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Chapter 39 Halcyon days

  • >   Now is the pleasant time, > The cool, the silent, save where silence yields > To the night-warbling bird that now awake, > Tunes sweetest her love-laboured song now reigns > Full orbed the moon, and with more pleasing light > Shadowy, sets off the face of things.
  • >                               MILTON.
  • WHEN Ellen came out of Alice's room again it was late in the afternoon. Th_un was so low that the shadow of the house had crossed the narrow lawn an_ounted up near to the top of the trees; but on them he was still shinin_rightly, and on the broad landscape beyond, which lay open to view throug_he gap in the trees. The glass door was open; the sweet summer air and th_ound of birds and insects and fluttering leaves floated into the room, makin_he stillness musical. On the threshold pussy sat crouched, with his forefee_oubled under his breast, watching with intense gravity the operations o_argery, who was setting the table on the lawn just before his eyes. Alice wa_aring peaches.
  • "Oh, we are going to have tea out of doors, aren't we!" said Ellen. "I'm ver_lad. What a lovely evening, isn't it? Just look at pussy, will you, Alice?
  • don't you believe he knows what Margery is doing?–Why didn't you call me to g_long with you after peaches?"
  • "I thought you were doing the very best thing you possibly could, Ellie, m_ear. How do you do?"
  • "Oh, nicely now! Where's Mr. John? I hope he won't ask for my last drawing to- night,–I want to fix the top of that tree before he sees it."
  • " _Fix_  the top of your tree, you little Yankee?" said Alice;– "what do yo_hink John would say to that?– _un_ fix it you mean; it is too stiff already, isn't it?"
  • "Well, what  _shall_  I say?" said Ellen laughing. "I am sorry that is Yankee, for I suppose one must speak English.–I want to do something to my tree, then.–Where is he, Alice?"
  • "He is gone down to Mr. Van Brunt's, to see how he is, and to speak to Mis_ortune about you on his way back."
  • "Oh, how kind of him!–he's  _very_  good; that is just what I want to know; but I am sorry, after this long ride–"
  • "He don't mind  _that_ , Ellie. He'll be home presently."
  • "How nice those peaches look;–they are as good as strawberries, don't yo_hink so?–better,–I don't know which is best;–but Mr. John likes these best, don't he? Now you've done!–shall I set them on the table?–and here's a pitche_f splendid cream, Alice!"
  • "You had better not tell John so, or he will make you define  _splendid_."
  • John came back in good time, and brought word that Mr. Van Brunt was doin_ery well, so far as could be known; also, that Miss Fortune consented t_llen's remaining where she was. He wisely did not say, however, that he_onsent had been slow to gain till he had hinted at his readiness to provide _ubstitute for Ellen's services; on which Miss Fortune had instantly declare_he did not want her and sme might stay as long as she pleased. This was al_hat was needed to complete Ellen's felicity.
  • "Wasn't your poor horse too tired to go out again this afternoon, Mr. John?"
  • "I did not ride him, Ellie; I took yours."
  • "The Brownie!–did you?–I'm very glad! How did you like him? But perhaps  _he_as tired a little, and you couldn't tell so well to-day."
  • "He was not tired with any work you had given him, Ellie;– perhaps he may be _ittle now."
  • "Why?" said Ellen, somewhat alarmed.
  • "I have been trying him; and instead of going quietly along the road we hav_een taking some of the fences in our way. As I intend practising you at th_ar, I wished to make sure in the first place that he knew his lesson."
  • "Well, how did he do?"
  • "Perfectly well–I believe he is a good little fellow. I wanted to satisf_yself if he was fit to be trusted with you; and I rather think Mr. Marshma_as taken care of that."
  • The whole wall of trees was in shadow when the little family sat down t_able; but there was still the sun-lit picture behind; and there was anothe_ind of sunshine in every face at the table. Quietly happy the whole four, o_t least the whole three, were; first, in being together,–after that, in al_hings besides. Never was tea so refreshing, or bread and butter so sweet, o_he song of birds so delightsome. When the birds were gone to their nests, th_ricket and grasshopper and tree-toad and katy-did, and nameless othe_ongsters, kept up a concert,–nature's own,–in delicious harmony with wood_nd flowers, and summer breezes and evening light. Ellen's cup of enjoymen_as running over. From one beautiful thing to another her eye wandered,–fro_ne joy to another her thoughts went,–till her full heart fixed on the God wh_ad made and given them all, and that Redeemer whose blood had been thei_urchase-money. From the dear friends beside her, the best-loved she had i_he world, she thought of the one dearer yet from whom death had separate_er;–yet living still,–and to whom death would restore her, thanks to Him wh_ad burst the bonds of death and broken the gates of the grave, and made a wa_or his ransomed to pass over. And the thought of Him was the joyfullest o_ll!
  • "You look happy, Ellie," said her adopted brother.
  • "So I am," said Ellen, smiling a very bright smile.
  • "What are you thinking about?"
  • But John saw it would not do to press his question.
  • "You remind me," said he, "of some old fairy story that my childish ear_eceived, in which the fountains of the sweet and bitter waters of life wer_aid to stand very near each other, and to mingle their streams but a littl_ay from their source. Your tears and smiles seem to be brothers an_isters;–whenever we see one we may be sure the other is not far off."
  • "My dear Jack," said Alice, laughing,–"what an unhappy simile! Are brother_nd sisters always found like that?"
  • "I wish they were," said John, sighing and smiling;–"but my last words ha_othing to do with my simile as you call it."
  • When tea was over, and Margery had withdrawn the things and taken away th_able, they still lingered in their places. It was far too pleasant to go in.
  • Mr. Humphreys moved his chair to the side of the house, and throwing _andkerchief over his head to defend him from the mosquitoes, a few of whic_ere buzzing about, he either listened, meditated, or slept;–most probably on_f the two latter for the conversation was not very loud nor very lively; i_as happiness enough merely to breathe so near each other. The sun left th_istant fields and hills; soft twilight stole through the woods, down the gap, and over the plain; the grass lost its green; the wall of trees grew dark an_usky; and very faint and dim showed the picture that was so bright a littl_hile ago. As they sat quite silent, listening to what nature had to say t_hem, or letting fancy and memory take their way, the silence wa_roken–hardly broken–by the distinct far-off cry of a whip-poor-will. Alic_rasped her brother's arm, and they remained motionless, while it came nearer, nearer,–then quite near,–with its clear, wild, shrill, melancholy not_ounding close by them again and again,–strangely, plaintively, then leavin_he lawn, it was heard further and further off, till the last faint "whip- poor-will," in the far distance, ended its pretty interlude. It was almost to_ark to read faces, but the eyes of the brother and sister had sought eac_ther and remained fixed till the bird was out of hearing; then Alice's han_as removed to his, and her head found its old place on her brother'_houlder.
  • "Sometimes, John," said Alice, "I am afraid I have one tie too strong to thi_orld. I cannot bear–as I ought–to have you away from me."
  • Her brother's lips were instantly pressed to her forehead.
  • "I may say to you, Alice, as Colonel Gardiner said to his wife, 'we have a_ternity to spend together!' "
  • "I wonder," said Alice, after a pause,–"how those can bear to love or b_oved, whose affection can see nothing but a blank beyond the grave."
  • "Few people, I believe," said her brother, "would come exactly under tha_escription; most flatter themselves with a vague hope of reunion afte_eath."
  • "But that is a miserable hope–very different from ours."
  • "Very different indeed!–and miserable; for it can only deceive; but ours i_ure. 'Them that sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.' "
  • "Precious!" said Alice. "How exactly fitted to every want and mood of the min_re the sweet Bible words."
  • "Well!" said Mr. Humphreys, rousing himself,–"I am going in! These mosquitoe_ave half eaten me up. Are you going to sit there all night?"
  • "We are thinking of it, papa," said Alice cheerfully.
  • He went in, and was heard calling Margery for a liglit.
  • They had better lights on the lawn. The stars began to peep out through th_oft blue, and as the blue grew deeper they came out more and brighter, til_ll heaven was hung with lamps. But that was not all. In the eastern horizon, just above the low hills that bordered the far side of the plain, a whit_ight, spreading and growing and brightening, promised the moon, and promise_hat she would rise very splendid; and even before she came began to throw _aint lustre over the landscape. All eyes were fastened, and exclamation_urst, as the first silver edge showed itself, and the moon rapidly risin_ooked on them with her whole broad bright face; lighting up not only thei_aces and figures but the wide country view that was spread out below, an_ouching most beautifully the trees in the edge of the gap, and faintly th_awn; while the wall of wood stood in deeper and blacker shadow than ever.
  • "Isn't that beautiful!" said Ellen.
  • "Come round here, Ellie," said John;–"Alice may have you all the rest of th_ear, but when I am at home you belong to me. What was your little head busie_pon a while ago?"
  • "When ?" said Ellen.
  • "When I asked you–"
  • "Oh, I know,–I remember. I was thinking–"
  • "Well?"–
  • "I was thinking–do you want me to tell you?"
  • "Unless you would rather not."
  • "I was thinking about Jesus Christ," said Ellen in a low tone.
  • "What about him, dear Ellie?" said her brother, drawing her closer to hi_ide.
  • "Different things,–I was thinking of what he said about little children–an_bout what he said, you know,–'In my Father's house are many mansions;'–and _as thinking that mamma was there and I thought that we all–"
  • Ellen could get no further.
  • "'He that believeth in him shall not be ashamed,'" said John softly. "'This i_he promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life; and who shal_eparate us from the love of Christ? Not death, nor things present, nor thing_o come. But he that hath this hope in him purifieth himself even as he i_ure;'–let us remember that too."
  • "Mr. John," said Ellen presently,–"don't you like some of the chapters in th_evelation very much?"
  • "Yes–very much. Why?–do you?"
  • "Yes. I remember reading parts of them to mamma, and that is one reason, _uppose; but I like them very much. There is a great deal I can't understand, though."
  • "There is nothing finer in the Bible than parts of that book," said Alice.
  • "Mr. John," said Ellen,–"what is meant by the 'white stone?' "
  • "'And in the stone a new name written?'"–
  • "Yes–that I mean."
  • "Mr. Baxter says it is the sense of God's love in the heart; and indeed tha_s it 'which no man knoweth saving him that receiveth it.' This, I take it, Ellen, was Christian's certificate, which he used to comfort himself wit_eading in, you remember?"
  • "Can a child have it?" said Ellen thoughtfully.
  • "Certainly–many children have had it–you may have it. Only seek it faithfully.
  • 'Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, those tha_emember thee in thy ways.'–And Christ said, 'he that loveth me shall be love_f my Father, and I will love him, and I will manifest myself to him!' Ther_s no failure in these promises, Ellie; he that made them is the sam_esterday, to-day, and for ever."
  • For a little while each was busy with his own meditations. The moon meanwhile, rising higher and higher, poured a flood of light through the gap in the wood_efore them, and stealing among the trees here and there lit up a spot o_round under their deep shadow. The distant picture lay in mazy brightness.
  • All was still, but the ceaseless chirrup of insects and gentle flapping o_eaves; the summer air just touched their cheeks with the lightest breath of _iss, sweet from distant hay-fields, and nearer pines and hemlocks, and othe_f nature's numberless perfume-boxes. The hay-harvest had been remarkably lat_his year.
  • "This is higher enjoyment," said John,–" than half those who make their home_n rich houses and mighty palaces have any notion of."
  • "But can not rich people look at the moon?" said Ellen.
  • "Yes, but the taste for pure pleasures is commonly gone when people make _rade of pleasure."
  • "Mr. John,"–Ellen began.
  • "I will forewarn you," said he,–" that Mr. John has made up his mind he wil_o nothing more for you. So if you have any thing to ask, it must li_till,–unless you will begin again."
  • Ellen drew back. He looked grave, but she saw Alice smiling.
  • "But what shall I do?" said she, a little perplexed and half laughing. "Wha_o you mean, Mr. John? What does he mean, Alice?"
  • "You could speak without a 'Mr.' to me this morning when you were in trouble."
  • "Oh !" said Ellen laughing,–"I forgot myself then."
  • "Have the goodness to forget yourself permanently for the future."
  • "Was that man hurt this morning John?" said his sister.
  • "What man?"
  • "That man you delivered Ellen from."
  • "Hurt? no–nothing material; I did not wish to hurt him. He richly deserve_unishment, but it was not for me to give it."
  • "He was in no hurry to get up," said Ellen.
  • "I do not think he ventured upon that till we were well out of the way. H_ifted his head and looked after us as we rode off."
  • "But I wanted to ask something," said Ellen,–"Oh! what is the reason the moo_ooks so much larger when she first gets up than she does afterwards?"
  • "Whom are you asking?"
  • "You."
  • "And who is you? Here are two people in the moonlight."
  • "Mr. John Humphreys,–Alice's brother, and that Thomas calls 'the youn_aster,' " said Ellen laughing.
  • "You are more shy of taking a leap than your little horse is," said Joh_miling,–'but I shall bring you up to it yet. What is the cause of the sudde_nlargement of my thumb?"
  • He had drawn a small magnifying glass from his pocket and held it between hi_and and Ellen.
  • "Why it is not enlarged," said Ellen, "it is only magnified."
  • "What do you mean by that?"
  • "Why, the glass makes it look larger."
  • "Do you know how, or why ?"
  • "No."
  • He put up the glass again.
  • "But what do you mean by that?" said Ellen,–"there is no magnifying glas_etween us and the moon to make  _her_  look larger."
  • "You are sure of that?"
  • "Why yes!" said Ellen;–"I am perfectly sure; there is nothing in the world.
  • There she is, right up there, looking straight down upon us, and there i_othing between."
  • "What is it that keeps up that pleasant fluttering of leaves in the wood?"
  • "Why, the wind."
  • "And what is the wind?"
  • "It is air–air moving, I suppose."
  • "Exactly. Then there  _is_  something between us and the moon."
  • "The air! But, Mr. John, one can see quite clearly through the air; it doesn'_ake things look larger or smaller."
  • "How far do you suppose the air reaches from us toward the moon?"
  • "Why all the way, don't it?"
  • "No–only about forty miles. If it reached all the way there would indeed be n_agnifying glass in the case."
  • "But how is it?" said Ellen. "I don't understand."
  • "I cannot tell you to-night, Ellie. There is a long ladder of knowledge to g_p before we can get to the moon, but we will begin to mount to-morrow, i_othing happens. Alice, you have that little book of Conversations on Natura_hilosophy, which you and I used to delight ourselves with in old time?"
  • "Safe and sound in the bookcase," said Alice. "I have thought of giving it t_llen before, but she has been busy enough with what she had already."
  • "I have done Rollin now, though," said Ellen; "that is lucky. I am ready fo_he moon."
  • This new study was begun the next day, and Ellen took great delight in it. Sh_ould have run on too fast in her eagerness but for the steady hand of he_eacher; he obliged her to be very thorough. This was only one of her items o_usiness. The weeks of John's stay were as usual not merely weeks of constan_nd varied delight, but of constant and swift improvement too.
  • A good deal of time was given to the riding-lessons. John busied himself on_orning in preparing a bar for her on the lawn; so placed that it might fal_f the horse's heels touched it. Here Ellen learned to take first standing, and then running, leaps. She was afraid at first, but habit wore that off; an_he bar was raised higher and higher, till Margery declared she "couldn'_tand and look at her going over it." Then John made her ride without th_tirrup, and with her hands behind her, while he, holding the horse by a lon_alter, made him go round in a circle, slowly at first, and afterward_rotting and cantering, till Ellen felt almost as secure on his back as in _hair. It took a good many lessons however to bring her to this, and sh_rembled very much at the beginning. Her teacher was careful and gentle, bu_etermined; and whatever he said she did, tremble or no tremble; and i_eneral loved her riding lessons dearly.
  • Drawing too went on finely. He began to let her draw things from nature; an_any a pleasant morning the three went out together with pencils and books an_ork, and spent hours in the open air. They would find a pretty point of view, or a nice shady place where the breeze came, and where there was some good ol_ock with a tree beside it, or a piece of fence, or the house or barn in th_istance, for Ellen to sketch; and while she drew and Alice worked, John rea_loud to them. Sometimes he took a pencil too, and Alice read; and often, often, pencils, books, and work were all laid down; and talk,–lively, serious, earnest, always delightful,–took the place of them. When Ellen could no_nderstand the words, at least she could read the faces; and that was a stud_he was never weary of. At home there were other studies and much reading; many tea drinkings on the lawn, and even breakfastings, which she though_leasanter still.
  • As soon as it was decided that Mr. Van Brunt's leg was doing well, and in _air way to be sound again, Ellen went to see him; and after that rarely le_wo days pass without going again. John and Alice used to ride with her s_ar, and taking a turn beyond while she made her visit, call for her on thei_ay back. She had a strong motive for going in the pleasure her presenc_lways gave, both to Mr. Van Brunt and his mother. Sam Larkens had been t_hirlwall and seen Mrs. Forbes, and from him they had heard the story of he_iding up and down the town in search of the doctor; neither of them coul_orget it. Mrs. Van Brunt poured out her affection in all sorts of expression_henever she had Ellen's ear; her son was not a man of many words; but Elle_new his face and manner well enough without them, and read there whenever sh_ent into his room what gave her great pleasure.
  • "How do you do, Mr. Van Brunt?" she said on one of these occasions.
  • "Oh, I'm getting along, I s'pose," said he;–"getting along as well as a ma_an that's lying on his back from morning to night;–prostrated, as 'Squir_ennison said his corn was t'other day."
  • "It is very tiresome, isn't it?" said Ellen.
  • "It's the tiresomest work that ever was, for a man that has two arms to be _oing nothing, day after day. And what bothers me is the wheat in the ten-acr_ot, that  _ought_  to be prostrated too, and ain't, nor ain't like to be, a_ know, unless the rain comes and does it. Sam and Johnny'll make no head-wa_t all with it–I can tell as well as if I see 'em."
  • "But Sam is good, isn't he?" said Ellen.
  • "Sam's as good a boy as ever was; but then Johnny Low is mischievous, you see, and he gets Sam out of his tracks once in a while. I never see a finer growt_f wheat. I had a sight rather cut and harvest the hull of it than to lie her_nd think of it getting spoiled. I'm a'most out o' conceit o' trap doors, Ellen."
  • Ellen could not help smiling.
  • "What can I do for you, Mr. Van Brunt?"
  • "There ain't nothing," said he;–"I wish there was. How are you coming along a_ome?"
  • "I don't know," said Ellen;–"I am not there just now, you know; I am stayin_p with Miss Alice again."
  • "Oh, ay! while her brother's at home. He's a splendid man, that young Mr.
  • Humphreys, ain't he?"
  • "Oh,  _I_  knew that a great while ago," said Ellen, the bright colour o_leasure overspreading her face.
  • "Well,  _I_  didn't, you see, till the other day, when he came here, ver_indly, to see how I was getting on. I wish something would bring him again. _ever heerd a man talk I liked to hear so much."
  • Ellen secretly resolved something  _should_  bring him; and went on with _urpose she had had for some time in her mind.
  • "Wouldn't it be pleasant, while you are lying there and can d_othing,–wouldn't you like to have me read something to you, Mr. Van Brunt?
  • _I_  should like to, very much."
  • "It's just like you," said he gratefully,–"to think of that; but I wouldn'_ave you be bothered with it."
  • "It wouldn't indeed. I should like it very much."
  • "Well, if you've a mind," said he;–"I can't say but it would be a kind o'
  • comfort to keep that grain out o' my head a while. Seems to me I have cut an_oused it all three times over already. Read just whatever you have a mind to.
  • If you was to go over a last year's almanac, it would be as good as a fiddl_o me."
  • "I'll do better for you than that, Mr. Van Brunt," said Ellen, laughing i_igh glee at having gained her point.–She had secretly brought her Pilgrim'_rogress with her, and now with marvellous satisfaction drew it forth.
  • "I ha'n't been as much of a reader as I had ought to," said Mr. Van Brunt, a_he opened the book and turned to the first page;–"but, however, I understan_y business pretty well and a man can't be every thing to once. Now let's hea_hat you've got there."
  • With a throbbing heart, Ellen began; and read, notes and all, till the soun_f tramping hoofs and Alice's voice made her break off. It encouraged an_elighted her to see that Mr. Van Brunt's attention was perfectly fixed. H_ay still, without moving his eyes from her face, till she stopped; the_hanking her he declared that was a "first-rate book," and he "should lik_ainly to hear the hull on it."
  • From that time Ellen was diligent in her attendance on him. That she migh_ave more time for reading than the old plan gave her, she set off by hersel_lone some time before the others, of course riding home with them. It cos_er a little sometimes, to forego so much of their company; but she never sa_he look of grateful pleasure with which she was welcomed without ceasing t_egret her self-denial. How Ellen blessed those notes as she went on with he_eading! They said exactly what she wanted Mr. Van Brunt to hear, and in th_est way, and were too short and simple to interrupt the interest of th_tory. After a while she ventured to ask if she might read him a chapter i_he Bible. He agreed very readily; owning "he hadn't ought to be so lon_ithout reading one as he had been." Ellen then made it a rule to herself, without asking any more questions, to end every reading with a chapter in th_ible; and she carefully sought out those that might be most likely to tak_old of his judgment or feelings. They took hold of her own very deeply, b_he means; what was strong, or tender, before, now seemed to her too mighty t_e withstood and Ellen read not only with her lips but with her whole hear_he precious words, longing that they might come with their just effect upo_r. Van Brunt's mind.
  • Once as she finished reading the tenth chapter of John, a favourite chapter, which between her own feeling of it and her strong wish for him had moved he_ven to tears, she cast a glance at his face to see how he took it. His hea_as a little turned to one side, and his eyes closed; she thought he wa_sleep. Ellen was very much disappointed. She sank her head upon her book an_rayed that a time might come when he would know the worth of those words. Th_ouch of his hand startled her.
  • "What is the matter?" said he. "Are you tired?"
  • "No," said Ellen looking hastily up;–"Oh, no! I'm not tired."
  • "But what ails you?" said the astonished Mr. Van Brunt; "what have you been _rying for? what's the matter?"
  • "Oh, never mind," said Ellen, brushing her hand over her eyes, –"it's n_atter."
  • "Yes, but I want to know," said Mr. Van Brunt;–"you shan't have any thing t_ex you that  _I_  can help; what is it?"
  • "It is nothing, Mr. Van Brunt," said Ellen, bursting into tears again,–"only _hought you were asleep–I–I thought you didn't care enough about the Bible t_eep awake–I want  _so_  much that you should be a Christian!"
  • He half groaned and turned his head away.
  • "What makes you wish that so much?" said he after a minute or two.
  • "Because I want you to be happy," said Ellen,–"and I know you can't without."
  • "Well, I am pretty tolerable happy," said he;–"as happy as most folks _uess."
  • "But I want you to be happy when you die, too," said Ellen "I want to meet yo_n heaven "
  • "I hope I will go there, surely," said he gravely,–"when the time comes."
  • Ellen was uneasily silent, not knowing what to say.
  • "I ain't as good as I ought to be," said he presently, with a half sigh;–"_in't good enough to go to heaven–I wish I was.  _You_  are, I do believe."
  • "I! oh no, Mr. Van Brunt, do not say that;–I am not good at all–I am full o_rong things."
  • "Well I wish I was full of wrong things too, in the same way," said he.
  • "But I am," said Ellen,–"whether you will believe it or not. Nobody is good, Mr. Van Brunt. But Jesus Christ has died for us,–and if we ask him he wil_orgive us, and wash away our sins, and teach us to love him, and make u_ood, and take us to be with him in heaven. Oh, I wish you would ask him!" sh_epeated with an earnestness that went to his heart. "I don't believe any on_an be very happy that doesn't love him."
  • "Is that what makes  _you_  happy?" said he.
  • "I have a great many things to make me happy," said Ellen soberly,–"but tha_s the greatest of all. It always makes me happy to think of him, and it make_very thing else a thousand times pleasanter. I wish you knew how it is, Mr.
  • Van Brunt."
  • He was silent for a little, and disturbed Ellen thought.
  • "Well!" said he at length,–"'taint the folks that thinks themselves the bes_hat  _is_  the best always;–if you ain't good I should like to know wha_oodness is.  _There's_  somebody that thinks you be," said he a minute or tw_fterwards, as the horses were heard coming to the gate,
  • "No, she knows me better than that," said Ellen.
  • "It isn't any  _she_  that I mean," said Mr. Van Brunt.–"There's somebody els_ut there, ain't there?"
  • "Who?" said Ellen,–"Mr. John?–Oh, no indeed he don't. It was only this mornin_e was telling me of something I did that was wrong."–Her eyes watered as sh_poke.
  • "He must have mighty sharp eyes, then," said Mr. Van Brunt,–"for it beats al_my_  powers of seeing things."
  • "And so he has," said Ellen, putting on her bonnet,–"He always knows what I a_hinking of just as well as if I told him. Good-by!"
  • "Good-by," said he;–"I ha'n't forgotten what you've been saying, and I don'_ean to."
  • How full of sweet pleasure was the ride home!
  • The "something wrong," of which Ellen had spoken, was this. The day before, i_appened that Mr. John had broken her off from a very engaging book to tak_er drawing-lesson; and as he stooped down to give a touch or two to the piec_he was to copy, he said, "I don't want you to read any more of that, Ellie; it is not a good book for you." Ellen did not for a moment question that h_as right, nor wish to disobey; but she had become very much interested, an_as a good deal annoyed at having such a sudden stop put to her pleasure. Sh_aid nothing, and went on with her work. In a little while Alice asked her t_old a skein of cotton for her while she wound it. Ellen was annoyed again a_he interruption; the harp-strings were jarring yet, and gave fresh discord t_very touch. She had, however, no mind to let her vexation be seen; she wen_mmediately and held the cotton, and as soon as it was done sat down again t_er drawing. Before ten minutes had passed Margery came to set the table fo_inner, Ellen's papers and desk must move.
  • "Why, it is not dinner-time yet this great while, Margery," said she;–"i_sn't much after twelve."
  • "No, Miss Ellen," said Margery unde her breath, for John was in one corner o_he room reading,–"but by and by I'll be busy with the chops and frying th_alsify, and I couldn't leave the kitchen;–if you'll let me have the tabl_ow."
  • Ellen said no more, and moved her things to a stand before the window; wher_he went on with her copying till dinner was ready. Whatever the reason was, however, her pencil did not work smoothly; her eye did not see true; and sh_acked her usual steady patience. The next morning, after an hour and more'_ork and much painstaking; the drawing was finished. Ellen had quite forgotte_er yesterday's trouble. But when John came to review her drawing, he foun_everal faults with it; pointed out two or three places in which it ha_uffered from haste and want of care; and asked her how it had happened. Elle_new it happened yesterday. She was vexed again, though she did her best no_o show it; she stood quietly and heard what he had to say. He then told he_o get ready for her riding lesson.
  • "Mayn't I just make this right first?" said Ellen;–"it won't take me long."
  • "No," said he,–"you have been sitting long enough; I must break you off. Th_rownie will be here in ten minutes."
  • Ellen was impatiently eager to mend the bad places in her drawing, an_mpatiently displeased at being obliged to ride first. Slowly and reluctantl_he went to get ready; John was already gone; she would not have moved s_eisurely if he had been any where within seeing distance. As it was, sh_ound it convenient to quicken her movements; and was at the door ready a_oon as he and the Brownie. She was soon thoroughly engaged in the managemen_f herself and her horse; a little smart riding shook all the ill-humour ou_f her, and she was entirely herself again. At the end of fifteen or twent_inutes they drew up under the shade of a tree to let the Brownie rest _ittle. It was a warm day and John had taken off his hat and stood restin_oo, with his arm leaning on the neck of the horse. Presently he looked roun_o Ellen, and asked her with a smile, if she felt right again?
  • "Why?" said Ellen, the crimson of her cheeks mounting to her forehead. But he_ye sunk immediately at the answering glance of his. He then in a very fe_ords set the matter before her, with such a happy mixture of pointedness an_indness, that while the reproof, coming from him, went to the quick, Elle_et joined with it no thought of harshness or severity. She was completel_ubdued however; the rest of the riding-lesson had to be given up; and for a_our Ellen's tears could not be stayed. But it was, and John had meant i_hould be, a strong check given to her besetting sin. It had a long an_asting effect.