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I shall instruct her myself, she shall attend me every day in our dressingroom and I shall be her teacher; I am resolved that she shall have a good education.” “I desire: that mine may have a good education too, Louisa," replied Margaret, "and therefore I shall hope to call often upon her at school, and examine her progress, and explain the Bible to her, but I do not mean to have her here."
“And why not,” replied Louisa. “ I suspect that you are proud, Margaret, and that you despise these little children because they are of low birth, and their mother died in a barn."
“No Louisa," answered Margaret, “I am sure that you do not seriously suspect me of any such wretched feelings. God forbid I could entertain any such--but I remember having read in some book, I do not exactly know what, the definition of a good education, and what I then read, made a very deep impression on my mind."
“Definition," repeated Louisa, “what a hard word! Surely Margaret, you must be getting very wise indeed, to be able to use such words as these in their proper places. I suppose I shall next hear the words metaphysics, and mathematics, proceeding from your mouth; but pray
inform me what was this fine definition of a good education, which has made such an impression on your mind ?” “ It is a very short one," replied Margaret, 66 otherwise I doubt that I should not have remembered it so well. A good education is that which best fits the individual for that state of life in which he hereafter be placed,"
“ And pray," returned Louisa “how do you know what situation in life a child may be born to occupy-are you a prophetess, sister ?” “No," answered. Margaret, “ I pretend to no supernatural fore-knowledge, but I can reason and calculate, and cannot suppose that a poor orphan of low birth, is likely ever to become a lady. I therefore,
presume to think, that an education which would give her the tastes and feelings of a lady, would not be good for her.” “But suppose," replied Louisa, “ that I choose to make a lady of her: it does not always answer for sisters who wish to live on friendly terms, to carry on an argument further than a certain point.” Margaret saw that Louisa was not in a mood to be persuaded, she therefore dropped the subject, resolving to follow her own judgment, or rather I should say the divine counsels, (for this excellent young lady, daily sought her God in earnest prayer,) with respect to her own adopted child, and humbly to wait until more wisdom was vouchsafed from on high to her beloved sister.
After the conversation above related, many weeks passed, during which, the two sisters pursued their own plans, respecting their adopted children, without discussing their respective opinions any further. In the mean. time Rose daily attended the dame's school in the village, and Margaret visited her almost as often, either at the widow's or at school. Being therefore, thus encouraged, and made to earn all she possessed, except bare necessaries, by her needle-work, and the assistance she was able to give Mrs. Nash, in her household, the child had no time for idleness, or for indulging the love of talking, so natural to the female sex. Wholesome food, cleanliness, neatness, and comfortable rest, had so improved her appearance, that there was scarce a child in the village more fresh and fair than little Rose, and it was sweet to see how her eyes sparkled, and her cheeks glowed when she saw her dear. lady coming, although that lady never encouraged her to pass that boundary of respect, which ought ever to exist between an elder and a younger, an inferior and a superior. Margaret also had reason to hope that the child had by the divine blessing, already acquired some knowledge of holy things; for this pious young lady well knew that the outline of the education of an immortal creature, must be incomplete indeed, unless it extends its views to that state of being which is invisible and eternal.
But whilst Rose was thus growing in favour with God and man, under the judicious treatment of Margaret, little Catharine was becoming a petted and wayward fine lady, under that of Louisa : being admitted every morning into the young ladies' dressing-room, and there sometimes regaled with such dainties as she never saw in the cottage where she lodged; she became uneasy when ever she was not at the great house, as she called it, and very troublesome when there: national vivacity teaching her to take all sorts of liberties and to make all sorts of demands, so that at one moment she would be laughing and screaming, and taking every thing in her hands which she was able to reach, and again pouting and fretting and looking sulky. Still, however, there was so much warmth of affection in her manner towards her benefactresses, that even Margaret could not but love her, notwithstanding her capricious ways. In the meantime her boasted education went on slowly: Louisa had great difficulty in making her learn her letters, or use her needle, and indeed, there were so many new things to be seen and heard in the dressing room, that the child's attention was continually distracted, and the little creature seemed herself to be almost perplexed by the marvellous change in her situation; a state of perplexity which was continually kept up by her daily transit to and from the cottage to the mansion house. Still, however, Louisa was so much attached to the little smiling, though capricious orphan, that she betrayed no inclination to alter her system respecting her.
Things were in this state, when towards the end of the spring a lady who resided in the neighbourhood and had
been an intimate friend of the mother of these young ladies, sent to request the company of one of the sisters for a few days.
A family consultation having taken place, it was agreed that Louisa should accept the invitation, and as the lady had sent her carriage to bring back her young friend, Louisa was in such a bustle to get every thing ready for her excursion, that she had only time to say to Margaret, as she stepped into the carriage. “I am sure dear sister, you will take care of Catharine whilst I am away."
“Certainly,” replied Margaret, and she resolved accordingly, to do as nearly for the little girl as she thought her sister would have done, had she remained at home.
Louisa expected to have returned in three days, but at the end of that time, a servant arrived on horseback with a note from the young lady, begging her sister to intercede with their papa, for a further leave of absence. This note ended as follows: “ Love to my little Catharine. I am sure she is in good hands-I know you will be kind to her, dear Margaret."
At the end of a few more days, the same messenger appeared again with another letter. This letter contained another application to papa, and one of a more serious nature. It seems that the lady with whom Louisa wasproposed a short excursion to a watering place in Wales, and wished to take Louisa with her. The purport of the letter, was to request the father's acquiescence in this arrangement, and it finished as the former one had done by commending little Catharine to the care of Margaret.
The messenger was shortly despatched with an answer to this letter, containing all that Louisa desired. The father having given his consent to the excursion, and Margaret having promised to continue the care of the little girl, although she could not help feeling some inward dissatisfaction at the thoughtless manner in which Louisa made her contribute her labour to a plan which she utterly disapproved. She, however, determined that she would not expostulate with Louisa, but await till she should by the divine blessing, be brought to see the inconsistency of her conduct.
It is possible that Margaret might carry her delicacy towards her sister, in this instanee too far, and indeed it appeared that she did so, as we shall find in the sequel.
Louisa was absent during the whole of the months of June and July; and Margaret continued so to divide her attentions between her various duties of family management, care of the two children, and attention to her father, that she got on very well till the beginning of August, (the time appointed for her sister's return,) at which period she was seized with a sort of slow fever.
She at first attributed her uneasy feelings to the excessive heat, and therefore did not complain, but continued to exert herself during a few more days; till at length being worn down with illness, she was compelled to call for advice.
The family physician was sent for, and the tender father heard with terror, that his beloved daughter was so unwell. Louisa was expected that very day, and she entered the house at the instant the physician was about to leave it.
She was startled at seeing him, and stopped him to learn what was the matter. “Your sister is ill!" he said, “ she has been exerting herself too much during this very hot weather: you are just come in time to nurse her, and take some of her duties on yourself. She must be left in perfect repose this hot season, and I trust that a few weeks will restore her to health."
Louisa burst into tears on hearing what the physician said, and was running all agitation into her sister's chamber, when she was met by her father and taken apart