ePub 版


From pride often, and sometimes from Accordingly, when, within the last indolence, I am afraid I had broken twelvemonth, I had been called upon that rule ; but Fanny, I rather think, to teach the elements of drawing in never had ; and now I would try to my school, it astonished me to discovhelp her to keep it.

er the ease with which I could either My mother's paint-box was on a sketch or copy. And now it occurred shelf in our closet, with three sheets to me that perhaps, if I would take of her drawing-paper still in it. Paint- enough time and pains, I could paint ing flowers was one of her chief opiates something worthy of a place on Miss to lull the cares of her careful life. I Mehitable's table. think a person can scarcely have too Fanny's gladness at the plan, and many such, provided they are kept in interest in watching the work, in her their proper place. I have often seen own enforced inaction, were at once reher, when sadly tired or tried, sit down, ward and stimulus. I succeeded, betwith a moisture that was more like rain ter than we either of us expected, in than dew in her eyes, and paint it all copying the frontispiece of a “pictureaway, till she seemed to be looking book," as Dr. Physick called it, which sunshine over her lifelike blossoms. he had brought up from his office to Then she would pin them up against amuse her. It was a scientific volume, the wall, for a week or two, for us to sent him by the author, an old fellowenjoy them with her; and, afterwards, student, — from the other side of the she would give them away to any one world. Lovely ferns, flowers, shells, who had done her any favor. Her birds, butterflies, and insects, that surspirit was in that like Fanny's, – she rounded him there, were treated further shrank so painfully from the weight on separately, in rigid sequence; but as of any obligation! She wished to if to make himself amends by a little teach me to paint, when I was a child. play for so much work, he had not been I wished to learn ; and many of her able to resist the temptation of groupdirections were still fresh in my mem- ing them all together on one glowing ory. But the inexperienced eye and and fascinating page.

I framed my uncertain hand of thirteen disheartened copy as tastefully as I could, in a simme. I thought I had no talent. My ple but harmonious passe-partout, and mother was not accustomed to force sent it to Miss Mehitable, with Fanny's any task upon me in my play-hours. love. Fanny's gratitude was touching ; The undertaking was given up. and as for me, I felt quite as if I had

But I suppose many persons, like found a free ticket to an indefinitely long me not precocious in the nursery or private picture-gallery. the school-room, but naturally fond, as Fanny's satisfaction was still more I was passionately, of beautiful forms complete after the fair, when Miss and colors, would be surprised, if they Mehitable reported that the painting had would try their baffled skill again in brought in what we both thought quite aftertimes, to find how much the years

a handsome sum. “ It was a dreadful had been unwittingly preparing for shame,” she added, "you had n't sent them, in the way of facility and accu- two of 'em ; for at noon, while I was racy of outline and tint, while they home, jest takin' a bite, my niece, supposed themselves to be exclusively Letishy, from Noo York, had another occupied with other matters. What grand nibble for that one after 't was the physiologists call “unconscious purchased. Letishy said a kind o

' cerebration" has been at work. Scat- poor, pale-lookin', queer-lookin' lady, ter the seeds of any accomplishment who she never saw before, in an elein the mind of a little man or woman, gint camel's-hair,” —("Poor-lookin', in and, even if you leave them quite un- a camel's-hair shawl!” was my inward tended, you may in some after summer ejaculation ; “don't I wish, ma'am, I or autumn find the fruit growing wild. could catch you and · Letishy' in my

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


composition class, once !”) – “she she was a just woman; and I know come up to the table an' saw that, an' that, while we were unprovided for, she seemed to feel quite taken aback to find could not have given, as the world apshe'd lost her chance at it. Letishy praises giving, much to him. Still“she showed her some elegint shell-vases with did what she could.” He paid her his artificial roses; but that would n't do. board; but she gave him a home. I told Letishy,” continued Miss Mehit After she found that his lodgings were able, “that she'd ought to ha' been unwarmed, she invited him to share smart an' taken down the lady's name; her fireside of a winter evening; and, an’ then I could ha' got Kathryne to though she would not deprive us of our paint her another. But you mu't do it chat with one another and with her, now, Kathryne, an' put it up in the she taught us to speak in low tones, bookseller's winder; an' then, if she's and never to him, when we saw him at anybody that belongs hereabouts, she'll his studies. When they were over, and be likely to snap at it, an' the money he was tired and in want of some amusecan go right into the orphans' fund ment, she afforded him one at once all the same.'

cheap, innocent, and inexhaustible, and “Much obliged,” thought I, “ for the sang to him as she still toiled on at her hint as to the bookseller's shop-win- unresting needle, night after night, dow; but I rather think that, if the ballad after ballad, in her wild, sweet, money comes, the orphan's fund that rich voice. He was very fond of music, it ought to 'go right into this time is though, as he said, he “could only Fanny's.”

whistle for it.” It was the custom For my orphan's fund from my then among our neighbors to keep months of school-keeping, not ample Saturday evening strictly as a part of when I first came back, was smaller “the Sabbath.” It was her half-holinow. Fanny's illness was necessarily, day, however, for works of charity and in some respects, an expensive one. I mercy; and she would often bid him believed, indeed, and do believe, that it bring her any failing articles of his was a gratification to Dr. Physick to scanty wardrobe then, and say that she lavish upon her, to the utmost of his would mend them for him if he would ability, everything that could do her read to her. Her taste was naturally good, as freely as if she had been his fine, and trained by regular and wellown child or sister. But it could not

chosen Sunday reading; and she had be agreeable to her, while we had a the tact to select for these occasions brother, to be a burden to a man un books that won the mind of the intelconnected with us by blood, young in lectual though uncultivated youth by his profession, though rising, and still their eloquence, until they won his heart probably earning not very much more by their holiness. Moreover, she had than his wife's and his own daily bread been gently bred, and could give good from day to day, and owing us noth- advice, in manners as well as morals, ing but a debt of gratitude for another's when it was asked for, and withhold it kindnesses, which another man in his when it was not. place would probably have said that The upshot of it all was, that he "he paid as he went.”

loved her like a mother; and now the In plain English, the tie between us sentiment was deepened by a shade arose simply from the fact that he of filial remorse, which I could never boarded with my mother, when he was quite dispel, though, as often as he a poor and unformed medical student. gave me any chance, I tried. The last He always said that she was the best year of my mother's life was the first friend he had in his solitary youth, and of his married life. His father-in-law that no one could tell how different all hired, at the end of the town oppohis after-life might have been but for site to ours, a furnished house for him her. She was naturally generous; yet and his wife. My mother called upon


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

her by the Doctor's particular invita- that he should join us in paying the tion. The visit was sweetly received, interest on the mortgage till real estate and promptly returned by the bride; should rise, - as everybody said it

; but she was pretty and popular, and soon must, - and then the rise in rents had many other visits to pay, especial- should enable us to let the house on ly when she could catch her husband better terms, and thus, by degrees, at leisure to help her. He was seldom clear it of all encumbrances, and have at leisure at all, but, as he self-reproach- it quite for our own, to let, sell, or live fully said, “ too busy to think except of in. The worst we had to fear was, his patients and his wife”; and poor that he would insist on forcing it at mamma, with all her real dignity, bad once into the market, at what would be caught something of the shy, retiring a great loss to us, and leave us almost ways of a reduced gentlewoman, and destitute. He was going to be married, was, besides, too literally straining ev- and getting into business, and wantery nerve to pay off the mortgage on ed beyond anything else a little ready her half-earned house, so that, if any, money. thing happened, she might “not leave He scarcely knew us even by sight. her girls without a home.” Therefore He had been a sprightly, pretty boy; and he saw her seldom.

my mother's aunt's husband, having no After he heard she was ill, he was children of his own, offered to adopt with her daily, and often three or four him. Poor mamma's heart was almost times a day; and his wife came too, broken ; but I suppose George's noise and made the nicest broths and gruels must have been very trying to my with her own hands, and begged Fan- father's nerves; and then he had no ny not to cry, and cried herself. He way to provide for him. After she obpromised my mother that we should jected, I have always understood that never want, if he could help it, and that my father appeared to take a morbid he would be a brother to us both, and aversion to the child, and could scarcely my guardian. She told him that, if bear him in his sight. So George she died, this promise would be the seemed likely to be still more unhappy, greatest earthly comfort to her in her and ruined beside, if she kept him at death; and he answered, “So it will to home. He was a little fellow then, not

more than five years old ; but he cried Then after she was gone, when the for her so long that my great-uncle-inlease of his house was up, as no other law was very careful how he let him tenant offered for ours, he hired it, have anything to do with her again, till furniture and all, and offered Fanny he had forgotten her; and little things and me both a home in it for an indefi- taken so early must be expected to fall, nite time; but our affairs were all un- sooner or later, more or less under the settled. We knew the rent, as rents

influence of those who have them in were then, would not pay our expenses charge. and leave us anything to put by for the Poor mamma died without making a future, which my mother had taught regular will. It was not the custom at us always to think of. Therefore I that time for women to be taught so thought I had better take care of my- much about business even as they are self, as I was much the strongest, and She thought, if she did make a perfectly able to do so.

will before she could pay off the debt pretty business you made of it: did n't on the house, she should have to make you, miss ?” reflected and queried I, another afterwards, and that then there parenthetically, as I afterwards re- would be double lawyers' fees to deduct viewed these circumstances in my own from the little she would have to leave mind.

After she found out that she was The best we had to hope from my dangerously sick, she was very anxious older and our only brother George was, to make her will, whenever she was in

me !"


" And a very


her right mind; but that went and afraid that, if she improved no faster, I came so, that the Doctor, and a lawyer should be obliged to leave her, when I whom he brought to see her, said that went away to work for her again at the no disposition she might make could end of the summer vacation, still very stand in court, if any effort were made feeble, a care to others, and pining for to break it. All that could be done my care. That was my nearest and was to take down, as she was able to clearest fear. dictate it, an affectionate and touching But what did Fanny think? I hope, letter to George.

the truth; and on one incident, in chief, In this she begged him to remember I ground my hope.

I ground my hope. One beautiful day how much greater his advantages, and - the last one in July - she asked me his opportunities of making a living, if I should be willing to draw her to were than ours, and besought him to our mother's grave. There could be do his best to keep and increase for us but one answer ; though I had not the pittance she had toiled so hard to seen the spot since the funeral. Fanearn, and to take nothing from it unless ny looked at it with more than calma time should come when he was as

ness, with the solemn irradiation of helpless as we.

countenance which had during her illTwo copies of this letter were made, ness become her most characteristic exsigned, sealed, and witnessed. One I pression. She desired me to help her sent to George, enclosed with an ear- from her chair. She lay at her length nest entreaty from Fanny and myself, upon the turf, still and observant, as if that he would come and let mam- calculating. Then she spoke. ma see him once again, before she “Katy, dear,” said she, very tenderdied, if, as we feared, she must die. ly and softly, as if she feared to give We had asked him to come before. me pain, “ I have been thinking someHe answered our letter not our times lately, that, if anything should mother's rather kindly, but very ever happen to either of us, the other vaguely, putting off his visit, and say- might be glad to know what would be ing, that he could not for a moment suf- exactly the wishes of the one that was fer himself to believe that she would gone about our graves. Suppose not do perfectly well, if we did not we choose them now, while we are alarm her about herself, nor worry her here together. Here, by mamma, is with business when she was not in a where I should like to lie. See, I will state for it. His reply was handed me lay two red clovers for the head, and a before her, unluckily. She wished to white one for the foot. And there, on hear it read, and seemed to lose heart her other side, is just such a place for and grow worse from that time. you. Should you like it?—and - shall

Thus then matters stood with us that you remember ?" July. The sale of our house was pend- I found voice to say “Yes," and said ing - over our kind host's head too !

it firmly. It was plain to me that George would “And then,” added she, after a short, not, and that Dr. Physick should not deliberating pause, during which she, bear the charge of Fanny's mainte- with my assistance, raised herself to sit nance. So far and so long as I could, on the side of the chair with her feet I would

still resting on the turf, “while we are In the mean time, no further exami- upon the subject, — one thing more. If nation was made of her lungs. The I should be the first to go, — nobody Doctor's report was often “Remarkably knows whose turn may come the first, comfortable," and never anything worse then I should like to have you do – than, “Well, on the whole, taking one just what would make you happiest ; time with another, I don't see but she's but I don't like mourning. I should n't about as comfortable as she has been.” wish to have it worn for me. My feel1 was, of course, inexperienced. I was ings about it have all changed since

we made it for mamma. It seemed as other, the said somebody else is sinif we were only working at a great black ning away merrily, somewhere among wall, for our minds to have to break the antipodes or nearer, without so through, every time they yearned to go much as a single twinge." back into the past and sit with her. It Smiling, she shook her head at me; was as if the things she chose for us, and that was all that passed. She was and loved to see us in, were part of her as cheerful as I tried to be. With reand of her life with us, as if she gard to the other world, she seemed would be able still to think of us in to have attained unto the perfect love them, and know just how we looked. that casteth out fear ; and I believe And it seemed so strange and unsym- her only regret in leaving this lower pathizing in us, that, when we loved one for it was that she could not take her so, we should go about all muf- me with her. In fact, throughout her fled up in darkness, because our God illness, her freedom from anxiety about was clothing her in light!”

its symptoms — not absolute, but still I answered, rather slowly and in strong contrast with her previous tremulously this time, I fear, – that I tendencies — appeared to her physihad felt so too.

cian, as he acknowledged to me after“ Then, Katy,” resumed she, plead- wards, even when he considered the ingly, as she leaned back in her usual frequent flattering illusions of the disattitude in the chair, and made a sign ease, a most discouraging indication as that I might draw her home, “we will to the case. But to her it was an infinot either of us wear it for the other,- nite mercy; and to me, to have such without nor within either, will we? - glimpses to remember of her already any more than we can help. Don't you in possession of so much of that peace remember what dear mamma said once, which remaineth unto the people of when you had made two mistakes in God. your lessons at school, and lost a prize, As the dog-days drew on, a change and took it hard, and somebody was came, though at first a very gentle one teasing you, with making very light of to her, if not to me. She slept more, it, and telling you to think no more about ate less, grew so thin that she could it? You were very sorry and a little no more bear the motion of her little offended, and said, you always chose wagon, and begged that it might be not to be hoodwinked, but to look at returned, because it tired her so to things on all sides and in the face. think of it. Mamma smiled, and said, “It is good Then word came that our house was and brave to look all trials in the face; advertised to be sold, unconditionally, but among the sides, never forget the at an early day. To move her in that bright side, little Katy. If I had my state, - how dreadful it would be! I life to live over again, I would try to did not mean to let her know anything mind her more in that. She always about it until I must; but Miss Mesaid, there lay my greatest fault. I hitable, always less remarkable for tact hope and think God has forgiven me, than for good-will, blurted it out before because he makes it so easy for me to

her. be cheerful now."

Her brows contracted with a moFanny,” said I, as we drew near ment's look of pain. “O Katy,” she the house, “things in this world are whispered, “I am sorry! That must strangely jumbled. Here are you, with make you very anxious";- and then your character, to wit, that of a little she went to sleep. saint, if you will have the goodness to Evidently it did not make her very overlook my saying so, and somebody anxious, as I knew that it would have else's conscience. I have no doubt done as lately even as two or three that, while you are reproaching your- months before. What was the remeself first for this, then for that and the dy? Approaching death. Well, death

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« 上一頁繼續 »