Family Herald, Volume 24

Family Herald, Volume 24

Old Father Winter had bidden us adieu, and the smiling Spring had come to us again, with her flowers and sunshine, when the next epoch of my story happened. – W. were sitting one morning at breakfast, and my aunt was conning the advertisement sheet of the Times, when suddenly she laid down the paper on her lap, and ejaculated, “Well, I never !” “Never what, aunt : ” I asked. “Why, you remember my telling you, Donald, how I went once on a visit to old Mrs. Bluckintyre, who lived in that paradise of a house on the Dart f” she said. “Yes,” I replied. “Well, she is dead!” said my aunt. “Indeed!” said I. “And the house and furniture are to be sold,” she continued. “And you are going to buy them?” I said. “I’ll think about it,” she replied. “Think about it, aunt!” said I. “Why, how could you ever leave London : I’ve heard you say again and again that a country life would kill you; that there was no such place n > – – – “Yes, yes, Donald,” she interrupted; “but circumstances alter opinions. London is all very well for people of moderate incomes; for one can pinch and screw to one’s heart’s content here, without a soul being a bit the wiser for it; but when persons have money in abundance, they can afford to despise the petty chat of a country village. They are beyond the impertinent tittle tattle of their vulgar neighbours.” “And you will leave London P” I said. “I will,” she replied. “Why should I stop here P , There’s a prospect : What do we look upon? A hairdresser’s shop, with three old wigs in the window. If I go out, I am choked with smoke and dust. I have no society. I long for the sweet country, the green fields, the babbling brooks, and smiling hedge-rows.” – – – “Mercy, aunt, how poeticall” I cried, with a grin, as Jemima took away the tea-tray. It was time to go to business, and I was just leaving the house, when I heard the following animated colloquy between our servant and the abigail next door, carried on at the back of the house. “’Melia,” said Jemima, “wos yer ever in the country?” “Not further nor ‘Ackney Wick,” was the reply. . “Because our people’s i. there,” continued Jemima. “La, Jemima I ” said the other. “Yes,” said Jemima. “I heard missus say this very morning as she was a-going far away into the country, to live in the green fields, with the babbling rooks and the smiling hedgehogs.” Just as the Spring was mellowing into Summer, we left the bustling streets of London for . º lanes of Devonshire. #.; up my City appoint ment, and forthwith proceeded to lead the lazy life of a country gentleman; but I cannot say that I felt the change was one for the better. I soon got tired of the never-varying routine and everlasting twiddle twaddle of a country village, and I moped about day after day with no more congenial companion than my pipe, when an event occurred that altogether altered the tenor of my feelings. My aunt had made a host of friends. She was soon initiated into all the

mysteries of a village life, and became as fond of tea-parties, tattle, and scandal, as any old maid in the county. Among her friends was one lady, of whom I had a particular horror, and yet she was a very good woman. She was a prominent member of the Dorcas Society, she was a district visiter, she distributed tracts, she was the most regular teacher in the Sunday School, and she took elaborate notes of the sermons. What more could you expect of woman *. It is true some people said she was pious because she had nothing else to do, and wanted to catch a parson; and as for her charity, that she never gave away anything more substantial than her advice. They even went so far as to say that there wasn’t a more pernicious old scandalmonger in the county than my aunt’s friend, Miss Sneakington. But these were her enemies; and, as the accomplished lady herself often observed, “the good are always persecuted.” The fact is, Miss Sneakington was one of those vain, silly, unreal personages, who do more harm than good to the true cause of religion. Scotiers, and unbelievers took her as their type of a pious woman, and sneered at godliness because she was ungodly. One day this mature spinster, this amiable lady, called upon my aunt. “Miss Blane,” she began, “have the Boltons called P’’ “No,” replied my aunt. “Well now, that is strange,” she continued. “Really, the airs some people give themselves | And her mother only a grocer’s daughter . Then to see how her children dress—I really can’t {…}. they do it. I know, upon excellent authority, that Mr. Bolton’s income is under three hundred a year. Talking of dress, dear, did you see the Dulston girls at church last Sunday P Such flounces! such bonnets!—and their poor father only dead a twelvemonth. I dare say \”. heard he was thrown from his horse, when in a state of intoxication, and killed on the spot; we made a collection for his widow, and—would you believe it?—that old miser, Miss St. Clare, of the Abbey, only gave a sovereign, although she is rolling in wealth. Talking of her, reminds me to ask you if you know anything about that young woman who resides with her as companion. I have tried to find out; but I can only discover that she comes from Derbyshire, and that her name is Brown.” At this I pricked up my ears, and inquired anxiously, “What is Miss Brown’s age ?” “Well,” replied younger than I am.’ “Oh,” said I, abruptly, “I thought it might be a young lady I knew in Derbyshire; but she couldn’t be more than twenty at the outside.” “That is about her age,” said the old “Is her complexion -y “Pale,” said the pseudo-saint. “Her hair nut-brown f” I continued. “Not so dark as mine,” she said, giving her own scanty locks a conceited shake.—“Her eyes blue P’’ said I. “Really, Mr. Blane, you must excuse me,” cried the old maid; “for I have not examined Miss Brown closely enough to give so accurate a descrip tion of her. The girl is well-looking enough ; and they do say she has a very peculiar disposition, carefully avoids all society, and spends all her spare time alone; though if Miss St. §. gives her as little leisure as she did the other poor girl who was with her, she will have little time for sulkiness, goodness knows.” Here was a discovery ! Could this possibly be Ellen P In ten minutes’ time I was on my way to the A. As I walked down the stately avenue of chestnuts, the giant trees seemed to frown on my intrusion. The gaudy peacock, as he ran over the well-trimmed lawn, screamed defiance at me; and when the still gaudier servant in livery demanded my business, my heart sank within me. §. until I stood upon the doorstep of the mansion had the folly of my visit been fully apparent to me. The moment I caught a #”. of hope I rushed to the extremity of action. Like the man in the fable who found a feather, and persuaded himself he had discovered a flock of geese, I had found the simplest clue, and persuaded myself that the whole mystery was unravelled. But looking at the gorgeous domestic with appropriate awe, I muttered sheepishly, “Is Miss Brown at home f” “What name : ” said the man, impudently. “Miss Brown,” I repeated, looking him sternly in the face. “Have you a card, sir?” he asked, with more politeness of manner. I had a card, but I did not want Ellen to refuse to see me, as I knew she would, if she were apprised of my arrival. So I slipped half-a-crown into the man’s hand, …?º immediately ushered me into the drawing-room. The apartment was ificently furnished. The rich velvet curtains half hid a sweet landscape of hill, and slope, and meadow land,-the river, with the weeping ash, kissing its waters, and the lazy swan swimming on its bosom, swept by its windows. On the mantel-piece was a massive clock that ticked with provoking regularity. So different to the throbbing of my poor beating heart! Five minutes had elapsed, and she came not—then ten.” The clock was just striking the hour when I heard the light tread of a woman’s footstep ascending the stairs. Her hand was on the handle of the door. My heart stopped beating. The door opened, and Ellen herself, pale and trembling, stood … me. I could not speak. I rushed forward, and seized her hands in mine. At last my burning words found utterance. “Ellen,” I cried, “I have found you! Oh, if you knew the agony I have suffered since we parted, you would pity me. … I feel I must speak now, Ellen. I love you with all the deep devotion of a man’s adoration. I love you—I will not, cannot live without you. Tell me that you will be mine!” The very torrent of my passion frightened me, and I paused, in fear and trembling. Ellen stood as pale as a statue, her deep blue eyes looking earnestly in my face. At last she spoke. “Donald,” she said, “are you mad? How can you come and frighten me like this? What does it—” “Mad?” I repeated. “I almost think I am. I am deeply sorry, Ellen, that I spoke to you so abruptly; but my feelings were so strong, that they burst forth tººd my control, and—”

the antiquated damsel with a simper, “she is a little

“You silly boy! you only meant it in fun,” she interrupted, putting on a smile. “Fun!” said I. “Indeed, Ellen, I tell you, once for all, that if you will not be my wife, you will break my heart!” “Nonsense, Donald !” she said, with provoking coldness. “Believe me, hearts are not so easily broken. Men love, and despair, and love again, with remarkable regularity; and coroners’ juries rarely return the verdict of “Dicq of a broken heart.’” “I am in earnest,” said I. “Do not trifle with my feelings.” “Trifle, Donald, nonsense !” said Ellen. “You do not know yourself. You are a mere creature of impulse. This time next year you will have loved to desperation half-a-dozen young ladies. Your very conduct gives me the key to your character. The moment I enter the room, you rush up to me with a violent declaration of love.” “I know the moment was ill-chosen, Ellen,” I stammered; “but my feelings—” “Feelings again!” said Ellen. “Why the very torrent of your pent-up passion made me doubt the durability of }. purpose. If I had been a romantic young lady, I should have fainted away upon the ..” ; you would have called the servants, Miss St. Clare would have come, and all the house would have been in an uproar, and then we should never have heard the last of it.” “But answer my question,” I said, somewhat haughtily; for I could not understand her conduct. “What question?” she asked. “Will you marry me?” I exclaimed. “Marry you!” she said. “My dear Donald, what should we do when we were married? I have no money; you have none. Living on love is all very well in theory, but very unsatisfactory in practice. I am not so ethereal as you seem to imagine, and sometimes indulge in such mundane luxuries as beefsteaks and mutton-chops. You know what the old song says—

When Poverty enters the door, young Love Will out of the window fly.”

i.#” I said, gravely, “I did not know you were so calculating and sordid.” “I am not, Donald,” she replied, “I am simply prudent.” “But I shall regain my old appointment,” I said, “and shall work hard to be in a position to support you in comfort and respectability.” “Comfort and respectability!” she repeated, with a sneer. “Am I to pass the best º of my life in comfort and respectability? No, I must have plenty and luxury. The style of living I have enjoyed here of late has quite unsuited me for the character of a #: wife, whose husband has his way to make in the world. I must marry a fortune, and I am sure hundreds of girls, worse educated, and not a whit better looking than I am, pick up their thousand a-year every day. Look at Kate Harvey.” “A miserable wretch,” said I, “who married a man old enough to be her grandfather, and who lives a life of º misery.” “Well,” said Ellen, “I must confess I’d rather have a life of gilded misery


than one of uncertainty.” “And this is your answer?” said I. “You will not have me because you do not think me rich enough P” “Because I do not think you rich at all,” she replied; “because I do not care to marry a person of your position; in fact, I look higher.” “And this is Ellen!” I said, speaking to myself in sorrow. “Of course it is,” said the young lady, smiling pleasantly; “this is Ellen, really Ellen. You were in love with a creature of your own brain; you worshipped a marble image, which, on closer inspection, turns out to be mere plaster of Paris. Well, Donald, your eyes are opened now; your dream is over; so trot along, for I’ve got to attend to Miss St. Clare in her prome nade. My love to your aunt, Donald. Good-bye.” She held the door open, and, pale with passion and disappointment, I made my way down the stairs. I had indeed loved a creature of fancy. I would never believe a woman again. My aunt was right; Ellen was a jilt, a flirt, a fortune-hunter. My hand was upon the handle of the door, for the gorgeous domestic had disappeared to his haunts below, and I was left to usher myself out, when I heard a heavy fall in the drawing-room. I rushed up the stairs three steps at a time. There, on the floor, lay Ellen in a swoon. I rang the bell with vehement haste, and in a moment the room was full of servants, and the mistress of the house herself appeared. We bathed the sufferer’s brow; we gave her brandy; we rubbed her hands; but it was all of no use. Then a surgeon was sent for. She was carried to her room, and at last opened her eyes; but not to the light of reason; for delirium overwhelmed her intellect, and day after day Ellen lay hovering between life and death. Long had she been suffering, and at last the blow #. come. I found Miss St. Clare a good-natured woman, ever ready to do a kind action, and render those about her happy. Day after day I went to the Abbey to make inquiries about the patient. At last the crisis of her fever was past, and Ellen gradually got better. One day when I called, I was told that Miss Brown was up, and would see me in the drawing-room. There was Ellen, so pale, so thin, and saint like, that I almost trembled in her presence. She held out her hand, and motioned me to a chair beside her. “Donald,” she said, “I have been very near the grave—too near for one so wicked as I have been; but the truth of death has frightened me out of my deceit and pride; and if, after my conduct, you wish to hear me, I will truthfully confess to you.” “Go on, Ellen,” I muttered, for my heart was beating so fast I could hardly speak. “Long, long, Donald, I have loved you,” she continued; “loved you as

one so dear and good as you are, deserves to be loved. I would have made

[July 7, 1866.


any worldly sacrifice for your happiness, but I was poor, Donald; and worse —your aunt, taunted me with my poverty. She accused me of scheming to get lº uncle’s property. M .#. proved stronger than my discretion. I resolved to leave you—to hide *. for ever from you. . . I came here. Fate threw us together again. I then resolved to assume a frivolous, sordid character, which I knew you would hate. I did this, Donald, because I wanted, with a consideration for your feelings, to break off your attachment to me, which I had long dreaded. I thought that if you imagined me to be unworthy of your love, it would pain you §: little to lose me. I played my art well till the last. It has seemed to me like some horrible dream. saw you before me. I felt myself scorning your love, and laughing at your ardour. My false, deceitful laugh, rung on your ears as you left; but when the door of the roofn was shut, it seemed as though my ha º had gone for ever. My heart stopped beating, my brain whirled, and I fell upon the floor senseless.” Ellen could hardly speak the last few words. I seized her hand in mine; I kissed her wan cheek; I laid her head upon my shoulder; and the sprin of her affection, half choked by adversity, welled up in tears of love an ratitude. Her illness had proved to me the richest blessing of my life; it É. shown me how this brave girl, smarting under the insults of my aunt, had nobly resolved to sacrifice herself to save me; how she had determined to wreck her own feelings that I should not suffer, and how she had sunk under the terrible ordeal she had created for herself. Months flew by. The glad Autumn came; and Ellen and I—for I was now a constant guest at the Abbey—sat under the pleasant chestnut trees, building castles in the air of far-off hopes, and happy (oh, so happy!) in each ºff. and presence: So time flew by, until the golden harvests were garnered, and the Summer was gone, and the flakes of snow fell upon the hill tops, and told us that Winter was coming. –


Of course my constant visits to the Abbey had not given much satisfaction to my aunt. Indeed, we had had one or two stormy debates upon the pro priety of my conduct in this respect; but after a time she seemed reconciled to what fate had willed, and interfered with me but little in my actions. Our cup # joy was very full, when one cruel day dashed the sweet draught from Our Ilos. –

ð. morning I wended my way to the Abbey. I knew not why, but a gloom of uncertainty and dread hung over me. It was the old story of coming events casting their shadows before them—of the thermometer of the spirit falling in acknowledgment of the approaching rain of tears. … It was with some trepidation that I knocked at the door of the mansion. The gorgeous Thomas immediately appeared. . But what was it that so startled me?

The man held a letter in his hand, and before I could speak he gave it to me. I snatched it from him, and ran into the gloom of the tall elms, that stood like sentinels guarding the old-fashioned house. For a minute or two I dared not open the letter. At last I broke the seal, and, with quivering lips, I read as follows:— –

“Donald, dear Donald, farewell! We must never meet again. Try and forget me. Look upon me as dead. Think of our º; as a p. dream, from which you have awakened to the realities of life. For you there is a career of happiness and usefulness; to me life is a blank; but I cheer myself with the thought that Heaven ordereth all things for the best. Do not try to discover my whereabouts. This is my last request.

“Adieu for ever! “ELLEN.”

Enclosed in this letter was another. Here I had no difficulty in recog nising my aunt’s handwriting. It was addressed to Ellen, and ran as follows:— “Miss BRowN,-With much regret I have noticed lately the growing attachment of my nephew for you. have only this to say: if he yields to your seductions, I shall leave him a beggar. I think it right to inform you of my decision, as it would be a º that so accomplished a fortune-hunter as yourself should throw away her allurements. Feeling assured that you will now think my infatuated nephew altogether unworthy of your attractions, “I am yours, “DoRo THY BLANE.” I read the letters, and re-read them—could it be real? Was it some hantom of a disordered brain? Or was Ellen really lost to me? There i. the letters—alas! it was no dream. I ran to the house; I saw Miss St. Clare; I implored her to tell me what had become of Ellen; but she declared she did not know. The servants were equally ignorant; and I could not get the faintest clue to my lost love. How shall I picture my meeting with my aunt I upbraided her for her treachery and cruelty; I threw at her feet the presents she had in her affluence made me, and I started for London with but a trifle in my pocket, resolved to gain my own livelihood, and be independent of her for ever, . Hard times. Ah, how little can the upper ten thousand tell of the real ills of humanity! They are like bystanders in the great battle of life; their anxieties are confined to the petty strifes of every-day vexations, and they cannot comprehend the terrible struggles of their poorer neighbours. Fortune has carpeted their pathway with velvet; but there are pilgrims whose feet the stones of adversity cruelly cut and blister. So I found it when I first came to London. For a long time I was without any employment, and my slender resources nearly failed me. At last, however, I was fortunate enough to be installed as clerk in the counting-house of a scholastic agency. My chief duties were to cut out of the morning papers the school advertisements, and enclose our prospectus to the advertisers. – I shall now pass over a year of my life, taking up its thread only where it concerns my story. – – For twelve months I had plodded on in my monotonous labour with a

= –


listless energy, when accident once more threw me into contact with the heroine of my little drama. One da was pursuing my wearisome occupation, when I was much struck with an advertisement that appeared in the Times. It professed, in the stºreotyped phraseology of …’ circulars, to give instruction, maternal care, and the comforts of a home, to a limited number of young ladies; and reference was kindly permitted to Francis Bates, Esquire, Solicitor, Buxton; but the name of the proprictress was Miss Ellen Smith. Could Ellen Smith be Ellen Brown P. The probability lent a life to my conduct. I immediately wrote a letter to Miss Smith, in a disguised hand, and under a feigned name, and requested information on certain points I knew could not be given by the transmission of a prospectus. In a few days the reply came. It was brief, but to the purpose. It was Ellen’s handwriting. Ah, what a revulsion of feeling came over me ! I had dropped into a listless course of life, and had learned to look upon Ellen as one that was no more; and now it seemed to me as if my loved one had stepped from the grave, to be welcomed back on earth again. But what was I to do? Was I to go to her, and ask her to share my poverty P No; I must be in a position to offer her a home. I must work; I had an object, an aim in life. All my dormant energies awoke, and I was a new man. Before this, through a feeling of false pride, I had never sought re-employment from my old employers, Messrs. Lawson & Wilmot. I could not bear the thought of having left the office in good position and with plenty of money, amidst the envy and jealousy of my fellow-clerks, and of returning to take my place at the lowest stool, humbled and poor. False pride! unfounded fears! My old employers received me with great kindness, and my colleagues gave me a warm welcome. Moreover, I was not obliged to begin again at the bottom of the ladder, but was re-installed in my . position, the only remark being made by Mr. Lawson, that he hoped my change of circumstances had not produced a change of business habits. – – After I had been *. a few months in my old occupation, my prin cipals were suddenly involved in heavy losses by the failure of a large firm in Hamburgh. I was chosen to go there and examine the state of affairs on the spot. By the exercise of great energy and perseverance, I was enabled to trace a system of fraud in our debtors’ books, that induced the pseudo bankrupts to pay the demands of our firm in full, rather than incur the disgrace of an exposure. So pleased were my employers with the zeal I had exhibited in their behalf, that on my return home they presented me with the magnificent douceur of two hundred pounds. Moreover, I had been saving every penny I could scrape together, and now found myself master of quite a little fortune. My salary, too, was increased, and I was in possession of a handsome income. Now was to come the crowning joy of my hopes: it was time for me to go to Ellen. First I took a little cottage on the banks of the Thames, and furnished it. The Paradise was ready, the Eve alone was wanting.


The day came at last, and I set to my undertaking with a beating heart. A bright thought struck me. I would go down as a stranger, disguised so that Ellen should not know me. In pursuance of this plan, I assumed a dress and demeanour as unlike my natural appearance as possible; then I went to the station, and took my ticket for the village where she lived. I was soon there, and at once proceeded to the nearest inn, to make a few preparatory inquiries. The landlady was a bustling, talkative woman, and entered readily into conversation. –

“Do you know,” I said, carelessly, “how Miss Smith, of the ladies’ school, is getting on ?”

“Miss Smith ?” was the reply. “Oh, she did well enough once; but I am afraid her school is not of much account now. They do say she’s going to be sold up. There’s Styles, the butcher, I hear she owes him a matter of forty pounds or so; and there’s hardly a tradesman in the place she isn’t in debt to.”

“How has all this come about P” I asked.

“Well, sir, you see, one of her young ladies takes the fever, and dies, and the school gets sort of broken up, and never comes round again; and then there’s the new ‘stablishment up at the big house, where they’ve masters come down from London to teach everything; and the governesses is only

lady-superintendents.” Yi. heard enough; so I º: for my refreshment, and departed. Was I fl. or sorry to find Ellen in this position P. I was glad —glad to

come to her in her struggles, and bear her from the fierce currents that were overwhelming her, to a haven of peace and safety. – In five minutes I was at the door of her house. The servant said her mistress was at home, but engaged. “I wish,” said I, “to see her on very important business, and will await her leisure.” As I made this remark with an air of assurance, I walked past the reluctant girl into an adjacent room, and bade her tell Miss Smith that a gentleman from London wished to see her. The room was separated from an adjoining one by a #. of folding doors, and I was involuntarily a listener to the following º: The speakers were Ellen, and Styles, the butcher. “I teſ you, Mr. Styles,” said the sweet voice of my beloved, “that your debt shall be paid in full. I have the means to discharge it, if you will only give me time—” “Just what all ov’em says,” interrupted Styles, in his vulgar manner. “Time! that’s what they all wants, and then they packs up in the night, and laughs at us. No! I can tell you, yer aint a-coming any of that palaver over me. You’ve had my meat, and I want your money; and my money I’ll have,” he added, raising his voice. There was a moment’s silence, then he began again. “There’s Jones, the grocer—he won’t wait—why should I? What did

yer mean by taking them children of old Parson Roxleigh’s, and feedin’ ’em and clothin’ ’em for nothing?” “They were left penniless and motherless,” pleaded Ellen. “Let ’em a gone to the parish,” was the brutal rejoinder. “Be just afore you’re generous—that’s my motter.” At this moment the servant told Ellen that a gentleman was in the front parlour, who must see her. “Ah,” said Styles, “another dupe; but here I stops till I gets my money.” • Ellen came into the room where I was. Anxiety had done much to age and alter her, but she was in my eyes still the beautiful girl I had learned to

love, and I rose to receive her.

“Be seated, sir,” she said, in great confusion, for she knew that I must have heard every word that had #. in the adjoining apartment. “Miss Smith,” I said, in a feigned voice, “I am come to make some inquiries about your school.” – “Alas! sir,” she interrupted, rising, “I will not detain you on a useless errand. Events have happened that have rendered it imperative that I should at once #. up my school and home. In short, I am ruined, and in a few days shall be without a home.” She said this so firmly, character I had º “Pardon me,” I said, “fhere is another matter on which I wished to speak. Could you not induce your friend in the next room to retire into the hall for a few minutes ? Believe me,” I added, “I am prompted by no feeling of impertinent interference; I am earnestly desirous of serving you.” She reluctantly complied, and, on her return, I said, “Why have you not sought aid and advice from Mr. Bates, of Buxton P” . “He is dead,” she sobbed, “and I have not a friend in the wide world.” “The Blanes also, Miss Brown?” I added. “Sir!” she said, starting, “you seem to know my affairs too well for a stranger. However, Miss Blane never was my friend.” ºfhere was a Mr. Donală Blane,” I said, and my faltering voice almost betrayed me. The name was electrical. She turned pale as death, and muttered like one in a dream, “No, no! not Donald. Drag him down to know poverty and trouble P Never !” “Miss Brown,” I said, solemnly, “I am a friend of Donald Blane’s, and I ask you seriously, have you treated him well ? Did not your pride conquer our love P To gratify your feeling of anger against his aunt, did you not eave him wretched and heartbroken?” “I did!” she cried. “But oh, if he knew the sleepless nights I have spent in thinking of him, if he knew how often my pillow has been wet with tears shed in his remembrance, if he knew how I have prayed for him— how my heart has longed for —” – “Ellen!” I cried, throwing off my disguise, “do you not know me?” She turned. She flew to my arms. She would have spoken, but her lips refused utterance, and her cheeks turned very F. She had fainted. I carried her to the sofa, and rang the bell violently for help. Styles and the frightened maid rushed into the room. “Water, water 1″ I shrieked, “Oh Heaven, have mercy upon me! I have killed her l’” We carried her up stairs. Presently the colour came back to her faded lips, and she smiled with returning consciousness. As Styles saw this, he turned to the servant with a brutal sneer. “I thought her was gone, that time,” said he ; “I shall get my money yet, though.” “Mr. Styles!” I remonstrated. “Sarvent, sir,” said he, turning to me. “Oblige me by taking your hat off,” said I. He obeyed, looking at me with a defiant, curious air. “And now,” I added, “by taking yourself off.” “You pay me fust,” he said, with an impudent grin. “I will, you brute, and in your own coin,” I cried, sprin seizing him by the collar until he cried for mercy; for t ully, as all bullies are, was a thoroughly craven, coward-hearted cur. “Now,” said I, opening the street door, “out of this house before I can count ten ” But could count three, he was away. Ellen’s debts were paid with the proceeds of the sale of her furniture, and she left the jº. where she had suffered so much misery, to reside for the present with the old family doctor who had attended my uncle, and in whose family she had always been an especial favourite. The wedding-day was named, and the preparations were all ready, when Fate once more º the consummation of our happiness. I was summoned to the death-bed of Aunt Dorothy. I went in haste into Devon shire, where she received me most kindly. I thought I would not shock her with the news of my approaching marriage, when she utterly astonished me, by saying, “I have one last wish.” “Name it, aunt,” I said, º for I dreaded what it might be, “and if I can in conscience grant it, I will do anything for you.” “Do you still love Ellen Brown P” she asked. “I do,” I replied. “I have left you my heir, Donald,” she said. “It is no matter, aunt,” I cried; “you cannot hy my treachery.” “Hush, hush, you impetuous boy!” she said. “Wait till I have spoken.” She paused for a few moments, and then continued, though feebly, “I have left you my heir, but there is one poor soul who I fear has need of help. I have not done much for her while living,P. thing, but I should like her to think no ill of me when I am gone. Wilſ you find her out, and—” “I will, aunt,” I replied. “What is her name?” “Ellen Brown,” she said, almost in a whisper. “Ellen Brown, aunt!” I exclaimed. “Yes, Donald; ask her to forgive me,” continued my aunt. “Tell her my

yet so plaintively, that I could hardly play out the


ing at him, and º


pride has fallen, and that my last wish on earth was that she might be my nephew’s wife.” followed my aunt to the village churchyard, where we left her to sleep the great sleep under the shade of a noble elm tree. On my return to town, Ellen placed in my hands a sealed packet: ‘It was º “Ellen’s Secret.” To my astonishment it contained Edward Blane’s last will and testament, dated but a few months before his decease, leaving the whole of his property unconditionally to Ellen. – Noble girl! noble sacrifice! But since then, ten years have elapsed, and if you will come with me into my pleasant little home, I will not only introduce you to Ellen—my wife Ellen-little Donald, and tiny Aunt. Dorothy, nine years old next birthday, but I will take you into my own little room, and show you a glass-case, wherein is deposited a mysterious *::: inscribed ELLEN’s SEcRET. . E. S. D. B.


Mine own when, banish’d from thy side, Mººt life had not begun, I pen thee many a loving line; mblest with that first look of thine ! How do I miss a boon denied— Deprived of the sun’s enlivening beams How yearn for one sweet look of thine ! º hardiest of plants would pine : Earth’s fairest scenes, where thou art | Not less my moral vigour seems Dependent on those looks of thine ! Oh, coveted, unmatch’d employ, To cherish thee through life, all mine ! Oh, source of high Elysian joy, One truthful, g look of tung! E.

not, Lask what hath made them seem divine;

Thy presence gilds her dreariest spot, Enchantment in each look of thine !

Than thy dear heart, my guileless one, This world affords no purer shrine;


Barbara Graham sat in her lonely little room with the solitary lamp casting a faint light on her pale face, half shaded by the thick, long masses of black hair. It was barely twenty-four hours since she had sought that humble but welcome shelter from insult and unkindness; and yet the excite ment that had sustained her during the last hours of her stay in the house of her haughty patroness, and even borne her up through the first lonely might in her new asylum, had subsided, and the inevitable reaction of a deep and fixed depression had settled on her spirits. It was not cowardly shrinkin from exertion, nor regret for the luxuries and comforts she had left behin her, that depressed the girl’s heart like a leaden burden. It was the dreari ness of the º before her; the feeling that hope and happiness, love and sympathy, were for her but as names, and that life itself was but an existence to endured —not enjoyed; that even the excitement of hopes disappointed and trials inflicted was henceforth to be unknown to her. Hers was a brave, energetic spirit, that could battle with tangible difficulties, bear active wrongs, but not endure such passive, cheerless dreariness with patience or hopefulness. The sudden opening of her door, more unceremoniously than had been the practice of her well-mannered landlady, made her start suddenly round, and with a cry of joy she recognised the kindly features of the honest Susan. In a moment she was sobbing on the shoulder of the good, true-hearted domestic. She soothed her like a child, every now and then asking if she were not comfortable; if Mrs. Sewell were not kind to her. At last the tears that were so welcome a relief to her swelling heart subsided, and then she found voice to assure the anxious Susan of the comfort and kindness she had received, and to thank her for all her goodness to her. “Pooh, pooh! Miss Barbara,” said the good creature, bluntly. “It’s all nothing at all but what any Christian woman would have done; but I am sadly afraid you’re too proud for this world. I don’t mean that you ought to have borne my mistress’s cruel insults, but I do think you should have told my master, or Sir Ernest, or let me do so before you came away. They deserved it, Miss Barbara, particularly Sir Ernest.” – “I could not, Susan,” she said, sadly. “I had no right to cause mischief and dissension between a husband and wife, or bring sorrow on Pauline. I like her; she was kind to me, and I should never forgive myself if I ruined her happy prospects.” Susan half smiled; she thought how instinctively the most young and inexperienced discern the dawning of the love they inspire; for she had determined in her own sage mind that Sir Ernest was in love with her young protégée. Barbara saw the smile, and her cheeks burnt like flame. “You mistake, Susan,” said she. “I did not mean what you fancy. Sir Ernest could only think of me as a poor, friendless orphan; but, if he knew all, he would perhaps blame Pauline for her mother’s faults, and never feel so warmly to her again. I could see that he watched her as if he wanted to know whether she was as good as she is beautiful; and he would not pardon any unkindness or injustice to one so helpless as I am.” “That is neither here nor there, Miss Barbara,” said Susan. “He will never hear the truth unless it is by accident, if you won’t let me tell him; and he will never think it was from such good, kind motives that you left him without saying good-bye.” – “I left him, Susan ” repeated Barbara, with crimson cheeks. can you talk so?” – “How can I?” said Susan., “Why, because it’s the truth. Do you think he’d have taken the trouble to order that pretty dress for you just because you’d have been disfigured in the other, and then danced with you, and made every one see that you were a lady born, and then made Miss Pauline and my mistress blaze up, if he’d not cared about you? I call it downright ungrateful of you if you don’t send him a message by me, to tell *



– ‘No, no; tell him nothing, Susan,” interrupted Barbara, eagerly. “You

promised me you would not let any human creature know where I was ; and, whatever may be the consequence, you must not break your word to him, of all persons.” – – “And if he asks me, Miss Barbara, what then f” said Susan, with a crestfallen air. – “Then you must say the truth, Susan—that * promised me that you would answer no questions, and that I am safe and comfortable,” she replied. “He will be satisfied them, and think no more about me.” There was heroism in this injunction, which was, perhaps, somewhat beyond Susan’s philosophy, for the orphan knew that the most ready way to fade from Sir Ernest’s remembrance would be to thus place herself out of the reach and need of his sympathy. But if Susan did not quite appreciate the loftiness of the motives, she could at least do justice to the truth and generous forbearance of the orphan; and she kissed the hand she still held with a respect that she would hardly have shown to Pauline herself. *You are a dear, sweet young lady, Miss Barbara,” she said, “ and I won’t thwart you and vex you just now, though I do hope the truth will come out some day, as indeed it always does. But, my dear }. lady, excuse my asking what you mean to do, that is, how you are off for money? for I know º expense of living better than you do, even in the humblest way, an ——” “I can work, and I intend doing so at once,” replied Barbara, in a firm, quick tone, very unlike the sad and hesitating voice in which she had spoken ; “that will be no hardship, Susan.” “Work, Miss Barbara! that’s no word for you to use,” said the good woman, respectfully. “But what I was going to say was, if you won’t be offended, that I wanted to ask the favour of you just to borrow of me some of the money I have laid by, which is no use to me, and—” Barbara laid her hand on the good woman’s mouth, while the grateful tears rushed into her eyes, giving them a glistening softness. “No, no, my dear, good, generous Susan,” she said; “it is quite needless. I have a little money, and long before I have spent it all I shall have got some employment, if ever so humble. I could not take from you your hard earned savings.” “But you could repay me,” said Susan; “and it may be some time before you j} et any situation that would be proper for a young lady like you.” “Then fº. teach music,” said Barbara, “ or take in work, or—” “It would kill you, Miss Barbara,” interrupted Susan. “Your spirit is more than your body; you don’t know what work is—and so young as you are, too—” “Too young,” repeated Barbara, sadly. She thought of the years that might be in store for her of dreary solitude; Susan thought it referred to a different kind of regret. “Well,” said she, “that’s a fault that mends, Miss Barbara, too soon for most people, but still, it might stand in your way at present, and that’s the reason you should not be too proud to let a poor servant help you.” “It is not pride, dear Susan,” she said. “I would take it from you sooner than any one, but if I did—if anything happened to prevent my repaying yon, I could not endure for you to be robbed by me. . Do not ask it, please.” Susan saw it was really a wound to the young girl’s self-respect to press her offer, and inwardly resolving to assist the orphan in some less direct manner, through Mrs. Sewell’s intervention, she yielded the point, and turned to another subject. “Can I be of any use to you, Miss Barbara, in setting about the business?” she asked. “I mean, can I take any message for you, or inquire anywhere? I’ve heard there are places on purpose for young ladies like you to put their names down, and then there are situations found for them; and if you please, I could try and find out which would be the best for you, if you would like it.” “I should be very thankful, Susan, if you sºld do so without risk,” she replied: “but, I am afraid you will get into trouble if you spend too much time on me.” “Pooh, pooh, Miss Barbara, I’ve not been sixteen lº in my place to be called to account for every hour,” said Susan; “and I’ll bring you some

news in a day or two, never fear; or, if you would like, my aunt could come

and see me to-morrow, and I could send you word what I had found out; and she would go with you, if you like, and show you the way.” Barbara gratefully embraced both offers. A vivid remembrance of her adventure on the day of her last interview with Lily, gave her a horror of solitary walks in London, though she chid herself for the weakness. . “What nonsense !” she said to herself, when once more alone. “I, the dependent on my daily exertions for daily bread, to indulge such helpless terrors! I must learn to brave far worse hardships and in: than an ordeal which will soon perhaps be a daily one for me.” … Still she instinctively shrunk, with all the timid horror of a recluse, from

the encounter with the rude crowd who thronged the busy streets; and again the image of the man who had so alarmed her came to her mind, as if he

would certainly haunt her path wherever she might go. It was almost an infatuation, she felt and acknowledged to herself, and yet she could not shake off the fear, the strong impression . she should meet that man again. Susan’s abilities appeared unusually called forth for the service of the orphan, who had excited her kindly sympathy, and Mrs. Sewell returned in triumph on the following day with the address of an office near Soho Square, where Barbara might safely apply for employment. “We’ll go after breakfast in the morning, if you please, miss,” she added. “It’s the best time to go early, as soon as the office is opened. You’ll not be

kept waiting then.”

Barbara rose on the following morning and dressed herself in the plain, sober attire which she wore on first meeting with Pauline, before that capricious beauty’s will had chosen that she should wear more becoming and tasteful dress as her constant and chosen companion. The dark hair was braided smoothly over her brow, and the thick veil, which was closely tied under her chin, completed the transformation from the striking, intel



lectual-looking companion of Pauline Forbes into the º: of that large class of women who earn their bread by their daily toil. e can soon recog mise that daily worker, whether by the labour of the hands or the fruit of the brain, as she walks along the crowded streets;–the modest attire, the hurried …} the pale, care-worn expression, the unconscious air of self reliance, and yet shy, proud shrinking from the rude contact with coarser spirits. Hundreds of these humble daughters of toil pass daily along the thronged streets (fit emblem of their º; of life), whose constant ordeal of patient suffering and labour makes truer heroines than many of those whose names are recorded in the pages of ancient story. . And Barbara looked and felt all the novelty of her position as she entered the waiting-room of the fashionable official to whom she was to be introduced. It was early, according to Mrs. Sewell’s arrangements, yet the dignified head of the establishment either was, or thought it correct to appear already engaged, and Barbara and her companion had to wait at least’íalf-an-hour before they were admitted to the room where she sat in state. Mrs., or, as she called herself, Madame Wagner, was a portly woman of an uncertain age, from forty-five to fifty-five, her hair turned back from her face, and her dress an extraordinary mixture of age and youth, foreign and English costume. The jaunty jacket, the grave brown skirt, the heavy jewellery in the shape of brooches, watch, chain, and ear-rings, and the wonderful head-dress which supplied the failing hair, constituted a tout ensemble that was perfectly in accordance with the full-blown figure and face of the wearer. Barbara’s slight form and pale, intellectual face looked yet more girlish and delicate by the contrast, as she stood before the showy lady of the Governesses’ Institution. Madame Wagner motioned her to a chair near the table at which she herself was seated, and on which a large folio volume was opened immediately before her. – “You want a situation, I suppose 2″ she began. “I do, madame,” replied Barbara. “The fee is ten shillings,” continued the lady; “I always mention that to prevent any loss of time and trouble. When that is arranged we can eed to business.” Barbara’s slender P. was at once produced, and the store sadly reduced by the extraction of the golden coin. Madame transferred it to her own purse, and then taking up a pen, began with interrogations as to her qualifica tions, and whether she had ever been out before; but when she asked Barbara for a reference, she, poor girl, was at fault. “I–I can scarcely tell,” she stammered. of the kind, and—” She stopped—a sudden brilliant idea flashed across her. “If it would be of any use,” she said, “Mr. Seafield, my old master, and an organist, would, I feel sure, speak as to my musical abilities; he knew me well for some years.” “But where were you at school?” asked madame, suspiciously. Barbara flushed, but her look was steady and unflinching.

“I have never had a situation

“I was in the Orphan Asylum, madame,” she replied. “The matron would

no doubt answer any inquiries respecting me.” * brow contracted, and her eyebrows were raised in supercilious wonder. – “Really, young woman, I am not sure that I can do much, if anything, for you, under such circumstances,” she said. “My connection is of a º respectable, indeed an aristocratic class, who would probably object to suc antecedents as yours. However, I will see if there is any chance for you as an under teacher or nursery governess, or some inferior situation of that sort, which, perhaps, I might manage to obtain for you should your former mistress give a satisfactory account of you.” Barbara bowed, with the quiet, haughty bow of a superior, rather than the humble air of her proper position, in madame’s ideas; but it was rather from the despairing sadness that had settled on the poor girl’s heart, than from any over-estimate of herself, that the proud calm ess was derived. Barbara would have broken down at the slightest word of kindness or sympathy; but the supercilious contempt, the injustice to her conscious poverty of the stately Madame Wagner, roused her proud spirit, and she would have risked #. * starvation even, rather than have sued for assistance from the underbred, vulgar consequences, of the woman with whom she had to deal. “When shall I call again, madame?” she said coldly, as she rose to leave the room. “Why, let me see—well, in a week, perhaps,” was the reply. “I have your address, and can write if anything offers in the meantime.” But I do not see much chance for you among such a connection as mine. Good morning.” Madame’s head was once more bent over the ponderous folio, without even vouchsafing a glance at the pale face of the girl thus hopelessly dismissed. Mrs. Sewell had remained in the background during the interview, but no º had they left the formidable presence of madame, than her indignation urst forth. “She’s not a bit better than I am, Miss Graham, I can tell by her very look, nor so good. She does not know a lady when she sees one; but I do, and so does Susan; though, of course, she has not had my experience; and, if I were you, miss, I’d never see her again to be insulted like that.” The good woman’s outburst had the not unfrequent effect of both soothing Barbara’s irritation and showing her the folly of such useless rebellion against inevitable mortifications. – “It matters very little, my good Mrs. Sewell,” said Barbara, “if she can find me a situation, and I have not so much money as to throw away ten º on that pompous dame.” “Well, there’s something in that,” observed the good woman. “One hates to be imposed on, Miss Graham; but, take my advice, my dear young lady, and don’t take anything she offers you. Susan says you’re a very cleyer young lady, and I don’t see why you should not stand on your rights; and as to money, why, you’re welcome to stay with us as long as you like, and you can pay me when you are in full funds, as my husband calls it.”

Mrs. Sewell’s blunt kindness brought the tears to the eyes which had looked so unflinchingly and proudly on the pompous Madame Wagner. “You are very kind—too kind,” said Barbara; “but I could not rest in idleness—I should be wretched; I could not bear it, especially now.” The last words were almost inaudible, as they would have been unin telligible to the worthy woman; but the little hand which she had drawn

protectingly under her arm trembled so visibly, that she had the judgment and kindness to give up any further argument at that moment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s