The Baldwin Library
A VISIT TO DAISY COTTAGE.
THE THREE SISTERS,
THE STORY OF A MOUSE," THE CASTLE AND THE
COTTAGE," ETC., ETC., ETC.
GEORGE ROUTLEDGE AND SONS
BROADWAY, LUDGATE HILL
NEW YORK: 9, LAFAYETTE PLACE
BY THE SAME AUTHOR,
One Shilling each, with Coloured Frontisjpiece.
Blanche and Agnes.
Ellen and Frank.
Our Poor Neighbours.
Story of a Cat.
Story of a Dog.
SStory of a Penny.
Story of a Mouse.
THE THREE SISTERS.
THE USES OF ADVERSITY.
LESSONS, lessons, always lessons," said little Lucy
Vernon, as she turned over the leaves of her book
rather impatiently, and finally settled down with her
elbows on the table, and her two hands underneath
her sunny curls, which fell over them most luxu-
riantly; she was indeed a lovely child.
Lucy was not alone, however, when she uttered
these expressions of seeming discontent; Maria:
and Sophia Vernon, her two elder sisters, were in
the same room, the first attentively engaged with
her geography, and the second with a book indeed
in her hand, yet not sitting at the table with her
sisters, but standing gazing listlessly out of the win-
dow apparently occupied with other thoughts than
.the lessons of the day.
"I wonder whether mamma will buy us new
dresses to go to Ann Pritchard's birthday party,"
2 The Three Sisters.
said Sophia, thus betraying the subject of her
I am sure," she added, "I would rather not
go at all if we are to wear our old muslin frocks
trimmed up again; we wore them all last summer,
and I am quite sick of seeing them."
"What does it signify whether we have new or
old frocks ?" replied Lucy; if we can have a dance
on the lawn, or a good game at blind-man's-buff, I
am sure it matters little what frocks we have on;
it is so tiresome to be always afraid of spoiling
one's dress. I can't think why you are so anxious
about what you are to wear, Sophy; you must be
very proud, I think."
I am not a bit too proud, you silly little thing,"
said Sophy, forming a very wrong estimate of her
own character, and showing at the same time an
unreasonable anger at her sister's remark. "1 am
not a bit too proud," she repeated, emphatically;
"papa is rich enough to afford to buy us new
frocks, and I don't see why we should not have
them, as well as our acquaintances."
"Well, we shall have them, I suppose, if mamma
thinks we want new frocks," replied Lucy; and
if I am a silly little thing, I would rather be silly
than vain and conceited, just like the peacock that
is strutting up and down the lawn, spreading out his
tail for us to admire. I don't wish to be admired
for my fine clothes, for as mamma says, they are
The Uses of Adversity. 3
only outside show, and that if people could look
into our hearts, they would not find much to admire
there." This was rather a sententious speech for
little Lucy, but we must remember that she was
quoting mamma's words, and she thought that
mammca could neither do nor say anything wrong.
You need not expect to be admired by anybody,
nor for anything, you stupid child," retorted the
angry Sophia, contemptuously; and she added, "I
don't want to be preached to by such a little crea-
ture as you."
"Oh, come, leave off quarrelling, and sit down
and learn your lessons, Sophy, before mamma comes;
it will vex her so if we cannot say them; besides,"
added Maria, "I really can't attend. to my geo-
graphy while you continue talking."
"We are not quarrelling, Maria," said Sophy;
" you call any little dispute a quarrel; just mind your
own lessons and leave Lucy and me alone, if you
Oh, but Maria is quite right," said Lucy, who
loved her studious sister very much, and felt sorry
at having disturbed her; "how can she learn her
lessons while we are talking ? and I declare there
is dear mamma coming across the lawn with her
basket; she has been feeding the turkeys, and. I
know she will come to us as soon as she has spoken
Both the girls now sat down to their studies
4 T/e Three Sisters.
seemingly in earnest, and very shortly after theit
mamma entered the room.
"Now this looks well, my dears," said Mrs.
Vernon; I am glad to find you so diligent. I may
expect lessons to be repeated perfectly this morn-
ing, I think; how say you, my little Lucy ?" inquired
mamma, passing her hand tenderly over the fair
soft curls of this youngest of the party.
Lucy Vernon was a truthful, ingenuous child,
though she was sometimes disposed to be idle; her
colour deepened as she looked up into her mamma's
face, and replied.
Mamma, dear, I do not deserve praise, but
blame, for I cannot repeat my lessons, I have only
been a short time learning them," said Lucy.
" Maria, I dare say, has learnt hers, for she is
always studious and diligent;" but here Lucy
stopped short, she had no wish to implicate Sophia
with herself, and that young lady kept, what she
thought, a discreet silence.
I am sorry that my expectations are disap-
pointed, my dear Lucy," said her kind mother; "but
it is always a source of comfort to me to know that
you never shrink from telling the truth, and that
you do not wish to take credit for a quality that you
do not possess, or rather I should say that you do
not practise, for everybody, if they have health, may
be industrious, and I am persuaded that it is not from
want of ability that your lessons are not learnt.
The Uses of Adversity. 5
But come, I will not hinder you now by admo.
nations; follow the example of your sisters. I will
give you half an hour longer, and by that time I
have no doubt you will be able to say your lessons
I am obliged to confess that when Lucy's mamma
left off speaking, the poor little girl felt a strong
temptation to tell all the circumstances of the case,
and not to bear the whole blame herself; but on
looking up, she met Maria's gaze fixed upon her,
and a beseeching look seemed to plead, Don't tell,
and she immediately felt that her kind sister was
That day week was to be the day of the party at
Mrs. Pritchard's; and many young hearts beat
high with anticipations of pleasure and amusement.
Even Maria Vernon, thoughtful and studious as
she was, found time to converse with her sisters on
this interesting topic; but neither she nor Lucy
shared in Sophia's great anxiety respecting the dress
they should wear.
I have a proposition to make to you, my dears,"
said Mrs. Vernon, the morning after this affair of
You know you are all invited to Mrs. Pritchard's
on Monday next, but as I shall be obliged to pur-
chase new spring dresses for you, I shall not con-
sider it prudent to buy new ones expressly for this
occasion; I will therefore give each of you the
6 The Three Sisters.
option of choosing which you will have, but I must
tell you, that the old muslin dresses can be trimmed
and made to look quite well enough for an evening
party, and you must remember it is only for one
evening, whereas the material I should buy for the
spring will last for half a year."
Sophia had scarcely patience to allow her mamma
to finish what she had to say, before she ex-
claimed, almost indignantly, I am sure, mamma,
I should be quite ashamed to be-seen at Mrs.
Pritchard's party with that old muslin frock, which
all the girls would know again. I would much
rather have a new one, and go without a spring
"Very well, my dear," replied Mrs. Vernon,
"but you need not speak with such vehemence;
you might have allowed your eldest sister to speak
first, but I have given you your choice, and you
shall have what you seem so much to desire, though
I warn you, it will lead to disappointment. And
now, what say you, Maria and Lucy ?"
"Oh, mamma, dear," replied both the girls at
once, the spring dresses for us, if you please."
I don't suppose," added Maria, that in a large
party of young people, where all wish to be merry,
there will be much notice taken of what we
"You are very much mistaken, Maria," said
Sophy. "Ada Phillips and Ellen Needham, and-"
Thle Uses of Adversiy. 7
"Oh, never mind them," broke in little im-
patient Lucy, "I think they are always talking
about dress, and taking people off, and ridiculing
"You are giving your young friends rather a bad
character, my dear Lucy," said her mother; "I
suppose you mean that they appear to attach too
much importance to dress, but not that they are
always talking about it ?"
Well, mamma, yes, I do mean that," answered
the little girl, and I think it is such nonsense,
when we might be enjoying ourselves at some nice
game, to be thinking how nice we look, and how
badly somebody else is dressed; don't you think so
too, Maria ?"
This question was not answered, for Sophia again
Then you would be unlike most other girls,"
said Sophy; "and I don't wish to appear singular;
pray, dear mamma, let me have a new frock for the
And so it was decided; and Mrs. Vernon desired
the young people to get ready with their lessons,
and she would go with them to make the important
purchases, and each was to be permitted to choose
Thank you very much, dear mamma," said
Sophia. "How delightful it will be to look over
lots of beautiful silks and muslins."
8 The Three Sisters.
"Don't let your expectations run too high,
Sophia," said her mother ; remember I have not
spoken a word about silk dresses, and there is not
much to be seen in a plain white muslin."
I don't want a plain muslin dress, mamma,"
replied Sophy, in a tone of disappointment, the
shadow of which, as Mrs. Vernon had warned her,
was already darkening her path. "I have seen
such lovely striped muslins in Mr. Allan's window-
pink and blue and green; oh, they are so beauti-
But you know, dear Sophia, that such muslins
as these will not wash, that they are more expensive
than plain ones, and that they are more remarkable,
so that they could not be worn often," said Mrs.
Oh, I like anything that is remarkable," said
Sophy, with emphasis; I don't wish to be like
other people, I want to be different to others."
Oh, my foolish child," said Mrs. Vernon with
a sigh, on what slender threads you are hanging
your happiness ; take my word for it that they will
snap, and let all your great expectations fall to the
ground. But come," she added, "we must not
spend more time in talking, we shall have quite
enough time when we are in the shop to get all
matters settled, I hope, to the satisfaction of ll
parties, for it is my wish to please you all if I can;
and now apply to your work."
The First Shadow. 9
"Thank you, dear mamma, we will be ready
soon with our lessons," said the delighted girls.
THE FIRST SHADOW.
WITH one of our young party I am sorry to say
that the admonition "to apply" was not at all
easy to obey.' Poor Sophia's mind, in spite of her
endeavours to learn, would run on beautiful striped
muslins, and in spite of her cogitations, she could
not bring herself to decide which of the many
bright colours that floated before her eyes should
be the chosen one.
Her sisters suffered from no such interruptions,
for they had not an idea what sort of material their
mamma intended to purchase for them, so that
even little volatile Lucy was too busy with her
book to notice the abstraction of Sophia, until that
young lady, fairly puzzled and bewildered among
the pink, green, and blue stripes, suddenly pushed
her book from her, and declared that she could
not learn her lessons that morning, it was no use
"Well, I never saw any one like you, Sophy !"
exclaimed the little girl; "I declare you quite
frightened me; why can you not learn your les-
To Th/le Three Sisters.
I am not obliged to tell you why," said the
petulant Sophia, "so you need not trouble your-
self about me; I have told you this before."
Maria looked up from her book, as she feared
an altercation, and said, quietly: "Sophia, dear,
you know that mamma told us expressly yesterday,
that if our lessons were not well learnt this morn-
ing we should not go out with her; do try again,
and determine not to think of anything else until
you are perfect in them."
Sophia attended to the kind suggestion of the
elder sister; she did try again, and the conse-
quence was that the formidable lessons were learnt
and repeated with such accuracy as to win from
her mamma a higher commendation than usual;
the truth being, that Sophia, though quick, did not
try to deserve approbation.
Let me here observe to my young readers that
"thetongue is a little member, and boasteth great
things." It is a fire which kindleth anger, hatred,
revenge, yea, all evil passions. But 'it is also the
vehicle for tender expostulation, for kind and gentle
reproof, for the expression of love, and all good
feeling; and when used for these latter purposes,
it is often wonderful to see the effects produced.
Very pleasant we see had been the result of
Maria's kind remonstrance, and the young people,
with their mother, were soon on their way to Mr.
27te First Shadow. 1
What a flutter of expectation and delight beat
in the heart of Sophia as the clear white muslin
dresses, with their gay embellishments of satin
flowers or stripes, were displayed before her; she
scarcely thought of looking at the more sober, but
really pretty fabrics, laid out for her sisters to
choose from; they were not silk, but a delicate
and pretty material, well adapted for the spring,
and they, too, were striped with black and
mauve, or brown and blue, in .fact, with many
With mamma's kind advice and assistance, the
choice of the elder and younger sister was soon
made to their entire satisfaction; but poor Sophia,
bewildered with variety, was not so easy to please,
or, rather, found it more difficult to decide. She
vacillated between pink and blue, or mauve and
green, until both the shopman and her mamma
were heartily tired. Fortunately, however, the
former hit upon an expedient which had the de-
sired effect of bringing matters to a conclusion.
He produced a' box containing an assortment of
beautiful sash ribbons, and inquired whether the
young lady would not wish to have one to match
the dress, at the same time unrolling a very splendid
green-flowered ribbon, which appeared to such
advantage that Sophia immediately declared that
she thought a green-striped dress would be the
prettiest. Don't 3you think so, mamma ?" in-
12 The Three Sisters.
quired the young lady; but at that moment Mrs.
Vernon's attention was fixed on a very different
object. This was a poor, pale, emaciated-looking
child, who was standing close to Sophia, but whom
that young lady had not noticed on account of her
extreme anxiety respecting the dress. She now
turned instinctively to see what her mamma was
looking at, and a slight shudder passed through
her as she noticed the thin and scanty clothing,
and the wasted arms of the miserable object stand-
ing close beside her. She did not feel at all com-
fortable at being so near this not very cleanly
object of compassion; she moved closer to her
mamma, and for a moment forgot the beautiful
ribbon which the shopman still held up for her
approval, as she said, "How ill this poor child
Maria and Lucy having made their choice, had
wandered to the door, and were watching the
carriages and the gay people passing and re-pass-
ing; they had not then seen this new object of
attention of their mother and sister.
Mrs. Vernon placed herself between Sophia and
the sickly-looking girl, and then pressed her daughter
to make her decision, as the young man had been
kept an unreasonably long time with this purchase;
then addressing herself to the child, she said, Are
you ill, my dear ?"
"I have been very ill, ma'am, with scarlet fever;
The First Shadow. 13
I am better now, but my brothers are ill with it,
and one is now lying dead, and another not expected
to live; my little sister was buried yesterday. I
came for some cotton for mother, she has work
to finish, and I am afraid she will be angry at my
staying so long."
Mrs. Vernon immediately requested the shopman
to attend to the little girl, and putting a shilling into
the child's hand, she inquired her name, and place
of abode ; then turning to Sophia she said, Now,
my dear, have you finished your shopping ?"
"Yes, mamma," replied Sophia, but her tone
and manner had undergone a complete change.
Instead of the excited, eager expectation which
she had evinced on first entering the shop, a look
of anxiety and trouble betrayed the fact that she
had been listening to the little girl's replies to her
mamma's questions, and Mrs. Vernon had serious
misgivings as to the result on a mind so sensitive as
Sophia's was, where any infection was concerned;
however, she judged it best to take no notice, but
assuming an air of cheerfulness, that she really did
not feel, she ordered the dresses to be sent home,
and taking Sophia's hand joined the two sisters at
the shop door.
Here again the subject of solicitude was forced
upon her, for Lucy exclaimed, Oh, mamma, did
you see that poor sickly-looking child that went out
just now ?"
14 The Yhree Sisters.
"How very ill she seemed, and what miserable
clothes she had on," said Maria; "I wish you
would go and see where she lives, mamma."
"I-ow can I do that, my dear ?" replied Mrs.
Vernon, rather hastily; "the child is quite out of
But, mamma, dear," said Sophy, in a low tone,
"she told you where she lived."
Yes, yes, my dear," answered Mrs. Vernon, wish-
ing to change the conversation, but we have other
things to attend to just now, you know, so we must
make haste home."
How very unlike mamma to speak in that way
about a poor family," said Lucy to Maria, as the
two sisters took the lead on their way home ; she
is always so anxious to attend to any distress that
she hears about."
"Mamma has good reasons for what she does,"
replied Maria, who had the fullest confidence in her
mother's judgment. "Depend upon it, Lucy, there
is something that we don't know of in this matter ;
perhaps Sophy knows, for she heard mamma talk-
ing to the little girl,"
Oh, yes," said Lucy, "I dare say mamma in-
tends to go and see all about it to-morrow," and
coming to this conclusion the two girls were quite
"I can't think what's the matter with Sophy,"
said Lucy to Maria, a few days after the memorable
The First Shadow. 15
event of buying the dresses; "she has not been at
all lively ever since.the fine muslin was bought. Do
you think she is sorry that she did not choose one
like ours ?"
"I think," replied Maria, that Sophy is not
well, but perhaps she does not like to say so,
for fear mamma should not let her go to Mrs.
"There's something on her mind, I am quite
sure," said Lucy; "for as she was walking slowly
in the garden to-day I ran after, and caught hold of
her suddenly, and when she turned round to see
who it was, I saw she had been crying ; she would
not tell me why, but said, I wish you would not
tease me, Lucy.'"
I will speak to mamma on the subject," said
Maria, she is the fittest person to question Sophy;
and here comes mamma, all smiling, I dare say to
tell us that our new frocks are come from the dress-
" I thought that I should find you all together, my
dears," said Mrs. Vernon, as she came up to her
daughters. "Where is your sister? I have not seen
her since the morning, when she repeated her
lessons, and I thought she did not seem in good
"We have not seen her either, mamma," answered
Maria; "and I was saying to Lucy, that I thought
Sophia was poorly; it is so unlike her to wish to be
16 The Three Sisters.
alone; but I don't think she is in the garden, or we
should have seen her before now."
"I have observed," said Mrs. Vernon, "that
Sophia has not been so cheerful as usual the last
two days, but I thought perhaps that her mind was
occupied about the muslin dress, and the gay party
you are invited to. I may, however, be mistaken,"
continued the lady, as she suddenly recollected the
little girl and the scarlet fever.
"We must go in search of Sophia, and inquire
into the state of her health," said the now anxious
mother, as she turned her steps in the direction of
the house, followed by Maria and Lucy who had
observed their mamma's agitation. The object of
their solicitude was soon found, and her appearance
gave rise to very serious apprehensions on the part
of her mamma.
The poor girl was lying on the little white bed,
where she had thrown herself, in a feverish and
unquiet sleep, much flushed, and to all appearance
commencing with scarlet fever.
To send for the doctor and to remove Maria and
Lucy to another part of the house was the first
impulse acted on by Mrs. Vernon; she said nothing,
however, of her suspicions lest she should create an
alarm, but sat down by the bedside of her still
sleeping child, and waited in anxious expectation
for the coming of Doctor Fletcher.
It was not long before she heard his well-known
The First Shadow. 17
knock at the door, and then his decided footstep
on the stairs; a gentle tap, and he stood by the
bedside with the hand of Sophia in his.
Fever, my dear lady, scarlet fever, it is most
prevalent now;" and the doctor might have added,
of a virulent kind, but he was too cautious to excite
fears; he had, however, said enough already, for it
was this that Mrs. Vernon most dreaded. Do
you know of anything that has led to this?" in-
quired Doctor Fletcher; "has she taken cold, or
been exposed to any infection ?"
Mrs. Vernon in a few words related the circum-
stance of the little girl in the shop. The doctor
shook his head but made no remark, he only gave
a prescription, together with necessary directions,
which he said he knew the careful mother would
attend to herself.
To send Maria and Lucy away for a time, and to
determine herself to be the sole nurse of her suffer-
ing child, were the prompt measures of Mrs.
Vernon; she would not even allow the anxious
sisters to say good-bye to the invalid, for she knew
the importance of taking every precaution, rather
than delaying till it was too late.
18 Tze Three Sisters.
Day and night the fond mother watched over
and waited upon her suffering, and often uncon-
scious child; bathing the fevered brow, moistening
the parched lips, or smoothing the pillow where the
weary aching head could find no rest. The day for
the party had come and gone; it would have been
wholly forgotten, but for the unconscious exclama-
tions of the poor girl; in her delirium she would
say, Mamma, dear, is my dress finished? is it now
time to put it on ? Is that it hanging on the bed?
Oh, how frightful it looks it is covered with blood !
oh, take it away take it away !" and poor Sophia
would cover her face with her burning hands, and
weep and sob as if her heart would break.
Then again she would fancy that the pale little
girl that stood beside her in the shop, was standing
by the bedside, and asking her to go and see her
poor dead brother; for she would exclaim suddenly,
" Oh, I can't go with the little girl now; can I,
mamma, dear? Oh, pray tell her I can't go now to
see the dead child; give her some money, dear
mamma, and something to eat;" and the piteous
look, and earnest entreaty, deeply affected the
loving mother, who would gently soothe, and make
kind promises of complying with her child's request.
Sometimes Sophia imagined that she was dressed,
and ready to go to the party; and then she would
suddenly scream with pain, because the sash was
tied too tight, or the wreath of flowers on her head
The Sick-Bed. 9
had thorns, which pierced her brain. "Oh, take
them off, take them off, mamma, or I shall die !"
Poor Mrs. Vernon; it was almost more than she
could endure, to hear the exclamations, and to
witness the sufferings of her child; but she had
determined that nothing but positive inability should
prevent her from attending what she had too much
reason to fear would be the dying-bed of the once
blooming Sophia. Constant and earnest were her
prayers that the delirium might pass away, and the
light of reason again visit her afflicted one ere she
was called to pass into the unseen world, of which
Sophia in her health had often heard, but too little
regarded. Her prayers were more than answered.
It was towards morning, and after one of those
feverish attacks, for which the doctor had ordered
an opiate to be administered, that poor Sophy fell
into a deep sleep. Doctor Fletcher had told Mrs.
Vernon, that most likely a change would take place
before the morning; and he had tenderly warned
her to prepare for the worst. It was therefore with
the deepest anxiety that the affectionate mother
watched by her child, fearing lest this deep sleep
should be the sleep of death.
With almost breathless expectation, such as those
only who haye been placed in similar circumstances
can understand, she sat beside, and gazed on the
object of her tender solicitude, expecting every
20 The Three Sisters.
moment to hear the last sigh, or to catch some last
Mrs. Vernon, however, listened so long, that at
last a faint gleam of hope stirred in her heart, and
the thought flashed across her mind, that her child
might yet recover.
Nor was the anxious mother doomed to be dis-
appointed, for a change had really taken place in
Sophia, not as Doctor Fletcher feared, however, for
the worse, but for the better.
With what joyful eagerness did Mrs. Vernon rise
to procure the cooling beverage which Sophia called
for, as she opened her eyes, and made a faint, but
ineffectual effort to raise her head, and with what
devout thankfulness did she lift up her heart to the
merciful Preserver of her child.
"Are you better, my darling ?" she inquired, as
she raised her daughter's head, and placed the cup
to her lips, A feeble "yes," was the reply, and
Mrs. Vernon, well knowing the importance of per-
fect quiet, sat down again, after imprinting a kiss
on the still hot forehead, and waited anxiously to
hear the doctor's rap at the door, for he had pro-
mised to call in the early morning. In the mean-
time, the patient dozed again, nor did she start,
nor throw off the clothes, as she had been wont to
do ; there was, as Mrs. Vernon thought, evidently
a change for the better.
At last, the well-known, decisive, though cautious
The Sick-Bed. 21
knock was heard at the door, and in another minute
Doctor Fletcher stood by the bedside of the invalid.
Better, decidedly better," he exclaimed. This
is what I did not expect," said the kind doctor, as
he shook Mrs. Vernon warmly by the hand. "You
are a capital nurse, dear madam, and I tell you now,
though I think you have heard me express this
opinion before, that almost all our success depends
upon proper nursing. We cannot be always by the
bedside of our patients to watch each turn of their
complaints, so that an experienced nurse is posi-
Then you think now that my poor girl may re-
cover, doctor ?" said Mrs. Vernon, though still with
I think so, decidedly," replied the doctor; "but
it will be necessary to exercise the same watchful
care over her. I know, dear madam, that you will
not give up your place to any one, while you have
health and strength, so I need have no fears for my
patient on that account."
No, indeed, doctor," said the thankful mother,
with tears of joy and gratitude; and I feel deeply
how much I owe to you for your great skill and
attention, in this critical case; 'tis to you, under
God, that I-owe the life of my child."
"Well now, my dear lady, I can only say, go on
and prosper; I shall just make a little alteration
in Sophia's medicine, and with regard to diet, I
22 The Th2ree Sisters.
am sure I may leave it to your own discretion.
Good-bye, I have an unusual number of patients
to visit this morning, as there is much fever pre-
As the kind doctor took his leave, Sophia opened
her eyes and gave him a faint smile of recognition,
which he returned with a pleasant nod, and a
"Now, this looks well."
With a truly thankful heart, Mrs. Vernon re-
turned to the bedside of her beloved child, who
seemed to her to be just snatched from the jaws
of death: Sophia's languid, yet expressive look
appeared to indicate a desire to speak; but as
Doctor Fletcher had particularly enjoined quiet,
and no exertion for his patient, either of mind or
body, Mrs. Vernon, as she stooped to kiss the now
pale cheek, said, "No words, my dear one, we
will talk to-morrow," and it needed no second ad-
monition to make the passive sufferer obey.
A FRESH TRIAL.
MORE than' a week elapsed before Sophia was per-
mitted to sit up in the easy-chair which her mamma
had occupied while acting the sick-nurse, but during
that time she had been gradually gaining strength,
and many a serious talk. she had had with her
A Fresh Trial. 23
mamma, who, as Mr. Vernon was abroad, and
Maria and Lucy from home, still gave up all her
time to the now convalescent girl, and hailed with
delight, not only the returning health and strength
of her daughter, but a new and very different state
of mind, which it seemed the solemn thoughts of
death and a judgment to come had awakened in
Sophia, whose life had hitherto been a round of
self-seeking, whether in the performance of duties,
or, to her, the more pleasurable .attraction of childish
amusement. No love, either of God or her rela-
tions, had influenced her conduct, so that even in
the performance of duty she lacked that highest
satisfaction arising from the knowledge of having
given pleasure to others.
But now, in this week of convalescence, Sophia
had time to consider her past life, and she trembled
to think how near she had been to, yea, even on the
very brink of, that vast Eternity from which there
is no return; and she had felt how impossible it
would be for the Saviour to say to her, Well done,
good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of thy
Oh, mamma, dearest mamma !" said the deeply
moved and penitent Sophia, "how can I ever
repay all your kindness and care for me, and how
can I ever be thankful enough to God for sending
this sickness, to make me turn to Him, and for once
more restoring me to health ?"
24 The [Three Sisters.
You will show your thankfulness, my dear
child," said the fond mother, warmly returning her
daughter's embrace, "by loving your Saviour, and
by keeping His commandments, which is the only
way that leads to true happiness. It is love that
makes all our duties pleasant, lightens every suffer-
ing, and fills the heart with gratitude ; there can be
no really acceptable service without love."
It was thus, day by day, that Sophia and her
mother held sweet intercourse, until Doctor
Fletcher gave it as his decided opinion that he
was no longer wanted; but, said he, "Let me
still give you a little parting advice. You, my
dear Mrs. Vernon, have had a trying time of it,
and though your patient is wonderfully better,
there is a little bloom and plumpness wanting
in those young cheeks; I may tell her now,
that she has had a very narrow escape, and that it
will be some time (unless we take great care) be-
fore the original strength is restored. My advice
then is, that you find some nice farm-house where
you can get plenty of new milk, and roam about
in the fields as much as possible, only avoiding the
"This is the very thing I thought of doing, Doc-
toi, with your permission; I wish to have our
house well cleaned and ventilated before Maria
and Lucy return home, and I know of a very plea-
sant farm-house, with whose inmates I am well
A Fresl Trial. 25
acquainted," said Mrs. Vernon. "Perhaps, Doc-
tor, you know the place called The Hollies, where
Mr. and Mrs. Selford live ?"
"I know it quite well," replied the Doctor, and
the good people, too, for they are good people, and
I am sure you will be very comfortable there.
Now good morning, I am delighted at seeing the
progress you have made, and I say again, go on
and prosper !"
The anticipation of spending a few weeks in the
country at a pleasant farm-house with her mamma
as a companion, and, as Sophia fondly hoped, the
companionship also of her sisters, appeared to give
a fresh stimulus of health and happiness to the
invalid a new and warmer affection than she had
ever before experienced seemed to have sprung up
in her heart for those dear relatives; she longed to
meet them once more, and often she wondered
how she could have been so unkind and perverse
with them as she felt she had been, especially with
The truth was, that Sophia had drank into the
spirit of her loving Saviour, and she could now see,
not only how wrong it was to give way to passionate
impulses, but how entirely opposed they were to
the holy precepts of Him whose very name is love!
How often she longed to throw her arms round
dear Lucy's neck, and to tell her all the sweet,
.kind lessons she had heard from her mamma ; and
26 The Three Sisters.
with what deep sorrow did she call to mind the
many unkind and provoking speeches she had
made to her young sister, to whom she should
rather have been an example.
Could poor Sophia have known then that the
object of her solicitude she would never again see,
that in less than a week the dear companion of
her young life would be stretched on a fever bed
which would be, to her, the bed of death, how
would all her remorsefulfeelings have been increased
and intensified. Yet so it was, for on the very day
that Mrs. Vernon went with Sophia to The Hollies,
a letter was despatched from her kind relative
(Miss West, at whose home the young people had
-been staying), to say, tlhat symptoms of fever had
appeared in Lucy, and that Doctor Fletcher had
been summoned to attend her.
Don't alarm yourself unnecessarily, my dear
Matilda," wrote Miss West to her cousin. Lucy
is restless and uneasy, and complains much of her
throat, she may have taken cold, but I thought it
best to send f6r the doctor immediately, and to
lose no time in letting you know."
It was impossible for Mrs. Vernon not to feel
alarmed ; nor could she conceal from her daughter
the' facts of poor little Lucy's illness, seeing that she
would be obliged to leave Sophia with the good
woman of the house, and go instantly to her sick
child; she, however, very cautiously, and without be-
A I;esh Trial. 27
trying the deep anxiety which she really felt, spoke
to Sophy on the subject; entreating her to summon up
all her good resolves, and her trust in her heavenly
Father, and promising to send Maria to her, if
Doctor Fletcher thought it would be prudent.
"Take great care of yourself, my dear child,"
said mamma; "remember you are still very weak,
and though I know that Mrs. Selford will do all
she can for your comfort, yet her time is too much
occupied to permit her to be often with you, so you
must be prudent and not venture to walk too far.
I hope I shall be able to send Maria to take my
The prospect of seeing her sister, to whom in her
present softened state of feeling Sophia felt an affec-
tion hitherto unknown, tended greatly to reconcile
her to Mrs. Vernon's absence, though apart from
this she would on no account have wished her
mother to remain with her when she knew that poor
Lucy required attendance.
As Sophia hung upon her mother's neck before
her departure, and they mingled their tears together,
Mrs. Vernon little knew what a mixture of bitter-
ness for the past, so far as little Lucy was concerned,
flowed in that tide of grief from the repentant girl.
Oh, my young friends, if you would save your-
selves from many sorrows, "be kindly affectioned
one to another, in brotherly love." Guard your
speech from the angry retort, the unkind reflection
28 The Three Sisters.
the cutting observation; remember a time may
come when these things will be gall and worm-
wood to you, and you will wish a thousand times
that they had never been said.
A DAY OF DEEP SORROW.
AND now let us accompany poor Mrs. Vernon to
the bedside of her youngest darling.
The doctor and Miss West are standing by the
bed, when Mrs. Vernon enters so quietly that they
do not notice it, and she hears the doctor say, "A
bad case, Miss West, a very bad case ;" but he
adds, on seeing the lady beside him, "We must
hope for the best, you know. How have you left
your daughter Sophia? still continuing better, I
Oh, Doctor !" said the weeping mother, regard-
less of the question addressed to her, "how little
I expected this stroke !" and quite overpowered
with her grief she threw herself into the chair by
the side of the bed. "Lucy, my darling, do you
not know me ?" she exclaimed, as she rose and
bent over the poor child; do you not know your
mamma ?" A restless, hurried glance was the
only reply, for the sufferer's throat had swollen so
alarmingly that suffocation was feared, and the
A Day of Deep Sorro)w. 29
servant was bringing in poultices, which had been
already several times applied under the doctor's
You are weak and nervous, dear Mrs. Vernon,"
said the kind doctor, "you have had too much
nursing lately; suffer Miss West to take your place,
and come with me into the next room. Poor Lucy
is scarcely conscious of your presence now; per-
haps, after a few more applications of the poultice,
she may be better, and able to speak to you."
But no persuasion, either of the doctor or Miss
West, could induce Mrs. Vernon to quit the bed-
side, and the former bade a sorrowful farewell to
the two ladies, promising to come back in an hour,
to call and see Sophia, and if Mrs. Vernon ap-
proved, to take Maria with him, that she might re-
main with her sister.
"I will explain to Maria why it is not expedient
that she should see you before she goes," said
Doctor Fletcher, "and I know that she is so good
and sensible a girl that she will at once see the
reasonableness of the interdict."
Alas, for poor Mrs. Vernon only a few weeks
had glided away since she was the happy mother
of three blooming daughters, and now-but we
will not attempt to describe her grief, which in a
few short days was increased to an agony of suffer-
ing by seeing her darling a pale and lifeless form.
There lay the cold remains of the once sprightly
30 The 2hree Sisters.
and loving little Lucy, who, though quick-tempered,
was ever ready to confess her faults, and who used
to delight to go with her mother in her visits to the
poor, or to read to the old women that lived near
them. How will Sophia bear this sad news which
the doctor has undertaken to convey to the sisters?
We shall see.
THE two girls are sitting in the pretty little parlour
at The Hollies, engaged in earnest conversation.
" Don't, dear Sophia, cry so, I feel quite unhappy
about you; you know we cannot recall the past,
and I am sure darling Lucy never retained any
angry feeling at anything you said," urged Maria.
"Oh, I know that," replied the weeping girl,
"and I feel more on that account and to think
that I may not go to see her, and ask her to forgive
me all my unkindness to her. Oh, what should I
do if she were to die !" and the very idea pro-
duced a fresh torrent of tears, in which Maria
joined, for she also was quite overcome at the
thought of such an event, which she had never
anticipated, and the two poor girls threw them-
selves, sobbing, into each other's arms.
A low gentle tap at the door startled them, and
SorrowefiJl Tiingl's. 31
when Doctor Fletcher opened it they both rushed
towards him almost breathlessly to inquire about
dear Lucy and their mamma.
"All well, my dear girls," replied the thoughtful
doctor, though with a mental reservation he
dreaded the effect of his communication on the
still weak nerves of Sophia, who he noticed had
been weeping. But there was something in Doctor
Fletcher's manner that caused a shudder to pass
through Sophia's frame, and she threw her arms
round him, and exclaimed, in an agony of terror,
"Oh, I know it is 'not all well!' Dear, dar-
ling Lucy Oh, say she is not dead, and that I may
go to see her !"
Doctor Fletcher drew the sobbing, excited child,
closer to him, as he whispered, Yes, darling,
you will go to her some day; you will, I trust,
meet' in that heaven where tears shall be wiped
from off all faces, and where death can never
Gently as the news had been broken to her, the
shock was too great for the weak and trembling
girl; she fainted in the doctor's arms, while poor
Maria, scarcely less afflicted, ran to the bell to
summon the good mistress of the house.
"Don't alarm yourself, dear Maria," said the
kind doctor, as he carried the insensible girl, whom
he held in his arms, and laid her on the couch.
"Don't alarm yourself. Sophia will soon come
32 The Three Sisters.
round, and you, my dear girl, must be her com-
forter; at least, you can weep together, and tears
are the best relief to overcharged hearts.
"Your mamma sends her love, and she commits
Sophia to your care; she has, I am glad to say,
borne this deep trial with true Christian fortitude;
she seeks her strength from the right source, and
she will never be disappointed;" saying this, and
shaking Maria warmly by the hand, Doctor Fletcher
took his leave, just as a deep sigh, which spoke of
returning consciousness, escaped from the lips of
As the doctor had said, Sophia soon came round,
and tears, welcome tears, afforded the best relief.
On Maria's part there was no bitterness mingling
with the tide of sisterly affection that flowed so
full and deep, but alas for poor Sophia! The
scalding drops were mixed with such a measure of
self-reproach as seemed quite to overwhelm her;
nor could all the loving remonstrance of Maria,
who endeavoured to subdue the expression of her
own grief, that she might be better able to act the
comforter to her sister, stop the current of violent
emotion, which appeared calculated to bring on a
relapse into uficonsciousness.
Oh, my young friends, whoever you are who
read this sorrowful account, beware how you give
way to peevish and angry reflections. Years after
they have been uttered they may be drawn out of
Sorrowful Tidings. 33
the storehouse of memory, perhaps by some pain-
ful event, and appear before you in all their revolt-
ing colours, causing a distress of mind which you
little dreamed of at the time of utterance.
On the other hand, how fondly is every instance
of love and sweet affection cherished in the heart
of brothers and sisters, perhaps far separated from
each other; kind words and deeds of long ago
pondered over, and producing like richly-scented
leaves laid by and withered, a store of aromatic
Something of this tender recollection it was
which fell like soothing balm on the grief of Maria
Vernon, and comforted the mourner in -this sor-
She had tenderly loved her sweet young sister,
helped her out of all her little troubles, assisted
her in her lessons, and even associated herself in
her childish amusements, and the little Lucy
warmly returned her sister's affection, and seemed
never really happy but when Maria was with her;
and now, what a blank had fallen upon this once
happy family !
"How sad, how very sad, all this seems," per-
haps some of my young readers may say. Well,
so it is, but let us consider and we may perhaps see
some light appearing behind this dark cloud. ,Our
Father in Heaven does not willingly afflict his chil-
dren. He wishes them to be happy; and so they
34 The Three Sisters.
would be if they loved and obeyed Him ; but alas,
the evil weeds of pride and selfishness very early
make their appearance where good seed had been
sown; and if those weeds are not carefully pulled
up, or crushed down in some way or other, they
will assuredly choke the seed; so a bitter wind, or
a sharp frost, or a keen blade is sent, to clear away
the weeds, and make room for the tender blossoms
and the fragrant flowers to spring up and grow.
So we shall acknowledge when we see the graces
of love, and kindness, and gentleness springing up
in the garden of the soul, and we shall bless the
wise and loving hand that used the wind, and the
frost, and the scythe to protect our fair flowers
from the noxious weeds.
Thus was it with Sophia Vernon on her recovery
from the fever of which her young sister had been
It was a long time before she could with truth
say, "It is good for me that I have been thus
afflicted at least, so far as her sister's loss was
concerned. Many sincere prayers she offered up,
and many were the kind lessons she received from
her mamma before she could say, It is all well,'
and Time, that great healer of sorrowful hearts,
passed noiselessly on his way for many months,
before Sophia could be reconciled to the loss.
"I think I could bear any pain, mamma, any
privation but this. Oh, if I could only see darl-
Sorrozefu Tidings. 35
ing Lucy once more, and ask her to forgive me,
and tell her how changed I am, and how much I
love her, I would not wish her to remain in this
world !" This was Sophia's sorrowful complaint.
Dry your eyes, my child, and listen to me,"
said the kind mother. "Suppose our dear Lucy
could, as you seem to wish, come to you for a little
while, to hear your sorrows, and be a witness of
your repentance, do you not think that as a happy
sinless child of paradise, if she could now know of
your distress, she would be ready ait willing to
forgive whatever you think you have done, or said
unkindly in her lifetime here?
"Why then will you continue to distress yourself
with sorrowful and bitter reflections, when you
know that He, who alone has power to forgive
sins, has promised His blessing to those who turn
to Him. Do not then always be dwelling on your
own past offences, but on the love and mercy of
Him who will give you pardon and peace."
It was thus that the good mother endeavoured
to soothe the child whose wayward temper she had
often grieved over, and whose recovery from a two-
fold sickness she now most sincerely rejoiced over,
even in the hour of trial. Sophia was no longer
the petulant, wayward, self-willed girl of four
months ago. She was now the gentle, quiet com-
panion of her mother and sister; though she had
not as yet regained her health and strength, she
36 The Three Sisters.
had returned home, because she did not like to be
absent from her mamma, and both the doctor and
Mrs. Vernon thought that she retarded her re-
covery by dwelling so much upon the past.
"Must we go from home, Doctor?" inquired
Mrs. Vernon, with no little anxiety. "Do you
think that change of scene would be beneficial to
"No doubt it would," replied the doctor, "but
as you are epecting Mr. Vernon's return to Eng-
land, it would be very inexpedient to take such a
step just now; but if I might suggest a plan, it
would be that you endeavour to interest Sophia's
mind in the welfare of her poor neighbours, of
whom you have plenty.
"One especially I would recommend to her
notice, the widow Dallas and her little crippled
daughter. The father died about twelve months
ago, and the poor child, who has, I think, the
patience of Job, and the spirit of an angel, helps
to maintain herself and her mother by making
lace. She is always at work when I call, and
always seems happy; she must I am sure do
Sophia good by her example."
"Thank you for your good advice, my kind
friend," said Mrs. Vernon; "I shall be sure to
act upon it this very day, and I think with you it
will be the best medicine for a mind diseased."
Contrary to the feelings she had before ex-
Sorrowful Tidings. 37
pressed, Sophia eagerly accepted her mamma's
invitation to'accompany her to the cottage of
Widow Dallas. She had once been there, and had
seen the poor crippled girl, and felt sorry for her;
but this was only a transitory impression, it had
not led her either to renew her visit or to make
any further inquiries respecting the inmates of the
cottage; but with Sophia all seemed changed now,
and she would have thought, with the wise man,
that It was better to go to the house of mourning
than to the house of feasting."
Not that I wish to convey the idea that this
pretty, neat little cottage was in reality a "house
of mourning;" it had been the abode of peace and
comfort when John Dallas, who was a labouring
man, was living, and bringing home his wages
punctually every Saturday night to his wife, a tidy,
thrifty, kind-hearted woman, who rose with the lark
to pursue her daily tasks, and went about them as
cheerfully as that little chorister, though she perhaps
did not carol quite so sweetly as he does.
Mary, the crippled girl, was the pet and darling
of both father and mother, a bright, beautiful child,
whom nature seemed to have endowed with a double
portion of loveliness, as if to make amends for her
deficiency in form.
But, better than all beauty, Mary possessed a
loving, gentle, kind disposition. She had been the
subject of much suffering and privation, but she
38 The Three Sisters.
had learned to be content; very early lessons had
been implanted in her mind, not only by her pious
parents, but by the good clergyman of the parish,
and his sympathising wife; as Mary could not
attend either a Sunday, or other school, these kind
friends visited her regularly three times a week,
giving her instruction both spiritual and secular.
Thus Mary's mind was well stored, and as she was
always supplied with books by her friends, and had
also been taught to make lace on the pillow, she
was never idle, and never seemed to repine because
she could not run about as other children did.
Sometimes, when she saw her mother looking
sorrowfully at her, she would say, "Dear mother,
why do you look so sad? I am very happy, you
and father do all you can for me, and I have every-
thing I want; plenty to eat, good friends who come
to see me, nice books to read and nice work to do;
for I do love to make such pretty lace, and by
doing so to help to pay the rent of our cottage.
Oh, I am so thankful for this," said the affectionate
child, as she took hold of her mother's hand and
drew her down for a kiss.
Alas a change came; and a deep, deep afflic-
tion fell on the inmates of the cottage; the husband
and father, though apparently a strong man, was
laid on a bed of sickness, which eventually became
the bed of death.
This was a sorrow for which neither poor Mary
Sorrowful Tidings. 39
nor her mother were prepared, and notwithstanding
the constant visits, and the solemn, yet loving and
comfortable promises which their kind pastor day
by day read to them from the holy scriptures, they
could not bring themselves to say, "Thy will, 0 Lord,
be done." Yet by little and little, day by day, they
learned this hard lesson; and at the time when Mrs.
Vernon proposed to Sophia to visit the cottage, its
inmates had resumed, at least in some measure,
their tranquillity, though not indeed their former
One reason of this was, that of course their
means were now limited to what Mary and her
mother could earn, except for the kindness that
was shown to them, not only by the late John
Dallas' employer (who never failed to supply them
with milk and eggs), and the thoughtful sympathy
of the clergyman's wife ; but by the affectionate
care of their poor neighbours, who used to send
their little ones to see the crippled girl, and to carry
with them some trifling present from their own
slender stores. Indeed, the children themselves
would ramble far and wide in quest of wild roses
and honeysuckle, or primroses and violets, and
cowslips, to bind up a posy for poor Mary, who
used to tell them tales, and make paper kites for
the boys, and pincushions for the girls, as well as
teaching them to sew. Never, in the season, was
Mrs. Dallas without blackberries, to make puddings
40 The TAree Sisters.
for Mary; and from the neighboring little gardens
came potatoes and cabbages, apples and pears in
abundance, till Mary would laugh with delight, and
exclaim, Well, mother, I am sure we must set up
a shop, for we cannot eat all these good things."
But now let us accompany Mrs. Vernon and
Sophia to Daisy Cottage," as Mary had named
their small domicile, because her dear father had
made a pretty border of flowers for his child, and
edged it thickly with hen and chicken daisies, that
she might have something pretty to look out upon.
Sophia had soon put on her black straw hat and
cloak, and had moreover provided herself with some
few little nice things for Mary, as well as a beautiful
bunch of choice flowers. She took her mamma's
offered arm with a smile of satisfaction such as Mrs.
Vernon had not seen since dear Lucy's death, and
this was a source of comfort to the anxious mother,
which caused her to raise her heart in thankfulness
to the Giver of all good.
A VISIT TO DAISY COTTAGE.
"WHAT a lovely morning this is, and how beautiful
and fresh everything looks, mamma," said Sophia,
as they walked through a pleasant green lane which
skirted a field, literally covered with buttercups and
A Visit to Daisy Cottage. 41
rich grass; where the cattle were enjoying most
Oh, if we only had darling Lucy with us," she
added, with a tearful glance at the bright prospect
stretched before her.
"Cease, my child," said Mrs. Vernon, thus re-
pining at your heavenly Father's will; and reflect
on the difference between the loveliest scenes of
earth, and paradise.
Our morning may be bright with sunshine, de-
licious with the breath of flowers, and the new
made hay; but how soon may the clouds gather,
and the rain fall, so as to make us wish for a kindly
shelter. The day may begin with gladness, yet end
with sorrow; this we have ourselves experienced.
It is not so in that land which is very far off;
there is no change there.
" 'In heaven no winter they know, to wither their plea-
The plants that in Paradise grow, will blossom and
"Rather than wish our dear one back again, let
us, my dear Sophia, look forward to the time when
we shall join her, through the merits of the Saviour,
in that heaven of light and gladness, where the
tears will be wiped from off all faces, and there
shall be no more partings, no more sorrows nor
Sophia bowed her head in silence, pressing closer
42 2The Three Sisters.
to her mamma's side, and there was no further con-
versation until they reached Daisy Cottage.
It was a pretty little snug place, on which it was
evident much care had been bestowed, both out-
side and in. A small trellis-work had been framed
round the door, that a clematis might be trained
over it, so as to screen little Mary from the sun,
as she sat in her small cushioned chair at her work,
enjoying at the same time the fresh healthful breeze.
Then there was a stand with two beehives on it,
and these were placed there for the double purpose
of profit to the wife, and amusement to the child;
the pretty border of flowers I have before mentioned,
and though they were neither rare nor splendid, but
common stocks and wall-flowers and pinks, and
roses, they were each and all beautiful in poor
Mary's eyes, for it was her dear father who had
planted them there for her sake !
And Mary is sitting at the door now, with her
lace cushion before her, twirling the bobbins so
i'r.l11y that the eye cannot follow them. Mrs.
Dallas is within, dusting the small kitchen or par-
lour, whichever it may be called, for the fact is,
that it is either or both. She is going out for half
a day's work when she has made all tidy; so she
will have to leave poor Mary by herself. Mary
however does not mind being left, and she says,
to soothe her mother, "You know, dear mother,
that I am sure to have some of the children here
A Visit to Daisy Cotltge. 43
when they come from school; and very likely Mr.
Penfold (this was the clergyman) will bring me the
hymn-book he promised me on Monday. Oh, I
shan't be at all dull, don't,be afraid! Besides, I
must work hard and try to finish this piece of lace
for the young lady who is staying at the Rectory; I
shall get three shillings for it, mother, won't that
be capital ?"
As Mary finished this speech, she looked up,
and to her surprise beheld Mrs. Vernon and Sophia
at the little garden gate. Mother, here is Mrs.
Vernon," said Mary; and that lady smilingly said,
"May we come in, my dear ?"
Oh yes, ma'am," while Mrs. Dallas came for-
ward to move Mary's little chair in order to make
more room for them.
Before they had started for the cottage, Sophia
had made some inquiries of her mamma respecting
"It is a very long time since I saw her, mamma,
do you think she is any better than she used to be
when they wheeled her about in a little chair ?"
No, my dear," replied Mrs. Vernon, Mary will
never be any better, she will be a cripple all her life,"
Sophia shuddered at the idea, but her mamma
continued, You must not think, my child, that be-
cause this poor girl is thus afflicted, she must therefore
be very miserable; the very contrary is the case, for
sheis always cheerful and happy. The loss of her
44 The Three Sisters.
dear father was indeed a terrible shock to her;
but he was a good man, and though he sorrowed
at the idea of leaving his wife and his poor little
lame daughter, he knew very well that the good
God, who had called him home, had promised to
take care of them, saying Leave thy fatherless
children, and let thy widows trust in me.' Yes,
a father of the fatherless, and a friend of the widow,
is God in his holy habitation.
"And so Mary knew and felt that, however pain-
ful the bereavement was to her and to her poor
mother, it was her dear father's gain; and she knew
and felt also, that it was not only her duty to sub-
mit, but to endeavour by all the means in her power
to help the dear parent that was left to her; and
this she has done, not only by her loving and
cheerful manner but by the work of her nimble
fingers which never seem to tire."
But to return to the cottage, which Sophia and
her mamma entered, giving a kindly greeting to its
"Always busy, Mary," said Mrs. Vernon; "are
not your little fingers often tired with throwing the
bobbins about so rapidly ?"
Oh no, ma'am," replied Mary, "it is not tiring
work, and I always have a book by my side, so I
can rest when I like and work when I like, and
that is more than everybody can say."
"You cannot earn much by lace-making I should
A Visit to Daisy Cottage. 45
think," said Sophia, whose attention was fixed on
the twirling bobbins; "it must take a very long
time to make even a small piece."
"But you would be surprised, miss," said the
widow, who had been talking with Mrs. Vernon,
but whose eyes were fixed on the child, "to see
how much lace Mary can make in a week : I am
sometimes afraid that she works too hard for my
sake; I don't like her to be always at it, only just
now she is making some to order, and she has not
much time left to do it in."
SSophia stooped to look at the pattern; Oh, it
is so pretty, mamma; I should so like to learn to
Mary will be very glad to teach you, miss,"
said the widow; "and next week, if you like to
come and learn, I will prepare a pillow for you my-
self, and Mary will have plenty of time to attend
to you." This was just what Mrs. Vernon wished
for, something in which Sophia would feel an in-
terest, and both mother and daughter gladly fell
in with Mrs. Dallas' proposal.
I have brought you some flowers," said Sophia,
placing the really beautiful nosegay before the
delighted Mary, whose eyes sparkled with plea-
sure; "mamma told me that you were very fond of
Oh yes, miss, I would never be without them
if I could help it," replied Mary; and I do get a
46 The Three Sisters.
plentiful supply of wild flowers, and often the
children bring me sweet-scented flowers out
of their little gardens, but I never saw such a
splendid bunch as this ; thank you very much for
your kindness; I will take great care of them,"
and they were handed to Mrs. Dallas, to be put
immediately into water, while Sophia felt a sensa-
tion of pleasure she had seldom known before,
because she had not accustomed herself to take
the road which leads to it.
"Now," said Mrs. Vernon, looking smilingly at
Mary, "you know you are the busy bee, so you
can gather honey all the day from those choice
I wish I could, ma'am, it would be more help
to mother than making lace," said Mary, lifting
her soft eyes from her monotonous work, and giving
a loving and expressive glance at her mother.
"Well, dear child," said the visitor, I am sure
you can gather lessons of wisdom, and trust, and
contentment from them, when, as our blessed Lord
tells us, you 'consider the lilies of the field, how
they grow.' And gazing on these beautiful pro-
ductions of nature, and inhaling their sweets, you can
lift up your heart in praise to the Giver of all good."
Ah, yes, ma'am," replied Mary; and it is this
that makes me feel so thankful and so happy;
though I am confined to my chair, I have many
comforts and blessings, and I am quite contented."
A Visit to Daisy Cottage. 47
"Do you remember my daughter Sophia ?"
inquired Mrs. Vernon; "I think she once came to
see you; perhaps you don't recollect, as it is a long
time ago, I believe."
"Yes, I remember Miss Sophia coming quite
well," said Mary; "and Miss Maria was with her,
and she brought me a book, which I often read in;
it was Keble's Christian Year.' Oh, such a beauti-
ful book; I have learnt a great many pieces out
of it, and the oftener I read it, the more I love it.
I have another little book, that dear Miss Lucy
brought me ;" but here Mary checked herself, and
she felt deeply grieved as she looked at Sophia,
and saw the anguish that was exhibited on her face.
There was a mournful silence for a minute or two,
and Mary, in that short time, was thinking how
often the dear little girl, who was now laid in the
quiet grave, used to come and sit by her side and
read to her, or hear her read; or make daisy-
garlands to put on Mary's head, or round her neck,
as she called the poor crippled girl one of Christ's
"I am afraid we have been taking up too much
of your time, Mrs. Dallas, for I see we have hindered
your work. Come, Sophia, you will have plenty of
opportunities for admiring Mary's performances
when you come here as a learner," said Mrs.
Vernon; and so, stooping down to give Mary a
kiss, and shaking hands with the good mother (her
48 The Three Sislers.
example being followed by Sophia), they took leave
of the worthy inmates of Daisy Cottage, and wended
their way towards home.
WHAT a blessed thing is employment, soothing and
occupying the mind. It was wonderful to see the
change which a few weeks made in the health and
spirits of Sophia Vernon; and the kind doctor,
while he congratulated mamma on the success
attending his advice, did not fail to point out to
her the benefit which would be derived, both by
Sophia and her young instructress, from comparing
the early lessons they had both received.
Mary Dallas always seems to me like a little
angel," said Doctor Fletcher; "so fair, so fragile,
she appears as if she had only to stretch out her
wings and fly away. She can't live very long, and I
should say she is quite ready to go, yet content to
remain; for the child has her mission, her daily
tasks; though confined to one spot, her pupils flock
round her; and many a rude, rough girl, I know,
has been softened by her influence, for Mary gives
lessons by example. Who can see her beaming eyes,
and hear her soft plaintive voice, when she sings
her hymns with the children who stand round her,
Cheefulness Restored. 49
and not be moved ? I confess, I look upon her as
a blessing to the neighbourhood; and she has the
blessing of many mothers beside her own mother,
on her young head; I only wish there were more
children like her, ay even with her infirmities."
The good doctor had become quite enthusiastic,
and Mrs. Vernon could not forbear a quiet smile,
as she listened to the praises of his favourite; but
she believed every word that he had said respecting
Mary, for she had hailed with delight the. steady
improvement in her daughter ever since she had
begun her visits to Daisy Cottage.
But we must not forget Maria, who, stimulated
by her sister's example, though she was much fonder
of books than of work, had commenced lace-making.
But what are they to do with the fruits of their
industry? We shall see.
"What an old, worn-out Bible Mary has to read
out of," said Maria to her sister, as they were walk-
ing towards home one evening after their usual-lace-
making lesson. "I don't know how she manages
to see such small and bad print; shall we ask
mamma to buy her a new one?"
No, I think not," said Sophia; "I would rather
that we -should do it ourselves."
"But, Sophy, dear, that is impossible, for you
know we have already laid out all our pocket-money
to buy clothes for those poor half-naked children of
Mrs. Woods," replied Maria.
50 The Three Sisters.
"Yes, I know that," said Sophia; "but I also
know that we. can soon earn money enough to buy
Mary a Bible; look at this yard of edging that I
have finished; and I think, Maria, you must have
done a yard by this time; I could not resist
the temptation to cut mine off, that I might bring
it home for mamma to see."
"Was that not rather foolish, if you intend to
sell it?" inquired her sister; "no one will like to
buy so small a piece; but I do think your plan a
very good one, dear Sophy, only don't let us speak
of it to any one, for fear we should be disappointed
in our expectations."
"No, I don't intend to say a word about it," said
Sophia, "but I have heard Mary say, that on the
tenth of next month she will be fourteen years old,
and I am sure, by that time, Maria, we shall have
made lace enough to buy a very nice Bible, if we
work rather harder than we have done."
It was not at all difficult to put this plan of the
two sisters into execution, for although they did not
make quite sufficient lace to effect their purpose in
the given time, their mamma readily advanced
pocket-money in aid of their laudable undertaking,
and so the birthday gift was purchased and presented
to poor Mary to her great delight, which she had not
words to express, but which her tearful eyes and
beaming countenance bore ample testimony to.
It was a nicely bound Bible, with references, and
Chcejfitlness Restored. 5
it had plenty of book-markers for Mary's use, for
the sisters knew well that Mary did not merely read,
but that young as she was, she studied her Bible,
hence the markers were of great service to her, in
comparing the various passages and texts.
"Oh, mother," said the delighted invalid, "do
come and see my beautiful book I can't tell the
young ladies how thankful I am, you must thank
them for me, dear mother." i
We don't require any thanks, dear Mary," said
Sophia; "your being so much pleased is more grati-
fying to us than receiving thanks, so don't you say
a word about it, Mrs. Dallas ;" and Sophy put her
hand playfully over Mrs. Dallas's mouth. "Now
we must go, for we have an engagement with
mamma this afternoon," said Sophia, as she put
down on the table a small basket, which contained,
as she said, sundry preparations for a birthday tea-
"And, dear Mary, we would have stayed to take
tea with you," said Maria, "if mamma had not
wanted us at home; however, we intend to come
some other time."
"Now good-bye, Mrs. Dallas," said the young
ladies, shaking hands with the widow; "and good-
bye, dear Mary (kissing her); we wish you a happy
day, and many happy returns of it."
5a ze Three Sisters.
THE MORRIS FAMILY.
SPRING, summer, and autumn had passed away,
and a large share of the winter, and during all these
months our young lace-workers had not tired of
their occupation, for be it remembered it was a
labour of love; the proceeds of their employment
were strictly devoted to charitable purposes, and
when we consider how many a perplexed and
troubled heart it enabled them to comfort; how
many a sickly child or parent it gave them the
means of ministering to; how many a warm frock,
or petticoat, or pair of shoes it helped to procure
for the little ones, we shall see that it was not the
mere mechanical part which afforded the pleasure.
To aid the sistersin their benevolent scheme they
had met with a singularly kind and useful friend in
the maiden sister of their good doctor, who pro-
mised to procure purchasers for all the lace that
the young ladies were able to make. Mary's work
had been already bespoken by Mrs. Penfold, the
wife of the clergyman of Heathfield, so that she was
always sure of a market for all she was able to pro-
duce; and Mrs. Vernon, as well as her daughters,
took care that the condition of Mrs. Dallas should
be greatly improved, and that Mary should want
The Morris Family. 53
It is now, however, time to introduce to the
reader's notice two other families in whom Mrs.
Vernon felt great interest; one ot them has already
been adverted to, for the poor, pale, sickly-looking
child who had attracted that lady's notice on the
memorable day of the dress-choosing, has not, I
dare say, been forgotten, seeing that her presence
in the draper's shop had proved fatal to the life of
one of the party, and may I not say beneficial
to the life and character of another of them ? Can
we contemplate Sophia Vernon and say that it is
not so ?
Mrs. Vernon had neither forgotten nor neglected
the case of this poor child; she had gone the very
day after the choosing of the dresses, and she had
found that the statement of the little girl was quite
a true one, and not at all exaggerated.
Bending over some coarse work, for which she
would be most inadequately paid, sat -a delicate-
looking woman very thinly clad, yet clean and
decent, while in one corner of the room, stretched
on a mattress with but slight covering, lay a good-
looking man apparently about forty, who had been,
as his wife said, confined to the house for three
months with rheumatic fever; beside this poor
fellow lay a sickly-looking child, who, as his sister
had told Mrs. Vernon, was suffering from scarlet-
fever; and on two chairs covered with a clean white
cloth, lay the unconscious form of another and an
54 The Three Sisiiers.
older child. "He is to be buried to-day, ma'am,"
said Mrs. Morris, that was the woman's name;
"we buried our little darling Ethel the day before
yesterday, in the churchyard, but it will be closed
this evening, and we do so want our dear ones to
be buried in the same grave, that we are going to
have the funeral early this afternoon, or else the
poor darling would have to be taken to the new
cemetery; we should be grieved to have them
separated; perhaps, ma'am, you may think this
foolish, but we cannot help it. Oh it is very hard
to part with our little treasures though we are so
"No doubt it- is a bitter grief," replied the sym-
pathising visitor, who had herself many years before
mourned over the loss of two little darlings; "but
you must-remember, my good woman, that our loss
is their gain; we sorrow, but they rejoice. I do not
at all wonder at your anxiety to have your children
laid beside each other, or rather, I should say, in
the same grave, in the churchyard, and I am sure
our good clergyman will sympathise with you in
this matter; I will speak to him about you."
1 "Oh! he has been very kind indeed to us,
ma'am," replied Mrs. Morris; I do not know
what we should have done if it had not been for
his and Mrs. Penfold's thoughtful care; my dear
husband has received much benefit from his kind
instructions; though he has always been sober and
The HMorriis Family. 55
industrious, yet he did not think of an eternal
world until it pleased God to bring him seemingly
so near to it, and then it was that the good clergy-
man's words sunk so deep into his heart that I trust
he will never forget them."
Mrs. Vernon bade adieu to this family in whom
she already felt a lively interest; she told Mrs.
Morris that she should not repeat her visit for some
little time on account of the fever, but she would
take care that through Mr. Penfold, nothing should
be wanting that might tend to the recovery of her
husband, or to the amelioration of her own con-
I ought not to neglect to mention one circum-
stance connected with the Morrises, which had
great weight with Mrs. Vernon, as showing that
their ideas coincided with her own.
On her first entrance, after a few questions, she
inquired whether Mrs. M. had applied for parish
"Oh, ma'am," replied the poor woman, her pale
face suffused with an indignant flush, "we never
thought of doing such a thing; my husband, I
believe, would rather starve than do it; I pray God
that we may never be driven to such an extremity."
But surely," said Mrs. Vernon, you would not
see your husband and your children suffering for
want of the necessaries of life, and refuse to ask
assistance, even from the parish ?"
56 The Three Sisters.
A tearful and an appealing look towards her
husband, was the only answer given by Mrs. Morris
to her visitor's question; the answer, however, did
come, and from the sick-bed. In a voice scarcely
audible, Morris addressed the lady. "We have
sunk very low, ma'am," he said, "in consequence
of my having this attack of rheumatic fever; I trust
that a merciful Providence will, however, soon raise
me up again, as the doctor thinks that I am now
better than I was a week ago; and my employers
have kindly promised to keep my situation open for
me, and have also allowed us five shillings a week,
to be paid back when I am again able to work.
Thank God, we have not been obliged to ask relief
of any one; but I most heartily thank Him that
He has sent us kind friends in the time of need.
Ellen and I mutually agreed that we would
suffer almost any privation rather than apply to the
parish; it is an old English feeling which we have
always possessed, but which seems to be fast dying
out in these times. I hope I have not offended you,
ma'am, by thus expressing my opinions ?"
All this took some time for the invalid to utter,
and he seemed quite exhausted by the exertion, yet
Mrs. Vernon was so much interested that she could
not but reply,
"I am not at all offended, my good friend; -on
the contrary, I quite enter into your feelings, and
with you, I grieve to see the old spirit of indepen-
The aforris Family. 57
dence, once so strongly possessed by our country-
men and countrywomen, giving place to a pauperized
indifference as to how the money is obtained, so
long as their necessities are ministered to, and too
often, I fear, this leads to crime.
"It is our duty, nay, it is our privilege, to minister
to our brethren in the hour of distress, and, if pos-
sible, to seek them out, rather than leave them to
seek relief;" and suiting the action to the word,
Mrs. Vernon slipped a sovereign into the hand of
Mrs. Morris, saying, as she did so, You can return
it if ever you have it in your power; if not, I give it
as freely as I received. Good-bye; I shall not
think it prudent to repeat my visit for some time,
but I will ask my doctor to come and see your
husband, and whatever he thinks is necessary for
his restoration to health and strength, I shall be
happy to supply through our good friend Mr.
With a heart overflowing with gratitude not to be
expressed by words, Mrs. Morris received the offered
gift, or loan, and bade adieu to her truly kind bene-
factress ; while that lady, not without many anxious
thoughts, returned home. She had been much
struck with the incident of the churchyard burial,
and as she was a lover of poetry, she solaced her-
self with writing the following stanzas:-
58 The IYree Sisters.
THE LAST MADE GRAVE.
The winter morning broke ruddy and bright,
There had been anxious watchers all the night,
Fast falling tears, and many a bitter sigh,
And low soft words were spoken, while the eye
Watch'd with intensest love the fevered cheek;
And listened to the breathing, short and quick,
Which spoke a spirit passing rapidly
From the dull earth away.
Passing away Strive to detain it not!
Remember ye the former narrow spot
In yonder churchyard where, short time before,
The sister babe was laid ? and now the door
Stands open to receive the kindred dust.
Strive to detain it not In quiet trust,
While sorrowing, weeping, watching, praying, say,
"Oh God! Thy will be done! On this sad day,
When called our treasure to resign to Thee,
We bow the stubborn heart, and bend the knee;
Believing, hoping, in Thy wondrous love,
That our sweet fading flower shall bloom above."
The day was clear and cold.
Once more, 'tis the last time, the heavy mould
Within the crowded churchyard to the spade
Yields, and a little resting-place is made
For the young pilgrim by its sister's side;
And mingling with their grief a gentle tide
Of peace and consolation finds its way
Through the bereaved hearts; "'Tis the last day
Of interment, to-morrow
Had our lost darling died, one added sorrow
The Morris Family. 5
Within our cup of bitterness had press'd,
Not here, not near, our lov'd and lost would rest.
Small healing for deep wounds, yet will we take
The welcome balm; and while we humbly make
Our prayer to Him who is the mourner's friend,
May all our hopes, our aims, our wishes tend
Towards this consecrated house of God,
Whose sacred precincts bless the lowly sod.
Here shall our humble supplications rise
Sincere and deep, and humble sacrifice
(Such as the High and Holy One hath said
He will accept) of praise be offered."
'Tis the last grave 'tis the last day allowed
For churchyard burial! The busy crowd
That throng the streets for merchandise and gain
Heed not the tolling bell, the funeral train.
Life, all too reckless for such mournful theme,
Mingles its troubled tide, its rapid stream,
With Lethe's waters; as they roll along
They bear the idle jest, the jocund song,
Upon their buoyant waves, while Truth lies hid
In the deep well. Come, lift the sacred lid,
And bid her tell the thoughtless and unwise
That the "last day may take them by surprise;
Point to the hallow'd temple on the hill,
And say, Behold! the door is open still;
The graves are closed around the holy spot,
But not the gate of death. See that your lot
Be cast for paradise, ere yet ye leave
The vale where some rejoice, but all must grieve."
Thus shall the last-made grave, the first-made tomb
On other ground, the preacher's voice assume;
Thus from the dust a quick'ning power shall rise,
And man, immortal man, be fitted for the skies.
60. The Three Sisters.
How little Mrs. Morris thought, when bidding
adieu to so kind a friend as Mrs. Vernon, that the
coming in contact with her family would be the
occasion of "lamentation and mourning, and woe "
in that of her visitor's.
But here let us pause a moment, and consider
the "uses of adversity;" sorrow,-and sickness, and
bereavement may appear very terrible. Like the
vivid flashing of the lightning, and the rolling peals
of thunder, they fill us with alarm and agitation;
yet we well know they are intended to do good.
When the storm is over, we feel the refreshing
breeze, and hail with delight the soft influences
shed on trees, and shrubs, and flowers, that were
before drooping and languishing for lack of moisture.
It is even so with affliction rightly received. From
the grave of sweet little Lucy Vernon, we may
gather fair flowers of hope and consolation, and
send forth earnest longings that like her we may
one day be permitted to join the happy angel choir.
And who shall say that the once petulant, proud,
and selfish Sophia, is not refined and elevated by
the chastening through which she has passed ?
Mrs. Vernon, as she weeps over the little grassy
mound that hides her darling from her sight, can
say as the Shunamite mother did in answer to the
prophet's question respecting her dead son, "It is
well !" And does she not also rejoice over her now
reclaimed daughter, receiving her from the Divine
The Maorris Family. 6
hand as if she were indeed raised to a new life ?
Thus, dear reader, let us ever believe, that "God
doeth all things well."
And now leaving the Morrises for a time, let us
inquire into the circumstances and character of
another family who shared with them the kind
sympathy and assistance of Mrs. Vernon and her
THE family to whom I am now about to introduce
my readers, consisted of a widow and four children
-the eldest a girl of fourteen, and the youngest a
boy of three years old.
Mrs. Nevelle had lost her husband about three
months before she became acquainted with Mrs.
Vernon, by calling on that lady to solicit her
interest in the establishment of a day-school for
girls. She had been left a widow, with a. very
trifling annuity of 20 a year, some little furniture
in their small, but remarkably neat and clean
dwelling, and a good name, "which is rather to be
chosen than silver." Thus she could not be termed
destitute, and yet "what was this among so many ?"
Mrs. Nevelle knew who had said, "Leave thy
fatherless children, and let thy widows trust in me,"
62 The Three Sisters.
but she also knew that every talent she possessed
was to be diligently employed, and while she
mourned over the grave of her beloved husband,
she deeply felt that she had a duty to perform to
her now fatherless children, so she set herself reso-
lutely to work after the first few weeks of her
bereavement, to endeavour to establish a school in
the neighbourhood, where she had a few friends
who had promised to send their daughters to her.
The first person the widow called on was Mrs.
Vernon, not because she expected pupils from that
quarter, for she had heard that this lady's daughters
were educated at home ; but she hoped that Mrs.
Vernon would use her influence on her behalf in
giving her an introduction to other families, and so
secure for her a favourable reception; and cer-
tainly Mrs. Nevelle could not have made an appeal
to any one more inclined, nor, indeed, more likely,
to lend assistance.
Happily for Mrs. Nevelle she was left with a
family of loving children. Gertrude, Emily, and
Alice, though I must not say they were faultless in
other respects, yet loved each other dearly, and
each and all strove to lighten the labours and the
sorrows of their dear mamma, after their great
great loss, which- they all felt very deeply. Even
the little boy, who was only three years old, for a
long time would ask day by day when dear pa
would "tur bat," and if he might not "do to
Mrs. Nevele. 63
heben to tee him," but as time passed on he ceased
to make inquiries, and contented himself with fol-
lowing his mamma about very closely, as if he feared
that she, too, would be taken away from him.
When, however, she could not have him with her,
his sisters, who always petted little Harry, would do
anything they could for his amusement, and were
never tired of inventing nice games for him, and so
it happened that Mrs. Nevelle did not fear to
leave her children alone when she went out to
All that I have now been relating respecting the
Nevelle family had taken place some time before
Mrs. Vernon's troubles began; and at the time
when the lace-making commenced, the widow had
as many scholars as her small room would contain,
and her instruction was so wisely, and yet so kindly
given, that with parents and children she had made
herself a general favourite, and among the former
she had, indeed, many real friends, while her
daughters enjoyed the privilege of good and re-
There were two or three other families to whom
Mrs. Vernon extended a helping hand, but I am
sorry to say they were of the wretchedly improvi-
dent order; they appeared to have no desire for
improvement, ever ready to receive, and, indeed,
importunately craving for relief, which when admin-
istered, was too often spent in a foolish and hurtful
64 The Three Sisters.
manner; their homes, their children, and them-
selves were enough to dishearten any one that looked
only on the surface of things, or that would be soon
wearied in well doing, but Mrs. Vernon knew that
it was a Christian duty to take into consideration
the care of the wretched and improvident, as well
as that of the more orderly and cleanly sort, so she
continued her labour of love among them with
much kindness and patience; nevertheless, I do
not intend to introduce my young readers into these
abodes of discomfort, but rather to follow Maria
and Sophia Vernon to the cottage of Mrs. Dallas,
for the comfort and amusement of her crippled
A PLEASANT little party they always make at Daisy
Cottage when the sisters are there, one with book
in hand, the other with the bobbins; but to-day the
work and the reading is to be laid aside for a time,
as Maria has evidently something of a pleasurable
nature to communicate. Mary has heard the whole
history of the Morris family, and little Nellie, the
thin, pale child of the draper's shop, is her constant
visitor; she comes to repeat hymns that she has
learnt to Mary, and to bring:her all the sweetest
Pleasant News. 65
wild flowers she can gather from the hedgerows;
'but she is no longer the pale, thin child, she is
plump and rosy and neat and clean, and very"
happy, for her dear father has returned to his work,
and his employers have increased his salary, so
that her mother is no longer compelled to work at
her needle, except to mend and to make for her
husband and children.
"'Oh, that dear, good, kind Mrs. Vernon !" says
Nellie, "how I do love her, Mary, for all that she
has done for dear father and mother 1"
"And the young ladies, don't you love them,
Nellie ?" says the invalid; they have worked very
hard for you."
Oh, yes, yes!" replies Nellie; "I love them
dearly; and I love you, too, Mary," cries the excited
child, as she leans over the little chair to kiss the
pale cheek of the crippled girl, doing it very
tenderly for fear she should disturb her afflicted
But what good news has Maria Vernon got to
communicate this afternoon, that her face is so
radiant with smiles ? Sophia knows evidently, for
she looks no less happy than her sister, only it is
agreed between them that the former should be the
"Come, Mrs. Dallas, come !" says Maria, "put
by the brush and the duster, and sit down with us;
'everything is clean enough I am sure, and I see
66 The Three Sisters.
you have got the small, bright kettle on, and at five
o'clock Susan will be here with a basket of good
things for our tea. This is a gala day with us, for we
have heard such good news from dear papa that
mamma declared she could not attend to lessons,
and as Sophy and I felt almost like wild colts, we
asked mamma to let us come to see you and dear
Mary, that we might be the first to bring you the
Oh, I am so glad !" said Mrs. Dallas, sitting
down as she was desired, but not until she had
carefully deposited the brush in the corner, and the
duster in its appointed drawer; then she waited
with becoming patience for the opening of the
budget, the contents of which appeared to have had
such a wonderful effect on the spirits of her young
friends, and which made her glad by anticipation.
"Oh, Mrs. Dallas," began Maria, "don't you
love to hear the postman's rap ?"
"Why we never do hear it, Miss Vernon," re-
plied the widow; but you know if he does not
come to us with good news he never brings us any
sorrowful tidings; so Mary and I are content not
to receive letters."
But since dear papa has been abroad, we watch
most anxiously for the post," said Maria, and this
morning's post brought us a letter from darling
papa, to say he is coming home the day after to-
morrow Isn't it delightful, Mrs. Dallas ? And
Pleasant News. 67
who do you think is coming home with him ?
Will you try to guess ?"
"Oh, dear Miss Maria, how should I guess we
don't know anybody out of our own country, and,
indeed, very few in it, but I am very very glad to
hear that your dear, good papa will so soon be at
home again, and there will be many in the neigh-
bourhood who will be glad as well as me." -
Yes," replied Maria, but the best of it is, that
darling papa will not have occasion to leave Eng-
land again, he is coming to remain with us; oh, is
that not good news, Mrs. Dallas ?" said the affec-
tionate girl, clasping her hands, while tears of joy
sprang to her eyes. Oh, I am so thankful!" she
exclaimed. "But now I must sober down and tell
you the rest of my news, which I think is really
wonderful. Papa says in his letter, 'You tell me,
dear Matilda'-that's mamma's name-' that you
have for some time been acquainted with an inter-
esting family of the name of Nevelle, consisting of
a widow and four children. Strange to relate, the
gentleman who has been my fellow-traveller to
England, and who has also been of essential service
to me, bears this name; and on my mentioning
the singular coincidence to him, he told me that
his eldest brother, who was his senior by twenty
years, was married to a pretty and well-informed
young lady, who, though she had no fortune, was a
treasure in herself. It is now," said Mr. Nevelle,
68 The Three Sisters."
"fourteen years since we parted, and though we
kept up a correspondence for many years, I scarcely
know how it happened, but I suppose my frequent
change of place, and a great variety of circum-
stances caused a lessening of our correspondence,
until at last it ceased altogether. I know that my
brother had two or three children when I last heard
from him, and that is about six years ago," said Mr.
Nevelle, and one of my motives for visiting Eng-
land at this time is to ascertain, if possible, whether
I have any relatives living. It will, indeed, be
strange if the family Mrs. Vernon has become
acquainted with should turn out to be the widow
and children of my poor brother; I strongly suspect
that this is the case, and if so, they shall not want
a father's care; thanks to a kind Providence, I
have plenty of money, and my only wish now is to
settle down in some quiet, rural spot, not to indulge
in bachelor eccentricities, but to do what good I
can with the means I have; while I shall sincerely
grieve for the loss of my poor brother Robert, yet,
if this family is his,, I will take care to provide for
"'Then,' writes papa, I told Nevelle, dear
Matilda, most of the particulars which you have
given me respecting Robert and his family, avoid-
ing, of course, saying anything that might be calcu-
lated to wound his feelings, and he is now almost
as anxious to reach home as I am; I say abnoat,
Pleasant News. 69
because he has not a beloved wife and affectionate
children to greet him as I have.'
"Now have I not remembered papa's letter
well?" said Maria to her sister, as she closed her
animated account; "and now," she added, "it is
your turn, Sophia, to tell how Mrs. Nevelle received
this wonderful and happy news."
"No, Maria; no," said her sister, "you must
finish the story so well begun; we shall all be glad
to listen, shall we not, Mrs. Dallas ?" said Sophia.
Oh, it is beautiful, I'm sure !" said the good
woman; "it is just like a book; do go on, dear
Miss Vernon, I could sit all night to listen to you."
Thus urged, Maria continued: Of .course
mamma lost no time in communicating these joyful
tidings to Mrs. Nevelle, and she kindly took us
with her, knowing how glad we should be to witness
the happiness of her and her dear children. Mrs.
Nevelle well remembered her husband's young
brother, indeed, at that time his only remaining
brother, as two others had died a few years before,
of the same insidious malady that made her a
Poor Harry,' said Mrs. Nevelle, 'how grieved
my husband was that he should leave England so
young, to seek his fortune in a foreign country;
but he was a handsome, high-spirited youth, full of
great expectations. I am delighted to hear that
these expectations have not, as is too often the
70 The Th2ree Sisters.
case, been disappointed, and I am very thankful
to find that he has not, as we supposed, forgotten
his relations. I am not mercenery, dear madam,'
continued Mrs. Nevelle, 'but I cannot look withI
out some anxiety on my fatherless children, when I
think what a feeble arm mine is for their support
"' I do not at all wonder at your anxiety, my dear
Mrs. Nevelle,' said mamma, 'but I am sure at the
same time, that you do not forget the Friend that
sticketh closer than a brother.'
"' Oh, no, Mrs. Vernon, I trust I shall never for-
get that Friend. Your friendship and the many
kindnesses that I have received from you and from
others, have all, I know, flowed from the same
Divine source, and it is the same good Providence
that restores a long absent friend and brother.'
"'Yes, and we shall, I hope, rejoice together,'
said mamma, for when my dear husband and his
friend return, we mean to have a gathering of young
and old to celebrate their arrival; and I expect we
shall make a strong party, and I dare say a joyous
"Oh !" exclaimed Maria, "if you had seen the
bright, intelligent faces of the children who had
all gathered round their mother, but had not spoken
a word, until at last little Harry could not contain
his joy, for he clapped his chubby hands and cried
out, 'And may I tum, too, Mittet Vern, and tal me
-Pleasant News. 7 1
had tum take ?' Oh, Harry,' said Gertrude, 'that
is very selfish of you to think of cake !' but I
thought it was very natural, and mamma said,
'Yes, dear, you shall come and you shall have
plenty of cake and strawberries, won't that be nice ?'
and mamma took him on her knee and stroked his
bright, sunny curls, and kissed his dear little rosy
cheeks. Mamma is so fond of Harry, and I don't
wonder at it. Oh, Mrs. Dallas !" continued Maria,
" how I have talked this afternoon, I don't know
what mamma would think if she had heard me, and
I seem to have struck dear Mary dumb with aston-
ishment. I have wearied you, I fear, poor dar-
ling," said the young lady, rising to adjust Mary's
pillow, which had slipped on one side as the child sat
earnestly listening and gazing on the animated face
of her visitor, who had appeared this afternoon
quite in a new character; it was so seldom that
Maria Vernon exhibited by words the warm and
intense feeling that glowed within her loving heart,
but the news of the morning seemed to have let
loose a pent-up stream, which no one in Mrs.
Dallas' humble dwelling had any desire to interrupt
in its course; it had, however, ceased now, and as
very opportunely Susan just then appeared at the
door with the expected provision for tea, it was the
widow's turn to be busy with her hands, if not with
her tongue, to prepare the pleasant meal.
There had been very little lace-work done this
72 The Three Sisters.
afternoon, nor was it to be expected that the two
young ladies would be able to go on regularly with
their charitable work for some little time after the
return of their papa, there would be so much to
talk about and so much to do. "So, dear Mary,"
said the chief speaker of the day, "you must not
expect to see us so often until we have settled dows
to our usual work, which I well know dear papa
would not wish to interrupt."
SHOWERS AND SUNSHINE.
How full of delightful anticipations of the morrow
were the two sisters, when they bade farewell to the
inmates of the cottage and wended their way
through the quiet line which led to their pleasant
dwelling. How different were their sensations now
to what they were six or seven months back (the
time that they paid their first visit together to the
cottage), from the mute melancholy which then
Yet dear darling Lucy was not forgotten in their
present rejoicing; Sophia's poignant grief (should I
not rather say remorse ?) and Maria's deep and
tender sorrow, had given place to a more subdued
and softer feeling, but as they pursued their way in
Showers and Sunshine. 73
silence, who doubts that dear little Lucy was upper.
most in their thoughts ?
How would papa miss his pet, whose bright curls
were always pillowed on his breast as soon as he
came home and had seated himself in his accus-
tomed arm-chair How desolate the house would
seem to him without her, who had been its light
and gladness !
The poor girls, with these melancholy reflections,
did not take into consideration what might at least
have soothed their pain, namely, that the length of
time their papa had been from home, and the many
changes of scene through which he had passed
would necessarily render less vivid the remembrance
of his darling; he would not, therefore, feel her loss
so acutely as if she had been suddenly snatched
from him when he was at home.
Mrs. Vernon was standing at the hall door to
receive her daughters, whose approach to the house
she had witnessed from the window, and whose
grave demeanour she had also noticed, which made
her feel rather uneasy.
What is the matter, my dears ?" said the anxious
mother, "I hope poor Mary is not worse?" But
here she stopped, for simultaneously the two girls
threw their arms round their mother, and hiding
their faces in her bosom, wept silently. Mrs. Vernon
did not again question them, her own heart revealed
to her the secret of their grief, and the three mingled
74 The Three Sisters.
their tears together. It was but a passing shower;
when it was over, the sunshine of love and hope
tinged the dispersing clouds, and shed a tenderer
light ,over the landscape. If you can avoid it, my
children," said Mrs. Vernon, "don't give way to
your feelings when you welcome your papa home,
he will have enough to do to bear his own sorrow."
We will promise you to be on our guard, dear
mamma," said Maria; I know that I have been
foolishly talkative this afternoon, but the quiet walk
through the lane, where we have so often strolled
with dear Lucy, helping her to gather the wild roses
and honeysuckle to make a nosegay for Mary,
brought all the past back so freshly to our minds
that we could not restrain ourselves when we saw
you at the door; was it not so with you, Sophy ?"
said Maria, appealing to her sister, who, however,
only answered with a fresh burst of tears.
The bell has rung for prayers, the servants are
assembled, and joy and sorrow give place to holier
and loftier feelings, for
"The voice of praise and prayer,
For coming rest prepare;
The lowly-bended knee,
A portraiture should be
Of hearts submissive and resigned,
Waiting God's will; to do that will inclined."
A GLORIOUS morning ushers in this much-longed-
for, happy day.
"Sophy, dear, are you awake ?" inquires Maria,
gently patting her sister's cheek, who really was not
Oh, Maria, have I slept too long ?" exclaimed
the startled girl as she jumped up in bed, throwing
her long silky tresses back from her face; I am
afraid it is very late," she continued, "the sun is
shining so brightly in at the window."
"No, dear, it is only six o'clock," said Maria,
stepping out of bed, and opening the window to
admit the fragrant morning breeze. What a bustle
and a flutter the noise of the opening window has
caused among the little happy denizens of the vine
and the clematis which very lovingly agree to twine
their branches together to adorn the old walls of the
house, and to curtain gracefully the trellis-work of the
verandah which runs along the front of the house,
and is immediately below the sisters' bedroom. Off
they dart, those pretty feathered songsters, but I
believe they only pretend to be frightened, for never
has nest or egg of theirs been disturbed by mis-
chievous boy, or prowling pussy. They are soon
all back again, busy with their song, or feast, or
nursery cares, if they are not over by this time.
76 Te Th-ree Sisters.
"Dear little merry creatures," said Maria; "it
does one's heart good to hear them; and hark, dear
Sophy, the lark is trilling his morning song."
He puts me in mind," said Sophia, as she joined
her sister at the window, "of the lines mamma used
to repeat to us, I am afraid I have forgotten them."
I have not," said Maria; "would you like to
hear them ?"
Oh; very much," replied Sophy, beginning to
dress, while her sister, who was much farther
advanced in that operation, repeated the following
" 'Rise with the lark, and your song begin,
Yes, your first sweet impulse, should be to sing;
When light comes in at the window-pane,
In floods of gold, or in floods of rain,
Whichever it be, we may trace the hand
Of a merciful Lord, giving food to the land.
Rise from your pillow; with cheerfulness rise;
Follow the lark, as he springs to the skies;
Wings may be wanting, but thought is as free
To soar above earth, oh, much higher than he !
Up the bright pathway, and through the blue skies,
To a King, and a Father, your praises shall rise.
This is the service which day after day,
As the shadows give place to the sun's cheering ray,
The Lord of our life and our comfort requires,
When He kindles our hope with His bright morning fires,
Joyful and jubilant let your song be,
Father of mercies all glory to Thee !"
Hallow'd by praises, and strengthened by prayer,
For another day's walk in life's journey prepare;
Turn not aside to the left or the right,
Keep the fair City for ever in sight;
There will your rest be, your lov'd happy home,
Where gladness and joy for the righteous are sown.'
I often wish that I could write poetry," said
Maria; "I am very fond of learning it, and I
think how delightful it must be to be able to com-
"Well," replied Sophia, seemingly quite in earnest,
"there is Walker's Rhyming Dictionary in the book-
case; if you wish so very much to write poetry,
could you not learn from that ?"
"Oh dear, Sophy," said her sister, "I can't
help laughing at you; what inspiration is there, do
you think, in a rhyming dictionary ?"
"What do you mean by inspiration ?" inquired
the prosaic Sophy; I am sure there must be every
rhyme you can think of in that book."
"But rhyming is not poetry," said her sister,
rather indignantly; there are plenty of people who
can rhyme, but not many poets; inspiration, dear
Sophy, means a peculiar gift, which no one can
learn. But come, we must be quicker in dressing,"
added Maria, "for you and I have a great deal of
poetical work to do to-day, though there will cer-
tainly be no rhyme in it."
I should like to know what it is then," said
78 The Three Sisters.
Sophia; "for I am afraid my share in it will be
On the contrary, dear," replied her sister, you
will, I feel sure, have the largest share; for you
have an excellent taste in the arrangement of fruit
Oh, is that what you call poetical work ?" in-
quired Sophy; "well, I think I shall be able to
take part in that, and very glad I am that the flowers
are looking so beautiful this morning; look, Maria,
at the rose-bushes, and the tall white lilies among
the laurel trees, are they not lovely? What a
delightful show we shall be able to make on the
dining-table, with the flowers and the fruit," and
carried away by bright anticipations, Sophia did
not notice her mamma's entrance into the room,
until a gentle hand was laid on her fair round
shoulder, and a morning salute imprinted on her
"Oh, dear mamma, how you startled me," said
Sophy; "I was so busy arranging in my-mind the
fruits and the flowers, that I did not hear you open
the door. But why are you so pale, mamma ?" aid
the affectionate girl, warmly returning her mother'o
I have not slept well, my child," replied Mrs.
Vernon; "my mind also has been too much occu-
pied, though not with fruits and flowers. I shall
feel better when I am engaged in household matters
and have Maria and you with me."
A silver cloud passed for a few seconds over the
bright sunshine, but it discharged no crystal drops,
and soon it disappeared, and all looked peaceful
The bell rang for prayers, and the assembled
family united in their morning service of praise and
FRUITS AND FLOWERS.
THERE) was Love among the roses this morning; he
was doing great execution with the aid of two pair
of hands and two pair of sharp scissors ; and there
stood by a young handmaiden with a large clothes-
basket to receive all the spoils which these nimble
fingers and sharp instruments gathered in abund-
ance. Hundreds of prickly thorns interposed to
prevent, or else to punish, this ruthless raid in the
balmy bowers, but all to no purpose, for "Love's
labours" were not this time to be lost; so they
continued until the large basket was quite full,
when they were borne off with all their blushing
honours and their pearly tears, to be deposited in
some cool place; there to remain until a selection
should be made from the gayer, but less fragrant,
So The Three Sisters.
sisterhood, to add sweets to the sweet. With re-
gard to the fruit that was permitted to bask in the
hot sunshine for many hours later, it was intended
for less refined enjoyment than the flowers, though
I have some doubts whether my young readers
would agree with this opinion of mine. There is
certainly no accounting for tastes, but whichever
opinion is correct, I must grant that they have the
taste on their side.
Employment! Oh what a precious thing is
employment rightly directed While the loving
wife is making all due preparation for her husband
and his newly-acquired friend (Mr. Nevelle), the
daughters are no less diligently engaged in the
lighter and more elegant task of arranging their
Whose varied beauties are displayed,
Some in the light, some in the shade,
Some hanging down their beauteous heads,
As grieving for forsaken beds;
And some, as if in conscious pride,
Spreading their snowy petals wide,
Claiming the admiration due
To lily-cups of brilliant hue ;
And some, the loveliest of their kind,
On bright green moss and leaves reclin'd."
But now the vases have received their graceful
occupants, and pretty baskets are almost concealed
under their fragrant burdens. The time for the
fruit gathering has arrived; let us accompany Maria
Fruits and Flowers. 8
and Sophy, they will need no handmaiden this
time, for each carries her own little basket. The
time for cherries is now nearly over, but there is
one magnificent tree on the lawn of a late kind; its
branches are literally loaded with fruit, and are
weighed down to the smooth green grass plat;
there is plenty of room beneath this splendid tree
for a small party to assemble, and the sisters are
seated on low stools, selecting the finest fruit.
They are completely sheltered from the rays of the
mid-day sun, and a gentle breeze now and then
finds its way through the heavily-laden boughs, and
fans the warm cheeks that are glowing with the
"Sophy, dear," said Maria, as a sudden thought
seemed to strike her, "can you not fancy those
sweet children of Mrs. Nevelle's under this beautiful
tree, how happy they will be ? There, I declare I
have made a rhyme, without the aid of Walker's
Dictionary," and Maria looked laughingly towards
her sister as she made this rather foolish speech for
her; but there was no responsive smile on poor
Sophia's face, her thoughts had wandered away to
a small grave in the churchyard, for she had been
almost unconsciously thinking how dearest Lucy
would have enjoyed this fruit and flower gathering,
in expectation of her dear father's return home.
Thus it seems that joy and sorrow often go hand
in hand. Maria was too kind and too prudent to
82 The Three Sisters.
take notice of the shade of sadness on her sister's
face, or to betray the pang that shot through her
own heart at the sight of it; she went on to remark
that she hoped the birds would not make too free
with the cherries, before their little friends had
enjoyed a feast from them.
We need not follow the two sisters among the
prickly gooseberry trees, where many a sharp scratch
awaited them, nor dwell long on the tempting
beauties of the red, white, and black currants, which
grew in such rich luxuriance that the only difficulty
was felt in making a selection; neither shall we
linger, as they certainly did, among the strawberry-
beds, to cull the very finest fruit, the silver and the
pretty wicker baskets are all waiting to receive their
appointed burdens, nothing now, remains but to
select some choice leaves from the vine or from
some shrub to relieve, and, at the same time, add
grace and beauty to the bright luscious fruits.
"Now, mamma," said Maria, who we have seen
had latterly taken upon herself to be the chief
speaker, "how do you like our arrangement of the
fruit and flowers ?"
They had all been placed on the sideboard for
mamma's inspection, previous to their disposal in
various directions, and Mrs. Vernon was thus
invited to view the whole of their efforts, and to
pass her opinion on them.
"I think you have shown great taste and skill,
Fruits and Flowers. 83
my dear girls," said Mrs. Vernon, kissing them both
affectionately. "I had no idea you could have
produced such a rich display; but Susan will have
some difficulty I fear, when she comes to set out
the table for dinner, at finding the sideboard entirely
"No, mamma, no," said Sophy; "if Susan will
only bring the cloth and lay it on the table, we will
very soon make room for her on the sideboard, you
know some of these baskets of flowers and the
vases are for the drawing-room."
"Well, then, we can manage this affair ourselves,
dear Sophy," said her mamma. Suppose we lay
the cloth on the table, and then you will be at
liberty to commence your arrangements, not how-
ever until you have had some refreshment, as you
have taken nothing since breakfast. Come," added
Mrs. Vernon, "we will adjourn to the library, where
the tea is prepared; you will work with fresh spirit
when you have recruited your strength, my dears."
A PLEASANT room is the library, adjoining the large
dining-room, and like it, shadowed over by the
verandah and its embowering shade.
"We are rather tired, mamma," said Maria,
84 The Three Sisters.
throwing herself into papa's easy-chair; "but I
don't feel at all hungry, do you, Sophy ?"
"No, I think we have both eaten enough fruit to
spoil our appetites," replied Sophia, "at least I
know that I have; but I shall be glad to take some
tea, if you please, mamma. When do you expect
papa will be here ? Not before we have finished our
work, I hope, though I do so long to see him ? I
don't know what we should have felt all these
weary hours if we had not been so busily employed,
and employed for papa, too. I think this day
would have appeared to be a month; but are you
sure that papa will come to-night, mamma ?"
I cannot, my dear Sophia, be quite sure of any-
thing, but I have every reason to expect your papa
to-night; but let us not grow impatient. You and
Maria can return to your work after tea, and the
hours will slip away without your perceiving it."
Two hours after this tea-table chat saw every-
thing in apple-pie order, to use an old and a homely
phrase. The cold repast-ham and chickens and
boiled beef and various little delicacies-was made
to look like a fairy banquet by the tasteful arrange-
ment made by the sisters of fruit and flowers; in
fact there was everything that could be desired to
please the eye and the palate.
Neatly arrayed in their half-mourning dresses,
their soft silky curls hanging in natural ringlets over
their shoulders, Maria and Sophia Vernon sat on
The Arrivdl. 85
two low seats beside their mamma, as she reclined
in an easy-chair which was placed near the window,
so that its occupant might catch the first glance of
the carriage which was to bring back the long-
absent husband and father. They were all very
silent now, too much excited to talk, and, indeed,
too eager listeners for the sound of the carriage-
wheels to permit any other sound to interrupt that.
The window, or, perhaps, I ought to say the glass
door, was wide open, -and there was nothing to
intercept the view of the broad carriage-road. The
little party waited silently now, I dare not say that
they waited patiently, for there was a certain rest-
lessness of look and manner which spoke of anxiety
both in mamma and daughters.
There was some reason for this. Mr. Vernon had
not been able to state the exact hour of his arrival,
as he had written immediately on his landing at
Southampton, and knew that some little business
matters might detain him, though he could not say
how many hours; hence there was a natural fear
excited lest he should be detained until the next
Thus another, and another quarter of an hour
(for the silvery-toned clock on the mantelpiece was
watched) passed away, and then the welcome sound
of carriage-wheels broke upon the stillness, and the
two girls, quite unable to restrain their impetuous
feelings, rushed out at the glass door, and in a few
86 The Th7ree Sisters
moments were clasped in their father's arms, only
for a second, however, for they were quickly set
aside to make way for a still dearer embrace, as
Mrs. Vernon pressed forward to give and to re-
So entirely had all hearts been occupied with
this most joyful meeting between the long-absent
husband and father and his loving family, that Mr.
Nevelle, who had intuitively stood aside to avoid
attracting attention, seemed for the time to have
been entirely forgotten; but it was now his turn to
receive, if not a rapturous greeting, at least a
courteous salutation and a hearty welcome.
"I know you will forgive me, Nevelle," said Mr.
Vernon, passing his arm through that of the gentle-
man in question, and leading him to where his wife
and daughters were standing, and introducing him
to them as his most worthy and kind friend.
"When I tell you, dear Matilda," continued Mr.
Vernon, addressing his wife, "that during a fever
which I had, this gentleman was both nurse and
doctor to me, I feel sure I have strongly recom-
mended him to your esteem."
"Yes, indeed, indeed you have," replied the
lady, shaking Mr. Nevelle by both hands, as more
expressive of her feelings; "we are delighted to
make your acquaintance, Mr. Nevelle; my daughters
and myself owe you a debt of gratitude which we
will do all in our power to repay."
The Arriva. 87
"Thank you very much for your kind reception
of a wanderer and a stranger," said Mr. Nevelle,
" though I feel that at this time I ought not to have
intruded on your family party, and if my friend
Vernon will only be kind enough to lend me the
carriage for the conveyance of sundry boxes to my
sister-in-law's-whose acquaintance I understand
you have (so happily for her) made, I will at once
say farewell, and wait for another opportunity to
express all I feel for the consideration and kindness
you have shown to her and her fatherless children.
I have heard something of it, but, I expect, only a
"No, Nevelle, no," said Mr. Vernon; "you
must allow me to say that I cannot permit this.
Let me tell you that your sister does not expect
you until the morning; consequently it would be
very inconvenient for her to be trammeled with
you to-night-excuse my laughing at you Then,
again," said Mr. Vernon, "everything is ready for
your accommodation here, and my wife and
daughters, I know, desire as well as I do, to show
you what hospitality we can."
Oh, thank you, thank you very much !" said the
handsome stranger, who appeared to feel greatly
this truly English welcome.
And now," said Mrs. Vernon, seeing that there
were signs of yielding, let me add a word to my
husband's remonstrance. In the first place, as
88 Ylhe Three Sisters.
Mr. Vernon has told you, Mrs. Nevelle does not
expect you to-night, and as her house is small and
her family rather large, some little preparation
would have to be made, for I well know that your
sister is most anxious for your comfort; I have,
therefore, taken care to give her timely warning,
and if you will favour us with your company to-
night, we will let her know the hour you will be in
Cecil Street in the morning."
"Thank you again for your thoughtful kind-
ness in this respect," said Mr. Nevelle, "as well
as for your hospitable wishes for me; I shall be
delighted to remain with you to-night, if, indeed,
I don't intrude, and after all that you have done
for my dear brother's fatherless children, I feel
that I ought, dear madam, to obey your com-
As Mr. Nevelle said this he bowed low to Mrs.
Vernon, and offering her his arm, they walked into
the dining-room, leaving Mr. Vernon and the two
girls busy with the parcels and light boxes, to see
them safely deposited in the hall by the careful
hands of Susan the housemaid; while the cook
and Thomas (who acted the part of both coachman
and gardener, in short, did everything he could in
the way of help, being regularly an old-fashioned-
servant) occupied themselves in unloading the
carriage, and transferring the portmanteaus and
travelling trunks to the same place as the lighter
The Arrival. 89
packages had been placed in. I expect that some
of these heavy trunks will have to be eased of their
contents before they find their way upstairs, as Mr.
Vernon says that the said contents are more
adapted for the store-room than the bedroom.
How delightful to the wearied traveller are the
various comforts of a well-ordered home, such as
Mr. Vernon's certainly was, and his first sight of
the well-arranged dining table seemed to strike
him with astonishment; everything displayed not
only refinement of taste, but what was much dearer
to a parent's heart, a labour of love. We have seen
that these good girls excelled in this, and here
surely that labour had not been lost, it was fully
Is this your doing, my children ?" said the glad
father as he kissed the foreheads of Maria and
Sophy, who still clung to his side. Then, as if
suddenly a pang had shot through him, he turned
for a moment towards the window. Yes, busy
memory had called up before him the loved and
lost; all was beautiful to see, but she was not there,
so the cloud came over the sunshine, and but for
the presence of the stranger, there would have been
a shower, or, at least, some drops of sorrow. It is
well, then, that the wayfarer has found a home for
the night under Mr. Vernon's roof; he will be the
means of diverting the attention on this first even-
ing from the sombre dresses of his wife and chil-
90 The Three Sisters.
dren, which now struck on the heart of the bereaved
"Why this is really like being in fairy-land," said
Mr. Nevelle, as in obedience to Mrs. Vernon's
gentle command he seated himself beside her at
this tea and dinner table. "There can be no need
of Aladdin's lamp where fairy fingers can effect such
a rich display."
No," replied Mr. Vernon, who had recovered
his equanimity; "we, I think, shall, at least for the
present, enjoy the tempting viands set before us
more than we should the diamonds, pearls, and
emeralds of the Wizard's cave."
I trust you will pardon my freedom, Mrs. Ver-
non," said Mr. Nevelle, "in thus making a remark
on your beautiful decorations, but you have em-
boldened me to make myself at home."
"Nothing can please me better, my dear sir,"
replied the lady; "but with regard to the decora-
tions which you so flatteringly admire, I assure you
that not the least credit is due to me; these young
people have had it all their own way, so we must
give honour to whom honour is due. I must, how-
ever, say that to-day they had an extraordinary
stimulant, for they well know what an admirer of
artistic arrangement their father is, and their work
was to please him; am I not right, my dears ?"
said Mrs. Vernon, appealing to her daughters.
Oh, yes, mamma quite right; and we are well
The Arrival. 9t
repaid for our work now, if Mr. Nevelle is pleased
as well as papa," said Maria, with bashful earnest-
ness, adding, "we mean to rise early to-morrow
morning, that we may gather a splendid nosegay
for Mrs. Nevelle, if Mr. Nevelle will kindly take it
to her with our love."
I shall do that with the greatest pleasure, dear
Miss Vernon," said the gentleman; "but will you
and your sister permit me to join you' in your
flower gathering in the morning ? I am a very early
riser, and an enthusiastic admirer of flowers."
Oh! we shall be very glad of your company,
Mr. Nevelle; and I think you will be surprised to
see what an immense number of roses and other
flowers we still have, although we gathered so many
to-day; they are so fragrant and so very lovely
while the dew lies on them," said Maria.
Mr. Vernon had been watching his two fair girls
with loving looks, he now leaned over to his wife
and remarked in a low tone :-
"Nothing surprises and pleases me so much,
dear Matilda, as the improvement I see in my girls,
especially in Sophia, who seems altogether changed
"Her heart is changed, I trust," replied Mrs.
Vernon; "and this, dear husband, is one of the
uses of adversity." Mr. Vernon bowed his head in
silence, he felt the full power and the truth of the
92 The Three Sisters.
The evening passed away in pleasant converse,
both Mr. Vernon and Mr. Nevelle were full of inte-
resting events which had occurred to them in their
travels, and at a much later hour than was usual
with them the young ladies were reminded by their
mamma that the travellers must certainly be weary
if they were not, and that if they expected their
guest to assist in flower gathering in the early morn-
ing, it would be necessary that he should enjoy a
good night's rest. This admonition was considered
very salutary by all parties, and the two fair girls,
saluting their parents and shaking hands with Mr.
Nevelle, retired with glad and thankful hearts to
their cheerful, quiet bedroom.
THE sun rose not quite in unclouded splendour on
the following morning, but what few clouds there
were certainly did not indicate rain, they merely
screened his bright glories for a time, and one dark
veil had a splendid fringe of golden rays almost too
dazzling to look upon.
The young ladies and their guest are risen, as
well as the sun, and are shaking the dew-drops from
the tender buds and half opened roses; but we
will leave them at their work and pay a short visit
Undce Nevelle. 93
to a humbler, but not a less loving, home. Here,
too, as on the evening of the day before, all is de-
lightful expectation, at least among the young ones;
but poor Mrs. Nevelle feels a nervous trepidation
at the idea of meeting her late husband's brother,
whom she has not seen for so many, many years.
"Mamma, is Uncle Nevelle a rich man, and will
he give us plenty of money ?" inquired Emily, the
"Oh, hush, Emily, hush !" said the steady and
sensitive Gertrude, who was more than two years
older than her sister, and more than five years her
senior in thoughtful consideration.
"I hope, Emily," said Mrs. Nevelle, much
annoyed by the mercenary remark of her daughter,
" that you won't make such a speech as that in
your uncle's hearing, and I am very sorry you should
have said what you have before Alice and little
Harry. I hope they will not be so foolish as to
I won't," said little pretty Alice, shaking her
curly head very wisely.
"And me von't," broke in Harry, shaking his
head also in imitation of his sister. He had no
very clear idea of what he was not going to do, but
he knew that it related to the bringing something
home, so with child-like simplicity and a little
selfishness, lie added, I vill ony tay, Vill oo bing
me a top ?"
94 The Three Sisters.
"But you must not say even that, my darling,"
said his mother, with much concern. "Who has
ever taught you to expect things ?" inquired the
anxious Mrs. Nevelle.'
Oh, mamma, never mind what they say !" ex-
claimed Gertrude; "I'm sure dear little Harry
won't ask for anything, and I think Emmy is
ashamed now of her foolish speech."
Gertrude was her mother's comforter on all occa-
sions, and her right hand in domestic employment;
so much, indeed, had the uses of adversity" been
displayed in this young girl, that the neighbours
all spoke of her as a pattern to their daughters.
She kissed her mother, and stroking Harry's head,
said, "I know you won't ask uncle for anything,
will you, darling ?"
"No, me von't," replied the little fellow, catch-
ing his sister round the neck, as she stooped down
to kiss him; "me vill be a dood boy, Berty"-this
was the name he gave to his sister.
"Come now, my dears, finish your breakfast and
let us have prayers," said mamma. Mrs. Vernon
kindly sent Thomas last night to say that we might
expect your uncle here about eleven, and now it is
nine o'clock, and we have many things to do in the
way of preparation."
"I wonder whether Miss Vernon and her sister
will come with uncle," said Gertrude, who longed
much for a visit from her young friends.