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and I have seen one or two of her letters, which have made me long to know her. I wish sho would come home, and take charge of her own children."
"Were they letters to her children that you saw?"
"No, letters to Miss Willis, their governess, showing such a deep interest in the real, true welfare of her children, and giving, I think, such useful hints and directions in the art of training. But poor Miss Willis does not seem to me fitted for the situation she holds; she takes so very little interest in the children, sho always gives me the impression of one preoccupied. Perhaps she has home cares, and cannot disengage her mind from them."
The cousins had some purchases to make in the village, and we will leave them there, and go on before them with the reader to Mrs. Thornton's house, which was pleasantly situated in its own garden a short distance from the highroad. Maria, a fair handsome girl of about thirteen years of age, was leaning over the garden gate. There was a look of vexation on her countenance, and she kept turning round towards the house, as though waiting for some one. At last the quick step of her young brother was heard, and he came up to her panting for breath, and calling at the top of his voice—
"Yes, Maria, we are to go round by the windmill, to Langley Heath, and call for Charles Stuart, and bring him home to dinner. Grandmama says so."
"Of course she says so, if you have asked her. You are very unkind and selfish, Percy, and grandmama only makes you worse. You know how much I wish to go the other way to-day."
"Well, it's all settled now. I shall go and fetch Louisa, and if you don't want to go, you can stay at home."
"Yes, I shall stay at home," said Maria, as she moodily turned from the garden gate, and began to walk towards the house. On her return to the school-room, she found her sister Flora bending over the table, with a flushed face and a tearful countenance. "What is the matter, Flora? you are always crying. I wish you were not so faint-hearted."
"I wish I was not, Maria, but I cannot help it. I think I get worse instead of better. The more I study this lesson, the more impossible it seems to me to understand it. I am quite bewildered over it."
"Then why don't you tell grandmama about it?"
"I have told her, and she says if Miss Willis has given it me, I must do it, and I am sure I would if I could. Oh, Maria, I wish I was a farmer's daughter, and had nothing to do with these horrid books. How I do envy Janet Green. She is out in the bright sunshine all day, and never feels as I do."
Maria took the book, and tried to help her sister; but not having yet recovered her own serenity of temper, she was scarcely able to infuse any portion of hope into the dispirited little girl, and soon gave it up in despair.
Flora was a very delicate child, and had always shown a great disinclination to study of all kinds. From her earliest childhood she had been sensitive, subject to nervous fears, could not bear to be left alone, and required great patience, and judicious care. She was a thin, pale girl, with an anxious cast of countenance; but she had a sweet temper and a loving, affectionate heart.
Louisa, the youngest of the party, was a bright, lively child, and was always to be seen with her brother Percy, whose shadow she may be said to have been. She gave up her will to him without a struggle, always thought him right, gladly bore the blame of his faults, and loved her grandmother all the more for her spoiling and injudicious fondness for him. This self-devotion is very beautiful in childhood, but it most frequently ends in disappointment. Indeed it can hardly be otherwise, when wo consider of what materials it is composed— selfishness on one side, and a self-abandonment amounting to a kind of idolatry on the