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he allows me to take care of the poultry : there used to be a woman, she never could contrive to keep them out of the garden, and that did vex Andrew. We have a nice court at my uncle's, I keep them there, and my master is very generous, and satisfies me very handsomely for my trouble.”
Brownrigg fidgetted, he did not much like such a provision for Peggy. Unless she married to be as well off as she was now; he could not bear the thought of her marrying at all. James saw that Brownrigg was not satisfied, and stood like a culprit; and Brownrigg, who had seated himself in his arm-chair, kept smoothing down the elbow of it, and seemed to be casting up the sum total of
James's gains. Well, Sir, I should like to have a little conversation with Peggy; if I find the girl's heart at all in the business, Jonathan Brownrigg is not a man to consider himself, and make others unhappy.” It was well for James that he had learnt in the Christian school the best of all lessons, submission, and what in reality was an exercise of a religious nature, Brownrigg supposed to be respectful obedience to his will. This certainly gratified him, and went further towards obtaining his consent than any thing James could have said, and
from that day the good-natured bachelor was contriving what he could do to make the young people happy. Many schemes passed through his mercantile mind, and were rejected as soon as formed. At length he determined to inquire for a little maid to be trained for his own convenience; and he looked for a little ground for a nursery garden, for the benefit of the young people. “A nursery garden is the most natural means for their subsistence; James understands it,” said he, “ and among us we might support him ;” and from this time Brownrigg kept his eye upon any little freehold land that he could
purchase. Now, though this interrupted his happiness in one case, yet it was a continual source of amusement for bim. Plans of various kinds, which he formed to serve Peggy, and not to injure Esther; the continual activity of his mind, the repeated walks he took, and the inquiries he made in every direction, whose field that was, awakened curiosity in many parts of the parish, and in none more than in the minds of his amiable friends the Miss Jennings's. “Oh! so the old gentleman is going to marry at last some fine London lady, I suppose; whoever it was, she would have a fine life of it with Mr. Buckram.” Young Mr. Jennings heard that
he counted the threads of his wristband, that it might fit him exactly; and Miss Louisa said, she saw him cutting out his own linen. “ Well now, Louisa, you really ?” said her brother; “ well, that is a good one.” Miss Louisa declared she did.
Now, reader, it is very true that Brownrigg was cutting a strip of cloth : as Miss Louisa passed the window one day, he was trying to bind a book, and this strip was to put at the back. It is no uncommon thing to see false conclusions drawn from slighter premises; but the good man went on heedless of any remark, and at length succeeded in the purchase of five acres not very far from his own dwelling. This he determined to let at a reasonable rent, payable to himself for his life, and afterwards for the sole and separate use of his little niece Jemima; the rent was so moderate for the first five years, that he did not get interest for his money, because he wished the young folks to get forward. After this term, he settled that it should be raised according to its value.
This settlement for James and Peggy seemed to please every one, and it certainly gave new life to Brownrigg. The purchase of the land secured, he was turning all his thoughts to the elevation of a
neat small green-house with a cottage adjoining, fully at liberty to watch his workpeople; after having laid his plans, and consulting every work, new and old, published on the subject. Small as the place was, it abounded with conveniences : one thing alone seemed to fidget Brownrigg. James did not know Latin, and this he ought to know, in order to understand his plants. For several days he was casting about how to supply this defect.
As James was Mr. Lascelles's servant, he thought he would consult with him upon the subject, and he suggested a plan which delighted Brownrigg: it was this; that the little Meredith should be sufficiently instructed in this language to supply , James's deficiency; "and, after a time,' said Mr. Lascelles," who knows but the fair boy may become a nurseryman too."
It may be remembered how sedulously Stephen's father cultivated the level Bit, and there was something of the same spirit in the whole family. This rising lad was delighted with the idea of his own consequence, and was often by the side of Brownrigg at the new building, Oh, if there were but one spirit in us all, a spirit active and benevolent, desirous to do good, and pleased with promoting the happiness of others, performing every act of
useful life under the blessing of God our Saviour; even this fallen world hath many chosen spots, where we might raise our Ebenezers, and sing praises to his name.
We should not have dwelt upon this apparently immaterial part of our story, were it not to note what often occurs in the order of divine Providence, viz. small circumstances forming links in the great chain. Here was Ferguson, Brownrigg, James, and even the little Michael Meredith, all necessary actors in the scene; but the grand and most delightful part was, the frequent intercourse of Brownrigg and Mr. Lascelles, an intercourse which removed his prejudice, yet strengthened his attachment, and made him listen to his instructions with partiality, and even delight. When the house was nearly finished, “My dear mother,” said Esther, one day, “ did you observe how my beloved uncle seemed rivetted in his attention last Sunday. Oh, if he should become a Christian !” “He will," said her aunt, “rely upon it, Jonathan Brownrigg is not far from the kingdom of God. Remember, child, how many hands are lifted up for him daily; I pray for him and your mother, and do not you ?” “ Indeed, aunt, I do.” " And to whom do we pray, my dear child ? to a God who