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and greatly delighted she was when the business was accomplished.
"Now, mamma, you look like yourself; I haven't seen you look so well this great while. I'm so glad you're going out again," said Ellen, putting her arms round her; "I do believe it will do you good. Now, mamma, I'll go and get ready; I'll be very quick about it; you shan't have to wait long for me."
In a few minutes the two set forth from the house. The day was as fine as could be; there was no wind, there was no dust; the sun was not oppressive; and Mrs. Montgomery did feel refreshed and strengthened during the few steps they had to take to their first stopping-place.
It was a jeweller's store. Ellen had never been in one before in her life, and her first feeling on entering was of dazzled wonderment at the glittering splendours around; this was presently forgotten in curiosity to know what her mother could possibly want there. She soon discovered that she had come to sell and not to buy. Mrs. Montgomery drew a ring from her finger, and after a little chaffering parted with it to the owner of the store for eighty dollars, being about three-quarters of its real value. The money was counted out, and she left the store.
"Mamma," said Ellen in a low voice, "wasn't that grandmamma's ring, which I thought you loved so much?" "Yes, I did love it, Ellen, but I love you better." "O, mamma, I am very sorry!" said Ellen.
"You need not be sorry, daughter. Jewels in themselves are the merest nothings to me; and as for the rest, it doesn't matter; I can remember my mother without any help from a trinket."
There were tears however in Mrs. Montgomery's eyes, that showed the sacrifice had cost her something; and there were tears in Ellen's that told it was not thrown away upon her.
"I am sorry you should know of this," continued Mrs. Montgomery; "you should not if I could have helped it. But set your heart quite at rest, Ellen; I assure you this use of my ring gives me more pleasure on the whole than any other I could have made of it."
A grateful squeeze of her hand and glance into her face was Ellen's answer.
Mrs. Montgomery had applied to her husband for the funds necessary to fit Ellen comfortably for the time they should be absent; and in answer he had given her a sum barely sufficient for her mere clothing. Mrs. Montgomery knew him better than to ask for a further supply, but she resolved to have recourse to other means to do what she had determined upon. Now that she was about to leave her little daughter, and it might be for ever, she had set her heart upon providing her with certain things which she thought important to her comfort and improvement, and which Ellen would go very long without if she did not give them to her, and now, Ellen had had very few presents in her life, and those always of the simplest and cheapest kind; her mother resolved that in the midst of the bitterness of this time she would give her one pleasure, if she could; it might be the last.
They stopped next at a bookstore. "O what a delicious smell of new books!" said Ellen, as they entered. "Mamma, if it wasn't for one thing, I should say I never was so happy in my life."
Children's books, lying in tempting confusion near the door, immediately fastened Ellen's eyes and attention. She opened one, and was already deep in the interest of it, when the word "Bibles" struck her ear. Mrs. Montgomery was desiring the shopman to show her various kinds and sizes that she might choose from among them. Down went Ellen's book, and she flew to the place, where a dozen dif ferent Bibles were presently displayed. Ellen's wits were ready to forsake her. Such beautiful Bibles she had never seen; she pored in ecstasy over their varieties of type and binding, and was very evidently in love with them all.
"Now, Ellen," said Mrs. Montgomery, "look and choose; take your time, and see which you like best."
It was not likely that Ellen's "time" would be a short one. Her mother seeing this, took a chair at a little distance to await patiently her decision; and while. Ellen's eyes were riveted on the Bibles, her own very naturally were fixed upon her. In the excitement and eagerness of the moment, Ellen had thrown off her light bonnet, and with flushed cheek and sparkling eye, and a brow grave with unusual care, as though a nation's fate were deciding,
she was weighing the comparative advantages of large, small, and middle sized ;-black, blue, purple, and red ;gilt and not gilt ;-clasp and no clasp. Every thing but the Bibles before her Ellen had forgotten utterly; she was deep in what was to her the most important of business; she did not see the bystanders smile; she did not know there were any. To her mother's eye it was a most fair sight. Mrs. Montgomery gazed with rising emotions of pleasure and pain that struggled for the mastery, but pain at last got the better and rose very high. "How can I give thee up!" was the one thought of her heart. Unable to command herself, she rose and went to a distant part of the counter, where she seemed to be examining books; but tears, some of the bitterest she had ever shed, were falling thick upon the dusty floor, and she felt her heart like to break. Her little daughter at one end of the counter had forgotten there ever was such a thing as sorrow in the world; and she at the other was bowed beneath a weight of it that was nigh to ́crush her. But in her extremity she betook herself to that refuge she had never known to fail; it did not fail her now. She remembered the words Ellen had been reading to her but that very morning, and they came like the breath of heaven upon the fever of her soul. "Not my will, but thine be done." She strove and prayed to say it, and not in vain; and after a little while she was able to return to her seat. She felt that she had been shaken by a tempest, but she was calmer now than before.
Ellen was just as she had left her, and apparently just as far from coming to any conclusion. Mrs. Montgomery was resolved to let her take her way. Presently Ellen came over from the counter with a large royal octavo Bible, heavy enough to be a good lift for her. "Mamma," said she, laying it on her mother's lap and opening it, "what do you think of that? isn't that splendid?"
"A most beautiful page indeed; is this your choice, Ellen?" Well, mamma, I don't know ;-what do you think?" "I think it is rather inconveniently large and heavy for every day use. It is quite a weight upon my lap. I shouldn't like to carry it in my hands long. You would want a little table on purpose to hold it."
Well, that wouldn't do at all," said Ellen, laughing; "I
believe you are right; mamma; I wonder I didn't think of it. I might have known that myself."
She took it back; and there followed another careful examination of the whole stock; and then Ellen came to her mother with a beautiful miniature edition in two volumes, gilt and clasped, and very perfect in all respects, but of exceeding small print.
"I think I'll have this mamma," said she; "isn't it a beauty? I could put in my pocket, you know, and carry it anywhere with the greatest ease."
"It would have one great objection to me," said Mrs. Montgomery, "inasmuch as I cannot possibly see to read it.' "Cannot you, mamma! But I can read it perfectly." "Well, my dear, take it; that is, if you will make up your mind to put on spectacles before your time."
"Spectacles, mamma! I hope I shall never wear specta
"What do you propose to do when your sight fails, if you shall live so long?"
"Well, mamma,-if it comes to that, but you don't advise me then to take this little beauty?"
"Judge for yourself; I think you are old enough."
"I know what you think though, mamma, and I dare say you are right too; I won't take it, though it's a pity. Well, I must look again."
Mrs. Montgomery came to her help, for it was plain Ellen had lost the power of judging amidst so many tempting objects. But she presently simplified the matter by putting aside all that were decidedly too large, or too small, or of too fine print. There remained three, of moderate size and sufficiently large type, but different binding. "Either of these I think will answer your purpose nicely," said Mrs. Montgomery.
Then, mamma, if you please, I will have the red one. I like that best, because it will put me in mind of yours."
Mrs. Montgomery could find no fault with this reason. She paid for the red Bible, and directed it to be sent home. "Shan't I carry it, mamma?" said Ellen.
"No, you would find it in the way; we have severa things to do yet."
"Have we, mamma? I thought we only came to get a Bible."
"That is enough for one day, I confess; I am a little afraid your head will be turned; but I must run the risk of it. I dare not lose the opportunity of this fine weather; I may not have such another. I wish to have the comfort of thinking, when I am away, that I have left you with every thing necessary to the keeping up of good habits-every thing that will make them pleasant and easy. I wish you to be always neat, and tidy, and industrious; depending upon others as little as possible; and careful to improve yourself by every means, and especially by writing to me. I will leave you no excuse, Ellen, for failing in any of these duties. I trust you will not disappoint me in a single particular."
Ellen's heart was too full to speak; she again looked up tearfully and pressed her mother's hand.
"I do not expect to be disappointed, love," returned Mrs. Montgomery.
They now entered a large fancy store. to get here, mamma?" said Ellen.
"What are we
"A box to put your pens and paper in," said her mother, smiling.
"O, to be sure," said Ellen, "I had almost forgotten that.” She quite forgot it a minute after. It was the first time she had ever seen the inside of such a store; and the articles displayed on every side completely bewitched her. From one thing to another she went, admiring and wondering; in her wildest dreams she had never imagined such beautiful *hings. The store was fairy-land.
Mrs. Montgomery meanwhile attended to business. Having chosen a neat little japanned dressing-box, perfectly plain, but well supplied with every thing a child could want in that line, she called Ellen from the delightful journey of dis covery she was making round the store, and asked her what she thought of it. "I think it's a little beauty," said Ellen; "but I never saw such a place for beautiful things."
"You think it will do then?" said her mother. "For me, mamma! You don't mean to give it me? O, mother, how good you are! But I know what is the best way to thank you, and I'll do it. What a perfect little beauty! Mamma, I'm too happy."