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“ Whi is Mrs. Van Brunt ?" Ellen contrived to say, as Nancy hurried her along.

“Who is she?-run, Ellen !—why she's just Mrs. Van Brunt-your Mr. Van Brunt's mother you know,-make haste, Ellen—we had rain enough the other day; I'm afraid it wouldn't be good for the grass if you stayed too long in one place ;-hurry! I'm afraid you'll catch cold, -you got your

feet wet after all, I'm sure.” Run they did; and a few minutes brought them to Mrs. Van Brunt's door. The little brick walk leading to it from the courtyard gate was as neat as a pin; so was every thing else the eye could rest on; and when Nancy went in poor Ellen stayed her foot at the door, unwilling to carry her wet shoes and dripping garments any further. She could hear, however, what was going on.

“ Hillo! Mrs. Van Brunt," shouted Nancy,—“where are you?-oh! Mrs. Van Brunt, are you out of water ? 'cos if you are l've brought you a plenty; the person that has it don't want it; she's just at the door; she wouldn't bring it in till she knew you wanted it; 0, Mrs. Van Brunt, don't look so or you'll kill me with laughing. Come and see! come and see."

The steps within drew near the door, and first Nancy showed herself, and then a little old woman, not very old either, of very kind, pleasant countenance.

“What is all this ” said she in great surprise. “Bless me ! poor little dear! what is this ?"

“ Nothing in the world but a drowned rat, Mrs. Van Brunt, don't

you see?" said Nancy. “Go home, Nancy Vawse! go home," said the old lady; "you're a regular bad girl. I do believe this is some mischief o’yourn, go right off home; it's time you were after your cow a great while ago."

As she spoke, she drew Ellen in, and shut the door.

“Poor little dear," said the old lady, kindly, “what has happened to you? Come to the fire, love, you're trembling with the cold. Oh, dear! dear! your soaking wet; this is all along of Nancy somehow, I know; how was it, love? Ain't you Miss Fortune's little girl? Never mind, don't talk, darling; there ain't one bit of colour in your face, not one bit."


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Good Mrs. Van Brunt had drawn Ellen to the fire, and all this while she was pulling off as fast as possible her wet clothes. Then sending a girl who was in waiting, for clean towels, she rubbed Ellen dry from head to foot, and wrapping her in a blanket, left her in a chair before the fire, while she went to seek something for her to put on. Ellen had managed to tell who she was, and how her mischance had come about, but little else, though the kind old lady had kept on pouring out words of sorrow and pity during the whole time. She came trotting back directly with one of her own short gowns, the only thing that she could lay hands on that was anywhere near Ellen's length. Enormously big it was for her, but Mrs. Van Brunt wrapped it round and round, and the blanket over it again, and then she bustled about till she had prepared a tumbler of hot drink, which she said was to keep Ellen from catching cold. It was any thing but agreeable, being made from some bitter herb, and sweetened with molasses; but Ellen swallowed it, as she would any thing else at such kind hands, and the old lady carried her herself into a little room opening out of the kitchen, and laid her in a bed that had been warmed for her. Exces sively tired and weak as she was, Ellen scarcely needed the help of the hot herb tea to fall into a very deep sleep; per haps it might not have lasted so very long as it did, but for that. Afternoon changed for evening, evening grew quite dark, still Ellen did not stir; and after every little journey into the bedroom to see how she was doing, Mrs. Van Brunt came back saying how glad she was to see her sleeping so finely. Other eyes looked on her for a minute-kind and gentle eyes; though Mrs. Van Brunt's were kind and gentle too; once a soft kiss touched her forehead, there was no danger of waking her.

It was perfectly dark in the little bedroom, and had been so a good while; when Ellen was aroused by some noise, and then a rough voice she knew very well. Feeling faint and weak, and not more than half awake yet, she lay still and listened. She heard the outer door open and shut, and then the voice id,

“So mother, you've got my stray sheep here, have you ?”

“Ay, ay,” said the voice of Mrs. Van Brunt, “have you been looking for her ? how did you know she was here ?"


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“Looking for her! ay, looking for her ever since sundown. She has been missing at the house since some time this fore

I believe her aunt got a bit scared about her; any how I did. She's a queer little chip as ever I see.”

“She's a dear little soul, I know,” said his mother; "you needn't say nothin' agin her, I ain't a going to believe it.”

“No more am I-I'm the best friend she's got, if she only knowed it; but don't you think,” said Mr. Van Brunt, laughing, “ I asked her to give me a kiss this forenoon, and if I'd been an owl she couldn't ha' been more scared; she went off like a streak, and Miss Fortune said she was as mad as she could be, and that's the last of her.”

“ How did you find her out ???

“ I met that mischievous Vawse girl, and I made her tell me; she had no mind to at first. It'll be the worse for Ellen if she takes to that wicked thing.”

“She won't. Nancy has been taking her a walk, and worked it so as to get her into the brook, and then she brought her here, just as dripping wet as she could be. I gave her something hot and put her to bed, and she'll do, I reckon; but I tell you it gave me queer feelings to see the poor little thing just as white as ashes, and all of a tremble, and looking so sorrowful too. She's sleeping finely now; but it ain't right to see a child's face look so ;—it ain't right, repeated Mrs. Van Brunt, thoughtfully._“You ha’n't had supper, have you ?"

i No, mother, and I must take that young one back. Ain't she awake yet?"

“I'll see directly; but she ain't going home, nor you neither, 'Brahm, till you've got your supper; it would be a sin to let her. She shall have a taste of my splitters this very night; I've been makin' them o' purpose for her. So you may just take off your hat and sit down.”

* You mean to let her know where to come when she wants good things, mother. Well, I won't say splitters ain't worth waiting for.”

Ellen heard him sit down, and then she guessed from the words that passed that Mrs. Van Brunt and her little maid were busied in making the cakes; she lay quiet.

; “You're a good friend, 'Brahm," began the old lady again, “nobody knows that better than me; but I hope that poor


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little thing has got another one to-day that'll do more for her than

you can.' What, yourself

, mother? I don't know about that.” "No, no; do you think I mean myself ?—there, turn it quick, Sally!—Miss Alice has been here."

“ How? this evening ?"

“Just a little before dark, on her grey pony. She came in for a minute, and I took her—that'll burn, Sally !-I took her in to see the child while she was asleep, and I told her

told me about her. She didu't say much, but she looked at her very sweet, as she always does, and I guess, -there-now I'll see after my little sleeper.

And presently Mrs. Van Brunt came to the bedside with a light, and her arm full of Ellen's dry clothes. Ellen felt as if she could have put her arms round her kind old friend and hugged her with all her heart; but it was not her way to show her feelings before strangers. She suffered Mrs. Van Brunt to dress her in silence, only saying with a sigh, “ How kind you are to me, ma'am !” to which the old lady replied with a kiss, and telling her she musn't say a word about that.

The kitchen was bright with firelight and candlelight; the tea-table looked beautiful with its piles of white splitters, besides plenty of other and more substantial things; and at the corner of the hearth sat Mr. Van Brunt.

“So,” said he, smiling, as Ellen came in and took her stand at the opposite corner,—“ so I drove you away this morning ? You ain't mad with me yet, I hope.”

I Ellen crossed directly over to him, and putting her little hand in his great rough one, said, “I'm very much obliged to you, Mr. Van Brunt, for taking so much trouble to come and look after me.”

She said it with a look of gratitude and trust that pleased him very much.

“Trouble, indeed !” said he, good-humouredly, “I'd take twice as much any day for what you wouldn't give me this forenoon. But never fear, Miss Éllen, I ain't a going to ask you that again."

He shook the little hand; and from that time Ellen and her rough charioteer were firm friends.

[rs. Van Brunt now summoned thern to table; and Ellen

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was well feasted with the splitters, which were a kind of rich short-cake baked in irons, very thin and crisp, and then split in two and buttered, whence their name. A pleasant meal was that. Whatever an epicure might have thought of the tea, to Ellen in her famished state it was delicious ; and no epicure could have found fault with the cold ham and the butter and the cakes; but far better than all was the spirit of kindness that was there. Ellen feasted on that more than on any thing else. If her host and hostess were not very polished, they could not have been outdone in their kind care of her and kind attention to her wants. And when the supper was at length over, Mrs. Van Brunt declared a little colour had come back to the pale cheeks. The colour came back in good earnest a few minutes after, when a great tortoise-shell cat walked into the room. Ellen jumped down from her chair, and presently was bestowing the tenderest caresses upon pussy, who stretched out her head and purred as if she liked them


well. 66 What a .nice cat !” said Ellen, “She has five kittens," said Mrs. Van Brunt.

“ Five kittens !” said Ellen. “Oh, may I come some time and see them ?":

“ You shall see 'em right away, dear, and come as often as you like too. Sally, just take a basket, and go fetch them kittens here."

Upon this, Mr. Van Brunt began to talk about its being time to go, if they were going. But his mother insisted that Ellen should stay where she was; she said she was not fit to go home that night, that she oughtn't to walk a step, and that 'Brahm' should go and tell Miss Fortune the child was safe and well, and would be with her early in the morning. Mr. Van Brunt shook his head two or three times, but finally agreed, to Ellen's great joy. When he came back, she was sitting on the floor before the fire, with all the five kittens in her lap, and the old mother cat walking around and over her and them. But she looked up with a happier face than he had ever seen her wear, and told him she was so much obliged to him for taking such a long walk for her;" and Mr. Van Brunt felt that, like his oxen, he could have done a great deal more with pleasure.

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