« AnteriorContinua »
“ About this time, it happened that a lady came to visit my aunts, who had a little daughter younger than myself. This child was in a very bad state of health. Whilst the lady remained with my aunts, the little girl died. I was with this poor child when the breath left her body; and I saw her corpse laid in the coffin, and carried to the grave. I had never seen death so near before: and I must say that I really was frightened, and began from that time to wish that I could be good; and I made promises to my aunts that I would be a better girl ; but I neither kept my promise nor my good resolutions.
“ One Saturday morning, in the middle of summer, my aunts called me to them, and said — My dear, we are going from home, and shall not return till Monday morning. We cannot take you with us, as we could wish, because you have not been invited. Bridget will go with us, therefore there will be no person to keep you in order ; but we hope, as you are not now a little child, that you may be trusted a few days by yourself.'
My aunt Grace then bade me remember, that although she and her sister would not be present to watch me, yet there was a great and powerful God, whose
eye would be always upon me, and who would certainly take an account of every thing I did, and would bring me, sooner or later, to judgment for every evil action.
My aunt Penelope then reminded me of the poor little girl who had died in the house; and told me, that though I was in good health, yet that I might, if God pleased, die like that little girl, in my youth, and never live to be a woman.'
“They then talked to me of the Commandments of God, and explained them to me, and spoke of the very great sin and danger of breaking them ; and they talked to me till I really felt frightened, and determined that I would be good all the while they were from home.
" When the coach was ready, my aunts set out ; and I took my books, and went to sit in the arbour with Shock, who was left under my care. I stayed in the arbour till evening, when one of the maidservants brought me my supper. I gave part of it to Shock, and when I had eaten the rest, went to bed. As I lay in my bed, I felt very glad that I had got through that evening without doing anything I thought naughty, and was sure I should do as well the next day.
“The next morning I was awakened by the bells ringing for church : I got up, ate my breakfast, and when I was dressed, went with the maid to church. When we came home, my dinner was given me. All this while I had kept my aunts' words pretty well in my memory ; but they now began to wear a little from my mind. When I had done my dinner, I went to play in the garden.
* Behind the garden, on the hill, was a little field, full of cherry-trees : cherries were now quite ripe. My aunts had given me leave every day to pick up a few cherries, if there were any fallen from the trees; but I was not allowed to gather any. Accordingly, I went to look if there were any cherries fallen : I found a few, and was eating them when I heard somebody call me, ' Miss, Miss !' and, looking up, saw a little girl who was employed about the house, in weeding the garden, and running errands. My aunts had often forbid me to play or hold any discourse with this little girl ; which was certainly very proper, as the education of the child was very different from that which had been given me. I was heedless of this command, and answered her by saying, "What are you doing here, Nanny ?'
«* « There is a ladder, Miss,' she replied, ' against a tree at the upper end of the orchard : if you please, I will get up into it and throw
down some cherries.' At first I said, "No,' and then I said, Yes.'
Nanny and I repaired to the tree in question, and Nanny mounted into the tree.
“O, Miss, Miss !' said she, as soon as she had reached the top of the ladder, I can see, from where I am, all the towns, and both the churches—and here is such plenty of cherries !-do come up-only just step on the ladder ; and then you can sit on this bough, and eat as many cherries as you please.”
"And did you get into the tree, mamma?” said Lucy.
Yes, my dear, I did," said Mrs. Fairchild, " and sat down on one of the branches, to eat cherries and look about me." “O, mamma!” said Emily,
suppose your aunts had come home then."
“You shall hear, my dear," continued Mrs. Fairchild. “My aunts, as I thought, and as they expected, were not to come home till the Monday morning; but something happened whilst they were out, (I forget what,) which obliged them to returu sooner than they had expected ; and they got home just at the time when I was in the cherry orchard. They called for me, but not finding me immediately, they sent the servants different ways to look for me. The person who happened to come to look for me in the cherry orchard was Mrs. Bridget, who was the only one of the servants who would have told of me. She soon spied me with Nanny in the cherry-tree. She made us both come down, and dragged us by the arms into the presence of my aunts, who were exceedingly angry: I think I never saw them so angry, Nanny was given up to her mother to be flogged ; and I was shut
in the dark room, where I was kept several days upon bread and water. At the end of three days my aunts sent for me, and talked to me for a long time.
Is it not very strange at your age, niece,' said Mrs. Penelope, 'that you cannot be trusted for one day, after all the pains we have taken with you,
after all we have taught you ? Do you not know the punishments that are threatened to those who break the Commandments of God ?'-—' And how many commandments,' said my aunt Grace, did you break last Sunday ?
«« « You broke the Fourth Commandment,' said my aunt Penelope, which is, Remember the sabbathday to keep it holy : and you broke the Fifth, which is, Honour your parents. We stand in the place of parents to you. You broke the Eighth too, which is, Thou shalt not steal. Besides,' said
aunt Grace, 'the shame and disgrace of climbing trees in such low company, after all the care and pains we have taken with you, and the delicate manner in which we have reared you.'
“In this way they talked to me, whilst I cried very much. Indeed, indeed, aunt Grace and aunt Penelope,' I said, “I did mean to behave well when you went out : I made many resolutions, but I broke them all : I wished to be good, but I could not be good.'
««• You perhaps think it a proper excuse,' said my aunt Grace, 'to say that you wished to be good, but could not be good : everybody can be good if they please.'
“ There our aunts were quite out,” said Henry : « for without God's help nobody can be good.”
"No, my dear,” said Mrs. Fairchild, so but at that time they did not know this."
“When my aunts had talked to me a long time, they forgave me, and I was allowed to go about as
but I was not happy: I felt that I was wicked, and did not know how to make myself good. One afternoon, soon after all this had happened, whilst my aunts and I were drinking tea in the parlour, with the window open towards the garden, an old gentleman came in at the front gate, whom I had
never seen before ; he was dressed in plain black clothes, exceedingly clean : his grey hair curled about his neck; and in his hand he had a strong walking-stick. I was the first who saw him, as I was nearest the window, and I called to my aunts to look at him.
“Why, it is my cousin Thomas,' cried my aunt Penelope : who would have expected to have seen him here? With that both my aunts ran out to meet him, and bring him in.
“ The old gentleman was a clergyman, and a near relation of our family, and had lived many years upon his living in the North, without seeing any of his relations.
“« I have often promised to come and see you, cousins,' he said, as soon as he was seated, but never have been able to bring the matter about till now.'
"My aunts told him how glad they were to see him, and presented me to him. He received me very kindly, and told me that he remembered my mother. The more I saw of this gentleman, the more pleased I was with him. He had many entertaining old stories to tell; and he spoke to every body in the kindest way possible. He often used to me out with him a walking, and show me the flowers, and teach me their names. One day he went out into the town, and bought a beautiful little Bible for me ; and when he gave it me he said, “Read this, dear child, and pray to God to send his Holy Spirit to help you to understand it; and it shall be à lamp unto your feet, and a light unto your path.'” (Psalm cxix. 105.)
“I know that verse, mamma," said Lucy : “it is in the Psalms."
“ When he had been some days with us,” continued Mrs. Fairchild, “my aunts took occasion, one evening when I was gone to bed, to tell him the his