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How can I live without thee! how forego
mother and daughter were left, as they always loved to be, alone. It was late in the afternoon and already somewhat dark, for clouds had gathered over the beautiful sky of the morning, and the wind rising now and then, made its voice heard. Mrs. Montgomery was lying on the sofa as usual, seemingly at ease; and Ellen was sitting on a little bench before the fire, very much at her ease indeed, without any seeming about it. She smiled as she met her mother's eyes.
“You have made me very happy to-day, mamma."
“ I am glad of it, my dear child. I hoped I should. I believe the whole affair has given me as much pleasure, Ellen, as it has you. There was a pause.
Mamma, I will take the greatest possible care of my new treasures.'
“I know you will. If I had doubted it, Ellen, most assuredly I should not have given them to you, sorry as I should have been to leave you without them. So you see you have not established a character for carefulness in vain.”
“And, mamma, I hope you have not given them to me in vain either. I will try to use them in the way that I know you wish me to; that will be the best way I can thank you.
I “Well, I have left you no excuse, Ellen. You know fully what I wish you to do and to be; and when I am away I shall please myself with thinking that my little daughter is following her mother's wishes; I shall believe so, Ellen. You will not let me be disappointed ?"
“O no, mamma,” said Ellen, who was now in her mother's
“ Well, my child,” said Mrs. Montgomery, in a lighter tone, “my gifts will serve as reminders for you if you are ever tempted to forget my lessons. If you fail to send me letters, or if those you send are not what they ought to be, I think the desk will cry shame upon you. And if you ever go an hour with a hole in your stocking, or a tear in your dress, or a string off your petticoat, I hope the sight of your work-box will make you blush.”
“Why, my dear, that was one of the things you most wanted, but I thought it best not to overwhelm you quite this morning; so while you were on an exploring expedition round the store I chose and furnished one for you.
"O mamma, mamma!” said Ellen, getting up and clasping her hands; “what shall I do?
66 what shall I do? I don't know what to say; I can't say any thing. Mamma, it's too much.”
So it seemed, for Ellen sat down and began to cry. Her mother silently reached out a hand to her, which she squeezed and kissed with all the energy of gratitude, love, and sorrow; till gently drawn by the same hand she was placed again in her mother's arms and upon her bosom. And in that tried resting place she lay, calmed and quieted, till the shades of afternoon deepened into evening, and evening into night, and the light of the fire was all that was left to them.
Though not a word had been spoken for a long time Ellen was not asleep; her eyes were fixed on the red glow of the coals in the grate, and she was busily thinking, but not of them. Many sober thoughts were passing through her little head, and stirring her heart; a few were of her new possessions and bright projects—more of her mother. thinking how very, very precious was the heart she could feel beating where her cheek lay-she thought it was greater happiness to lie there than any thing else in life could beshe thought she had rather even die so, on her mother's breast, than live long without her in the world—she felt that in earth or in heaven there was nothing so dear. Sud. denly she broke the silence.
Mamma, what does that mean, 'He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me?'”
“It means just what it says. If you love any body or any thing better than Jesus Christ, you cannot be one of his children."
“But then, mamma,” said Ellen, raising her head ; “how can I be one of his children? I do love you a great deal better;
how can I belp it, mamma ?'' “ You cannot help it, I know, my dear,” said Mrs Montgomery, with a sigh, "except by His grace who has promised to change the hearts of his people—to take away the heart of stone and give them a heart of Aesh.”
“But is mine a heart of stone then, mamma, because I cannot help loving you best ?"
“ Not to me, dear Ellen,” replied Mrs. Montgomery, pressing closer the little form that lay in her arms;
21 have never found it so. But yet I know that the Lord Jesus is far, far more worthy of your affection than I am, and if your heart were not hardened by sin you would see him it is only because you do not know him that you love me better. Pray, pray, my dear child, that he would take away the power of sin, and show you himself; that is all that is wanting.'
“I will, mamma," said Ellen, tearfully. "O, mamma, what shall I do without you?"
Alas, Mrs. Montgomery's heart echoed the question ; she had no answer.
“Mamma," said Ellen, after a few minutes, I have no true love to him at all unless I love him best?”
“) dare not say that you can," answered her mother, seriously.
“Mamma," said Ellen, after a little, again raising her head and looking her mother full in the face, as if willing to apply the severest test to this hard doctrine, and speaking with an indescribable expression, “ do you love him better than you do me?"
She knew her mother loved the Saviour, but she thought it scarcely possible that herself could have but the second place in her heart; she ventured a bold question to prove whether her mother's practice would not contradict her theory.
But Mrs. Montgomery answered steadily, “I do, my daughter;" and with a gush of tears Ellen sunk her head again upon her bosom. She had no more to say; her mouth was stopped for ever as to the right of the matter, though she still thought it an impossible duty in her own particular
“I do indeed, my daughter," repeated Mrs. Montgomery; " that does not make my love to you the less, but the more, Ellen.”
“O mamma, mamma,” said Ellen, clinging to her, “I wish you would teach me! I have only you, and I am going
I to lose you. What shall I do, mamma ?"
With a voice that strove to be calm Mrs. Montgomery answered, “I love them that love me, and they that seek me early shall find me.'” And after a minute or two she added. “He who says this, has promised too that he will 'gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his
The words fell soothingly on Ellen's ear, and the slight tremour in the voice reminded her also that her mother must not be agitated. She checked herself instantly, and soon lay as before, quiet and still on her mother's bosom, with her eyes fixed on the fire; and Mrs. Montgomery did not know that when she now and then pressed a kiss upon the forehead that lay so near her lips, it every time brought the water to Ellen's eyes and a throb to her heart. But after some half or three-quarters of an hour had passed away, a sudden knock at the door found both mother and daughter asleep; it had to be repeated once or twice before the knocker could gain attention.
“What is that, mamma?” said Ellen, starting up. “Somebody at the door. Open it quickly, love.
Ellen did so, and found a man standing there, with his arms rather full of sundry packages.
“O, mamma, my things !" cried Ellen, clapping her hands; “here they are!"
The man placed his burden on the table, and withdrew.
“O, mamma, I am so glad they are come! Now if I only had a light—this is my desk, I know, for it's the largest ; and I think this is my dressing-box, as well as I can tell by feeling-yes, it is, here's the handle on top; and this is my
dear work-box—not so big as the desk, nor so little as the dressing-box. O, mamma, mayn't I ring for a light ?"
There was no need, for a servant just then entered, bringing the wished-for candles, and the not-wished for tea. Ellen was capering about in the most fantastic style, but suddenly stopped short at sight of the tea-things, and looked very grave. Well, mamma, I'll tell you what I'll do," she said after a pause of consideration; “I'll make the tea the first thing, before I untie a single knot; won't that be best mamma? Because I know if I once begin to look, I shan't want to stop. Don't you think that is wise, mamma ?"
But alas! the fire had got very low; there was no making the tea quickly; and the toast was a work of time. And when all was over at length, it was then too late for Ellen to begin to undo packages. She struggled with impatience a minute or two, and then gave up the point very gracefully, and went to bed. She had a fine opportunity the next day to make
for the evening's disappointment. It was cloudy and stormy; going out was not to be thought of, and it was very unlikely that any body would come in. Ellen joyfully allotted the whole morning to the examination and trial of her new possessions; and as soon as breakfast was over and the room clear she set about it. She first went through the desk and every thing in it, making a running commentary on the excellence, fitness, and beauty of all it contained; then the dressing-box received a share, but a much smaller share, of attention; and lastly, with fingers trembling with eagerness she untied the packthread that was wound round the work-box, and slowly took off cover after cover; she almost screamed when the last was removed. The box was of satin-wood, beautifully finished, and lined with crimson silk; and Mrs. Montgomery had taken good care it should want nothing that Ellen might need to keep her clothes in perfect order.
“O, mamma, how beautiful! O, mamma, how good you are! Mamma, I promise you I'll never be a slattern. Here is more cotton than I can use up in a great while-every number, I do think; and needles, oh, the needles! what a parcel of them! and, mamma! what a lovely scissors! did you choose it, mamma, or did it belong to the box ?"