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Lucy and Emily hearkened, whilst Mrs. Fairchild told her story.
“My mother died," said Mrs. Fairchild,“ many years ago, when I was a very little child; so little that I remember nothing more of her than being taken to kiss her when she lay sick in bed. Soon afterwards, I can recollect seeing her funeral procession go out of the garden-gate, as I stood in the nursery window; and I also remember, some days afterwards, being taken to strew flowers upon her grave, in the village church-yard.
“ After my mother's death, my father sent me to live with my aunts, Mrs. Grace and Mrs. Penelope; two old ladies, who, having never been married, had no families to take up their attention, and were so kind as to undertake to bring me up. . These old ladies lived near the pleasant town of Reading. I cau fancy I see the house now, although it is many years since I left it. It was a handsome old mansion; for my aunts were people of good fortune. In the front of it was a sbrubbery, neatly laid out with gravel walks; and behind it was a little rising ground, where was an arbour, in which my aunts used to drink tea in a fine afternoon, and where I often went to play with my doll. My aunts' house and garden were very neat: there was not a weed to be seen in the gravel walks, or among the shrubs, nor any thing out of its place in the house. My aunts themselves were nice and orderly, and went on from day to day in the same manner: and, as far as they knew, they were good women: but they knew very little about religion; and what people do not understand they cannot practise."
** Could not they read the Bible, Mamma?” said Henry. " Yes, my dear,” said Mrs. Fairchild ; “ they could read it, and did read it every day: but, unless the Spirit of God make us understand the Bible, we may read it all our lives and know nothing of it-mat least, be none the better for reading it."
" You have often told me, Mamma,” said Lucy, " that, when we read our Bible, we ought to pray that God would send us his Holy Spirit to make us understand it.”
Very true, my dear: reading the Bible without prayer is of very little use," said Mrs. Fairchild.
" What did our aunts know of religion, Manma ?' asked Emily.
Why, my dear,” answcred Mrs. Fairchild, " as far as I can judge, they believed that there is but one God, who made all things; and that this God hates sin, and loves goodness."
“ That was right, Mamma," said Henry.
“ So far it was, my dear,!' answered Mrs. Fairchild; "but people cannot be called Christians who know no more than this."
“ Did not our aunts know any thing about our Lord Jesus Christ?" said Henry.
They knew that there is such a Person, and that he is called the Son of God," answered Mrs. Fairchild ; “ and that he taught men to be good ; and died upou the cross : but they did not seem to have much notion that he is God, and that he has power to save all those who come to him in faith-at least, they never taught me any thing of the kind : neither did they explain to me that my heart was so bad as it is, or that I needed the help of the Spirit of God to change my vile nature."
“ Then what did they teach you, Mamma?" said Henry.
" Why, my dear," answered Mrs. Fairchild, “almost the first things they taught me were the Ten Commandments; and they told me that they
were the words of God; and that, if I did not keep these words, I should go to hell, and be burnt in everlasting fire, with the devil and his angels ; but that, if I did keep these Commandments, I should go to heaven, and live with God and the holy angels for ever.”
“ Why, my aunts could not keep the Commandments themselves," said Lucy; “ because nobody can without the help of the Holy Spirit; and how could they expect you to do it, Mamma, when you were a little girl ?”
“My aunts," said Mrs. Fairchild, “ could not keep the Commandments any more than I did, my dear; that is true enough : but people who have not true religion often live for years, and even die, without knowing that they are sinners. The beginning of true religion, my dear, is to know that we are sinners. “ Are my aunts dead?” said Henry.
Yes, my dear,” said Mrs, Fairchild. " Then I am afraid that they are not gone to heaven,” said Henry,
“You must hear my story to the end,” said Mrs. Fairchild. “Some people receive the Holy Spirit of God when they are young, and some when they are older, and some even when they are dying: therefore we cannot judge any person. I only tell you what my aunts were when I lived with them.-But now to go back to my story
“I was but a very little girl when I came to live with my aunts, and they kept me upder their care till I was married. As far as they knew what was right, they took great pains with me. Mrs. Grace taught me to sew, and Mrs. Penelope taught me to read : I had a writing and a music master, who came from Reading to teach me twice a-week: and I was taught all kinds of household work by my aunts' maid. We spent ope day ex
actly like another. I was made to rise early, and to dress myself very neatly, to breakfast with my aunts. At breakfast I was not allowed to speak one word. After breakfast, I worked two hours with my Aunt Grace, and read an hour with my Aunt Penelope: we then, if it was fine weather, took a walk; or, if not, an airing in the coach-I and my aunts, and little Shock the lap-dog, together. At dinner, I was not allowed to speak; and, after dinner, I attended my masters, or learnt my
tasks. The only time I had to play was while my aunts were dressing to go out; for they went out every evening to play at cards. When they went out my supper was given to me, and I was put to bed in a closet in my aunts' room. “ But why did they not stay at home and take you, Mamma ?” said Lucy.
“ Is it right to be going out every day, and dressing fine, and playing at cards ?”
“When people really love God," said Mrs. Fairchild, “ they no longer take pleasure in these kind of things : but I told you before, my dear children, that, when I lived with my aunts, they were not truly religious: it is therefore of no use to be reasoning about their actions.
“ Now, although my aunts took so much pains with me in their way,” continued Mrs. Fairchild, “I was a very naughty girl : I had no good principles.”_
“ Mamma, what do you mean by good principles ?” said Lucy.
“A person of good principles, my dear," said Mrs. Fairchild, " is one who does not do well from fear of the people he lives with, but from the fear of God. A child who has good principles will behave just the same when bis mamma is ont of the room, as when she is looking at him-at least he will wish to do so : and if he is, by his own wicked heart, at any time tempted to sin, he will be grieved, although no person knows his sin. But when I lived with my aunts, if I could but escape punishment I did not care what naughty things I did.
My Aunt Grace was very fond of Shock: she used to give me skim-milk at breakfast, but she gave Shock cream; and she often made me carry him when I went out a-walking. For this reason I hated him; and, when we were out of my aunts' hearing, I used to prick him, and pull his tail and his ears, and make the poor little thing howl sadly. My Aunt Penelope had a large tabby cat, which I also hated and used ill. I remember once being sent out of the dining-room to carry Shock his dinner; Shock being ill, and laid on a cushion in my aunts' bed-room. As I was going up stairs I was so unfortunate as to break the plate, which was fine blue china: I gathered up the pieces, and, running up into the room, set them before Shock; after which I fetched the cat, and shut her up in the room with Shock. When my aunts came up after dinner and found the broken plate, they were much surprised; and Mrs. Bridget, the favourite maid, was called to beat the cat for breaking the plate. I was in my closet, and heard all that was said; and, instead of being sorry, I was glad that puss was beaten instead of me.
“ Besides those things which I have told you, I did many other naughty things. Whenever í was sent into the store-room, where the sugar and sweetmeats were kept, I always stole some. I used very often, at night, when my aunts were gone out, and Mrs. Bridget also (for Mrs. Bridget generally went out when her mistresses did, to see some of her acquaintances in the town), to get up,
down into the kitchen, where I used to sit upon the housemaid's knee, and eat toasted