"Bless me! surely she's not run away!"
The boy sprang to the gate, and quickly returned.
"She is quite snug; I thought she had given me the slip. A great girl, ma'am, ran away with her. She did not come down to the pond of her own free good will. This is as true as truth is. She pulled, and the great girl pulled; but with all her might, madam, the little lady could not get away. So then I marched up to the big girl; and asked her what business she had with the little one? So she was angry and vexed with my ragged coat; and made my face ring again: and I gave her a good hard blow in return, and ran off with little Miss. I looked up for Miss Monitrix, but could not find her; so here she is, under the rails."
This was all a puzzle to Mrs. Adair; but she stepped into the lane with the boy, and there she saw Isabella, seated, in great trouble, upon a stone. The affair was now explained. Isabella was taken to Elizabeth, with the assurance that no one would be angry with her; but that she must not mention the affair to any person.
Mrs. Adair now proposed going with the boy to his father's. There was an expression of honest warmth in his countenance, which, in a moment, changed her own manner; and, as they were going down the lane, she asked how far they were from his father's house.
"'Tis but a cottage, madam. Grandmother says we were once well off in the world; but things will go wrong some how or another: but I'll make good what I wrote to-day."
"And what was it, my good boy?"
"Only to work while I am able, madam; and then when I am old, I will rest from my labour. But there is our cottage. I wish you could have seen my own mother, for she was a nice woman. Don't you see that clump of trees, and a barn with red tiles, and a little boy wheeling a barrow? That's my own brother, ma'am, and there's my father at the stile, looking about him."
As they drew nearer the cottage, they saw the man and his son step over the stile into the field, followed by a female.
"Well, I declare," said the boy, "there is mother with her bonnet! I wonder what they are all after! And there's grandmother come to the door!"
He now called out: "Grandmother! here is the lady from the great school, coming to look for Miss."
"Then I fear, madam, you are coming to look for what you will not find. Whilst my daughter went down to the pond, to the children, she slipped off. My son thinks that the young lady is gone to London in one of the stage-coaches. If so, Tom, I fear thou wilt be well paid."
"Ah, grandmother, that's nothing new! If my own mother was living, it would not be so."
"With your permission," said Mrs. Adair, as she entered the cottage, "I will take a seat till your daughter returns."
"Certainly, madam; here is a comfortable seat. But we are not the neatest people in the world," said the old woman, as she took up a child's frock from the floor. Mrs. Adair looked round, and thought she had never been in any place that had so little the appearance of comfort.
The boy looked at her, and seemed to read her countenance.
"It was not always so, madam: I remember we were once happy folks; but it was a sad day for Dick and I, when father's wife took place of father's love."
"Thou shouldst think well of thy father's wife, and honour his choice. Stepmothers, child, have a hard task: they cannot please, do what they will."
"Grandmother," said the boy, "kindness makes kindness, all the world over. But, come what will, when uncle comes home, Dick and I will go to Plymouth, if we walk barefoot. I am sure he would break his heart, if he had not me to fight his battles; but I will never forsake him by land or by sea."
"Go to the children, and take care of them," said the old woman.
"And come to my house at four o'clock on Saturday afternoon, and ask for Mrs. Adair."
The boy made a bow in a blunt manner; but, as he waved his hand in passing her, she thought there was an appearance of good breeding, that would not have disgraced a boy in a much higher sphere.
Mrs. Adair waited a considerable time in the cottage, and then returned home without receiving any satisfactory account of her pupil. All that she could learn was, that a little girl in a green bonnet had been seen stepping into a stage-coach. As coaches were continually passing the end of the village, she knew it was in vain making further inquiries. She wrote, however, immediately to Mr. Bruce, and sent a messenger with the letter, that he might meet them in town.
It has been observed, that Miss Bruce, in most cases, acted without reflection. The idea that she had done wrong did not strike her with full force, until the carriage in which she had placed herself arrived in London: the lights from the lamps, however, seemed to throw light upon her thoughts. When the coach stopped at the inn, the bustle of people gathering their luggage together, the idea that she did not know the road to her father's house, the certainty that she had acted in a very foolish manner, and fear of the reception from her father, excited many disagreeable thoughts. She was seated in a corner of the coach, at a loss how to proceed, when the coachman came to the door. "Miss," said he "won't you alight? perhaps you are waiting for somebody?"
"I will thank you to take me home," and this was said in a very humble tone.
The man whistled at the request. "I don't know, Miss, whether I can or no. Did not your friends know that you were coming? But now I think of it, you seemed in a fright when you got into the coach: what, was you running away, Miss?"
Vexed at the question, Miss Bruce quickly answered, "I am going to see my papa. I have business with him."
"Well, your business is not mine, Miss; but somehow, I think you have been cheating your schoolmistress. But come your way, till I can see for somebody to go with you."
I only wish some of my young readers could have seen Miss Bruce, how simple she looked when she followed the coachman into the inn. She wished to be at school, and with Miss Damer again—but it was then too late.
And here I would advise young people to beware of the first wrong step, for it generally leads to trouble and mortification, and often to disgrace.
Miss Bruce stood some time unnoticed at the entrance of a large room, partitioned into boxes. Waiters and travellers just looked at the young lady, and then passed on: people were too much engaged, with dishes, papers, packages, and glasses, to attend to the little stranger.
At length, however, one solitary gentleman, who perhaps had daughters of his own, took compassion upon the forlorn traveller.
"Come hither, my dear, and sit by me."
Miss Bruce gladly accepted the offer, for she was a strange figure for a stage coach passenger. Her white frock was rumpled, and in a sad state from the blow she had received; the tippet was in the same style; her old green silk garden bonnet hung half off her head. One of her long sleeves she had untied from her tippet, and taken it off; the other remained. Garden gloves, cut at the fingers, completed the dress. Thus neatly attired, in an hour and ten minutes after her arrival in London she was ushered by a new footman into her father's study, where he was seated reading a pamphlet. In a moment he turned the book open upon the table, raised one of the candlesticks above his head, and with a keen satirical look exclaimed, "what runaway is this?"
"Papa, it is I!" This was said in a very trembling accent.
"And pray who is I, that comes thus attired, and unasked at this unseasonable hour? Only wants three minutes of eleven," said Mr. Bruce as he fixed his eyes upon the time-piece. "With whom did you travel?"
"With a little boy, and a great man, papa, and a little woman, with a baby and a lapdog."
As Miss Bruce was speaking, she would have given a trifle to have been at school again.
"A goodly company indeed, young lady! By this I conclude that you have disgraced yourself! Sit here" (pointing to a chair behind the door); "it is the only place for idle, thoughtless truants. And now give a reason for your conduct: But there is no reason, with foolish, giddy girls! I will have every word correct: no varnishing, or lies."
After much hesitation, and many tears, Miss Bruce went through the whole of her story. While she was speaking, her father seemed lost in thought. No sooner had she finished, but he started from his chair, and with his eyes fixed upon the floor, walked some time from one end of the study to the other. He then stopped, and looked sternly at his daughter. "And so you have been trying your skill at boxing! An admirable accomplishment for a young lady! You have taken upon yourself to be rude to your school companion; to be ungrateful to Mrs. Adair, and ventured to ride ten miles in a stage-coach! And in what a dress! You are indeed an enterprizing young lady! Now let me tell you, Miss Bruce, one simple truth: you have acted in all things contrary to that which you know is right. But pray what is the meaning of the word right?"
"To do all things that I know I should do; I do not know any thing more, papa; indeed I do not."
"You know the right, but a perverse and wilful disposition leads you to do wrong."
Mr. Bruce rang the bell, and ordered the housekeeper into his presence. When she entered the room, he commanded her to close the door. "Take my daughter," said he, "to the chamber that was occupied last night. You are not to speak to her, nor allow any servant in the house to do so. Give her a little bread and milk: go, child."
"Papa,"—here Miss Bruce sobbed; and would have added, "O, do forgive me!" but her father sternly bade her leave him.
Mr. Bruce looked at his daughter when she was asleep. He heard her murmuring and intreating; and listened to words that affected him deeply. He sat down by her bed-side until she was tranquil: and whether he shed tears of tenderness over her is best known to himself; but the following morning, though his feelings were softened, his countenance was equally stern. His carriage was at the door; and at ten o'clock he and his daughter arrived at Mrs. Adair's. Neither at breakfast nor during the ride had he uttered one word. "Madam," said he, the moment he beheld the mistress of his child, "I have brought a runaway. I will not make an apology for her conduct: it is not in my way; it rests entirely with yourself whether she will be accepted or rejected. Providence, in the justness of his ways, has deprived her of an excellent mother. How far servants are capable of giving right ideas of female decorum, you are yourself to judge. When I fixed Margaret with you, it was not to education alone that I looked; my views and hopes extended to principles, temper, and conduct. The mere mechanical parts of education may at all times be purchased for money; automatons may be made to perform wonders. But we all know that something more is wanting to give solidity and consequence to character. If you refuse my daughter, she will lose her best friend."
"Not another word, Sir, on the subject; I still expect to make something of this little girl. She is rash, careless, and perhaps a little mischievous: but I am not without hope; and past grievances we will now forget. Go," said Mrs. Adair, turning to her pupil, "bring a frock to me; remember I pardon you now, but I shall never do so again; and take care that you do not tell any person that you ran away, and were so foolish.—It is well she is my god-daughter, and my namesake," said Mrs. Adair, as her pupil crossed the hall: then, addressing Mr. Bruce, she added, "Depend upon my word, Sir; I will be the friend of your daughter in remembrance of her mother; this is the strongest claim upon my attention; far more so than that of a name."
"I bless you again and again for your kindness," said Mr. Bruce with warmth. "I have now no fears for Margaret; she must remain with you, until you can say, 'your daughter is now all I can desire.'"
"This is exacting too much; 'all that you can desire,' is beyond my power to make her; but I will try to make her a comfort to you. I have good ground to work upon, and I hope you will have reason to think, that I have not neglected the soil."
As Mr. Bruce was returning to his carriage, his daughter, who was descending the stairs with a clean frock, flew to him, exclaiming, "do say you forgive me! I will never vex you again; O, dear papa, say you will but forgive me."
"Well, child, I do forgive you."
"O, how good and kind you are! I will never forget it. But, dear papa, won't you say something more?"
"God bless you, child! and may he always bless you."
Mr. Bruce hastened to the carriage, drew up the window, and the boy drove off. Tears streamed from Miss Bruce's eyes; "O, that papa would but have given me one kiss, I should have been so happy!"
"If you are good," said Mrs. Adair, "when next he sees you he will give you two."
The time had arrived for Miss Damer to go into a private family as a governess: all the young ladies were anxious to give her a proof of remembrance, and these tokens of esteem had chiefly been the work of leisure hours.
As Miss Damer was collecting her painted boxes, velvet bags, and all her little presents together, she thought, "who can say that there is no kindness or friendship in the world? I have been in sorrow, perhaps for a good purpose; at least, it has shewn me the disinterested regard of others."
While similar reflections were passing in her mind, Miss Arden hastily entered the chamber, and stepping towards her, abruptly put into her hand a small parcel. "I have not a moment to speak to you," she exclaimed, with tears in her eyes, "I cannot for the world take a formal farewell; so when you leave us do not notice me: God bless you, Damer!" and she hurried out of the room.
Miss Damer looked at the parcel with a countenance of sorrow, and as she opened it a note dropped upon the floor; she took it up, and read the paper she held in her hand.
"Accept these notes, my dear Damer, they are all that I have been able to save from my scanty allowance; remit them to your father, whose troubles I know have grieved you, and when I can I will send you more. In fourteen months I shall be my own mistress. How joyfully do I anticipate the time! Then, my dear Damer, I shall have a home to offer you, and a purse to relieve every care, as far as wealth can go. Farewell, my kind friend; you and Mrs. Adair have all my affections in this world.
* * * * *
As young people are always anxious to learn the destination of the characters in the book they have been perusing,—in closing this little work, I will give you a short sketch of those I have attempted to delineate. And here let me observe, that the incidents are chiefly drawn from facts.
The name of one of the principal characters was given, by the desire of a young friend, two days before her death.
Miss Russel has lost her parents, and is wandering upon the Continent, as companion or friend to a lady well known in the fashionable world.
Miss Vincent is removed from her family by her marriage to a gentleman of consequence in Ireland. She is still the same character, haughty and insolent.
Her sister Isabella, is improving in all the graces of mind and person; she is the general favourite of the school.
Miss Bruce is becoming all that her father can desire.
When Miss Damer went into the situation as a governess, it was with the hope of remaining some time, perhaps years. We can easily fix our plans, but we are strangers to the future; it is not for us to say by what means they are to be frustrated. When Miss Damer had been two months a governess, she was told by the gentleman's sister in whose family she was placed, that several friends were to dine with them, and she begged that she would join their party. On that day she attracted the notice of a gentleman who was one of the guests. When she entered the drawing-room, and he heard her name announced, he turned quickly to look at her; he beheld the same dark pensive eyes, the same noble features, and modest, dignified manner, which seventeen years before had struck him in another. But it was not her personal appearance altogether that interested him: it was the character that had been given of her by Mrs. Adair; and the remembrance of his feelings, when his daughter in her troubled sleep exclaimed, "O, my dear Miss Damer, do come to me! Papa then won't punish me, you are so like mamma!"
But I will not prolong this subject; I have only to add, that Miss Damer is the happy wife of Mr. Bruce; and that few persons are more attached to each other than the mother and the daughter Mr. Bruce, though several years older than his wife, was exactly the person calculated to make her happy, being a man of excellent character and good sense; giving part of his time to the world, but considering home the chief place for happiness.
When Miss Arden came into possession of her fortune, she remained as a parlour boarder with Mrs. Adair, but the principal part of her time was spent with Mrs. Bruce. A lingering disease, however, came on, and she could not be happy separated from her friend: she therefore removed to her house. After experiencing the most affectionate attention from Mr. and Mrs. Bruce, she at length resigned her life, with hopes full of immortality. Mrs. Adair and her friend were with her in her last moments. She expressed her gratitude to them with all the energy of health; and then, clasping a hand of each, died serenely, hoping to meet them hereafter. To the father of her friend she left a very handsome annuity for life. "I know," she had stated in her will, "that I cannot oblige my friend in any other shape but by contributing to her father's comfort, and oh, may he see the error of his ways, before it is too late."
Most of her school companions she had remembered; but particularly a young lady, whose parents had been unfortunate. After leaving tokens of regard to every one to whom she had considered herself the least indebted, she left the remainder of her fortune, to be equally divided between Mrs. Adair, her daughter, and Miss Bruce. And here let me remind young ladies of fortune, that they are too apt to neglect the instructress under whose care they have spent the early part of life. Surely, when young people have been years under one roof, gaining knowledge, and daily indebted for care and kindness, they should not discard from their thoughts one of their best friends; but how often is this the case! The moment a young lady steps into a carriage, and drives off for the last time from the dwelling of her instructress, she seems to forget that there had ever been such a person in existence. Perhaps, when her nuptial favours are preparing, and her hopes are bright, she may exclaim in a careless tone, "O, we must not forget—" here she mentions the lady to whom, next to her parents she is most indebted; and here finishes her remembrance of school, and the friend of her youth: in bridal favours, or flimsy letters, all her gratitude is shewn.
In giving a sketch of the young ladies, I must not forget Elizabeth, who is now the happy wife of Colonel Vincent's brother. It had been her lot to be doubtful of his regard several years. Her spirits had been elated or depressed, as she had judged Mr. Vincent's feelings interested towards herself. Had not that language which poets describe betrayed his sentiments, she might justly have concluded that, of all persons living, she would be the one to whom his affections would never seriously incline; but no sooner did fortune second his wishes, and a living was presented unto him, but his heart and hand were offered to the object of his earliest regard under the happiest auspices; therefore Elizabeth exchanged the useful employment of a teacher, for the meritorious duties of a wife.
When Mrs. Adair received the fortune due to her from her pupil's will, her friends concluded that she would resign the school. To the intreaties of her daughter on the subject she gave this reply:
"Why should I give up an employment which is a relief to my mind? In my earliest and brightest days, I never particularly relished the gaieties of the world; with my friends, my chief happiness centred; the associates of my youth are, to my fancy, as friends departed. The later objects of my care are likewise withdrawn from me; but though I have lost one dear to my heart by death, and another by marriage, still I have affections warm and tender towards youth.
"There must be something to attach us to life, something to occupy time, and interest our regard. As worldly beings, with worldly thoughts, we must have resources independent of those in a religious point of view. I trust I have chosen the wiser part, in preferring an active to an idle life. At home, in the midst of my children (for so they are in my esteem), I shall always have something to excite interest; and if watchful care, tenderness, and exertion, can reclaim the stubborn, or add to the happiness of my pupils, I shall think that I have not lived in vain. When my course is finished upon earth, may you, my dear Elizabeth, be enabled to say with truth to your daughters, 'Never was an instructress more happy with her pupils, or pupils happier with an instructress.'"
LONDON: PRINTED BY COX AND BAYLIS, GREAT QUEEN STREET.
Archaic spelling of pourtrayed, viranda, Magna Charta, stupified, shewn and Auld have been retained as they appear in the original publication. Changes to the original have been made as follows:
Page 5 froward inclinations forward inclinations
Page 18 a look: but I assure a look; but I assure
Page 20 I have so few "I have so few
Page 34 for our diverson for our diversion
Page 44 prefer 'the Spy detected.' prefer 'the Spy detected.'"
Page 54 I see few countenances "I see few countenances
Page 63 and I hope I am "and I hope I am
Page 71 inqured if Miss Damer inquired if Miss Damer
Page 87 in particular cases." in particular cases.
Page 93 I must think of my "I must think of my
Page 101 into the play-ground.' into the play-ground."
Page 102 her: "Now, my dear "e" in her inverted
Page 109 who had been been ordered by who had been ordered by
Page 105 her pupils.: but at her pupils; but at
Page 139 Miss Bruce. It is in Miss Bruce. "It is in
Page 166 into his preesnce into his presence
Page 176 stangers to the future strangers to the future
Page 176 to sayby what means they to say by what means they