صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

having changed her religion; yet she had made no public abjuration; she never confessed to a priest, nor did she use the sign of the cross, which was considered the distinguishing mark of a Roman Catholic. Her conduct frequently excited considerable curiosity, and gave occasion for numerous animadversions. "It is thought very extraordinary," said Anna Lushington, as she and Emily were one day conversing on the subject. "I should think it truly contemptible," observed the latter; "for if Miss Parker really prefers the Romish religion, why does she not make a candid and unequivocal profession of its doctrines? It would, at least, be acting honestly, which at present she cannot be said to do."

"Some of her friends excuse her," resumed Anna," by alleging that she is fearful of giving offence to the Protestants; and that, in order to avoid public éclat, she prefers maintaining a sort of neutrality."

"What a wretched excuse!" exclaimed Emily, indignantly; "believe me, my dear Miss Lushington, there can be no neutrality in religion-the Bible allows of none. 'He that is not with me,' says Christ, 'is against me:'-and surely, surely, Miss Parker does much more real injury to religion, and gives much more offence to every true Protestant, by such temporizing, such unworthy conduct, than she could do by an open desertion."

Miss Parker evidently wished to avoid all unnecessary intercourse with the English pupils, and her company was therefore never sought by them. She found herself obliged, one Sunday, on her return from the Cathedral, to pass through the room in which they were assembled for afternoon service. The prayers were finished, and Emily was just reading the text of a deeplyinteresting sermon," I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified." She raised her head on hearing the door open; her eyes met those of Miss Parker, and she repeated, with a kind of imploring emphasis, "Jesus Christ, and him crucified." But the ear to which these words were addressed was deaf to their touching import; the heart they were meant to reach was closed against their subduing power; Miss Parker turned her head scornfully away, and hurried across the room, as if she had fled from a serpent. "Alas! poor unhappy wanderer!" thought Emily, "to whom will she go, if she thus turns away from Him who has the words of eternal life?" She was much affected by this reflection, and could never pronounce that sweet petition of our truly scriptural Litany," That it may please thee to bring into the way of truth all such as have erred, and are deceived," without painfully remembering the case of poor Miss Parker.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

He shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but shall not come nigh thee.-PSALM Xci. 3, 7.

CAROLINE and Emily had resided about three months in France, when the former received a letter from her father, containing the intelligence that her sister Lydia's health had been for some time delicate, and that the medical attendant having strongly recommended her being removed to a more genial climate, her parents had resolved to send her to S, and make her the companion. of her sister's studies. Mr. Howard was therefore to escort her to France immediately; and, before Emily and Caroline had recovered from the surprise, and the mingled feelings, excited by this information, the two travellers arrived at Madame d'Elfort's mansion.

The joy which Caroline experienced, on the arrival of her father and sister, was considerably damped by the feelings of apprenension excited by the pale countenance, and evident weakness, of the latter. As soon, however, as she had recovered from the fatigue of travelling, Lydia's health began gradually to improve; she felt the benefit of change of air, and a more settled temperature; and, as her strength began to return, her buoyant spirits recovered their usual flow. Mr. Howard remained at S- till he saw this favorable change, and then left his daughters and niece to their scholastic duties.

He had also brought Madame d'Elfort two other English pupils -the daughters of a clergyman who resided a few miles from Ellerton, and who, being unable to leave his parish for any length of time, had requested Mr. Howard to take them under his care. Emma and Louisa Selwyn were twins, and about fifteen years of age; they had enjoyed the unspeakable blessing of a religious education, and had been taught to make the gospel the rule of their faith, and the guide of their life. Their parents were pious people, and had not sent them to France without much hesitation and reluctance; but, having heard a favorable account of Emily and Caroline, from the Rev. Mr. Somerville, Mrs. Selwyn, though totally unacquainted with them, wrote to request their friendship and advice for her daughters, and Mrs. Somerville also strongly recommended them to her young friends. Emily was delighted at the prospect of having an increase of serious companions, and welcomed the two amiable sisters with much warmth; nor was Caroline backward in kindness towards them,

[ocr errors]

The second day after their arrival also witnessed that of two other English pupils. One was a little girl of twelve or thirteen, of a pleasing, lively countenance, and great naiveté of manners ; the other was about sixteen, and had a peculiarly prepossessing appearance. The French girls, who considered beauty as the most excellent and desirable thing in a young person, were immediately enchanted with her face and figure, and expressed their admiration in the most rapturous language; for Helen Douglas was a very lovely girl, and few young persons could be more attractive. They praised the light elegance of her form, the delicate transparency of her complexion, the pleasing harmony of her features, and the profusion of her fine auburn ringlets; but our English girls were particularly struck with the sweetness of her countenance, the modesty and gentleness of her demeanor, and the pensive softness of her manners. They were extremely kind and attentive to the interesting stranger, and used every endeavor to cheer her drooping spirits; for she was almost overwhelmed with grief, at quitting her parents and her home. For some days she seemed to refuse everything like comfort; but these painful im pressions wore away by degrees; she became resigned and tranquil, and attached herself in a peculiar manner to Emily and her little circle.

It would have been amusing to an unconcerned spectator, to observe the different effects which the new scenes around them produced on the minds of these young persons, and the various ways in which they were affected, by the mode of life they were obliged to adopt Lydia Howard, with all the warmth of a romantic fancy, had pictured to herself a scene of ideal delight, in the enjoyments connected with her residence at school; but, in proportion as her expectations had been raised to an unreasonable pitch, was the bitterness of her disappointment. She had scarcely entered the house before she found it dull and gloomy, the mode of life insupportable, the French inhabitants disagreeable beyond description, and, in short, everything contrary to her pre-conceived ideas. She sometimes manifested the greatest impatience of control; but the excessive gaiety of her disposition, the conviction of her duty, and the comfort of having her sister and cousin with her, enabled her to support, with tolerable fortitude, what she, nevertheless, disliked in the highest degree. She frequently amused her friends by her humorous sallies, consisting of passionate invectives against the place, mingled with ludicrous descriptions of French manners, wild flights of an ungovernable fancy, and half-comic, half-pathetic invocations to home. Yet she was truly amiable, and the favorite of everybody.

Emma and Louisa Selwyn were much less annoyed by the change, than the lively and susceptible Lydia. Their characters were less subject to extremes than hers and they were more easily

reconciled to the want of English comforts. Emma was an agreeable and lively girl, of an easy and complying disposition, and soon seemed more at home in her new situation than even her friends could have wished. Louisa had more faults than her sister, but she had also more energy of character. She was gentle, but highspirited; and, though too often yielding in things of apparently small importance, when roused to exertion, she could display a considerable degree of decision. She possessed a happy evenness of temper, and an uninterrupted flow of cheerfulness, which very agreeably smoothed her path through the briery maze she had to tread, and blunted the point of many a thorn, which would other. wise have impeded her progress.

Agnes Beverley, the little girl who had arrived on the same day as Miss Douglas, was greatly astonished by the new scenes which surrounded her, but it was not long before she experienced their pernicious influence. She had been brought up by parents who made a profession of religion, and were really good, though exceedingly injudicious people. They had given her excellent advice, but had not curbed the impetuosity of her disposition; nor had they labored, with sufficient earnestness and vigilance, to give her affections a heavenly direction. She was heedless, giddy, and fond of pleasure; obstinate, proud, and conceited; and so exceedingly unsettled in her principles, that she readily embraced the opinions and sentiments of those with whom she associated. She manifested, at first, a great deal of impatience, at the restraints she was obliged to submit to; but, when once accustomed to the place and its inhabitants, yielded to their customs on almost every occasion; and, though she had once seemed extremely susceptible of serious impressions, she soon fell into the snares that surrounded her, and forgot the maxims of her education, whenever her principles were put to the test.

Helen Douglas was not a serious girl, but she was amiable and well disposed. Her feelings and tastes were so entirely English, that she was perfectly disgusted with French manners, and could never assimilate with characters so little in unison with her own. Yet she bore with much patience the little inconveniences attached to her situation, and was much more reconciled to its restraints, than the impetuous, but warm-hearted Lydia. Her character was remarkably reserved, and, therefore, she was not long a favorite with the giddy and talkative French girls. Even with her friends, this fault, if it might be called one, was frequently a bar to unrestrained conversation; it gave her an appearance of coldness, and often passed for indifference. Yet there was a mildness in her disposition, and, at times, a natural playfulness in her manner, which made her truly beloved by those who knew how to appreciate her character.

Our young friends contrived to be as much together, as the na

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

ture of their situation would permit. This was not always easy, for the system of incessant surveillance adopted in the school left them very few opportunities of eluding its severity. "Oh, what a miserable place is this!" would Lydia often exclaim; "we are really watched as closely as if we were prisoners, who had been guilty of some great crime. It is very hard that one cannot be a single moment alone in the garden, in one's bed-room, or indeed anywhere, without being liable to reproof. What harm could we possibly do alone, or two or three together, in such a house as this?"

"This continued vigilance," observed Emily, "is the result of that excessive restraint, under which it is thought necessary, in this part of France, that young persons should be educated. It is considered dangerous to allow them, for an instant, to escape the eye of observation; and therefore you are required to be always assembled in one place, and under the continual inspection of a teacher."

"O happy, happy England!" exclaimed the animated Lydia; "blessed land of freedom and of peace! where girls of fifteen or sixteen are looked upon as rational beings, and capable of distinguishing between right and wrong;-where they are taught to respect themselves, instead of being constantly suspected; where they are gently led into the paths of virtue, without being subjected to the degrading coercion, which is more likely to disgust than to benefit their minds. England! dear England for ever!" continued the youthful enthusiast, waving her hand in rapturous ecstacy; "I would not exchange the privilege of being an English girl, for all the wealth of the Indies, or all the boasted advantages which France is so proud of possessing."

Emily laughed at these lively sallies of the impatient girl; but, though she brought forward every motive which could reconcile her to her lot, she herself frequently felt the unpleasantness of her own situation. It was not often that she could enjoy the company of her friends, in such a manner as to allow of unrestrained conversation; but when the privilege was granted, it was a pleasure which amply repaid her for many a day of privation.

"Miss Mortimer! Miss Howard!" exclaimed Agnes Beverley, running into the room one morning, as Emily was busily engaged in sketching a landscape, and Caroline, leaning against an open window, and absorbed in unusual thoughtfulness, was silently contemplating the garden below,-"how quietly you are sitting in this back room, while everybody else is crowding to the front gate! Why, don't you know what is going on this morning? and are you not desirous of seeing the procession ?"

"What procession ?" inquired Emily, looking up from her draw ing, while Caroline turned hastily round, and seemed as if trying to collect her bewildered thoug

« السابقةمتابعة »