EMILIE THE PEACEMAKER.
BY MRS. THOMAS GELDART.
AUTHOR OF "TRUTH IS EVERYTHING;" "NURSERY GUIDE;" "STORIES OF ENGLAND AND HER FORTY COUNTIES;" AND "THOUGHTS FOR HOME."
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.... Matt v. 9.
THE SOFT ANSWER
THE LESSON AT THE COTTAGE
GOOD FOR EVIL
FRED A PEACEMAKER
EDITH'S VISIT TO JOE
THE CHRISTMAS TREE
THE NEW HOME
One bright afternoon, or rather evening, in May, two girls, with basket in hand, were seen leaving the little seaport town in which they resided, for the professed purpose of primrose gathering, but in reality to enjoy the pure air of the first summer-like evening of a season, which had been unusually cold and backward. Their way lay through bowery lanes scented with sweet brier and hawthorn, and every now and then glorious were the views of the beautiful ocean, which lay calmly reposing and smiling beneath the setting sun. "How unlike that stormy, dark, and noisy sea of but a week ago!" so said the friends to each other, as they listened to its distant musical murmur, and heard the waves break gently on the shingly beach.
Although we have called them friends, there was a considerable difference in their ages. That tall and pleasing, though plain, girl in black, was the governess of the younger. Her name was Emilie Schomberg. The little rosy, dark-eyed, and merry girl, her pupil, we shall call Edith Parker. She had scarcely numbered twelve Mays, and was at the age when primrosing and violeting have not lost their charms, and when spring is the most welcome, and the dearest of all the four seasons. Emilie Schomberg, as her name may lead you to infer, was a German. She spoke English, however, so well, that you would scarcely have supposed her to be a foreigner, and having resided in England for some years, had been accustomed to the frequent use of that language. Emilie Schomberg was the daily governess of little Edith. Little she was always called, for she was the youngest of the family, and at eleven years of age, if the truth must be told of her, was a good deal of a baby.
Several schemes of education had been tried for this same little Edith,—schools and governesses and masters,—but Emilie Schomberg, who now came to her for a few hours every other day, had obtained greater influence over her than any former instructor; and in addition to the German, French, and music, which she undertook to teach, she instructed Edith in a few things not really within her province, but nevertheless of some importance; of these you shall judge. The search for primroses was not a silent search—Edith is the first speaker.
"Yes, Emilie, but it was very provoking, after I had finished my lessons so nicely, and got done in time to walk out with you, to have mamma fancy I had a cold, when I had nothing of the kind. I almost wish some one would turn really ill, and then she would not fancy I was so, quite so often."
"Oh, hush, Edith dear! you are talking nonsense, and you are saying what you cannot mean. I don't like to hear you so pert to that kind mamma of yours, whenever she thinks it right to contradict you."
"Emilie, I cannot help saying, and you know yourself, though you call her kind, that mamma is cross, very cross sometimes. Yes, I know she is very fond of me and all that, but still she is cross, and it is no use denying it. Oh, dear, I wish I was you. You never seem to have anything to put you out. I never see you look as if you had been crying or vexed, but I have so many many things to vex me at home."
Emilie smiled. "As to my having nothing to put me out, you may be right, and you may be wrong, dear. There is never any excuse for being what you call put out, by which I understand cross and pettish, but I am rather amused, too, at your fixing on a daily governess, as a person the least likely in the world to have trials of temper and patience." "Yes, I dare say I vex you sometimes, but"—"Well, not to speak of you, dear, whom I love very much, though you are not perfect, I have other pupils, and do you suppose, that amongst so many as I have to teach at Miss Humphrey's school, for instance, there is not one self-willed, not one impertinent, not one idle, not one dull scholar? My dear, there never was a person, you may be sure of that, who had nothing to be tried, or, as you say, put out with. But not to talk of my troubles, and I have not many I will confess, except that great one, Edith, which, may you be many years before you know, (the loss of a father;) not to talk of that, what are your troubles? Your mamma is cross sometimes, that is to say, she does not always give you all you ask for, crosses you now and then, is that all?"
"Oh no Emilie, there are Mary and Ellinor, they never seem to like me to be with them, they are so full of their own plans and secrets. Whenever I go into the room, there is such a hush and mystery. The fact is, they treat me like a baby. Oh, it is a great misfortune to be the youngest child! but of all my troubles, Fred is the greatest. John teases me sometimes, but he is nothing to Fred. Emilie, you don't know what that boy is; but you will see, when you come to stay with me in the holidays, and you shall say then if you think I have nothing to put me out."
The very recollection of her wrongs appeared to irritate the little lady, and she put on a pout, which made her look anything but kind and amiable.
The primroses which she had so much desired, were not quite to her mind, they were not nearly so fine as those that John and Fred had brought home. Now she was tired of the dusty road, and she would go home by the beach. So saying, Edith turned resolutely towards a stile, which led across some fields to the sea shore, and not all Emilie's entreaties could divert her from her purpose.
"Edith, dear! we shall be late, very late! as it is we have been out too long, come back, pray do;" but Edith was resolute, and ran on. Emilie, who knew her pupil's self-will over a German lesson, although she had little experience of her temper in other matters, was beginning to despair of persuading her, and spoke yet more earnestly and firmly, though still kindly and gently, but in vain. Edith had jumped over the stile, and was on her way to the cliff, when her course was arrested by an old sailor, who was sitting on a bench near the gangway leading to the shore. He had heard the conversation between the governess and her headstrong pupil, as he smoked his pipe on this favourite seat, and playfully caught hold of the skirt of the young lady's frock, as she passed, to Edith's great indignation.
"Now, Miss, I could not, no, that I could'nt, refuse any one who asked me so pretty as that lady did you. If she had been angry, and commanded you back, why bad begets bad, and tit for tat you know, and I should not so much have wondered: but, Miss, you should not vex her. No, don't be angry with an old man, I have seen so much of the evils of young folks taking their own way. Look here, young lady," said the weather beaten sailor, as he pointed to a piece of crape round his hat; "this comes of being fond of one's own way."
Edith was arrested, and approached the stile, on the other side of which Emilie Schomberg still leant, listening to the fisherman's talk with her pupil.
"You see, Miss," said he, "I have brought her round, she were a little contrary at first, but the squall is over, and she is going home your way. Oh, a capital good rule, that of your's, Miss!" "What," said Emilie smiling, "Why, that 'soft answer,' that kind way. I see a good deal of the ways of nurses with children, ah, and of governesses, and mothers, and fathers too, as I sit about on the sea shore, mending my nets. I ain't fit for much else now, you see, Miss, though I have seen a deal of service, and as I sit sometimes watching the little ones playing on the sand, and with the shingle, I keep my ears open, for I can't bear to see children grieved, and sometimes I put in a word to the nurse maids. Bless me! to see how some of 'em whip up the children in the midst of their play. Neither with your leave, nor by your leave; 'here, come along, you dirty, naughty boy, here's a wet frock! Come, this minute, you tiresome child, it's dinner time.' Now that ain't what I call fair play, Miss. I say you ought to speak civil, even to a child; and then, the crying, and the shaking, and the pulling up the gangway. Many and many is the little squaller I go and pacify, and carry as well as I can up the cliff: but I beg pardon, Miss, hope I don't offend. Only I was afraid, Miss there was a little awkward, and would give you trouble."
"Indeed," said Emilie, "I am much obliged to you; where do you live?"
"I live," said the old man, "I may say, a great part of my life, under the sky, in summer time, but I lodge with my son, and he lives between this and Brooke. In winter time, since the rheumatics has got hold of me, I am drawn to the fire side, but my son's wife, she don't take after him, bless him. She's a bit of a spirit, and when she talks more than I like, why I wish myself at sea again, for an angry woman's tongue is worse than a storm at sea, any day; if it was'nt for the children, bless 'em, I should not live with 'em, but I am very partial to them."
"Well, we must say good night, now," said Emilie, "or we shall be late home; I dare say we shall see you on the shore some day; good night." "Good night to you, ma'am; good night, young lady; be friends, won't you?"
Edith's hand was given, but it was not pleasant to be conquered, and she was a little sullen on the way home. They parted at the door of Edith's house. Edith went in, to join a cheerful family in a comfortable and commodious room; Emilie, to a scantily furnished, and shabbily genteel apartment, let to her and a maiden aunt by a straw bonnet maker in the town.
We will peep at her supper table, and see if Miss Edith were quite right in supposing that Emilie Schomberg had nothing to put her out.
THE SOFT ANSWER.
An old lady was seated by a little ricketty round table, knitting; knitting very fast. Surely she did not always knit so fast, Germans are great knitters it is true, but the needles made quite a noise—click, click, click—against one another. The table was covered with a snow-white cloth. By her side was a loaf called by bakers and housekeepers, crusty; the term might apply either to the loaf or the old lady's temper. A little piece of cheese stood on a clean plate, and a crab on another, a little pat of butter on a third, and this, with a jug of water, formed the preparation for the evening meal of the aunt and niece. Emilie went up to her aunt, gaily, with her bunch of primroses in her hand, and addressing her in the German language, begged her pardon for keeping supper waiting. The old lady knitted faster than ever, dropped a stitch, picked it up, looked out of the window, and cleared up, not her temper, but her throat; click, click went the needles, and Emilie looked concerned.
"Aunt, dear," she said, "shall we sit down to supper?" "My appetite is gone, Emilie, I thank you." "I am really sorry, aunt, but you know you are so kind, you wish me to take plenty of exercise, and I was detained to-night. Miss Parker and I stayed chattering to an old sailor. It was very thoughtless, pray excuse me. But now aunt, dear, see this fine crab, you like crabs; old Peter Varley sent it to you, the old man you knitted the guernsey for in the winter."
No,—old Miss Schomberg was not to be brought round. Crabs were very heavy things at night, very indigestible things, she wondered at Emilie thinking she could eat them, so subject as she was to spasms, too. Indeed she could eat no supper. She was very dull and not well, so Emilie sat down to her solitary meal. She did not go on worrying her aunt to eat, but she watched for a suitable opening, for the first indication indeed, of the clearing up for which she hoped, and though it must be confessed some such thoughts as "how cross and unreasonable aunt is," did pass through her mind, she gave them no utterance. Emilie's mind was under good discipline, she had learned to forbear in love, and for the exercise of this virtue, she had abundant opportunity.
Poor Emilie! she had not always been a governess, subject to the trials of tuition; she had not always lived in a little lodging without the comforts and joys of family and social intercourse.
Her father had failed in business, in Frankfort, and when Emilie was about ten years of age, he had come over to England, and had gained his living there by teaching his native language. He had been dead about a twelve-month, and Emilie, at the age of twenty-one, found herself alone in the world, in England at least, with the exception of the old German aunt, to whom I have introduced you, and who had come over with her brother, from love to him and his motherless child. She had a very small independence, and when left an orphan, the kind old aunt, for kind she was, in spite of some little infirmities of temper, persisted in sharing with her her board and lodging, till Emilie, who was too active and right minded to desire to depend on her for support, sought employment as a teacher.
The seaport town of L——, in the south of England, whither Emilie and her father had gone in the vain hope of restoring his broken health, offered many advantages to our young German mistress. She had had a good solid education. Her father, who was a scholar, had taught her, and had taught her well, so that besides her own language, she was able to teach Latin and French, and to instruct, as the advertisements say, "in the usual branches of English education." She was musical, had a fine ear and correct taste, and accordingly met with pupils without much difficulty. In the summer months especially she was fully employed. Families who came for relaxation were, nevertheless, glad to have their daughters taught for a few hours in the week; and you may suppose that Emilie Schomberg did not lead an idle life. For remuneration she fared, as alas teachers do fare, but ill. The sum which many a gentleman freely gives to his butler or valet, is thought exorbitant, nay, is rarely given to a governess, and Emilie, as a daily governess, was but poorly paid.
The expenses of her father's long illness and funeral were heavy, and she was only just out of debt; therefore, with the honesty and independence of spirit that marked her, she lived carefully and frugally at the little rooms of Miss Webster, the straw bonnet maker, in High Street.
From what I have told you already, you will easily perceive that Emilie was accustomed to command her temper; she had been trained to do this early in life. Her father, who foresaw for his child a life dependent on her character and exertion, a life of labour in teaching and governing others, taught Emilie to govern herself. Never was an only child less spoiled than she; but she was ruled in love. She knew but one law, that of kindness, and it made her a good subject.
Many were the sensible lessons that the good man gave her, as leaning on her strong arm he used to pace up and down the grassy slopes which bordered the sea shore. "Look, Emilie," he would say, "look at that governess marshalling her scholars out. Do they look happy? think you that they obey that stern mistress out of love? Listen, she calls to them to keep their ranks and not to talk so loud. What unhappy faces among them! Emilie, my child, you may keep school some day; oh, take care and gain the love of the young ones, I don't believe there is any other successful government, so I have found it." "With me, ah yes, papa!" "With you, my child, and with all my scholars; I had little experience as a teacher, when first it pleased God to make me dependent on my own exertions as such, but I found out the secret. Gain your pupils' love, Emilie, and a silken thread will draw them; without that love, cords will not drag, scourges will scarcely drive them."
Emilie found this advice of her father's rather hard to follow now and then. Her first essay in teaching was in Mrs. Parker's family. Edith was to "be finished." And now poor Emilie found that there was more to teach Edith than German and French, and that there was more difficulty in teaching her to keep her temper than her voice in tune. Edith was affectionate, but self-willed and irritable. Her mamma's treatment had not tended to improve her in this respect. Mrs. Parker had bad health, and said she had bad spirits. She was a kind, generous, and affectionate woman, but was always in trouble. In trouble with her chimneys because they smoked; in trouble with her maids who did not obey her; and worst of all in trouble with herself; for she had good sense and good principle, but she had let her temper go too long undisciplined, and it was apt to break forth sometimes against those she loved, and would cause her many bitter tears and self-upbraidings.
She took an interest in the poor German master, for she was a benevolent woman, and cheered his dying bed by promising to assist his daughter. She even offered to take her into her family; but this could not be thought of. Good aunt Agnes had left her country for the sake of Emilie—Emilie would not desert her aunt now.
The scene at the supper table was not an uncommon one, but Emilie was frequently more successful in winning aunt Agnes to a smile than on this occasion. "Perhaps I tried too much; perhaps I did not try enough, perhaps I tried in the wrong way," thought Emilie, as she received her aunt's cold kiss, and took up her bed room candle to retire for the night. When aunt Agnes said good night, it was so very distantly, so very unkindly, that an angry demand for explanation almost rose to Emilie's lips, and though she did not utter it, she said her good night coldly and stiffly too, and thus they parted. But when Emilie opened the Bible that night, her eye rested on the words, "Be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you," then Emilie could not rest. She did not forgive her aunt; she felt that she did not; but Emilie was human, and human nature is proud. "I did nothing to offend her," reasoned pride, "it was only because I was out a little late, and I said I was sorry and I tried to bring her round. Ah well, it will all be right to-morrow; it is no use to think of it now," and she prepared to kneel down to pray. Just then her eye rested on her father's likeness; she remembered how he used to say, when she was a child and lisped her little prayer at his knee, "Emilie, have you any unkind thoughts to any one? Do you feel at peace with all? for God says, 'When thou bringest thy gift before the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee, leave there thy gift before the altar, first be reconciled to thy brother, and then go and offer thy gift.'" On one or two occasions had Emilie arisen, her tender conscience thus appealed to, and thrown her arms round her nurse's or her aunt's neck, to beg their forgiveness for some little offence committed by her and forgotten perhaps by them, and would then kneel down and offer up her evening prayer. So Emilie hushed pride's voice, and opening her door, crossed the little passage to her aunt's sleeping room, and putting her arm round her neck fondly said, "Dear aunt!" It was enough, the good old lady hugged her lovingly. "Ah, Emilie dear, I am a cross old woman, and thou art a dear good child. Bless thee!" In half an hour after the inmates of the little lodging in High Street were sound asleep, at peace with one another, and at peace with God.
THE LESSON AT THE COTTAGE.
Edith was very busily searching for corallines and sea weeds, a few days after the evening walk recorded in our first chapter. She was alone, for her two sisters had appeared more than usually confidential and unwilling for her company, and her dear teacher was engaged that afternoon at the Young Ladies' Seminary, so she tried to make herself happy in her solitary ramble. A boat came in at this moment, and the pleasant shout of the boatmen's voices, and the grating of the little craft as it landed on the pebbly shore, attracted the young lady's notice, and she stood for a few moments to watch the proceedings. Amongst those on shore, who had come to lend a hand in pulling the boat in, Edith thought that she recognised a face, and on a little closer inspection she saw it was old Joe Murray, who had stopped her course to the beach a few evenings before. She did not wish to encounter Joe, so slipping behind the blue jacketed crowd, she walked quickly forwards, but Joe followed her.
"Young lady," he said, "if you are looking for corallines, you can't do better than ask your papa some fine afternoon, to drive you as far as Sheldon, and you'll find a sight of fine weeds there, as I know, for my boy, my poor boy I lost, I mean," said he, again touching the rusty crape on his hat, "my boy was very curious in those things, and had quite a museum of 'em at home." How could Edith stand against such an attack? It was plain that the old man wanted to make peace with her, and, cheerfully thanking him, she was moving on, but the old boots grinding the shingle, were again heard behind her, and turning round, she saw Joe at her heels.
"Miss, I don't know as I ought to have stopped you that night. I am a poor old fisherman, and you are a young lady, but I meant no harm, and for the moment only did it in a joke."
"Oh, dear," said Edith, "don't think any more about it, I was very cross that night, and you were quite right, I should have got Miss Schomberg into sad trouble if I had gone that way. As it was, I was out too late. Have you lost a son lately, said Edith, I heard you say you had just now? Was he drowned?" inquired the child, kindly looking up into Joe's face.
"Yes Miss, he was drowned," said Joe, "he came by his death very sadly. Will you please, Miss, to come home with me, and I will shew you his curiosities, and if you please to take a fancy to any, I'm sure you are very welcome. I don't know any good it does me to turn 'em over, and look at them as I do times and often, but somehow when we lose them we love, we hoard up all they loved. He had a little dog, poor Bob had, a little yapping thing, and I never took to the animal, 'twas always getting into mischief, and gnawing the nets, and stealing my fish, and I used often to say, 'Bob, my boy, I love you but not your dog. No, that saying won't hold good now. I can't love that dog of yours. Sell it, boy—give it away—get rid of it some how.' All in good part, you know, Miss, for I never had any words with him about it. And now Bob is gone—do you know, Miss, I love that dumb thing with the sort of love I should love his child, if he had left me one. If any one huffs Rover, (I ain't a very huffish man,) but I can tell you I shew them I don't like it, I let the creature lay at my feet at night, and I feed him myself and fondle him for the sake of him who loved him so. And you may depend Miss, the dog knows his young master is gone, and the way he is gone too, for I could not bring him on the shore for a long while, but he would set up such a howl as would rend your heart to hear. And that made me love the poor thing I can tell you."
"But how did it happen?" softly asked Edith.
"Why Miss it ain't at all an extraordinary way in which he met his death. It was in this way. He was very fond of me, poor boy, but he liked his way better than my way too often. And may be I humoured him a little too much. He was my Benjamin, you must know Miss, for his mother died soon after he was born. Sure enough I made an idol of the lad, and we read somewhere in the Bible, Miss, that 'the idols he will utterly abolish.' But I don't like looking at the sorrow that way neither. I would rather think that 'whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth.' Well, Miss, like father like son. My boy loved the sea, as was natural he should, but he was too venturesome; I used often to say, 'Bob, the oldest sailor living can't rule the waves and winds, and if you are such a mad cap as to go out sailing in such equally weather on this coast, as sure as you are alive you will repent it.' He and some young chaps hereabouts, got such a wonderful notion of sailing, and though I have sailed many and many a mile, in large vessels and small, I always hold to it that it is ticklish work for the young and giddy. Why sometimes you are on the sea, Miss, ah, as calm as it is now—all in peace and safety—a squall comes, and before you know what you are about you are capsized. I had told him this, and he knew it, Miss, but he got a good many idle acquaintances, as I told you, and they tempted him often to do bold reckless things such as boys call brave."
"It was one morning at the end of September, Bob says to me, 'Father, we are going to keep my birthday; I am sixteen to-day,' and so he was, bless him, sixteen the very day he died. 'We are going to keep my birthday,' says he, 'Newton, and Somers, and Franklin, and I, we are all going to Witton,' that is the next town, Miss, as you may know, 'we are going to have a sail there, and dine at grandmother's, and home again at night, eh Father.' 'Bob,' says I, 'I can't give my consent; that ticklish sailing boat of young Woods' requires wiser heads and steadier hands than your's to manage. You know my opinion of sailing, and you won't grieve me, I hope, by going.' I might have told him, but I did not, that I did not like the lads he was going with, but I knew that would only make him angry, and do no good just as his heart was set upon a frolic with them, so I said nought of that, but I tried to win him, (that's my way with the young ones,) though I failed this time; go he would, and he would have gone, let me have been as angry as you please. But I have this comfort, that no sharp words passed my lips that day, and no bitter ones his. I saw he was set on the frolic, and I hoped no harm would come of it. How I watched the sky that day, Miss, no mortal knows; how I started when I saw a sea gull skim across the waves! how I listened for the least sound of a squall! Snap was just as fidgetty seemingly, and we kept stealing down to the beach, long before it was likely they should be back. As I stood watching there in the evening, where I knew they would land, I saw young Newton's mother; she pulled me by my sleeve, anxious like, and said, 'What do you think of the weather Joe?' 'Why, Missis,' said I, 'there is an ugly look about the sky, but I don't wish to frighten you; please God they'll soon be home, for Bob promised to be home early.'"
"Well, Miss, there we stood, the waves washing our feet, till it grew dark, and then I could stand it no longer. I said to the poor mother, 'keep a good heart,' but I had little hope myself, God knows, and off I made for Witton. Well, they had not been there, I found the grandmother had seen nothing of them. They were picked up a day or so after, all four of them washed up by the morning tide; their boat had drifted no one knows where, and no one knows how it happened; but I suppose they were driven out by the fresh breeze that sprung up, and not knowing how to manage the sails, they were capsized."
"There they all lay. Miss, in the churchyard. It was a solemn sight, I can tell you, to see those four coffins, side by side, in the church. They were all strong hearty lads, and all under seventeen. I go and sit on his grave sometimes, and spell over all I said, and all he said that day; and glad enough I am, that I can remember neither cross word nor cross look. Ah, my lady, I should remember it if it had been so. We think we are good fathers and good friends to them we love while they are alive, but as soon as we lose 'em, all the kindness we ever did them seems little enough, while all the bad feelings we had, and sharp words we spoke, come up to condemn us."
By this time they had reached the fisherman's cottage; it was prettily situated, as houses on the south coast often are, under the shadow of a fine over-hanging cliff. Masses of rock, clad with emerald green, were scattered here and there, and the thriving plants in the little garden, gave evidence of the mildness of the air in those parts, though close upon the sea. The cottage was very low, but white and cheerful looking outside, and as clean and trim within as a notable and stirring woman could make it. Joe's daughter-in-law, the same described by Joe the other evening as the woman of a high spirit, was to-day absent on an errand to the town; and Edith, who loved children, stopped at the threshold to notice two or three little curly-headed prattlers, who were playing together at grotto making, an amusement which cost grandfather many a half-penny. Some dispute seemed to have arisen at the moment of their entrance between the young builders, for a good-humoured, plain-looking girl, of twelve, the nursemaid of the baby, and the care-taker of four other little ones, was trying to pacify the aggrieved. In vain—little Susy was in a great passion, and with her tiny foot kicked over the grotto, the result of several hours' labour; first, in searching on the shore for shells and pebbles, and secondly, in its erection. Then arose such a shriek and tumult amongst the children, as those only can conceive who know what a noise disappointed little creatures, from three to seven years old, can make. They all set upon Susy, "naughty, mischievous, tiresome," were among the words. The quiet looking girl, who had been trying to settle the dispute, now interfered again. She led Susy away gently, but firmly, into another part of the garden, where spying her grandfather, she took the unwilling and ashamed little girl for him to deal with, and ran hack to the crying children and ruined grotto.
"Oh, hush! dears, pray hush," said Sarah, beginning to pick up the shells, "we will soon build it up again." This they all declared impossible, and cried afresh, but Sarah persevered, and quietly went on piling up the shells, till at last one little mourner took up her coarse pinafore and wiping her eyes, said, "Sarah does it very nicely." The grotto rose beautifully, and at last they were all quiet and happy again; all but poor Susy, who, seeing herself excluded, kept up a terrible whine. "I wonder if Susan is sorry," said Sarah. "Not she, not she, don't ask her here again," said they all. "Why not," said the grandfather, who having walked about with Susy awhile, and talked gravely to her, appeared to have brought about a change in her temper? "Why because she will knock it down again the first time any thing puts her out." "Won't you try her?" said Sarah, pleadingly; but they still said "No! no!" "Don't you mind the day, Dick," said Sarah, "when you pulled grandfather's new net all into the mud, and tangled his twine, and spoilt him a whole day's work?" "Yes," said Dick. "Ah, and don't you mind, too, when he went out in the boat next day, and you asked to go with him, just as if nothing had happened, and you had done no harm, he said, 'ah, Dick, if I were to mind what revenge says, I would not take you with me; you have injured me very much, but I'll mind what love says, and that tells me to return good for evil?'" "Yes," says Dick. "Do you think you could have hurt any thing of grandfather's after that?" "No," said Dick, "but I did not do it in a rage, as Susy did." "You did mischief, though," said Sarah; "but I want Susy to give over going into these rages. I want to cure her. Beating her does no good, mother says that herself; wont you all try and help to cure Susy?"
These children were not angels. I am writing of children as they are you know, and though they yielded, it was rather sullenly, and little Susan was given to understand that she was not a very welcome addition. Susy kept very close to Sarah, sobbing and heaving, till the children seeing her subdued, made more room for her, and her smile returned. Now the law of kindness prevailed, and when the time came to run down to the shore for some more shells, to replace those that had been broken, Susy, at Sarah's hint, ran first and fastest, and brought her little pinafore fullest of all. Edith watched all this, and her good old mentor was willing that she should. "I suppose you have taught them this way of settling disputes," said Edith to Joe. "I, oh no, Miss, I can't take all the credit. Sarah, there, she has taken to me very much since my Bob died, and she said to me the day of his funeral, when her heart was soft and tender-like, 'Grandfather, tell me what I can do to comfort you.' 'Oh, child,' says I, 'my grief is too deep for you to touch, but you are a kind girl, I'll tell you what to do to-night. Leave me alone, and, oh, try and make the children quiet, for my head aches as bad as my heart. Sally.'"
"Then Sarah tried that day and the next, but found it hard work; the boys quarrelled and fought, and the little once scratched and cried, and their mother came and beat one or two of the worst, but all did no good. There was no peace till bed time; still I encouraged her and told her, you know, about 'a soft answer turning away wrath,' and since that time, she has less often given railing for railing; and has not huffed and worried them, as elder sisters are apt to do. She is a good girl, is Sarah, but here comes the Missis home from market." "The Missis" certainly did not look very sweet, and her heavy load had heated her. She did not welcome Edith pleasantly, which, the old man observing, led her away to a little room he occupied at the back of the cottage, and showed her the corallines.
Edith saw plainly that though the poor father offered her any of them she liked to take, he suffered in parting with them, so calling Dick and Mary, she asked if they would hunt for some for her, like those in grandfather's stores. They consented joyfully, and Edith promising often to come and see the old man, ran down the cliff briskly, and hastened home. She thought a good deal as she walked, and asked herself if she should have had the patience and the gentleness of that poor cottage girl; if she should have soothed Susy, and comforted Dick and Mary; if she should have troubled herself to kneel down in the broiling sun and build up a few trumpery shells into a grotto, to be upset and destroyed presently. She came to the conclusion that for good, pleasant, prettily behaved children, she might have done so, but for shrieking, passionate, quarrelsome little things as they appeared to her then, she certainly should not. She felt humbled at the contrast between herself and Sarah; and when she arrived at home, for the first time, perhaps, in her life, she patiently bore her mamma's reproaches for being so late, and for the impropriety of walking away from her sisters, no one knew where. She was not yet quite skilled enough in the art of peace, to give the "soft answer;" but her silence and quietness turned away Mrs. Parker's wrath, and after dinner, Edith prepared herself for the visit of her dear Emilie.
Mrs. Parker and her two elder daughters were going to pay a visit to town this summer, and as Edith was not thought old enough to accompany them, Mrs. Parker resolved to ask Emilie to take charge of her. The only difficulty was how to dispose of aunt Agnes; aunt Agnes wishing them to believe that she did not mind being alone, but all the while minding it very much. At last it occurred to Emilie that perhaps Mrs. Crosse, at the farm in Edenthorpe, a few miles off, would, if she knew of the difficulty, ask aunt Agnes there for a few weeks. Mrs. Crosse and aunt Agnes got on so wonderfully well together, and as she had often been invited, the only thing now was to get her in the mind to go. This was effected in due time, and Mr. Crosse came up to the lodgings for her and her little box, in his horse and gig, on the very evening that Emilie was to go the Parkers', to be installed as housekeeper and governess in the lady's absence. Edith had come to see the dear old aunt off; and now re-entered the lodgings to help Emilie to collect her things, and to settle with Miss Webster for the lodgings, before her departure. Miss Webster had met with a tenant for six weeks, and was in very good spirits, and very willing to take care of the Schombergs' goods, which, to tell the truth, were not likely to oppress her either in number or value, with the exception of one cherished article, one relic of former days—a good semi-grand piano, which M. Schomberg had purchased for his daughter, about a year before his death. Miss Webster looked very much confused as Emilie bade her good-bye, and said—"Miss Schomberg, you have not, I see, left your piano unlocked."
"No," said Emilie, "certainly I have not; I did not suppose——"
"Why," replied Miss Webster, "the lodgers, seeing a piano, will be sure to ask for the key, Miss, and to be sure you wo'nt object."
Emilie hesitated. Did she remember the time when Miss Webster, indignant at Emilie for being a fortnight behind-hand in her weekly rent, refused to lend a sofa for her dying father, without extra pay? Did she recall the ill-made slops, the wretched attendance to which this selfish woman treated them during the pressure of poverty and distress? Emilie was human, and she remembered all. She knew, moreover, that Miss Webster would make a gain of her instrument, and that it might suffer from six weeks' rough use. She stood twisting some straw plait that lay on the counter, in her fingers, and then coolly saying she would consider of it, walked out of the shop with Edith, her bosom swelling with conflicting feelings. The slight had been to her father—to her dear dead father—she could not love Miss Webster, nor respect her—she could not oblige her. She felt so now, however, and despised the meanness of the lodging-house keeper, in making the request.
Edith was by her side in good spirits, though she was to miss the London journey. Not every young lady would be so content to remain all the holiday-time with the governess; but Edith loved her governess. Happy governess, to be loved by her pupil!
Mrs. Parker received Emilie very kindly: she was satisfied that her dear child would be happy in her absence, and she knew enough of Emilie, she said, to believe that she would see that Mr. Parker had his meals regularly and nicely served, and that the servants did not rob or run away, or the boys put their dirty feet on the sofa, or bright fender tops, or lead Edith into mischief; in short, the things that Emilie was to see to were so numerous, that it would have required more eyes than she possessed, and far more vigilance and experience than she lay claim to, to fulfill all Mrs. Parker's desires.
Amidst all the talking and novelty of her new situation, however, Emilie was absent and thoughtful; she was dispirited, and yet she was not subject to low spirits either. There was a cause. She had a tender conscience—a conscience with which she was in the habit of conversing, and conscience kept whispering to her the words—"What things soever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye also to them." In vain she tried to silence this monitor, and at last she asked to withdraw for a few minutes, and scribbled a hasty note to Miss Webster; the first she wrote was as follows:—
"Dear Miss W.—I enclose the key of the pianoforte. I should have acceded to your request, only I remembered standing on that very spot, by that very counter, a year ago, petitioning hard for the loan of a sofa for my dying father, who, in his feverish and restless state, longed to leave the bed for awhile. I remembered that, and I could not feel as if I could oblige you; but I have thought better of it, and beg you will use the piano."
She read the note before folding it, however; and somehow it did not satisfy her. She crumpled it up, took a turn or two in the room, and then wrote the following:—
"Dear Miss Webster—I am sorry that I for a moment hesitated to lend you my piano. It was selfish, and I hope you will excuse the incivility. I enclose the key, and as your lodgers do not come in until to-morrow, I hope the delay will not have inconvenienced you.
"Believe me, yours truly,
Having sealed her little note, she asked Mrs. Parker's permission to send it into High Street, and Emilie Schomberg was herself again. You will see, by-and-bye, how Emilie returned Miss Webster's selfishness in a matter yet more important than the loan of the piano. It would have been meeting evil with evil had she retaliated the mean conduct of her landlady. She would undoubtedly have done so, had she yielded to the impulses of her nature; but "how then could I have prayed," said Emilie, "forgive me my trespasses as I forgive them that trespass against me."
The travellers set off early in the morning, and now began the holiday of both governess and pupil. They loved one another so well that the prospect of six weeks' close companionship was irksome to neither; but Emilie had not a holiday of it altogether. Miss Edith was exacting and petulant at times, even with those she loved, and she loved none better than Emilie. Fred, the tormenting brother of whom Edith had spoken in her list of troubles in our first chapter, was undeniably troublesome; and the three maid-servants set themselves from the very first to resist the governess's temporary authority; so we are wrong in calling these Emilie's holidays. She had not, indeed, undertaken the charge very willingly; but Mrs. Parker had befriended her in extremity, and she loved Edith dearly, notwithstanding much in her that was not loveable, so she armed herself for the conflict, and cheerfully and humbly commenced her new duties.
Fred and his elder brother John were at home for the holidays; they were high-spirited lads of fourteen and fifteen years of age, and were particularly fond of teasing both their elder sisters and little Edith; a taste, by-the-bye, by no means peculiar to the Master Parkers, but one which we cannot admire, nevertheless.
The two boys, with Emilie and Edith, were on their way to pay aunt Agnes a little visit, having received from Mrs. Crosse, at the farm, a request for the honour of the young lady's company as well as that of her brothers. John and Frederick were to walk, and Emily and Edith were to go in the little pony gig. As they were leaving the town, Edith caught sight of John coming out of a shop which was a favourite resort of most of the young people and visitors of the town of L——. It was professedly a stationer's and bookseller's, and was kept by Mrs. Cox, a widow woman, who sold balls, fishing tackle, books, boats, miniature spades, barrows, garden tools, patent medicines, &c., and who had lately increased her importance, in the eyes of the young gentlemen, by the announcement that various pyrotechnical wonders were to be obtained at her shop. There are few boys who have not at some time of their boyhood had a mania for pyrotechnics—in plain English, fire-works—and there are few parents, and parents' neighbours, who can say that they relish the smell of gunpowder on their premises.
Mr. Parker had a particular aversion to amusements of the kind. He was an enemy to fishing, to cricketing, to boating; he was a very quiet, gentlemanly, dignified sort of man, and, although a kind father, had perhaps set up rather too high a standard of quietness and order and sedateness for his children. It is a curious fact, but one which it would be rather difficult to disprove, that children not unfrequently are the very opposites of their parents, in qualities such as I have described. Possibly they may not have been inculcated quite in the right manner; but that is not our business here.
Edith guessed what her brothers were after, and told her suspicious to Emilie; but not until they were within sight of the farm-house. John and Fred, who had been a short cut across the fields, were in high glee awaiting their arrival, and assisted Edith and her friend to alight more politely than usual. Aunt Agnes was in ecstasies of delight to see her dear Emilie, and she caressed Edith most lovingly also. Edith liked the old lady, who had a fund of fairy tales, such as the German language is rich in. Often would Edith go and sit by the old lady as she knitted, and listen to the story of the "Flying Trunk," or the "Two Swans," with untiring interest; and old ladies of a garrulous turn like good listeners. So aunt Agnes called Edith a charming girl, and Edith, who had seldom seen aunt Agnes otherwise than conversable and pleasant, thought her a very nice old lady.
Mrs. Crosse was extremely polite; and in the bustle of greeting, and putting up the pony, and aunt Agnes' questions, the fire-work affair was almost forgotten. When they all met at tea, the farmer, who had almost as great a horror of gunpowder as Mr. Parker—and in the vicinity of barns and stacks, with greater reason—declared he smelt a smell which he never tolerated in his house, and asked his boys if they had any about them. They denied it, but it was evident they knew something of the matter; and now Emilie's concern was very great.
After tea she took John by the arm, and looking into his face, said, "I am going to be very intrusive, Sir; I am not your governess, and I have no right to control you, but I wish to be your friend, and may I advise you? Don't take those fire-works out on Mr. Crosse's premises, you have no idea the mischief you might do. You could not have brought them to a worse place. Be persuaded, pray do, to give it up." John, thus appealed to, laughed heartily at Miss Schomberg's fears, said something not very complimentary about Miss S. speaking one word for the farmer's stack, and two for her own nerves, and made his escape to join his brother, and the two young farmers, who were delighted at the prospect of a frolic.
What was to be done? The lads were gone out, and doubtless would send up their rockets and let off their squibs somewhere on the farm, which was a very extensive one. The very idea of fire-works would put aunt Agnes into a terrible state of alarm, so Emilie held her peace. To tell the farmer would, she knew, irritate him fearfully; and yet no time was to be lost. She was older than any of the party, and it was in reliance on her discretion that the visit had been permitted. She appealed to Edith, but Edith, who either had a little fancy to see the fire-works, or, who feared her brothers' ridicule, or who thought Emilie took too much upon herself, gave her no help in the matter.
"Well, Edith," said Emilie, when the farmer's wife left the room to make some preparation for a sumptuous supper, "I have made up my mind what to do. I will not stay here if your brothers are to run any foolish risks with those fire-works. I will go home at once, and tell your papa, he will be in time to stop it; or I will apprise Mr. Crosse, and he can take what steps he pleases."
"Well, you will have a fine life of it, Miss Schomberg, if you tell any tales, I can tell you," said Edith, pettishly, "and it really is no business of yours. They are not under your care if I am. Oh, let them be. Fred said he should let them off on the Langdale hills, far enough away from the farm."
But Emilie was firm. She tied on her bonnet, and determined to make one more effort—it should be with Fred this time. She followed the track of the lads, having first inquired of a farm-boy which road they had taken, and as they had loitered, and she walked very fast, she soon overtook them. They were seated on a bank by the road-side, when she got up to them, and John was just displaying his treasures, squibs to make Miss Edith jump, Catherine wheels, roman candles, sky-rockets, and blue lights and crackers. The farmer's sons, Jerry and Tom, grinned delightedly. Emilie stood for a few moments irresolute; the boys were rude, and looked so daring—what should she say?
"Young gentlemen," she began; they all took off their hats in mock deference. "A woman preaching, I declare." "Go on. Madam, hear! hear! hear!" said the young Crosses. "Young gentlemen," continued Emilie, with emphasis, "it is to you I am speaking. I am determined that those fire-works shall not be let off, if I can prevent it, on Mr. Crosse's premises. If you will not give up your intention, I shall walk to L—, and inform your father, and you know very well how displeased he will be."
"Who says we are going to let them off on Mr. Crosse's premises?" said Fred, fiercely. "You are very interfering Miss Schomberg, will you go back to your our own business, and to little Edith."
"I will go to L——, master Fred," said Emilie, firmly, but kindly. "I shall be sorry to get you into trouble, and I would rather not take the walk, but I shall certainly do what I say if you persist."
The boys looked doubtfully at one another. Fred seemed a little disposed to yield, but to be conquered by his sister's governess was very humiliating. However, they knew from Edith's account that Emilie, though kind, was firm; and, therefore, after a little further altercation, they agreed not to send up the fire-works that night, but they promised her at the same time that she should not hear the last of it. They returned to the farm much out of humour, and having hidden them in the box of the pony gig, came in just in time for supper.
The ride home was a silent one; Edith saw that her brothers were put out, and began to think she did not like Emilie Schomberg to live with at all. Emilie had done right, but she had a hard battle to fight; all were against her. No one likes to be contradicted, or as Fred said, to be managed. Emilie, however, went steadily on, speaking the truth, but speaking it in love, and acting always "as seeing Him who is invisible."
"Now, Emilie, what do you think of my life?" said Edith, one day after she and Fred had had one of their usual squabbles. "What do you think of Fred now?"
"I think, Edith, dear, that I would try and win him over to love and affection, and not thwart and irritate him as you do. Have you forgotten old Joe's maxim, 'a soft answer turneth away wrath?' but your grievous words too often stir up strife. You told me the other day, dear, how much the conduct of Sarah Murray pleased you; now you may act towards John and Fred as Sarah did to little Susy."
Edith shook her head. "It is not in me, Emilie, I am afraid."
"No, dear," said Emilie, "you are right, it is not in you."
"Well then what is the use of telling me to do things impossible?"
"I did not say impossible, Edith, did I?"
"No, but you say it is not in me to be gentle and all that, and I dare say it is not; but you don't get much the better thought of, gentle as you are. Miss Schomberg. John and Fred don't behave better to you than they do to me, so far as I see."
"Edith, dear, you set out wrong in your attempts to do right," said Emily, kindly. "It is not in you; it is not in any one by nature to be always gentle and kind. It is not in me I know. I was once a very petulant child, being an only one, and it was but by very slow process that I learned to govern myself, and I am learning it still."
At this moment Fred came in, bearing in one hand a quantity of paper, and in another a book with directions for balloon making. "Now Edith, you are a clever young lady," he began.
"Oh, yes," said Edith, wrathfully, "When it suits you, you can flatter."
"No, but Edith, don't be cross, come! I want you to do me a service. I want you to cut me out this tissue paper into the shape of this pattern. I am going to send up a balloon to-morrow, and I can't cut it out, will you do it for me?"
"Yes, yes," said Emilie, "we will do it together. Oh, come that is a nice job, Edith dear, I can help you in that," and Emilie cleared away her own work quick as thought, and asked Fred for particular directions how it was to be done, all this time trying to hide Edith's unwillingness to oblige her brother, and making it appear that Edith and she were of one mind to help him.
Fred, who since the fire-work affair had treated Emilie somewhat rudely, and had on many occasions annoyed her considerably, looked in astonishment at Miss Schomberg. She saw his surprise and understood it. "Fred," said she frankly, "I know what you are thinking of, but let us be friends. Give me the gratification of helping you to this pleasure, since I hindered you of the other. You won't be too proud, will you, to have my help?"
Fred coloured. "Miss Schomberg," said he, "I don't deserve it of you, I beg your pardon;" and thus they were reconciled.
Oh, it is not often in great things that we are called upon to show that we love our neighbour as ourselves. It is in the daily, hourly, exercise of little domestic virtues, that they who truly love God may be distinguished from those who love him not. It was not because Emilie was naturally amiable or naturally good that she was thus able to show this loving and forgiving spirit. She loved God, and love to him actuated her; she thus adorned the doctrine of her Saviour in all things. Young reader there is no such thing as a religion of words and feelings alone, it must be a religion of acts; a life of warfare against the sins that most easily beset you; a mortification of selfishness and pride, and a humble acknowledgment, when you have done your very best, that you are only unprofitable servants. Had you heard Emilie communing with her own heart, you would have heard no self gratulation. She was far from perfect even in the sight of man; in the sight of God she knew that in many things she offended.
It is not a perfect character that I would present to you in Emilie Schomberg; but one who with all the weakness and imperfection of human nature, made the will of God her rule and delight. This is not natural, it is the habit of mind of those only who are created anew, new creatures in Christ Jesus.
This you may be sure Emilie did not fail to teach her pupil; but a great many such lessons may be received into the head without one finding an entrance to the heart, and Edith was in the not very uncommon habit of looking on her faults in the light of misfortunes, just as any one might regard a deformed limb or a painful disorder. She was, indeed, too much accustomed to talk of her faults, and was a great deal too easy about them.
"My dear," Emilie would say after her confessions, "I do not believe you see how sinful these things are, or surely you would not so very, very, often commit them." This was the real state of the case; and it may be said of all those who are in the habit of mere confessions, that they do not believe things to be so very bad, because they do not understand how very good and holy is the God against whom they sin. Edith had this to learn; books could not teach her this. She who taught her all else so well, could not teach her this; it was to be learned from a higher source still.
Well, you are thinking, some of you, that this is a prosy chapter, but you must not skip it. It is just what Emily Schomberg would have said to you, if you had been pupils of hers. The end of reading is not, or ought not to be, mere amusement; so read a grave page now and then with attention and thoughtfulness.
The truth must be told of Emilie; she was not clever with her hands, and she was, nevertheless, a little too confident in her power of execution, so willing and anxious was she to serve you. The directions Fred gave her were far from clear; and after the paper was all cut and was to be pasted together, sorrowful to say, it would not do at all. Fred, in spite of his late apology was very angry, and seizing the scissors said he should know better another time than to ask Miss Schomberg to do what she did not understand. "You have wasted my paper, too," said the boy, "and my time in waiting for what I could better have done myself."
Emilie was very sorry, and she said so; but a balloon could not exactly be made out of her sorrow, and nothing short of a balloon would pacify Fred, that was plain. "Must it be ready for to-morrow?" she asked.
"Yes, it must," he said. Three other boys were going to send up balloons. It was the Queen's coronation day, and he had promised to take a fourth balloon to the party; and the rehearsal of all this stirred up Fred's ire afresh, and he looked any thing but kind at Miss Schomberg. What was to be done? Edith suggested driving to the next market town to buy one; but her papa wanted the pony gig, so they could only sally forth to Mrs. Cox's for some more tissue paper, and begin the work again. This was very provoking to Edith.
"To have spent all the morning and now to be going to spend all the afternoon over a trumpery balloon, which you can't make after all, Miss Schomberg, is very tiresome, and I wanted to go to old Joe Murray's to-day and see if the children have picked me up any corallines."
"I am very sorry, dear, my carelessness should punish you; but don't disturb me by grumbling and I will try and get done before tea, and then we will go together." This time Emilie was more successful; she took pains to understand what was to be done, and the gores of her balloon fitted beautifully.
"Now Edith, dear, ring for some paste," said Emilie, just as the clock struck four; Margaret answered the bell. Margaret was the housemaid, and so far from endeavouring in her capacity to overcome evil with good, she was perpetually making mischief and increasing any evil there might be, either in kitchen or parlour, by her mode of delivering a message. She would be sure to add her mite to any blame that she might hear, in her report to the kitchen, and thus, without being herself a bad or violent temper, was continually fomenting strife, and adding fuel to the fire of the cook, who was of a very choleric turn. The request for paste was civilly made and received, but Emilie unfortunately called Margaret back to say, "Oh, ask cook, please, to make it stiffer than she did the last that we had for the kite; that did not prove quite strong."
Margaret took the message down and informed cook that "Miss Schomberg did not think she knew how to make paste." "Then let her come and make it herself," said cook. "She wants to be cook I think; she had better come. I sha'nt make it. What is it for?"
"Oh," said Margaret, "she is after some foreign filagree work of hers, that's all."
"Well, I'm busy now and I am not going to put myself out about it, she must wait."
Emilie did wait the due time, but as the paste did not come she went down for it. "Is the paste ready, cook?" she asked.
"No, Miss Schomberg," was the short reply, and cook went on assiduously washing up her plates.
"Will you be so kind as to make it, cook, for I want it particularly that it may have as much time as possible to dry."
"Perhaps you will make it yourself then," was the gracious rejoinder. Emilie was not above making a little paste, and as she saw that something had put cook out, she willingly consented; but she did not know where to get either flour or saucepan, and cook and Margaret kept making signs and laughing, so that it was not very pleasant. She grew quite hot, as she had to ask first for a spoon, then for a saucepan, then for the flour and water; at last she modestly turned round and said, "Cook, I really do not quite know how to make a little paste. I am ashamed to say it, but I have lived so long in lodgings that I see nothing of what is done in the kitchen. Will you tell or show me? I am very ignorant."
Her kind civil tone quite changed cook's, and she said, "Oh, Miss, I'll make it, only you see, you shouldn't have said I didn't know how." Emilie explained, and the cook was pacified, and gave Miss Schomberg a good deal of gratuitous information during the process. How she did not like her place, and should not stay, and how she disliked her mistress, and plenty more—to which Emilie listened politely, but did not make much reply. She plainly perceived that cook wanted a very forbearing mistress, but she could not exactly tell her so. She merely said in her quaint quiet way, that every one had something to bear, and the paste being made, she left the kitchen.
"Well, I must say, Miss Schomberg has a nice way of speaking, which gets over you some how," said cook, "I wish I had her temper."
More than one in the kitchen mentally echoed that wish of cook's.
The balloon went on beautifully, and was completed by seven o'clock. Fred was delighted when he came in to tea, and John no less so. All the rude speeches were forgotten, and Emilie was as sympathetic in her joy as an elder sister could have been. "I don't know what you will do without Miss Schomberg," said Mr. Parker, as he sipped his tea.
"She had better come and live with us," said Fred, "and keep us all in order. I'm sure I should have no objection."
Emilie felt quite paid for the little self-denial she had exercised, when she found that her greatest enemy, he who had declared he would "plague her to death, and pay her off for not letting them send up their fire-works," was really conquered by that powerful weapon, love.
Fred had thought more than he chose to acknowledge of Emilie's kindness; he could not forget it. It was so different to the treatment he had met with from his associates generally. It made him ask what could be the reason of Emilie's conduct. She had nothing to get by it, that was certain, and Fred made up his mind to have some talk with Miss Schomberg on the subject the first time they were alone. He had some trials at school with a boy who was bent on annoying him, and trying to stir up his temper; perhaps the peacemaker might tell him how to deal with this lad. Fred was an impetuous boy, and now began to like Miss Schomberg as warmly as he had previously disliked her.
On their way to old Joe's house that night, Emilie thought she would call in on Miss Webster, not having parted from her very warmly on the first night of the holidays. A fortnight of these holidays had passed away, and Emilie began to long for her quiet evenings, and to see dear aunt Agnes again. She looked quite affectionately up to the little sitting room window, where her geraniums stood, and even thought kindly of Miss Webster herself, to whom it was not quite so easy to feel genial. She entered the shop. The apprentice sate there at work, busily trimming a fine rice straw bonnet for the lodger within. She looked up joyously at Emilie's approach. She thought how often that kind German face had been to her like a sunbeam on a dull path; how often her musical voice had spoken words of counsel, and comfort, and sympathy, to her in her hard life. How she had pressed her hand when she (the apprentice) came home one night and told her, "My poor mother is dead," and how she had said, "We are both orphans now, Lucy. We can feel for one another." How she had taught her by example, often, and by word sometimes, not to answer again if any thing annoyed or irritated her, and in short how much Lucy had missed the young lady only Lucy could say.
Emilie inquired for her mistress, but the words were scarcely out of her lips, than she said, "Oh, Miss, she's so bad! She has scalt her foot, and is quite laid up, and the lodgers are very angry. They say they don't get properly attended to and so they mean to go. Dear me, there is such a commotion, but her foot is very had, poor thing, and I have to mind the shop, or I would wait upon her more; and the girl is very inattentive and saucy, so that I don't see what we are to do. Will you go and see Miss Webster, Miss?"
Emilie cheerfully consented, leaving Edith with Lucy to learn straw plaiting, if she liked, and to listen to her artless talk. Lucy had less veneration for the name of Queen Victoria than for that of Schomberg. Emilie was to her the very perfection of human nature, and accordingly she sang her praises loud and long.
On the sofa, the very sofa for which M. Schomberg had so longed, lay Miss Webster, the expression of her face manifesting the greatest pain. The servant girl had just brought up her mistress's tea, a cold, slopped, miserable looking mess. A slice of thick bread and butter, half soaked in the spilled beverage, was on a plate, and that a dirty one; and the tray which held the meal was offered to the poor sick woman so carelessly, that the contents were nearly shot into her lap. It was easy to see that love formed no part of Betsey's service of her mistress, and that she rendered every attention grudgingly and ill. Emilie went up cordially to Miss Webster, and was not prepared for the repulsive reception with which she met. She wondered what she could have said or done, except, indeed, in the refusal of the instrument, and that was atoned for. Emilie might have known, however, that nothing makes our manners so distant and cold to another, as the knowledge that we have injured or offended him. Miss Webster, in receiving Emilie's advances, truly was experiencing the truth of the scripture saying, that coals of fire should be heaped on her head.
Poor Miss Webster! "There! set down the tray, you may go, and don't let me see you in that filthy cap again, not fit to be touched with a pair of tongs; and don't go up to Mrs. Newson in that slipshod fashion, don't Betsey; and when you have taken up tea come here, I have an errand for you to go. Shut the door gently. Oh, dear! dear, these servants!"
This was so continually the lament of Miss Webster, that Emilie would not have noticed it, but that she appeared so miserable, and she therefore kindly said, "I am afraid Betsey does not wait on you nicely, Miss Webster, she is so very young. I had no idea of this accident, how did it happen?"
How it happened took Miss Webster some time to tell. It happened in no very unusual manner, and the effect was a scalt foot, which she forthwith shewed Miss Schomberg. There was no doubt that it was a very bad foot, and Emilie saw that it needed a good nurse more than a good doctor. Mr. Parker was a medical man, and Emilie knew she should have no difficulty in obtaining that kind of assistance for her. But the nursing! Miss Webster was feverish and uneasy, and in such suffering that something must be done. At the sight of her pain all was forgotten, but that she was a fellow-creature, helpless and forsaken, and that she must be helped.
All this time any one coming in might have imagined that Emilie had been the cause of the disaster, so affronted was Miss Webster's manner, and so pettishly did she reject all her visitor's suggestions as preposterous and impossible.
"Will you give up your walk to-night, Edith," said Emilie on her return to the shop, "Poor Miss Webster is in such pain I cannot leave her, and if you would run home and ask your papa to step in and see her, and say she has scalt her foot badly, I would thank you very much."
Emilie spoke earnestly, so earnestly that Edith asked if she were grown very fond of that "sour old maid all of a sudden."
"Very fond! No Edith; but it does not, or ought not to require us to be very fond of people to do our duty to them."
"Well, I don't see what duty you owe to that mean creature, and I see no reason why I should lose my walk again to-night. You treat people you don't love better than those you do it seems; or else your professions of loving me mean nothing. All day long you have been after Fred's balloon, and now I suppose mean to be all night long after Miss Webster's foot."
Emilie made no reply; she could only have reproached Edith for selfishness and temper at least equal to Miss Webster's, but telling Lucy she should soon return, hastened to Mr. Parker's house, followed by Edith; he was soon at the patient's side, and as Emilie foretold, it was a case more for an attentive nurse than a skilful doctor. He promised to send her an application, but, "Miss Schomberg," said he, "sleep is what she wants; she tells me she has had no rest since the accident occurred. What is to be done?" "Can you not send for a neighbour, Miss Webster, or some one to attend to your household, and to nurse you too. If you worry yourself in this way you will be quite ill."
Poor Miss Webster was ill, she knew it; and having neither neighbour nor friend within reach, she did what was very natural in her case, she took up her handkerchief and began to cry. "Oh, come, Miss Webster," said Emilie, cheerfully, "I will get you to bed, and Lucy shall come when the shop is closed, and to-morrow I will get aunt Agnes to come and nurse you. Keep up your spirits."
"Ah, it is very well to talk of keeping up spirits, and as to your aunt Agnes, there never was any love lost between us. No thank you, Miss Schomberg, no thank you. If I may just trouble you to help me to the side of my bed, I can get in, and do very well alone. Good night." Emilie stood looking pitifully at her. "I hope I don't keep you, Miss Schomberg, pray don't stay, you cannot help me," and here Miss Webster rose, but the agony of putting her foot to the ground was so great that she could not restrain a cry, and Emilie, who saw that the poor sufferer was like a child in helplessness, and like a child, moreover, in petulance, calmly but resolutely declared her intention of remaining until Lucy could leave the shop.
Having helped her landlady into bed, she ran down-stairs to try and appease the indignant lodgers, who protested, and with truth, that they had rung, rung, rung, and no one answered the bell; that they wanted tea, that Miss Webster had undertaken to wait on them, that they were not waited on, and that accordingly they would seek other lodgings on the morrow, they would, &c., &c. "Miss Webster, ma'am, is very ill to-night. She has a young careless servant girl, and is, I assure you, very much distressed that you should be put out thus. I will bring up your tea, ma'am, in five minutes, if you will allow me. It is very disagreeable for you, but I am sure if you could see the poor woman, ma'am, you would pity her." Mrs. Harmer did pity her only from Emilie's simple account of her state, and declared she was very sorry she had seemed angry, but the girl did not say her mistress was ill, only that she was lying down, which appeared very disrespectful and inattentive, when they had been waiting two hours for tea.
The shop was by this time cleared up, and Lucy was able to attend to the lodgers. Whilst Emilie having applied the rags soaked in the lotion which had arrived, proceeded to get Miss Webster a warm and neatly served cup of tea.
It would have been very cheering to hear a pleasant "thank you;" but Miss Webster received all these attentions with stiff and almost silent displeasure. Do not blame her too severely, a hard struggle was going on; but the law of kindness is at work, and it will not fail.
"Ah, if Miss Schomberg had asked me to wait on her, how gladly would I have done it, night after night, day after day, and should have thought myself well paid with a smile; but to sit up all night with a person, who cares no more for me, than I for her, and that is nothing! and then to have to get down to-morrow and attend to the shop, all the same as if I had slept well, is no joke. Oh, dear me! how sleepy I am, two o'clock! I was to change those rags at two; I really scarcely dare attempt it, she seems so irritable now." So soliloquized Lucy, who, kindhearted as she was, could not be expected to take quite so much delight in nursing her cross mistress, who never befriended her, as she would have done a kinder, gentler person; but Lucy read her Bible, and she had been trying, though not so long as Emilie, nor always so successfully it must be owned, to live as though she read it.
"Miss Webster, ma'am, the doctor said those rags were to be changed every two hours. May I do it for you? I can't do it as well as Miss Schomberg, but I will do my very best not to hurt you."
"I want sleep child," said Miss Webster, "I want sleep, leave me alone."
"You can't sleep in such pain, ma'am," said poor Lucy, quite at her wits ends.
"Don't you think, I must know that as well as you? There! there's that rush light gone out, and you never put any water in the tin; a pretty nurse you make, now I shall have that smell in my nose all night. You must have set it in a draught. What business has a rush light to go out in a couple of hours? I wonder."
Lucy put the obnoxious night shade out of the room, and went back to the bedside. For a long time she was unsuccessful, but at last Miss Webster consented to have her foot dressed, and even cheered her young nurse by the acknowledgment that she did it very well, considering; and thus the night wore away.
Quite early Emilie was at her post, and was grieved to see that Miss Webster still looked haggard and suffering, and as if she had not slept. In answer to her inquiries, Lucy said that she had no rest all night.
"Rest! and how can I rest, Miss Schomberg? I can't afford to lose my lodgers, and lose them I shall."
"Only try and keep quiet," said Emilie, "and I will see that they do not suffer from want of attendance. You cannot help them, do consent to leave all thought, all management, to those who can think and manage. May aunt Agnes come and nurse you, and attend to the housekeeping?"
"Yes," was reluctantly, and not very graciously uttered.
"Well then, Lucy will have time to attend to you. I would gladly nurse you myself, but you know I may not neglect Miss Parker; now take this draught, and try and sleep."
"Miss Schomberg," said the poor woman, "you won't lack friends to nurse you on a sick bed; I have none."
"Miss Webster, if I were to be laid on a sick bed, and were to lose aunt Agnes, I should be alone in a country that is not my own country, without money and without friends; but we may both of us have a friend who sticketh closer than a brother, think of him, ma'am, now, and ask him to make your bed in your sickness."
She took the feverish hand of the patient as she said this, who, bursting into a flood of tears, replied, "Ah, Miss Schomberg! I don't deserve it of you, and that is the truth; but keep my hand, it feels like a friend's, hold it, will you, and I think I shall sleep a little while;" and Emilie stood and held her hand, stood till she was faint and weary, and then withdrawing it as gently as ever mother unloosed an infant's hold, she withdrew, shaded the light from the sleeper's eyes, and stole out of the room, leaving the sufferer at ease, and in one of those heavy sleeps which exhaustion and illness often produce.
Her visit to the kitchen was most discouraging. Betsey was only just down, and the kettle did not boil, nor were any preparations made for the lodgers' breakfast, to which it only wanted an hour. Emilie could have found it in her heart to scold the lazy, selfish girl, who had enjoyed a sound sleep all night, whilst Lucy had gone unrefreshed to her daily duties, but she forebore. "Scolding never does answer," thought Emilie, "and I won't begin to-day, but I must try and reform this girl at all events, by some means, and that shall be done at once."
"Come, Betsey," said Emilie pleasantly, "now, we shall see what sort of a manager you will be; you must do all you can to make things tidy and comfortable for the lodgers. Is their room swept and dusted?"
"Oh, deary me, Miss, what time have I had for that, I should like to know?"
"Well now, get every thing ready for their breakfast, and pray don't bang doors or make a great clatter with the china, as you set the table. Every sound is heard in this small house, and your mistress has had no sleep all night."
"Well, she'll be doubly cross to day, then, I'll be bound. Howsoever, I shall only stay my month, and it don't much matter what I do, she never gives a servant a good character, and I don't expect it."
"No, and you will not deserve it if you are inattentive and unfeeling now. It is not doing as you would be done by, either. Do now, Betsey, forget, for a few days, that Miss Webster ever scolded or found fault with you. If you want to love any one just do him a kindness, and you don't know how fast love springs up in the heart; you would be much happier, Betsey, I am sure. Come try, you are not a cross girl, and you don't mean to be unkind now. I shall expect to hear from Lucy, when I come again, how well you have managed together."
Fred went to Mr. Crosse's after breakfast, in the pony gig, for aunt Agnes, who, at a summons from Emilie, was quite willing to come and see after Miss Webster's household. She soon put mutters into a better train, both in kitchen and parlour, so that the pacified lodgers consented to remain. And though neither Lucy nor Betsey altogether liked aunt Agnes, they found her quite an improvement on Miss Webster.
It is not our object to follow Miss Webster through her domestic troubles nor through the tedious process of the convalescence of a scalt foot. We will rather follow Edith into her chamber, and see how she is trying to learn the arts of the Peacemaker there.
Edith's head is bent over a book, a torn book, and her countenance is flushed and heated. She is out of breath, too, and her hair is hanging disordered about her pretty face; not pretty now, however; it is an angry face—and an angry face is never pretty.
Has she been quarrelling with Fred again? yes, even so. Fred would not give up Hans Andersen's Tales, which Emilie had just given Edith, and which she was reading busily, when some one came to see her about a new bonnet, so she left the book on the table, and in the mean time Fred came in, snatched it up, and was soon deep in the feats of the "Flying Trunk." Then came the little lady back and demanded the book, not very pleasantly, if the truth must be told. Fred meant to give it up, but he meant to tease his sister first, and Edith, who had no patience to wait, snatched at the book. Fred of course resisted, and it was not until the book had been nearly parted from its cover, and some damage had ensued to the dress and hair of both parties that Edith regained possession; not peaceable possession, however, for both of the children's spirits were ruffled.
Edith flew to her room almost as fast as if she had been on the "Flying Trunk," in the Fairy Tale. When there, she could not read, and in displeasure with herself and with every one, dashed the little volume away and cried long and bitterly. Edith had not been an insensible spectator of the constantly and self-denying gentle conduct of Emilie. Her example, far more than her precepts, had affected her powerfully, but she had much to contend with, and it seemed to her as if at the very times she meant to be kind and gentle something occurred to put her out. "I will try, oh, I will try," said Edith again and again, "but it is such hard work."—Yes, Edith, hard enough, and work which even Emilie can scarcely help you in. You wrestle against a powerful and a cruel enemy, and you need great and powerful aid; but you have read your Bible Edith, and again and again has Emilie said to you, "of yourself you can do nothing."
Edith had had a long conversation on this very subject only that morning with her friend, as they were walking on the sea shore, and under the influence of the calm lovely summer's sky, and within the sound of Emilie's clear persuasive voice, it did not seem a hard matter to Edith to love and to be loving. She could love Fred, she could even bear a rough pull of the hair from him, she could stand a little teasing from John, who found fault with a new muslin frock she wore at dinner, and we all know it is not pleasant to have our dress found fault with; but this attack of Fred's about the book, was not to be borne, not by Edith, at least, and thus she sobbed and cried in her own room, thinking herself the most miserable of creatures, and very indignant that Emilie did not come to comfort her; "but she is gone out after that tiresome old woman, with her scalt foot, I dare say," said Edith, "and she would only tell me I was wrong if she were here—oh dear! oh dear me!" and here she sobbed again.
Solitude is a wonderfully calming, composing thing; Emilie knew that, and she did quite right to leave Edith alone. It was time she should listen seriously to a voice which seldom made itself heard, but conscience was resolute to-day, and did not spare Edith. It told her all the truth, (you may trust conscience for that,) it told her that the very reason why she failed in her efforts to do right was because she had a wrong motive; and that was, love of the approbation of her fellow creatures, and not real love to God. She would have quarrelled with any one else who dared to tell her this; but it was of no use quarrelling with conscience. Conscience had it all its own way to-day, and went on answering every objection so quietly, and to the point, that by degrees Edith grew quiet and subdued; and what do you think she did? She took up a little Bible that lay on her table, and began to read it. She could not pray as yet. She did not feel kind enough for that. Emilie had often said to her that she should be at peace with every one before she lifted up her heart to the "God of peace." She turned over the leaves and tried to find the chapter, which she knew very well, about the king who took account of his servants, and who forgave the man the great debt of ten thousand talents; and then when that man went out and found his servant who owed him but one hundred pence, he took him by the throat, and said, "Pay me that thou owest." In vain did the man beseech for patience, he that had only just been forgiven ten thousand talents could not have pity on the man who owed him but one hundred pence.
Often had Edith read this chapter, and very just was her indignation against the hard-hearted servant, who, with his king's lesson of mercy and forgiveness fresh in his memory, could not practise the same to one who owed him infinitely less than he had done his master; and yet here was little Edith who could not forgive Fred his injuries, when, nevertheless, God was willing to forgive hers. Had Fred injured her as she had injured God? surely not; and yet she might now kneel down and receive at once the forgiveness of all her great sins. Nay, more: she had been receiving mercy and patience at the hands of her Heavenly Father many years. She had neglected Him, done many things contrary to his law, owed him, indeed, the ten thousand talents, and yet she was spared.
She had a great deal of revenge in her heart still, however; and she could not, reason as she would, try as she would, read as she would, get it out, so she sunk down on her knees, and lifted up her heart very sincerely, to ask God to take it away. She had often said her prayers, and had found no difficulty in that, but now it seemed quite different. She could find no words, she could only feel. Well, that was enough. He who saw in secret, saw her heart, and knew how it felt. She felt she needed forgiveness, and that she could only have it by asking it of Him who had power to forgive sins. She took her great debt to Jesus, and he cancelled it; she hoped she was forgiven, and now, oh! how ready she felt to forgive Fred. How small a sum seemed his hundred pence—his little acts of annoyances compared with her many sins against God. Now she felt and understood the meaning of the Saviour's lesson to Peter. She had entered the same school as Peter, and though a slow she was a sincere learner.
She is in the right way now to learn the true law of kindness. None but the Saviour, who was love itself, could teach her this. If any earthly teacher could have done so, surely Emilie would have succeeded.
She went down to tea softened and sad, for she felt very humble. The consideration of her great unlikeness to the character of Jesus, affected her. "When he was reviled he reviled not again; when he suffered he threatened not;" and this thought made her feel more than any sermon or lecture or reproof she ever had in her life, how she needed to be changed, her whole self changed; not her old bad nature patched up, but her whole heart made new. She did not say much at tea; she did not formally apologise to Fred for her conduct to him. He looked very cross, so perhaps it was wiser to act rather than to speak; but she handed him the bread and butter, and buttered him a piece of toast, and in many little quiet ways told him she wished to be friends with him. John began at her frock again. She could not laugh, (she was not in a laughing humour,) but she said she would not wear it any more, during his holidays, if he disliked it so very much. The greatest trial to her temper was the being told she looked cross. Emilie, who could see the sun of peace behind the cloud, was half angry herself at this speech, and said to Mr. Parker, "If she looks cross she is not cross, Sir, but I think she is not in very good spirits. Every one looks a little sad sometimes;" and Mr. Porker, happily, being called out to a patient at that moment, gave Edith opportunity to swallow her grief.
After tea the boys prepared to accompany their sister and her governess in the usual evening walk. Edith did not desire their company, but she did not say so; and they all went out very silent for them. On their road to the beach they met a man who had a cage of canaries to sell, the very things that Fred had desired so long, and to purchase which he had saved his money.
Edith had no taste for noisy canaries; few great talkers have, for they do interrupt conversation must undeniably, but Fred thought it would be most delightful to have them, and as he had a breeding cage which had belonged to one of his elder sisters years before, he asked the price and began to make his bargain. The birds were bought and the man dispatched to the house with them, with orders to call for payment at nine o'clock, before Fred remembered that he did not exactly know where he should keep them. In the sitting room it would be quite out of the question he knew, for the noise would distract his mother. Papa was not likely to admit canaries into his study for consultations; and Fred knew only of one likely or possible place, but the door to that was closed, unless he could find a door to Edith's heart, and he had just quarrelled with Edith; what a pity! To make it up with her, however, just to gain his point, he was too proud to do, and was therefore gloomy and uncivil.
"Where are you going to keep your canaries Fred?" asked his sister.
"In the cage," said Fred, shortly and tartly.
"Yes; but in what room?"
"In my bed-room," said Fred.
"Oh, I dare say! will you though?" said John, who as he shared his brother's apartment had some right to have a voice in the matter. "I am not going to be woke at daylight every morning by your canaries. And such an unwholesome plan; I am sure papa and mamma won't let you. What a pity you bought the birds! you can't keep them in our small house. Get off your bargain, I would if I were you. Besides, who will take care of them all the week? they will want feeding other days besides Saturdays, I suppose."
Fred looked annoyed, and dropped behind the party. Edith whispered to Emilie, "Go you on with John, I want to talk to Fred."
"Fred, dear," said she, "will you keep your birds in my little room, where my old toys are? I will clear a place, and I shan't mind their singing, do Fred. I have often hindered your pleasures, now let me have the comfort of making it up a little to you, and I will feed them and clean them while you are at school in the week."
"You may change your mind Edith, and you know if my birds are in your room, I shall have to be there a good deal; and they will make a rare noise sometimes, and some one must take care of them all the week—I can only attend to them on Saturdays, you know."
"Yes, I have been thinking of all that, and I expect I shall sometimes wish to change my mind, but I shall not do it. I am very selfish I know, but I mean to try to be better, Fred. Take my little room, do."
Fred was a proud boy, and would rather have had to thank any one than Edith just then; but nevertheless he accepted her offer, and thanked his little sister, though not quite so kindly as he might have done, and that is the truth. There is a grace in accepting as well as in giving. Edith had given up what she had much prized, the independence of a little room, (it was but a little one,) a little room all to herself; but she did so because she felt love springing up in her heart. She acted in obedience to the dictates of the law of kindness, and she felt lighter and happier than she had done for a long time. Fred was by degrees quite cheered, and amused his companions by his droll talk for some way. Spying, however, one of his school-fellows on the rocks at a distance, he and John, joined him abruptly, and thus Emilie and Edith were left alone.
Sincerity is never loquacious, never egotistic. If you don't understand these words I will tell you what I mean. A person really in earnest; and sincere, does not talk much of earnestness and sincerity, still loss of himself. Edith could not tell Emilie of her new resolutions, of her mental conflict, but she was so loving and affectionate in her manner to her friend, that I think Emilie understood; at any rate, she saw that Edith was very pleasant, and very gentle that night, and loved her more than ever. She saw and felt there was a change come over her. They walked far, and on their return found the canaries arrived, and Fred very busy in putting them up in their new abode. He had rather unceremoniously moved Edith's bookcase and boxes, to make room for the bird cages. She did say, "I think you might have asked my leave," but she instantly recalled it. "Oh, never mind; what pretty little things, I shall like to have them with me."
It really was a trial to Edith to see all her neat arrangements upset, and to find how very coolly Fred did it, too. She sighed and thought, "Ah, I shall not be mistress here now I see!" but Fred was gone down stairs for some water and seed, and did not hear her laments. He was very full of his scheme for canary breeding at supper, and Emilie was quite as full of sympathy in his joy as Fred desired; she took a real interest in the matter. Her father, she said, had given much attention to canary breeding, for the Germans were noted for their management of canaries; she could help him, she thought, if he would accept her help. So they were very merry over the affair at supper time, and Mr. Parker, in his quiet way, enjoyed it too. Suddenly, however, the merriment received a check. Margaret, who had been to look at the birds, came in with the intelligence that Muff, the pet cat of Miss Edith, was sitting in the dusk, watching the canaries with no friendly eye, and that she had even made a dart at the cage; and she prophesied that the birds would not be safe long. A bird of ill omen was Margaret always; she thought the worst and feared the worst of every one, man or animal. "Why, it is easy to keep the door of the cage shut," John remarked, but to keep puss out of her old haunts was not possible.
Muff was not a kitten, but a venerable cat, who had belonged to Edith's elder sister, and was given to Edith, the day that sister married, as a very precious gift; and Edith loved that grey cat, loved her dearly. She always sat in the same place in that dear little room. Edith had only that day made her a new red leather collar, and Muff looked very smart in it. "Muff won't hurt the birds, Fred dear," said Edith, "she is not like a common cat." Whatever points of dissimilarity there might he between Muff and the cat race in general, in this particular she quite resembled them; she loved birds, and would not be very nice as to the manner of obtaining them. What was to be done? Fred had all manner of projects in his head for teaching the canaries to fly out and in the cage, to bathe, to perch on his finger, etc.; but if, whenever any one chanced to leave the door of the room open, Muff were to bounce in, why there was an end to all such schemes. In short, Muff would get the birds by fair means or foul, there was no doubt of that, and Fred was desperate. I cannot tell how many times Muff was called "a nasty cat," "a tiresome cat," "a vicious cat," and little Edith's heart was full, for she did not believe any evil of her favourite; and to hear her so maligned, seemed like a personal insult; but she bore it patiently. She asked Emilie at bed time what she should do about Muff; she had so long been accustomed to her seat by the sunny window in Edith's room, that to try and tempt her from it she knew would be vain.
Emilie agreed with her, but hoped Muff would practise self-denial. Before Edith lay down to rest that night, she again thought over all that she had done through the day; again knelt down and asked for help to overcome that which was sinful within her, and then lay down to sleep. Edith was but a child, and she could not forget Muff; she thought, and very truly, that there was a general wish to displace her Muff. Not one in the house would be sorry to see Muff sent away she know, and Margaret at supper time seemed so pleased to report of Muff's designs. This thought made her love Muff all the more, but then there were Fred's birds. It would be very sad if any of them should be lost through her cat; what should she do? She wished to win Fred to love and gentleness. Should she part with Muff? Miss Schomberg (aunt Agnes that is) had expressed a wish for a nice quiet cat, and this, her beauty, would just suit her. "Shall I take Muff to High-Street to-morrow? I will," were her last thoughts, but the resolution cost her something, and Edith's pillow was wet with tears. When she arose the next morning she felt as we are all apt to feel after the excitement of new and sudden resolves, rather flat; and the sight of Muff sitting near a laurel bush in the garden, enjoying the morning sun, quite unnerved her. "Part with Muff! No, I cannot; and I don't believe any one would do such a thing for such a boy as Fred. I cannot part with Muff, that's certain. Fred had better give up his birds, and so I shall tell him."