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home because one of her sisters was a little poorly, and lying in bed : were there not three at home to take care of her

“Annie is really ill,” began Amelia.

"Oh, well, my dear, do as you like ; but I thought from your note, it was most likely a feverish cold, and I quite expected to find her on the sofa to-day.”

Now, either Amelia must have felt secretly convinced that Anne was much worse than she had said, or she had better feelings than we had given her credit for, and felt deeply ashamed to leave her sisters to another day of toil ; certainly she had a severe struggle with herself, before she could decide to leave the better part and go out on a party of pleasure. It was not till Mrs. Blount remarked what a united family they were, and how sweetly they sympathized with one another, that Amelia yielded herself to go with a friend whose society and flattery were so delightful to her, and who, I fully believe, had no idea of the extent of Anne's illness.

So Amelia shortly set off, and I sat alone till Sarah came down, and had her breakfast; Miss Perkins joining her, and telling me that she should be very glad if I would order the dinner for her, and cast up the slate. I was also to pay one or two bills. These little things being new to me, occupied my mind during the greater part of the morning; and when I had written to my parents, I was surprised to find that it was two o'clock, the usual dinner hour. I heard that Dr. W. had paid his visit almost directly after Amelia went away, and as the house was very quiet all the morning, I hoped Anne was asleep. As I had taken some pains in ordering the dinner, I was a good deal disappointed when a message was sent to me, asking me to sit down alone, and the ladies would come when they were able. So I dined, and then waited till everything was cold, and till Fanny proposed that the dishes should be taken to the kitchen fire till the ladies came down.

I felt very desolate, and did not know what to do with myself. Bessie was gone to bed, and Miss Sarah had requested me not to sit on the stairs. At last I took up an amusing book that Amelia had borrowed, and was deep in the story, when I heard a man's step coming down stairs, and Dr. W. came in. I was surprised, and asked him if he had been up to see Miss Anne again.

He answered, “Ma'am, I have," and then he sat down and looked at me attentively, till I felt rather confused, more especially as he suddenly broke the silence by saying, sententiously, “Ha! bottled porter!”

“I am afraid, sir, there is none in the house," said I, rising, “ but I'll see.”


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“Pooh!” said the doctor, sit down. Yes-bottled porter."

I then understood that he intended to recommend this beverage to me.

" What's the matter with you?" he next said.

“Nothing," I replied, “ but that I have been growing very fast.”

“Ah! well: have you any friends here, ma'am ?" said the old gentleman. I answered in the negative.

Any acquaintances, ma'am ?"

Only one, very recently made-Mrs. Blount.” “Mrs. Blount. I know her: all right. Suppose you go and spend a day or two with her."

Seeing me look up amazed, he said, “Well, then, suppose you go home, ma'am.”

“My parents are travelling in France, sir.”

“What of that, ma'am. They have not taken the house with them, I suppose ?”

I could scarcely help laughing, while I answered, No, but that the house was being painted.

“Painted! people are always painting. Never was anything known like the luxury of the present day-never. Well, ma'am, young people are always in the way at these times, and never of any use."

I was so surprised and perplexed at this speech, that I did not know what to answer.

“Well, ma'am,” he continued, after waiting for me to speak, “ I'm sorry you don't see the thing in the light I could have wished, and here's my carriage quite at your service to take you to Mrs. Blount. You would really be better away, for I shall be surprised if that poor thing lives through the night.

My astonishment and terror at hearing these words took away my breath, a film rose before my eyes, and I do not know what I should have done if the old gentleman had not suddenly exclaimed, “Heyday, ma'am, what's the meaning of this ? We can't have any fainting ; come and sit by the window, directly."

He gave me his hand, and threw up the sash, and though confusion and sorrow kept me silent, I felt no more faintness; Amelia's absence, the necessity of my immediately leaving my hostess, the uncertainty where I ought to go, and pity for the poor invalid, crowded on my mind, till when the old gentleman had given me long enough, as he thought, for consideration, he said, “Well, ma'am, here's my carriage. In my opinion, a carpet-bag would take all you require, but ladies" --spreading out his arms, as if to enclose a whole army of boxes" have such notions of the luggage they must take about with them, for their hats, and their flounces, and their pomatums, and their things, that I'm sure I don't know whether you can find room enough—but there's the rumble !"

I replied that a carpet-bag would content me, and I stole up the back-stairs, taking Fanny with me, who was weeping, for she had been informed of Miss Anne's danger.

I was anxious not to keep Dr. W. waiting, for I thought myself very much obliged to him for the way in which he was taking me into his hands, and ordering me what to do. There was no one for me to go to but Mrs. Blount; but it would have been much more awkward to go of my own accord than to be taken by him.

He was pleased at my prompt return, and as he handed me into his carriage with elaborate care, I saw the open-mouthed astonishment of his footman ; and though I was in tears, I could not but speculate as to whether any female foot had ever stepped into it before.

As we went, I told him that Mrs. Blount had gone out for the day, and that Amelia was with her; I then ventured, with a beating heart, to ask whether he thought Miss Anne's illness was owing to her having sat too much lately indoors.

She had long been in a very critical state, he replied, and, perhaps, if she had been a fine lady, might have led a life of less pain, though no circumstance could have prolonged it.

It was something, then, to think that a useful life had not been shortened by the wilfulness and inefficiency of some so much inferior to her ; but oh! how bitterly did I regret that the last week of her life before this short illness, had been clouded with anxiety, hurry and toil, instead of being peacefully spent in those quiet pursuits that she took so much delight in.

But I had no time to indulge in these reflections, and the tears they gave rise to; we were at Mrs. Blount's door, and the doctor had to explain to the surprised footman that he wanted to see Mrs. Blount's maid. That elegantly dressed personage presently made her appearance, and, evidently in a fright, asked if any accident had happened to her lady.

"No, ma'am," replied the old gentleman, addressing her, and bowing to her exactly as he had done to me, “but a patient of mine in the house where this young lady was stay: ing, or lodging, or something of that sort, is dying, and you'll be so good as to take care of this young lady (I hav'n't the pleasure of knowing her name) till your lady comes home, when the matter will be explained to her.”


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The maid, charmed at his ceremonious manner, made a gratified curtsey, and replied that she would take great care of the young lady.

The old gentleman then, walking round me and inspecting me, as if to see that I was delivered over to the keeping of another in a satisfactory state, said slowly, “ All right!” and taking me in one hand and my carpet-bag in the other, led me up to the maid, and bowing left me, with a look which plainly said to her, “ You have received these valuable and perishable articles in good preservation, and you will be expected to give them up, on demand, in the same state.”

He then hobbled down the steps to his carriage, and the maid asked me if I would come up-stairs to her lady's dressing-room and have some tea; and I could not but observe that the old gentleman's ultra care had impressed her greatly with the idea of the responsibility she had undertaken ; for she seemed to regard me in the light of a thing that was sure to come to some harm, or receive some injury, if it could possibly find an opportunity.

When I had taken some tea, I lay on a sofa feeling very unhappy, wondering whether Anne was sensible, and whether her sisters were apprized of her danger.

At length, when it was quite dusk, I heard the sound of carriage-wheels crushing the gravel before the house, and when they stopped, Amelia's voice, in its merriest tones, talking to little Miss Blount.

I heard Mrs. Blount ask Amelia to come in, and dreading that they would both come up to the room where I was, and Amelia find out the truth too suddenly, I sent down the maid to draw Amelia aside on some pretence, that I might first speak to her friend.

When Mrs. Blount came in, and started at the sight of me, I was so agitated that I could not speak, but she soon contrived to calm me, and draw from me all that it was needful for her to know.

“ Let her come here at once,” she exclaimed ; “the mere sight of you will be a preparation.”

Amelia came in almost on the instant; in fact, the maid had not been able to detain her long on pretence of brushing her dress.

Amelia was in very high spirits, and so far from taking alarm at the sight of me, thought I was come to see her home. Said she supposed I was quite tired of being moped in that dull house, and appealed to Mrs. Blount whether it was not rather a pity that her sisters should turn the house upsidedown for every little illness.

Mrs. Blount said not a word, she evidently shrank from the task she had to do, and I ventured, by way of opening, to say, "I fear, Amelia, we can hardly call this a little illness, for you know Miss Anne has had two of your sisters to sit up with her for three nights past."

Mrs. Blount, thrown off her guard, exclaimed, “Is it possible :” and I instantly felt, that by thus betraying Amelia's neglect to her friend, I had given her great pain, which I would not have done for the world, at such a time. I had only intended to bring her mind to dwell on her sister's illness.

She looked astonished at my speech, and deeply annoyed, then walked up to the window, where I was standing, and began to draw up the blind, at the same time whispering a few words to me which showed high irritation.

I was so shocked at the mistake I had made, that full of pity for her, I burst into tears, and at the same moment Mrs. Blount, taking her hand, said gravely, “My dear Amelia." This action, and the sight of our faces, on which she had thrown light, (the room being previously dusk,) instantly opened her mind, and she cried out that she was sure Anne was dying. We did not contradict her, but led her down to the carriage, and Mrs. Blount went with her to rejoin her afflicted family.

She was away more than an hour, and when she returned, told me that Amelia went into hysterics directly she entered the house. “I was sorry," she continued, “that she could not command herself, for the sisters ran down instantly, and entreated her to be calm, and not to let Anne hear the noise, for her life hung on a thread, and the first shock would kill her. It made a great confusion," said Mrs. Blount, “and I felt very sorry that I had been the cause of Amelia's being from home at such a time ; but I assured her sisters I had not the slightest idea there was anything more the matter than a feverish cold, or I should never have thought of taking her away, even if she had wished it. They presently went up-stairs again. Poor things ! how sad and worn out they looked. I sat with Amelia as she lay on the sofa, and she showed a degree of shrinking from seeing her sister that surprised me very much. I should have thought affection would have overpowered any weak terrors at being present during painful scenes.”. She then said she had told the youngest of the sisters that I had come under her care; and altogether the sight of sorrow had brought out all the real kindness of her nature, and made her receive me, an almost stranger, with such a welcoming hospitality, that I felt quite comfortable and easy with her, and could even tell her how miserable I had felt under the idea of

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