Imagens da página

better tidings, and could feel a little less anxious. “I wish, aunt, it were in my power to help or comfort you."

“It was for this purpose I came to seek you, Helen. I am about to make some great changes in my household, and it is necessary that you should know about it. I shall most likely remove to London for a time.”

“Shall you, aunt?" And Helen looked anxiously at her aunt, as though surprised at this unwonted confidence on her part.

“When you first came to me," continued Mrs. Herbert, “I had no idea that I should ever be called upon to undergo the trial of loss of property, and therefore it was certainly my intention that this house should be your home, as long as you chose to make it so; but things have changed.”

Helen turned very pale, but she made no reply, and her aunt went on

"You are young and capable, Helen, and, were I in your place, I should prefer using my strength and talents in providing for myself, rather than continue a burden upon any one ; and in my present altered circumstances, I must acknowledge that any additional member in my household would be felt by me as a burden.”

Helen felt a choking sensation in her throat, but she struggled against it, and replied, “ Aunt, I will do anything you think best, but I have no other home.”

“You have the same opportunity of providing yourself with a home, my dear, as thousands of young women similarly situated. Your education has been sufficient to enable you to educate others, at least up to a certain age, and I think that at least you ought to make the attempt. I do not wish you to do it in a hurry, but to turn the subject over in your mind, and I will write to a friend of mine, whose large acquaintance would, I know, enable her to find a suitable engagement for you. In the meantime, I do not wish it mentioned to any one, not even to Effie. Nor do I wish you to consider it a permanent arrange

ment. Perhaps, at some future time, I may be able to receive you into my home once more, but at present it will be a great relief to me to have no anxiety."

Helen did not attempt to speak again, and her aunt, after taking two or three turns up and down the room, went out and left her to her own meditations. She did not dare remain where she was, lest some one should come in, and find her in her misery. The window was open leading into the garden; she passed out, went through the garden into the shrubbery, and there, under the thick shade of the copse-wood, she sat down upon the ground and calmly reviewed her position. Never since her mother's death had she felt so desolate. It was not the loss of the home that weighed upon her; it had never been a happy one; and she did not dread work, for she was one to whom exertion and activity were enjoyment. It was the total want of love and sympathy which her aunt had manifested in this interview. She had spoken of parting with her with as little emotion as if she had been a piece of household furniture; and her heart, which was ready to pay back such a large interest of love, for even the smallest coin in that precious metal, was so chilled, that she felt at that moment as though life contained nothing but delusion, and disappointment for her. She wept some bitter tears, taking shame to herself all the while, as they fell upon the soft green moss beside her; but nature would have way, and still she wept till she heard her cousin's voice calling for her in every direction. She had no wish to see Effie in her present condition, especially as her aunt had by her prohibition closed her lips, so she let her call on, and after a time, when she was out of sight, she roused herself, went down to the stream, washed away from her eyes all traces of her late emotion, and then returned to the house.

When, about an hour after, Effie at length found her, she was preparing to pour forth a long anecdote, which seemed to have afforded

herself great amusement, when her quick eye instantly perceived her cousin's distress.

“Now, Helen, dearest, what is the matter? what have you been grieving about ?-do tell me," and Effie threw her loving arms round her cousin's neck and kissed her.

Helen meant to reply, but this genuine burst of affection from her cousin, just when she stood so much in need of it, was too much for her, and she only sobbed.

“Can't you tell me, dearest ?”
“No, Effie, I may not; at least, not yet.”

Not tell me, Helen !-you must. Who has sealed your lips ?-is it my aunt? I will know. Who else is to comfort you?

“You will know, Effie, all in time. I did not mean to be so foolish; and do not ask me to tell you, dear, just yet, because I may not.

“No, Helen, I will not ask you; but I will never rest till I do know. Whatever your trouble is, it is but fair to give me half; you are withholding from me my due," and Effie's bright face changed to one of distressful anxiety

« AnteriorContinuar »