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“Now daisies blush, and wildflowers smile with dew :
Now shady lanes with hyacinth are blue.”
How shall we describe Paington Abbey, where we are about to conduct little Edith Trevor and her nurse, the seat of Sir James and Lady Fitzwilliam ? The latter, to whom we have before slightly alluded, was the only sister of Lord Grey ; and, in the first moment of his affliction, he had readily accepted her ladyship's offer to take charge of his little girl. The 'Abbey, as it was called, was a delightful old place, standing in its own extensive and very beautiful park. The present mansion had been erected on the site of the old Abbey, now a ruin, five hundred years old, but in great preservation, supposed to have been built in the early days of the occupation of England by the Normans. The pleasure-grounds were detached, covering about seventeen acres, including conservatories, a beautiful flowergarden, and two others, called the old and new American gardens. This fine old place had descended, for many generations, in Sir James Fitzwilliam's family, from father to son. He was himself one of the oldest Baronets in the county of Berks, for which he was likewise a member. Lady Fitzwilliam's extreme beauty, some even whispered the large fortune which she brought him, as Miss Trevor, had won him, some thirteen years back, from the time our story begins, to offer her his hand which was accepted, and they had now three children, to whom we shall introduce our readers. Anne, the eldest, was now between twelve and thirteen ; the second was a boy, the darling of his mother, whom he strikingly resembled; and the youngest, little Marion, completed the trio. Lady Fitzwilliam troubled herself little about her children; devoted to self, they found little place in her thoughts. She was one of those mothers who considered it enough to provide bonnes, governesses, and tutors for them; and, so as they relieved her of all trouble, they might have ill performed those duties--been ill fitted for their important charge; she knew nothing of what passed. Flattered and spoiled by a world to which she was devoted, poor Lady Fitzwilliam had little time, and still less inclination, for any serious reflection. Her eldest girl was not a favourite with her mother; and why? Because Fortune had been less lavish in her favours, as regarded beauty, than to her handsome brother Edward, and pretty engaging Marion. Lady Fitzwilliam had more than once been heard to say, that if Anne grew up as plain as she promised, she must hide her at home, as she could never present to the world a girl as her child, who was downright plain. With some, from the fact of every preference being shown her sister, a jealousy would have unavoidably sprung up between Anne and Marion ; but in this instance it was quite the contrary. The strongest and deepest affection subsisted between the sisters, an affection which grew with their growth and strengthened with their strength. Anne was of a timid and enduring nature, uniting a firmness of character surprising in one so young ;
whilst Marion was of a much more impetuous disposition, wanting the mildness and patience that so characterized her sister ; but with this impetuosity, which proceeded from a superiority both in talent and genius, there was a goodness and warmth of heart that obtained for her a ready forgiveness, as well as universal popularity. Happily for them, what they wanted in their mother was fully supplied in their governess, Miss Sinclair. Accomplished to Lady Fitzwilliam's content, a point quite indispensable with her ladyship, she united all the elegance of a lady with the method and knowledge of teaching, so necessary in those who have the care and education of the young. Reverses had obliged Miss Sinclair to seek her fortunes in the world ; and, applying to Lady Catherine Douglas, an old and valued friend of her mother's, in happier times, she had procured for her her present situation in Lady Fitzwilliam's family. Trials, one after another, the successive loss of both father and mother, leaving her a friendless orphan on the
wide world, had brought her to look to Him who has promised to be a “Father to the fatherless ;" and, trusting that word, she had been enabled to do so, and cast her care on him; and, thus sustained, she found comfort in the hour of affliction.. Little did Lady Fitzwilliam know, when she accepted Lady Catherine's recommendation, that in receiving the accomplished Miss Sinclair she was giving her children a pious and Christian instructress. She had a perfect horror of what she termed a “serious" person, or serious people ; and, had she known her views, would have shrunk decidedly from her with instinctive dread. But we are often called upon to acknowledge “God's ways are not our ways, nor His thoughts our thoughts." In His gracious providence Miss Sinclair was to be the instrument of conveying the best of all knowledge to her little pupils—the knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus ; and, in years after, Anne and Marion had ooth reason gratefully to remember the inestimable blessing of her early religious instructions.
The news of poor Lady Grey's death had cast a shade over the occupants of the school-room at the Abbey. Both little girls affectionately loved their aunt. Only the previous summer, she and their uncle, Lord Grey, and young cousin, Edith, had passed two months at Paington, during which time she had more than ever endeared herself to their young hearts. Anne had been her great favourite, perhaps from her being, in Lady's Grey's eyes, the neglected one. It had been her pleasure to select her as her little companion on every occasion that offered ; and Anne's young heart had been warmed with grateful feelings towards her aunt, as the only being who (with the exception of her governess) had ever shown her kindness. Her tears, as they fell over the lesson she was learning, on the morning their mother's maid, Graham (who had lived more than twelve years in the family), entered the schoolroom to acquaint the young ladies with the news of their aunt's death, told that Anne felt she had, indeed, lost a friend--a kind friend.
A few weeks after the announcement of Lady Grey's death, they learned, with mingled feelings of pleasure, that their little cousin was coming to live with them for a while; but when, the following day, Mrs. Graham, as on a previous occasion, presented herself with a message from her ladyship, for the young ladies to prepare themselves, with Miss Sinclair, to accompany her that afternoon, to fetch home in the carriage little Edith from the station, it was with difficulty they could disguise their discomfort and embarrassment at the arrangement. With her usual distant manner, at the hour appointed Lady Fitzwilliam met Miss Sinclair. It was her ladyship's way to treat governesses with the most marked froideur, on of her favourite opinions being, that there was not a more dangerous class to be met with, in more ways than one; and that any approach to kindness was only a precedent