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"Why, Miss Mortimer, I like to go to the château, but I remem. ber having been told at home, that it was wrong to visit on Sundays; and then, you have said so much to us, about its being sinful to profane the Sabbath, that I don't know what to do."
"You ought, then, Agnes, to have told Madame d'Elfort before, of your unwillingness to go. However, I will speak to her immediately, and see what can be done."
With this intention, she descended, though her heart beat with violent emotion, at the boldness of the step she was taking. A sense of duty, however, nerved her courage, and, with a silent petition for success in this attempt to do good, she accosted Madame d'Elfort, as she was passing towards her own room, and requested a few moments' private conversation.
"Most willingly, my dear child," replied that lady, kindly putting her arm round Emily, and drawing her into the garden.
Emily timidly preferred her request, and represented the incon. sistency of Protestant children's spending the Sabbath in a manner which totally precluded all attention to religious duties.
Madame d'Elfort's manner immediately changed, and a flush of displeasure overspread her countenance; she withdrew her arm from Emily's waist, and replied, with some asperity,
"You are strangely particular, Mademoiselle Mortimer;-much more, I am sure, than your religion requires. Miss Beverley's engagement cannot be broken,without offending Madarne de SaintPierre; and, besides, I do not like to let young people dictate."
Emily's courage failed beneath her frown, and, overcome by agitation, the tears started to her eyes.
Madame d'Elfort's anger was immediately softened; she embraced her pupil, and said, in a soothing voice,
"Do not distress yourself, my little Emily; I cannot grant your request in this instance; but, rather than it shall cost you one single tear, I promise you that I will henceforth refuse all similar invitations for my English pupils. Now, are you satisfied with this proof of my affection ?"
Emily warmly thanked her for her kindness, and then, returning to Agnes, requested her to take her Bible with her, and endeavor to seize a few moments in the day for perusing it.
The child departed, not without some feelings of self-accusa tion, which Emily hoped might prove salutary in their effects and the English boarders soon after retired to the school-room, to read the morning prayers and a sermon. Again they assembled in the afternoon, and read and conversed on the sixth chapter of the epistle to the Romans. This striking portion of Scripture called forth various questions and remarks, and Lydia, in particular, dwelt with anxious interest on the expression, "dead unto sin."
"How is it possible, Emily, that any one can become 'dead to sin' in this life? You say that the holiest Christians feel
to their latest moment, the power and burden of sin. How, then am I to understand this most perplexing declaration ?"
"I am but a poor theologian, dearest Lydia, and, therefore, cannot pretend to resolve all your difficulties. But, observe the other passages of Scripture on the same subject, and perhaps you will find that they throw great light upon it. St. Paul explains it, in the sixth verse, by saying, that 'our old man is crucified with Christ, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin;'-in the 12th, that sin must not 'reign in our mortal bodies, that we should obey it in the lusts thereof;'-and God promises, in the 14th, that, if we thus strive against sin, through the influence of his Holy Spirit, it shall not have dominion over us,' and in Micah, 7th chapter, 19th verse, that ' He will subdue our iniquities.'" "Yet still I do not, cannot comprehend it: it is a perfect mystery to me."
"The only way, my love, to understand that mystery savingly, is to implore the promised teaching of the Holy Spirit; and then experience will make it plain to you."
Well, I would give the world, if I had it, to know as much of it as you, and Louisa, and Caroline, do; but I fear it will never be my case."
The blush of self-accusation suffused the cheek of Louisa, at this allusion to herself; but Caroline turned pale with indefinable emotion. Emily only answered Lydia's observation with a sorrowful smile, accompanied by a look of tender reproof; and the youthful inquirer herself turned away, with a deep-drawn sigh, to avoid the piercing scrutiny of that glance.
The little afternoon-service was then concluded, by singing a hymn, and, the French boarders being now returned from vespers, the whole family were summoned to the garden. Caroline and Emily employed themselves in reading together, but had not long been so engaged, when Lydia ran hurriedly into the room. "Caroline! Emily! do come down, I beseech you! The French and ourselves have had such a contest! They have tried to entice the little Bartons to buy fruit and cakes, and we have been using all our rhetoric to prevent them. We have got Lucy away from them at last, and Helen and Louisa are keeping guard over her; but Charlotte has fallen into the clutches of Miss St. André, and she, and that malicious Clémentine Vermont, are trying all their arts to make her forget her duty and her promises. We dare not approach her, for fear of exciting the teacher's anger; but you are persons of more consequence, and may rescue the poor child from temptation;—so do, pray, come, and foil the machinations of our enemies."
The two friends immediately descended, and were soon surrounded by the majority of the English. "Oh! do, dear Miss Mortimer," exclaimed several voices, "do disappoint Mademoi
selle St. André and her coadjutors! They hope to obtain a triumph over our country and our religion, by tempting poor little Charlotte to abandon her principles, but we trust their machina tions will redound to their shame."
Emily saw that the spirit of national religion was strongly aroused on this occasion; and, though the motives of many of these young champions of their country and faith were evidently defective, yet she remembered the time, when they were not only perfectly indifferent on that very subject, but generally conformed to the sinful practice they now reprobated; and she, therefore, felt thankful for the improvement which had thus taken place.
Charlotte and Lucy Barton were two little girls of nine and ten years old, whose tender age left them peculiarly exposed to the temptations that surrounded them. They had lately become a sort of rallying point, towards which the forces of both parties seemed to direct their utmost efforts. The French took advantage of the proud spirit, love of independence, and self-conceit of Charlotte, who was remarkably pretty, to flatter her vanity, and stimulate her to follow her own inclinations; while the excessive mildness, and quiet, yielding disposition of little Lucy, promised them an easy conquest.
Charlotte was standing by Mademoiselle St. André, who was speaking earnestly to her, when Emily approached. A flush of anger overspread the teacher's face, at this unwelcome intrusion, and the scornful curl of her lip was imitated by two or three of her favorites near her; but the presence of Emily acted like a spell on the half-yielding Charlotte. She looked ashamed and mortified, and did not move towards the fruit-woman's stall; and Mademoiselle St. André durst not continue her solicitations, as Madame d'Elfort had expressly commanded that the English should be left entirely to their own free choice, and had forbidden that any attempts should be made, either to persuade or entice them. Emily bowed respectfully to the teacher, and then seated herself under a tree opposite; Mademoiselle St. André continued talking, in an under-tone, to her companions, alternately regarding, with looks of suppressed rage, her undaunted opponent, and the shame-struck Charlotte, who had taken up a book, and was apparently engaged in learning a lesson. Thus the two champions remaired for some time, attentively watching the object of their solicitude, till the teacher, observing that the fruit-woman was gone, and her attempts foiled for that day at least, cast on her rival a look of revengeful malice, and haughtily retired with her train ‹f favorites.
They had hardly left the bower, when several Englia girls entered, leading in the docile Lucy, whom they had succeded in keeping out of the way of temptation. They present her "s an example to her sister, and warmly asked the latter, if he would disgrace her country and religion, by yielding
customs?" Charlotte was evidently vexed, and attempted to defend herself from the charge; but Emily approached, and put an
end to the discussion.
"My dear friends," said she, mildly, "let Charlotte follow the dictates of her own conscience. No one has a right to control her in his respect, nor would a constrained obedience be acceptablee God. She knows what his Word says, about keeping the Sabbath holy, and I hope she will pray for grace, to enable her to walk in path of duty. Only remember, my love," continued she, kissing the glowing cheek of Charlotte, "that the servant who knew his Lord's will, and did it not, was beaten with many stripes."
The little group then dispersed, and Emily returned to her quiet room.
THE MISSIONARY ASSOCIATION.
If there be first a willing mind, it is accepted, according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.-2 COR. viii. 12.
THE next Sabbath was a day of peculiar interest. When the Protestants assembled together, for afternoon service, they reminded Emily that it was the first Sunday in the month, when they were accustomed to have a missionary prayer, added to their simple form of worship. This beautiful and scriptural petition was accordingly read, and the greater number appeared to join in it with earnestness and sincerity. When the others had retired, Lydia complained of a headache, and expressed an anxious wish to spend the remainder of the afternoon with her cousin and sister. "Oh! if I could get away," exclaimed she, "from that stupid garden recreation, as it is called, how happy should I be, and how comfortably should I spend the time! especially as I have something to consult you about, which I consider to be of very great importance."
"I will go down," said Emily, "and try if I cannot obtain leave of absence for you."
"Oh, do! do! there's a dear, good creature! But stay! perhaps you had better not. That ill-natured Miss St. André will only take pleasure in refusing you, and, perhaps, get us a reprimand from Madame d'Elfort."
"I shall not ask Mademoiselle St. André," replied Emily, who was fully sensible of the ill-will that lady had repeatedly displayed towards her. "I shall seek Madame d'Elfort herself, and from her kindness I do not despair of obtaining my request."
“Oh, will you, indeed, dare to encounter her terrible ladyship? Then, dear Emily, be sure you make me some signal, as soon as you enter the house, if you have succeeded; for I shall be on thorns till I know the result."
Emily laughingly promised compliance, and departed, in search of Madame d'Elfort. She, however, could not find her, but meeting Madame d'Arblay, she preferred her request to that indulgent lady, and had the satisfaction of having it immediately complied with. She hastened back to her own room, joyfully clapping her hands, to apprise Lydia of her success.
"Now then," exclaimed the latter, throwing herself on a favorite seat of hers, near the window, "I shall be quite at home. But I must tell you of something that has engrossed my mind, the greater part of the day. We have prayed this afternoon for the heathen, and for all those who know not the gospel; and we every day ask of God, that 'his kingdom may come.' But is it not very much like hypocrisy, to use these prayers, while we take no pains to promote the cause we thus plead for?"
"I have often had the same thoughts, my dear Lydia, and often wished that something could be done here, in aid of the Missionary cause; but, alas! I feel that, situated as we are, it is quite impossible."
"It is true, we are in a land of darkness, and surrounded by everything that is hostile to true religion; yet, still, I think we might do a little, and if it were but very little indeed, I hope that He who condescended to accept the widow's mite, would not disdain our feeble offerings."
No, my love, he certainly would not; what, then, would you propose to do?"
I was thinking that, isolated as we are, we might form a little Missionary Society among ourselves, since there is none among the English in the town. If you will consent to my plan, we can speak to the other English girls. I think the greater number will join with us, in contributing a weekly trifle; and the ocean, you know, is supplied by a multitude of small streams. There is, at least, our own little party of friends, that we can depend upon; and there are besides, Elizabeth and Matilda Danvers, and Rose, Henrietta, and Matilda Maxwell, who, I am sure, will not refuse to contribute."
"But the French," observed Caroline, timidly, "how would they regard such a proceeding? and what would Madame d'Elfort say to it?"
"Oh, the horrid French!" exclaimed Lydia, in a tone of im