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antil the breakfast was ready, when she called the apprentices, and we all sat down together; Miss Amelia and her companions looking so demure, that, if I had not seen them before, I should have thought that they could not speak.
After breakfast was over, Virginia showed ine the house. The first floor was to let furnished; the second was occupied by my mother and Virginia; and the attics were appropriated to the apprentices. Everything appeared clean, neat, and well arranged ; and I could not imagine how my mother had contrived to do so much with so little money; but Virginia told me that she thought Mr. Wilson had assisted her.
When I returned, which might have been in six months, I found a great improvement, and every appearance of my mother succeeding well in her speculations. She had now a maid-servant, and her apprentices were increased to twelve, and there was every appearance of brisk and full employment. In 1803, I found that Virginia, who was then fourteen years old, had left school. She had told my mother that, during the last half-year, she had only repeated over again what she had learnt the half-year before, and that she thought she could employ her time better at home and assisting her. My mother was of the same opinion, and Virginia now superintended the cutting-out department, and was very useful. She said that the increase of business had been very great, and that my mother could hardly execute the orders which she received. There were now two servants in the house, and additional workwomen. My mother, also, had very much altered in appearance : before, she was
usually clean and neat; now she was well, if not elegantly dressed, and appeared much younger and better-looking. I must do her the justice to say, that prosperity had not spoiled but improved her: she was more kind and more cheerful every time that I went to see her; and I may add that, with the exception of a little necessary castigation to Miss Amelia and her companions, she never scolded, and was kind to her servants. The last year she had been even more successful, and was now considered the first milliner in the town. I believed that she deserved her reputation, for she had a great deal of taste in dress; and when she had gone up stairs to decorate, previous to the hour of arrival of her customers, and came down in a handsome silk dress, and an elegant morning cap, I would often look at her with surprise, and say to myself, “Who would think that this was my mother, who used to shove the broom at me in the little parlour at Fisher's Alley?"
The reader may inquire how my father and mother got on after such an alteration of her circumstances. I can only reply, that they got on better than they did before; for my mother, who did not wish my father's company in the house, pointed out to him, that, with so many young people living with her, it would be very inconvenient if he came there in the evenings to smoke his pipe; and that it would be better if he conld smoke and drink his beer anywhere else. My father perceived the propriety of this, and assented with a good grace : my mother was very liberal to him, and he was now enabled, when he chose, to ask a companion or two to join him ; so that it suited both parties.
My father, therefore, never came to the house, except after the Hospital supper, when he remained a few minutes to see Virginia, and then departed. On Sundays he spent the whole day there, and was kindly welcomed, but he always left in the evening to smoke his pipe elsewhere. As for me, when I did come, I was always kindly received, and slept in a spare bed on the same floor with my mother and Virginia. Before my time was out, I was too well supplied by Bramble ever to want anything, and afterwards I made plenty of money, and seldom came home without bringing a present both to my mother and Virginia.
Having thus given a general outline of affairs, I shall in the next chapter enter more minutely into some particulars, without which, the detail of events will not be complete.
IN WHICH THE SINE QUÂ NON OF ALL NOVELS IS, FOR THE FIRST
TIME, INTRODUCED. In the last chapter, I have said in few words that Bessy Goodwin had been sent to school, and had since returned home. She had been home nearly a year before the period to which I brought up my history, but now she no longer was employed in any menial service, the girl who had been hired during her absence being still retained.
Bessy now superintended the honsehold, but did nothing more ; and there was a greater degree of comfort and expenditure than had formerly been the case.
Whether this was on Bessy's account, or from Bessy's imbibed ideas, I cannot pretend to say; but certainly there was a great change in our style of living, which Bramble appeared to sanction. Mrs. Maddox remained as a mere pensioner, sitting by the fire, and perhaps finishing a pair of stockings about every five or six weeks, talking as usual at and to everybody, and with everything. In another point, also, there was a change in Bramble's house : it was much oftener filled with company; this was, I presume, to be ascribed to Bessy's personal charms, which certainly were very great. She was of a peculiar and much admired style of beauty, a description which strikes some people at first sight, and not othersthose not perceiving it at first eventually admiring it even more than the others. She was taller than the middle height, her person finely developed, yet not so much so as to take away from its grace : her complexion was pale and clear, her eyes and hair very dark; there was a coldness about her beauty when in repose, like statuary marble ; but if the least excited or animated, the colour would mantle in her cheek: her eyes would beam, till they appeared as if, like bright planets, they could almost cast a shadow; and dimples, before concealed, would show themselves when she indulged in her silvery laugh. Although her form was commanding, still she was very feminine: there was great attraction in her face, even when in repose -she was cold, but not chilling.
I had seen little of her for three years, during which she had sprung up to womanhood, for she was now seventeen, and appeared to be at least eighteen years old. Before, when we were living together, wo
be the case
kissed as brother and sister: since we had again become inmates of the same house, we had been friends, but nothing more. Bessy certainly showed as great a preference to me as our relative situations would admit; but still it appeared as if the extreme intimacy of childhood had been broken off, and that it was necessary that a renewed intimacy under another aspect should take place, to restore us to our former relations. Here it was for me to make the first overtures; not for her, as maidenly reserve would not permit it. Bramble seemed to be most anxious that such should
indeed, considered it as a matter of course: perhaps Bessy thought so too in her own bosom; and the continual raillery of Bramble did more harm than good, as it appeared to warrant her thinking that it ought to be so. Why it was not I will now explain to the reader.
I have already made mention of Mr. Wilson, the lawyer, whose acquaintance we procured through Sir Hercules and his lady. This intimacy had very much increased ; and a Miss Janet Wilson had come home from a finishing seminary near town. Between this young lady and my sister Virginia a certain degree of intimacy had been formed, and of course I had seen a great deal of her at the times when I was at Greenwich. She was a very pretty and very diminutive girl, but beautifully proportioned, although so very small; indeed she was considered quite a mode, in figure, at least my mother used to say so, and I never heard any one disagree with her. Janet had, moreover, large eyes, pencilled eyebrows, and a dimpled chin. Now, as Bessy was away at the time when I first made her