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Chapter 5 A peep into the wide world

  • > My child is yet a stranger in the world, > She hath not seen the change of fourteen years.
  • >                                     SHAKESPEARE.
  • THE next day would not do for the intended shopping; nor the next. The thir_ay was fine, though cool and windy.
  • "Do you think you can venture out to-day, mamma?" said Ellen.
  • "I am afraid not. I do not feel quite equal to it; and the wind is a grea_eal too high for me besides."
  • "Well," said Ellen, in the tone of one who is making up her mind to d_omething, "we shall have a fine day by and by, I suppose, if we wait lon_nough; we had to wait a great deal while for our first shopping day. I wis_uch another would come round."
  • "But the misfortune is," said her mother, "that we cannot afford to wait.
  • November will soon be here, and your clothes may be suddenly wanted befor_hey are ready, if we do not bestir ourselves. And Miss Rice is coming in _ew days–I ought to have the merino ready for her."
  • "What will you do, mamma?"
  • "I do not know, indeed, Ellen; I am greatly at a loss."
  • "Couldn't papa get the stuffs for you, mamma?"
  • "No, he's too busy; and besides, he knows nothing at all about shopping fo_e; he would be sure to bring me exactly what I do not want. I tried tha_nce."
  • "Well, what will you do, mamma? Is there nobody else you could ask to get th_hings for you? Mrs. Foster would do it, mamma!"
  • "I know she would, and I should ask her without any difficulty, but she i_onfined to her room with a cold. I see nothing for it but to be patient an_et things take their course, though if a favorable opportunity should offer, you would have to go, clothes or no clothes; it would not do to lose th_hance of a good escort."
  • And Mrs. Montgomery's face showed that this possibilty, of Ellen's goin_nprovided, gave her some uneasiness. Ellen observed it.
  • "Never mind me, dearest mother; don't be in the least worried about m_lothes. You don't know how little I think of them or care for them. It's n_atter at all whether I have them or not."
  • Mrs. Montgomery smiled, and passed her hand fondly over her little daughter'_ead, but presently resumed her anxious look out of the window.
  • "Mamma!" exclaimed Ellen, suddenly starting up, "a bright thought has jus_ome into my head!  _I'll_  do it for you, mamma!"
  • "Do what?"
  • "I'll get the merino and things for you, mamma. You needn't smile,–I will, indeed, if you let me."
  • "My dear Ellen," said her mother, "I don't doubt you would if goodwill onl_ere wanting; but a great deal of skill and experience is necessary for _hopper, and what would you do without either?"
  • "But see, mamma," pursued Ellen, eagerly, "I'll tell you how I'll manage, an_ know I can manage very well. You tell me exactly what coloured merino yo_ant, and give me a little piece to show me how fine it should be, and tell m_hat price you wish to give, and then I'll go to the store and ask them t_how me different pieces, you know, and if I see any I think you would like, I'll ask them to give me a little bit of it to show you; and then I'll brin_t home, and if you like it you can give me the money, and tell me how man_ards you want, and I can go back to the store and get it. Why can't I, mamma?"
  • "Perhaps you could; but my dear child I am afraid you wouldn't like th_usiness."
  • "Yes I should; indeed, mamma, I should like it dearly if I could help you so.
  • Will you let me try, mamma?"
  • "I don't like, my child, to venture you alone on such an errand, among crowd_f people; I should be uneasy about you."
  • "Dear mamma, what would the crowds of people do to me? I am not a bit afraid.
  • You know, mamma, I have often taken walks alone,–that's nothing new; and wha_arm should come to me while I am in the store? You needn't be the leas_neasy about me;–may I go?"
  • Mrs. Montgomery smiled, but was silent.
  • "May I go, mamma?" repeated Ellen. "Let me go at least and try what I can do.
  • What do you say, mamma?"
  • "I don't know what to say, my daughter, but I am in difficulty on either hand.
  • I will let you go and see what you can do. It would be a great relief to me t_et this merino by any means."
  • "Then shall I go right away, mamma?"
  • "As well now as ever.  _You_  are not afraid of the wind?"
  • "I should think not," said Ellen; and away she scampered up stairs to ge_eady. With eager haste she dressed herself; then with great care an_articularity took her mother's instructions as to the article wanted; an_inally set out, sensible that a great trust was reposed in her, and feelin_usy and important accordingly. But at the very bottom of Ellen's heart ther_as a little secret doubtfulness respecting her undertaking. She hardly kne_t was there, but then she couldn't tell what it was that made her fingers s_nclined to be tremulous while she was dressing, and that made her heart bea_uicker than it ought, or than was pleasant, and one of her cheeks so muc_otter than the other. However, she set forth upon her errand with a ver_risk step, which she kept up till on turning a corner she came in sight o_he place she was going to. Without thinking much about it, Ellen had directe_er steps to St.Clair and Fleury's. It was one of the largest and best store_n the city, and the one she knew where her mother generally made he_urchases; and it did not occur to her that it might not be the best for he_urpose on this occasion. But her steps slackened as soon as she came in sigh_f it, and continued to slacken as she drew nearer, and she went up the broa_light of marble steps in front of the store very slowly indeed, though the_ere exceeding low and easy. Pleasure was not certainly the uppermost feelin_n her mind now; yet she never thought of turning back. She knew that if sh_ould succeed in the object of her mission her mother would be relieved fro_ome anxiety; that was enough; she was bent on accomplishing it.
  • Timidly she entered the large hall of entrance. It was full of people, and th_uzz of business was heard on all sides. Ellen had for some time past seldo_one a shopping with her mother, and had never been in this store but once o_wice before. She had not the remotest idea where, or in what apartment of th_uilding, the merino counter was situated, and she could see no one to spea_o. She stood irresolute in the middle of the floor. Every body seemed to b_usily engaged with somebody else; and whenever an opening on one side o_nother appeared to promise her an opportunity, it was sure to be filled u_efore she could reach it, and disappointed and abashed she would return t_er old station in the middle of the floor. Clerks frequently passed her, crossing the store in all directions, but they were always bustling along in _reat hurry of business; they did not seem to notice her at all, and were gon_efore poor Ellen could get her mouth open to speak to them. She knew wel_nough now, poor child, what it was that made her cheeks burn as they did, an_er heart beat as if it would burst its bounds. She felt confused, and almos_onfounded, by the incessant hum of voices, and moving crowd of strange peopl_ll around her, while her little figure stood alone and unnoticed in the mids_f them; and there seemed no prospect that she would be able to gain the ea_r the eye of a single person. Once she determined to accost a man she sa_dvancing toward her from a distance, and actually made up to him for th_urpse, but with a hurried bow, and "I beg your pardon, miss!" he brushe_ast. Ellen almost burst into tears. She longed to turn and run out of th_tore, but a faint hope remaining, and an unwillingness to give up he_ndertaking, kept her fast. At length one of the clerks in the desk observe_er, and remarked to Mr.St.Clair who stood by, "There is a little girl, sir, who seems to be looking for something, or waiting for somebody; she has bee_tanding there a good while." Mr.St.Clair, upon this, advanced to poor Ellen'_elief.
  • "What do you wish, miss?" he said.
  • But Ellen had been so long preparing sentences, trying to utter them an_ailing in the attempt, that now, when an opportunity to speak and be hear_as given her, the power of speech seemed to be gone.
  • "Do you wish any thing, miss?" inquired Mr.St.Clair again.
  • "Mother sent me," stammered Ellen,–"I wish, if you please, sir,–mamma wishe_e to look at the merinoes, sir, if you please."
  • "Is your mamma in the store?"
  • "No, sir," said Ellen, "she is ill, and cannot come out, and she sent me t_ook at merinoes for her, if you please, sir."
  • "Here, Saunders," said Mr.St.Clair, "show this young lady the merinoes."
  • Mr. Saunders make his appearance from among a little group of clerks, wit_hom he had been indulging in a few jokes by way of relief from the tedium o_usiness. "Come this way," he said to Ellen; and sauntering before her, with _ather dissatisfied air, led the way out of the entrance hall into another an_uch larger apartment. There were plenty of people here too, and just as bus_s those they had quitted. Mr. Saunders having brought Ellen to the merin_ounter, placed himself behind it; and leaning over it and fixing his eye_arelessly upon her, asked what she wanted to look at. His tone and manne_truck Ellen most unpleasantly, and made her again wish herself out of th_tore. He was a tall lank young man, with a quantity of fair hair combed dow_n each side of his face, a slovenly exterior, and the most disagreeable pai_f eyes, Ellen thought, she had ever beheld. She could not bear to meet them, and cast down her own. Their look was bold, ill-bred, and ill-humoured; an_llen felt, though she couldn't have told why, that she need not expect eithe_indness or politeness from him.
  • "What do you want to see, little one?" inquired this gentlemen, as if he had _usiness on hand he would like to be rid of. Ellen heartily wished he was ri_f it, and she too. "Merinoes, if you please," she answered, without lookin_p.
  • "Well, what kind of merinoes? Here are all sorts and descriptions of merinoes, and I can't pull them all down, you know, for you to look at. What kind do yo_ant?"
  • "I don't know without looking," said Ellen, "won't you please to show m_ome?"
  • He tossed down several pieces upon the counter, and tumbled them about befor_er.
  • "There," said he, "is that any thing like what you want? There's a pin_ne,–and there's a blue one,–and there's a green one. Is that the kind?"
  • "This is the kind," said Ellen; "but this isn't the colour I want."
  • "What colour do you want?"
  • "Something dark, if you please."
  • "Well, there, that green's dark; won't that do? See, that would make up ver_retty for you."
  • "No," said Ellen, "mamma don't like green."
  • "Why don't she come and choose her stuffs herself, then? What colour  _does_he like?"
  • "Dark blue, or dark brown, or a nice grey, would do," said Ellen, "if it i_ine enough."
  • "'Dark blue,' or 'dark brown,' or a 'nice grey,' eh! Well, she's pretty eas_o suit. A dark blue I've shown you already, –what's the matter with that?"
  • "It isn't dark enough," said Ellen.
  • "Well," said he discontentedly, pulling down another piece, "how'll that do?
  • That's dark enough."
  • It was a fine and beautiful piece, very different from those he had showed he_irst. Even Ellen could see that, and fumbling for her little pattern o_erino, she compared it with the piece. They agreed perfectly as to fineness.
  • "What is the price of this?" she asked, with trembling hope that she was goin_o be rewarded by success for all the trouble of her enterprise.
  • "Two dollars a yard."
  • Her hopes and countenance fell together. "That's too high," she said with _igh.
  • "Then take this other blue; come,–it's a great deal prettier than that dar_ne, and not so dear; and I know your mother will like it better."
  • Ellen's cheeks were tingling and her heart throbbing, but she couldn't bear t_ive up.
  • "Would you be so good as to show me some grey?"
  • He slowly and ill-humouredly complied, and took down an excellent piece o_ark grey, which Ellen fell in love with at once; but she was agai_isappointed; it was fourteen shillings.
  • "Well, if you won't take that, take something else," said the man; "you can'_ave every thing at once; if you will have cheap goods of course you can'_ave the same quality that you like; but now here's this other blue, onl_welve shillings, and I'll let you have it for ten if you'll take it."
  • "No, it is too light and too coarse," said Ellen, "mamma wouldn't like it."
  • "Let me see," said he, seizing her pattern and pretending to compare it; "it'_uite as fine as this, if that's all you want."
  • "Could you," said Ellen timidly, "give me a little bit of this grey to sho_amma?"
  • "Oh, no!" said he, impatiently, tossing over the cloths and throwing Ellen'_attern on the floor; "we can't cut up our goods; and if you cannot decid_pon any thing I must go and attend to those that can. I can't wait here al_ay."
  • "What's the matter, Saunders?" said one of his brother clerks, passing him.
  • "Why, I've been here this half hour showing cloths to a child that doesn'_now merino from a sheep's back," said he, laughing. And some other customer_oming up at the moment, he was as good as his word, and left Ellen, to atten_o them.
  • Ellen stood a moment stock still, just where he had left her, struggling wit_er feelings of mortification; she could not endure to let them be seen. He_ace was on fire; her head was dizzy. She could not stir at first, and i_pite of her utmost efforts she  _could_  not command back one or two rebe_ears that forced their way; she lifted her hand to her face to remove them a_uietly as possible. "What is all this about, my little girl?" said a strang_oice at her side. Ellen started, and turned her face, with the tears but hal_iped away, toward the speaker. It was an old gentleman, an odd old gentlema_oo, she thought; one she certainly would have been rather shy of if she ha_een him under other circumstances. But though his face was odd, it looke_indly upon her, and it was a kind tone of voice in which his question ha_een put; so he seemed to her like a friend. "What is all this?" repeated th_ld gentleman. Ellen began to tell what it was, but the pride which ha_orbidden her to weep before strangers gave way at one touch of sympathy, an_he poured out tears much faster than words as she related her story, so tha_t was some little time before the old gentleman could get a clear notion o_er case. He waited very patiently till she had finished; but then he se_imself in a good earnest about righting the wrong. "Hallo! you, sir!" h_houted, in a voice that made every body look round; "you merino man! come an_how your goods: why aren't you at your post, sir?"–as Mr. Saunders came u_ith an altered countenance–"here's a young lady you've left standin_nattended-to I don't know how long; are these your manners?"
  • "The young lady did not wish any thing, I believe, sir," returned Mr. Saunder_oftly.
  • "You know better, you scoundrel," retorted the old gentleman, who was in _reat passion; "I saw the whole matter with my own eyes. You are a disgrace t_he store, sir, and deserve to be sent out of it, which you are like enough t_e."
  • "I really thought, sir," said Mr. Saunders, smoothly,–for he knew the ol_entleman, and knew very well he was a person that must not be offended,–"_eally thought–I was not aware, sir, that the young lady had any occasion fo_y services."
  • "Well, show your wares, sir, and hold your tongue. Now, my dear, what did yo_ant?"
  • "I wanted a little bit of this grey merino, sir, to show to mamma;–I couldn'_uy it, you know, sir, until I found out whether she would like it."
  • "Cut a piece, sir, without any words," said the gentleman. Mr. Saunder_beyed.
  • "Did you like this best?" pursued the old gentleman.
  • "I like this dark blue very much, sir, and I thought mamma would; but it's to_igh."
  • "How much is it?" inquired he.
  • "Fourteen shillings," replied Mr. Saunders.
  • "He said it was two dollars!" exclaimed Ellen.
  • "I beg pardon," said the crest-fallen Mr. Saunders, "the young lady mistoo_e; I was speaking of another piece when I said two dollars."
  • "He said this was two dollars, and the grey was fourteen shillings," sai_llen.
  • "Is the grey fourteen shillings," inquired the old gentleman.
  • "I think not, sir," answered Mr. Saunders–"I believe not, sir,–I think it'_nly twelve,–I'll inquire, if you please, sir."
  • "No, no," said the old gentleman, "I know it was only twelve –I know you_ricks, sir. Cut a piece off the blue. Now, my dear, are there any more piece_f which you would like to take patterns, to show your mother?"
  • "No, sir," said the overjoyed Ellen; " I am sure she will like one of these."
  • "Now shall we go, then?"
  • If you please, sir," said Ellen, "I should like to have my bit of merino tha_ brought from home; mamma wanted me to bring it back again."
  • "Where is it?"
  • "That gentleman threw it on the floor."
  • "Do you hear, sir?" said the old gentleman; "find it directly."
  • Mr. Saunders found and delivered it, after stooping in search of it till h_as very red in the face; and he was left, wishing heartily that he had som_afe means of revenge, and obliged to come to the conclusion that none wa_ithin his reach, and that he must stomach his indignity in the best manner h_ould. But Ellen and her protector went forth most joyously together from th_tore.
  • "Do you live far from here?" asked the old gentleman.
  • "Oh, no, sir," said Ellen, "not very; it's only at Green's Hotel, in Southin_treet."
  • "I'll go with you," said he, "and when your mother has decided which merin_he will have, we'll come right back and get it. I do not want to trust yo_gain to the mercy of that saucy clerk."
  • "Oh, thank you, sir!" said Ellen, "that is just what I was afraid of. But _hall be giving you a great deal of trouble, sir," she added, in another tone.
  • "No you won't," said the old gentleman, "I can't be troubled, so you needn'_ay any thing about that."
  • They went gayly along–Ellen's heart about five times as light as the one wit_hich she had travelled that very road a little while before. Her old frien_as in a very cheerful mood too, for he assured Ellen laughingly, that it wa_f no manner of use for her to be in a hurry, for he could not possibly se_ff and skip to Green's Hotel, as she seemed inclined to do. They got there a_ast. Ellen showed the old gentleman into the parlour, and ran up stairs i_reat haste to her mother. But in a few minutes she came down again, with _ery April face, for smiles were playing in every feature, while the tear_ere yet wet upon her cheeks.
  • "Mamma hopes you'll take the trouble, sir, to come up stairs," she said, seizing his hand; "she wants to thank you herself, sir."
  • "It is not necessary," said the old gentleman, "it is not necessary at all;"
  • but he followed his little conductor nevertheless to the door of her mother'_oom, into which she ushered him with great satisfaction.
  • Mrs. Montgomery was looking very ill–he saw that at a glance. She rose fro_er sofa, and extending her hand thanked him with glistening eyes for hi_indness to her child.
  • "I don't deserve any thanks, ma'am," said the old gentleman; "I suppose m_ittle friend has told you what made us aquainted?"
  • "She gave me a very short account of it," said Mrs. Montgomery.
  • "She was very disagreeably tried," said the old gentleman. "I presume you d_ot need to be told, ma'am, that her behaviour was such as would have becom_ny years. I assure you, ma'am, if I had had no kindness in my composition t_eel for the  _child_ , my honour as a gentleman would have made me interfer_or the  _lady_."
  • Mrs. Montgomery smiled, but looked through glistening eyes again on Ellen. "_m  _very_  glad to hear it," she replied. "I was very far from thinking, whe_ permitted her to go on this errand, that I was exposing her to any thin_ore serious than the annoyance a timid child would feel at having to transac_usiness with strangers."
  • "I suppose not," said the gentleman; "but it isn't a sort of thing that shoul_e often done. There are all sorts of people in this world, and a little on_lone in a crowd is in danger of being trampled upon."
  • Mrs. Montgomery's heart answered this with an involuntary pang. He saw th_hade that passed over her face as she said sadly:
  • "I know it, sir; and it was with strong unwillingness that I allowed Elle_his morning to do as she had proposed; but in truth I was but making a choic_etween difficulties. I am very sorry I chose as I did. If you are a father, sir, you know better than I can tell you, how grateful I am for your kin_nterference."
  • "Say nothing about that, ma'am; the less the better. I am an old man, and no_ood for much now, except to please young people. I think myself best off whe_ have the best chance to do that. So if you will be so good as to choose tha_erino, and let Miss Ellen and me go and despatch our business, you will b_onferring and not receiving a favour. And any other errand that you please t_ntrust her with I'll undertake to see her safe through."
  • His look and manner obliged Mrs. Montgomery to take him at his word. A ver_hort examination of Ellen's patterns ended in favour of the grey merino; an_llen was commissioned not only to get and pay for this, but also to choose _ark dress of the same stuff, and enough of a certain article called nankee_or a coat; Mrs. Montgomery truly opining that the old gentleman's care woul_o more than see her scathless,–that it would have some regard to the justnes_nd prudence of her purchases.
  • In great glee Ellen set forth again with her new old friend. Her hand was fas_n his, and her tongue ran very freely, for her heart was completely opened t_im. He seemed as pleased to listen as she was to talk; and by little an_ittle Ellen told him all her history; the troubles that had come upon her i_onsequence of her mother's illness, and her intended journey and prospects.
  • That was a happy day to Ellen. They returned to St. Clair and Fleury's; bough_he grey merino, and the nankeen, and a dark brown merino for a dress. "Do yo_ant only one of these?" asked the old gentleman.
  • "Mamma said only one," said Ellen; "that will last me all the winter."
  • "Well," said he, "I think two will be better. Let us have another off the sam_iece, Mr. Shopman."
  • "But I am afraid mamma won't like it, sir," said Ellen, gently.
  • "Pho, pho," said he, "your mother has nothing to do with this; this is m_ffair." He paid for it accordingly. "Now, Miss Ellen," said he, when the_eft the store, "have you got any thing in the shape of a good warm winte_onnet? For it's as cold as the mischief up there in Thirlwall; you_asteboard things won't do; if you don't take good care of your ears you wil_ose them some fine frosty day. You must quilt and pad, and all sorts o_hings, to keep alive and comfortable. So you haven't a hood, eh? Do you thin_ou and I could make out to choose one that your mother would think wasn'_uite a fright? Come this way, and let us see. If she don't like it she ca_ive it away, you know."
  • He led the delighted Ellen into a milliner's shop and after turning over _reat many different articles chose her a nice warm hood, or quilted bonnet.
  • It was of dark blue silk, well made and pretty. He saw with great satisfactio_hat it fitted Ellen well, and would protect her ears nicely; and having pai_or it and ordered it home, he and Ellen sallied forth into the street again.
  • But he wouldn't let her thank him. "It is just the very thing I wanted, sir,"
  • said Ellen; "mamma was speaking about it the other day, and she did not se_ow I was ever to get one, because she did not feel at all able to go out, an_ could not get one myself; I know she'll like it very much."
  • "Would you rather have something for yourself or your mother, Ellen, if yo_ould choose, and have but one?"
  • "Oh, for mamma, sir," said Ellen–"a great deal!"
  • "Come in here," said he; "let us see if we can find anything she would like."
  • It was a grocery store. After looking about a little, the old gentlema_rdered sundry pounds of figs and white grapes to be packed up in papers; an_eing now very near home he took one parcel and Ellen the other till they cam_o the door of Green's Hotel, where he commited both to her care.
  • "Won't you come in, sir?" said Ellen.
  • "No," said he, "I can't this time–I must go home to dinner."
  • "And shan't I see you any more, sir?" said Ellen, a shade coming over he_ace, which a minute before had been quite joyous.
  • "Well, I don't know," said he kindly; "I hope you will. You shall hear from m_gain at any rate I promise you. We've spent one pleasant morning together, haven't we? Good-by, good-by."
  • Ellen's hands were full, but the old gentleman took them in both his, package_nd all, and shook them after a fashion, and again bidding her good-by, walke_way down the street.
  • The next morning Ellen and her mother were sitting quietly together, and Elle_ad not finished her accustomed reading, when there came a knock at the door.
  • "My old gentleman!" cried Ellen, as she sprung to open it. No–there was no ol_entleman, but a black man with a brace of beautiful woodcock in his hand. H_owed very civilly, and said he had been ordered to leave the birds with Mis_ontgomery. Ellen, in surprise, took them from him, and likewise a note whic_e delivered into her hand. Ellen asked from whom the birds came, but wit_nother polite bow the man said the note would inform her, and went away. I_reat curiousity she carried them and the note to her mother, to whom th_etter was directed. It read thus:–
  • "Will Mrs. Montgomery permit an old man to please himself in his own way, b_howing his regard for her little daughter, and not feel that he is taking _iberty? The birds are  _for Miss Ellen_."
  • "Oh, mamma!" exclaimed Ellen, jumping with delight, "did you ever see such _ear old gentleman? Now I know what he meant yesterday, when he asked me if _ould rather have something for myself or for you. How kind he is! to do jus_he very thing for me that he knows would give me the most pleasure. Now, mamma, these birds are mine, you know, and I give them to you. You must pay m_ kiss for them, mamma; they are worth that. Aren't they beauties?"
  • "They are very fine indeed," said Mrs. Montgomery; "This is just the seaso_or woodcock, and these are in beautiful condition."
  • "Do you like woodcocks, mamma?"
  • "Yes, very much."
  • "Oh, how glad I am!" said Ellen. "I'll ask Sam to have them done very nicel_or you, and then you will enjoy them so much."
  • The waiter was called, and instructed accordingly, and to him the birds wer_ommitted, to be delivered to the care of the cook.
  • "Now, mamma," said Ellen, "I think these birds have made me happy for al_ay."
  • "Then I hope, daughter, they will make you busy for all day. You have ruffle_o hem, and the skirts of your dresses to make, we need not wait for Miss Ric_o do that; and when she comes you will have to help her, for I can do little.
  • You can't be too industrious."
  • "Well, mamma, I am as willing as can be."
  • This was the beginning of a pleasant two weeks to Ellen; weeks to which sh_ften looked back afterwards, so quietly and swiftly the days fled away i_usy occupation and sweet intercourse with her mother. The passions which wer_pt enough to rise in Ellen's mind upon occasion, were for the present kep_ffectually in check. She could not forget that her days with her mother woul_ery soon be at an end, for a long time at least; and this consciousness, always present to her mind, forbade even the wish to do any thing that migh_rieve or disturb her. Love and tenderness had absolute rule for the time, an_ven had power to overcome the sorrowful thoughts that would often rise, s_hat in spite of them peace reigned. And perhaps both mother and daughte_njoyed this interval the more keenly because they knew that sorrow was a_and.
  • All this while there was scarcely a day that the old gentleman's servant di_ot knock at their door, bearing a present of game. The second time he cam_ith some fine larks; next was a superb grouse; then woodcock again.
  • Curiousity strove with astonishment and gratitude in Ellen's mind. "Mamma,"
  • she said, after she had admired the grouse for five minutes, "I cannot res_ithout finding out who this old gentleman is."
  • "I am sorry for that," replied Mrs. Montgomery gravely, "for I see no possibl_ay of your doing it."
  • "Why, mamma, couldn't I ask the man that brings the birds what his name is? H_ust know it."
  • "Certainly not; it would be very dishonourable."
  • "Would it, mamma?–why?"
  • "This old gentleman has not chosen to tell you his name; he wrote his not_ithout signing it, and his man has obviously been instructed not to disclos_t; don't you remember, he did not tell it when you asked him, the first tim_e came. Now this shows the old gentleman wishes to keep it secret, and to tr_o find it out in any way would be a very unworthy return for his kindness."
  • "Yes, it wouldn't be doing as I would be done by, to be sure; but would it b_dishonourable_ , mamma?"
  • "Very. It is very dishonourable to try to find out that about other peopl_hich does not concern you, and which they wish to keep from you. Remembe_hat, my dear daughter."
  • "I will, mamma. I'll never do it, I promise you."
  • "Even in talking with people, if you discern in them any unwillingness t_peak upon a subject, avoid it immediately, provided of course that som_igher interest do not oblige you to go on. That is true politeness, and tru_indness, which are nearly the same; and  _not_  to do so, I assure you, Ellen, proves one wanting in true honour."
  • "Well, mamma, I don't care what his name is,–at least I won't try to fin_ut:–but it does worry me that I cannot thank him. I wish he knew how much _eel obliged to him."
  • "Very well; write him and tell him so."
  • "Mamma!" said Ellen, opening her eyes very wide,–"can I? –would you?"
  • "Certainly,–if you like. It would be very proper."
  • "Then I will! I declare that is a good notion. I'll do it the first thing, an_hen I can give it to that man if he comes tomorrow, as I suppose he will.
  • Mamma," said she, on opening her desk, "how funny! don't you remember yo_ondered who I was going to write notes to? here is one now, mamma; it is ver_ucky I have got note-paper."
  • More than one sheet of it was ruined before Ellen had satisfied herself wit_hat she wrote. It was a full hour from the time she began when she brough_he following note for her mother's inspection:–
  • "Ellen Montgomery does not know how to thank the old gentleman who is so kin_o her. Mamma enjoys the birds very much, and I think I do more; for I hav_he double pleasure of giving them to mamma, and of eating them afterwards; but your kindness is the best of all. I can't tell you how much I am oblige_o you, sir, but I will always love you for all you have done for me.
  • "ELLEN MONTGOMERY."
  • This note Mrs. Montgomery approved; and Ellen having with great care and grea_atisfaction enclosed it in an envelope, succeeded in sealing it according t_ule and very well. Mrs. Montgomery laughed when she saw the direction, bu_et it go. Without consulting her, Ellen had written on the outside, "To th_ld gentleman." She sent it the next morning by the hands of the same servant, who this time was the bearer of a plump partridge "To Miss Montgomery;" an_er mind was a great deal easier on this subject from that time.