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she will not open her mind to me on this subject; but whenever I express my religious opinion to my mother, she is either silent or leaves the room; and, not unfrequently, she is so foolish as to harden my mother by her tears."
“Why do you say, Eleanore,” replied Antoinette, “that I have refused to give you my opinion ? Have I not, again and again, entreated you not to enter into any argument with our dear parent; because I perceive, that when she is not in a state of irritation, she will allow me to read the Bible for hours together to her; and she has even accommodated herself so far to me as to join with me in prayer
?" " What sort of prayer ?” said Joanna, rather sneeringly.
"In a simple address to Christ, her Saviour and my Saviour. For I often speak to her of the Saviour, and point him out as the only way of salvation to every order and denomination of men; and she hears me with a degree of complacency, which would surprise you, who have witnessed her irritation on these subjects at other times."
“The truth of the matter is,” returned Joanna, “that Eleanore endures the brunt and heat of the battle, and that you come quietly in afterwards to gather the spoil: she endures the odium, and you rejoice in the victory."
“Victory!" said Eleanore; “so but the victory is obtained, I do not care who has the renown.” So saying, she yieldell to a burst of passionate sorrow; and, sitting down on the root of a tree which was near, she continued for some time to weep and bewail herself; while Joanna comforted her by reminding her, that contempt and persecution were the lot of every faithful servant of Christ.
There is not a greater consolation to a young lady, under twenty, than to suppose herself singularly and heroically a sufferer. It is astonishing what this single reflection will enable a young lady to undergo. The time was when young ladies delighted in supposing themselves persecuted for their beauty. Bui, as the records of persecuted beauties are not now held in so much repute as they were in the middle of the last century, when the histories of Pamela and Clarissa were recom
mended from the pulpit, it has been found necessary that heroines should find some other cause of complaint, more suited to the taste of the day; and, on this account, it has been found convenient, by many young people, to affect heroic valour on the subject of religion, and thereby to procure difficulties, which would never have existed had not they wished they should. This was the case with Eleanore; and the indiscreet friendship of Joanna was the secret cause of this extraordinary hu
But my young reader may perhaps think that I am tardy in narrating my story; and that I introduce too many episodes, and too many of my private opinions. Fearing that this may be the case, I shall endeavour to proceed with my narrative.
Madame Northington had taken her cottage in the valley for one year only, intending to remain there from year to year, as she might like her situation. But the good lady had a restlessness about her, which made it very improbable that she would remain here so long as she had done at Reading ; where a constant flux and refux of eigners had added a novelty to the scene, which rendered it very agreeable to her. This was not the case in the valley. When she had admired the roses and woodbines of one summer; the party coloured leaves of one autumn; the hoar frosts and clear nights of one winter; and the buds and blossoms of one spring; she became tired of the magnificence of Madame Montague; of the bustling loquacity of Mademoiselle Joanna; and, giving her landlord notice to look for another tenant, she prepared herself for a voyage across the Channel.
It might be expected, that, when Eleanore was informed of the intended departure from the cottage of the valley, she would have evinced some uneasiness; but, on the contrary, she expressed considerable pleasure, saying, that she had long wished to see France, and the charming scenes so frequently spoken of by her mother.
" But you forget,” said Monsieur, " that we are not Lutherans on the other side of the water, Mademoiselle; and your religion, however respected it may have been in this place, will not be much revered there."
“You do not suppose, Monsieur,” replied Eleanore, “that my religious feelings are such as will be affected by the praise, or dispraise, of man? My principles, I hope and trust, are not so variable, as that I should depart from them, because they may not happen to suit those with whom I associate."
“Well,” said Monsieur,“ we shall see that presently."
“You will not, I hope,'' said Eleanore, addressing her mother seriously, “ use any compulsion ?"
“Point du tout,” said Madame, shrugging up her shoulders, “point du tout. Your father was of the religion reformee; and it was his last request, that I should leave his children to liberty of conscience. I have never yet interfered with you, my daughters; and we should do better, if you would allow the same liberty to me.”
Eleanore made no reply, therefore no one can tell what she thought; but Antoinette, taking her mother's hand, and pressing it to her lips, said, in a gentle tone, “ Beloved parent, we are sensible of your indulgence; continue to treat us as you have done, and we will follow you with delight to the most distant part of the world.”
Madame's heart was warmed by this expression of affection, so consistent with the whole tenor of her younger daughter's conduct. She accordingly threw her arms round her neck, bestowing upon her many epithets of regard; and thus ended the conversation.
During the few weeks previous to the intended departure of Madame and her family, Joanna and Eleanore were almost inseparable, and their professions of admiration and esteem became more fervent than ever. Joanna spoke with increased persuasion of Eleanore's advancement in the life of faith, and of the manner in which she would surely endure the trials and difficulties she was about to encounter. Keepsakes, and copies of verses and little notes, were continually interchanged ; and, if possible, more close and intimate assurances were given. It was evident, on the part of Joanna, who had considerable warmth of heart, that she really looked forward with sorrow to the separation; but Eleanore, notwithstanding her wish to appear sorrowful, was unable to conceal her real state from her mother; who, seeing
through all her daughter's disguises, one day exclaimed, in a sort of triumph, “ Je crois veritablement, oui, je cros que Eleanore ne s'affligera point a dire un adieu eternal a son amie, et a la belle vallee de S
“And why do you think so, mamma ?" replied Eleanore, not a little offended. “Do you think that I do not really love Joanna? and that I have not taken a serious and lively interest in all our works of benevolence and charity ?
“Je ne_ sais pas,-I_ do not know,” said Madame, blending French with English, in her customary manner, when she talked with her daughters, (to whom English was at that period more familiar than their mother's native language,)" but I have my apprehensions.”
“Oh! maman! maman!” replied Eleanore, with warmth, "you are unjust, cruel, barbarous! Heaven only, which knows my heart, is witness of the tender, the unequalled friendship which exists between me and my beloved Joanna; and Heaven only knows what my sufferings are, and have been on the prospect of this separation."
Madame shrugged up her shoulders on hearing this; and Monsieur raised his eyebrows, and displayed, in their expression, the three deep furrows in his large and sallow forehead: then, drawing out his snuff-box, and taking a larger pinch than usual, he closed his box, tapped it with his second and third fingers, and restored it to its usual place in his waistcoat-pocket.
It may be asked, what there was in all this in any way reflecting on the friendship existing between Joanna and Eleanore. The young lady, however, saw something in the manner both of Monsieur and Madame which touched her sensibly; and, leaving the room, she continued reeping for some time. But, as Monsieur had his salade to gather and
prepare for supper,
and Madame had some equally important engagement to call her attention, it was not discovered that Eleanore was so long absent, nor supposed that her heart had received so deep a wound.
I shall not pretend to describe the scene which took place between Joanna and Eleanore on the eve of their departure; nor attempt to give an account at large of
the manner in which, to the very last, Joanna retained Eleanore's good opinion. Suffice it to repeat one of the expressions used by this young lady on the occasion.“You are about to leave our happy and peaceful island, my friend, and to be familiar with scenes where pleasures tempt, and the enemies of religion will persecute: but continue steadfast and unmoveable, as you have hitherto been; braving the displeasure of the world, the alienation of friends, yea, even the contempt of your own family; and, though separated from you, I shall still rejoice and triumph in my Eleanore.”
After this ecstatic and high-flown address, by which Joanna had puffed up the mind of her young friend with high conceit of her past good conduct, she proceeded to speak about the necessity of Christian humility; alleging that true wisdom consisted in a man's knowing himself to be without moral strength, and in being disposed to trust for divine aid; and then she summed up the whole by complimenting her friend upon having already attained this knowledge; thus curiously blending right and wrong, truth and error, and indiscreetly mingling eulogiums on humility with incentives to pride ;-the effect of which was, that Eleanore returned home, after having taken her last adieu of her friend, with a mind full of self-complacency; as if conscious she possessed some kind of secret, by which she was able to conduct herself better than all the world besides.
This same evening, Antoinette, who had in the morning taken leave of Mrs. Montague and Joanna, walked up to her school on the summit of the hill, to bid farewell to the children who had occupied her attention for so many months past. She carried with her some little books, and certain productions of her own hand, to present to her little charge; and she was just in the act of bidding them adieu, not without some tears, that will flow when any tie of tender intercourse is about to be broken, when Mr. Harwood, brought hither at that moment either by accident or design, appeared at the little gate leading to the school-house. At sight of him, Antoinette disengaged herself hastily from the weeping little flock, and, entreating a blessing upon them with an emphasis of which she was not herself aware, proceeded