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FRONTISPIECE. Chap. 1.
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Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1870, byHENRY HOYT,In the Ofice of' ibe /iirariin'h of Congress. at Washington.
Aunt tbecctt^ tIfargt+CHAPTER I.Y children, I must leave you fora while, not many weeks I hope ; butthat will depend upon your father'shealth. If he gets better soon, weshall come home immediately; but, probably,it will be a month or perhaps two, before Ishall see your dear faces again. It will behard to bear, and I want to feel sure that youwill all three do your best to act as well, atleast, as if I were here to direct you; and I"hope you will strive to do the very best you
6 AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE.can in every way, so that your father and Imay see that you are to be trusted. YourAunt Rebecca is coming to stay with you, andI want you all to be very kind to her andobey her promptly and pleasantly, and if anylittle things are not quite as you would liketo have them, you must try to be patient.Alfred, you will be kind to your sisters, Iknow; and you must be sure not to get intoany trouble to cause your father any anxiety,for he is sick, and we must do all we can tohave him get strong and well again, so thatwe can be together once more. Your auntwill come to-morrow, and I must leave youthe following day. Now do not let us goabout with long, dismal faces; but all try tobe cheerful and happy, and look forward tothe pleasure we shall have in meeting againwhen father is well enough to come home."Mrs. Hamilton had received a letter fromher husband, who had gone to Savannah on
AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE. 7business, about six weeks before, and hadbeen very sick there. He wrote that hishealth was better, but that the doctor saidhe had been attending too closely to business,and did not gain as he could wish, and thathe had better send for his wife to come andnurse him for a while, and give himself up toperfect rest and freedom from care. Hehesitated to send for her, knowing how hardit would be for her to leave home; but, finallyseeing that he grew worse instead of better,he had written for her, and she was going tohim immediately. She did not like to leavethe girls with so much care; so she acceptedthe kind offer of her husband's sister, amaiden lady, to keep house for her during herabsence. She was sorry that Aunt Rebecca wasnot more of a favorite with the young people;but she knew her to be careful and conscien-tious, and that she would do her best for them.So she was to come the next day.
8 AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE.The girls promised to do all that theirmother asked of them; but Alfred said he didwish his mother had chosen some one besidethat old maid to stay with them. He said hewould do the best he could to be a good boy;but he knew he never could succeed, withAunt Rebecca always around, for he alwayswanted to say " Good-by" when she came tomake a visit, instead of " How are you ?""I know she is not a favorite of yours, mydarling boy; but I think, for your father's sakeand mine, you will say " How do you do ? "this time, and treat her kindly until we gethome;" and Mrs. Hamilton gave her bright,handsome boy a kiss, and told him he mustkeep all his nonsense for her when she came*home, and not spend it on any one else.They all felt sadly to be left without fatheror mother for an uncertain length of time;but all were sure that they should be content,knowing that their father needed their
AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE. 9mother's care and society more than they didjust then. So they tried to be cheerful and ap-pear happy, and helped their mother in her pack-ing and last arrangements for her journey, gladto be busy, and not have much time to think.There was much to be done. Laststitches to be taken here and there, and prepa-rations to be made for the comfort of thoseleft at home, as well as for the one who wasgoing. The time passed rapidly until thelast evening arrived, and Mrs. Hamilton wasto leave early next morning.Miss Rebecca had arrived, and Alfred hadsaid "How are you?" very cordially, hadhelped to carry her baggage up into thechamber she was to occupy; and now Mrs.Hamilton's trunks were packed, and stood inthe hall all strapped and marked, and thefamily were met together around the fire inthe parlor, " to have a good talk," as Mamiesaid. Dear, sweet little Mamie! She had
10 AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE.been so busy all day, and had smiled sosweetly whenever she caught her mother'seye looking at her, and had run up-stairs somany times, to have a little cry all by herself,when she couldn't help thinking how lone-some she should be without her dear, goodmother for so long a time. She thought noone knew anything about the tears, however,and she came down, and was brave and busyand smiling as she could be under the circum-stances all day long.They formed a very pretty picture as theysat there in the firelight. The mother, sogentle and delicate looking, sitting on oneend of the couch, which was drawn up to oneside of fire, with one arm around Mamie, wholay curled up beside her mother, with herhead on her shoulder. It was a way Mamiehad of showing the great wealth of love thatwas in her heart for all her friends; she wouldeither put her arm around you, or draw yours
AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE. 11around herself so quietly that you scarcelyknew when she did it, but found yourselfcaressing or caressed.She was not pretty, if regular features orbright coloring are the characteristics ofbeauty; for she wat'a pale, delicate girlof fourteen, small for her age, and somewhatchildish, perhaps, in her manner; but shealways had a smile ready for you if yourglance met hers, and such a loving, confidingway with her, that no one who knew hercould help loving her; and her own familyalmost idolized her.Alfred often teased her beyond her patience,then when he saw the tears comning into hereyes, would feel sorry in a moment and giveher a kiss, and promise to do so no more;but he forgot such promises very readily, forhe was so full of life and fun that his spiritswere always running away with his goodbehavior, his Aunt Rebecca told him.
12 AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE.He was lying on the rug quite quietly nowfor a wonder; for he felt badly to think hismother was going away, though he tried notto show his trouble, and so for once was quiet,and lay looking into the fire. Ella, the oldestdaughter, not quite sixteen yet, was a beauti-ful girl, tall and noble looking, with richgolden curls and blue eyes. She looked, likeAlfred, full of health and strength; butthere was usually an expression on her facethat marred its loveliness, especially in hermother's eyes, for a shadow was almostalways upon it, showing a spirit of discontentand a very strong will. She caused hermother more anxiety than both the otherchildren together, although poor Alfred wasperpetually in some scrape or other, tellinghis mother frankly all about it afterwards, andfeeling sure that he never meant to do it, anddidn't see how it could have happened.Now I must draw Aunt Rebecca's picture
AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE. 13for you. She was tall and angular, and wouldhave had rather a pretty face, if it had notalways had an anxious look, as though shewere afraid all things were not going quiteright, and the duty of making them so de-volved upon her, and she found the weight aheavy one. She was a truly good woman, butnot much of a favorite with her brother'schildren, although she was very fond of them,correcting them continually herself, but dis-liking to hear any one else find fault withthem.Alfred had been silent an unusually longtime for him; then he turned towards hismother, and took her hand in his, and told herhe wished she was coming home instead ofgoing away and he hoped his father would getwell very soon, for it seemed a long time sincehe left home, and yet he had only been gonesix weeks, and if they were both away sixweeks longer, he thought it would seem like
14 AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE.six years; and a great sigh followed the words."Why, Alfred you are not going to be thefirst one to lament over what cannot behelped are you ? " said Mrs. Hamilton. "Thatdoes not sound like you at all. We will tryto have our last evening such a pleasant one,that we shall like to think of it while I amaway. What shall I bring home for each ofyou ?"" Some of that trailing gray moss for me,mother," said Ella, " if you are where you canget any. I have heard people say who havebeen south, that in some places it hangs fromthe trees in large quantities. I should askyou to bring me some bolls of the cotton plant,too; but I am afraid it is too late in the seasonfor them now."" Tell father to get well and go hunting,and bring me home the brush of a fox that heshot himself. Oh! what fun it must be tosee the fox run, and rush after him, as John
AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE. 15Manning says he used to do when he wasstaying in Georgia with his uncle. I shouldwant to wear a red coat and top boots, andcarry a horn over my shoulder, and have fiveor six hounds rushing after my horse."" Oh, Alfred! All that fuss, just to worrya poor little fox, until he has no strength left,and then see him torn to pieces by the dogs!It makes me shiver to think of it," said Ella." I think father had better bring you home ahair-brush, instead of a fox's brush, by thelooks of your hair now. I have not anypatience with Johnnie Manning, when he getsto telling what he has done, or what he isgoing to do. Mother, don't you think you hadbetter tell Alfred not to go with him while youare away ? He will be sure to get into mis-chief, if he does.""I can take care of myself, if you please,without any of your help, Ella. I have prom-ised mother to do just as she wishes me to do,
16 AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE.and that is enough. I hate to have youalways bothering me, and dictating to me.""Alfred," said his mother, "is that speak-ing kindly to your sister ? I hope we are notgoing to have any disputes to-night. Howcan I think that you will do as I wish to haveyou while I am absent, if you forget all I havesaid so soon ? Ella, you are the oldest, and Ithink you should speak kindly to your brotherand sister. Set them a good example in allthings, if possible; and if you are obliged tofind any fault with them, do it kindly andjudiciously. I am not excusing Alfred whenI blame you, for he knows how much I amdispleased when he speaks as he did just now.Once more I shall ask you to do your bestto have things as I would like them here athome while I am away; and I hope thatyou will remember the truth that your fatherand I have tried to impress upon your mindsalways, 'that you must govern your actions
AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE. 17according to what you know and feel is rightin the sight of God.' Act as your consciencedictates, and pray each morning that you mayreceive help from above in the efforts you willmake to do right, and think over all you havedone, when the day is ended. If you have doneanything wrong, do not neglect to ask forgive-ness, and to make good resolutions for themorrow. Christ says,' Your Father knowethwhat things ye have need of, before ye askhim;' so think always that he sees andknows all that is in your hearts, and try yourvery best to have each heart so pure and true,that at any time you need not dread the thoughtthat his eye is upon you, and that each goodor bad deed is recorded above."Mrs. Hamilton spoke earnestly and sadly,for she felt truly grieved that both Ella andAlfred should so soon forget their promises.She looked at the downcast faces, then startedup and rang for lights to be brought, and tried
18 AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE.her best to shake off the sadness that op-pressed her, and have them all feel happy andsatisfied with themselves again. She openedthe piano, and played for them; and then theysang together, each asking for their favoritesongs. They played some merry games, andat last came the good-night kisses, and eachwent to their own room.About an hour after they had separated forthe night, Mrs. Hamilton was sitting readingin her chamber, when there came a little faintrap upon the door, and when she said, " Comein," Mamie entered in her night-dress."Why, my little daughter, I thought you wereasleep long ago," said her mother. "Whathas made youi take to wandering at this timeof night ? Are you feeling sick, or is any-thing else the matter ?"" No," said Mamie, "nothing is the matter;but I wanted to tell you something very much,and I saw the light under your door, so I knew
AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE. 19you were up, and I came to tell you nowwhen we can be alone."" What is it, dear ? " said her mother."I am sure Ella is very sorry that shedispleased you this evening. She has criedherself to sleep now. She says she cannotthink how she could have spoken so to Alfred,when you had just been talking to us as youhad, and she is going to try very hard to doeverything just as you would like to have her.She does not know that I have come to tellyou; but I knew she would not tell you herselfhow sorry she is, and I wanted you to knowbefore you went away. I wish she would tellyou oftener how she feels about things, for Iknow how much good it does me to tell youmy troubles; and when you pray with me, itseems as if a great load was lifted off myheart. Oh! mother, I cannot begin to tellyou how I love you! How beautiful it wouldbe to be in heaven, where all would be perfect
20 AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE.love and goodness, -to be there with you, Imean. I wonder if other people find it ashard to be good as I do, mother ? I get real-ly tired out with thinking about it sometimes.""" Yes, dear," said her mother, "I think manyfind it weary, up-hill work to do as they knowChrist taught us was right; but we must keeptrying, and He will always be ready to help us.You will take cold, my love, and must runback to bed. Go to sleep now, and be surethat all the deep love you have for me is fullyreturned, my self-sacrificing little girl, alwaysthinking for others and forgetting yourself."The next morning Mrs. Hamilton startedon her journey, and the family all stood in thehall to bid her farewell. She gave her lastcharges to Miss Rebecca, and a good-by allround, and the carriage drove away from thedoor.Time seemed to have folded his wings, andto be enjoying a resting spell to the young
AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE. 21people that day. The hours passed so slowlythat Albert thought school-time would neverarrive; but it did at last, and he took hisbooks, and rushed out of the house, bangingthe door after him, school-boy fashion, for hehad seen Johnnie Manning go by, and was ina hurry to overtake him.Aunt Rebecca was dusting the parlor justthen, and she started as if she had been shotwhen the door slammed. "Mercy, what anoise! " said she to herself. " He is a goodenough boy, but needs a deal of training, andnow I shall have a good chance to do some of it.Brother James's wife is a very good woman,but she does not know how to manage chil-dren, and never will, I fear;" and she wenton dusting vigorously, thinking all the timehow she should train the children into pat-terns of propriety before their mother camehome again.Ella and Mamie went into the breakfast-
22 AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE.room, after leaving the hall. Mamie took upher books, and began to study her lessons forthat day. A friend of Mrs. Hamilton's cameevery day for a few hours, to hear the girls re-cite. Mamie was not strong, and theythought it best to have her study at home, andso Ella did the same.Ella stood at the window, looking out intothe street, not appearing to notice anythingthere, but to be deep in thought. She hadstood so a long time, when Mamie looked upand saw her." Why don't you go and make the bed,Ella ? " said she. " I will come and help you,and we can have it done in a few minutes,and then you can come and study."" In a moment," said Ella; but she made nomotion to go. " I don't see how we are goingto live here all alone; it is horrible already.It seems as if something dreadful had hap-pened, and mother has not been gone three
AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE. 23hours yet. What in the world shall we do,without either father or mother for three orfour weeks ?""" -Make your bed first, study your lessonsiext, then take your needlework and sit down"and sew with Mamie and me," said AuntB Rebecca, coming in from the hall; " that isthe most suitable thing for a young lady of-:your age to do. 'Never waste a moment,' is1my motto, and a very good one I find it."And she patted Ella affectionately upon her:?shoulder, and smiled upon her. Ella didn'tiLy a word, but turned and went up-stairs.VWhenwshe arrived there, she shook up the bed,ntd turned it, and spread one sheet over it,then sat down on the side of it, and went onwith the dream that had been interrupted.After about twenty minutes more had passed,the door opened, and Mamie came in.' What have you been doing all this time,lla?" said she. "I cannot think what
24 AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE.makes you act so strangely this morning.You know mother asked us to do just as ifshe were at home, and I do hope you will try.Imean to, and it is so much easier to studywhen you are with me. I had just as lief dothis work for you; but mother said we musteach do it ourselves when it was our turn,you one week and I the next, and not dependupon each other. Come! I can help youjust a little this morning." So the bed wasmade, and they went down-stairs together tostudy.Everything dragged along that Ella at-tempted that morning, and nothing was satis-factory. When her teacher came, she recitedimperfect lessons, and was cross and tiresomeand when dinner-time came, she said she didnot feel hungry, and went up-stairs again.Alfred came in, bright and happy, and the firstwords that greeted his ears were, "Alfred,my boy, I cannot let you slam the door so
AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE. 25roughly as you did this morning. You quitefrightened me; and you know it is not gentle-manly to do things so hastily. Moderation inall things, you will find is a good rule tofollow, when one has so impetuous a disposi-tion as you have, my dear.""Yes, ma'am," said he. "I never will doso again as long as I live;" and his lipscurled a little scornfully, as though he thoughtthe reprimand exceeded the offence.After dinner, when he and Mamie werealone together, he started up from his seat,and began striding up and down the room."I'll tell you what it is, Mamie, if that oldmaid thinks I am going to turn into a perfectdolly just to suit her, walk on tip-toe, andwhisper, and all such nonsense as that, Iguess she'll find she is mistaken this time.""Please don't talk so," said poor Mamie,really troubled now. "I know just how youfeel, for I never wanted to do anything more
26 AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE.in my life, than I did to make faces at herwhen she kept telling me to sit up straight atdinner-time, and said, 'An erect form is ablessing worth striving for.' We must trynot to think of her faults, Alfred; we mustkeep thinking what mother told us to do, andtry not to fret about Aunt Rebecca. The firstday has been very hard for you and Ella, Iknow; but perhaps it is because we have onlyjust commenced, and we shall all settle intoour old ways again, and feel more contented.Perhaps after to-night, after we have asked forhelp from Christ, we can get along better. Iwould not mind it, Alfred; three weeks willsoon be gone, and then mother hopes to be athome again. You will be at school a gooddeal of the time, and you will get used to thechange after a while, if you have patience."So the dear, patient girl went on trying tocomfort him, forgetting her own trouble insympathy for his.
AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE. 27" When I am as good as you, I promise tobe as patient as you, you nice little girl!You are worth three thousand Aunt Rebecca'sfor making a fellow behave; and to please you,I will be lovely. I have just thought of aSgood way to do when I can't stand her talkingany longer: I '11 make a few faces at her, just; to let off a little steam, you know."" " Oh, Alfred!" said Mamie, laughing ins _pite of herself." (Don't say,' Oh, Alfred!' to that, for you|pput the notion into my head yourself; so youcannot find fault with it, and they won't hurther any, for I shall take care to be behindher."SWhile this conversation was going on, thesubject of it was sitting, busily sewing, think-ring over the events of the day, and rejoicingthat she had given each young mind a goodlesson to act upon this first day that she hadt dertaken the management of them, andfeeling quite satisfied with herself.
28 AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE.This first day was very similar to manymore that followed. Ella, dissatisfied, dreamy,and gloomy, seldom trying to be a pleasantcompanion for any one, and idling away hertime. Alfred, trying to be all his motherwished him to be, and succeeding pretty well;but being reprimanded and advised by hisaunt, until his proud, rebellious spirit chafed,;and sometimes he would groan just loudenough to be heard, or else he would catchMamie's eye, and make up a face or two, justenough to frighten her for fear he might becaught in the act. Mamie seldom rebelled asher brother and sister did; but she was verygrave, and seemed all the time fearful ofoffending, never forgetting her prayers nightand morning, and trying to rouse the othertwo to do their duty likewise.A spirit of absolute rebellion seemed tohave taken possession of Ella. She wouldnot bear a word of correction from her aunt.
AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE. 29Their two dispositions seemed utterly antago-nistic. Miss Rebecca was really doing thebest she knew how, meaning to be very firm,yet just, and overdoing it all the time withoutknowing it.None of them wrote any of these trials toS Mrs. Hamilton. They felt that she hadtroubles and anxieties enough where she was,without their making any addition to them.One day Ella had invited some of herfriends to take tea with her. She had saidat the breakfast table that morning that shehad asked them to come, for she was tiredof such a dull house, and was going to see ifsomething could not be done to make itbearable.It certainly was neither a kind nor judiciousmanner of announcing the coming of herguests, and Aunt Rebecca's pride was raisedimmediately ; but she sat erect and solemn atthe head of the table, and did not make anyS remark.
30 AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE."I think I will have cream-cakes for sup-per, and jelly and warm biscuit," said Ella.' Amy Hallett's coming, and she says she likesthe cream-cakes we had for tea the last timeshe was here, better than any she ever ate!""Ahem! " said Aunt Rebecca, sitting-straighter than before in her chair, if such athing were possible." In the evening," Ella continued, " let mesee what would you have for entertainmentin the evening, aunt Rebecca ? "" I really do not know. As I have not beenconsulted, I have not thought upon the sub-ject. I must beg to be excused from inter-fering with your arrangements," said MissRebecca, feeling very much hurt."Don't be cross about nothing Aunt,Rebecca!" said Ella, very disrespectfully." If you do not wish to help me get the thingsready, I can do it myself.""You would not speak that way to mother^.
AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE. 81if she was here, and you know she would not"<like it at all, Ella," said Alfred. "Youiought to have asked Aunt Rebecca, in the first^place, if she was willing you should have com-.pany to-night. Jolly! nice cream-cakes ande-egant jelly you will have if you make ityourself. Are you going to invite me to your" Not unless you can behave yourself,"aid Ella; " and now I am going to tell ofyour last performances. I thought I wouldAot say anything about it, and I should not,I you did not keep trying to tease me all thetime. Aunt Rebecca, he and Johnnie Man-=ig took the little garden syringe, and filled.i_ with water, and put the end of it againsti knat-hole in the fence, and when any one"came along the sidewalk, they squirted water"OOh! wasn't it fun," said Alfred, laugh-.l at the recollection, "when the people
32 AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE.would look cross enough to bite some one,and look all around without seeing any onewho could have done it! We laughed untilwe were tired. Oh! what fun that was !" andhe laughed again."It was a very mean thing to do," saidElla, " very, and you ought to be ashamed ofyourselves. You need not correct me untilyou learn to behave less like a silly babyyourself. He has been into the water too,Aunt Rebecca, for I saw all his wet clothesspread out to dry in the attic, and I heardfather tell him not to go near the pond untilhe came home."" Alfred, what can I say to you?" saidAunt Rebecca, sternly. " You should pay at-tention to what I am always trying to teachyou, that The way of the wicked is an abom-ination unto the Lord; but he loveth himthat followeth after righteousness.' I knowvery well that 'A scorner loveth not him who
AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE. 38reproveth him;' but I must not think of that,when it is my duty to correct your faultsduring the absence of your parents. Youmust not go near the pond again on any ac-count, Alfred; and if you disobey me, I shallfeel obliged to write to your father about yourconduct. I am very sorry that the house isso dull as to make it necessary to ask stran-gers into it to make it bearable, Ella. I tryto make all things pleasant for you, and to ad-vise you judiciously; but I fear sometimesthat you harden your heart, and will not re-ceive my teachings. I shall not assist you inyour preparations to-day, as a just punish-ment for your thoughtlessness in invitingcompany without consulting me;" and say-ing this, she left the room, feeling quite badlyto think that she was not making home happyfor them, but not being able to imagine thereason why it was so.Ella proceeded to the kitchen, cook-book in
34 AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE.hand, to make the cakes and jelly. She hadoften assisted her mother in preparing thearticles used in the cooking, but had neverundertaken the whole charge of anything her-self. She fell to work, very industriously,beating eggs and weighing sugar, and was notseen in the parlor again for several hours.Mamie had been silent during all the dis-putes and recriminations. She felt quite dis-couraged now-; some trouble arose betweenElla and her aunt every day, and nothing shecould say to Ella seemed to make any differ-ence in her actions. She would not give upin anything to her aunt, even if her consciencetold her it was wrong to persist in what sheundertook. She was utterly rebellious, and,as such people always are, was really unhappy.She did not like the thoughts that camecrowding into her mind, as she lay thinkingat night, and after a while the Lord's Prayerwas the only one she repeated, and that was
AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE. 35"jid hurriedly, as if it were a task set her, andi.she got through with it as rapidly as shecould. She did not pass much time with&Mamie now, for she did not like the reproofsthat her younger sister sometimes gave her,W.-Phen she had neglected a duty, spoken dis:respectfully to her aunt, or quarrelled with herbrother.:.These constantly recurring troubles thats;eemed to start up at every turn, were wear-ingi upon poor Mamie's health and spirits;he did not always do right herself; she liked-un, as well as Alfred did, and often joined--,him. in his exploits; but she knew better thanbe did when to stop, and she was too tender-eIarted to hurt any one's feelings.iAfter Miss Rebecca and Ella had left thebeakfast-room, Alfred indulged in a hearty fitt. laughter."Did not you get off nicely, little woman,Ig there as demure as a mouse ? No one
36 AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE.suspected that your dressing-room was roundthe other side of the attic, and that there wasas grand a display of ladies' attire there asthere was of mine on the opposite side.When I was being scolded, I was thinkinghow funny you did look coming up to the houseall dripping with water. It was really toobad, Mamie, I know; but I did not mean topush you so hard. I only meant to frightenyou, and in you went. Oh! was not I fright-ened then ? I never thought of wet clothes,or anything else, until you were on dry landagain. I thought it was of no use telling any-thing more about it than Ella found out; youwould have been scolded too, if I had, and itwas none of your fault. Aunt Rebecca wouldhave said you ought not to have been on theedge of the pond, but have been at home sew-ing and making yourself useful, or else read-ing and improving your mind. Oh! if shehad known that you were peeping through a
AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE. 37knot-hole in the fence, while I was sprinklingthe people, and that you laughed until youhad to hold your sides, she would not thinkyou quite such a little piece of perfection asshe does now. What a funny girl you are!One minute you talk to a fellow like a minis-ter, and the next you are as full of nonsenseas any one.""Oh, Alfred, don't! I am awful. I knowI do just as you say. I think some thingsare so wrong to do, and I cannot bear to haveyou or Ella do them, and I think I never canforget what is right so far as to do them my-self; and then the very first time there isanything going on that has any fun in it, I goand do it, though it is just as wrong as what Ithought was so bad. I never laughed so muchas I did at the people you squirted the waterat through the fence; and when that old ladylooked up to see if it rained, and the sunshone in her eyes, I thought I should never
38 AUNT REBECCA S CHARGE.stop laughing; and I never felt how mean itwas to do it, until that beautiful lady camealong with that handsome velvet sack on, andyou sprinkled her: then I thought how everydrop was going to make a spot on the velvetthat she never could get out. I could not seea thing funny about it after that ; and thoughyou did stop pretty soon after I told you, youknow Johnnie kept on for ever so long. Ishould have told mother all about it, but Icannot tell Aunt Rebecca anything. I cannotlove her one bit; and I don't see what we aregoing to do. Everything goes wrong, andElla behaves so badly to all of us. Some-times I think I ought to write to mother, andtell her all; but she is unhappy enough aboutfather, without anything else to trouble her.Alfred, when I think that perhaps father willdie, and mother come home alone, and wenever see him again, I don't know how tobear it. I cry myself to sleep almost every
SAUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE. 39ii1 ight, thinking of that, and how badly we areSgetting on here at home, after all mother saidto us. Do you pray as she told us to do,Alfred, every night and morning ?""V. 'Yes- " said he slowly," I sort of do.I always begin at night to ask forgiveness forall I have done wrong through the day, andSthen when I begin to say what the wrongthings are, there is such a precious lot ofthem and they are so silly that I don't muchlike it, and I am afraid I am not very faithfulabout all of them. There, Mamie, I haveconfessed truly about it, and I don't like my-: self one bit, sometimes. I turn over to go tosleep, and feel as mean as if everybody knewit all.""1 " Do you do anything worse than I knowof your doing, Alfred?" asked Mamie, turn--inig pale, for his manner of speaking showed: 'ich disgust at himself, that she began toSfrightened for fear he had been doing some-Sthing very wrong.
40 AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE."No, you know almost everything aboutme, I believe; but when Aunt Rebecca tellsme not to do anything, I want to do it dread-fully, as I always tell you. I steal cakes, some-times too, and I don't answer at all when sheasks me if I hear her say that I cannot go some-where, and then I act as if I didn't hear her.It is awfully mean in a fellow to act so and Ifeel mean all the time I am doing so. Oh!don't I wish father and mother were at home !Come, you little pet sister, don't look so sober,remember you have got to be lively and help en-tertain company at Miss Ella Hamilton's party.""Don't mention the party. I think it wasso wrong of Ella to invite them; but, Alfred,if you can see all the time, as you say, howill you are behaving, don't you think youcould do more as mother would like to haveyou ? Perhaps if we said our prayers andsang a hymn together every night, as we dowhen father is at home, we might do better.
AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE. 41Let's just try it! I know I should feel happier,and do you try to be more respectful to Auntie,and not quarrel with Ella so much. Motheralways feels so unhappy when you two dis-agree, you know.""I will, if you think you will feel any hap-pier, Mamie," said Alfred; "but I think it willseem queer to say our prayers together. I amsure I cannot think how we are going to doit. I don't believe I could make a prayer fitto be heard.""I think I can," said Mamie, earnestly," for when I begin to tell Jesus Christ howunhappy I am, and ask Him to help me, Idon't think what words I use, but I talk toHim just as I would to mother, and it doesmake me feel so much happier afterwards.We will try; won't we, dear ? ""Yes, you sweet little sister. I thinksometimes you are too good to need to sayany prayers, for you are always right about
42 AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE.things, and you never tell a thing about anyone but what is good, you darling! " and heput his arms about her, and kissed her ten-derly.Ella was very busy in the kitchen. Shebeat up her cakes, and dropped them from thespoon upon the paper she had buttered andlaid in the pan her mother always used. Shehad mixed the dough just as the cook-bookdirected, and she felt sure of success." Mother has either a very cool oven forbaking these, or a very hot one; but I am sureI cannot think which it is," thought she.She put her hand in the oven, and it feltmoderately warm. " Just about right; don't youthink so, Susan ?" said she to the servant girl."I really don't know, Miss Ella; but Ishould think it was rather cool."The cakes were put in, however, and shebegan to make the cream with which theywere to be filled, according to the directions.
AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE. 43The cook-book said it would take twentySminutes to bake the cakes; so at the end ofthat time, she opened the door, and looked atthem; they were as flat as griddle cakes, andjust as thick as when she put them in theoven."Oh, dear! what can be the matter withI: them ?" said Ella." They have not ris, Miss," said Susan," and there will be no place to put the creamiin;" and Ella saw the corner of her mouthlook as though she would have liked to laugha little. They were comical looking cream-cakes, and nothing could be done with them.Poor Ella was disappointed enough. Shesnatched the custard off the stove, and said itwas of no use trying to do anything, if noone would help her.Just then the door-bell rang, and Susan toldeher that her teacher had come to hear herrecite her lessons; so she had to go, cross
44 AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE.and heated as she was. She went up-stairs,and washed her face and smoothed her hair,and descended to the study, to fail in everylesson, for visions of flat cream-cakes camebetween her eyes and the books, and worse still,visions of company coming, and no entertain-ment ready for them. She hurried throughthe lessons, and then asked her teacher toexcuse her, and off she went to the kitchenagain, to try to make the jelly. She made itas the directions, said and put it in the mouldto cool. She ate her dinner although itnearly choked her, for she did not wish heraunt to see how badly she was feeling, andthen hurried up-stairs to her own room, threwherself upon her bed, and burying her face inthe pillow, burst into tears.Mamie had watched her at the table, andknew that something was wrong; so fol-lowed her up-stairs, to see if she could helpher.
AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE. 45": What is it, Ella ?" said she, putting herarm about her, and trying to comfort her;" tell me, won't you? Cannot I help you?What is the matter, dear ? ""Nothing goes right," said Ella, angrily,: springing up into a sitting posture, her face: covered with tears, anything but a lovely ex-pression upon it. All my cakes are spoiled,and I don't know what to do. Aunt Rebeccasaid she would not help me, and I am sure Inever will ask her, if I die first. What can-I do, Mamie ? The girls will talk so aboutme if I don't have anything nice either fortea or in the evening. I must do something.-What can I do ?"":i I would tell Aunt Rebecca I was sorry^that I had invited the company without askingher permission, and tell her you will not doso again, and then I know she will help you."" Never!" said Ella, in a very tragicalty1e. "I could not lower myself to ask her
46 AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE.pardon; you knew I would not do such athing, when you proposed it.""I said what I should do, and I wish youwould do it, for I think you did very wrongto ask the girls to come, here and say nothingabout it to any one. You don't do suchthings when mother is at home."" No, I don't have to ask company whenshe is here, because there is enough that ispleasant in the house; but it is horrible nowAunt Rebecca is here. I keep dodging round,so that she need not see me, for fear of theadvice that I have to hear every time I meether. But come, tell me what I can have fortea. I must do something."" Do tell auntie, and she will help you.She would be a great deal pleasanter if youtreated her more respectfully, but often shedoes not know what to do when you act sostrangely. Have you any money, Ella? "" Only what we are saving for Mrs. Wil-
S AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE. 47sons chair. I think that is a bright idea; Iwill go and buy some cakes. I can replace the| money when I have some more."Mamie looked very much disappointed, butSid nothing in opposition; and so Ellaarranged her dress, put on her hat, and went-out." I am afraid poor Mrs. Wilson will neverget the chair," said Mamie, sadly to herself.;Mrs. Wilson was a poor American womanwho had done house-cleaning for Mrs. Hamil--Oh for several years. She was a goodwovan, and the family respected her veryShe had fallen from a step-ladder a fewnths before this, and injured her spine, andhd suffered a great deal of pain. She hadcomfortable lounge or chair to rest upon,oting but a straw bed, which was so hardlying upon it increased her pain andsiness sadly. Mrs. Hamilton's three
48 AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE.children had been saving up their moneysince the accident, to buy a chair, which theyhad seen and thought would be just the thingfor her. At first, they all put the greaterpart of their spending money into the boxthat Ella kept for the purpose; but after atime, Alfred thought he wanted somethingso badly that he did not contribute so muchas he had done. Then Ella not only left offputting money in, but, I grieve to say hadeven borrowed a few times from it, quietingher conscience by saying that as she put it in,it was hers, and she should pay it back verysoon.One effect this borrowing had upon her,was to cause her to go less and less often tosee the poor woman, who being entirely con-fined to her room, and seeing very few peoplecheer her up, missed her accustomed visitsvery much. Her little daughter did thework of the house, and took all the care ofher mother.
S AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE. 49SThe company arrived in due season, and: Ella did her best to make them enjoy them-selves. She seemed in uncommonly goodspirits, and all went smoothly until tea-timecame. She had told Susan to make hotbiscuits for supper; and when they appearedupon the table, they were so streaked withsaleratus, that it was only out of politenessany could have been eaten. It was AuntRebecca's biscuit, not Susan's, that Ella hadin her mind when she thought how nice theywould be for her friends.Alfred came in a little late from play, andsat down quietly at the tea-table, after havingS said all that politeness required of him toS Ella's friends. When his eye fell upon thecakes, he glanced at Ella and their eyes met;Shers wore a defiant expression, and his ai questioning one. "Oh! ho! " he commenced;:but N amie touched him under the table, andhel stopped. When the cakes were passed
50 AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE.around, he whispered to Mamie, "Are theseElla's making, or are they part of the cushionon an arm of Mrs. Wilson's new chair?Bah! I know; and it makes them tastemean.".Ella overheard the whisper, and felt angry;but said nothing in return. Supper came toan end at last. Aunt Rebecca was quiet anddignified; but not cordial in her manner toany of the guests; and this, added to Ella'sconsciousness of having done wrong from thecommencement, and, consequently, having tomake an effort to appear lively and cheerfulwhen she was truly tired of her obstinacy,and knew that no one thought her in theright, threw a restraint upon the actions ofall.Ella brought forward all the games shecould think of to make the time pass pleas-antly, and Mamie and Alfred helped her allthey could; but after the company had all
AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE. 51gone, Aunt Rebecca had said " Good-night"--tand retired to her room, and the brother-nd sisters were alone, Ella could control her-self no longer."What a hateful time they have had.They will never wish to come here again, andI should not blame them if they never did.I shall be ashamed ever to ask them to comeinside this house again! Aunt Rebecca spoilseverything. She said, .'Good afternoon,' asthough she felt like biting them, and Goodevening' when they went home as though"she was an iceberg. Oh! I do detest her. Ibelieve I shall die if mother and father staySaway much longer;" and she began to helpMamie put the books and boxes of gamesaway in their places, every movement, as well1 as her flushed cheeks, showing her excitement.Alfred had thrown himself upon the sofa,and lay watching his sister's movementswien Ella commenced talking; and when sheB ped, he burst into a merry laugh.
52 AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE."I cannot see anything to laugh at," saidElla. " Do be sensible for once, Alfred.""I just happened to think," said he, " thatit would have been a good plan to have setthe jelly to cool on the iceberg's head, andthen it might have been a little more- "solid, he intended to have said; but just thenElla's anger got full possession of her, andshe threw a box she had in her hand at him.He drew his head quickly back; but it struckhis cheek, and the blood ran profusely fromthe deep cut it made. He sat up, and bothsisters ran to his assistance. Ella got a basinof water, and bathed the wound with herhandkerchief, telling him all the while howsorry she was, that she did not intend to hurthim, but was too angry to think what she wasdoing when she threw it.He was very angry at first; but seeing herdistress soon quieted him, and he asked herpardon for having teased her, though hedeclared he did not say it to make her angry;
AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE. 53only the funny thought came into his head,and he said it without thinking of her.She put some plaster on the wound, and assoon as there seemed no more danger ofits bleeding again, they all went up-stairs.Ella went to her own room, and Mamie fol-lowed Alfred into his.Miss Hamilton had heard the noise of thebox as it fell, and the hurried footsteps of thegirls, as they brought the water and plaster,and wondered what it all meant. She did notgo down-stairs to inquire however, as shewished Ella to reflect upon her conduct beforeshe said anything more to her concerning it.After a while, hearing voices in Alfred'sroom, she went quietly to the door, and lis-tened, thinking she might possibly find outwhat was the matter, for she truly loved themall, and wished to do well by them, althoughthey found it difficult to believe it.She found the door slightly ajar, and, look-
54 AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE.ing in, saw Alfred upon his knees by the bed-side, with his head laid upon his folded arms,and Mamie kneeling beside him, prayingearnestly,-" Oh, God! forgive us all for allwe have done wrong this day. Forgive me,O Lord, for not taking any blame upon my-self when Aunt Rebecca was scolding Alfredabout going to the pond. Help me to be lessselfish, and not to fear being scolded, but totell the whole truth to her as I would tomother, and please forgive me for not helpingElla to-day when she was trying so hard toget ready for her company, because I thoughtshe had done wrong. And, oh, God! forgiveAlfred for teasing Ella and auntie, and blesshim for saving me from drowning, and for allthe kind things he does. And forgive dearElla, oh, Lord! for doing as she has done;and please, dear Heavenly Father make auntiekinder to us and find less fault with us, sothat Ella may be a better girl, and everything
SAUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE. 55may not be so hard for her. Oh God! pleaselook down upon us and judge us all as kindlyS as you can, and please to think that fatherand mother are away and that we cannot getalong quite so well with Aunt Rebecca, andmake her love us more and be kinder, so thatwe can tell her our troubles, and then we shallall be happier. Bless our dear father andmake him better; oh! do not let him die,dear Lord, for it would be so hard to livewithout him; but send them home soon, and:help us all to be better and happier, dearFather in Heaven. Amen." Mamie raisedher head. She had been praying so earnestlythat she had not noticed Alfred; but, turning,she saw that he had sunk upon his kneesbeside her, and, as he raised his face, she sawS it was wet with tears. He caught her in hisarms, and kissed her."Mamie, you dear little sister, I do notsee how we can all be so cross, and do so
56 AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE.many wrong things while we live in the samehouse with you. I will do better. I willleave off teasing Ella, now from to-night, Ipromise you; and, if I can, I will treat AuntRebecca better, though you cannot expect meto like her, of course; I don't believe any-body could do that. I will try to do just asyou want me to, and not trouble you anymore. Why, any one would think you hadgot to bear all the sins of the family you feelso badly over us all. I should think youcould pray! I could not make such a prayerif I tried all day."" Don't talk so, Alfred. I only said what Iwanted God to help us do; we are all doingso badly lately. I never think of the words Isay, and you would not either if you wouldonly try to feel that God was watching you,and wanting to help you. Alfred, it makespe feel so sorry to have you say you will tryto do right to please me. You ought to feel
AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE. 57SAat God sees all our actions, and our wrongones grieve Him, just as our good ones giveHim pleasure. You know how many timesSboth father and mother have told us that. Ithink it will please God better to have you doright because you know you ought to do it,to let Him see that you will do what youknow to be your duty, not merely to do whatyou know is right just to please me, though itdoesmake me so much happier when you arenot in any trouble, which is not very oftenlately; is it, Alfred? said she, smiling."No, I am nearly always in some scrapeor other; but I will try hard to do differentlySnow. I am really going to turn over thatnew leaf that Auntie is forever talking about.Now we will sing our hymn, and then sayS good-night; for it is getting late, and youlook very tired. You choose one to-night,Sand I will to-morrow night." Then AuntRebecca heard their voices in her chamber,
58 AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE.where she had gone at the conclusion ofMamie's prayer, singing,-" Remember thy Creator'While youth's fair spring is bright,Before thy cares are greater,Before comes age's night;While yet the sun shines o'er thee,While stars the darkness cheer,While life is all before thee,Thy great Creator fear.Remember thy Creator,Ere life resigns its trust,Ere sinks dissolving nature,And dust returns to dust;Before with God who gave itThe spirit shall appear:He cries who died to save it,'Thy great Creator fear.'"Aunt Rebecca sat thinking alone in herchamber, long after the rest of the householdwere asleep. Grieved and despondent, butnot in the least degree angry with any one,she knew that the children did not love her.she could not but judge so from their mannertowards her. She felt that she had tried to
AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE. 59do everything for their good and happiness;but now was conscious that she had utterlyfailed. She knew she must correct theirfaults, if she intended fulfilling the duty sheowed to their parents as well as to them-selves, and she could not yet see her wayclearly through the trouble. After thinkingand pondering the question of what shecould do to make matters come aright,Mamie's words came into her mind, "Makeher love us more, so that we can tell her ourtroubles, and then we shall be happier." Sheknelt down and prayed earnestly for guidancefrom above upon her daily path where thehappiness of three young hearts were soclosely connected with her, that she mightbe enabled to put aside her formal and precisemanner, and let them see the deep love shehad in her heart for them.The next day Ella wrote the followingletter to her mother.
60 AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE."Dearest mother, how I wish you wereat home! I know how much dear fatherneeds your care; but I know, too, how muchwe need it here at home. Aunt Rebecca isdetestable; we none of us can love her. Ifshe sees the least thing that she thinks is notjust right, she quotes half a dozen texts fromScripture, until we get so tired of her, that I,for one, keep out of her way all I possiblycan. I am all out of sorts, dear mother. Ifeel angry half the time, I believe. Cannotwe have some one else to keep house for usif you cannot come home soon ? Mamie doesnot care so much as I do; but she is nothappy."The answer came in due time."MY DEAR DAUGHTER," Your letter grieved me more than I can tellyou. I have had nothing but cheerful newsfrom home until now, and have tried to throw
AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE. 61off home cares as much as possible, that Imight be a more cheerful nurse in yourfather's sick room. He is very ill, and I fearit must be many weeks before I can return toyou. I have no one here that I can trust totake the care off me in the least, and I haveoften sat and thought how happy it was for methat all was going on so well at home. Nowthat peace is sadly disturbed; and how I amgoing to set all these things aright that seemto be going so far astray from the path of dutyand happiness, I cannot see at present. Icannot leave your father, my darling ; and youmust acknowledge my first duty to be herewith him. I know that many things may beunpleasant during my absence; but are yousure, Ella, that all is right with yourself?Do you try earnestly and heartily to makethe best of everything and not take the dark-est view of these trials? I wish it was inmy power to come to you; but it is not. The
62 AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE.next best thing I can do for you is to entreatyou to look upon the bright side of every-thing. If your aunt looks at things from adifferent point of view from yourself, andcorrects you when you think there is notsufficient cause, will you try to think that sheintends it for your good, and if you cannotlove her, will you, at least, try and be patientunder it ? I cannot bear to think that eitheryou or my dear Alfred are not doing as yourbest of friends and Saviour would like to haveyou. It grieves me more than I can tell, tohave you feel unhappy. Do look into yourown heart, and see that all is as it should bethere each day, and be as patient as you can.Remember that most poeple have some pecu-liarities, and that as yours perhaps annoy someone else, you must try to bear theirs with kind-ness and overlook them. I will quote a little,although you do not seem to fancy it overmuch in your aunt: 'Be kindly affectioned
AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE. 63one to another, in honor preferring oneanother.' Now I must say farewell, hopingto hear more cheerful tidings from you800oon." YOUR LOVING MOTHER."Ella read this letter through, feeling, as she-read on, almost angry with her mother fortaking her aunt's part as she called it. Shehardly knew what she had expected; but, cer-tainly, nothing like this. It was almost ascolding; and the hot tears came to her eyes.She began to read the letter again, and whenshe reached the words, " look into your ownheart, and see if all is as it should be there,"she thought, I have not done just right. Ihave acted just as I felt, and ended by theworst thing of all, forgot myself so far as tothrow what was in my hand at Alfred. Per-haps it might have struck him on the temple,and killed him;" and a shiver crept over her
64 AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE.at the thought. " How dreadful to have sucha temper as I have! I will try and makeAlfred forget it all. I know now that he didnot think of hurting my feelings; he onlysaid the fun that came into his mind, withoutthinking of me at all." She started up, forshe heard her brother's voice calling her;and soon he came into the room, all life andjoyousness as usual.He had not acted as though he resentedher unkindness in the least, since it occurred;but she had thought a great deal about it,and regretted it extremely." Come, Ella! Mamie and I are going tosee Mrs. Wilson ; will you come too?"She made some excuse at first; but he per-suaded her, and soon she joined them in thehall, with her hat on ready to go. They werejust opening the door, when their aunt cameout of the dining-room, handed Alfred a wellfilled basket, and told him to give it to Mrs.Wilson with her love.
AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE. 65"Do you know her, Aunt Rebecca?" ex-claimed Alfred, surprised. "Where did youever see her ?""I never did see her, my boy; but, stiff andold-maidish as your poor aunt is, she doeslove to give to poor people when she can, andwhen we do give, we always have a kindlyfeeling, you know, towards those we are help-ing. 'It is more blessed to give than to re-ceive;' isn't it? " and she smiled and pattedhim on the shoulder.They went down the steps into the street,leaving her standing in the doorway, lookingafter them. She watched them until theyturned a corner, and then shutting the door,went back into the parlor, and took upher work. She thought of Mamie's prayer,thought how she had intended and hoped toSimprove them all in many ways before theirmother returned; and already eight weekshad passed since she had taken charge of the
66 AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE.family, and what had she accomplished?Worse than nothing! Mamie had prayed tohave love given her, that they might be hap-pier, when her heart was full of love towardsthem all, even towards Ella who tried herpatience so constantly."I will give up trying to correct the lessimportant faults," thought she, "as they donot seem to understand that I do it from purelove for them and anxiety for their futurewelfare; and I will only speak to them re-bukingly in cases where I must interfere, for,although Ella and Alfred have many faultsthat trouble me much to see in them, stillthere is nothing positively evil in either ofthem, and it cannot be very long now beforetheir parents return. I will try my best tomake home happy for them, for they mustmiss their mother. I know how sadly Imissed my mother for long years, and I knewshe never could come home to me again from
AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE. 67that unknown world to which she had gone.Ah! what dreary days those were for me,nearly forty years ago now !"As she sat thinking of the past, the tearsdropped quietly upon her work, in pity for thelittle lonely girl (herself) who used to sithours in her chamber longing for some kindand tender words and a loving breast onwhich to lay her aching head; for her onlybrother was away at school, and she wasstaying with some friends until her sistercould return from Europe where she wastravelling with her husband, and with whomshe was to find a home. She hadlived withthis sister ever since, except when she madeoccasional visits elsewhere.While Miss Hamilton's thoughts were wan-dering so deeply in the. past, the childrenwere on their way to Mrs. Wilson's.The distance was not great; but the streatsthrough which they had to pass, were quite
68 AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE.narrow and far from clean; and merry, dirtylittle urchins were digging in the gutters orplaying marbles on the sidewalk. " Oh! whata street to live in," sighed Mamie; "it doesnot seem as though I could live very long if Ihad to breathe such close, bad air as this. Isuppose I should get along the same as therest of them do, though, if I had to live so.I thought that long before this we shouldhave had that chair for poor Mrs. Wilson.She says she is never free from pain, and yetshe always seems cheerful and happy."" I think it must be because she is used toliving in such places that makes her seemcontented," said Ella; " if you get usedto a thing, you do not mind it so much ifit is disagreeable." Alfred and Mamie ex-changed glances, for both thought that Ellapreached somewhat better than she practised,or that she had not yet become used to AuntRebecca's manner, and so still found it dis-agreeable.
AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE. 69"I wish I had plenty of money for a littlewhile," said Ella. "I would buy- ""Plenty of cream-cakes when you hadparties," interrupted Alfred."Oh! Alfred, you said you would not beunkind," cried Mamie; " you are not going toquarrel any more, you know.""I forgot," said he, penitently, and walkedalong quietly by Mamie's side.Ella's eyes flashed, and she felt quite angry,but kept silent until they reached the house,a poor, desolate-looking place, but quite cleanthroughout. They knocked, and a little girlcame to the door, with some needle-work inher hand. She greeted them smilingly, andinvited them into her mother's room. Thepoor woman was sitting in a straight-backedchair, with pillows put about her, and a smallone behind her head which rested against thewall. Her face looked pale and weary, butlighted up as she saw her welcome visitors.
70 AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE."Good afternoon, young ladies and gentle-man," she said; " you are very kind to comeand see a poor, old, sick woman like me, sucha bright, beautiful day, when it must be sopleasant to be out in the air. I have beentrying to make my Jennie take a little walk;but she says she must finish her sewing; andthen she is afraid to leave me long, because Iam so helpless: if I need anything I cannot getit for myself. It is hard for my little girl tobe shut up here so much with a poor, sickwoman to take care of, and never have anyplay from week's end to week's end." Thelittle girl smiled fondly at her mother, andlooked as bright and happy as though she hadall the playtime that usually falls to the lotof more favored children; then she placedchairs for the visitors, and took up her work;and went to sewing very busily." Are you getting any better, Mrs. Wil-son ? asked Ella.
AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE. G 1I lope so," said she; "but it is very slowlyat all. Sometimes I fear I get very impa-, and then no matter how carefully myJennie places the pillow, I feel so weary thatn hing seems comfortable, and then we bothge up for a time, and cry a little together;ter that we start afresh with a new stockoif ourage. Jennie says she knows God for-.ives us for our murmurings because of theScourage He gives us afterwards.""B " Here is a basket Aunt Rebecca sent you,'ld she told us to give her love to you," saidlred."_,he is very kind. She has helped soiaypoor people through their trials, and issdoing good in some way, that I cannot. loving her though I never saw her.ie was saying this morning that she knewshe must look. She must look all cheer-ss and loveliness because she was sogood."
72 AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE.Alfred wanted to laugh as he thought ofhis aunt looking all cheerfulness, when heremembered her face so anxious looking andresolute to make them all do as she thoughtright. All the children were much as-tonished to hear her praises, for they hadknown nothing of her good deeds.Jennie knelt down by the basket, untied thecord that held the cover down, and, putting inher hand, drew out a bunch of very finegrapes."Oh! mother, how could she know thatyou had longed so much for grapes ? " saidJennie; with delight. " Oh! mother, I am sohappy "She found more grapes, oranges, and deli-cate biscuit suitable for an invalid, and at thebottom of the basket was a book;" To helpthe tedious hours along," was written in it." Only see, she sent mother these slippersthat she crocheted herself, and she gave me this
AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE. 73Stt1 hymn-book, and she sends nice things-^1ithe time," said the child in a joyous tone,.er face beaming with happiness. The girlsi nd Alfred sat mute with astonishment.oulT d this be their Aunt Rebecca that thel:te girl was talking about, who so sel-dm seemed to think of much besides havingB.erything done " properly."Jennie put the nice things away, and thenent to her work once more. They sat talk-ig to Mrs. Wilson for a while, and then Ellaifse to go, and Alfred followed her to the^xr; but Mamie stopped and whispered to"Oh! no, Miss Mary, thank you," saidJenmie."iYes, you had better," persisted Mamie.I am telling her to go out and play for an- r, and I will stay and sew for her; but shenot go," said she, turning to Mrs. Wil-Her mother urged her also, and she
74 AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE.put on her poor little thin shawl, and went ndown into the street with Alfred and Ella."You do not know how good my Jennieis," said Mrs. Wilson, after a few momentsof silence; but I am afraid she is doingtoo much, and will be sick herself if she doesnot have more rest. She is a good girl, andshe will have her reward in the other world,I hope and trust; but her life has been ahard one thus far."" I will come often and sit with you whileshe goes out and takes air and exercise,"said Mamie. "I wish I was as good asJennie; but I am afraid I never could be; "and she gave a deep sigh." Your mamma thinks you are a very nicegirl, and that you are always ready to giveup your own pleasure for that of others. Shehas often told me so," said Mrs. Wilson."Did mother ever say that ?" said Mamie."How glad I am! I thought every one must
B .AUNT REBECCA S CHARGE. 75I was very selfish. I am always think-of such nice things I ought to do fore, and feel so brave as if I was going-ido something great, and then what I dolike nothing at all, and does not seehelp anybody much. Then when I thinkSver, I feel so dissatisfied with myself that>think I won't try again. And oh! Mrs.,ilon it is just twice as hard to do rightmother is away."">'Yes, I know it must be, dear, for children, d: very much upon their mothers. Youidoing a great deal of good just now, mygirl, by just sitting in that chair oppositeme. You are giving my little girl a chanceS.breathe the fresh air, which will makeH strong; you are sewing for her all theishe is away, so that she need not feelshe has lost time in doing her work, andyou are cheering me up, and, besidesvery pleasant to have you here now,
76 AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE.you will leave pleasant remembrances of yourkindness after you have left us. You aredoing as your beloved Saviour would wishyou to do, helping the sick and heavy laden,and all these things will be remembered andtreasured up in heaven for you; so you mustnot have that sad little way with you anymore, as though you were not as good asother people. If you were what you thinkyourself, you would not be such a favoritewith all your friends.""I think I should feel very nice if I lis-tened to your praises of me often, Mrs. Wil-son," laughed Mamie; "but it seems a verylittle thing to me to be sitting here. I knowit gives Jennie a chance to breathe the freshair, and have a little play if she chooses; butI am not giving up any comfort or pleasure.I just don't go home quite so soon as I shoullhave done; that is all. I wish I could dosomething more. Can you tell me of any-thing to do ?"
I :AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE. 77o,; dear, I cannot; but if the will isly implanted in. your heart, the oppor-ty will soon come when you can act."" Jennie is coming! How soon she hasSback!" said Mamie.: Nearly an hour since I went out," saidpie, her cheeks quite rosy and her wholener changed from the careful littlenman she appeared when the children firstCe, to a happy, merry child once more.I have been jumping rope with the girls,I am almost tired with laughing. Wee had such fun! Thank you for sewingDme, Miss Mary ;" and she took the workB : seated herself by the window in her oldThere, Miss Mary, you can see where youe done good if you just look at my Jennie.^is as fresh and bright as a rose, andyou very much for your kindness "Spoor woman's face looked almost asas her little daughter's.
78 AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE.Mamie hurried home, for it was gettinglate. She was so light-hearted that she feltmore like dancing along the sidewalk, thanwalking soberly; for, like all of us, praisewas sweet to her, and she felt the happinessthat always arises from having done a kindaction.When she got home, her aunt was standingat the window watching for. her, and greetedher with a smile and a kiss."You gave the little girl a chance to fillher lungs with good pure air; didn't you ? andgave her mother some of the sunshine thatcheers us all here at home, while Jennie hadthat which was out-of-doors ? "Mamie's arm was around her in a moment."Do you really love me very much,auntie ?""Most truly I do, Mamie; and I hope Ishall learn from you how to express a littlemore of what is in my heart; but it is moredifficult for persons situated as I am to show
AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE. 79what their feelings are, than for those whohave children always about them calling outexpressions of their love continually. Itbecomes a matter of course to parents tospeak or act the love and kindness that is intheir hearts; but we lonely people are seldomplaced in a position to be called upon forsuch little acts, and become accustomed torepress our feelings, though our hearts maybe brimming over with love. Ah! dear child,love me all you can, for mine is a lonelyheart, because of that very reserve."" I will, Aunt Rebecca;" and the childlooked lovingly, yet wonderingly, up in heraunt's face. Had she been lonely and un-happy there trying to fill their mother'splace? She had never thought whether heraunt had any feeling about anything, exceptthat she found fault with them, when they didnot think it at all necessary to do so.. Sheknew better now, and felt nearer to her auntthan ever before.
80 AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE.That night when Alfred and Mamie prayedtogether, "she thanked her good Father inHeaven for having granted her prayer sosoon, and letting them see that their auntwas, indeed, more like what they so wishedto have her," not dreaming that she hadheard that very prayer, and that it had madeso deep an impression upon her.The next day, as Ella sat sewing in theroom with her aunt, she suddenly looked upand asked, " Why she had sent all the nicethings she had given the Wilsons instead oftaking them herself? I should think youwould like to know any one you have doneso much for."" It has not happened to be very convenientfor me to go when I had the articles to send,and then I had another reason, Ella, twomore in fact. As you knew Mrs. Wilsonbefore her trials commenced, I thought youwould not feel the same about visiting her asyou would about going to see a stranger, and
AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE. 81seeing how much good your visits did hermight give you the necessary confidence thatwould make it easy and pleasant for you tovisit other needy people, therefore I sent youyoung people in my place. My last reasonwas a foolish one, which I should not haveallowed to influence me if there had beenany real need of my going. I feel that mymanner is not one to attract strangers, andthat you young bright people had better dothe visiting, as the sight of you would helpcheer the invalid."Ella was silent, pondering all these thingsover in her mind ; at last she said, -"Aunt Rebecca, I am sorry I have been sowilful since you have been here. I will dodifferently now; we will not talk about it,please; but I am sorry for it now, and youshall not have cause to complain any more.""I have not complained, Ella," said heraunt.
82 AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE."I know it, Aunt Rebecca; but we haveall'been doing wrong, as Mamie says, andnow I mean to do differently.""Thank you, my dear; it will be muchmore pleasant for us all. 'Only by pridecometh contention,' and without pride weshall surely get along well.""Oh, dear! " muttered Ella to herself; butshe made no reply, though for a few momentsher impatient spirit was up in arms. "Ishould like to have money enough to buy thatchair for Mrs. Wilson, we have talked aboutso long," said Ella, at last; " it seems asthough we went behindhand in saving for it,instead of getting nearer the required sum.It will cost twenty dollars, and we have onlysaved six. When I saw her sitting with herhead resting against the wall yesterday, Ithought over all the things I had that wereworth selling, to see if we could not get itfor her soon; but I have very few things that
AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE. 83would sell for much. My bracelets fathergave me, so I could not part with them; andmy watch grandmother gave me, so I cannotsell that; and it is just so with everything Iown.""I have been thinking of that a great deallately," said her aunt. I have the necessarysum on hand; but I do not feel that I canafford to give away so much money. Youhave six dollars already saved. I will givefour towards it and lend you the rest; youcan repay me as you save it out of yourpocket money, if you like.""I should like it very much indeed, and Ishould think that Alfred and Mamie wouldalso. We will ask them at dinner-time, andif they are willing to do so, may we buy itthis afternoon, and let the poor woman restcomfortably as soon as possible ? I cannothelp thinking of her thin, weary-looking faceas she leaned her head back against the wall,It quite haunts me!"
84 AU REBECCA'S CHARGE."Ye lie sooner the better, I should judgefro what I hear you say of her discomforts."SSo it was agreed among them, that thechildren should give their six dollars, their auntshould give four and lend them the remainder.That afternoon they sent Mrs. Wilson a good,comfortable chair, one of that kind made pur-posely for invalids, so arranged as to makea person comfortable in either a sitting orrecumbent position. The deep sigh of reliefthe poor suffering woman gave as she sankback on the soft cushions, told what a bless-ing it was to her, and with many tearsshe thanked them for their kindness.Wonderful were the plans Mamie andAlfred made and discussed about finding someway to make money rapidly, and pay AuntRebecca immediately; but one plan fellthrough because it needed capital to com-mence with, and another had to be abandonedfor some equally good reason; so they gradual-
AUNT REBECCA'S CIfA-RGE. 85"ly gave up planning, and faithfully saved theirallowance of spending-money. It was slowwork, however, and it would be a long timebefore they would be able to pay the debt.Ella kept to her resolution of being morekind to her brother and sister, and more re-spectful to her aunt; and, gradually, the twoseemed to be drawing nearer to each other,and the state of things, generally, was muchmore agreeable since the day that they foundout through Mrs. Wilson that their aunt hadmany good traits of character hidden fromthem, under a veil of fault-finding and pre-cision of manner.Now, they all gathered together in theparlor during the evenings, instead of stayingup-stairs, and leaving their aunt to pass thetime alone, as they had formerly done.Sometimes they studied their lessons for thenext day, sometimes the girls busied them-selves with their needlework, while their
86 AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE.brother read aloud to them, and it seemedmore home-like and happier for all. Oneevening when they had been sitting togetherthus, just as they made a movement to put uptheir work and books for the night, AuntRebecca said, " Mamie, will you let Ella andme join you in your prayers to-night ? I shouldenjoy it so much, and I think Ella would,too."" Yes, auntie," said Mamie, coloring; butI think you had better make the prayer. Ican do it for Alfred and me, because I knowjust what we want to say; but I could notfor you, I'm afraid."" We will each do our part," said AuntRebecca. "We will read a short chapter inthe Bible, have a prayer, and then all sing ahymn together." FrQm this time, the eveningprayer became a regular custom, all growingout of Mamie's effort to bring comfort to her-self and brother in their time of trouble.
i -AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE. 87tfour weeks after this, as Miss Hamil-_k n the girls were sitting at the tea-table,came in, and took his place at the table.knew it annoyed his aunt to have himlate to his meals, and he commencedgvery rapidly; then suddenly he thoughtetter he had taken from the office forand just handing it to her, went onhis supper.Sis from mother," said Ella. "I hopei tell. us in this that they are comingoon, for father is getting better now."broke the seal and began reading; thesat looking at her, waiting to hear the.but she read on, the color coming andrapidly in her face as though she feltI-disturbed. When she reached the:etossed it across the table to Mamie,1g, "It seems to concern you moreAoes me," she left her seat, and went
88 AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE."What can it be ? " said Mamie, her heartbeating so that she trembled all over. Alfredcame behind her chair, and they read togethelthe following letter:--" My dear Ella, I am glad to be able to saythat your father at last seems to be decidedlygaining health and strength, and the physi-cian thinks before many weeks he will bestrong enough to brave our northern climate,as it will soon be warm weather with younow. We have decided to go north as far asNorth Carolina, and pass a few weeks with afamily there who used to be neighbors ofours, and moved to North Carolina severalyears ago, on account of the lady's health.They have sent us an urgent invitation tovisit them, and also to have our children meetus there. We have been thinking it over, andconcluded that Mamie and Alfred had betterbe the ones to come. Mamie, as her healthis delicate, and the change may benefit her,
S AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE. 89Alred as an escort and protector forI regret that we cannot say to you,Ako, dear Ella; but we think that twoH many as had better come. I know yougIrieved, dear; but you must rememberlsyear you alone travelled with your-when he went West, and you sawa and were in New York city for aInjoying all the gayeties there; so youSto be contented at home. I hope youl-p l-Mamie get ready to come, and seetshe and Alfred are in readiness twoIfm to-day, as a mnerchant who isgoods at the North will be ready toir home about that time. He will letwhen he is ready."Mamie, what fun! Isn't it jolly ?ddanced about the room, then rushedand hugged her until her cap wasnd her collar rumpled; then he gotiMamie, and made her dance too, until
90 AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE.they were all out of breath laughing. Theysobered down after a while, and began to talkof what was to be done first. They talkedso fast and both together that at first theydid not make much headway; but when MissHamilton read the letter over herself, shefound full directions about the children'sclothes, for the seasons being so differentthere from the northern ones, their motherknew that they could not tell what would besuitable.Miss Hamilton thought of Ella, and wentup to her room. She found her sitting therein the dark. She knew how unpleasant itwas to break in upon one of Ella's darkmoods (and she feared that this was one ofthem); but she had made up her mind to tryand enter into the children's feelings morethan she had done, and show more sympathyfor them, no matter how difficult a task shemight find it.
-.AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE. 91- went to where Ella was sitting, and-.put her arm about her; but Ella shookSwas afraid you were feeling unhappy,H I came to talk to you, and see if Inot make you feel more reconciled."conciled to what ?" said Ella, sharply-;g left here all alone while the othersway enjoying themselves? I wonderyou think you can say that will do it?Sit is very strange in father and, both to do such a thing. They woulde Mamie so. No one loves me orH hat becomes of me, and I am tired ofShe got up from her chair, andlooking out of the window into the-.d tapping impatiently upon the win-thnk you are looking on this matter-wrong light," said her aunt. TheySyo as well as either of their other
92 AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE.children ; but you are the oldest, and perhapsthey expect more of you, as is natural theyshould; then, as your mother writes, lastsummer you had a long and pleasant journeywith your father, and the others stayed athome."" "Well, don't talk any more about it, AuntRebecca. I have got to stay at home, and thatis settled ; but how I am to enjoy doing a thingthat I perfectly hate and detest to do, I don'tsee."S"I am real sorry that you are not to gotoo," said Mamie, coming in; but I supposemother knows what is best for us. I wishyou could go instead of me, Ella, although Ishould like very much to go myself; but Idon't think I care so very much about suchthings as you do., I should have thoughtmother would have remembered that, and hadyou go instead of me; but don't feel badlyabout it; I know auntie will be kind to you., ', ' :
AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE. 93pknow she has been real good ever since.day we went to Mrs. Wilson's, and shedot old-maidish or fussy scarcely a bit".^ Hush, Mamie, hush " said Ella, soly that she quite frightened poor Mamie,hgave a little shriek, and clung to herter."f What is it, Ella ?" she whispered, look-^ about her in the dark."E; "Ella was stopping you on my account,"- Aunt Rebecca going up to Mamie; andtting her arms about her, she drew herards her and kissed her fondly. " I thankB my darling, for what you have just said.-m truly glad if I am getting over beingy and old-maidish, for I have been tryinghard of late to do just that very thing.""t this, they all burst into a hearty laugh.Well, it is nice that you did not care,ie for it would have been awful to have
94 AUNT REBECCA'S CHARGE.said it, if you did. Wasn't it funny, though ?I never shall dare talk about people in thedark again;" and off they all went intoanother burst-of laughter. Mamie's mishapwas the very best thing that could have hap-pened for Ella. She had seen and enjoyedthe comical part of the scene, and she wastoo .far aroused to sink back immediately intothe unhappy frame of mind she was in pre-viously; so after talking awhile where theywere, they all went down-stairs together, andthough Ella was sober, still she was not cross.When prayers were said, and Mamie hadasked God to bless those left at home andthose who would be away, and make all seethat whatever their mother said was to bedone, was the best to do, Ella went to heraunt, and told her she was sorry for her selfish-ness, and that she hoped it was all over. Shewas trying earnestly to do right, and thebetter spirit had returned.