time Ellen was diligent in her attendance on him.
That she might have more time for reading than the old plan
gave her, she set off by herself alone some time before the
others, of course riding home with them. It cost her a little,
sometimes, to forego so much of their company; but she never
saw the look of grateful pleasure with which she was welcomed
without ceasing to regret her self-denial. How Ellen blessed
those notes as she went on with her reading! They said exactly
what she wanted Mr. Van Brunt to hear, and in the best way,
and were too short and simple to interrupt the interest of the
story. After a while she ventured to ask if she might read him
a chapter in the Bible. He agreed very readily; owning "he
hadn't ought to be so long without reading one as he had
been." Ellen then made it a rule to herself, without asking
any more questions, to end every reading with a chapter in the
Bible; and she carefully sought out those that might be most
likely to take hold of his judgment or feelings. They took
hold of her own very deeply, by the means; what was strong or
tender, before, now seemed to her too mighty to be withstood;
and Ellen read not only with her lips, but with her whole
heart, the precious words, longing that they might come with
their just effect upon Mr. Van Brunt's mind.

Once as she finished reading the tenth chapter of John, a
favourite chapter, which, between her own feeling of it, and
her strong wish for him, had moved her even to tears, she cast
a glance at his face to see how he took it. His head was a
little turned to one side, and his eyes closed; she thought he
was asleep. Ellen was very much disappointed. She sank her
head upon her book, and prayed that a time might come when he
would know the worth of those words. The touch of his hand
startled her.

"What is the matter?" said he. "Are you tired?"

"No," said Ellen, looking hastily up; — "oh, no — I'm not
tired."

"But what ails you?" said the astonished Mr. Van Brunt; "what
have you been a-crying for? what's the matter?"

"Oh, never mind," said Ellen, brushing her hand over her eyes
— "it's no matter."

"Yes, but I want to know," said Mr. Van Brunt; — "you shan't
have anything to vex you that _I_ can help; what is it?"

"It is nothing, Mr. Van Brunt," said Ellen, bursting into
tears again — "only I thought you were asleep — I — I thought
you didn't care enough about the Bible to keep awake — I want
_so_ much that you should be a Christian!"

He half groaned, and turned his head away.

"What makes you wish that so much?" said he, after a minute or
two.

"Because I want you to be happy," said Ellen — "and I know you
can't without."

"Well, I am pretty tolerable happy," said he; — "as happy as
most folks, I guess."

"But I want you to be happy when you die, too," said Ellen —
"I want to meet you in heaven"

"I hope I will go there, surely," said he, gravely — "when the
time comes."

Ellen was uneasily silent, not knowing what to say.

"I ain't as good as I ought to be," said he presently, with a
half sigh: — "I ain't good enough to go to heaven — I wish I
was. _You_ are, I do believe."

"I! Oh no, Mr. Van Brunt, do not say that; I am not good at
all — I am full of wrong things."

"Well, I wish I was full of wrong things, too, in the same
way," said he.

"But I am," said Ellen — "whether you will believe it or not.
Nobody is good, Mr. Van Brunt. But Jesus Christ has died for
us, and if we ask him, he will forgive us, and wash away our
sins, and teach us to love him, and make us good, and take us
to be with him in heaven. Oh! I wish you would ask him!" she
repeated, with an earnestness that went to his heart. "I don't
believe any one can be very happy that doesn't love him."

"Is that what makes _you_ happy?" said he.

"I have a great many things to make me happy," said Ellen,
soberly — "but that is the greatest of all. It always makes me
happy to think of him, and it makes everything else a thousand
times pleasanter. I wish you knew how it is, Mr. Van Brunt!"

He was silent for a little, and disturbed, Ellen thought.

"Well!" said he at length — " 'taint the folks that thinks
themselves the best that _is_ the best always — if you ain't
good, I should like to know what goodness is. _There's_ somebody
that thinks you be," said he, a minute or two afterwards, as
the horses were heard coming to the gate,

"No, she knows me better than that," said Ellen.

"It isn't any _she_ that I mean," said Mr. Van Brunt. "There's
somebody else out there, ain't there?"

"Who?" said Ellen — "Mr. John? Oh no, indeed he don't. It was
only this morning he was telling me of something I did that
was wrong." Her eyes watered as she spoke.

"He must have mighty sharp eyes, then," said Mr. Van Brunt —
"for it beats all _my_ powers of seeing things."

"And so he has," said Ellen, putting on her bonnet; "he always
knows what I am thinking of just as well as if I told him.
Good-bye!"

"Good-bye," said he — "I han't forgotten what you've been
saying, and I don't mean to."

How full of sweet pleasure was the ride home!

The "something wrong," of which Ellen had spoken, was this.
The day before, it happened that Mr. John had broken her off
from a very engaging book to take her drawing lesson; and as
he stooped down to give a touch or two to the piece she was to
copy, he said, "I don't want you to read any more of that,
Ellie; it is not a good book for you." Ellen did not for a
moment question that he was right, nor wish to disobey; but
she had become very much interested, and was a good deal
annoyed at having such a sudden stop put to her pleasure. She
said nothing, and went on with her work. In a little while
Alice asked her to hold a skein of cotton for her while she
wound it. Ellen was annoyed again at the interruption; the
harpstrings were jarring yet, and gave fresh discord to every
touch. She had, however, no mind to let her vexation be seen;
she went immediately and held the cotton, and, as soon as it
was done, set down again to her drawing. Before ten minutes
had passed, Margery came to set the table for dinner; Ellen's
papers and desk must move.

"Why, it is not dinner-time yet, this great while, Margery,"
said she — "it isn't much after twelve."

"No, Miss Ellen," said Margery, under her breath, for John was
in one corner of the room reading— "but by-and-by I'll be busy
with the chops and frying the salsify, and I couldn't leave
the kitchen — if you'll let me have the table now."

Ellen said no more, and moved her things to a stand before the
window, where she went on with her copying till dinner was
ready. Whatever the reason was, however, her pencil did not
work smoothly; her eye did not see true; and she lacked her
usual steady patience. The next morning, after an hour and
more's work and much painstaking, the drawing was finished.
Ellen had quite forgotten her yesterday's trouble. But when
John came to review her drawing, he found several faults with
it; pointed out two or three places in which it had suffered
from haste and want of care; and asked her how it had
happened. Ellen knew it happened yesterday. She was vexed
again, though she did her best not to show it; she stood
quietly and heard what he had to say. He then told her to get
ready for her riding lesson.

"Mayn't I just make this right first?" said Ellen — "it won't
take me long."

"No," said he; "you have been sitting long enough; I must
break you off. The Brownie will be here in ten minutes."

Ellen was impatiently eager to mend the bad places in her
drawing, and impatiently displeased at being obliged to ride
first. Slowly and reluctantly she went to get ready; John was
already gone; she would not have moved so leisurely if he had
been anywhere within seeing distance. As it was, she found it
convenient to quicken her movements, and was at the door ready
as soon as he and the Brownie. She was soon thoroughly engaged
in the management of herself and her horse; a little smart
riding shook all the ill-humour out of her, and she was
entirely herself again. At the end of fifteen or twenty
minutes they drew up under the shade of a tree to let the
Brownie rest a little. It was a warm day, and John had taken
off his hat and stood resting too, with his arm leaning on the
neck of the horse. Presently he looked round to Ellen, and
asked her, with a smile, if she felt right again.

"Why?" said Ellen, the crimson of her cheeks mounting to her
forehead. But her eye sunk immediately at the answering glance
of his. He then, in a very few words, set the matter before
her, with such a happy mixture of pointedness and kindness,
that while the reproof coming from him went to the quick,
Ellen yet joined with it no thought of harshness or severity.
She was completely subdued, however; the rest of the riding
lesson had to be given up, and for an hour Ellen's tears could
not be stayed. But it was, and John had meant it should be, a
strong check given to her besetting sin. It had a long and
lasting effect.


CHAPTER XL.

"Prodigious!"


In due time, Mr. Van Brunt was on his legs again, much to
everybody's joy, and much to the advantage of fields, fences,
and grain. Sam and Johnny found they must "spring to," as
their leader said; and Miss Fortune declared she was thankful
she could draw a long breath again, for, do what she would,
she couldn't be everywhere. Before this John and the Black
Prince had departed, and Alice and Ellen were left alone
again.

"How long will it be, dear Alice," said Ellen, as they stood
sorrowfully looking down the road by which he had gone,
"before he will be through that — before he will be able to
leave Doncaster?"

"Next summer."

"And what will he do then?"

"Then he will be ordained."

"Ordained! what is that?"

"He will be solemnly set apart for the work of the ministry,
and appointed to it by a number of clergymen."

"And then will he come and stay at home, Alice?"

"I don't know what then, dear Ellen," said Alice, sighing; "he
may for a little; but Papa wishes very much that before he is
settled anywhere, he should visit England and Scotland, and
see our friends there; though I hardly think John will do it,
unless he sees some further reason for going. If he do not, he
will probably soon he called somewhere; Mr. Marshman wants him
to come to Randolph. I don't know how it will be."

"Well!" said Ellen, with a kind of acquiescing sigh, — "at any
rate now we must wait until next Christmas."

The winter passed with little to mark it except the usual
visits to Ventnor; which, however, by common consent, Alice
and Ellen had agreed should not be when John was at home. At
all other times they were much prized and enjoyed. Every two
or three months Mr. Marshman was sure to come for them, or Mr.
Howard, or perhaps the carriage only with a letter; and it was
bargained for, that Mr. Humphreys should follow to see them
home. It was not always that Ellen could go, but the
disappointments were seldom; she, too, had become quite
domesticated at Ventnor, and was sincerely loved by the whole
family. Many as were the times she had been there, it had
oddly happened that she had never met her old friend of the
boat again; but she was very much attached to old Mr. and Mrs.
Marshman, and Mrs. Chauncey and her daughter; the latter of
whom reckoned all the rest of her young friends as nothing
compared with Ellen Montgomery. Ellen, in her opinion, did
everything better than any one else of her age.

"She has good teachers," said Mrs. Chauncey.

"Yes, indeed! I should think she had. Alice — I should think
anybody would learn well with her; and Mr. John — I suppose
he's as good, though I don't know so much about him; but he
must be a great deal better teacher than Mr. Sandford, Mamma,
for Ellen draws _ten times_ as well as I do!"

"Perhaps that is your fault, and not Mr. Sandford's," said her
mother; "though I rather think you overrate the difference."

"I am sure I take pains enough, if that's all," said the
little girl; "what more can I do, Mamma? But Ellen is so
pleasant about it always; she never seems to think she does
better than I; and she is always ready to help me, and take
ever so much time to show me how to do things; — she is _so_
pleasant, isn't she, Mamma? I know I have heard you say she is
very polite."

"She is certainly that," said Mrs. Gillespie; "and there is a
grace in her politeness that can only proceed from great
natural delicacy and refinement of character. How she can have
such manners, living and working in the way you say she does,
I confess is beyond my comprehension."

"One would not readily forget the notion of good-breeding in
the society of Alice and John Humphreys," said Miss Sophia.

"And Mr. Humphreys," said Mrs. Chauncey.

"There is no society about him," said Miss Sophia; "he don't
say two dozen words a day."

"But she is not with them," said Mrs. Gillespie.

"She is with them a great deal, aunt Matilda," said Ellen
Chauncey, "and they teach her everything, and she does learn!
She must be very clever; don't you think she is, Mamma? Mamma,
she beats me entirely in speaking French, and she knows all
about English history; and arithmetic! — and did you ever hear
her sing, Mamma?"

"I do not believe she beats you, as you call it, in generous
estimation of others," said Mrs. Chauncey, smiling, and
bending forward to kiss her daughter; "but what is the reason
Ellen is so much better read in history than you?"

"I don't know, Mamma, unless — I wish I wasn't so fond of
reading stories."

"Ellen Montgomery is just as fond of them, I'll warrant," said
Miss Sophia.

"Yes — oh, I know she is fond of them; but then Alice and Mr.
John don't let her read them, except now and then one."

"I fancy she does it, though, when their backs are turned,"
said Mrs. Gillespie.

"She! oh, aunt Matilda! she wouldn't do the least thing they
don't like for the whole world. I know she never reads a story
when she is here, unless it is my Sunday books, without asking
Alice first."

"She is a most extraordinary child!" said Mrs. Gillespie.

"She is a _good_ child!" said Mrs. Chauncey.

"Yes, Mamma, and that is what I wanted to say. I do not think
Ellen is so polite because she is so much with Alice and John,
but because she is so sweet and good. I don't think she could
_help_ being polite."

"It is not that," said Mrs. Gillespie; "mere sweetness and
goodness would never give so much elegance of manner. As far
as I have seen, Ellen Montgomery is a _perfectly_ well-behaved
child."

"That she is," said Mrs. Chauncey; "but neither would any
cultivation or example be sufficient for it without Ellen's
thorough good principle and great sweetness of temper."

"That's exactly what _I_ think, Mamma," said Ellen Chauncey.

Ellen's sweetness of temper was not entirely born with her; it
was one of the blessed fruits of religion and discipline.
Discipline had not done with it yet. When the winter came on,
and the house-work grew less, and with renewed vigour she was
bending herself to improvement in all sorts of ways, it
unluckily came into Miss Fortune's head, that some of Ellen's
spare time might be turned to account in a new line. With this
lady, to propose and to do were two things always very near
together. The very next day Ellen was summoned to help her
down-stairs with the big spinning-wheel. Most unsuspiciously,
and with her accustomed pleasantness, Ellen did it. But when
she was sent up again for the rolls of wool, and Miss Fortune,
after setting up the wheel, put one of them into her hand and
instructed her how to draw out and twist the thread of yarn,
she saw all that was coming. She saw it with dismay. So much
yarn as Miss Fortune might think it well she should spin, so
much time must be taken daily from her beloved reading and
writing, drawing, and studying; her very heart sunk with her.
She made no remonstrance, unless her disconsolate face might
be thought one; she stood half a day at the big spinning-
wheel, fretting secretly, while Miss Fortune went round with
an inward chuckle visible in her countenance, that in spite of
herself increased Ellen's vexation. And this was not the
annoyance of a day; she must expect it day after day through
the whole winter. It was a grievous trial. Ellen cried for a
great while when she got to her own room, and a long hard
struggle was necessary before she could resolve to do her
duty. "To be patient and quiet! — and spin nobody knows how
much yarn — and my poor history and philosophy and drawing and
French and reading!" — Ellen cried very heartily. But she knew
what she ought to do; she prayed long, humbly, earnestly, that
"her little rushlight might shine bright;" — and her aunt had
no cause to complain of her. Sometimes, if over-pressed, Ellen
would ask Miss Fortune to let her stop; saying, as Alice had
advised her, that she wished to have her do such and such
things; Miss Fortune never made any objection; and the hours
of spinning that wrought so many knots of yarn for her aunt,
wrought better things yet for the little spinner: patience and
gentleness grew with the practice of them; this wearisome work
was one of the many seemingly untoward things which in reality
bring out good. The time Ellen _did_ secure to herself was held
the more precious, and used the more carefully. After all it
was a very profitable and pleasant winter to her.

John's visit came as usual at the holidays, and was enjoyed as
usual; only that every one seemed to Ellen more pleasant than
the last. The only other event that broke the quiet course of
things (besides the journeys to Ventnor) was the death of Mrs.
Van Brunt. This happened very unexpectedly and after a short
illness, not far from the end of January. Ellen was very
sorry, both for her own sake and Mr. Van Brunt's, who she was
sure felt much, though, according to his general custom, he
said nothing. Ellen felt for him none the less. She little
thought what an important bearing this event would have upon
her own future well-being.

The winter passed and the spring came. One fine, mild,
pleasant afternoon, early in May, Mr. Van Brunt came into the
kitchen and asked Ellen if she wanted to go with him and see
the sheep salted. Ellen was seated at the table with a large
tin pan in her lap, and before her a huge heap of white beans,
which she was picking over for the Saturday's favourite dish
of pork and beans. She looked up at him with a hopeless face.

"I should like to go very much indeed, Mr. Van Brunt, but you
see I can't. All these to do!"

"Beans, eh?" said he, putting one or two in his mouth.
"Where's your aunt?"

"Here, Ma'am!" said he — "can't you let this child go with me?
I want her along to help feed the sheep."

To Ellen's astonishment, her aunt called to her through the
closed door to "go along, and leave the beans till she came
back." Joyfully Ellen obeyed. She turned her back upon the
beans, careless of the big heap which would still be there to
pick over when she returned, and ran to get her bonnet. In all
the time she had been at Thirlwall, something had always
prevented her seeing the sheep fed with salt, and she went
eagerly out of the door with Mr. Van Brunt to a new pleasure.

They crossed two or three meadows back of the barn, to a low
rocky hill covered with trees. On the other side of this, they
came to a fine field of spring wheat. Footsteps must not go
over the young grain; Ellen and Mr. Van Brunt coasted
carefully round by the fence to another piece of rocky
woodland, that lay on the far side of the wheat-field. It was
a very fine afternoon. The grass was green in the meadow; the
trees were beginning to show their leaves; the air was soft
and spring-like. In great glee Ellen danced along, luckily
needing no entertainment from Mr. Van Brunt, who was devoted
to his salt-pan. His natural taciturnity seemed greater than
ever; he amused himself all the way over the meadow, with
turning over his salt and tasting it, till Ellen laughingly
told him, she believed he was as fond of it as the sheep were;
and then he took to chucking little bits of it right and left,
at anything he saw that was big enough to serve for a mark.
Ellen stopped him again, by laughing at his wastefulness; and
so they came to the wood. She left him then to do as he liked,
while she ran hither and thither to search for flowers. It was
slow getting through the wood. He was fain to stop and wait
for her.

"Aren't these lovely?" said Ellen, as she came up with her
hands full of anemones — "and look — there's the liverwort. I
thought it must be out before now — the dear little thing! —
but I can't find any blood-root, Mr. Van Brunt."

"I guess they're gone," said Mr. Van Brunt.

"I suppose they must," said Ellen. "I am sorry; I like them so
much. Oh, I believe I did get them earlier than this two years
ago, when I used to take so many walks with you. Only think of
my not having been to look for flowers before, this spring."

"It hadn't ought to ha' happened so, that's a fact," said Mr.
Van Brunt; "I don't know how it has."

"Oh! there are my yellow bells!" exclaimed Ellen — "oh, you
beauties! Aren't they, Mr. Van Brunt?"

"I won't say but what I think an ear of wheat's handsomer,"
said he, with his half smile.

"Why, Mr. Van Brunt! How can you? — but an ear of wheat's
pretty, too. Oh, Mr. Van Brunt, what _is_ that? Do you get me
some of it, will you, please? Oh, how beautiful! — what is
it?"

"That's black birch," said he; " '_tis_ kind o' handsome; —
stop, I'll find you some oak blossoms directly. There's some
Solomon's seal — do you want some of that?"

Ellen sprang to it with exclamations of joy, and, before she
could rise from her stooping posture, discovered some cowslips
to be scrambled for. Wild columbine, the delicate corydalis,
and more uvularias, which she called yellow bells, were added
to her handful, till it grew a very elegant bunch indeed. Mr.
Van Brunt looked complacently on, much as Ellen would at a
kitten running round after its tail.

"Now, I won't keep you any longer, Mr. Van Brunt," said she,
when her hands were as full as they could hold; — "I have kept
you a great while; you are very good to wait for me."

They took up their line of march again, and after crossing the
last piece of rocky woodland, came to an open hill-side,
sloping gently up, at the foot of which were several large
flat stones.

"But where are the sheep, Mr. Van Brunt?" said Ellen.

"I guess they ain't fur," said he. "You keep quiet, 'cause
they don't know you; and they are mighty scary. Just stand
still there by the fence. — Ca-nan! ca-nan! ca-nan, nan, nan,
nan, nan, nan, nan!"

This was the sheep-call, and raising his voice, Mr. Van Brunt
made it sound abroad far over the hills. Again and again it
sounded; and then Ellen saw the white nose of a sheep, at the
edge of the woods, on the top of the hill. On the call's
sounding again, the sheep set forward, and in a long train
they came running along a narrow footpath, down towards where
Mr. Van Brunt was standing with his pan. The soft tramp of a
multitude of light hoofs in another direction, turned Ellen's
eyes that way, and there were two more single files of sheep
running down the hill from different points in the woodland.
The pretty things came scampering along, seeming in a great
hurry, till they got very near; then the whole multitude came
to a sudden halt, and looked very wistfully and doubtfully
indeed at Mr. Van Brunt, and the strange little figure
standing so still by the fence. They seemed in great doubt,
every sheep of them, whether Mr. Van Brunt were not a traitor,
who had put on a friend's voice, and lured them down there
with some dark evil intent, which he was going to carry out by
means of that same dangerous-looking stranger by the fence.
Ellen almost expected to see them turn about and go as fast as
they had come. But Mr. Van Brunt, gently repeating his call,
went quietly up to the nearest stone, and began to scatter the
salt upon it, full in their view. Doubt was at an end; he had
hung out the white flag; they flocked down to the stones, no
longer at all in fear of double-dealing, and crowded to get at
the salt; the rocks where it was strewn were covered with more
sheep than Ellen would have thought it possible could stand
upon them. They were like pieces of floating ice, heaped up
with snow, or queen-cakes with an immoderately thick frosting.
It was one scene of pushing and crowding — those which had not
had their share of the feast forcing themselves up to get at
it, and shoving others off in consequence. Ellen was
wonderfully pleased. It was a new and pretty sight, — the busy
hustling crowd of gentle creatures, with the soft noise of
their tread upon grass and stones, and the eager devouring of
the salt. She was fixed with pleasure, looking and listening,
and did not move till the entertainment was over, and the body
of the flock were carelessly scattering here and there, while
a few that had perhaps been disappointed of their part, still
lingered upon the stones, in the vain hope of yet licking a
little saltness from them.

"Well," said Ellen, "I never knew what salt was worth before.
How they do love it! Is it good for them, Mr. Van Brunt?"

"Good for them!" said he — "to be sure it is good for them.
There ain't a critter that walks, as I know, that it ain't
good for— 'cept chickens, and, it's very queer, it kills
them."

They turned to go homeward. Ellen had taken the empty pan to
lay her flowers in, thinking it would be better for them than
the heat of her hand; and, greatly pleased with what she had
come to see, and enjoying her walk as much as it was possible,
she was going home very happy, yet she could not help missing
Mr. Van Brunt's old sociableness. He was uncommonly silent,
even for him, considering that he and Ellen were alone
together; and she wondered what had possessed him with a
desire to cut down all the young saplings he came to that were
large enough for walking-sticks. He did not want to make any
use of them — that was certain, for as fast as he cut and
trimmed out one he threw it away and cut another. Ellen was
glad when they got out into the open fields where there were
none to be found.

"It is just about this time a year ago," said she, "that Aunt
Fortune was getting well of her long fit of sickness."

"Yes!" said Mr. Van Brunt, with a very profound air; —
"something is always happening most years."

Ellen did not know what to make of this philosophical remark.

"I am very glad nothing is happening this year," said she; "I
think it is a great deal pleasanter to have things go on
quietly."

"Oh, something might happen without hindering things going on
quietly, I s'pose — mightn't it?"

"I don't know," said Ellen, wonderingly. "Why, Mr. Van Brunt,
what is going to happen?"

"I declare," said he, half-laughing, "you're as 'cute as a
razor; I didn't say there was anything going to happen, did
I?"

"But is there?" said Ellen.

"Han't your aunt said nothing to you about it?"

"Why, no," said Ellen — "she never tells me anything; what is
it?"

"Why, the story is," said Mr. Van Brunt — "at least I know,
for I've understood as much from herself, that — I believe
she's going to be married before long."

"She!" exclaimed Ellen. "Married! — Aunt Fortune!"

"I believe so," said Mr. Van Brunt, making a lunge at a tuft
of tall grass, and pulling off two or three spears of it,
which he carried to his mouth.

There was a long silence, during which Ellen saw nothing in
earth, air, or sky, and knew no longer whether she was passing
through woodland or meadow. To frame words into another
sentence was past her power. They came in sight of the barn at
length. She would not have much more time.

"Will it be soon, Mr. Van Brunt?"

"Why pretty soon — as soon as next week, I guess; so I thought
it was time you ought to be told. Do you know to who?"

"I don't _know_," said Ellen, in a low voice; — "I couldn't help
guessing."

"I reckon you've guessed about right," said he, without
looking at her.

There was another silence, during which it seemed to Ellen
that her thoughts were tumbling head over heels, they were in
such confusion.

"The short and the long of it is," said Mr. Van Brunt, as they
rounded the corner of the barn — "we have made up our minds to
draw in the same yoke; and we're both on us pretty go-ahead
folks, so I guess we'll contrive to pull the cart along. I had
just as lief tell you, Ellen, that all this was as good as
settled a long spell back — afore ever you came to Thirlwall;
but I was never a-going to leave my old mother without a home,
so I stuck to her, and would, to the end of time, if I had
never been married. But now she is gone, and there is nothing
to keep me to the old place any longer. So now you know the
hull on it, and I wanted you should."

With this particularly cool statement of his matrimonial
views, Mr. Van Brunt turned off into the barnyard, leaving
Ellen to go home by herself. She felt as if she were walking
on air while she crossed the chip-yard, and the very house had
a seeming of unreality. Mechanically she put her flowers in
water, and sat down to finish the beans; but the beans might
have been flowers, and the flowers beans, for all the
difference Ellen saw in them. Miss Fortune and she shunned
each other's faces most carefully for a long time — Ellen felt
it impossible to meet her eyes; and it is a matter of great
uncertainty which, in fact, did first look at the other. Other
than this there was no manner of difference in anything
without or within the house. Mr. Van Brunt's being absolutely
speechless was not a _very_ uncommon thing.


CHAPTER XLI.

"The clouds return after the rain."


As soon as she could, Ellen carried this wonderful news to
Alice, and eagerly poured out the whole story, her walk and
all. She was somewhat disappointed at the calmness of her
hearer.

"But you don't seem half as surprised as I expected, Alice; I
thought you would be so much surprised."

"I am not surprised at all, Ellie."

"Not! aren't you? why, did you know anything of this before?"

"I did not _know_, but I suspected. I thought it was very
likely. I am very glad it is so."

"Glad! are you glad? I am so sorry. Why are you glad, Alice?"

"Why are you sorry, Ellie?"

"Oh because — I don't know — it seems so queer! — I don't like
it at all. I am very sorry, indeed."

"For your aunt's sake, or for Mr. Van Brunt's sake?"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, do you think he or she will be a loser by the
bargain?"

"Why, he to be sure — I think he will — I don't think she
will. I think he is a great deal too good. And, besides — I
wonder if he wants to, really — it was settled so long ago —
maybe he has changed his mind since."

"Have you any reason to think so, Ellie?" said Alice, smiling.

"I don't know — I don't think he seemed particularly glad."

"It will be safest to conclude that Mr. Van Brunt knows his
own mind, my dear; and it is certainly pleasanter for us to
hope so."

"But then, besides," said Ellen, with a face of great
perplexity and vexation — "I don't know — it don't seem right!
How can I ever — must I — do you think I shall have to call
him anything but Mr. Van Brunt?"

Alice could not help smiling again.

"What is your objection, Ellie?"

"Why, because I _can't!_ — I couldn't do it, somehow. It would
seem so strange. Must I, Alice? Why in the world are you glad,
dear Alice?"

"It smooths my way for a plan I have had in my head; you will
know by-and-by why I am glad, Ellie."

"Well, I am glad if you are glad," said Ellen, sighing; "I
don't know why I was so sorry, but I couldn't help it. I
suppose I shan't mind it after a while."

She sat for a few minutes, musing over the possibility or
impossibility of ever forming her lips to the words "Uncle
Abraham," "Uncle Van Brunt," or barely "uncle;" her soul
rebelled against all three. "Yet, if he should think me
unkind, then I must — oh! rather fifty times over than that!"
Looking up, she saw a change in Alice's countenance, and
tenderly asked —

"What is the matter, dear Alice? what are you thinking about?"

"I am thinking, Ellie, how I shall tell you something that
will give you pain."

"Pain! you needn't be afraid of giving me pain," said Ellen,
fondly, throwing her arms around her. "Tell me, dear Alice; is
it something I have done that is wrong? what is it?"

Alice kissed her, and burst into tears.

"What is the matter; oh, dear Alice!" said Ellen, encircling
Alice's head with both her arms, "oh, don't cry! do tell me
what it is!"

"It is only sorrow for you, dear Ellie."

"But why?" said Ellen, in some alarm; "why are you sorry for
me? I don't care if it don't trouble you, indeed I don't?
Never mind me; is it something that troubles you, dear Alice?"

"No, except for the effect it may have on others."

"Then I can bear it," said Ellen; "you need not be afraid to
tell me, dear Alice; — what is it? don't be sorry for me!"

But the expression of Alice's face was such that she could not
help being afraid to hear: she anxiously repeated, "what is
it?"

Alice fondly smoothed back the hair from her brow, looking
herself somewhat anxiously and somewhat sadly upon the
uplifted face.

"Suppose Ellie," she, said at length, "that you and I were
taking a journey together — a troublesome, dangerous journey —
and that _I_ had a way of getting at once safe to the end of it;
— would you be willing to let me go, and you do without me for
the rest of the way?"

"I would rather you should take me with you," said Ellen, in a
kind of maze of wonder and fear; "why, where are you going,
Alice?"

"I think I am going home, Ellie — before you."

"Home?" said Ellen.

"Yes, home, I feel it to be; it is not a strange land; I thank
God it is my home I am going to."

Ellen sat looking at her, stupefied.

"It is your home, too, love, I trust, and believe," said Alice
tenderly; "we shall be together at last. I am not sorry for
myself; I only grieve to leave you alone — and others — but
God knows best. We must both look to Him."

"Why, Alice," said Ellen, starting up suddenly; "what do you
mean? what do you mean? — I don't understand you — what do you
mean?"

"Do you not understand me, Ellie?"

"But, Alice! — but Alice — _dear_ Alice! — what makes you say
so? is there anything the matter with you?"

"Do I look well, Ellie?"

With an eye sharpened to painful keenness, Ellen sought in
Alice's face for the tokens of what she wished and what she
feared. It _had_ once or twice lately flitted through her mind
that Alice was very thin, and seemed to want her old strength,
whether in riding or walking or any other exertion; and it _had_
struck her that the bright spots of colour in Alice's face
were just like what her mother's cheeks used to wear in her
last illness. These thoughts had just come and gone; but now,
as she recalled them, and was forced to acknowledge the
justness of them, and her review of Alice's face pressed them
home anew— hope for a moment faded. She grew white, even to
her lips.

"My poor Ellie! my poor Ellie!" said Alice, pressing her
little sister to her bosom — "it must be! We _must_ say 'the
Lord's will be done;' — we must not forget he does all things
well."

But Ellen rallied; she raised her head again: she could not
believe what Alice had told her. To her mind, it seemed an
evil _too great to happen;_ it could not be! Alice saw this in
her look, and again sadly stroked her hair from her brow. "It
must be, Ellie," she repeated.

"But have you seen somebody? — have you asked somebody?" said
Ellen — "some doctor?"

"I have seen, and I have asked," said Alice; — "it was not
necessary, but I have done both. They think as I do."

"But these Thirlwall doctors —"

"Not them; I did not apply to them. I saw an excellent
physician at Randolph, the last time I went to Ventnor."

"And he said —"

"As I have told you."

Ellen's countenance fell — fell.

"It is easier for me to leave you than for you to be left — I
know that, my dear little Ellie! You have no reason to be
sorry for me — I _am_ sorry for you; but the hand that is taking
me away is one that will touch neither of us but to do us
good; — I know that, too. We must both look away to our dear
Saviour, and not for a moment doubt his love. I do not — you
must not. Is it not said that 'he loved Martha, and her
sister, and Lazarus?' "

"Yes," said Ellen, who never stirred her eyes from Alice's.

"And might he not — did it not rest with a word of his lips,
to keep Lazarus from dying, and save his sisters from all the
bitter sorrow his death caused them?"

Again Ellen said, "Yes," or her lips seemed to say it.

"And yet there were reasons, good reasons, why he should not,
little as poor Martha and Mary could understand it. — But had
he at all ceased to _love them_ when he bade all that trouble
come? Do you remember, Ellie — oh, how beautiful those words
are! — when at last he arrived near the place, and first one
sister came to him with the touching reminder that he might
have saved them from this, and then the other, weeping, and
falling at his feet, and repeating 'Lord, if thou hadst been
here!' — when he saw their tears, and more, saw the torn
hearts that tears could not ease — he even wept with them too!
Oh, I thank God for those words! He saw reason to strike, and
his hand did not spare; but his love shed tears for them! and
he is just the same now."

Some drops fell from Alice's eyes, not sorrowful ones; Ellen
had hid her face.

'Let us never doubt His love, dear Ellie, and surely then we
can bear whatever that love may bring upon us. I do trust it.
I do believe it shall be well with them that fear God. I
believe it will be well for me when I die — well for you, my
dear, dear Ellie — well even for my father —"

She did not finish the sentence, afraid to trust herself. But
oh! Ellen knew what it would have been; and it suddenly
startled into life all the load of grief that had been
settling heavily on her heart. Her thoughts had not looked
that way before; now, when they did, this new vision of misery
was too much to bear. Quite unable to contain herself, and
unwilling to pain Alice more than she could help, with a
smothered burst of feeling she sprang away, out of the door,
into the woods, where she would be unseen and unheard.

And there, in the first burst of her agony, Ellen almost
thought she should die. Her grief had not now, indeed, the
goading sting of impatience: she knew the hand that gave the
blow, and did not raise her own against it; she believed, too,
what Alice had been saying, and the sense of it was, in a
manner, present with her in her darkest time. But her spirit
died within her; she bowed her head as if she were never to
lift it up again; and she was ready to say with Job, "What
good is my life to me?"

It was long, very long after, when slowly and mournfully she
came in again to kiss Alice before going back to her aunt's.
She would have done it hurriedly and turned away; but Alice
held her, and looked sadly for a minute into the woe-begone
little face, then clasped her close, and kissed her again and
again.

"Oh! Alice," sobbed Ellen, on her neck, "aren't you mistaken?
maybe you are mistaken!"

"I am not mistaken, my dear Ellie — my own Ellie," said
Alice's clear, sweet voice; — "nor sorry, except for others. I
will talk with you more about this. You will be sorry for me
at first, and then I hope you will be glad. It is only that I
am going home a little before you. Remember what I was saying
to you a while ago. Will you tell Mr. Van Brunt I should like
to see him for a few minutes, some time when he has leisure? —
And come to me early to-morrow, love."

Ellen could hardly get home. Her blinded eyes could not see
where she was stepping; and again and again her fulness of
heart got the better of everything else, and, unmindful of the
growing twilight, she sat down on a stone by the wayside, or
flung herself on the ground, to let sorrows have full sway. In
one of these fits of bitter struggling with pain, there came
on her mind, like a sunbeam across a cloud, the thought of
Jesus weeping at the grave of Lazarus. It came with singular
power. Did He love them so well? thought Ellen, and is He
looking down upon us with the same tenderness even now? — She
felt that the sun was shining still, though the cloud might be
between; her broken heart crept to His feet, and laid its
burden there, and after a few minutes she rose up and went on
her way, keeping that thought still close to her heart. The
unspeakable tears that were shed during those few minutes were
that softened out-pouring of the heart that leaves it eased.
Very, very sorrowful as she was, she went on calmly now, and
stopped no more.

It was getting dark, and a little way from the gate, on the
road, she met Mr. Van Brunt.

"Why, I was beginning to get scared about you," said he. "I
was coming to see where you was. How come you so late?"

Ellen made no answer, and as he now came nearer, and he could
see more distinctly, his tone changed.

"What's the matter?" said he; "you han't been well! what has
happened? what ails you, Ellen?"

In astonishment, and then in alarm, he saw that she was unable
to speak, and anxiously and kindly begged her to let him know
what was the matter, and if he could do anything. Ellen shook
her head.

"Ain't Miss Alice well?" said he; "you han't heerd no bad news
up there on the hill, have you?"

Ellen was not willing to answer this question with yea or nay.
She recovered herself enough to give him Alice's message.

"I'll be sure and go," said he; "but you han't told me yet
what's the matter. Has anything happened?"

"No," said Ellen; "don't ask me — she'll tell you — don't ask
me."

"I guess I'll go up the first thing in the morning then," said
he — "before breakfast."

"No," said Ellen — "better not; perhaps she wouldn't be up so
early."

"After breakfast, then; I'll go up right after breakfast. I
was a-going with the boys up into that 'ere wheat lot, but
anyhow I'll do that first. They won't have a chance to do much
bad or good before I get back to them, I reckon."

As soon as possible, she made her escape from Miss Fortune's
eye and questions of curiosity, which she could not bear to
answer, and got to her own room. There, the first thing she
did was to find the eleventh chapter of John. She read it as
she never had read it before; she found in it what she never
had found before; one of those cordials that none but the
sorrowing drink. On the love of Christ, as there shown, little
Ellen's heart fastened; and with that one sweetening thought,
amid all its deep sadness, her sleep that night might have
been envied by many a luxurious roller in pleasure.

At Alice's wish, she immediately took up her quarters at the
parsonage, to leave her no more. But she could not see much
difference in her from what she had been for several weeks
past; and with the natural hopefulness of childhood, her mind
presently almost refused to believe the extremity of the evil
which had been threatened. Alice herself was constantly
cheerful, and sought by all means to further Ellen's
cheerfulness; though careful, at the same time, to forbid, as
far as she could, the rising of the hope she saw Ellen was
inclined to cherish.

One evening they were sitting together at the window, looking
out upon the same old lawn and distant landscape, now in all
the fresh greenness of the young spring. The woods were not
yet in full leaf; and the light of the setting sun upon the
trees bordering the other side of the lawn, showed them in the
most exquisite and varied shades of colour. Some had the
tender green of the new leaf, some were in the red or yellow
browns of the half-opened bud; others in various stages of
forwardness, mixing all the tints between, and the evergreens
standing dark as ever, setting off the delicate hues of the
surrounding foliage. This was all softened off in the
distance; the very light of the spring was mild and tender
compared with that of other seasons; and the air that stole
round the corner of the house and came in at the open window
was laden with aromatic fragrance. Alice and Ellen had been
for some time silently breathing it, and gazing thoughtfully
on the loveliness that was abroad.

"I used to think," said Alice, "that it must be a very hard
thing to leave such a beautiful world. Did you ever think so,
Ellie?"

"I don't know," said Ellen, faintly — "I don't remember."

"I used to think so," said Alice, "but I do not now, Ellie; my
feeling has changed. Do _you_ feel so now, Ellie?"

"Oh, why do you talk about it, dear Alice?"

"For many reasons, dear Ellie. Come here and sit in my lap
again."

"I am afraid you cannot bear it."

"Yes, I can. Sit here, and let your head rest where it used
to;" and Alice laid her cheek upon Ellen's forehead; "you are
a great comfort to me, dear Ellie."

"Oh, Alice, don't say so — you'll kill me!" exclaimed Ellen,
in great distress.

"Why should I not say so, love?" said Alice, soothingly. "I
like to say it, and you will be glad to know it by-and-by. You
are a _great_ comfort to me."

"And what have you been to me?" said Ellen, weeping bitterly.

"What I cannot be much longer; and I want to accustom you to
think of it, and to think of it rightly. I want you to know
that, if I am sorry at all in the thought, it is for the sake
of others, not myself. Ellie, you yourself will be glad for me
in a little while; you will not wish me back."

Ellen shook her head.

"I know you will not, after a while; — and I shall leave you
in good hands — I have arranged for that, my dear little
sister!"

The sorrowing child neither knew nor cared what she meant, but
a mute caress answered the _spirit_ of Alice's words.

"Look up, Ellie — look out again. Lovely, lovely! all that is;
but I know heaven is a great deal more lovely. Feasted as our
eyes are with beauty, I believe that eye has not seen nor
heart imagined the things that God has prepared for them that
love him. _You_ believe that, Ellie; you must not be so very
sorry that I have gone to see it a little before you."

Ellen could say nothing.

"After all, Ellie, it is not beautiful things nor a beautiful
world that make people happy — it is loving and being loved;
and that is the reason why I am happy in the thought of
heaven. I shall, if he receives me, I shall be with my
Saviour; I shall see him and know him, without any of the
clouds that come between here. I am often forgetting and
displeasing him now— never serving him well nor loving him
right. I shall be glad to find myself where all that will be
done with for ever. I shall be like him! — Why do you cry so,
Ellie?" said Alice, tenderly.

"I can't help it, Alice."

"It is only my love for you — and for two more — that could
make me wish to stay here— nothing else; — and I give all that
up, because I do not know what is best for you or myself. And
I look to meet you all again before long. Try to think of it
as I do, Ellie."

"But what shall I do without you?" said poor Ellen.

"I will tell you, Ellie. You must come here and take my place,
and take care of those I leave behind; will you? — and they
will take care of you."

"But," said Ellen, looking up eagerly — "Aunt Fortune" —

"I have managed all that. Will you do it, Ellen? I shall feel
easy and happy about you, and far easier and happier about my
father, if I leave you established here, to be to him, as far
as you can, what I have been. Will you promise me, Ellie?"

In words it was not possible; but what silent kisses and the
close pressure of the arms round Alice's neck could say, was
said.

"I am satisfied, then," said Alice, presently. "My father will
be your father — think him so, dear Ellie — and I know John
will take care of you. And my place will not be empty. I am
very, very glad."

Ellen felt her place surely would be empty, but she could not
say so.

"It was for this I was so glad of your aunt's marriage,
Ellie," Alice soon went on. "I foresaw she might raise some
difficulties in my way — hard to remove, perhaps; — but now I
have seen Mr. Van Brunt, and he has promised me that nothing
shall hinder your taking up your abode, and making your home
entirely here. Though I believe, Ellie, he would truly have
loved to have you in his own house."

"I am sure he would," said Ellen — "but oh, how much rather!"

"He behaved very well about it the other morning — in a very
manly, frank, kind way — showed a good deal of feeling, I
think, too. He gave me to understand that for his own sake he
should be extremely sorry to let you go; but he assured me
that nothing over which he had any control should stand in the
way of your good."

"He is _very_ kind — he is _very_ good — he is always so," said
Ellen. "I love Mr. Van Brunt very much. He always was as kind
to me as he could be."

They were silent for a few minutes, and Alice was looking out
of the window again. The sun had set, and the colouring of all
without was graver. Yet it was but the change from one beauty
to another. The sweet air seemed still sweeter than before the
sun went down.

"You must be happy, dear Ellie, in knowing that I am. I am
happy now. I enjoy all this, and I love you all — but I can
leave it and can leave you — yes, both — for I would see
Jesus! He who has taught me to love him, will not forsake me
now. Goodness and mercy have followed me all the days of my
life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. I
thank him! Oh, I thank him!"

Alice's face did not belie her words, though her eyes shone
through tears.

"Ellie, dear — you must love Him with all your heart, and live
constantly in his presence. I know if you do, he will make you
happy, in any event. He can always give more than he takes
away. Oh, how good he is! — and what wretched returns we make
him! I was miserable when John first went away to Doncaster; I
did not know how to bear it. But now, Ellie, I think I can see
it has done me good, and I can even be thankful for it. All
things are ours — all things — the world, and life, and death
too."

"Alice," said Ellen, as well as she could — "you know what you
were saying to me the other day?"

"About what, love?"

"That about — you know — that chapter."

"About the death of Lazarus?"

"Yes. It has comforted me very much."

"So it has me, Ellie. It has been exceeding sweet to me at
different times. Come, sing to me — 'How firm a foundation.' "

From time to time, Alice led to this kind of conversation,
both for Ellen's sake and her own pleasure. Meanwhile she made
her go on with her usual studies and duties; and but for these
talks Ellen would have scarce known how to believe that it
could be true which she feared.

The wedding of Miss Fortune and Mr. Van Brunt was a very quiet
one. It happened at far too busy a time of the year, and they
were too cool calculators, and looked upon their union in much
too business-like a point of view, to dream of such a wild
thing as a wedding-tour, or even resolve upon so troublesome a
thing as a wedding-party. Miss Fortune would not have left her
cheese and butter-making to see all the New Yorks and Bostons
that ever were built; and she would have scorned a trip to
Randolph. And Mr. Van Brunt would as certainly have wished
himself all the while back among his furrows and crops. So one
day they were quietly married at home, the Rev. Mr. Clark
having been fetched from Thirlwall for the purpose. Mr. Van
Brunt would have preferred that Mr. Humphreys should perform
the ceremony; but Miss Fortune was quite decided in favour of
the Thirlwall gentleman, and of course he it was.

The talk ran high all over the country on the subject of this
marriage, and opinions were greatly divided; some
congratulating Mr. Van Brunt on having made himself one of the
richest landholders "in town," by the junction of another fat
farm to his own; some pitying him for having got more than his
match within doors, and "guessing he'd missed his reckoning
for once."

"If he has, then," said Sam Larkens, who heard some of these
condoling remarks, "it's the first time in his life, I can
tell you. If _she_ ain't a little mistaken, I wish I mayn't get
a month's wages in a year to come. I tell you, you don't know
Van Brunt; he's as easy as anybody as long as he don't care
about what you're doing; but if he once takes a notion, you
can't make him gee nor haw no more than you can our near ox
Timothy when he's out o' yoke — and he's as ugly a beast to
manage as ever I see when he ain't yoked up. Why, bless you!
there han't been a thing done on the farm this five years but
just what he liked — _she_ don't know it. I've heerd her," said
Sam chucking — "I've heerd her a-telling him how she wanted
this thing done and t'other, and he'd just not say a word, and
go and do it right t'other way. It'll be a wonder if somebody
ain't considerably startled in her calculations afore summer's
out."


CHAPTER XLII.

One less in the wide, wide world.


It was impossible at first to make Mr. Humphreys believe that
Alice was right in her notion about her health. The greatness
of the evil was such that his mind refused to receive it, much
as Ellen's had done. His unbelief, however, lasted longer than
hers. Constantly with Alice as she was, and talking to her on
the subject, Ellen slowly gave up the hope she had clung to;
though, still, bending all her energies to the present
pleasure and comfort of her adopted sister, her mind shrank
from looking at the end. Daily and hourly, in every way, she
strove to be what Alice said she was, a comfort to her, and
she succeeded. Daily and hourly Alice's look and smile and
manner said the same thing over and over. It was Ellen's
precious reward, and in seeking to earn it, she half the time
earned another in forgetting herself. It was different with
Mr. Humphreys. He saw much less of his daughter; and when he
was with her, it was impossible for Alice, with all her
efforts, to speak to him as freely and plainly as she was in
the habit of speaking to Ellen. The consequences were such as
grieved her, but could not be helped.

As soon as it was known that her health was failing, Sophia
Marshman came and took up her abode at the parsonage. Ellen
was almost sorry; it broke up in a measure the sweet and
peaceful way of life she and Alice had held together ever
since her own coming. Miss Sophia could not make a third in
their conversations. But as Alice's strength grew less, and
she needed more attendance and help, it was plain her friend's
being there was a happy thing for both Alice and Ellen. Miss
Sophia was active, cheerful, untiring in her affectionate
care, always pleasant in manner and temper; a very useful
person in a house where one was ailing. Mrs. Vawse was often
there, too, and to her Ellen clung, whenever she came, as to a
pillar of strength. Miss Sophia could do nothing to help _her;_
Mrs. Vawse could, a great deal.

Alice had refused to write or allow others to write to her
brother. She said he was just finishing his course of study at
Doncaster; she would not have him disturbed or broken off by
bad news from home. In August he would be quite through; the
first of August he would be home.

Before the middle of June, however, her health began to fail
much more rapidly than she had counted upon. It became too
likely that, if she waited for his regular return at the first
of August, she would see but little of her brother. She at
last reluctantly consented that Mrs. Chauncey should write to
him; and from that moment counted the days.

Her father had scarcely till now given up his old confidence
respecting her. He came into her room one morning when just
about to set out for Carra-carra to visit one or two of his
poor parishioners.

"How are you to day, my daughter?" he asked, tenderly.

"Easy, Papa — and happy," said Alice.

"You are looking better," said he. "We shall have you well
again among us yet."

There was some sorrow for him in Alice's smile, as she looked
up at him and answered, "Yes, Papa — in the land where the
inhabitant shall no more say, 'I am sick.' "

He kissed her hastily, and went out.

"I almost wish I was in your place, Alice," said Miss Sophia.
"I hope I may be half as happy when my time comes."

"What right have you to hope so, Sophia?" said Alice, rather
sadly.

"To be sure," said the other, after a pause, "you have been
ten times as good as I. I don't wonder you feel easy when you
look back and think how blameless your life has been."

"Sophia, Sophia!" said Alice — "you know it is not that. I
never did a good thing in all my life that was not mixed and
spoiled with evil. I never came up to the full measure of duty
in any matter."

"But surely," said Miss Sophia, "if one does the best one can,
it will be accepted?"

"It won't do to trust to that, Sophia. God's law requires
perfection; and nothing less than perfection will be received
as payment of its demand. If you owe a hundred dollars, and
your creditor will not hold you quit for anything less than
the whole sum, it is of no consequence whether you offer him
ten or twenty."

"Why, according to that," said Miss Sophia. "it makes no
difference what kind of life one leads."

Alice sighed, and shook her head.

"The fruit shows what the tree is. Love to God _will_ strive to
please him — always."

"And is it of no use to strive to please him?"

"Of no manner of use, if you make that your _trust_."

"Well, I don't see what one _is_ to trust to," said Miss Sophia,
"if it isn't a good life."

"I will answer you," said Alice, with a smile in which there
was no sorrow, "in some words that I love very much, of an old
Scotchman, I think; — 'I have taken all my good deeds and all
my bad, and have cast them together in a heap before the Lord;
and from them all I have fled to Jesus Christ, and in him
alone I have sweet peace.' "

Sophia was silenced for a minute by her look.

"Well," said she, "I don't understand it; that is what George
is always talking about; but I can't understand him."

"I am _very_ sorry you cannot," said Alice, gravely.

They were both silent for a little while.

"If all Christians were like you," said Miss Sophia, "I might
think more about it; but they are such a dull set; there seems
to be no life nor pleasure among them."

Alice thought of these lines, —


"Their pleasures rise to things unseen,
Beyond the bounds of time:
Where neither eyes nor ears have been,
Nor thoughts of mortals climb."


"You judge," said she, "like the rest of the world, of that
which they see not. After all, _they_ know best whether they are
happy. What do you think of Mrs. Vawse?

"I don't know what to think of her; she is wonderful to me;
she is past my comprehension entirely. Don't make _her_ an
example."

"No, religion has done that for me. What do you think of your
brother?"

"George? _He_ is happy, there is no doubt of that; he is the
happiest person in the family, by all odds; but then — I think
he has a natural knack at being happy; — it is impossible for
anything to put him out."

Alice smiled, and shook her head again.

"Sophistry, Sophia. What do you think of _me?_"

"I don't see what reason you have to be anything but happy."

"What have I to make me so?"

Sophia was silent. Alice laid her thin hand upon hers.

"I am leaving all I love in this world. Should I be happy if I
were not going to somewhat I love better? Should I be happy if
I had no secure prospect of meeting with them again? — or if I
were doubtful of my reception in that place whither I hope to
go?"


Sophia burst into tears.

"Well, I don't know," said she; "I suppose you are right; but
I don't understand it."

Alice drew her face down to hers, and whispered something in
her ear.

Undoubtedly Alice had much around, as well as within her, to
make a declining life happy. Mrs. Vawse and Miss Marshman were
two friends and nurses not to be surpassed in their different
ways. Margery's motherly affection, her zeal, and her skill,
left nothing for heart to wish in her line of duty. And all
that affection, taste, and kindness, which abundant means,
could supply, was at Alice's command. Still her greatest
comfort was Ellen; her constant, thoughtful care; the thousand
tender attentions, from the roses daily gathered for her
table, to the chapters she read and the hymns she sung to her;
the smile that often covered a pang; the pleasant words and
tone that many a time came from a sinking heart; they were
Alice's daily and nightly cordial. Ellen had learned self-
command in more than one school; affection, as once before,
was her powerful teacher now, and taught her well. Sophia
openly confessed that Ellen was the best nurse; and Margery,
when nobody heard her, muttered blessings on the child's head.

Mr. Humphreys came in often to see his daughter, but never
stayed long. It was plain he could not bear it. It might have
been difficult, too, for Alice to bear, but she wished for her
brother. She reckoned the time from Mrs. Chauncey's letter to
that when he might be looked for; but some irregularities in
the course of the post-office made it impossible to count with
certainty upon the exact time of his arrival. Meanwhile, her
failure was very rapid. Mrs. Vawse began to fear he would not
arrive in time.

The weeks of June ran out; the roses, all but a few late
kinds, blossomed and died; July came.

One morning, when Ellen went into her room, Alice drew her
close to her and said —

"You remember, Ellie, in the _Pilgrim's Progress_, when
Christiana and her c