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from that, as you went tottering along with your baby steps!
And now, because it has pleased the Lord to lay his hand upon her, even her own child turns against her! Oh! that I should live to see so much ingratitude!” Here the poor woman burst again into tears, and pressed her cheek against her weeping nursling, who too well understood all that passed. For many a conversation had this faithful nurse and child had together upon the affecting subject of her mother's indisposition; and often had she communed with the child on what they would, together, do for Mrs. Danzy, when Clarissa should come of age.
In the mean time, Isabella, who had not been used to hear such sharp remonstrances, sat pouting and silent; till the good woman, having somewhat overcome her emotion, was able to address her with more composure on the subject.
And, first, she represented to her the intimate and close connexion subsisting between parent and child, being both, as it were, but one flesh and blood; observing, at the same time, that even birds and beasts were far from shewing any insensibility to the feelings of parental and filial regard. “ Neither," added she, "are any creatures destitute of these feelings, unless, perhaps, we except serpents, crocodiles, and other vile reptiles and insects, which are the acknowledged emblems of all that is abominable. Look,” said she, “ at this moment, on yonder hill in the paddock, where the deer are feeding; look how the young fawns are gambolling and frisking by their dams; and how, when the mother runs, the little ones follow her, bounding and sporting about her, as if to shew their love and joy. Should human creatures, then, be worse than brutes?” added the good woman;
'or, rather, should they not greatly excel them in all that is amiable, since they are endowed with reason, and because they know the commandment of the Lord, which saysHonour thy father and thy mother; that thy days may be long in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee?' And mind this, Miss Isabella, God doth not say, Honour thy father and thy mother,' because they are good, or wise, or clever, or able to serve thee ; but because they are thy father and thy mother. And though they cannot reward thee, it does not alter the
matter : for the reward promised is not such as human bounty can bestow. But God himself will give thee the reward, even long life, or everlasting life, as I take it : for long life in this world is not always desirable ; but everlasting life is the first, the highest, and the greatest of blessings. This also should be observed, Miss,” proceeded the nurse, “ that, though a parent were to be ever so wicked, that circumstance would not do away the obligation of the child towards him, inasmuch as the obligation is from God; and the punishment in that case will come from Him who has appointed the observance of so important a duty. And if the sin of the parent does not discharge the child from its obligation,”. continued the nurse, "assuredly, Miss Bell, his misfortunes never can do so, but ought, rather, to bind the child closer and closer to the afflicted parent: and, according to my opinion, any slight towards my dear mistress in her present situation, is more to be guarded against by her children than if she were in the highest state of health and prosperity.”
The nurse then, taking her Bible, which was lying upon a deal chest-of-drawers near to where she sat, turned to the following verses in Ecclesiasticus: My son, help thy father in his age, and grieve him not as long as he liveth. And if his understanding fail, have patience with him; and despise him not when thou art in thy full strength. For the relieving of thy father shall not be forgotten : and instead of sins it shall be added to build thee up. (Ecclus. iii. 12-14.)
The nurse however had no reason to think that her plain dealing had any good effect on Miss Isabella; since she took the first opportunity of escaping out of her room, and from that time made her appearance in it seldomer than ever. She also had reason to think, that whatever she had said to Isabella was immediately repeated to Mrs. Burton; for, the next day, on going into the housekeeper's room to get her tea-canister filled, Mrs. Burton looked very coolly at her, and though she kept her a long while waiting, never asked her to sit down.
Mrs. Danzy had now been ill rather more than six years, when her illness began to take rather a favourable turn; and this appeared from the recovery of her me
mory, which led her frequently to ask for her children, as well as to enquire about other persons whose names she had not mentioned since her illness. The children had long been kept out of her sight by Mrs. Burton, who pretended that she would be too much affected by their presence; but the calls of the poor mother for these little dear ones having, at length, reached the ears of her husband, he ordered, one evening, that they should be carefully dressed, and brought into her presence.
When the good nurse received this order, she hastened, with joy, to dress her lovely nursling for the interview, and was filled with delight at the sweet appearance of the little lady when she had completed the task of dressing her.
Miss Clarissa's best suit was a satin slip of light violet colour, the petticoat being stiffened with whalebone; with a stomacher and apron of fine lace, a necklace of pearls, and a lace cap with a bunch of violets on one side.
When equipped in this dress, the nurse took her by the hand, and led her to the door of her poor mother's apartment. In the vestibule, she met Mrs. Burton with Isabella, who, looking scornfully at her, would have taken the child from her hand. But the nurse replied, with firmness, “No, as I took this infant, nearly six years ago, from its mother's breast, I am certainly the properest person to return her into that bosom.'
Mrs. Burton, perceiving that resistance would be vain, acquiesced; but with a look that imported, “ I shall remember this.”
The two females, with the children, proceeded together to the door of Mrs. Danzy's room, into which they were introduced by Mrs. Diana; and, on the door being opened, they saw the lady sitting on one side of the window, speaking with her husband. She started when the women entered, and advanced to meet them with a hurried step. She instantly recognized the nurse, and said, with eagerness, “ And where, where is my baby, Margaret?"
The nurse drew little Clarissa forward, saying, “ Here, Madam, here is your lovely child.”
She gazed on the child for a moment, and then earnestly looked in the nurse's face, saying, “ But, my
baby! my little baby! they promised me my baby today. It is very long since I have seen my little darling. I trusted her to you, nurse; and why have you very very long without bringing her to me?"
- This is your child, your own sweet baby, dear lady,” said the nurse, lifting up Clarissa. “ Look at her features. Are they not the same?--those sweet soft eyes, those flaxen ringlets, that dimpled cheek, and pretty pouting lip? Look at your baby; know her again; and be assured that she is your own beloved child.”
The poor lady turned away weeping, like one who had been often deceived, whose heart had been made sick by hope long deferred, and, throwing herself on a chair, gave free passage to her tears.
On this, Mrs. Burton and her sister uttered a sneering laugh, which was so faint as not to be heard amid the sobs of the afflicted lady. But the more tenderhearted nurse and affectionate husband followed her to her chair; where placing the children before her, they besought her to look favourably upon them.
After giving vent to her feelings for some minutes, she, at length, with a kind of passive yet sorrowful obedience, which to a discerning eye might have marked but too plainly the habit of deep subjection to which she had been accustomed, dropped the apron which she had thrown over her face in the first moment of bitter disappointment, and, wiping her eyes, looked at the children with considerable earnestness, offering them her hands.
Miss Isabella, who had been in the habit of hearing her afflicted parent spoken of as a poor, whimsical, disordered creature, shrunk from the poor lady as she extended her pale hand towards her. But the little Clarissa, who had been accustomed to consider her unhappy parent whom she occasionally beheld from the window of her nursery as an object of the tenderest love and compassion, sprang forward at the approach of her mother's hand, and, clasping her arms round her neck, would very soon (had free permission been permitted her) have cheated her distressed parent of half her sorrows by her innocent and tender endearments. But Mrs. Burton and her sister, who both now began to tremble for their authority, knowing that if little Clarissa ob
tained her mother's confidence she would not fail also to obtain the same for her nurse, thought proper to interfere, by stating to Mr. Danzy the direction of the physician, that his patient should be kept entirely calm and composed : to which Mrs. Burton added, in corroboration of the doctor's opinion, her own perfect assurance, that her mistress, from what had already passed, would become as ill the next day as she had been during any stage of her disorder.
Little Clarissa was accordingly torn from the arms of her mother, and carried back to the nursery; and the next morning, it was reported in the family that Mrs. Danzy was so ill as to be obliged to keep her bed.
From that time, Clarissa was seldom brought into her mother's presence, though Isabella followed Mrs. Burton in and out of the apartment at her pleasure; but as her manner was always cold and haughty towards her afflicted parent, she never made any progress in her affection, the poor lady always seeming to consider her as a stranger, and continuing still to enquire month after month for the infants whose little endearments she remembered with such delight.
Thus another year was suffered to pass with this poor lady, her mind remaining much in the same disconsolate state; and during this period she had seldom been permitted to see Clarissa, whom she often enquired after, although she could never by any means be brought to identify her with the infant so long deplored.
Towards the end of this year, a new affliction reached this family in the sudden death of Mr. Danzy by a fever.
Though this gentleman's death was unexpected, he had not departed without a will, which was amply declaratory of his intentions towards those who depended on him.
It was expressed as his request in this will, that his uncle, a single man and an old bachelor, should undertake the guardianship of his daughters, whom he left co-heiresses of his property, with this singular clause -- that the family-mansion should belong to the one who married first. He left it also as his request, that his daughters should be sent to the best boardingschool in London, or to a convent in France, for their education, and be kept there till the elder was of age;