Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

flexible ; just the disposition for a woman, a wife ; a spirit that can accommodate itself to the wishes and humors of those on whom it is dependent for happiness, and yet retain sufficient firmness to act with decision when circumstances shall require its exertion.

I have dwelt so long on the character of Fanny, (how could it be avoided ?) that I must be brief in the notice of the personage seated next her. And yet to delineate half her peculiarities, would fill half a volume, and her sayings and doings would form a folio. She was no other than Miss Judith Clark, better known in the family and neighbourhood by the name of aunt Judy, the sister of Mr. Ezekiel Clark; and ever since the decease of his wife, had been his housekeeper. She was a working, talking, bustling body, and one who never omitted an opportunity of giving good advice to any person, let them be ever so mean or miserable, who would listen to her harangues. If she did not always give assistance to those who needed it, it was because she did not see it to be her duty. She was the reverse of her brother in many things, and perhaps the difference cannot be better explained than by saying, that while she was boasting of her knowledge of the law, he was silently obeying its injunctions. Yet she was an excellent housekeeper, and proud of her housekeeping ; in short, one of your notables; a character not so common now as twenty years since. She was seated very erect, in a low chair, her knitting work on her lap, but covered with her pocket handker

[ocr errors]

chief, which would wholly have concealed it, had not one unmannerly needle thrust itself through a small hole she had that very evening to her great consternation burnt, while smoking. Her visage was thin and sharp, and her features, and the lines of her countenance, denoted no predominant passion, save extreme carefulness; yet her spectacles were now raised

upon her forehead, and her hands reverently folded upon her lap, as if she had cast aside all worldly thoughts, while preparing to attend the reading of the Holy Word. Let us not doubt the sincerity of her worship-she certainly made a sacrifice of inclination to duty ; . the posture she had assumed, was to her active habits a penance ; for never, during waking hours, were her hands seen folded, except at the morning and evening devotions. But even then, she was not wholly freed from anxiety. Her attention was often diverted from her religious meditations, by the pranks of a roguish looking urchin, who sat in the corner, on her left. A little curl-headed Jonathan, who had been bequeathed, by his dying mother, to the care of aunt Judy, and whom she loved, three excepted, the best of any human being. But he loved play, even better than he did aunt Judy; and was now, from his low stool, slyly pulling and teasing two venerable cats, that lay sleeping on a rug, placed purposely for them, near the fire.

One other figure completed the group around the hearth. Nearly opposite aunt Judy, and beyond the table, on the right hand of Mr.

Clark, sat a young man, apparently sunk in profound thought. The air of his countenance was lofty, almost to haughtiness—and yet there was something in the expression of his very handsome features that attracted, almost fascinated, every beholder. It was the expression of generous feeling, that promised sympathy; of open sincerity, that invited confidence; and few, who regard the face as an index of the mind, would have hesitated to trust him as a friend, and fewer still would have wished to have provoked him to become an enemy. That youth was Walter Wilson. It was the day of his emancipation—he was twenty-one; and the family were thus early assembled, that they might all unite once more in worshipping the Most High, before Walter departed to a school, in a distant town, which he had engaged to instruct during the winter.

Mr. Clark read a chapter composedly, but in a much lower tone than usual-perhaps that was the reason why neither Walter nor Fanny heard one word of the matter.

Aunt Judy could not attend strictly to the reading, as she was obliged to keep one eye constantly fixed on the rogue in the corner, while sundry shakes of her head denoted her displeasure at his conduct. Then followed th

prayer, in which Mr. Clark deviated so far from his usual form, as to petition, earnestly, that the path of duty might be made plain to the one about to go out from them—that he might be kept from temptation, and preserved from evil ; and that they might all meet again, if not in this vale of

tears, yet in the heaven of joy above. Aunt Judy, as a response, uttered a sigh so deep, it nearly resembled a groan-Walter stood with his lips firmly compressed, and every nerve wrought up to endure, if possible, without betraying his feelings; he did not relax for aunt Judy's groan. But when he heard a soft, low sigh, that he knew was breathed by Fanny, his knees trembled so violently, he was compelled to lean against the mantel-piece for support. When Mr. Clark had ended his prayer, he took from the table the small Bible, and advancing one step toward. Walter, said, - It is now my duty, Walter, to say you are free. You have been a faithful and a good boy; not that I can say you have always done your duty; but we all have our short-comings, and you

have behaved much better than I expected when I took you. I hope and pray you will continue to do well; and as a guide to your path, I give you the word of God. Study it, Walter, and you will, I trust, become wise unto salvation. And if, in this world, you meet with any

trials in which I can assist you, call upon me as your friend, your father.'

His voice sunk as he pronounced the last word, but not one word was so distinctly heard by Walter ; and as he returned the fervent pressure of the old man's hand, the tears swelled in his eyes. Aunt Judy sobbed audibly, and would doubtless have cried outright, had she not felt it her duty, while her brother was speaking, to reprimand little Jonathan, which she did in a whisper, by telling him that “if he

did not let them 'ere cats alone, and behave himself, she would, as soon as ever Walter was gone, whip him till she took his skin ofi. For the credit of her humanity, however, I will record, that she had not the least intention of executing her threat.

A man now entered the room to say he waited for Walter. “We must bid you good-by, Walter,' said aunt Judy, offering him one hand, while with the other she wiped her eyes—but where is Fanny? Fanny !" she continued in a loud tone-where can the girl be gone to, I wonder ? Fanny !'

Bid Fanny farewell for me,' said Walter, in a low voice, and then again pressing the hand of Mr. Clark, he rushed from the house.

* You may put my trunk in the sleigh, and drive on,' said Walter, to the man who was to accompany him—'I shall walk.'

"Walk ! what, all the way to your grandfather's ?' inquired the man--'why it is a good five miles, and a plaguy rough road.'

“No matter,' replied Walter, in an accent so impatient, it sounded angry-'I say I shall walk.'

And walk you will, I guess, for all of my stopping for you,' muttered the fellow, as he drove off at full speed.

Walter slowly followed the jingling vehicle, till he had reached an abrupt angle in the road, which, entered upon, soon shut out the view of Mr. Clark's dwelling. Here the youth paused, turned, and stood long, with folded arms, gazing on the home he had left. The cold of

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
« PredošláPokračovať »