• TABLE OF CONTENTS
HIDE
 Front Cover
 Title Page
 I
 II
 III
 IV
 V
 VI
 VII
 VIII
 IX
 X
 XI
 XII
 XIII
 XIV
 XV
 Back Cover
 Spine






Group Title: Decision : : a tale
Title: Decision
CITATION THUMBNAILS PAGE TURNER PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE
Full Citation
STANDARD VIEW MARC VIEW
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00001904/00001
 Material Information
Title: Decision a tale
Alternate Title: Decision
Physical Description: 160 p. : col. ill. ; 16 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Strong and Brodhead ( Publisher )
Publisher: Strong and Brodhead
Place of Publication: Boston
Publication Date: 1851
 Subjects
Subject: Virtue -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Hand-colored illustrations -- 1851   ( local )
Embossed cloth bindings (Binding) -- 1851   ( rbbin )
Bldn -- 1851
Genre: Hand-colored illustrations   ( local )
Embossed cloth bindings (Binding)   ( rbbin )
novel   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: United States -- Massachusetts -- Boston
 Notes
Statement of Responsibility: by Mrs Hofland.
General Note: Ill. is hand-colored.
General Note: Baldwin Library copy: ill. partially torn.
Funding: Brittle Books Program
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00001904
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 002249371
oclc - 45712356
notis - ALK1104
 Related Items
Other version: Alternate version (PALMM)
PALMM Version

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front page 1
        Front page 2
        Front page 3
    Title Page
        Page 3
        Page 4
    I
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
    II
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
    III
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
    IV
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
    V
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
    VI
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
    VII
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
    VIII
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
    IX
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
    X
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
    XI
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
    XII
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
    XIII
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 123
        Page 124
        Page 129
        Page 130
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
        Page 136
        Page 137
    XIV
        Page 138
        Page 139
        Page 140
        Page 141
        Page 142
        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 145
        Page 146
        Page 147
        Page 148
        Page 149
        Page 150
        Page 151
        Page 152
        Page 153
        Page 154
        Page 155
        Page 156
    XV
        Page 157
        Page 158
        Page 159
        Page 160
        Page 161
    Back Cover
        Page 162
        Page 163
    Spine
        Page 164
Full Text
















































The Baldwin Library
Rn "BZsity
of
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DECISION.




A TALE.




BY MRS. HOFLAND,
AUTHOR OF
MODERATION; SELF.DENIAL; ENERGY; INTEGRITY ; EI





"First know that thy principles are just, and then be
ible in the path of them."






BOSTON:
STRONG AND BRODHEAD.

.' 1851. .




















S


0













DECISION.





CHAPTER L


MORE' than half a century has now elapsed, since a party,
assembled round the tea-table of Mrs. Falconer, were busy
in commenting on the conduct, and lamenting the ruin, of
one of their acquaintance, once a wealthy manufacturer in
the neighboring town of B-.
The topic was discussed (as such things usually are) with
different views of the case, according to the original char-
acters or the relative situations of the speakers, nearly all
of whom had, in their own persons or their connections,
some sympathies with the party, except the lady of the
house, whose attention was at this moment given rather to
the hospitable attentions due to her guests than the subject
of their discussion; but her little daughter, a child of about
eleven years old, who was generally too much of a romp b
confine herself in the drawing-room, yet too intelligent to
suffer any thing interesting to escape her when there, was
observed to glance her bright eye from one speaker to
another, and shake back the profusion of long ringlets which
covered her neck, with an eagerness to catch every sound,
that indiopd bow much her mind was employed on th4

"Mr. Williams was imprudent; he trusted the hose of
1I






DECISION.


Burns and Son too ftlr, lost a great deal, and could never
recover it," said one.
"How should he ?" said another, since the expenses of
his family were not lessened, and they were just at that
period when young people are inevitably expensive."
"Yes, indeed -they kept much company, dressed well,
and were seen every where," observed a third. "Had Mrs.
Williams been prudent, I think something might have been
done to save them from this total overthrow."
"Poor woman!" exclaimed a Mrs. Brice, who was her-
self the mother of a large family, "what could she do, I
wonder ? Whilslve live in the world, we must mix with the
world; and the petty savings she could have made by any
system of more rigid economy, at a time when her young
people were forming connections, and getting out in the
world, could not overbalance the remarks to which she
would have subjected them indeed, such conduct would
have injured her husband's credit, and brought on his ruin
sooner."
"So much the better," said several gentlemen; but the
lady continued her assertions-
"Say what you please, but there are a thousand little
things one must do, and must have, which, strictly speaking,
are not necessary: every wife must seek to sustain her
husband's credit; every mother must set off her children,
and see them maintain their due rank in society; to my own
knowledge, Mrs. Williams was a good manager, and never
spent a guinea, or ventured on any extra expenditure, but
where it was imperatively called for."
The warmth and feeling with which this was uttered, by
a woman who was a model of propriety in her own conduct,
silenced, even where it did not convince, and murmuring
sounds of pity were succeeding those of blame, when a
cynical bachelor, who had not yet spoken, cried out in a
4"'tone yet more decisive than the lady's, -
"Fiddle faddle! there is nothing imperateb but dut."
In another moment, the lately ebbing flow of Words






DECISION.


returned, and amounted almost to clamorous opposition of
Mr. Elderton's assertion: It is flle talking!" What can a
bachelor know about a family ? "Harsh judgments ill be-
come the fortunate," were heard on all sides; and so many
condemnatory sentences, and more condemnatory glances,
were thrown on the gentleman, that he became an object of
pity to the child, who repeated his ivords over to herself, to
examine whether they were in themselves offensive, or ren-
dered so by the sharp and somewhat contemptuous tone in
which they were uttered. The result of this examination
induced her to believe that the sentiment was right, for it
accorded with all her mamma had taught her- she drew
near to his chair, and after a short hesitation said, "Then
what ought Mr. and Mrs. Williams to have done?"
Mr. Elderton was not aware from whom the soft female
voice proceeded, but he answered with that quickness and
promptitude which rendered his manners too frequently
unpleasant "Since 'they had lost money, and become poor,
they should have resolved at once to seem poor; have reduced
their establishment, directed the views of their children to
situations more humble, but of course more easily attained;
by which means, they would have secured assistance from
their industry, instead of increased expense from their un-
warranted accomplishments. They should have stepped
down a little lower in life, until they were able to regain
their place honorably, instead of holding it in misery, by
ruinous expedients, until they were thrown far, far be-
low it."
When Mr. Elderton ceased speaking, he became aware
who had been his questioner, and that the smile of derision
had banished the frown of anger from several countenances.
Sensible that he had spoken in too grave a tone, when re-
plying to so young and playful a querist, his countenance
ehsnged; he drew her kindly towards him, abd said, bhif
whisperingly, "Well, Maria, how much of my long speech
do you remlemeb er ?
"I reinember it all, though I can't repeat it."






8 DECISION.

"And how much of it do you understand ?
"A great deal, sir; and I hope I intend"-
"To listen to my advice hey ? "
"Indeed I do-1 will say to myself every morning, 'Duty
is imperative.'"
"Very good- but, Maria, pray what are the imperative
duties which you are, 1 take it, at this very moment pre-
scribing to that little curious heart of yours ?"
Maria's countenance answered, in the first instance, by a
deep blush; but on casting her eyes around, and perceiving
that every person was engaged with talking, or tea-drink-
ing, her tongue also found the power of reply, and she an-
swered, -
"I think it is my duty not to lament dear Sharon-Lacey, in
Ireland, and the pretty gardens, and the hounds, and the
people and not to run about so wildly nor play by ear
instead of notes, and to take more pains in reading French."
"And how will you manage to fulfil this very good cata-
logue of your present duties?"
How ? why, by setting a good resolution, by doing every
thing in the world that can make my manma happy. Is
that the meaning of all you said ?"
Precisely -you have given even a better comment than
Trim's on the fifth commandment, upon my opinion ha,
ha, ha! you are a good girl, a very good girl; I will teach you
German next year; you shall read Goeithe and Gesner some
time, that you shall, Maria."
Mr. Elderton's mother was a German: as a merchant, his
connections lay principally in that country, to which he had
long made annual visits, and for which he was thought to
have an overweening partiality. Maria had learnt sufficient
of these circumstances to make her aware that, in his
opinion, the praise given was high, and the offer made
valuable, and she was at that happy age when all such offers
are literally construed; she thanked him eagerly and warm-
ly -placing, as she spoke, both her hands in his, by way of
sealing the contract as well as claiming the prgmbvia for*






,DEClJrON.


she conceived, though she could not define it, an idea that
she was to fidfil her own duties according to her own Sense
of them, and to be rewarded by the friendship and the
instruction of Mr. Elderton.
The party around, and indeed the whole circle of their
acquaintance, would have said poor Elderton, a confirmed
bachelor, with harsh features, repelling voice, stifle curled
queue-wig, fill suit of huckram-lined brown, and a whole
train of foreign peculiarities and unbending brusquerie
about him, was the last man on earth to attach a child -
especially a child of Maria's description; a gay, spoiled,
laughter-loving little Hebe, with all the naivete and untamed
drollery of a wild Irish girl, tempered alone by that ardent
sensibility of nature, and enthusiastic lovp of her parents,
which might be supposed to render the cold lessons and
severe countenance ot her grave friend peculiarly appalling.
Yet it is certain that from this time Maria did hold Mr.
Elderton's memory in most affectionate respect: she was
insensibly flattered by thinking that he thought her worth
a rational answer, and feeling the force of his assertion.
She was a child of strong mind and vivid conceptions. Till
within a few months, she might have been said to exist only
on her heart, which had expanded its young and glowing
affections on every living thing in its circle, which were
loved and nourished by her with an intensity of regard that
made her soon acquainted not less with sorrow than joy.
But at this period, her mind was claiming to be heard also:
the change of situation, the increase of company, and the
distinctness of character that company bore,-- above all, the
diminished style of her father's household, and the frequent
solicitude on her mother's mild countenance, alike led her
to think. It is, however, certain that no previous circumstance
or conversation had ever induced so -many reflections in
Maria's mind as those of the present evening; and there
were times when she was on the point of saying to her
mother, "Why have we only two men instead of five?






JU) DECISION.

and two horses instead of four ? Is it the custom in Eng.
land fbr gentlemen to have counting-houses instead of
hunting parties, or are we beginning to be poor, like Mr.
Williams? "- but unbounded tenderness and intuitive deli-
cacy forbade her to speak, and she happily turned her medi-
tations to those objects in her own education, which a pru-
dent and elegant mother was constantly pointing out to her
attention





DECISION.


CHAPTER IL


MR. FALCONER was, or rather had been, a country gentle-
man in the north of Ireland, where his ancestors had long
flourished in the midst of an attached tenantry -kful for
their residence, and proud of their merit Hi it is
true, had early in life made a trip to Bath, which koed
a mortgage on his estate; but he brought thence a wife
whose future fortunes repaired it, and he determined, in
consequence of this error, to bring up this his only son at -
home, and so imbue his mind with the love of ht country,
so satisfy his desire of pleasure by the indulgencesq"i4.,
procure him, that the mania of spending his estate J W g14t
land, which was even then a very prevalent one, should.
never affect the head of his beloved Carlos.
Year after year passed on, and the cas of parntal soli-
citude appeared to attain their object. T'he;youth became
unrivalled as a sportsman, seldom sig ed even for t
in Dublin, and had the further merit oP I
utmost ardor into the varioto scheW rlis
estates, which now deployed the riperyea of other -
so that, what with folowibg.-hounds or birds,.rating fences
or destroying them, ,kqii l ngating commons,
clearing rough land, feeding cattle,
netting fish, dancing ats ofto meabg -
of all descriptions, ai ng hiErs t
tiemen, and his mother to a Ca r as
fully employed, and' although he kht Wviags ii a
more extended sense '
He ne'er had changed, or wished to change, his place."
Q.


11





12 DECISION.

A terrible accident deprived Mr. Falconer of his excellent
father a few months after his minority had passed, and
might be said to give his mother a death-blow at the same
time; since she never afterwards recovered her spirits, or
enjoyed her health. To assist her efforts, they now made a
trip to England, crossing to Chester, and thence proceeding
to Blackpool, where they remained some time. Here the
sorrows of the truly mourning son were consoled by the
passion which a beautiful orphan inspired, who was then
lamenting the death of her mother, and had been brought
by her guardian to this place for that change of sce.e, and
relief of mind, which they also sought.
Carlos ,ws handsome, frank, ingenuous, attentive, and at
this period interesting in no common degree; he was also
of ancient family, unsullied character, large, independent
property; of course the young creature to whom he paid
, his devoirs, and who was scarcely more than a child, and
her prud~ guardian, were alike pleased with him,,Nd his
m r W N not less pleased with them. The only deficie cy
Sdr. in this case, was the want of some difficulty to
conquer, some trouble to go through, by which the busy,
bustling, active Carlos could be employed. A journey with
the guardian over great part of North Wales, followed by
another to Sharon-Lacey, supplied this deficiency, after
which t~, truly impatient bridegroom had the felicity of
conducting bit bride thither also, who, even the, bha, not
attained her sixteenth year.
Mrs. Falconer was exquisitely beautiful, but, so delicate
that she resembled an exotic plant unfit to bear change to a
less genial atmosphere; and it soon became evident. to her
idolizing husband and h' r moer, that the,widj6,T
pitalities so long establij at SEaron-Lacey could nof be
sustained by her. In c jence, to a certain degree they
were diminished; be Falconer w as nota
man, in proportion as he's withdrawn from :coY, he
engaged the more in field sports, which pursuit gaysvekww;
by degrees to a passion for improvement, which he pushed
*








without the knowledge attained by experience, or even con-
nected with the theories offered by others, to an extent
which soon became alarming, And combined with previous
circumstances to bring his mother to the grave, at the period
when her jointure became necessary for his relief.
By this time he had become immersed in schemes which
took such entire possession of his mind, that he might be
said to grow rich in imagination, in proportion as he was
poor in purse; and his young wife listened with artless, un-
questioning simplicity to his golden dreams for a consider-
able time, happy in his happiness, and more than contented
with the personal comforts and unsparing indulgences
with which his love and his thoughtlessness alike supplied
her. The sorrows and death of his mother, and his eager
appropriation of that mother's property, notwithstanding his
sincere regret, opened her eyes, and she endeavored to win
him from pursuing phantoms which might end in ruin; and,
as it was necessary for them both to visit Enand on ac-
count of her coming of age, she appeared to have eve0 i
prospect of succeeding in her wishes.
A large sum of money in the funds, and an extensive,
ancient, but not very productive estate, were, now put into
the hands of this young couple, and unhappily the wedding
settlement of the lady was also intrusted to her own keep-
ing. Mr. Falconer entered on his new possessions with
aplmrent wisdom, for he stopped suddenly all his former
projects, whether good or bad, made a considerable reform
in his establishment, observing (perhaps justly) "that a rich
man may do what a poor one dare not," and then bade his
wife farewell, and returned again to her property in Wales.
He had taken it into his head that a mountain on this
estate, whose only merit had hitherto been that of a sheep-
wplk, would prove to him a mine rich as Peruvia's, in the
product of iron ore; and so much was be bent on this
pur iit, that he resolved to sacrifice every other scheme fbr
its attainment.
To this end, he now resigned the company of a lovely
2


13


DECISION.






DECISION.


and beloved wife, who was to him, and found in him, all
the relations of life, and the endearing prattle of a sweet
infant,--in whose very appearance he would have found a
useful monitor, reminding him of her claims as the heir of
two ancient inheritances, and as a female unallied and
unprotected save by himself.
But, alas! every schemer is a gambler, not originally
moved by the same avarice, but certainly acted upon by the
same impetus. Falconer in domestic life was a warm
friend, a generous master, a noble landlord, an affectionate
husband; but when he escaped that sacred circle, his pre.
vailing passion exerted over him the influence ascribed to
demoniac possession, and carried him whithersoever it
would." There was no fatigue too great for him to en-
counter, no scheme too wild for him to adopt, if it for-
warded his end and, by the same rule, no expense too ex-
orbitant for him to adventure. So much "had appetite
increased en by the meat it fed on," that in changing the
subject, he only confirmed the propensity, which by this
time had nearly swallowed up every other predilection, and
become not less his amusement than his business.
Iron ore was indeed found, but it produced no golden
harvest, and required a larger capital than our unfortunate
projector could now command; and as the working of his
mine naturally led him to an acquaintance with those who
were likely to purchase iron, he became necessarily much
connected with that town in which the most was consumed,
and, after the lapse of a few years, formed a partnership with
two persons whom he justly conceived better acquainted
with the commercial part of his undertaking than himself.
These years had been spent by Mrs. Falconer in great
anxiety and comparative solitude, for she had been with-
out the company of him whom she held as dear to her
heart, as attractive to her sight, as he had ever been. It wtll
be naturally concluded that, in such a situation, her child had
enjoyed a paramount place in the consideration of the
young mother; and that, although in some respects nlama-







bly indulged, yet, as being the constant companion and
pupil of her mother, the partaker of her cares and charities,
her gentle control over numerous dependants her hos-
pitable receptions of noble and enlightened visitants, she
had imbibed an exercise of heart and understanding, an
attachment to her mother, which went beyond the common
ties of nature, as they are felt by affectionate children in
general.
The hurrying visits of Mr. Falconer to his own house, the
deep solicitude too generally impressed at this period upon
nis countenance, and the consternation in which all around
appeared left after his departure, would undoubtedly have
tended to render his presence productive of pain rather
than pleasure to Maria, if she had not witnessed the more
than happiness with which her mamma beheld him, and the
overwhelming sorrow which followed his departures, and
which she attributed simply to the fact of his going to
England, which she therefore considered a very naughty
place, and reprobated with all the warmth of her country
and the simplicity of her age.
At length the time arrived when it became necessary for
them all to remove thither. Sharon-Lacey, long mortgaged
to its utmost value, became the property of one who had
freely supplied the speculating improver to this very end,
and consoled himself at those moments when his conscience
reproved him for the removal of an old and highly-estimated
family, by observing that as there was no son, the name of
Falconer would in the course of a few years inevitably
perish, and antedating that event was of no great momneit."
When the time came, the heart of Falconer was indeed
wounded, but he felt called upon as a husband to support
his wife, who, although willing to return to her native c
try under circumstances of diminished importance,
desirous of embracing any situation which secured his.
society, could not witness the bitter sorrow of her Irish
peasantry, and hear the lamentations of her servants, with-


Is


DECISION.




DECISION.


out acute suffering. Rich and poor, old and young, poured
in upon them with that genuine fulness of sympathy, that
mixed language of grief, reproach, and entreaty, which
spoke an interest in their future welfare, a remembrance of
past favors, and indignation towards their supposed enemies,
indicating all tile intense feelings that agitate the genuine
Irishman, and which the present circle felt they had the
more right to express, because Mr. Falconer had been
destined from his birth to live and die amongst them by his
still-lamented father.
Yet a sense of what was due to his honor," in what they
deemed "his day of sorrow," and still more their deep
respect for his gentle lady, somewhat restrained their intru-
sion; but whilst the aged people hung round their horses'
necks, and the young ones sought, by rendering themselves
useful, to show the last fond services of hearts which could
only endure their feelings by expressing them through some
medium, many gathered round the child, on whom they
gazed with an admiration that was almost idolatry, and de
plored, as if she were a victim appointed to sacrifice.
"Ah! it's little your honored grandfather looked to such
a day as this, my swate creature! but it's like ye'll come
back to your place, lady, in due time, and then you'll remem-
ber the childer if my head be laid because they're all your
own to the thing in my arms look up, Sheely dare, and
make your obedience to miss."
Hold your tongue, wife; what for would ye break the
heart o' the angel ? Is'nt the eyes of her running over all
day wi' laving the birds, and the hounds, and the childer,
and the foals, that she fed wi' her own beautiful hands?
O, blessing on the hour she'll reign over us."
If those who help us in the day of distress are dear to us,
still more dear are those we have assisted; and as poor
little Maria heard the blessings called on her head, from'lipp
that had hailed her approach on the bed of sickness, or in
the hour of want, she felt as if they were so dear to her so







entwined with her earliest recollections, and her happiest
m6imeirts, that her very heart was breaking under tie pain
of separation.
Indeed, she was so terribly affected at the last, that Mr
Fald cer was obliged to carry her in his arms to the car-
riage; and nothing less powerful than the sight of her
mItther's tears could have induced her to make the efforts
to overcome her sorrow, necessary for her own health and
the comfort of her alarmed parents. Novelty of scene at
length roused that curiosity so natural to her age, and suc-
ceeded in effecting the cure of her grief; yet it was by slow
degrees, and with many relapses, that she returned to that
cormfposure of spirits which enabled her to enjoy the new,
and, of course, attractive scenes which were offered in their
journey from Scotland (where they landed) to the distant
town of B -
Mr. Falconer had, with due attention to the health, habits,
and taste, of his lady, procured her a house about two miles
otft of town, which had been very handsomely furnished by
the cares of Mrs. Ingalton, his partner's wife; was surround-
ed by the necessary appendages of a gentleman's house on a
small scale; and certainly possessed in its narrow bounds
many comforts, and even elegances, which would have been
looked for in vain either in the old rambling manor-house
where she was born in Wales, or the turreted, but of late
neglected, walls of Sharon-Lacey. The wife was still young
enough to conform her taste to circumstances; and in pos-
sessing the husband from whom she had been so much divi-
ded, and assuring herself of his undiminished affection, she
felt thankful for the change in her situation, and ventured to
look forward with hope to brighter prospects, as offered by
her still sanguine husband. Maria was now not less willing
to be pleased, but the novelties around were by no means
a eeable. She said, "the pretty rooms were only like large
fets, the garden itself was only a great carpet there was
nt orchard no dairy, no long toom for dances, above all, no
2"


rt


DECTSIOf1.





DECISION.


aviary nor greenhouse, and when you looked out of the win-
dows, there was only one green meadow on the other side of
a broad, dusty road no river no mountains, nor even a
common with huts upon it; there were neither children nor
pigs as far as she could see, nor any thing to be kind to
whatever."
All these wants were forgotten the following Christmas,
when her father brought home a little Welsh girl, the daugh-
ter of a respectable man whom he had employed there, and
who had bequeathed her and the few hundreds he had saved
to the care of a master whom he justly deemed honorable and
liberal. She was about a year older than Maria, pretty, art-
less, gentle, and affectionate, but little informed, and wholly
devoid of accomplishment. It was the great joy of Maria's
heart to give and to love, and she seized on Ellen Powis in a
twofold sense, for the purpose of expending upon her all the
good in her power. The aid bestowed on the lovely little
orphan was returned sevenfold in her own improvement -
the little madcap Irish and the untaught Welsh girl became
every day more attached to each other, and so forward in
their education as to attract the admiration of all who knew
them.
This was at present, perhaps, rather a sensible than a
polished circle -few old families resided in the immediate
neighborhood of a manufacturing town; but the only two
who came under this description, and who had always held
themselves aloof from all connection with the inhabitants of
B---, (whatever their wealth or local influence,) visited
Mrs. Falconer immediately on her arrival, and treated her
not less with marked respect as one of themselves, than with
that affectionate interest her person, manners, and situation,
were calculated to excite. These were General and Mrs.
Birchett, an elderly couple, whose children were dispersed
by marriage and profession abroad in the world, and Sir
James and Lady Trevannion, a young couple, married within
a year or two, of amiable manners and good disposition, al-





DECISION.


thought continuing to hold a strong line of demarkation with
their plebeian neighborhood, which returned with interest
every indication of pride or contempt.
The first name in the house with which Mr. Falconer had
joined himself was Mayton, a gay bachelor; the third, as we
already have observed, was Ingalton, a man of mild, unassu-
ming deportment, married to an amiable, lady-like woman,
who had made him the happy father of a promising family.
The first partner travelled much, as they had an extensive
iron foundry in Sweden; the last in the firm managed their
affairs at home, for which he was well calculated in every
respect, save the delicacy of his general health. Mr. Falco-
ner held a middle station, as having too little knowledge for
a leader, yet being too important to be placed last; and re-
duced as his fortune really was, he yet brought with him a
reinforcement of money, which was of great consequence to
the house, and was magnified so much by report, that he
now entered on his new station under circumstances not less
flattering to his self-love than to those hopes it was his error
and misfortune to indulge.





DECiBtolW.


CHAPTER IIL


IT will be evident that our little heroine, for some time at
least, would exchange one set of flatterers for another, and
would move the queen of a new empire, perhaps more seduc-
tive than the last, since she was frequently made the medium
of paying court to her mother by those ladies of B-
who were desirous of classing themselves in the highest cir-
cle of society their country boasted. Mothers wished to see
their daughters possess the same graceful agility, the same
unaffected dignity, and artless witchery, which made her
beauty but a second charm in Maria, and which even a Lon-
don education at a great expense did not impart to their dar-
lings; but these advances rarely led to any thing that could
be termed intimacy with mother or daughter. Mrs. Falconer
really loved Mrs. Ingalton, and she was amused by the so-
ciety of Lady Trevannion; and with them, and the busy, live-
ly companions who were always with her, she was content.
The circumstances of her married life, added to her early loss
of friends, had impressed a pensive character, a meek, but
constant solicitude, on her spirits, which made the glare and
bustle of life rather painful than pleasurable to her; she loved
society, but she disliked parade, and the beauty and elegance
which rendered her an object of unbounded admiration
never affected her in any way incompatible with this love of
retirement, and her continued devotion to a husband whose
fine person, and frank and graceful manners, she now saw to
more advantage than ever, in a circle where they were un-
rivalled.
From the period in which we introduced Maria, until she







completed her fifteenth year, nothing occurred worthy of no-
tice, except the fact that she really claimed the promise of
Elderton, and notwithstanding a decided- predilection for
music and a passion for reading, which often encroached
upon the hours devoted to rest, she yet engaged in learning
the German language with such avidity and perseverance as
to render her a delightful pupil. At a time when her mind
was fully occupied with this pursuit, and she was enabled to
enter with a high relish into the beauties of the German
poets, Mrs. Falconer mentioned an intention of sending Ellen
Powis for a couple of years to a superior school.
School, dear mother! you forget that she is older than
I, because she happens to be less."
No, my love, I do not; she is precisely at the age when a
sensible, reflecting girl will really derive benefit from the
lessons she will receive. Ellen has a very small fortune, and
it is desirable that she should improve it, which she might
do in the most respectable manner if her education were
more complete."
She will want no fortune; she will live with us, you know.
I always thought she came here to 6 my friend and sister as
long as we lived."
"But when your mother assures you, Maria, that it will be
better and happier for Ellen to render herself independent,
and adds the information, that Lady Trevannion will take her
as governess to her little girls, and treat her (you are certain)
most kindly, you will see, Maria, that"--
I see only that that you wish it, mamma," said Maria,
rushing out of the room to hide her tears, every trace of
which were, however, banished when she next saw Ellen, lest
that which she considered bad news should add to her afflic-
tion. For this, however, Ellen had been prepared; for whis-
pers had met her ear, never offered to that of the daughter,
and she was aware that the plan was every way eligible, and
embraced it as a part of those unbounded kindnesses which
had been showered upon her ever since she entered the
family. She departed, and Maria felt as if half her world
was taken from her.


21


DECISION.





A-0 DECISION.

It will be evident that Ellen had in a great measure aap
plied to Maria that portion of her mother's society whit,
was now necessarily given to her father, and on her aht
sence, the mother and daughter insensibly resumed their
former situation with each other. Mr. Falconer was much
engaged, for Mr. Mayton now resided wholly abroad, and
his management there had been of late extremely utnpro-
ductive. Mr. Ingalton's health had become so bad as' to
render him unequal to all exertion; and as his eldest son was
gone to the East Indies, he had, to the great grief of his
wife, recalled Frank, his second son, (who had beer intended
for the church) from the university, to assist him in the count-
ing-house.
Mr. Falonrer was really sorry for this youth, and opposed
the change in his destination as long as he was able; he
was just nineteen, and devoted to literary pursuit with all
the ardor generally experienced at that period of life, com-
bined with high intellect, fine imagination, a soul attuned by
piety to every pure and lofty association, and' that happy
mixture of playful fanc& and pensive reflection, whidh ren-
dered him well calculatd for givingcharms to a gay hoo',
and interest to a sad one. 0
To a young man with such habits and desires as' Prank
had been permitted from his cradle to indulge, this iffex-
pected mandate appeared a sentence cruel aS death; and so
much was he overwhelmed by it, that the Weak constitution
and parental affection of his father rendered him itiatiia le
of insisting on the sacrifice, and Frank would' lave carried
his point but for the irresistible pleadings of his bmOth'.
"t Your brother," said she, "has left his country, probably fir
life; your father may linger long, bUi he will never be re-
stored; and what will become of your mother and tA*ee
sisters, if you persist in pursuing a profession, where, e*n
if you are successful, it is utterly unlikely that yo ctin
assist us."
When Mr. Falconer retailed this conversation at hdbie,
and added that poor Frank had yielded to his mother't *d-





DECISION.

treaties, Mrs. Falconer praised him highly, and said, "she
was impatient to know him;" Maria observed only "he lad
done his duty," but she soon afterwards said, "yet surely
there can be no occasion to distress him thus; for when
his father dies, he must be rich enough to provide for his
widow and daughters."
No answer was returned, but her mother sighed deeply,
and her father appeared restless and alarmed; she recol-
lected lately seeing the former in tears one morning on en-
tering her dressing-room, and that, in reply to her inquiries,
she had uttered some very extraordinary words, indicating a
sense of unworthy conduct on her own mind. Maria
thought something must be wrong, but hoped she should
soon see it relieved; she was at least certain that "weak
nerves," a disorder then as much in every one's mouth as
" bilious complaints are now, must be the sole cause of her
mother's self-accusation.
From this time, however, Mrs. Falconer's spirits and
health were much affected, and were so much worse, ap-
parently, when Maria more particularly attended to her, that
she was earnestly requested to forlh every mark of pqpu-
liar tenderness, an deavor by every possible means to
divert her from all subjects of thought. As, however, nothing
could induce the patent either to seek the common relief
offered by a wateringplace, or to plunge into promiscuous
society, Mr. Falconer invited young Ingalton to spend every
moment he could spare from his new and to him disgust-
ing duties with them; as he found that quiet society af-
forded more regular relief, to his wife's spirits than any
more violent stimulus, and next to Mrs. Ingalton she prized
the society of her sog Francis.
In fact, the very dejection of this young man was benefi-
cial to those who conversed with him, since it induced them
to soothe and enliven a mind which well merited their kind-
ness, and would richly repay their endeavors to unfold its
stores. In a short time Maria forgot her loss in Ellen's
society, saw with gratitude the relief her mother experi-







enced, and that tne more deep though less constant oppres
sion which had of late been visible in her father's manners
again gave way to that sanguine temperament which was
natural to him. It was difficult to say whether this disposi-
tion in Mr. Falconer was more to be lamented or rejoiced
over; unquestionably it had induced him to engage in peril-
ous enterprises, and pursue unwise objects; but it also pre-
served him, generally speaking, in such a flow of spirits, that
his exertions continued unparalyzed amidst losses and vexa-
tions of the most enervating nature, and his temper remained
pleasant and cheerful to his own household. Unlike many
domestic despots who imbitter the prosperity they be-
stow by the tyranny of their tempers, poor Falconer went
step by step to ruin, with the bustling gayety of one who
was accumulating possessions, and the affectionate indul-
gence of a heart that thought it could never bestow too much
on the objects of its affection.
Consistent with this disposition, he was in the habit of
concealing all painful circumstances as much as possible
from his wife, and wbh from time to time, she discovered
them, he still insisted at she woul geep them from her
daughter; but as all parties were by future little calculated
for disguise, many things inevitably crept out, which, with-
out exciting any great alarm, yet driv the mind of Maria
from subjects of elegant occupation to reflection of a pain-
ful nature, but which tended greatly to strengthen her mind,
expand her views of existence, and, above all, to lead her
to religious exercise of thought, and that fgith which is the
only certain support of the sonk Endued with acute feel-
ing, a vivid imagination, ardent affections, a fine taste for all
that is beautiful in nature and excellent in art, a contempt
for all meanness, an utter abhorrence of vice, and freed, by
the peculiar circumstances in which her life had been spent,
alike from the vulgar pride of wealth and the less repulsive
but equally strong prejudices which she imbibed from her
birth, as the sole representative of two ancient families, -
there was in her character something romantic, independ-


24


DECISION.





DECISION.


cat, and almost eccentric, so far as it was developed in con-
versation; but in her complete devotedness to her mother,
her more than sisterly attachment to Ellen, her enthusiastic
love of music, which amounted, perhaps, to a passion, those
who associated with her saw only a most amiable and ac-
complished as well as beautiful girl.
Mr. Elderton had been a long time abroad, in consequence
of having much extended his business on the continent,
about the period of which we speak. On his return, finding
that poor Ingalton was on the point of death, and that many
unpleasant reports were stirring respecting the house, which
his own knowledge of Mayton's conduct was calculated to
confirm, he bent his steps towards Mr. Falconer's house the
first evening he could spare. On his way he was overtaken
by Maria, on horseback, who greeted him with all the joyful
warmth so prominent in her character. On looking up, he
saw, with surprise, how much time had improved her during
his absence, for she had grown considerably, and her slight
but graceful and finished form was seen to advantage in her
close habit; nor did her plumed hat less become her ani-
mated and beautiful face. M*Elderton's gaze bretght
blushes into her cqeeks-or was it not the inquiry as to
who was the young gentleman, her companion ?
It is Frank Ingalton," said Maria, in a low voice "poor
fellow, he was obliged, much against his inclination, to leave
Oxford, and take his father's place in the counting-house:
it was very hard upon him, but he is really good, and has
consented to give himself up to trade -"
Which he pursues by riding about with you," said the
old gentleman, in his usual dry, satirical vein.
He pursues it," returned Maria, haughtily, "as every
man ought to do. I was taking my usual airing, met him,
and induced him to take my groom's horse."
The account would have been perfectly satisfactory to
her old friend, but for the torrent of blushes, and the angry,
yet somewhat timid, tone in which it was uttered. Mr.
Elderton pursued his way, spent the evening with the
3,





DECISION.


family, and walked Iome with the young man, who, he
*confessed to himself, was indeed (for that neighborhood)
I! uite a paragon, but, he yet internally maintained, "ought
never to think of Maria."
Again and again he met them, and closely observed the
conduct of Frank, whose evenings were usually enlivened
> by running over, if but for a single hour, to Mr. Falconer's:
'when by chance he did not come, it was evident that
Maria's mind was estranged, her instrument was out of tune,
her voice affected by the air: the books she had lately read
,were all of his recommending; the letter she had been
writing to Ellen was filled with anecdotes which he had
related, or traits of virtue and sensibility which he had ex-
hibited. It appeared evident to the awakened mind of her
Sold friend, that Maria had decidedly imbibed that passion
which would give color to her future existence; but he knew
not whether the total indifference evinced on the subject by
her parents arose from a concurrence with the wishes of
the young people, caused by their evidently deep regard for
young Ingalton, or from the pressure of more affecting,
though suppressed object of anxiety, acting upon their
spirits and preventing due attention to one of so much
inoment.
'The pile, interesting countenance of Frank, and his
Spensive' modesty of manners still continuing, were an assur-
ance at' length to Mr. Elderton "that he had never told his
'love;" for there wonld have been moments when even the
most anxious son, the most prudent tradesman, must have
betrayed that triumphant sense of happiness, the possession
of such a heart as Maria's would inevitably bestow, espe-
cially on one whose sensibility was evidently acute. Per-
haps," he would say, "after all, there is nothing in this inter-
course beyond that of an attached sisterly regard, on Maria's
part, felt for one who acts as a brother to her, and a son to
her parents; and the young man's mind may have been so
wedded to his books, that even the charms and accomplish-
ments of Maria' failed to affect him when he was a stranger,
,0








and she is now become familiar to him as a friend; if
so, they will be saved from a foolish match, and I have
nothing to tremble for in the future fate of my pretty
favorite."
Yet he soon did tremble; for Ellen returned, and she, too,
was improved in person and manners, though in his eyes
every way inferior to Maria, who hailed her appearance with
all the fondness of infancy, and that soft, languid tenderness
of joy, which was indicative of a heart oppressed by the
fulness of its own unanalyzed feelings, and which gave to
friendship, which it was proud to express, the character of
that passion it was as yet unauthorized to reveal. This was
followed by evident anxiety, by coldness, and alternate
kindness, towards him who caused the struggle, and oc-
casionally by a kind of stern self-command, which triumphed
over all inquietude, and suggested to her observing friend
the hope that she had discovered the state of her own heart,
and would conquer a passion felt for one who did not return
it, without suffering its effects to appear- without gaining
from pity that which love had not accorded- a state which
he well knew the pride and delicacy of her nature would
render insupportable.
In all this, Frank's conduct was not only blameless, but
entitled to the highest praise: his constant attention to busi-
ness, his affectionate attentions to his slowly-declining
parent, the variety of his knowledge, and his unassuming
display of those talents which render domestic society cap-
tivating as well as endearing, were such as to quicken the
benevolent attentions of Mr. Elderton to his feelings and
manners, from a sincere desire to add to the future happi-
ness of Maria. He was so situated in life, that he could,
without injury to others, have offered, in a share of his own
extensive business, the means of competence, whenever the
final downfall of the house (in which the fortunes of the
young people were alike centred) should render his friend-
ship necessary to thht end. But if Frank did not love Maria
as she merited to be loved, it was by no means his wish to


27


DECISION.






38 DECISION.

tempt him to marry her by the offer of fortune. He be-
lieved that there existed not a man on earth who deserved
her, and least of all was he inclined to accord that praise to
one who, however meritorious in other respects, could daily
witness the graceful energy, the glowing affection, the varied
talent she displayed, within the narrow circle which circum-
stances now seldom extended beyond her own family, with-
out according her equal love and admiratir n.
Such were the thoughts passing in Mr. Eldertnn's mind,
when Ellen, evidently with great pain, obeyed the lmnmons
of Lady Trevannion, who had, with extraordinary kindness,
waited for her so long, that to have trespassed further on
her forbearance, would have caused a breach of friendship
between the families. As her present home was at the dis-
tance of four or five miles, though Maria had it in her power
to ride over every day, yet it was evidently Ellen's duty to
remain much at home, and Mr. Elderton rejoiced, for her
own sake, in the circumstance. His eye was upon all the
circle, and his heart ached for all, under the impression that
evil was impending upon them, both from threatened mis.
fortunes without and unsuspected enemies within.






DECISION.


CHAPTER IV.


DURING the period of which we have been speaking, every
thing in the affairs of Mr. Falconer had been gradually
growing worse, and the conduct of that partner who was
resident abroad gave too much reason to believe that he
was either, as an extravagant man, drawing from the mother
country the sources of improper expenditure, or amassing
wealth by which to secure himself in possession of certain
property, when the affairs of the house should come to a
termination by the approaching dissolution of partnership,
which would take place at the time when Miss Falconer
came of age a circumstance which, it had been under-
stood, had some connection with her father's property now
in business.
This eventful period was looked to with much anxiety by
all the parties concerned, as they had found it impossible to
bring Mayton to his duty, but by no person so much as Mrs.
Falconer, whose solicitude on her daughter's account had
naturally been quickened fi'om observing her artless predilec-
tion for a young man, for whom she felt herself the most
decided preference. The dreams of ambition she might have
had for such a daughter were nearly obliterated by anxiety,.
and self-reproach, which, though not venting itself in tears
or lamentations, had long sat heavy on her heart: the sad
secret which preyed there, and was slowly, but certainly..
wearing away health and life, was suddenly developed.
One day Mr. Elderton entered at an hour very unusual
with him, and wearing a very disturbed countenance; the
mother and daughter were both at the moment engaged in
3*


29





DECISION.


making up some cheap clothing for one of their poor neigh-
bors, but so much were they alike struck by the hurry and
perplexity of his countenance, that with one voice they
inquired, what was the matter ?"
"The house of Krentzers have failed, in Dantzic, by
which I shall lose a large sum of money, and I am obliged
to set out without an hour's delay. So I ran forward to bid
you good by."
Krentzers!" exclaimed Mrs. Falconer, surely Frank
spoke of them as being people with whom Mr. Mayton
ought to lodge money."
Very likely. We all think of ourselves first; but I
certainly ought to have told you what 1 learnt as I came
hither that poor Ingalton died about an hour ago in Frank's
arms, whilst Falconer was (according to his daily custom)
reading him the letters, perhaps I really fear it
looks as if this bad news had something to do with it."
"Poor Frank!" exclaimed Maria, bursting into tears.
Mrs. Falconer neither spoke nor wept, but she looked on
the point of fainting, and yet exerted herself to ring the bell
and order the carriage to be got ready immediately.
You are going to poor Mrs. Ingalton, mamma ; I will go
with you," said Maria.
"No, my love, you must not; I must see your father; Imust
inquire into all these distressing circumstances."
Maria was on the point of saying Mr. Elderton will go
with you," for she did not like her mother to depart, evi-
dently ill, alone, when undergoing much internal agitation;
but she saw that she preferred being alone at this moment,
and was well aware that, although a very friendly man in
the main, he was by no means a gentle binder of bleeding
wounds; Mrs. Falconer, therefore, departed, without taking
Mr. E., although his hat was in his hand to set out for
B-- also.
"Surely," said Maria, reverting to this bad news, you
will not lose much, my dear sir."
"I shall not be ruined by it, Maria, certainly; but I shall






31


lose at one stroke the profits of many years' labor, which is
provoking enough; n'importe! I am a bachelor, and my hab-
its are not expensive."
That is a great comfort at a time like this," said Maria,
following the glance of his eye around the elegantly-fur-
nished room in which she sat; "I confess I should be more
distressed for Mrs. Ingalton than you, were she, in addition
to her widowhood, to lose her property too: what would
become of her and the girls ?"
"Think for yourself-your mother, Maria: she has a
brother, a son, and the circumstances of her widowhood
will raise her friends; but you I tremble for you, I confess
I do."
You are very good, but I think there is no comparison in
the case; if my father were even ruined in his business, -
which God forbid should be the case, my mother's prop-
erty undoubtedly "--
SHas your mother property ? are you sure of that ?"
I am sure of nothing; but I understood our estates in
Wales were hers, and I always concluded "--
Pshaw! you concluded you ought to have knotn -
you had an undoubted right to know -you who have a better
head for business than one man in a thousand who were
born heiress to two old estates in two different countries -
I have no patience with any of ye and so at this time of
day, when you must be a long way past eighteen, you don't
know whether your mother really has property left, or
whether your father has made ducks and drakes of it, in the
same manner as he did with his own."
Maria drew up her head haughtily, as if to say, Beware
how you speak of my parents!"
"Nay, nay, Maria, look not thus on me. I honor your
feelings, but there are points in life where all feelings,
whether of delicacy, tenderness, or even what you errone-
ously deem duty, should be compelled to give way before
the more imperious dictates of that positive duty, common
honesty, and common sense. It is said, in the town, that


DECISION.





DECISION.


your mother, unhappily holding her own settlement, has
been induced, from time to time, to give up property over
which it gave her power; in fact, 1 know that about two
years since she did so to a great amount, and I fear she has
little, very little left."
It is so! it must be so!" said Maria, in a voice scarcely
articulate with the agitation awakened by recollections that
rushed to her mind; I remember well, when she had that
long low fever on the spirits before you came home yes,
yes, she used to weep bitterly whenever she saw me, and
has even yet never recovered Frank and I used --
"Frank and you! Dear Maria, allow me to ask you one
more question."
"No, no, I can answer no more," said Maria, blushing,
trembling, and gasping for breath.
"But there is no engagement ?"
no, no certainly no engagement."
Maria covered her face with her hands as she spoke, but
the throbbings of her heart, the universal pulsation of her
frame, bespoke the severity of her sensations, which were
indescribably painful; and had she possessed the power of
flight, she would certainly have fled. Mr. Elderton instantly
quitted the subject, but he reverted to that which preceded
it, and urged her to constrain herself to probe the wound
which he could not doubt was rankling at her mother's
heart, so far as to discover the actual state of her future
dependence, for the express purpose of securing the little
which might remain; "as, otherwise," said he, "depend
upon it, you will see her reduced to the most abject poverty,
from which your father will not be able to rescue her; for
never have I yet seen a man of his sanguine temper who
was not completely overthrown in the day of actual want."
I will work for them beg for them "--
Work you may, my love, but beg you cannot, no, not even
for them. I would not have talked to you thus, even yester-
day; but, situated as 1 now am, I can only give good advice:
promise me you will act with resolution, that you will






DECISION.


endure to give pain to those you love, in itself the most
terrible of all pains; it is an imperative duty, and "--
Maria rose slowly from her seat -she waved her hand,
and he ceased to speak; but in another minute she said, in a
solemn tone,
t I will perform it I would be thankful to escape it, out
for her sake I can do any thing."
Mr. Eldertou took his leave, trying to whisper such words
as, Report may have made the worst of it; I trust you will
save something yet;" but Maria heard them not, and the
door had closed on him before she recovered from the
stunning blows she had received-the torrent of terrible
thoughts which had overwhelmed her at a period when she
had been wrapped in that oblivion to all outward circum-
stances, unconnected with its own object, which a timid yet
all-engrossing passion spreads over a tender and youthful
bosom.
Yet, when the stupor occasioned by this blow somewhat
subsided, Maria was sensible that her mind was formed to
endure-that she had not less fortitude and energy than
sensibility, and she endeavored to recall that vigor of spirit
which she was sensible of possessing at a period when her
understanding was less mature than now. Alas! these rec-
ollections but served to show her the sad state of her own
heart the heart which, even in this moment of ularm for
her parents, yet beat high for another also; she felt that his
sorrows were amongst those lamented the most sincerely,
and that every hope for the future was closely intermingled
with him.
Maria had paced the apartment in which she was left for
several hours, unconscious how time was passing, when the
return of the carriage roused her, and she began hastily to
reconsider her promise, and her plans for the future; but all
were alike put to flight by the appearance of their usual
medical attendant, who, alighting from the carriage, entered
the house, to prepare her for receiving her father in an
alarming state: all she could learn was, that certain letters







announcing the loss by shipwreck of Mr. Mayton, the bank-
ruptcy already spoken of, and the death of poor Mr. Ingal-
ton at a time when his spirits were so much agitated, had
produced an apoplectic fit, in which he had been held for
some hours, and which had placed his life in the greatest
jeopardy.
In such a moment, all error, and even all sorrow, was for-
gotten, save that which arose from sympathy in the suffer-
ings of her father and the grief of her mother; for many
days, Maria watched by the bedside of the invalid, with an
anxiety and solicitude scarcely exceeded by that of the fond
and wretched wife, but which was far more efficaciously
evinced. Her powers of mind appeared to have reached
a sudden maturity under the alarming pressure of the time,
and to combine a power of recollection, which gave the
benefit of experience and of self-possession, and rendered
the cares of affection really beneficial to their object hap-
py power! for the alarmed, distracted mother of Maria was
at this period almost wholly helpless alternately suffering
from the agonies of grief, and overwhelmed with the stupor
and exhaustion consequent upon them.
When Mr. Falconer crept down stairs after a long con-
finement, he appeared to have added twenty years of age to
his bending, attenuated form, and the high health and manly
beauty for which (together with the flow of spirits) he had
been hitherto remarkable, rendered the change impressive
even to the most careless observer. His servants started
when they heard the "childish treble" of his voice, and
his friends considered that he had been "killed in the
cure," and the tone in which they congratulated him on
his convalescence bespoke their actual fears for his state.
His first appearance, however, called up a third class, who
pressed round him the more earnestly, because they were
not likely to have him long to press, if report from the
others could be relied on.
These were his creditors, and those of the house which he
now solely represented, and who naturally inquired in what


34


DECISION.





DECISION. 36

heir future security consisted. Mr. Falconer saw all who
approached him, laid before them those letters which spoke
of the failure of the bank in question, by which it appeared
also that a large sum of money had actually been amassed
here, which doubtless Mr. Mayton was about to bring for
he relief of the house. All were satisfied that, but for
misfortunes none could foresee, notwithstanding past defi
ciencies, no wrong had been intended; but they earnestly
pressed the propriety of sending some person over immedi-
ately to Dantzic for the purpose of ascertaining the extent
of the evil, and securing any further debt that might pos-
sibly remain there.
It was evident that Frank alone could be that person,
since Mr. Falconer was utterly unequal to the task; and, as
much time had already passed, it was now settled that the
traveller elect should lose not an hour in setting out; and,
agreeably with every trait of worth which he had hitherto
displayed, the young gentleman professed his readiness to
obey their wishes.
Maria's heart sank as she heard of this determination; but
she saw its propriety, and only lamented that her young
friend had not the benefit of her old friend's advice and
assistance, in a scene which, she was well aware, he was at
present ill calculated to encounter. No endeavors had
hitherto been spared by young Ingalton to make himself a
man of business; but he had not yet shaken off the air of a
student, though he had attained. the routine of counting-
house avocations; and his consciousness of this prevented
him from assuming either the knowledge or activity which
le possessed. In all the tender offices of an exemplary son,
the ceaseless attentions of a warm-hearted friend, he moved
between the two houses so painfully situated as one whose
presence inspired support and consolation; but he entered
the scene of his compelled avocations with a conRtrained and
timid air, as one whose duties were yet to be learnt. Maria,
tenderly as her heart was drawn towards him, was too quick
to discern every peculiarity in those around not to be aware
of this, and in the evening, when he came to bid them fare-





DBCI O*u.


wel, wished to say some ding which should encourage hm
to have more self-reliance. She had known that he had
benefited from her advice in many other instances, and
never surely had he required a stimulus more than now;
yet she found it impossible to speak to him.
Frank was not only evidently oppresed with sorrow that
he controlled with the utmost difficulty, but with something
that pressed upon his spirits beyond, or distinct from, the
tseuble which belonged to his disagreeable and probably
fruitless journey; his eyes were continually bent towards the
door; he started at the slightest sound, repeatedly opened his
mouth as if beginning to ask a question, which yet died
upon his lips, and at length rushed away, in extreme agita-
tion, above an hour before it appeared necessary, as if he
had recollected something concerning his luggage; but his
heart was too full to admit of explanations on trivial sub-
jees
Before he could have reached the garden gate, Maria also
had closed the door in her own room, and tears were
screaming from her eyes, whilst blessings and prayers for
his safety murmured from her lips. When the first trans-
port of grief had subsided, a soothing emotion stole over
her mind, and allayed that sense of solicitude which had
long pressed on her spirits, and damped much of the vi-
vacity which was natural to her. Surely there was in the
maimers of Frank, this evening, a restlessness of grief that
resembled her own feelings --in his sorrow there was a
tenderness, an alarm, an indefinite something. Had we
been alone-" Maria blushed as she whispered these words,
but her color as quickly receded on recollecting that they
had been alone, during which time he bad earnestly recom-
mended his mother to her care -" Excellent youth! he
thought only of his widowed parent, even at a moment
so importat to himself"- she remembered also how he
started with an air of disappointment on her father's en-
utrne -in fact, his manners abundantly spoke distress and
embarrassment; it had been so great that he had fbAgonen to
law evenO a single adieu to poor Elle.







If, however, the apprehended, the desired cause of this
confusion did indeed affect Frank, it was not less evident
that the same sense of duty which had so long kept him
silent still operated, and would continue to do so, so long as
the unhappy affairs in which both families were involved
continued, and which there was but too much reason to fear
would blight forever the tender hopes of love. Frank,"
said Maria, has nobly made himself a sacrifice for his
family; alas! mine is perhaps little better situated; ought I
not to follow his example ?"
The how this could be done now perpetually occupied her
mind; and since Mr. Falconer was now seldom able to go to
B--, yet frequently obliged to receive visits of business,
Maria became an eager listener to all conversations con-
nected with subjects which till now she would naturally have
fled from. By slow degrees Mr. Falconer's health returned,
but that of Mrs. Falconer was extremely delicate; yet she
continued to show every attention true friendship could
suggest to her widowed friend, and often wept over her
situation, saying, "that, when Frank returned, something
must be done to lessen her expenditure -she must leave
the house."
"She can remove from her present house," said Maria,
"better during his absence, I should think, than when he is
at home why subject him to the pain of witnessing her
pain ? she has no other dependence, and should rather spare
him than use him on slight occasions!"
"But they are all females, you know, Maria; what can
women do ? "
"Every thing, dear mother, which rational and account-
able creatures are called to do; women can cast accounts,
estimate expenses, contrive where to spend and where to
spare, for every housekeeper does it. She can endure toil,
for in humble life, the most delicate encounter a daily por-
tion of it, and in high life, the love of pleasure leads many
to adopt it. That woman can sustain much, as well as
suffer much, poor Mrs. Ingalton is herself a proof, since for


37


DECISION.





DECISION.


,years she was an unwearied attendant on a sick husband;
why, then, should she so underrate her own powers as to
*delay for an hour the arrangement of her affairs ? in fact,
she ought to go out of her house into a smaller, and we
ought to go into it, which would enable my poor father to
see after things."
Mrs. Falconer did not reply.
"If we were to part with the carriage, horses, and dogs,
with one man and two maids, dispense, of course, with the
gardener, and let his cottage and our house, we should"--
Dear Maria, how you talk! your father could not exist
'in any town: does he not always speak of a street as if it
were a prison ? were we not all born to consider carriages
.and horses as the necessaries of life ? and pray do not you
love the dogs better than any body; you could not walk
without Sancho, Mayflower, and the poodle; and poor Vixen
.is Frank Ingalton's pet."
The name and the inference silenced Maria at the moment;
but since she had so far broken the ice as to give her mother
some idea of what was passing in her mind, without elicit-
ing either anger or grief; she determined to venture on the
subject again, under cover of poor Mrs. Ingalton's name,
and one day, wilen it was broached before her father, had
.like his wife to be without the carriage, yet lie believed it
would be as well to part with it, especially as it was seldom
used of late."
Mrs. Falconer instantly renounced all desire fir it; and
Maria saw that which she had always apprehended was
indeed the case,- that her mother could at all times renounce
every luxury without a sigh, if it would add to her father's
ease; and doubted not but that his regard for her had pre-
vented him from doing, on the other hand, that which his
circumstances required. Her heart bled to think that two
persons so amiable, so attached, should yet have placed
themselves in a situation where even their affection would
add to the difficulties by which they were surrounded.





DECISION. 3'







CHAPTER V.


TIME passed- letters were received from Frank, but no
remittances; nor did it appear probable that any property
would be obtained from his journey, as he found that the
late Mr. Mayton had indeed placed so large a sum there, as
to include all that could be conceived due to the house.
This money had previously been in a bank at Stockholm,
where it had been placed, not in the name of the firm, but
the individual, and there was great reason to suspect that
Mayton's designs were altogether sinister and nefarious,
since he had completely drained his partners of their re-
sources, and was known to have contracted a partnership
with a Russia house, for which it appeared too probable that
he had thus accumulated funds actually belonging to his
English connections.
Mr. Falconer was now (partly from feeling it his duty to
be more open with his family than formerly, and partly from
his double loss of the Ingaltons) in the habit of speaking on
the subject of his letters and affairs; in which conversation
Maria ever took a warm interest, not only perhaps for the
sake of the subject, but because it enabled her to learn the
movements of Frank, without rendering him the immediate
subject of inquiry. One day, Mr. Falconer observed, that
he had hoped to have seen him in May, but he now feared it
would be October, at which time his late unhappy partner-
ship would be dissolved."
"May!" said Maria, changing the subject to avoid show-
ing her disappointment -" in May, Ellen will be of age-
yes, the fifteenth of May."







DECISION.


Are you sure of that?" said both parents eagerly.
"Quite sure, because I shall be twenty in April."
"She is right," said Mr. Falconer tremulously, with a look
full of meaning towards his wife.
For several days there was much consultation between
her parents, from which Maria was constantly excluded--
again she frequently saw traces of tears on her mother's
face, and observed her frequently casting her eyes towards
herself with an expression of the utmost sorrow: she be-
came pale, her appetite failed, and the weakness which had
lately been removed, returned in the most distressing
degree.
"Dear mother, what can we do for you ? said Maria.
"Nothing, my love; I am going soon into Wales, and my
native air will probably do me good; indeed, 1 have no ail-
ment; I am only nervous."
"Mother, dear mother," cried Maria, in a voice full of
anguish, "you are no such thing; there is something the
matter with you beyond what I am permitted to see yet
surely I have a right to know and to share your troubles."
"A right ? 0 Maria, do not upbraid me! Mrs. Falconer
sank, oppressed almost to fainting, on the nearest seat her
face was perfectly pale, her lips blue, and her eyelids fell
over eyes which seemed receding even from life. Maria was
terrified; she sank on her knees before her, and eagerly
kissing her hands, besought her by every fond and tender
word which rose to her gasping lips, to Ipardon her if she
had done wrong, to exert herself, and if possible to open
her heart to a daughter who lived but to contribute to her
happiness.
Look at me, dear mother speak to me !" she cried in
agony forgive me."
I can have nothing to forgive in you, Maria, but you 0,
how much have you to forgive in your mother!--I cannot,
cannot look at you."
Maria sprang from her knees; she hastily poured some
Jrops into water, which were restorative, and presented





DECISION. 41

them to her mothers lips, at the same time saying in great
agitation, -
"Pray take these drops; do not thus distress yourself; I
know all you would say your settlement it is all gone -
never mind only recover, and I I will do every thing,
mamma."
Mrs. Falconer started, gazed a moment wildly on Maria's
face, clasped her round the neck, and burst into a flood of
bitter tears.
Thankful for this change, Maria wisely suffered the long-
pent-up agony to subside,- fervently, though silently, praying
that the Almighty would give her the power of devoting her-
self, in every possible way, to a parent whom she felt at this
moment bound to by ties of pity still more than of duty, whose
purity of conduct, and pious integrity of principle, she had
witnessed in innumerable instances, and whose violation of
good faith (if it were such towards herself) had unquestion-
ably brought her to the brink of the grave. When at length
she was able to speak, Mrs. Falconer said, tremulously, yet as
if she was a little eased by the discovery of her daughter, -
"You know, then, dear Maria, that I have given that is,
that I have lent, your dear father" -
"I know very little, mother; but I certainly, for all our
sakes, do wish to know, and think I ought to know, some-
thing of my own situation as connected with yours."
"You are right, Maria; I have urged this to your father
many times, but he has such a fill assurance that all things
will come round, that he shall be enabled eventually to sup-
ply all deficiencies, that he would never permit me to speak.
-I have suffered from this silence -0, how have I
suffered!"
"Cruel, wicked man! Hle has robbed, and almost mur-
dered you my dear mother, do not look on me with to
much horror my feelings must have vent at this moment
I cannot forgive my father -I have no patience with him.
Has he not schemed, wasted, fooled away two noble for-
tunes? irreparably injured the best of wives a daughter-
4*






DECISION.


who never offended him? -and does lie add to this the im-
position of silence on the subject, until all, all is gone, as
though lie sought to bring ruin by so dreadful a stroke, that
it should at once crush reason and life ? 0, fie, fie on him!"
Maria spoke with a rapidity and indignation proportioned
to the feelings which agitated her, and traversed the room
with that unceasing and perturbed step which seasons of
severe suffering are so apt to produce. Every time she lifted
up her eyes, and cast one glance at her mother, her passions
of grief and anger, pure compassion and unbounded affec-
tion, seemed to increase, and transport her beyond all limits
of patience and all power of consolation: she beheld her
as an unoffeniding victim, still lovely, elegant, in the merid-
ian of life, condemned in years that were past to ceaseless
solicitude and self-reproach, in years to come probably to
degradation, poverty, scorn, and remorse: the prospect was
too appalling to be borne; she shuddered, and covered hei
eyes; but no tear issued from their burning orbs.
"Your father has undoubtedly done wrong in subjecting
himself to these losses," said Mrs. Falconer, in a deprecating
tone; but remember, Maria, that lie was brought up with
little knowledge of the world that lie lost his father very
early, married one wvlo was little more than a child, and
was led by degrees into circumstances which ie could not
foresee, nor guard against. How many fine young men like
him would have spent their money in dissipation, the corn
mon error of his countrymen how many, in vicious, diq
honorable pursuits!"
Is it not dishonorable for a man to rob his own wife ?-
to entail the miseries of poverty on that being whom Le has
especially promised to protect, and whose very helplessness
ought to have rendered her the chief object of his care ? "
"The world and the world's usages generally require
that a wife should partake the good or evil fortunes of her
husband, Maria, and I believe that, on the whole, it is better
that there should be no separate interest between people so
Situatedd"








"That may be, mother but yet no sophistry can ever
persuade me, that a man has a right to do an act of injus-
tice, either because the object or the law authorizes him.
Laws are made by man, and like himself are fallible, even
when formed with the most consummate human wisdom;
but that sense of justice which God himself implants in the
heart, that rule which he has revealed in his word, forbids
us to injure any one, most of all the creature who has placed
happiness and property in our hands: of all other robbers,
it appears to me that a husband is the most wicked, because
he is the most powerful; he can withhold all good, bestow
every degree of pain and grief- he can threaten or cajole
his victim, render his tenderness or his tyranny equally effi-
cacious for his purpose, and "--
"Hear me, Maria; you are justly wounded, and it is only
a proper punishment for me, perhaps, that I should listen to
words which are indeed daggers to my heart but yet" -
"Daggers! 0 God! is it by me you are wounded ? but I
cannot help it if I feel, it is for you you know, or you
will know some day, that it is for you only that I am thus
moved."
"I do know you, Maria I have no doubt of your duty,
your disinterested affection -and I have but little doubt
that in that alone I shall find all the future good life has in
store; but I conjure you, by that sense of justice which I
know to be the ruling movement of your breast, hear me
plead for your father."
Maria threw herself on her knees before her mother, and
laying her face on her lap, that she might hide the expres-
sion of her countenance, compelled herself to be silent.
"Your father has been ever a kind, attentive, and faithful
husband pleasure has never seduced him from my side;
perplexity and distress have never soured his temper,
abated his indulgence, or cooled his affection for me. If he
has concealed misfortune at some times, it has been to save
me from suffering; if he has engaged in new schemes, it
has been for the purpose of retrieving losses from old one:
*


43


DECISION.






DECISION.


when circumstance at length drew him to England, and
obliged him to lay his affairs before me, 1 offered to throw
my settlement instantly into the fire, with all the warmth
incident to the heart of a young, fond wife, whose child was
too young to excite fears for its future fate; but this sacrifice
he strenuously refused, and merely accepted a loan, which
he employed in business as an aid to us all."
"You did right, and he did not do wrong," said Maria,
down whose cheeks the tears now began to trickle freely.
Unhappily, a breach once made was frequently renewed
-business grew unproductive, our expenses were trebled
in this country, and your father was averse to diminishing
our establishment, lest it should injure his credit; nor could
he bear to see my situation stripped of its comforts,
and"-
Nonsense! it was his duty and yours there is nothing
imperative but duty but go on."
"He had first only five thousand pounds-then I sold
a farm when Ellen's father died, we disposed of the mine,
and now"
"Now! what have you left ?"
"The manor-house and some land, for which I have re-
ceived a very liberal offer."
"Which offer you shall not accept," said Maria, starting
on her feet; "no, no; that little spot of your own land, in
your own country, you shall retain if I have power or right
either from affection or law to compel it -and such, 1 think,
must be the case: 'tis enough to make my two grndfathers
start from their graves, to think that a descendant so little
removed as I am should be left penniless, landless -I will
not allow it."
"Then, poor Ellen "-
SEllen! what has Ellen to do with it ?"
"Her father bequeathed her to the care of yours, and
with her about eight hundred pounds, which, in the warmth
of his kind heart, he promised to make a thousand: strictly
speaking, perhaps, even that sum has been expended on the








dear girl; but I cannot bear so to consider the case. Yet as,
since our losses, I cannot insure to you any thing more than
the three thousand pounds now offered me for the farm in
question, if you insist upon it, I will not sell it, Maria."
Maria was silent.
6" I must not, however, conceal from you that I am certain
it will be the death of your father."
After a long pause, the daughter replied, -
"It shall be sold; Ellen shall not be wronged; there are
also two small annuitants who must be secured my father
has been a man of strict honor to all but his own family, and
I believe with you it would kill him not to do his utmost,
and you love him so much, that it would kill you also."
"You too love him, Maria, fondly love him ; when he lay
so lately stretched on the bed of sickness, what sacrifice
would you have thought too great to give for him ?"
Question me not, mother my heart is still too full of
varied but terrible emotions. Promise me only that you will
struggle to recover your health, that you will assure yourself
of my perfect forgiveness, and accord me your confidence -
but 1 have nothing now to learn; degradation and poverty
are before us -a long, long life, of altered circumstances
of pity mingled with scorn, of privation imbittered by
memory."
Mrs. Falconer wept in very agony again.
"Mother, dear mother, pardon me take comfort, for I
will be to you a husband, a fond, toiling, careful husband -
1 can at least provide manna in the wilderness where we
shall all be cast, and I pledge myself to do it -may God
so bless me, as I shall fulfil the vow which binds me to
you."
With these words, Maria flew to her own chamber, from
whence she returned not for the remainder of the day, arfd
where she passed the night in deep but unavailing sorrow,
her mind tossed as with ceaseless tempest, one moment
trembling for the present health of her mother, the next


45


DECISION.






40 DECISION.

viewing with horror the miseries that threatened her future
lfe sometimes glowing with rage, for the folly and mis-
management of her father, then melting into sorrow, as in
imagination she saw his bending form shrink under the
pressure of poverty, and his gray hairs descend with sorrow
to the grave.






DECISION.


CHAPTER VL


MARIA took a little refreshment in her room, but the per-
turbed state of her feelings rendered the idea of going to
bed disagreeable, and she continued to walk slowly the
length of her chamber and dressing-room, until she was
completely exhausted, when she flung herself on her couch,
and sunk into that profound sleep which frequently suc-
ceeds extreme agitation.
On awaking, Maria was sensible of headache and extreme
thirst, and she instantly rose to procure water; the sun
shone beamingly into the room, and she drew the curtain
aside to view the refreshing green which in April spreads
over the face of renovated nature the promise of future good:
her eye was struck with the appearance of a post-chaise
at the garden gate, into which her father was assisting her
mother, whose maid followed, and they instantly drove off
in the direction for their intended western journey.
"They are gone," said Maria, "and I must, I will go also;
but whither ? what is there that I can do to avert the evils
around us upon us the sure ruin which is accelerated
by every turn of the wheels which convey them hence."
She dressed and descended, and was informed that, as Mrs.
Fulconer seemed a little better than usual, it was thought ad-
visable to set off that morning; and on finding that she was
very fast asleep, both parents had given her a farewell kiss
without disturbing her, but had left a message entreating her
to go to Sir James Trevannion's, and either remain there dur-
ing their absence, or procure the company of Miss Powis.
Maria heard this message in silence; but a bitter and scorn-


47






DECISION.


ful smile rose to her lip, and when the servant had closed
the door, she exclaimed, -
"No, no; company- indulgence of every kind must be
given up; I must commune with my own heart, must resolve
from the dictates of my own mind. I must try to help those
who cannot help themselves. Ah! Frank, dear Frank, how
young we both are, how much are we both strangers to that
world through which we are alike fated to wing our way like
the stork, carrying our parents."
Yet there was something consolatory in the thought of re-
sembling Frank in his virtues, in his sorrows -in thinking
the same thoughts, encountering the same difficulties, and
being united in a bond of similar suffering, which somewhat
relieved the deep dejection, and awoke the dormant energy
she desired, but almost despaired of exciting in her own
over-charged spirit. Maria's smile subsided; she began to
weep, and to bless her parents.
After some time, being roused by a question from the ser-
vant respecting dinner, she answered sharply, "I am going to
Sir James Trevannion's immediately. I shall walk -I want
no attendance" -
"It is a long walk, ma'am, and "-
Maria waved her hand, as much as to say, "Leave me
alone," and the deep sorrow seated on her countenance
showed that intrusion must he indeed painful. In a few min-
utes she had tied on a large bonnet, and, enveloped in a shawl,
set out on a solitary path which led circuitously to the place
which she now sought with hasty, anxious steps, but in a
short time almost resolved to avoid: often she returned for
a short space, and then again she retraced her steps: at length,
worn out with fatigue and uneasiness, she entered the mansion
by the housekeeper's room in the dusk, whilst the family were
at dinner: struck with her wild and ghastly looks, the negli-
gence of her dress, and the manner in which she came, the
mistress of the apartment, who had known her from child-
hood, accosted her with alarm not less than kindness, when
she inquired what was the matter what she could do for her.








"Take me direct to Miss Powis's bedroom, do not tell
any one I am here but her, -and get me some tea, for I can
take nothing else my mouth is parched I have over-
done myself; that is all."
The housekeeper complied with these requisitions; and
the beloved Ellen alone glided round the bed, and whispered
tender inquiries respecting her health and peace. She re-
ceived little reply, beyond a few terrible and astounding words,
which announced the prediction, uppermost on her mind, of
tie approaching ruin of her parents, who were scarcely less
dear to Ellen than herself, and over whose misfortunes she
wept bitterly; but when she would have inquired further, she
was desired, in a tone cold and authoritative, to ask no ques-
tions ; "she had heard all that sufficed to account for the ap-
pearance and the misery of her visitant."
There was something so unlike her former self in Maria's
manners, and the whiteness of her lips, the circumscribed
glowing spot upon her cheek, indicated so much fever, that,
as the idea of disease had been given to Ellen by the house-
keeper, she really apprehended that her young friend was
suffering under delirium, and knew not how far it was her
duty to infringe upon her request, (strenuously as it had now
been urged,) and inform the family. Maria, however, lay still,
but was not asleep, and her lips frequently moved, as if she
were engaged in soliloquy or computation ; but Ellen trusted
she was not worse at least, and concluded, therefore, to wait
till morning, sitting by the side of the bed, watching her with
unceasing solicitude and fond affection the whole night.
The sounds of those domestic movements which announce
the return of day roused Maria from her deep contempla-
tion; she sat up in bed, took her purse, which was under
her pillow, and, emptying it before her, counted the contents
carefully. "Here are eleven guineas," said she, "and seven-
teen shillings: have you any money, dear Ellen ?"
"I have about six pounds, I believe."
"You will lend it to me, I am certain; but you would
rather give it to me. Well, I will accept it, thankfully, and
5


49


DECISION.






DECISION.


with this money I will immediately begin business; and who
knows how well I may do in the world ? Pray for me, dear
Ellen, that God may prosper my endeavor to assist my pa-
rents. I trust he has inspired me with the resolution I now
feel, and even the plan I have adopted."
Maria's voice was a little tremulous; but she spoke dis-
tinctly, and her face, though very pale, was so composed in
its expression, that the late fears of Ellen gave way to the
conviction that extreme distress, and the broodings of a
harassed mind over some new and difficult undertaking,
had alone produced the alarming appearances which had
excited her past fears. She eagerly opened her work-box,
and instantly mingled her little store with that of Maria,
who now had risen, and, though evidently very poorly, was
dressing herself with as much rapidity as her health per-
mitted.
"I have already told you, Ellen," said she, "that my pa-
rents are gone to receive the last money in my poor mother's
power; it will be, necessarily, soon paid away; in October
all their affairs will be settled, and it must inevitably be
found, with the late losses in Germany, that there will not
be sufficient to pay the creditors; all will be broken up and
sold, and there will be no residue. My father will seek for
a situation as a clerk; but he is too much a gentleman, too
little a tradesman, to find one; his late illness has robbed
him of the strength necessary for other labor, and -
Ellen, utterly unable to endure such a picture of the ;nan
to whom, from her cradle, she had looked as a master, and
long loved as a father, broke into hysterical weeping, and
Maria was compelled literally to comfort her comforter."
'"Nay, dear Ellen, do not weep thus; I only wanted to
prove to you the necessity there is that I should guard
against evils so inevitable, that, like the new comedy, I
should 'Stoop to Conquer;' and in order to spare myself
the further exercise of feeling which I now find will really
unfit me for the altered situation to which I must submit,
I have, at length, determined to commence immediately.








Struggle with your feelings, that you may strengthen mine.
I must not allow myself to cry any more. I must act, not
weep."
What will you do, Maria ?"
"I will sell iron -sell it by retail in small quantities, to
little manufacturers."
Ellen suddenly removed her handkerchief, and strained
her tearful eyes to gaze again on Maria, to see if she were, or
were not, in her senses she dared not to speak lest she
should irritate the malady she dreaded, and Maria con-
tinued:
"I have been for many weeks an attentive listener to
every conversation which has passed on subjects connected
with business, and I find that all the poorer masters, in our
great manufacturing town, labor under great disadvantages
for want of a medium betwixt them and the iron masters;
andI have heard it repeatedly observed, 'that if any decent
workman would have the resolution to save his wages till
he had obtained thirty or forty pounds, he might begin the
trade with a certainty of thriving, provided lie gave no
credit, and was content with a moderate, constant profit.'"
But, my dear Maria, that which a laboring man might
indeed do well, and profitably, cannot be done by a young,
delicate, pretty woman a lady too, whose birth, education,
and habits, render her utterly unfit for such employment -
one, too, who possesses talents which she can consistently
employ to advantage in the occupations becoming a gentle-
woman."
I know all you would urge, dear Ellen, for I really be-
lieve that, whilst I lay upon that bed, I have had more
subjects of thought, more recollections, cogitations, and
deductions, than the whole lives of many women present:
my conclusions have not been made in consequence of sud-
den impulse, but deep examination. In the first place, I
thought of obtaining a situation resembling yours; but that
I instantly rejected, since it would only enable me to provide
for myself'-besides, let me confess, my pride, the long in-


51


DECISION.






DECISION.


dulgence accorded to an only child, and still more the inde-
pendence of my nature, render me unfit for servitude, even&
in its most ameliorated shape."
But you might teach without entering a family."
"Not to any sufficient purpose: music lessons are now
confined to the harpsichord, and on that, you know, I do not
excel, having, in despite of fashion, ever adopted my own na-
tive Irish harp; and, for the reason I gave you before, you will
perceive that it would be easier for me to live amongst the
poor, than receive from the rich, and especially the low and
purse-proud, that remuneration they would feel pain to give,
and I should feel more pain to receive."
"But your exquisite voice, your elegant person, Maria!
I cannot bear to think you should be wasted, lost to society."
Yet even you, Ellen, would not like to see me on the
stage; though, had I been brought up to it, in a pecuniary
point of view it might have answered -never let my mother
know that it even passed our minds. I have, in short, deter-
mined to try iron, and nothing else. It has been the ruin of
my family, and ought to make amends it has swallowed
house and land, and should therefore find bread and lodging,
which is all I now presume to hope for."
Mr. Falconer will never endure to see you so degraded
-it will break his heart."
"It will, I fear, render his temper irritable, which is, in-
deed, a great affliction to me; but yet I trust the sweetness
of my mother's pleadings will soften him, and, in a short
time, poor man! his own affairs will engross him wholly,
and make him forget me and my paltry concerns, until that
time when he will find that I have labored for his sake -
disobeyed and disgraced him, (as he will term it,) that I
might find a shelter for his latter days, on which pride may
glance with scorn, but shall never enter with insult."
Ah dear Maria, you think you have made up your mind
to encounter difficulties; but indeed you have no idea of the
extent or the nature of what you brave. The poor, in these
manufacturing towns, are very distinct from the simple,








warm-hearted creatures who used to adore 'his honor and
idolize his honor's child;' whom you considered under your
protection, and loved because you benefited vulgarity will
disgust you mean arts he practised upon you ten times a
day."
"Unquestionably, but I must learn to endure them."
Besides, your feelings will be so wrought upon, that you
never will be able to save that which you may get never
yet have you resisted the pleadings of the poor; what will
become of you when you are thrown into the midst of
them ? when sights of sorrow are daily before you, when
complaints are the only language that meets your ear."
Ellen, my plan will enable me most essentially to benefit
my fellow-creatures, and extend to them an actual good, far
more efficient than any partial help such as I was wont to
give, or my heart may still yearn to bestow. With this
knowledge I must learn to be content. I may sometimes
meet rudeness that may vex me, and I shall, doubtless, find
ingratitude, for every body says that it abounds in the poor;
but yet 1 shall also undoubtedly find some honest attach-
ment; I shall see some who thrive under my auspices, and
then I shall rejoice and be encouraged. I am so young,
have so long a journey before me, that it will be strange in-
deed if there are no green spots, no little flowery resting-
places, in the whole of my thorny path."
Ellen still shook her head, still wept over her friend, as if
she considered her a victim, yet one on whom her highest
admiration rested: her mind, less gifted and less excited,
did not in fact grasp, in its circle of difficulties, half so many
as had already presented themselves, in formidable array or
galling vexatiousness, to the imagination of her who had
resolved to encounter them, had examined, weighed, and
decided upon them, and who, now aware that her friend's
absence would excite inquiry, prepared to leave her after
taking a very slight refreshment.
"You shall not go till I have given you all I have," said
5*


53


DECISION.





DECISION.


Ellen: you mean to make up the sum of which you
spoke, doubtless, by disposing of your ornaments; and I too
have a few; they were principally given by you, and therefore
very dear to me, but -
Maria, with a kind smile, followed by a sigh, received the
trinkets, saying, "Give them to me, Ellen, now, and when I
am rich you shall have much better;" and added, "Now,
good by; you have done me a great deal of good, and given
me wealth do not hang upon me, dear Ellen, do not awa-
ken emotions which destroy me there you shan't kiss me
again; you have nothing more to say, my love, have you ?"
"Y-es," said Ellen, turning away her head, "I have
something to say, something 1 wished to tell you, but in a
time of such distress I could not mention it --yet, alas! my
secret is in some measure connected with the sad circum-
stances belonging to you and yours we are closely united
in our anxieties."
For Heaven's sake tell me this secret but perhaps I
know to what you allude."
"I dare say you do, Maria; Mr. Francis Ingalton has"-
"Frank Ingalton has what has he done ? speak."
"No harm, dear Maria; your spirits are in such a flutter,
your imagination takes the alarm at every thing; but I know
you have a sister's regard for him, and more than a sister's
for me, and it is only right you should know that, on the
night he set out, he galloped over here, just to bid me fare-
well Maria, I am sure you are ill "--
Quite well," gasped Maria; "go on, Ellen."
"And he confessed indeed it was a trying scene to us
both- he spoke of his poverty, his melancholy prospects,
his widowed mother, helpless sister, and his long-cherished
love."
"His love ? love ? go on, Ellen -
"Yes, his love, and do not blame me, Maria, but I certainly
felt it mutual, and said so."
"Love! it was lovefor you he confessed!" Such were







the words that died on Maria's tongue as she sank fainting
on the floor, and remained in a death-like swoon.
Ellen, in great terror, and full of self-reproach for not
having foreseen such an effect, as the consequence of pre-
vious agitation, instantly alarmed the house; and Lady Tre-
vannion, with great surprise and some sense of displeasure,
first learnt the arrival of one who had long been particularly
dear to her, and over whose pale form she hung with deep
solicitude: in time Maria sighed, opened her eyes, and, by
slow degrees, regained her senses.
The first person she saw was Ellen -a slight shudder
followed, and she again closed her eyes, but the voice of
Lady Trevannion and her smelling-bottle recalled her, and,
laying her head on her bosom, she faintly whispered "that
she was much better," after which, she earnestly requested
to be left alone upon the sofa.
No objection was made to this, for Lady Trevannion was
anxious to inquire from Ellen what was amiss. The answer
she received only confirmed those flying reports which had al-
ready reached Sir James, and awoke the sincere sympathy of
both. Ellen did not betray the schemes of Maria to them, for
she felt assured that they could not be put in practice, and they
still appeared to her so inconsistent with all that belonged
to the past life of Maria, to the elegance and fastidiousness
of her cultivated mind, and lofty, though gentle bearing,
that the idea of fever and delirium again presented itself.
Lady Trevannion, sincerely sorry for Maria, pressed her to
remain with them, at least till her mother's return; but after
the restoration of an hour's solitude and a cup of chocolate,
she earnestly desired to go home; and at length Lady Tre-
vannion ordered her coach, and set out thither with her.
The ride, the pure air, the effort she made to shake off
the remembrance of that last overwhelming pang, which
had produced an effect altogether new in her little history,
so far restored her that Lady Trevannion felt satisfied to
leave her; but she went into the house with her to give di-


55


DECISION.





DECISION.


reactions to the servants, and inform them in what manner
their young lady had been affected.
In the breakfast parlor stood her harp, at that time an
instrument comparatively seldom seen, but which Lady Tre-
vannion admired much, especially as an accompaniment to
her own excellent performance. "How I wish you had been
well enough, my love, to play me that air I gave you last
week," said she.
Maria drew her hand across the chords, but she found it
impossible to play.
I cannot play the air, but I can give you the instrument,
dear Lady Trevannion put it into the coach with you;
there is room for it."
"My dear girl, I would not rob you of it for the world -
in truth, you were made for each other; in my opinion
wouldd be parting a wedded pair, and little short of sacri-
lege."
Maria again looked very pale, but she tried to smile, and
said, "But it is my fate to live single."
"That may be, Maria, for I have certainly never yet seen
the man I thought meet to marry you; but should it be so,
your instrument will be doubly valuable; it will stand you
instead of matrimonial music, supply the tedium of solitary
hours, and the charming varieties produced by lecturing
husbands, squalling children, and unmanageable servants."
"I cannot jest to-day, but you will really oblige me by
taking it away for the present divorce me from it for
seven years; at the end of that time, if I have merited it, I
will reclaim it; during that time, at least, books and music
must be renounced by me."
"For Heaven's sake, Maria, what are you about ?"
"To renounce your acquaintance, dear Lady Trevannion
-not your esteem; no! you will accord me that. 1 am un-
equal to explaining what I mean, and you are quite unequal
to approving my decision, or changing it. I shall do nothing
which, as a woman or a Christian, will not challenge your





DECISION.


approbation; but as a person moving in your sphere of life,
I much question that you could be so unprejudiced as to
deem me eligible to the place I wish to fill. 1 must be the
builder of my own fortune, and am the contriver of my own
scheme. I inherit a love for speculating, you know "
As Lady Trevannion could not argue against that plan to
which she was a stranger, and perceived that there was in
her young friend a firmness of character which was the result
of deep thought, and a high sense of duty and affection, she
departed, taking with her the harp, some flivorite music, and
a few choice books. Maria felt herself a little easier when
they were out of sight; she called them tempters, which
it were well to remove," and she felt that there was a double
call for their absence, since every song and every page was
full of those mementos which brought back the image, the
words, the ideas of Frank, interwoven so long with all the
actions of her life, the imaginings of her heart. When left
to herself, long and bitterly did she weep; yet often did she
reproach herself for the weakness thus betrayed, and felt
astonished how a person, so resolved as she had been but a
few hours before to resign every thing, even the love of this
very man, (when she trusted it was hers,) could yet be over-
powered so completely when the pain of separation was
spared her-she knew not till now that lovefees, not rea-
sons, and became most sensible how blindly, how entirely,
she had ventured to love, when assured that the obiect of
her affections was in every possible way remove from her
hopes forever.





DECISION.


CHAPTER VII.


SEVERELY as Maria suffered at this time, it is yet certain
that the resolution she had formed, and the many plans and
expectations which arose out of it, greatly aided in relieving
her spirits from that intolerable sense of anguish, disappoint
ment, and mortification, to which Ellen's discovery would
inevitably have subjected her, had she been enabled to
indulge in solitude the heart-rending thoughts that inces-
santly sprung to her mind. Often did she repine that the
happy insensibility into which she had sunk, was exchanged
for the turmoil of contending passions, and deep-seated
grief; which now assailed her; and more than once she bent
her knees to pray, "that her heavenly Father would remove
her from a world to her so full of suffering." At these mo-
ments, the recollection of what her mother's sorrow and
situation would be in consequence of such an event arrested
her words, and pierced her heart with remorse; she ceased
to pray that the cup of sorrow might be removed," and
endeavored to say, "Not my will, but thine, be done!"
Happy indeed was it for Maria, that, with a clear view of
what wisdom and virtue prescribed, she partook also that
pure faith which taught submission and promised reward.
She felt a comfort, in religious reliance on the God of provi-
dence, those only can conceive who, in the hour of distress,
have been thus supported -and, becoming aware, more
and more, that the indulgence of sorrow would render her
utterly unfit for all that she meditated, again she recurred to
the resolutions poor Ellen had so unintentionally inter-
rupted, and determined that very night to sleep in B--,








if possible, and begin the business she meditated in the
morning.
A few of her plainest clothes were soon packed in a small
portmanteau, and despatched to the house of a workman
whom she had long known for a quiet, civil man, living in
the very heart of the town, in the midst of smoke and dust,
but possessing a kind of large lumber-room contiguous to
his dwelling, which he had once let as a coach-office, now to
his great trouble removed. His wife was a decent woman,
she believed, and she knew they had only one child, to
whom she had been kind; so that many circumstances com-
bined to render this poor couple and their spare premises
eligible for her plan; and none more so, than the circum-
stance that the man himself would be out of employment,
whenever the business of her father's house came to an end,
and there was at this period so little done that he could hardly
fail to be thankful for any assistance she could give him.
Many times Maria endeavored to write to her mother, but
as often did she find the thing impossible, and therefore at
length gave it up in despair; considering also that a few
days might safely elapse, and that Mrs. Ingalton would be a
good and faithful informer and mediator between them.
She was persuaded that no time could be more proper for
her trial than the present, since the spirits of her parents
would be somewhat lightened by the possession of ready
money, and the consoling sense of doing justice to the
amiable orphan who held a dear place in their hearts that
their journey would be beneficial to her mother's health, and
enable her the better to sustain her absence, and supply to
her father the companion and the amusement he had been
wont to find in his daughter. Having said all this over and
over to her own heart, which, in despite of all that reason
could.urge and resolution demand, was still a woman's heart,
and quailed before the "dread unknown" to which it was
impelled, she once more addressed herself to her purpose.
"I am going to B----" said she to the footman, "and
shall not return -I mean for some days."


59


DECISION.





DECISION.


SDo you ride, ma'am, or shall I attend you ? "
"Neither- and, William, call the dogs away; they must
not follow me."
Not Mayflower, ma'am ? Mrs. Ingalton is very fond of
Mayflower; she won't think it any trouble to have him for a
day or two; and the creature do so mourn after you, there's
no living for him."
Maria durst not trust herself to speak, but she shook her
head in token of negative. There was another person far
worse to leave than Mayflower- her old Irish nurse, who
remained a nondescript servant, and occasional mistress,
whom it was always necessary to elude when a private
stroll was intended, for Kathleen had such an idea of the
importance of her ladies that, if she could have ruled, a
troop of horse should have attended them. Never, till the
preceding day, had Maria left her home for a night without
bidding her farewell, and nothing less than her return in
Lady Trevannion's carriage as an invalid could have recon-
ciled her to the event; but in accounting for it, Maria had
prepared her for the return of the evil, and even for the
approach of greater--she was now weeping in a remote
apartment: to encounter her affectionate lamentations,
mingled as they were with recapitulations of the glory
and honor of the Falconers, the grandeur and antiquity of
Sharon-Lacey, was altogether impossible.
Terrible as these parting pangs were, and determined as
Maria thought herself to avoid them, yet when she heard
the well-known winnow of her beautiful little mare, which
happened to espy her as she hastened through the paddock
that was her nearest road to the town, she could not forbear
to turn and pat the sleek neck of the favorite, which con-
tinued to follow her to the stile, as if wooing her to re-
sume their usual airings.
So, so, Fanny poor Fanny, what will become of you
now ?- Pshaw! what will become of me if I suffer such
things to move me ?"
Yet, in despite of self-reproach, for a moment Maria's head








rested on Fanny's neck, and her tears fell on it the loud
howl of her favorite greyhound roused her she looked
round, and though glad that the evening was closing, and
that she should enter the town unseen, she yet also partook
a little that sensation of fear to which her sex and her habits
subjected her; she hesitated whether to pursue her inten-
tion, or step back into the house and take William with her
across the fields.
Yet in that case," said she, "there will be perhaps
Kathleen and Mary; no, no, I must go alone I must suffer
alone perhaps too I may conquer alone; ah Frank! even
now, weak and weary as I am, ignorant as I feel myself of
that which I am about to learn, and to endure, yet I am
sensible that I have courage and energy enough to bear all,
sustain all that is before me, if you "-
Again she felt as if she should faint, so thickly did her
breath heave, and so chilly were the sensations which crept
over her trembling limbs; but she was alone, and a sense of
terror lest she should fall in such a place sustained her,
and after a short rest she obtained the power of pro-
ceeding.
That part of the town to which she now bent her steps
was so little known to her, that she procured a child as a
guide, whose steps she followed with great difficulty, through
many a long, dirty lane, crowded with dingy inhabitants,
who stared at the lady as a novelty in their purlieus seldom
seen, although she had wisely dressed herself in a dark
habit and stripped her beaver of its plume. She arrived at
the house of William Mitchell just at the time when its
master had concluded his daily labors, and his wife was
making up a cheerful fire -that comfort which the inhab-
itants of a coal district generally indulge in, whether re-
quired by the weather or not.
William was spelling out her name on the portmanteau,
which had been left an hour before, as she entered, and his
astonishment at her appearance and her inquiries was soon
superseded by his joy at disposing of his warehouse, and
6


61


DECISION.





DECISION.


learning that she was engaging in an undertaking which
insured him employment: the expectation she expressed
that he would also accommodate her with board and lodg-
ing, was of a more startling nature to both him and his
helpmate.
I shall live with you, and promise to give you very little
trouble," said Maria.
To be sure, we have a bed, such as it is, and in a day c
two we might get a few things."
But 1 can't say as I am any thing of a cook," said *
wife.
require no cooking," cried Maria, in great anxiety and
the bargain was soon concluded. She took a seat n ;c the
fire, and, whilst the wife departed to prepare her bed, began
eagerly to arrange all her future plans with the husband,
whom she soon accompanied into the place destined to be
the scene of her gains and her labors, and which she found
calculated fbr its purpose beyond her hopes.
When this was over, she returned into the house, and
found, upon the uncovered table, a substantial loaf and a
piece of pale, unpromising cheese. Maria recollected, at
this appearance, that she had taken no tea, and she wished
for a cup .exceedingly; but, fearful of giving extraordinary
trouble on her first entrance, and resolved to embrace in its
fullest extent the change she had imposed on herself, she sat
down and cut herself a piece of bread, but was beginning to
find that she could not persuade nor command it down her
throat, when Sally Mitchell placed a foaming pint of beer
on the table, to which she invited her with all the good-will
of a kind heart offering a valuable gift.
I never drink malt liquor," said Maria, but I will take a
little -
Wine and water" was on the point of following; but she
checked herself, and said spring water."
"As you please, miss," said Sally; we have a very good
pump; but to see how pale you look, and how different you be
fra when I seed ye about half a year back a-riding with poor





DECISION. 68

Mr. Frank Ingalton, as be now beyond seas, 1 can't help
thinking as a drop of ale be ralely needful for ye surtainly
I'd recommend it, after the walk you've had, and the trouble
you're come to go through."
"It's very good advice," said William, because if you
goes for to do business, ma'am, and to live by labor, and
with poor folks, you'll find it quite needful to take support
same as they."
Maria felt her heart grateful for the interest evinced in
this recommendation, and, determined to find no obstacles to
her establishment, she took the jug and drank heartily. The
sense of present refreshment, she experienced, was suc-
ceeded by heaviness; and as she had never closed her eyes
the night before that, even on the hard truckle-bed of Sally
Mitchell she enjoyed a long, salutary sleep, in which her
worn-out frame and spirits regained the strength so greatly
needed.





DECISION.


CHAPTER VIL


MARIA had retired to her humble cabin at an hour so
unusually early, that the long, refreshing sleep she had en-
joyed left her with the dawn of day, which flung its
beams through the uncurtained windows, and aroused her
to resume those energies, and prove the stability of those
resolutions, so lately but so decidedly adopted.
Yet it was some time before she could conquer the sense
of surprise and dismay which seized on her senses, and
confused her faculties. Where could she be ? how deplor-
able was the place! how coarse the sheets! what noise and
confusion were around her! "
By degrees she remembered her situation -remembered
that this day she was to embark on a new state of existence
in every respect; that humility, labor, zeal, integrity, and
constancy in well-doing, were the virtues to which, in the
act of thus embarking on a new, untried, and tempestuous
ocean, she had fully pledged herself; that henceforward
she must deem herself tied to the oar, not less by duty than
choice, and since the renunciation of all the pleasures of her
past life was required from her, must endeavor to find pleas-
ure in the exercise of powers, the anticipation of rewards,
hitherto unknown and unsought for.
Retiring to the corner of her chamber, she knelt down,
and long and fervently besought her heavenly Father to
strengthen her weakness, confirm her resolution, guide her
ignorance, and enable her so to place the future welfare of
her parents before her eyes, that her motive for self-devo
tion might ever operate on her mind, and bestow the activity








and patience she required: for them too she prayed; but
then her heart melted, her eyes overflowed, yet she arose
calm and comforted.
Mitchell was down stairs, awaiting her commands, and a
single hour sufficed for their preparations; a fire was made
in the warehouse, a quantity of dry straw laid on one side of
it: a wagon-load of iron bars soon afterwards were there
deposited; an old desk and a stool, left by the last occupants,
were at present sufficient for the new one, but a pair of
magnificent scales were purchased by Mitchell in the neigh-
borhood, and suspended by him from the ceiling, as such
things had formerly been.
When this was arranged, Maria knew that she could
breakfast. On going into the house to request a cup of tea,
she fund preparation made to that effect, whilst large
basins of boiled milk, stuffed with bread, formed the more
substantial beverage ofher companions. Sensible that such
food would be more likely to suit the hunger she really felt,
and that she might hereafter feel, she determined on adopt-
ing it, and told Mrs. Mitchell she would henceforward drink
tea only in the evening, when they would take it together -
information received with great pleasure, as until now this
luxury had seldom been seen in the establishment of poor
Sally save on Sundays.
Advertisements were not the fashion of that day, nor were
they wanted; a sheet of paper written in a large hand,
stuck in the house window, announced the welcome fact,
that artisans in steel might have their material supplied in
small quantities, of the best quality, at the market price, and
the news ran from mouth to mouth through garrets and
smithies, workshops and dwelling-houses, with equal ra-
pidity -every where it was received with joy, as containing
the promise of good; the discontented workman saw in it the
power of emancipating himself from real or supposed tyran-
ny; the humble manufacturer felt that it would relieve him
from the actual despotism of those great iron-masters, who
had long held him in bondage; and in a very short time,
6*


65


DECISION.





DECISION.


more respectable customers appeared than even the san-
guine prognostications of Mitchell had ever calculated upon.
The appearance of Maria in a pair of thick leather gloves,
a French night-cap, surmounted by her beaver hat, and a
brown Holland apron tied over her habit, surprised all who
came; and when fiom her name, and a glance at her nearly
concealed face, they were led to believe that the person
before them could be no other "than beautiful Miss Fal-
coner of Grove Place," surprise, astonishment, and pity,
involved them all in silence. The time had not yet arrived
when the lower classes were infected with those half-
digested ideas of liberty and equality which taught them to
rejoice in the sufferings of their superiors, and tempted them
to aim at pulling down the high, and trampling on the
fallen. They all knew that misfortune and death had
visited the mercantile house to which she belonged; but
they had always understood that 'Squire Falconer and his
lady were more nobly descended, more substantially pro-
vided, than any other, even of the rich people of the town;
that they were of a class distinct and above those to whom
they were accustomed to look up; and such a change, such
fall as this was petrifying.
Maria weighed her iron bars with as little awkwardness,
and as much precision, as could be expected, firmly declin-
ing, as far as possible, even Mitchell's assistance; and after
serving three persons at a time, she then walked to her rough
desk, to calculate the amount of each parcel, and receive
the money: for that purpose she took off the thick brown
leather gloves with which her hands were guarded.
The Lord ha mercy on us, what hands! Such was the
first exclamation that broke on Maria's ear: it proceeded
involuntarily from the lips of a begrimed, thick-set son of
Vulcan, with shirt-sleeves rolled up to his shoulders; the
rest of his squat form was enveloped in that useful garment,
a leather dick or apron, and a beard of some standing
formed a contrast to a clean striped cap, which had been
put on to give respectability to his appearance as a customer.








Maria half started at his voice, and still more on finding him
so near her, as he tendered a crown and some sixpences,
which he was going to count into her hand.
The start did not offend John Bilson, who felt that he had
perhaps unwillingly given pain, and he began to frame an
apology.
"I doant mean to say nout ageeanst yer hands, miss,
madom nobbut they're varry white, and varry little, more
fitter for playing at the top of yer musicals, and sewing at
embroideries, than handling iron that's all."
They are hands that have fed the hungry, and cloathed
the neaked, as I've hard say," observed one of his neigh-
bors; so 'tis not right to make no observations upon things
as is past and gone."
"Zounds, mon, don't preach," cried John; "I've noa
doubt on't, and wi God's blessing they'll doo't again. Mad-
am, Im the first parson as have given ye money shake
hands wi' me for luck I mean no offence whatever."
Maria laid her hand freely on the broad, black palm of
her first customer, and, as she did so, looked in his face, and
saw that his eyes were full of tears: fearful of showing his
emotion, he hastily turned away, shouldered his purchase,
and withdrew. No other person attempted the like liberty;
Maria was not called upon to repel impertinence, or to
silence loquacity ; all seemed aware that there was a great
gulf between them," and since there could be no higgling
on the subject of price, no choice in the quality or appear-
ance of the article; since the buyers, contrary to all similar
situations in which such persons stand, were the obliged
parties, the day, though one of great fatigue, yet served to
show Maria that it was possible for her to endure that which
she had adopted, and even to be thankful that she found it
no worse.
It is true that she could not eat the coarse, half-cooked
meat which furnished Sally Mitchell's provision for dinner,
and she dreaded lying down again on the hard pallet, con-
scious that it would not afford a second night of undisturbed


67


DECISION.





DECISION.


repose; but the remembrance of the kind, though rough,
faces she had seen around her soothed her spirits more the
more she reflected upon them; and if any one had been near
her, to whom she could have spoken, she would have been
eloquent in her praise of that genuine sensibility, which can
inftbrn the humblest children of humanity with all the re-
finements of delicate attention -lively, yet deep respect.
She rejoiced that, by frequent intercourse with poverty, as a
benefactress, her ear had become accustomed to phraseology
that would have been otherwise, perhaps, uncouth and dis-
gusting, and that her dealings were with the decidedly low,
in preference to the vulgar who ape gentility, and are dis-
gusting alike from ignorance and affectation.
Could she have sat down with Frank, at the end of her
day's labor, to describe the characters, or laugh at the ad-
ventures and embarrassments it had offered, -could she
meet her mother's gentle smile, listen to her father's pros-
pects of success, this life might surely be borne. Alas!
she felt that she must support it without any such helps; in
lowliness of heart, in unshared conflict of mind, or commu-
nication of intellect, she must persevere in her rugged path.
A very few days sufficed to show Maria that it is not
always "le premier pas qui coute." All her first customers
had recovered from their taciturnity the moment they left
her presence, and related to every one they saw the won-
derful scene in which they had borne a part -the fact,
"that Miss Falconer was lodging at the house of her father's
warehouseman, and selling iron," ran from the manufactory
to the counting-house, from the kitchen to the drawing-
room, all through the extensive population of B--, and
even to its surrounding villages. When combined with the
absence of her father, it placed the affairs of that house he
now solely represented in a more threatening point of view
than they had hitherto assumed, and it is certain that his
creditors, in some places, held consultations upon it, and
looked as if they knew not how to proceed. Their wives
and daughters, and those of many others in the higher circle








of the society of B--, were apparently better qualified to
judge; for, however they might differ as to the mov-
ing principle, or person, they alike condemned the action
exhibited. Some young ladies abused Mr. Falconer as the
most barbarous father who ever had existed, and imputed
much of his cruelty to the land of his birth, maintaining
that he alone must have caused his daughter to enter on a
situation so repugnant to her habits; and there were not
wanting some who described the terrible scene which took
place between them on the occasion. Others averred that
Maria bad a penchant for young Ingalton, which being dis-
covered by her proud parents, she had been driven from
their house, and compelled to adopt a trade, which, requir-
ing no knowledge, and belonging, in some measure, to the
connection of her future husband, she held only till he
should return, when they would marry, and play at 'love
in a cottage' for the rest of their lives a declaration which
called a tender sigh of sympathy from some lips, and made
others curl with disdain.
The elder ladies pretty generally inveighed against Maria's
conduct, on the score of indelicacy, presumption, and inde-
pendence: the vehement protested against young women
who could think of such a thing as leaving their father's
house to herd with low people; if the girl really knew she
was ruined, and must earn her bread, why not go out as a
lady's maid? or why not learn millinery? or, as she was
a mighty bookish miss, try to keep a circulating library ?
The mild thought it was always wrong for woman to intrude
on the province of man it was perverting the order of things,
and could never prosper. All agreed, that, although Miss
Falconer was very handsome, very clever and accomplished,
very fond of her parents, good to the poor, and so forth, yet
there was something odd about her." Each could recollect
a little eccentricity or peculiarity; one observed, "that she was
fond of conversing with men, arguing points, and asking ques-
tions, as if her mind were like theirs;" another, that she
had an Irish kind of partiality to animals, which proved that


69


DECISION.





DECISION.


she had originally been brought up with them, poor cream.
ture !- and therefore returned, perhaps not unwillingly, to
the abodes of filthy people ;" a third remembered, that she
had quite a passion for poetry, and, though it was not gener
ally known, yet in fact she wrote verses herself, wnlc-
a sure proof of a romantic turn, and had, probably, led to
this strange resolution." It was observed, on all sides, that
it would not last long, but that it could not fail to cast a
lasting stigma on the poor creature who had so insanely
adopted it.
All these opinions and judgments, with every shade and
variation they could receive, necessarily fell on the ear of
poor Mrs. Ingalton, who loved Maria fondly, because she
knew her well; and greatly were her own troubles increased
(great as they were) by information so astonishing in the
first instance, and condemnation so excessive in the second.
She endeavored to convince her informers that the whole
story was false that there was some imposition in it; but
when driven from that by those who protested they had ac-
tually visited the horrid place where she lived, and even so
far peeped in as to see a queer-looking, muffled-up woman,
with half a dozen forgemen about her, the crime was proved,
and the state of the culprit could not be denied.
Mrs. Ingalton and her eldest daughter proceeded to the
place in the dusk of the evening, and found Maria still at
the receipt of custom, and so busy, that she was some time
before she perceived them; as the last customer took up his
iron, she advanced towards them, raising her hat from her
brow, and displaying to them an open, friendly countenance.
"Maria! is it indeed you that I find thus employed ?-1
heard, but could not believe it for Heaven's sake, what is
the meaning of all this? "
"I mean, dear Mrs. Ingalton, in the first place, to earn my
own bread, which,I promise you, shall be for some time coarse
in quality, and not superabundant in quantity, that I may the
sooner provide it for my parents also. I hope Emily also
will, in some way more agreeable to her own notions, follow
my example."





DECISION. 71

"Have you, then, had any private communication from
my son ? Do you consider us as ruined ?"
I have not 1 know nothing new, nothing, at least, re-
specting business, from Mr. Francis Ingalton; but I do know
that, whatever may be your future lot, our doom is sealed
-and I will not stand by and see my mother rendered
houseless, without making an effort to provide her a roof of
some kind. I know the whole of our acquaintance are con-
demning me; 1 know that from Mitchell; but I can bear it."
"No one can blame you for seeking to help your parents,
if there should prove occasion for your exertion; but on
such a subject you should have thought much, have taken
advice. Your father could never, surely, dictate this."
My father! you know well, Mrs. Ingalton, that my father
has never seen a cloud in the sky, nor will do it, till the
storm bursts, which will overwhelm him. I have thought
much, and reasoned long, ere I either formed my plan or
adopted my resolution. My opinions on the nature of that
business in which I have engaged arose from what the first
men in the place have frequently advanced little money,
little knowledge, but great industry, and great firmness, are
called for: you know how well the first apply to me it
remains for me to prove the last."
It will break your mother's heart to see you thus it
will indeed, Maria."
"O, no! it will save that heart fiom breaking; for it is an
honest heart, and is now relieved from a secret much heavier
than my rods of iron: besides, dear Mrs. Ingalton, you will
mention it to her with tenderness, I know you will to-mor-
row evening go to them, break it to them, and soften it as
well as you are able."
But may I promise you will renounce it ?
Certainly not. My resolution to persevere is inevitable;
I have forbidden Mitchell ever again to tell me one single
report or surmise on my conduct. I will go on in despite
of the world, for I know not only my motives to be good,
but my prospects, and I will not suffer my mind to be





DECISION.


weighed down by the calumny of others, or the feelings
of my owll heart- I will be as hard as the article I deal in.
Who will suffer in the affair as I have suffered and must
suffer? who can know the pangs"--
Mrs. Ingalton wept bitterly, but Maria slowly paced the
floor, and removed the straw which obtruded beyond its
bounds, as if even here she wished to observe her accus-
tomed neatness.
Will you not go home with us, Maria ?" resumed Mrs.
Ingalton, when she was able to speak.
No, thank ye I must not render my hard fare more
unpalatable by mixing it with better; it will be some months
before 1 shall venture upon any indulgences of that kind; -
this is my resolution. All I will, at this time, accept from
you, is a little bed-linen in a short time I shall be rich
enough: to buy myself many little comforts."
As Maria spoke, she exhibited a large canvass purse, very
full of silver, and another, in which were a few half-guineas,
and, as she did so, there was a little of that laughing arch-
ness in her eye, and dimpled smile in her expressive mouth,
which, in better days, had been the subject of Mrs. Ingal-
ton's admiration, and which she believed at this very mo-
ment held the heart of her beloved Frank in bondage. She
was compelled to take her leave, and she went home to her
house oppressed with sorrow, and trembling for the dinoue-
ment of the morrow.
Yet when Mrs. Ingalton revolved the matter in her mind
dispassionately, she could not fail to see that, in all her
conclusions, Maria was unquestionably right, and that her
conduct was dictated by the purest motives, and even the
wisest principles. She looked earnestly on her own situ-
ation, rallied her own powers, computed those of her
daughters, nor did she lay her head on her pillow till she
had fairly calculated their chance of succeeding in a board-
ing school, and concluded to seek advice on the subject from
Maria herself





DECISION.


CHAPTER IX.


IN the new view of affairs which Mrs. Ingalton's mind
had adopted, it will be properly concluded that she repre-
sented the resolution taken by Maria, and the situation lsh
had chosen, in the most favorable light that it could )e
placed, and in every respect endeavored to conciliate her
parents, or rather her father; for, however Mrs. Falconer
might lament the loss of her society, and the degradation to
which she had submitted, it was impossible for her not to
honor the principle, and feel even grateful for the love, which
dictated such a sacrifice. Mr. Falconer's perception of the
matter was, unhappily, completely the reverse; his pride
and his poverty equally took the alarm, and, whilst the first
urged him to denounce his daughter as acting in a manner
totally unworthy of her ancestors and her education, undu-
tifully towards her parents, and unbecomingly as to all her
connections, the latter led him to apprehend that all his
creditors would, from such an exposure of the situation of
his wife's finances, be induced to press him for that day of
settlement he dreaded to name.
That such an effect, to a certain degree, did follow, must
be admitted; it had been amongst those effects on whicl
Maria had calculated, and she had joined with this knowl-
edge the consolatory remembrance, that those poor trades-
men, to whom small sums were of great importance, would
at the present time find her father able to discharge them,
in doing which his credit would be strengthened. She
knew perfectly well that, although an imprudent, adventur-
ous, and speculative man, her father was intentionally hon-
7


73





DECISION.


* est, in the strictest sense of the word, honorable and liberal
in all his transactions; and that inability to discharge such
*obligations would entail upon him regret which, in his
present reduced state, he was ill able to endure. Her con-
jectures proved right he paid them, eased his own heart
of the oppression, and blamed his daughter, as if she had
committed a positive robbery on his purse, and indulged
against her a strain of invective proportioned to the fond
regard and idolizing admiration with which he was wont to
i.olntemplate her.
To such a degree did this temper proceed, that the poor
mother could at length hear it no longer; she wrote in the
most moving terms to Maria, beseeching her "to abandon a
scheme which it would be cruel, almost impious, to pursue fur-
ther; since it had unhappily sown the first seeds of dissension
between her parents, and produced an effect on her father's
temper, which neither the misfortunes of time past, nor the
apprehension of time to come, had ever awakened; she
praised her warmly, thanked her tenderly for the efforts she
had made, but solemnly protested against the continuance of
them, declaring that she was ready to endure evil in any other
shape; but this she could not meet, since it separated her from
all .that hitherto consoled and sustained her anxious, un-
. happy life."
Over this meek but affecting statement of her mother's
:feelings, the still fond, tender, though resolute daughter wept,
and almost shuddered; she felt that she was indeed a very
young woman to act so determinate a part that the purest
intention would not justify erroneous action, nor even success
warrant disobedience. Decided as she had been, and even
thus far justified in her expectation of deriving good, (even far
beyond her most sanguine hopes,) still it was possible that the
evil she incurred might not be obviated by the good she med-
itated perhaps she was destroying, not only the peace, but
the health,.of her mother; it might be that her obstinate ad-
herence to her system would bring back that terrible com-
plaint on her father, which had left behind it ravages she
dreaded to think of







Yet, on the other hand, October was drawing nigh; Frank
Ingalton was returning (she dreaded to remember that) with
little money, and all that she had foreseen was necessarily
advancing; and her father, at forty-three, with a wife scarcely
thirty-seven, must be cast on the mercy of a world, for which
the very dispositions they now evinced evidently rendered
them peculiarly unfit. How was a man so proud, so sensi-
tive, to endure servitude, which would inevitably be his por-
tion since it was certain he had always been too much a
gentleman to be highly talented as a tradesman; with much
activity, he had little method; with good theory on his tongue,
little practice of head or hand; liable to imposition, even
from a child, in cunning; generous to profusion, and utterly
devoid of all that wisdom conveyed in the advice, "Take care
of pence pounds take care of themselves."
Moreover, she had now established a new and very thriv-
ing concern, which, if she laid down for but a week, would
be eagerly adopted by people with capital, who, seeing its
success, had already regretted their own want of foresight
in suffering such a mine to remain so long unwrought, yet
would not, at present, oppose so young and poor an adven-
turer, ini her humble, and, as they now all began to feel, her
laudable attempt. If she dropped it, then it was gone for-
ever; and whatever might be the trials it imposed, the toils
it occasioned, yet she felt that to her spirit there was less
of humiliation in it than any she could hope to adopt. Never
had she been degraded by the "proud one's contumely,"
irritated by condescending patronage the pity which in-
sults, the assistance which degrades.
It is true that low rogues had sought to cheat her; that the
deceitful had, in a few instances, cajoled her; but these at-
tempts to impose on her credulity, and excite her charity,
had been effectually useful; they had led her to explore the
cell of poverty where it really existed, and enabled her to
soothe the hour of want, and the bed of sickness, by a por-
tion of her hard-earned gains, a participation of her scanty
comforts: she had attained a power of encouraging the in-


75


DECISION.







dustrious, of controlling the idle, of benefiting many, and the
certain prospect of extending this power beyond calculation;
it was, then, her duty to preserve it.
Doubtless, in these hopes and expectations of good, there
was the form of one whose name was not uttered, that
claimed a large share of consideration, and romantic visions
floated in the perspective which rational hope spread out.
Alas! she who could even yet have bestowed worlds upon
him hoped not to share them with him, but a fond and gen-
erous heart took refuge now fiom the oppression inflicted
by disappointment, in the dreams of fiiendship; and although
it is probable that the fevered spirit felt as if the good it in-
tended must operate like coals of fire on his heart, it yet
could not cease to meditate some assistance, or even aggran-
dizement, for one so long and tenderly beloved.
After all these reviews of the subject, Maria at length
considered it her duty to visit her parents, and lay before
them a full statement of her feelings, her views, her profits,
and her prospects, yet without pledging herself to abandon
that which every examination rendered more valuable in her
sight. How she had longed to see them, how ardently she
desired to receive their approbation and their blessing, may be
conceived, even fiom her absence, since, strong-minded and
decisive as her conduct had already bespoke her, she had
not dared to meet countenances which would melt the sin-
ews of her resolve, and which, even in their kindness, would
so agitate, and, as it were, unman her, as to unfit her for the
stern duties of her laborious and ceaseless round of occu-
pation.
The following Sunday, under the escort of Mitchell, and
by a circuitous path, about the close of day, Maria once
more presented herself before her parents: the very action
was an assurance to Mrs. Falconer that her letter had pro-
duced all the effect she desired, and she fell on her neck and
welcomed her with thankfulness not less than love; it was
in vain, too, that her father endeavored to assume the anger
he lhad so often fulminated in her absence : his lip trembled,


S76


DECISION.








the first touch of her hand disarmed him, and in another
moment she was locked in his arms.
Terrible, indeed, was this reception to the heart of Maria;
she could have argued point by point, have produced ficts,
pleaded necessities; but how could she resist the tenderness,
the confidence in her submission, thus displayed ?-- how
could she look on the whitening locks of her father, and
maintain her own superior wisdom ? how dash from the
placid countenance of her mother that glowing happiness
now painted upon it, in an expression more bright than it
had worn for years ?
We have just received letters from our dear Francis Iu-
galton," said Mrs. Falconer; he will be here next week,
most probably."
Mr. Falconer gave a profound sigh, and immediately the
smile which had illuminated his lady's countenance was dis-
persed.
Do not sigh, father," said Maria; something will be
done, depend upon it."
"Something has been done, most blamably done; but I
will not reproach you for the past, Maria."
"Nor, I trust, fdl* the future, since it is certain that all I
have done, and mean to do, is for you."
"Ridiculous! what can the earnings of a few paltry shil-
lings, drawn from the black paws of the lowest rabble, do ?
Will your profits find strings to your harp, Miss Falconer ? "
"Allow me to show you, dear father to explain to you
the advantage the necessity the" -
"Heavens! would you make me a party to your disgrace ?
- do you ask me to approve your folly and madness ? to
take part in your beggarly plans your dirty savings" -
Not now I do not ask you now to share my board, or
even to visit my dwelling; but as I fear the time may come
when both may be necessary, I will not say that I am sorry
for providing them; at any rate, 1 may be allowed to provide
for myself; your creditors shall not reproach me for having
7*


77


DECISION.






T !t DLCISI(N.

robbed them. It is my duty to keep Imyself; since I know
that your late misibrtiues and other things "
"Maria, Maria, do not reproach us cried the mother, in
a voice of agony.
SGo away, girl is it not enough that you have disgraced
us injured us must you insult us also ? "
As Mr. Falconer spake, he caught his wife in his arms,
and with an angry motion, such as lie had ever used to her
even in the (lays of childhood, pointed to the door.
1 go," said Maria, haughtily for anger at that moment
thished her cheek, and dried the tears that had lingered in
her eyes. I go, Ibt my mother may recall me; and re-
ilenilber, I have used no word of reproach. I have not
deserved -but I will say nothing you have preserved
me, and I ought to thank you for confirming me in my
decision."





DECISION.


CHAPTER X.


MARIA left the room, and was hastening out of the house;
but her steps were arrested by those four-footed friends we
have already alluded to, and the sound of their cougratula-
tions brought Kathleen also, who hung around her darling
with all the doting fondness and obstreperous sorrow pe-
culiar to her country. Maria took her by the hand, and
resolutely approaching the door, the old woman flung her
apron over her head, and conceiving that she was going to
hear some secret, suddenly became quiet, and walked out
with her.
They entered the paddock, and there Maria calmed the
beatings of a heart whose pulsation had been quickened by
various emotions in the inquiries she stopped to make on
every particular of the health of both her parents. The
answers were, on the whole, very satisfactory; nor could she
be sorry to find also that two servants had been provided
with places in the neighborhood; but a sigh certainly rose,
when Kathleen added, -
"It was all the better, for sartin, that George should go,
seeing as he had no work at all, when the mare was should
away to young Birchett" -
"The mare ? my pretty Fanny -
0 yes! sure; and you did'nt know then ? and is it me
that has told you the news? ill luck to the tongue that did
it, for I know it will grieve you."
No, no; it is all right- she has got a good manger and
a kind master-I am content."
"Nay, nay; as to content, blessins on the swate voice of ye,


79






DECISION.


there's no content in the case at all, but only, ye see, it just
broke the hearts of them of your parents I mane -to set
eyes on her, and the cratur was of no use, seeing master
was too heavy fbr her; so, when the youth, who is quite a
bit stripling, said how he'd do by her, and offered a mighty
high price into the bargain, madam said as how it was their
duty to let it go; but her eyes were as red after it as if
the blood had come from her heart to bathe them; so they
were."
But, good Kathleen, yon must turn back: you see I have
Mitchell following; he will take care of me; but you will be
alone."
"But why cannot I go wi ye altogidder, miss ? surely 'll
work my fingers to the bone for ye; sleep on straw, and
eat pratees the rest of my days if you are poor, (as they tell
me you are,) is it not proper I should be poorer still, being
your sarvant? Now, pray answer me that- do answer it"
"You are older than I, my good Kathleen."
"And no mighty matter o' that rather; some forty years is
the outside on't; an thof my lady has made me asy in my
please, there's good work in me yet for many's the day to
come."
"I know it, my good Kathleen; and depend upon it, you
shall work for me by and bye; only don't cry, and you
shall do any thing."
"But how can I help it? Am I not delighted to labor,
and to starve, and to sup sorrow by spoonfuls ? and deuce a
drop can I get of it ye take it all on yourself- ye do,
ye do, Miss Falconer; an it isn't handsome of ye."
The reiterated assurances that in a very short time she
should share in all her troubles at length induced Kathleen to
return, and her young, idolized lady pursued her melancholy
walk with pensive steps, and a sense of deep depression on
her spirits, which she felt utterly incapable of shaking off.
Sincerely did she now repent that she had suffered her
original plan to be so far infringed upon as to have subjected
herself to vexation which had answered no good end, and





DECISION.


awakened in her memory those thousand pangs of recol-
lected pleasures, hopes, and even sorrows, which it was
necessary to blunt and destroy, or at least supplant, by less
endearing but more appropriate ideas.
The morning was long in its approach to her now sleep-
less eyes; but when it came again, the press of business, the
sense of usefulness, and even the perpetual necessity of
self-control, roused her from that enfeebling dejection which
threatened more to subdue the energy and sap the vigor of
her mind, than violent emotion. Again she counted her
profits, calculated the amount of that which she required, or
which she had a probability of insuring, and, fbr that time
at least, might be said to go on her way rejoicing." But
when the remembrance of Frank's near approach struck on
her heart, at such moments it inflicted intolerable anguish,
and put to flight all sober calculation, all promise of that
calmness necessary for her pursuits, of that happiness which
ought to be their reward.
Yet, when Frank actually arrived, and called upon her
with his mother, she had the satisfaction of seeing him with
more self-possession than her fluttering bosom had pre-
viously promised. She thought him much altered, much
improved, in fact, both as to the manliness of his person, and
the case, steadiness, and quiet importance, of his manners,
which argued that self-reliance and conscious assumption
of necessary knowledge so desirable in every man. He was,
however, all the less, that pale student, that interesting young
man, whose virtuous struggles, warm affections, and soaring
mind, lid charmed her imagination, and stolen unwittingly
into her heart: it was, however, certain that he became more
like himself every moment; and Maria, for the first time in
her life, heard him depart with a sensation of relief.
Frank did not visit her again, though he failed in no other
mode of attention which he found would be acceptable; but
that business which she had strongly urged upon him in this
interview, and which her example still more strongly inculca-
ted, required every moment of his time, and scarcely allowed






DECISION.


him to give to the real object of his love that attention his
heart accorded, but which every circumstance in his unfor-
tunate situation forbade him to indulge.
One Sunday morning, just after returning from that which
had now become her parish church, Maria was surprised
by a visit from Ellen. She wore, on her entrance, a cheerful
countenance; but, on casting her eyes around, the composure
she had assumed forsook her, and she was scarcely able to
speak.
"Come into my bedroom," said Maria; "you will be
better there, my dear."
But Ellen felt as if she were worse, as she again looked
round, and remembered the beautiful chamber, and the ad-
joining boudoir, where they had spent so many happy hours,
unconscious that care or poverty was ever likely to reach
them.
"I am happy, Ellen, in having anticipated those changes
which I perceive are now affecting you; it is a great
deal better to adopt them from choice than necessity, to
feed our own pride by firmness and decision, than endure
the wounds which others may inflict upon it."
Ah, Maria, you are indeed a heroine; but I am not."
Maria felt that Ellen was that which she, alas! could
never be; but she rallied her spirits, and said cheerfully,-
"Dear Ellen, we will not talk of my qualities, but my
success; your gift was invaluable, and I have so turned my
little stock, that it has cleared me already nearly seventy
pounds, besides paying for my board, purchasing these
chairs, that counterpane, and several other articles towards
housekeeping, on which, I assure you, I cast very different
eyes from you, saucy girl as you are."
Dear Maria, I am come to talk to you on that very sub-
ject to beg you will take the money which your father
paid to me as my fortune, last Thursday, in the presence of
Sir James. I certainly never expected any thing after what
you had said, still less desired that my generous, dear guar-
dian should distress himself about it; but he insisted on







paying it, and even the interest due since my coming of
age. All is here; if you can make so much money out of
a little, I trust you will make a great deal out of this, and be
able to help those excellent parents effectually, whom we
are equally bound to assist."
As Ellen spake, she laid on the table a draft on the banker
of Sir James Trevannion for nearly nine hundred pounds,
observing he thought it safer than notes; and although his
lady set her down at a little distance, they were unwilling
to trust cash to her care, she was so little accustomed to a
town.
Maria heard not a word of this exordium; her heart
swelled in her bosom almost to suffocation; her eye glanced
from the draft to Ellen's face, which was very pale, but not
the variation of a single feature gave indication of change in
her sentiments; and when she had deliberately placed it in
her pocket-book, Ellen whispered, "Thank you, Maria."
"Bravo, Ellen Now who is the heroine ?"
"Not 1, I am sure; I should be the most ungrateful being
that lived if 1 forgot -
"0, yes! yes! 1 know what the value of such a sac-
rifice at such a moment is; but I am satisfied I will
be happy: you merit him, and you shall marry him; I will
raise heaven and earth in your behalf-- will carry the
point."
With these words Maria, oppressed to suffocation by
mingled emotions, burst into a flood of tears.
At length the desire to conceal, even from Ellen, the real
state of her heart, enabled her to appear composed, and it
was not difficult to deceive her; for Ellen felt only surprised
how she could have received her at all,.without displaying
that agitation her situation seemed to call for. She blushed
excessively, and would have asked Maria what she meant,"
but for the consciousness that she had for two days been
really fighting a hard battle between her deep regard for her
guardian and her unbounded love for Maria on the one
hand, and the still tenderer preference she felt for the inter-


83


DECISION.








ests of her lover on the other ; and she dreaded any further
exposition of feelings she was too artless to hide. Maria
relieved her by saying, Why did not my father pay you
this when you came of age, my dear Ellen ? "
He said the law justified him in the delay of six months,
which he gladly took, lest I should, by lending you any part
of it, encourage you in what he once considered wrong, and
indeed never should approve; and he added, that, as you
were a minor, it was not possible for any person to lend you
money sately."
"Can that be true ? said Maria.
It certainly is, for Sir James said so too."
"Then why did he allow you to bring me this ?"
"Because I told him that I would have it to give you, not
lend you; so that security was of no use in the business
at all."
"There are, dear Ellen, who say that love matures the
understanding, and makes many a giddy girl into a thoughtful
woman; but the worldly wise would say the reverse was
your case."
"They would say wrong, for I thought much, I felt much;
but your example inspired me, decided me: see what it has
also done for Mrs. Ingalton; she has procured friends, taken
a house, and hopes to begin a boarding-school at Christmas:
it is all owing to you, and Frank says so; but every body will,
in time, say the same, and that there never was such a daugh-
ter born as you, cruel as your reward has hitherto been."
Maria wished the "every body" had been forgotten for
the one person's sake; but she could ask no questions,
not even on those points which it most concerned her to
know, and, without informing Ellen what she intended to do
with her money, suffered her to depart, and seek rewards in
her conscience and her friendship consolation in the
envied society of Frank, whom she was not less inclined to
thank for this generous boon than Ellen herself.


84


DECISION.





DECISION.


CHAPTER XI.


THE time was now arrived, when the long-dreaded settle-
ment of affairs could be postponed no longer by the sole
representative of that house to which our friend belonged.
Frank had, with the utmost exertion, been able to glean but
a small portion of debts left by Mr. Mayton; and although it
was confidently reported that the banking house, by which
they were such great losers, had considerable property, it
would be a long period before it could be called in, or ren-
dered effective in producing dividends.
It therefore followed that every thing left in the power of
the survivors must be brought forward to liquidate claims
which had been frequently made in vain already, and given
to the house an appearance of deficiency beyond the truth.
Mrs. Ingalton, accustomed to suffering, and now first obtain-
ing light whereby to see her duty, and hope as to the issue,
freely gave up all she had possessed, too conscious that the
property brought by her late husband to the concern was
trifling in comparison with that of poor Falconer and his
richly-dowried wife; and her son lost no time in bringing
forward his accounts, remittances, and stock in hand; much
more was not required, for the whole demand could not be
considered great, when the former importance of the busi
ness was recollected, and the losses sustained by it.
In truth, from time to time, the property of Mr. Falconei
had been called upon for the supply of all emergencies, the
pursuit of all speculations. Mayton had preyed upon him
systematically, and Ingalton, who was an amiable and good
man, had become so involved as to do it from necessity ; and
8


85






DECISION.


his affliction from that cause confirmed the disease that con
sumed him. The frequent sale of property, to which the
once wealthy partner was compelled to have recourse, in-
jured the credit of the house, and thus reduced it, in a
double sense, long before the time when the failure of the
bank at Dantzic confirmed its ruin.
Ever closing his eyes to danger, and deriving hope from
the sanguine temper which had misled him through life, Mr.
Falconer, now the hour of distress really arrived, abandoned
all to his creditors, not only with the frank honesty of an
upright jan, but the astonishment and despair of one who
for the first time discovers danger of which he had never
been warned, and troubles for which he was utterly unpre-
pared. So much was pity excited for his state, and that of
his faultless wife, (whose only cares were for his health,) that
the principal creditor of the house most kindly offered to
take all his property at a fair valuation, and carry the money
it should produce to his credit, and told him, "on no account
to hurry himself in evacuating the premises."
When this was done, to the astonishment of many, and
the satisfaction of all interested, it was found that the house,
so long subject to suspicion, paid within a mere trifle all
that was brought against it; and full proof was therefore
given that, within a short period, there was a handsome
surplus. This was often repeated in every possible way to
Mr. Falconer by his lady, but she could not rouse him to
taste of comfort; even the want of that little residue op-
pressed and galled him; he refused to be seen by even his
best friends, and if he had not happily had the power of still
flattering himself with the belief (however slightly founded)
that he should eventually regain property from Dantzic, his
mind undoubtedly had sunk into an utter wreck.
A few weeks previous to this arrangement, their old
friend, Mr. Elderton, returned fiom Germany, and, having
already heard something of Maria's movements, lost not an
hour in hastening to see her. She had by this time fitted up
small room, which was one of the four which constituted







Mitchell's house, into a kind of counting-house parlor, where
he found her regulating her books, and for some moments
too much engaged to notice his entrance.
The old man took off his spectacles to wipe away the
moisture on them just as Maria looked up. The moment
she saw him, all the cares and the manners of her new oc-
cupation ceased, and she flew into his arms, delighted to
see him, and protesting that she had sighed for him a
whole twelvemonth, and deemed him a recreant knight."
"I have had a great deal to do, and to go through," said
Mr. Elderton; "I have lost a large sum of money, or at least
lost the use of it, (for I do think we shall all be paid at last,)
and, as I am growing older, and have neither wife nor child,
nor even near relation, have resolved to draw my affairs into
a smaller compass, and to close my German connections
altogether.
Had I known," continued he, what you were doing, I
would have come home sooner, child, to teach you, and
support you under the trial you have so nobly entered
upon."
That you would, 1 am certain; but you are in good time
now; for Frank is returned, and" -
"I know it, child, and know also that he has done his
duty whilst he was abroad; in short, that he is an excellent
young man; we will talk about him by and bye: in the first
place, what can I do for you ? "
The greatest possible service speak well of Frank to
the creditors of our house, which will incline them to lenient
measures; move them in my poor father's behalf; and, if
possible, save him from the pain of a public sale of his ef-
fects; for be assured that he will give up every thing, beyond
the expectations, and almost the wishes, of his creditors."
"Good! What else ?"
"Visit him, comfort him, give him distant hopes of the
Dantzic money, keep him from all self-reproach, and speak
of me as if we were perfectly friends, which will save him
from the awkwardness of yielding, the pain of accepting


87


DECISION.






88 DECISION.

help fiom one he has treated a little unwisely and unkindly,
but, as Yorick says, 'not fiomn his heart.'"
It was under this influence, therefore, that the affair was
managed in the manner we have anticipated. When it was
thus arranged, Maria, whose spirits, in their great anxiety
and excitement, bore her through new and excessive fatigue,
one evening, at a late hour, called on Mr. Elderton, and re-
quested him to accompany her to look at a house she was
about taking for her parents.
"It is a pretty-looking place near-- out of repair at
present, to which a piece of common right is just now ad-
judged; has a back screen of elm-trees, and a pleasant
view from the front windows over a flower-garden."
"I know it perfectly well; old Bisset lived there; it is a
very pleasant place, and a good house, but wants repair:
the garden is a wilderness."
"That is my reason for taking it. I get it cheap, on a
long lease, with a power of purchase, and I have no fear of
being able to spare money by degrees, to render it neat and
commodious: 'tis my great comfort that making it so will
employ my father: you know he cannot live without im-
proving something, speculating on something, and I know
nothing he is more likely to do than render his home com-
fortable, for my dear mother's sake."
"You are right, child, quite right, especially in prefer-
ring his welfare to your own natural desire of providing a
place, which, however small, should exhibit your own taste
and neatness. I will see your landlord to-morrow, and ex-
amine your lease; and now go home, for I am busy. But
tell me the truth did you not come to borrow moneyy ?"
"No," said Maria, smiling, "not this time; by and by 1
shall appear on that errand."
She departed, and in the course ofanother week, with the
aid of Mitchell and John Bilson, who was as fond ofl seek-
ing a job for her as from her, all her purchases, and what-
ever else was necessary for the accommodation of a small
family, were placed in the house, one parlor of which was








handsomely papered, carpeted, and rendered every way
genteel and comfortable, thereby affording at once a com-
nmodious habitation, and an incitement to improve the ex-
terior, consistent with it. A small bed was put up for her-
self, Kathleen's wants abundantly considered, and an active
young woman hired as her assistant. Beyond this Maria
durst not engage at present.
Her last journey was to take provisions, to place every
thing in the most easy and habitable form, see that her beds
were aired, her saucepans seasoned. "Ah!" said Maria,
sweet are the uses of adversity! How much have they
already taught me I have been compelled to cook, or I must
have been starved. I have become an adept at upholstery, or
my little money would never have spun out so far. One
desperate plunge has taught me how to swim in the rough-
est waters."
It was now winter, and again, on a Sunday evening, Maria
bent her way to her father's house; she entered by the back
road, and, after gladdening the heart of Kathleen by com-
manding her to pack up her clothes immediately, proceeded
to the breakfast parlor, at present the only room used by the
reduced inhabitants. She found her mother reading, or
endeavoring to read, the gospel of the day to her father, who
sometimes listened with the eager air of one who is earnestly
seeking for the comforts he greatly needs, at others cast his
eyes around in all the listless abstraction of wandering, dis-
tressful mind. Both were pale and thin, but the appearance
of Mr. Falconer was much more haggard than his wife; his
dress was that of melancholy negligence, hers was very
plain, but perfectly neat; it was evident that she struggled
to support herself to save him from the unutterable pangs
her sufferings and self-desertion would unquestionably have
inflicted on him.
Maria's light foot was not perceived on her entrance, and
she stood reading the expression on each beloved coun-
tenance, herself pale, fluttered, but too happy to he painfully
overcome, even by the affecting sight before her. She pro-
8#


89


DECISION.






DECISION.


nounced the word "mother" in a quick, tremulous voice,
and the eyes of both were instantly turned upon her.
Maria sank upon her knees and clasped her arms around her
father. "Forgive me, dear sir forgive your naughty Maria."
"I am il no humor for jesting, Maria," said Mr. Falconer,
a momentary hectic tinging his pale cheek: "] have noth-
ing, perhaps, to forgive in you, since it was policy, sound
policy, to quit a falling house "--
"Nay, dear father," said Maria, still trying to smile, but 1
have got a falling house, which you, and only you, will be
able to build up. Such as it is, however, it is yours, only
yours, and, so far, better than this, which is borrowed, and, as
I am given to understand, wanted by Mr. Abdy for his son,
who is going to marry Eliza Greenlaw."
What shall we do ?" said Mr. Falconer, looking wistfully
at his wife.
What shall we do, my love, but listen to our dear Maria,
our matchless girl ?"
"No; I cannot see you in such a place; I can die first.
To-morrow I will exert myself: I will "-
"To-night, dear father, you will go with me. I tell you
the truth ; I have a home for you on the outskirts of the town,
where no intruding eye shall glance upon you, no want dis-
tress you. Kathleen and another servant are now ready
for you, and by the time your roquelaure and mamma's
cardinal are adjusted, the chaise will be here; your night-
clothes are all we remove for the present."
"In such a hurry ?- on a Sunday night, too? Impos-
sible, child, impossible!"
Some things are done best in a hurry. Hark the chaise
is at the gates. We will take the Bible with us, and only
that. Come, come, my dear father."
Thus, with trembling eagerness, Maria caught her prize,
and when caged, her emotions overflowed in silent tears
that would no longer he suppressed. The fond pressure of
her mother's hand, and afterwards her whisper, encouraged
her to persevere in those manners which were calculated to








sNv( lher father from any retrospect of his faults or misfor-
tullis, that might awaken acute sorrow, and in a very few
miniles she began again to speak.
"(Indeed, my dear father, you must exert yourself in
modernizing this cob-castle of ours, for it is a sweet situa-
tion, and I know you will get it into nice order in the spring.
The wood may be cut for paling, and there is a fine piece
of ground for a kitchen-garden. To be sure it is very poor
land. I doubt I must have no asparagus from it; but per-
haps you will manage artichokes."
"' We can procure manure for the land, child: perhaps it
may be necessary to get a layer of new soil."
The hearts of both mother and daughter palpitated with
joy as these words broke on their ears, but especially that
of the wife; for she had many days been trembling under the
most alarming fears that one human being can entertain for
another-fears which had annihilated all thought of her-
self and her situation, and half-banished her solicitude for
that only and much-loved child, whose situation had so long
claimed her unceasing anxiety. Scarcely could she forbear
to utter aloud the thankfulness which sprang to her lips and
agitated her bosom.
The chaise stopped at the house, which was called Elm
Cottage, just as Mitchell and Kathleen, each carrying a
parcel, and lighted by the lantern of the former, reached
the wicket gate. No new faces therefore met the eyes to
whom they might have been painful; and although, as the
light glanced over the dilapidated palisades, Mrs. Falconer
gave an involuntary sigh, which Maria caught, it only ren-
dered her the more eager to conduct them into the parlor,
where a bright fire, lighted candles, new paper and curtains,
with chairs and tables that were not new, gave that air of
united gayety and comfort which delights the eye and sol
aces the spirits.
Kathleen preceded them, because his honor's slippers
were in her bundle, and he would be after wanting them."
In truth, her glance at the outside of the dwelling had


91


DECISION.







alarmed her, and she dreaded its effect on him. "An this
be the place for the last of the Falconers!" had twice passed
her lips; but when she entered the parlor, her fear and sor-
row suddenly were dispelled, and, throwing up her hands,
she exclaimed, -
"O, to be sure, and it's only a single step down, your
honor, after all, and mighty asy, to my thinking, seeing what
we've gone through, laving the holy land, and forefathers,
and glory a' one's own country; for here's neither poverty nor
smithy smoke here at all; may the tongue be blistered that
said there was, for here lies the cloth for supper, and a fine
cratur is the cat on the hearth, and by no manes starved at
all, and the darlin herself- but goodness on me, she'd won-
derful thin and pale-looking."
Maria had now taken her bonnet and cloak off, and the
exclamation of Kathleen drew the eyes of both her parents
to her. She was indeed thin; care, toil, and altered diet,
had withered the roses on her young cheeks, and diminished
the dazzling lustre of her complexion; and her dress, devoid
of every ornament, at a time when it was the fashion to use
a superabundance, gave altogether a painful alteration in
her appearance that was almost affecting, and in the present
moment almost alarming.
But even the solicitude they now equally expressed on
this subject was rendered subservient to her great design
of increasing their happiness, and of so employing her
father in his home concerns, as to prevent him from en-
gaging in any new business. I only want change of air,
and ease of mind," said she, "aided by vegetable diet ; for I
am perfectly free from all disorder. I shall get the first by
frequently sleeping here; the second by seeing, I trust, that
you are both well and happy; the third my dear father
will provide by cultivating the garden, to which end I can
send him numerous assistants. You know I am a complete
fidget in all matters requiring neatness; and when the
house is in repair, the palisades renewed, a wall built to the
west end, and a bay window in the adjoining room, I shall


92


DECISION.







be satisfied, and look quite well, you will see. However, I
am not so inconsistent as to desire all these things at once.
I know that they will take time and money, and we must
manage them by degrees. If you see after them personally,
they will be done for half the money, I am certain, my
dear sir."
Thus was poor Falconer flattered and consoled by the
belief that in due time he would save, by his excellent man-
agement, perhaps a pound for every thousand lie had lost.
If he saw (as probably lie did) the real motive of his un-
paralleled daughter, he saw also that it was his duty to yield
to her wishes. It is at least certain that he appeared to do
so; and they separated from each other for the night with no
reference to the past, though every heart was imbued with
its memory, but with hopes for the future, which were
warmly expressed. Each, in the hour of prayer, probably
poured out more freely the gratitude, the repentance, the
blended feelings, and the glowing affections, by which they
were deeply and most happily moved.
Long before her parents left their pillow, Maria had en-
tered her regular lodging, and was engaged in her occupa-
tion. She had now attained the great point to which she
had long looked that of providing a home for her parents;
but when she reflected that the money which she had so
economically saved to that end hitherto, would yet barely
have sufficed for even their humblest maintenance, she saw
clearly that, if possible, she must extend her business, and
to that purpose increase her capital considerably. It was
painfill to her to think of asking Mr. Elderton for money,
because she had reason to believe him to be at this time un-
provided; but yet something must be done, and she held
Ellen's property sacred. It was the resource of Frank,
who was at this time still looking out for a situation as a
clerk or a traveller.
The old gentleman had called one evening to see Mr.
Falconer in his new situation, for which friendly intercourse
it was well situated. All he saw, of course, tended to con-


93


DECISION.







firm the high opinion and the warm approbation he felt for
Maria; but his observations made him aware how she was
situated, and the next evening he sent to request that she
would come and make his coffee, and leave Mitchell to close
the warehouse by himself for once.
I went to see the good people last night," said he, as she
entered, and found your mother really looking better and
happier than I ever saw her. Falconer is certainly altered
sadly; but he bustled about, and told me of fifty things he
was going to do Ibr Maria, with as much ease as if he had
forgotten all lie owed her in the way of reparation for
unkindness, to say nothing of other debts."
Thank God! May he never, never remember it."
"Well, well, you are a good girl, and a consistent one,
which is an extraordinary thing to say of any woman. I
know less than some men, 'tis true; yet I have seen many
women capable of great generosity, and somQ few who
added to it persevering goodness, patience without end, and
fortitude that was really amazing; but they always liked a
little exhibition of their virtues, or a little parade of their
feelings: indeed, crying and speechifying are very natural
to us all, when we are touched in strong points; and how
you, Maria, who are naturally fluent, resist it on such trying
occasion, I know not."
"I conceive it a positive duty to guard my poor father
(indeed, both my parents) from all excitement, and I never
have forgot the maxim you implanted, that duty is impera-
tive."
"Ay, ay, you're a flatterer-sit down-well, before 1
came out, Frank came in. I like that young man exceed-
ingly; lie paid great attention to me when I was unwell at
Frankfort. I wish to help him."
I wish you would," said Maria, with a frankness that a
little surprised her auditor; but he replied, -
"Well, then, hear my plan: I must either give up my
German business, or that which I engaged in after the peace
with America, and I think that much the more promising."


94


DECISION.







c Probably it may, but I like Germany best."
"So do I; but 1 have also connections of value in the
other, and 1 am certain it would answer for me to fix a
clever young man at Liverpool as my agent but by rights
he should be my partner."
Take him take Frank Ingalton- he is upright, active
- it will make his mother so happy "--
Yes, that is all true; but it is not convenient for me to
find all the money, just now."
"Nor do you need. Frank, to my knowledge, can imme-
diately produce a thousand pounds, and I have little doubt
but lie could borrow another."
"But I have; for these are stirring times, and every body
hereabouts is employing money for himself. But, I pray,
how comes he by the first, Maria ?"
"A prudent, amiable, good girl has it, who I mean to
say, he may marry: in short, Mr. Elderton, between our-
selves, there is an attachment- and of course he wishes to
marry."
"1 understand, my dear, and promise you that the second
thousand shall be forthcoming, and 1 will make him my
partner. Then I apprehend your mother has saved one
thousand pounds from the wreck of her fortune, and I re-
joice in it: you are well aware how much may be made
of it."
"My mother sacrificed her last property to pay it, and
Ellen, thank God, has received it."
"Ellen, say you ?- Ellen Powis ?"
"Yes, certainly; it is she to whom Frank is engaged; she
is a noble, kind-hearted, generous girl so generous, that she
brought it all to me, saying, it would be well used by me
for the benefit of my parents;' and indeed so I think it might
be, for I now see my way clearly, and could indeed use it
well; but if you will thus accept of Frank and this little mod-
icum, all will be well, all happy, and I can still manage."
Maria spoke with amazing rapidity, and her color varied
every moment, though she affected to smile away the min-


DECISION.


95







gled emotions which were unquestionably lacerating her
heart. The old gentleman saw through the disguise she
assumed, and the idea of her distress brought the tears into
his eyes; but he, too, looked another way, and succeeded in
saving the delicacy of a noble mind so singularly circum-
stanced from another wound, and it was finally agreed that
on the morrow he should make the proposal to young In-
galton, and act in every respect as his friend and father.
But, then, Maria, this ties my bands with regard to you,
whom I certainly desire to help much more than the young
people in question."
"You cannot, then, lend me fifty pounds ?"
"Yes, I can do that, undoubtedly; I can double that, but
what is it ?"
"O, a great deal of money in my little way. You know
mine is either a ready-money trade, or, at the most, a fort-
night's credit, for I deal only with the poor. I turn the little
I have so quickly that I have great gains even on small
profits. I have no one to pay but Mitchell, and cost so little
myself that I hope to be able to maintain my parents even
with that. I ought to have no fears for the future, when I
consider what the past has produced."
I have no fears for your success, Maria, but many for
your health. You have been too careful, too anxious. 1
must insist on your taking some wine, and shall send you
that which I know to be old and good. If you do not take
care of yourself, you neglect the most important of all duties
to your parents. Tell me, my dear girl, that you will take
care of yourself."
I will obey you," said Maria, "for you are going to oblige
me perhaps to save me" --
The suppressed struggle of her bosom would no longer
be concealed; she burst into an agony of tears, and wept
long and freely; but when the passion had spent itself, she
repeatedly assured her worthy old friend, that she knew
she should soon get the better of all her weaknesses, and


96


DECISION.





DECISION. 97

prove, under his guidance, an excellent tradeswoman, and
rise in time, perhaps, to rival "-
The Grecian Daughter," cried the old man, as he shook
her hand; "ah! girl, she was a fool to you. But go away, or
you will make one of me. Depend upon it, I will order
every thing in the manner you wish. I will protect Frank.
reward Ellen, and leave you the glory of steering your own
little vessel through a rough sea into a safe haven. But, my
child, drink the Tent-wine I send you promise me that."
"I do promise most religiously. I will endeavor to take
every thing that may sustain me in the path I must walk in.
The longer I travel, the less rugged shall I find it."

9





DECISION.


CHAPTER XIL


NOTHING could be more true than the assertion made by
Maria at the close of our last chapter; for the bustle in
which she was compelled to engage the early part of the
day, the recollections and accounts which occupied the
latter part of it, the contrivance how to seize a few hours of
evening holiday with her parents, and how to spare from
her daily-increasing business the ready money which would
supply the wants of the house, and the little improvements
in which she delightedly beheld her father engage, most
happily prevented her from dwelling much on that subject
from which alone she shrank in dismay.
The unbending resolution she had evinced to renounce
all company which interfered with her pursuit, to engage in
no possible expenditure that could be avoided, together with
the distance of her present residence from the house of Sir
James Trevannion, formed an excuse that was consistent
with her plan and her character, when entreated to be the
bridemaid of Ellen; to whom she also pointed out the cir-
cumstance, that it would be desirable to take that opportu-
nity of introducing Emily Ingalton to the notice of a family,
who might hereafter greatly benefit her mother in the plan
she had so wisely adopted.
True," said Ellen, "but indeed you think for us all. I told
my dear Frank I should not wonder if you were in fact the
mover of all Mr. Elderton's kindness: you have done every
thing right except refusing my money that was surely
wrong."
Yet from that error springs your present happiness: let







the remembrance of that, Ellen, teach you the value of mon-
ey, of which you can as yet form little idea. You are older
than I thirteen months; but that period spent in this place
has made me much your senior in knowledge. Remember
you must not expect to live as you did either in my father's
house or the baronet's, and that you must supply to yourself
in the love of your husband and the consciousness of your
utility, those indulgences to which you are accustomed, and
the exercise of those accomplishments you may probably be
seldom called on to display."
i"But, dear Maria, Frank cannot expect me to be a good
housekeeper!"
Yes he can, and depend upon it he will; for every man
who labors for the support of a family soon becomes inquis-
itive as to the disposal of his gains, unless he is an idiot;
and every woman will soon render herself adequate to her
duties as a wife, unless she is one. I expect this of you, I
demand it of you, as the friend of- of my friend Frank."
Dear Maria, you cannot doubt my entire love, my perfect
esteem, for the excellent young man to whom I am about to
be united; nor that, with the example of such a woman as
your excellent mother before my eyes, I should be ignorant
of my duties as a wife."
S"1 doubt not your purity of intention, Ellen, but I am
anxious that you should attain the knowledge by which in-
tention secures its object anxious that your disinterested
affection (for such it certainly is) should really secure all the
good to you both which it ought to effect: pardon me, dear
Ellen, if I speak hastily. I have been obliged to associate
with the vulgar, and to assume airs of command, but re-
member my words they are offered in love."
Love 0, yes, Maria, the purest, warmest love; I know
your heart, and every kind feeling that actuates it; I do, in-
deed."
Maria hoped not, but the appearance of Frank at this
moment made her color rush into her cheeks, and recede as
quickly.


99


DECISION.




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