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It was the note Lucy had received with the gift, and which she had shut up in the clasped book, to be afterwards, and for twenty years, forgotten.
With languid interest, she unfolded the note and readread the heart breathings of a spirit now happy in glory ; and as she read, the arrow entered her soul. That arrow had been blunted before; but now affliction sharpened it. “Oh, if he had lived !" she whispered to herself, “I should not now be friendless. · How kind! how loving! and
She read to the closing sentence: “I know you will not so far despise it as to part with it: you will keep it for my sake ; and should troublous days ever come, when you feel you need help and friendship,”
Lucy had read as far as this, when an exclamation from her child arrested her attention. Ellen had turned over the gilt-edged leaves, as a child might; and at the middle of the book she had lighted on a thin piece of paper, once folded, which did not belong to the volume. With childish curiosity she had unfolded it, and now she held it up to her mother's gaze.
It was a bank note for twenty pounds.
Twenty pounds! Twenty years ago, this sum would have seemed to Lucy a mere bagatelle, only a trifle. But now
The poor agitated woman burst into hysterical tears. It was well that they came to her relief; and presently she was more calm, and could think.
Her old friend, Mr. Seaton, was not a rich man at his death-had never been rich; but out of his small means he had furnished a second new year's gift: and here it was, after twenty years.
But still happier consequences followed than the unexpected and welcome relief afforded by this strange and opportune discovery. Smitten with the recollection of her ungrateful disdain of her old friend, poor humbled Lucy resolved that now she would follow his injunctions, and seek for that help and friendship which only can be found in the way opened by the gospel of Christ. Nor did she seek in vain; for she found Him whose gracious invitation to every child of want and sorrow is, “Come unto me, and I will give you rest."
PART I. “ There be thousands among men who heed not the bearing of their talents."
“ The harmony of nature is preserved by each one knowing his place."— Tupper. “ It is pleasant to see the girls together again,” remarked Mr. Warren, as the youngest but one of his five daughters danced out of the room after her sisters, on a holiday time.
"So it is; but how thankful we should be that so many of them are almost independent of us : and in due time the others will doubtless do as well.”
“Flora is too giddy, and Louisa too delicate, to do much good at present," said their father.
"Oh! we don't know what they can do till they try," rejoined the hopeful mother, who for years had astonished herself and her friends with the untiring energy of spirit, and activity of body with which she had fulfilled the duties of life. “Flora will sober down by and by; and Louisa, she is not strong certainly, but she is very attractive; and if she should not be able to work, her lot may be to play, who knows?”
Thus comforted under parental anxieties for his portionless daughters, Mr. Warren retired to his study, while Mrs. Warren proceeded to examine the newspaper for a few minutes before commencing the usual household engagements. Her eye glanced down a too short column of “ Governesses," " Companions,” and “ Young Persons ” wanted; but suddenly with a brightening countenance she hastened to the window commanding a small but pretty garden, and whence she could see Flora in a huge hat, looking something like a locomotive mushroom, chasing a disorderly hen among the flower beds, whither the temptation of some well-fed grubs occasionally misled her.
“Flora, my dear, I want you,” said Mrs. Warren; and the young lady reluctantly gave up the pursuit to obey her mother's call.
“ Listen to this, my dear. Wanted, in a gentleman's family, a young lady competent to undertake the exclusive charge of three children between the ages of six and twelve years. The usual branches of education required. A comfortable home : salary forty pounds.' Now, Flora, this is just the thing for you."
“For me, mamma!” and Flora fashed back the great sheltering hat, and opened her eyes as wide as possible on her mother's quiet, earnest face.
“ Yes, for you, dear; why not?
“ Why, mamma, I hate the trouble of children ; I can't endure them except now and then to play with; and you say I never cast up an account for you correctly; and papa says he fears I have but a smattering sort of knowledge of proper things."
« Flora,” said Mrs. Warren, solemnly, “would you like to earn forty pounds a year, or not?"
“ Very much indeed, mamma, if I could get it without much trouble, only_ ”
“ Only, nonsense. You play nicely; you can sing very sweetly when you please; you can improve yourself in French, and so on, while teaching the rudiments to others : and as to other things, when once you give your mind to them, a few useful books will supply all you need. You know, my dear, you must begin soon, and when better than now that all your own acquirements are fresh in your mind?”
“ Well, mamma, if I must I must. So if you can get the situation for me I'll take it.”
“There's a dear good girl. I shall write at once. Your father's position will ensure attention, and probably a preference. You will have to write the second letter yourself, but it is right and respectable for us to make the first inquiries."
“Thank you, mamma; it will certainly be very pleasant to have forty pounds a-year to begin with. Belle has not so much now, though she has been two years with those people.” * « True ; but there are other advantages for Belle there. We don't know what time and habit may do."
“ Poor Belle !” said Flora, in a tone of pity; “it isn't very happy for her though. Six tiresome children, the mother so weak and helpless, and the father seldom at home.” L“ Flora, my dear, it is of no use to talk in that way, and I beg you will make no such remarks to Belle. You should say everything to encourage and cheer her. Re
mind her how nice the house is; quite a gentleman's mansion, and she almost like the mistress of it-servants and everybody at her command.”
“ Ah, but it's so very dull; and she can't manage the children, she says."
" Oh, she is too humble, and thinks too little of herself and her abilities. You see, my love, we should expect something disagreeable wherever we go in this world; and while young ladies without fortunes must get their own living respectably, it is a great mercy that there are plenty of children to be taught, many sick people to nurse, and fathers able to provide the means. You have all been educated with the prospect of turning your advantages to account in this way, and should be ready to accept such opportunities as are laid before you.”
56 Yes, mamma, of course; only I wish something could be had that I should like to do. Mamma! why don't you remember to put your cap on the way I showed you ? Just let me set it right, it's of no use to make you a fashionable cap, I declare; and this is so pretty, I wanted you to show it off.”
“I dare say I put it on in a hurry,” said Mrs. Warren, smiling at the movements of the ready fingers, as Flora arranged the cap, and the light curls that shaded her mother's brow.
“ There, now it's just as it should be, and I'll soon make you another, like one I saw in a shop window at S-- the last time we were there. Oh if I could but be a milliner, mamma!”
“ Don't talk foolishly, child. Do you suppose your parents would hear of such a thing ?”
“ Well it's what I could do best, that's all. I don't know how in the world I shall ever manage to teach three children, even if the good people should be so-so—silly as to trust me. Excuse me, mamma, I don't know whether to laugh or cry about it.”
“ You are not called upon to do either," replied her mother, gravely, “but simply to do your duty in the station of life in which it may please--" Mrs. Warren murmured something as a conclusion to her speech, but it seemed not very clear what it was; for there was a curious expression playing round Flora's mouth as if she could have finished it for her, without allusion to any higher authority than a worldly mother's will.
« Well, mamma, I submit. There's that abominable hen scratching up all my seeds : have you done with me, mamma? may I run away now ?”
“ Too childish,” thought Mrs. Warren, arranging her desk; “ but she will become wise and steady under new responsibilities.”
Mrs. Warren did not allow herself to consider whether she would ever have placed young children of her own under the care of a girl like Flora. She had not been accustomed to consider for others; she found herself obliged to do the best she could for her own, and to that end sought for them whatever seemed likely to favour their advancement in life, independent of fitness, taste, and too often, alas, of truth and principle. Her children must go out into the world ; they must make friends for themselves; they must seek among the wealthy and powerful a station and a name which their father's limited means denied them at home. The world, with its favours, its pleasures, its notice, its fashions, was the goal of the mother's ambition; and fancy grasped at every romantic incident of real life, wherewith to picture a like prosperous future for her portionless ones. What dream is too extravagant for the fond anticipations of a worldly mother's heart? what sacrifice too great, to achieve distinction for those she loves so dearly?
And so it often comes to pass that she, who should be a very fountain of truth and goodness to all around her, I deludes herself and others into engagements ending in disappointment and vexation on one side, and exposure and disgrace on the other. Or worse still, some illassorted match, of wealthy wretchedness, crushing all that might have found happiness elsewhere, under the yoke of riches or the cold formalities of rank. Such training bodes little good to those who afterwards fall into the hands of the trained ones. But this is not the sphere of thought for minds of Mrs. Warren's mould.
She wrote an exceedingly innocent, ladylike letter to the advertiser, delicately introducing the amiable qualities and suitable acquirements of her daughter, with such extra allusions as could scarcely fail to awaken interest, and elicit sympathy. Clever management, some tact, and great assurance, do wonders in the world sometimes; and Mrs. Warren's share of these talents had seen some service in her time, and she had no doubt that her plans were