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“My dear Ellen,” said the lady, changing her tone,“ do you know you please me very much ?' For one person that shows herself well-bred in this matter there are a thousand I think that ask impertinent questions. I am very glad you are an exception to the common rule. But, dear Ellen, I am quite willing you should know my name it is Alice Humphreys. Now kiss me again and run home; it is quite, quite time; I have kept you too late. Good-night, my dear! Tell your aunt I beg she will allow you to take tea with me to-morrow.”
They parted; and Ellen hastened homewards, urged by the rapidly growing dusk of the evening. She trod the green turf with a step lighter and quicker than it had been a few hours before, and she regained her home in much less time than it had taken her to come from thence to the mountain. Lights were in the kitchen, and the table set; but though weary and faint she was willing to forego her supper rather than meet her aunt just then; so she stole quietly up to her room. She did not forget her friend's advice. She had no light; she could not read; but Ellen did pray. She did carry all her heart-sickness, her wants, and her woes, to that Friend whose ear is always open to hear the cry of those who call upon him in truth; and then, relieved, refreshed, alınost healed, she went to bed and slept sweetly.
After long storms and tempests overblowne,
Ellen awoke with a sense that something pleasant had happened. Then the joyful reality darted into her mind, and jumping out of bed she set about her morning work with a better heart than she had been able to bring to it for many a long day. When she had finished she went to the window. She had found out how to keep it open now, by means of a big nail stuck in a hole under the sash. It was very early, and in the perfect stillness the soft gurgle of the little brook came distinctly to her ear. Ellen leaned her arms on the window-sill, and tasted the morning air; almost wondering at its sweetness and at the loveliness of field and sky and the bright eastern horizon. For days and days all had looked dark and sad.
There were two reasons for the change. In the first place Ellen had made up her mind to go straight on in the path of duty; in the second place, she had found a friend. Her little heart bounded with delight and swelled with thankfulness at the thought of Alice Humphreys. She was once more at peace with herself, and had even some notion of being by and by at peace with her aunt; though a sad twinge came over her whenever she thought of her mother's letter.
“But there is only one way for me," she thought; “I'll do as that dear Miss Humphreys told me—it's good and early, and I shall have a fine time before breakfast yet to myself. And I'll get up so every morning and have it!that'll be the very best plan I can hit upon.
As she thought this she drew forth her Bible from its place at the bottom of her trunk; and opening it at hazard she began to read the 18th chapter of Matthew. Some of it she did not quite understand; but she paused with pleasure at the 14th verse. “That means me,” she thought. The 21st and 220 verses struck her a good deal, but when she came to the last she was almost startled. “ There it is again !” she said. “That is exactly what
. that gentleman said to me. I thought I was forgiven, but how can I be, for I feel I have not forgiven aunt Fortune.”
I Laying aside her book, Ellen kneeled down; but this one thought so pressed upon her mind that she could think of scarce any thing else; and her prayer this morning was an urgent and repeated petition that she might be enabled “from her heart” to forgive her aunt Fortune “all her trespasses.” Poor Ellen! she felt it was very hard work. At the very minute she was striving to feel at peace with her aunt, one grievance after another would start up to remembrance, and she knew the feelings that met them were far enough from the spirit of forgiveness. In the midst of this she was called down. She rose with tears in her
and “ what shall I do?" in her heart. Bowing her head once more she earnestly prayed that if she could not yet feel right towards her aunt, she might be kept at least from acting or speaking wrong. Poor Ellen! In the heart is the spring of action; and she found it so this morning.
Her aunt and Mr. Van Brunt were already at the table. Ellen took her place in silence, for one look at her aunt's face told her that no “good-morning” would be accepted. Miss Fortune was in a particularly bad humour, owing among other things to Mr. Van Brunt's having refused to eat his breakfast unless Ellen were called. An unlucky piece of kindness. She neither spoke to Ellen nor looked at her; Mr. Van Brunt did what in him lay to make amends. He helped her very carefully to the cold pork and potatoes, and handed her the well-piled platter of griddle-cakes.
“ Here's the first buckwheats of the season,” said he, “and I told Miss Fortune I warn't a going to eat one on 'em if you didn't come down to enjoy 'em along with us. Take two_take two!--you want 'em to keep each other
Ellen's look and smile thanked him, as following his advice she covered one generous “ buckwheat” with another as ample.
“That's the thing! Now here's some prime maple. You like 'em, I guess, don't you ?"
, “I don't know yet-i have never seen any,” said Ellen.
“ Never seen buckwheats ! why, they're 'most as good as my mother's splitters. Buckwheat cakes and maple molasses, that's food fit for a king, I think-when they're good; and Miss Fortune's always first-rate.”
Miss Fortune did not relent at all at this compliment.
“ What makes you so white this morning ?? Mr. Van Brunt presently went on ;-"you ain't well, be you ?"
“Yes," --said Ellen doubtfully,—“I'm well”
“She's as well as I am, Mr. Van Brunt, if you don't go and put her up to any notions !" Miss Fortune said in a kind of choked voice.
Mr. Van Brunt hemmed, and said no more to the end of breakfast-time.
Ellen rather dreaded what was to come next, for her aunt's look was ominous. In dead silence the things were put away, and put up, and in course of washing and drying, when Miss Fortune suddenly broke forth. “What did you do with yourself yesterday afternoon ?"
? “I was up on the mountain," said Ellen. " What mountain ?" “I
believe they call it the 'Nose.'” “What business had you up there ?" I hadn't
business there. “What did you go there for ?" “Nothing."
Nothing !-you expect me to believe that? you call yourself a truth-teller, I suppose ?"
“ Mamma used to say I was,” said poor Ellen, striving to swallow her feelings.
“ Your mother!-I dare say-mothers always are blind. I dare say she took every thing you said for gospel !"
Ellen was silent, from sheer want of words that were pointed enough to suit her.
“I wish Morgan could have had the gumption to marry in his own country; but he must go running after a Scotch
woman! A Yankee would have brought up his child to be worth something. Give me Yankees !”? Ellen set down the cup she was wiping.
You don't know any thing about my mother,” she said. “You oughtn't to speak so--it's not right.”
Why ain't it right, I should like to know ?" said Miss Fortune ;
“ this is a free country, I guess. Our tongues ain't tied—we're all free here.”
“I wish we were,” muttered Ellen ;—"I know what I'd do.”
“What would you do?" said Miss Fortune.
Ellen was silent. Her aunt repeated the question in a sharper tone.
“I oughtn't to say what I was going to,” said Ellen ;“I'd rather not.
“I don't care," said Miss Fortune," you began, and you shall finish it. I will hear what it was.
“I was going to say, if we were all free I would run away.”
Well, that is a beautiful, well-behaved speech! I am glad to have heard it. I admire it very much. Now what were you doing yesterday up on the Nose? Please to go on wiping. There's a pile ready for you. What were you doing yesterday afternoon ?" Ellen hesitated.
alone or with somebody ?" “I was alone part of the time.” “And who were you with the rest of the time ?" “ Miss Humphreys." “Miss Humphreys !—what were you doing with her ?"
Talking.” “ Did you ever see her before ?" No, ma'am." “Where did you find her?" “She found me, up on the hill.” 66 What were you talking about ?" Ellen was silent. “What were you talking about!” repeated Miss Fortune. “ I had rather not tell.” “ And I had rather you should tell—so out with it.” “I was alone with Miss Humphreys,” said Ellen ; " and