Page images
PDF
EPUB

CHAPTER XIII.

It's hardly in a body's pow'r,
To keep at times' frae being sour.

BURXE.

BEFORE

you ?"

EFORE the sun was up the next morning, Mrs. Van

Brunt came into Ellen's room and aroused her. “It's a real shame to wake you up,” she said, “ when you were sleeping so finely; but 'Brahm wants to be off to. his work, and won't stay for breakfast. Slept sound, did

“O yes, indeed; as sound as a top," said Ellen, rubbing her eyes ;—“I am hardly awake yet."

“1 declare it's too bad,” said Mrs. Van Brunt, “but there's no help for it. You don't feel no headache, do you, nor pain in

your

bones ?” “No, ma'am, not a bit of it;

I feel nicely.” “Ah! well,” said Mrs. Van Brunt, “ then your tumble into the brook didn't do you any mischief; I thought it wouldn't. Poor little soul !"

“I am very glad I did fall in,” said Ellen, “for if I hadn't I shouldn't have come here, Mrs. Van Brunt."

The old lady instantly kissed her.

"0! mayn't I just take one look at the kitties ?” said Ellen, when she was ready to go.

“Indeed you shall,” said Mrs. Van Brunt, “if 'Brahm's hurry was ever so much;—and it ain't, besides. Come here, dear.”

She took Ellen back to a waste lumber-room, where in a corner, on some old pieces of carpet, lay pussy and her family. How fondly Ellen's hand was passed over each little soft back! how hard it was for her to leave them!

“Wouldn't you like to take one home with you, dear ?" said Mrs. Van Brunt, at length.

[ocr errors]

“O! may I?” said Ellen, looking up in delight; “ are you in earnest ? O, thank you, dear Mrs. Van Brunt ! I shall be so glad!"

“Well, choose one then, dear, choose the one you like best, and 'Brahm shall carry it for you."

The choice was made, and Mrs. Van Brunt and Ellen returned to the kitchen, where Mr. Van Brunt had already been waiting some time. He shook his head when he saw what was in the basket his mother handed to him.

That won't do,” said he; “ I can't go that, mother. I'll undertake to see Miss Ellen safe home, but the cat ’ud be more than I could manage. I think I'd hardly get off with a whole skin 'tween the one and t'other."

“ Well, now !” said Mrs. Van Brunt.

Ellen gave a longing look at her little black-and-white favourite, which was uneasily endeavouring to find out the height of the basket, and mewing at the same time with a most ungratified expression. However, though sadly dis

. appointed, she submitted with a very good grace to what could not be helped. First setting down the little cat out of the basket it seemed to like so ill, and giving it one farewell pat and squeeze, she turned to the kind old lady who stood watching her, and throwing her arms around her neck, silently spoke her gratitude in a hearty hug and kiss.

Good-by, ma'am,” said she; “I may come and see them some time again, and see you, mayn't I ?"

“ Indeed you shall, my darling," said the old woman, "just as often as you like;-just as often as you can get away. I'll make 'Brahm bring you home sometimes. 'Brahm, you'll bring her, won't you ?"

“There's two words to that bargain, mother, I can tell you; but if I don't, I'll know the reason on't."

And away they went. Ellen drew two or three sighs at: first, but she could not help brightening up soon. It was early-not sunrise; the cool freshness of the air was

; enough to give one new life and spirit; the sky was fair and bright; and Mr. Van Brunt marched along at a quick pace. Enlivened by the exercise, Ellen speedily forgot every thing disagreeable; and her little head was filled with pleasant things. She watched where the silver light in the east foretold the sun's coming. She watched the sil.

66

[ocr errors]

66 He

ver change to gold, till a rich yellow tint was flung over the whole landscape; and then broke the first rays of light upon the tops of the western hills,—the sun was up. It was a new sight to Ellen.

“How beautiful! O, how beautiful!" är myciamed.

“Yes,” said Mr. Van Brunt, in his wow way, “it'll be a fine day for the field. I guess I'll go with the oxen over to that 'ere big meadow.”.

“ Just look," said Ellen, “How the light comes creeping down the side of the mountain,-now it has got to the wood,-0, do look at the tops of the trees! O! I wish mamma was here."

Mr. Van Brunt didn't know what to say to this. He rather wished so too, for her sake.

“There,” said Ellen, “now the sunshine is on the fence, and the road, and every thing. I wonder what is the reason that the sun shines first upon the top of the mountain, and then comes so slowly down the side; why don't it shine on the whole at once ?"

Mr. Van Brunt shook his head in ignorance. guessed it always did so," he said.

“Yes,” said Ellen, "I suppose it does, but that's the very thing, - I want to know the reason why. And I noticed just now, it shone in my face before it touched my hands. Isn't it queer ?"

“Humph!—there's a great many queer things, if you come to that,” said Mr. Brunt, philosophically.

But Ellen's head ran on from one thing to another, and her next question was not so wide of the subject as her companion might have thought.

“ Mr. Van Brunt, are there any schools about here ?"

“Schools ?” said the person addressed, "yes—there's plenty of schools."

“Good ones ?” said Ellen.

“Well, I don't exactly know about that; there's Captain Conklin's, that had ought to be a good 'un; he's a regular smart man, they say.”

" Whereabouts is that ?" said Ellen.
“His school ? it's a mile or so the other side of

my house."

“And how far is it from your house to aunt Fortune's ?''

2

“A good eal better than two mile, but we'll be there before long. You ain't tired, be you ?"

No," said Ellen. But this reminder gave a new turn to her thoughts, and her spirits were suddenly checked. Her former brisk and springing step changed to so slow and ugging a one, that Mr. Van Brunt more than once repeated s remark that he saw she was tired.

If it was that, Ellen grew tired very fast; she lagged more and more as they neared the house, and at last quite fell behind, and allowed Mr. Van Brunt to go in first.

Miss Fortune was busy about the breakfast, and as Mr. Van Brunt afterwards described it, “looking as if she could have bitten off a tenpenny nail,” and indeed as if the operation would have been rather gratifying than otherwise. She

gave them no notice at first, bustling to and fro with great energy, but all of a sudden she brought up directly in front of Ellen, and said.

“Why didn't you come home last night ?"
The words were jerked out rather than spoken.

“I got wet in the brook,” said Ellen, “and Mrs. Van Brunt was so kind as to keep me.'

“Which way did you go out of the house yesterday ?" “ Through the front door ?6. The front door was locked.” "I unlocked it." “What did you go out that way for ?" "I didn't want to come this way.' “Why not?" Ellen hesitated.

“Why not?" demanded Miss Fortune still more emphatically than before.

"I didn't want to see you, ma'am,” said Ellen flushing.

“If ever you do so again !" said Miss Fortune in a kind of cold fury; “I've a great mind to whip you for this, as ever I had to eat."

The flush faded on Ellen's cheek, and a shiver visibly passed over her-not from fear. She stood with downcast eyes and compressed lips, a certain instinct of childish dig. nity warning her to be silent. Mr. Van Brunt put himself in between.

“Come, come !” said he, “this is getting to be too much of a good thing. · Beat your cream, ma'am, as much as you like, or if you want to try your hand on something else you'll have to take me first, I promise you.'

“Now don't you meddle, Van Brunt,” said the lady sharply, "with what ain't no business o' yourn."

. “I don't know about that,” said Mr. Van Brunt,

,“maybe it is my business; but meddle or no meddle, Miss Fortune; it is time for me to be in the field; and if you ha'n't no better breakfast for Miss Ellen and me than all this here, we'll just go right away hum again; but there's something in your kettle there that smells uncommonly nice, and wish you'd just let us have it and no more words.”

No more words did Miss Fortune waste on any one that morning. She went on with her work and dished

up

the breakfast in silence, and with a face that Ellen did not quite understand; only she thought she had never in her life seen

; one so disagreeable. The meal was a very solemn and uncomfortable one. Ellen could scarcely swallow, and her aunt was near in the same condition." Mr. Van Brunt and the old lady alone despatched their breakfast as usual; with no other attempts at conversation than the common mumbling on the part of the latter, which nobody minded, and one or two strange grunts from the former, the meaning of which, if they had any, nobody tried to find out.

There was a breach now between Ellen and her aunt that neither could make any effort to mend. Miss Fortune did not renew the disagreeable conversation that Mr. Van Brunt had broken off; she left Ellen entirely to herself, scarcely speaking to her, or seeming to know when she went out or came in. And this lasted day after day. Wearily they passed. After one or two, Mr. Van Brunt seemed to stand just where he did before in Miss Fortune's good graces ;-but not Ellen. To her, when others were not by, her face wore constantly something of the same cold, hard, disagreeable expression it had put on after Mr. Van Brunt's interference, –a look that Ellen came to regard with absolute abhorrence. She kept away by herself as much as she could; but she did not know what to do with her time, and for want of something better often spent it in tears. She went to bed cheerless night after night, and arose spiritless morning after morning; and this lasted till Mr. Van Brunt more than once told his mother

« PreviousContinue »