Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

the true meaning, but the right application them; and, beyond this, they were almost of that word, by many explanations which painfully solicitous neither to trouble nor she remembered distinctly; but how to use offend any one, scarcely even venturing the word, and to use it rightly, was the cause so far as to be of a different opinion from of much perplexity to her young mind; and those to whom they looked as the highest especially so in relation to the strange woman authorities in matters social, political, and in her solitary cottage on the cliff. On this religious. “Excellent people” they were subject, then, she inwardly resolved to seize called. Let us call them at present simply the first opportunity which might occur for good and kind, a distinction which they seeing and judging for herself; for why the richly deserved, because they had adopted mother should be called crazy, foolish, or

their little orphan niece, and were really obstinate, for persisting in the belief that caring for her as if she had been their own her son would return, Margaret was at a

child. loss to imagine.

It may readily be supposed, from the strict "The place is not far off; I will see her and rather narrow line of respectability which some day,” said the child to herself; and in these worthy people marked out for themthe meantime she formed many plans for selves, that they were guilty of no extravacarrying out her purpose, none of which she gance either in word or act. They had communicated either to her uncle or aunt. perhaps a little tendency to look rather Very naturally, she did not wish them to go sharply after receiving their money's worth with her. She wanted to see the woman by for their money; and they wondered exceedherself, and for herself. There was, besides, ingly at others, and sometimes blamed them, this feeling operating with her, which comes if they did not do the same. It must in from living with kind people whose ideas justice be said of them, however, that their and modes of reasoning and feeling all run

household and personal arrangements were in a very different channel from our own,

conducted on an extremely comfortable, if that we learn in time to be quiet, and to not a liberal scale. Their residence, when dwell in silence upon our favourite thoughts, at home, was the very neatest and most comrather than bring them forward to be con- plete of suburban villas, situated within a stantly found fault with, or treated with mile of a genteel county town in the south contempt. I say kind people, because if of England. Here it was generally remarked they are not kind and good, we care less of them that they had the best of everything; about carrying on a battle of opinions with and in having always the best, Mr. and Mrs. them; but with the kind and good, such Anderson considered that they had their battles are always painful; and Margaret, money's worth for their money. though naturally persistent in whatever As already said, these worthy people were notions she took up, owed too much to her not backward in relieving cases of distress, worthy relatives, not to be a little careful where they had reason to feel sure that their how she annoyed or vexed them.

kindness was well deserved, and that their Mr. and Mrs. Anderson were extremely charity would be well spent. But then they kind and good people in their way; and it must be very sure on these points; and the was a very common and very generally ap- necessity of making themselves so, involved proved way-just that way which a large them in so many curious investigations reproportion of our friends and neighbours specting people's character, conduct, and would speak of as the best way. At all events, modes of living, so far as to ascertain what it looked outwardly to be a very safe way. they did with their money when they got it, They were highly respectable people, did and what they had done on former occasions nothing new or eccentric, took care of their when receiving help from others, that the own, subscribed largely to public charities, result was far from satisfactory to their own and even in private would assist others when minds, or beneficial to their own habits of quite sure that it was right and safe to assist thought and feeling. As is too frequently the case in pursuing such minute and per- adventures of seafaring life, and could most sonal investigations, these good people, being of them tell of themselves or their relatives ofton vexed and disappointed, became in stories quite as extraordinary, and many of time more and more disposed to put their them more disastrous, than those of the hands into their pockets without drawing mother and her long-expected sailor son. If anything out.

at any time they singled out this woman to This also was a mystery to Margaret, and speak of her as remarkable, they did so with it perplexed her beyond measure. Her father

less of contempt for her harmless delusion, had been a country curate, with a very than of respect for her great faith. To them limited income; and yet she had a strong there was a touch of sacredness in this enconviction that he did more good with his during faith; for Peggy was a God-fearing,

small means than her uncle and aunt with prayerful woman, and her life had been not their abundance. She had another strong | only unselfishly devoted to those whom she conviction in her mind. It was that if her loved, but innocent of offence to all. Hence father had possessed mines of wealth, he the worst they ever said of her, when they would have been always helping others with saw her white signal waving from the cliff, it, always making somebody happy, doing was, “Poor thing! she'll never see him more and more good. It had been Mar- again; but it pleases her, and keeps her garet's glory at all times, and occasionally heart up to think he'll come back, and I her boast among her young friends at the wouldn't like to be the one to undeceive boarding-school to which she had been sent her." by her uncle, that her father had helped On first arriving at this place, the rough many poor people out of his small means. manners and outspoken words of the people But now, in her present home, when she rather startled Mr. and Mrs. Anderson, but spoke of these things, her worthy relatives they soon learned to understand that no would sigh as if they pitied some weakness offence was intended by such plainness; and in her father; or, if she pushed the matter by degrees they came to believe and trust in too far, they would give utterance to words these homely people more than in those to that were very hard for her to bear. So, whose comparatively polished manners they this point, as well as on many others, Mar- had been accustomed on the southern coast. garet grew silent, and kept her feelings to That which reconciled them more to this herself; but on this point she was especially place, however, was the near neighbourhood perplexed.

of an old friend and distant relative of Mr. It was now the summer holiday time with Anderson's, who had come with his wife and Margaret. Her uncle and aunt had come, family, like themselves, for the sake of as was their habit every year, to spend a quiet. month or two beside the sea; and this time This friend, Mr. Dunlop, had been for they had chosen a place that was new and many years a resident in Canada. There he strange to them all. It was further north, had married a wife much younger than him. wilder in scenery, and much more retired self; and finally settling there upon an exthan any to which they had been accustomed. tensive farm, was now a prosperous man The manners of the people were more rough with a large family of what Mr. and Mrs. and free, and their characters perhaps a Anderson thought must be very ill-managed shade or two more strongly marked. Hence and turbulent children, judging by the specithe peculiarities of old Peggy Rushton, her men of three boys whom they had brought openly avowed confidence that her son would with them. Indeed, they were supposed by return, and her habit of hoisting her white this sedate and orderly couple to be living in apron for a signal, were regarded as nothing their Canadian home in a somewhat wild to wonder at by her neighbours, who being and scrambling way, with very little idea of chiefly a population of fishermen, with their comfort; but they might be worthy people wives and families, were not strangers to the for all that; to which charitable allowance

on

Mrs. Anderson would sometimes add a re- and then in what seemed to them close pentmark or two of her own by no means compli- up lodgings, it must be confessed that the mentary to the shoes worn by the children, boys had conducted themselves in a manner or the dress in which the mother appeared by no means satisfactory to those who shared at church.

the same habitation. So frequent, indeed, These and many similar remarks which had been the complaints made against them, continually suggested themselves to Mrs.

first by the occupants of the hotel, and then Anderson, were, however, made in an under of the lodgings, that Mr. Dunlop at last tone, and still more frequently were made hurried off with his family to Brighton. only in her own mind, her real opinion of Here, however, the state of affairs was worse the habits of the Dunlop family being con- instead of better, because the wild freaks of fined to the secret chambers of her own the boys were more conspicuous. In fact, heart. She was a good wife, and knew they were continually being complained of, better than to be often uttering such opinions and on one alarming occasion the police had in her husband's hearing, the family being actually interfered. The poor mother then related on his side. He might say what he became so distressed, that a plan was at liked about his own people, and he did speak length adopted for getting them into better sometimes in relation to the children rather training in some more remote situation; and strongly. “Perfect wild animals,” he called the little fishing town already described, them; "as untrained as polar bears. As to having risen of late into some notoriety, Mr. that second boy, Harry Dunlop, he was in. Dunlop had communicated with his relatives, sufferable. George, the oldest, might per- the Andersons, and both families had agreed haps be made something of, and Archy, the to make the experiment of a few weeks' young one, would be a nice enough little residence in this quiet spot, preparatory, on fellow if Harry would let him alone. They the part of the Dunlops, to placing their would all be brought to their senses at school, boys at school. however; and Cousin Tom, the father," he With all this turbulence of spirit, howsaid, “had never done a wiser thing than to ever, so remarkable in the

young Canadians, bring his children to school in England. It there was nothing seriously or intentionally would cost him a pretty sum to be sure, but wrong about them. Perhaps in no family such money would be well laid out, and could there have been found a more sincere might bring back to them its full worth at reverence for what to them was invested some future day."

with importance in a religious point of viev Mrs. Dunlop, it must be confessed, had Of the boys, in their wildest moods, it could not much skill in the management of chil- never be said that they were guilty of prodren. She had never been managed herself, fane, untruthful, or even unkind expressions. and had married when little better than a Their ideas of duty were based upon those child. “The lads were too many for her," immutable laws which their parents had the kind-hearted husband often said; but impressed upon their minds from God's own he said this not unfrequently while laughing Word; and their deviations from these laws, at some of her vain attempts to keep them when they did occur, were chiefly under in order; for, to tell the truth, he did not circumstances to which they did not undercare very much about the matter of order stand them to apply. It must be confessed himself. They had plenty of room in their that they were sadly at fault here. Their Canadian home, and plenty to do, so that own surroundings at home were so different the wild energy of the boys was turned to from those of English society, especially in good account upon the farm, as well as in city life, that they were really ignorant on many an act of thoughtful kindness within many points how they ought to conduct the house.

themselves; and their law of liberty at home Situated as the Dunlop family had been had been so wide, that they were uriacon their arrival in England, first in an hotel, quainted with the exact limits of social pro

а

a

priety as applied to this new kind of inter- | again into tho glass, some of them stalks course with people and things. Hence it uppermost, and were off again in a moment, was often from absolute ignorance, certainly entirely unconscious of the disturbance of not from moral insensibility or perverseness, temper which they had left behind. that the boys were guilty of getting into The fact was, they had run into the house scrapes, as they called it; though, perhaps, in search of Margaret, but not finding her it was more than all from the exuberance of

in the parlour where the unfortunate flowertheir own wild spirits, which did not allow glass was standing, they rushed about hither them time to think, nor patience to inquire and thither, very much in the style of terriers exactly what they ought to do, or to leave hunting a rat, until at last they found her undone.

sitting quietly, with a book in her hand, on It may easily be understood that to a a seat near the edge of a high part of the woman like Mrs. Anderson, a little disposed cliff, which commanded an expansive sea

, to be precise and prim, these boys were a view, as well as a view of old Peggy's great nuisance; and scarcely less so to her cottage, on a point of land which stretched husband. Yet at the same time, had she out on the opposite side of the bay to where wanted a little service doing for her, or even the little town was situated. a very great one, so that it was within the “We want you to take a long rambling range of their ability to do it, the Dunlop walk with us,” said all tho boys at once; boys would have flown with alacrity to serve each giving to the proposal his own enticing her, even at the cost of considerable sacrifice epithet; for Margaret had already become to themselves.

a great favourite with the family. Perhaps There is something noble about the the more so with the boys, because they had lads," Mr. Anderson was heard to observe a little sister at home to whom they were one day, after about a week's acquaintance; always tender and kind, lifting her over the "only that second boy, Harry, is still in- difficult places in their rambles, and guiding tolerable; and how he is ever to come to any her steps with the gentlest care; for besides good, is more than I can imagine.”

her childish helplessness, was she not a little Mrs. Anderson was at the time too much woman? And the very, idea of a woman engaged to make any distinct reply to these needing assistance, made them tender and remarks. The opportunity for making them thoughtful at all times. Thus, when Marwas not the most auspicious.

garet hesitated about going with them, they carefully applying a soft napkin to some assured her again and again that she would dark wet patches upon a new tablecloth, be perfectly safe under their care ; that she which evidently caused her much anxiety; could not come to any harm while they were but she did murmur audibly, so soon as she with her; that their parents trusted their felt herself sufficiently at liberty, “I don't own little sister with them for whole days see that Harry is worse, or indeed can be together, and she was much younger and worse, than his brothers; they are all as weaker than Margaret-50 why should she bad as they can be. Do you see what they be afraid ? have done? Upset this glass full of flowers; “Afraid !” said Margaret, a little touched and now the water has taken the gloss off in her dignity, “I am not at all afraid." the tablecloth, and we shall have to pay for But she still hesitated, and even blushed, as it, and all owing to their riotous and in- she added, “I don't quite know that my uncle sufferable ways."

and aunt would like me to go. I must ask The boys were quite aware of what they them first." had done; but not attaching the slightest " You can't do that," exclaimed the boys, importance to the scattering of a small “ for they have all gone out your people quantity of water upon any tablecloth and ours. The carriage was standing at our which they had ever seen in Canada, they door, and we saw Mr. and Mrs. Anderson had just gathered up the flowers, stuck them crossing the street. They are gone for å

She was

long drive, and won't be back again until her countenance, could restrain. Her quick four o'clock. We shall have plenty of time eye had detected what the violent gestures for a nice ramble; so come with us—do." of the boys had prevented them from seeing,

This last little word was spoken in a and she remembered at the same time what manner so earnest and imploring, and the her father had told her about the habits of bright faces of the boys at the same time these birds. looked so encouraging, that Margaret made “Don't you see," she exclaimed, while up her mind to go, and she at once proposed endeavouring to hold back the boys, " that that they should take the path along the cliff they have little ones? Don't you see those towards Peggy's cottage.

tiny specks upon the edge of the rocks?” This was not exactly the excursion which “ What of them ?” asked Harry, more the boys had planned for themselves, but impressed by her manner than by any conthey complied without a moment's hesita- cern about the birds. tion, and the little party set off, the boys “ Those,” replied Margaret, "are baby carrying out their promise of protection to seagulls I believe, just hatched. Papa used such an extent, that Margaret laughingly to tell me about them, that the old birds, so told them she had never been so kindly soon as they believe that their children can cared for in all her life. " At least," she float upon the water safely-I say believe, added, and then her voice grew low and sad, because you see they cannot really know; "since I lost my own papa.”

they can only have faith,-as soon as they beThe boys on hearing her say this, struck lieve, then, that their little ones can swim, they perhaps by her tone and manner, almost as push them off gently from the edge of the much as by her words, became also grave shelving rocks where their nests are made, and quiet for a little while, for it seemed so that they fall directly down upon the deep very shocking to them to have no good kind water; and here it is very deep. Oh, see ! father; and when they recollected hearing there is one just gone! perhaps frightened that the little girl beside them had no mother off before it was ready. Oh, no! there it is either, they became still more tender to her, again, sitting on the waves beside its mother, especially Harry, who had the reputation of looking quite proud and happy. And see being the wildest of the three. But on this how kind she is, keeping close beside it, to occasion he came nearer, and took hold of encourage it. I wonder what they will do the little girl's hand, and did not speak all through the dark night, or if a storm again for a good while; not, indeed, until should come, for you see it is impossible that the flight of some seagulls from the high it should fly up again.” cliff over which they were walking, startled "I think," said Harry, looking very them all out of the reverie into which they thoughtfully down upon the water, seemed to have fallen, and made them run God will take care of it. If He has taught to the edge of the cliff, hoping that by the mother to do as you say for her children, looking over they might see the seagulls' He will keep them safe through the night, I nests, for it was partly with this object that feel sure." the boys had come out, only their excursion “But I wonder how," said Margaret; still had been planned for a more distant and looking anxious and disturbed. rocky portion of the shore.

“I don't think we ought to wonder and It was a glorious view to the boys as they perplex ourselves about it," said Harry, "at gazed around them from that projecting least we ought not to doubt, nor to make height; and glorious too was the wild ourselves unhappy. God has ways of His screaming and the circling flight of the birds, own; and they are so much better than our disturbed by the sudden appearance of the ways, that I think we ought to have faith, at little party, and by their loud shouts and any rate so far as to trust the little seagulls gesticulations, which nothing but Margaret's to Him." carnest entreaties and the distress written on While saying this, the boy's face looked

" that

« AnteriorContinuar »