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haps he thought my humdrum society would be more beneficial to you, and sober the wild flights of your imagination. Whatever the reason may be, I am heartily glad to have
“I think it is very strange, Helen, and often does it seem to me scarcely right, that the advantages of this world should be so unequally divided. Now, here is my aunt, possessed of rank, wealth, influence, the means of diffusing an immensity of happiness, and her very presence lies like an incubus upon poor humanity, bids happiness depart, and freezes up the very springs of it; whereas you, in her place, would cast a sunlight on the whole neighbourhood, all would be gladdened and benefited, you would be the centre of a system of ever-increasing enjoyment, instead of being, as you now are, a poor dependent on her grudging bounty."
“Well, Effie, what a grand speech you have made. But, indeed, I could not bear to hear you if I thought your heart went along with
“But I do mean it, though, Helen. I do not think it would be safe to trust me with riches, I am too young and too foolish ; but you would make such a good use of them, you ought to have thein.”
"And so, Effie, you would take the reins of government out of God's hands. Don't you think He could alter the distribution of wealth if He pleased, and of every other earthly blessing besides ?”
“Yes, I suppose so."
“ Then if He does not do so, may we not be sure it is safer and better as it is? Oh, Effie, our happiness does not depend on the abundance of the things which we possess.""
“No, Helen, perhaps not,” and she looked gravely at her cousin as she spoke, “but it does depend to a great extent on external things ; and now I will be quite serious if you will listen to me. Imagine, if you will, that my heart and temper were entirely under control, that I
was really trying, as you are, to fulfil my appointed duties with a willing mind, still, if I am to be placed in daily collision with an unkind and suspicious temper, that approves of nothing I do, and comes like a cold shadow over all my enjoyments, tell me, how is it possible for me to feel anything approaching to happiness."
“Dear cousin, I don't think it is possible to enjoy the happiness you speak of under such circumstances. But there is another kind, independent of all outward things, and perhaps nothing but experience makes us acquainted with this. It is not often that our lot in life coincides with our individual wishes; few are thus favoured for any length of time, and I am not sure after all that it is to be desired. But I have learnt one thing from what you call my hard lot, and that is, that the less we pursue our own happiness as such, the more surely do we find it. I think it is old Mr. Adams, of Wintringham, who says, “I never found happiness till I discovered that it was not to be found. I have found it now, Effie; it is out of the reach of outward circumstances; they may glance at it, but they cannot touch it; and when everything goes wrong, and the world looks very cloudy, I just mount up into my little region of sunshine, and there forget it all.”
“Oh, Helen, take me with you, for I shall be frozen to death if you don't. I can see my lesson will be very difficult, and it is the first of the kind that has ever been put before me. It is well you are with me, or learn it I never should. I was happy at home, Helen!"
“Yes, dear, I dare say you were. Your lot hitherto has been cast in sunshine. Now the test of trying circumstances will prove the nature of your joy, and you will find out how much of it is real gold.”
“Oh, Helen, I think it is all melting away in this hot furnace. I shall have no gold left, I know, and, if so, can you blame me? Surely it is not my fault."
“We will lay the blame nowhere, dear; but
if these same circumstances should teach you to lay hold of the substance instead of flying after a shadow, you will not be disposed to quarrel with them hereafter."
“I shall be so sorry, Helen, if my unfortunate speech should be the means of marring Ralph Murton's prospects. Do you think it will?”
“No, I hope not; we will look out for another opportunity, some bright day, when all goes well. My aunt has so much power and influence in matters of this kind, that a few words from her would be worth anything. But, unless she originates a scheme, or seems to originate it, she rarely cares to exert herself. But all hearts are in God's hands, Effie, and He can turn them as He will."
Effie did not answer for some minutes, and seemed lost in thought. She was leaning against the mantelpiece with her head resting on her hand. At length she said, “Do you know, Helen, I think ill-temper is infectious, and I have caught it of my aunt. I never had the disease before."