> She was his care, his hope, and his delight, > Most in his thought, and ever in his sight.
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 ?"
"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–"
"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 ?"
"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?"
"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.
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?"
"What do you mean by the land of Canaan?"
"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.