« AnteriorContinuar »
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 un.
reservedly 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, we 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 we 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 you like to come, but I prophecy that you will wish to do so before long. You have never consi. dered the subject, and you have no idea of the
large field of happiness, which will open before you in this blessed work.”
Maria listened, but she gave her mother no responsive look, and Percy entering at the moment, she was very glad to change the subject, and to give all her attention to the fasten. ing a new lash to his whip, for which purpose he had come to seek her.
“Mama, I am going out riding with Charlie Stuart this afternoon. Grandmama says I may, if you don't mind it.”
“I thought, my love, Flora was to have the pony to-day; you know it was settled so in the morning."
"Well, but mama, Flora doesn't care; she can go to-morrow, and grandmama says I may go, and Charlie Stuart is coming to fetch me, and indeed you must say Yes," and the little fellow raised his voice to a pitch of entreaty which he thought must subdue the reluctance he saw on his mother's countenance.
“I would much rather that Flora should go, my love; she requires exercise, and she is
not strong enough to walk. You and Charlie can tako a nice walk over the hills together, can you not !”
“No, mama, I can't do anything but ride the pony to-day; why will you not let me?" and bursting into a passion of tears, the child ran out of the room, and shut himself up in a fit of petulance in his own chamber.
It was not long before grandmama heard the sobs of the spoilt boy, and going up-stairs, she gathered from him the whole history of his grief. With one desire in her mind, and only one, which was to restore Percy to happiness and good-humour, she thought of a plan which would accomplish this, and at the same time leave the mother's authority, as she imagined, inviolate.
“Now, Percy,” said she, “ dry your tears, and I will tell you what you can do. You may go to the village and hire Morris's pony; you will have abundance of time before Charlie comes, and I will go and tell mama, and Flora shall have her ride as she was promised.”