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their affection for each other, and attachment to their former privileges, increased in proportion to the coldness, indifference, and estrangement, of others. But sad indeed was the change, which a few weeks of Miss Bradford's rule produced on the once quiet, orderly, and serious circle. It brought into full exercise every evil propensity of the carnal mind, which had before been, in a great degree, awed into subjection by the authority tacitly accorded to Emily; and many a thoughtless girl, who had hitherto, partly from shame, and partly from the silent influence of good example, preserved a tolerably correct demeanor, now felt authorized to shake off these disagreeable restraints, and to follow a path more congenial to her natural inclinations. Their misbehavior, during the Sunday afternoon prayers, was at length carried so far, as to annoy even Miss Bradford, and rouse her to utter reprimands which were only laughed at, and threats of complaining to Madame d'Elfort, which, as she never executed them, were equally disregarded.
This contempt of her authority excited her utmost indignation, and she loudly declared, that the young ladies were the worst behaved and most troublesome pupils she had ever known, complaining, at the same time, that the made her life miserable. On this occasion, Emily attempted to convince her, that the evil arose chiefly from the defects of her system. She assured her that if they read but one chapter, and did it in a more deliberate and serious manner, it would be far more likely to produce a beneficial effect on their minds; that their attention might be fixed and their feelings interested, by simple questions, or familiar explanations, introduced in the way of conversation. She alluded to the favorable results of this practice, as existing before Miss Bradford's arrival; and though she was careful not to say anything which could imply a censure of the teacher's conduct, she endeavored to excite an interest in the welfare of the children, which, she hoped, might, with the divine blessing, be productive of a gradual improvement in Miss Bradford's views and feelings. But she soon found that, in venturing thus to advise. she had reckoned too confidently on that lady's good sense and candor. Miss Bradford at first ridiculed her suggestions; and, when Emily's anxiety led her to press the subject still more closely on her attention, she was offended at what she called her interference, and declared she would not be dictated to. Emily, therefore, was compelled to abandon all hope of improvement in the system, and bitterly did she weep over the sad change which had thus taken place.
Nor was she the only one who lamented the present state of things. All the more reflecting girls were shocked at this want of common decorum, in the performance of every religious duty, and acknowledged, that their feelings revolted against the heart
less indifference of Miss Bradford. To such a height, indeed, was this apathy carried, that the Sunday, which had formerly been the most delightful day of the week, the green oasis in the wilderness, to which many an eye was turned with longing expectation, was now become a day of the most painful interest to some, and of no interest at all to others. Emily's feelings of sorrow were so acute, that she was glad to fly from a scene she could not bear, by accepting the kind invitation of some English friends in town, and spending the Sunday at their house. Caroline and Lydia accompanied her, and happy indeed did they esteem themselves, in being thus favored with an opportunity of enjoying a quiet and Sabbath-like afternoon.
Major and Mrs. Fortescue were amiable, excellent, and serious people, and their extreme kindness to the cousins excited their liveliest gratitude. Their house had ever been a pleasant resort to them, but now it was an ark of refuge, from the overwhelming feelings of regret for past enjoyments, and disgust at the want of everything like devotion, in the hallowed services they had so long looked forward to with reverence and delight.
They had thus absented themselves for two or three Sundays, when several young ladies of their former circle complained loudly
of their desertion.
Indeed, indeed, Miss Mortimer," said Helen Douglas, "it is scarcely kind of you to leave us thus. We wander about the house, like discontented ghosts, not knowing what to do with ourselves. We have no friend to direct us now, to comfort us in our troubles, or to warn us against the snares and dangers that surround us. I know it must be painful for you to remain; but your presence and counsel might counteract some of the evils to which we are exposed, and help us to guard against the treachery of our own hearts.
"Dear Helen, perhaps you are right, but it is very distressing to witness the desecration of the Sunday afternoon."
"It is indeed," said Louisa, with a deep sigh; "and yet I assure you, you have not seen the worst of it."
"Oh! no," observed Rosa Maxwell, an amiable and well-disposed young lady, who was a recently arrived parlor boarder,
you can scarcely form an idea of what the scene was yesterday. It was quite enough to shock and disgust any reflecting mind. Miss Bradford was, if possible, more reckless than ever, and the children were dreadful troublesome. Agnes Beverley and Charlotte Barton burst into repeated fits of laughter, during the reading; and Fanny Gordon, Anna Lushington, and several others, who, from their age, ought to have behaved better, were not a whit more attentive. Amelia Cooper and Mary Hyde had a long lesson of geography to copy for this morning, and they persuaded Miss Bradford to let them write it, instead of joining in the
prayers. We read the whole of the two epistles to the Thessalonians, in about twenty minutes; Miss Bradford then asked, if we would repeat the Catechism; the majority consented, but Maria Lushington, and several others, when it came to their turns, refused, without alleging any other reason than that it was not their pleasure to repeat it. Such behavior I never saw, and Miss Bradford, instead of being provoked, merely shrugged her shoulders, and said, 'Do as you like!' I could not help saying to her, that I thought she ought to tell Madame d'Elfort how ill they behaved; and what do you suppose was her answer? 'I will tell her, Miss Maxwell, if they behave ill again; but as to their religious instruction, it is no affair of mine. I am not paid for teaching them religion, nor did I engage to do it. If they attend to their religious duties, so much the better: but if they will not, they may do as they please.""
"Oh! Miss Mortimer!" exclaimed Eliza Kaimes, "when will those happy Sundays return, that we used to spend with you? Miss Bradford calls you a hypocrite and a meddler, but she does not care for our souls, as you do. But, pray, do not leave us again so forlorn and disconsolate; for it is some comfort to have you near to speak to."
Emily could only weep, and press the dear girl in her arms; she thought of these helpless sheep in the wilderness, and earnestly prayed the Great Shepherd to have compassion on them.
THE COUNTRY PARTY.
Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me. PSALM 1. 15.
MADAME D'ELFORT had long promised her young ladies the pleasure of a pic-nic party, and was only waiting for a fine holiday, to fulfil her promise. The following Thursday was now fixed upon for that purpose, and many were the wishes for favorable weather on that important occasion. The young people, with that eagerness of anticipation peculiar to their age, could scarcely talk, or even think, of anything else for more than a week beforehand, and the eve of the long-wished-for day was employed in
numerous little preparations, and numberless conjectures on the probable state of the atmosphere on the morrow. The opinions were various; but two or three of the French girls positively affirmed that the weather would be delightful, and, on being asked to give their reasons for this assertion, replied, that they had, for the last three days, repeated three Ave Marias and three Pater Nosters, in order to obtain that favor from the Virgin. A general smile was visible on the countenances of the English, as they listened to this declaration; but Lydia observed to Emily, that she thought this instance of mistaken devotion ought to remind them of the apostle's injunction -“In everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God!"
Emily assented, and the conversation then turned on the death of a priest, which had taken place in the morning. He was to be buried the next day and was then lying in state, dressed in his splendid sacerdotal costume, with a crucifix in one hand, and a mass book in the other, as if he were just going to celebrate that pompous rite of the Romish church. Mademoiselle St. André had promised to take a few of the young ladies to witness the sight, and Rose de Liancourt now invited Emily to join them. This, however, she declined; for, to her apprehension, there was something horrible and revolting, in the idea of thus decking out a corpse in the habiliments and attributes of the living. Caroline, however, went, and so did a few others of the English, who, on their return, related that the dead body was placed in a sitting posture, and that Caroline had been so shocked at the sight, that she had nearly fainted. Emily immediately went up to her; but she was in close conversation with Sophia Dorville, and with a sinking heart, the friend of her childhood retreated from the
The next morning arose with unclouded splendor, and the triumphant looks of the French devotees seemed to appeal to the success of their paters and aves, as an undeniable proof of the truth of their religion. All was bustle and joyful preparation in the house. The scene of their expected enjoyment was the estate of a nobleman, about four leagues from the town, and remarkable for its picturesque views, and beautiful woods and pleasure-grounds. Their mode of conveyance consisted of five light vans, called charsà-banc, furnished with stuffed seats for the convenience of travellers, and driven by four men and one woman, of no very prepossessing appearance.
The whole party set out about nine o'clock, as they had to walk to the outskirts of the town, where they were to take possession of their clumsy vehicles. They were met on the road by the funeral procession of the deceased priest, which was proceeding to the cathedral. The corpse was carried in an open coffin, with the face and hands uncovered. Madame d'Elfort immediately
stopped, and all the Roman Catholics joined her in making the sign of the cross, and repeating, in a low voice, a prayer for the dead. The most profound silence prevailed among them, for some time after they had lost sight of the cortège; and before it was interrupted, their attention was again attracted by another memento of mortality. At the door of a small house was placed a child's coffin, and near it stood a basin of holy water. Every Roman Catholic, on passing it, dipped her finger in the water, and, after crossing herself, sprinkled a few drops on the coffin, muttering a prayer at the same time. A woman, who sat by the coffin, observing that Emily passed without complying with this necessary ceremony, darted at her a look of furious indignation, and exclaimed, "You are not a well-wisher to the soul of the innocent." The whole party passed on, and soon arrived at the place where the chars-à-banc were waiting for them.
Their journey was a pleasant one, and they were much delighted with the beautiful seat of the Marquis of C. They wandered all the morning through its picturesque grounds, chased each other through the lovely solitudes of the wood, in all the wild and buoyant enjoyment of youthful liberty, or danced in merry groups on the green, sloping lawns. After taking their dinner, seated on the grass, beneath the shade of some beautiful old trees, Emily, Lydia, Helen, and Louisa, fatigued with the morning's exercise, quietly wandered along the side of the lake, and resolved to examine the immediate precincts of the château, and the little rural village that surrounded it. One of the first things that struck them was a small chapel, belonging to the castle, at the end of an avenue of noble trees. Two statues, the one representing a friar, the other a nun, stood at each side of the entrance. Through a small window near the door, they obtained a view of the interior, which was richly ornamented, and the altar covered with a profusion of silver candlesticks, goblets, and vases. There were also some beautiful looking paintings; but of these they could not judge, as a nearer view was denied them, the chapel having been shut up, and never used since the death of the Marchioness, an event which was said to have deeply affected her noble husband.
Our young friends now entered the village, and resolved to examine its small, antique-looking church. In passing through the church-yard, they were much shocked by the sight of two spaces, inclosed on each side of the back door, and filled with human bones, whitening in the air. They turned, with an involuntary shudder, from these miniature charnel-houses, and entered the church, which, like all Roman Catholic places of worship, was always open during the day. Its interior was of a very simple and unpretending character, with but few attempts at ornament, and those of the rudest kind. The friends sat down in front of its