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to the poor man; for the gentleman to whose hands his money had been entrusted, was enabled not only to give a good account of the debt, but also to replace the whole sum in Mr. Williams's hand, his affairs having taken an unexpectedly prosperous turn. The farmer, with strong feelings of gratitude to the Ruler of all things, lost no time in placing out the recovered sum on the best security; and then, with a light heart, he turned his horse towards his home. It was evening when he ascended the mountain, and he thought he had never before felt so grateful for the retired situation in which his lot had been cast.
The hearts of Mrs. Williams and Anna were filled with gratitude and joy by the pleasant news he had to tell.
Next morning it was proposed to Anna that she should immediately give up that troublesome office in the family which she had so dutifully undertaken and so faithfully fulfilled. At the same time her father thanked her in the most affectionate manner for the exertions she had made; “by which,” said he, “you not only gave me inexpressible comfort, and prevented me from incurring debts which I now should have had to discharge, but, with God's blessing, you accomplished a much more difficult work-you convinced me that religion is not a mere form of words, but that faith is a real and substantial thing which has power not only to produce a consistent course of conduct, but even to overcome the natural selfishness of our evil hearts."
Anna replied, that she was ashamed to be thanked by her parents for any thing she had been enabled to do; as she had still done less than her duty, and never could expect, during the longest life, to discharge her debt of gratitude towards them. And she concluded by requesting her father and mother, instead of taking another servant into the family, to receive in that place a poor cousin, the orphan daughter of a sister of Mrs. Williams. “ As we are near of an age,
” said Anna, so we will divide the work between us; and my poor cousin will then have a happy home, instead of being tossed about among strangers.
The farmer was greatly pleased with this request, and would have acceded to it at once, had not the conversa
tion at L come to his recollection. however, was so agreeable to his feelings, that he did not make any long resistance; so a horse and pillion were sent the next day to a small town, in the heart of the mountain, for his wife's niece, who, after having tried several modes of subsistence, had, for a few months past, lodged with a sempstress, and earned a bare subsistence by assisting her hostess.
About a month after the return of the farmer from L- a letter was received from Miss Parker, containing a most pressing invitation for Anna to visit L Anna was desirous of declining the invitation, but Mr. Williams was anxious that she should go, if it were only for a short time; since he secretly wished that Miss Parker and Mrs. Flumphreys might witness the cheerful and blooming appearance of his daughter.
Anna was not quite so willing to accept the invitation, because she was now very happy, and feared to have her happiness marred by intercourse with the world. But the matter was settled by a reference to Mr. Mills, who said, that as he must go upon business to L- before the setting in of winter, he would undertake to bring Anna home with him. Mrs. Mills was also consulted about Anna's dress, as she had lately been paying a visit in a neighbouring town; and she recommended such things as she thought were suitable to her situation in life, her age, and her Christian character.
At length, all things being prepared, Anna and her father set off for L
Anna's mind was in that state in which a pious young person's ought to be: she was prepared to be thankful for every attention, and to enjoy every innocent pleasure which might come in her way during her journey. As the farmer and his daughter travelled in the little market-cart, they were obliged to make two days' journey of it, and consequently to spend one evening at the inn on the side of the common, where they were received more as old friends than common guests. Anna heartily enjoyed this interval in company with her dear father, and proceeded in an equally cheerful state of mind the next day.
Mr. Williams accompanied his daughter to Mrs. Parker's door; and then, being called elsewhere by parti
cular business, he took an affectionate leave of her, expressing a hope that they should meet again at the end of a month.
Anna being left by her father, knocked at the door, and was ushered, by a smart footman, into a room in which she had often been, but which was so entirely metamorphosed by modern furniture of the most elegant form, arranged in the most fashionable disorder, that she had hardly recovered her surprise, before Miss Parker, and her gay sister Miss Jane, ran into the room to welcome and embrace her. Anna's mind was in too correct a state to allow her to be frightened, or to appear awkward before her young friends, but she certainly was surprised at their appearance. She had pictured to herself her friend Charlotte dressed indeed with neatness, but with all the plainness and economy of a Christian female, who thinks every needless penny spent on herself as so much taken from the poor; she likewise had expected something in her manner and expression of countenance indicative of humility, and a will subdued: but of Miss Jane she had only thought as of a child, much like what she had left her. It cannot therefore be wondered at, that Anna was surprised when she saw the elder of these sisters dressed in the most costly manner, though undoubtedly in a better taste than that of the younger, who appeared as if she had been striving to spoil her fine person (for she was really handsome) by the most vain and fantastic attire which the foolish fashions of the day could authorize. Neither in the countenances of these sisters did Anna find any thing more attractive than in their dresses. Yet long-established affection prevailing over momentary surprise, she received their expressions of regard with her natural warmth, and proceeded to ask them a thousand questions about their mother and other friends.
Anna was next taken to see Mrs. Parker in her dressing-room, whom she found much aged; and thence she was led by Miss Charlotte to the chamber appointed for her, who whispered that she wished to be some time alone with her dear friend.
There she immediately began to converse on religious subjects. She expressed, in strong scriptural terms,
the gratitude she felt in being, as she affirmed, called from darkness into light; and then proceeded to lament the deplorably careless state of her sister, with her mother's absolute deadness to all religious feelings. From thence she went on to describe the delightful religious society then existing in - She spoke of Mrs. Humphreys as the first of Christian characters, and was very abundant in the praises of their excellent minister. Miss Parker concluded by saying, that, as they were to have a party of religious friends in the evening, she should then have the inexpressible pleasure of introducing her dear Anna to them.
The volubility with which Miss Parker spoke, and the ease and freedom with which she introduced religious expressions on the most common occasions, not only astonished Anna, but seemed to render her quite dumb; insomuch that, finding herself utterly unable to open her mouth on those divine subjects which appeared so wholly to engross her friend's attention, she was more than once on the point of applying to herself those dreadful denunciations of the divine displeasure which are held out against such as are ashamed to acknowledge their Saviour.
In the midst of this private interview between the two friends, dinner was announced, and Miss Parker led the way into the dining-parlour, where the only addition to the party was Miss Jane, who was just come in from the usual round of visitings and shopping which occupied her mornings.
Anna enquired for Mrs. Parker, but was told that she never dined down stairs. Could not we then have had our dinner taken up into her dressing-room?" said Anna.
“She would rather be alone,” replied Miss Charlotte, coolly.
“ But I hope,” said Anna, “ that my company causes no change?"
“ Not the least,” returned the young lady.
The conversation now took a new turn. Miss Jane mentioned the winter fashions as being just arrived, and Miss Charlotte asked what they were.
While she was speaking, she eyed her friend's travelling-dress in a manner which a little disconcerted her, and then said, My dear Anna, I suppose you will want some new dresses. You perhaps would like to go with us to-morrow, to see what is likely to be worn this winter?”
Anna, who had by this time recovered her self-command, smilingly answered, that she was provided, for the present, with all she wanted.
“Yes,” said Miss Parker, “that is probable: but perhaps you would like to have your clothes arranged to the fashion?”
It is so long since I have had any thing to do with fashions,” replied Anna, still anxious to ward off this attack in a friendly way,
" that there would be some difficulty, I fear, in conforming my usual dress to the general taste."
“But surely,” said Miss Charlotte, “ you would not wish to be quite particular in matters of such little importance?”
Anna,” said Miss Jane, laughing, “ you perhaps suppose that the religious people in L- do not think at all of dress. I allow, there are a few who do not, and who are more concerned about clothing the poor and naked than about adorning their own persons. But the first Christian characters here are not of that sort. My sister, for instance, is, to the full, as nice and particular about her dress as I am, though I make no pretence whatever to religion.
She was going on in the same style, when Miss Parker rebuked her severely. Upon which Miss Jane laughed, and shrugged up her shoulders; and Anna began to hope that the conversation about fashionable appearances would end here. But Miss Parker insisted, at least, that Anna should have her hair cut and dressed; asserting, that she did not think it judicious for Christians to make their profession despicable in the eyes of the world by a neglect of the common and innocent customs of life.
After dinner, Anna again proposed a visit to Mrs. Parker's dressing-room: but Miss Parker declared that this was now her mother's time for taking her evening nap, and the young ladies accordingly gathered round the dining-room fire, talking of their old school days and schoolfellows, till the arrival of the hair-dresser