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A Grandmother's Recollections by Ella Rodman

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My eyes rested a moment on the doctor, and then glanced off to seek some
more agreeable object, and having found mamma, she seemed like a lovely
angel in comparison with the ogre who, I felt convinced, only waited his
opportunity to put an end to my life. Mamma came close to me, and
observing my gaze still bent upon the basin, she whispered softly: "Do
not look so frightened, Amy, you have only been bled--that is all,
believe me."

_All_! After this announcement I wondered that I breathed at all; and
had I not been too weak should certainly have cried over the thoughts
of the pain I must have suffered in my insensibility. I made no reply,
but leaned my head droopingly upon the pillow; and Dr. Irwin, taking my
hand, observed: "She is very weak, and we may expect delirium before
morning."

His first assertion received the lie direct in the strength with which I
pushed him off, as I would the touch of a viper; and clinging to mamma,
I cried: "Take him away, dear mother! Take him away!--Do not let him
come near us!"

"What?" exclaimed the doctor good-humoredly, "are you afraid of me, my
little lady? Do I look so very frightful?"

I was quite surprised at his pleasant tone, and on a nearer survey of
his features, felt my passion considerably cooled; but those odious
spectacles spoiled all. I remember soon after being raised up, while
some one held a cup to my lips, but whether the draught were good or bad
I was unable to determine. Dr. Irwin now took my mother aside, and
whispered something in a low tone, as he placed a small packet in her
hands. I heard my mother say: "I am afraid she will never take it,
doctor," to which he replied: "But she _must_ take it, madam--we cannot
consider a child's humors in the scale with her life." I now felt
assured that some nauseous compound was being prepared for me; which I
firmly resolved to fling in the doctor's face, should he dare to
approach me with it. I was a perfect fury when roused; and this fancied
cruelty excited my strongest passions.

But Dr. Irwin wisely took himself off; and the next morning poor mamma
received half the mixture on her dress, while the other half found a
resting place on the floor--a few drops only having slipped down my
throat; while one of the servants heard my screams at the end of the
village, and the next door neighbor, prompted by humanity, sent to
inquire the name of the murdered party. The next dose was more
successful; mamma having spread out before my eyes all her possessions
which she thought likely to tempt me, I received permission to make a
choice, on condition of swallowing a spoonful of calomel jalap. I
further displayed my gentleness by biting Dr. Irwin's fingers when he
attempted to look at my throat, and the good man evidently regarded me
as a pretty refractory patient.

I always had a great horror of being sick--that is, a real, regular fit
of sickness, where you are perched up in bed, and have to do as other
people please, and have only just what covering they please--when you
are not suffered to put an arm out, or toss off a quilt that almost
smothers you, or drink a drop of cold water. Once in a while, I thought,
to be just sufficiently sick to sit in the easy chair and look over
mother's pretty things, or daub with her color-box, while people brought
me oranges and waited upon me, did very well. I was not a gentle, timid,
feminine sort of a child, as I have said before--one who would faint at
the prick of a pin, or weep showers of tears for a slight headache; I
was a complete little hoyden, full of life and spirits, to whom the idea
of being in bed in the day-time was extremely disagreeable--and when I
had been "awful," according to the nursery phraseology, the greatest
punishment that could be inflicted upon me was to send me thither to
enjoy the charms of solitude. I was a female edition of my brother
Fred; not quite so prone to tricks and mischief, perhaps--but almost as
wild and unmanageable.

Now and then Fred would come down in the morning pale, sick, and
subdued-looking; his head tightly bound with a handkerchief, and his
whole countenance expressive of suffering. A sick headache was the only
thing that could tame him; and a smile of ineffable relief sat on the
faces of the others as they glanced at his woe-begone visage. He was as
secure for that day as though chained hand and foot. My quiet hours were
when some fascinating book engrossed my whole attention; I drank in each
word, and could neither see nor hear anything around.

But here I was, really sick and quiet, ill in bed for a whole
month--day-time and all; and oh! the nauseous doses that somehow slipped
down my unwilling throat! Sometimes I would lie and watch the others
moving around and doing as they chose, and then, feeling galled by my
own sense of dependence and inefficiency, the warm blood would glow
quickly as before, and springing hastily up, I determined to throw off
this weary feeling of lassitude. But it was of no use; all I could do
was to sink back exhausted, and "bide my time."

When the first stage of my illness was passed, poor mamma, completely
worn out, would often leave me to the care of Mammy or Jane; with
numerous directions to see that I took whatever had been left for me by
Doctor Irwin. I always liked to have Jane with me, for I _loved_ her;
and the medicine never seemed to taste so bad when she gave it to me.
She had various ways of smoothing this disagreeable duty; and one night
when I had been rather obstreperous, she cut a pill in two and took
half, by way of keeping me company; saying as she swallowed it that
"perhaps it might do her some good." When I became well enough to leave
my bed I sat in a nice easy-chair drawn close up to the window, from
whence I could see the early flowers that were now blooming in full
beauty in the garden below, while some amusing book rested on my lap. I
remember that they brought me the very first strawberries that ripened;
and the neighbors were so kind that many a well-relished delicacy was
sent in "for Mrs. Chesbury's sick child."

I was just able to run about, but still looking very pale and thin, when
Aunt Henshaw arrived on a visit. "What!" exclaimed she, "can this be the
madcap, Amy? Why, you look like a ghost, child! What in the world have
you been doing to yourself--studying too hard?"

The old lady possessed no great powers of penetration, and not being
sufficiently discerning to distinguish between the love of reading and
the love of study, she concluded, from seeing me often with a book in my
hand, that I was quite a studious character. Aunt Henshaw remained a
week or two; and though not exactly sick, I remained thin and drooping,
and seemed to get no stronger as the season advanced. The state of my
health was canvassed over and over again in the family circle; and one
day, when they were all gazing upon me with anxious solicitude, and
remarking upon my pale cheeks, Aunt Henshaw observed: "She needs a
change of air, poor child! She must go home with me."

CHAPTER X.

I was quite surprised at the effect which this remark produced. Although
an only daughter, I had never been much caressed at home--I was always
so troublesome that they loved me best at a distance. If I happened to
get into the library with my father, I was sure to upset the inkstand,
or shake the table where he sat writing--or if admitted to my mother's
apartment, I made sad havoc with her work-basket, and was very apt to
clip up cut out articles with my little scissors--which said scissors I
regarded with the greatest affection; in the first place because they
were my own private property, and in the next place, they afforded me
the delightful pleasure of clipping--that great enjoyment of childhood;
but they did so much mischief that complaints against them were loud
and long, and I quite trembled at an oft-repeated threat of taking them
away.

My mother evidently disapproved of Aunt Henshaw's proposal, and my
father drawing me towards him affectionately, said: "I am afraid we
could not part with our little madcap--we should miss her noise sadly."

The idea of being missed, and actually made a subject of argument, was
something quite new to me; and glancing in surprise from one to the
other, I awaited the issue in silence, scarcely knowing whether I wished
to go or stay. But Aunt Henshaw carried her point. She represented so
many advantages to be gained by the change, where I could run about
quite wild, rolling among the fresh hay, and breathing the pure
air--insisting that it must bring a color into my pale cheeks--that my
parents at length yielded.

Now began the delightful bustle of preparation. My mother turned over my
scanty wardrobe with perplexed looks; and an immediate cutting and
clipping took place, by which old gowns of hers were made into bran new
ones for me. Nor was this all--some were bought on purpose for me; and
I had two or three delightful jaunts to the city, to choose the patterns
for myself; and I wondered if anybody ever had so many, new things at
once as I was about to have. I became quite a wonder in the family--a
person whose movements were of the utmost importance; for I was going to
be away from them the whole summer, and it seemed an almost endless
separation. Mammy was not at all pleased at their sending her child away
from her; the old nurse even cried over me, and insisted upon it that I
had always been a paragon of excellence, and that she could not live
without me. My father gave me some money to buy her a present, the
selection of which was to be left entirely to my own taste; and the sum
I expended in a manner perfectly characteristic: I procured a large
bunch of gay beads for Mammy, and presented Jane with the wonderful
history of little Red Riding Hood. Both treasured them as carefully, and
apparently valued them as highly, as if they had been better selected;
and being quite confident that they would prefer them to anything else,
I was much surprised at the disapprobation expressed in the family
circle.

I gave Henry a little pincushion, which I made on purpose for him, and
not knowing what to present Fred with, I allowed him to rip open my
second-best doll, which was still in quite a good state of preservation.
Fred had always possessed an inquiring mind, and an inclination to
inspect the contents of everything, in consequence of which my
possessions often suffered--and this employment now afforded him the
most intense satisfaction; while I, with a certain feeling of curiosity,
and yet scarcely able to repress an effort for the rescue of poor dolly,
stood watching the proceeding. Nothing appeared, however, but saw-dust;
although Fred had positively assured me that he had no doubt we would
find a diamond ring, or a piece of money, at least--as people often did
where they least expected it; and it was partly this consideration that
led me to consent to the dissection, for we had made an agreement to
divide the spoils.

Fred's head was always filled with wonderful schemes of this nature,
and if he had not been so lazy and fond of mischief he would have made a
smart boy; for he was always reading books containing wonderful
researches into the productions of former centuries; and being
particularly interested in the study of minerals and different species
of rock, he often endeavored to explain to me the various forms of
strata which were found below the earth; but my comprehension could not
take it in. He was continually poring over fossil remains, and digging
in the garden for something curious. He one day ran in with his apron
full of stones and other rubbish, and holding up in triumph an object of
various hues, through which a slight blue shade was distinctly visible,
he called out eagerly: "See, mother! I have really found some fossil
remains at last!"

Mamma took the admired treasure in her hand, as Fred desired; and as she
did so, a smile that had hovered about her mouth grew deeper and deeper;
and finally her amusement burst forth in a hearty laugh. Fred seized his
prize indignantly, and after washing it with the greatest care, found
himself in possession of the spout of an old crockery tea-pot. We heard
no more of fossil remains after that; though he still pursued his
researches privately--having, I believe transferred his expectations
from fossil remains to golden treasures. He was hardly more successful
in this line, as he never found anything to reward his toil except a
solitary five-pence, that he mistook for a gold piece, and which
required more rubbing and scouring to make it distinguishable than it
was worth. Having sacrificed my doll on the shrine of sisterly
affection, not to mention the dross of private interest, I concluded
that I had done as much for Fred as he had any right to expect; and
employed myself in arranging sugar-plums in various attractive forms, as
farewell presents to my younger brothers.

The eventful morning arrived on which I was to take my departure. It was
my first absence from home for any length of time, and I had scarcely
been able to sleep at all during the night--my mind being occupied with
the one all-engrossing thought. I scarcely dared to listen at first, for
fear I should hear it rain; but the sun shone brightly in all the glory
of a clear June morning, and springing out of bed, I dressed myself as
expeditiously as possible, for fear that Aunt Henshaw might go off
without me. "What then was my surprise, when after breakfast I saw the
old lady sit down as usual, and after carefully wiping her spectacles,
take up a book she had been perusing, just as if the greatest event of
my life were not about to occur that very day?

"Why, Aunt Henshaw!" said I in a tone of acute disappointment, "Are we
not going to-day?"

"Certainly, my dear," was her reply, "But the stage coach will not be
here till two o'clock, and I have all my things ready."

What could I possibly do with the six intervening hours? I too had all
my things ready; and my spirits were now in a state that absolutely
required excitement of some kind or other. I tried to read, but it was
impossible to fix my thoughts on the subject--even the Arabian Nights
failed to interest me; and after wondering for some time at Aunt
Henshaw, who could view the near prospect of a journey that would
occupy two or three days with the most perfect composure, I proceeded to
my mother's apartment. I had not been there long before I got up a cry,
and felt more doubtful than ever whether I wished to go. But mamma
talked with me for some time; and having clearly ascertained that it was
my parents' wish that I should go, in hopes of benefiting my health by
the change, I comforted myself with the idea of martyrdom on a small
scale.

I put my doll to board with Ellen Tracy until my return, at a charge of
so many sugar-plums a week; with strict injunctions not to pull its arms
or legs out of order, or attempt to curl its hair. I could not eat a
mouthful of dinner, but Aunt Henshaw stowed away some cake for me in a
corner of her capacious bag; a proceeding which then rather amused me,
but for which I was afterwards exceedingly thankful. The time seemed
almost interminable; I threw out various hints on the value of
expedition, the misery of being behindhand, and the doubtful punctuality
of stage-coaches--but Aunt Henshaw remained immovable.

"As to its coming before the appointed time," said she, "I never heard
of such a thing. It is much more likely to leave us altogether."

Dreadful idea! Suppose it should! I stood flattening my nose against the
window-pane in hopes of spying the welcome vehicle; but it did not even
glimmer in the far distance. Full half an hour before the time, I was
equipped in the wrappers which my invalid state required, impatiently
awaiting the expected clatter of wheels. At length it rolled rapidly up
to the door; a shabby-looking vehicle, drawn by four horses--and a
perfect wilderness of heads and eyes looked forth from the windows,
while legs and arms dangled from the top. It was quite full; and several
voices called out, "They can't come in, driver! It's impossible!"

What a blank fell upon my hopes at these cruel words! The people looked
so savage and unpitying, and I thought that after all we must stay at
home--there seemed no crevice of space into which we could force
ourselves; and in silent consternation I surveyed Aunt Henshaw's
substantial proportions. But she was an experienced traveller; and
making her adieus with a degree of composure and certainty that quite
reassured me, she took me by the hand and advanced to the stage as
smilingly as though they had all invited her to enter. The driver's
eagle eye spied out a seat for Aunt Henshaw--a kind-looking old
gentleman took me on his lap--the door was closed, and away we rattled.
Aunt Henshaw, never much given to silence, found a congenial companion
in the gentleman who had given me a seat; they were soon engaged in an
animated conversation on the pleasures of farming, during which I went
to sleep--nor was I aroused until about two hours after, when we found
ourselves landed at the wharf. We went on board the packet, and
proceeded to the cabin, where I was surprised, amused, and rather
frightened at the appearance of the narrow-looking boxes which we were
destined to sleep in. But Aunt Henshaw assured me that there was no
danger; and I found from experience that I could sleep almost as well
there as in my own bed at home.

The wind was unfavorable, and we were almost a week on the water; but
at length we reached New London and proceeded to Waterford. Aunt
Henshaw's family, I knew, consisted only of a daughter--her sons having
married and settled away from her--and to the meeting with this cousin
Statia, I looked forward with some anxiety. It was almost dark when we
approached the house; a real farmhouse, with lilac and syringa bushes in
front, and a honeysuckle running over the piazza. A little dog came out
and barked at us--a sensible-looking cat rested on the porch--and in the
door-way stood Cousin Statia. She kissed me affectionately, and appeared
glad to see her mother; and we were all soon seated around the table,
where fresh cottage-cheese, crimson radishes, and warm tea-cakes looked
invitingly forth.

I was rather disappointed in the appearance of Cousin Statia; I had
expected to see a fresh, smiling-looking country girl, but I found a
stiff, demure-looking young lady, at whose age I scarcely dared venture
a guess. A little colored girl waited on the table, who evidently
surveyed me with a great deal of interest; for I constantly caught the
sharp glances of her little black eyes. She had been christened
Aholibama--a name which she told me was taken out of some story-book,
though I afterwards found that it was in the Bible--but this being too
long an appellation, they had abbreviated it to Holly. During a hasty
glance into the cheerful kitchen, I caught a glimpse of a very
nice-looking colored woman, who, I afterwards found, was Sylvia, the
cook.

Everything looked very pleasant around, though plain; but I was tired
and sleepy, and at an early hour Cousin Statia conducted me to a small,
neat room in the second story, with white curtains; and after
ascertaining that I could undress myself, she left me for a short time,
promising to come and take the candle. I felt the least bit homesick and
wished very much to see them all; but I was also very much interested in
the novelty of a new scene, and anticipated a great deal of pleasure in
examining the premises. Aunt Henshaw had told me that she believed there
were kittens somewhere around, and I determined to search till I found
them; for a little pet kitten appeared to me the sweetest of all
created things.

In the meantime, I began to experience a very uncomfortable sensation
that quickly swallowed up all other thoughts. Cousin Statia had taken
the candle, but it was a bright, moonlight night, and the beautiful
moonbeams that came dancing in and formed a perfect network upon the
floor, made the room almost as light as day. It was not very warm
weather, but I felt the perspiration pouring down, while I trembled in
every limb. My eyes were fixed with a sort of fascination on the
opposite wall, where the shadow of a figure seemed to pass and repass;
and every time it arrived at a certain point, there was a sort of a kick
up, as though with the feet behind. I looked all around, as soon as I
dared to, but everything was still except the tormenting shadow. I
scarcely breathed, but kept watching the queer figure, till I was almost
ready to faint from cowardice. I tried to reason with myself--and called
to mind how my father had endeavored to banish this weakness; how one
night on being afraid to go into the cellar, he had himself gone with
me and examined every corner, to convince me that there was nothing to
fear; and under the impulse of these reflections I sprang out of bed,
determined to investigate the mystery. I went in every part of the room;
I examined the window, the curtains, but nothing was to be seen, while
the figure still continued its movements; and almost sick, I returned to
bed, to lie and watch the shadow. All sorts of queer stories rushed into
my head; I tried to forgot them and think of something else, but it was
impossible. The movement was slow, regular, and punctual.

At last I could stand it no longer; I rushed to the window, determined
to stay there till the mystery was explained, for I felt convinced that
I should find it there. I directed my eyes piercingly to every part of
the curtains; and at length I perceived that the window had been let
down at the top. I closed it, arranged the curtains differently, and
then, in some trepidation, returned to my shadow. It had disappeared;
and I now understood that the formidable figure was merely a part of the
curtain, which, influenced by the night wind, swayed to and fro,
causing the shadow on the wall.

I do not think I ever experienced a cowardly feeling afterwards; that
night perfectly satisfied me that superstition was the most unreasonable
torture that could be inflicted on oneself; and I was ever afterwards
celebrated for my bravery. Even my father praised my conduct, and said
that it was pretty well for a girl of ten years, under such
circumstances--at the same time representing to me how much more
reasonable such a course was, than screaming would have been, to rouse
the household for nothing. I went quietly to sleep, and dreamed neither
of goblins nor ghosts, but of a dear little spotted kitten with a blue
ribbon around its neck.

CHAPTER XI.

I did not wake very early the next morning, and when I opened my eyes, I
perceived Cousin Statia standing by my bedside, who had been endeavoring
to waken me. Her manner was rather solemn as she announced that Aunt
Henshaw was waiting for me to commence the morning services. At this
information I felt very much mortified; and springing quickly out of
bed, I was soon dressed and in the breakfast room. Aunt Henshaw sat with
a large Bible open before her; and after kissing me kindly, she read a
chapter, and then offered a short prayer.

After breakfast, Cousin Statia proceeded to wash up the cups and
saucers, which she always did for fear of their being broken; Aunt
Henshaw proceeded to the poultry yard, and I accompanied her. She had a
large tin pan in her hand, filled with moistened Indian meal, with which
she fed the chickens; of which there seemed an endless number, both old
and young. Then we went to the barn-yard, and she showed me a young
calf; but it was an awkward-looking thing, that scampered about without
sense or meaning. But I had not forgotten the kittens, and I asked Aunt
Henshaw where they were. She said that she would look; and going into
the barn, we peered around, in mangers and out-of-the-way places,
without the least success; and we concluded that the old cat must have
hid them up in the mow.

"Perhaps Holly knows, though," said the old lady, on noticing my
disappointment, "very little escapes her eyes, and we can at least call
her and see."

Holly was called, but with not much more success than our hunt after the
kittens, so we were obliged to proceed to the kitchen--a wing on the
same floor with the parlor and dining-room. Holly was now visible,
peeling apples, and evidently glad to be released from her task, she
professed herself perfectly acquainted with the whereabouts of the
kittens.

"But can we get them?" asked Aunt Henshaw.

"Oh yes, Missus," replied Holly, "if you'll only 'tice the old cat
somewhere and shut her up. She'd 'spect suthin' if she saw me, and
there'd be no gittin' rid of her; and if she once ketched us at the
bisness, she'd scratch our very eyes out--cats is always dreadful skeery
about their kittens."

There was something in this speech which grated on my ear as painfully
ungrammatical; and I resolved, on the first opportunity, to instruct
Holly in the rudiments of grammar. She remained in the kitchen while
Aunt Henshaw, after calling "pussy" in an affectionate manner, shut the
cat up in the dining-room; and our guide then led the way to the
kittens. The garret stairs turned off in two directions; one led to
about four or five steps, beneath which was a hollow place extending
some distance back, where Holly had often seen the old cat go in and out
in a private manner.

"Now," said she, "you stay here, and I'll jest git the rake and rake
the kittens out for Miss Amy, here."

"But I am afraid you will hurt them," said Aunt Henshaw.

"It ain't very likely," replied Holly confidently, "that they're a-going
to be so shaller as to git hurt. They'll squirm over the points of the
rake, and take care of themselves."

The rake was brought; and five little sprawling kittens, with their eyes
scarcely open, were soon crawling at my feet. "Oh, you dear little
angels!" I exclaimed in ecstasy.

"Rather black-looking angels," said Aunt Henshaw with a smile.

I took them up, one after another, and was quite at a loss which to
admire most. There were three black ones, one grey, and one white one
spotted. I rather thought I preferred the white and grey, while Holly
claimed the three black ones. We took them all to the kitchen and placed
a saucer of milk before them, while Holly let out the cat, that she
might see how well we were treating them. She looked around in surprise
at first; but then deliberately taking them one by one, she carried
them all off in her mouth, and we saw nothing more of them for some
time.

I spent the morning in wandering about; and in the afternoon I sat in
the parlor with Cousin Statia, who was knitting as fast as her needles
could fly. I asked her for a book; and after some search, she handed me
the "Pilgrim's Progress," in which I soon became deeply interested,
while Aunt Henshaw took a nap in her chair. Towards evening the old
white horse was harnessed up, and we took a drive; Aunt Henshaw being
determined, as she said, to put some color in my pale cheeks. They
evidently thought a great deal of this old horse, whom they called Joe;
but I mentally compared him with my father's carriage-horses--a
comparison not much to his advantage. Cousin Statia drove, but Joe did
not seem much disposed to go. Every now and then he came to a
stand-still, and I quite wanted to get out and push him along. But they
saw nothing uncommon in his behavior, and even congratulated themselves
upon his being so careful. Aunt Henshaw said that such dreadful
accidents had happened in consequence of horses running away with
people, and that Joe's great virtue consisted in his being so perfectly
gentle.

We did not drive very far, and on our return found that Sylvia had tea
all ready and waiting for us. The old colored woman was quite tasty in
her ideas, and had garnished an immense dish of strawberries with
flowers and leaves, through which the red fruit gleamed most temptingly
forth. After tea, when Cousin Statia had taken up her knitting, and Aunt
Henshaw was seated in her usual chair, I placed a low stool beside her
for myself, and begged for one of her usual stories. She was a very
entertaining old lady, with a great deal of natural wit, and abundant
reminiscences of the times in which she had lived. Nothing delighted us
more than to hear her stories of the Revolution, in many of which she
figured as principal actor; and I now expected a rich treat.

"Well, I do not know," replied Aunt Henshaw in answer to my question, "I
think I must have told you all."

This remark, I knew from experience, was the prelude to something even
more interesting than usual, and I waited patiently for her to begin.

"Did I ever tell you," she continued, "of the time that Statia went to
her Uncle Ben's at night, with no one except her two little brothers?"

I had never heard the narrative, and eagerly settled myself in the
position of a listener.

"Statia," said her mother, "you had better tell the story--perhaps you
remember it better than I do."

"It was a raw November night," she began, "and though it did not exactly
storm, the wind moaned and raged through the trees, blowing the fallen
leaver about in gusts, and making a pleasant fire seem doubly cheerful.
The large hickory logs were roaring and blazing in our huge fireplace
and my father, my mother, my two brothers, and myself were gathered
around the fire. I was the eldest, but I was then only twelve years old;
and yet, I remember always to have felt a great deal of care and
responsibility towards the other children I never can forget the night,
for I then experienced my first lesson of self-forgetfulness; and
whenever I speak of it, it seems as of something just passed. As I was
saying, we all sat by the fire, and had just been talking of the
British, who were dreaded and feared by us children as a race of ogres.
The door opened suddenly, and John, one of the hired men, stood before
us, his countenance expressive of some disaster. My father and mother
both rose in apprehension, and demanded the cause of his seeming terror.

"Why sir," he stammered, "perhaps it ain't after all, anything so very
bad--there may not be any real danger; though it ain't exactly what you
would have chosen. I have just come from the post-office, and they say
that a party of British have landed about four miles below, and will
probably come and take supper with you. I do not believe they will do
anything worse, but it is best to be ready."

My mother turned very pale, but she did not faint; she was a true
daughter of America, and always tried to repress all outward signs of
weakness. "I can load the guns," said she, "and attend to the
supper--but what will become of the children? These soldiers may perhaps
be intoxicated, and might set fire to the house."

"They must be sent away," replied my father; "How long will it be before
the British get here?" he continued.

"About two hours I should think," was John's reply; "and this being the
first farmhouse they pass, they will probably stop here."

"Statia," said my father, turning to me, "it is my wish that you take
your brothers and go as quickly as possible to your Uncle Ben's, where
you will be out of danger. I must send you _alone_, my child, for I can
spare no one to accompany you. But it is not a dark night, and you are
well acquainted with the road. I see no other alternative."

"I trembled in every limb, but I had been brought up with the greatest
deference for my parents' wishes, and should not have dared to dispute
my father's command, even had he told me to do a much harder thing. The
children began to cry, for they were afraid of being murdered on the
road; but my mother succeeded in soothing them; and well bundled up, we
received a kiss and blessing from our parents, and started on our dreary
journey. Here was I quite alone, except my two little brothers, who
clung to me as we went along, and cried with terror, with three long
miles before me, and the wind blowing around us with such fury that we
could scarcely keep our feet. My younger brother now complained of the
cold; and resolved to protect them at whatever cost to myself, I took
off my cloak and wrapped it about him. I had only a shawl left; and
wrapping my arms in its thin folds, while the children grasped my skirt,
we proceeded slowly along. It was fortunate for us that the moon shone
brightly, for, even as it was, I was puzzled about the way. But at
length we reached the well-known house, and surprised enough were they
to see us; but when we told them the reason, my uncle immediately
started for my father's house, to render any assistance that might be
required. The night passed, however, without the expected invasion; the
British proceeded in another direction, and our cold, lonely walk might
have been dispensed with. But my father called me his brave little
girl, and said that in future he could always trust me--while my mother
pressed us silently to her bosom, and as she kissed us, I felt the warm
tears falling on my face. She too had had her trial on that fearful
night."

I felt very thankful that my parents had never required such a
disagreeable proof of obedience; for, not possessing the firm principle
of right which characterized Cousin Statia, even as a child, I should
have been very much disposed to resist their authority.

"Well," said Aunt Henshaw, "that is a story of which Statia may well be
proud, but her telling it has just put me in mind of something else. I
once had a large jar of sour milk standing before the fire, which I was
going to make into cottage-cheese, when one of the servants came
running, in breathless haste, with the news that three British soldiers
were approaching the house. Plunder was generally the object of such
stragglers, and there was quite a large sum of gold lying in a bureau
drawer, which I felt very unwilling to part with. My husband was from
home, so seizing the money, I quietly dropped it all in the jar of
milk. I had just finished this exploit when the soldiers entered; and
after eating in a manner that made the children fear they would next be
precipitated down their capacious throats, they began to look about for
plunder. I tried to be as composed as possible, and this, I think, kept
them a little in awe; for they were perfectly civil in words, and did no
damage, except to turn things topsy turvy. They found nothing to suit
them, till spying a very good coat of Mr. Henshaw's, one of them coolly
encased himself in it and they all walked off together." I watched them
from the window, and perceiving that they had left the gate open, I
called out after them: "Be kind enough to shut the gate, will you? I am
afraid the pigs will get in." They stopped a moment, smiled, and then
did as I requested. "Ah, Amy," said my aunt in conclusion, "the
necessity of the times was a school that taught women far more of the
realities of life than they learn now-a-days."

Aunt Henshaw fell into a long revery; and a pair of eyes, which had been
glimmering near the door for some time, suddenly disappeared, and I
heard the retreating footsteps of Holly as she took her way to the
kitchen. The little colored girl always kept her eyes and ears open, and
never lost an opportunity to gain knowledge of any description. A great
deal which she had stealthily learned was communicated to me during my
stay; and I am sorry to say that I was more hurt than benefitted by the
companionship. Aunt Henshaw, though kind, did not appear to me in the
light of a playmate, and Cousin Statia seldom opened her lips--being too
industrious to waste time in talking; so that, for want of more suitable
company, I descended to the kitchen.

The next morning, having obtained Aunt Henshaw's permission, I went out
to feed the chickens; and having drawn them near the wood-pile, I
confined my favors almost exclusively to a sober-looking hen and five
little chickens. When the pan was empty, I conceived that I had well
earned the right, and putting my hand down softly, I took up a cunning
little thing and hugged it in delight. But a terrible flapping of wings
sounded close to my ears--I could scarcely distinguish any thing--and
dropping the chicken, I fell across the chopping-log. The old hen rushed
furiously at me, and kept beating me with her wings; while I, afraid
that my eyes would be pecked out, could do nothing but scream. Some one,
at length, picked me up; and when I ventured to look around, I beheld
Sylvia, who stood beside me, laughing immoderately. Holly soon joined
the company, and even Cousin Statia seemed amused; while Aunt Henshaw
carefully examined my eyes to see that they had sustained no injury.

"I ought to have told you not to touch the chickens," said the old lady;
"for the hen would even sacrifice her life to protect them."

But experience is the best teacher, after all--the lessons thus gained,
though more disagreeable, are seldom forgotten; and I never again
meddled with the chickens.

This seemed destined, though, to be a day of misfortunes, to which the
chicken business was but a slight commencement. The evening was most
lovely, and I accompanied Holly, who bad gone to feed the pigs. A fence
separated the pen from the rest of the yard; and on this fence it was
Holly's usual practice to perch herself and watch the motions of her
charges. She looked so comfortable that I determined to follow her
example; and having gained the eminence, I looked around in triumph. But
oh, how sad to tell! but a few moments elapsed ere I found myself
floundering in the mire beneath; while the pigs all rushed towards me as
though I had been thrown there for them to make a supper of. Holly was
quite convulsed with laughter; but my screams now became terrific; and
calling Sylvia, the two extricated me from my unpleasant predicament.

I was truly a pitiable object, but my white dress was the greatest
sufferer: while the tears that rolled down my cheeks grew blacker and
blacker as they descended. I almost wished myself home again; but
Sylvia, between her paroxyms of laughter, told me "not to cry, and they
would soon make me look as good as new--any how, missus musn't see me in
such a pickle." They fell to scraping and scouring with the greatest
zeal, and then placed me before the kitchen fire to dry.

"How the pigs did run!" said Holly; "'spect, Miss Amy, they mistook you
for a little broder!"

At this sally Sylvia laughed louder than ever; but perceiving my
distress, she observed, in a kind tone: "Never mind, Miss Amy, we can't
help laughing, you know--and you'll laugh too, when you git out of this
here mess. But we do really feel sorry for you, for you look reel awful;
I only hope old missus won't come in and ketch you."

But in a few moments the kind face of Aunt Henshaw looked into the scene
of distress which the kitchen had now become, and surprise at my
appearance rendered her almost speechless. But she soon recovered
herself; and under her direction I was immersed in a tub of water, while
my unfortunate clothes were consigned to the same fate. After this
ceremony I was advised to go to bed; and thither I accordingly repaired,
thinking how forlorn it was to fall into the pig-pen on such a beautiful
evening.

The whole household seemed disposed to bear in mind that unfortunate
occurrence; when about to fall into mischief, Aunt Henshaw would say in
a peculiar tone: "Remember the pig-pen, Amy!" or, when troubling Sylvia,
it would be; "I guess you learned that in the pig-pen, Miss Amy;" and
even Holly took up the burden of the song, till I heartily wished that
she had taken the plunge instead of myself. Before long they all
discovered that I was very prone to such scrapes; I dropped a very nice
hat down the well, which, for fear of its spoiling the water, they spent
a great deal of time in fishing up--I fell from the mow, but fortunately
sustained no injury; and Sylvia one day caught me skimming off the
cream--an amusement which I considered very innocent, but she speedily
undeceived me.

CHAPTER XII.

Two or three weeks passed on very pleasantly, and I began to think it
time to write a letter home. I had made but little progress in the art,
and letter-writing always appeared to me a great undertaking; but Aunt
Henshaw, having one afternoon provided me with pen, ink, and paper, and
elevated me nicely with the large Bible and my "Pilgrim's Progress," I
sat biting the end of my quill, and pondering over some form of
commencement. I had already written "dear mother" at the top; at length
I added after considerable reflection:

"I am well, and hope that you are the same. It is very pleasant here. No
more at present from

Your affectionate Daughter,

AMY."

Aunt Henshaw pronounced this "very well--what was of it;" and Cousin
Statia smiled, though I could not well why; but her smiles were so few
and far between that they always set me a wondering. The letter was
sealed, however, and enclosed in a larger one of Aunt Henshaw's, who
probably gave a more detailed account of matters and things than I had
given.

In the meantime, I was fast regaining the blooming, hoyden appearance
most natural to me; and Aunt Henshaw continued to write glowing accounts
of my improvement. In due time my scrawl was answered by a most
affectionate letter from mamma, to which was added a postscript by my
father; and I began to rise wonderfully in my own estimation, in
consequence of having letters addressed entirely to myself. I even
undertook to correct Sylvia for speaking ungrammatically, which made her
very angry; and she took occasion to observe, that she had not lived so
long in the world to be taught grammar by young ladies who fell into
pig-pens. One great source of amusement at Henshaw's, was to watch
Sylvia making cheeses. Sometimes she allowed me to make small ones,
which I pressed with geranium leaves; but one day, being a little out of
humor, she refused to let me have the rennet unless I could find it.--I
searched through the kitchen and everywhere for it, and spent the whole
morning in looking, till I almost despaired of finding it; but at length
I pushed aside a tub, and there it was. This was one of Sylvia's
peculiarities. She was an excellent servant, and having been a long time
in the family, Aunt Henshaw allowed her to have pretty much her own way.
Sylvia was not wanting in sense, and often, when the old lady thought
she had obtained the better of the dispute, she was, in reality,
yielding to the sagacity of the colored woman. Holly was a sort of
satellite, and evidently quite in awe of her superior; but Sylvia
regarded her as the very quintescence of laziness, and always delighted
to set her at some interminable job. It was much more to Holly's taste
to look after the cows and pigs, and wander about the premises, than to
wash dishes and peel potatoes; but she dared not resist the cook's
authority.

One Sunday morning I was left at home, in consequence of not being well,
with strict injunctions not to get into mischief; while Aunt Henshaw,
Cousin Statia, and Sylvia went to church--the superintendence of the
house being placed in Holly's charge. I settled myself by the parlor
window with my "Pilgrim's Progress" and pursued the thread of
Christian's adventures; while I glanced from time to time on the
prospect without, while the hum of the locusts and lowing of the cows
came borne upon my ear like pleasant sounds. I laid down my book to read
a chapter in the Bible, and was enjoying a very pleasant frame of mind
when the tempter came, in the shape of Holly, and beckoned me into the
kitchen.

Nothing loath, I followed eagerly; and the colored girl proposed that we
should have a small baking. The fire had been carefully put out in the
kitchen, and we concluded to make one on bricks in the yard. After
puffing and blowing with considerable energy, Holly kindled a flame;
and we then concluded to mix up some gingerbread, and bake it in
clam-shells As I heard the monotonous hum of the bees, and remarked the
stillness around, while everything seemed to speak of the Sabbath, my
conscience reproached me; and I was several times on the point of
turning back into the parlor, but I lacked sufficient courage to resist
Holly's glowing descriptions of our gingerbread that was to be. The
store-room closet was pretty dark, and Holly was obliged to go by
guess-work in selecting her materials, but all seemed right; and in
triumph we placed several clam-shells of dough on the fire to bake. We
worked very hard to keep up the flames, but the baking progressed
slowly; and we dreaded to hear the sound of wheels that announced the
return of the church-goers. It was done at last, and we sat down to
enjoy the feast. I broke off a piece, and put it in my mouth, expecting
to find a delicious morsel, but it had a very queer taste; and I saw
that Holly was surveying it with an appearance of the greatest
curiosity.

"What is the matter?" said I, "What have you done to it, Holly?"

"Well, I guess I've put in lime instead of flour," she replied.

It was but too true; and just then we heard the sound of wheels, and a
vigorous lifting of the great brass knocker. Holly hurriedly cleared
away all signs of our employment, and then opened the door; while I
returned to my books, convinced that the poorest time to make
gingerbread was on Sunday, and in the dark. But Aunt Henshaw discovered
our proceedings through Sylvia, who complained that some one had dropped
molasses in the lime; which she soon traced to Holly, and I was never
left home again on Sunday, alone.

"Once," said Aunt Henshaw, when I had, as usual, solicited a story,
"there was a report that the British were about to sack New London. The
city was a scene of hurry and confusion. Carriages were driving hither
and thither, laden with silver plate and other valuables, which the
owners were glad to place in the hands of any respectable-looking
stranger they met, for safe-keeping. Several pieces were placed in our
carriage; among others a handsome silver tankard and half-a-dozen
goblets, which were never reclaimed. I have always kept them to this
day."

She showed me these articles, which were extremely rich and massive, and
the old lady always kept them carefully locked in a capacious
side-board; never taking them out except to look at.

"Aunt Henshaw, did you ever see a lord?" I inquired.

"Plenty of them," was her reply, "lords were as thick as blackberries
during the Revolution."

"How did they look?" said I.

"Very much like other people--and often pretty distressed."

I was then surprised at this information, but I have since learned
better; for I have seen the House of Lords in England, and they are, for
the most part, a common, uninteresting-looking assembly.

"There was a Lord Spencer," continued my aunt, "a very wild young man,
who was constantly committing some prank or other--though always
strictly honorable in repairing any damages he occasioned. He once, for
mere sport, shot a fine colt, belonging to an old farmer, as he was
quietly grazing in the field. Even his companions remonstrated with him,
and endeavored to prevent the mischief; but he laid them a wager that he
should not only escape punishment, but that he would even make the old
farmer perfectly satisfied with his conduct. They accepted his bet, and
anxious to see how he would extricate himself, they accompanied him to
the residence of the old farmer.

"That is a very fine colt of yours," began the young lord, "I should
like to purchase him."

"He is not for sale," replied the farmer, shortly.

"I suppose not," rejoined the visitor. "But what would you value him at
in case any accident happened to him through the carelessness of others?
What sum would pay you for it?"

"A hundred dollars would cover his value," said the farmer, after some
consideration, "but has any thing happened to him, that you ask these
questions?"

"Yes," replied the lord, "I have unfortunately shot him--and here is two
hundred dollars as an equivalent."

Lord Spencer won his wager, for the farmer had made at least a hundred
dollars, and being extremely fond of money, he could not regret the loss
of his colt. "This is a specimen, Amy, of what lords are; so do not go to
forming any exalted notions of them, as of a superior race of beings. It
was very cruel in Lord Spencer to shoot the poor animal--but it was
honorable in him to make up the farmer's loss, for it doubled the amount
of wages he gained; yet to sum up the proceeding, it was wrong--for
besides killing an inoffensive animal, it did not belong to him."

Aunt Henshaw seldom failed to point out the right and wrong in her
stories, for she feared that I would be carried away with whatever was
most dazzling, and thus form erroneous impressions. It is an excellent
maxim that "people should be just before they are generous;" and did all
bear this in mind while admiring actions that often dazzle with a false
glitter, they would assume a totally different appearance.

Every few days there was an inundation of different cousins who lived
but a few miles distant; and then there was so much shaking of great
rough hands, as I was presented--so many comments on my appearance, and
comparison of each separate feature with each of my parents--that I grew
almost afraid to look up under the many eyes that were bent upon me to
detect resemblances to the Henshaws, Chesburys, or Farringtons--which
last was my mother's maiden name. I became quite tired of telling people
when I arrived, how long I intended to stay, and how many brothers and
sisters I had. They were all very kind, though, and invited me so
politely to come and see them that I quite wanted to go; and Aunt
Henshaw promised to return their visits very soon, and bring me with
her.

So one fine day we set forth on a visit to Cousin Ben's--a son of the
identical Uncle Ben to whose house Cousin Statia walked with her two
little brothers, on that cold November night. She pointed out the road
as we passed, showed me the very place where she had wrapped her own
cloak around her brother, the spot where they stopped to rub their hands
warm, and a cross-road which they came very near taking. The house was
plain, but pleasantly situated; and as we drove up to the door, Cousin
Ben, his wife, and two or three children about my own age, came out to
meet us. There was very little reserve among these country cousins; and
before long, I was on as good terms with my play-mates as though I had
known them all my life. We raced out into the fields, and feasted on
sugar-pears, which were then just ripe; and I found, to my surprise,
that my female cousins were quite as expert at climbing trees as the
boys. I began to feel deficient in accomplishments; but I was not
sufficiently a hoyden to follow their example, and could only perform
the part of an admiring spectator.

A very quiet-looking old horse was grazing near by, and my cousins
proposed that we should have a ride. I surveyed the great tall animal
with dismay, and was frightened at the idea of being perched on his
back; but the boys lifted me up, and five of us were soon mounted, ready
for a start. It was our intention to proceed in this triumphant manner
to the woods to gather berries; but our proposed conductor evidently
disapproved the projected excursion, for, with a sudden kick-up behind,
he sent us all five rolling on the grass. My white frock was the
sufferer as usual; and scarcely any evil that has befallen me since,
ever affected me more than would the dreaded spot that always appeared
in the most conspicuous place whenever I was dressed up. It was always
the herald of speedy disgrace, either in the shape of being sent
supperless to bed, or deprived of going out next day. Mammy was
particularly severe on such occasions; it was provoking to be sure,
after taking the pains to dress me nicely, to find all her work spoiled
within the next fifteen minutes; but I did think it was not my fault,
and wondered how it always happened. My new companions could not
understand my distress in consequence of this accident; and with
trembling steps I went in to Aunt Henshaw, expecting to be kept by her
side for the rest of the day, and never brought out again.

What was my surprise when, after examining the spot, she said, in a tone
which sounded like music in my ears: "Well child, you couldn't help it,
and it is well you were not hurt. After all, white dresses are poor
things for children to play in, and this is only fit for the wash-tub
now. But this is not quite so bad as the pig-pen--eh, Amy?"

The color mounted quickly into my face at these last words, and gladly
obeying her injunction to "go, play now," I bounded from the room; while
Aunt Henshaw, I suppose, enlightened the company as to the meaning of
her question, and my evident confusion. Oh, if people did but know the
effect of kind words, especially when harshness is expected! I never
enjoyed romping so much in all my life as on that afternoon; Aunt
Henshaw had pronounced my dress "fit only for the wash-tub," and I
thought that before it proceeded thither, it might just as well be a
little more soiled as not. So we rolled about on the grass, climbed over
fences, and rambled through the woods without fear or restraint. With a
light and happy heart I set out on the journey home, congratulating
myself that I was not then to encounter the eagle eyes of Mammy.

Aunt Henshaw, though perfectly willing that I should enjoy myself at
play, did not approve of my spending my whole time in idleness; and
under her superintendence, I felt more disposed to work than I ever had
before. With her assistance I completed several articles of dress for a
sister of Sylvia's, who was very poor, and lived in a sort of hovel near
by; and the indefatigable Holly having again discovered the kittens in
some equally out-of-the-way place, I at last, with a great deal of
difficulty, succeeded in manufacturing a warm suit of clothes for the
winter wear of the prettiest one. Having equipped the kitten in its new
habiliments, I carried it to Aunt Henshaw, as quite a triumph of art;
but when I made my appearance, with the two little ears poking out of
the bonnet, and the tail quite visible through a hole in the skirt which
I had cut for it, Cousin Statia actually indulged in a hearty fit of
laughter, while Aunt Henshaw appeared even more amused. She told me
that nature had furnished it with a covering quite sufficient to protect
it from the cold; but I thought that it must then be a great deal too
warm in summer, and had just commenced fanning it, when she explained to
me that the fur was a great deal thinner in summer than in winter. This
satisfied me; and releasing the astonished kitten from its numerous
wrappers, I presented them to Holly, and gave up all idea of furnishing
it with a wardrobe.

CHAPTER XIII.

At Aunt Henshaw's, my passion for rummaging drawers and boxes of
knickknacks was abundantly gratified. The old lady fairly over-flowed
with the milk of human kindness, and allowed me to put her things in
disorder as often as I chose. There was an album quilt, among her
possessions, which I never grew tired of admiring. The pieces were all
of an octagon shape, arranged in little circles of different colors; and
in the centre of each circle was a piece of white muslin, on which was
written in tiny characters the name of the person who had made the
circle, and two lines of poetry. This album quilt was a good many years
old; and had been made by the ladies of the neighborhood, as a tribute
of respect to Aunt Henshaw, on account of her many acts of bravery and
presence of mind during the trying times of the Revolution.

The old lady was never weary of describing the grand quilting, which
took place in an old stone barn on the premises; when they all came at
one o'clock, and sitting down to work, scarcely spoke a word until six,
when the quilt was triumphantly pronounced to be completed; and taking
it from the frame, they proceeded to arrange a large table, set out with
strawberries and cream, dough-nuts, chickens, cider, and almost every
incongruous eatable that could be mentioned. Washington was then
President, and after drinking his health in cider, coffee, and tea,
which last was then a very precious commodity, being served in cups
exactly the size of a doll's set, they all in turn related stories or
personal anecdotes of the great General, of whom Aunt Henshaw never
spoke without the greatest reverence and enthusiasm. He died when I was
very young, so that I never saw him; but I have visited his tomb, and
his residence at Mount Vernon, and have also seen portraits of him that
were pronounced to be life-like by those who were intimately acquainted
with him.

Aunt Henshaw had actually entertained La Fayette at her house for a
whole night, and she showed me the very room he slept in; while Cousin
Statia produced an album in which he had written his name. I always
experienced a burning desire to possess some memento of the
distinguished men whose names are woven in the annals of our country;
and seating myself at the table with the album before me, I spent
several hours in trying to copy the illustrious autograph. But all my
efforts were vain; I could produce nothing like it, and was obliged to
return the book to its favored owner.

I delighted to spell out the album quilt until I knew almost every line
by heart; while the curious medley which these different scraps of
poetry presented reminded me very much of a play, in which one person
repeats a line, to which another must find a rhyme. When Aunt Henshaw
died, which was just about the time that I was grown up, she left the
quilt to me in her will; because, as she said. I had always been so
fond of it. I still have it carefully packed away, and regard it as
quite a treasure.

But very often, during a voyage of discoveries through rooms that were
seldom used, I passed various boxes, and awkward-looking little trunks,
and curious baskets, that struck me as being particularly interesting in
appearance. But Aunt Henshaw always said: "Those are Statia's--we must
not touch them," and passed quickly on, without in the least indulging
my excited curiosity. Whether Cousin Statia kept wild animals, or
mysterious treasures, or old clothes, in all these places, I was unable
to conclude; but I determined to find out if possible. Having one day
accompanied her upstairs, she proceeded to unlock a large trunk which I
had always regarded with longing eyes; and opening them very wide, that
I might take in as much as possible in a hasty survey, what was my
disappointment to see her take out a couple of linen pillow-cases,
nicely ruffled, while at least a dozen or two more remained, together
with a corresponding number of sheets, table-cloths, napkins, &c.! All
of home-made manufacture, and seeming to my youthful ideas enough to
last a life-time. What could Cousin Statia possibly do with all these
things? Or what had she put them there for? I knew that Aunt Henshaw
possessed inexhaustible stores, and I could not imagine why Cousin
Statia found it necessary to have her's separate. I pondered the matter
over for two or three days, and then concluded to apply to Holly for
information on the desired point.

"Why, lor bless you!" said the colored girl in a mysterious manner,
"Didn't you know that Miss Statia has been crossed in love?"

Holly announced this fact as a sufficiently explanatory one; but I could
not comprehend what connection there was between being crossed in love,
and a large trunk of bran new things.

"Why, I quite pities your ignorance, Miss Amy! In old times," continued
my informant, as though dwelling on her own particular virtue in this
respect, "in old times people didn't used to be half so lazy as they am
now-a-days, and thought nothing at all of sewing their fingers to the
bone, or spinning their nails off, or knittin' forever; and when gals
growed up, and had any thoughts of gittin' married, they set to work and
made hull trunks full of things, and people used to call them spinsters.
Now Miss Statia has been fillin' trunks and baskets ever sense she could
do anything, so that she's got a pretty likely stock--but no one ever
came along this way but what was married already, and that's the meanin'
of bein' crossed in love. But don't for your life go to tellin'
nobody--they'd most chop my head off, if it should come out."

I asked Holly how she had ascertained the fact; "Oh," she replied,
knowingly, "there ain't much that escapes me. I know pretty much every
article in this house, and hear whatever's goin' on. Key-holes is a
great convenience; and though it ain't very pleasant to be squatin' in
cold entries, and fallin' in the room sometimes, when people open the
door without no warnin', yet I'm often there when they think I'm safe in
the kitchin. Miss Statia once boxed my ears and sent me to bed, when she
happened to ketch me listinin'; but it didn't smart much, and people
can't 'spect to gather roses without thistles."

Holly often interspersed her conversation with various quotations and
wise reflections; but the idea of listening at key-holes quite shocked
my sense of honor, and I endeavored to remonstrate with her upon the
practice.

"It won't do for you to talk so, Miss Amy," was her sagacious reply;
"you mus'n't quarrel with the ship that carries you safe over. If I had
not listened at key-holes, you'd never have known what was in them
trunks."

The truth of this remark was quite manifest; and concluding that I was
not exactly suited to the character of admonisher, I never renewed the
attempt.

Aunt Henshaw had boxes of old letters which she estimated among her
greatest valuables; and sometimes, when the sun was shining brightly
without, and the soft air of summer waving the trees gently to and fro,
the old lady would invite me in a mysterious manner to her room, and
drawing forth an almost endless package, open letter after letter, and
read to me the correspondence of people whom I cared nothing about. I
tried very hard to suppress all signs of yawning, for I wanted to be out
at play; but I must have been ungrateful not to exercise a little
patience with one so kind and affectionate, and she, dear old soul!
evidently considered it the greatest treat she could offer me. I became
in this manner acquainted with the whole history of her courtship; and
charmed with so quiet a listener, she would read to me till I fairly
fell asleep. But her thoughts being entirely occupied with the past, and
her eyes in endeavoring to decipher the faded hand-writing, this
inattention passed unobserved; and she pursued her reading until called
off by her daily duties.

Dear old lady! how often have I watched her when she was asleep, as with
the neat white frill of her cap partially shading her face, she sat in
the large chair with her hands folded together, and her spectacles lying
on the book in her lap. She looked so pure and calm that I sometimes
felt afraid that she might be dead, like old people I had heard of who
died quietly in their sleep; but I could not bear the idea, and a
feeling of inexpressible relief would come over me when I beheld the
lids slowly rise again from the mild eyes that were ever bent lovingly
upon me.

She bad a box piled with rolls of manuscript containing poetry, which
she told me she had taken great pleasure in composing. "Saturday
nights," said she, "when everything was in order, and, the next day
being Sunday, I had no household cares to think of, I would amuse myself
in composing verses that were seldom shown to any one. Mr. Henshaw was a
most excellent man and a kind husband, but he had no taste for poetry,
and considered it a great waste of time. Another thing that helped to
set him against it was an unfortunate poem that I composed on the event
of a marriage that took place in the neighborhood. The gentleman had
courted the lady for a number of years without success; and after
praising his constancy, I dwelt on the beauteous Eliza's charms, and
said something about winning the goal at last. But they were very much
offended; they supposed that I was ridiculing them, and said that I had
represented them as doing a great many foolish things which they had
never thought of. There was no use in attempting to pacify them--I had
thrown away my poetry where it was not appreciated; and Mr. Henshaw
exclaimed in a tone of annoyance: 'Now do, I beg of you, never let me
see you again at the writing-desk! You have done as much mischief with
your pen as other women accomplish with their tongues.' So I never sent
poetry again to other people; but whenever I felt lonely, I sat down and
wrote, and it has really been a great comfort to me. One of these days,
Amy, I shall give this all to you."

When I returned home, the poetry was carefully laid in the bottom of my
trunk; but I have my suspicions that for sometime after Jane kindled the
nursery fire with it. While looking over her things one day. Aunt
Henshaw showed me an old-fashioned pair of ear-rings, which I admired
very much.

"I intended to give these to you, Amy," said she, "but I see that your
ears have not been pierced."

"Why, I thought those holes always grew in people's ears!" said I, in
surprise. "Have I none in mine?"

"No," she replied, "they are always made with a needle, or some sharp
instrument."

"Does it hurt?" I inquired.

"Not much," was her reply, and so the subject dropped, but I still
pursued it in thought.

I fancied myself decked with the ear-rings, and the pleasure I should
experience in showing them to Mammy and Jane; but then on the other
hand, the idea of the needle was anything but agreeable, for I could not
bear the least pain. I wavered for sometime between the advantages and
disadvantages of the operation. This state of mind led me to notice
people's ears much more than I had formerly done; and perceiving that
Sylvia's were adorned with a pair of large gold hoops, I applied to her
for advice.

"Why, Miss Amy!" she exclaimed, in surprise, "you are real shaller, if
you don't have your ears bored after that! Why, I'd made a hole in my
nose in half a minit, if somebody'd only give me a gold ring to put
through it!"

"Who bored _your_ ears, Sylvia?" said I at length.

"Why, I did it myself, to be sure. Any body can do that--jest take a
needle and thread and draw it right through."

I shuddered involuntarily; but just then Sylvia moved her head a little,
and the rings shook and glittered so fascinatingly that I resolved to
become a martyr to the cause of vanity. The colored woman having agreed
to perform the office, and Aunt Henshaw and Statia being out for the
afternoon, I seated myself on a chair with my back against the dresser;
while Sylvia mounted the few steps that led to her sleeping-room in
order to search for a needle, and Holly endeavored to keep up my courage
by representing the fascinating appearance I should present when
decorated with ear-rings.

Sylvia soon came down, with needle, and thread, and cork; while I began
to tremble and turn pale on perceiving the instruments of torture. I had
quite forgotten how disagreeable needles felt in the flesh; and Sylvia's
first attempt was brought to a sudden end by a loud scream, which would
certainly have roused the neighbors had there been any near.

"Now, Miss Amy!" she exclaimed, "I had your ear almost bored then. But
if you're going to cut up such didos I shall leave off directly--it
ain't no such great fun for me."

She was going up stairs with a very resolute air, and again the
ear-rings flashed and glittered; and having by this time lost the acute
sense of pain, I called her back and begged her to proceed.

"Now mind," said she, "if you holler again, I'll jest stop at once."

I glued my lips firmly together, while she again adjusted the cork and
needle; but I could hardly bear it, and trembled like an aspen leaf. One
ear was soon pierced, while I felt the needle in every part of my frame;
and Sylvia was proceeding to do the other, but I jumped up suddenly,
exclaiming: "Oh Sylvia! I cannot have the other one bored! It will kill
me!"

"Well, I wouldn't if I was you, Miss Amy," said she, "cos you can hang
both rings in one ear, you know--and that'll look real beautiful, won't
it, Holly?"

Holly burst into a loud fit of laughter, and through the effects of
ridicule, I submitted a second time to the infliction. But it was
impossible to endure the suffering any longer; the color gradually
faded from my face, and just as Sylvia concluded, she found that I had
fainted. The two were very much frightened, and after almost drowning me
with water, they lifted me up and carried me to my own bed. Aunt Henshaw
soon came home, and her horror at my situation was only equalled by her
astonishment. Sylvia did not tell her the cause of my sudden illness;
but she soon discovered it by a glance at my ears which were much
inflamed and swollen, having been pierced in a very bungling manner.
Sylvia received such a severe reprimand that she was almost angry enough
to leave on the spot; but she had only erred through ignorance, and I
succeeded at length in reconciling her mistress.

"But, my dear Amy," said the kind old lady, as she sat down beside me,
"Why is it that you are always getting into some trouble if left to
yourself for ever so short a time? You cannot tell the pain it gives me.
Why, an account of your various scrapes since you have been here would
almost fill a book."

What could I reply? It was a natural and most unfortunate propensity
which displayed itself everywhere; as well with Mammy in the precincts
of the nursery, as when roaming about at Aunt Henshaw's.

"But the ear-rings?" said I. "You will give them to me now, will you
not? I should _so_ much like to have them!"

"And so you shall have them, dear," replied Aunt Henshaw. "It would he
cruel to refuse them after your suffering so much for them. But I never
would have mentioned them had I had any idea of such an unfortunate
result."

Supposing that it would please me, she got them out of the case and laid
them beside me. They were very pretty, to be sure, but oh! how much
suffering those ear-rings caused me! My poor ears were very sore for a
long time, and I would sit for hours leaning my head on a pillow, in
hopes of easing the pain. And yet, when they were at last well, and the
ear-rings really in, I almost forgot what I had suffered in the delight
I experienced at my supposed transformation. They were the admiration of
the kitchen; and even Aunt Henshaw and Cousin Statia allowed that
ear-rings were a great improvement; and I began to think that on my
return home they would even throw Ellen Tracy's curls into the shade.

The summer was passing away--harvest had come and gone; and while the
others were engaged during this busy season, I was to be seen perched on
every load of hay, from which I had of course two or three tumbles, but
always on some pile beneath. The kittens had grown large and awkward,
and consequently lost my favor; while the cat no longer put herself to
the trouble of hiding them, so that I could now have them whenever I
chose--coming like most other privileges when no longer desired. The
evenings were getting chilly, so that a fire was very acceptable; and I
loved to sit by the bright flame before the candles were brought in, and
listen to Aunt Henshaw's stories.

"Now," said I one evening when we had all comfortably arranged ourselves
to spend the twilight in doing nothing, "do tell me a very interesting
story, Aunt Henshaw--for you know that I am going home soon, and perhaps
it is the last that I shall hear."

"Well," said she with a smile, "if it is to be so very interesting, I
must think very hard first."

Cousin Statia had been looking towards the door, when she suddenly
inquired: "Did you ever tell her about the bullet hole?"

"Why, no," replied the old lady, "I do not believe I ever did. Have you
noticed the round hole in the front door, Amy?"

I replied in the negative; and taking me into the hall, she led the way
to the front door which opened in two parts, and in the upper half I
distinctly perceived a bullet hole which had been made by the British;
and it was the story attached to this very hole which she was about to
tell me.

"Well, one night," said she, "a long while ago, I sat by the fire with
the baby in my arms, while the other children were playing around. The
two women servants were in the kitchen, and Mr. Henshaw had taken the
men several miles off, on some business relating to the farm. It was
just about this time, before the candles were lit; and one of the women
came in to tell me that five British soldiers were approaching the
house.

"Fasten all the doors then," said I, "and let no one enter unless I
give you permission."

The doors were well fastened up, and before long I heard them knocking
with the ends of their muskets. I let them knock for some time; but at
length I raised an upper window, and asked them what they wanted.

"We want some supper," they replied, "and will probably stay all night."

"It is not in my power to accommodate you." I replied, as coolly as
possible, "nor do I feel willing to admit any visitors in the absence of
my husband."

"If you do not admit us soon we will break the door down!" they
exclaimed.

"Of that I am not much afraid," said I; "it is too well secured."

I withdrew from the window, and for half an hour they tried various
means of effecting an entrance, but it was impossible. I approached the
window again, and they called out: "If you do not have the door opened,
we shall certainly fire!"

"Do so," I replied; "there is no one to injure by it except helpless
women and children."

I did not suppose they would do it--I thought it was intended only for
a threat; and was therefore as much surprised as any of the others, when
a bullet came whizzing through the front door, and passing through a
pane of glass in an opposite window, fell into the yard. A dreadful
scream arose from the servants, and perhaps frightened for the effects,
or perceiving my husband and the men, they made a hasty retreat; and I
was just ready to sink from fright when Mr. Henshaw came in. He told me
never to stop up the bullet-hole, but to leave it to show what women
were made of in the Revolution.

CHAPTER XIV.

Cousin Statia had completed her winter's knitting, Aunt Henshaw began to
make pumpkin pies, and the period of my visit was rapidly drawing to a
close. The letters from home grew more and more solicitous for my
return, and at last the day was fixed. I felt anxious to see them all
again, and yet rather sorry to lay aside my present state of freedom. I
had quite escaped from leading-strings, and found it very pleasant to
follow the bent of my inclination as I had done at Aunt Henshaw's; but
absence had banished all memory of the thorns I had sometimes
encountered in my career at home, and I thought only of the roses--the
idea of change being also a great inducement.

Holly and I had passed whole afternoons in gathering hazel-nuts which
grew near a fence not far from the house; and having filled a very
respectable-sized bag with them, I felt quite impatient at the idea of
returning home well-laden with supplies, like any prudent housekeeper.
Aunt Henshaw was to accompany me, and selecting some of her choicest
produce, and an immense bunch of herbs, as antidotes for all the aches
and ills which human flesh is heir to, on a bright, glowing September
morning, we set forward on my homeward journey. "Blessings brighten as
they leave us;" and although I had been considered the torment of the
whole household, all regretted my departure, and begged me to come soon
again.

"Now, Miss Amy," said Sylvia, as I was taking a long private farewell in
the kitchen, "jest take a piece of advice from an old colored woman what
has lived longer in the world than you have, and roasted chickens and
fried sassages ever sense she can remember. Buckwheat cakes is very
good, but to keep your own counsel is a heap better--so when you go home
don't you go to telling about that ere pig-pen business, or the time
when the old hen flewed at you, or tumbling off the old horse. People
that don't say nothin' often gits credit for bein' quite sensible, and
p'raps you can deceive 'em too; for you'll be kind o' made a fuss with
when you fust get home, and if you don't let on about all these here
scrapes they'll think more of you."

Sylvia's advice struck me as being very sensible, and I therefore
resolved to act upon it, and endeavor to make them consider me quite a
different character from the hoyden Amy. I kissed Cousin Statia, who
took up her sewing as calmly as though nothing of any importance was
about to occur; and having delighted Holly's eyes with a bright ribbon
in which all the colors of the rainbow seemed combined, I presented
Sylvia with a collar worked by myself, and passed out to the stage,
which was waiting for us. Our journey home was quite an uneventful one;
and the wind being more favorable, we were not so long on the passage.

My parents were watching for us with anxious solicitude; but when the
door opened in bounded a wild, blooming hoyden, in whose sparkling eyes
and glowing cheeks they could detect no trace of the delicate invalid.
Henry and Fred, with a troop of younger brothers, stood ready to devour
me with kisses; but Mammy, rushing impulsively forward, pushed them all
aside, and cried and laughed over me alternately, while she almost
crushed me with the violence of her affection. Before I was well seated,
Fred spied out the bag of hazel-nuts; and a vigorous sound of cracking
informed me that the work of devastation had already commenced.

How they all stared at my ear-rings! But mamma turned pale and burst
into tears; while I stood still, feeling very uncomfortable, and yet not
being exactly aware of the manner in which I had displeased her. Aunt
Henshaw, however, with a minute accuracy that struck me as being
painfully correct, related every circumstance connected with that
unfortunate business, from her finding me extended on the bed to the
time when the rings were placed in my ears.

"Oh Amy! how could you!" exclaimed my mother; "I have always despised
the barbarous practice of making holes in the flesh for the sake of
ornament," she continued, "but to have them pierced by an ignorant
colored woman! Come here, child, and let me look at your ears. They are
completely spoiled!" she exclaimed, "the holes are one-sided, and close
to the very bone! What is to be done?"

Aunt Henshaw suggested that it would be better to let those grow up, and
have others made in the right place; but I still retained a vivid
recollection of that scene of torture, and did not therefore feel
willing to have it repeated. But the ear-rings must come out--they were
no ornament all one-sided; so they were laid away in cotton, while I had
the pleasure of reflecting on the suffering I had endured for nothing.
Being thus brought down at the very commencement of my attempt to be
sensible, and finding it less trouble to resume my natural character, I
concluded to disregard Sylvia's well-meant advice. I was very poor at
keeping a secret; so one by one all the scrapes in which I had figured
came to light, to the great horror of the others, and the delight of
Fred, who was quite pleased to discover a congenial soul.

Mammy at length seized upon me again, and carrying me almost by force
to the nursery, she locked the door and sat down beside me; determined,
as she said, to have me to herself for a while. Having requested an
account of all the adventures I had met with, she listened with the most
absorbed attention while I unfolded the various circumstances of my
visit. Mammy was sometimes amused, sometimes frightened, and often
shocked, but generally for the dignity of the family; for as I had been
its representative, she feared that it would suffer in the eyes of the
country people.

Time passed on; Aunt Henshaw returned home, and things proceeded in
their usual way. My vanity was flattered by the increased attention
which I met with on all sides; my parents appeared to consider me much
less of a child since my return, and I was in consequence almost
emancipated from the nursery; while Mammy and Jane no longer chided me
for my misdemeanors--which, to say the truth, were much less frequent
than formerly.

But I soon after experienced a great source of regret in the departure
of Ellen Tracy for boarding-school. Not being an only daughter like
myself, her parents could better spare her; but we were almost
inconsolable at parting, and having shed abundance of tears, presented
each other with keepsakes as mementos of our unchanging friendship. Hers
was a little china cup, which I have kept to this day, while I gave her
a ring made of my own hair; so that, for want of Ellen's company, I was
obliged to take up with her brother's; and the boys complained that I
kept Charles so much to myself it was impossible to make him join any of
their excursions.

It was my twelfth birthday; and on the evening of that day I feared that
Mammy's oft-repeated threat of leaving us, at which we had so often
trembled in our younger days, was about to be verified. A married sister
was taken very ill, and Mammy was immediately sent for to take care of
her; and indeed we were afraid that she would be obliged to stay there
altogether, on account of her nephews and nieces. How dreary the nursery
seemed after her departure! In vain did the good-natured Jane exert
herself to tell her most amusing stories; they had lost their interest;
and yielding to her feelings, she became at length as dull as any of us.

In about a week Mammy returned; but we could see that she was changed;
her sister had died and left five children but illy provided for.
Through the influence of my father, different situations were obtained
for the three eldest; while the old nurse, with the assistance of
occasional charity, supported the two younger ones. But Mammy had
suffered from sleepless nights, and rooms but illy warmed; and her own
health failed during her ceaseless watch by the bedside of her sister.
We did not know exactly what it was, but felt very sure that Mammy
seemed no longer like the same person.

Children who are kept at a distance by their parents and elders, often
have very queer thoughts, whose existence no one imagines. I do not
think I was an ordinary child; and notwithstanding my hoyden nature had
a very thoughtful turn of mind. I well recollect, on being once sent
early to bed for some misdemeanor I bribed my brother Fred to accompany
me; and waking up during the night, the saying that "he who goes to bed
in anger has the devil for his bed-fellow" came across my mind, and
impressed me so strongly that I caught hold of Fred's foot to ascertain
whether it was so disagreeable a guest, or my own madcap brother who was
lying beside me. Even the kick I received in return was rather welcome
than otherwise, as it proved beyond a doubt that it was really the
veritable Fred.

But what has this to do with Mammy? you ask. A great deal, I can assure
you; for I began to fear that it was not the old nurse who had returned
to us, but some strange being, who, having assumed her appearance, had
not been able altogether to imitate her manner. So I kept myself aloof,
and felt afraid to venture too close; but she grew thinner and paler,
and my mother relieved her from all care of the children.

I slept in a small closet that opened into the nursery; and calling me
very softly one night, she said, "Miss Amy, will you bring me a pitcher
of water? I know they would not let me have it," she continued as I
attempted to remonstrate with her, "but I am determined not to die
choking."

I was very much frightened, but I could not see her suffer with thirst;
and bringing her a large pitcher of water, she drank almost half of it
at once. "Now place it on a chair where I can reach it," said she, "and
go back to bed--I shall be better soon."

I did as she requested, and, childlike, soon fell asleep again. The old
nurse too slept--but hers was the sleep that knows no waking. They came
in the next morning and found her dead. Her features were peaceful as
though she had died calmly, and beside her stood the pitcher empty. She
always said that if she should ever be ill, she _would_ have water--she
would drink till she died, and she had literally done so. We all felt
very sad, and Fred broke forth into loud screams, on being told of her
death.

It was my first realization of death--the first corpse I had ever seen;
and as I knelt beside the coffin, where the pale hands that lay
cross-folded on the breast, the motionless features, and the dreadful
stillness of the whole figure, spoke eloquently of the change that had
taken place, I thought of my many acts of wilfulness, ingratitude, and
unkindness, which had often pained the loving heart that had now forever
ceased to beat. Could I but see those still features again animated with
life, I felt that never again would my tongue utter aught but words of
kindness; but it was now too late for amendment--there was nothing left
me but repentance.

My parents too grieved at her death; she had been in the family so long
that they were loathe to miss the old familiar face from its post in the
nursery. She was buried from our own house; and there were more true
mourners at her funeral than often fall to the lot of the great and
gifted.

CHAPTER XV.

"Papa, have you any relations?" I asked one evening rather suddenly,
after pondering over the subject and wondering why it was that our
family consisted of no one but papa, and mamma, and us children; while
other people always had aunts, or uncles, or cousins living with them.
We had plenty, to be sure, who came and made visits at different times;
but I meant some one to live with us altogether.

"What a curious question!" said my father, smiling, "And how suddenly
you bolted out with it, Amy, after at least half an hour's silence. You
must have thought deeply on the subject, but what put it into your head
just now?"

Not knowing exactly what to say, I wisely remained silent; and turning
to my mother, he continued in a low tone: "Do you know that this random
question of Amy's has awakened some not very welcome reminiscences, and
pointed out a line of duty which does not promise much pleasure beyond
the consciousness of doing right? I ought to invite an addition to the
family without delay."

"Are you joking, or in earnest?" inquired my mother, "And if in earnest,
pray whom do you refer to?"

"You will soon find it to be most solid, substantial earnest," rejoined
my father, "for I must this very evening write a letter to Mrs.
Chesbury, senior, the step-mother of whom you have heard me speak,
inviting her to spend the summer with us. She has, you know, resided at
the South since my father's death, occasionally visiting her relatives
at the North; and as we have never yet been honored with her company,
that pleasure is still in store for us. My recollections of her, to be
sure, are not so very delightful. She was very severe in her discipline,
and continually checked my pleasures and enjoyments, which she usually
exchanged for some long, heavy, incomprehensible task; and at the first
blunder in recitation, off came her shoe, which she immediately laid
across my shoulders with the most unremitting zeal. I recollect her
whipping me one day when it really appeared to me that I had not been in
the least to blame. I was quite a little fellow then, and drawing my
hand across my eyes, I sobbed forth: 'I wish one of us in this room was
dead, I do--I don't wish it was me--and I don't wish it was the
cat--' Whatever I had intended to add was suddenly cut short; and I began
to think that it was rather foolish of me to subject myself to two
whippings instead of one. I have quite escaped from leading-strings
now," added my father with an expressive look; but the old lady may be
of considerable assistance in keeping you young ones in order.

The children looked frightened; and Fred, being now too old to dread any
whippings on his own account, kindly undertook the instruction of his
younger brothers in the art of being saucy and playing practical jokes.
We were told to call her "grandmother," and treat her with the greatest
respect; but as I dwelt upon my father's account of her, like the
magician in olden story, I almost trembled at the visitor I had invoked.
The letter was written and despatched; and after a while, an answering
one received, in which the step-mother accepted her son-in-law's
invitation, "for the sake," as she said, "of the many happy hours they
had formerly enjoyed together." I sat reading in a distant corner of the
room when this letter was received, almost concealed by the folds of the
curtains; and the other children being out of the room, I overheard my
father say:

"I do not remember much else but being whipped, and sent supperless to
bed; if they _were_ happy hours, it must have been on the principle of
the frogs--'What is play to you is death to us.'"

My mother smiled; but she replied softly: "Perhaps she is changed now,
Arthur; do not say anything against her before the children, for she is
a stranger, entitled to our hospitality--and I would not have her
welcome a chilling one."

In process of time the old lady arrived, accompanied by a colored
servant who answered to the name of Venus. Fred christened her "the
black divinity," at which she became highly offended; and ever after,
there was a perpetual war of words waging between the two. My
grandmother was a small, dark-complexioned woman, with an exceedingly
haughty, and very repulsive expression. She received all her
daughter-in-law's endeavors to make her feel at home as a natural right;
and appeared to consider other people intended only for her sole use and
benefit. As I glanced from her to my mother's fair, soft beauty, and
strikingly sweet expression, I formed a comparison between the two not
much to my grandmother's advantage.

We soon found that the old lady had a great idea of taking the reins
into her own hands; the children were scolded, and threatened, and
locked up in dark closets, until, to use their own expression, they
became, most "dreadfully good," and never dared to show off under the
espionage of those eagle eyes. During the summer, our parents were
absent for some weeks on a pleasure jaunt; and Grandmother Chesbury
having the entire control of us, we were obliged to behave very
differently from usual. She kept us all in awe except Fred; but on him
it was impossible to make the least impression. If she tyrannized over
the rest us, it was abundantly repaid by the teazings of my mischievous
brother.

The old lady was extremely violent in temper, and after irritating it to
the highest pitch, or, as he termed it, "putting on the steam," he
provoked her still more by his polite sarcasms and tantalizing replies.
The object of contest between them was generally the last word in the
argument; and when victory appeared to incline neither to one side nor
the other, my grandmother would exclaim angrily: "Hold your tongue this
moment, you impertinent boy! Not another word."

"Yes'm," Fred would reply, with every appearance of submission.

Having triumphed up stairs, he generally went in search of Venus, whose
anger was almost as vehement as that of her mistress. Her time, when not
attending to Mrs. Chesbury, was chiefly occupied by the duties of the
toilet; and Jane asserted that she had anxiously inquired if there were
no respectable colored gentlemen about the place? Venus always bestowed
a great deal of pains on the arrangement of her head covering, which was
profusely decorated with combs of various shapes and sizes; but "thereby
hangs a tale" which must be told.

Good beef is very scarce at the South, and Southerners therefore
consider it a great treat when they come North. My grandmother was very
fond of it frizzled; and Venus being quite _au fait_ in the manufacture
of this dish, the old lady never allowed any one else to make it for
her. One afternoon, during my parents' absence, the children being
disposed of in various ways--some had gone out for a walk, two were
playing together in a closet where they had been locked up, and others
were rambling about the grounds--the house was pretty clear; so my
grandmother resolved to enjoy a treat in her own apartment. A small
table was nicely laid out with all the requisites for a comfortable tea,
and Venus then departed to the kitchen to dish up some frizzled beef.

But it so happened that the odor of the savory dish, in its passage up
stairs, found its way to the nostrils of Master Fred, who had been
quietly engaged in some wonderfully wise researches in the library; and
as even philosophers are not exempt from the earth-born love of good
things, out rushed our student with a polite request that Venus would
"allow him to taste the trash, and see if it was fit to be sent to Mrs.
Chesbury." A scuffle ensued, in which Fred succeeded in satisfying his
curiosity; and with considerably ruffled plumage, and not in the
sweetest state of mind, Venus proceeded up stairs. Fred slyly followed;
and peeping through the key-hole of a door that opened into my
grandmother's room, he determined to watch the progress of the feast.
Things looked very tempting, and he had half a mind to petition for a
seat at the table; but he began to think that, even should he succeed in
his request, a _seat_ would be all he could gain; for the old lady
attacked the eatables very much in the style of a school-boy just come
home for the holidays. The frizzled beef rapidly disappeared, till the
bottom of the dish was scarcely covered; but suddenly ceasing her
attacks upon it, my grandmother took the dish in her hand, and pointing
to some black substance, interrogated the colored girl in accents of
mingled doubt and horror.

"Why Venus, come here! What--what--what _is_ this?"

"Why, la, Missus!" exclaimed Venus, while every feature brightened with
joyful surprise, "If there ain't my little comb, what I lost in the
scuffle with Master Fred! Who would have thought to find it here!"

"Who, indeed!" ejaculated the old lady, in a voice scarcely audible.

My grandmother did not leave her room that evening, and we were told
that she was ill; while it is scarcely necessary to add that Fred never
again interfered with any of Venus' cookeries. When repeating the story,
he always dwelt upon the ridiculous tableau presented by the horrified
looks of the old lady, as she pointed to the suspicious-looking
article--and the delight and surprise of Venus at recovering her lost
property in such an unexpected manner. He possessed a great talent for
drawing; and before long, a caricature appeared, which was a most
life-like representation of the whole scene. My mother shook her head,
and my father delivered a short, but expressive lecture upon the
improper nature of mimicry; but in the midst of an edifying discourse
Fred suddenly displayed the drawing in full view--at which all the
children burst into peals of laughter, and my father abruptly closed his
sermon, and frowning sternly, walked into the library; but we could
perceive a nervous twitching about the corners of his mouth, which
looked very much at variance with the frown upon his brow.

My mother too, fixed her eyes steadfastly upon her sewing, and refused
to look up; which Fred saucily told her was only because she knew she
would laugh if she did. We were then told that we had been naughty
children, and sent out of the room; but somehow, we did not feel as
though we had been _very_ bad, or that our parents were very angry with
us, and skipping along through the garden-walks, we next sent Jane
almost into convulsions of laughter by a display of the picture. Mamma,
however, burned it before long; she said that it was highly improper to
ridicule our grandmother, even if she _had_ faults, and that we must
bear with her kindly, and not forget how few pleasures she enjoyed. Dear
mamma! she was too kind--too good; and often met with the fate of
such--imposition.

I once heard of a lady who went to a house to make a call, and stayed
eleven years; this was somewhat similar to my grandmother's case--she
came to pass the summer with us, and spent her life-time. Whenever she
spoke of going back to the South, my father urged her to stay, and gave
convincing reasons why she should prolong her visit; and my mother, too,
kindly reflecting that the old lady had no near relatives and seemed to
enjoy herself with us, added her entreaties. At last they told her that
there was no reason why she should not stay altogether; and she appeared
to think so too, for she stayed. As we grew more accustomed to her we
liked her better than at first; she told us long stories about the
South, and related anecdotes of the greatness, and wealth, and
distinguished position of her own family, which she considered superior
to any in the United States. Venus too came into more favor; and after a
while we almost forgot the beef story.

CHAPTER XVI.

Time passed on; I had almost reached my fifteenth birthday, and began
to consider myself no longer a child. I was very tall for my age, and
quite showy-looking; and gentlemen who visited at the house now treated
me with all the attention due a young lady; which flattered my vanity
very much, and made me think them very agreeable. I remember my father's
once sending me from the room, on account of some gentleman's nonsense
which he considered me too young to listen to; but I felt very much hurt
at such treatment, and almost regarded myself as some heroine of romance
imprisoned by cruel parents. Novels were a great injury to me, as indeed
they are to every one. Their style was much more extravagant and
unnatural than at the present day; and even at this early age, I had
read the "Children of the Abbey," the "Mysteries of Udolpho," the
"Scottish Chiefs," "Thaddeus of Warsaw," and many others of the same
stamp.

But how did I obtain these, you ask? My mother, with her sense and
discernment, would not have placed such books in my hands; and you are
right. My grandmother was an inveterate novel-reader, but very careful
that her books fell into no other hands; so that the only means of
satisfying my taste for romantic reading was by stealth. Although novels
were proscribed, no other books were placed in my hands; there were then
scarcely any children's books published, and consumed as I was by an
inordinate passion for reading, was determined to indulge it without
being very particular about the means. How often have I watched my
opportunity when my grandmother had left her apartment for an afternoon
visit or drive, and then drawn forth the cherished volume from beneath
the pillow and even from between the bed and sacking bottom! so
carefully were they concealed from view. Sometimes, indeed, she locked
the door of her room, and took the key with her; and then all ingress
was impossible.

What wild, foolish dreams I indulged in!--What romantic-visions of the
future that were never realized! How well I remember my sensations on
reading the "Scottish Chiefs." Wallace appeared to me almost in the
light of a god--so noble, so touching were all his acts and words, that
I even envied Helen Mar the privilege of calling herself his wife, and
then dying to lay her head in the same grave with him. I resolved to
give up all the common-place of life, and cling unto the spiritual--to
purify myself from every earth-born wish and habit, and live but in the
hope of meeting with a second Wallace. I persevered in this resolution
for a whole week; and then meeting with some equally delightful hero of
an opposite nature, I changed from grave to gay. My mood during these
periods of fascination was as variable as the different heroines I
admired. Now I would imitate the pensiveness of Amanda, and go about
with streaming tresses, and a softly modulated tone of voice--then I
would read of some sprightly heroine who changed all by her vivacity
and piquant sayings, and immediately commence springing down three
stairs at a time, teazing all the children, and making some reply to
everything that was said, which sometimes passed for wit but oftener for
impudence--and then again some noble, self-sacrificing character would
excite my admiration, and oh! how I longed for some opportunity to
signalize myself! A bullet aimed at some loved one, whom I could protect
by rushing forward and receiving it myself; but I was not to be killed,
only sufficiently wounded to make me appear interesting--disabled in the
arm, perhaps, without much suffering, for bodily pain never formed a
prominent feature in my ideas of the romantic and striking--I was too
great a coward; or else a plunge into the waves to rescue some drowning
person from perishing, when I wished just to come near enough to death
to elevate me into a heroine for after life.

I looked in the glass, and seeing large, dark eyes, a healthful bloom,
and rather pretty features, I concluded that I need not belong to the
plain and amiable order, and began to wish most enthusiastically for
some romantic admirer; some one who would expose himself to the danger
of a sore throat and influenza for the sake of serenading me--who would
be rather glad than otherwise to risk his life by jumping down a
precipice to bring me some descried wild flower, and who, when away from
me, would pass his time in writing extravagant poetry, of which I was to
be the bright divinity. Old as I am, I feel almost ashamed to repeat
this nonsense now; and had I then possessed more sense myself, or made
by mother the confidant of these flights of fancy, I need not now relate
my own silly experience to warn you from the effects of novel-reading.

Charles Tracy did not at all realize my romantic ideas of a hero; and
one bright day the dissatisfaction which had been gradually gathering in
my mind expressed itself in words. I had gone down to a lake at the
bottom of the garden to indulge in high-flown meditations; and Charles
Tracy stood beside one of the boats which were always kept there.

"Come, Amy," said he, as I drew near, "it is a beautiful day--let us
have a row across the lake."

"No," said I, twining my arm around one of the young trees near, "I
prefer remaining here."

"You had better come with me," rejoined Charles, "instead of keeping
company there with the snapping-turtles. Well," he added after a short
pause, "if you will not come with me, why I must go alone."

"Go, then!" said I, bitterly, "you love your own pleasure a great deal
better than you do me!"

"Why Amy!" he exclaimed, coming close to me as though doubtful of my
sanity, "how very strangely you talk! You know that I love you very
much," he continued, "for haven't we been together and quarrelled with
each other ever since I can remember? And do I not now bear the marks of
the time when you threw the cat in my face to end our childish dispute?
And the scar where you stuck the pen-knife in my arm? And don't you
remember how you used to pull my hair out by handfuls? How can I help
loving you when I call to mind all these tender recollections?"

This reply provoked me very much; and I answered energetically: "You do
_not_ love me!--you do not know how to love I When did you ever make any
sacrifices for me?" I continued in an excited manner, "When did I ever
hear you singing beneath my window in a tone meant for no ear but mine?
When did you ever rush with me out of a burning house, or encounter any
danger for my sake? When did you ever watch for a glimpse of my taper at
midnight when all others were asleep?"

During the progress of this singular speech, Charles Tracy's countenance
had gradually changed from the surprised to the amused; and when I had
concluded he laughed--yes, he actually laughed! What a damper of
sentiment!

"Laugh on," said I, in a dignified manner, as I turned my steps
homeward, "that has now put an end to all."

He was but a boy--I, a _woman_, for should I not be fifteen to-morrow?
and I walked away from him in contempt; while he quietly jumped into the
boat and rowed across the lake, whistling a tune. But I had not
proceeded far before a loud "ha! ha!" from my brother Fred sounded close
at my side; he had been an unobserved listener to the whole
conversation, now enjoyed the pleasure of teasing me all the way home.

"That's right, Amy!" said he, "Keep up your dignity, child. What a rich
scene! _'When did you ever watch for a glimpse of my taper at midnight
when all others were asleep?'_ Rather a hopeless watch, I'm thinking, as
you sleep in the middle room between mother's and the nursery; and
between you and I, Amy, you know that you don't burn a taper, but a
brass lamp; but that, of course, isn't quite so poetical to tell of.
Such an air, too!--what a rare tragic actress you'd make! Do say it
over, won't you? I have almost forgotten the beginning."

I gave Fred a boxed ear, which must have stung for sometime afterwards;
and running hastily into the house, locked myself up in my own room till
tea-time. The next day was my birthday; and while my table was strewn
with acceptable gifts from all the others, I perceived among them a
very antiquated-looking cap and pair of spectacles, to the latter of
which was attached a slip of paper, on which was written: "To improve
the impaired sight of my dear sister Amy, produced by her declining
years; also a cap to conceal the gray hairs of age, and 'Young's Night
Thoughts' for the edification of her mind."

I was almost ready to cry from mortification; but I remembered that I
was now fifteen, and took the articles down stairs for the purpose of
exposing Master Fred, but what did I get for my pains? In justification
he told the story of yesterday, in his own peculiarly humorous way; and
when I saw myself thus reflected, the ridiculous tendency of my words
and manner struck me forcibly, and I was almost ready to laugh. But the
others did that abundantly for me, while wondering where I had picked up
such notions; and Grandmother Chesbury, I verily believe, suspected that
I had been at her novels, for after that I never could find one.

But although I was thus debarred from receiving any new impressions, the
old ones still continued in full force; and at last came the long
desired opportunity to signalize myself. I was then almost sixteen, and
the treaty of peace with England had just been celebrated. I remember
well the illuminations and festivities on the first night of the
proclamation, which we spent in the city at a friend's house; the
balconies were wreathed with flowers, lights blazed from every window,
crowds of beautifully-dressed women filled the rooms, and the sounds of
music and dancing were heard in every street. It was my first evening in
company--my first experience of admiration; and completely carried away
by the music, the lights, and the occasion, the old desire for some
signalizing deed came thronging back in full force, till I grew almost
bewildered. No opportunity offered that night; I could only join in the
festivities, and listen to the feats and praises of others; but towards
the latter part of the evening my eye was attracted by the brilliant
uniform and handsome appearance of a young officer who passed through
the rooms, and lingered a moment in a distant corner among a knot of
friends who crowded eagerly about him. His commanding figure, beautiful
features, and intellectual, yet sweet, expression, completely realized
all my ideas of a novel-hero; I saw my father speaking to him, and
immediately made signs to introduce him, but before I could catch his
eye, the officer had disappeared. Papa told me that Major Arlington's
father had been an old friend of his, and he would have introduced him
to me, but business called him in another direction, and he could not
stay a moment longer, but promised us a visit at an early day.

You need not smile, Miss Ella, and look so knowing at the mention of the
name; how do you know that there were not two Arlingtons in the world?
How do you know but that it was his brother I married? How do you
know--but never mind, I will go on with my story. It was several days
after that eventful evening, which still left a vivid impression upon my
mind; the desire to perform some wonderful deed remained in full force,
mingled with visions of the young officer, and I wandered about, without
paying much attention to my ordinary duties. Papa and mamma were both
from home, and Grandmother Chesbury had locked herself up with a new
novel; while I was roaming about the grounds not far from the front
entrance.

A sound of wheels suddenly struck upon my ear; I supposed it was some
visitor and paid not much attention to it; but before long there was a
confused noise of voices--a sound of plunging and rearing--and a
distinct crashing of some heavy vehicle. My evil genius led me to the
spot; I beheld a handsome carriage, which the horses seemed striving to
dash in pieces--caught a glimpse of a glittering uniform inside--and
following a wild impulse, sprang forward and endeavored to seize the
bridle. I heard some one say, "Take care of the young lady!" and then
the officer jumped from the carriage, while I was thrown down close to
the horses' feet. A confused hum sounded in my ears--and then followed a
long blank.

* * * * *

When I awoke to consciousness I found myself lying on a sofa in a small
sitting-room; but no one was bending tenderly over me--not even a
mother's face met my eyes--but the gossip of two women servants grated
painfully on my ear.

"What under the sun possessed Miss Amy to go and cut up such a caper as
that!" said one of them, "All the mischief she's done this day won't be
done away with for weeks to come."

"No, indeed!" rejoined the other, "that young officer is a fixture here
for six weeks at least. Rome wasn't built in a day, nor are broken legs
healed in ten minutes--and such a beauty as he is, too! It's shameful to
think of!"

"If she'd only let him alone, he'd done well enough--but she must go and
jump right under the horses' feet, so that, of course, he had to spring
out to prevent her being killed, and that broke his leg, while she
wasn't hurt a bit. Speaking of beauties, if Miss Amy could only have
seen herself then!--spotted with mud from head to foot, and her hair
flying in all directions!"

On hearing that I was not hurt, I sprang from the sofa and rushed to the
glass, where I encountered the reflection of a most pitiable-looking
figure. Even my face was daubed with mud and dirt, and I looked like a
veritable fright. Shame, mortification, and sorrow for my heedless
conduct almost overwhelmed me. In the selfish desire to signalize
myself, I had hazarded the life of a fellow-being, and brought upon him
weeks of suffering which no act of mine could now alleviate. The tears
rolled down my cheeks; but having ascertained that my parents had not
yet returned, I cut short the gossip of the servants, and ordering them
to bring me some water, I arranged my disordered dress for a visit to
the sufferer's apartment.

Doctor Irwin had been instantly sent for; and when I entered the room,
he was seated by his patient's bedside, while Major Arlington lay with
closed eyes and pallid features in a kind of sleep or stupor.

"Miss Amy," whispered the doctor, "this is a sad business--and your
parents from home, too. What will be their feelings on their return?"

I glanced at the motionless figure of the young officer, and too much
ashamed to reply, hung my head in silence.

"Are you sure that you were not at all hurt, my dear child?" he
continued in a kind tone; "What a very wild proceeding it was to throw
yourself into the melee! If two men could not manage the horses, could
you suppose that your strength would be sufficient. You should have
reasoned with yourself before taking such a step, for you see the
unfortunate effects of it."

_Reason!_ there was not the least particle of reason in my whole
composition; this was a wild, impulsive act, performed without the least
thought for the probable consequences, and I now stood gazing on the
wreck I had made, in silent bewilderment. My parents soon returned; and
hurrying to the apartment with countenances of astonishment and fear,
there realized a confirmation of the dreadful accounts they had been
assailed with. "And who was the author of all this mischief? _Amy_." My
eyes drooped under the stern, reproving glances I encountered, and I
crept about the house like a guilty thing--fervently wishing for the
bodily suffering I had brought upon the victim of my wild attempt,
instead of the pain of mind with which I was tormented.

Days passed on, but the lapse of time was unheeded by me; my post was by
the bedside of the sufferer--my employment to anticipate his slightest
wish, and yield to every humor. As he grew better I read to him, sung to
him, talked to him; and in return received the grateful glances of those
expressive eyes, which followed me about whenever I moved from his side.
At length he could sit up in his apartment, and then walk slowly through
the grounds, with the assistance of a heavy cane on one side and my arm
on the other; till at last he was pronounced to be as well as other
people; or, as Dr. Irwin expressed it, "as good as new." Your eyes are
brightening up, Ella, in anticipation of a most sentimental love-tale;
but I shall not gratify your desire of laughing at your grandmother's
folly; but shall only say, that before he left, I had promised, with the
consent of my parents, to become Mrs. Arlington. I was married at
eighteen, and, strange to say, to one who appeared a realization of all
my girlish fancies; he was noble-minded, warm-hearted, and almost as

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