The Baldwin Library
I ~ I'] --
AUTHOR OF "FANNY ASHLEY," ETC.
THE RELIGIOUS TRACT SOCIETY,
56, PATERNOSTER ROW; 65, ST. PAUL'S CHURCHYARD;
AND 164, PICCADILLY.
MANCHESTER : 100, CORPORATION STREET.
BRIGHTON: 31, WESTERN ROAD.
UNWIN BROTHERS, CHILWORTH AND LONDON.
!TTLE Ursula Conway was very
SHer mamma was asleep on the
couch by the fire, and there was no one else
in the room; besides, Ursula had been poring
over a story-book until her eyes were.dim
and her head ached, and she felt quite tired
and dull, so she went to the window, in the
hope of finding some amusement there.
The prospect out-doors was gloomy enough;
it poured with rain, and the street and
everything in it looked dirty and wretched,
very few carriages passed, and the people
who were on foot evidently were not there
6 URSULA'S PROMISE.
by choice, and made the greatest possible
After a while it grew dusky and rained still
harder, yet Ursula's face was pressed against
the window-pane as before, only as she caught
sight of the lamplighter coming down the
street she brightened up and looked quite
Ursula had always taken great pleasure in
that lamplighter ever since she was a tiny
child just big enough to stand on a chair and
watch for his coming; even now she liked to
see him crossing from side to side and lighting
up the lamps, only he got done so quickly
and was gone.
Then Ursula took her face from the window
and looked round the room. What a fire to
be sure It would never do for mamma to
wake and see all dark and cheerless like
that, so the little girl stirred it very gently,
but so successfully that a bright blaze sprang
up, making the red walls look warm and
comfortable, glittering on the picture frames,
and causing old Toby, the pet cat, to stretch
himself out on the rug and give a loud purr
Then Ursula sat down on a low stool by
URSULA'S PROMISE. 7
Toby, and began talking to him in a half-
whisper, "Pussy, dear, I'm very dull, there's
no one to speak to me," she said. "I've
read, and read, and read till I'm tired; I
can't always play with dolls and puzzles, and
I've nothing to do. Oh, Toby, I do wish
mamma would wake up soon."
The sound of the half-whisper roused Mrs.
Conway, who, indeed, had not been sleeping
for some few minutes-only thinking; but
they were sad thoughts which she could not
easily dismiss and talk cheerfully to her little
Ursie, dear," she said, I am not asleep;
come here," and Ursula went and knelt down
by the side of the couch and began to stroke
her mamma's hand softly as she held it
between her own. Did I wake you ? she
asked. "I am so sorry, but I had been
quiet such a long, long time, that at last I
began to talk to Toby."
No, dear, you did not wake me. I was
quite awake when you stirred the fire, only I
was thinking. And so you want to talk?
Well, what shall we talk about?"
Ursula considered. "Let me see. Shall
it be about when you were a little girl, or
8 URSULA'S PROMISE.
shall it be a fairy tale, or-oh no, mamma,
it shan't be anything I've heard before. Let
us talk about what we'll do when summer
comes and you are quite well again. Shall
we go to the sea, do you think, or shall we go
to grandmamma's house in the country ?"
Perhaps no sadder subject than the coming
summer could have been chosen-it was the
very one of which Mrs. Conway had been
thinking when Ursula's voice aroused her;
wondering how she was to nerve herself to
speak of what would give her child such pain,
fearing to bring a cloud of sorrow over that
bright face and little unconscious heart.
She would have put it off again-as we all
put off hard things-but Ursula's desire to
talk of the summer seemed to force her to
say that which must be said sometime, and
so she answered shortly,-
"Very well, dear, we will talk about
summer. I was thinking of it when you
spoke to poor old Toby."
Oh, were you, mamma ? How funny !
-so was I. I was fancying myself on the
sand digging, and I had made such a castle
with a deep trench all round it, and I pictured
you sitting on the shingle with the colour
URSULA'S PROMISE. 9
coming into your cheeks, and it was so happy !
How I do hope we shall go to the sea, and
yet "-here Ursie paused and reflected, it
certainly is lovely at grandmamma's, with the
garden, and the fruit, and the dear little
chickens to feed. Well, I believe I don't
much care which it is, if only the time would
go quick. Let's see-this is only March; it
certainly will be three whole months before
we go away, won't it, mamma? "
"You are nine years old, Ursula, are you
not ?" asked Mrs. Conway.
"Yes, mamma. Nine years and a quarter
and a few days over," responded Ursie,
promptly, wondering a little what her age had
to do with going into the country.
Almost old enough to be trusted to visit
grandmamma without me."
Oh no, mamma! I couldn't indeed,"
said Ursula, all the light fading from her face.
"Why, I've never been away from you yet-
never one single night since I was a little wee
baby! I'd rather stop in this dull, dirty,
dusty old London for ever than go without
Not if I wished it, dear ?"
"Oh, you wouldn't wish it," said Ursula,
IO URSULA'S PROMISE.
decidedly. "You'd be just as unhappy as
could be without me. Who would read to
you when your head ached, and reach things
for you when you were lying down, and shake
up your cushions, and run with messages to
the servants, and stir the fire, and all the
Nothing but necessity could have forced
any words from Mrs. Conway then. Trying
very hard to be calm, she clasped the little
hands tighter as she said, "Ursie, darling,
your summer won't be quite the same as
before. You will go away without me this
Oh, mamma why? cried the child, with
tears springing to her eyes. Can't you
come ? Well, then I shall stay with you."
"No, I am going away myself, dear. I
shall go first."
Not without me, mamma ?"
Mrs. Conway bent her head lower over the
child's bright curls. If God wants me to go
away soon, won't you try to spare me ?"
"I had rather you took me with you,"
said Ursula. "Why, where can you be
going ? "
Oh, my darling I believe, indeed I feel
URSULA'S PROMISE. II
quite sure, that I am going where I cannot
take you, but where I hope you will come to
me after a while. I am going to God, my
little Ursula-soon, very soon."
Mamma," cried Ursula, starting up, "what
do you mean ? Is anything going to happen ?
are you not really getting better? Surely
you're not going to die and leave me? And
then, even as she spoke, the poor child
seemed to understand it all, and flinging her
arms round her mother she gave way to such
a burst of grief that Mrs. Conway was alarmed.
"My poor Ursie my darling, it must be,"
she murmured. I am so sorry for you; but
God is doing it, and we must not rebel;"
but the mingled feelings of fear, surprise, and
grief had overcome Ursula completely, she
only sobbed the more and clung more
"Ursula, you must not do this. It will
hurt you and it will hurt me," Mrs. Conway
said, more calmly: I do not say that God
will take me from you directly, only I want
you to know that by-and-by it must happen.
Do try and be quieter, dear, I cannot bear
With a great effort Ursula conquered her-
12 URSULA'S PROMISE.
self. With all her faults she had a strong,
deep, unselfish love for her mother, and the
idea that by her grief she should do her
harm was sufficient to make her strive to
leave off sobbing, and after a little she wiped
her eyes and sat up. And then she tried to
think it was all a mistake; certainly her
mamma was ill and weak, and had not gone
out as she once did, but then the doctor had
said she would be better "in the spring,"
and surely he must know best. Still the rest
of the evening was very dull, and for once
Ursula was glad when it was bed-time, for
she wanted to get by herself to cry out her
sorrow where there was no one to see it.
She kissed her mamma hastily, and was
turning away, but a sudden thought stopped
her, and she whispered,-
"Oh, mamma, isn't it a mistake ? Don't
you think you may get well ? "
But the answer she saw on the pale, thin
face which turned to her so sorrowfully was
more than she could bear. Ursula darted
upstairs to her own little sleeping-room, and
flinging herself upon her bed she sobbed as
if her heart would break.
A tap at the door roused her. It was the
URSULA'S PROMISE. -. 13
maid, who had come to undress her. Oh,
please go away, Jane!" cried Ursula. "Let
me be just five minutes. I won't keep you
out any longer, I promise;" and Jane accord-
ingly went away from the door, though she
stayed near enough to hear the child crying
bitterly, yet amidst her sobs the words came
over and over again, Dear Jesus, you know
how I love mamma, don't take her from me."
How long this would have gone on I cannot
say if Jane had not returned to insist upon
Ursula being put to bed; and though she
declared that she could not sleep, and was
quite sure she should toss about all night,
her grief had so exhausted her that her eyes
closed directly her head was upon the pillow,
and when Mrs. Conway came to give her the
usual good-night kiss she looked as calm and
quiet as if her first great grief had not entered
It was very light when Ursula awoke next
morning, for she had slept later than was usual,
and as she glanced round the pretty room
she felt as light-hearted as could be, but the
next minute the memory of the previous
evening came back to her, and burying her
face once again in the pillow she cried
14 URSULA'S PROMISE.
sorrowfully. All that day and the next, and
for a week after, poor little Ursula's face
looked strangely white and sad, and although
she never said a word about the fear which
filled her heart, she hung about her mamma
as if she could not bear to leave her for an
instant, and watched for chances of waiting
on her even more than ever. But as time
passed, and Mrs. Conway seemed to keep
the same, Ursula grew easier-people were
so very often ill and got quite well again, she
knew, that she began to hope it would be so
now, and once again her face grew bright and
her merry laugh echoed through the house;
and though at times her mammawould speak
of their separation, it did not cause the child
the pain which she had felt when it came
upon her as a terrible and sudden sorrow,
for she could not realise that it would indeed
be very soon.
So when the day came that Ursula knew
her mother was dying, she felt as frightened
and heart-broken as if she had never thought
of it. It was a sunny May day. Even the
London streets looked bright, for carriages
rolled along unceasingly, and children and
nurses thronged the pathway, women and
URSULA'S PROMISE. 15
girls with baskets on their heads held up
bunches of flowers to the windows of the
houses and got many a customer, and Ursula
had just bought some lilies-of-the-valley, and
was filling a small glass to carry to her
mamma's room when she was startled by the
voice of the minister who came to visit Mrs.
Conway, who now sat down on the sofa, and
drawing the little girl to him kissed her fore-
"Oh, Mr. Stewart, aren't these lilies
sweet?" said Ursie, smiling up at him.
They are for mamma-she likes to see
flowers in her room so much, and I think
they make her better."
"Dear child, I am afraid no one and no
flowers can do that-only God," was the reply.
"Yes, I know," said Ursula, quickly. I
ask Him every night and morning to make
her well, so I feel sure He will, because He
always does what we pray for, does He not,
"Yes, always, my dear Ursula, if it is a
good thing for us. God is so loving and kind
that He would not let us have what we ask
for if it would do us harm. You understand
that, do you not ?"
16 URSULA'S PROMISE.
"Yes, quite," said the child, brightly.
"But it could not be bad for me to have
mamma, and so I am doubly certain, don't
you see, and it makes me so much happier.
Ah, Mr. Stewart, the night mamma told me
she should soon die it seemed as if my heart
would break, and do you know I felt quite
naughty too, as if God wasn't kind, and I
could not go on loving Him. And then I
remembered all the texts which tell us that
we shall have what we pray for, and I began
that very night, and I have never once missed.
Don't you think it was a good thought ? "
I do, indeed," said Mr. Stewart, though
his eyes were full of tears as he listened to
the words of simple faith from the child he
had known from her birth. "God put it
there, I am quite sure, to teach you to trust
Him. Do you trust Him, Ursula ? "
Of course I do," said Ursula, wonderingly.
"Suppose God chose to do something
which seemed very hard to you, could you
be quite sure He loved you all the while-
could you trust Him then, and be sure He
knew it was best, Ursula ?"
Y-es," said Ursula, slowly, as if she was
thinking it all over before she spoke. "I
URSULA'S PROMISE. 17
think I could, only I'm not quite sure;" and
she looked up in her friend's face, and
something in his gaze seemed to rivet her
attention, and then all in an instant the old
terror seized her mind, and she cried, Not
if He took away my mamma! -Oh, don't tell
me it's to be that,-don't I must have her !
I cannot do without her; indeed I cannot.
Mr. Stewart, please don't make me think of
such sad things. Mamma will be better of
course now the spring is here."
I came in to you to try and say what
God bids me tell you, my poor child. He
says to you that mamma is weak and ill and
suffering and that she can never be better in
this world; He wants to take her to heaven,
to rest and be happy with Jesus always!
cannot you let her go ? "
Ursula sank down on the floor with her
face hidden in the folds of her frock, and her
breath was quick and fast, but she never
"He says to you, my child, that He has
heard your prayers, that He loves you dearly,
and yet-and yet, Ursula, He cannot give
what you ask. Some day He will tell you
why; but till then will you trust Him?"
18 URSULA'S PROMISE.
"I cannot, I cannot," moaned Ursula.
"Anything but this I could bear. Mamma
is all I have got in the world, and is it not
hard of God to take her ? Would He do it
if He loved me?"
"Poor little girl!" said kind Mr. Stewart,
"your sorrow is very great, you hardly know
how to bear it, but Jesus will help you. He
is looking at you now, Ursula-here in this
very room, not far away. Looking at you
with such a gentle face, but so grieved that
you. don't believe He loves you !"
Oh, I wish He was here cried Ursula.
"If I could only go and kneel very close to
Him, like the people did when He was in the
world, He would see how unhappy I was, and
He would make mamma well, I'm sure He
"My little girl, He is here, He does pity
you; you must believe it, though you cannot
see Him, and believe that He asks you to
bear this great grief for His sake."
There was silence for a few seconds, all
but poor Ursie's sobs; then she got up and
looked at Mr. Stewart.
Please let me go to mamma," was all she
URSULA'S PROMISE. i9
"I came to fetch you, Ursula. You will see
mamma is very weak, but she is so happy!
Her face is as peaceful as if she saw Jesus by
her side. You won't trouble her, Ursie;" and
the child's firm effort to brush away her tears
was a sufficient promise, and they went up-
stairs together. The lilies were forgotten
To her last day Ursula Conway never
forgot that scene.
The room was still and shady; the nurse
sat silently on one side of the bed, and as the
door opened, Mrs. Conway turned her head
feebly and opened her arms-next moment
Ursula was clasped tightly to her breast, but
neither spoke, neither wept-nothing was
heard but the child's pained effort to control
herself and the mother's feeble, uncertain
"Ursie, my own darling," came the words
at last, "Jesus is very near-so near that I
cannot say much to you. He will take care
of you. I gave you to Him long ago, and I
leave you with Him now. Listen to me,
Ursula, and never forget what I say. If ever
you are unhappy, go and tell Jesus about it
as you would tell me. If you do wrong, go
20 URSULA'S PROMISE.
and tell Him, and beg for pardon, and ask
Him every day to love you and keep you
from all evil and bring you to mamma again."
"Yes," sobbed Ursula; and then, with one
long last kiss, her mother let her go, and
some one carried her away and laid her on
her own little bed, where she stayed for what
seemed a long, long time, thinking of her
mamma, thinking of how she had looked
and what she had said, and asking God again
to spare her life, though she was so very ill,
until Mr. Stewart came in, and bending over
God has taken mamma home, Ursula.
Kneel down with me and thank Him that
she is at rest."
That night, a little figure glided softly into
the room of death with flowers in her hand
and tears on her cheeks-Ursula's bunch of
lilies lay on her mother's cold breast.
RSULA CONWAY had no remembrance
of her father. She knew that he
died when she was only two years
old, and her mamma had often told her how
he had loved to see her totter across the
room to the couch where he lay so many
months, and call him by his name; but all
that had faded from the child's mind, she
only knew that the picture in the large frame
in the dining-room, and a smaller one up-
stairs, were papa."
Neither had she any brothers or sisters.
Her mother had been everything to her in
her short bright life, and now she was indeed
alone, excepting for a few relatives whom she
had not seen very often.
22 URSULA'S PROMISE.
One of these, her father's brother, and his
wife, had been sent for when Mrs. Conway
was known to be dying; but they lived in the
north of England, and while they travelled to
London her soul had passed away, and they
only came in time to see her face before the
coffin closed upon it.
Do you think you remember your uncle,
Miss Ursula?" asked Jane, the maid who
attended upon the child, and who tried in
vain to rouse her from the deep silent grief
into which she had fallen.
No-yes; I can't tell," answered Ursula,
absently. I forget how long it is, Jane, since
I saw them. Oh, please let me be; I want
to sit in the room till they take mamma
"You can't, dear-you will be ill, indeed
you will. Oh, I wish Mr. Conway would
come; surely they'll not- be long: you want
some one to take care of you."
I don't want to see them. I feel as if I
couldn't bear them," sobbed Ursula. "Oh,
dear, I'm getting naughty already without
mamma. I ought not to feel so, I ought not
to have said it; but I am so unhappy !"
So Ursula crept back to the room where
URSULA'S PROMISE. 23
the coffin was lying, and sat down on the
floor quite near it. She seemed as if while it
was there her mother was not quite lost to
her; but she was disturbed in a few moments
by Mr. Stewart, who came in so gently that
she almost screamed as he touched her.
Did I frighten you, my child ? he asked,
gently. "I am sorry. They told me you
were here, and I came to fetch you down-
Ursula shook her head.
"My dear little girl, you mean to do all
that mamma would wish, I am sure. Now I
know she would not like you to be ill, and
you will be so if you go on in this way.
Ursula, God has sent you" a heavy cross for
such young shoulders to bear; but you cannot
shake it off. You must bear it; willingly or
unwillingly-which shall it be ?"
Ursula's eyes were swimming with tears,
but Mr. Stewart had struck the right chord in
her heart, and she looked up gently and
yieldingly into his face as she answered,-
"I will try to be good; I will try to do
anything-" she would have added, "which
mamma would like," but she could not finish
for the sobs which nearly choked her.
24 URSULA'S PROMISE.
After that Ursula submitted to every one,
and neither fretted nor complained ; but one
cry was going up always from her sorrowful
little heart, Oh, mamma, I want you so
When Mr. and Mrs. Robert Conway came
they wanted to be very kind to the lonely
child, and talked to her of their own little
ones, Jessie, Graham, Charlie, and Isabel,
whom they hoped she would come and see
in their far-away home; but Ursula could
not be won into a smile; it was hard enough
to try to listen when they were I .- 1 ;i_ and
answer back again.
Those were indeed sad dark days before
the funeral; yet when that was over it seemed
sadder still to little Ursula when the shutters
were unclosed again and the house looked
the same as usual, though her life was all
changed and different.
The child thought a great deal about her
lonely lot, and wondered what was to become
of her. Should she have to go home with
this newly-known uncle and aunt, and see
the little cousins, who perhaps would not love
her? Oh, how she longed to ask, only she
felt shy about it. But the first time she was
URSULA'S PROMISE. 25
quite alone with Mr. Stewart she poured out
all her heart to him.
Your mother thought and spoke a great
deal of what should happen when she was
dead, Ursula," said he. "You are getting a
great girl, and as she felt that you ought to
be learning more than was possible during
her illness, she decided that you should go to
a nice school; but first you are to pay the
promised visit to your grandmamma."
School-that dread place had never come
across Ursie's mind.
Oh, oh !" she cried, don't send me to
school! I should be so miserable The
governesses would scold me, and the girls
perhaps will quite hate me. I should die, I'm
sure 1 should."
Kind Mr. Stewart smiled and stroked her
soft hair. That isn't like mamma's Ursula,"
he said. Those sounded like the words of
a little spoiled child."
Oh, dear, I don't want to be i/that.' said
Ursula; but school, Mr. Stewart, oh I could
not live there. Mayn't I stay here with Jane.
or go and live with grandmamma? or even---
yes, I'd even rather go home with Uncle and
Aunt Conway, whom I scarcely know."
26 URSULA'S PROMISE.
Mr. Stewart looked graver, and drew
Ursula to his side. "My child, I want you
to learn to love your duty. You are old
enough now to understand what is right,
and so you must know that to obey your
mother's wishes must be your duty, and it
ought not to be hard. Did she not love
you, Ursula? "
"Yes, oh yes, sobbed the child.
"Then when she knew she was leaving
you, don't you feel sure she asked God to
help her to choose what was best for your
future life? I know how she thought and
how she prayed, Ursie; and then she felt
more and more sure that the school she has
chosen would be a happy and a safe home
for you, and that holiday-time could be spent
amongst your friends."
I thought I could live with some one who
would be kind to me," murmured Ursula.
"Yes, I believe that you will. Miss Ray
will be kind to you, for your mother's sake as
well as your own."
But not so kind as grandmamma," put in
Mr. Stewart rose and walked to the window,
looking out with an absent manner, and after
URSULA'S PROMISE. 27
a minute Ursula went towards him very softly
and stole her hand into his.
"You are not angry, are you? she asked.
" Indeed I will be good; I will do all you
wish, and what mamma wished. Please
forgive me "
The good minister laid his hand on her
head. "I am not angry, dear child. I
know life is very hard for you just now. I
only want to see you try to bear it bravely
and well. I was thinking, Ursula, how best
I could tell you something your mamma
wished you to know."
The child looked up in his face, but it was
a minute or two before Mr. Stewart spoke
"You have often been to grandmamma's,
Ursie: did it ever strike you that anything
was different to home ?"
Why, yes-everything is different. There's
a garden, Mr. Stewart, and- "
"Stop, my dear. I did not mean that
sort of thing. I mean in the way your
grandmamma lives, and talks, and acts.
Have you not seen a difference to your own
mother ? "
Ursula thought a minute. "I believe I
28 URSULA'S PROMISE.
do know what you mean," she answered,
gravely. "I never heard grandmamma talk
about God, and if mamma said a word about
Him she looked vexed. Is that it ?"
That is it, Ursula-that is why mamma
could not leave her little girl to be brought
up in a home where God was not loved more
than any one. Grandmamma is kind and
good in all else, my child ; but the one great
thing is wanting, and she could not help you
to get ready to meet mamma again. You
remember mamma's last kiss, her last words,
and looks, Ursula ? "
The child nodded, but her eyes were full
and her breast heaved with sobs : she could
She bade you love Jesus above every one;
she begged you to go and tell Him all your
sorrows as you would have told them to her;
and she asked you to keep very near Him, that
so He might give you back to her some day.
Will you do all these things, dear child? "
Oh, I will,-I want to sobbed Ursula.
"I want to belong to Jesus ; I want to be
His child, and try to please Him, but I don't
He will teach you, dear Ursula. Only
URSUTA'S PROMISE. 29
ask Him to take care of you, and He will
never let you go-no matter where you may
be, you will be safe."
But you will tell me how to be good,"
My child, you are going away for a time.
You will not have me so near you, but I
shall pray for you, and help you in any way I
can. God is taking you into His own care,
Ursula, you must trust Him;" and Mr.
Stewart looked down upon the childish face
with the tenderness and pity of a father.
Now, dry these tears and let us talk of
brighter things than school, and duty, and all
the rest," he said. Only, as you go to
grandmamma in three days, and this may be
our last talk together, I want you to promise
me two things, Ursula."
I will promise twenty, dear Mr. Stewart,"
cried the child. What are they ? Please
"Well, one is never to omit your prayers
at night and morning: the other, that if you
are tempted to think you can put off serving
God till you are older-if you are tempted
to sin against Him by word or act that is
wrong, you will bring to your mind a little
30 URSULA'S PROMISE.
picture of the day mamma died, and remem-
ber what were her last words and wishes."
"Oh, Mr. Stewart! as if I could forget
such things. Why, I've never missed my
prayers-not all the while I can remember;
it wouldn't seem like night or morning with-
out them. And then, mamma- here the
child's voice faltered, "ah I shall never,
never forget how she kissed me, and what
she said-not if I live to be ever so old."
"I hope you will not. I trust you never
can forget, dear Ursula; but you are only a
child, and life may be long, and you can't tell
what temptations may come. Well, then, I
have your promise. Now kneel down by
me and say these words to God: 'Oh, my
God I am but a child, but Thou lovest little
children. Take my heart and keep it for
Thy own. Let me never wander from Thy
side. Give me Thy Holy Spirit to teach me,
and keep me from all sin and protect me
when I am tempted; and, O Lord, bring me
safe to heaven at last, through Jesus Christ,
Thy Son. Amen.'"
For a few moments there was silence as
Ursula's voice ceased. Then Mr. Stewart
raised her from the ground, and seating her
URSULA'S PROMISE. 31
on his knee tried to turn her mind to less
serious thoughts, speaking of the journey, of
her visit to the country, of the letters she
was to write to him while she was away.
"And I shall see you before you go to
school," he added.
"Y-es," said Ursula, slowly, evidently trying
to speak cheerfully. Is it far from here
where the school is, Mr. Stewart?"
Not too far for me to come and see you
now and then, dear child. But we need not
talk of school yet-there are many weeks of
holiday-making in the country first."
But any more talk they might have had
was stopped by Mrs. Robert Conway coming
in to say tea was ready; and though Mr.
Stewart stayed the rest of the evening, Ursula
had no chance of saying anything privately
to him, except her little whisper as he bade
her good-night, I will keep my promise."
Three days later Ursula Conway had left
her early home, and was travelling with her
maid Jane through the pretty midland coun-
ties of England to the little town of Wetherby,
where her grandmamma lived.
It had been hard to part from home-from
the servants, who kissed her and cried over
32 URSULA'S PROMISE.
her, knowing they would never perhaps see
the child again-even the books and chairs
and tables seemed like friends which must
be said good-bye to, yet Ursula was too
young to know all the change which had
come into her life, and though she shed
many tears when she left London, her face
beamed with smiles when she was lifted from
the railway carriage at Wetherby station, and
folded tightly inher grandmamma's arms. Oh!
it was so happy to feel that there was some one
who loved her still! They were soon in the
hired fly," which had met the train, driving
slowly up the long hilly road which led to
Laurel Villa, and as they got a little beyond
the town there were peeps across the country
lands with church spires rising in the distance
and green trees waving all round. Many of
the cottagers came to their gates as Ursula
passed to look at the lonely child in her deep
mourning, whom they had seen in Wetherby
many a time before by her mother's side; and
many a good wish for her rose from the
simple hearts of the women, whilst they wiped
their eyes and said, "God bless her," and
looked after the carriage as long as it was in
sight. And Ursula, by grandmamma's side,
S URSULA'S PROMISE. 33
with that fond hand clasping her own, was
happier than she had been since her great
loss. Ah if she might but stay always-if
only there was not that terrible thought of
school in the background. Then she
checked herself, for she remembered her
mother's wish and her mother's words, and
so she tried to be content.
ou will lie in bed to-morrow, my
Ursie," said grandmamma, bending
over the child for the good-night
kiss-something like her mother would have
done. You are weary with the journey,
and I hope you will sleep late and get rested,
and let me see some colour in that little pale
face. Good-night, again, darling! You are
my very own now." And at last old Mrs.
Alston went away, leaving Ursula to her own
thoughts as she lay in her cosy bed trying to
get to sleep.
How grandmamma does love me!" said
she to herself when she was alone. Of
course she would, because mamma was her
only child, and I suppose it seems like having
her over again. I wonder if grandma knows
URSULA'S PROMISE. 35
about the school-she talks as if I had come
here for always;" and then the little girl went
off into thoughts of the dreaded future, the
hard school-life which she always pictured.
If only she could have lived on at Wetherby !
but she could not, and so wishing was no
use, and in the midst of her doubtings and
reasoning Ursula fell asleep.
But, in spite of her weariness, it was still
early when she woke next morning and
watched the bright sunshine stream in through
the white curtains which shaded her window,
and then she thought of other times when
she had lain watching it before, wishing
mamma would wake up and let her be
dressed and go out to the garden or feed the
chickens-yes, and sometimes she had been
cross and fretful too, because she had to wait
until mamma thought it the best time for her
to rise. Ah those little fits of temper, those
sullen looks, those frowns and muttered
complaints-they seemed nothing much at
the time, so soon repented of, so lovingly
forgiven, so easily forgotten when they had
happened, but now!-I could not tell you
how the remembrance of every little fault
pierced the heart of the child whose mother
36 URSULA'S PROMISE.
was gone. Yet Ursula had never been a
troublesome or disobedient child her
naughtiness had been comparatively rare,
still she would have given all she prized in
the world not to have ever caused an anxious
look or a thought of grief to the mother who
had loved her so.
Sad waking thoughts were Ursula's then-
so sad that she cried quietly in her little bed,
and felt so lonely that at last she rose, and
kneeling down on the floor told all her pain
and all her sorrow to Jesus, as her mamma
had bid her do; and even while she was
speaking to Him her heart grew lighter and
her tears ceased.
Ursula was just rising when the handle of
the door turned and her grandmamma stole
gently in, in her dressing-gown, evidently
expecting to find her asleep; but as she saw
the child out of bed and rising from her
knees, a frown overspread her face which was
not often seen there.
Ursula, what are you about? she said.
"You should not get out of bed at this time,
after such a journey, too, when I begged you
to sleep late. Lie down again directly."
Ursula obeyed without a word, and then
URSULA'S PROMISE. 37
grandmamma, some-what softened, drew near
and kissed her.
"It is for your own good, my dear.
Children must have proper rest, and I cannot
have you getting up until I send Jane to
I was not getting up, dear grandmanmma,"
said Ursic, gently. 1 knew you wished me
to lie in bed, and I meant to, only--" and
she stopped, hardly knowing what to say.
"Only what. Ursula? said Mrs. Alston,
still seeming displeased.
I, I, wanted to-to say my prayers," stam-
mered the child.
Well, my dear, you can say them in bed
then, though 1 should say it would be far
better to go to sleep again. It is only
half-past six, and I shall not send your
breakfast before eight. You will remain
quiet, Ursula ?"
Yes, grandmamma ;" and then Ursie was
alone again, with the unhappy feeling of
having vexed the kind old lady.
However, she felt sure she had really done
nothing wrong-perhaps this would be the
way some of the temptations were to come
which Mr. Stewart had talked of-perhaps
38 URSULA'S PROMISE.
the fear of losing grandmamma's love would
make it hard to keep one of her promises,
the promise to be faithful in her daily prayers,
yet God would surely keep her safe if she
asked Him, and so happier thoughts followed,
and then Ursie dozed again, and dreamed
that her mamma was there with her at Weth-
erby, and was calling her to get up and feed
the chickens, and she awoke with her arms
stretched out, to find-well, only Jane, with
her breakfast tray standing by the bed-side,
saying, How nicely you have slept, Miss
Grandmamma's face was as pleasant as
usual when Ursie joined her in the shady
parlour, and nothing was said of the affair of
the morning. All Mrs. Alston's care seemed
to pet, and fondle, and indulge her little
orphan grandchild, and the days went by
swiftly enough. But though Ursula Conway
was happy at Wetherby she did not forget-
no morning came without her kneeling down
to offer her simple prayer to God, no evening
closed on which she had not begged His
forgiveness for all the faults of the day, and
every time the one request came, 0 God,
protect me all my life, and take me to mamma
URSULA'S PROMISE. 39
in heaven some day." That was Ursula's
one thought-her great desire-for the time
to come when they should be together again
in that home where parting can never be.
Poor little Ursie many a year must roll by,
many a sorrow set its mark upon her smooth
brow and childish face before she should be
at rest in God's glorious heaven.
At last it was Sunday-the first Sunday at
Wetherby. The chimes of the church bells
sounded very sweet and pleasant, yet Mrs.
Alston said not a word about getting ready
for service, but talked on and on as she
walked with Ursula round the pretty garden,
apparently forgetful what day it was.
In bygone visits, Ursie remembered going
to church with her mother. She had never
thought much of her grandmamma's absence
then, but now she did think and wonder, and
grew so restless that at last Mrs. Alston asked
what she was thinking of.
"I am thinking there will not be time
to get to church unless we make haste,
grandma," said the child, promptly; and
again a frown flitted over the old lady's
If you cannot be happy with me, Ursula,
40 URSULA'S PROMISE.
Jane can of course accompany you wherever
The icy tone, the changed face, struck like
a chill to Ursie's loving heart.
"Oh, grandmamma!" she exclaimed, "I
do like to be with you ; but it's Sunday, and I
always go to church. Mamma took me, and
I thought of course you would."
Ursula, I am old, and I have not strength
to be walking about to church and hearing
long sermons. I am not to be dictated to
by a child; and God can hear prayers at
home as well as at church, I suppose you
know; therefore if you had chosen to stay
with me, I do not imagine you would have
been displeasing Him. But enough of this ;"
and Mrs. Alston stepped inside the low
window of the breakfast-room, which opened
on the lawn, and summoning Jane, bade her
"prepare Miss Conway for church imme-
It did not take Jane or Ursie long to be
ready, but when the child ran to her grand-
mamma to bid her good-bye, Mrs. Alston
refused her usual kiss.
You will not be absent long, Ursula. I
like the kind of love which shows itself in a
URSULA'S PROMISE. 41
different way," she said; and poor Ursie
turned away with a swelling heart, and could
hardly repress her tears until she was safely
hidden in the high pew with its red curtains,
where she could cry without being seen by
She did not know how, even as the cold
words passed her lips, Mrs. Alston had longed
to unsay them and clasp Ursula in her arms
-she did not know how the old lady paced
the garden longing impatiently for her return,
and how, at length, she stationed herself at
her dressing-room window, from which she
could catch the first glimpse of the little
figure she loved in a degree which the child
could never have imagined.
"Is it to be the same thing over again ? "
said Mrs. Alston to herself. Is this religic n
to be the barrier which it was between me
and my own Marion? I thought this little
Ursula could be moulded to my own will; I
thought I could keep her all mine, with not
a feeling or wish I did not share, and I find
her, in her little timid way, resolved on her
own course, as her mother was before her. If
I could but see things in this light-if I too
could feel as Marion did, and as her child it
42 URSULA'S PROMISE.
seems has been trained to, we might be very
happy. But I cannot. I am old, and she
is young. I must bend her mind to my own ;
yes, even if I seem harsh and severe;" and at
the new thought the old lady's lips quivered.
Meanwhile Ursula was walking towards
home with Jane. "I cannot think why
grandma was cross," she said. And she
called me Miss Conway, too! I must go to
church, Jane; and yet I must please grand-
mamma. Oh, dear, how am I to know what
is right ?"
Fortunately for Ursula, her maid was a
sensible and Christian woman.
Miss Ursula," she said, "it seems to me
that all you have got to think of is to please
God; that is what your mamma would have
told you. Then if He is pleased you may
be sure you are doing right."
"Yes, but I must please grandma, too,
Jane, next to Him."
"Of course, dear, it is your duty. But
God must come first always; even if you
have to grieve Mrs. Alston sometimes."
"Ah it's dreadfully hard, for I feel how
much she loves me," said Ursie. "Jane, do
you know I think if I lived here always I
URSULA'S PROMISE. 43
should get to give up doing what I knew was
right, if only I could keep grandma's love."
"Yes, miss, I'm afraid you would. I'm
afraid you are almost too anxious for people to
love you, and not satisfied with God's love.
But you are not to live here always, you see."
No," said Ursula; then she added, does
grandmamma know about my going to
school, Jane ? "
Yes, dear, I believe she is displeased at
it, too, for she wished you to live always with
her; but neither you nor I have anything to
do with it; and why, look, Miss Ursie, there's
your grandmamma at one of the windows
watching for you."
Ursula changed colour and hung back.
I should like to run to her, but I am half
afraid. She never kissed me, Jane."
"Well, miss, if I were you I would run
and meet her just the same as if nothing had
happened. I think that is your duty."
"My duty, my duty! exclaimed Ursie.
"All hard things are 'duty,' I do believe.
Well, I'll go, Jane;" and away she ran, and
as Mrs. Alston looked at the bright little face
all her vexation melted away, and she kissed
her as warmly as Ursula could desire, and the
44 URSULA'S PROMISE.
subject of going to church was not spoken
of between them again. Every Sunday
morning while Ursie remained at Wetherby
Jane had orders to take her to church-and
every Sunday morning grandmamma was
cold and displeased until Ursula returned,
when the cloud passed away and she was as
tender and loving as ever.
Ursie told Mr. Stewart this in a letter she
wrote him with Jane's assistance. "I am
trying to be good and keep my promises; but
sometimes it is hard, for those things displease
grandmamma," she wrote. But I will try
and please God first, and do what mamma
In spite of these little troubles and diffi-
culties, Ursula Conway was very happy at
Wetherby. To a town-bred child like her,
just being in the country was delightful.
The weather was glorious, and there was hay-
making and strawberry- ill .,;,. long ram-
bles in the fields and lanes, and every
pleasure that comes with summer-time, and
the thorough change and fresh air was doing
for Ursie just what her mother had hoped-
building up her health and strength ready for
URSULA'S PROMISE. 45
But the weeks were rolling by. Mrs.
Alston sighed heavily as each one passed, for
she knew the time for giving up her grand-
child was drawing near, and Ursula had
twined herself so closely round her heart.
"If only I could keep you always, my
darling !" the old lady said sometimes ; and
then Ursie could only answer,-
Yes, grandma, it would be very nice.
But I can come and see you at the holidays,
you know;" and thus she tried to hide her
own great fear of the strange school, lest she
should add to her grandmother's pain.
Ah that summer visit was bringing forth
fruit in the child's heart; she was learning to
be stedfast in the right, she was learning to
be unselfish, and, above all, to cling to God
as the one only Friend who would never
leave or forsake her.
T was a dreary afternoon in the early
part of October : the leaves came
fluttering down from the trees, and
the chrysanthemums were beaten down un-
tidily across the garden paths by the autumn
rain, and the group of girls who stood at one
of the bow-windows of Maitland House "
sighed gloomily because there was no chance
of getting out, and this was half-holiday.
"It is too I.....1 ;_," said EdithReid. "I
did so particularly want to match those wools
to-day. Oh, dear! I never shall get that
sofa-cushion done in time. How I do hate
wet half-holidays; it's worse than having
Suppose you get forward for to-morrow,
URSULA'S PROMISE. 47
then, Edith," replied her elder sister, who sat
a little apart from the group at the window,
with a pile of books on the table before her.
"There's German translation to be done, and
you know how cross Herr Schmidt was last
week because you had not finished yours.
You had better do that than stand gazing at
"Not I," answered Edith. "I'm not such
a bookworm as you, Mary. I certainly don't
choose to spend my half-holiday in doing
horrid German. I shall get up early to-
morrow, and do it before breakfast."
Just at that moment a bright-faced girl
came into the room and up to the window.
"I have got something to tell you," she
said. There's a new bed being put up in
the second-class room, and Turner says a new
girl is coming to-day. I wonder who it is?"
They were nearly all the girls of the
"second class" who were clustered together.
Mary and Edith Reid, Kate Danvers, Fanny
Gresham, and Margaret Lonsdale. The
elder pupils looked down on them as "chil-
dren," and the younger, or "third class,"
stood in great awe of them as greatly superior
beings to their smaller selves. So Jessie
48 URSULA'S PROMISE.
Clifford's news was particularly interesting,
as naturally it was a matter of great import-
ance whether the new inmate of the second-
class bedroom would be nice."
Maitland House was about six miles from
London, standing in a large old-fashioned
garden, where there were broad walks and
shady trees and smooth grass, and flowers so
bright and gay that a visitor there would for-
get for the time how near he was to the noise
and bustle of town. Here, under the care
of Mrs. Maitland, her sister, and a French
and English governess, a limited number"
of young ladies were educated; but in this
case the pupils really were limited, to six in
the first, or elder division; eight in the second,
and ten in the third.
The first-class girls varied in age from fif-
teen to nineteen. The second were from ten
to fourteen, and the youngest beneath the
ages of nine or ten.
At the present time, when Jessie Clifford
found out a new pupil was coming, there were
two vacancies in the second class, owing to
some girls having just left the school.
Did not you ask Turner who the new
girl was, Jessie ? asked Kate Danvers.
URSULA PRuOiHSE. 49
Of course I did, and she told me to
' wait and see-young ladies should not be
curious,'" answered Jessie.
"Cross old thing!" exclaimed Maggie
Lonsdale. "There's no getting anything
out of Turner. I wish the other wardrobe-
woman had not left. She was ever so nice
wasn't she, Fanny ? "
Fanny Gresham nodded. "Ah! did she
not smuggle us good things in for our supper
parties, Maggie? It was fine in those days
but everything is changed now," and Fanny
sighed. She and Margaret Lonsdale were the
only girls who had been in the school at the
time she spoke of, excepting some of the
elder girls, who were quite beyond talking of
such things now.
I should think Mrs. Maitland would tell
us," said Edith Reid. "Don't you know her
favourite speech: 'Young ladies of the
second class, I expect a new pupil to arrive,
who will be your companion, and I trust you
will show her every kindness and attention.'
Depend upon it we shall get that at tea-time
"Oh, but she'll come before tea-time," said
Kate Danvers. "Don't you think so, Mary?"
50 URSULA'S PROMISE.
Mary Reid looked up from her books.
"Most likely, Katie. But it depends so
much where she comes from."
Oh, she's coming from the country," put
in Jessie Clifford. I am sure of that; for as
old Turner was making up the new bed she
kept shaking her head and looking at the
weather and saying, Deary me, what a dole-
ful day for the young lady to come such a
I'll go upstairs and see if I can get any-
thing more out of her," said Maggie Lonsdale.
" Dear me, what excuse can I make? Let
me see if my hair is not awfully rough," and
Maggie looked at her brown curls in the
large glass over the mantle-shelf. Oh yes,
it is ever so untidy, and I must put myself
neat for tea;" and away she ran laughingly
upstairs to the bedroom belonging to the
second-class girls, where old Turner was just
completing the preparations for the new-comer.
Miss Lonsdale, you're well aware that
Mrs. Maitland doesn't allow you young ladies
to come up and down stairs all day," she
began, as Maggie walked in.
"'Tis half-holiday, Turner," answered Miss
URSULA'S PROMISE. 8t
"Half-holiday or not, it's against the rules,
miss, and I shall complain to Mrs. Maitland."
"Now, Turner, you are such a dear old
thing, you would not do anything of the
kind," said Margaret, coaxingly. Besides,
I have really come to smooth my hair and
wash my hands ready for tea, and you would
not like me to get a scolding for being un-
tidy, I know, Turner."
Well, put your hair neat quickly, and go
downstairs, there's a good child," said Tur-
ner, relaxing a little. And if there's one
more of you young ladies comes up here this
afternoon, I really shall feel it my duty to
complain to Mrs. Maitland."
"What are you making up that bed for,
Turner ? asked Margaret, as she brushed
out her curls.
"To be slept in, Miss Lonsdale."
Yes, I suppose so, Turner; but who's
going to sleep in it?"
"You wanted to find out that more than
you wanted to put your hair neat, miss, I'm
thinking." said Turner. Deary me In
my young days little girls were taught not to
ask questions and try to dip and dive into
52 URSULA'S PROMISE.
Mine is such an inquiring mind, you see,
Turner," said Margaret.
So it seems, miss; and there's several
minds like it. It's not ten minutes since
Miss Clifford was here bothering me with
questions, until I declare I did not know
whether I'd put one blanket underneath
and two on top, or two underneath and only
one to cover the poor dear young lady as'll
be tired to death after her journey, and be
glad of a comfortable bed."
Oh, it is for a new young lady, and she's
coming a journey, is she, Turner ? said
"Dear, dear, what a child you are, Miss
Lonsdale, for catching a body up quick. I'm
sure unless you behave different Miss Con-
way will think she's amongst a set of wild
Indians, instead of young ladies."
You have told me her name, Turner,"
laughed '.I -, You did not mean to let
it out, I am sure, so it's not your fault;" and
away she danced along the corridor and down
the stairs to escape the storm of anger which
she knew would burst upon her if she
Miss Margaret Lonsdale rejoined her
"URSULA'S PROMISE. 53
companions in the highest possible spirits to
inform them that the new girl was coming a
long journey, and her name was Conway.
"And here is Miss Conway, I expect,"
said Mary Reid, looking up as a carriage
loaded with boxes drove in at the gate.
Even the tall girls of the first class allowed
their curiosity to get the better of their dignity
for once, and they looked over the heads of
Margaret, Fanny, Jessie, and the rest; whilst
the little ones ran in between and pushed
and struggled for a chance of seeing the new-
comer. But it was little they saw-only a
face at the carriage-window with fair curling
"See, the carriage does not go away," said
Isabel Lisle, the eldest pupil in the school.
" I suppose whoever brought the child is
"going back again directly. Was it like her
mother, did any one see? "
I did not see them get out; the umbrel-
las hid them," said Jessie Clifford; but any
more talking was checked by the entrance of
Mrs. Maitland with a gentleman-evidently
a minister-and a fair little girl dressed in
deep mourning, who scarcely looked of an
age to be admitted into the second class.
54 URSULA'S PROMISE,
This is the schoolroom, Mr. Stewart,
and these are Ursula's companions," said
Mrs. Maitland. "Jessie Clifford, Mary Reid,
some of you come forward and speak to your
new friend, Miss Ursula Conway, whom I
am sure you will try to make very happy
The girls whose names were mentioned
stepped forward rather shyly, and after
shaking hands with Ursula retired to the
window, looking awkward enough until the
visitors, with Mrs. Maitland, left the room.
Little baby-faced thing! exclaimed
Margaret Lonsdale. I'm sure if she is ten
she doesn't look it, and we never have had
any one less than that in the second class."
I'm sure we shall not care for her,"
chimed in Jessie Clifford. She hasn't a bit
of fun in her, I know."
Poor little girl !" said kind Mary Reid.
" She looked so timid and pretty, I quite
loved her. And what deep mourning she
wears-it must be for her parents."
Meantime Ursula was parting with her
good friend, Mr. Stewart. She had had much
to bear, for her grandmamma had given her
up very unwillingly, and had quite refused to
URSULA'S PROMISE. 55
accompany her to school. So the child had
travelled to London with Jane (who also was
leaving her for another situation), and there
Mr. Stewart had met her and brought her to
Maitland House. So Ursula had been hav-
ing many partings, and her heart was very
heavy, and her voice faltered as she put her
hand into Mr. Stewart's and begged him to
stay "a little while."
My child, I will come and see you soon,
and I will write to you; but I must go now.
I leave you with God, Ursula. He is here,
and He will take more care of you than I can."
Poor Ursula 1 never before in her whole
life-no, not even the night her mother
died, had she felt so utterly friendless as she
did that first evening at Maitland House.
Her governess tried all she could think of
to cheer her, keeping her in the parlour till
bed-time, so that she might not feel strange
amongst the school-girls, and then handing
her over to Mary Reid's especial care and
kindness. After Miss Harrison had read
prayers, the pupils were dismissed, and when
at last Ursula was in her little bed, free from
the observance of all, she gave way to a burst
of crying, which ended in her falling asleep,
56 URSULA'S PROMISE.
and in this way her loneliness and sorrow
were for a time forgotten.
A great noisy roused Ursula next
morning, and sitting up in bed she rubbed
her eyes and gazed round in a bewildered
way, hardly understandingwhat had happened
and where she was. The girls in the room
were hurrying on their clothes-all but
Maggie Lonsdale. Oh, that abominahle
bell! she muttered, sleepily. I must have
a few minutes' more sleep. Rouse me up,
somebody, in five minutes, there'll be time
Do get up, Margaret. You know for
three mornings you have been late," said Mary
Reid; but Maggie was not disposed to listen
--lying quite still for ten or twelve minutes,
and then beginning to rise with a great deal
of yawning and grumbling.
The bell rang for the girls to go down-
of course Margaret was not ready. What
shall I do ? she cried. There's the second
bell, and my hair not touched. I wi //get
up earlier to morrow."
"So you always say," laughed Fanny
Gresham. Good-bye, you're safe for a
scolding and ever so many bad marks,"
URSULA'S PROMISE. 57
"Stop, some one, do, and fasten my frock.
Here, Mary, Edith-any one-you new girl,
whatever your name is ; oh, Ursula, is it?
Well, Ursula, do stay and help me; I will do
as much for you when you are late yourself.
There thank you," she added. I am not
very tidy, but perhaps Miss Harrison won't
notice it;" and she hurried to the school-
room, followed by Ursula, just as the girls
and teachers, with Mrs. Maitland, had taken
their seats for prayers.
Miss Lonsdale, late as usual. You forfeit
your mark again. Miss Conway, perhaps
you are not accustomed to rise so early, but
I must request you to be more punctual in
future." So said Miss Harrison, in a cold,
hard voice, which brought a flush to Ursie's
face and the ready tears to her eyes as she
passed to a chair by Mary Reid.
Prayers over, the ... i I1 i 1.. rang, and
there was a general move to a room where
cups and saucers and piled-up dishes of bread
and butter were ranged on the long tables.
The meal was taken in silence, and Ursula
was glad when it came to an end and she
was back again in the schoolroom.
"Allons, mademoiselles, a vos lemons," said
58 URSULA'S PROMISE.
the shrill voice of the French teacher; and
then the girls occupied themselves with their
slates and books and other signs of study,
while Ursie was armed with a French book
and a dictionary to prepare a page of trans-
lation until she was sent for to be examined
as to her abilities by Mrs. Maitland.
Though Ursula was younger than the rest,
and had never been to school, she had
profited so well by her own dear mother's
teaching that Mrs. Maitland pronounced her
quite able to be with the second-class girls,
adding aloud that they must take care or
she would get before them."
Ursie could not help feeling pleased at her
governess's approval, and her face brightened
up especially when Mary Reid gave her a
kind look and smile; but Margaret Lonsdale
and Fanny Gresham were vexed, and looked
scornfully at the new-comer.
"I knew I should hate her," said Margaret,
in a loud whisper. "Little stupid thing!
She's to be petted up, I suppose, and put
before us who've been here so long."
Ursula could not hear the words, but she saw
from the look of these girls that they were
speaking of her, and she felt that they disliked
URSULA'S PROMISE. 59
her. Ah if her fear proved true, and they
were unkind to her, how could she bear it ?
She remembered what she had said once to
Mr. Stewart, that she should "die if they did
not love her," her lip quivered at the thought,
but then a happier one came,-a thought
which cleared her brow and strengthened her
poor little heart! It was of Jesus-Jesus
who had been more alone than even she was,
who had even been left by God without any
comfort; of Jesus-who bore unkindness and
contempt so meekly, so patiently, rejoicing
in it because it happened by the will of His
Father. Surely He would help and pity her,
and she must be a little like Him, then, if
others were unkind to her.
It seemed a very long morning though, and
Ursula was delighted when at twelve o'clock
the order was given to cease study and pre-
pare for a walk, in which Mary Reid was
assigned as her companion.
How do you think you will like school ?"
she asked. "I am sure it must feel very strange,
for you have always lived at home, I suppose?"
Yes, till my mamma died, last May," said
Ursula. "And since then I have been stay-
ing with grandmamma in the country, and
60 URSULA'S PROMISE.
she loves me so. Oh, Mary, do you think
any one will love me here ?"
Mary looked down pityingly on the fair
face which was raised to hers. "Yes, dear
Ursula : Mrs. Maitland, I am sure, will love
you, and so will the teachers, if you are
obedient, and I love you dearly already."
":Ah, I am glad I like to feel that some
one cares for me," cried Ursie.
But you always have had some one to
do that, dear," replied Mary, gravely. You
know God loves and watches you now just as
He did in your own happy home and as
she spoke Mary saw she had touched the
right chord in Ursula's heart.
Yes, I know it-sometimes I forget
though. I am so glad you love God, for you
will help me, won't you ? I am so afraid of
getting naughty, and not being fit to meet
mamma when the time comes."
They were at the door of Maitland House
then, so Mary Reid could only press the
orphan child's small hand by way of answer;
but it was a help to Ursula to feel that one
amongst all those strangers felt as she did,
was striving as she wished to strive, to love
God above all things.
-;- I. 1 '' those who have felt it can know
li. difficulties which surround a
Sli ool-girl who is trying with her
whole strength to do what is right to live as
a child of God. Only one who has expe-
rienced it can tell of the petty annoyances,
the jealousies, the mocking laugh and sneer-
ing word, which are sure to come to such a
girl from some of the many who are her con-
For four years at Maitland House, Mary
Reid had been fighting her way through all
this, until now she had grown so used to such
trials that they scarcely roused a flush on
her cheek or a thrill of pain in her heart;
the Holy Spirit had helped her to be faith-
62 URSULA'S PROMISE.
ful, and to overcome difficulties and temp-
tations in His strength. Now, as the senior
girl in the second class, she escaped many
of the annoyances that had fallen thickly
on her in her first school days, and her
naturally sweet and gentle manners had won
upon her companions almost unconsciously;
besides, they were used to her, and to be
good, and industrious, and obedient was
" Mary's way," so she was generally let
But poor little Ursula was in a different
case. First, she was a novelty, and that
entitled the girls to plague her so they
thought. Then she was the youngest of the
second-class girls-not really the age for
admission, as she had not passed her tenth
birthday, and that was a source of vexation
to some, because they were jealous of the
exception made for her, and more jealous
because the exception was made on account
of her progress in study. Then, again, she
was a regular home-child, so astonished at
their school-girl pranks, so unused to their
noisy merriments, that she drew away and
watched them as if they were indeed "wild
Indians," as Turner called them; and all this
URSULA'S PROMISE. 63
told against Ursula Conway being a great
favourite at first.
But there was something more to hinder
her being much thought of-she was so fond
of her Bible, so regular in her prayers, that
some of the thoughtless girls disliked her
for it, because they felt themselves to be re-
proved and condemned by a younger child.
Mary Reid knew how things would be, and
from the first she resolved to be Ursic's
friend, and screen her if she could from
some of the trouble she had herself passed
through in her earliest school-days; but after
that first walk, when the child had appealed
to her to help her to love God and prepare
to meet her mother again, Mary redoubled her
efforts to watch over Ursula and keep her
from harm and trouble, if it was in her power
to do so.
It was well indeed that such a companion
was by the little girl's side, for her clinging
nature-ever craving for affection-might
have been used to lead her away from God
and truth and right, had there not been one
to encourage her by word and example to
stand firm in temptation.
After a few weeks, Ursula grew accustomed
64 URSULA'S PROMISE.
to her new life, and her letters to her grand-
mamma and to Mr. Stewart were tolerably
cheerful; still, she found that school-days
have trials of their own, and that she was
not to escape her share of them, endeavour as
It was just about this time that one more
pupil was added to the second class at Mait-
land House-a girl of twelve years, who
immediately became the promoter of every
bit of naughtiness and mischief that went
on from that time in the school. She was
small, dark-eyed, and black-haired, with a
face quite brimful of merriment; and after
the very first day, Maud Weston became the
ruling spirit of the second class. From the
time of her coming there was no more
silence after Miss Jackson had put out
the candle at night, for then Maud Weston
began her laughable stories, while the others
listened, taking care to sink back on their
pillows and feign sleep if one of the teachers
To Mary and Ursula this was a great
trouble-they had made a little plan to-
gether not to speak after saying their night-
prayers, but to try and let their thoughts be
URSULA'S PROMISE. 65
about God before they went to sleep, by
repeating verses of Scripture or favourite
hymns to themselves ; but with Maud's non-
sense going on it was hard not to hear her, and
very hard to see the teachers cheated into be-
lieving that all things were going on properly.
One morning Maud Weston called Maggie
Lonsdale aside just as study ended. It's
a wet day, so we shall have to play instead
of going for a walk," she said. Come up-
stairs in about five minutes, if you can get
away, I want to show you something very
Soon after both the girls were safe in the
second-class bedroom, talking in low whis-
pers for fear of being overheard. See,"
said Maud, opening one of her drawers,
where sundry bags were put beneath a pile
of clothes, "I mean to have a supper up
here to-night. Yesterday, you know, my aunt
came to see me, and when I went out with
her she bought me these things-I've got
six puffs, a dozen apples, a bag of sweet
biscuits, and a packet of butter-scotch, and
some chocolate-creams. We'll eat them to-
night, after Miss Jackson, the governess, has
66 URSUTI,'S PROMISE.
We shall be found out, Maud, I'm certain
of it," .aid Maggie. "A long time ago,
when Laura and Isabel, and some girls
who're not here now, had suppers upstairs,
they were always found out almost, and at
last Mrs. Maitland said that any girl who
brought eatables upstairs should be severely
Nonsense, Maggie," said Maud; "you'll
see I can manage beautifully, so that no one
shall be any the wiser."
But suppose Turner comes to your
drawer for anything, and sees the bags ?" said
Oh, she never does on 1i., ...i, .--'s
Saturday and Monday when she comes
poking amongst my things, after she's been
airing and mending, and all that sort of
"I do believe she'll smell the apples, Maud.
I think you'd better take the things down
to your box in the playroom,-we may keep
"And bring them up to-night?--not I, and
I do mean to have some fun. You girls are
not half up to anything."
"' I don't think Mary Reid will have it.
URSULA'S PROMISE. 67
She'll tell Mrs. Maitland," objected Maggie,
"Not she--she's too good-natured, al-
though she's so awcfuZly proper and good,
and never gets in a scrape about anything.
I'll coax her over, you'll see."
So Maud tried to do, that very night,
when they were all in bed and the candle
had been put out by Miss Jackson, when she
went her round. Mary, dear-you're not
asleep are you ?" she said, softly.
No, Maud, but I am trying to sleep. You
know I will not talk to you. Mrs. Maitland
has forbidden it; and you are very wrong to
get the others to disobey."
Well, you never tell tales, I know, Mary.
I must say you're very good-natured."
It's not my business to tell tales, Maud ;
but you know I shall say what is true if I am
asked. And I quite expect it will come to
that soon, for only yesterday I heard Turner
say to one of the servants that she heard
a great noise in our bedroom, and if it
happened again she should tell Mrs. Mait-
Well, we'll be as quiet as mice to-night,
Mary," said Maud. "But we're going to be
68 URSULA'S PROMISE.
like mice in something else-we're going to
nibble at some 'goodies.'"
Maud Weston, I advise you not," said
Mary, rousing herself. It is the one thing
Mrs. Maitland would be most severe upon,
if she found it out. The elder girls will tell
you how these things were tried once, years
ago, and how they were put an end to."
"Just this once, then, Mary. I have got
some biscuits and apples in my drawer, and
we had better eat them, as they are there.
You will not say anything?"
I do believe I oulgh to," said Mary. "If
it was found out, Mrs. Maitland would blame
me very much. But, I assure you, I shall not
hide it if I am questioned."
Very well-you need not be cross, Mary.
I did not ask you to. Now, girls, we'll have
our supper," said Maud, addressing the oc-
cupants of the little white beds, who had
been listening in silence to the discussion.
"I think we'd better not, Maud," said Kate
No, don't, Maud. Mademoiselle is sure
to be poking about somewhere, and there
will be suchi a fuss if she finds us out," added
URSULA'S PROMISE. 69
But Maud Weston's mind was determi-
nately made up to encounter any difficulties
and dangers that might attend the consuming
of the puffs and apples and biscuits hidden in
the drawer ; and as Fanny and Maggie were
on her side, and Edith Reid not against her,
she soon overruled the objections of the
other two, which were not very strong to
Well, I have warned you of what may
come of it," said Mary, finding that they were
resolved on carrying out their scheme I
can't do any more, but I must say I am sur-
prised that you, Edith, and Kate, and Dora,
would join in anything so much against the
It was a clear night after the wet day, and
the moon rose cheerily over the trees which
skirted the garden of Maitland House, shining
brightly in at the window of the bedroom
belonging to the second-class girls, which
was fortunate, as Maud Weston remarked,
because, amongst her other purchases, she
had quite forgotten to buy any candles.
So, throwing over them shawls, jackets, or
anything that came handy, the young rebels
stepped out of their beds and clustered
70 URSULA'S PROMISE.
round Maud on the floor close by the win-
dow, speaking in low whispers and laughing
softly as the eatables were passed round.
Mary, have something, do," said Maud,
but Mary steadily refused, and Ursula followed
Hush, hush! exclaimed Jessie Clifford,
suddenly. There's some one on the stairs
-I'm certain of it. Quick to bed, and let
each girl take some of the eatables with
No need to say quick "-in less than a
minute every girl was safe in her bed, and
the signs of supper had disappeared like
magic. As Mrs. Maitland turned the handle
of the door and looked in, all was peace.
She was going away again, evidently satis-
fled, when the raised blind caught her eye,
and she paused then turning to Maud
Weston, whose bed was nearest, she asked
her if she had been making any noise.
No, Mrs. Maitland," replied Maud,
feigning the most intense surprise ; I have
been lying quite still, trying to get to sleep."
Well, I am almost certain I heard both
footsteps and voices when I was in the room
underneath. Who raised the blind ?"
S,. TUSULA'S PROMIt-,. IT
"I forget who did it," said Maud. *" One
of us pulled it up to look at the moonlight."
There was a sound of suspicion in M[rs,
Maitland's next words.
I find it hard to believe you, Maud,
Mary Reid-I can trust your word. Have
any of these girls been getting up ?"
Mary hesitated. Yes, Mrs. Mainland,"
she said at last.
Yes, ma'am," said Mary, again.
Have you spoken, Mary ?"
Yes, I have-a little, Mrs. Maitland."
Her governess seemed both I.I I'. .. I and
surprised. I am really grieved and as-
tonished, Mary. I thought that you were to
But Ursula's warm, generous heart could
not bear any more. She forgot all her fear of
the girls, all her shyness with Mrs. Maitland,
as she exclaimed, "Oh, indeed, ma'am if yo,:
knew what she had spoken about, yon would
not be angry. She only rminided them (of
the rule, and begged them not to disobey."
Ah-I am glad you are brave and honest,
ursula. Now I shall question you. Were
all the airls out of bed?''
72 URSULA'S PROMISE.
All but Mary and me," said Ursula, reluc-
tantly-she realized now what was before her.
What were they doing, Ursula?"
There was a long pause-or it seemed long
to the girls, who lay with beating hearts won-
dering if she would betray them; longer still
to poor Ursie, who was afraid to say the
truth, and more afraid to tell a lie.
Oh, please do not ask me They will be
so very angry if I tell the truth, and they will
never love me. And I cannot say an un-
truth,--I promised, I promised,"- and here
she burst into tears ; for Ursula was thinking
of how she had pledged herself to please God
first, and not to offend Him for the sake of
any one whatever.
Mrs. Maitland went close, and bent over
her. My little Ursula," she said, it
happens sometimes in every one's life that we
must choose between right and wrong,-be-
tween pleasing God or other people. God
now expects you to tell the truth, and not to
mind if, by telling it, you are blamed and dis-
liked by your companions. Which will you
choose,-His approbation or theirs ?"
There was a moment's struggle. "Is it
not wrong to tell tales, Mrs. Mainland?"
URSULA'S PROMISE. 73
Yes, my dear-very wrong to come of
your own accord and tell the faults of others
without cause. But when I question you, it
is a different matter. Speak out, Ursula, and
trust the rest to God."
They were-eating-things," said Ursula,
slowly. I don't think they meant any
harm. They had nearly done."
"That is enough," said Mrs. Maitland.
" Maud Weston, I shall speak to you of this
to-morrow. The transgression of rule is an
offence, but it is one I could pardon; your
deceit and falsehood will prevent my allowing
you to remain in my house. I fear you have
already done harm to your companions. I
will now request that not a word is spoken,
and that you will all endeavour to get to
sleep;" and Mrs. I orl r...I disappeared, hav-
ing drawn down the blind and kissed Ursula
Not a voice was heard-not even a whis-
pered, "It was your fault," or, "I told you
so "-the rebellious girls dropped asleep one
by one, but poor Ursie lay long awake from
excitement, and dread of the storm she
should encounter next day.
Oh, mamma, mamma!" she said to her-
74 URSULA'S PROMISE.
self, "do you see your little girl now,-do you
know how I want you ?" and then she began
wondering how the girls would greet her the
next day, what Mrs. Maitland would say,
whether MAaud Weston would really be sent
away, and a hundred other things which
worried her poor little head so much that
when morning came she looked really ill.
Horrid little tell-tale whispered Maggie
Lonsdale to Fanny Gresham, as they passed
Ursula on the stairs. She knew how to get
herself into favour with Mrs. Maitland but
not another word was spoken before the bell
rang for prayers and breakfast.
TIEN breakfast was over, Mrs. Mait-
land desired every one to remain
while she repeated what had hap-
pened in the second-class bedroom on the
previous night, and said that in punishment
of the breach of rule each girl should be
deprived of all chance in competing for the
Christmas prizes; and, further, that, as they
were not trustworthy, one of the teachers
would sleep in their room in future. As for
?.1 -.1 Weston, who had been guilty of such
deliberate falsehood, she was to remain alone
until her friends came to take her away.
This severe sentence, coming from the
usually gentle Mrs. Maitland, caused great
surprise, and yet even the most giddy of the
76 URSULA'S PROMISE
number seemed to understand she acted
thus to mark her horror of the deceitfulness
of Maud's actions and her cool denial of
what she had done-only that young lady
herself seemed quite unmoved by the punish-
ment awarded, for she looked round with a
smile, which for once met with no return
from any one.
But after school-hours Ursula Conway en-
countered the storm she had partly expected.
The girls of her class heaped reproaches
upon her; declared she had only acted so to
win Mrs. Maitland's regard, and refused to
believe her piteous assurances that, Indeed,
indeed, she could not help it-she could not
help saying the truth."
Even the six great girls of the school looked
"upon her coldly. I do not like children
who tell all that goes on," said Grace Bell to
Isabel Lisle. And Ursula turned weepingly
to Mary Reid, who alone tried to comfort
Oh, Mary, you hear them See how
they hate me! and I couldn't do ,iin.II
else. How could I say what was false when
I thought of God and of my promise ? "
You have done right, Ursie, so cheer
URSULA'S PROMIbE. 7
up. You must bear their anger ; it will pass
But I canlt bear it," said the child. I
can't bear any one to be unkind; I never
could. Oh, if I only might go away !"
Ursula, have you forgotten Jesus Christ?
People were much more unkind to Him.
They accused Him of all kinds of dreadful
things, and they heaped reproaches on Him,
and even struck Him and spit upon Him-
but He bore it. He knew He had come to
die for sinners, and He bore all that He
might accomplish His work of love."
Yes, He did; but then I'm not like Him.
I can't be."
"You can try, dear. Remember how
Christ is an example to us. 'Leaving us an
example that we should follow in His steps.'
Don't throw down your cross, Ursie, and say
you will not follow our Saviour."
"You talk like Mr. Stewart, Mary. That's
just how he says things. Oh, dear I wonder
why God gives me hard things to do when I
am so weak ?"
He gives you what is best, and what you
can bear with His help, Ursie. Don't cry so,
dear, you will soon yet over this trouble."
78 URSULA'S PROMISE.
But it did not seem soon to Ursula; and
to her very sensitive nature the cold looks
and the way her companions left her alone
were almost more than she could endure;
for several weeks her school-life was most
unhappy, though Mrs. Maitland was always
kind, and Mary Reid remained her firm friend
all the while.
For a long time after their interrupted
supper-party the second class were well teazed
and joked by the elder girls, and the whole
subject was very disagreeable to them, es-
pecially Miss Harrison taking up her quarters
in their bedroom; they missed Maud Weston
too in many ways, but as the number of bad
marks and scoldings decreased wonderfully
after she left, they agreed that, on the whole,
they could do very well without her; but still
they felt a great dislike to Ursula, and rarely
spoke or allowed her to join in their games.
Things were in this state until holidays
were being talked of, and there was only
three more weeks before breaking-up day,
and Maitland House was all in excitement
with preparations for the examination.
The only cloud rested, on the faces of the
second class, who were hearing of prize-
URSULA'S PROMISE. 79
gaining with the uncomfortable certainty of
being passed over. Just then a visitor came
to the school, whom Isabel and one or two
of the elder pupils could just faintly remem-
ber as an "old girl," and as Mrs. Maitland
told her the history of what had occurred
during the quarter and the consequent pun-
ishment of so many of the girls, she felt so
sorry for their disappointment that she '.*_ ..1
very earnestly for Mrs. Maitland's consent
to a plan which, without setting aside the
fixed decision, should in part make up for
what they had lost. There was a tremendous
chorus of delight when their governess came
to the schoolroom and told the girls of the
second class that her former pupil, Mrs.
Barford, intended to offer one very handsome
prize for which all were to compete. The
way of gaining it was this : eight questions
were to be given, and answered in writing,
and the one who replied best would receive
the beautifully-bound book which was the
What will the questions be, Mrs. Mait-
land ?" asked Edith Reid.
But Mrs. Maitland would not say-not
even to one of the teachers. After the ex-
So URSULA'S PROMISE.
amination and prize-giving, the questions
would be read aloud, and one hour given to
the second class in which to write their re-
plies, which would then be read out and the
Oh, dear sighed little Ursula. There
is no chance for me. I don't suppose I
shall be able to answer one question. If
only we knew before, there would be time to
"Yes; but that would not be much of a
test," answered Mary Reid. If we had all
this time to find out, we could answer any-
thing. It is much more worth a prize if we
do them in this way."
But Ursula did not think so, and she con-
tinued to be very sorry that she had no
chance of winning Mrs. Barford's prize-
wouldn't it be a triumph to show grand-
mamma and Mr. Stewart?
One morning when Mrs. Maitland came
into the schoolroom, about a week before
the examination, she found she had left a
book she wanted in her room, and turning to
Ursula Conway she asked her to go upstairs
and fetch it for her. The little girl flew to
obey, opened the door, found the book, and
URSULA'S PROMISE. 81
was coming away when a strip of paper lying
on the table caught her eye, and almost un-
consciously she glanced at the writing on it,
which she found were the eight questions for
the second-class competition.
Ah what a temptation it was. Put it
down, Ursula. Do not be so dishonourable
as to read a word," said conscience.
"Nonsense there's no harm in reading
them. You will never remember them, so it
can make no difference," said the evil spirit,
speaking to her heart
Ursie listened to both voices. Alas alas !
she forgot God, and truth, and right-or
rather she turned away from them, and read
the list of questions from beginning to end.
It only took a moment-one wretched mo-
ment, and when it was too late she saw it all
-saw her want of truth, her unfaithfulness to
God and to her promise, and she went back
again to the schoolroom a miserable child.
No one noticed her altered face as she bent
over her books-no one knew the load upon
her conscience. For the next week Ursula's
days were one long struggle, her nights per-
fect misery. She looked ill and worn, and
nothing could win a smile to her face or
82 URSULA'S PROMISE.
bring a happy word to her lips; and the
teachers and girls all thought she was griev-
ing because she had no chance of winning
Mrs. Barford's prize. Often Ursula was on
the point of going to tell all; but then the
tempting voice whispered, "What will Mrs.
Maitland think of you ? She will turn against
you after such a dishonourable action, and
then you will have lost every one's good
opinion." At other times, Ursula tried to
quiet herself by thinking that there couldn't
be much harm done; she did not remember
even one of the questions clearly; she had
only a confused jumble of them in her mind;
there could be no harm in sitting down to
try and answer them with the others.
But conscience would not sleep. "You
looked, you read, you should tell it before
the day," it said; but the child's courage
failed her, and she kept silence.
At last pieces of music were practised up
to perfection, drawings had received the last
finishing touches, work was completed,
holiday letters written, and the half year's
studies brought to a close, and so the last
day came. The girls were nicely dressed,
and arranged in their seats, and the invited
URSULA'S PRO (ISEI. 8
visitors were beginning to arrive for the dis-
tribution of prizes.
"I do say it's very, very hard," muttered
-M,,. _; Lonsdale for quite the twentieth time
that day, just for one fault to lose our
prizes! Ohi, dear I wonder who will win
Mrs. Barford's book ? "
I say, Fanny," whispered Jessie Clifford,
"you don't think Mrs. Maitland will say out
anything about there being no prizes in our
class, do you? The Deanes will be here,
and Mrs. Hall, and several people mamma
knows, and I certainly should not like that
tale to get afloat; it would spoil the (Chuii'-
But they need not have feared. Mra.
Maitland passed over the second class with-
out any notice, for she felt that they had been
sufficiently punished for the breach of school
rule, and that the lesson would be hard
enough to make sure of their future conduct.
Mary Reid received the prize for good
conduct" out of the whole school, and no-
body felt inclined to be envious, for they
could not but own that she thoroughly
Let us see it, Mary," said her clasd-.nates,
84 URSULA'S PROMISE.
crowding round her when all the prizes were
given. And then Mary showed them a
beautifully-bound book of Tennyson's poems,
which she had meant to carry away without
exhibiting, lest the sight of it might cause the
others any regret or envy.
"Well, I am glad you have it, Mary,"
said Kate Danvers. "Still, I give you warn-
ing that I shall try and win it myself next
half, for I'd sooner get the good-conduct
prize than any other."
Do try," said Mary. And I shall be as
glad as you can be if you win it."
When all the rewards were given, Mrs.
Maitland said there was one thing still re-
maining to be done; a prize which the
second-class girls only were to try for, to
show what they could do without any previous
preparation. She then read out the eight
questions, which were simple ones taken from
different subjects of their studies. A sheet
of paper was given to each girl, and then,
under Miss Jackson's care, they went to one
of the class-rooms to write their answers,
while the visitors took refreshments during
the interval, and listened to the playing and
singing of the elder girls.
"URSULA'S PROMISE. 85
Ursula went with the rest; her face was
flushed, but she sat very still, not attempting
to write or speak.
Come, Ursula," said the teacher, think-
ing to encourage her, "I am sure you can
answer some of the questions, and though
you are not able to win the book you will
please Mrs. Maitland by showing that you
have written what you can." The only an-
swer was a burst of sobs, at which Miss
Jackson and Mary Reid looked surprised,
and the other girls scornful. Little jealous
thing whispered Jessie Clifford to her
neighbour; but an imperative "silence
checked another word.
Poor Ursula! none but God knew the
storm of feeling which was working in her
heart then; how she was trying to nerve her-
self to a tremendous effort-one she had
resolved before God she would make, though
the mere idea was terrible.
The night before that examination-day was
perhaps the most wretched of all that Ursula
had passed since she had yielded to tempta-
tion. All the efforts she had made to silence
conscience, all the reasons she had given her-
self for making light of her sin were over then ;
86 L ULA PROMISE
she could only so iL as iL was in God's sight;
she could only iLtnk of her promise-the
promise she Iad given cbfore she left her
early happy home, that in any moment of
temptation she would recall the scene of her
mother's death, remember the last words and
prayers which were on that mother's lips.
Oh mamma, I have been unfaithful. I
have : so terribly," was the cry of her
heart. I have turned from God ; I have
been deceitful and untrue, and now I can do
nothing to alter it."
"Nothing?" asked the whispering angel
in her heart. "Is it not possible to own
your fault, to humble yourself for it, and to
beg God's pardon ? "
"Oh, I couldn't," thought the wretched
girl. I do ask God's pardon, that He will
forgive me for Christ's sake. I am sorry. I
am miserable ; but I cannot, cannot tell-
I dare not."
Yet before she slept, in spite of her fears,
Ursula had resolved that she not only
" dared," but must, own her fault if she would
be at peace; and when once she had come to
this determination, and begged God to give
her strength to carry it out, part of the burden
URSUL\'S PROMISE. 87
was gone; and when she came downstairs,
though she looked white and ill, there was a
more hopeful expression on her face than had
been there for days.
Still, now the terrible moment had almost
come, Ursula's heart beat wildly and she
could not hinder the tears bursting forth
when Miss Jackson spoke to her. Her eyes
were red with crying when the time was up
and the class trooped back to the room where
all were awaiting them.
One by one the papers were handed in.
"There is one short," said Mrs. Maitland.
"Who has not tried to answer?"
With a tremendous effort Ursula stood
forward. I," she faltered.
"Ah, then you must be excused as you are
the youngest and a new-comer. Sit down,
my dear," said the governess, kindly.
"Oh, no, no!" sobbed Ursula. "Please
I must tell you. I have done so wrong-I
had rather every one knew. I, I-I looked
at the questions three weeks ago."
Mrs. Maitland glanced at the child in evi-
dent bewilderment. "My dear, it is impos-
sible. No one has seen or heard them till
88 URSULA'S PROMISE.
Yes, yes," cried Ursie. One morning
you sent me for a book, and there was a
paper, and I looked, and the questions were
written on it, and-and-I read them."
Oh Ursula, did you not think how dis-
honourable it was ? "
Ursula hid her face in her hands.
"Yes, I knew; but I did it. I ought to
have prayed ; I ought to have thought of my
promise. Oh, mamma, mamma!" she
Every one in the room was affected. The
sight of the pale, trembling child owning her
fault touched every heart with pity ; yes, even
the girls who had despised Ursula felt
almost an admiration for her as she stood
there, humbled and weeping, but yet honest
enough to make this public confession.
There was silence for a second, and then
Mrs. Maitland spoke again. And having
fallen into this deceit, Ursula, what has kept
you from using your knowledge, and perhaps
gaining the prize by attempting to answer the
questions ? You have not written a word ?"
Oh, no, no cried the child. I dared
not. I could not grieve God any more. I
am so sorry-so very sorry ; and I thought I
URSULA'S PROMISE. 89
ought to tell out what I have done, now
A little buzz of approval was rising amongst
the visitors, but Mrs. Maitland checked it
with a look.
Ursula, you have indeed done wrong;
but I thank God that He has given you
grace to repair that wrong. He will forgive
you, my child, as freely and fully as I do."
The answers were then read out, and the
book awarded to Fanny Gresham, whose
paper was found to be the best; but the in-
terest in it had faded somewhat by the excite-
ment of Ursula's avowal. The girls kissed
and congratulated Fanny, but they crowded
round the little penitent girl, who was still
Never mind, dear; you have made up
for it now," whispered Margaret. And we
shall all love you better," added Jessie
Clifford, while Mary Reid pressed one hand
and tall Isabel Lisle grasped the other.
For a few seconds Mrs. Maitland let them
console Ursula, then she spoke.
My dear girls," she said, I desire that
no one amongst you will repeat this matter.
Ursula has honourably acknowledged her
90 URSULA'S PROMISE.
fault, and you are bound to forget it; and
while you avoid yielding to temptation, as she
yielded, you will do well to copy her truth-
fulness and her courage. I am sure you will
all love your little companion more after
The visitors began to go away then, and
later there was tea and music until bed-time,
and the girls vied with each other in the
kindness they showed Ursula ; but her heart
was still aching, and she was glad when her
good governess took her away to her own
room and talked gently to her of the past,
and encouraged her to be comforted by the
knowledge that her sin would be washed away
and pardoned through the merits of her
And at last it was bed-time, and when poor
little Ursic laid her head on her pillow, she
felt a sweet, strong hope that she was God's
own child once more, and she dropped into
a peaceful sleep, which she had not had fbr
many nights before.
.- r' '.
ii, ; was no need of a bell to rouse
'i. ,n next morning. Dark as itwas,
,l___ i -..- were down quite early, and
after breakfast the 1.. i;. was begun, and
finished later in the day ; and then, for the
last evening, they all had tea with Mrs.
Maitland, and sat round the fire, and talked
and enjoyed themselves immensely, for the
holidays had really come now, and the big
rooms of Maitland House would be empty
and deserted for five weeks.
It was indeed a scene of joy and fun
next morning when the leave-taking began
-girls were being despatched, friends were
coming for others, good-byes were being
spoken, and promises of letters exchanged;
92 URSULA'S PROMISE.
and Ursula Conway could scarcely believe
it was really her own self who was getting so
many kind words.
There had been some difficulty about her
travelling to Wetherby, for Mrs. Alston was
not able to undertake the journey in winter-
time; but once more good Mr. Stewart came
to the assistance of his little favourite, and
he was one of the first to arrive at Maitland
House on breaking-up day.
Well, Ursie," he said, as they drove from
the door, amidst a general waving of hand-
kerchiefs, "your old fear has not come to
pass, for evidently your companions love
you;" but for answer he only saw a deep
flush, which he was surprised at.
"I have something to tell you," murmured
Ursula. Oh, Mr. Stewart, you will be so
sorry, so grieved, and yet I can't rest till you
know;" and then, without any excuse or con-
cealment, she told the tale of her temptation
and her fall, of what she had done to repair
the wrong, and of the kindness and gene-
rosity with which her companions had treated
Mr. Stewart listened very gravely-he was
sad and yet thankful; saddened by the sin;
URSULA'S PROMISE. 93
thankful for the true sorrow and humility
which he believed were in the child's heart.
"And, oh, Mr. Stewart, do you think-are
you sure, God has forgiven me ? she added.
"'Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall
be as white as snow,'" said her friend. I
cannot doubt God's word; I cannot doubt
His power-neither must you, dear little
Ursula. There is no sin so terrible but the
blood of Jesus Christ will cleanse it away.
Believe in Him; only be careful to keep your
soul free from stains in the future."
"I will try," said Ursula. "I did not
know how weak I should be if anything
tempted me. I could not have believed I
should fall into such deceit after all I have
been taught; but now I am sure I'm bad
enough for anything, if God did not take
care of me."
"That is just what you needed to learn
perhaps, my child. By ourselves we are, as
you say, bad enough for anything,'-all full
of sin and weakness. God's grace only lifts
us above temptation; you must seek it more
earnestly. We need the constant grace of
the Holy Spirit to guide and keep us in all
94 URSULA'S PROMISE.
They had come to the station then, and
there was a great bustle and hurry and noise.
Not till Ursula was in the train and fairly
started did it strike her as anything strange
that Mr. Stewart should be going the same
journey. Oh, are you coming all the way
to Wetherby?" she cried. How good of
you but isn't it a trouble?"
I am going on purpose to see your grand-
mamma, Ursie," he answered, smiling.
"Grandmamma exclaimed Ursula, in
surprise. Mrs. Alston had spoken so openly
of her dislike to all very good people, that
it seemed strange to imagine her inviting
"Yes; she wishes to see me, and I am
very pleased to visit her."
Delightful !" cried Ursie. "Do stay all
the holidays, and take me back again."
But Mr. Stewart shook his head. He must
be at home-a lonely home-for wife and
children had gone to heaven many years be-
fore him; but his work amongst God's poor
was there, and it was his part to give some
Christmas joy to many a poor home and
sorrowful heart. Just three days at pretty
Laurel Cottage, and he was off, leaving Mrs.
URSULA'S PROMISE. 95
Alston so pleased with him, that she said over
and over again to her little grand-daughter,
"If all good people were like your Mr.
Stewart, Ursula, I should want to be one of
Oh, grandma, I wish you would," replied
Ursula, so earnestly, that old Mrs. Alston's
eyes filled with tears.
Well, well, child-we shall see. I am
not the same: I think a great deal of such
things, and you must pray God to make it all
clear to me," she said; and Ursula rejoiced
to hear such words from one who but a few
months before had been so different. If only
grandmamma loved God, how happy it would
be! how delightful to visit Wetherby! and
Ursula believed it would come to pass, for
there was no shadow on the kind face now
if it looked in upon her at prayer; no sharp
tone in the voice which gave her permission
to join in the service of God's house-nay
more, on the last Sunday Mrs. Alston went
with her little grand-daughter to the old red-
curtained pew-a thing which had not been
known in Wetherby for a long while. Yes;
evidently the good Spirit of God was striving
with the heart which had been withheld from
96 URSULA'S PROMISE.
Him so long; and Ursula went back to school
after her happy holidays with a bright hope
in her mind when she thinks of grand-
There we must leave her now, struggling
against difficulties and many temptations,
learning more her own heart, but more of
God's goodness; often failing, often discour-
aged, but still trying to live as one of the
lambs of the Good Shepherd; her great de-
sire, her sweetest hope being for the time
when, by God's goodness, she may "meet
mamma again" in that home where parting
can never be.
UNWIN BROTIIER, PRINTER CHILWORTIT AND LONDON.
BOOKS FOR TIE YOUNG,
"^Tlitfi lirtill's finely printeb
ill 0(il cifo"0l's .
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