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“You should feel above such things,' said Miss Lucretia, tossing her head with a scornful air. I am sure I have more reason to dislike Helen than you have, but I will not let my mind be moved by insignificant trifles. It was only last Thursday when Mr. Beckman was here, and we were agreeably engaged in discussing the beauties of Marmion.
Mr. Beckman was trying to recall a stanza in one of the songs ; I could not tell him, for indeed I only skimmed the book, just to be able to converse about it ; and don't you think he asked Helen if she recollected it; and she had the effrontery to repeat every word, and then he directed all his conversation to her, and she seemed to understand all he said, though much of it was about characters and sentiments that I never heard of before ? I should have been provoked with Helen, only I thought myself above it.'
It will be just so this evening,' said Eliza. You will find Helen will gain the attention of Howard and Beckman, and those are the only gentlemen we shall have that I care a straw for. I wish she was away.'
Helen Bond, the innocent cause of all this disturbance in the minds of these young ladies, was the only child of a deceased clergyman. He was drowned by the upsetting of a boat, in consequence of the intoxication of one of the boatmen, as he was returning from a voyage taken for the benefit of his health, and which had apparently re-established it.
He was drowned in sight of his own home, of his wife and child, who had hurried to the beach to welcome his landing. He went down with their shrieks of agony ringing in his ears ; but his was the most enviable lot. Who can tell the bitterness of that sorrow with which the new made widow and her fatherless daughter hung over the lifeless remains of him, who, under heaven, had been their stay and comforter-on whom had been all their dependence for happiness and support! In such cases ''tis the survivor dies'
Mrs. Bond, however, survived her husband only a few months, and then poor Helen had no resource but to seek her livelihood among strangers, or accept the offer of a residence with her cousins, the Miss Thompsons. Helen Bond had been as well instructed as the present imperfect system of female education will admit. But with all her 'solid' learning and accomplishments, she still suffered from that radical defect in the fashionable education of young women, namely, that she had not been taught the application of her learning to any useful purpose. It is this defect which renders the educated, when deprived of friends and resources, less capable of providing for themselves than are the ignorant who have not been made delicate and sensitive by refinement of intellect and manners.
One feminine accomplishment, however, Helen possessed and improved advantageously - she excelled in fine needlework, and it was the knowledge of her expertness and industry in sewing, that induced her cousins to wish her residence with them. They had need of her assistance, for they were very indolent, and they availed themselves to the utmost of her taste and skill in the designing and finishing their elaborate dresses. But still they affected to consider Helen as entirely beholden to their generosity for a home, and she daily felt all the bitterness of dependance, superadded to the necessity of earning her own bread. She wished to break the thrall, but it required an effort of mind, which a timid and delicate young lady of eighteen, who had never been familiarized to the idea that she could, should necessity and duty dictate, support herself, would hardly be supposed sufficiently energetic, to make. But when she discovered the envy and jealousy her cousins entertained towards her, and perhaps felt a little conscious when surveying herself in the glass, that she was a dangerous rival to them, especially in their designs on the heart of one young gentleman whom they wished to attract, she determined to leave their roof, though she went to service to earn her livelihood. Her resolution was accelerated by the occurrences of the evening on which the Miss Thompsons gave
their brilliant assembly. The marked attention paid Helen by Horatio Howard exasperated the sisters, and the ironical compliments they lavished on her the next day, she considered so cruel and humiliating, that her spirit, subdued as it had been by sorrow and suffering, rose at once to the aid of her reason, till she no longer hesitated to follow its dictates. She applied to a friend of her late father, told him, in part, her trials, and besought him to find some business in which she might with propriety engage. With the most delicate kindness he offered her a home in his own family ; but though her rejection of his generous offer was, for some time, impeded by her tears of gratitude, it was nevertheless decided.
'I cannot,' said she, 'consent to live any longer in the ease of opulence, when at the best I can only enjoy it by the benevolence of friends. If I were deprived of health, or incapable of exertion, the case would be otherwise ; I would then humbly accept your generous offer of a maintenance ; but I am determined never to attempt to mingle again in splendid circles, while I am dependant on charity for a support. There is, sir, to my feelings, an impropriety almost an indelicacy, in the situation of living thus without any apparent aim or present usefulness; yet I own I might not have been sensible of this, had not the unkind observations of my cousins taught me to reflect. I have learned from them that the young lady who does so live, is always supposed by the world to be anxiously watching for an opportunity of establishing herself by marrying, and that it is generally thought by the gentlemen she will accept the first good offer. They must then think her vain and selfish, if not artful. O! I cannot endure such surmises and observations:-continued she, bursting into a flood of tears and if you wish to make me contented and happy, pray tell me something I can do for myself.'
Her father's friend in a short time procured for her a situation as Instructress in an Academy at some distance from the metropolis ; and her letters soon breathed such a spirit of satisfaction, that he would have felt amply recompensed for his trouble, in the idea that he had contributed to her happiness, without the acknowledgements she so frequently and feelingly made.
I would not,' she wrote, after passing a day of activity in my school, exchange the approbation of my own heart, while it whispers I have been usefully, rationally and innocently employed, for the opportunity of attending every party my fashionable cousins will give through the season.'
And how did her rich and fashionable cousins enjoy themselves ? Did they succeed in securing their favorite beaux, when the field was left them without a rival ?' every young lady is ready to inquire.
They did not, either of them, secure Horatio Howard. Yet he was very ambitious, as young lawyers, who feel a consciousness of their own abilities, are apt to be ; and he knew enough of the world to be sensible that the eclat and advantage of commencing business with a capital of $50,000 would be a mighty convenient thing." And he began his visits to the Miss Thompsons with something very much like a resolution of making love to one of them. Lucretia was the first object of his