HOW TO WIN LOVE.
Opinions of the Press.
' A very captivating story."~-Afoming Post.
" Truthfulness, descriptive talent, and pure morality in every line."Literary Gazette.
" Just what a story for children ought to he."Douglas Jerrold's l\'ev>paper.
" A delightful little book, which will not only attract the young, but minister instruction to the instructor) of youth."Edinbro' Witness.
" Sound and wholesome, while it is fresh and pleasant."Athenaeum.
HOW TO WIN LOVE;
A STORY FOR THE YOl'NCi.
BY THE AUTHOR OF MICHAEL THE MINER,'' *c.
ARTHUR HALL & CO., 25, PATERNOSTER ROW.
L0HD05 JOBEPn R1CKBRBT, PRI5TKR liBIRBOl'RK UH.
to her dear little friends, FRANCES, KITTY, AND JEANNIE, by
Ih| schoolmistress and her pupils
the new mother
the right wins
the two friends
a pleasure trip
HAPPY < hanof.
the love won
CONTENTS. CHAPTER VI.
and its end
CHAPTER VII. CHAPTER VIII. CHAPTER IX. CHAPTER X.
HOW TO WIN LOVE;
THE SCHOOLMISTRESS AND HER PUPILS.
I do not think, if you had searched all England through, you could have found a prettier village school-house than that of Burntwood. It stood at the foot of a hill, on the slope of which the village was built; and at the summit was the church. This said church was a red brick building of modern times, whereas the school-bouse was quite ancient, se-
veral hundred years old. Many an artist came to sketch it, with its irregular jutting gables, in the old Gothic style; its narrow lancet windows, and its crumbling walls, over which the ivy crept even to the very summit of the stone cross which crowned the buildinff. Many of the villagers wondered that people should come to draw the old school, while there was a fine new church, with a tall steeple and a gilt weathercock, close by. But they did not understand Art at all.
The school was called by a strange name" Lady Anne's Bounty House." The village people, accustomed to this title, never thought about its origin; but sometimes a stranger chanced to inquire the reason, and then they were often-
times sadly puzzled for an answer. They could only show over the doorway an A and an F, entwined with a cross, and a legend in Old English letters, which few could make out, but which a learned antiquarian read thus :
gtnnc jforcstcr in prnttentia fecit.
And this same antiquarian, who was the rector of a neighbouring parish, said it referred to an old tale about a proud lady, who had an only son, whom she brought up to be as haughty as herself, controlling him in nothing, and suffering him to treat all his vassals as if they were his slaves. One day, in violent anger, the young lord slew his huntsman ; and from that time, though no justice overtook the highborn murderer, he
never knew peace, but died raving mad. His mother, in atonement for the sin which her own evil teaching had caused, built an asylum for orphan children, which was called from her, Lady Anne's Bounty House." The name remained, but the asylum had long since been changed into a common village school, into which a few orphans were received free, while the farmers around sent their children to learn more or less as they chose.
The mistress of the Bounty House was very different from the general race of village schoolmistresses. She was a young gentle-looking creature; almost pretty, with a low voice and quiet feminine manners, that made every one instinctively treat her as though she were
a lady born. Perhaps she might have been, for no one knew anything more of her, but that her name was Winifred Lee.
When, two years before the time of our story, the school was in want of a mistress, Winifred Lee had presented herself before the churchwardens, and asked for the situation. She won upon them so much with her meek ways, that they gave it to her without any questioning. Only after all was settled, one of them glancing at her mourning dress and her wedding-ring, observed that of course she was a widow, and without children, as such only were eligible to the situation.
Winifred Lee answered, No; that she was not a widow." While she
spoke, her cheek crimsoned, and her eyes filled with tears. The churchwarden was a kindhearted man, and asked no further, but said cheerfully that rules were made to be broken, and, whether widow or not, she should be the schoolmistress still. And more than this no one in the parish knew of Winifred Lee. Nevertheless, she was generally liked, for she had always some little kindness ready for every one ; and in her own school she was warmly beloved.
Winifred Lee lived in a tiny cottage next to the school-house, quite alone. Her two rooms were the very perfection of neatness, like herself; and had, like herself, a certain indescribable charm which showed the presence of taste in the occupier: it seemed as if good
fairies always haunted the place, to sweep the hearth invisibly, and make each chair walk back of its own accord to the proper place, and keep the cat within bounds of the strictest propriety, so that no milk was ever spilled, or plate broken, or cotton unwound, within the cottage of Mrs. Lee. (She was most frequently called Winifred Lee, for she was so young that the Mrs. hardly seemed to belong to her, and her out-of-the-way Christian name fixed itself on everybody's memory. Even her scholars sometimes called their teacher dear Winifred," or dear Winny ;" the affectionate prefix serving instead of a title; as if love were worth more than cold respect, as in truth it always is.
If I were to go through the catalogue
of Winifred Lee's pupils, and describe the various characters, the conflicting elements of which every school is composed, I should never make an end. All were different, from little Letty Dean, the pet of the school, up to tall Jane Worth -ington, who was the head of all, and to whom the girls looked up with awe almost greater than to Winifred herself, since Jane was an inch higher than the gentle schoolmistress, and could talk twice as fast. All these had doubtless characters and dispositions worthy of being delineated; and we might tell innumerable stories about them, but that we choose not to do so. The only two to whom our story refers are those who were for various reasons best loved by their teacher, Rhoda Ashton and Annie Mayne.
My little friends, do you expect me to describe these two girls, in whom I wish you to take an interest ? Must I tell you how pretty they were, what colour their hair was, and how bright their eyes shone? I shall do no such thing. I shall not say one word about their appearance. Picture them as you will, or take the face of some dear sister or favourite playmate for your ideal of Rhoda or Annie.
They were neither of them in a high sphere of life. Rhoda was a farmer's daughter, the only one among a troop of great rough brothers, some younger, some older than herself. She was not more than twelve years of age, and yet she had been for a year the little mistress of the family, for her mother had
long been dead. Rhoda just remembered the night when she was roused hastily out of sleep, and carried to her parents' room to receive her mother's last kiss. The scene long haunted the child's memorythe still room, the white face that rested on the pillowher father, whom then, for the first and last time, she saw weep.
Rhoda, being the only daughter, had had her own way all her life. She had experienced most of the evils that wait on the lot of a motherless child, being at times foolishly indulged, at others treated with carelessness and occasional harshness. So she grew up much like a wild plant, and had never known any guidance, until Winifred Lee came, with her firm, yet gentle sway, so es-
sentially womanly, to mould the character of the motherless girl. What that character was, will be seen as we go on.
Annie Mayne was the very opposite of Rhoda Ash ton. It might be that Winifred Lee loved her best of all her pupils, but in this she was only like every one who knew Annie. The child from her very cradle had been the darling of all who were near her. Slight, delicate, without beauty to attract, and with little of the quickness and intelligence which makes clever children so amusing, Annie Mayne was yet universally beloved. The secret was, that her own little heart overflowed with love; and this communicated itself to others by an irresistible spell, that awoke in them
12 THE SCHOOLMISTRESS AND HER riTPILS.
like feelings. She was always winning, because she never thought of herself; she was always happy, because her first care was to make others so; and most of all, her mother. This dear mother but the next chapter will tell all the little secrets about her.
THE NEW MOTHER.
One sunny afternoon in autumn, W ini-fred Lee was in the act of dismissing her little flock. The whole schoolroom was full of the busy murmur of departure, books rustled, slates fell, work was hastily wrapped up and put away, and there was a general gathering in the shawl and bonnet corner, from whence came whispering and laughing much louder than the order of schoolrooms ever permitted. One by one the girls gave their usual affectionate good-bye to their teacher, and filed off in twos and
threes up the village, or through the green still meadows, to their more distant homes.
At last there were only two left in the little corner.
" Why do you sit here. Rhoda, instead of getting your bonnet on ?" said the somewhat harsh voice of the elder pupil, "Jane the Giantess," as the wags of the school entitled her in secret, when they dared. Don't you see that I am quite ready?"
" I don't want to go home," muttered Rhoda, with a pouting lip and a heightened colour. You know that as well as I do."
" The poor little child! it is afraid, since its new mother comes home today," sarcastically answered the other.
" How dare you call her my mother, Jane?" angrily cried the child. I hate her, the ugly old woman !"
" Tis well Annie Mayne is not here," said the tall pupil.
" I don't care for her, nor her mother either. I hate them both. I will never .speak to Annie Mayne from morning till night, and I will not have her for my sister at all. I wish 1 might never go home again."
" Then stay in the woods all night, pretty dear, like Caspar Hauser and Peter the Wild Boy," said Jane, who was rather fond of showing off her knowledge and her reading. There are no wild beasts to eat the darling there, and perhaps its new mother might."
" If you call her by that name again I
will beat you, big as you are," sobbed the child, while her face grew crimson with anger, she shook her little hand, fiercely clenched, at her schoolfellow; and then, burying her face in her pinafore, burst into a flood of tears.
When Rhoda looked up. she saw that her taunting adversary was gone, and a face very different from that of the sharp-featured Jane was bending over her.
" What is the matter with you,Rhoda?" said the schoolmistress, in a voice which, though serene, was somewhat grave. H Why did I see you so angry with your playfellow just now ? and why have you been weeping so bitterly ?"
The calm tone fell upon the child's angry spirit like oil upon the waters. She would have buried her face in Wini-
fred's bosom, but that she knew her teacher had seen the outbreak of passion in which she had indulged; and there was a look of quiet reproach in her mild eyes before which Rhoda's own sunk abashed.
" I am sorry, dear Winny," she murmured ; u but I am very unhappy, and that cruel Jane torments me so."
' Why are you unhappy, my child?" said Winifred, in a tone so gentle and affectionate, that it opened all the floodgates of the child's sorrow, and she poured out all her heart.
" Why, dear Winifred, all the village knows it, and I am sure all the village is sorry for me. It was so unkind of father to go and marry again, after all these years. And that cold, grave Mrs. Mayne tooI never liked her; I
hate her now. Oh, dear Winny, I will not, I cannot go lionio for they nviII be back to-day. I am so very miserable. What a dreadful thing it is to have a step-mother!"
" I do not see that, Rhoda," said Winifred Lee, almost smiling at the girl's energy. Who told you so? "
" Everybody says so."
" Who is everybody,' my dear ? "
Rhoda blushed and stammered a little: "Why several people: Mrs. AVhitfield, at the farm:no, not that she said so exactly ; and as for any one else, I don't clearly remember. Yes, 1 do : it was old Dame Morris, who called me 'poor child;' and said how hard it was for my father to give me a new mother to rule over me."
" So the everybody' turns out to be a talkative old woman, of whom you yourself told me the other day that I must not believe half she said. Is that all, my dear Rhoda ?"
" Do not laugh at me.'* said the child, imploringly-" I am so very unhappy1 shall never be content again. Why would not my father be content with me for his little housekeeper, after Aunt Sarah died? I should have learnt in time to do just as well as she, and he need not have married again."
"Now, Rhoda," said the schoolmistress, drawing the girl towards her, let us quietly talk over this great sorrow of yours. Do you remember how many times you have come to me in tears, and told me how you had given your good,
kind father much cause of anger, when you had mislaid the keys, or forgotten to scour the milk-pans, or omitted many things which it was quite in your power to do, though you are still but young?"
Rhoda hung her head, but said nothing.
" Have you forgotten that day when your father and brothers came home tired and hungry to supper, and you had placed the meat where the cat had stolen it, and left the ale running until the barrel was quite dry ? And you know, how that your father was more sorrowful than angry, and said to me that things never went on in this way before; and he feared Rhoda would never grow up a careful, notable woman, like her poor mother."
" I remember it all," answered Rhoda,
humbly ; how sorry I was, and how I promised to amend : and I think I did. Ah, no for the next week, my father was very angry about a great hole in his stocking, which he found out when he was coming home from church. Dear Winny, I begin to think it is partly my own fault, that this trouble has come : if I had been a better daughter, my father might not have taken another wife."
" It may be so, my love ; but I do not see why you should call it a trouble. In the first place, your father might have gone through all the parish, and not have found so excellent a woman for his second wife as Mrs. Mayne. With regard to his own comfort, which ought to be his child's principal consideration, what
an excellent manager she is how her small house has been a pattern to the whole village! And then your father and she have been friends all their lifetime ; so that she knows his character thoroughly, and therefore is much more likely to make him happy."
" No one has a right to make my own father happy but myself," said the jealous child, with angry tears again rushing to her eyes.
" But what if you cannot, Rhoda, in many things ? While good aunt Sarah lived, your father had his sister to keep his house in order, and take care of his children, so that there was little need of a second wife. I know that in this marriage your father has not thought of himself alone : he considered how good it
would be for his little girl to have a new mother to guide her in all good ways, as she grows up into womanhood."
"1 will not be ruled by her. I dislike Mrs. Mayne with all my heart."
" Why so, my dear Rhoda ? You are the only one who does dislike her in the whole neighbourhood. What can you say against her ? "
" She is so formal, so grave, so cold. I never shall learn to love her, nor be happy when she is near me."
" Yet how warmly her own child loves her! and 1 am sure there is not a happier girl anywhere than Annie Mayne. If she loves her mother, why should not you?"
"I will not try," sullenly answered Rhoda, setting her rosy lips firmly to-
gether, and pouting, with a look that would have spoiled the most beautiful mouth in the worldand hers was, 1 confess, a very pretty onethough it seemed positively ugly now.
Winifred Leo looked very grave, and almost sighed. That moment there rose up to her memory the sweet loving face of Annie Mayne, over which a cloud like this had never come ; and her first impulse was to turn away from the sullen child, and try no more to calm those evil feelings that triumphed in Rhoda's bosom. There was in them something so abhorrent to Winifred's own nature, that when she looked at Rhoda, where she stood with frowning brow and lips compressed, all her love for the girl seemed to grow cold. She no more could have
taken the hand, or kissed that angry face, than she could have touched a disagreeable reptile.
Oh my dear children, if you did but know how the heart instinctively turns from a sullen countenancehow hateful is that expression which some like to put on when they are ever so slightly offended, thinking it a point of honour not to smile or speak, but to look sulky for hourshow such a look changes the warmest love of parent, or sister, or friend, into dislike at least, for the time if you knew all this, you would never put on a sullen face, and think to gain your point by it, any more than by placing a toad, or some ugly creature, in your friends' sight, to imagine they can thus be won over to regard it, or you, more
favourably. Is it not so? Believe me, no sulky person, whether young or old, ever yet added to his dignity, or gained his end. And, oh the wealth of love the most precious thing on earththat has been lost by it !
Even Winifred, gentle and considerate as she was, thought of sending the child away, and hearing no more from her. But on second thoughts she determined to try once morefor the peace of Farmer Ashton's family, and chiefly for the sake of sweet Annie Mayneto soften Rhoda's mind towards her new mother and sister. But this required considerable tact. No one can be tutored into loving another. Yet it is quite possible to win the mind into a milder frame, so as to dispose it to see things in the sunny light of charity
and kindness, instead of through the mist of prejudice, which obscures every good quality, and gives added shadows to those dark spots of error which are in every nature, either more or less.
So Winifred, with her stratagems of love, said not another word about Annie Mayne, but led the child's attention to other things.
" I think we have talked long enough in this dark schoolroom," she said. It seems so large, and dnll, and melancholy, when all my little ones are out of .it. Come, Rhoda, let" us lock up the doors, and go out into the open air."
Winifred closed her high desk, gathered up her work, and then came again to the corner where she had left Rhoda. But the girl still stood in the same
place, with her head hung down, and her finger at her lips, in confirmed obstinacy.
Winifred's heart almost failed her; but she made an effort, took the reluctant hand from the little girl's mouth, and said in a firm, though calm tone, which the child knew there was no gainsaying, Rhodft, here is your bonnet; come, and come at once."
Rhoda took it in sullen silence ; spent a long time in knotting the strings, and untying them again ; and then followed her instructress without any opposition.
Winifred Lee would gladly have got rid of the disagreeable face by her side, and have shut herself up with her birds, and her pretty cat, in her own neat room; where everything, down to the
very flowers that peeped in at the window, seemed to look pleasantly at her. But she was one of those angels upon earth who never think of themselves while they can do good to others. So when she reached the garden-gate, she took Rhoda's hand, and said,M Wait here; and I will fetch my bonnet and shawl, and walk with you across the meadows homeward."
" I thought you told me you had intended to work in your garden all the evening, Mrs. Lee," said Rhodashe would not say "dear Winny" now.
" Yes; but I will put it off until tomorrow, and go with you as you seem dull."
Rhoda smileda sort of faint twilight smilebut still one that swept
awav some of the clouds from her face.'
" You are very kind; I think von do care for me a little, if no one else does."
80 the schoolmistress and her young pupil went hand-in-hand through the fields that were just brightened with the last rays of the autumn sun. Winifred knew the invisible spell by which even the look of the outside world influences the human heart; and when she drew Rhoda*s attention to the beautifulj evening sky, she had a wTise and deep purpose in it. When they reached the gate of the farm, Rhoda put up her face to kiss her teacher, and Winifred saw that the shadow had partly passed away. As she stooped down, she said gently,
" Now, my love, remember it will
pain your father if you are not good tonight. Come, and tell me to-morrow how well you have behaved, and how much you like your new mother."
And without allowing Rhoda time to answer, Winifred turned away to her solitary home.
We will not follow Winifred Lee, or betray the secret thoughts which rilled
her bosom, and made her linger on her homeward walk, walking with sad eyes cast down, so absorbed as to be utterly unmindful of things which at other times she loved so wellthe golden clouds the beautiful earth. We will not tell why it was that the sunset faded into grey, and the stars came out, yet Winifred saw them not; nor why, when she entered her cottage, it was with the look of one who has been in a dream.
Let us relate how Rhoda Ashton passed through this great trial, as she thought, the hardest in her life.
The young girl stood for a long time irresolute at the garden gate. She watched the lights flitting past the windows, as the house grew darker, and heard at times the sound of merry .laughter, so that she knew her father and his wife were come home. She crept under the shadow of the trees to the window of the best parlour; a room that was seldom used, as the family generally took their meals in the large kitchen, leaving this apartment to be occupied by Rhoda alone. It was there she kept her books,the few she had,and there she arranged her nosegays of flowers, and placed all the girlish treasures that she
wished to place out of the way of the boys.
As Rhoda looked in she saw the whole family gathered round a bright fire; the tea was laid, the buttered toast placed on the hearth. The kettle sang on the bars, and all seemed cheerful and bright. Her father sat in his own arm-chair, looking so content and comfortable; and beside him his new wife was pouring out the tea. All round the table the boys, great and small, were collected, laughing and chattering, and already seeming quite at home with their stepmother. 1
Rhoda saw all this, and her little heart swelled almost to bursting. They all appeared so happyhappy without her; indeed they seemed never to think of her at all. She had not heard how, the
minute beiore, her father had anxiously inquired for his little girl, and had only been made easy by young Robert Ash-ton's account of having seen his sister and Winifred Lee crossing the field together. But Rhoda, unacquainted with this, felt the desolation of being forgotten amidst gaiety, and burning tears of mingled sorrow and indignation overflowed her eyes.
" Nobody loves me, nobody cares for me now," she said, sobbing.- I wish I were dead, like my poor mother. But they shall suffer for this; 1 will run away, and not come home at all. I will make a bed of leaves, and sleep all night in the wood, or under the hayrick; anywhere, so as to make them miserable without me."
She sat down under a tall hollv-tree that grew beside the window, and tried to think of nothing except her own anger, and the cruelty of all her friends. Every time a fresh burst of merriment reached her ear, she sobbed anew with mortification and grief. Then she determined to be very brave and go to the wood, to make her bed of leaves; and she pictured to herself how miserable her father would be when she never came home; and how even the new wife would be forgotten in the lost daughter. It would be such a pride to hide herself, and hear them seeking for her; and what a triumph she would have when she came home again Perhaps she might even persuade her father to send away the odious step-
mother and Annie Mayne, for good and all.
While these thoughts passed through the brain of the foolish little maiden, the night grew darker, and a chill autumn dew began to fall. She felt herself growing hungry, and then remembered that she had had no food since dinner, and there was nothing but blackberries in the wood ; and even those would be hard enough to find by starlight. A cold shiver passed over her; and as Rhoda drew her shawl closer, she thought how damp the fallen leaves would be, and how different to her own pretty little bed with its white curtains.
Just then the firelight flickered against the holly-tree, with a glow that seemed perfectly delicious to the shivering girl
outside. She longed to be near the bright hearth; but her pride would not give way. She rubbed her hands together, and tried to keep out the cold, and forget the hunger; but visions of the blazing fire, and the warm tea and toast, would still come to weaken all her heroic resolutions. How long she might have stood it out," as children say of persevering in a quarrel, it is impossible to tell, had not a fortunate chance determined the event.
While her mind was in this state of conflict, Rhoda heard the hall-door open. A lingering feeling, half of pride, half of shame, made her hide still deeper in the thick holly-bushes, from whence she peeped out, and saw her father standing close by.
" I can't rest any longer within doors. I must go and look after this poor child," said Farmer Ashton, in anxious tones. Are you quite sure you saw her, Bob ? Tell me over again where it was.
Bob repeated his information.
"Down by the hill-side?" said the father; that is close by here. What can have kept them so long? I should be very uneasy, if it were not that the child was with Winifred Lee. You're sure it was Winifred?"
" Yes, father, quite sure. But suppose I go and halloo for them at the farm-gate. The night is so still, they would hear me a long way off."
" Do so, Bob. I don't feel content without ray little girl."
All this Rhoda listened to, and still she would not yield. A childish feeling of self-importance at the part she was playing was added to her former angry temper; and none of the heroes and heroines which you read of in Greek or Roman history, ever felt themselves of more consequence, or more sublime in injured innocence than did Rhoda Ashton, as she drew herself up under her holly shelter, and listened contentedly to the echoes of her brother's voice, which made the country about resound with the name of Rhoda.
" They see what it is to lose me now," thought the obstinate little damsel; but I will hold out yet."
Still her father stood at the hall-door; and as the night advanced a chilly rain began to fall. It could not yet pene-
trate the thick holly-leaves; but Rhoda heard her father complaining of the cold, damp night.
" Do come in, James," said the voice of Mrs. Ashton; it is beginning to rain, and you will catch your death of cold."
" No, nothank you," answered the farmer. I don't think of myself, but of that poor child, who is out in the rain. Suppose she has lost her way, and come to some harm." And Rhoda heard her father's voice tremble with anxiety, until her heart melted. She advanced one foot out of her hiding-place; but was stopped by her stepmother, saying, in what seemed to her pejudiced mind, a dry, caustic, and meaning tone," I don't believe anything of the kind.
Children don't get lost quite so soon; and Rhoda is old enough to take care of herself. Do not make yourself unhappy about nothing. Come in, and Robert will soon find her."
But the father only shook his hand, and never moved until Robert came back.
" 1 have been up and down the fields everywhere," said the boy. I think she must have gone back with Winifred Lee."
" Then I'll go and see after her there," answered the farmer. Come, boy, fetch me my hat and greatcoat, and a lantern, for the night is so dark."
" You are not surely going across those damp misty fields; with your rheumatism too," said the wife, with a pardonable anxiety.
" Yes, but T am though! Don't be cross, good wife, the lads will amuse you till I come back ; but I cannot rest without my poor child."
" You are quite right," answered Mrs. Ashton, as she helped her husband on with his coat, and tied a warm handkerchief over his chin. 1 should have done the same were it my own Annie.''
the right wins.
Fak.mkk Ashton had scarcely got to the farm-gate when he heard a timid voice; calling behind him" Father, father, pray stop"while his coat was seized, and his little daughter stood beside him, half laughing, half crying. In a minute she was lifted up in his great arms, and kissed and hugged with the utmost delight.
" Where have you been, my poor child? Why did not you come home? Are you all right ? Is nothing the matter?" were the farmer's hurried questions.
Rhoda only answered one :" There is nothing at all the matter, dear fa." This was an abbreviation of father, and a pet name she gave him. How sweet such names are sometimes!
" Then what are you crying for, my little Rhoda?"
" Only because I am so glad to see you, and so happy." And, in truth, Rhoda, as she laid her head on her father's shoulder, and saw his kindness and love towards her, did feel the happiest girl in the world. But mingled with these better feelings was triumph at the success of her scheme, which rose superior to the lurking consciousness of having done wrong in giving him so much pain.
" We were getting quite uncomfort-
able, I andand your mother? Farmer Ashton rather hesitated at the word ; and Rhoda, as soon as she heard it, felt all the evil passions rising up again.
" I am sorry you were anxious, father ; as for her, I don't care whether she is or not."
Rhoda muttered the last part of the sentence, which she durst not say aloud. Her father went on.
" Now, my dear child, let us come in the house, and you shall tell me how you got lost."
But Rhoda hung back. I don't want to go in, father. I had rather stay out in the rain with you here, than go
in-doors to that"-the sentence ended
in a burst of tears.
Her father though not a man of very quick penetrationcould not but guess, in some measure, Avhat was passing in her mind. At another time he might have been angry; but now his heart was softened by the anxiety he had endured, and he only said, in a tone which showed his evident annoyance," Don't be foolish, child. Everybody will be kind to you, and glad to see you, I'll answer for it. Don't take any nonsensical ideas into your head, to make your father uncomfortable ; but give me your hand and come along."
Without resistance, Rhoda was half-led, half-carried, by her father's strong hand, until she found herself in the centre of the family group.
" So you are come home at last,
Rhoda!" "Where have you been?" What made you stay out, and frighten us all?" were questions that resounded on every side.
" Don't teaze the child," said Farmer Ashton, rather angrily. Rhoda go and kiss your mother: she has been waiting for you this long time."
Rhoda darted a glance from under her long lashes, still heavy with tears, to where her stepmother stood, earnestly regarding her; but not a foot did the child stir. Yet there was nothing repulsive in the calm, matronly aspect of the second Mrs. Ashton : and if her face was grave, it was rather from an habitual seriousness of expression, the result of many cares, than of ill-temper, or harshness. No one but the unruly
child before her could have disliked such a second mother.
" Rhoda, my love, come and kiss me," she said gently. T dare say we shall be good friends directly."
" I won't kiss you; and T don't wish to be friends. I would not have come in at all if my father had not fetched me," replied the child, resolutely.
" So that was why you stayed out so long ?" cried Bob, the eldest brother ; while the father and mother were both silent: one from suppressed anger, and the other from wounded feeling. What a little simpleton you were, Rhoda, to stay out in the rain!"
" I was not in the rain. I hid myself under the holly-bushes; and I was a great deal more comfortable
there than 1 am here," answered his sister.
" Then you may go off to bed, you naughty ungrateful child," said Farmer Ashton, now seriously displeased. Get away, and don't let me see your sulky face again till to-morrow."
Hut here Mrs. Ashton interfered. Hush, James," she said ; M let me speak to you for a minute ;" and she drew her husband into a corner, where they talked, while the boys gathered round their sister; some laughing at her, some arguing with her. But Rhoda stood in her favourite attitude, with her finger in her mouth, and answered not a word.
At last Mrs. Ashton came, and took her little stepdaughter by the hand ; saying
softly," Your father will not send you to bed, my dear ; and we will say no more about the past. I am sure we shall all be very happy together, in time. I will try to be a good mother to you all. Let this kiss be a beginning of peace, my child." She stooped down, and pressed her lips to the still contracted brow,before Rhoda was aware. A feeling of shame prevented the girl from repulsing a token of kindness, so forgiving, and so unexpected. She left her hand in her stepmother's, and suffered Mrs. Ashton to lead her to her own little stool by her father's knee.
But though peace was outwardly restored, there was an unpleasant restraint visible over the whole family. An uneasy look rested on the honest farmer's
brow; and even though his excellent wife tried to be gaymore than was usual to her quiet and reserved nature it was evident that she too had been deeply pained. She forced a few cheerful observations about common things, and tried to set the boys again to their noisy game at all-fours at the bottom of the table. Hut, somehow or another, she could not bring things into the same happy state as Rhoda had witnessed, when she peeped in at the window an hour before.
But Mrs. Ashton was not discouraged : not even by the still angry looks of her stepdaughter. She made some warm tea for the hungry child, and drew from the oven a plate of hot cake, which had evidently been set aside.
" You see, we did think of you, Rhoda, and kept you some of our good things," said see.
No one knows what an effect some trifling act of consideration has on the mind; how often an angry spirit lias been touched by a passing token of remembrance, be it ever so slight, to show that one has been thought of in absence. When Rhoda took the nice warm plate of cake, she not only said,
" Thank you," in a tone much gentler than she had yet used, but looked up in her mother's face for the first time, seeming half-disposed to forget her ill-humour.
But, unfortunately for the continuance of this passing gleam of sunshine, one of the younger children made an obser-
vation, which again put her in mind of her fancied wrongs.
" When will our new sister come home, mother?" said little Willie, climbing on Mrs. Ashton's knee. I want to see what she is like."
" You have often seen her, Willie ; don't you remember Annie Mayne?"
" Oh, yes! dear Annie, pretty An-nie.
" Nonsense, child," said Rhoda angrily. Nobody ever called Annie Mayne pretty at all."
"But I call her pretty, sister Rhoda," persisted the boy. "I call her pretty, because she looks so sweet-tempered, and speaks so softly, and never scolds anybody. And you know that even you scold us sometimes."
the right wins.
Rhoda lifted up her hand, as if to strike her little brother; while her eyes flashed with anger. But Mrs. Ashton took firm hold of the rebellious hand, and placed it again by her side.
" Willie must not speak so to his sister ; see how he has vexed her. Go ; and make friends, Willie, dear," whispered she.
The little fellow jumped from his stepmother's lap, and put his arms round his sister's neck. No one could resist those little twining, caressing hands; and all was peace in a moment. Only, as the children went to bed, Rhoda heard little Willie whisper in Mrs. Ashton's ear,"You did not tell me when sister Annie will come home."
"To-morrow, my dear. You will be sure to see her to-morrow," answered the pleased mother.
" Oh 1 am so glad ; 1 will love her so much; dear, kind, pretty sister Annie !"
Those few words were enough to send Rhoda to her pillow, with a heart burning with jealousy and hatred. Even when sleep stilled her angry passions a little, her dreams were full of trouble and restlessness. Once when, roused out of a painful slumber, she lay in a state of half-consciousness, old memories came indistinctly upon her; and she fancied she was a little child, and her mother came and looked at her, as she always used ,'to do before she went to bed. But the face which the
girl fancied was bending over her seemed dim and indistinct; changing sometimes from the faintly-remembered image of her dead mother, to the likeness of Winifred Lee.
The child knew not that the form which thus haunted her pillow was neither the vision of the one nor the reality of the other. She who stood beside the dreaming child, with a heart full of pity and forgiveness, was, in truth, the hated stepmyther.
the two friends.
Winifred Lee's thoughts had often wandered to the farm, and to Rhoda, during the long evening that she passed alone. The child's feelings had brought back many thoughts and remembrances, which had for years lay hidden in the bosom of the young schoolmistress. Mrs. Lee out-watched every light in the village which lay beneath her window, before she closed her own shutters, and made ready to go to bed. Even when the fire was raked :do my young readers know the meaning of that term of good coun-
try housewifes, who keep in the slum-berrhg embers all night, by a clever scheme of thatching the fire with cinders ?even when this last household ceremony was ended, Winifred sat down again, with her eyes dreamily fixed on the now cheerless, blackened hearth.
" What, poof Rosy ; do you think it is time to go to bed ?" said Winifred, to her pet cat, who put its two paws on her knee with a faint mew, and a wistful look to the little room where pussy and her mistress nightly retired, Rose sleeping on a cushion at Winifred's feet. Now Rose was the most sensible cat in all the world ; and her mistress's gentleness had so completely charmed away her ancient feline habits, that she conformed to all polite usages; went regu-
larly to bed every night, like a Christian ; took her station on the table at meals, where she sat at Winifred's right hand, as demure as a lady, waiting quietly until her own saucer was filled. And, moreover, Rose was as loving and faithful, as ever pet of the dog-tribe would be; thereby proving how falsely are the feline race accused bv their ad-versaries of being incapable of affection towards those who are kind to them.
We have given this long account of Winifred's cat, because we always like to speak a good word for the ill-used species. And, besides, the picture is, we can assure our readers, drawn from naturefrom another Rosenow, alas gone to the regions of departed pussies, but leaving a pleasant memory behind.
Moreover, Winifred and her cat were a couple that could not well be separated ; for Winifred's own sweet nature was shown by the fact that all dumb animals loved her; a circumstance worthy of note. Did you ever know even a poor brute creature attach itself strongly to an ill-tempered person ? And Winifred was requited ; for many a time, in her loneliness, when her heart was ready to burst with its need of loving which had no human creature to be expended on, she felt it was a comfort to have only poor Rose to purr about her feet, or nestle on her lap for a caress. Most surely, in this world, no kindness or love is entirely thrown away.
" So you think your mistress is late, my Rosy," said Winifred again, as her
dumb friend looked up in her face quite beseechingly. Well, perhaps, it is foolish ; so I will try not to think any more. Pretty Rose, I am sure you love your poor mistress; you would not go and leave her, or take away her sole comfort ; or IJut how silly to talk to you in this manner,'' added she: while a large tear tell on the glossy skin of her favouritewhom she had thus addressed, as we often do in solitude, almost like a human creaturewho could understand and feel for her. Come, Rosy, let us go to bed," she said, at last; we must be up early to-morrow morning."
And so she was; though her night's rest had been but troubled, in spite of all her resolves. The first beams of the red October sun saw Winifred in her
garden, with Rose walking leisurely beside her, up and down the dewy walks ; sometimes rolling on the gravel, or making an excursion to a favourite tuft of lady-grass which she had almost nibbled away; at other times sitting calmly down by her mistress, intently watching the sparrows on the roof. She did it quite in an amateur fashion, though ; for Rose was too well-bred and lady-like a cat ever to catch a bird.
"Dear WinnyWinifred Lee"said a sweet voice outside; and a girl peeped through the bars of the high wicket gate, which she was not tall enough to reach over.
" Annie, my dear Annie ; is it you ? I am so glad to see you," cried the schoolmistress, hastening to admit her visitor.
" I shall never be able to reach the fastening of your gate, dear Winny," said Annie Mayne, laughing, They may well tell me I am quite a dwarf for my age."
"' Little and good ; little and good,' my dear," cheerfully answered Winifred ; whose whole countenance seemed to brighten under the influence of the young face that met hers. "' Ill-weeds grow-apace,' you know;" and she pointed to a rampant bed of nettles under the hedge, or rather equal with it.
" Yes; but good rye runs high.' There's proverb for proverb for you," said Annie But don't you wonder why I am come so early to see you V
"You were always an early bird, Annie. Did you come home to the
farm, then, last night, as they expected
" No. Mrs. Weston would keep me for another night, though I wanted much to see my mother and myyes, I think I may as well say it, since Mr. Ashton told me to call him somy father."
" And you are going there now ?"
" Yes; but I came to see you on my way, as Rhoda and I are to have a holiday for the rest of the week."
" Have you seen Rhoda, love ?"
" No. I have been at Mrs. Weston's ever since the wedding. But I have had one letter from my mothermy dear mother and she seems so happy, Winifred, and tells me about all the beautiful places that Mr. Ashton has taken her to
see. Here is the letter; would you like to read it, dear Winny ?"
Annie threw off her bonnet, put down her basket, and drew the young schoolmistress to a little garden-bench, beside which two gigantic holy hocks lifted their heads; there, side by side, Winifred and her little friend read the letter. Then the former looked earnestly in Annie's face.
" You are, then, quite happy in this marriage V she said, half doubting the reality of such unselfish love; but no cloud was upon the sweet open brow of Annie Mayne.
" Yes, dear Winny," she answered. Why should I not be happy, since it makes my mother so? To be sure I did cry a little at first, to think that J should
not have her all to myself any more ; but when 1 remembered how hard she had to work for herself and me, and how many a time she sat up half the night, sewing, until her poor eyes were quite sore; and that if she married farmer Ashton she would live like a lady, and have all needful comforts against her old age ; then J did not cry any more, but was content. And he is a good man too; and my mother knew him years before I was born before she married my own poor father, whom I can only just remember. I must try and love him very much, for he has been so kind."
Winifred listened thoughtfully, as the child, with her own affectionate heart, thus drew good out of everything. Truly Annie's was a blessed nature, one that
would make sunshine in life's gloomiest day, by ever looking to what is best and brightest in all kinds of fortune.
" You are a dear, good child, Annie," Winifred said ; and you deserve to be loved at your new home."
"I hone they will all love me," answered Annie, while the faintest possible shadow flitted over her bright face, like that of a passing cloud over a sunshiny meadow.
" I felt quite sure they would, until"
"Until what, dear child?"
"Only Jane Worthington brought a few disagreeable tales to her aunt Weston, last night. I don't like to repeat them; indeed I hardly believe that Rhoda said any such thing."
" I know what you mean. Don't let it trouble you, my Annie," said Winifred,
kissing away one tiny dew-drop which had stolen quite unexpectedly to the silken eyelashes, though the mouth was still-bent with Annie's own sweet smile. "Come in, dear ; I have some nice new honey for breakfast, that our good rector sent me, because he says my flowers are the best pasture in the world for his bees."
" And here is a cream-cheese that Mrs. Weston has sent you, dear Winny. She made it herself, but I helped her, and, plaited the rushes for it. See how pretty it looks under its green cover," cried the child, drawing a little basket from her arm, and exhibiting its delicious contents.
" Every one is very kind to me," said Winifred Lee, in a tremulous voice. "Because everybody loves you, dear
Winny; indeed I don't see how they could help it. What, Rosy, are you hungry to ?" suddenly added Annie, seeking, with a quickness of apprehension above her years, to divert the feelings which she saw wore nigh overflowing in her friend's bosom. "Come, Rose, you and 1 will go and see about breakfast."
It was astonishing what an adroit little handmaiden Annie made, how cleverlv she boiled the coffee, making it so clear that, as she poured it out, the sparkling, stream glittered in the light, sending forth a delicious aroma. Then her light hand skimmed the cream to perfection from Winifred's small dish of milk, Rose watching all the while for the spoon which was her own perquisite afterwards. There was a poor drowning fly in that
luxurious bath : Annie could not bear to see any living creature* suffer, so she spent some time in trying to fish it out with her finger, so as not to injure its delicate wings. Then she laid it on the sunny window-sill, and felt so glad when, recovered from its danger, the insect spread its gauzy pinions and sailed away over the garden. The child had saved the life of one of God's creatures, and felt as happy as any of your great heroes, who for the sake of one, will slay a thousand.
While Annie and her teacher still sat at their pleasant breakfast, Winifred drew her favourite once more to speak of her future home.
" It will make a great change for you, my dear child," said the schoolmistress.
"I know it will," Annie answered; "it
will seem strange at first, to go from our quiet home, to a house where there are so many noisy boys; but they were always kind to me, when I used to go and play at the farm. I must try and be a good sister to them, and make them love me. Indeed I should not have doubted it for a moment, but for"Annie hesitated and coloured.
" But for that speech of Rhoda's, which Jane Worthington repeated, most likely with many additions. My dear Annie, I myself heard every word that Rhoda said, and it was only what might have been expected from a hasty-tempered child, who had been much irritated. I walked home with her to the farm, where I left her with a face as
smiling as ever. It was only a passing cloud."
Thus said Winifred Lee, her gentle and forbearing disposition ever wishing to soften the darker shades in all characters. She knew not what had passed at the farm when Rhoda's good angel had left her.
" Then you think dear Rhoda does not hate me, after all, but will learn to love me in time," said Annie, eagerly and joy-fully.
" Certainly, my child. But' you must exercise great patience and forbearance towards her; and to do this, always try to look to the bright parts of her character, and think as little as you can of her faults. Whatever they may be, it is not your place to reprove them. And,
above all, remember how different has been her fortune to yours. Allowed to run wild, with no kind mother to guide her, no one but aunt Sarah, who took little notice of her, as I have heard. Whereas you have had that dear mother all your life, to lead you in the right way. Oh, my Annie, every night, before you sleep, you ought to thank God for the blessing of a good mother."
Annie saw that her teacher's eyes were overflowingno rare thing when they talked together seriously, especially on this subject. But Winifred never told her why it always touched her so much, and the child had too much native delicacy to pry iuto anything that Winifred did not choose to explain. She only threw her arms round her friend's neck, and tried
to divert her attention to other objects.
" I shall send you away now, my little Annie," said Winifred, smiling faintly: ' you must not be late at the farm; so tie on your bonnet, and say good-bye until next Monday."
Annie obeyed, and was soon tripping homewards through the dewy fields. Hut long after she was gone, indeed until the heavy stroke of the church clock, and the murmuring sound of young voices outside summoned her to her daily duties, Winifred sat watching a treasure which was often drawn from its hiding-place, to be kissed and wept over. What do you think this treasure was ?A little child's shoe.
A pleasure-trip AND its END
When, after crying herself to sleep, on the night of her step-mother's arrival, Rhoda awoke late the next morning, the first thing she saw was Annie Mayne's smiling face bending over her ; she shut her eyes again immediately and turned her head away.
"Come, Rhoda," said the step-sister, in a cheerful and affectionate voice, will you not get up ? Look how the sunshine is peeping through your curtains ? It is the finest autumn morning that ever was seen."
" I don't care," muttered Rhoda, sleepily. Why did you disturb me? I don't want to get up! I have nothing to get up for!"
" Yes, but you have, dear Rhoda, and something you will like very much," said Annie, still unrepulsed. They sent me to wake you, because they thought you would be so pleased. Guess at what."
" Nothing can please me while you are here," again muttered the child; but Annie either did not, or would not hear; she was busily undrawing the window-curtains.
" I think I will tell you at once, Rhoda," she said. Your father has determined to take us all for a day's pleasuring, to the old castle at Tutbury;
where you have so often wished to go. And we are to have out the great waggon, and take our dinner with us, and stay until night. It will be so delightful. Your father was saying, just now, how Rhoda would like it."
" Did ho, indeed !" said the girl, more pleasantly, as, raising herself OB hor elbow, she rubbed hor eyes, and looked for the first time in Annie's face. It was so full of sweetness and good temper that a little of these qualities were reflected by it even on Rhoda's. Well, I think I will get up. Give me my clothes, Annie. How early you yourself must have arisen if you came here this morning."
" Yes," answered the delighted Annie ; and I stayed on my way for more than half-an-hour, talking with Winifred Lee."
The name brought back to Rhoda's memory all that had passed the night before, and she coloured with a feeling of mingled shame and vexation. Annie's gentleness was a silent reproach that at first only embittered her the more ; for we are never so angry as when a lingering consciousness tells us we have been in the wrong. So Rhoda, with a rather sharpened tone, told Annie to go down to breakfast, and she would come soon.
" Let me help you to dress," said the latter, without seeming to notice the change.
I don't want to be helped; I was never used to it. I never had anybody to do anything for me. Go away."
Rhoda said this, half sadly, half bit-
terly but all Annie's resentment, if such a feeling could ever be harboured in her bosom, was disarmed towards the motherless child.
" I will go away if you wish it, Rhoda," she answered; but make haste, for they are all waiting for you down stairs."
Now Annie, with her innocent wiles, knew that nothing is so soothing to an angry spirit, as the feeling of being sought after, or made of importance. She had the quickness of a long-headed politician, had this young girl, so wise and clearsighted in all that could aid her loving plot to win her sister's affection.
When Rhoda came down, she found her breakfast all laid, and though the others had long done, still it was evident that some thoughtful hand had kept the
coffee hot, and saved the cream, that the child should not suffer for her laziness. Rhoda remembered how different things had been in times past, when, after indulging in her bad habit of late rising, she had come down to find all the eatables had disappeared, while her father lectured, and her brothers jeered, and all agreed that it was her own fault. Now, the change impressed her, though she did not say a word; and soon everything was forgotten in the bustle of preparation.
" Let us take a basket for blackberries," said Annie, in a low tone, to Robert, who was carrying viands of all kinds to the waggon; we shall find plenty on the Castle-hill, and Rhoda likes them so much."
" That's right, Annie Mayne; just like you. Here, Rhoda!" shouted the boy from the top of the waggon, fetch your great school-basket, and we'll bring it home full of blackberries, enough to last you for a week."
Tt is inconceivable what trifling things will influence the mind and temper of a child, aye, and of a grown person too. Thank you, Bob, for thinking of me," said Rhoda, as she jumped into the cart, and took her place on the bundles of straw, that made seats for the children, while the two elders were accommodated with chairs.
" This is ten thousand times better fun than having out the car," said Robert, as he nourished the reins.
" Only don't drive through the village,
pray," answered Rhoda, who had a good share of pride in her disposition. I should feel rather ashamed to be seen in this waggon."
" What a silly child!" observed the good farmer. Why, who would ever look at you ? And if they did, what does it matter? I am sure Annie, there, does not mind it at all; she has too much good sense."
A frown darkened Rhoda's brow as she answered, angrily, Oh! very well; I dare say Annie is a great deal better than I am in everything; at all events you think so. But I don't care."
" Rhoda always says, I don't care,' when she is vexed," cried one of the boys, with a laugh. But the jeering laugh was soon stilled by Annie's mild whisper.
84 A PLEASURE-TRIP.
" Don't teaze her, Charles; and, Rhoda, your father does not mean that. How could he think me better than his pet daughter ? And now I think of it, Robert, is there not near the school-house a sharp corner, that will be hard to pass with this heavy waggon ? Perhaps, after all, we had better not go through the village."
" You will spoil my little Rhoda, Annie," said the good-tempered farmer ; wdiile Mrs. Ashton met her daughter's eyes with a smile of such affectionate approval and maternal pride, that Annie's heart beat with pleasure.
So on the little party went, jogging in the great waggon, through quiet lanes, most beautiful in summer-time, and even now very pretty, with the red leaves of
the fading hedges, and the bright hips and haws, that began to show themselves through the thinned boughs. The little ones shouted and laughed, and tried to grasp the crimson treasures as the waggon passed, so that Annie's arms were always in requisition to hold the young adventurers safe and fast. And when, after an unfortunate exploit of Willie's, that nearly resulted in his tumbling out of the waggon, further snatching of hips and haws was strictly forbidden, Annie's whole skill was exerted to conquer the disappointment, by telling stories, and pointing out every pretty view, as they passed.
As one evil temper will spoil the pleasure of a whole party, so it is that one gentle and thoughtful mind will often
infuse a spirit of unity and cheerfulness even among conflicting dispositions. By the timethe journey was half over, all were looking happy and pleased, even Rhoda. Once or twice she caught herself answering Annie's smile with another equally cordial; and when, on her complaining of the jolting waggon, Mrs. Ashton placed her arm round the child, to steady her, Rhoda did not shrink even from the touch of her stepmother.
"See, there is the Castle!" shouted Robert, as the old grey ruin came in sight, rising above the chimneys of the little town of Tutbury, that was built beneath it. In a short time they had reached their destination, the waggon was put up, and the whole family might be seen strolling on the Castle-hill, and
exploring the quaint old walls, roofless and ivy-covered, which were all that remained of the once splendid apartments. And here Annie's historical knowledge was put in request; for she had to tell them how Mary of Scotland, the unfortunate; queen whom Elizabeth beheaded, had been brought here, and kept a prisoner for many weary years j how she paced daily up and down the terrace, which is still called Queen Mary's Walk," looking on the wide landscape which you can see from thence, and which embraces three counties at a view.
All this Annie told, but not until she had been well plied with questions, for Annie was always very shy of displaying her acquirements.
" Why, how clever you must be,
Annie, to know all this;" said Robert, looking with considerable respect on his new sister. How did you learn so much ?"
" From Winifred Lee. But this is very little compared to what she knows," answered Annie, rather confused at the effect of all she had said.
" Why, Rhoda has been to the same school, and she does not know half so much as you. Do you, Rhoda?"
" A pretty judge you are of what I know!" cried his sister, now becoming seriously angry. Because I don't put myself forward, like some people, you think I know nothing at all."
" You may be very clever," cried Robert, who had a boy's delight in teazing, and rather liked to see his sister in her
" dignity mood," as he called it. Nevertheless, I would back Annie Mayne against you, any day."
" If you talk in this way, Robert, you will make me very unhappy," said Annie, alarmed at the height to which the dispute was rising. You forget that though I am so little of my age, 1 am two years older than Rhoda, and therefore ought to know much more. And Winifred Lee always praises your sister; and she is at the head of her own class besides."
" Well, well, don't let us waste time in arguing," answered Robert, for there is the tower, and I want to climb to the top of it and see the view."
But in this project the elders interfered. It was a dangerous place, Mrs.