> Who knows what may happen? Patience and shuffle the cards? … Perhaps afte_ll, I shall some day go to Rome, and come back St. Peter.
THE rest of the winter, or rather the early part of the spring, passed happil_way. March, at Thirlwall, seemed more to belong to the former than th_atter. Then spring came in good earnest; April and May brought warm days an_ild flowers. Ellen refreshed herself and adorned the room with quantities o_hem; and as soon as might be she set about restoring the winter-ruine_arden. Mr. John was not fond of gardening; he provided her with all manner o_ools, ordered whatever work she wanted to be done for her, supplied her wit_ew plants, and seeds, and roots, and was always ready to give her his help i_ny operations or press of business that called for it. But for the most par_llen hoed, and raked, and transplanted, and sowed seeds, while he walked o_ead; often giving his counsel indeed, asked and unasked, and always coming i_etween her and any difficult or heavy job. The hours thus spent were to Elle_ours of unmixed delight. When he did not choose to go himself he sent Thoma_ith her, as the garden was some little distance down the mountain, away fro_he house and from every body; he never allowed her to go there alone.
As if to verify Mr. Van Brunt's remark, that "something is always happenin_ost years," about the middle of May there came letters that after al_etermined John's going abroad. The sudden death of two relatives, one afte_he other, had left the family estate to Mr. Humphreys; it required th_ersonal attendance either of himself or his son; he could not, therefore hi_on must, go. Once on the other side of the Atlantic, Mr. John thought it bes_is going should fulfil all the ends for which both Mr. Humphreys and Mr.
Marshman had desired it; this would occasion his stay to be prolonged to a_east a year, probably more. And he must set off without delay.
In the midst, not of his hurry, for Mr. John seldom was or seemed to be in _urry about any thing; but in the midst of his business, he took special car_f every thing that concerned or could possibly concern Ellen. He arrange_hat books she should read, what studies she should carry on; and directe_hat about these matters as well as about all others she should keep up _onstant communication with him by letter. He requested Mrs. Chauncey to se_hat she wanted nothing, and to act as her general guardian in all mino_hings, respecting which Mr. Humphreys could be expected to take no though_hatever. And what Ellen thanked him for most of all, he found time for al_is wonted rides, and she thought more than his wonted talks with her; endeavouring, as he well knew how, both to strengthen and cheer her mind i_iew of his long absence. The memory of those hours never went from her.
The family at Ventnor were exceeding desirous that she should make one of the_uring all the time John should be gone; they urged it with every possibl_rgument. Ellen said little, but he knew she did not wish it; and finall_ompounded the matter by arranging that she should stay at the parsonag_hrough the summer, and spend the winter at Ventnor, sharing all Elle_hauncey's advantages of every kind. Ellen was all the more pleased with thi_rrangement that Mr. George Marshman would be at home. The church John ha_een serving were becoming exceedingly attached to him and would by no mean_ear of giving him up; and Mr. George engaged, if possible, to supply hi_lace while he should be away. Ellen Chauncey was in ecstasies. And it wa_urther promised that the summer should not pass without as many visits o_oth sides as could well be brought about.
Ellen had the comfort, at the last, of hearing John say that she had behave_nexceptionably well where he knew it was difficult for her to behave well a_ll. That _was_ a comfort, from him, whose notions of unexceptionabl_ehaviour she knew were remarkably high. But the parting, after all, was _readfully hard matter; though softened as much as it could be at the time an_endered very sweet to Ellen's memory by the tenderness, gentleness, an_indness, with which her brother without checking soothed her grief. He was t_o early in the morning; and he made Ellen take leave of him the night before; but he was in no hurry to send her away; and when at length he told her it wa_ery late, and she rose up to go, he went with her to the very door of he_oom and there bade her good-night.
How the next days passed Ellen hardly knew; they were unspeakably long.
Not a week after, one morning Nancy Vawse came into the kitchen, and asked i_er blunt fashion,
"Is Ellen Montgomery at home?"
"I believe Miss Ellen is in the parlour," said Margery dryly.
"I want to speak to her."
Margery silently went across the hall to the sitting-room.
"Miss Ellen, dear," she said softly, "here is that Nancy girl wanting to spea_ith you,–will you please to see her?"
Ellen eagerly desired Margery to let her in, by no means displeased to hav_ome interruption to the sorrowful thoughts she could not banish. She receive_ancy very kindly.
"Well, I declare, Ellen!" said that young lady, whose wandering eye was upo_very thing but Ellen herself,–"ain't you as fine as a fiddle? I guess yo_ever touch your fingers to a file now-a-days,–do you?"
"A file!" said Ellen.
"You ha'n't forgot what it means, I s'pose," said Nancy somewhat scornfully,–
"'cause if you think I'm a going to swallow that, you're mistaken. I've see_ou file off tables down yonder a few times, ha'n't I?"
"Oh, I remember now," said Ellen smiling;–"it is so long since I heard th_ord that I didn't know what you meant. Margery calls it a dishcloth, or _loorcloth, or something else."
"Well, you don't touch one now-a-days, do you?"
"No," said Ellen, "I have other things to do."
"Well, I guess you have. You've got enough of books now, for once, ha'n't you?
What a lot!–I say, Ellen, have you got to read all these?"
"I hope so, in time," said Ellen, smiling. "Why haven't you been to see m_efore?"
"Oh,–I don't know!"–said Nancy, whose roving eye looked a little as if sh_elt herself out of her sphere. "I didn't know as you would care to see m_ow."
"I am very sorry you should think so, Nancy; I would be as glad to see you a_ver. I have not forgotten all your old kindness to me when aunt Fortune wa_ick."
"You've forgotten all that went before that, I 'spose," said Nancy with a hal_augh. "You beat all! Most folks remember and forget just t'other way exactly.
But besides, I didn't know but I should catch myself in queer company."
"Well–I am all alone now," said Ellen, with a sigh.
"Yes, if you warn't I wouldn't be here, I can tell you. What do you think _ave come for to-day, Ellen?"
"For any thing but to see me?"
Nancy nodded very decisively.
"How can I possibly guess? What have you got tucked up in your apron there?"
"Ah!–that's the very thing," said Nancy. "What _have_ I got, sure enough?"
"Well, I can't tell through your apron," said Ellen smiling.
"And _I_ can't tell either;–that's more, ain't it? Now listen, and I'll tel_ou where I got it, and then you may find out what it is, for I don't know.
Promise you won't tell any body."
"I don't like to promise that, Nancy."
"Because it might be something I ought to tell somebody about."
"But it ain't."
"If it isn't I won't tell. Can't you leave it so?"
"But what a plague! Here I have gone and done all this just for you, and no_ou must go and make a fuss. What hurt would it do you to promise?–it'_obody's business but yours and mine, and somebody else's that won't make an_alk about it I promise you."
"I won't speak of it, certainly, Nancy, unless I think I ought; can't yo_rust me?"
"I wouldn't give two straws for any body else's say so," said Nancy;–"but a_ou're as stiff as the mischief I s'pose I'll have to let it go. I'll trus_ou! Now listen. It don't look like any thing, does it?"
"Why no," said Ellen laughing; "you hold your apron so loose that I cannot se_ny thing."
"Well, now listen. You know I've been helping down at your aunt's,–did you?"
"Well, I have,–these six weeks. You never see any thing go on quieter tha_hey do, Ellen. I declare it's fun. Miss Fortune never was so good in he_ays. I don't mean she ain't as ugly as ever, you know, but she has to keep i_n. All I have to do if I think any thing is going wrong, I just let her thin_ am going to speak to _him_ about it;–only I have to do it very cunning fo_ear she would guess what I am up to; and the next thing I know it's al_traight. He _is_ about the coolest shaver," said Nancy, "I ever did see.
The way he walks through her notions once in a while–not very often, mind you, but when he takes a fancy,–it's fun to see! Oh, I can get along there first- rate now. _You'd_ have a royal time, Ellen."
"Well, Nancy–your story?"
"Don't you be in a hurry! I am going to take my time. Well I've been ther_his six weeks; doing all sorts of things, you know; taking your place, Ellen; don't you wish you was back in it?–Well a couple of weeks since, Mrs. Van too_t into her head she would have up the wagon and go to Thirlwall to ge_erself some things; a queer start for her; but at any rate Van Brunt brough_p the wagon and in she got and off they went. Now _she meant_ , you mus_now, that I should be fast in the cellar-kitchen all the while she was gone, and she thought she had given me enough to keep me busy there; but I was up t_er! I was as spry as a cricket, and flew round, and got things put up; an_hen I thought I'd have some fun. What do you think I did?–Mrs. Montgomery wa_uietly sitting in the chimney-corner and I had the whole house to myself. Ho_an Brunt looks out for her, Ellen; he won't let her be put out for any thin_r any body."
"I am glad of it," said Ellen, her face flushing and her eyes watering; "it i_ust like him. I love him for it."
"The other night she was mourning and lamenting at a great rate because sh_adn't you to read to her; and what do you think he does but goes and take_he book and sits down and reads to her himself. You should have seen Mrs.
"What book?" said Ellen.
"What book?–why your book,–the Bible,–there ain't any other book in the house, as I know. What on earth are you crying for, Ellen?–He's fetched over hi_other's old Bible, and there it lays on a shelf in the cupboard; and he ha_t out every once in a while. Maybe he's coming round, Ellen. But do hold u_our head and listen to me! I can't talk to you while you lie with your hea_n the cushion like that. I ha'n't more than begun my story yet."
"Well, go on," said Ellen.
"You see, I ain't in any hurry," said Nancy,–"because as soon as I've finishe_ shall have to be off; and it's fun to talk to you. What do you think I did, when I had done up all my chores?–where do you think I found this, eh?
_you'd_ never guess."
"What is it?" said Ellen.
"No matter what it is;–I don't know;–where do you think I found it?"
"How can I tell? I don't know."
"You'll be angry with me when I tell you."
Ellen was silent.
"If it was any body else," said Nancy,–"I'd ha' seen 'em shot afore I'd ha'
done it, or told of it either; but you ain't like any body else. Look here!"
said she, tapping her apron gently with one finger and slowly marking off eac_ord,–"this–came out of–your–aunt's–box–in–the closet–up stairs–in–her room."
"Ay, Nancy! there it is. Now you look! 'Twon't alter it, Ellen; that's wher_t was, if you look till tea-time."
"But how came you there?"
" 'Cause I wanted to amuse myself, I tell you. Partly to please myself, an_artly because Mrs. Van would be so mad if she knew it."
"Well–I don't say it was right,–but any how I did it; you ha'n't heard what _ound yet."
"You had better put it right back again, Nancy, the first time you have _hance."
"Put it back again–I'll give it to you, and then _you_ may put it bac_gain, if you have a mind. I should like to see you. Why you don't know what _ound."
"Well, what did you find?"
"The box was chuck full of all sorts of things, and I had a mind to see wha_as in it, so I pulled 'em out one after the other till I got to the bottom.
At the very bottom was some letters and papers, and there,–staring right in m_ace,–the first thing I see was, 'Miss Ellen Montgomery.'"
"Oh, Nancy!" screamed Ellen,–"a letter for me?"
"Hush!–and sit down, will you?–yes, a whole package of letters for you. Well, thought I, Mrs. Van has no right to that any how, and she ain't a going t_ake the care of it any more; so I just took it up and put it in the bosom o_y frock while I looked to see if there was any more for you, but ther_arn't. There it is!"–
And she tossed the package into Ellen's lap. Ellen's head swam.
"Well, good-by!" said Nancy rising;–"I may go now I suppose, and no thanks t_e."
"Yes I do–I do thank you very much, Nancy," cried Ellen, starting up an_aking her by the hand,–"I do thank you,–though it wasn't right;–but oh, ho_ould she! how could she!"
"Dear me!" said Nancy; "to ask that of Mrs. Van! she could do any thing.
_Why_ she did it, ain't so easy to tell."
Ellen, bewildered, scarcely knew, only _felt_ , that Nancy had gone. Th_uter cover of her package, the seal of which was broken, contained thre_etters; two addressed to Ellen, in her father's hand, the third to anothe_erson. The seals of these had not been broken. The first that Ellen opene_he saw was all in the same hand with the direction; she threw it down an_agerly tried the other. And yes! there was indeed the beloved character o_hich she never thought to have seen another specimen. Ellen's heart swelle_ith many feelings; thankfulness, tenderness, joy, and sorrow, past an_resent;– _that_ letter was not thrown down, but grasped, while tears fel_uch too fast for eyes to do their work. It was long before she could get fa_n the letter. But when she had fairly begun it, she went on swiftly, an_lmost breathlessly, to the end.
> "MY DEAR, DEAR LITTLE ELLEN,
> "I am scarcely able–but I must write to you once more. _Once_ more, daughter, for it is not permitted me to see your face again in this world. _ook to see it, my dear child, where it will be fairer than ever here i_eemed, even to me. I shall die in this hope and expectation. Ellen, remembe_t. Your last letters have greatly encouraged and rejoiced me. I am comforted, and can leave you quietly in that hand that has led me and I believe i_eading you. God bless you, my child!
> "Ellen, I have a mother living, and she wishes to receive you as her ow_hen I am gone. It is best you should know at once why I never spoke to you o_er. After your aunt Bessy married and went to New York, it displeased an_rieved my mother greatly that I too, who had always been her favourite child, should leave her for an American home. And when I persisted, in spite of al_hat entreaties and authority could urge, she said she forgave me fo_estroying all her prospects of happiness, but that after I should be marrie_nd gone she should consider me as lost to her entirely, and so I mus_onsider myself. She never wrote to me, and I never wrote to her after _eached America. She was dead to me. I do not say that I did not deserve it.
> "But I have written to her lately and she has written to me. She permits m_o die in the joy of being entirely forgiven, and in the further joy o_nowing that the only source of care I had left is done away. She will tak_ou to her heart, to the place I once filled, and I believe fill yet. Sh_ongs to have you, and to have you as entirely her own, in all respects; an_o this, in consideration of the wandering life your father leads, and wil_ead,–I am willing and he is willing to agree. It is arranged so. The ol_appy home of my childhood will be yours, my Ellen. It joys me to think of it.
Your father will write to your aunt and to you on the subject, and furnish yo_ith funds. It is our desire that you should take advantage of the very firs_pportunity of proper persons going to Scotland who will be willing to tak_harge of you. Your dear friends, Mr. and Miss Humphreys, will, I dare say, help you in this.
> "To them I could say much, if I had strength. But words are little. I_lessings and prayers from a full heart are worth any thing, they are th_icher. My love and gratitude to them cannot–"
The writer had failed here; and what there was of the letter had evidentl_een written at different times. Captain Montgomery's was to the same purpose.
He directed Ellen to embrace the first opportunity of suitable guardians, t_ross the Atlantic and repair to No. – Georges-street, Edinburgh; and tha_iss Fortune would give her the money she would need, which he had written t_er to do, and that the accompanying letter Ellen was to carry with her an_eliver to Mrs. Lindsay, her grandmother.
Ellen felt as if her head would split. She took up that letter, gazed at th_trange name and direction which had taken such new and startling interest fo_er, wondered over the thought of what she was ordered to do with it, marvelled what sort of fingers they were which would open it, or whether i_ould ever be opened;–and finally, in a perfect maze, unable to read, think, or even weep, she carried her package of letters into her own room, the roo_hat had been Alice's, laid herself on the bed, and them beside her; and fel_nto a deep sleep.
She woke up toward evening with the pressure of a mountain weight upon he_ind. Her thoughts and feelings were a maze still; and not Mr. Humphrey_imself could be more grave and abstracted than poor Ellen was that night. S_any points were to be settled,–so many questions answered to herself,–it wa_ good while before Ellen could disentangle them, and know what she did thin_nd feel, and what she would do.
She very soon found out her own mind upon one subject,–she would be exceedin_orry to be obliged to obey the directions in the letters. But must she obe_hem?
"I have promised Alice," thought Ellen;–"I have promised Mr. Humphreys–I can'_e adopted twice. And this Mrs. Lindsay,–my grandmother!–she cannot be nice o_he wouldn't have treated my mother so. She cannot be a nice person;–hard,–sh_ust be hard;–I never want to see her. My mother!–But then my mother love_er, and was very glad to have me go to her. Oh!–oh! how could she! how coul_hey do so!–when they didn't know how it might be with me, and what dea_riends they might make me leave! Oh, it was cruel!–But then they did _not_now, that is the very thing,–they thought I would have nobody but aun_ortune, and so it's no wonder–Oh, what shall I do! What _ought_ I to do?
These people in Scotland must have given me up by this time; it's–let m_ee–it's just about three years now,–a little less,–since these letters wer_ritten. I am older now, and circumstances are changed; I have a home and _ather and a brother; may I not judge for myself?–But my mother and my fathe_ave ordered me,–what shall I do!–If John were only here–but perhaps he woul_ake me go,–he might think it right. And to leave him,–and maybe never to se_im again!–and Mr. Humphreys! and how lonely he would be without me, I cannot!
I will not! Oh, what _shall_ I do! What shall I do!"
Ellen's meditations gradually plunged her in despair; for she could not loo_t the event of being obliged to go, and she could not get rid of the feelin_hat perhaps it might come to that. She wept bitterly; it didn't mend th_atter. She thought painfully, fearfully, long; and was no nearer an end. Sh_ould not endure to submit the matter to Mr. Humphreys; she feared hi_ecision; and she feared also that he would give her the money Miss Fortun_ad failed to supply for the journey; how much it might be Ellen had no idea.
She could not dismiss the subject as decided by circumstances, for conscienc_ricked her with the fifth commandment. She was miserable. It happily occurre_o her at last to take counsel with Mrs. Vawse; this might be done she kne_ithout betraying Nancy; Mrs. Vawse was much too honourable to press her as t_ow she came by the letters, and her word could easily be obtained not t_peak of the affairs to any one. As for Miss Fortune's conduct, it must b_ade known; there was no help for that. So it was settled; and Ellen's breas_as a little lightened of its load of care for that time; she had leisure t_hink of some other things.
Why had Miss Fortune kept back the letters? Ellen guessed pretty well, but sh_id not know quite all. The package, with its accompanying despatch to Mis_ortune, had arrived shortly after Ellen first heard the news of her mother'_eath, when she was refuged with Alice at the parsonage. At the time of it_eing sent Captain Montgomery's movements were extremely uncertain; and i_bedience to the earnest request of his wife he directed that without waitin_or his own return Ellen should immediately set out for Scotland. Part of th_oney for her expenses he sent; the rest he desired his sister to furnish, promising to make all straight when he should come home. But it happened tha_e was already this lady's debtor in a small amount, which Miss Fortune ha_erious doubts of ever being repaid; she instantly determined that if she ha_nce been a fool in lending him money, she would not a second time in addin_o the sum; if he wanted to send his daughter on a wild-goose-chase afte_reat relations, he might come home himself and see to it; it was none of he_usiness. Quietly taking the remittance to refund his own owing, she of cours_hrew the letters into her box, as the delivery of them would expose the whol_ransaction. There they lay till Nancy found them.
Early next morning after breakfast Ellen came into the kitchen, and begge_argery to ask Thomas to bring the Brownie to the door. Surprised at th_nergy in her tone and manner, Margery gave the message and added that Mis_llen seemed to have picked up wonderfully; she hadn't heard her speak s_risk since Mr. John went away.
The Brownie was soon at the door, but not so soon as Ellen, who had dressed i_everish haste. The Brownie was not alone; there was old John saddled an_ridled, and Thomas Grimes in waiting.
"It's not necessary for you to take that trouble, Thomas," said Ellen;–"_on't mind going alone at all."
"I beg your pardon, Miss Ellen,–(Thomas touched his hat)–but Mr. John lef_articular orders that I was to go with Miss Ellen whenever it pleased her t_ide; never failing."
"Did he!" said Ellen;–"but is it convenient for you now, Thomas? I want to g_s far as Mrs. Vawse's."
"It's always convenient, Miss Ellen,–always; Miss Ellen need not think of tha_t all, I am always ready."
Ellen mounted upon the Brownie, sighing for the want of the hand that used t_ift her to the saddle; and spurred by this recollection set off at a roun_ace.
Soon she was at Mrs. Vawse's; and soon finding her alone, Ellen had spread ou_ll her difficulties before her and given her the letters to read. Mrs. Vaws_eadily promised to speak on the subject to no one without Ellen's leave; he_uspicions fell upon Mr. Van Brunt, not her grand-daughter. She heard all th_tory, and read the letters before making any remark.
"Now, dear Mrs. Vawse," said Ellen anxiously, when the last one was folded u_nd laid on the table,–"what do you think?"
"I think, my child, you must go," said the old lady steadily.
Ellen looked keenly, as if to find some other answer in her face; her ow_hanging more and more for a minute, till she sunk it in her hands.
"Cela vous donne beaucoup de chagrin,–je le vois bien," said the old lad_enderly. (Their conversations were always in Mrs. Vawse's tongue.)
"But," said Ellen presently, lifting her head again, (there were no tears)–"_annot go without money."
"That can be obtained without any difficulty."
"From whom? I cannot ask aunt Fortune for it, Mrs. Vawse; I could not do it!"
"There is no difficulty about the money. Show your letters to Mr. Humphreys."
"Oh, I cannot!" said Ellen, covering her face again.
"Will you let me do it? I will speak to him if you permit me."
"But what use? _He_ ought not to give me the money, Mrs. Vawse? It would no_e right; and to show him the letters would be like asking him for it. Oh, _an't bear to do that!"
"He would give it you, Ellen, with the greatest pleasure."
"Oh, no, Mrs. Vawse," said Ellen, bursting into tears,–"he would never b_leased to send me away from him! I know–I know–he would miss me. Oh, wha_hall I do?"
"Not _that_ , my dear Ellen," said the old lady, coming to her and gentl_troking her head with both hands. "You must do what is _right_ , and yo_now it cannot be but that will be the best and happiest for you in the end."
"Oh, I wish–I wish," exclaimed Ellen from the bottom of her heart, "thos_etters had never been found!"
"Nay, Ellen, _that_ is not right."
"But I promised Alice, Mrs. Vawse; ought I go away and leave him? Oh, Mrs.
Vawse, it is very hard! _Ought_ I?"
'Your father and your mother have said it, my child."
"But they never would have said it if they had known?"
"But they did not know, Ellen; and here it is."
Ellen wept violently, regardless of the caresses and soothing words which he_ld friend lavished upon her.
"There is one thing!" said she at last, raising her head,–"I don't know of an_ody going to Scotland, and I am not likely to; and if I only do not befor_utumn,–that is not a good time to go, and then comes winter."
"My dear Ellen!" said Mrs. Vawse sorrowfully, "I must drive you from your las_ope. Don't you know that Mrs. Gillespie is going abroad with all he_amily?–next month I think."
Ellen grew pale for a minute, and sat holding bitter counsel with her ow_eart. Mrs. Vawse hardly knew what to say next.
"You need not feel uneasy about your journeying expenses," she remarked afte_ pause;–"you can easily repay them, if you wish, when you reach your friend_n Scotland."
Ellen did not hear her. She looked up with an odd expression of determinatio_n her face, determination taking its stand upon difficulties.
"I shan't stay there, Mrs. Vawse, if I go!–I shall go, I suppose, if I must; but do you think any thing will keep me there? Never!"
"You will stay for the same reason that you go for, Ellen; to do your duty."
"Yes, till I am old enough to choose for myself, Mrs. Vawse, and then I shal_ome back; if they will let me."
"Whom do you mean by 'they'?"
"Mr. Humphreys and Mr. John."
"My dear Ellen," said the old lady kindly, "be satisfied with doing your dut_ow; leave the future. While you follow him, God will be your friend; is no_hat enough? and all things shall work for your good. You do not know what yo_ill wish when the time comes you speak of. You do not know what new friend_ou may find to love."
Ellen had in her own heart the warrant for what she had said and what she sa_y her smile Mrs. Vawse doubted; but she disdained to assert what she coul_ring nothing to prove. She took a sorrowful leave of her old friend an_eturned home.
After dinner, when Mr. Humphreys was about going back to his study, Elle_imidly stopped him and gave him her letters, and asked him to look at the_ome time when he had leisure. She told him also where they were found and ho_ong they had lain there, and that Mrs. Vawse had said she ought to show the_o him.
She guessed he would read them at once,–and she waited with a beating heart.
In a little while she heard his step coming back along the hall. He came an_at down by her on the sofa and took her hand.
"What is your wish in this matter, my child?" he said gravely and cheerfully.
Ellen's look answered that.
"I will do whatever you say I must, sir," she said faintly.
"I dare not ask myself what _I_ would wish, Ellen; the matter is taken ou_f our hands. You must do your parents' will, my child. I will try to hop_hat you will gain more than I lose. As the Lord pleases! If I am bereaved o_y children, I am bereaved."
"Mrs. Gillespie," he said after a pause, "is about going to England;–I kno_ot how soon. It will be best for you to see her at once and make al_rrangements that may be necessary. I will go with you tomorrow to Ventnor i_he day be a good one."
There was something Ellen longed to say, but it was impossible to get it out; she could not utter a word. She had pressed her hands upon her face to try t_eep herself quiet; but Mr. Humphreys could see the deep crimson flushing t_he very roots of her hair. He drew her close within his arms for a moment, kissed her forehead, Ellen _felt_ it was sadly, and went away. It was wel_he did not hear him sigh as he went back along the hall; it was well she di_ot see the face of more settled gravity with which he sat down to hi_riting; she had enough of her own.
They went to Ventnor. Mrs. Gillespie with great pleasure undertook the charg_f her and promised to deliver her safely to her friends in Scotland. It wa_rranged that she should go back to Thirlwall to make her adieus; and that i_ week or two a carriage should be sent to bring her to Ventnor, where he_reparations for the journey should be made, and whence the whole party woul_et off.
"So you are going to be a Scotchwoman after all, Ellen," said Miss Sophia.
"I had a great deal rather be an American, Miss Sophia."
"Why Hutchinson will tell you," said the young lady, "that it is infinitel_ore desirable to be a Scotchwoman than that."
Ellen's face, however, looked so little inclined to be merry that she took u_he subject in another tone.
"Seriously, do you know," said she, "I have been thinking it is a very happ_hing for you. I don't know what would become of you alone in that grea_arsonage house. You would mope yourself to death in a little while; especially now that Mr. John is gone."
"He will be back," said Ellen.
"Yes but what if he is? he can't stay at Thirlwall, child. He can't liv_hirty miles from his church you know. Did you think he would? They think al_he world of him already. I expect they'll barely put up with Mr. George whil_e is gone;–they will want Mr. John all to themselves when he comes back, yo_ay rely on that. What _are_ you thinking of, child?"
For Ellen's eyes were sparkling with two or three thoughts which Miss Sophi_ould not read.
"I should like to know what you are smiling at," she said with some curiosity.
But the smile was almost immediately quenched in tears. Notwithstanding Mis_ophia's discouraging talk, Ellen privately agreed with Ellen Chauncey tha_he Brownie should be sent to her to keep and use as her own, _till hi_istress should come back;_ both children being entirely of opinion that th_rrangement was a most unexceptionable one.
It was not forgotten that the lapse of three years since the date of th_etters left some uncertainty as to the present state of affairs among Ellen'_riends in Scotland; but this doubt was not thought sufficient to justify he_etting pass so excellent an opportunity of making the journey. Especially a_aptain Montgomery's letter spoke of an _uncle_ , to whom equally with he_randmother, Ellen was to be consigned. In case circumstances would permit it, Mrs. Gillespie engaged to keep Ellen with her, and bring her home to Americ_hen she herself should return.
And in little more than a month they were gone; adieus and preparations an_ll were over. Ellen's parting with Mrs. Vawse was very tender and ver_ad;–with Mr. Van Brunt, extremely and gratefully affectionate, on bot_ides;–with her aunt, constrained and brief;–with Margery, very sorrowfu_ndeed. But Ellen's longest and most lingering adieu was to Captain Parry, th_ld grey cat. For one whole evening she sat with him in her arms; and ove_oor pussy were shed the tears that fell for many better loved and bette_eserving personages, as well as those not a few that were wept for him. Sinc_lice's death Parry had transferred his entire confidence and esteem to Ellen; whether from feeling a want, or because love and tenderness had taught her th_ouch and the tone that were fitted to win his regard. Only John shared it.
Ellen was his chief favourite and almost constant companion. And bittere_ears Ellen shed at no time than that evening before she went away, over th_ld cat. She could not distress kitty with her distress, nor weary him wit_he calls upon his sympathy, though indeed it is true that he sundry time_oked his nose up wonderingly and caressingly in her face. She had n_emonstrance or interruption to fear; and taking pussy as the emblem an_epresentative of the whole household, Ellen wept them all over him; with _enderness and a bitterness that were somehow intensified by the sight of th_rey coat, and white paws, and kindly face, of her unconscious old brut_riend.
The old people at Carra-carra were taken leave of; the Brownie too, with grea_ifficulty. And Nancy.
"I am real sorry you are going, Ellen," said she;–"you're the only soul i_own I care about. I wish I'd thrown them letters in the fire after all! Who'_a' thought it!"
Ellen could not help in her heart echoing the wish.
"I'm real sorry, Ellen," she repeated. "Ain't there something I can do for yo_hen you are gone?"
"Oh, yes, dear Nancy," said Ellen, weeping,–"if you would only take care o_our dear grandmother. She is left alone now. If you would only take care o_er, and read your Bible, and be good, Nancy,–oh, Nancy, Nancy! do, do!"
They kissed each other, and Nancy went away fairly crying.
Mrs. Marshman's own woman, a steady excellent person, had come in the carriag_or Ellen. And the next morning early after breakfast, when every thing els_as ready, she went into Mr. Humphrey's study to bid the last dreaded good-by.
She thought her obedience was costing her dear.
It was nearly a silent parting. He held her a long time in his arms; and ther_llen bitterly thought her place ought to be. "What have I to do to seek ne_elations?" she said to herself. But she was speechless; till gently relaxin_is hold he tenderly smoothed back her disordered hair, and kissing her, sai_ very few grave words of blessing and counsel. Ellen gathered all he_trength together then, for she had something that _must_ be spoken.
"Sir," said she, falling on her knees before him and looking up in hi_ace,–"this don't alter–you do not take back what you said, do you?"
"What that I said, my child?"
"That," said Ellen, hiding her face in her hands on his knee, and scarce abl_o speak with great effort,–"that which you said when I first came–that whic_ou said about–"
"About what, my dear child?"
"My going away don't change any thing, does it, sir? Mayn't I come back, i_ver I can?"
He raised her up and drew her close to his bosom again.
"My dear little daughter," said he, "you cannot be so glad to come back as m_rms and my heart will be to receive you. I scarce dare hope to see that day, but all in this house is yours, dear Ellen, as well when in Scotland as here.
I take back nothing, my daughter. Nothing is changed."
A word or two more of affection and blessing, which Ellen was utterly unabl_o answer in any way,–and she went to the carriage; with one drop of cordia_n her heart, that she fed upon a long while. "He called me his daughter!–h_ever said that before since Alice died! Oh, so I will be as long as I live, if I find fifty new relations. But what good will a daughter three thousan_iles off do him!"