The Baldwin Lbrary
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F, 11 A N L, V
m o-- wide
THE THREE FRIENDS.
THE THREE FRIENDS
Sdutf Stories for tte iaung.
W. P. NIMMO, HAY, & MITCHELL
(WILLIAM P. NIMMO AND CO.).
MORRISON AND GIBB, EDINBURGH,
PRINTERS TO HER MAJIES'Y'S STATIONERY OFEICL.
I. THE THREE FRIENDS, .
II. THE SISTER OF MERCY, 49
III. FREDERICK THE GREAT'S COOK, 68
IV. THE DUTY, 6. .
V. RUTH'S SILKWORMS, 107
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
THE YOUNG BENEFACTRESS, 12
CLEMENCE REFUSES TO BETRAY CONFIDENCE, 27
AN IRRITABLE PATIENT, 61
COAXING THE YOUNG COOK, 76
MINISTERING TO A MIND DISEASED, 102
THE THREE FRIENDS.
UCILE LAPORTE, Sarah Verneuil, and
Clemence Villement were united in the
closest bonds of friendship, and in the
seminary where they were educated they went by
the name of the Inseparables.
Lucile was a poor sickly child, whose delicate
health caused her parents much anxiety. Her
father, who loved her tenderly, never allowed her
to be contradicted in the slightest thing, and the
physician having declared that all work was pre-
judicial to her health, little Lucile did very much as
Mr Laporte, who was a rich wool merchant, lived
in a large substantial house, which stood in the
2 THE THREE FRI ENDs.
middle of an enclosure on the banks of a beautiful
river. Here, in the month of June, a number of
women washed the fleeces of wool in large baskets,
*vhich they plunged into the water, and afterwards
spread them out on sheets in the enclosure to dry.
Lucile was a great favourite with all the workers,
over whom she exercised a certain sway, owing to her
ready sympathy for these poor women.
If they had a favour to ask, or any claims to make,
she was always entrusted with the message to her
father, who never could refuse her anything.
She frequently accompanied them when, after the
day's toil was over, they returned to their homes to
make ready the evening repast. She assisted in
spreading the cover outside; for, at this period, all
the inhabitants of the Faubourg supped in the open
air; and this little girl, who, when seated at her
father's sumptuously-spread table, would seldom taste
her food, ate with apparent relish the coarse fare
which was offered her with so much cordiality on
those occasions. In return, she would ask her
mamma for the remainder of the dessert, which
she laid aside for the children of her poorer neigh-
bours, whose homes she entered at all hours, to see
if they had need of anything, in which case she spared
THE THREE FRIENDS. 3
neither her own nor her father's purse in order to
Although Lucile had not learned the usual branches
of education taught to children of her age, she was
not by any means devoid of knowledge. Besides
observing attentively all that passed around her, she
listened to the conversation that took place at her
father's table, and in this way she gained a good deal
of information; for Mr Laporte, who was frequently
obliged to travel on business matters, had always
something to relate about the countries he had
visited, and was never tired answering the child's
endless questions. Finally, Lucile passed a good
part of the day beside Sister Blanchard, a poor nun
whom her father had rescued from the gloom of the
convent, and who kept a little school in a retired
corer of the house. There the little girl learned to
read, the only thing, with the catechism and prayers,
the good nun could teach her.
Lucile, who was passionately fond of reading,
especially poetry, read and re-read a volume of
Racine so often that she knew the two tragedies it
contained by heart. She recited the principal
pieces very well, although certainly she did not feel
all their beauties. Every one was surprised to see
4 THE THREE FRIENDS.
this pale and delicate child become so impassioned
on such occasions.
Poor Lucile was very plain-looking, and people
had thoughtlessly spoken of it before her, which had
the effect of developing in the child great mistrust and
susceptibility of character, which sometimes amounted
to suffering. Her parents, who were tenderly attached
to her, took great care never to hurt her feelings;
but, notwithstanding, she could never believe that
a daughter like her could ever flatter their self-
Mr Villement, one of the wealthiest proprietors in
the neighbourhood, had often occasion to call on Mr
Laporte on business. In his frequent visits to the
merchant, he had remarked little Lucile, whose quick
intelligence pleased him exceedingly. He spoke of
her to his sister, who had lived with him since his
wife's death, as a charming companion for his
daughter Clemence, then about twelve years of
age; but the old lady objected to the proposal on
the ground of the child's inferior position. Mr
Villement, paying no attention to his sister's scruples,
obtained Mr Laporte's promise to bring Lucile with
him the next time he came to the castle. Not, how-
ever, without some opposition on the part of his wife,
THE THREE FRIENDS. 5
who, like a prudent woman, thought it better that
each should remain in her own sphere.
The day when Lucile went to Villement, her mamma
dressed her with the greatest care; she made her
turn round and round, in order to see that every-
thing was as it ought to be. The poor lady, know-
ing that her little girl would be much impressed with
everything at the castle, feared she would feel her
own inferiority. She gave her plenty good advice,
and told her to pay particular attention to all that
was said to her.
The merchant and his daughter were warmly re-
ceived at the castle. Lucile at first was rather shy,
but she very soon recovered her equanimity, and
replied with uncommon presence of mind to the
numerous questions Miss Villement put to her.
Clemence and she were soon great friends. The
former, naturally indolent, and completely isolated
from children of her own age, was quite charmed
with the vivacity and winning manners of her new
companion. After having rambled over the park
together, the little girls were as intimate as if they
had known each other for years.
On her return home, Lucile spoke to her mamma
much about Clemence, of the kind welcome she had
6 THE THREE FRIENDS.
received, and the pressing invitation from all the family
to repeat her visit very soon again. Mrs Laporte only
shook her head in reply, although at the same time
she felt flattered by the honour done to her daughter.
But, dear mamma, one would think you were not
satisfied with our reception," said Lucile.
It is not that, my child; I am quite satisfied on
that point; but I grieve to see this intimacy between
you and Miss Villement."
"And why, then, mamma dear ? If you only knew
what a charming creature she is."
"I do not doubt it, but you are not on the same
footing in society, and that friendship may yet cause
you more pain than pleasure."
Lucile was much struck with her mamma's words,
which she never forgot. However, in spite of all her
objections, Mrs Laporte allowed her to go to Ville-
ment frequently during the two years that preceded
her departure for school.
Her education had to be attended to at last; and
when Lucile was thirteen years of age, her mamma
placed her in Mrs Lasneau's seminary, which had
been highly recommended to her by a friend.
At Villement, Lucile became acquainted with Sarah
Verneuil, the granddaughter of one of Mr Villement's
TYHE THREE FRIENDS. 7
tenants. This little girl was only ten years old when
her father, an officer in the artillery, was seized with a
hopeless decline. His wife, much alarmed, consulted
their physician, who assured her that a milder climate
would considerably alleviate his sufferings. Accord-
ingly she took him to the south of France, where the
invalid for a time felt much better; but soon he
wearied of his sojourn there, and insisted upon going
to Italy, when he visited Rome and Florence; then
he spoke of nothing but Switzerland, feeling sure that
the mild mountain air would re-establish his health.
They hastened thitherward, but here the poor man
was no better. Feeling his end approaching, he was
filled with an intense longing to see his native land
once more. His strength gradually declined, and a
few days after his arrival at home, he died, leaving
his wife and daughter almost penniless.
Sarah, their only child, was her father's joy. She
accompanied him in all his walks, and he conversed
with her in a style far beyond her years, which had
the effect of developing her intelligence. Mr Ver-
neuil lost no opportunity of instructing his little
daughter. On the shores of the Mediterranean, he
taught her the history and geography of the surround-
ing countries. In Italy, he made her sing and draw;
8 THE THREE FRIENDS.
and during their sojourn in Switzerland, he amused
her with botany and natural history. Whilst there,
they would set off in the mornings in search of some
beautiful site for Sarah to sketch. On such occasions,
he would converse with her about the power and
goodness of God, and spoke with calm resignation of
his approaching end. The child was thus prepared,
by his instruction, to be content with little in this life,
and to hope for much in the world to come.
After her husband's death Mrs Verneuil returned
to Villement, and along with Sarah, took up her
abode with Mrs Lenoir, her mother. The terrible
shock she had sustained proved too much for her,
and from the day he died, she declined with no
specific malady, and gradually sunk till death closed
her earthly scene. Before her decease she entreated
her mother to give Sarah a good education, which
would prove a blessing to her in the future.
Sarah, already much shaken by the recent death
of her beloved father, was quite overwhelmed by this
new loss. Her grandmamma, who could not think
of sending her away from home just yet, allowed her
to wander all day in the woods and meadows. Often
was she seen seated by the brook, watching the fleet-
ing clouds, and listening to the murmur of the
IHE THREE FRIENDS. 9
water, whilst her face was bathed in tears; but, on
re-entering the house, she concealed her grief for fear
of vexing her grandmamma.
A few months after, when Sarah had recovered a
little from this terrible shock, she occupied herself in
household matters, such as assisting Mrs Lenoir in
the superintendence of the dairy and poultry-yard.
Clemence, who frequently met her in her walks, took
her to the castle, where she was well received by Miss
Villement, who thought her society might be bene-
ficial to her niece. This friendship, considerably
lessened the bitter grief which filled Sarah's heart,
without, however, dispelling it altogether. At this
time, she also became acquainted with Lucile Laporte,
and thus a year passed rapidly away.
She was now nearly fourteen, and as her judgment
was more developed than that of most young girls
at her age, Sarah recalled to her grandmamma her
mamma's last words, and begged of her to send
her to school beside her dear Lucile.
Clemence Villement had no recollection of her
mamma, whom she had lost a few years after her
birth. Miss Olive Villement, her father's sister, had
given up all thoughts of marriage, in order to accept
the direction of his household affairs, together with
io THE THREE FRIENDS.
the care and education of her niece. This lady was
a very austere, practical person, with a cold, reserved
manner, which awoke no sympathy, and she loved
no one in the world save Clemence. The child's
education savoured of this rigidity, which suppressed
all emotions. In a manner, imprisoned in the
castle, which she seldom quitted without her aunt,
she never made a single gesture, never spoke a single
word, that had not been dictated by the old lady.
When eleven years old she was very tall and beauti-
ful. Her indolent nature agreed very well with this
programme, which, having an article for every hour
of the day, dispensed with all wish or will of her own.
She learnt very little during the first part of her
childhood, which was mostly passed in hearing pious
legends, or rather, the noble deeds done by the
Villements. This had the effect of engendering more
pride than was natural to her heart, generous by nature.
Often would this goodness of heart try to make itself
manifest, but the old lady suppressed all its emotions,
thinking it a sign of weakness to give way to the most
amiable and natural feelings. For example, she
scolded her niece severely one day on seeing her
return home with neither shoes nor stockings. The
child having met a poor little beggar girl, had taken
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THE THREE FRIENDS. 13
them off and given them to her, and then brought
her to the castle and loaded her with no end of good
Poor Clemence was leading a very quiet, uncon-
ventional life when she became acquainted with
Lucile Laporte. The following year Sarah went to
reside with her grandmamma, who lived in a pretty
farm-house not far from the castle; and Clemence
also made her acquaintance.
Sarah, who had travelled a good deal, often spoke
enthusiastically about Switzerland, which inspired
Clemence with the desire to see this beautiful
country. She gave her papa no peace till he pro-
mised to spend the following summer there.
On their return home, towards the end of autumn,
Clemence took an early opportunity of calling on
Sarah, to speak to her of Switzerland and all that she
had seen; but, alas! Sarah was gone-her grand-
mamma had sent her to school.
"Dear aunty," said Clemence, one day shortly
after, I am quite ashamed of my ignorance; so do
ask papa to send me to school beside Sarah!"
"What an idea, child !" exclaimed the old lady,
staring at her in blank astonishment "a young lady
in your station never goes to school."
14 THE THREE FRIENDS.
Clemence, always very submissive, made no reply.
Some days after, she asked her papa to take her to
call on Lucile, hoping to prevail on her to come and
spend a few weeks at the castle. What was her sur-
prise on learning Lucile was beside Sarah at school
On returning home, she implored Mr Villement to
reunite her to her two friends, which he at last con-
sented to do; and a month later she was installed in
Mrs Lasneau's establishment.
CHAPTER II.-AT SCHOOL.
THREE years had passed away. Sarah was now
eighteen, Clemence seventeen, and Lucile sixteen.
It was a beautiful morning in May when, break-
fast being over, the pupils, before commencing
their studies, were assembled in the large school-
room, as usual, for prayers. The exercises-which
were conducted by Miss Amaury, one of the
assistant-teachers-were already begun, when the
door opened, and Mrs Lasneau entered. Her un-
expected appearance caused great consternation
amongst the pupils, for Madame was only visible on
very solemn occasions.
This lady was formerly a nun of the Christian
TIHE THREE FRIENDS. 15
Union, an order who devoted themselves to the
education of young girls. After leaving the convent
where she had been for many years, she established a
school, in spite of the difficulty of the times, and
admitted as assistants the Misses Amaury,-three
sisters well qualified for the task.
Although very aged, and in delicate health, Mrs
Lasneau governed her house with a firm hand, and
was feared and respected by all the pupils, who very
rarely saw her. Her presence was always the presage
of some great event. She took her place in the
middle of the room, and, after the prayer was over,
made a sign for the pupils to remain in their places.
My dear children," said she, in a slow and grave
voice, "a theft has been committed in this house,
and I need not tell you how it grieves me to say it.
Some one has stolen a purse of money from one of
your companions. The child has made no complaint,
only she was surprised to find it away from the place
where she had laid it, and her surprise has not escaped
our notice; for, children, remember our eye, like
that of God's, is continually upon you.
"The pupil w ho has committed this theft is surely
not aware of the enormity of her fault-sad conse-
quence of the small attention she pays to the religious
16 THE THREE FRIENDS.
instruction she receives here. How can a young
person, well brought up, as you all are, degrade
herself to such an extent? Within the last twenty
years this is the first time such a thing has happened
in my house.
"I do not wish to know the culprit, as I would be
under the painful necessity of expelling her, and who
can tell what would become of her! Here, at least,
she will get a good example set her. To your knees,
girls! and let us pray to God to have mercy on this
poor wandering sheep, and to bring her to repent-
The prayer finished, she added:
"Like me, children, do not try to discover the
Then she went slowly out of the room.
The pupils, who had hardly dared to lift their eyes
during this admonition, commenced to disperse into
groups. One young girl, about fifteen years old,
alone continued to pray, but no one seemed to notice
her. After a great deal of whispering had taken
place, most of them left the school-room.
Clemence and Lucile retired to the drawing-room,
which communicated with the school-room by a glass
THE THREE FRIENDS. 17
Have you any idea who it can be?" asked
No. I never dared lift my eyes during Madame's
discourse, for fear of adding to the culprit's con-
"Just look before you, at the foot of the school-
And she pointed to the pale young girl.
"Endora !" cried Lucile; "is it possible ? I could
never have believed her capable of such baseness.
Sarah is already beside her. Noble girl! she is
always on the spot when there is a tear to dry or a
heart to comfort. 0 Clemence! what an example
she sets us, and how small we feel beside her !"
"What, Lucile, do you approve of it ?"
"I do more, Clemence; I admire such conduct."
"All right! But as for me, I would not ever.
touch the culprit's hand, for fear of encouraging her."
We ought to shun the sin, but not the sinner;
and we ought not to confound the one with the other.
Have you not heard Mrs Lasneau tell us that charity
is one of the most meritorious virtues in God's eyes.
Besides, how do we know the reason that has induced
Endora to commit such an act, and ought we not to
make allowance for her youth?"
18 THE THREE FRIENDS.
Clemence shrugged her shoulders in reply.
"Whatever she has done," continued Lucile, getting
excited, "it ill becomes us, the companions of the
poor girl, to treat her thus."
Clemence, however, was not convinced.
"Just look how she clings to Sarah! Does your
heart remain untouched by such deep distress ?"
Oh yes, Lucile, I feel ready to cry; but
"Our duty is to console those who suffer," replied
Sarah now joined them.
"Poor Endora is in a sad state," said she to her
friends. "I have tried in vain to comfort her. She
cannot even weep !"
It was now winter; all the house was warmed by
stoves, with the exception of the music-room, where
there was always a good fire kept burning. Here the
pupils were in the habit of coming to warm them-
selves during play-hours. One morning when a
number of foolish children were seated round the
fire on a semi-circular bench, discussing the great
topic of the day, without, however, mentioning any
name, Endora entered the room and seated herself
beside them. All at once, the little band dispersed
THE THREE FRIENDS. 19
like frightened birds: left alone, the poor girl burst
Seeing the girls enter the school-room in fits of
laughter, Sarah at once saw what was wrong.
Let us go and comfort the poor child," said she
to Lucile and Clemence; it would be cruel to forsake
her in her grief."
"Go you first, as you have already spoken to
her," replied Lucile, "and we shall follow in a few
You doubtless speak for yourself," said Clemence,
in a dignified tone. I do not intend to go near her."
"Clemence, Clemence I how can you be so un-
charitable? Do not listen to her, Sarah; be quick
and go to Endora. I answer for Clemence, she will
Come, let us get one or two of our companions
to go with us, in order that our arrival may not have
the appearance of an arranged affair, for we must
take care not to hurt the poor child's feelings."
On entering the room, Sarah found Endora with
her head leaning against the chimney-piece, and so
absorbed in her grief, that she did not hear her enter.
Slipping quietly up to the little girl, she said to her
in a kindly voice-
20 THE THREE FRIENDS.
"You are troubled about something, Endora. Let
me try to comfort you."
0 Sarah! I was sure you would not forsake the
culprit." And laying her head on the young girl's
shoulder, Endora wept anew.
Dry your tears, my dear, and do not give way to
your grief. We need courage to support the trials of
"Yes; but a fault !"
"A fault being the greatest of all, demands the
greatest courage. But I hear some one coming; so
dry your eyes, and we shall speak of all that some
Clemence and Lucile now entered, followed by five
or six others. They were deep in conversation, and
paid no attention to Endora, who was sufficiently
recovered to return to the school-room when the bell
A few days after, as Endora was seated all alone
in the drawing-room, the door suddenly opened, and
a little girl about eight years old ran in.
"Endora," said she, will you kiss me ?"
"Oh, yes dear little Laura."
Laura was the pupil whose purse had been
THE THREE FRIENDS. z2
"Endora," continued she, if you weep like that,
I shall weep also."
Here their conversation was interrupted by the
loud ringing of the tea-bell, and the two parted.
The same evening after prayers were over, Mrs
Lasneau read one of the seven penitential psalms,
for those of her zupils whose hearts were not alive to
charity. Her eye, which seemed to penetrate into
the inmost recesses of the heart, filled the pupils with
a wholesome fear.
CHAPTER III.-THE CONFIDENCE
MRS LASNEAU, true to the good old customs of her
convent, never permitted the young ladies to dress
their hair according to the fashion; all were obliged
to wear it in smooth braids, a style seldom adopted at
this period, when ladies old and young had their hair
frizzed. Every morning, two of the Misses Amaury,
and a niece of Mrs Lasneau, installed themselves in a
large dressing-room situated above the lobby, and
dressed the pupils' hair.
The day after the rebuke, Endora entered the
room alone, which was already occupied by six
22 THE THREE FRIENDS.
pupils. The three who waited their turn immedi-
ately took their departure. Miss Bonne Amaury
dressed Endora's hair whilst the other two governesses
remained idle. They requested two of the pupils to
come, but all in vain; the room was not filled again
till Endora quitted it.
The same day during play-hours, Sarah seeing her
companion's supplicating look fixed on her, pro-
posed to accompany her to the dressing-room. This
room, which was always kept very tidy, was used
by the pupils as a sort of parlour, when they had any-
thing particular to say to each other; it being ar-
ranged among themselves that no one had any right
to interrupt those who already occupied it.
Endora, finding herself alone with Sarah, said to
her with a sob: "How unkind these girls are to me,
and how badly they practise the charity of which
Mrs Lasneau speaks "
Have courage, my poor child! you have com-
mitted a great fault, and the bitterer the punishment
the sooner will it be over."
How can you love me, I who have fallen so low
in the opinion of every one else ? "
"Because if you yielded to temptation in an evil
moment, I am sure it was not baseness on your part."
7HE THREE FRIENDS. 23
"Neither baseness nor temptation, Sarah! I
simply wished to play a trick on Laura, who is
passionately fond of money. I intended to return the
purse after the child had wept a little; but her excla-
mation having attracted the teacher's attention, I
lost my presence of mind, and, fearing lest it should
be found in my possession, I ran and hid it in the
garden; since then I have sought in vain for a favour-
able moment to replace the money without any one
seeing me. Go, dear Sarah, and get the unfortunate
purse, which you will find behind the flower-stand."
Sarah accordingly ran to the garden, and found the
purse, which she put back in its place, and then re-
joi-ed Endora. "Why," said she to her, "have you
never confessed that to Mrs Lasneau ?"
I was so confused; it was quite impossible for me
to speak to her, when all these girls had their eyes
fixed upon me; and then, had I intended to make
poor Laura cry I was so ashamed when I thought
of it all; I tried to find means to exculpate myself
from that odious accusation of theft; and although I
had not fallen so low, I felt very guilty, and I would
have had nothing to say in my favour, even if I had
had courage to speak."
Sarah went down-stairs, and related all to her two
24 THE THREE FRIENDS.
friends, who accompanied her up to the dressing-
"Now," said she to Endora, "that restitution is
made, you must resume your usual appearance. These
girls have made you suffer for your fault, and you
ought to have courage enough to stand their imper-
tinent looks; besides, are we not on your side ? "
"Let us ascend to the music-room," said Lucile,
"and we shall see !"
Sarah entered first, with Endora leaning on her
arm; Lucile and Clemence followed, leading little
Laura by the hand.
The bench in front of the fire was occupied by
four of the Lenoir pupils, and the conversation,
which was very animated when the Inseparables
entered, suddenly ceased. The latter seated them-
selves without saying a word
A few minutes after, Lucile said to Endora, Come,
dear, take your harp and accompany us in my aunt's
Endora took her harp with trembling hands, and
did as requested.
The singer's emotion communicated a singular
charm to the beautiful song; the voices were more
thrilling, and the accompaniment more expressive,
THE THREE FRIENDS. 25
than usual; the quartette were so charmed with the
little concert, they soon forgot their conspiracy.
Sarah then went to the piano, and played with
great expression a waltz of her own composition.
Lucile took Endora, Clemence another young girl,
and commenced to dance. The four others followed
their example, and each taken up with her own
amusement, thought no more of Endora.
The dancers, breathless after their exertions, were
about to throw themselves on chairs, when the door
quietly opened, and Mrs Lasneau appeared on the
threshold, and in her usual solemn tone, said-
"- Well, girls, I am satisfied with you."
There was much meaning in these few words, for
Mrs Lasneau was never very lavish with her praises.
Endora pressed Lucile's hand, and the bell calling
each to duty, the music-room was soon empty.
A few days after there remained no traces of the
CHAPTER IV.- LIFE AT SCHOOL.
IT was a beautiful morning in the month of May.
The sun shone brightly in the heavens, and the birds
warbled merrily. The glass-doors of the school-room
26 THE THREE FRIENDS.
leading into the garden were open to admit the balmy
fresh air and the sweet fragrance of the flowers. Each
pupil, seated before her desk, her face turned to the
wall, could not see what was going on in the room,
nor knew if her movements were particularly watched.
In each corner a governess was seated.
As all speaking was strictly forbidden during school
hours, if a pupil had any communication to make,
she wrote a note, which was passed from hand to
hand till it reached its destination. If it had to
pass one of these formidable corners, it required the
greatest dexterity and skill to succeed in the attempt.
On the day of which we speak, a note of this kind
was in circulation quite open, in order that each
might see it. Clemence having read it, was about to
pass it to her neighbour, when some one seized her
arm. She turned round quickly, and beheld Mrs
Lasneau beside her, who said to her-
Read this note aloud, miss."
Clemence obeyed reluctantly.
Now, this is what it contained-
"Girls, take care what you are about, for Madame
is in high dudgeon to-day."
"Doubtless you know the handwritmg?"
"Yes, ma'am, I do."
"' .' ~ i, ,1 ,i i i ,
'i 1 ,1'.'i^ ^ ^ f
THE THREE FRIENDS. 29
"Will you be good enough, then, to tell me the
author of the note ?"
Is it to me that you make this request, ma'am ?"
exclaimed Clemence, indignantly.
"Yes," replied Mrs Lasneau, mildly.
"I am sorry, ma'am, I cannot comply with your
"And why not, may I ask ?"
"Because a Villement has never yet betrayed any
You seem to forget I might order you to do it."
"Even them, ma'am, I could not obey."
After a moment of silence, Mrs Lasneau added--
"Then, Miss Villement, am I to understand that
you refuse to make lInown the author of this re-
Clemence bowed in silence.
It is sufficient. Seat yourself, and continue your
Clemence, very red, and her eyes filled with tears
that her pride could hardly keep back, bowed and
As soon as school was over, the poor girl fled into
the garden, where she was soon joined by her two
30 THE THREE FRIENDS.
To make me a spectacle for all these children to
stare at," she cried, "it is disgusting I If I was not
going to leave next vacation, I would not stay a day
And she gave full vent to her tears.
My dear," said Sarah, calm yourself a little."
"Calm myself, when I have been so affronted !"
"But, my dear," said Lucile, others have been
affronted before now, and I don't think you ever
thought much about it."
"Oh it is very different, though."
In what respect, may I ask? You seem to think
our obscure names have no lustre to preserve !"
"Still your endless discussions," said Sarah. "It
appears to me, Clemence, that you do not view this
affair with your ordinary good sense. If I were in
your place, I would not admit I could be so easily
offended, and I would attach no importance to such
You are right, Sarah," replied Clemence, drying
her eyes. "I oughtn't to allow such things to vex
And she left her two friends.
"1 She has gone, with her usual pride, only to fall
into some other scrape," said Lucile.
THE iHREE FRIENDS. 31
"You are very hard on your friend, Lucile. In-
stead of reciprocating her love, of which you ought to
be proud, you set it at defiance, and really it is very
bad of you. If Clemence is proud, you are fault-
finding, and are always ready to suspect one's inten-
I am wrong, Sarah, dear; but forgive me-you are
so perfect. Allow me to make one remark, however,
which I have never dared to make till now, in spite
of our great confidence."
Say your say, dear; I am all attention."
"All right; well, I am very much astonished that
a sensible girl like you can be, in a sort of fashion,
dependent on Miss Villement's favour and bounty."
"In reply, all I have to say is, that I think you
take advantage of the dignity of a poor orphan, who
is obliged to work for a livelihood. I esteem Miss
Villement's character, and have too much respect for
myself, to adopt the humiliating programme you
would chalk out for me. I go to the castle because
I am kindly received and treated."
"You are certainly not on a footing of equality."
No, it is true; but I never forget that fact; and
I always keep in my proper place, without, however,
humbling myself, I trust."
32 THE THREE FRIENDS.
Lucile remained pensive, and pressed her friend's
hand on parting.
The next day there was a competition in history,
and Miss Josephine Lasneau superintended the class.
Thais, a tall and beautiful Spaniard, was seated be-
tween Clemence and Sarah. Although gifted with
good abilities, this young lady was very idle. Conse-
quently she made little progress in her studies.
"Clemence," said she, "allow me to copy your
composition, like a dear. I have such a splitting
headache, I cannot collect my thoughts, try as I like.
Be easy, I shall not compromise you," she added,
seeing the dissatisfied look of her companion, "for I
shall intersperse it with plenty of faults to render it
"Thais, I am sorry I cannot oblige you; but I
never lend an exercise."
"Are you afraid I take your place?" replied
Thais, shrugging her shoulders.
If not mine, perhaps that of some one else, who
has worked harder than you during the month."
Singular scruples," said Sarah. Here, Thais, I
have finished my copy, which you may have the loan
of; but make haste, for you have not overmuch time."
A little while after Clemence said to her friend-
THE 7HREE FRIENDS. 33
It surprises me, Sarah, how you could have a
hand in such deception."
"Really, my dear, you exaggerate so! It was only
to oblige Thais, and I see no great harm in it after all."
Perhaps not; but I don't think civility should be
carried to such a height."
After a moment's silence, Sarah said-
"Perhaps I have committed myself too rashly.
Well, to redeem this fault, I shall not give in my
composition this evening, although it seems to be
very well done."
But the deception will still subsist, and, believe
me, it will cause you some uneasiness yet."
"I may have done wrong, but I did not think of it
at the time."
No one suspected the deception; Thais had very
good marks, and was complimented on her success.
Miss Amaury, quite pleased, said she had improved
greatly, and only needed to try in order to succeed.
Miss Bonne Amaury, who was particularly fond of
Sarah, was astonished she had not competed, and
asked the cause of such negligence. Sarah, proud of
the sacrifice she had made, stood these interrogations
very well at first; but when repeated so often, the
poor girl began to suffer. Having met Clemence's
34 THE THREE FRIENDS.
sad look, as she answered Miss Amaury for the hun-
dredth time, she felt deeply humbled, as her friend
had predicted. Then Thais, wishing to sustain her
newly-acquired reputation, was constantly begging for
help with her exercises and compositions, much to
Sarah's annoyance. Lucile showed little sympathy
for the latter. She laughed, in place of consoling her
friend. Her tendency to make light of the grief of
others was a very bad trait in her character. Cle-
mence often rebuked her for it, saying, that it became
her worse than any one else.
"Why so, may I ask ? "
"On account of your unmistakable superiority.
Who should practise charity, if not you ?"
If every one were as strict as you, where would
have any fun?"
Anywhere rather than at another's expense."
Lucile felt her friend was right, although she would
not acknowledge it. She returned to the school-
room, where she found a group of school-fellows
assembled at the open window, all very busy with
their needlework. She took her embroidery in a
very bad humour. In a few minutes after, turning to
one of her companions who stood near her, she said,
in a very irritable tone-
THE THREE FRIENDS. 35
"Really, child, you are quite unbearable You
see I am doing a very particular piece of work, and
here you come and place yourself between me and
the light !"
"Oh! Verenne never thinks of others," said a
young girl. "If, during the interval of recreation,
one needs quietness to learn a lesson, it is just the
time she will sing and make a noise!"
"Good heavens! girls, what have I done to make
you all rise up against me ? However, I am no worse
than the rest of you "
"Perhaps not; but when you take it into your
head to do a thing, you care little whether you annoy
others or not."
"Is it, then, such a great sin not thinking of
Certainly, my dear," said Sarah, we should do
everything in our power to give pleasure to others,
and not always think of ourselves."
"No one," said Clemence, "is better fitted to
make that remark than Sarah-she who constantly
forgets herself to oblige her companions."
Oh," cried Verenne, throwing her arms round
Sarah's neck, "how I wish I were more like you!"
What a simpleton, to be sure If you were seen
36 THE THREE FRIENDS.
kissing Sarah, she would be punished as well as
"Did ever any one hear the like of that?" ex-
claimed Lucile. I call it downright tyranny."
My dear," replied Clemence, "we are not here
to discuss the rules of the school, but only to obey
You always stand up for authority !"
"Is it not my duty? "
"Oh, of course, that everlasting word duty!"
"Laugh as you like; but it is very useful to know
how to bend to it without costing you any effort."
"I could fancy I hear your aunt speaking. Be
assured, my dear, that this great love of duty is not
altogether free from pride."
Girls girls !" interrupted Laura, running breath-
lessly into the room; "we are to have a holiday to-
In honour of what ? asked Thais.
In honour of the new arrival. Do you not see
her out there, near the large fir-tree ? "
"What a guy !" continued Thais, contemptuously,
looking towards the indicated spot.
"Just look, girls !" said Verenne; "doesn't she
look like a wild bird in a poultry-yard !"
THE THREE FRIENDS. 37
"The comparison is not at all a happy one," said
Lucile. You were just as ridiculous at first "
Never to such an extent But I must away and
make her acquaintance. Oh, Sarah is beside her!
I am sure she loves her already "
"What is her name ? asked Verenne.
"Armide," replied Laura.
"Armide! Good heavens! Did ever any one
hear such a name !" exclaimed Thais.
Sarah having noticed the child's solitude and dis-
tress, approached her and said-
"Why, dear, do you not join in the games with
your new companions ? "
How can I ? They laugh at me so. I thought
I would be so happy at school, and was so glad to
come; but I am very sorry now."
Never mind, my child; you will very soon get
accustomed to it. Would you like me to be your
"Oh, so much! I who have no mamma. I feel as
if I loved you already I "
"And I love you also, Armide. But here comes
Endora, whom you must love also. Run and play
with her for a little."
What a vulgar-looking child!" said Thais to Sarah;
38 THE THREE FRIENDS.
" I very much doubt if you will ever make anything of
We shall see," said Sarah, quietly.
At this moment, two little girls, who were playing
at hide-and-seek, ran into the lobby. The former,
fearing to be caught, banged to the door after her.
One of the Lenoir pupils hearing the crash, gave a
scream, a thing which was strictly forbidden in Mrs
Lasneau's establishment. Her niece immediately
appeared, and asked who had cried out.
No one answered.
Miss Thais, I recognized your voice, as well as
Miss Sarah's and Lucile's, and I shall certainly give
you all a bad mark. If I am mistaken, tell me ?"
Now, a bad mark was the greatest, in fact, the only
punishment inflicted at Mrs Lasneau's. A list of the
pupils, and the course of study they followed, was
hung up in the school-room, where every one could
see it. Each well-learnt lesson, each well-performed
duty, received a good point; each carelessly learnt
lesson, each infraction of the rules, a bad one. On
the first of every month, the list was read aloud in
presence of the assembled teachers and pupils. Those
who had not failed in a single good point, were highly
complimented by Mrs Lasneau ; but the poor unfortu-
THE THREE FRIENDS. 39
nate who, in the course of the month, had had a bad
point, and who had waited in the agonies of suspense,
was then pale and trembling to hear her punishment
Miss Lasneau exclaimed the three girls, simul-
taneously; "I assure you, I did not scream !"
"Very well; name the culprit! "
No one answered.
Then if you do not choose to answer me, young
ladies, you cannot blame me for giving you a bad
After she had taken her departure, Thais ex-
"What frightful injustice! To punish me for a
thing I did not do It beats everything But if she
is in hopes that I shall ask pardon, she is very much
mistaken; for I would rather suffer the punishment
than give her this satisfaction !"
"I protest against that system of tale-bearing !"
And I-I shall accept this punishment, unmerited
though it may be!" said Sarah. "We commit so
many faults for which we deserve to be punished,
that really it is only right we should clear our debt
without murmuring when an occasion presents itself."
40 THE THREE FRIENDS.
"Doris must have little courage," said Thais, bit-
terly; "to fly as soon as she caught sight of Miss
Josephine; for it was she and the children who
Here the conversation was interrupted by the ring-
ing of the tea-bell.
CHAPTER V.-SARAH'S SACRIFICE.
THE holidays were fast approaching, and the day for
the distribution of prizes drew near. The pupils,
each seated at the desks prepared for the great
examination at the close of the term. One was
busily employed in giving the final touch to a draw-
ing, another perfecting herself in a piece of music, or
finishing an elegant piece of fancy work. Every
nook in the house was thus occupied; and the
teachers, going from one to another, gave their
assistance and encouragement when needed.
The Inseparables were ensconced in the dressing-
room, and, like every one else, were very busy.
Lucile, who possessed the quickest intelligence and
most retentive memory of the three, had a rare apti-
tude for all head work; although, undeniably, Sarah
was her superior in judgment and understanding.
THE THREE FRIENDS. 41
One day, during the interval of recreation, the
pupils were assembled in groups in the garden dis-
cussing some very important question. Now, it was
necessary on this day to settle to whom the prize
for good conduct should be given, the decision
being left to the pupils themselves. Lucile being
proposed by one, Thais exclaimed,-
"She shall not have my vote, at any rate. She
makes her superiority to be felt too much for my
"And then," added another, "one dare hardly
speak to her for fear of offending her. She is so
"What do you say to Clemence ? asked another.
"Oh, as for her," replied the daughter of a wealthy
wine merchant, who continually spoke of her father's
millions, "she is unbearable with her affected sim-
"Yes," chimed in several voices at once. "She
gives herself such airs and graces, she quite over-
whelms one with her distinction."
And what have you to say against Sarah ?"
"Yes, yes, Sarah!" exclaimed a group of the
junior pupils. "Sarah is good, and kind, and
42 THE THREE FRIENDS.
The canvassers hastened to the spot where the
Inseparables were standing along with Endora and
Laura. They took Clemence aside, and a few
minutes after beckoned for Lucile to join them.
Sarah, seeing all eyes fixed on her, suspected she
was the subject of the conference; and approaching
her two friends, she led them to a remote corer of
My dears," said she, "let us unite our efforts to
perform a good action. You have not forgotten
Endora's confidence ? You have seen how exem-
plary her conduct has been since that unfortunate
purse affair? Now her character is softened. She,
once so peevish and irritable, is now gentle and
amiable, always ready to forgive and oblige her
companions. Therefore, to encourage her, let us
award her the prize."
"Just think," exclaimed Clemence, indignantly,
"to give it to a pupil guilty of such a grave offence "
"Clemence, repentance is pleasing in the eyes of
our Lord; is it, then, nothing in yours ? Indeed, for
the last six months, Endora has displayed more
virtues than most of us during the whole year."
They would have been more appreciated if she
had not failed."
THE THREE FRIENDS. 43
"0 Clemence how unmerciful you are! If God
was as rigorous as you, what would become of us ?"
After a moment's silence, Clemence said-
Perhaps you are right; but I have been brought
up with such great respect for duty, that it is with
difficulty I can excuse a fault."
"My dear," continued Sarah, gravely, one of our
first duties is to love our neighbour as ourselves; and
sometimes it is the most difficult to fulfil."
That is true; but, notwithstanding, I am not
clear about giving my vote for Endora."
You surely do not remember the sublime words
of the evangelist: 'There is more joy in heaven over
one sinner that repenteth, than over ninety-nine just
"Come, then, let us try what we can do for
Endora; for, I must confess, you are in the right."
The great day was near at hand. Those of the
pupils who were busy with drawings of their own
composition worked in separate rooms, in order that
no one might see the subject which they handled
until it was finished. Amongst this number were
Sarah and Clemence, both of whom possessed great
artistic powers. After being duly criticised by two
competent judges, these prize studies were spread
44 THE THREE FRIENDS.
out on a table in the drawing-room, which no one
was allowed to enter until the day of the exhibition.
The two days previous to that great event, the pupils
decorated the house with evergreens and garlands of
flowers, and made preparations for their departure.
The long-wished-for day at length arrived. The
friends and relatives of the pupils were expected to
arrive at twelve o'clock, and at eleven precisely the
folding-doors of the drawing-room were thrown open.
Clemence's delight and surprise were great on per-
ceiving amongst the drawings a beautiful oil-painting
representing the spot at Villement where she had
met the little beggar to whom she gave her boots.
This scene of her childhood, which had been admir-
ably treated by Sarah, affected her deeply.
Conspicuous among the figures was one reproducing
the scene in the music-room, when Endora, with her
head leaning on Sarah's shoulder, told her of her
grief. This subject had been executed by Clemence
with no ordinary skill, and gave ample evidence of
her superior taste and power in the art.
After all the guests were seated, the ceremony
opened with a concert, in which Sarah and Lucile
distinguished themselves by their singing and playing,
which were loudly applauded. Then, after a neat
THE THREE FRIENDS. 45
and appropriate address from Mrs Lasneau, began
the distribution of the prizes.
The whole school was divided into four classes,
to each of which were awarded so many prizes as to
give every pupil a fair chance of at least gaining one.
Lucile and Sarah were in the highest class, and in
almost every case the first and second prizes were
awarded to them. Clemence also distinguished her-
self by carrying off more than one.
But one more premium remained to be awarded.
This was the prize for good conduct.
The pupils each having written a name on a
piece of paper, handed it to Miss Amaury, who
read it aloud. On hearing her name pronounced,
Endora at first thought her companions wished to
make a fool of her; but being assured that the
majority of them wished her to get the prize, the
next moment she stood before Mrs Lasneau, who
presented her with a beautiful Bible, which she re-
ceived with trembling hands.
THE next day was rather a sad one for the Lenoir
pupils. Their education was completed, and they
46 THE THREE FRIENDS.
were to return home. While they anticipated with
pleasure meeting their parents, brothers, and sisters,
they grieved at the approaching separation from their
dear companions, with whom they had passed so
many happy days. Who could tell if they would ever
meet again in this vale of tears !
The Inseparables were especially grieved. Clemence
and Lucile were to return home; whilst Sarah, whose
grandmamma was now dead, was going to remain a
few years longer in the seminary in the capacity of
under-governess. This separation from her two
friends was a great trial to her.
"What will become of me when you are both
gone?" she said. "I will have no one to care for
me, and you will very soon forget me."
"Oh, you foolish darling how can you doubt us ?
And how could we ever forget you, the dearest and
most amiable creature in existence! "
After an affecting scene, which quite upset the
Inseparables, Sarah, the most reasonable of the three,
said, while drying her eyes-
My dears, we oughtn't to give way to our grief;
on the contrary, let us make ourselves strong in order
to bear the trials that await us in this life."
Sarah," said Clemence, the charming picture you
THE THREE FRIENDS. 47
have given me will always be very precious, and will
be the most beautiful ornament in my room. How
I wish my talent for drawing was equal to yours."
"I also attach the greatest value to the one you
have given me; but, notwithstanding, I should like
to present it to one of our companions whom it
would render both proud and happy."
"I understand, dear; give her the picture by all
means, and you can have another; my portfolio is
full, so choose one for yourself."
Endora, who was to remain at the seminary during
the holidays, her parents being out in India, entering
the drawing-room in search of the Inseparables,
Clemence, at Sarah's request, took the little picture
which hung on the wall, and offered it to her, saying-
Keep this as a remembrance of the happy days
we have passed together in this dear old house."
Poor Endora, surprised and delighted, remained
speechless for a little. At last she exclaimed-
"Oh! how kind you all are to me! I shall never,
never forget you, although, doubtless, I may never
see you again."
The three friends slept little that night, and the
next morning they parted with renewed expressions
of attachment and tearful adieus.
48 THE THREE FRIENDS.
A few years later the beautiful Clemence made a
brilliant marriage, and died very young. As for
Sarah, after having accumulated a little fortune by her
own exertions, she returned to her native land, where
she lived to a good old age, respected and beloved
by all who knew her; while Lucile still remains in her
own home, practising the same unselfish charity which
had distinguished her so much in her childhood.
THE SISTER OF MERCY.
RS MELVILLE, when very young, lost her
husband, and her grief was so great, it
was feared her mind might give way.
The caresses of her little daughter Lucy could
alone draw her from this deep despair. Seeing her
child, who never left her side, so tender and affec-
tionate, the poor widow remembered that a sacred
duty remained for her to fulfil; therefore, she roused
herself to life, though without being able to recover
her former health.
Lucy, endowed with rare gifts both of mind and
body, fully realized the hopes of her mother, whom
she so passionately adored.
Mrs Melville at first experienced the greatest
happiness in her child's love, which was truly ex-
traordinary in one so young; but ere long shi
o5 THE SISTER OF MERCY.
perceived the danger of this great exaltation. She
saw very well that the retired way in which they
lived was very prejudicial to her little girl, so she
renewed her acquaintance with the surrounding
families, in order to bring Lucy into contact with
children of her own age, hoping that in this way
she might form some lasting friendship.
But it was in vain that she drew the young
people to her house, and offered Lucy the most
attractive amusements. It is true, she received her
guests with a charming grace, and did the honours
of the table in the most becoming manner possible,
but all the while the little girl was sad at heart, and
longed for the moment to come when she would be
alone with her mamma.
Mrs Melville, much astonished at Lucy's strange
conduct, studied her character attentively, and, to
her surprise, discovered that she was completely
occupied with the thought of her mother's happi-
During the summer months, they lived in a
beautiful old manor, situated in one of the most
picturesque counties of England; and when Lucy's
education was completed, they prolonged their stay
in the country, much to her delight. Whilst here,
THE SISTER OF MERCY. 51
Mrs Melville occupied her time in extensive
charities. Every morning regularly, accompanied by
Lucy, she visited the sick in the surrounding dis-
trict, to help those who had need of it, and to
whom the manor was open at all hours. She re-
garded such with pitying kindness, and worked with
her own hands to relieve their necessities.
Lucy would have liked much to assist her mother
in her work of love; but the sick and maimed in-
spired her with an unutterable repugnance, and the
sight of a wound or sore caused her a disgust which
she could not overcome.
When Lucy had reached her eighteenth year, Mrs
Melville became subject to frequent fainting fits,
which obliged her to keep the house; the doctor
especially prohibited her from walking, and coun-
selled Lucy to watch whenever her mamma made
the slightest movement. Wishing to spare Mrs
Melville all kind of regret, she resolved to take
her mamma's place in visiting the sick, whatever it
might cost her.
One day, being told that the village joiner had
cut his hand severely, she set off to his house,
furnished with everything that was necessary to
dress the wound.
52 THE SISTER OF MERCY.
More than once she stopped when removing the
linen bandage which bound his hand, and when at
last she caught sight of the bleeding wound she turned
very pale, and felt ready to faint; but remembering-
the pleasure she would give her mamma, she mustered
all her courage, and finished her task.
Lucy was still very pale when she reached home.
"What is the matter, child ? asked Mrs Melville,
in an alarmed tone; "something has vexed you, I
"Calm yourself, dear mamma," she answered; it
is nothing; only I wished to try and fill your place
with the poor, and I have been away dressing old
Joseph's hand, which he cut this morning."
"Poor child!" said Mrs Melville, kissing her;
"what an effort such a trifle costs you; but thanks,
my dear, for the pleasure you have given me."
Lucy at this time received several good offers of
marriage; but she refused them all. To the frequent
entreaties of her mamma she would answer-
Never speak to me of marriage again, dear
mamma, I beg of you I am perfectly happy where
I am, and nothing in this world can alter my deter-
"My poor child, what is to become of you when I
THE SISTER OF MERCY. 53
am gone ? I am convinced there is something very far
wrong with me. Sometimes I am quite overcome with-
out any cause, or else I feel as if some great calamity
were going to befall us. I know, darling, I am very,
very far from well, and I am not growing better."
"0 mamma! how can you entertain such fears?"
cried Lucy; "you are not really so ill. Allow me to
take care of you, and you shall soon be well and
strong again. Just think you are still quite young,
only eighteen years more than I, who am not yet
twenty! We shall grow old together, dear mamma,
happy in our mutual love, with no one to come
Then, laying her head on Mrs Melville's shoulder,
she added, in her sweetest tones-
"Then, mamma, it is arranged; you must never,
never speak to me of marriage again !"
The poor lady, not having the heart to insist upon
it, the subject was dropped. Feeling herself grow-
ing daily worse in spite of Lucy's unremitting care,
Mrs Melville consulted her physician, who found
her, as she had thought, suffering from palpitation
of the heart. Fearing to alarm the invalid, he did
not enlighten her on the imminence of her dan-
ger, but ordered absolute quietness, at the same
54 IHfE SISTER OF MERCY.
time advising Lucy to distract her mamma's thoughts
without causing her the least excitement. Lucy, like
a distressed daughter, did all in her power to divert
her attention. Every morning she ran to the woods
to gather flowers to place in her mamma's room.
Sometimes she would sing some sweet melody, or
she would play a nocturne of Chopin, or one of
Beethoven's solemn andantes; but generally she
sat on a low stool by the invalid's couch, and they
would talk together of the past; or else Lucy would
arrange some scheme for the future, when her dear
mamma's health would be once more re-established.
Mrs Melville smiled sadly as she witnessed these
expressions of Lucy's ever-watchful love. She knew
her daughter was entirely ignorant of her danger,
and she felt it her duty, however hard the task might
be, to disclose the whole truth to her.
One lovely August evening, Mrs Melville came
down-stairs by her own wish-but it was for the last
time. All the windows were thrown open, for the
oppressive heat of the evening was quite overpower-
ing. Her couch was drawn close up to them, that
she might have all the air possible; and there she
lay quite still, watching the sun sinking behind
the purple clouds. The splendour of the scene
THE SISTER OF MERCY. 55
moved her to such a degree, that the idea, she was
soon to bid adieu to this beautiful world, brought
tears to her eyes.
She stooped to kiss her daughter, who, seated by
her couch, was busily engaged reading aloud some
beautiful hymns. She felt that the time to speak had
now come, and, making a great effort, she opened
her lips to introduce the painful subject; but, instead
of words, she gave a great cry, and then fainted
Lucy, terrified, called for help A messenger was
immediately despatched for the doctor, but when ht
arrived all was over. The soul had fled, and now
stood in the presence of its Maker.
Those alone who have been deprived of a beloved
parent, in whose affection they have concentrated
their happiness, can, to the full, comprehend the
violence of Lucy's grief.
The first six months after her terrible bereavement
she passed in solitude and reflection. When at length
she was a little calmer, her good old pastor tried to
rouse her to action by impressing on her that her life
could not thus pass away in listless sorrow; for,"
said he, every one in this world has a task to fulfil;
and you, like every one else, must perform yours."
5a THE SISTER OF AiERCY.
"My task," answered the poor orphan, "was to
love my mother, and to try and make her happy;
and God knows I have fulfilled it with joy. But now
that she is gone, what can I do ?"
"Do you then deny that those on whom God
has bestowed wealth have no great duties to per-
"Let them take my riches; I only want my mother
My dear, your grief makes you forget that she is
far happier in heaven than she would be here below;
and it would be selfish to wish her back. You ought
not to think only of yourself, and shut yourself up in
solitude, for it is very prejudicial to your mind, which,
like a field, needs to be cultivated in order that it may
bring forth good fruit."
A few days after this conversation had taken place,
Lucy said to him-
I have resolved what to do. I shall devote my
wealth to works of charity, and I have made up my
mind to enter a convent."
My child," said he, I cannot blame you for this
resolution; but allow me to tell you that, in order to
please God, it is not sufficient to consecrate your life
to His service in a time of affliction, but it is also
THE SISTER OF MERCY. 57
necessary that the sacrifice be made willingly and
Lucy assured him of the sincerity of her intentions.
A few months after, she founded an hospital near the
manor where she had been born, and where her dear
mother had died ; and after seeing to the well-being of
her servants and those oppressed with want, she set
off for London, where she entered a convent; and
some years after, she pronounced her vows under the
name of Sister Thekla.
In spite of her great piety and firm resolutions,
Lucy, accustomed to exercise her will without experi-
encing the least contradiction, yielded with difficulty
to the passive obedience demanded of her in the
smallest things; and she often felt her mind revolt
from the tasks imposed upon her. At such times the
poor girl would retire to her room, throw herself
on her knees, and pray to God to make her more
humble, and give her strength to perform her duty
in all things.
One day the Superior summoned her to the parlour,
where she found a young lady seated, who had come
to ask for a Sister to take care of her uncle, an old
general, who was dangerously ill.
"I warn you," said she to Lucy, "that my uncle is
58 THE SISTER OF MERCY.
no ordinary invalid: his great sufferings have made
him very irritable. He has succeeded in exhausting
the patience of all his friends and of his most de-
voted servants; and the sick-nurses have left him."
"Do you understand, my daughter," said the ab-
bess, addressing Lucy, "do you feel yourself com-
petent to fulfil this task? for you know, however hard
it may be, you ought not to leave the invalid so long
as you can be of any service to him."
If the task is hard," said Lucy, God will grant
me grace to persevere in it; and the hope of bringing
the invalid to a better state of mind will sustain my
"Do not be too sanguine," said Miss Dalmeny;
"many have tried it before, and got nothing for their
pains but rude reproaches."
"That is not a sufficient excuse for leaving the
poor man, whose heart God may yet soften; besides
he has need of care. I am therefore quite willing to
go whenever you are ready."
Lucy accordingly followed Miss Dalmeny to the
general's carriage, which was in waiting, and they very
soon reached his house. When they entered his room,
he cried in a towering passion-
You are surely in a great hurry to get quit of me.
THE SISTER OF MERCY. 59
that you leave me thus alone with no one to take care
of me !"
His niece gave Lucy an intelligent look, as much
as to say, You see I am right in what I told you !"
"But, uncle," she answered, "did I not leave a
nurse with you? How does it happen, then, she is
no longer here ?"
"She was such a fool, who wept whenever I spoke
to her, that I ordered her off."
Very well, uncle; here is some one come to take
her place "-
"And who," said the general, bitterly, "will not
know any better than the others how to put up with
the whims of a poor old man."
You have no right to complain, uncle; you have
exhausted the patience and charity of every one who
has come near you."
"True charity is inexhaustible; it rejoices with
those who rejoice, weeps with those who weep, and
suffers with those who suffer. If the persons you
speak of had been animated with the spirit of true
charity, they would not have left me thus."
Here the old general was interrupted by a violent
fit of coughing which choked his utterance-Lucy
immediately ran to him and administered a potion
60 TIE SISTER OF MERCY.
which had the effect of calming him; and very soon
he fell into a deep sleep.
After the lapse of two hours he awoke, and found
Lucy seated by his bedside, holding in her hand a
cup of medicine, which she presented to him.
The old man looked at her in astonishment, and
said, with a sneer-
You are really very attentive What interest can
you have in tending me with such care?"
Lucy made no response.
"Are you dumb," continued he, that you do not
speak? Do you wish to add ennui to my other com-
plaints ? if so, you had better return to your convent
as soon as you like. Let us see !" said he, a moment
after; be a good girl! and tell me what you expect
for all your tender care ? "
"The hope of being able to give you some relief
sustains my zeal, General."
"And what will you gain by it ?"
What did you gain, General, in those battles where
you risked your life every moment?"
Glory! my child," said the old man, becoming
excited, and the praise of my chief."
I, General, have the glory of doing an action which
is pleasing in the sight of God."
.- "'II ,' i ,'.
THE SISTER OF ME RCY 63
The sick man made no reply. For the rest of the
day he remained tolerably quiet; but the day follow-
ing his sufferings kept him in a state of great irrita-
tion, and he did not spare poor Lucy, on whom he
vented all his wrath.
Do you think, by any chance, you will make me
believe that you are quite disinterested? I am not
quite so easily convinced !" he would say sometimes.
Instead of replying to such speeches, Lucy endea-
voured to lead him on to speak of his campaigns,
and the dangers he had come through, which generally
had the effect of calming him for the time being.
Miss Dalmeny, who was in the habit of dining with
Lucy, said to her one day-
Really, I admire your benevolence, which makes
you endure with so much sweetness my uncle's terrible
And to whom ought we to be kind if not to those
who suffer as much as he does ? "
"But he makes a mock of everything, even of
things the most sacred."
What can you expect ?" answered Lucy; he is
a poor, blinded creature, for whom it is our duty to
pray. At the same time, we must love him, tor it is
only by love we can soften his heart. Just think,"
64 THE SISTER OF MERCY.
she added, "how glorious it would be to lead him to
a better state of mind. Unreasonable as he is, I love
him and feel for him, as I would do for a poor, help-
The sick man, who never could bear Lucy out of
his sight for a moment, having rung, they hastened
to his room.
"You surely take a long time to dine," said he,
ironically, as they entered.
You are very unreasonable, uncle. We have not
been away more than ten minutes," answered Miss
Dalmeny; "and we returned whenever the bell
The doctor not making his appearance on this
day, Lucy was obliged to dress an old wound of the
General's which had reopened. More than once she
felt her hands tremble when performing her task, for
the poor girl could not, in spite of her frm resolution,
overcome her former repugnance.
What a brave Sister of Mercy !" cried the General.
" When people have no more courage than you, they
should not undertake a task they are not fit for."
Miss Dalmeny was in the habit of watching beside
her uncle for an hour or so every day whilst Lucy
went ior a walk.
lHE SISTER OF MERCY. 65
On one occasion he said to her, I should like
much to know the motives which impel this girl to be
so kind and attentive to me. Nothing tires her,
nothing discourages her; let me say what I like, she
is always the same. I am convinced she is in hopes
that I shall leave her a legacy."
You surely forget that a Sister of Mercy is pro-
hibited from accepting anything of the kind ; besides,
Miss Melville having taken the vow of poverty, can
not possess anything of her own. She was once rich,
but she renounced the world to devote her life to
deeds of charity."
"It is really very unaccountable," answered the
When Lucy was once more alone with him, he said
Come, be frank with me, my girl. I was thinking
that the hopes of a legacy stimulated your zeal; but
I was told you could not accept it. Tell me, then,
what makes you persevere in your affectionate care
for an old wretch like me."
Is it not a sufficient reason that you suffer?''
Mere words, of course. There is certainly some-
thing else in your head."
66 THE SISTER OF MERCY
"I feel an affection for you, founded on the
unhappy condition you are in. Infirm in body, in-
firm in heart, you love no one; infirm in mind, you
believe in nothing. Is it not, then, all the more
necessary that I should remain with you, and that I
should pray to God to take pity on you?"
The General declined rapidly, and it soon became
apparent to every one that he had not long to live.
He became more patient, and his manner with Lucy
was now marked with respect.
How proud you would be if you could lead me
to repentance," he said to her one evening.
Lucy made no answer, but prayed to God in silence
to touch this man's hardened heart.
His sufferings now became so acute that his tem-
per broke out anew. The presence or absence of his
niece irritated him alike. Lucy alone could stay with
him. She never left his bedside; and when she saw
him becoming excited, she would speak in such an
endearing voice that it always had the effect of calm-
At length the old General was touched by Lucy's
ardent charity. Her heart filled with joy when he
said to her one day-
Do not grieve if your cares have not cured me.
THE SISTER OF MERCY. 67
I owe you more than life, for you have made me believe
in virtue. Pray to God to have mercy on me, a poor
Two days after, the General was no more!
FREDERICK THE GREAT'S COOK.
I N the middle of last century a little boy dis
tinguished himself at the Issondun Cate-
chism, by the great attention he paid to
the parson's instructions, as well as by his aptitude
This child, Cyr Ajame by name, was the son of
poor but honest parents, who were burdened with a
His quickness of intelligence, his gentle disposi-
tion, as well as his interesting features, had made him
a great favourite with the parson, who resolved to
take him for a chorister.
The boy's duties, which consisted in lighting the
censer, and filling the cruets with oil, brought him
frequently to the vicarage, and in this way he became
acquainted with the parson's servant, Martha.
FREDERICK THE GREAT'S COOK. 69
The old woman, having taken a great fancy for
Cyr, begged of her master to bring him up.
Sir," she would say, when speaking of the matter,
"it would be a real act of charity, for his father has
enough to do to support his large family. Besides,"
she would add, you are not properly served, for I
am broken down with age, and this boy would be of
When her master objected to the extra expense
Cyr would incur in a house where all ought to belong
to the poor, she cried-
And is the dear boy not also poor? His bread
will cost a mere trifle, and there are lots of old clothes
in the house to dress him with."
The pastor, who loved the boy, acceded to Martha's
wish, and Cyr Ajame was installed at the vicarage the
following day. The poor boy, very happy and com-
fortable in his new home, and well aware he was
indebted to Martha's intercession for all his advan-
tages, tried to show his gratitude to her in every pos-
sible way. He plucked the fowls, pulled the vege-
tables, gathered in the eggs, and drew the water, and
sometimes even assisted in the culinary department.
But all these occupations never made him neglect
his duties. In his leisure how s he would run to the
70 FREDERICK THE GREAT'S COOK.
woods and gather flowers and evergreens to deck the
altar; which were the admiration of all beholders.
His master was enchanted; and, to reward the
little boy, he taught him to read and write. Every
evening he gave him a lesson, and the pupil's rapid
progress made this a delightful task for the master.
Martha's health, which had been in rather a pre-
carious state for some time, now gradually declined.
Cyr, who was much attached to her, would not
allow her to do the slightest thing; he took her place
in all her duties, without their master having the least
suspicion, Martha not wishing to vex him by telling
him of her sufferings.
An accident brought the truth to light at last. One
Friday, whilst the pastor and Cyr were at chapel say-
ing mass, the old woman, in spite of her feebleness, set
out to gather in the eggs, but she had hardly gone the
length of the door, when she fell to the ground, where
she remained utterly helpless. Cyr, on his return
from church, was much alarmed at finding her in this
sad condition. After carrying her to her bed, he ran
for a doctor, who pronounced the poor woman to be
struck with paralysis.
This announcement perplexed the parson exces-
sively. Besides being much attached to his old
FREDERICK THE GREAT'S COOK. 71
servant, who had served him faithfully for the last
forty years, the worthy man was dismayed when he
thought he would be obliged to alter his mode of
living. She had always attended to his personal
comfort in the smallest matters. If he returned
home on a rainy day, he would find his slippers
warming before the fire; his chocolate was always
at boiling point, his dinner punctual to the minute,
and no one knew better than Martha how to prepare
a good cup of coffee. All combined to render her
service very pleasing in the eyes of her master, who
was quite at a loss how to fill her place.
The old man, much perplexed, sent for her sister
Perpetue, an old maid who from time immemoria\
had washed his surplices and taken charge of the
church linen. She at once consented to the proposi-
tion of the parson to take Martha's place-a position
that she had long envied. But although willing and
obliging, she did not possess the activity and intelli-
gence of her sister.
All these incidents had postponed the dinner, but
the old man, too much occupied with his troubles
seemed to have forgotten all about it, till Cyr an-
nounced it was on the table. The parson's surprise
was great indeed, when, instead of the miserable
72 FREDERICK THE GREAT'S COOK.
cheer he expected to await him, he saw a sumptuous
repast placed before him. Looking at his servant,
he said to him, in a tone of mild reproach-
Cyr, my boy, I cannot afford to have my dinner
cooked at a confectioner's !"
Sir," replied the boy, it has been cooked in your
"What! do you mean to say that old Perpetue,
whom I thought good for nothing, possesses such a
culinary talent ?"
"Sir," said the good woman, entering at this mo-
ment, I'm no hand at cooking, and never will be.
I am so dull in the uptake, and at my time of life one
can never learn. It is your little chorister who has
done it all."
What does she say ? It is certainly not you, Cyr,
who can cook thus ? Where could you have learned
In your own house, dear master; for the last two
years I have taken poor Martha's place."
"And I never to know of it!"
"The good creature feared to tell you."
But the pastry has never been better," continued
"Ah, sir, when I had time I went to my
FREDERICK THE GREAI 'S COOK. 73
uncle, the confectioner's, and he taught me how to
It is no wonder that I thought Martha had im-
proved in her old age! My boy, you must never
leave me, and I shall give you a large wage, for it is
not just that you should work for nothing, when you
could make a little fortune elsewhere."
How can I ever do enough for you, dear master,
who have loaded me with benefits ? I ask no other
favour than to pass my life with you."
My poor boy," said the old man, smiling sadly,
"this engagement with me cannot last long; remem-
ber I am already seventy-six! "
Cyr resolved henceforth never to leave his master,
whom he loved more and more every day.
Two years after, the parson gave a sumptuous
entertainment in honour of the martyr of St Cyr, and
to give more pomp to the feast, he invited all the
"Cyr, my boy," said he to his young servant,
"now is the time to distinguish yourself! Spare
neither pains nor expense, in order that each
guest may retire satisfied with your old pastor's
The young man, stimulated by the wish to do
74 FREDERICK THE GREAT'S COOK.
honour to his master, prepared a dinner the like of
which had not been seen for years before.
At this feast were seated the priors of St. Cyr and
St. Paterne, the superiors of the Capuchin Friars, and
some of the surrounding clergy. But the most im-
portant personage of all was the Abbot of Pree, a
wealthy convent, built in a beautiful spot on the
banks of the river Arnon. This gentleman, being a
great connoisseur in the art of cooking, and much
astonished to see such a royal repast at a poor par-
son's table, could not keep silent.
I was entirely ignorant," said he to his host,
" that your town possessed such culinary resources,
and I regret very much not having taken advantage
of them when his highness did us the honour of
visiting our poor abbey."
"Alas my reverend sir, I cannot afford to hire a
cook; this dinner is prepared by one of my former
choristers, who now acts in the capacity of cook."
"What the pastry, jellies, creams, and all ? "
"Yes, sir," answered the worthy old man, overjoyed
at hearing the talent of his little servant praised.
"He must be a wonderful fellow. Will you be
kind enough to allow me to see the boy, in order that
I may compliment him on his success."
_L: -^ *
SI, I ;.
islr,, i l I l '
': ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ J :I!!f'' -,<*,j?. ,- | "
*^ i :" ii li "I i
7_=. ~L~; ..__ -: .__
_~-. 7 --. --, --I2- -_ --
- h -- 2-= --- ._--
FREDERICK THE GREAT 'S COOK. 77
Cyr Ajame appeared, in a few minutes after, very
trim and neat, dressed in a white suit, and carry-
ing his cap in his hand. The worthy parson looked
at him complaisantly, and smiled to himself as he
thought of the boy's satisfaction on hearing the
praises of the Abbot of Prde.
My boy," said the latter, in a patronising tone,
"you have a rare talent for cooking, and it would
be wrong to allow that talent to remain uncultivated.
Come to Pree, and I will make something of you,
and be responsible for your future."
The young man bowed in silence, and looked
anxiously at his master.
The abbot, noticing it, said to the parson, indiffer-
"You will grant your permission, won't you ?"
"Sir," replied the old man, your will is law to me."
"Very well, young man," continued the abbot,
without paying the least attention to the visible dis-
pleasure depicted on the old priest's countenance;
"it is settled then. I am going to make some calls
in town, and to-night we shall sleep at Pree."
When the guests had taken their departure, Cyr
ran to his master, and, with tears streaming down his
78 FREDERICK THE GREAT'S COOK.
Dear, honoured master, do not let me quit you
thus I cannot, and will not. Do not, I pray you,
deprive me of the happiness of taking care of you
in your declining years !"
"Alas my dear child, this wish of his reverence
is equivalent to a command, and I must yield. I
had hoped never to have parted with you, but God
has ordered it otherwise; and we must accept the
trial with humble and grateful hearts.
Before parting, perhaps for ever, allow me to tell
you that, without a quiet conscience, you can never
find peace or happiness in this world. In your trade,
my boy, there are many temptations. May the love
of God, and the remembrance of your old master,
preserve you from falling! "
Proud of his new acquisition, the abbot invited all
the surrounding gentry to come and judge of the skill
of his young cook, whose fame had rapidly spread.
Some months after, the Archbishop of Bourges
announced his intention of visiting Prde. The abbot,
wishing to do his highness all honour, as well as to
surprise him, ordered Cyr to prepare a dinner worthy
of the occasion. The boy, as on former occasions,
proved himself equal to the task, his efforts being
crowned with success.
PREDERICK THE GREAT'S COOK. 79
Much surprised at finding such a well-served table
in a secluded abbey, the archbishop cried-
It is certainly not a cook from Bourges who could
prepare a dinner like this; I know them all, and
mine, who is considered the best in the diocese, is
far from equalling the man who prepared this re-
"My lord," replied the abbot, with false modesty,
" poor recluses like me can only entertain your high-
ness according to their resources. Our cook is a
mere child, who was brought up at the vicarage of
"Will you be kind enough to let me see this
strange phenomenon ? "
"My lord," said the abbot, much alarmed, "he is
doubtless in a state of disorder, and not fit to appear
before your highness."
Never mind, my dear fellow," replied the prelate,
maliciously, evidently enjoying the abbot's discom-
fiture; "it is precisely the reason I wish to see him."
Cyr, being summoned, presented himself before his
highness, dressed in a spotless white vest and apron.
"What! is this child the famous artist?"
"Yes, my lord !" said the abbot, bowing.
"To an indisputable talent he seems to join un.
o8 FREDERICK THE GREAT'S COOK.
common cleanliness," continued the archbishop, scru-
tinising Cyr from top to toe.
As well as great economy and irreproachable
honesty," said the abbot, yielding to a vain impulse;
" and though small in stature, his worth is great !"
"So great, my dear friend, I fear he will be a
stumbling-block in your holy house; and as it would
be a pity to allow his talent to get rusted in this ab-
stemious place, you will perhaps grant me permission
to take him with me to Berri?"
Your highness is at liberty to do as you please,"
replied the abbot, hardly able to contain himself.
Young man," said the archbishop, putting some
coins into Cyr's hand, "you shall accompany me to
Bourges to-morrow morning."
The boy bowed respectfully, at the same time
darting a triumphant glance at his reverence.
A week after, Cyr was installed in his new master's
house in Paris as principal cook. There he worked
wonders. Every one who was admitted to the pre-
late's table spoke of the prodigious talent of his
One evening, at Versailles, the Prussian ambas-
sador approached the archbishop, and said-
"My lord, I have heard of the fame of your coo?:,
I'EDERICK TILE GREAT'S COOK. 8j
which is noised abroad, and have come to ask where
he acquired his wonderful knowledge ?"
In an obscure abbey in my diocese," replied the
"Permit me to ask you another question, which
doubtless may appear strange, but which, I hope,
you will excuse when you know my reasons. Does
this man merit all the praise bestowed on him ?"
If my lord will condescend to dine with a poor
prelate," replied the archbishop, with a complaisant
smile, "he can judge for himself."
The ambassador accepted this invitation with
apparent pleasure, and the next day he was seated
at the archbishop's table. During the repast he
remained silent and thoughtful, like a man called
upon to pronounce a verdict on a grave question.
After dinner, he sweetened his coffee in a pre-
occupied manner; and as he still kept silence, the
archbishop approached him, and said-
Be frank, my lord, has your dinner not come up
to your expectations, and do you think my cook
is unworthy of his reputation ?"
Very far from it; his talent far surpasses my ex-
"Then what is wrong? are you indisposed ?"
82 FREDERICK THE GREAT'S COOK.
Alas my lord, I am only embarrassed, very much
embarrassed; and if your highness will give me your
attention for a few minutes I shall tell you the
Then leading the prelate into a corner, he con
My lord, the cabinet of Versailles has entrusted
me with a letter for the king, my master, the contents
of which I am confident he will not agree to; how-
ever, if he comes to terms, it will be a great bless-
ing for both countries, and your highness, without
rising from your chair, may bring about this happy
"What!" cried the archbishop, smiling, "do you
wish me to pry into the secrets of the cabinet?"
"You are, perhaps, ignorant that the king is fond,
even to excess, of the pleasures of the table, a dozen
cooks of various nations being employed to minister
to the gratification of his palate. His Majesty, who is
very difficult to please, alleges that France is badly
represented in his kitchen. He has, therefore,
charged me to bring him a subject well skilled in the
culinary art, but unfortunately my efforts have been
in vain, and this rare phoenix is still to find."
FREDERICK THE GREAT'S COOK. 83
"And, my lord, I was thinking I might take the
liberty of asking you to deliver up your famous cook
to the king. This acquisition would put him into great
good humour, and I might obtain his consent to such
terms as will maintain peace between the two king-
"All right, sir, you may carry off my cook; but
remember and say to the king that I would not have
made this sacrifice for any one else but himself."
Immediately on reaching Berlin, the ambassador
hastened to the palace, and before discussing more
important topics, he spoke to the king of the un-
rivalled cook he had brought him. Frederick sent
for him at once; for, pretending to be a great physi-
ognomist, he thought he could judge of every one
at first sight.
On seeing Cyr enter, the king cried in an angry
"What is this you have brought, my lord? doubt-
less some novice who will spoil all the sauces?"
"Your Majesty might, at least, give him a trial
before pronouncing a verdict."
Although much discomfited by the reception he got
from his formidable master, Cyr began his work with-
out delay, and next day served a dinner the like of
84 FREDERICK THE GREAT'S COOK.
which his Majesty had never tasted. It had the effect
of putting the king into great good humour, and the
ambassador succeeded in his peaceful mission, as he
The king's cooks always accompanied the army,
each having his materials and provisions at his
command; for his Majesty insisted on being as well
served under the tent as in his own palace: strange
luxury in a prince who affected such great simplicity
in every other thing !
Being in the habit of conversing with his domestics
occasionally, he had on more than one occasion
remarked the quick intelligence of his young cook,
who amused him by his wily repartee. His Majesty
frequently spoke to him about the French, and how
he would govern them, if he were king, adding, that
he would very soon have discipline. Cyr would
answer, with all the independence of his native coun-
try, that it would take a gentler hand and more flexible
temper than his -Majesty possessed to succeed; the
French being more impatient than the Prussians. It
was precisely this independence of character that
made the young cook such a favourite with the king,
who would say to him : "Cyr, my boy, I never dine
satisfactorily unless you serve me !"
FREDERICK THE GREAT'S COOK. 85
"Very well," replied the boy, resolutely; "may
your Majesty allow me the honour of doing so all
the year !"
"I am obliged to maintain European equilibrium
in my kitchen !" answered Frederick, laughing.
On the death of the king, Cyr retired to a small
cottage in the suburbs of Berlin, where he lived for
But as he got up in years, feeling a longing desire
to see his native land once more, he returned to
Issondun. Every one there had completely for-
gotten him, and even his family had difficulty in
recognizing him. He continued to live alone in a
house which he had bought, close to the vicarage,
where he had spent so many happy days. There he
passed many weary hours, seated in his garden, think-
ing of his dear old pastor, and Martha, the only beings,
along with Frederick the Great, whom he had loved
all his life.
Cyr lived to a good old age, and when he took
possession of his last earthly resting-place, he left
neither regrets nor remembrances behind him.
R CLIFFORD having lost his wife, felt his
heart overflowing with love for the little
girl she had bequeathed to him. He re-
solved to educate her himself, and never to allow
her out of his sight unnecessarily. He took her
wherever his business affairs called him; but as the
child gradually advanced in years, he felt his in-
sufficiency to fulfil the difficult task which he had
imposed upon himself. The poor man was much
embarrassed, not wishing to confide his precious
charge to an ordinary governess.
It so happened that one of his old friends, Mr
Trevor by name, whom he had lost sight of for some
time, wrote to him on some business matter. Recol-
lecting having heard Mrs Trevor spoken of as a very
estimable person, and much distinguished for her
THE DUTY. 87
many virtues, and wishing to judge for himself, he
set off, accompanied by Dinah, to his friend's house,
which stood in a small neighboring village.
Mr Clifford found in this lady all that he desired.
Overjoyed at having discovered her, he did not hesi-
tate to ask her to take the place of mother to his
When Dinah had reached her eighth year, her
father was seized with a hopeless decline, which, in a
very short time, made rapid progress. Well aware
that his malady was incurable, Mr Clifford calculated
the time that remained for him to live; he initiated
Mr Trevor into his business affairs, and entirely ceased
all work. He passed his days in the library, and
seldom saw any of his family, feeling that their pre-
sence had the effect of making him cling to this life,
which he was so soon to leave. He appointed Mr
Trevor guardian to Dinah, with injunctions for him
to reside in his town-house in winter, and during
summer in his country-seat of Elmwood, in Somerset-
shire, until Dinah's marriage. Finally, Mr Clifford
left two thousand as a dowry for little Laura, Mr
Trevor's only daughter, which was placed in a bank
Mr Trevor at first hesitated to accept so many
88 THE DUTY.
advantageous offers; but his friend insisted with firm-
ness, and would take no refusal.
Mr Clifford gradually grew weaker and weaker,
and in a few days he was no more.
Mrs Trevor led the little girl to imprint a last kiss
on the icy forehead of her father. This solemn act
seemed to quicken Dinah's feelings, whilst it increased
the nervous irritability of Laura, whose peevishness
was becoming quite unbearable.
But of all the family, Mrs Trevor felt this death
most keenly, fearing, perhaps, the great responsibility
that now devolved on her and her husband.
After the lapse of some years, Mr Trevor heard
that the banker with whom he had intrusted Laura's
little fortune had launched into foolish speculations,
and already failure was spoken of. He resolved to
go and look into the matter himself, and, if necessary,
to withdraw the funds and put them in a place of
Mrs Trevor insisted on accompanying her husband,
whose delicate state of health, at this time, caused her
some anxiety. Accordingly, it was arranged to send
the two girls to school to complete their education.
Although Dinah tenderly loved her adopted
parents, she made no objections to this arrange-
THE DUTY 89
ment, but Laura was quite frantic at the very thought
"Mamma," she cried, "I shall certainly die the
day I leave you !"
"Come, now!" replied Dinah, "do not be so
Mrs Trevor at last succeeded in calming her little
girl by telling her that this journey was necessary for
her papa's health.
A few weeks later they were fairly installed at
school, where Dinah was not long of distinguishing
herself. She worked with great diligence, and was
soon at the head of her class. Laura, on the con-
trary, made little progress. Her excessive sensi-
bility still continued to manifest itself on all occasions.
When she wrote to her parents, she wept, and if a
letter from them arrived, she was so overcome she
could hardly read it.
"That is a singular way of receiving our parents'
letters," Dinah would say. "Are you sure that this
is real affection ? "
I cannot tell," the poor weeping child would an-
swer; "but one thing I know, that since my mamma
left me, my heart beats in a strange manner, and I am
in a continual state of fear without any reason."
90 THE DUTY.
Never having mixed with other children, Dinah
and Laura felt rather embarrassed in the midst of
the buoyant troop which surrounded them. All their
advances Dinah received with reserve, whilst Laura,
on the other hand, made many new friends.
Three years had passed away. The two girls were
now young ladies, and were about to return home,
their education being completed. Their course of
study was attended with different results. Dinah,
more richly endowed by nature than Laura, acquired
a solid instruction, and was by no means devoid
of accomplishments. Laura, on the other hand,
neglected her more useful studies, and devoted her
time principally to music, which she passionately
loved. She sang charmingly ; but too timid ever to
sing in public, she could hardly be prevailed upon
to give her family the benefit of her beautiful voice.
Dinah and Laura now made their dibut into the
beau monde with great success. Balls, parties, con-
certs, and operas followed in rapid succession; and
thus the winter passed happily away.
When at Elmwood, they took long walks in the
beautiful summer days, the charm of which was often
marred by endless discussions; for they never could
look at things in the same light.
THE DUTY. 91
Laura, who passionately loved flowers, which she
called the smiles of the earth, attributed to them
thoughts, feelings, and even instinct; and if Dinah
did not fall into ecstasies before the smallest flower,
she accused her of indifference. Although patient and
gentle, Dinah secretly felt angry at these continual
reproaches ; and when Laura went the length of
saying that she knew not how to love, her first impulse
was to rebel against this injustice; but looking at this
charming and fragile creature, she kissed her, and
peace returned to her heart.
A sad circumstance happened at this time, which
gave Laura food for reflection. The gardener's son,
a little boy of ten, had both of his legs broken by a
loaded cart passing over him, just as Dinah and she
were coming out of the house! Laura turned away
her head with horror, whilst Dinah took the poor
fainting boy in her arms, and carried him to his home,
a little way off. His mother, frantic with despair,
was utterly incapable of rendering any assistance.
The brave girl, after having despatched a messenger
for the doctor, bathed the mutilated limbs with cold
water, in order to stop the inflammation.
Laura, seated on a bench at the door, recovered
her equanimity by degrees. At first, she thought her