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under a load of accumulated cares, I thought the debt I owed to Mrs. Wilson; weighing my peity anxieties and griefs were not sub- the difficulties, and comparing evils, when a jects to be laid before the eye of Omnipo- letter was brought to me from my sister. tence. A feverish tide of troubled thought Well remembering the insulting nature of was rushing through my soul, where hope my last to her, I opened it with nervous terhad forsaken her last resting place, and ror, svon quieted by the kind and delicate frightful apprehensions contended for the manner in which a very eligible situation empire she had just resigned. Not one of was proposed to me, and a supply of the all the fair pictures of imagination now ever needful conveyed, without the slightest seemed tangible and true, but dark visions allusion to the past. I was now great again, of futurity opened upon me through the mist for all human greatness is by comparison. of tears.
I returned the ten guineas in a blank cover, If religion be the blessed messenger sent made presents to the little Wilsons, prepared down upon earth to still the sighs of the sor- for my journey, and took leave of my poor rowing when the footsteps of time or death friend, with that rapidity of execution with have trampled down their earthly treasures, which we escape from the misery that we to calm the waters of affliction, and bind up cannot relieve. the broken-hearted; not less is her holy in- I was met at the distance of one stage fluence needed to smoothe the ruilled mind, from my future residence by a gentleman's which petty cares have made their prey, to servant, whose kind and respectful behaviour quiet the rapid and tumultuous throbbings was a sure and pleasant omen of domestic of the heart, and to direct the wandering comfort. It was late in the afternoon when I wishes which find no certain gratification in first saw the lights of Mr. Morton's habitathis troubled world, to one whose pleasures tion glimmering through the leafless trees, are unfading, and whose rest is eternal. as we wound along the side of a hill, and
descended by a gentle declivity into a thickly wooded valley, where the bright line of a narrow and meandering river was here and
there seen glancing through the mist. At CHAPTER XIII.
the door I was received with a cordial wel
come by a matronly-looking woman, who On the following morning I awoke with might be either housekeeper or nurse, and many serious thoughts, but still without any who in either situation had obtained suffifixed determination to pursue a more decided cient knowledge of the domestic affairs of the path. My attention was absorbed by present family, to be able to satisfy the demands of difficulties, which I vainly tortured my in my curiosity. genuity to find expedients to escape from. Mr. Morton was a widower, within the Indeed
my whole life was a system of expe- last year deprived of a wife whom he had dients, not to attain any laudable object, but almost idolized, since whose death he had to help me on the winding and circuitous but rarely been seen to smile. He was a way, by which I hoped to arrive at the uni- man of fastidious tastes, and secluded habits, versal good-will of society.
not lavish of his affections, but when he did I was pondering in my own chamber upon love, it was with tenderness unspeakable; the propriety of returning the price of my and all that he now seemed capable of feelpicture to Sir Charles, whose charity (for 1 ing was expended upon an only child, whose
could not attribute to him any other motive extremely delicate constitution rendered her in his purchase,) was not exactly what I an object of painful solicitude. wished to profit by; and against the return “ You will think Mr. Morton cold and forof this money I was setting the discharge of bidding at first,” said my informer, who was
kindly disposed to let me into every secret; and intelligent eyes of one who could think 6 but there never was a more devoted hus- as well as feel. I saw at once the departed band, a kinder father, or a better master; mother, whose sacred silence subdued my and if you can but attach yourself to the poor lighter feelings, and I inwardly resolved that child, and win her affection, you will be the reverence with which her pictured form sure of his."
inspired me should be my safeguard and Although the worthy woman possibly protection while cherishing her orphan child. meant nothing more than her master's good Forcibly impressed as my mind already will, when she spoke of his affection, I was with what I had heard and seen, I was thought this was going too far, and changed yet more deeply interested on entering the the subject by asking some questions about room where the poor invalid lay. Her fathe child, when I was shocked to learn that ther was bending over her couch, and rose there was every probability of her remaining not until I approached, when he regarded an invalid for life.
me with an earnest and scrutinizing eye, as “She was a sweet young creature," said if to ascertain whether I were such a perMrs. Woods ; " none can help loving her son as his daughter would find it possible to who have seen her suffer. Oh! what a like. comfort you will be, ma'am, to this family! “ You have undertaken a wearisome task," For though we may nurse and do all that we said the child, holding out her hand to me, can, Miss Eleanor is now able to converse “ but if you can bear with me and my impalike a woman, and wants better society than tience, every one else, I am sure, will try to such as me. Indeed we sometimes think make you comfortable.” she is too sensible, and that having such “ And will not you, my love ?" asked the busy thoughts and quick feelings, makes her father. health more delicate. But oh! ma’am, you “I will do my best," said she—“ but there will be a comfort to her. I know you will.” | is very little that I can do." And so saying, Mrs. Woods left me to en- “ You can tell me freely all you want," joy without interruption, and for the first said I. time in my life, the hope of being really and
" Ah! that I am sure I will !" she exproperly useful.
claimed; "you look so kind I know I shall The apartment into which I had been be able to tell you every thing. But are you shown was called Miss Eleanor's study; but strong ? are you healthy ? are you quite it wore more decidedly the character of a able to keep awake sometimes in the night? sick room, and though a few well-chosen Poor Mrs. Woods sleeps so soundly, I do books lay on the table, couches, cushions, not like to disturb her, and the night is so and various inventions for the alleviation of long when nobody speaks to me. It is a suffering, bore testimony to the melancholy sad thing, Miss Irvine, that sickness makes truth, that if this were the path to science, us selfish.” it was not strewn with flowers. A few ap. “ It has so pleased the disposer of our propriate pictures adorned the walls, such as lives." I replied, " that no situation shall be simple cottage scenery, a girl drawing without its peculiar trials. During sickness water at a well, a child at play, a favourite when we are exempt from any of the tempdog, a bird let loose. One large painting tations of the world, and are almost comhung above the fire, concealed by a curtain, pelled from our very weakness to seek for which I ventured to raise. It was the figure divine support, we might possibly grow selfof a Madonna, beautifully executed, not righteous, had not this temptation been perwith the unmeaning cour tenance by which mitted, to convince us that we are still submost artists have chosen to disgrace this ject to the most despicable of human frailholy character, but with the clcar forehead / ties."
Mr. Morton looked attentively at me, as if its Creator ? I could weep at midnight to discern the spirit which had prompted this over my thorny and bewildered path, but I speech; but the unsophisticated child, satis- never, either at midnight or noon-day, fied that none but a good woman could talk breathed an humble prayer that I might be so well, asked me if I were not too weary to solely guided by his will. I never formed sleep beside her that night. She evidently an earnest resolution that I would serve wished it, and I could not refuse. Her fa- Him and Him only. I never seriously enther now left us, and we entered into many deavoured to lay hold of those promises by arrangements respecting personal comfort, which the burden of past transgression is and were soon as familiar and cordial as if made more tolerable, nor looked with steadi. we had been acquainted for years. Mrs. ness towards that star whose inextinguishWoods would willingly have retained her able light would have led me safely through place for that night, but the sudden prefer- the storms of life. ence poor Eleanor entertained for me, ren
en- Unacquainted with the importance of liv dered me more than willing to share what- ing for one object only, some may be disever disturbance she might endure.
posed to think that I distressed myself more The enjoyment of sleep I could not even than was necessary, so long as what the anticipate. Strange visions of the past and world calls guilt was not stamped upon my future flitted before my mind, nor was the conscience; but are we not told in the record present less strange to me that it was rich in of eternal truth, that those who are not for promises of peace and comfort. To be re- the righteous cause are against it ? And garded with affection by this suffering child, though I could freely and fluently recomit inight be with esteem by her father, and mend religion to others as an ultimate good, to contribute to the happiness of both, was where was the evidence of my own esa harvest of enjoyment I was all unworthy pousal. to reap. I looked back into my past life, and While pondering in my own mind upon a tried to blame my luckless fate for half the world of dark and troubled thoughts, my atculpability to which my burning tears bore tention was arrested by the sweet voice of witness. I had few deliberate and deter- my companion, repeating, in a low and genmined sins to charge my conscience with. tle tone, the following words :The world had certainly dealt unfairly with me. I felt nothing but kindness and good
In the still watches of the solemn night, will towards the whole human race, and While chilly dews are falling thick and damp, only wished I could prove by self-sacrifice,
And countless stars shed forth their feeble light,
The silent mourner trims her cheerless lamp. how inexhaustible was that kindness, how unfailing that good-will. Every subterfuge
Alone she watches through the midnight hour,
Alone she breathes the melancholy sigh, that human frailty could lay hold of I tried
Alone she droops like some neglected flower, that night, to convince myself that I had no Unseen the tears that dim her sleepless eye. need to be unhappy, but it would not do.
Alone! There is no loneliness with God, Conviction came not so readily as my irs, No darkness that he cannot turn to light; and I wished myself a child again, that I No flinty rock, from whence his gracious rod
May not bring forth fresh waters, pure and bright. might offer up to heaven an unsophisticated mind, and bow before the throne of mercy in perfect simplicity and singleness of heart. Are hid from his all-penetrating eye;
Nor rolls that ocean, whose tumultuous waves It is true there was no moral stain upon my
May not be silenced when the Lord is nigh. character. I had laboured hard to promote the happiness of others, and religious senti- There is no bark upon the trackless main,
No pilgrim lone. whose path he cannot see ments were familiar to my lips; but how
Peace! then, poor mourner, trim iny lamp again, blood my trembling soul in the presence of The eye that knows no slumber, watches thee.
There is no wilderness whose desert caves
These words were followed by a sigh so ments would have been less pure. What deep and heavy, that I roused myself from would I not have given for a full and commy fruitless meditations to ask, whether my plete conviction, that he thought he had acted young friend was in pain.
wisely in choosing me for the companion of “Not so much in pain, as weary," she re- his child ? I vain I sought to win his favour plied. “I am afraid I have disturbed you, by every artifice which I deemed too remote but the night is very long, and my mother for detection. Artifice had no effect upon a used to teach me to repeat verses and hymns character so firm and sterling. What I failed when I could not rest. You must not pay to accomplish in this way, was, however, in any regard to me, but try to sleep again." time effected by my 'simple and unstudied I replied, that I had not yet slept.
services to his child; who sometimes gave “Ah! I dare say you have been thinking her father such glowing descriptions of my of your home.”
unremitting kindness, that he rewarded me "I have no home, my love."
with a smile too expressive of entire confi“No home! Then you must sometimes dence, for me ever to forget. be very sad. But still you have a home for It was, indeed, as the kind nurse had told your thoughts. Some secret resting place me; no one could witness the sufferings of of which no one can deprive you."
Eleanor Morton without loving her. She Poor child! she little knew in what a bar- was not impatient, but so perfecily guileless, ren wilderness my thoughts were ranging, that she concealed nothing, and after having nor how long it was since they had found a permitted herself to speak as she thought too resting place.
freely of her own distressing feelings, che I made no answer, and the invalid, some would sometimes shed, over what she called what excited by sever, went on with her con- her weakness and ingratitude, tears more versation, asking with perfect simplicity, agonizing than pain alone had been able to many close questions which I had no choice wring from her. With no one was she so but to answer, yet to answer which, fully and completely undisguised in her moments of candidly, would have deprived me for ever suffering, as with me. of her esteem. Towards morning, however, “Mrs. Woods," said she, "pities me too she slept soundly, and awoke without much much, and I cannot tell my father all that I recollection of what had passed in the night. feel, lest I should distress him. It is quite
I had now a severe ordeal to pass through different with us all now that you are come, in the presence of Morton, whose command- Miss Irvine. Are you not happy to have ing countenanee, reserved manners, and made us so cheerful again? Even my father strict scrutinizing eye, rendered him a truly is quite an altered man. I thought this mornalarming person, when brought into close ing, when he looked at you, that he smiled contact with one who felt no certainty of his as he used to smile upon my mother. And approbation. I soon found that the society do you know he talks of inviting company to of this man would either render me more the house again, for he says it is not good for contemptible, by driving me to the practice you to lead so secluded a life. of deceit, or more worthy, by inspiring the I replied, that my wish was only to be usedesire to merit his respect, which it was ful, and that I felt no want of society. easy to discover could be obtained in no other “Well, don't say anything about it, for I way, than by a steady, consistent, and ration- am quite sure it will do him good, as well as al course of action. The mind of Morton you, to have some one now and then to conwas not so expansive as his character was verse with out of our own family. I dare dignified, and his tastes refined and exclu- say you will take all the trouble off his hands, sive. Had he seen more of the world, he and will not let him feel the want of my momight have been more liberal, but his senti- ther, who used to be so easy and pleasant in
conversation, that entertaining company has with me. But are you always the same, appeared quite impossible to my poor father, Miss Irvine ?" since he was alone.”
"I am always sorry when I have given I could not help feeling a secret glow of pain," said I. exultation at the idea that I should now be “ Perhaps you are too anxious to give able to exhibit my character to Morton, in pleasure,” continued the child.
“ And that what I considered its most pleasing light. I am sure would give my father pain in any The guests arrived. I had dressed myself one he loved." with studied care; and my spirits rose, with I was almost comforted with the close of the prospect of once more having a fair field, this sentence, for there was a certain refinein which to exercise my powers of pleasing. ment and devotion in the character of MorKnowing, too well, the trial of patience it ton, that made his esteem the highest object must be to Morton to carry on the empty of my ambition. But his love !-- I had never common-place of desultory conversation, Idared to think of his love before. endeavoured to relieve his difficulty, by dou- “We heard of you,” the child went on, bling and redoubling my natural vivacity; " long before we saw you ; that you were a and whatever his guests might think of my very charming woman, a sort of idol in soproper station in his establishment, I was ciety. Now, my father is worth pleasing, fully convinced of their perfect satisfaction in but you cannot please him and all the world finding so lively and entertaining a person, beside. He will explain 10 you better than for that day, at the head of it.
I can, how it makes a person little and conMore than once I detected the steady eyes temptible to be always studying to please, of Morton fixed upon me, when his lips were and how there is but one Being in the unisilent, and there was an earnest meaning in verse whose favour is worth the constant his gaze, which made the colour rush into trouble of obtaining. Do not think me immy face-I knew not why. At last he left pertinent, Miss Irvine, for speaking to you in the room, and for so long a time, that I be- this manner; I am only an ignorant child, gan to think seriously of my little invalid but I lie here upon this weary bed, ponderfriend; and apologizing to the company for ing upon many grave and serious things, the necessity of attending to duties which I which, if I could enjoy exercise, and play had too long forgotten, I ran hastily up stairs like other children, I should most likely never to pay my first visit to Eleanor since the ar- dream of. Tell me, my dear friend, that you rival of the guests.
are not offended.” Her father was bending over her couch in “No, no," I replied, “I am distressed, but the same attitude in which I had first seen not offended. You shall be my kind and him. They had been conversing, but their faithful monitress, Eleanor, for your Heavoices dropped when I opened the door; and venly Father makes up to you for the privawhen Morton rose for me to take my proper tions he inflicts, by a clearer sense of what is place, he pressed his handkerchief to his eyes right, than I have ever enjoyed.” with more emotion than he was wont to be- “ But may you not enjoy the same ? May tray, and hastily left the room.
not all who wish to be directed find a guide ?" “Come near to me, my friend,” said Elea- “Yes, Eleanor, but to wish earnestly and nor, stretching out her hand. “You have with true sincerity of heart is the difficulty." been a long time away. I am afraid my fa- “And to wish always is another difficulty. ther thinks you have neglected me; and For sometimes when I am quite at ease, and there is so much mirth below, he does not kind friends are doing more than enough, I know how to bear it. My mother was a very do wish from the bottom of my heart, that I gentle woman, such as you are in the nursery | may never be impatient again ; but when