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"Well, do'nt be alarmed, I have no wish for such religious doings: nevertheless, if they both thought alike, and made themselves and their children happy, I do not see who has a right to blame them. Indeed, if I may judge from the pleasant countenances of our little nieces, and their affectionate manner towards each other, their cousins may learn some useful lessons from them.”
“ We shall see," answered Mrs. Wilmot, looking somewhat displeased. Then, walking towards the table, she observed, “ Come, little folks, it is time to put up your amusements, and prepare for a good night's rest."
Mary and Janet began diligently to clear the table, when little Sophia exclaimed, “ What are you about ? Mamma did not mean that we should hurry the things away ; she only meant that we should put them tidy.”
The work was soon completed. “ Now then wish us good night," continued their aunt. “Sophia, take your cousins into the nursery, and ask Kemp to shew them their room and assist them. You may all give me a kiss."
Mary walked slowly towards Mrs. Wilmot, but Janet, looking first at her aunt, then at her uncle, decided that she could feel most at ease with the latter. So, raising her eye with child-like simplicity, she enquired,
" Will you mind it, uncle, if I say, that at home Mary and I do not go to bed with the little ones ?"
The doctor smiled, and placing his arm round her waist said, “ What you great girls sat up to supper, I suppose; but, taking tea so late, we have no supper unfortunately, Janet.”
“ O no, uncle,” replied the child, “We only sat up to prayers : and then went away directly.'
Dr. Wilmot coloured slightly; but his wife and two eldest daughters could scarcely restrain their laughter, as the former observed, “ But more unfortunately still, Janet, we have neither prayers nor supper; so you are come among shocking people, who will starve you both body and soul. However, if you are hungry, nurse will give you an abundant supply; and as to the other point, you must say double prayers for yourself.”
So “Good night,” was repeated on all sides, though the children thought their aunt's kiss was not very affectionate; but their uncle's was accompanied by the remark," It is quite right, dear, to say your prayers : when I was a boy my mother taught me some excellent prayers, but it is not every family can meet for such a purpose; a medical man, you know, Janet, is never sure of five minutes without interruption. I think, Elizabeth,” he added, as the young party closed the door after them, “we are bound in honour not to shake their confidence in the instruction received from their parents. They are far too young to have their minds perplexed.”
In the mean time the little girls were conducted by their cousins into a large airy nursery, where at a table sat nurse, a respectable widow, and another nice-looking servant, both at work; beside them was a much smarter personage, Tilson, lady's-maid to Mrs. Wilmot: she had in her hand a shabby-looking volume, with the mark of a circulating library upon it, from which she was holding forth
“Dear me!" exclaimed nurse, looking at the watch, which hung from a watch-stand on the table, “can it possibly be so late ?" Then turning to Mary and Janet, she continued,-“ I dare say, young ladies—I dare say you are tired; Kemp had better see you to bed directly."
Kemp, accordingly, having shewed them to a pretty little room, where every thing was provided for their comfort, and their packages already placed, proceeded to curl their hair. While she was thus employed with Janet, Mary quietly unlocked the carpet-bag that contained their night-dresses, and into which their own kind nurse had put their Bibles. Having laid them on the table, she observed to Kemp, who was just beginning to unfasten Janet's frock,
“ We can do that for each other, thank you, if you will only be so good as to come, in about half an hour, for the candle.”
“ Half an hour, Miss! If you will let me help you, I can get you to bed in five minutes."
Mary's was not a talking religion, yet she knew at the same time she ought not to be ashamed of her principles. She therefore gently replied,
“O yes ; five minutes will be quite sufficient when we set about it; but we must have a little time for reading and saying our prayers.”
“ What! to-night, ladies, when you are so tired? I should think you would fall asleep over your books."
“We need not be long if we are drowsy; but we should not feel safe nor happy without asking God to take care of us."
“ Nor,” added Janet, “ without hearing what his holy word says to us."
“Well, just as you please, ladies," said the servant; “ different people have different ways."
As soon as Kemp was gone, Janet threw her arms round Mary's neck, and looking in her face inquired,—“Don't you think, dear, this is a very strange family ?”
“I am afraid,” said her sister, “it will be very different from our own dear home.”
“I think,” continued Janet, “we ought to have told uncle that there is no need to neglect family-worship because he is sometimes out. Why cannot aunt undertake it at such times, as mamma does always !"
“ I am very glad, dear, you said no such thing. We are not sent here to teach cousins, much less uncle and aunt. Don't you remember, among the sentences dear papa wrote us for copies, that one, Children are not called to teach their elders, excepting by their holy conduct.' But we must not talk any more now, or we shall be shortening the time which we have just said is so important."
Next morning the sisters rose early—a happy circumstance; for they were scarcely ready to go down, when their merry cousins, Emma and Sophia burst into the room, inviting them to explore the shrubbery and the orchard. Accustomed as they had ever been to run innocently wild among the beauties of nature, Mary and Janet felt the invigorating influence of the morning breeze. With cheerful countenances they stood upon the sunny lawn, looking at the meadows in front, watered by a deep clear river, and the rich foliage on either side; amidst which, more or less revealed, peeped whitened cottages, and chimneys with their curling smoke; while towering above all, in simple majesty, the village spire spake to the mind, by the power of sabbath associations, of high and heavenly things. After enjoying the prospect for a few minutes, their light footsteps followed their cousins into an avenue of young trees, the shadows of whose bright green leaves danced on the grassy path beneath them. The flowers, the grass, the insects, all possessed a charm; and they would gladly for another hour have silenced the sound of the breakfast bell.
After breakfast, all who were not too young or too old attended Miss Robarts in the school-room. The little Macphersons had enjoyed peculiar advantages. Though no prodigies, in all they had learned they were thoroughly grounded, while their habits of quiet, intelligent attention, were very striking. They could not help thinking that the careless manner and superficial knowledge of the scholars before them, would not have satisfied their own dear parents, much less the triumph and self-conceit which was manifested by any one who happened to answer better than the rest. Lessons being finished, they went to the instrument, where Mary and Janet played a simple duet or two very correctly, and, for such young performers, with taste and feeling. All they did was commended; yet they could not help observing an expression of contempt in the smile which occasionally passed between Miss Robarts and their elder cousins, who had brought their work into the school room.
“I cannot conceive,” said Janet, when they went to prepare for walking, “what Miss Robarts and Caroline find to laugh at. I think they are very rude. I am sure we know a great deal more, and are much steadier, than Emma or Sophia."
“O never mind it, dear.” “I dare say some of our sayings or doings seem odd to them, but they will soon get used to us. At any rate, it is not worth while to be angry. If we know more, so much the better, and we must shew the good effect of all the pains bestowed on us.”
By arguments like these, from day to day, Mary kept down Janet's swelling spirit; for she had felt the inward sanctifying power of renewing grace; while her sister's religion, consisted rather in admiration than possession. Janet was proud of her papa, her mamma, and her education; nor had she dreamt that any one could doubt her parents being the wisest persons, and their plans the most perfect, that were ever known. When, therefore, a thought or habit, which she considered most correct, was met by a sarcastic remark, she would often have expressed the indignant feelings of her little heart. On such occasions, a gentle smile from Mary restrained the rising passion. Thus, at the end of two months, these little girls had appeared, as quiet witnesses for God, in the midst of an irreligious family, holding forth a pure though simple light, and leaving those without excuse, who were not ready to own, that religion was a blessed and glorious reality.
Nor had the lesson been entirely without effect. Dr. Wilmot often thought, “true Christianity must be something more than mere name or notion ;" while Emma wished she had the same inward help, to keep her from the various troubles in which she found herself. The Tinies also, who knew nothing of the difference of principles, could well appreciate Mary's never-failing kindness. “What does Caroline mean, cousin Mary,” enquired George, " when she says, you are a little methodist ?"_“I am sure I wish sisters were all little methodists, if it would make them as good. natured as you are.” Mrs. Wilmot could not help acknowledging that her nieces were remarkably good and manageable; while Miss Robarts, who was perhaps most strongly prejudiced of all, feeling that she would not be supported in absolute injustice, contented herself with a negative, rather than a positive di:approbation. Therefore, though often in trying circumstances, the children found themselves tolerably happy; especially as favorable intelligence from home, informed them, first, that fever had abated, and afterwards, that their beloved mamma was pronounced out of danger.
My young readers! if any of you, who have had superior advantages, should ever be placed among less favored friends, pray earnestly for wisdom and grace, that you may glorify your heavenly Father, shew the value of spiritual privileges, and recommend religion to those who know it not. Even a child is known by his doings; and it is a delightful truth, that you can never be too young to live to your Redeemer's praise.
Are these God's favors day by day,
To you above the rest?
S, S. S:
WHAT MAKES A WISE MAN ? We hear a great deal about “the wisdom of the ancients;" but we must take this expression with considerable allowance. Perhaps they knew much, considering the circumstances in which they were placed, and the times in which they lived, but they certainly knew very little when contrasted with the men of our own day.
David shews us how we may certainly be wiser, if we cannot