Page images

me when I needed them most, or that steeped my lips in bitterness when I raised to them the sparkling draught, that seemed so pure, and sweet, and bright?

Yes, it was to be so for many a year ;-and why? Because I was content with the cistern, instead of the fountain; because I knew not my rest and my true joy. An old divine once said-referring, I think, to that passage in Jeremiah, which says, “My people have been lost sheep, their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains; they have gone from mountain to hill; they have forgotten their restingplace”-that there were four ways in which persons in all ages were apt to go astray, forgetting their resting place. “First, when they sought in nature what was to be found only in 'grace; secondly, when they sought in themselves what was to be found only in Christ; thirdly, when they sought in the creature what was to be found

to be found only in the Creator; and, fourthly, when they sought that on earth which is only to be found in heaven.”

I never saw this passage written, but I heard it quoted one day, and it struck me so forcibly that I copied it into my note-book. The consideration of those words has been to me the unravelling of many a mystery, the dispelling of many a cloud. I write them down here-perhaps I shall write them again before I finish my story—that others may read them, and reading them, may haply learn the lesson they have been to me. At one or another

period of my life I have made the four mistakes that they enumerate; perhaps many of my readers have done so toomare doing so now. Let them ask themselves the momentous question—there can be no rest, no settled peace till it is satisfactorily answered.

But after tea, my mother went and locked herself up in her room, and we were free to talk as we chose. My father said he had only waited for my return to settle several matters; my brother had already made up his mind as to the path he would take; he was trying for a situation—college life could be his no longer—but what were we girls to do? It was very clear that we ought to do something for our own support; we were all healthy and strong, and of an age to exert ourselves; besides, it was a question whether my father's salary would be more than sufficient for himself and my mother and the little

There was some reason to believe that we could not, if we would, continue to be dependent on him ; we all felt, I think, that the time was come for endurance and for action.

My father turned first to me:-“I think I need not be anxious about you, Milly; you have had the best of educations, and you have been a good girl, and improved your advantages to the utmost. I see no reason why you should not succeed as a governess. The life of a teacher is an arduous one, I know, and it involves much self-denial, and many trials ; but it is respectable, nay, honourable, and I dare say it has its pleasures also, and it will afford you


a decent maintenance. What do you

say, my dear ?”

"I am ready to try," I answered; but my heart was faint within me. The Misses Johnson had once been governesses in private families, and at length, after years of toil and economy, had saved sufficient to begin an establishment of their own. They had succeeded, certainly-I knew they had some idea of retiring-but, then, the youngest of the two was nearly fifty years old; their best days were gone. There was nothing, to my mind, very alluring in the prospect of teaching for thirty or forty years, and then settling down on a competency at last. Settling down to what? To prim old-maidism, and dull tea-parties, and early hours, and cat and parrot worship! Such was my erroneous estimate of the capacities of spinsterhood; I know better now. I know that no woman, to whom God in his wisdom has denied the blessing of husband and children, need spend the evening of her days in useless monotony, or unblessed passivity. May not the sweetest earthly ties have been withholden in their case, that they might find in the world around them wider circles wherein to exercise their benevolence, and the womanly mercy and the feminine tact that God has given them?

But such a life I thought not of then; in fact, the bare idea of a life of routine was altogether distasteful to me and yet, what else could I do? So I said I would be a governess, and try to do my best; but I resolved that I would escape from the my desires.

trammels of such a lot, at the very first opportunity. Rose and Susan could do as they liked; but I had set my heart on shining in a far different sphere, and I did not despair of being able to accomplish

Rose thought she too could teach, if the children were very young, and she would try to improve and qualify herself for better situations. Susan was so young - not fifteen — that she could scarcely hope to find a remunerative occupation; but she had thought of a plan—she would go into some first-rate school, where her services on behalf of the little ones would be received instead of payment for her board and education. She knew it would be a hard life, perhaps a wretched one; but Susan did not shrink, she was the strongest of us all—I know why now. We had talked till we were weary,


my eldest brother came in with a letter for my father; the post came in then of an evening at Ferndown.

“It is from my sister,” said my father, as he looked at the address and the post-mark; “from my sister, Mrs. Ryland.” When he had read the letter he gave it to me, saying, “That concerns you, Millicent."

I read :-Mrs. Ryland was deeply grieved at her brother's misfortunes; she could wish he had been more circumspect, &c., &c.; but she was quite ready to assist him by taking one of his daughters to live with her. She supposed that Millicent must be old enough to go into society, therefore she should prefer her to her younger sisters, for she had no patience with girls that wanted a governess.

If my father and mother agreed, I was to go to her in three weeks, in order to join her in an expedition to the seaside, for she was about to spend several months at one of the most fashionable watering-places.

This was the pith of the letter, which did not impress me very favourably, for “my dear brother” at the beginning, and "your affectionate sister at the end, were the only words that breathed the faintest tone of kindred affection. But, for all that, I had no sooner read Mrs. Ryland's letter than I was wild to go to her. That she would introduce me into society was evident, and that was exactly what I wanted; perhaps even she might make me her heiress, I thought to myself, for I was quite as near and nearer to her than the nephews and nieces of her deceased husband, the rich Sampson Ryland, Esq. It did not occur to me that I might be nearer to her, but they were certainly nearer to her money ; for it was Ryland money, not Kendrick mo that enabled her to keep a complete staff of servants and a close carriage and pair.

And so the whole current of my thoughts was changed, and before bed-time it was decided that a letter should be written to my aunt on the following day, accepting her offer, and requesting her to name the day for my journey.

I lay down to rest in my own old bed in perfect whirl of wonder, and regret, and hope, and feverish expectation. I fell asleep and dreamed that

« PreviousContinue »