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“I hope not,” said her mother," for you know I haven't got you the box for your pens and paper yet.'
“ Well, mamma, I'll try and bear it," said Ellen, laughing. “But do get me the plainest little thing in the world, for you're giving me too much.”
Mrs. Montgomery asked to look at writing-desks, and was shown to another part of the store for the purpose.
Mamma,” said Ellen, in a low tone, as they went, “you're not going to get me a writing-desk ?".
Why, that is the best kind of box for holding writing materials,” said her mother, smiling :-“don't you think so ?"
"I don't know what to say !” exclaimed Ellen. “I can't thank you, mamma ;-I haven't any words to do it. I think I shall go crazy.'
She was truly overcome with the weight of happiness. Words failed her, and tears came instead.
From among a great many desks of all descriptions, Mrs. Montgomery with some difficulty succeeded in choosing one to her mind. It was of mahogany, not very large, but thoroughly well made and finished, and very convenient and perfect in its internal arrangements. Ellen was speechless; occasional looks at her mother, and deep sighs, were all she had now to offer. The desk was quite empty.
Ellen," said her mother,“ do you remember the furniture of Miss Allen's desk, that you were so pleased with a while ago" Perfectly, mamma;
I know all that was in it." Well, then, you must prompt me if I forget any thing. Your desk will be furnished with every thing really useful. Merely showy matters we can dispense with. Now let us see.—Here is a great empty place that I think wants some paper to fill it. Show me some of different sizes if you please.”
The shopman obeyed; and Mrs. Montgomery stocked the desk well with letter paper, large and small. Ellen looked on in great satisfaction. “That will do nicely," she said ;“that large paper will be beautiful whenever I am writing to you, mamma, you know, and the other will do for other times when I haven't so much to say; though I am sure I don't know who there is in the world I should ever send letters to except you."
“ If there is uobody now, perhaps there will be at some
fuvare time," replied her mother. “I hope I shall not always be your only correspondent. Now what next ?"
“ Envelopes, mamma ?"
“To be sure; I had forgotten them. Envelopes of both sizes to match."
“Because, mamma, you know I might, and I certainly shall, want to write upon the fourth page of my letter, and I couldn't do it unless I had envelopes.
A sufficient stock of envelopes was laid in.
“Mamma," said Ellen, “what do you think of a little note-paper ?"
“Who are the notes to be written to, Ellen ?" said Mrs. Montgomery, smiling.
"You needn't smile, mamma; you know, as you said, if I don't now know, perhaps I shall by and by. Miss Allen's desk had note-paper; that made me think of it."
“So shall yours, daughter; while we are about it we will do the thing well. And your note-paper will keep quite safely in this nice little place provided for it, even if you should not want to use a sheet of it in half a dozen years."
“How nice that is !” said Ellen, admiringly.
“I suppose the note-paper must have envelopes too,” said Mrs. Montgomery. “To be sure, inamma; I suppose so," said Ellen, smiling;
I “Miss Allen's had."
“Well now we have got all the paper we want, I think," said Mrs. Montgomery; “the next thing is ink, or an inkstand rather.”
Different kinds were presented for her choice.
“O, mamma, that one won't do," said Ellen, anxiously; "you know the desk will be knocking about in a trunk, and the ink would run out, and spoil every thing. It should be one of those that shut tight. I don't see the right kind here."
The shopman brought one.
“There, mamma, do you see?” said Ellen;" it sbuts with a spring, and nothing can possibly come out; do you see, mamma? You can turn it topsy turvy."
“I see you are quite right, daughter; it seems I should get on very ill without you to advise me. Fill the inkstand, if
Mamma, what shall I do when my ink is gone ? tijat inkstand will hold but a little, you know."
“ Your aunt will supply you, of course, my dear, when
you are out."
“I'd rather take some of my own by half,” said Ellen
“ You could not carry a bottle of ink in your desk without great danger to every thing else in it. It would not do to venture,
“We have excellent ink-powder,” said the shopman,“ in small packages, which can be very conveniently carried about. You see, ma'am, there is a compartment in the desk for such things; and the ink is very easily made at any time.”
“O that will do nicely,” said Ellen, “ that is just the thing.'
" Now what is to go in this other square place opposite the inkstand ?” said Mrs. Montgomery.
“ That is the place for the box of lights, mamma.' “ What sort of lights ?"
For sealing letters, mamma, you know. They are not like your wax taper at all; they are little wax matches, that burn just long enough to seal one or two letters; Miss Allen showed me how she used them. Hers were in a nice little box just like the inkstand on the outside ; and there was a place to light the matches, and a place to set them in while they are burning. There, mamma, that's it,” said Ellen, as the shopman brought forth the article which she was describing, “that's it exactly; and that will just fit. Now, mamma, for the wax.'
“ You want to seal your letter before you have written it," said Mrs. Montgomery,"we have not got the pens yet.'
“That's true, mamma; let us have the pens. And some quills too, mamma ?”
“ Do you know how to make a pen, Ellen ?"
“No, mamma, not yet; but I want to learn very much. Miss Pichegru says, that every lady ought to know how to make her own pens.
“Miss Pichegru is very right; but I think you are rather too young to learn. However, we will try. Now here are steel points enough to last you a great while,—and as many quills as it is needful you should cut up for one year at least ;--we haven't a pen handle yet.”
“ Here, mamma,” said Ellen, holding out a plain ivory one, “ don't
you like this? I think that it is prettier than these that are all cut and fussed, or those other gay ones either.”
“I think so too, Ellen; the plainer the prettier. Now what comes next?"
“ The knife, mamma, to make the pens,” said Ellen, smiling.
" True, the knife. Let us see some of your best penknives. Now, Ellen, choose. That one won't do, my dear; it should have two blades, large as well as a small one. You know you want to mend a pencil sometimes.”
“So I do, mamma, to be sure, you're very right; here's a nice one. Now, mamma, the wax.” “ There is a box full; choose your own colours." Seeing
a it was likely to be a work of time, Mrs. Montgomery walked away to another part of the store. When she returned Ellen had made up an assortment of the oddest colours she could find.
“I won't have any red, mamma, it is so common,” she “I think it is the prettiest of all,” said Mrs. Montgomery.
“Do you, mamma? then I will have a stick of red on purpose to seal to
you with.” “And who do you intend shall have the benefit of the other colours ?" inquired her mother.
“I declare, mamma,” said Ellen, laughing; "I never thought of that; I am afraid they will have to go to you. You must not mind, mamma, if you get green and blue and yellow seals once in a while."
“I dare say I shall submit myself to it with a good grace," said Mrs. Montgomery. “But come, my dear, have we got all that we want? This desk has been very long in furnishing."
“ You haven't given me a seal yet, mamma.”
“ Seals! There are a variety before you; see if you can find one that you like. By the way, you cannot seal a letter, can you
"Not yet, mamma," said Ellen, smiling again; “ that is another of the things I have got to learn.'
“ Then I think you had better have some wafers in the mean time.”
While Ellen was picking out her seal, which took not a little time, Mrs. Montgomery laid in a good supply of wafers of all sorts; and then went on further to furnish the desk with an ivory leaf-cutter, a paper-folder, a pounce-box, a ruler, and a neat little silver pencil ; also, some drawing-pencils, India-rubber, and sheets of drawing paper. She took a sad pleasure in adding every thing she could think of that might be for Ellen's future use or advantage; but as with her own hands she placed in the desk one thing after another, the thought crossed her mind how Ellen would make drawings with those very pencils, on those very sheets of paper, which her eyes would never see! She turned away with a sigh, and receiving Ellen's seal from her hand, put that also in its place. Ellen had chosen one with her own name.
" Will you send these things at once?” said Mrs. Montgomery; "I particularly wish to have them at home as early in the day as possible.”
The man promised. Mrs. Montgomery paid the bill, and she and Ellen left the store.
They walked a little way in silence.
“ It is not necessary, my dear child,” said Mrs. Montgomery, returning the pressure of her hand; “I know all that you'would say.
There was as much sorrow as joy at that moment in the heart of the joyfullest of the two.
“ Where are we going now, mamma ?" said Ellen again, after a while.
“I wished and intended to have gone to St. Clair and Fleury's, to get you some merino and other things; but we have been detained so long already that I think I had better go home. I feel somewhat tired."
“I am very sorry, dear mamma," said Ellen,—“I am afraid I kept you too long about that desk.”
“ You did not keep me, daughter, any longer than I chose to be kept. But I think I will go home now, and take the chance of another fine day for the merino."