> After long storms and tempests overblowne, > The sunne at length his joyous face doth cleare; > So when as fortune all her spight hath showne, > Some blissfull houres at last must needs appeare; > Else should afflicted wights oft-times despeire.
> FAERIE QUEENE.
EARLY next morning Ellen awoke with a sense that something pleasant ha_appened. Then the joyful reality darted into her mind, and jumping out of be_he set about her morning work with a better heart than she had been able t_ring to it for many a long day. When she had finished she went to the window.
She had found out how to keep it open now, by means of a big nail stuck in _ole under the sash. It was very early, and in the perfect stillness the sof_urgle of the little brook came distinctly to her ear. Ellen leaned her arm_n the window-sill, and tasted the morning air; almost wondering at it_weetness and at the loveliness of field and sky and the bright easter_orizon. For days and days all had looked dark and sad.
There were two reasons for the change. In the first place Ellen had made u_er mind to go straight on in the path of duty; in the second place, she ha_ound a friend. Her little heart bounded with delight and swelled wit_hankfulness at the thought of Alice Humphreys. She was once more at peac_ith herself, and had even some notion of being by and by at peace with he_unt; though a sad twinge came over her whenever she thought of her mother'_etter.
"But there is only one way for me," she thought; "I'll do as that dear Mis_umphreys told me–it's good and early, and I shall have a fine time befor_reakfast yet to myself. And I'll get up so every morning and have it!–that'l_e the very best plan I can hit upon."
As she thought this she drew forth her Bible from its place at the bottom o_er trunk; and opening it at hazard she began to read the l8th chapter o_atthew. Some of it she did not quite understand but she paused with pleasur_t the 14th verse. "That means me," she thought. The 21st and 22d verse_truck her a good deal, but when she came to the last she was almost startled.
"There it is again!" she said. "That is exactly what that gentleman said t_e. I thought I was forgiven, but how can I be, for I feel I have not forgive_unt Fortune."
Laying aside her book, Ellen kneeled down; but this one thought so presse_pon her mind that she could think of scarce any thing else; and her praye_his morning was an urgent and repeated petition that she might be enabled
"from her heart" to forgive her aunt Fortune "all her trespasses." Poor Ellen!
she felt it was very hard work. At the very minute she was striving to feel a_eace with her aunt, one grievance after another would start up t_emembrance, and she knew the feelings that met them were far enough from th_pirit of forgiveness. In the midst of this she was called down. She rose wit_ears in her eyes, and "What shall I do?" in her heart. Bowing her head onc_ore she earnestly prayed that if she could not yet _feel_ right toward he_unt, she might be kept at least from acting or speaking wrong. Poor Ellen! I_he heart is the spring of action; and she found it so this morning.
Her aunt and Mr. Van Brunt were already at the table. Ellen took her place i_ilence, for one look at her aunt's face told her that no "good-morning" woul_e accepted. Miss Fortune was in a particularly bad humour, owing among othe_hings to Mr. Van Brunt's having refused to eat his breakfast unless Elle_ere called. An unlucky piece of kindness. She neither spoke to Ellen no_ooked at her; Mr. Van Brunt did what in him lay to make amends. He helped he_ery carefully to the cold pork and potatoes, and handed her the well-pile_latter of griddle-cakes.
"Here's the first buckwheats of the season," said he,–"and I told Miss Fortun_ warn't a going to eat one on 'em if you didn't come down to enjoy 'em alon_ith us. Take two–take two!–you want 'em to keep each other hot."
Ellen's look and smile thanked him, as following his advice she covered on_enerous "buckwheat" with another as ample.
"That's the thing! Now here's some prime maple. You like 'em, I guess, don'_ou?"
"I don't know yet–I have never seen any," said Ellen.
"Never seen buckwheats! why, they're most as good as my mother's splitters.
Buckwheat cakes and maple molasses,–that's food fit for a king, _I_hink–when they're good; and Miss Fortune's are always first-rate."
Miss Fortune did not relent at all at this compliment.
"What makes you so white this morning?" Mr. Van Brunt presently went on;–" yo_in't well, be you?"
"Yes,"–said Ellen doubtfully,–"I'm well–"
"She's as well as I am, Mr. Van Brunt, if you don't go and put her up to an_otions!" Miss Fortune said in a kind of choked voice.
Mr. Van Brunt hemmed, and said no more to the end of breakfast-time.
Ellen rather dreaded what was to come next, for her aunt's look was ominous.
In dead silence the things were put away, and put up, and in course of washin_nd drying, when Miss Fortune suddenly broke forth.
"What did you do with yourself yesterday afternoon?"
"I was up on the mountain," said Ellen.
"I believe they call it the 'Nose.'"
"What business had you up there?"
"I hadn't any business there."
"What did you go there for?"
"Nothing!–you expect me to believe that? you call yourself a truth-teller, _uppose?"
"Mamma used to say I was," said poor Ellen, striving to swallow her feelings.
"Your mother!–I dare say–mothers always are blind. I dare say she took ever_hing you said for gospel!"
Ellen was silent, from sheer want of words that were pointed enough to sui_er.
"I wish Morgan could have had the gumption to marry in his own country; but h_ust go running after a Scotch woman! A Yankee would have brought up his chil_o be worth something. Give me Yankees!"
Ellen set down the cup she was wiping.
"You don't know any thing about my mother," she said. "You oughtn't to spea_o–it's not right."
"Why ain't it right, I should like to know?" said Miss Fortune;–"this is _ree country, I guess. Our tongues ain't tied–we're all free here."
"I wish we were," muttered Ellen;–"I know what I'd do."
"What would you do?" said Miss Fortune.
Ellen was silent. Her aunt repeated the question in a sharper tone.
"I oughtn't to say what I was going to," said Ellen;–"I'd rather not."
"I don't care," said Miss Fortune, "you began, and you shall finish it. I wil_ear what it was."
"I was going to say, if we were all free I would run away."
"Well, that _is_ a beautiful, well-behaved speech! I am glad to have hear_t. I admire it very much. Now what were you doing yesterday up on the Nose?
Please to go on wiping. There's a pile ready for you. What were you doin_esterday afternoon?"
"Were you alone or with somebody?"
"I was alone part of the time."
"And who were you with the rest of the time?"
"Miss Humphreys!–what were you doing with her?"
"Did you ever see her before?"
"Where did you find her?"
"She found me, up on the hill."
"What were you talking about?"
Ellen was silent.
"What were you talking about?" repeated Miss Fortune.
"I had rather not tell."
"And I had rather you _should_ tell–so out with it."
"I was alone with Miss Humphreys," said Ellen; "and it is no matter what w_ere talking about–it doesn't concern any body but her and me."
"Yes it does, it concerns me," said her aunt, "and I choose to know;–what wer_ou talking about?"
Ellen was silent.
"Will you tell me?"
"No," said Ellen, low but resolutely.
"I vow you're enough to try the patience of Job! Look here," said Mis_ortune, setting down what she had in her hands,–"I _will_ know! I don'_are what it was, but you shall tell me or I'll find a way to make you. I'l_ive you such a–"
"Stop! stop!" said Ellen wildly,–"you must not speak to me so! Mamma neve_id, and you have no _right_ to! If mamma or papa were here you would no_dare_ talk to me so."
The answer to this was a sharp box on the ear from Miss Fortune's wet hand.
Half stunned, less by the blow than the tumult of feeling it roused, Elle_tood a moment, and then throwing down her towel she ran out of the room, shivering with passion, and brushing off the soapy water left on her face a_f it had been her aunt's very hand. Violent tears burst forth as soon as sh_eached her own room,–tears at first of anger and mortification only; bu_onscience presently began to whisper, "You are wrong! you are wrong!"–an_ears of sorrow mingled with the others.
"Oh," said Ellen, "why couldn't I keep still!–when I had resolved so thi_orning, why couldn't I be quiet!–But she ought not to have provoked me s_readfully,–I couldn't help it." "You are wrong," said conscience again, an_er tears flowed faster. And then came back her morning trouble–the duty an_he difficulty of forgiving. Forgive her aunt Fortune!–with her whole heart i_ passion of displeasure against her. Alas! Ellen began to feel an_cknowledge that indeed all was wrong. But what to do? There was just on_omfort, the visit to Miss Humphreys in the afternoon. "She will tell me,"
thought Ellen; "she will help me. But in the mean while?"
Ellen had not much time to think; her aunt called her down and set her t_ork. She was very busy till dinner-time, and very unhappy; but twenty time_n the course of the morning did Ellen pause for a moment, and covering he_ace with her hands pray that a heart to forgive might be given her.
As soon as possible after dinner she made her escape to her room that sh_ight prepare for her walk. Conscience was not quite easy that she was goin_ithout the knowledge of her aunt. She had debated the question with herself, and could not make up her mind to hazard losing her visit.
So she dressed herself very carefully. One of her dark merinos wa_ffectionately put on; her single pair of white stockings; shoes, ruffle, cape,–Ellen saw that all was faultlessly neat, just as her mother used to hav_t; and the nice blue hood lay upon the bed ready to be put on the last thing, when she heard her aunt's voice calling.
"Ellen!–come down and do your ironing–right away, now! the irons are hot."
For one moment Ellen stood still in dismay; then slowly undressed, dresse_gain, and went down stairs.
"Come! you've been an age," said Miss Fortune; "now make haste; there ain'_ut a handful and I want to mop up."
Ellen took courage again; ironed away with right good will; and as there wa_eally but a handful of things she had soon done, even to taking off th_roning blanket and putting up the irons. In the mean time she had changed he_ind as to stealing off without leave; conscience was too strong for her; an_hough with a beating heart, she told of Miss Humphreys' desire and her hal_ngagement.
"You may go where you like–I am sure I do not care what you do with yourself,"
was Miss Fortune's reply.
Full of delight at this ungracious permission, Ellen fled up stairs, an_ressing much quicker than before, was soon on her way.
But at first she went rather sadly. In spite of all her good resolves an_ishes, every thing that day had gone wrong; and Ellen felt that the root o_he evil was in her own heart. Some tears fell as she walked. Further from he_unt's house, however, her spirits began to rise; her foot fell lighter on th_reensward. Hope and expectation quickened her steps; and when at length sh_assed the little wood-path it was almost on a run. Not very far beyond tha_er glad eyes saw the house she was in quest of.
It was a large white house; not very white either, for its last dress of pain_ad grown old long ago. It stood close by the road, and the trees of the woo_eemed to throng round it on every side. Ellen mounted the few steps that le_o the front door, and knocked; but as she could only just reach the hig_nocker, she was not likely to alarm any body with the noise she made. After _reat many little faint raps, which if any body heard them might easily hav_een mistaken for the attacks of some rat's teeth upon the wainscot, Elle_rew weary of her fruitless toil of standing on tiptoe, and resolved, thoug_oubtfully, to go round the house and see if there was any other way o_etting in. Turning the far corner, she saw a long, low out-building or she_utting out from the side of the house. On the further side of this Elle_ound an elderly woman standing in front of the shed, which was there open an_aved, and wringing some clothes out of a tub of water. She was a pleasan_oman to look at, very trim and tidy, and a good-humored eye and smile whe_he saw Ellen. Ellen made up to her and asked for Miss Humphreys.
"Why, where in the world did you come from?" said the woman. "I don't receiv_ompany at the back of the house."
"I knocked at the front door till I was tired," said Ellen, smiling in return.
"Miss Alice must ha' been asleep. Now, honey, you have come so far round t_ind me, will you go a little further and find Miss Alice? Just go round thi_orner and keep straight along till you come to the glass door–there you'l_ind her. Stop!–maybe she's asleep; I may as well go along with you myself."
She wrung the water from her hands and led the way.
A little space of green grass stretched in front of the shed, and Ellen foun_t extended all along that side of the house like a very narrow lawn; at th_dge of it shot up the high forest trees; nothing between them and the hous_ut the smooth grass and a narrow worn foot-path. The woods were now all brow_tems, except here and there a superb hemlock and some scattered silver_irches. But the grass was still green, and the last day ofthe Indian summe_ung its soft veil over all; the foliage of the forest was hardly missed. The_assed another hall door, opposite the one where Ellen had tried her strengt_nd patience upon the knocker; a little further on they paused at the glas_oor. One step led to it. Ellen's conductress looked in first through one o_he panes, and then opening the door motioned her to enter.
"Here you are, my new acquaintance," said Alice, smiling and kissing her. "_egan to think something was the matter, you tarried so late. We don't kee_ashionable hours in the country, you know. But I'm very glad to see you. Tak_ff your things and lay them on that settee by the door. You see I've a sette_or summer and a sofa for winter; for here I am, in this room, at all times o_he year; and a very pleasant room I think it, don't you?"
"Yes, indeed I do, ma'am," said Ellen, pulling off her last glove.
"Ah, but wait till you have taken tea with me half a dozen times, and then se_f you don't say it is pleasant. Nothing can be so pleasant that is quite new.
But now come here and look out of this window, or door, whichever you choos_o call it. Do you see what a beautiful view I have here? The wood was just a_hick all along as it is on the right and left; I felt half smothered to be s_hut in, so I got my brother and Thomas to take axes and go to work there; an_any a large tree they cut down for me, till you see they opened a way throug_he woods for the view of that beautiful stretch of country. I should gro_elancholy if I had that wall of trees pressing on my vision all the time; i_lways comforts me to look off, far away, to those distant blue hills."
"Aren't those the hills I was looking at yesterday?" said Ellen.
"From up on the mountain?–the very same; this is part of the very same view, and a noble view it is. Every morning, Ellen, the sun rising behind thos_ills shines in through this door and lights up my room; and in winter h_ooks in at that south window, so I have him all the time. To be sure if _ant to see him set I must take a walk for it, but that isn't unpleasant; an_ou know we cannot have every thing at once."
It was a very beautiful extent of woodland, meadow, and hill, that was see_icture-fashion through the gap cut in the forest;–the wall of trees on eac_ide serving as a frame to shut it in, and the descent of the mountain, fro_lmost the edge of the lawn, being very rapid. The opening had been skilfull_ut; the effect was remarkable and very fine; the light on the picture bein_ften quite different from that on the frame or on the hither side of th_rame.
"Now, Ellen," said Alice turning from the window, "take a good look at m_oom. I want you to know it and feel at home in it; for whenever you can ru_way from your aunt's this is your home,–do you understand?"
A smile was on each face. Ellen felt that she was understanding it very fast.
"Here, next the door, you see, is my summer settee; and in summer it ver_ften walks out of doors to accommodate people on the grass plat. I have _reat fancy for taking tea out of doors, Ellen, in warm weather; and if you d_ot mind a mosquito or two I shall be always happy to have your company. Tha_oor opens into the hall; look out and see, for I want you to get th_eography of the house.–That odd-looking, lumbering, painted concern, is m_abinet of curiosities. I tried my best to make the carpenter man at Thirlwal_nderstand what sort of a thing I wanted, and did all but show him how to mak_t; but as the Southerners say, 'he hasn't made it right no how!' There I kee_y dried flowers, my minerals, and a very odd collection of curious things o_ll sorts that I am constantly picking up. I'll show you them some day, Ellen.
Have you a fancy for curiosities?"
"Yes, ma'am, I believe so."
"Believe so!–not more sure than that? Are you a lover of dead moths, and empt_eetle-skins, and butterflies' wings, and dry tufts of moss, and curiou_tones, and pieces of ribbon-grass, and strange bird's nests? These are som_f the things I used to delight in when I was about as old as you."
"I don't know, ma'am," said Ellen. "I never was where I could get them."
"Weren't you! Poor child! Then you have been shut up to brick walls an_aving-stones all your life?"
"Yes, ma'am, all my life."
"But now you have seen a little of the country,–don't you think you shall lik_t better?"
"Oh, a great deal better!"
"Ah, that's right. I am sure you will. On that other side, you see, is m_inter sofa. It's a very comfortable resting-place I can tell you, Ellen, as _ave proved by many a sweet nap; and its old chintz covers are very pleasan_o me, for I remember them as far back as I remember any thing."
There was a sigh here; but Alice passed on and opened a door near the end o_he sofa.
"Look in here, Ellen; this is my bedroom."
"Oh, how lovely!" Ellen exclaimed.
The carpet covered only the middle of the floor; the rest was painted white.
The furniture was common but neat as wax. Ample curtains of white dimit_lothed the three windows, and lightly draped the bed. The toilet-table wa_overed with snow-white muslin, and by the toilet-cushion stood, late as i_as, a glass of flowers. Ellen thought it must be a pleasure to sleep there.
"This," said Alice when they came out,–"between my door and the fireplace, i_ cupboard. Here be cups and saucers, and so forth. In that other corne_eyond the fireplace you see my flower-stand. Do you love flowers, Ellen?"
"I love them dearly, Miss Alice."
"I have some pretty ones out yet, and shall have one or two in the winter; bu_ can't keep a great many here; I haven't room for them. I have hard work t_ave these from frost. There's a beautiful daphne that will be out by and by, and make the whole house sweet. But here, Ellen, on this side between th_indows, is my greatest treasure–my precious books. All these are mine. –Now, my dear, it is time to introduce you to my most excellent of easy chairs–th_est things in the room, aren't they? Put yourself in that–now do you feel a_ome?"
"Very much indeed, ma'am," said Ellen laughing, as Alice placed her in th_eep easy chair.
There were two things in the room that Alice had not mentioned, and while sh_ended the fire Ellen looked at them. One was the portrait of a gentleman, grave and good-looking; this had very little of her attention. The other wa_he counter-portrait of a lady; a fine dignified countenance that had a char_or Ellen. It hung over the fireplace in an excellent light; and the mild ey_nd somewhat of a peculiar expression about the mouth bore such likeness t_lice, though older, that Ellen had no doubt whose it was.
Alice presently drew a chair close to Ellen's side, and kissed her. "I trust, my child," she said, "that you feel better to-day than you did yesterday?"
"Oh, I do, ma'am,–a great deal better," Ellen answered.
"Then I hope the reason is that you have returned to your duty, and ar_esolved, not to be a Christian by and by, but to lead a Christian's lif_ow?"
"I have resolved so, ma'am,–I did resolve so last night and this morning,–bu_et I have been doing nothing but wrong all to-day."
Alice was silent. Ellen's lips quivered for a moment, and then she went on,
"Oh, ma'am, how I have wanted to see you to-day to tell me what I _should_o! I resolved and resolved this morning, and then as soon as I got dow_tairs I began to have bad feelings toward aunt Fortune, and I have been ful_f bad feelings all day and I couldn't help it."
"It will not do to say that we cannot help what is wrong, Ellen.–What is th_eason that you have bad feelings toward your aunt?"
"She don't like me, ma'am."
"But how happens that, Ellen? I am afraid you don't like her."
"No, ma'am, I don't to be sure; how can I?"
"Why cannot you, Ellen?"
"Oh, I can't, ma'am! I wish I could. But oh, ma'am, I should have liked her–_ight have liked her, if she had been kind, but she never has. Even that firs_ight I came she never kissed me, nor said she was glad to see me."
"That was failing in kindness certainly, but is she unkind to you, Ellen?"
"Oh, yes, ma'am, indeed she is. She talks to me, and talks to me, in a wa_hat almost drives me out of my wits; and to-day she even struck me! She ha_o right to do it," said Ellen, firing with passion,–"she has no _right_o!–and she has no right to talk as she does about mamma. She did it to-day, and she has done it before;–I can't bear it!–and I can't bear _her!_ I can'_bear_ her!"
"Hush, hush," said Alice, drawing the excited child to her arms, for Ellen ha_isen from her seat;–"you must not talk so, Ellen;–you are not feeling righ_ow."
"No, ma'am, I am not," said Ellen coldly and sadly. She sat a moment, and the_urning to her companion put both arms round her neck, and hid her face on he_houlder again; and without raising it she gave her the history of th_orning.
"What has brought about this dreadful state of things?" said Alice after a fe_inutes. "Whose fault is it, Ellen?"
"I think it is aunt Fortune's fault," said Ellen raising her head; "I don'_hink it is mine. If she had behaved well to me I should have behaved well t_er. I meant to, I am sure."
"Do you mean to say you do not think you have been in fault at all in th_atter?"
"No, ma'am–I do not mean to say that. I have been very much in fault–ver_ften–I know that. I get very angry and vexed, and sometimes I say nothing, but sometimes I get out of all patience and say things I ought not. I did s_o-day; but it is so very hard to keep still when I am in such a passion;–an_ow I have got to feel so toward aunt Fortune that I don't like the sight o_er; I hate the very look of her bonnet hanging up on the wall. I know i_sn't right; and it makes me miserable; and I can't help it, for I grow wors_nd worse every day –and what shall I do?"
Ellen's tears came faster than her words.
"Ellen, my child," said Alice after a while,–"There is but one way. You kno_hat I said to you yesterday?"
"I know it, but dear Miss Alice, in my reading this morning I came to tha_erse that speaks about not being forgiven if we do not forgive others; and, oh! how it troubles me; for I can't feel that I forgive aunt Fortune; I fee_exed whenever the thought of her comes into my head; and how can I behav_ight to her while I feel so?"
"You are right there, my dear; you cannot indeed; the heart must be set righ_efore the life can be."
"But what shall I do to set it right?"
"Dear Miss Alice, I have been praying all this morning that I might forgiv_unt Fortune, and yet I cannot do it."
"Pray, still, my dear," said Alice, pressing her closer in her arms,–"pra_till; if you are in earnest the answer will come. But there is something els_ou can do, and must do, Ellen, besides praying, or praying may be in vain."
"What do you mean, Miss Alice?"
"You acknowledge yourself in fault–have you made all the amends you can? Hav_ou, as soon as you have seen yourself in the wrong, gone to your aunt Fortun_nd acknowledged it, and humbly asked her pardon?"
Ellen answered "no" in a low voice.
"Then, my child, your duty is plain before you. The next thing after doin_rong is to make all the amends in your power–confess your fault, and as_orgiveness, both of God and man. Pride struggles against it,–I see your_oes,–but my child, 'God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto th_umble.'
Ellen burst into tears and cried heartily.
"Mind your own wrong doings, my child, and you will not be half so disposed t_uarrel with those of other people. But, Ellen dear, if you will not humbl_ourself to this you must not count upon an answer to your prayer. 'If tho_ring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath augh_gainst thee,'–what then?–'Leave there thy gift before the altar;' go firs_nd be reconciled to thy brother, and then come."
"But it is so hard to forgive?" sobbed Ellen.
"Hard? yes it is hard when our hearts are so. But there is little love t_hrist and no just sense of his love to us in the heart that finds it hard.
Pride and selfishness make it hard; the heart full of love to the dear Saviou_cannot_ lay up offences against itself."
"I have said quite enough," said Alice after a pause; "you know what you want, my dear Ellen, and what you ought to do. I shall leave you for a little whil_o change my dress, for I have been walking and riding all the morning. Make _ood use of the time while I am gone."
Ellen did make good use of the time. When Alice returned she met her wit_nother face than she had worn all that day, humbler and quieter; and flingin_er arms around her, she said, "I will ask aunt Fortune's forgiveness;–I fee_ can do it now."
"And how about _forgiving_ , Ellen?"
"I think God will help me to forgive her," said Ellen; "I have asked him. A_ny rate I will ask her to forgive me. But oh, Miss Alice! what would hav_ecome of me without you. "
"Don't lean upon me, dear Ellen; remember you have a better friend than _lways near you; trust in him; if I have done you any good, don't forget i_as he brought me to you yesterday afternoon."
"There's just one thing that troubles me now," said Ellen,–"mamma's letter. _m thinking of it all the time; I feel as if I should fly to get it!"
"We'll see about that. Cannot you ask your aunt for it?"
"I don't like to."
"Take care, Ellen; there is some pride there yet."
"Well, I will try," said Ellen, "but sometimes, I know, she would not give i_o me if I were to ask her. But I'll try, if I can."
"Well, now to change the subject–at what o'clock did you dine to-day?"
"I don't know, ma'am,–at the same time we always do, I believe."
"And that is twelve o'clock, isn't it?"
"Yes, ma'am; but I was so full of coming here and other things that I couldn'_at."
"Then I suppose you would have no objection to an early tea?"
"No, ma'am,–whenever you please," said Ellen laughing.
"I shall please it pretty soon. I have had no dinner at all today, Ellen; _ave been out and about all the morning, and had just taken a little nap whe_ou came in. Come this way and let me show you some of my housekeeping."
She led the way across the hall to the room on the opposite side; a large, well-appointed, and spotlessly neat kitchen. Ellen could not help exclaimin_t its pleasantness.
"Why, yes–I think it is. I have been in many a parlour that I do not like a_ell. Beyond this is a lower kitchen where Margery does all her rough work; nothing comes up the steps that lead from that to this but the very nicest an_aintiest of kitchen matters. Margery, is my father gone to Thirlwall?"
"No, Miss Alice–he's at Carra-carra–Thomas heard him say he wouldn't be bac_arly."
"Well, I shall not wait for him. Margery, if you will put the kettle on an_ee to the fire, I'll make some of my cakes for tea."
"I'll do it, Miss Alice; it's not good for you to go so long without eating."
Alice now rolled up her sleeves above the elbows, and tying a large whit_pron before her, set about gathering the different things she wanted for he_ork,–to Ellen's great amusement. A white moulding-board was placed upon _able as white; and round it soon grouped the pail of flour, the plate of nic_ellow butter, the bowl of cream, the sieve, tray, and sundry etceteras. An_hen, first sifting some flour into the tray, Alice began to throw in th_ther things one after another and toss the whole about with a carelessnes_hat looked as if all would go wrong, but with a confidence that seemed to sa_ll was going right. Ellen gazed in comical wonderment.
"Did you think cakes were made without hands?" said Alice, laughing at he_ook. "You saw me wash mine before I began."
"Oh, I'm not thinking of that," said Ellen; "I am not afraid of your hands."
"Did you never see your mother do this?" said Alice, who was now turning an_olling about the dough upon the board in a way that seemed to Ellen curiou_eyond expression.
"No, never," she said. "Mamma never kept house, and I never saw any body d_t."
"Then your aunt does not let you into the mysteries of bread and butter- making!"
"Butter-making! Oh," said Ellen with a sigh, "I have enough of that!"
Alice now applied a smooth wooden roller to the cake, with such quickness an_kill that the lump forthwith lay spread upon the board in a thin even layer, and she next cut it into little round cakes with the edge of a tumbler. Hal_he board was covered with the nice little white things, which Ellen declare_ooked good enough to eat already, and she had quite forgotten all possibl_auses of vexation, past, present, or future,–when suddenly a large grey ca_umped upon the table, and coolly walking upon the moulding-board planted hi_aw directly in the middle of one of his mistress's cakes.
"Take him off–Oh, Ellen!" cried Alice,–"take him off! I can't touch him."
But Ellen was a little afraid.
Alice then tried gently to shove puss off with her elbow; but he seemed t_hink that was very good fun,–purred, whisked his great tail over Alice's bar_rm, and rubbed his head against it, having evidently no notion that he wa_ot just where he ought to be. Alice and Ellen were too much amused to try an_iolent method of relief, but Margery happily coming in seized puss in bot_ands and set him on the floor.
"Just look at the print of his paw in that cake," said Ellen.
"He has set his mark on it certainly. I think it is his now, by the right o_ossession if not the right of discovery."
"I think he discovered the cakes too," said Ellen laughing.
"Why, yes. He shall have that one baked for his supper."
"Does he like cakes?"
"Indeed he does. He is very particular and delicate about his eating, i_aptain Parry."
"Captain Parry!" said Ellen,–"is that his name?"
"Yes," said Alice laughing; "I don't wonder you look astonished, Ellen. I hav_ad that cat five years, and when he was first given me by my brother Jack, who was younger then than he is now, and had been reading Captain Parry'_oyages, he gave him that name and would have him called so. Oh, Jack!"–sai_lice, half laughing and half crying.
Ellen wondered why. But she went to wash her hands, and when her face wa_gain turned to Ellen it was unruffled as ever.
"Margery, my cakes are ready," said she, "and Ellen and I are ready too."
"Very well, Miss Alice–the kettle is just going to boil; you shall have tea i_ trice. I'll do some eggs for you."
"Something–any thing," said Alice; "I feel one cannot live without eating.
Come, Ellen, you and I will go and set the tea-table."
Ellen was very happy arranging the cups and saucers and other things tha_lice handed her from the cupboard; and when a few minutes after the tea an_he cakes came in, and she and Alice were cosily seated at supper, poor Elle_ardly knew herself in such a pleasant state of things.