SThe Baldwin Library
CIHRISTMAS HOLIDAYS SPENT
A NEW EDITION.
THE RELIGIOUS TRACT SOCIETY;
SOLD AT TIE DEPOSITORIES, 56, PATERNOSTER ROW
65, ST. PAUL'S CUnRCnIYARD AND
'I l iii
7,, ,1 ^ "^ ,' "- -_
'['1Il1 SIS ElI'S HIIIEND.
THE SISTER'S FRIEND;
CHRISTMAS HOLIDAYS SPENT AT HOME.
LUCy was the eldest of a numerous family;
her father, whose name was Shirley, resided
upon his own estate. His income would
have been considered as affluent with a
moderate family, but with the wants of
nine children to supply, it was necessary
for him to have a view to economy in all
his arrangements. Mrs. Shirley had once
had eleven children, but her two elder
sons had died a few years before the pe-
riod we are about to consider.
Mrs. Shirley had educated Lucy entirely
herself: she was a pious and a very clever
THE SISTER S FRIEND.
woman, and the Divine blessing had rested
on her labours. Lucy had also witnessed
the deaths of her two brothers, who were
next to herself in age; the eldest, called
Charles, had died of consumption, the se-
cond, Henry, by an accident; and she had
assisted her mother in nursing them.
Many very interesting circumstances had
occurred during their illness, which left
upon the minds of the survivors the sweet
and interesting hope that they had with-
out doubt exchanged the perishable bloom
of childhood for everlasting youth.
Mrs. Shirley had, during her sons' ill-
ness, sent her next daughter, called Mary
Ann, to school, as she was then unable
properly to attend to her, but after she
had remained at school only one year, she
returned to be the companion of her elder
sister, who felt very deeply the loss of her
two brothers, for they had been the prin-
cipal associates of her nursery years.
THE SISTER'S FRIEND.
Mourning dresses had been put aside,
though not the sweet and sad remembrance
of the departed; and Mrs. Shirley hoped
to devote herself again to the education of
her children, when Mr. Shirley's health
began to decline; and Gl,.l.! on this ac-
count many increasing demands upon her
time, she found it requisite to send two of
her sons and her third daughter, Amelia,
to school. The anecdotes I have to relate
of this family begin with the expected
return of the children after the first half-
year of their absence from home.
Lucy was now turned eighteen; Mary
Ann was almost fourteen; William was
twelve; Amelia, between ten and eleven;
Thomas, who was at the same school as
his brother, was in his tenth year: then
followed three little personages, who might
properly be considered as inhabitants of
the nursery, at least when there were any
visitors in the house; but whose winning
THE SISTER'S TRIEND.
ways obtained for them frequent admis-
sion into the family circle. These were
Sophia, Charlotte, and Emma; between
the ages of seven and three. The two eld-
est of these were the pupils of Lucy and
Mary Ann, and had made as much pro-
gress under their instructions as is usually
to be expected at their age.
Therf followed the general plaything of
the family: he was round, and rosy, and
gay, and inconsiderate: he was welcomed
wherever he went; every common word,
embellished by his lisping, was delightfid
to his father and mother, brothers and sis-
ters; and he was in great danger of being
made to feel his importance. Mrs. Shirley
was continually obliged to remind her
children that it was an act of the greatest
cruelty to fill the heart of so young and
lovely a creature with misery, by watering
those seeds of covetousness, greediness,
and self-will, which are naturally sown
TIE SISTER'S FRIEND.
in the heart of every child of Adam, by
granting his every desire, and refraining
from punishing his little expressions of
passion and affront. The name of this
engaging little fellow was George; he was
MVr. Shirley had for some weeks past
appeared more indisposed than usual; and
within the last week he had had an at-
tack which had considerably alarmed his
friends; and his physician did not per-
mit him to join the family party, or to
be moved beyond Mrs. Shirley's dressing-
room; in consequence of which Mrs.
Shirley was almost always up stairs with
The family, who had been anxiously
looking forward to the holidays, now could
not help feeling solicitous that dear
papa" might be better before the return
of William, and Thomas, and Amelia, who
was also to bring with her a relation, abcut
THIE SISTER'S RIEN-L.
three years older than herself, who went
to the same school.
The evening before the expected day of
the family meeting had now arrived, and
the physician made a long visit to Mr.
Shirley. As soon as he was gone, Mrs.
Shirley sent for Lucy into her dressing-
room, where she was alone, and bidding
her sit down upon a small settee by her
side, and assuming as cheerful a counte-
nance as she could, she said, My dear
child, we have had a long visit from Dr.
"Does he think dear papa worse ?" in-
No, my love," answered Mrs. Shirley;
"he does not apprehend any immediate
danger. I trust, indeed, we may look for
a favourable termination of his illness; but
that is in the hands of Him who knows
what is best for us all; and may we learn
submission to his will. But meanwhile
THE SISTER'S FRIEND.
your dear fatherwill require all my thoughts
and attention, and I shall be able to join
our Christmas party very little. I must
therefore, my dear girl, put into your
hands all the little arrangements respect-
Mamma," answered Lucy, I shall be
glad to do every thing I can to assist you.
What arrangements do you wish me to
"It is now some time since we had a
meeting of this kind," replied Mrs. Shir-
ley. When dear Charles and Henry were
at school, I always used to consider the
holidays as a very important season with
us; and I always made it a subject of
prayer to God, that it might be made a
profitable time to us all."
I remember your talking to me on this
subject," answered Lucy, "the last time
that dear (.' li !. came home."
"Whore boys are educated at public,
THE SISTER'S E8IEND.
and indeed, we may often add, at private
schools," continued Mrs. Shirley, "their
religious instruction is frequently neglect-
ed, or superficially given; and even where
tutors take the most pains, their instruc-
tions must frequently want application;
for who can know a child's heart like the
parents.who have watched over him from
the cradle ? Besides, who can tell what
boys may learn from bad companions ? And
all this, my dear, is frequently, though in
a much slighter degree, the case in girls'
schools. Fathers and mothers, and sisters
too, should always remember these things;
and though it does not do to talk long to
school-boys and girls, who are too often of
a very restless spirit, yet, a word in season,
how good it is! and occasional earnest
appeals to their consciences ought to be
given, and will be attended to in most
But, my dear," added Mrs. Shirley,
THEI SISTER'S FRIEND.
"all this will do no good, unless home is
made pleasant, and unless those persons
who reprove them, whether gaily or gravely,
set a good example before them. For in-
stance, if your brothers were to see you
and Mary Ann quarrelling and disputing,
as is too often the case with sisters, and
unwilling to give up to each other in trifles,
they might be disposed to say, I see that
you yield to the temptations of home, how
then can you wonder that I yield to the
temptations of school We should all
bear this in mind."
Mrs. Shirley paused; and Lucy said,
"Were you going to tell me any thing
more, dear mamma ?"
The holidays, my love," answered Mrs.
Shirley, should not only be a season for
refreshing our love to God, but for re-
freshing our love to one another. At the
first meeting we want no advice on this
subject; our affections are all warm, and
THE SISTER S FRIEND.
we feel that we can do any thing for those
we have not seen so long; and the same
feeling returns towards the end of the
time, when parting begins to be thought
of: but, when neither coming nor going
are near at hand, then natural evil feel-
ings, or evil habits, show themselves, and,
too often, in a very unpleasant way. It
is here we need the help of God's Spirit
to restrain us: at these times we should
watch and pray particularly against selfish-
ness and covetousness."
"I remember," said Lucy, "one holi-
days, many years ago, when I had been
quarrelling with Charles and Henry, that
you called me into your room, and made
me repeat to you a hymn of Dr. Watts,
dwelling upon those two beautiful lines:
'Where sisters dwell and brothers meet,
Quarrels should never come.'
You then left me in your closet, and after
I had spent some little time alone, I re-
THE BISTER'S RIErND.
member running in great haste to give my
brother a glass containing a hyacinth root,
which I had been nursing with great care,
and we were immediately reconciled;-
but I have interrupted you, dear mamma."
My dear," answered Mrs. Shirley, I
have mentioned the principal thing I would
have you bear in mind-the fanning, if I
may so say, of spiritual and of natural love.
Industry, good manners, and many other
things of the same sort, which circum-
stances will bring to your mind, must be
attended to in their place. But now I
must talk to you about something else
which is of great importance: the holidays
must be made pleasant."
Mrs. Shirley then arose, and taking from
her pocket a key, she opened a small book-
case which stood near the window. This
book-case contained an assortment of va-
rious books, suited to the taste of boys and
girls, and very carefully selected. Some
TuE SISTER'S FRIEID.
were religious, amongst which was a Bible
with ancient prints; others contained lives
and stories of children; others missionary
narratives, voyages and travels, and de-
scriptions of the various wonders of the
world, and natural history. Some volumes
of poetry, and even a few fairy tales had
found admission there.
I have never wished you to read fast or
indiscriminately," said Mrs. Shirley, and
I have therefore never allowed this book-
case to be open for general use. Youmust
keep the key and produce what you judge
right for different occasions." Afterwards
Mrs. Shirley gave her daughter some other
domestic directions, which it is not needful
here to repeat, and some of which may
hereafter appear. But it must not be for-
gotten, that she desired her to overlook
the making of a certain cake; for Lucy
knew how cakes, and many other things
more useful though less agreeable, were
THE SISTER'S FRIEND.
made, and indeed could make them herself
when need required.
This cake, with the key of a closet con-
taining nonpareils and walnuts, oranges
and chestnuts, and things of a similar sort
for desserts, was to be intrusted to Lucy
during the holidays; as Mrs. Cookson, the
housekeeper, could not withstand the soli-
citations of young people, and was often
known to give too lavishly to the most
Lucy having received her mother's direc-
tions, kissed her, and said that she hoped
she should be enabled to conduct every
thing according to her wishes, but she
knew herself too well to make any profes-
sions of what she would do; and she left
her mother's room pleased as all active
young people are with the feeling of in-
creased responsibility, yet with such a
consciousness of her own weakness, and
her need of Divine assistance, as to lead
n 2 17
THE SISTER'S FTIENiD.
her immediately to retire to her own room,
and there to seek for that help from above,
the value of which she had learned to feel.
The next morning, when breakfast was
over, and Lucy and Mary Ann had visited
their father, and read the psalms and Bible
lessons to him as was their custom, they
did not repair as usual to the school-room,
but set about making the gladsome prepa-
rations for the evening guests.
The carriage had set out early in the
morning to fetch Amelia and Miss Sea-
forth from their school, which was nearly
twenty miles distant, and William and
his brother were expected by an evening
In order that we may enter into the em-
ployments of the sisters, it may be proper
to give some account of that part of the
house which they inhabited.
A gallery of a moderate length, which
led to the large staircase, was terminated
THE SISTER'S FEIENI).
by a window. On one side of it, and open-
ing into it, were a large nursery and a
school-room. On the other side was a
bed-room for the elder girls with a small
light closet, and another bed-room where
the boys slept when at home. Three
white beds and as many chests of drawers
were in Lucy's neat bed-chamber; and in
the light closet a small piano-forte, a little
book-case, three worked stools, and a small
round table; and in a cupboard in the
wainscot there were work-baskets, and
other articles of the same kind. The
school-room was large, it looked upon the
front of the house; there was a long
writing-table at one end with benches;
the floor was covered with matting, a few
stools and chairs of different sorts and
patterns were ranged by the fireplace;
the window was opposite to the fire. At
another end of the room was an old-
fashioned large book-case, the upper part
THE SISTER'S IIENID.
of which was filled with school-books, and
the cupboard below with bats, balls, bat-
tledores, shuttlecocks, skipping-ropes, and
a variety of articles which it would not be
easy to enumerate. Upon the top of the
book-case was a man-of-war, which could
sail on the large pool; and some stuffed
birds. In front of the book-case was a
large rocking-horse, and round the room
were hung various old pictures; there was
likewise a collection of dolls, trunks, and a
doll's bed upon an old table standing in
one corner; there was also a musical in-
strument in the room.
The gallery window caught a glimpse
through the trees of the great north
road; and the coach by which William
and Thomas were to come might be seen
thence. Mr. Shirley's house was by no
means modern; it had belonged some
years to his family. In front of it was
a very extensive lawn, scattered with
THE SISTER'' FRIEND.
ancient oaks, amongst which numerous
sheep and cattle fed. At the back of
the house rose a beautiful woody hill,
part of whose base formed the shrubbery.
On one side lay the village, through an
end of which the road ran. Here was a
spire-church, and many neat cottages, sur-
rounding a green scattered with walnut
trees, and a pond of some size overhung
by willows. It was to this village that
the gallery window looked, and it afforded
always a moving scene, for besides the
carriages which passed at a distance on
the road, pigs, donkeys, and dogs, ducks,
chickens, women in red cloaks, men in
their labouring clothes, and groups of
children were often to be seen on the
green. A part of the kitchen garden
alone separated this green from the house,
and it may naturally be supposed that
this window was a favourite resort of the
children; and those who were not able to
THE SISTER'S FRlIEND.
look out of it, were mounted on stools for
On this morning, as the usual lessons
were not heard, the three youngest took
their posts at ten o'clock, to watch for the
coach, which was not expected till five.
Mary Ann took Sophia with her to assist
her in her morning's work. Lucy had
repeated to Mary Ann the substance of
what her mother had said to her the last
night, and they had formed many little
plans together for their conduct during
the holidays: and in the arrangements for
to-day's business, Mary Ann undertook to
make their own neat room doubly neat;
and to see that their brothers' skates,
whips, tops, etc., were all in their places,
and every thing in order in the school-
'room; their brothers' room also comfort-
able, and their clothes neatly laid in their
drawers. Amelia had not laid aside her
doll, and Sophia arranged all things of this
THE SISTER'S FRIEND.
sort for her sister's use. Meanwhile
Lucy nimbly and quietly attended to the
domestic arrangements below stairs.
The chimney-piece of the breakfast-
room below was ornamented with her
choicest hyacinths. All unsuitable books,
if any unsuitable could be found in Mr.
Shirley's house, were removed, and a few
laid on the writing-table carefully selected.
A small bed-room near her mother's dress-
ing-room was prepared for Miss Seaforth.
Lucy looked to see if all was right there,
and laid a Bible on the little table.
Mary Ann had wished to ask her
mother's leave that Miss Seaforth might
sleep in their bed-chamber, but Lucy ob-
jected, saying, Sister, we do not yet know
what sort of a girl Miss Seaforth is,
and if we cannot go on regularly with our
morning and evening plans, we shall never
do well all the day long."
Thus the morning passed away, and
TILE SISTER'S FRIEND.
Lucy and Mary Aim were just dressed
for dinner, when hearing the church-clock
strike five, they went to the gallery window
in their way down stairs. The little party,
who had been at their posts occasionally
all the morning long, were still looking
out, though nothing was to be seen but
the lights from the village, which shed a
faint brilliancy on the surrounding snow;
but the night was so calm that the coach-
wheels might perhaps be heard, for the
soft falling snow was no interruption.
All stood silently looking and listening
for the punctual coach, when two rapidly
moving lights appeared. The little party
scarcely breathed till they were quite sure
that these lights were in the road, and
till they saw them stop at the spot where
they knew the little village inn stood; then
all with one voice exclaimed, "They are
come! they are come !" and in the same
moment all rushed towards the gallery
THE SISTER' S RIEKD.
door, which Lucy kept closed till she had
reminded the little ones that no noise
must be made as they passed their
father's room; so on tiptoe they glided
down, and George, who could not make
the progress his sisters did, was content
to be carried down in Lucy's arms, who
as she passed the dressing-room gently
knocked, and told her mother that she
thought the coach had stopped.
William and Thomas could not walk up
to the house in so short a time as their
sisters could run down stairs, but at
length the tardy moments rolled away,
the hall door opened, and William and
Thomas were in a moment surrounded by
the little joyful party, and George, scarcely
knowing why, clapped his hands, and re-
peated their names with the rest. The
particulars of this happy but unquiet
scene I pass over. "But how is papa ?"
said William, as soon as he was disen-
THE 81STER'S FRIEND.
tangled from the young ones. Before any
reply could be given his mother appeared,
and when this joyous meeting was over, he
and Thomas were taken up stairs to their
father, where their mother had time to
observe how much they were grown, and
with the rapidity of a mother's feelings, to
examine whether they were improved, and
a thousand other things of the same sort.
William seemed struck by the paleness of
his father's countenance, and looked un-
... 1:,. i l!- grave; but these feelings are
transitory with young people; and when
called to dinner, and seated there with his
mother and two sisters, and Thomas, he
gaily related the adventures of his journey.
Almost as soon as dinner was over Mrs.
Shirley went up stairs, and the little ones
coming down gathered round their bro-
thers. George rode on William's foot,
and Emma sat on Themas's lap, and Lucy
permitted them for some time to express
THE SISTER'S TRTENSTD.
their happiness without a check. In the
midst of all this, the sound of carriage-
wheels, and a ring at the hall door, in-
formed them of the arrival of Amelia, and
they were all in the hall in a moment to
welcome the beloved stranger. Lucy was
the first to remember that there was ano-
ther guest, and she welcomed Miss Sea-
forth with real kdndaess. Nearly an hour
passed before the little party was quietly
seated once more at the tea-table in the
Mary Ann took Amelia up stairs to her
father and mother, the little ones went to
bed, and Miss Seaforth changed her tra-
Mrs. Shirley did not come down stairs
even to drink tea, for Mr. Shirley was hur-
ried with the events of the day, and she
did not like to leave him.
Miss Seaforth and Amelia were now
seated on a sofa by the fire, and MIary
TIHE SISTER'S FIRIETD.
Ann, who was sitting nearly opposite to
them at the tea-table, by the side of Lucy,
had an opportunity of taking a full and
accurate survey of her new guest, at whom
she felt much disposed to wonder, but was
rather doubtful whether to admire.
Miss Seaforth was about the age of
Mary Ann, but considerably taller, and
so womanly in her whole style and appear-
ance, that she did not look a great deal
younger than Lucy, and gave the promise
of being at Lucy's age what is called very
dashing. Her manners were as easy as
those of a woman of thirty, and though by
some persons they might have been thought
polite, they wanted that first requisite of
really good manners, a sympathy with the
feelings of others, and a facility of putting
one's self in their place when addressing
them. She had expressed nothing either of
pleasure or displeasure at the meeting of
Amelia with her sisters, and had hitherto
THE SISTER'S FRIEND.
remained almost totally silent, looking
around at what fell within her observation.
yet without the slightest expression of cu
The room was unusually still. Ame-
lia was sleepy, Lucy was occupied with
making tea, Mary Ann lost in contem-
plation; the boys struck dumb by the ap-
pearance of a young lady, a being which,
except in the form of a sister, was at least,
till become familiar to them, an object ap-
proaching rather to dislike; Thomas had
taken up a book, and William was playing
with a favourite spaniel. In the midst of
this, a sudden recollection occurring to his
mind, he raised up his head from the dog's
paw which he had been shaking, and cried
out, "Do you know, Lucy, when I got
upon the coach this morning, there was
the finest Newfoundland dog I ever saw,
fastened to the coach by a long cord;
but he contrived to break his cord, and
THE SISTER'S FRIEND.
w\e lost him before we had gone many
"Did you come from school to-day ?
said Miss Seaforth to William, in a loud
voice, and looking stedfastly at him.
Yes," answered Willian, "and a joyful
day it is."
What do you not like school ?"
"To be sure I like home better," an-
swered William bluntly; do not you ?"
I don't know," answered Miss Seaforth
coldly; "it is a trouble being at school
"I wonder," thought M3ary Ann to her-
self, that Miss Scaforth should feel no fear
at all of speaking to my brother William in
the way she does, such a great tall boy as
he is, and quite a stranger to her, whilst I
feel a little afraid of speaking even to her."
In a few moments she addressed herself
again to William, and received but a short
answer; as he preferred talldng to Rover.
THE SISTERl' rFIEYD.
At last tea was quite ready, and Lucy,
having requested Thomas to lay aside his
book, and provided Rover with his ac-
customed saucer of milk, entered into
conversation with the young travellers re-
specting what they had seen and heard
that day; the discourse soon became gene-
ral, and very lively, till Mrs. Shirley sum-
moned them to family prayers in the
dining-room; after which, most of the
party appearing very sleepy, they dis-
Mary Ann took Miss Seaforth into her
room, and Lucy assisted her brothers and
Amelia in a little necessary unpacking.
At last all the business was completed,
and the three sisters met together and
proceeded according to usual custom to
their closet; here Amelia, rising from her
seat, threw her arms first round Lucy's
neck, and then round Mary Ann's. Oh !
how glad I am," said she, "to be at last
THE SISTER'S PIMIEND.
alone with you, and I am so glad that Miss
Seaforth is not to sleep in our room.'
"VWhat! do you not like her?" said
Lucy, as she drew her stool close to
Amelia's, and took one hand within hers,
while the other was grasped by Mary
Like her!" answered Amelia, I can-
not bear her."
"Cannot bear her!" repeated Lucy,
"that is a hard word; but why do you not
"I do not know exactly," said Amelia;
"but when she has been here a little
while you will see for yourself. Do you
read a chapter in the Bible, and sing the
morning and evening hymn, as you used
"To be sure," answered Lucy; "if we
do not tune our harps, you know, there
will be discord all day."
"Then I am sure," said Amelia, "you
THE SISTER'S FRIEND.
could not have cone that, if Miss Seaforth
had slept in our room."
And why not ?" asked Lucy.
Oh! because she would laugh at us,
and call us methodists."
"I hope not," said Lucy; "but if she
did, we ought not to mind it. Would you
leave off saying your prayers at school,
because you were laughed at ? Why then
should we leave off any good custom at
home, because a little girl accidentally
visits us ? this is surely the fear of man,
that bringeth a snare." Here Amelia
reddened, but made no reply; she looked
very thoughtful, and Lucy chose to say no
Mary Ann had been perfectly silent all
this time. A few minutes afterwards, Lucy
opened her Bible and read part of a chap-
ter; they then kneeled down to prayers,
and as soon as they were in bed, they sung
the evening hymn with soft voices, and
THE SISTER'S ERIEND.
were presently asleep. The greatest part
of the following day was taken up in un-
packing, and similar employment; the
third morning, when breakfast was over,
and all the children had met together and
read to their father, Mary Ann took Ame-
lia and two of the three little girls into
the school-room, and Lucy and her bro-
thers returned into the breakfast-room,
where they had left Miss Seaforth, and
whilst some conversation was passing be-
tween Lucy and Miss Seaforth, William
bade Thomas fetch Rover; and the boys
and the dog went to play together.
"Is this to be your morning's work?"
said Lucy, in a playful manner, turning
away from the fire, where she had been
standing for some minutes with Miss Sea-
forth, and laying her hand on William's
"It is holiday time," replied William,
TIHE SISTER'S FRIEND.
"And must you do nothing in the holi-
days but play with dogs ?"
No, I shall skate by and by," answered
William, looking slily in Lucy's face.
Of all the things in the world," inter-
rupted Miss Seaforth, I want to learn to
skate. I will go down with you to the
pool, and you shall teach me to skate."
Without taking any notice of Miss
Seaforth's interruption, Lucy held up her
watch to William.
It is five hours till dinner, and you will
be very idle boys if you spend all that time
in play; now get your books, and sit down
to them for two hours at least."
"Books sister," repeated William, still
laughing; "you do not mean such books as
Robinson Crusoe, I dare say, but Latin
and Greek books; I do not want to see
their faces except at school, and then, you
know, I must."
"That is right," again interrupted Miss
THE SISTER S FRIEND.
Seaforth; "I would never be troubled with
lessons in the holidays."
For obvious reasons, Lucy thought it
best to press the point no more at that
time, so she merely added, with a more
serious manner than she had used before,
" You know, dear William, what papa
would wish if he were well, and there is a
fire for your use in the little study down
And I will run and fetch the books,"
cried Thomas, and Rover shall come with
me." And so he darted out of the room.
"Example is better than precept," said
Lucy; you and I, Miss Seaforth, will go
into the school-room and employ our-
So saying, she put her arm within Miss
Seaforth's, and led her somewhat unwill-
ingly towards the door. As they passed
the window out of which William was
looldng with seeming carelessness, Miss
THE SISTER'S FRIEND.
Seaf)rth turned towards him, and half
laughing, said to him, Hold out, and get
your own way; I would never be governed
by a sister."
William took no notice of this, but just
as they got out of the door, Lucy heard
him say, in a loud whisper, "No, that I
would not, if she were like you."
Whether Miss Seaforth heard this speech
or not Lucy could not tell; they went up
stairs into the school-room, where the four
sisters were all engaged at their lessons.
Lucy drew a chair to the fire for Miss
Seaforth, and as she threw herself upon it,
she exclaimed, not in the most civil man-
ner, Why, Amelia Shirley, you might
just as well be at school, as moping here
over your books."
Oh no !" answered Amelia; "I am in
my own dear school-room, with my own
Lucy took no notice of this speech, but
TIE SISTER'S rPIE'ND.
soon afterwards asked Miss Seaforth if
she was fond of music.
She sauntered up to the instrument, and
played a country dance. Meanwhile, Lucy
had placed by her chair a small table, on
which she laid one or two amusing and
instructive books in French and English,
and a portfolio of choice drawings; and
having, as she thought, made the necessary
provision for her guest's amusement, she
sat herself down to her own employment,
which was, that morning, the instruction of
the eldest of her little sisters in French.
Miss Seaforth, meanwhile, being soon
tired of her instrument, walked to the
chair, and turned over each book care-
lessly, without reading one; she then as
carelessly looked over the drawings; after-
wards rising, she .-., i. ...1 round the room,
examining every thing, and interrupting
every body with numerous unprofitable
questions. After this, with a loud yawn,
THE SISTEE'S FrIEND.
she went to the window, where she stood
nearly a quarter of an hour in total silence,
till two young ladies, followed by a servant
in livery, appeared riding up to the house.
The clatter of horses' hoofs brought all
the party to the window before Miss Sea-
forth had time to exclaim, "Dear Miss
Shirley, who are these ?"
Oh! they are the Miss Drummonds,"
said Amelia. "They are come to invite
Lucy out, I know." Miss Seaforth in a
"Miss Seaforth knows those ladies, I
suppose," said Sophia; "how glad she was
to see them: she is gone to meet them, I
She is gone to make herself beautiful,"
replied Amelia, laughing.
While this was passing a servant knocked
at the door, and informed Lucy that two
ladies wished to see her; she immediately
went down stairs, and in her way to the
THE SISTER'S FRIEND.
breakfast-room she looked into the little
study, where the boys were sitting at their
books, and Rover with them. Are not
we good boys ?" cried out William. "Ex-
cellent," said Lucy, smiling; "and, in re-
turn, I have got a new book full of won-
ders, for you to read to us after tea."
"What is it about, Lucy ?" cried both
the boys, jumping up at once. "I cannot
stay now to tell you," answered she, for
I am in a hurry." So saying, she closed
the door and hastened into the breakfast-
The Miss Drummonds were the daugh-
ters of a gentleman in the neighbourhood.
Lucy had long known them, and had been
in the habit of occasionally visiting them,
and although not brought up exactly as
she was, they were on the whole well dis-
posed and agreeable young people; they
were now come to invite her to spend two
or three days with them the next week, to
THE SISTER'S FRIEND.
meet several of their young acquaintance,
and as they were fond of Lucy, and she
always tried to make herself as pleasant
as she could in an innocent way amongst
her companions, they seemed much disap-
pointed when she told them that she was
very sorry she could not leave home at that
time, for her mother had put the manage-
ment of almost every thing into her hands,
and as her father was so ill and wanted all
her mother's attention, she could not think
it right at all to go out, though she should
otherwise have had very great pleasure in
accepting their invitation.
Just at this moment Miss Seaforth came
in, all smiles; and Lucy introduced her to
We shall be most happy to see Miss
Seaforth with you," said Miss Drum-
mond, thinking perhaps that her visitor
was the cause of her declining the invita-
TIHE SISTER'S FRIEND.
"And I should be most happy to go,"
looked Miss Seaforth.
"Indeed," said Lucy, "I should be very
glad, on Miss Seaforth's account as well as
my own, could I accept your kind invita-
"Is not Mary Ann at home?" said the
younger of the two ladies. Cannot you
leave her in trust to whip your little bro-
thers and sisters ?"
"Oh! I am sure you might," inter-
rupted Miss Seaforth; she is as steady as
"And, for two or three days, what
possible harm could they get into ?"
proceeded the younger Miss Drummond.
"They can play at blindman's buff with-
out you; and there is not much else done
in the holidays."
Miss Seaforth glanced triumphantly at
Lucy, as this speech was made.
As Lucy did not immediately reply, the
TIE SISTER'S FRIEND.
younger lady, still pressing the point, said
earnestly, "Do, my dear Miss Shirley, ask
your mamma to spare you; do tell her how
happy your company would make us; and
perhaps she would give you leave."
"I am quite sure she would give me
leave," replied Lucy, colouring and looking
up earnestly in Miss Drummond's face;
" but how can I ask her to take additional
trouble upon herself, when I know that
she has already so much fatigue to go
through with my dear papa. Could you,
Miss Drummond, were you in my place ?"
The youngest sister was beginning a
reply; when the elder, laying her hand upon
hers, said, "Sister, it will certainly be a
great disappointment to us to lose Miss
Shirley's company; but we must not press
it any more."
Miss Seaforth bit her lips. A few re-
marks were made on the weather; and
Miss Drummond then asked leave to ring
THE SISTEl'S FRIEND.
for the horses, and in a few minutes the
young ladies cantered away from the door.
Miss Seaforth watched them till they
were out of sight and then turned to Lucy,
who was standing in a thoughtful attitude
by the fire. Miss Seaforth's countenance
did not portend the most friendly feelings
towards her; but, before she had time to
speak, the two boys, who had also been
watching the horses, opened the breakfast-
room door, saying, "Now, Lucy, we are
going to the pool, if any body has a mind
to see us skate."
Lucy looked at her watch. I will go
and dismiss my sisters," said she, and
then we will come and look at you. Shall
not you like it, Miss Seaforth ?" A cold
assent was given, and they went up stairs
to their several apartments to prepare for
The snow had fallen long enough to
afford a well-beaten path, on either side
THE SISTEBt'S FRIEND.
of which it furnished a thick great-coat to
the surrounding trees and herbage, and the
sun shining in its splendour gave a dazzling
brilliancy to every object. A fine, keen,
frosty air seemed to add new activity to
the young party as they set out upon
their morning walk, and all were lively
and full of spirits except Miss Seaforth,
who sauntered after the rest with a dull
and heavy pace. A little gate opened out
of the shrubbery upon what in summer
was a green lane, which in a few minutes
led them to the brink of the pool we have
before spoken of, in the middle of the
village-green. The pool was completely
frozen over, and William and Thomas soon
appeared in their skates, anxious to show
off their best performances to their sisters,
who were standing at the brink of the
"Well, Miss Seaforth," cried William,
"have you a mind to try ?"
THE SISTER'S FRIEND.
"I am not in the humour for it, to-day,"
she replied coldly.
Upon which Lucy, who had been watch-
ing her brothers, turned round, and per-
ceiving Miss Seaforth standing apart from
the rest she went up to her, and pointed
out to her what was most interesting in
the surrounding scene: the village-spire,
the neat parsonage-house, with its shrub-
bery adjoining the churchyard, on the
other side of which stood another neat
and old-fashioned house in a trim garden,
where still remained a few yew-trees and
ancient arbours of grotesque shape. "In
that old-fashioned house," said Lucy,
" lives one of our best neighbours; and
some day we must get him to show you
his curiosities, for he has a great many;
he was once a naval officer, and has been
a great traveller."
She then pointed out the village-school,
a low building near the church. On the
THE SISTER'S FRIEND.
other side of the green, and surrounded by
walnut-trees, was a farm-house; and from
the farm-yard proceeded the sound of the
cattle lowing over their fodder, the bleat-
ing of sheep, and the lively crowing of
chanticleer, answered by the faint voice of
a distant brother.
Various thatched cottages, standing in
gardens, were scattered along the other
side of the green; most of them were de-
corated by the gay-looking pyracanthus
climbing up the front of the house, tempt-
ing unwary fingers to pluck its pretty
Over the low hedge of the cottage-gar-
dens peeped many a young head, enjoying
the privileges of a half-holiday, to take an
exact survey of the party that wore assem-
bled about the pool.
None of these objects seemed in the
slightest degree to interest Miss Seaforth,
nor did she appear disposed to give even
THE SISTER'S FRIEND.
civil attention to Lucy. And upon Wil-
liam calling out to her again, and asking
her if she would come upon the pool and
try to skate, she replied, "I have no mind
to skate to-day."
"Yeou have soon changed your mind,"
said William. "I thought, about four
hours ago, you wanted above all things in
the world to learn to skate."
Of this Miss Seaforth took no notice,
and turning away from Lucy, whose atten-
tion at that moment was called to some-
thing else, she took Mary Ann's arm,
told her she was almost perished with
cold, and asked her if she would walk
with her. Then turning her back upon
the village, she said, "Let us go a little
way along this lane. Where does it lead
To the next village," answered Mary
Ann. This is one way of going to Mr.
Drummond's house. I mean the place
TIIE SISTER'S FRIETI).
where those young ladies live who called
Miss Seaforth had by this time discover-
ed, or at least felt, that what she said pro-
duced more effect upon Mary Ann than
upon Lucy. Lucy was four years older
than her sister, and having of late gene-
rally accompanied her mother when she
went out, she had learned, by the assist-
ance of her valuable remarks, some dis-
crimination of character; and Miss Sea-
forth's character was not new to her, and
was quickly seen through. But with
Mary Ann it was quite different; and,
besides all this, Miss Seaforth possessed a
certain smartness of manners which often
passes with the inexperienced for real gen-
tility, and which had succeeded in exciting
in her mind a considerable degree of ad-
miration, and a feeling of something like
awe. Miss Seaforth was therefore under
little restraint in her presence. Accord-
TIE SISTER'S RRIIEND.
ingly, in reply to what Mary Ann had
mentioned respecting Mr. Drummond's
house, she said, "It puts me out of all
patience to hear that name."
Why so ? "
Because those young ladies came over
to invite your sister to spend several days
with them next week, to meet a delightful
party; and I was to have gone too; and
now she has refused the invitation."
"I do not think it would have been
right for her to have accepted it," an-
swered Mary Ann, now mamma is up
stairs so much, and has trusted her with
the care of every thing."
Just as if you were not old enough to
take care of things; I dare say you could
manage quite as well as she can. Why,
you are as old as I am."
This was a new idea to Mary Ann, and
it penetrated into her mind like an arrow
dipped in venom, though she felt not the
THE SISTER'S FRIEND.
sting at first. She made no immediate
reply to Miss Seaforthl, who, having worked
herself up almost into a passion, thus pro-
ceeded: "And what is the use of keeping
you all in such apple-pie order ? I never
did any thing in the holidays in my life
I mean, regular lessons."
"And what have you been used to do ?"
asked Mary Ann.
I almost always spend the Christmas
holidays at Bath, with my aunt. And in
the morning we have seldom done break-
fast much before eleven, and then per-
haps I read a story book, or do a little
work, or play, or something of that sort,
till it is time to go to the parades and the
pump-room, and then we come home to
dress for dinner; and half the evenings in
the week we have little parties of children
at home, or go out to them, and then we
play at forfeits, or cards, or perhaps dance,
and then a petit souper. But this winter,
TIHE SISTER' S FRIEND.
I dare say I should have gone to the
Rooms with my aunt. I am too old now
for children's parties."
"Do you always spend your holidays
with your aunt ?"
I have almost always since mamma
And perhaps," said Mary Ann, "you
wish you were with her now."
I shall, if your sister is to lord it over
us as she does now. It is very necessary,
to be sure, to keep little children, like
Sophia, and Charlotte, and Emma, in
order; but, at your age and William's, I
should think it quite enough to mind your
father and mother."
Had Mary Ann acted as she ought to
have done, she would by her replies have
silenced the tempter's voice ; but evil had
entered into her heart, and though she
did not altogether join with Miss Seaforth
in her condemnation of her sister, yet she
THE SISTERS FRIEND.
indulged a sinful curiosity, by quietly
listening to what she had to say: but all
this was not unaccompanied by stings of
conscience. Emboldened by her silence,
and gathering strength as she proceeded,
Miss Seaforth went still greater lengths:
really said she, I think Miss Shirley
takes upon herself too much. She gives
her orders and her directions just as
if she was your mother. Were I you,
Mary Ann, I am sure I would shake off
the yoke, and have an opinion and will of
my own, and not be in leading-strings to
a sister. I am sure I always thought
myself extremely good, if I did what my
aunt bid me."
As Miss Seaforth said "Bid me," it camn
into Mary Ann's mind, Lucy never bids
me or William to do any thing; she only
reminds us of mamma's wishes, and by
her desire too; and should I not do the
same if I were in her place ?"
r 2 83
TEE SISTER S IFIEND.
This was a good thought, and had she
followed its guidance it would have pre-
served her from much misery; but open-
ing her ears to what Miss Seaforth further
proceeded to say, this wise thought was
dismissed. Good thoughts, like good com-
pany, will never stay where they are not
civilly entertained: while bad thoughts,
like ill-mannered guests, press for admit-
tance; or, like nightly robbers, lurk secretly
about, waiting for an unguarded moment
to creep in and destroy.
I have no pleasure in dwelling upon
what is wrong. I shall not, therefore,
repeat all that Miss Seaforth said to Mary
Ann during their walk. The consequence
of which was, that Mary Ann returned
home gloomy and silent, and her mind
darkened with suspicion.
On passing by the pool, they found that
the rest of the party had left it, having
probably walked in some other direction,
THE SISTER'S FRIEND.
and as it was getting late, they went home
to prepare for dinner.
When Mary Ann found herself alone
in her bed-room, she would have done
wisely had she retired to her closet and
spread her sins and sorrows before her
heavenly Father, and then gone to ask
counsel of her mother; but, instead of this,
she threw herself down on a chair, and sat
pondering upon the discourse of the morn-
ing, till she heard the steps and lively
voices of her brothers and sisters in the
gallery, and Lucy and Amelia entered the
room full of innocent glee.
"I thought we had lost you, Mary
Ann," said Lucy; "but how tired you
look! Are you not well?" added she,
coming up to her and kissing her.
Yes, i am very well," said Mary
But there was something in her manner
which struck Lucy as unusual. Amelia's
THE SISTER S FRIEND.
gaiety, however, prevented her from pay-
ing much attention to it at that time.
The remainder of the day Mrs. Shirley
was more down stairs than usual. In the
evening William's new book was produced,
which he read aloud with great delight,
whilst the little party worked, so that Miss
Seaforth said but little.
The next day was Sunday. Mrs. Shir-
ley had accustomed her daughters to de-
vote the first half-hour of the Sunday,
after they were prepared for breakfast, to
solitary reading of the Scriptures, with a
view to comparing their own lives with the
precepts contained therein; and this she
considered as the most excellent prepara-
tion for an earnest and heartfelt joining
in the confession which we publicly make
of our sins and omissions at church.
Amelia loved to return to her old habits;
but with Mary Ann, this duty was to-day
very uncomfortably performed. It is true,
THE SISTER'8 FRIEND.
that we may go through the most solemn
services and duties of religion in an out-
wardly decent manner, but with a heart so
estranged from them as to derive neither
comfort nor benefit from the exercise.
This, I am sorry to say, was the case with
Mary Ann: through a clouded medium
she looked upon every thing, and her mind
was as indisposed to heavenly affections
as it was to sisterly love. Any one sin
admitted into the heart, brings with it
a train of others.
After breakfast, it was the usual custom
for the elder sisters to retire to their
rooms, and instruct the little ones till
church time; but Lucy, not choosing to
leave William and Miss Seaforth together,
withdrew to the writing table in the break-
fast-room, and placing Thomas and Sophia
on each side of her, she first heard them
repeat the catechism, and then opening
the Bible, they read a chapter, which she
THE SISTER'S FRIEND.
explained to them; and afterwards she
permitted them to look over the pictures,
and was prepared to answer the questions
which they might have to ask her respect-
During the time that Lucy had been
reading to the two little ones, Miss Sea-
forth and William had each taken up a
book; but William was soon entirely en-
gaged by listening to what was passing at
the writing table. A little while after-
wards, Lucy observed Miss Seaforth step
up to him and show him something, which
seemed much to interest her, in the
book she was reading. William took the
book from her hands, and now seemed
wholly absorbed in it. Just as Lucy rose
from her table the chiming of the village
bells was heard, and Miss Seaforth left
the room. Lucy dismissed her little party,
and walking up to the fire-place, where
William was sitting, how great was her
THE SISTER'S FRIEND.
astonishment at finding he was reading a
book of fairy tales, and with unaffected
gravity she said to him Oh, William, how
can you spend the golden hours of Sun-
day in such a way as this!"
"1What is the harm of it ?" asked Wil-
liam, half ashamed and half laughing.
"You know what the harm of it is as
well as I do."
"It was Miss Seaforth's fault," said
William, not mine."
No," answered Lucy; "it was Miss
Seaforth's fault to offer you the book, but
it was not hers that you took it."
William looked as if he was not attend-
ing to what she said, and bent his eyes
upon the book again.
Dear William," said Lucy, "I cannot
Dear to see you reading that book; I must
put it away, indeed I must."
"No, that you shall not," cried Wil-
liam, rising and shutting the book sud-
THE SISTER'S FRIEND.
denly; "you shall not lock the book up,
for I will do it myself, and then Miss Sea-
forth cannot call you a methodist, and
a canter, and a school-mistress. Give me
the key; I will take the book up stairs
and lock it in mamma's book-case, and
then you may have the key again."
That is just like yourself," said Lucy,
And let us come up," added William,
"before Miss Seaforth comes back again."
So up stairs they went together, and when
William returned the key to Lucy, he
said, "I shall go and read to papa, if
he likes it, while you are teaching the
The collected family then set off to
church, which, in spite of the snow, was
well filled with an attentive congrega-
tion, a neat Sunday school, and a little
band of plain singers; and the devotions
of the day were led and enlivened by
THE SISTEIt'S FRIEND.
the simple eloquence of a plain parish
When the service was concluded, Lucy
and her party returned home by a very
circuitous path, in order that she might
inquire after a sick person, who resided
about half a mile from the church. During
this walk William seemed determined upon
keeping as close to Lucy as his usual ir-
regular mode of walking would allow him
to do. Thomas, Amelia, and Sophia,
walked hand in hand; Miss Seaforth and
Mary Ann kept behind, together.
When they reached home the little
band of Sunday scholars were assembled
in the servants' hall, waiting the return of
Lucy and her elder sisters, who had under-
taken to instruct them between the hours
of morning and evening service; and
whilst William and Thomas were up stairs
with their father, Mrs. Shirley took this
opportunity of joining Miss Seaforth alone
THE SISTER'S FRIEND.
in the breakfast-room, feeling it a duty
she owed to so young a person to take
some means of endeavouring at least to
be of use to her.
The gladsome chime again collected the
party together; and they returned home
just in time for dinner.
Mrs. Shirley stayed with the young
people as long as she could; supporting
Lucy in her efforts to unite amongst them
all the cheerfulness and sobriety which so
well becomes the day; and she did no.
leave them till they were assembled in the
Tea was brought in, and the little ones
were dismissed to their slumbers. Whilst
Lucy was engaged in making tea, and
wishing good night to her little sisters,
Miss Seaforth asked William what he had
done with the book she had lent him in
"Cannot you find it P" said William.
THE SISTER'S TRIElND.
No," answered Miss Seaforth; I have
searched for it all over the room."
William pretended to look for the book.
"Really," cried he, "I cannot find it."
"Then I dare say," said she in a loud
whisper, "that Miss Shirley has locked it
"There you are quite mistaken," an-
swered William; "for I locked it up my-
"You locked it up i and why did you
not tell me so, and not let me have the
trouble of looking for it ? "
Oh, it will do you no harm," answered
"And pray, Master William, why did
you lock it up ?"
Because I chose."
"That is a very polite answer."
Well then, to satisfy you, I locked it
up because I did not think it a fit book to
read on a Sunday."
THE SISTEr'S FRIEND.
"I admire that, Master William," re-
plied Miss Seaforth. I should never
have expected a school-boy to be so verj
I suppose you thought," said William,
"that school-boys have no more conscience
Miss Seaforth coloured.
For shame, William," said Mary
Ann; "how can you be so very ill-man-
Lucy did not hear all that passed, but
from the sound of the voices she judged
that her brother was in danger of becom-
ing rather uncivil; she therefore reminded
him that tea was ready, and they all sat
down in silence.
This silence was not interrupted except
by something which would have been a
dialogue, could dogs speak, between Tho-
mas and Rover, who was always punctual
to appointments at meal times; until Wil-
THE SISTER'S FiIEND.
liam, suddenly laying his hand not very
lightly upon Mary Ann's shoulder, ex-
claimed, You are in a brown study, Mary
Ann; what are you thinking of ?"
"Thinking of ?" answered Mary Ann,
starting. I really do not lunow."
She was only building a castle in the
air," said Miss Seaforth, laughing.
"What is a castle in the air, Lucy ?"
"A very silly, dangerous thing," said
The most charming thing in the
world," cried Miss Seaforth.
Well, here are two opinions," said
William, laughing. "I wonder who is
Oh, Lucy, to be sure," rejoined Amelia.
Was that spoken by the fair Amelia ?"
asked Lucy, turning to her sister. "Surely
it could not be."
"And pray, Miss Shirley," asked Miss
F 2 65
THE SISTER'S FRIEND.
Seaforth, "what is the great harm of a
castle in the air ?"
"Allow me to ask you another question,"
returned Lucy. What do you mean by
a castle in the air ?"
Oh, a scheme about something very
pleasant that we should like to be doing,
or something of that sort."
"Very true," answered Lucy; "it is
putting ourselves in some place, or situ-
ation, or society, which we think plea-
santer than our own, and fancying what
we should do when in it."
And is not that delightful," returned
Miss Seaforth; especially when we are
in stupid company?"
Like the present party," said William,
That is not fair," replied Lucy, turning
to William. But now, dear Miss Seaforth,
is not what you call delightful, very dan-
THE SISTER'S FRIEND.
"lHow dangerous ?"
"For instance," said Lucy: suppose I
am forming some scheme of happiness
unlike my present situation, is it not very
probable that I shall become dissatisfied
with that situation ?"
Very probable," replied Miss Seaforth;
"but if we are in a disagreeable place and
company, we cannot help being dissatis-
"Ah!" said Lucy; "but whether our
circumstances are pleasant or not, we shall
become dissatisfied with them if we acquire
the habit of building castles in the air:
because in these castles we form plans of
happiness which can never be realized;
unless, indeed, we look far beyond the air
and build them in the skies, and that will
never hurt us. Can you remember the
time, Miss Seaforth, when there was not
some little thing in your outward situation
which did not sometimes vex you; and do
THE SISTER'S FIIEND.
not you believe it will be always so ? And
if we are not happy and contented now, it
is not likely that we ever shall be so."
"Well, Miss Shirley !"
"And," proceeded Lucy, "if we are al-
ways drawing some fancied picture of hap-
piness in our minds, we shall lose all our
interest in what surrounds us, and be quite
unable to discharge our present duties.
Mamma has often pointed out this to me;
and when I have yielded to the temptation,
and have built a castle in the air, I have
always found the bad consequence of it.
I have felt listless and indifferent about
present things, impatient under little
trials, and unthankful for little blessings."
That may be all very true," said
Miss Seaforth; "but you must have your
thoughts as well disciplined as a regiment
of soldiers, if you can hinder yourself from
building castles in the air: I am sure I
THE SISTER'S RIEIEND.
Did you ever try ?" asked Lucy, smil-
ing. "You know soldiers cannot be dis-
ciplined without trouble."
"And I hate trouble," said Miss Sea-
"So there is an end of the argument,"
interrupted William; "and, if this frost
lasts, Thomas and I will build a castle
upon the ice; that is as good a foundation
as the air."
"What will you build it of ?" asked
Of snow," answered William.
"And that will fade away like your
castle in the air, Miss Seaforth," said
Soon after tea was concluded, Mrs.
Shirley joined the party again, and at her
desire Lucy took her harp, and accompa-
nied Mary Ann on an organ which stood
in the hall, and all who could sing joined
in some favourite psalms and hymns.
THE SISTER'S ItIEND).
As Mr. Shirley could not go to church,
it was particularly delightful to him to
hear the songs of Zion in this season of
banishment from the public ordinances.
Mrs. Shirley concluded the evening by
reading and prayers with the assembled
family, and all retired to their rest.
Nothing very particular occurred the
next day. Mary Ann continued reserved
towards her sisters, and was frequently
alone with Miss Seaforth; but Lucy had
not yet the slightest idea of what was
passing in her mind: she fancied she was
not well, and under this impression made
repeated inquiries about her.
Tuesday was Christmas eve, a day which
was hailed with glee as a forerunner of one
of the most joyful days in the year.
The young party, by rising early and by
more than usual diligence, had completed
the day's business by twelve o'clock, when
they set off to the school, to bestow upon
TTlE SISTER'S FRIEND.
the most deserving children the rewards of
various kinds, which they had for several
weeks been preparing for them at their
leisure hours; and when this pleasant
employment was concluded, the eldest ot
the party set out upon a long round, to
distribute some little presents to the old
people: a neat cap to an old woman, a
warm pair of gloves to an old man, a book
or a small sum of money to another.
William and Thomas too had their favour-
ite old men as well as little boys, for whom
they had reserved some portion of their
allowance. Many a pleasant cottage was
visited, whose clean fireside afforded to
its inhabitants a warm shelter from the
inclemency of the weather. All were in
high spirits except Mary Ann and Miss
Seaforth, neither of whom was in a state
of mind to taste these innocent pleasures;
they were almost all the time together
withdrawing themselves from the rest of
THE SISTER'S FItIEND.
the party, either by an unsympathizing
silence, or a still less sociable titter.
When the mind is ill at ease, the sweet-
est country scenes afford no delight. The
bright sparkling trees, the robin's winter
song, the hare scudding through the snow,
all these things pleased the children, they
hardly knew why; and Lucy's love for
country scenery was now ripened into a
well cultivated taste. In the course of
the walk, Miss Seaforth and Mary Ann
separated themselves entirely from the
rest of the party, who arrived at home
long before them.
As Lucy and Amelia went up stairs'
the little ones called to them to look at
the school-room, which they had been
ornamenting with ivy and holly as high
as they could reach; and then they went
upon a deputation to Thomas and William
to assist them in completing their work.
While this was going on, Lucy and Amelia
THE SISTER'S FRIEND.
dressed themselves for dinner: they had
just finished this business when Mary
Ann came in.
"Dear Mary Ann," said Amelia, "how
late you are. We must help you, or you
will not be dressed for dinner."
Mary Ann thanked her sister in that
tone of voice which retracts the thanks
it utters. Lucy laid down a book she had
just taken up, and nimbly began to help
her sister. Amelia had taken from her
drawer her frock and a sash of royal
purple, but when she brought them to
her, Mary Ann said, "Why do you bring
me this sash, Amelia ?"
You see," replied Amelia, "that Lucy
has got on a purple sash, and I have put
"Am I not old enough to choose what
coloured sash I will wear?" said Mary
Ann. Must Lucy always choose for
THE SISTER' FrIEND.
Both sisters looked up in Mary Ami's
face with astonishment, from which Amelia
was the first to awake; and shaking her
head with a certain significant look, she
rejoined, "Do not you remember what
grandpapa used to say, that he loved to
see sisters dressed alike; it looked as it'
they loved each other ?"
"But I like to choose for myself some-
times," replied Mary Ann, "what I will
"Dear Mary Ann," said Lucy, "if I
had known that you wished to wear a
sash of any particular colour to-day, I
would willingly have put it on. But how
could I foresee such a thing ? and it is
of so little consequence what coloured sash
one wears, that I really should not have
supposed you would have cared about it."
"The thing itself is not of much con
sequence," replied Mary Ann, except as
being part of a general system."
TITE SISTER'S FRIEND.
What general system do you mean,
my love ?" said Lucy. "I do not under-
But I do," said Amelia, reddening,
which was the usual forerunner with her
of a warm speech.
Just then the dinner bell, and a loud
knocking at the door by their brothers,
interrupted this unpleasant scene.
Mary Ann hastily buckled on a velvet
girdle, and threw away her purple sash.
The three sisters went down stairs toge-
ther; and Lucy brushed away the tears from
her eyes as she entered the dining-room.
Mrs. Shirley stayed with the young
people till they withdrew into the break-
fast-room. Soon afterwards the servant
brought in a note for Lucy, which she
seemed to read with pleasure, and im-
mediately, without speaking, she went
out of the room.
Meanwhile the little ones were still
TILE SISTER'S FRIEND.
down stairs, and as children are usually
great observers of little things, Charlotte,
after looking for some time at Mary Ann,
said to her,
Sister, you have got on a velvet girdle
and Lucy and Amelia have purple sashes.'
I always thought you dressed in uni-
form," said William, "like soldiers."
"But Mary Ann did not choose to be
dressed like Lucy to-day," replied A melia.
"I suppose," said Miss Seaforth, "she
likes to exercise her own taste a little.
I do not see why an eldest sister is to
dictate to all the rest."
Why you are a rebel," cried William;
"you are preaching up sedition."
Sedition! replied Miss Seaforth
" I am sure I would never preach up to
Mary Ann to disobey her mother."
Only her eldest sister," said William.
"I wish Lucy was to be head mistress
when I go back to school."
THE SISTER'S FRIEND.
"And so do I," cried Thomas.
"But, Miss Seaforth," said Amelia, en-
couraging herself by William's support,
"Lucy never orders us to do any thing
she only advises and recommends, and for
our own good too; and she is older and
wiser than we are; and we are glad to at-
tend to her advice."
"It is no business of mine," answered
Miss Seaforth, "whom you obey; but,
certainly, I should think that a girl of
fourteen is old enough to choose what
coloured sash she will wear."
That is a noble subject for a battle,
what coloured sash one should wear," re-
"Dear," said Miss Seaforth, "it is not
the colour of a sash one cares about; but
one does not like to be dictated to in
To be sure not," said William, getting
up and bowing low, "when one is as old
G 2 77
THE SISTER'S FRIEND.
and as wise as Miss Seaforth and my
sister Mary Ann."
The disputes of children are skirmishes,
not battles. The entrance of Rover
changed the current of ideas with all
the party, except Miss Seaforth and Mary
Ann: the latter was visibly uneasy during
the whole of the conversation.
Presently with light foot down came
Lucy, holding an open note in one hand,
and a sealed answer in the other. "I have
good news for you, Miss Seaforth," said
she, "and for you, dear Mary Ann: I
was very sorry that I could not accept
Miss Drummond's invitation, but it was
all for the best; for now I have got one
for Mary Ann."
She then read aloud a note to herself
from the youngest Miss Drummond, re-
questing that, as she could not come to
see them herself, she would prevail upon
her mamma to allow Miss Seaforth and
THE SISTER'S FRIEND.
Mary Ann to spend two nights with them,
and join a small select party in cele-
brating her birthday. There were to be
some beautiful fireworks, and I do not
know what besides, that was to be de-
lightful: "And dear mamma," continued
Lucy, her eyes beaming with good hu-
mour, "has given her consent to your
going; and I have written to Miss Drum-
mond to say so; and I am very glad
indeed that it has turned out so plea-
Miss Seaforth was much pleased, thank-
ed Lucy heartily, and felt no checks of
conscience for her late conduct towards
It was not so with Mary Ann, whose
heart so smote her, that a circumstance
which a week before would have delighted
her, scarcely now gave her any pleasure;
and her acknowledgments to Lucy, though
sincere, were spiritless.
TIHE SISTER 'S FRIEND.
"And when are they to go ?" asked
On Thursday," answered Lucy.
I wish you could have gone too," said
William to his eldest sister; you would
have liked it."
How can I go," replied Lucy, "and
leave dear mamma, at a time when she
wants all my help."
Could not Mary Ann have whipped
us ?" asked Amelia, smiling.
No, that she could not," said William;
"I am sure she should not have whipped
me, for one."
Perhaps not whipped you," answer-
ed Lucy, smiling; "but she could have
kept you in order if you had required
I do not think that she would have
kept me in order," returned William.
"And why not ?" said Lucy.
"Because," replied William, "I do not
THE SISTER'S r IEi~D.
think that Mary Ann is much wiser than
Come, come," interrupted Lucy, jump-
ing up hastily, I must have no more or
this; you are a very saucy young gentle-
man: but, seriously, as dear mamma had
entrusted me with the care of so many
things, I should not have felt that I was
acting faithfully in giving up my charge
to any other person, for the sake of a
scheme of pleasure. Do you not think I
am right ?"
"You always are," answered Amelia.
Lucy then rang the bell and despatched
the note. Tea, and William's favourite
Christmas day was welcomed betimes in
the morning by the ringing of bells. It
was spent in most respects like Sunday,
except that the dinner hour was earlier,
and all the little ones, not excepting rosy
George, dined down stairs; there was also
TI1E SISTER'S FRIEND.
a large party of poor people in the servants'
hall, and after dinner, Mrs. Shirley and her
children went out to speak to them.
These occasional interchanges of cour-
tesy and friendly sympathy, Mrs. Shirley
considered as most important habits for
her children to acquire. This familiarity
with our inferiors, accompanied by a lu-
dicrous observation of their peculiarities,
commonly called quizzing, she justly con-
sidered as quite foreign to that true Chris-
tian politeness which teaches us to con-
sider others as better than ourselves, and
wholly inconsistent with the humility of a
Christian. This sweet day and the next
passed away, and Thursday arrived.
Whilst Mary Ann was assisted in her
little preparations by her sisters, who
seemed to be rejoicing in this prospect
of a pleasant scheme for her, she longed
to open her heart to Lucy; yet a false
shame, still mixed with gloomy suspicion,
THE SISTER'S rFIETD.
kept her silent, and she, in fact, was the
only sorrowful one of the three.
Before she left home she called upon
her mother in her dressing-room, and
when she had kissed her father, and taken
her leave of him, her mother said to her,
" My dearest girl, I hope you will enjoy
yourself; bat with all this you must be on
your watch, doubly so, for instead of your
dear faithful Lucy, you will have a com-
pauion with you of whom we must at least
admit, that we know but little : I wish I
could have seen more of her than I have
done; but she is so very silent and re-
served before me, that I am more a
stranger to her than I could wish; but
I hope you have sense enough, or rather
I should say, I hope you know where to
look for wisdom, to teach you to receive
with caution every new opinion, and every
new sentiment; and this little trial of
your prudence may be of use to you, and
THE SISTER'S FRIEND.
I trust you will be very open with me
when yoa come home." After adding
something more, Mrs. Shirley took leave
of her daughter.
When Mary Ann went down stairs, she
found Amelia and her two brothers alone
together. "And so, Mary Ann," said
William, "you are going to change your
governor or governess; I wish you joy of
"What do you mean ?" asked Mary
Ann. "I have no governors except papa
and mamma, have I ?"
"Miss Seaforth says Lucy is your go-
verness, and that she rules you with a rod
of iron; but I am sure she herself rules
you with a much heavier one."
"I do not understand what you are
"You do not choose to understand,"
replied William. But you talk of being
independent, and you are a great deal more
TUE SISTER 'S FRIEN).
afraid of Miss Seaforth than ever you were
"You will see through her, by and by,"
"Yes, when it is too late," said William.
"When the steed is stolen you will shut
the stable door. Miss Seaforth will set
you by the ears with Lucy before she has
done with you."
"I have no patience," said Amelia, "to
hear her talk as she does about Lucy, and
she is not fit to wipe her shoes."
"No, that she is not," repeated Thomas.
It is uncertain how much more these
three children would have said in dispraise
of Miss Seaforth, had not she herself en-
tered the room, and immediately afterwards
followed Lucy; and, in a few moments, the
carriage drove to the door. Miss Seaforth
was in high spirits, but Mary Ann took a
constrained leave of her brothers and sis-
ters, and the carriage drove away to Mr.
THE SISTER'S FRIENKI).
Drummond's house, where we shall not
Nothing particular occurred during the
absence of the two young people ; the little
party at home were very happy, and Wil-
liam and Amelia congratulated each other
on the absence of their enemy.
A few minutes before dinner, on Satur-
day, Miss Seaforth and Mary Ann re-
turned home; but both were out of spirits,
and Miss Seaforth had a bad cold. Wil-
liam, who was very curious about fire-
works, allowed however of no stagnation
in the discourse, and plied his sister and
Miss Seaforth with questions upon the
subject all dinner time. Dinner was
scarcely concluded, and the party ga-
thered round the fire, than a ring was
heard at the door-bell, and immediately
a servant announced captain Douglas,
and in came an elderly gentleman, who
accosted the young party, joyfully gather-
THII STSTER 'S riuEND.
ing round him, with a hearty shake of the
hand, and "I-ow do you all do ?" uttered
with a sailor-like bluntness. He then ap-
proached Mrs. Shirley, and inquired with
real interest after Mr. Shirley.
These ceremonies being concluded, he
sat down in Mr. Shirley's arm chair in
the middle of the circle, and William and
Thomas placed themselves on either side
of him, while Emma and Charlotte were
presently on each knee, and Rover, roused
by the general bustle from his sound sleep
in front of the fire, acknowledged him to
be a friend of the family by a faint wagging
of his tail, whilst he still kept his warm post.
After a short pause, during which every-
body looked very happy: "Well, young
gentlemen," said the captain, "on what
day did you return ?"
Last Thursday week," answered Wil-
"And I understand you set out in com-
n 2 89
THE SISTER'8 FrIEND.
pany with my Newfoundland dog. I must
ask you some questions about him by and
by, for he has never reached home yet.
And my friend Amelia is grown very much
too. And is that an acquaintance of
mine?" continued he, looking at Miss
Seaforth; "these young people grow up
so fast, that I am always making mis-
"She is the daughter of my cousin,
whom you may remember," replied Mrs.
'.' ; ,, "before her marriage, Miss Mar-
"Ah! that I do," said captain Doug-
las, she was very pretty, and, what is
better, very good." He then looked for
some time very earnestly at Miss Sea-
forth: "I can trace her mother," added
ho, "in those dark eycs."
Well, my dear child, your mother
was a pious woman, and I hope you will
resemble her in that respect, as well as
THE SISTERn FriIEND.
in the features of your face." As he
spoke, he reached out his hand to shake
Miss Seaforth returned the captain's
civility with great good humour; from
some cause or other, she seemed a good
deal pleased with his address.
The captain had something to lay to
all the party; for it seemed he hai been
absent from home for several weeks. He
asked Mary Ann after her young phea-
sants, and guinea-fowls, for she was very
fond of these creatures; and then- he
said, he feared she had had a great mor-
tality amongst her favourites, for she
did not look in such good spirits as
And now, Miss Shirley," he proceeded,
"I am come to know when I am to see
you all at my cottage; I have never been
disappointed yet in my Christmas visit. I
I uthv l fyu hstma es
THE SISTER 'S FRIEND.
down to Sophia; the rest, I suppose, go to
bed with the chickens.
"Mrs. Shirley, you will give leave; and
suppose we fix Monday, for there is a
moon, and I must have you stay to sup-
This affair was soon arranged, the
scheme seemed to afford universal satis-
faction; other subjects of discourse were
then entered into. Soon afterwards Mrs.
Shirley and her daughters removed into
the breakfast-room, where captain Doug-
las promised to join them.
Mrs. Shirley stayed down stairs to tea,
after which she withdrew, and was shortly
followed by Mary Ann, who gently knock-
ing at the dressing-room door, found her
Come in, my dear," said Mrs. Shirley,
"for I am quite at liberty; your father has
fallen asleep in his arm chair in the next
room, and does not want me. I long to
know whether you have had a pleasant
Mary Ann sat down by her mother,
who, accustomed to watch every change
in the countenance of her children, was
well aware that something now lay upon
her mind; but she wished to invite con-
fidence rather than press it.
"My dearest child," said she, "have
you had a pleasant visit, and were your
friends kind to you?"
All very kind to me, mamma; and you
heard at dinner about the fireworks, and
every thing of that sort."
"Well, my love, and did you find your-
self in any difficulty? did you feel at a
loss for me or Lucy ?"
Mary Ann was silent.
How do you like the companion
that you took with you, my dear ? you
have seen more of her since you have
THE SISTER'S FrIEUND.
"A little more, mamma; we slept to-
"And did you find any difficulties from
that circumstance ?"
"Dear mamma," said Mary Ann, "I
have been in difficulties ever since Miss
Seaforth has been with us." And here
she burst into tears.
"And you wish to tell me your diffi-
culties, my beloved child."
Yes, dear mamma, I do; but I hardly
know how to begin. I have been very
"Before you went out, were you so ?"
"Yes, mamma; and it was going out
that made me resolve upon speaking to
You have not looked like yourself for
some days; but Lucy told me that she
thought you had been tired with several
long walks you had taken."
"Dear Lucy, how have I treated her!"
TIE SISTER'S FRIEND,
From different little things dropped in
conversation by Amelia and William, Mrs.
Shirley had lately gained some idea of
what had been going on since Miss Sea-
forth's arrival, and wishing now to assist
her daughter in laying open her mind,
she said to her, Have your difficulties
lain with Miss Seaforth ? has she been a
bad adviser to you ?"
"Mamma," replied Mary Ann, "she
has been making mischief between Lucy
and me, and I have been so wicked as to
listen to her."
"I am sorry that you have," replied
Mrs. Shirley, most solicitous to express
her sense of her daughter's fault in such
a way as not to check her further con-
Relieved by having made a beginning,
Mary Ann proceeded to relate to her
mother every thing that Miss Seaforth
had suggested to her respecting Lucy,
THE SISTER S RIElND.
from the time she arrived till the day
she went to Mr. Drummond's house, nor
did she keep back the account of her own
behaviour to Lucy.
Mrs. Shirley looked and felt really con-
cerned; and, when Mary Ann ceased
speaking, she thus replied.
"You say that what passed while you
were out decided you upon laying your
heart open to me; explain this, my child."
"I was very, very unhappy, dear mam-
ma, when I left home, and several things
that Amelia and William had said to me,
just before I went out, seemed very much
to open my eyes; and when I arrived at
Mr. Drummond's I could enjoy nothing,
because I was always thinking of Lucy.
The next morning, when we were called,
I was going to get up, but Miss Seaforth
begged me to lie a little longer in bed,
and she began to talk to me in a very
foolish way, about different people we had
TIIE SISTER'S FRIEND.
seen the evening before, and said many
things which I should not wish to repeat.
I had never heard her talk in this way
before, and I felt very much disgusted
with her. So at last I said I must get
up, or I should not be ready for breakfast.
"' Do you take such a long while to
dress ?' asked she.
"' I shall soon be dressed,' I answered;
'but I always like to read a chapter in the
Bible before I go down stairs.'
"' What! is it Sunday morning ?' said
"'No,' I answered; 'but I generally
read a chapter every day.'
So, she added, she supposed I was as
great a methodist as Lucy. I was so
unhappy that I did not seem then to
mind what she said; so I got up and
dressed myself, and when I had finished
my prayers, I read my Bible as usual,
and all the time I was reading she seemed
THE SISTER'S FIIEND.
to be trying to interrupt me, by asking
me a great many silly questions. I did
not see much more of her that day, be-
cause she was generally talking to the
strangers that were in the house, and I
was chiefly with the youngest Miss Drum-
mond. I thought that Mr. and Mrs.
Drummond did not like her, for they said
to me, that I had a great advantage in
so amiable a sister as Lucy, and that I
could not follow a better example. That
day, you know, was Miss Drummond's
birthday; the evening was very fine, and
we went out to see the fireworks: they
were very beautiful, but I did not care
about them. The bells of a distant church
were ringing, and they made me think of
Lucy. I remembered how often we had
walked together listening to those very
bells, and how sweetly and profitably she
had talked to me; and then I remembered
seeing her wipe away her tears the day