« PreviousContinue »
obey me, or treat me as a mother, but I have been insulted by her, and my orders to my servants, counter. manded to my very face." Captain Lancaster was astonished. "I know, however," continued she, "where the root of the evil lies, and am determined to remove it: Mary Jones has manifested a rooted aversion to me, since my first coming to this house--perhaps her prejudice may have commenced even before that time; step-mothers are ever looked upon with a jaundiced eye: she has instilled her prejudice into the mind of your daughter, and may perhaps endeavour to do the same by mine; I am therefore determined to discharge her." "Why, my dear," said the Captain," you shock me, by your account; there must be some mistake in this, allow me to enquire into the matter. Mary Jones, I am confident, could not behave as you represent." "So, I see how it is," said Mrs. L., my peace of mind is of no value; that of this servant-woman is of much more importance; but I tell you, Captain Lancaster, I can never be happy,, while she is in the same house with me, and therefore I insist that she shall leave it." "You know not," said he, mildly, what that woman has done for my family. No, I can never be so ungrateful as to allow her to be turned away." "Ungrate. ful to a servant!" said his wife with disdain, has she not been well paid for whatever services she may, have rendered you? if she has not, pay her now, give her what money you think sufficient." "There are some services, Mrs. Lancaster," said her husband, "or rather some acts of kindness, which money can neither pay for, nor purchase; such have been those which this woman has rendered my family. Can I ever forget the care, the watchful judicious care, she took of my"-wife
he would have said, but the word stopped in his throat, and had it been in the power of human aid to have saved my son"-again he stopped, and turning from his lady to the window, seemed to be attentively gazing at the moon; soon after she saw him take out his handkerchief.
A man can sometimes see a wọman's tears unmoved; but how hard soever a woman's heart may be, a man's tears never fail to soften it. The moment Mrs. Lancaster observed her husband so touched, her anger began to subside, and her heart to relent. "I am very sorry, my dear," said she, "that I have heen the cause of uneasiness to you: I really did not think that you were so foolish with regard to this woman: let us say no more about it tonight, you know I do not wish to hurt your feelings; we will therefore settle this matter to-morrow." Harmony was again restored between the husband and wife; he thought no more of his verses for this night, nor did he enquire again for his daughter, and Mrs. L.. by way of shewing her authority, determined to keep her locked up till the morning.
In the morning, Captain Lancaster was awoke by a low scream, accompanied by exclamations of surprise, near the door of his cham ber; he jumped out of bed, and hurrying on his dressing gown, went to enquire what was the matter. On opening his door, he beheld all the servants assembled about Seraph, who lay half asleep in the passage at the door of Harriet's room She had been discovered there a few minutes before, by one of the maids; who being frightened at the sight of her, screamed, so as to draw the rest to gether. Not knowing what to think of all this, Captain Laucaster began to ask questions, which led to a dis.
covery of Harriet's confinement. she was like one in a prison, and Mrs. L. immediately after produced she herself had told me about the the key, and liberated the prisoner. poor prisoners many times. 4 The two sisters now joyfully rushed thought too that it was a cold dull into each other's arms. As soon as melancholy night, and poor Harriet they descended to the parlour, Se- locked up, you know, papa," (sard raph seated on her sister's lap, was she, wiping her eyes, for they questioned by her father as to the were growing moist again, at this situation he had found her in. "Well, part of her story,) "I thought I heard my dear papa," said the child, "if her groaning and sobbing, so I could you will promise not to be an- not help crying until nurse came gry with me, I will tell you all about to go to her own bed; then she it; but I am sure you will not be an- comforted me, and told me that it gry, because I do not know whe- was the wind, and not farriet's ther I did wrong or not." "I have sighs I heard; so I lay still, peroften told you, my dear," said her haps I slept some then, for the next father, "that I would never blame thing I remember, is that I heard you, even should you do an im- nurse breathe very loud, so I knew proper action, provided you did not that she was sound asleep. know it to be such. Let me hear now how you came to be asleep at your sister's room-door." " Will papa be so good as to let me tell it just straight on as it happened.-You know, sir, after you went out yesterday-evening, it grew dark and unpleasant, and very gloomy; was
"Then I slipped out of bed, and felt my way to Harriet's room-door; I only just wanted to ask her if she was very unhappy, I thought she might like to have me near her.
it not, papa?" "No indeed, my dear, to me it had a very different appearance; I thought it a sweet, clear, delightful evening, there was a little wind, but not too much." "Well, how strange! I thought it melancholy and disagreeable, and very stormy." If you felt this way, my dear, it must have been in your mind that what was unpleasant to you existed. I suppose you were in a bad temper." "I will tell you how it was, sir;-after mamma had locked up Harriet, and would not let me go with her"- "Locked
listened for a long time at the door, and I still heard her moans" "Allow me, my dear," said Harriet, "to interrupt you for a moment, that I may set you right in this. I neither wept nor sighed, nor was in the least miserable in my confinement, I assure you'; for myself I felt nothing; I was only sor ry for the uneasiness occasioned to your mamma, and that there should be any disturbance in the family." "Well I did not know that you felt in this manner," said Seraph, thought you must pass a dreadful night, so I called to you through the door, and told you that I was there, and all how sorry I was for you. I was not sure whether or not you answered me, sometimes I thought you did" "I never heard you, my dear," said Harriet, “I must have been asleep." "I do not recollect any thing more, but that I grew cold, and wished myself in bed; I believe I had fallen asleep soon after, but indeed, papa, I did not intend to sleep at the door, I
up Harriet!" repeated her father.
remember feeling cold several times, and striving to go to bed, but somehow I could not walk." Sleep had overpowered you, my dear," said her father. He then represented to her the impropriety of leav ing her bed unknown to any one; and took occasion to shew her how liable children are to be deceived by trusting to their own feeling; with several instructive lessons, which naturally flowed from her little narrative. Seraph told her story amidst a thousand caresses bestow ed on her sister: before it was finish, el her voice was observed to grow hoarse; she however did not mind it, she was happy, and in high spirits at being once more in the arms of her sister. Towards evening, she complained of her throat, her checks seemed flushed, and she became feverish. Her father said he perceived she had caught cold, her mo ther feared it might be worse, perhaps measles, or a scarlet fever, She begged to sleep that night with Harriet, and she was too ill to be refused. This child had ever been the darling of all who knew her; never had she been beheld with indifference by any one. The superiority of intellect which one child will often possess over another, is truly astonishing: we sometimes meet with children who seem to have lived double the time in the world of others, who are nevertheless of the same age*. This difler
ence is partly owing to the naturɛ, and partly to the education or culture of the plant; but where both unite, where the best possible culture has been bestowed on the finest plant of its species, it is wonderful how soon the human blossom may be brought to exhibit a degree of perfection.
The next morning Harriet brought the alarming intelligence to her fa ther and mother, that Seraph's disorder seemed to be much increased; that she had passed a very disturb ed night, and was now, she feared, exceedingly ill. At this informa tion, the anxious parents were greatly alarmed, and a servant was instantly dispatched for a physician.
Consternation and terror now spread through the family; and Mary Jones, unbidden, took her sta tion at the child's bed-side. As soon as the physician had arrived, and examined his patient, be pronounced her disorder to be scarlatina; and he feared a very bad species of it. It was attended with a considerable difficulty of breathing, which every hour increased. The next day it was judged necessary to blister her chest. The doctor's opinion was, that cold and the agitation of the child's mind during the night she had passed out of bed, had caused her indisposition. For three days the fever continued very viclent, but the worst symptoms that appeared were a cough and difficulty of breathing. At length the fever began to abate; but it left her in a weak languid state, with a violent cough, and no inclination for food.
• Madame de Genlis gives the following account of her pupil, Mademoiselle D'Or leans, when 4 years old:-" She knew her sister was ill, and no play could divert her mind from the idea. She was playing at a game of forfeits: it fell to her lot in one instance to decide what should be done for the recovery of a pledge, when, without being prompted by any one, she ordered the person to whom it belonged, to pray to God for her sister. The im pression such an idea in a child four years old, made on all present, may easily be
conceived. Her sister died. It is difficult to believe that a child four years old could, for the space of two years retain a lively and profound grief for this loss; but that she did so, every one about her can witness."
Lessons of a Governess, by Mad, de Gealis.
Grief and melancholy appeared the brilliancy of her eyes shewed a in every countenance in the house; spirit undaunted by all it had sufeven the lowest of the domestics fered, and not to be conquered by partook in the general affliction; the keenest pang of disease. Never so much was this sweet infant be- did a murmur escape her lips, and loved. when her parents or friends visited her, she uniformly declared herself better, and endeavoured to make the time pass as agreeably in her sickchamber as possible.
Yet she once during her illness told Mary Jones, that she knew she should die; saying, at the same time, that she liked the thoughts of dying very well, only she was sorry for the grief her mamma would feel. "For as heaven is a place, so much more delightful than this earth," said she, "I wonder any one would wish to stay here."
Harriet in instructing her, had not neglected religion. Her creed was simple. She believed there was a God, who made the world, that he was wise and good; and that after death he would punish the wicked, and reward the good. This far she could understand, and no farther was required of her: her memory was not burdened by a parcel of, (to a child,) unintelligible words, to which it cannot possibly annex the proper ideas.
One day as her mamma and Harriet stood beside her bed, she made an effort to raise herself, and placing the hand of her sister in that of her mother, looked wistfully at them, and lay down again. Mrs. Lancaster burst into tears, and left the room.
Harriet scarcely ever left the sickchamber. But the sufferings of the wretched mother were truly pitiable, in as much as they were mixed with remorse, which is the most dreadful torture of the human mind, for she mentally accused herself of being the cause of the child's sufferings.
During the first days of Seraph's indisposition, Mrs. Lancaster took no notice of Mary Jones, who was her nurse: one day, however, on which the child seemed worse, and lower than usual, when she had remained for a long time weeping over her in an agony of despair, Mary rose from the other side of the bed, where she had been kneeling, and coming to her, took her affectionately by the hand, and said, "My dear mistress, why do you give yourself up to despair? Trust, I beseech you, in a wise providence, who can yet, if he thinks fit, restore this angel to you." "O Mary, dear Mary," said she, leaning her head on Mary's shoulder, and bursting into a fresh flood of tears, "is there any hope for me?" "O yes!" replied Mary, "there is hope, God forbid there was not." Behold how affliction humbles pride, and levels us with those whom we before affected to despise! At this assurance of Mary, Mrs. Lancaster pressed her hand, and felt more composed than she had done for many days.
This lovely infant, as she lay in her little white bed, looked like "something not of this earth's mould," her beautiful curling hair clustered over her snowy forehead; her cheeks, from the internal heat that consumed her, had now assumed the deepest dye of the rose; while
BELFAST MAG. NO. XXXIV.
On the 13th day of her illness, she appeared much changed for the worse; she was too weak to speak, and only made signs for what she wanted. Seeing her parents and sister in the room, her nurse raised her up in bed, and she signified that she wished her mother and sister to approach; she then again, in presence of her father, took the hand of Harriet, and abb.
put it in that of her mother's, and
It was now the dinner-hour, and Mrs. Lancaster seeing her so composed. suffered herself to be persuaded to go and try to take some refreshment. For some nights she had not been in bed; since the commencement of her child's illness, she had scarcely eaten any thing, and nature was now almost worn out. The sorrowful parents had left the sick-chamber about ten minutes, when they were again summoned to it. The beauteous angel still lay as they had left her, but pale as marble, ber little hands and eyes were yet raised to heaven; the smile seemed still to play on her lips, but the spirit that had animated the clay
was fled for ever!
groan escapes him; his grief seems too big for the common forms, but he has felt as great, nay a greater load before, and knows he is able to bear it. As soon as the first burst of Mrs. Lancaster's violent affliction had somewhat abated, her husband, came to her, and by a kind of affectionate violence, forced her from the chamber of death to her own room: there this miserable couple spent the remainder of that wretched evening. Considering the death of his child as a dispensation of providence, which no human foresight could have prevented, the father submitted in silence: though he bore his griefs like a man, he also felt them like a man. But what was his affliction compared with that of his wife-her heart bleeding with remorse and self-reproach? for she could consider this fatal event in no other light than as an accident of which she herself had been the cause; and felt like the murderer of her child.
Before the death of this child, Captain Lancaster determined that in case such an event should happen, he would take occasion from it to give his wife an impressive lecture; for he wished, if possible, to change the whole subsequent part of her conduct, and give a new bias to her mind. But did he now, in the silence and solitude of their melancholy chamber, attempt this? No, the tender affectionate husband, seeing her already too deeply wounded, felt nothing but pity for her, offered no arguments, save those of those of consolation, accompanied with kindness and endearment.
Behold now the frantic grief of the wretched mother! sce how she raves and calls aloud. upon her darling, her first-born! What value does she now set upon that beauty of which she was once so vain? Behold her cheek Behold her cheek pale and ghastly! her eyes dim and sunk with watching and weeping! her hair dishevelled! that beautiful hair of which she was once so proud! see, she tears it in handfuls from her head, and scatters it about in wild agony !
In the general grief and consternation of the family, Harriet had been forgotten, the preceding evening, ex. cept by Mary Jones, who as soon as it was light the next morning, tap
The heart-stricken father leans silent-ped at her master's room-door, to say,
ly over the bed of death, no tear, no
that she was extremely ill, and Mary