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Chapter 50 Trials without

  • > She was his care, his hope, and his delight, > Most in his thought, and ever in his sight.
  • >                             DRYDEN.
  • ELLEN might now have been in some danger of being spoiled,–not indeed wit_ver-indulgence, for that was not the temper of the family,–but from findin_erself a person of so much consequence. She could not but feel that in th_inds of every one of her three friends she was the object of greates_mportance; their thoughts and care were principally occupied with her. Eve_ady Keith was perpetually watching, superintending, and admonishing; thoug_he every now and then remarked with a kind of surprise, that "really sh_carcely ever had to say any thing to Ellen; she thought she must know thing_y instinct." To Mr. Lindsay and his mother she was the idol of life; an_xcept when by chance her will might cross theirs, she had what she wished an_id what she pleased.
  • But Ellen happily had two safeguards which effectually kept her from pride o_resumption.
  • One was her love for her brother and longing remembrance of him. There was n_ne to take his place, not indeed in her affections, for that would have bee_mpossible, but in the daily course of her life. She missed him in ever_hing. She had abundance of kindness and fondness shown her, but th_sympathy_  was wanting. She was talked  _to_ , but not  _with._  No one no_new always what she was thinking of, nor if they did would patiently draw ou_er thoughts, canvass them, set them right or show them wrong. No one no_ould tell what she was  _feeling_ , nor had the art sweetly, in a way sh_carce knew how, to do away with sadness, or dulness, or perverseness, an_eave her spirits clear and bright as the noon-day. With all the petting an_ondness she had from her new friends, Ellen felt alone. She was petted an_ondled as a darling possession–a dear plaything–a thing to be cared for, taught, governed, disposed of, with the greatest affection and delight; bu_ohn's was a higher style of kindness, that entered into all her innermos_eelings and wants; and his was a higher style of authority too, that reache_here theirs could never attain; an authority Ellen always felt it utterl_mpossible to dispute; it was sure to be exerted on the side of what wa_ight; and she could better have borne hard words from Mr. Lindsay than _lance of her brother's eye. Ellen made no objection to the imperativeness o_er new guardians; it seldom was called up so as to trouble her, and she wa_ot of late particularly fond of having her own way; but she sometimes dre_omparisons.
  • "I could not any sooner–I could not as soon–have disobeyed John;–and yet h_ever would have spoken to me as they do if I had."
  • " _Some_  pride perhaps ?" she said, remembering Mr. Dundas's words;–"I shoul_ay a great deal–John isn't proud;–and yet–I don't know–he isn't proud as the_re; I wish I knew what kinds of pride are right and what wrong–he would tel_e if he was here."
  • "What are you in a 'brown study' about, Ellen ?" said Mr. Lindsay?
  • "I was thinking, sir, about different kinds of pride–I wish I knew the righ_rom the wrong–or is there any good kind ?"
  • "All good, Ellen–all good," said Mr. Lindsay,–"provided you do not have to_uch of it."
  • "Would you like me to be proud, sir ?"
  • "Yes," said he, laughing and pinching her cheek, "as proud as you like; if yo_nly don't let  _me_  see any of it."
  • Not very satisfactory; but that was the way with the few questions of an_agnitude Ellen ventured to ask; she was kissed and laughed at, calle_etaphysical or philosophical, and dismissed with no light on the subject. Sh_ighed for her brother. The hours with M. Muller were the best substitute sh_ad; they were dearly prized by her, and, to say truth, by him. He had n_amily, he lived alone, and the visits of his docile and intelligent littl_upil became very pleasant breaks in the monotony of his home-life. Trul_ind-hearted and benevolent, and a true lover of knowledge, he delighted t_mpart it. Ellen soon found she might ask him as many questions as sh_leased, that were at all proper to the subject they were upon; and he, amuse_nd interested, was equally able and willing to answer her. Often when no_articularly busy he allowed her hour to become two. Excellent hours fo_llen. M. Muller had made his proposition to Mr. Lindsay, partly from gratefu_egard for him, and partly to gratify the fancy he had taken to Ellen o_ccount of her simplicity, intelligence, and good manners. This latter motiv_id not disappoint him. He grew very much attached to his little pupil; a_ttachment which Ellen faithfully returned, both in kind, and by ever_rifling service that it could fall in her way to render him. Fine flowers an_ruit, that it was her special delight to carry to M. Muller; little jobs o_opying, or setting in order some disorderly matters in his rooms, where h_oon would trust her to do any thing; or a book from her father's library; an_nce or twice when he was indisposed, reading to him as she did by the hou_atiently, matters that could neither interest nor concern her. On the whole, and with good reason, the days when they were to meet were hailed with as muc_leasure perhaps by M. Muller as by Ellen herself.
  • Her other safeguard was the precious hour alone which she had promised Joh_ever to lose when she could help it. The only time she could have was th_arly morning before the rest of the family were up. To this hour, and it wa_ften more than an hour, Ellen was faithful. Her little Bible was extremel_recious now; Ellen had never gone to it with a deeper sense of need; an_ever did she find more comfort in being able to disburden her heart in praye_f its load of cares and wishes. Never more than now had she felt th_reciousness of that Friend who draws closer to his children the closer the_raw to him; she had never realized more the joy of having him to go to. I_as her special delight to pray for those loved ones she could do nothing els_or; it was a joy to think that He who hears prayer is equally present wit_ll his people, and that though thousands of miles lie between the petitione_nd the petitioned for, the breath of prayer may span the distance and pou_lessings on the far-off head. The burden of thoughts and affections gathere_uring the twenty-three hours, was laid down in the twenty-fourth; and Elle_ould meet her friends at the breakfast-table with a sunshiny face. Littl_hey thought where her heart had been, or where it had got its sunshine.
  • But notwithstanding this, Ellen had too much to remember and regret than to b_therwise than sober,–soberer than her friends liked. They noticed with sorro_hat the sunshine wore off as the day rolled on;–that though ready to smil_pon occasion, her face always settled again into a gravity they though_ltogether unsuitable. Mrs. Lindsay fancied she knew the cause, and resolve_o break it up.
  • From the first of Ellen's coming her grandmother had taken the entire charg_f her toilet. Whatever Mrs. Lindsay's notions in general might be as to th_ropriety of young girls learning to take care of themselves, Ellen was muc_oo precious a plaything to be trusted to any other hands, even her own. A_leven o'clock regularly every day she went to her grandmother's dressing-roo_or a very elaborate bathing and dressing; though not a very long one, for al_rs. Lindsay's were energetic. Now, without any hint as to the reason, she wa_irected to come to her grandmother an hour before the breakfast time, to g_hrough then the course of cold-water, sponging, and hair-gloving, that Mrs.
  • Lindsay was accustomed to administer at eleven. Ellen heard in silence, an_beyed, but made up her hour by rising earlier than usual, so as to have i_efore going to her grandmother. It was a little difficult at first, but sh_oon got into the habit of it, though the mornings were dark and cold. After _hile it chanced that this came to Mrs. Lindsay's ears, and Ellen was told t_ome to her as soon as she was out of bed in the morning.
  • "But grandmother," said Ellen,–"I am up a great while before you; I shoul_ind you asleep; don't I come soon enough?"
  • "What do you get up so early for?"
  • "You know, ma'am–I told you some time ago. I want some time to myself."
  • "It is not good for you to be up so long before breakfast, and in these col_ornings. Do not rise in future till I send for you."
  • "But grandmother,–that is the only time for me–there isn't an hour afte_reakfast that I can have regularly to myself; and I cannot be happy if I d_ot have some time."
  • "Let it be as I said," said Mrs. Lindsay.
  • "Couldn't you let me come to you at eleven o'clock again, ma'am?  _do_ , grandmother !"
  • Mrs. Lindsay touched her lips; a way of silencing her that Ellen particularl_isliked, and which both Mr. Lindsay and his mother was accustomed to use.
  • She thought a great deal on the subject and came soberly to the conclusio_hat it was her duty to disobey. "I promised John," she said to herself,–"_ill never break that promise ! I'll do any thing rather. And besides, if _ad not, it is just as much my duty–a duty that no one here has a right t_ommand me against. I will do what I think right, come what may."
  • She could not without its coming to the knowledge of her grandmother. A wee_r rather two after the former conversation, Mrs. Lindsay made inquiries o_ason, her woman, who was obliged to confess that Miss Ellen's light wa_lways burning when she went to call her.
  • "Ellen," said Mrs. Lindsay the same day,–"have you obeyed me in what I tol_ou the other morning ?–about lying in bed till you are sent for ?"
  • "No, ma'am."
  • "You are frank ! to venture to tell me so. Why have you disobeyed me ?"
  • "Because, grandmother, I thought it was right."
  • "You think it is right to disobey, do you ?"
  • "Yes, ma'am, if–"
  • "If what?"
  • "I mean, grandmother, there is One I must obey even before you."
  • "If what?" repeated Mrs. Lindsay.
  • "Please do not ask me, grandmother; I don't want to say that."
  • "Say it at once, Ellen !"
  • "I think it is right to disobey if I am told to do what is wrong," said Elle_n a low voice.
  • "Are you to be the judge of right and wrong ?"
  • "No, ma'am."
  • "Who then?"
  • "The Bible."
  • "I do not know what is the reason," said Mrs. Lindsay, "that I cannot be ver_ngry with you. Ellen, I repeat the order I gave you the other day. Promise m_o obey."
  • "I cannot, grandmother; I must have that hour; I cannot do without it."
  • "So must I be obeyed, I assure you, Ellen. You will sleep in my roo_enceforth."
  • Ellen heard her in despair; she did not know what to do.  _Appealing_  was no_o be thought of. There was, as she said, no time she could count upon afte_reakfast. During the whole day and evening she was either busy with he_tudies or masters, or in the company of her grandmother or Mr. Lindsay; an_f not there, liable to be called to them at any moment. Her grandmother'_xpedient for increasing her cheerfulness had marvellous ill success. Elle_rooped under the sense of wrong, as well as the loss of her greatest comfort.
  • For two days she felt and looked forlorn; and smiling now seemed to be _ifficult matter. Mr. Lindsay. happened to be remarkably busy those two days, so that he did not notice what was going on. At the end of them, however, i_he evening, he called Ellen to him, and whisperingly asked what was th_atter.
  • "Nothing sir," said Ellen, "only grandmother will not let me do something _annot be happy without doing."
  • "Is it one of the things you want to do because it is right, whether it i_onvenient or not ?"he asked smiling. Ellen could not smile.
  • "Oh, father," she whispered, putting her face close to his, "if you would onl_et grandmother to let me do it !"
  • The words were spoken with a sob, and Mr. Lindsay felt her warm tears upon hi_eck. He had, however, far too much respect for his mother to say anythin_gainst her proceedings while Ellen was present; he simply answered that sh_ust do whatever her grandmother said. But when Ellen had left the room, whic_he did immediately, he took the matter up. Mrs. Lindsay explained, an_nsisted that Ellen was spoiling herself for life and the world by a set o_ull religious notions that were utterly unfit for a child; that she woul_ery soon get over thinking about her habit of morning prayer, and would the_o much better. Mr. Lindsay looked grave; but with Ellen's tears yet wet upo_is cheek, he could not dismiss the matter so lightly, and persisted i_esiring that his mother should give up the point, which she utterly refuse_o do.
  • Ellen meanwhile had fled to her own room. The moonlight was quietly streamin_n through the casement; it looked to her like an old friend. She thre_erself down on the floor, close by the glass, and after some tears, which sh_ould not help shedding, she raised her head and looked thoughtfully out. I_as very seldom now that she had a chance of the kind; she was rarely alon_ut when she was busy.
  • "I wonder if that same moon is this minute shining in at the glass door a_ome?–no, to be sure it can't this minute–what am I thinking of?–but it wa_here or will be there–let me see–east–west–it was there some time thi_orning I suppose; looking right into our old sitting-room. Oh, moon, I wish _as in your place for once, to look in there too! But it is all empt_ow–there's nobody there–Mr. Humphreys would be in his study–how lonely, ho_onely he must be! Oh, I wish I was back there with him!–John isn't ther_hough–no matter–he will be,–and I could do so much for Mr. Humphreys in th_eanwhile. He must miss me. I wonder where John is–nobody writes to me; _hould think some one might. I wonder if I am ever to see them again. Oh, h_ill come to see me surely before he goes home!–but then he will have to g_way without me again–I am fast now–fast enough–but oh! am I to be separate_rom them for ever! Well!–I shall see them in heaven!"
  • It was a "Well" of bitter acquiescence, and washed down with bitter tears.
  • "Is it my bonny Miss Ellen?" said the voice of the housekeeper coming softl_n;–"is my bairn sitting a' her lane i' the dark? Why are ye no wi' the res_' the folk, Miss Ellen?"
  • "I like to be alone, Mrs. Allen, and the moon shines in here nicely."
  • "Greeting!" exclaimed the old lady, drawing nearer,–"I ken it by the sound o'
  • your voice;–greeting eenow! Are ye no weel, Miss Ellen? What vexes my bairn?
  • Oh, but your father would be vexed an he kenned it!"
  • "Never mind, Mrs. Allen," said Ellen; "I shall get over it directly; don't sa_ny thing about it."
  • "But I'm wae to see you," said the kind old woman, stooping down and strokin_he head that again Ellen had bowed on her knees;–"will ye no tell me wha_exes ye? Ye suld be as blithe as a bird the lang day."
  • "I can't, Mrs. Allen, while I am away from my friends."
  • "Friends! And what has mair frinds than yoursel, Miss Ellen, or bette_rinds?–father and mither and a'; where wad ye find thae that will love yo_air."
  • "Ah , but I haven't my brother!" sobbed Ellen.
  • "Your brither, Miss Ellen? An' wha's he?"
  • "He's every thing, Mrs. Allen! He's every thing! I shall never be happ_ithout him!–never! never!"
  • "Hush,  _dear  _Miss Ellen! For the love of a' that's gude;–dinna talk tha_ate! And dinna greet sae! Your father wad be sair vexed to hear ye or to se_e."
  • "I cannot help it," said Ellen;–"it is true."
  • "It may be sae; but dear Miss Ellen, dinna let it come to your father's ken; ye're his very heart's idol; he disna merit aught but gude frae ye."
  • "I know it, Mrs. Allen," said Ellen weeping, "and so I  _do_  love him–bette_han any body in the world, except two. But oh! I want my brother!–I don'_now how to be happy or good either without him. I want him all the while."
  • "Miss Ellen, I kenned and loved your dear mither weel for mony a day–will y_ind if I speak a word to her bairn?"
  • "No, dear Mrs. Allen–I'll thank you;–did you know my mother?"
  • "Wha suld if I didna? she was brought up in my arms, and a dear lassie. Ye'r_o muckle like her, Miss Ellen; ye're mair bonny than her; and no a'thegithe_ae frack;–though she was douce and kind too."
  • "I wish"–Ellen began, and stopped.
  • "My dear bairn, there is Ane abuve wha disposes a' things for us; and he isn_eel pleased when his children fash themselves wi' his dispensations. He ha_a'en and placed you here, for your ain gude I trust,–I'm sure it's for th_ude of us a',–and if ye haena a' things ye wad wish, Miss Ellen, ye hae Him; dinna forget that, my ain bairn."
  • Ellen returned heartily and silently the embrace of the old Scotchwoman, an_hen she left her, set herself to follow her advice. She tried to gather he_cattered thoughts and smooth her ruffled feelings, in using this quiet tim_o the best advantage. At the end of half an hour she felt like anothe_reature; and began to refresh herself with softly singing some of her ol_ymns.
  • The argument which was carried on in the parlour sunk at length into silenc_ithout coming to any conclusion.
  • "Where is Miss Ellen?" Mrs. Lindsay asked of a servant that came in.
  • "She is up in her room, ma'am, singing."
  • "Tell her I want her."
  • "No–stop," said Mr. Lindsay;–"I'll go myself."
  • Her door was a little ajar, and he softly opened it without disturbing her.
  • Ellen was still sitting on the floor before the window, looking out throug_t, and in a rather a low tone singing the last verse of the hymn "Rock o_ges."
  • > While I draw this fleeting breath,– > When my eyelids close in death,– > When I rise to worlds unknown, > And behold, thee on thy throne,– > Rock of Ages, cleft for me, > Let me hide myself in thee!
  • >
  • >
  • Mr. Lindsay stood still at the door. Ellen paused a minute, and then sung
  • "Jerusalem my happy home." Her utterance was so distinct that he heard ever_ord. He did not move till she had finished, and then he came softly in.
  • "Singing songs to the moon, Ellen?"
  • Ellen started and got up from the floor.
  • "No, sir; I was singing them to myself."
  • "Not entirely, for I heard the last one. Why do you make yourself sobe_inging such sad things?"
  • "I don't, sir; they are not sad to me; they are delightful. I love the_early."
  • "How came you to love them? It is not natural for a child of your age. What d_ou love them for, my little daughter?"
  • "Oh, sir, there are a great many reasons,–I don't know how many."
  • "I will have patience, Ellen; I want to hear them all."
  • "I love them because I love to think of the things the hymns are about,–I lov_he tunes, dearly, and I like both the words and the tunes better, I believe, because I have sung them so often with friends."
  • "Humph! I guessed as much. Isn't that the strongest reason of the three?"
  • "I don't know, sir; I don't think it is."
  • "Is all your heart in America, Ellen, or have you any left to bestow on us?"
  • "Yes, sir."
  • "Not very much!"
  • "I love  _you_ , father," said Ellen, laying her cheek gently alongside o_is.
  • "And your grandmother, Ellen?" said Mr. Lindsay, clasping his arms around her.
  • "Yes, sir."
  • But he well understood that the "yes" was fainter.
  • "And your aunt?–speak, Ellen."
  • "I don't love her as much as I wish I did," said Ellen;–"I love her a little, I suppose. Oh, why do you ask me such a hard question, father?"
  • "That is something you have nothing to do with," said Mr. Lindsay, hal_aughing. "Sit down here," he added, placing her on his knee, "and sing to m_gain."
  • Ellen was heartened by the tone of his voice, and pleased with the request.
  • She immediately sang with great spirit a little Methodist hymn she had learne_hen a mere child. The wild air and simple words singularly suited each other.
  • > O Canaan–Bright Canaan– > I am bound for the land of Canaan.
  • > O Canaan! It is my happy home– > I am bound for the land of Canaan.
  • "Does that sound sad, sir?"
  • "Why yes,–I think it does, rather, Ellen. Does it make you feel merry?"
  • "Not  _merry_ , sir,–it isn't  _merry_ ; but I like it very much."
  • "The tune or the words?"
  • "Both, sir."
  • "What do you mean by the land of Canaan?"
  • "Heaven, sir."
  • "And do you like to think about that ? at your age?"
  • "Why certainly, sir! Why not?"
  • "Why  _do_  you?"
  • "Because it is a bright and happy place," said Ellen, gravely;–"where there i_o darkness, nor sorrow, nor death, neither pain nor crying;–and my mother i_here, and my dear Alice, and my Saviour is there; and I hope I shall be ther_oo."
  • "You are shedding tears now, Ellen."
  • "And if I am, sir, it is not because I am unhappy. It doesn't make me unhapp_o think of these things–it makes me glad; and the more I think of them th_appier I am."
  • "You are a strange child. I am afraid your grandmother is right, and that yo_re hurting yourself with poring over serious matters that you are too youn_or."
  • "She would not think so if she knew," said Ellen, sighing. "I should not b_appy at all without that, and you would not love me half so well, nor sh_ither. Oh, father," she exclaimed, pressing his hand in both her own an_aying her face upon it,–"do not let me be hindered in that! Forbid me an_hing you please, but not that! the better I learn to please my best Friend, the better I shall please you."
  • "Whom do you mean by 'your best friend?'"
  • "The Lord my Redeemer."
  • "Where did you get these notions?" said Mr. Lindsay, after a short pause.
  • "From my mother, first, sir."
  • "She had none of them when I knew her."
  • "She had afterwards, then, sir; and oh!"–Ellen hesitated,–"I wish every bod_ad them too!"
  • "My little daughter," said Mr. Lindsay affectionately kissing the cheeks an_yes which were moist again,–"I shall indulge you in this matter. But you mus_eep your brow clear, or I shall revoke my grant. And you belong to me now; and there are some things I want you to forget, and not remember,–yo_nderstand? Now don't sing songs to the moon any more to-night–good-night, m_aughter."
  • "They think religion is a strange melancholy thing," said Ellen to herself a_he went to bed;–"I must not give them reason to think so–I must let m_ushlight burn bright–I must take care–I never had more need!"
  • And with an earnest prayer for help to do so, she laid her head on the pillow.
  • Mr. Lindsay told his mother he had made up his mind to let Ellen have her wa_or a while, and begged that she might return to her old room and hours again.
  • Mrs. Lindsay would not hear of it. Ellen had disobeyed her orders, sh_aid;–she must take the consequence.
  • "She is a bold little hussy to venture it," said Mr. Lindsay,–"but I do no_hink there is any naughtiness in her heart."
  • "No, not a bit. I could not be angry with her. It is only those preposterou_otions she has got from somebody or other."
  • Mr. Lindsay said no more. Next morning he asked Ellen privately what she di_he first thing after breakfast. Practise on the piano for an hour, she said.
  • "Couldn't you do it at any other time?"
  • "Yes, sir, I could practise in the afternoon, only grandmother likes to hav_e with her."
  • "Let it be done then, Ellen, in future."
  • "And what shall I do with the hour after breakfast, sir?"
  • "Whatever you please" said he smiling.
  • Ellen thanked him in the way she knew he best liked, and gratefully resolve_e should have as little cause as possible to complain of her. Very littl_ause indeed did he or any one else have. No fault could be found with he_erformance of duty; and her cheerfulness was constant and unvarying. Sh_emembered her brother's recipe against loneliness and made use of it; sh_emembered Mrs. Allen's advice and followed it; she grasped the promises, "h_hat cometh to me shall never hunger,"–and "seek and ye shall find,"–preciou_ords that never yet disappointed any one; and though tears might often fal_hat nobody knew of, and she might not be so  _merry_  as her friends woul_ave liked to see her; though her cheerfulness was touched with sobriety, the_ould not complain; for her brow was always unruffled, her voice clear, he_mile ready.
  • After a while she was restored to her own sleeping-room again, and permitte_o take up her former habits.