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where Margery does all her rough work; nothing comes up the steps that lead from that to this but the very nicest and daintiest of kitchen matters. Margery, is my father gone to Thirlwall ?”
No, Miss Alice—he's at Carra-carra—Thomas heard him say he wouldn't be back early."
“ Well, I shall not wait for him. Margery, if you will put the kettle on and see to the fire, I'll make some of my
cakes for tea.”
“ I'll do it, Miss Alice; it's not good for you to go so long without eating."
Alice now rolled up her sleeves above the elbows, and tying a large white apron before her, set about gathering the different things she wanted for her work,—to Ellen's great amusement. A white moulding-board was placed upon a table as white; and round it soon grouped the pail of flour. the plate of nice yellow butter, the bowl of cream, the sieve, tray, and sundry etceteras. And then, first sifting some flour into the tray, Alice began to throw in the other things one after another and toss the whole about with a carelessness that looked as if all would go wrong, but with a confidence that seemed to say all was going right. Ellen gazed in comical wonderment.
“Did you think cakes were made without hands ?” said Alice, laughing at her look. “You saw me wash mine before I began."
“O I'm not thinking of that,” said Ellen; “I am not afraid of your hands."
“ Did you never see your mother do this?” said Alice, who was now turning and rolling about the dough upon the board in a way that seemed to Ellen curious beyond expression.
“No, never,” she said. “ Mamma never kept house, and I never saw any body do it.”
Then your aunt does not let you into the mysteries of bread and butter making!"
“ Butter-making! Oh," said Ellen with a sigh, “I have enough of that!”
Alice now applied a smooth wooden roller to the cake, with such quickness and skill that the lump forthwith lay spread upon the board in a thin even layer, and she next cut
it into little round cakes with the edge of a tumbler. Half the board was covered with the nice little white things, which Ellen declared looked good enough to eat already, and she had quite forgotten all possible causes of vexation, past, present, or future, -when suddenly.a large grey cat jumped upon the table, and coolly walking upon the moulding-board planted his paw directly in the middle of one of his mistress's cakes.
“Take him off–O Ellerr!” cried Alice,—“ take him off! I can't touch him.”
But Ellen was a little afraid.
Alice then gently tried to shove puss off with her elbow; but he seemed to think that was very good fun,-purred, whisked his great tail over Alice's bare arm, and rubbed his head against it, having evidently no notion that he was not just where he ought to be. •Alice and Ellen were too much amused to try any violent method of relief, but Mar. gery happily coming in seized puss in both hands and set him on the floor.
“Just look at the print of his paw in that cake," said Ellen.
“He has set his mark on it certainly. I think it is his now, by the right of possession if not the right of discovery."
“I think he discovered the cakes too,” said Ellen laughing. “Why, yes. He shall have that one baked for his supper. " Does he like cakes ?”
“Indeed he does. He is very particular and delicate about his eating, is Captain Parry.
Captain Parry!" said Ellen,—“is that his name?” “ Yes,” said Alice laughing; • I don't wonder you look astonished, Ellen. I have had that cat five years, and when he was first given me by my brother Jack, who was younger then than he is now, and had been reading Captain Parry's Voyages, gave him that name and would have him called so. Oh, Jack !"_said Alice, half laughing and half crying.
Ellen wondered why. But she went to wash her hands, and when her face was again turned to Ellen. it was unruffled
“Margery, my cakes are ready,” said she, “and Ellen and I are ready too.
“Very well, Miss Alice—the kettle is just going to boil; you shall have tea in a trice. I'll do some eggs for you.”
Something--any thing”—said Alice; “I feel one cannot live without eating. Come, Ellen, you and I will go and set the tea-table."
Ellen was very happy arranging the cups and saucers and other things that Alice handed her from the cupboard ; and when a few minutes after the tea and the cakes came in, and she and Alice were cosily seated at supper, poor Ellen hardly knew herself in such a pleasant state of things.
The very sooth of it is, that an ill-habit has the force of an ill-fate.
“ELLEN, dear," said Alice as she poured out Ellen's
“run through the list of
your troubles ?
“O no, Miss Alice, indeed we haven't; but we have got through the worst."
“ Is the next one so bad it would spoil our supper ?"
“No," said Ellen, “it couldn't do that, but it's bad enough though; it's about my not going to school. Miss Alice, I promised myself I would learn so much while mamma was away, and surprise her when she came back, and instead of that I am not learning any thing. I don't mean not learning any thing,” said Ellen correcting herself;“ but I can't do much. When I found aunt Fortune wasn't going to send me to school I determined I would try to study by myself; and I have tried; but I can't get along."
“ Well now don't lay down your knife and fork and look so doleful,” said Alice smiling; “this is a matter I can help you in. What are you studying ?".
“Some things I can manage well enough,” said Ellen, “ the easy things; but I cannot understand my arithmetió without some one to explain it to me, and French I can do nothing at all with, and that is what I wanted to learn most of all; and often I want to ask questions about my history.”
“Suppose,” said Alice,"you go on studying by yourself as much and as well as you can, and bring your books up to me two or three times a week; I will hear and explain and answer questions to your heart's content, unless you should be too hard for me. What do you say to that ?"
Ellen said nothing to it, but the colour that rushed to her cheeks,-the surprised look of delight,—were answer enough.
“It will do then,” said Alice; " and I have no doubt we shall untie the knot of those arithmetical problems very soon. But, Ellen, my dear, I cannot help you in French, for I do not know it myself? What will you do about that ?"
“I don't know, ma'am; I am sorry.
“So am I, for your sake. I can help you in Latin, if that would be any comfort to you.”
“ It wouldn't be much comfort to me,” said Ellen, laughing; "mamma wanted me to learn Latin, but I wanted to learn French a great deal more; I don't care about Latin, except to please her.”
“ Permit me to ask if you know English ?" "O yes, ma'am, I hope so; I knew that a great while
““ Did you? I am very happy to make your acquaintance then, for the number of young ladies who do know English is in my opinion remarkably small. Are you sure of the fact, Ellen ?"
Miss Alice.” “Will you undertake to write me a note of two pages that shall not have one fault of grammar, nor one word spelt wrong, nor any thing in it that is not good English? You may take for a subject the history of this afternoon.”
“Yes, ma'am, if you wish it. I hope I can write å note that long without making mistakes.”
“I will not stop to inquire,” she said, " whether that long is Latin or French; but Ellen, my dear, it is not English."
Ellen blushed a little, though she laughed too.
“I believe I have got into the way of saying that by hearing aunt Fortune and Mr. Van Brunt say it; I don't think I ever did before I came here."
" What are you so anxious to learn French for ?”
“Mamma knows it, and I have often heard her talk French with a great many people; and рара
and I always wanted to be able to talk it too; and mamma wanted me to learn it; she said there were a great many French books I ought to read.”
“That last is true, no doubt. Ellen, I will make a bargain with you,-if you will study English with me, I will study French with you."