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“It is better that it so happened, dear mamma,” resumed the sprightly Anna,“Had we dined alone, you would have felt inclined to dispense with dessert, for the sake of the little ones. Now you
have had the satisfaction of seeing that they can make a sacrifice; and if the trial were great, the pleasure is great also; and they are at this moment reaping the reward of their self-denial.”
" And what will become of Susan's child ?" I asked.
“ It will be taken by her sister who resides in the village. Oh, it is such a darling—a girl-and named after me. I intend to adopt it when I am rich enough; and in the mean time must be content with assisting a very little myself, and coaxing mamma to make up my deficiencies.”
This incident made a powerful impression on my mind; and trifling as it may appear to the reader, proved an important event in my education. It led me to reflect upon the vast difference between teaching and training; between the mere imparting of knowledge, and the patient working out of a system, the object of which is to put in practice what is taught.
So much was I touched and excited, by all I had seen and heard, during this delightful visit, that my personal affairs were partially forgotten; nor was it until summoned to return to school, that I fully realized my own embarrassing position.
To my great relief, my father did not immediately resume the conversation of the morning, but encouraged my remarks upon the occurrences of the day, and seemed amused by the enthusiastic admiration I expressed for the Selwyn family in general, and Anna in particular.
“I am glad you like her," he observed, " for she will probably be
your school-fellow—in case you return to Miss Percy's."
A silence of some minutes succeeded this remark, during which I had leisure for reflection. Many things had occurred during this eventful day to humble my pride and subdue my self-love. The estimation in which Anna Selwyn held superior opportunities of acquiring knowledge—the indifference, bordering upon contempt, with which she regarded the petty discomforts which I had magnified into trials and grievances—the respect with which I had heard my governess and teacher mentioned and, lastly, the fact that such people as Mr. and Mrs. Selwyn
should deliberately remove their daughter from the care of an accomplished governess, and send her to school; convinced me that I had hitherto undervalued my advantages; and in proportion as my sense of their importance increased, my fear of being deprived of them grew stronger. Such being the case, my readers will, doubtless, anticipate my decision, and I hope they heartily approve it. As for my dear father, he received my announcement with such affectionate approbation, as made my heart leap for joy.
Before we reached the manor house, it was arranged that I should write to Miss Charlotte, acknowledging my faults, asking forgiveness, and promising to be more guarded and circumspect in future. This I accordingly did the following day. I received no written reply, but my teacher took an opportunity of remarking in the school-room, that she was glad to find I had at last condescended to acknowledge myself to be wrong I felt that I had exposed myself to this characteristic answer, for it was true that, up to this time, I had never in words acknowledged myself to blame, although I had generally done so by actions, finding that I could not recover my self-approbation without endeavoring to atone for what I knew to be wrong. Perchance these pages may be read by some young persons who have yielded to a similar besetment—whose lips have refused to utter words of contrition, when their hearts and consciences have convicted them of error. Let such take encouragement from my example. Far from experiencing any emotion of shame, or sense of degradation, I was not in the least discomposed by Miss Charlotte's observation, so happy was I in the consciousness of having acted rightly, and gained this great victory over myself. If such were the result of my first concession, how mistaken must those young persons be, who feel no doubt of meeting with ready sympathy and cordial forgiveness, yet persevere in stubborn silence where their own faults are concerned.
The following day was the Sabbath, and I will not attempt to describe my delight when, leaning on the arm of my father, I accompanied him to the church where he had engaged to officiate. The weather continued fine, and in my opinion the bells had never chimed so sweetly, nor the Sunday school
children walked so orderly, as on this joyous morning. While seated in Miss Percy's pew awaiting the arrival of my governess and school-fellows, I glanced timidly round the church, for I anxiously desired there should be a large congregation. Nor was I disappointed. Either the cause or the preacher was evidently popular, and I was much gratified to observe, that the Selwyn family, though in the habit of attending another place of worship, were amongst the hearers. My dear father's appearance was remarkably venerable, and his demeanour serious. Those who saw him only in the pulpit could form no idea of his habitual gentleness, and even playfulness, in domestic life.
On this occasion he preached from 2 Cor. v. 20. “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us, we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.”
Young and thoughtless as I then was, I recollect the simple arrangement of
father's discourse, and its impressive application. The text, he said, embodied the very essence of the gospel, since it pointed out the chief object of the Christian ministry, in reconciling sinners to an offended God; the depravity of human nature, as evidenced by the need of reconciliation, and the only way of salvation by faith in a crucified Saviour. He then dwelt on the earnestness of the appeal made by the apostle, and ended with a powerful application.
“ Is man,” said he, “so utterly fallen, that it should be necessary to beseech him to seek reconciliation with his Maker? What! beseech the dependant to be reconciled to his benefactor—the child, to his indulgent father—the slave, to his deliverer—the criminal, to the judge who offers him a free pardon—the perishing creature, to the adorable Creator! What monstrous perversity; what desperate obstinacy, and indescribable folly, is this !” My father concluded his discourse with an affectionate invitation to the young, to accept the offer of mercy, and devote the spring time of their lives to the service of their Redeemer.
But to return to my story. In the course of a few days the vacation commenced and I once more revisited my own beloved home. I should however mention, that I was suffered to depart without an offer of the prize I had so hastily refused to
accept. My father's house adjoined the burial-ground of a plain unpretending church, or rather chapel, in the suburbs of a manufacturing town. The parsonage, for so it was called, was the very opposite of the rural cottage-like residence to which the name is usually applied. It was a three-storied house of red brick, fronting the public road, and only varied by a side view into the neat well-kept burial ground, with its border of trees and evergreens, and beyond it, into the open country, which, though by no means easy of access, afforded a pleasant prospect as seen from the windows overlooking the churchyard. My father's study, which was decidedly the pleasantest apartment we could boast, had this aspect. It was, strictly speaking, an offshoot from the house, being built over a room, used principally as a class-room for those girls who were considered too old for the Sabbath school, and were under the care of my dear mother. Here they assembled twice on the Sabbath to receive religious instruction suited to their age, sex, and station, and one evening in the week was also devoted to teaching them writing and needlework.
This apartment communicated both with the house and church, and on this account was very convenient to both my parents.
During the vacations my mother allowed me to be present whilst she instructed her class. Sometimes when the regular lessons were ended, I read aloud to the girls; and on the weekevenings especially I delighted to assist in placing their work, or setting their copies. Of this room I shall have more to say hereafter. It also served in the holidays as a sort of playroom or work-shop for my brothers; and here I frequently joined them to listen to their school adventures, and relate my
The subject of my London journey was gravely discussed in the class-room on the
very evening of
my arrival. My brother Philip, who was about two years my senior, had spent some months in the metropolis, and his glowing account of its wonders did not tend to lessen my anxiety to accept the kind invitation I had received.
We were all three seated by the window, which, as I have said, overlooked the pretty church yard. The day had been
very warm, and the sunset was glorious, giving promise of a bright to-morrow.
“I think you will go, Caroline,” said Philip, recommencing after a pause in our conversation. “It is so unlike our father to keep you unnecessarily in doubt, and disappoint you at last.”
“And I hope you will contrive to get me invited also,” added my younger brother, Edward, “for I am anxious to see the little heroine of the election."
As he thus spoke, the door was gently opened, and my mother entered. Philip sprang forward to meet her. Taking both her hands, he drew her playfully forward, and fixing his eyes steadily on her face exclaimed, “Here is the very person who can clear up this doubtful point. Now, mother, you are a witness put upon your veracity: "To go, or not to go?’ that is the question.”
It was impossible for her to dissemble, even in jest, so simple and transparent was her character. She answered frankly, “If you allude to your sister's going to town, I believe another day or two will decide the matter."
“ And in the mean time, is Mrs. or Miss Dalton kept on the tenter-hooks of suspense ? Surely my father replied to her letter?”
“Certainly, he answered it the following post, but requested time for consideration. Since then he has consulted Miss Percy upon the subject, and hopes to hear from her in the morning."
“But why could not that august personage give her opinion in words ?” he asked.
“She kindly offered to make some inquiries on yoạr father's behalf, the result of which she promised to communicate.”
“Pray, is Caroline's fate to depend on her decision ?" 56 Yes.” Edward groaned, Philip whistled, and I felt strongly inclined
“I came to remind you that it is nine o'clock, and time for family worship,” resumed my mother, in her usual placid tone. “To morrow will soon be here. We must wait patiently a little longer."
S. A. (To be continued.)