« EelmineJätka »
“When Amelia was gone, we all remained for some time in a state that was any thing but enviable. Little Flora cried, and lamented herself aloud. • O my sweet Amelia !' she exclaimed, my dear Amelia! O! I wish that Amelia was iny mamma! my sweet Miss Carrisforth! my lovely, lovely Amelia!' and then she wrung her little hands in an agony of grief, which touched even my hard heart, and filled me with a strong feeling of compunction, yet not sufficiently strong to induce me to confess what I had done.
“ Flora continued to cry, till Miss Beaumont, turning angrily to her, said, You little simpleton, cease your disturbance. What an uproar you are making! I heartily wish you had the mamma you desire. Say another word, and I will turn you over to Miss Carrisforth, and she shall have the plague of you.' ".0! will
be so kind ?' said the little girl. • Will you give me up, dear Miss Beaumont? I shall be so happy. Dear, kind Miss Beaumont, will you let me be Amelia's child ?'
“ It is perhaps impossible to conceive of any circumstance that would at that moment have been more provoking to the inflamed mind of Miss Julia than this request, made by little Flora: and such was its effect npon the young lady, that she instantly arose, and going to Mrs. Patterson with Flora, requested permission to deliver her up to Amelia.'
"Is it at Miss Carrisforth's own desire ?' enquired Mrs. Patterson.
“. It is, I am sure,' answered the little girl, because I love her so much.'
“• Do then as you please,' said Mrs. Patterson. And the joyful little Flora few to tell Amelia that she was to be her child.
“ Miss Beaumont did not appear at tiffin, but Flora, full of delight, sat on one side of Amelia, while I took my usual seat on the other.
Nothing very remarkable happened from the time of this second quarrel with Miss aumont till the arrival of the holidays. Flora, in the interim, remained under Amelia's care, and seemed truly happy, and desirous of improvement. Miss Beaumont continued alienated from Amelia, though it was plain enough that this separation cost her much, for she was always silent and melancholy. In some respects I improved rapidly; but, then, it was in matters with which the head was more concerned than the heart.
" As Flora was a child of a disposition peculiarly open and ingenuous, and who would tell Amelia of every thing that she saw, she entirely put a stop to my private interviews with Gabrielle. It would have been, I found, a very dangerous experiment to attempt to corrupt her, as she invariably made a point of shewing to Amelia every thing that was given to her; and if, by chance, I was ever left alone with her for a few moments, she would, when Amelia again returned, give her a minute and exact account of what had passed during her absence.
• Thus this little creature, by her extraordinary openness, was by the divine mercy enabled to be as it were a guard to herself; for it was a common saying throughout the school, Mind what you do before Flora; for she will tell all to Amelia Carrisforth.'
“When the Midsummer holidays arrived, most of the family were dispersed. Amelia had made interest for little Flora to accompany her to a friend's house at Serampore, where she was to spend the recess, and I went to my aunt's, where I was thought to be much improved. “ About this time I completed my fifteenth
year. • When I had been at home about a fortniglit, a certain circumstance, not worth detailing in this place, obliged my aunt to take a short journey with her daughters, and I was, in consequence, sent back to school.
“On arriving at Palm-Grove, I found no one there but Miss Crawford and Gabrielle, a circumstance which proved very unfortunate for me; for, as Miss Crawford was any thing else but watchful, I was left at entire liberty to do, and say, and learn every thing to which my evil inclinations either prompted or disposed me.
“I was put to sleep alone the first night in my visual apartment; and the first person I saw, when I opened my eyes in the morning, was Gabrielle, sitting by my bedside, this girl having been from home the evening before, when I arrived.
“O! Clara Lushington,” she said, “how glad I was when Miss Crawford told me that you were come, and
с с 3
and cross you,
without Amelia Carrisforth, to watch you, and plague you, as she did. What a torment that girl must have been to you, Clara!'
“Why, Gabrielle;' I said, 'is that you? I thought you liked Amelia above all persons in the world.'
• 0, yes, she is well enough,' she answered. But we shall have such fun now.' Miss Crawford lets us have every thing all our own way in the holidays. We shall have such fun.'
«• Fun?' I said; and of what sort ?'
$«•0, all sorts. Do you know, that, the day before yesterday, we had the putully-nautch in the verandah, and I saw it over again in the bawergee khnunuh, when Miss Crawford thought I was in bed and fast asleep. And then Fijou,- you know Fijou, the kitmutgaur,-he tells such droll tales; and the nyuhs and the brarers, we all meet together, at night, in the back vermdah, and they amuse me so! And I have been out twice; I will not tell you where, neither: but Miss Crawford thought I was at Mrs. Sandford's, my papa's friend, in Tank Square. But I was not there; I was with Atkins and Chatterton."
Where?' I said. "0, what's that to you? I'll tell you, some time or other; but not now.'
But how could you deceive Miss Crawford ?' “. Deceive her!' said Gabrielle, deceive her! Indeed I must be a fool, if I could not deceive her! Why, could not I write a note in Mrs. Sandford's name, and get it brought here; and then go out in a hired palanquin, and go where I pleased? O, you are but a simpleton yet, I see, Lushington, she added, laughing; . but you will be wiser by and by. When I have told you all the tricks of Palm-Grove, you won't wonder and . stare as you did when the chit was found on Miss Crawford's dressing-table; a chit which nobody wrote, but which every body read.'
“O, Gabrielle ! I said, 'I always suspected that you were at the bottom of that trick.'
««• How wonderful that you should have suspected me!' she added, laughing; how came you to think that I was so clever?'
“ But enough, and too much, of this detestable con
versation. Suffice it to say, that by the time that the three remaining weeks of the holidays had elapsed, I was as corrupt as such a companion could make me, and I had fully resolved, either to break Amelia's yoke from my neck, or, if I could not in any way do this effectually, to circumvent her by some other means.
“ After the midsummer vacation, whey we were all reassembled, I found that our party was but little varied. During the vacation, Miss Beaumont (her irritation having been no longer excited by her spiteful companions) had become convinced of the impropriety of her conduct, and had, therefore, written not only a letter to Amelia, fully expressive of contrition for the unkind suspicions that she had entertained against her, but she had also sent letters of apologies to the other ladies of the family whom she had insulted.
" In consequence of her having forwarded these letters, she was, on her return, received with affection by Amelia, and with politeness by the rest of the party: and as she now appeared humbler and more amiable than she had ever done before, her concurrence and cooperation considerably strengthened the influence of Miss Carrisforth in the family: whereas, formerly, by her want of watchfulness and self-command, she had greatly weakened that influence, as must have appeared on many occasions which I have already related.
“ This assistance on the part of Miss Beaumont was certainly very seasonable: for no sooner was Amelia returned, than I plainly told her that I would not be ruled by her as I had been before; that it was well enough for her to keep such a child as Flora under control, but that, as I was in my sixteenth year, I had no notion of submitting to a person who was only eighteen.
“She replied, You do not consider, Clara, that when you obey me, it is not to my authority that you submit, but to the delegated authority of your father.'
' ««•I do not care,' I answered, whose delegated authority it is; I will not submit.'
". That is your determination?' said Amelia, calmly. “It is, Miss Carrisforth,'I answered. “She immediately arose, and brought me a pen, ink, ".. You will be pleased,' she replied, 'to write down on paper
"ro What's that for?' I said.
you have just said ; that is, if you are in earnest in saying so.'
“To be sure I am,' I answered.
“In a spirit of insolence I obeyed, and, tossing the paper towards her, exclaimed, “There, it is written: you may read it, and shew it to Mrs. Patterson.'
No,' said Amelia, taking up the paper, 'I do not intend it for Mrs. Patterson, but for your father. To him I shall send it, and to him, as a proper person, that is, as the person who iutrusted you to my care, I shall refer the case.'
“I forgot to say, that, during the holidays, I had heard from my aunt of my father's marriage to a widow lady up the country; and my aunt had, at the same time, availed herself of that occasion to suggest to me, that, as my father might now have a second family, it behoved me to act with great circumspection towards him, lest I should lose his regard. And as I, in conmon with most other young people of my age, was by no means insensible to notions and feelings of self-interest, I was, therefore, a little startled at this proposed reference to my father, and, consequently, thought proper to change my measures on the occasion. I, accordingly, begged Amelia's pardon, and promised to behave better in future, though, at the same time, I secretly resolved on doing all that I could to spite and deceive her.
“When I humbled myself, I obtained her immediate forgiveness, and all things then returned to their usual course, or at least appeared to do so: for, although. I was now most carefully and closely watched, not only by Amelia, but also by Miss Beaumont, I contrived to correspond with Gabrielle by means of the jalousies near my bed, through which she put her notes, and through which I conveyed my answers.
“This correspondence had been carried on for some weeks, when Gabrielle, one night, slipped a chit through the door, the purport of which was to ask me if I could not possibly contrive to escape by. the door near my bed, after Amelia was asleep; Gabrielle adding, that she would draw all the bolts, and set the door a little ajar, while the family were at tea.