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offered her; and at last she yielded to the combined influence of motives no one of which would have had power sufficient to move her, and though with a secret consciousness it would be in vain, she consented to do as her friends wished. And it was for Ellen's sake she did it after all.
Nothing but necessity had given her the courage to open the matter to her little daughter. She had foreseen and endeavoured to prepare herself for Ellen's anguish; but nature was too strong for her, and they clasped each other in a convulsive embrace while tears fell like rain.
It was some minutes before Mrs. Montgomery recollected herself, and then though she struggled hard she could not immediately regain her composure. But Ellen's deep sobs at length fairly alarmed her; she saw the necessity, for both their sakes, of putting a stop to this state of violent excitement; self-command was restored at once.
« Ellen ! Ellen ! listen to me,” she said ; this is not right. Remember, my darling, who it is that brings this sorrow upon us—though we must sorrow, we must not rebel.'
Ellen sobbed more gently ; but that and the mute pressure of her arms was her only answer.
“ You will hurt both yourself and me, my daughter, if you cannot command yourself
. Remember, dear Ellen, God sends no trouble upon his children but in love; and though we cannot see how, he will no doubt make all this work for our good.”
“I know it, dear mother," sobbed Ellen, “but it's just as hard !”
Mrs. Montgomery's own heart answered so readily to the truth of Ellen's words that for the moment she could not speak.
“ Try, my daughter," she said after a pause,—“try to compose yourself. I am afraid you will make me worse, Ellen, if you cannot --I am indeed.”
Ellen had plenty of faults, but amidst them all love to her mother was the strongest feeling her heart knew. It had power enough now to move her as nothing else could have done; and exerting all her self-command, of which she had sometimes a good deal, she did calm herself; ceased solbing; wiped her eyes; arose from her crouching posture,
and seating herself on the sofa by her mother, and laying her head on her bosom, she listened quietly to all the soothing words and cheering considerations with which Mrs. Montgomery endeavoured to lead her to take a more hopeful view of the subject. All she could urge, however, had but very partial success, though the conversation was prolonged far into the evening. Ellen said little, and did not weep any more; but in secret her heart refused consolation.
Long before this the servant had brought in the tea-things. Nobody regarded it at the time, but the little kettle hissing away on the fire now by chance attracted Ellen's attention, and she suddenly recollected her mother had had no tea. To make her mother's tea was Ellen's regular business. She treated it as a very grave affair, and loved it as one of the pleasantest in the course of the day. She used in the first place to make sure that the kettle really boiled; then she carefully poured some water into the tea-pot and rinsed it, both to make it clean and to make it hot; 'then she knew exactly how much tea to put into the tiny little tea-pot, which was just big enough to hold two cups of tea, and having poured a very little boiling water to it, she used to set it by the side of the fire while she made half a slice of toast. How careful Ellen was about that toast! The bread must not be cut too thick, nor too thin; the fire must, if possible, burn clear and bright, and she herself held the bread on a fork, just at the right distance from the coals to get nicely browned without burning. When this was done to her satisfaction (and if the first piece failed she would take another), she filled up the little tea-pot from the boiling kettle, and proceeded to make a cup of tea. She knew, and was very careful to put in, just the quantity of milk and sugar that her mother liked ; and then she used to carry the tea and toast on a little tray to her mother's side, and very often held it there for her while she eat. All this Ellen did with the zeal that love gives, and though the same thing was to be gone over every night of the year, she was never wearied. It was a real pleasure ; she had the greatest satisfaction in seeing that the little her mother could eat was prepared for her in the nicest possible manner; she knew her hands made it taste better; her mother often said so.
But this evening other thoughts had driven this important
business quite out of poor Ellen's mind. Now, however, when her eyes fell upon the little kettle, she recollected her mother had not had her tea, and must want it very much; and silently slipping off the sofa she set about getting it as usual. There was no doubt this time whether the kettle boiled or no; it had been hissing for an hour and more, calling as loud as it could to somebody to come and make the tea. So Ellen made it, and then began the toast. But she began to think too, as she watched it, how few more times she would be able to do so-how soon her pleasant tea-makings would be over--and the desolate feeling of separation began to come upon her before the time. These thoughts were too much for poor Ellen ; the thick tears gathered so fast she could not see what she was doing; and she had no inore than just turned the slice of bread on the fork when the sickness of heart quite overcame her; she could not go
Toast and fork and all dropped from her hand into the ashes; and rushing to her mother's side, who was now lying down again, and throwing herself upon her, she burst into another fit of sorrow; not so violent as the former, but with a touch of hopelessness in it which went yet more to her mother's heart. Passion in the first said, “I cannot ;" despair now seemed to say, “I must."
But Mrs. Montgomery was too exhausted to either share or soothe Ellen's agitation. She lay in suffering silence; till after some time she said faintly, “Ellen, my love, I cannot bear this much longer.”
Ellen was immediately brought to herself by these words. She arose, sorry and ashamed that she should have given occasion for them; and tenderly kissing her mother, assured her most sincerely and resolutely that she would not do so again. In a few minutes she was calm enough to finish making the tea, and having toasted another piece of bread, she brought it to her mother. Mrs. Montgomery swallowed a cup of tean, but no toast could be eaten that night.
Both remained silent and quiet awhile after this, till the clock struck ten. “ You had better go to bed, my daughter," said Mrs. Montgomery.
I will, mamma.
you think you can read me a little before you go?"
Yes, indeed, mamma;" and Ellen brought the book ; “ where shall I read ?", “The twenty-third psalm.
Ellen began it, and went through it steadily and slowly, though her voice quavered a little.
« The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.
“! He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside the still waters.
«. He restoreth my soul; He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
“Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for Thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
“! Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; Thou anointest' my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.' - Long before she had finished Ellen's eyės were full, and her heart too. “ If I only could feel these words as mamma does !” she said to herself. She did not dare look up till the traces of tears had passed away ; then she saw that ber mother was asleep. Those first sweet words had fallen like balm
upon the sore heart; and mind and body had instantly found rest together. ..
Ellen breathed the lightest possiblë kiss upon her forehead, and stole quietly out of the room to her own little bed.
Not all the whispers that tbe son wiods utter
Speak earthly things
Sorrow and excitement made Ellen's eyelids heavy, and she slept late on the following morning. The great dressing. bell waked her. She started up with a confused notion that something was the matter; there was a weight on her heart that was very strange to it. A moment was enough to bring it all back; and she threw herself again on her pillow, yielding helplessly to the grief she had twice been obliged to control the evening before. Yet love was stronger than grief still, and she was careful to allow no sound to escape her that could reach the ears of her mother, who slept in the next room. Her resolve was firm to grieve her no more with useless expressions of sorrow; to keep it to herself as much as possible. But this very thought that she must keep it to herself, gave an edge to poor Ellen's grief, and the convulsive clasp of her little arms round the pillow plainly showed that it needed none.
The breakfast-bell again startled her, and she remembered she must not be too late down stairs, or her mother might inquire and find out the reason.
" I will not trouble mother-I will not I will not,” she resolved to herself as she got out of bed, though the tears fell faster as she said so. Dressing was sad work to Ellen to-day; it went on very heavily: Tears dropped into the water as she stooped her head to the basin; and she hid her face in the towel to cry, instead of making the ordinary use of it. But the usual duties were dragged through at last, and she went to the window. " I'll not go down till papa is gone,” she thought; “ he'll ask me what is the matter with my eyes."