Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

“What does she say?"

“O different things I don't like to tell you all of them ; don't you recollect, Miss Lindsey, when Harry and Lydia Elvers came up with the under nurse to walk with us, you sent me into the dining-room for your boa, and as I passed, Spicer said in her usual way, . what are you going to do with that thing? I would not wear such a thing as that I'm sure, I should be ashamed, it is made of old rabbit skins!' and they both laughed."

Miss Lindsey recollected as she passed the servants on the occasion referred to by Maude, observing they both looked up and seemed very merry; she was therefore assured of the truth of this pleasing incident.

Her pride was a good deal wounded : she thought too there was inconsiderate vanity in Mrs. Sydenham's request; she had not made the situation so agreeable as to have any right to conclude it could be desired except as a means of gaining money. Susan's darling object had been to assist in keeping her brother at school, where at present he was making great progress ; but she was like a caged wild bird, she reflected on the disappointment her family, already oppressed with care, would experience by her resignation of a situation they considered so desirable ; this too was her first, and she had been impressed with the importance of continuing in it for a respectable period, and she resolved to submit with patience. Mrs. Sydenham certainly appeared, as far as Miss Lindsey could judge from her conduct, to place full confidence in her where the children were concerned. After the first fortnight she was very rarely seen in the schoolroom, so that Susan's deficiencies were not likely to be detected by her, and she took no part and interfered in no way in their studies. Faults were frequently observable in the children which called for strong measures and decided conduct. Cecil's temper was violent and obstinate; and he often had recourse to falsehood to conceal what he had done. There was also a want of openness in Maude, and Miss Lindsey was fully aware that no time was to be lost in efforts to eradicate these growing evils; but she was too timid to take the responsibility of necessary measures upon herself, and appealed to Mrs. Sydenham, feeling assured of her assistance in her painful duties ; but Mrs. Sydenham instead of evincing any gratitude, or offering assistance, endured the appeal in a manner which said, “this is your business; I wish you could manage your own affairs ;" she seemed annoyed by it, “it agitated her exceedingly,” she said, “and put her so out of spirits that she should be obliged to send an excuse here or there where she happened to be going." Miss Lindsey saw she bad better keep these things to herself

. “I depend entirely upon you, Miss Lindsey ; I am sure you will do what is right I mean your best ;" she thought it prudent to praise with moderation. Thus she relied in the daily aad hourly performance of duties

requiring calm judgment and high principle upon the devotion of a perfect stranger, whose confidence and affection she had never made any effort to gain. Miss Lindsey was by no means equal to the weighty task intrusted to her, nor conscious of its importance. As an amiable girl, she wished to see her pupils well bred and happy, but she never realized the consequence of the evils she had not the power to check. Mrs. Sydenham thought it right to pay her some attention on her first arrival. She had observed that the kindness bad appeared to be gratefully appreciated, and supposing Miss Lindsey had become accustomed to the situation, she soon left her to herself, the interruption to her own amusements and pursuits having been felt to be irksome. s She is so shy,” thought Mrs. Sydenham; “ I cannot draw her out, it is so much trouble; it is of no use to invite her into the drawing-room, for she will not talk of her own accord, and I have the task of entertaining her. I shall be very glad when the education of the children is over. Cecil will go to school, and I dare say it will save me a great deal of anxiety if I could send Maude from home; but then I should have no companion; Maude is such a lovely little creature, I like to have her by me.

She did not wish her domestic arrangements to be discussed by her friends, and therefore objected to Miss Lindsey making acquaintances. “ It was dangerous;" she was annoyed at the amount of correspondence in which Miss Lindsey indulged; for children are not companions; and as Miss Lindsey was forbidden to form friendships, she had recourse to letter writing as a vent for her thoughts and affections. “ This is always the case with governesses," said Mrs. Sydenham ; "they run about the house taking notes, and then they send their despatches all over the country.” To check this she would exclaim, “What a packet of letters ! when will you find tiine for answering them all! I should be very sorry to have such a demand upon me!" Thus the roses died away on poor Susan's cheeks, and she glided about the house among the gay servants and merry guests like a ghost. The children took advantage of her timidity, they could not fathom her unhappiness, and did very much as they chose. Under Mrs. Sydenham's carelessness, self-willand deception had attained a strong growth; Miss Lindsey was too feeble to eradicate them. Cecil frequently indulged his boyish and unruly spirits in practical jokes on Miss Lindsey. He meant them to be harmless; but if, as was often the case, they proved otherwise, and some of the poor girl's few possessions were destroyed, Maude came to his assistance, and some more costly things were purchased by her, and presented to the governess, lest Cecil should get into a scrape if Miss Lindsey told papa, as she threatened to do, because papa was always very much vexed and very angry if Cecil did any thing he called “ungentlemanly."

[ocr errors]

Miss Lindsey had been with them a short time when Maude entered the room in which Cecil was amusing himself, and with a grave face said,

“Do you know, Cecil, you have entirely spoilt Miss Lindsey's work-box ?”

"No," said Cecil, “ I am sure I did not mean to do it; I merely wanted to penetrate into its mysteries. You know she said, one ought never to be satisfied with superficial knowledge, or some such thing. I believe those are her own words, and she ought to be very much pleased to find I mind what she says and act upon her precepts ; I went to the bottom of the work-box and found out all about it."

“ You ought not to have been so rough."

“ Nonsense-it was all fun--she looked in such a desperate fright.”

« No, really it is no joke, Cecil, she is so vexed."
“ What, about that work-box ?”
“Yes, I believe the sister she talks so much of gave it her.”

“Well, it really was quite an accident; I did not intend to break it; I was rather afraid it was considerably damaged.” “ I saw the tears in her eyes.”

Well, I should have apologized, only she went on with her usual nonsense about telling my papa,' and I know she won't; besides, I don't like to be treated in that way; if the box is broken, I am very sorry; only I sincerely hope it will break her of her bad habit of talking stuff about telling one's papa."

“Do go and tell her you are sorry-I am so afraid."

“No, I shall not, because it is very provoking. It is what I call decidedly a provocative case, Maude, and in such cases I don't apologize."

But Maude, fully convinced there was some danger, purchased a new box.

“I say, Master Cecil,” said Spicer, who was fond of insinuating herself into the good graces of the young people, “how very near your mamma was in finding out the box Miss Maude bought was not Miss Lindsey's; I was fearful about it, because 'twas altogether handsomer; it had crimson velvet instead of common satin; I told Miss Maude she should have bought one exactly alike, then it would not have been remarked.”

“ Was she?" said Maude quietly.
“You know she was, Miss Maude."
“ What did she say?" asked Cecil.

“ She looked at the box, and asked whose it was?” Miss Lindsey coloured up and said nothing; she never does, poor thing, and I said, Miss Lindsey's, ma'am ; Miss Lindsey's ? said your mamma;

I never saw it before ;' Miss Maude looked so uncom. fortable, and so I said, “Miss Lindsey has several boxes, ma'am;'

VOL. XII.

E

66

and to turn it off, I told Miss Maude somebody was waiting to see her.”

“ Has she several boxes ?” asked Maude.

“ Not that I know of, it is not very likely,” said Spicer with a laugh. “Then why did you say she had ?” said Cecil.

Why did I say so, sir —why I said so fearing lest you and Miss Maude should get into a scrape.”.

“ And so you don't mind telling a falsehood or two to help a friend,” said Cecil—“good creature !"

“ Well, sir, next time I won't interfere." “ Perhaps you had better not."

Spicer's eye flashed. “Yes, and perhaps it would be better if your father and mother did know a little more about you both than they do, which they should if I were a certain

person-poor

fearful

thing!

go

“ Poor Miss Lindsey,” said Maude, "she was very kind about it.”

“I don't see why she is to be pitied,” said Cecil, and he flung up his ball and caught it again-again up went the ball "she certainly is not to be pitied”—the ball fell very near the china vase, but Cecil lunged sideways and caught it-" because the new box is the best. Didn't you say the new box was the best? Accidents will bappeu-mind your head, Spicer---perhaps, poor fearful thing, you had better march off---I don't think she is at all to be pitied" Seeing Spicer bad departed, he added, “Maude, do and cheer up poor little Liney, poor little Linnet, there's a good girl,” He caught the ball remarkably well several times ; there was a certain baze of thoughtfulness in his eyes as he relinquished his sport.

Miss Lindsey, wearied out with daily difficulties and annoyances, and feeling a vague consciousness that she was incompetent to the duties her position imposed on her, resolved to quit the family. She wrote to acquaint her mother with the determination to which she had come. The reply spoke of increasing pecuniary distress, of the heartless extravagance of the eldest son, and of the declining health of the father. Susan chavged her purpose, and resolved to endure anything rather than add to the troubles of the circle at home. Mrs. Sydenham very soon raised her salary.

Cecil was sent to Eton. He was very backward, and found he had so much to acquire before he could take a respectable place, that he soon began to despair. He became accustomed to the bottom of the class. His health had suffered severely from want of care and exercise during his infancy, and he was incapable of beara ing much application. He became an eyesore to his master, who came to a hasty conclusion, that he was dull and idle. These circumstances combined to render Eton far from agreeable to Cecil. He perceived a dislike, which he felt to be an unjust prejudice, was entertained towards himself. A mutual system of irritation was commenced between him and his tutor, and very soon Cecil declared he should “not be trampled upon by that old tyrant, but should release himself from despotism and slavery."" He accordingly attempted an escape. He was, however, discovered in a waggon when he was about half way home, and brought “ back to his punishment.” The affair occasioned his father the most intense pain he had ever known, and was eventually hushed up.

“ VARIETY IS CHARMING."

I was very young when taken for the first time to witness a theatrical representation, and this treat was afforded through the influence and persuasion of a certain twentieth cousin, usually known as

kind Di," or “old Di,” or, more respectfully speaking, as Mrs. Diana Sage. She was a short, rotund, merry-hearted creature, with a pocket full of bon bons, and a head full of funny sayings and odd stories, which she delighted to repeat for the amusement or edification (or perhaps both) of young folks; for her droll tales had always something improving or pleasant in them, either openly conveyed, or covertly demonstrated, so that every one was glad to listen. It was a real boon 'to have Cousin Di at Christmas-tide; what rejoicings there were when we heard she was coming; and when she did come, and a private box was by her secured at old Drury for our special use and behoof, in order to witness the exhibition of a grand Christmas Pantomime, then indeed the enthusiasm and gratitude we felt towards our benefactress reached its climax. There were other children of our party ; but either they had been to Fairy-land before, or their dispositions were less excitable than mine, for the regret I endured when the brilliant display was over, and the dark curtain fell, caused me to weep bitterly, and my sole desire was to be left in that comfortable box, for the remainder of my life! With clasped hands and streaming eyes, I cried beseechingly, “Oh! dear Di, if I could but come here every night for all my life long, I should be the happiest creature in the whole world !”

“You remind me of another little cousin, my dear,” replied Mrs. Diana Sage smiling, " when, last Christmas, he was so elated at sight of the huge plum-pudding, that, standing up and stretching forth his tiny hand majestically, as he had been taught to do when repeating, 'My name is Norval,' he solemnly exclaimed, • Di, when I am a big man, I will dime off plum-pudding every day!' To-morrow morning, iny dear, you and I must have a talk

« ForrigeFortsett »