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Nimble mischance, that com'st & swift of foot!
MHE morning sun was shining full and strong in Ellen's THE
eyes when she awoke. Bewildered at the strangeness of every thing around her, she raised herself on her elbow, and took a long look at her new home. It could not help but seem cheerful. The bright beams of sunlight streaming in through the windows lighted on the wall and the old wain. scoting, and paintless and rough as they were, nature's own gilding more than made amends for their want of comeli
Still Ellen was not much pleased with the result of her survey. The room was good-sized, and perfectly neat and clean; it had two large windows opening to the east,
l through which, morning by morning, the sun looked in—that was another blessing. But the floor was without the sign of a carpet, and the bare boards looked to Ellen very comfortless. The hard-finished walls were not very smooth nor particularly white. The doors and wood-work, though very neat, and even carved with some attempt at ornament, had never known the touch of paint, and had grown in the course of years to be of a light-brown colour. The room was very bare of furniture too. A dressing-table, pier-table, or whatnot, stood between the windows, but it was only a half-circular top of pine board set upon three very long, bare looking legs-altogether of a most awkward and unhappy appearance, Ellen thought, and quite too high for her to use with any comfort. No glass hung over it, nor anywhere else. On the north side of the room was a fireplace; against the oppo site wall stood Ellen's trunk and two chairs ;—that was all, except the cot bed she was lying on, and which had its place opposite the windows. The coverlid of that came in for a
share of her displeasure, being of home-made white and blue worsted mixed with cotton, exceeding thick and heavy.
“I wonder what sort of a blanket is under it,” said Ellen, “if I can ever get it off to see !-pretty good; but the sheets are cotton, and so is the pillow-case !"
She was still leaning on her elbow, looking around her with a rather discontented face, when some door being opened down stairs, a great noise of hissing and sputtering came to her ears, and presently after there stole to her nostrils a steaming odour of something very savoury from the kitchen. It said as plainly as any dressing bell that she had better get up.
she jumped, and set about the business of dressing with great alacrity. Where was the distress of last night? Gone with the darkness. She had slept well; the bracing atmosphere had restored strength and spirits; and the bright morning light made it impossible to be dull or down-hearted, in spite of the new cause she thought she had found. She went on quick with the business of the toilet; but when it came to the washing, she suddenly discovered that there were no conveniences for it in her
room—no sign of pitcher or basin, or stand to hold them. Ellen was slightly dismayed; but presently recollected her arrival had not been looked for so soon, and probably the preparations for it had not been completed. So she finished dressing, and then set out to find her way to the kitchen. On opening the door, there was a little landing-place from which the stairs descended just in front of her, and at the left hand another door, which she supposed must lead to her aunt's room. At the foot of the stairs Ellen found herself in a large square room or hall, for one of its doors, on the east, opened to the outer air, and was in fact the front door of the house. Another Ellen tried on the south side; it would not open. A third, under the stairs, admitted her to the kitchen.
The noise of hissing and sputtering now became quite violent, and the smell of the cooking, to Ellen's fancy, rather too strong to be pleasant. Before a good fire stood Miss Fortune, holding the end of a very long iron handle by which she was kept in communication with a flat vessel sitting on the fire, in which Ellen soon discovered all this noisy and odorous cooking was going on. A tall tin coffee-pot stood on some coals in the corner of the fireplace, and another lit
tle iron vessel in front also claimed a share of Miss Fortune's attention, for she every now and then leaned forward to give a stir to whatever was in it, making each time quite a spasmodic effort to do so without quitting her hold of the end of the long handle. Ellen drew near and looked on with great curiosity, and not a little appetite; but Miss Fortune was far too busy to give her more than a passing glance. At length the hissing pan was brought to the hearth for some new arrangement of its contents, and Ellen seized the moment of peace and quiet to say, “Good-morning, aunt Fortune."
Miss Fortune was crouching by the pan turning her slices of pork. “How do you do this morning ?" she answered, without looking up.
Ellen replied she felt a great deal better.
“Slept warm, did you ?" said Miss Fortune, as she set the pan back on the fire.
And Ellen could hardly answer, “Quite warm, ma'am,” when the hissing and sputtering began again as loud as ever.
“I must wait,” thought Ellen, “ till this is over before I say what I want to. I can't scream out to ask for a basin and towel.”
In a few minutes the pan was removed from the fire, and Miss Fortune went on to take out the brown slices of nicelyfried pork and arrange them in a deep dish, leaving a small quantity of clear fat in the pan. Ellen, who was greatly interested, and observing every step most attentively, settled in her own mind that certainly this would be thrown away, being fit for nothing but the pigs. But Miss Fortune didn't think so, for she darted into some pantry close by, and returning with a cup of cream in her hand emptied it all into the pork fat. Then she ran into the pantry again for a little round tin box, with a cover full of holes, and shaking this gently over
the pan, a fine white shower of flour fell upon the cream. The pan was then replaced on the fire and stirred; and to Ellen's astonishment the whole changed, as if by magic, to a thick, stiff, white froth. It was not till Miss Fortune was carefully pouring this over the fried slices in the dish, that Ellen suddenly recollected that breakfast was ready, and she was not.
" Aunt Fortune," she said timidly, “I haven't washed yet,—there's no basin in my room.'
Miss Fortune made no answer nor gave any sign of hear ing; she went on dishing up breakfast. Ellen waited a few minutes.
“Will you please, ma'am, to show me where I can wash
« Yes,” said Miss Fortune, suddenly standing erect, “you'll have to go down to the spout." “The spout, ma'am," said Ellen,—“what's that ?"
“You'll know it when you see it, I guess,” answered her aunt, again stooping over her preparations. But in another moment she arose and said, “Just open that door there behind you, and go down the stairs and out at the door, and you'll see where it is, and what it is too."
Ellen still lingered. “Would you be so good as to give me a towel, ma'am,” she said timidly.
Miss Fortune dashed past her and out of another door, whence she presently returned with a clean towel which she threw over Ellen's arm, and then went back to her work.
Opening the door by which she had first seen her aunt enter the night before, Ellen went down a steep flight of steps, and found herself in a lower kitchen, intended for common purposes. It seemed not to be used at all, at least there was no fire there, and a cellar-like feeling and smell instead. That was no wonder, for beyond the fireplace on the left hand was the opening to the cellar, which running under the other part of the house, was on a level with this kitchen. It had no furniture but a table and two chairs. The thick heavy door stood open. Passing out, Ellen looked around her for water,-in what shape or form it was to present itself she had no very clear idea. She soon spied, a few yards distant a little stream of water pouring from the end of a pipe or trough raised about a foot and a half from the ground, and a well-worn path leading to it, left no doubt of its being the “the spout.' But when she had reached it Ellen was in no small puzzle as to how she should manage. The water was clear and bright, and poured very fast into a shallow wooden trough underneath, whence it ran off into the meadow and disappeared.
“But what shall I do without a basin,” thought Ellen, “I can't catch any water in my hands, it runs too fast. If I only could get my face under there that would be fine !"
Very carefully and cautiously she tried it, but the continual spattering of the water had made the board on which she stood so slippery that before her face could reach the stream she came very near tumbling headlong, and so taking more of a cold bath than she wished for. So she contented herself with the drops her hands could bring to her face,--a scanty supply; but those drops were deliciously cold and fresh. And afterwards she pleased herself with holding her hands in the running water, till they were red with the cold. On the whole Ellen enjoyed her washing very much. The morning air came playing about her; its cool breath was on her cheek with health in its touch. The early sun was shining on tree and meadow and hill; the long shadows stretched over the grass, and the very brown outhouses, looked bright. She thought it was the loveliest place she ever had seen. And that sparkling trickling water was certainly the purest and sweetest she had ever tasted. Where could it come from? It poured from a small trough made of the split trunk of a tree with a little groove or channel two inches wide hollowed out in it. But at the end of one of these troughs, .
, another lapped on, and another at the end of that, and how many there were Ellen could not see, nor where the beginning of them was.
Ellen stood gazing and wondering, drinking in the fresh air, hope and spirits rising every minute, when she suddenly recollected breakfast! She hurried in. As she expected, her aunt was at the table; but to her suprise, and not at all to her gratification, there was Mr. Van Brunt at the other end of it, eating away, very much at home indeed. In silent dismay Ellen drew her chair to the side of the table.
“Did you find the spout ?” asked Miss Fortune.
“O, I like it very much indeed," said Ellen. “I think it is beautiful.”
Miss Fortune's face rather softened at this, and she gave Ellen an abundant supply of all that was on the table. Her journey, the bracing air, and her cool morning wash, altogether, had made Ellen very sharp, and she did justice to the breakfast. She thought never was coffee so good as this country coffee; nor any thing so excellent as the brown bread and butter, both as sweet as bread and butter could be;