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more than when you were a child.” And, putting her arms around Mrs. Selby's neck, she drew her head to her bosom, and kissed her, and spoke to her with words of fond endearment, such as she had used to soothe her with when an infant. A few moments, and the tears flowed silently, and then the tired mourner had fallen asleep on her old resting-place. · Jane stood motionless as a statue ; the evening was drawing on, and the moonbeams fell on the pair, and bathed them with their holy light. Mrs. Selby did not sleep long, but when her eyes opened, she smiled sweetly but sadly on her old servant. “I said I had no friend, Jane,” she said; “ I was ungrateful to forget you I have found two already. I will pray for resignation, and will not say again that we must part :- I trust that trial may be spared me."
With the morrow came a letter from Dr. Barfoot. He wrote in a kind, fatherly, and Christian tone, regretting that the account of Mr. Selby's death had not reached him earlier; the delay was owing to his having left the place where he had been staying, so that the letter did not find him for some days. He sympathised with Mrs. Selby, spoke of her husband in terms of the highest respect, and begged her not to forget that the parting was only for a season. He requested that she would not decide on anything until his return, which would be in a fortnight, and enclosed a cheque for twenty pounds, the amount of the quarter's salary. · Can we wonder that Mrs. Selby felt this relief as a direct answer to her prayers ? She sent for Mr. Cooch, showed him the letter, and begged him to take back his five pounds.
“ Not yet, not until you are better able to repay them,” he said, as she placed them timidly on the table before him. “You have other creditors, not, perhaps, so able or willing to wait as I am. And now, Mrs. Selby, can I do more for you? Or as Dr. Barfoot will soon be here, would you prefer referring to him ?”
« Oh, Mr. Cooch!” Agnes replied, “ do not withdraw your friendship! I can never repay you, never even thank you as I ought: but allow me to look to you in my loneliness for the advice and kindness which I feel I so much need.”
“ So be it then,” he said ; “ it will be a privilege to me if I am permitted to be of service to you.”
A fortnight passed slowly and wearily; the time seemed to Mrs. Selby to go by on leaden wings, but when it was past, it had left no trace on her memory: it seemed a blank, a moment only since that evening when she had drank so deeply of the bitter cup of affliction. Even the care of the child now became almost wearisome to her : she would sit for hours in the same place, apparently without the power of moving, or of thinking, save on the one subject; and when Dr. Barfoot returned, he was shocked as well as grieved at seeing the ravages which sorrow had made.
Tears sprang to Mrs. Selby's eyes when he first greeted her, but they quickly ceased, and she sat beside him with an air, of abstraction which he found it difficult to meet. If he remained silent, she seemed unconscious of his presence; if he spoke, he had to repeat what he said many times before she appeared to understand it. He asked for her child; she hurriedly called for Jane to bring her, and when the little girl sprang to
the doctor's knee, and nestled her fair head on his bosom, the mother seemed to turn her thoughts to something else, and almost to forget that they were there. The doctor tried, at length, what speaking of her husband's death would effect. This was the only theme on which her heart dwelt; she recalled every word, every look of the departed, and the good doctor led her on, both from the interest he really felt on the subject, and for the sake of giving her all the relief that his sympathy could afford, until she had nearly exhausted herself. Then he led her to speak of her child, and, finally, mentioned his own plans for their future. They were as follows:
He said that Mrs. Barfoot's health was delicate, and that, before Mr. Selby's death, he had formed an intention of reducing his dumber of boarders, and offering him the advantage of receiving them. He now proposed that Mrs. Selby should take them.
"I cannot see,” he said, “ why you should not do it: the gentleman I have engaged in your poor husband's place is a young man, and I have made arrangements for your receiving, if you please, three boys, after Midsummer, as boarders, at thirty pounds a year each. I have also another plan, for my own advantage, in view, in which you may very well help me. But tell me what you think of this."
How gladly and gratefully Mrs. Selby accepted the offer may be easily imagined. She thanked Dr. Barfoot from the bottom of her heart, and then gave him an account of the proposal made to her by Mrs. Stoneman and Mrs. Carthew.
“ Those ladies are excellent bargain-makers !" said the doctor, with a laugh. “ Thirty pounds a year to educate ten girls, and take a large house for their accommodation! I am afraid you would scarcely have made it pay, Mrs. Selby. But now for the second part of my plan," he added : “Mrs. Barfoot is too unwell to undertake the education of her daughters, and they are as yet too young to go to school. Will you oblige me by attending the three eldest as daily governess-say for two or three hours a day? You can bring your little girl with you, so that she may reap some benefit from your lessons at the same time. I will pay you six-and-thirty pounds a year for the three, so that your income will, I trust, be sufficient for at least a year or two, until something better turns up. We will not call upon you to get large, lofty, airy rooms for the accommodation of the young gentlemen; the present pretty little cottage will do very well.” The doctor rose to depart, and then said, with some slight hesitation, “But, Mrs. Selby, you are very much alone; have you no friends or acquaintances ?"
“ No, sir," said Mrs. Selby; “while Henry was with me I required none; I believe yours was almost the only house we ever went to, and, indeed, our income would not have allowed us to indulge much in company, even if we had been in a position to command society."
“And besides," said the doctor, impatiently, “in our little insignificant town people live as if they were afraid they should compromise their dignity by sociability. Empty pride is our besetting sin.”
“People have been very kind to me in my affliction," said Mrs. Selby.
“ Í dare say-I dare say," replied the doctor. “Thank heaven! put our fantastic pride out of the way, and we should do very well. I see
that there is kindness everywhere for the sick and sorrowful. We should get on nicely if we were not mad enough to deck ourselves with rags and straw, and swear we are kings and princes. But you will come up and see Mrs. Barfoot as soon as you can? She is, you know, unable to come to you. I would allow you until after Midsummer before entering on your new duties; but, if you look so pale and miserable, I shall not indulge you with so long a holiday.” Then placing little Nelly, who had fallen asleep on his knee, in her mother's arms, he shook hands with the widow, and departed, to carry pleasure and cheerfulness wherever his voice was heard.
NOTWITHSTANDING the feeling of hope, and the prospect of providing comfortably for her daughter, which the proposal of Dr. Barfoot .had afforded, Mrs. Selby could not so soon recover from the numbing shock of her husband's death. The comparative cheerfulness caused by the kindness of the doctor soon passed away, in spite of her struggles to prevent it. The load on her heart had been only lifted, not removed, and it fell back again with crushing weight. Her gloom seemed to increase rather than diminish. Hour after hour she would sit in the little parlour, or at her little girl's bedside--generally tearless—recalling the past, thinking over days of happiness gone by; and from the recollections of those days all the dark shades of care and anxiety had disappeared, the bright spots only remained-almost questioning God's mercy, and yet struggling against the sinful impatience which arose within her.
These feelings she endeavoured to conceal from all, even from her old servant Jane; she would smile on her, speak kindly to her, and even try sometimes to talk cheerfully of the future; but Jane's affection was not so easily blinded, and she sought Dr. Barfoot to tell him what she feared.
“ If she goes on like this she will die, poor young creature !” said Jane. “She doesn't eat enough to keep a baby alive, and I'm sure she never goes to bed till two or three o'clock in the morning. Once or twice I have heard her sob so piteously-just as if her poor heart was breaking; but that I would rather hear than know she is sitting by the little girl's side, not crying and sobbing, but looking, Dr. Barfoot, as white and dead as a marble image on a tombstone. Now and then she tries not to give way so, but that never lasts, and she is generally in a sort of stupor like. She wants something, Dr. Barfoot, just to rouse her up a bit.”
“ Thank you, Jane-thank you !" said the doctor. “I will speak to Mrs. Barfoot, and see what can be done.”
The result of this was a pressing invitation to Mrs. Selby to call at the Briary, as Mrs. Barfoot wished to consult her about some arrangements previous to the arrival of the young gentlemen after Midsummer. The call led to a great many trifling changes suggested by Dr. Barfoot; & room at Mrs. Selby's cottage, which had never been used except as a lumber-room, was fitted up as a dormitory for the boys, three neat little beds and other furniture were sent from the Briary to complete it, and Mrs. Selby was employed and interested. Then came the boys them. selves, young delicate children who, as Dr. Barfoot thought, needed a mother's care for a year or two; and soon the attention which they required, together with the instruction she gave to Dr. Barfoot's little girls, and the care of her own child, filled every moment, until at length time had done its work, completed its certain cure, and left Mrs. Selby resigned and almost cheerful.
And then a holy peace rested on the cottage of the widow. Time, which we are apt to regard as our most insidious foe, is after all our most gentle comforter, our most true friend. We cry out: “ Time robs us of our best enjoyments, steals from us our dearest pleasures.” We forget then that, though he may rob us of many worldly joys, he also takes from us many a weary woe, whose weight would press us down to the grave did not he relieve us, by slow degrees, from the burden too heavy to be borne. If with one hand Time plucks the flowers from our path, with the other he removes the thorns and briars which wound us on our way. . At the end of the first half year, Mrs. Selby had paid off all the little debts she had incurred; even Mr. Cooch's five pounds were thankfully returned. Poor Jane's money was not required, but she was soothed by the assurance that it should be regarded as a fund to be used in case of need. Thanks to the constant kindness of the good doctor, the housekeeping expenses were much less than might be supposed, and indeed money matters were so far prosperous that a woman was hired to assist Jane in her increased duties.
6 And now," said Mrs. Selby, one day gently to Mr. Cooch, “I want you to grant me another favour. You know how much I live alone even now; the boys are little home in the day, except at meal times, and, as Dr. Barfoot wishes them to learn their evening lessons with their schoolfellows, they do not come home more than half an hour before bedtime. From ten toone, daily, I am at Dr. Barfoot's, giving lessons to his children. Nelly goes with me, but then, you know, a child of her age wants playmates ; she will grow old in mind and body, if she has no associates but Jane and me." · " True," said Mr. Cooch, with a grave smile; " but how can I help you, Mrs. Selby? Your little girl would scarcely choose me for a playfellow.”
“No, no," replied Mrs. Selby, “but I have been thinking that, as you live so near me, your two little girls might come in the evenings to play with Nelly, and perhaps help me in my sewing; or, when they get tired of that, we might have a little music or drawing.”
“I understand you, Mrs. Selby, and thank you for this real kindness. I am not able to educate my girls as I wish, and Mrs. Cooch has many household cares to attend to. I do indeed thank you." · With all these things to do, Mrs. Selby's time now flew swiftly by, and the long winter's evenings, which at a distance had seemed so formidable, were full of cheerful occupation. Mr. Cooch's daughters, two nice, wellbehaved children, several years older than Nelly, came every evening with books and work, and diligently improved the opportunity thus afforded them of becoming well-educated, pleasant girls. Indeed, their lessons were not heavy; Mrs. Selby was well informed, and had the art of imparting knowledge to the young pleasantly, and almost, to them, unconsciously. One of the girls, who had a good ear and sweet voice, she taught to play and sing ; the other, who had a taste for drawing, she instructed in that delightful art; but, that they might not be unfitted for their position in life, these studies were kept subordinate to more useful pursuits; and when Mr. Cooch saw their improvement, and heard their young voices lifted in sacred song, he blessed in his heart the goodness of Providence which had thus provided for his daughters instruction that he could not have afforded them.
Mrs. Selby seldom left her quiet cottage, except to attend to her duties at Dr. Barfoot's, to go out with the children for an evening's stroll, or to call on a sick neighbour to whom her visits might afford comfort. She walked through the world quietly and unobtrusively, doing her duty as a Christian, respected and beloved. But she did not accomplish an impos. sibility-she did not please all. Mrs. Carthew remarked to Mrs. Stoneman that Mrs. Selby was “a queer woman."
“She is certainly very conceited," she said. “You know, Mrs. Stoneman, she owes us some gratitude, for we thought of her in her affliction ; we were the very first that did so, but I really believe she has never been sufficiently grateful for it. You know that last week I had a juvenile party. Young people are all for dancing now-forfeits, and all that sort of thing, are quite gone out—they won't hear of them now. Very right, perhaps ; but then, you know, Mrs. Stoneman, a young party is become a very troublesome affair. I'm sure I don't know what on earth to do with them, or how to amuse them-one cannot always have a ball, you know."
“No, certainly,” said Mrs. Stoneman; “I have quite a dread of my winter's party. Carpets to be taken up, musicians to be hired, and I know not what all. It is exceedingly troublesome, and, besides, it is expensive."
* Well, that's what I say,” rejoined Mrs. Carthew; "and whenever they go away I can't help saying to myself, “Thank heaven! I'm glad that's over!' But, as I was saying just now, last week I had a few young people to tea, and, as they must do something, I thought I would just invite Mrs. Selby; she could make tea in the lobby, you know, and, as she plays nicely, she could sit at the piano while the young folks danced for I find that the girls are all for dancing, and not one of them is willing to sit at the instrument; besides, they don't play very well yet. Well, anybody but Mrs. Selby would, in her position, have been glad to accept such a compliment; but no-she returned a decided refusal, civil enough, certainly, but still very decided. I was vexed with myself that I had condescended to ask her.”
“I am glad you have named this,” said Mrs. Stoneman, “for, as the Barfoots receive Mrs. Selby as a friend, I thought she might be made useful occasionally; but I shall remember this. I fancy Mrs. Selby thinks a great deal of herself ; I suppose she is too proud to make herself of any service."
“Oh, no doubt!" replied Mrs. Carthew ; “ she never sends anything for our bazaars, will not go out collecting, nor would she help to make the aprons which we sent out to the poor Hottentots, and that, I think, was a thing which, for the sake of common decency, to say nothing of humanity, everybody ought to have assisted in ; indeed, she will not do any one thing. She says her time is occupied in attending the children at Dr.