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“ But I must go, Mrs. Lascelles,” interrupted Ellen; “ mamma is ill, I know, and I must go to her.”
While she had been talking thus in the quiet corner to which they had retreated, inquiries had been going on among the rest of the company for Miss Long. A messenger had been sent from her home desiring that she would return without delay. The news reached Ellen at last, and scarcely waiting for her cloak to be thrown on, she flew to the carriage which was awaiting her, and was rapidly driven home.
“ Thank God you are in time !" was the first exclamation that greeted her as she entered her mamma's room. It was the doctor that spoke, and making a sign for Ellen to subdue her feelings, he led her forward to the bed.
Pale, speechless, and apparently lifeless, Mrs. Long lay with closed eyes.
Would they never open again ? was Ellen's involuntary thought, and she shivered with a sickening fear, as she recalled the last stedfast gaze they had fixed upon
her. “Doctor, what is it?" she said at length in a hoarse whisper.
The doctor put his finger to his lips. “Hush !” he said, “she may rally a little before the end if she is not disturbed.”
“ The end !” gasped Ellen, with dilating eyes.
The doctor led her from the room. “My dear young lady,” he said, “it is absolutely necessary that you should be quiet now. You must remember that your mamma has been ill some time; and as I have told you her death might be expected at almost any moment, we cannot feel greatly surprised at it, although it is so sudden."
“Is there no hope ?" asked Ellen, with a violent shudder mastering her feelings, and speaking as calmly as she could.
The doctor shook his head. “ She is sinking fast," he said ; “ it must have been going on slowly all day.”
What a dagger these words were to Ellen! Her mother slowly dying before her eyes and she did not know it, and refused to stay by her in her last hours. They entered the room again ; Ellen in her rustling dress and flashing jewels—for there was no time to take them off-overy moment was precious, for each breath that the invalid drew might be the last, and so Ellen sat down as she was to watch
for the slightest sign of returning consciousnessthe first faint quivering of the eyelids—the least movement of the white drawn lips. It came at last, after they had been watching nearly an hour. The eyelids slowly unclosed, and a loving smile of recognition parted the white lips as her
Ellen. There was a slight movement, and Ellen bent over to catch the whispered words and kiss the marble brow.
* God-bless-my-darling !" came faintly forth, and the words were sealed with a kiss—the last words, the last kiss ; for as Ellen returned it, there was a faint fluttering, and her mother was gone.
To describe her grief would be impossible. For some time the servants did not venture to speak to their imperious young mistress; but after some hours a letter was placed in her hands, which she found had occupied her mother the whole evening, previous to her fatal attack, and had doubtless contributed to hasten it. It was full of loving counsels and directions; for Mrs. Long, in spite of the injudicious way in which she had brought up her daughter, was a Christian woman, and perhaps in those last hours saw more clearly than she had ever seen before how injurious her training had been to Ellen's character. Perhaps some thought that her own death might prove a salutary trial to Ellen was upon her mind; for after begging that she would not grieve too deeply for her loss, she concluded with the words, “ Blessed are they that mourn : for they shall be comforted."
Oh, mamma, mamma, what mockery to write that for me after what I have done !” sobbed Ellen, as she refolded the letter and placed it in her desk, and she refused all the comfort friends ventured to offer. Relations she had none now—at least she did not know that she possessed any. Her father had been dead some years, and both her parents, like herself, had been only children; so that she was left entirely alone in the world, without a claim beyond that of friendship upon any one except her guardian, who had the sole control of her fortune until she came of age.
Under these circumstances it was deemed advisable for Ellen to go and live with this gentleman for at least two or three years, an arrangement to which she consented, as she did to everything that was proposed to her now. One stipulation only did she make, and that was to be allowed to come to her friend, Mrs. Lascelles, whenever she pleased, in order to visit her mother's grave.
This was readily agreed to, her guardian thinking that
amid new scenes and connections her grief would soon wear itself out. In this, however, he was mistaken. As weeks passed away Ellen's grief, though more quiet and subdued, became deeper, as she thought more of the way in which she had often treated her mamma. She saw now how undutiful--often unkind she had been, especially that last evening of her life; and starting from this point, she was led to reflect upon many others which had hitherto not been thought of, until at length she was led to see that she had sinned deeply against God, as well as against her mother and other people.
Now her misery seemed complete, and nothing friends could say seemed to lighten it. Her mind was full of bitter accusations against herself, and she literally went
mourning all her days.” In this way several months passed, and then she announced her intention of paying her promised visit to Mrs. Lascelles. She was greatly changed now, so much so, that her friends scarcely recognised her when she appeared amongst them. Her first care, after reaching Mrs. Lascelles, was of course to go to her mother's tomb, and this she insisted upon doing alone. What was her vexation, then, to find as she drew near that a young woman was seated on the grass close by engaged in knitting. Ellen thought she would be sure to go away in a short time if she saw a stranger near, and so lingered at a little distance hoping she would take the hint. But she knitted on as if totally unaware of her presence, and then Ellen looking more closely saw that she was blind. Pity for her sad condition overcame every other feeling for the moment, and she crossed over and spoke to her, asking how long she had been so. The girl lifted her cheerful face—it was very cheerful in spite of the eyes being sightless—and answered, “ About four months now,
“And how did it happen ?" asked Ellen, unaccountably drawn towards the poor girl.
Through a fever, or else overwork; we can't rightly tell which it was. Some doctors say one and some the other.”
“ What work were you doing ?” asked Ellen.
“ Dress-making, ma'am. It was a busy time, and there came a lot of mourning to make; and then just when I was dono
up with that, a lady said she must have a silk dress made, and so instead of resting as the doctor said I ought, I had to get up and make it, and that was the last bit of sewing I did.”
“ Was it a lavender silk ?" asked Ellen, in a low, trembling voice.
The girl noticed the faltering tone. “ You mustn't tell Miss Long what I've said," she uttered; "for she's had a good deal of trouble since that, and I wouldn't have her know this for anything."
Ellen could not trust herself to reply, but turned away: “My misery is complete now," she groaned forth in anguish as she reached the churchyard gate. “There can be no comfort for me after this."
SUNDAY OUT, AND ITS MOTIVE.
away the children's breakfast-things when the
“I came to ask if you are going out this morning, Jane," said she, tripping gaily in. “I can do very well for the children if you choose to go."
“Oh no, thank you, Burton; I should not like to leave them at all while mistress is away. I promised her that they should not be out of my sight for anything."
Then,” said Burton, decisively, “I shall go myself: there's no use in two of us staying at home.”
“Oh, but indeed there is," cried Jane, in surprise ; "and - and excuse me, Burton, but it is not your turn to go out this morning, and if it was, surely you wouldn't leave me alone in the house with all these little things to take
Why, what are you afraid of? Doesn't missis often stay with them herself and send us all to church ?”
• Ah, that is her kindness that likes to give us every opportunity, and she can do as she pleases with her own house and her own children; but they are not my house nor my children, and while I'm in trust for another, my duty is to be in my place and fulfil her wishes."
“I don't believe she told you to stop at home all Sunday," pertly rejoined Burton.
No, she did not; but she was so hurried away, and in such anxiety about master's health, that she hadn't time to think about it. She trusted me, and I shan't disappoint her, please God," she softly added.
"I never heard suchdog-in-the-manger' work," exclaimed the indignant housemaid. “ You won't go out yourself, and you don't like me to go; but I'm not going to do your bidding, I can tell you. Talk about faith, indeed. Why, what's the good of faith, as you call it, if you can't believe you'll be safe in the house by yourself on good Sunday morning ?"
“If it was God's will to leave me alone night or day, I hope I could trust his care, Burton,” replied Jane, meekly;" but that has nothing to do with your going out when it is not your turn, and when I beg you to stay in on account of mistress's absence, and the need of extra care over her family.”
“ All stuff: you want to seem wonderfully dutiful and proper; but I don't believe you care a fig about going to church yourself, and so you don't mind hindering other people."
" I'm very sorry you think so, Burton, but I shouldn't expect to get any good by going to the house of God when I am neglecting my duty at home. And now I must tell you, though perhaps you'll think it fanciful, that I don't think Master Charlie is quite well this morning; he has tossed about all night, and looks all sorts of colours, and I may have to send for the doctor."
“Send for the fiddlestick!" politely returned Burton. “ You have just invented this nonsense to interfere with
I know you are quite well now, aren't you, Master Charlie ?" and without waiting for Master Charlie's account of himself she sailed off, muttering something about whypocrisy” and “currying favour" and so forth.
Jane looked at the little fellow anxiously; she felt sure that he was not as usual, but she did not feel justified in giving any further alarm at present. She settled her nursery, gave the children their Bible picture-books, and offered to hear them say the hymns and texts they were accustomed to say to their dear mamma.
“ Aren't we going to church this morning, Jane ?" asked a little girl of six years old.
No, dear; we must ask the Lord God to give us his blessing at home this morning. You know we cannot all go, and I don't like to leave any behind, so we will keep Sunday as well as we can here; and I am sure your dear mamma and papa will be thinking of you all, and asking that you may love the Lord Jesus Christ, and be the lambs of his flock."