Page images

enjoyed the privilege of a view of the steeple of the parish church, and the dial plate of the great public time piece ; whilst the parlour on the other side of the inner wall of the house had three narrow casement windows in a line commanding a view of the street, having each their deep window seats, and curtains of old needle-work on iron rods. This parlour was also hung with what is called a velvet paper, displaying immense scarlet and yellow flowers. Over the chimney piece, which was curiously carved, was a family picture in rude oil painting, and a variety of old fashioned figures in Dresden china. The chief, and indeed the only real ornaments of the room were two ancient Indian cabinets; some of the contents of which consisting of old knicknacks, miniature pictures, and china toys in ivory, were regularly displayed to us on occasion of


visit. There was in one corner of the room a blue cupboard filled with china, the tea cups being scarcely larger than a good sized table spoon, and two ancient figures of Mandarins standing in the most conspicuous place; which in my young imagination added much to the interest of that cupboard. Such were the various wonders of that parlour, and I can still in imagination see the two old ladies in their high head dresses, their long ruffles, their hooped petticoats and large flowered chintzes seated on each side of the fire place, whilst their maid Betty attended on them in her light mob cap, her high heeled shoes, her long waist and short petticoats, looking only a few years younger than her mistresses.

There was no place to which we were invited from school where we loved so much to go, as to see these old ladies, and I have often wondered at the various little contrivances which they employed to please and to amuse us. It was sweet to see in them the example of old age accommodating itself so kindly to the tastes and pleasures

of childhood, and their hospitality was the more admirable since they were well known to have very slender fortunes. I was at Mrs. Tristram's school for several years, having no mother living; and when I was about six, I was invited to spend one entire Christmas holidays with the old ladies. Girls at six are great observers, and it was at that time that I first distinguished a decided difference in the characters of the sisters.

These two old ladies were sincerely attached to each other, and had never been separated through life. Never. theless they had, I found, very different modes of thinking upon some subjects; and these different opinions often gave rise to certain little arguments, in which I always thought Mrs. Clary wrong, and Mrs. Grace right. The first of these arguments which I heard, was respecting a piece of lace which Mrs. Grace had been purchasing in the morning, and which she produced after dinner, requesting her sister's opinion. " It is cheap and it is pretty," said Mrs. Clary, after she had looked at it and enquired the price.

“ It is for a cap sister Clary,” answered Mrs. Grace, “ and as you want a new cap, I hope that you will be tempted to buy some for yourself.”

“ Nay sister," returned Mrs. Clary, “ I can do well without it."

6. That is what you always say,” retorted Mrs. Grace,

you have such notions of economy, you are always thinking how you can save, and you deny yourself even what I should call common necessaries.”

“ No sister,” replied the other, “ not common necessaries--you will not say that my clothes are not always whole, and clean, and respectable."

6. Yes, but you are seen in the same bonnet and ribbon, and lace year after year," answered Mrs.Grace,“ till your friends are tired of looking at them; and really I think you carry

this matter too far."


Mrs. Clary, I observed, dropped the subject, which had been thus introduced, as speedily as possible ; but after this, I heard many hints to the same effect from Mrs. Grace, and from that time I began to observe many little instances in which I thought I could see covetousness in Mrs. Clary, especially in such things

more especially belonged to her own dress, &c. Young people in general are very rash in forming judgments, and seldom very cautious in keeping their opinions to themselves. Accordingly, one day, after one of these little disputes, being left with Mrs. Grace, I ventured to say, "I wish Mrs. Clary would take your advice, dear Mrs. Grace, you would be much happier if she would, I am sure.'' “ Very true, my dear," replied Mrs. Grace," it is certain that we are not very rich, but that is no reason wherefore we should be actually shabby in our dress. A few shillings more or less in a year

could not make much difference. I know my sister means well, and that indeed there is not a better woman on earth; but by these little shabby savings of a shilling here and a shilling there, she lowers herself and me also. What can they all come to in a year? and what end can be answered by wearing a bonnet or a gown two years instead of one, or using a lawn border to a cap instead of a lace one.

However, I am very much to blame, I know, to be always disputing and arguing these subjects with her. She must take her way and I must take mine; and as I before said, she is a very good woman notwithstanding her little singularities."

Mrs. Grace had used no arguments to convince me that she was right and her sister wrong; and yet I was convinced, because young people are ever inclined to adopt those opinions which tend to self indulgence; and from that time I was always ready to uphold Mrs. Grace, though, I trust not in a very unbecoming manner,

whenever any expence was to be urged upon Mrs. Clary. Some time after these holidays, I was invited by the old ladies to spend a day with them, and Mrs. Grace being unwell, Mrs. Clary took me out to walk with her in the fields. Whilst we were there together, she began to speak to me more seriously than she had ever done before, and taking occasion from the time of the year, which was spring, she pointed out to me how the four seasons were natural types of the ages of man, to wit-infancy, ripe manhood, decline, and old age. With you, my dear, it is spring, she said, and with me it is winter. A speedy change with me is inevitable; it would therefore be mad. ness in me not to seek that preparation which only can make death easy, nay, even desirable; and inasmuch as the fairest plants are sometimes cut off in the early prime, it becomes you also, my beloved child, even now so to begin to number your days and to apply your heart unto wisdom.

She then directed my attention to that solid faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, wbich alone can ensure to sinful man that peace at the last, without which the agonies of death must be altogether insupportable. She was proceeding in this way, in a most interesting manner, having succeeded in fixing my attention, when, suddenly coming to a stile, which was half hid by thick trees, we saw a very pleasing youth of about my own age sitting upon it, reading with great seriousness. Mrs. Clary rather started and changed colour, when she first saw the youth; and he no sooner looked


than he arose in haste, came forward to meet us, and spoke to the old lady as one would do to the friend most valued on earth. I observed, that in answer to his enquiries, she spoke affectionately to him, expressed surprise at seeing him where he was, and enquired the cause of his being there.

In reply, he said something about a holiday, and having had leave to spend it where he pleased ; and I then saw her put her hand into her pocket, and slip something into the youth's palm, after which we passed on.

I had time to observe the countenance of the boy, which was remarkably pleasing; and to notice his dress, which, though very clean and neatly made, was of ordinary materials. However, as when we had parted from him, Mrs. Clary made no remarks respecting him, it was not my business to say any thing, and yet I could not help feeling so much curiosity about him, that I failed not, when left alone that evening with Mrs. Grace, to mention him to her, and to tell how we had met him, and how glad her sister had been to see him, with other circumstances relative to the meeting. She expressed some surprise at this youth being where we had found him, and told

me, that he was the orphan son of a relation; that his father had been a very ungrateful and bad character; that he was called William Fitzgerald, and that she believed he was at school somewhere in the neighbourbood, adding at the same time, that as it was not in her power to do much for him, she never enquired about him lest she should raise his expectations.

I asked her who maintained him at school. plied that she did not know, having the reason abovementioned for not enquiring after him.

When I had heard all this, I thought no more of William Fitzgerald or his affairs; indeed I had forgotten that I had ever seen such a person.

Soon after that I left school, and was absent from that town for several years. At length I returned to it again to pay a visit to my old governess, Mrs. Tristram, and the first enquiries I made, were after the two honoured sisters.

Mrs. Tristram informed me, that Mrs. Grace was still living, but that Mrs. Clary, was no more; that her beloved

She re

« PreviousContinue »