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" It's a long while that I have not seen you, dear,-not since you went to Mrs. Marshman's. And what a day you have chosen to come at last!” ! "I can't help that,” said Alice, pulling off her bonnet,
“ I couldn't wait any longer. I wanted to see you dolefully, Mrs. Vawse.”
“Why, my dear? what's the matter? I have wanted to see you, but not dolefully.”
“That's the very thing, Mrs. Vawse; I wanted to see you to get a lesson of quiet contentment."
a I never thought you wanted such a lesson, Miss Alice. What's the matter?”
“I can't get over John's going away.”
was swimming as she said 80. The old woman passed her hands over the gentle head and kissed her brow.
“So I thought—so I felt, when my mistress died; and my husband; and my sons, one after the other. But now I think I can say with Paul, 'I have learned in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content.' I think so; maybe that I deceive myself; but they are all gone, and I am certain that I am content now."
“ Then surely I ought to be,” said Alice.
“ It is not till one looses one's hold of other things and looks to Jesus alone that one finds how much he can do. "There is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother;' but I never knew all that meant till I had no other friends to lean upon ;-nay, I should not say no other friends ;-but my dearest were taken away. You have your dearest still, Miss Alice.”
“Two of them,” said Alice faintly;—"and hardly that now. “I have not one,” said the old woman,—“I have not one;
, but my home is in heaven, and my Saviour is there preparing a place for me. I know it-I am sure of it and I can wait a little while, and rejoice all the while I am waiting. Dearest Miss Alice none of them that trust in him shall be desolate;' don't you believe that ?”
“I do surely, Mrs. Vawse,” said Alice, wiping away a tear or two, “ but I forget it sometimes; or the pressure of pres. ent pain is too much for all that faith and hope can do.”
“It hinders faith and hope from acting—that is the trouble. "They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing. I know that is true, of my own experience; so will
“I know it, Mrs. Vawse I know it all; but it does me good to hear you say it. I thought I should become accustomed to John's absence, but I do not at all; the autumn winds all the while scem to sing to me that he is away.
My dear love," said the old lady, “it sorrows me much to hear you speak so; I would take away this trial from you if I could; but He knows best. Seek to live nearer to the Lord, dear Miss Alice, and he will give you much more than he has taken away.
Alice again brushed away some tears.
“I felt I must come and see you to-day,” said she, “and you have comforted me already. The sound of your voice always does me good. I catch courage and patience from you I believe."
“As iron sharpeneth iron, so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.' How did you leave Mr. and Mrs. Marshman? and has Mr. George returned yet ?"
Drawing their chairs together, a close conversation began. Ellen had been painfully interested and surprised by what went before, but the low tone of voice now seemed to be not meant for her ear, and turning away her attention, she amused herself with taking a general survey. It was easy to see that Mrs. Vawse lived in this
and probably had no other to live in. Her bed was in one corner; cupboards filled the deep recesses on each side of the chimney, and in the wide fireplace the crane and the hooks and trammels hanging upon it showed that the bedroom and sitting-room was the kitchen too. Most of the floor was covered with a thick rag carpet; where the boards could be seen they were beautifully clean and white, and every thing else in the room in this respect matched with the boards. The panes of glass in the little windows were clear and bright as panes of glass could be made; the hearth was clean swept up; the cupboard doors were unstained and unsoiled, though fingers had worn the paint off; dust was nowhere. On a little stand by the chimney corner lay a large Bible and another book, close beside stood a cushioned arm-chair. Some other apart
ment therè probably was where wood and stores were kept; nothing was to be seen here that did not agree with a very comfortable face of the whole. It looked as if one might be happy there; it looked as if somebody was happy there; and a glance at the old lady of the house would not alter the opinion. Many a glance Ellen gave her as she sat talking with Alice; and with every one she felt more and more drawn towards her. She was somewhat under the common size and rather stout; her countenance most agreeable; there was sense, character, sweetness in it. Some wrinkles no doubt were there too; lines deep-marked that spoke of sorrows once known. Those storms had all passed away; the last shadow of a cloud had departed; her evening sun was shining clear and bright towards the setting; and her brow was beautifully placid, not as though it never had been, but as if it never could be ruffled again. Respect no one could help feeling for her; and more than respect one felt would grow with acquaintance. Her dress was very odd, Ellen thought. It was not American, and what it was she did not know, but supposed Mrs. Vawse must have a lingering fancy for the costume as well as for the roofs of her fatherland. More than all her eye turned again and again to the face, which seemed to her in its changing expression winning and pleasant exceedingly. The mouth had not forgotten to smile, nor the eye to laugh; and though this was not often seen, the constant play of feature showed a deep and lively sympathy in all Alice was saying, and held Ellen's charmed gaze; and when the old lady's looks and words were at length turned to herself she blushed to think how long she had been looking steadily at a stranger.
“Little Miss Ellen, how do you like my house on the rock here?"
“I don't know, ma'am," said Ellen; “I like it very much, only I don't think I should like it so well in winter.'
"I am not certain that I don't like it then best of all. Why would you not like it in winter ?"
“ I shouldn't like the cold, ma'am, and to be alone.”
“I like to be alone, but cold? I am in no danger of freezing, Miss Ellen. I make myself very warm-keep good fires,-and my house is too strong for the wind to blow it away. Don't you want to go out and see my cow? I have
one of the best cows that ever you saw; her name is Snow; there is not a black hair upon her; she is all white. Come, Miss Alice; Mr. Marshman sent her to me a month ago ; she's a great treasure and worth looking at.”
They went across the yard to the tiny barn or outhouse, where they found Snow nicely cared for. She was in a warm stable, a nice bedding of straw upon the floor, and plenty of hay laid
for her. Snow deserved it, for she was a beauty, and a very well-behaved cow, letting Alice and Ellen stroke her and pat her and feel of her thick hide, with the most perfect placidity. Mrs. Vawse meanwhile went to the door to look out.
“Nancy ought to be home to milk her," she said; “I must give you supper and send you off. I've no feeling
. nor smell if snow isn't thick in the air somewhere; we shall see it here soon."
"I'll milk her," said Alice.
“I'll milk her!” said Ellen; “I'll milk her! Ah, do let me; I know how to milk; Mr. Van Brunt taught me, and I have done it several times. May I ? I should like it dearly.”
“You shall do it surely, my child,” said Mrs. Vawse. “Come with me, and I'll give you the pail and the milking
When Alice and Ellen came in with the milk they found the kettle on, the little table set, and Mrs. Vawse very busy at another table.
“What are you doing, Mrs. Vawse, may I ask ?" said Alice.
“ I'm just stirring up some Indian meal for you; I find I have not but a crust left."
“Please to put that away, ma'am, for another time. Do you think I didn't know better than to come up to this mountain-top without bringing along something to live upon while I am here? Here's a basket, ma'am, and in it are divers things; I believe Margery and I between us have packed up enough for two or three suppers; to say nothing of Miss Fortune's pie. There it is sure to be good, you know; and here are some of my cakes that you like so much, Mrs. Vawse,” said Alice, as she went on pulling the things out of the basket,—“there is a bowl of butter-that's not wanted, I see—and here is a loaf of bread; and that's
all. Ellen, my dear, this basket will be lighter to carry down than it was to bring up.”
“I am glad of it, I am sure,” said Ellen;"my arm hasn't done aching yet, though I had it so little while."
“Ah, I am glad to hear that kettle singing," said their hostess. “I can give you good tea, Miss Alice; you'll think so, I know, for it's the same Mr. John sent me. It is very fine tea; and he sent me a noble supply, like himself," continued Mrs. Vawse, taking some out of her little caddy. “I ought not to say I have no friends left; I cannot eat a meal that I am not reminded of two good ones. Mr. John knew one of my weak points when he sent me that box of Souchong."
The supper was ready, and the little party gathered round the table. The tea did credit to the judgment of the giver and the skill of the maker, bụt they were no critics that drank it. Alice and Ellen were much too hungry and too happy to be particular. Miss Fortune's pumpkin pie was declared to be very fine, and so were Mrs. Vawse's cheese and butter. Eating and talking went on with great spirit, their old friend seeming scarce less pleased or less lively than themselves. Alice proposed the French plan, and Mrs. Vawse entered into it very frankly; it was easy to see that the style of building and of dress to which she had been accustomed in early life were not the only things remembered kindly for old time's sake. It was settled they should meet as frequently as might be, either here or at the parsonage, and become good Frenchwomen with all convenient speed.
“Will you wish to walk so far to see me again, little Miss Ellen ?"
ma'am !” “You won't fear the deep snow, and the wind and cold, and the steep hill ?"
“Oh no, ma'am, I won't mind them a bit; but, ma'am, Miss Alice told me to ask you why you loved better to live up here than down where it is warmer. I shouldn't ask if she hadn't said I might.
“ Ellen has great fancy for getting at the reason of every thing, Mrs. Vawse,” said Alice, smiling.
“ You wonder any body should choose it, don't you, Miss Ellen ?" said the old lady.