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Come, Ellen, try getting up a little. I believe you hurt yourself with sleeping. It'll do you good to be out of bed awhile; come! get up.”
She pulled Ellen's arm as she spoke.
“Stop, Nancy, let me alone !" cried Ellen, struggling with all her force,-“ I mustn't I can't! I mustn't get up; what do you mean? I'm not able to sit up at all; let me go!"
She succeeded in freeing herself from Nancy's grasp.
“Well, you're an obstinate piece," said the other; your own way. But mind, I'm left in charge of you; is it time for you to take your physic ?"
"I am not taking any,” said Ellen. “What are you taking ?"
Nothing but gruel and little things.” “Gruel and little things; little things means something good, I s'pose. Well, is it time for you to take some gruel
I or one of the little things ?"
“No, I don't want any.".
"O that's nothing; people never know what's good for them; I'm your nurse now, and I'm going to give it to you when I think you want it. Let me feel your pulse-yes, your pulse says gruel is wanting. I shall put some down to warm right away."
“I sha'n't take it,” said Ellen.
“That's a likely story! You'd better not say so. ther s’pose you will if I give it to you. Look here, Ellen, you'd better mind how you behave; you're going to do just what I tell you. I know how to manage you;
make any fuss I shall just tickle you finely,” said Nancy, as she prepared a bed of coals, and set the cup of gruel on it to get hot, -—“I'll do it in no time at all, my young lady—50 you'd better mind.”
Poor Ellen involuntarily curled up her feet under the bed. clothes, so as to get them as far as possible out of harm's way. She judged the best thing was to keep quiet if she could; so she said nothing. Nancy was in great glee; with something of the same spirit of mischief that a cat shows when she has a captured mouse at the end of her paws. While the gruel was heating she spun round the room in quest of amusement; and her sudden jerks and flings from one place and thing to another had so much of lawlessness that Ellen
was in perpetual terror as to what she might take it into her head to do next.
« Where does that door lead to ??? “I believe that one leads to the garret," said Ellen. “ You believe so? why don't you say it does, at once ?" “I haven't been up to see.”
“ You haven't! you expect me to believe that, I s'pose ? I am not quite such a gull as you take me for. there ?"
“I don't know, of course.” “Of course! I declare I don't know what you are up to
I exactly; but if you won't tell me I'll find out for myself pretty quick,—that's one thing.
She flung open the door and ran up; and Ellen heard her feet trampling overhead from one end of the house to the other; and sounds too of pushing and pulling things over the floor; it was plain Nancy was rummaging.
Well,” said Ellen, as she turned uneasily upon her bed, “it's no affair of mine; I can't help it, whatever she does. But oh! won't aunt Fortune be
angry Nancy presently came down with her frock gathered up into a bag before her.
“ What do you think I have got here ?" said she. s'pose you didn't know there was a basket of fine hickory nuts up there in the corner ? Was it you or Miss Fortune that hid them away so nicely? I s'pose she thought nobody would ever think of looking behind the great blue chest and under the feather bed, but it takes me!--Miss Fortune was afraid of your stealing 'em, I guess, Ellen ?"
“She needn't have been,” said Ellen, indignantly.
“No, I s'pose you wouldn't take 'em if you saw 'em; you wouldn't eat 'em if they were cracked for you, would you?".
She flung some on Ellen's bed as she spoké. Nancy had seated herself on the floor, and using for a hammer a piece of old iron she had brought down with her from the garret she was cracking the nuts on the clean white hearth.
“ Indeed I wouldn't !” said Ellen, throwing them back; “and you oughtn't to crack them there, Nancy,—you'll make a dreadful muss."
“ What do you think I care ?" said the other, scornfully. She leisurely cracked and eat as many as she pleased of the
nuts, bestowing the rest in the bosom of her frock. Ellen watched fearfully for her next move. If she should open the little door and get among her books and boxes !
Nancy's first care however was the cup of gruel. It was found too hot for any mortal lips to bear, so it was set on one side to cool. Then taking up her rambling examination of the room, she went froin window to window.
“What fine big windows ! one might get in here easy enough. I declare, Ellen, some night I'll set the ladder up against here, and the first thing you'll see will be me coming in. You'll have me to sleep with you before you think.”
“I'll fasten my windows,” said Ellen.
“No, you won't. You'll do it a night or two, maybe, but then you'll forget it. I shall find them open when I
O I'll come!” “But I could call aunt Fortune," said Ellen.
No, you couldn't, 'cause if you spoke a word I'd tickle you to death; that's what I'd do. I know how to fix you off. And if you did call her I'd just whap out of the window and run off with my ladder, and then you'd get a fine combing for disturbing the house. What's in this trunk ?"
Only my clothes and things,” said Ellen.
“O goody! that's fine; now I'll have a look at 'em. That's just what I wanted, only I didn't know it. Where's the key? O here it is sticking in,--that's good !"
“O please, don't !” said Ellen, raising herself on her elbow," they're all in nice order and you'll get them all in confusion. Oh do let them alone !"
“ You'd best be quiet or I'll come and see you," said Nancy;
" I'm just going to look at every thing in it, and if I find any thing out of sorts, you'll get it.—What's this? ruffles, I declare! ain't you fine ! I'll see how they look on
What a plague! you haven't a glass in the room. Never mind, I am used to dressing without a glass.'
“Oh, I wish you wouldn't,” said Ellen, who was worried to the last degree at seeing her nicely done-up ruffles round Nancy's neck; "they're so nice, and you'll muss them all
“Don't cry about it,” said Nancy coolly, “I ain't a going to eat 'em. My goodness! what a fine hood! ain't that pretty.”
The nice blue hood was turning about in Nancy's fingers,
and well looked at inside and out. Elen was in distress for fear it would go on Nancy's head, as well as the ruffles round her neck; but it didn't ; she flung it at length on one side, and went on pulling out one thing after another, strewing them very carelessly about the floor.
“What's here? a pair of dirty stockings, as I am alive. Ain't
you ashamed to put dirty stockings in your trunk ?" “ They are no such thing,” said Ellen, who in her vexation was in danger of forgetting her fear, “ I've worn them but once."
“They've no business in here any how," said Nancy, roll. ing them up in a hard ball and giving them a sudden fing at Ellen. They just missed her face and struck the wall beyond. Ellen seized them to throw back, but her weakness warned her she was not able, and a moment reminded her of the folly of doing any thing to rouse Nancy, who for the present was pretty quiet. Ellen lay upon her pillow and Looked on, ready to cry with vexation. All her nicely stowed piles of white clothes were ruthlessly hurled out and tumbled about; her capes tried on; her summer dresses unfolded, displayed, criticised. Nancy decided one was too short; another very ugly; a third horribly ill-made; and when she had done with each it was cast out of her way on one side or the other as the case might be.
The floor was littered with clothes in various states of disarrangement and confusion. The bottom of the trunk was reached at last, and then Nancy suddenly recollected her gruel, and sprang to it. But it had grown cold again.
“ This won't do,” said Nancy, as she put it on the coals again," it must be just right; it'll warm soon, and then, Miss Ellen, you're a going to take it, whether or no. I hope you won't give me the pleasure of pouring it down.”
Meanwhile she opened the little door of Ellen's study closet and went in there, though Ellen begged her not. She pulled the door to, and stayed some time perfectly quiet. Not able to see or hear what she was doing, and fretted beyond measure that her work-box and writing-desk should be at Nancy's mercy, or even feel the touch of her fingers, Ellen at last could stand it no longer but threw herself out of the bed, weak as she was, and went to see what was going on. Nancy was seated quietly on the floor, examining with
much seeming interest the contents of the work-box; trying on the thimble, cutting bits of thread with the scissors, and marking the ends of the spools; with whatever like pieces of mischief her restless spirit could devise; but when Ellen opened the door she put the box from her and started up.
“My goodness me!” said she, “ this'll never do. What are you out here for? you'll catch your death with those dear little bare feet, and we shall have the mischief to pay."
As she said this she caught up Ellen in her arms as if she had been a baby and carried her back to the bed, where she laid her with two or three little shakes, and then proceeded to spread up the clothes and tuck her in all round. She then ran for the gruel. Ellen was in great question whether to give way to tears or vexation; but with some difficulty de
2 termined upon vexation as the best plan. Nancy prepared the gruel to her liking, and brought it to the bedside; but to get it swallowed was another matter. Nancy was resolved Ellen should take it. Ellen had less strength but quite as much obstinacy as her enemy, and she was equally resolved not to drink a drop. Between laughing on Nancy's part, and very serious anger on Ellen's, a struggle eusued. Nancy tried to force it down, but Ellen's shut teeth were as firm as a vice, and the end was that two-thirds were bestowed on the sheet. Ellen burst into tears. Nancy laughed.
Well, I do think,” said she, “you are one of the hardest customers ever I came across. I shouldn't want to have the managing of you when you get a little bigger. Othe way Miss Fortune will look when she comes in here will be a caution! O what fun !"
Nancy shouted and clapped her hands. “Come, stop cry- . ing !" said she, “what a baby you are! what are you crying for? come stop!—I'll make you laugh if you don't.”
Two or three little applications of Nancy's fingers made her words good, but laughing was mixed with crying, and Ellen writhed in hysterics. Just then came a little knock at the door. Ellen did not hear it, but it quieted Nancy. She stood still a moment; and then as the knock was repeated she called out boldly 6 Come in !" Ellen raised her head “ to see who there might be ;” and great was the surprise of both and the joy of one as the tall form and broad shoulders of Mr. Van Brunt presented themselves.