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CHAPTER IV.

SUNSHINE AND SHADE.

"Contentment is the tranquillity of the heart, prayer is its aliment. It is satisfied under every dispensation of Providence, and takes thankfully its allotted portion, never inquiring whether a little more would not be a little better, knowing that if God had so judged, it would have been as easy for Him to have given the more as the less."—H. Mole.

The little cottage which had attracted Miss Wilson's attention was situated on the slope of a hill, and in no way differed from the other poor cottages around, excepting perhaps in the advantage of situation. It was on higrher ground, and there was a beautiful copse wood on one side; but in all other respects it was the same. A small room on each side of the door, and two bed-rooms over these, was all the cottage contained; and there was a small garden enclosed with a wooden paling, such as we usually see, in the south of England, round the dwellings of the poor. But the inside of the cottage left no room to doubt that the presiding genius of refinement and cultivation had shed over the few simple materials that were provided for her to work upon, that indefinable charm which nothing else can supply. The furniture was of the simplest description, but well chosen, and all in harmony. One side of the small sitting-room was furnished with shelves well filled with books. Two or three beautiful prints in plain maple frames hung over these, and in one corner by the fire-place was a cottage piano. A small round table, with an embroidered cover, stood in the centre, and a small work-table near the window, and flowers were tastefully arranged on the low chimney-piece and on either table. It was Ellen's province to see that these were always fresh and beautiful, and little Minnie had charge of the books, and no dust was ever allowed to gather upon these prime treasures of the house.

The children had attached themselves to

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their little home with a fondness which would seem incredible to those who have not studied the young heart and its affections. Had they had the power of choice, they would not have relinquished this humble cottage for the wealthiest home in England. It was endeared to them by all sorts of loving recollections, and associated with all they cared for and valued most on earth. Every plant in the garden was of their own rearing, the bright stream that came leaping and sparkling down the hill, had been formed by them into a tiny waterfall, where they could fill their waterpots in the summer evenings. The bee-hives in the warm corner under the hedge, the little trellis arbour which their old friend the carpenter had begged permission to make, because Mrs. Lester had been so very kind to his poor sick wife—these, and as many associations within the house, had rendered it to them a hallowed place. It was their sweet mother who by her judicious conduct had shed this charm over the place, and her children knew not from whence came the bright light that filled all their days with gladness; they only knew that they loved their mother above and beyond all created things. And with her was ever associated the memory of their father. He had never seen the cottage, and yet from perpetually realizing his presence among them, he came to be mingled with all their pursuits and pleasures. He dwelt among them as a guardian angel, deterring them from evil, and inciting them to all that was great and noble. His smile of approbation was aimed at as though he were still present to bestow it, and, as far as was possible, the plan of education was the one he hadj himself drawn out, before their great reverses fell upon them.

No servant was kept in this little domain. A neighbouring cottager, who had no children, gave her services every day for three or four hours, for a small remuneration. The poverty which had been caused by no fault, brought with it, in Mrs. Lester's estimation, no shame, and the daily domestic duties which came upon her, involved no loss of dignity, because they were appointed by Him whom she had learnt to trust, and she knew He could not err.

Some old writer has remarked, "If God were to send two archangels down to earth, the one to rule an empire, the other to sweep a crossing, they would enter upon their respective missions with equal zeal and energy, because both had been alike appointed by their Divine Master;" and George Herbert in the same spirit reminds us—

"All may of Thee partako,
Nothing can be so mean,
But with tins tincture (for thy sate)
May not grow bright and clean."

And Mrs. Lester found it so.

Four or five weeks had elapsed since the visit we recorded in the last chapter, and the embryo thought it had awakened in Miss Wilson's mind, had been cherished and conned over, until it had ripened into action. Ellen and Minnie were now receiving daily instruc

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