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member, when either counsel or comfort were needed," and, with a prayer in her heart, and a blessing on her lips, Mrs. Marsden left the room.
THE SECRET SPRING.
"Sweet is the smile of home, the mutual look,
"Character giweth flay by day, and all things aid it in unfolding." Tuppee.
It was the month of August. Mrs. Thornton's health had gradually revived since her return to England, and she was rapidly becoming known and valued by the little community at Oakhurst. She was beginning, with some pain, to receive a more correct impression of the true characters of her children than was possible upon her first arrival. She was a keen, though quiefi observer, and as she had hitherto n# been well enough to take any active part in the household, she had all the more opportunity for observing the influences which pervaded its moral atmosphere, and the motives which openly or covertly, actuated her children's conduct.
She found Miss Willis performing her duty with a conscientious and scrupulous exactness, but over the children's minds she possessed no influence, for she disliked her task, and the spirit of love, the only thing which can really unlock any human heart, she had never tried. In the meantime her own first desire was to win the affection and confidence of her children, and therefore, while with much anxiety she noted down those points in each which pained her, she forbore at present from any direct attempt to alter or repress them.
With Helen Burnet she had already formed a close and kindly intimacy. She saw in her one who was likely to become a dear and Valued friend, and would often talk to her unreservedly about her children, till Helen began to feei an interest in them which she was scarcely conscious of having done before. And she reaped the benefit of this in her increased cheerfulness, for it is scarcely possible to be much in the society of children without catching something of the hilarity of their nature.
"Maria," said Mrs. Thornton one day, "now that I am getting stronger, you must come and introduce me to some of our poor neighbours. I long to become acquainted with them."
"Oh, mama, I cannot do that; I do not know them myself."
"Do you never go with grandmama, my dear?"
"Oh no, never. Miss Willis goes sometimes; but I don't want to go, mama, the cottages are so dirty; and if we send them money, it is quite as well, don't you think so? Grandmama says there is always fever or sickness of some kind,"
"Well, dear, wo will make inquiry; but reports of sickness are very often exaggerated. Our poor neighbours are placed among us for our good as well as their own, and we both alike lose the blessing by leaving them untended."
"How, mama? How can it be any good to us?"
"They give us daily opportunity, my love, of denying our selfishness, which is the most deep-seated and difficult of all the evils wo have to combat. And by going among them and ministering with our own hands to their wants, we learn to love them, and love is the very spirit of our Lord and Master; they who love most are most like Him."
"I wish you would take Flora, mama; I don't think she would mind it half so much as I should."
"I will not take you, my love, until yott like to come, but I prophecy that you will wish to do so before long. You have never considered the subject, and you have no idea of the