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wife were excellent people, kindly disposed, and of high integrity, some slight differences of opinion had led to petty discords, that exasperated whatever failings of temper they possessed to a quite unnecessary degree. Isabella had been an accidental witness of some of these outbreaks, and, young as she was at the time, the impression made upon her was such, that she formed a solemn determination never to marry any one whose spirit was not likely in deed and in truth to become one with her own. Το this determination she added another-viz., if she met with any man whom she felt she could entirely love and respect, and he showed himself like-minded towards her, to marry him, whatever his age or station might be. Almost intuitively she had arrived at the conviction, that more misery was produced in the world by people missing their "other halves," than by any single circumstance besides.
Isabella was, however, very mild and quiet; and all this had been working in her mind quite unknown to any member of her family. So that she stood, as it were, alone, and her lonely heart requiring sympathy, as do the hearts of all of us, however strong and independent we may wish to be, she was delighted to find in her father's young wife one who was likely to give her this sympathy, unalloyed by any mixture of quizzing, or the annoying species of indulgence accorded to what some very wise people consider "romance" and "absurd nonsense. With this feeling, she accompanied Mrs. Sellers upstairs after breakfast, and timidly asked if she might sit with her until church-time.
"Yes, dear Isabella, to be sure," answered the bride. "Will you go with me into my dressingroom? It is there that I usually retire on a Sunday morning. Have you ever thought much about this precept," inquired Mrs. Sellers, after a pause, during which they had both been occupied in reading-"Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee, turn thou not away?" "Not much, I confess," Isabella replied. "One reads these things so habitually, that they fail to impress us with any definite notions."
"For which reason," returned Mrs. Sellers, "I am very sparing in my reading of this kind. A few verses at a time are all that I peruse. Sometimes I put the book away for a short space; and, when I re-open it, these beautiful precepts come upon me with the power and force of new ideas. Did you ever try to take them literally, and act upon
“No,” said Isabella; "I was never taught to do so. Indeed, I was always told that many of them were impossible to be taken literally. Hush! there is the church-bell. What do you mean to put on,
'Here; see, I shall put on this shawl." "Have you a shawl-pin ?"
myself after. Where is your bonnet? Where do Martha. She was not in the habit of turning over
"Pray, who told you that?" "Oh! a little bird, I assure you. Mrs. Martha Sellers, such a wedding as yours does not But I beg your pardon; I am very impertinent." "No, love, only innocent and candid." And Martha kissed Isabella on her fair, open forehead. "Do let me help you to dress," said the latter. "I can do that, and have plenty of time to dress
"How do you fasten your shawl, then?”
Certainly, you have my full leave."
'Well, then, I must say I never knew a bride like you. I have not seen you wear a brooch since you came-nor a ring. Just let me look at your hand: not that-the other. It is a nice white hand, with pretty tapering fingers; and this plain gold ring becomes it well. But you have not even a guard for it."
It requires none: the guard is in my heart,"
“What a nice green velvet! I must say it looks more sensible than a bridal bonnet this foggy day."
More than a week has passed since the youthful bride's appearance upon the scene of her future experience. Within that short space of time, she has uttered and done enough strange things to set one half the most "respectable" people of Brankleigh talking and wondering about her, and prophesying that "it can never last; with such opinions, she will be sure to disgrace herself in the end." And yet they are very courteous to her face; for not only does Mr. Sellers's reputation as a thriving citizen and "safe" man uphold his wife in a certain position, but the report of her large fortune, and its settlement upon herself, has also got wind; and who can dare to gainsay the doings of a rich heiress? Mammon! with all our charities and our preachings, with all our aspirations after the time when a man shall be valued according to what he is, and not after the standard of what he has, when there shall be no respect of persons, and "the might with the right and the truth shall be"-with all these shadows of "the good time coming," Mammon, thou art still the god of this world; and men bow low before thy huge golden altar, and debase and degrade the image of God in the service of his “You little foolish girl, call me Martha at once. rival. So the original-minded Martha Sellers went Why, how much older am I than you?" on her way, serenely soaring, like her prototype the "I am just eighteen, and you are three-and-moon, above the clouds of exaggeration and petty gossip, carrying her husband's heart along with her twenty." the while.
Ir was the Monday morning before Christmas Day-a bright, clear, frosty morning-and Mr. Sellers gave his arm to his wife, for the purpose of escorting her to do what ladies call "a little shopping.” He had never been used to this kind of thing, but he did not dread entering a shop with
They were just leaving the large establishment where Mrs. Sellers had ordered an unusual quantity of raisins, and candied lemon, and so forth, for her Christmas preparations, when they stumbled upon a woman who was entering it. Mrs. Sellers was looking another way, and did not particularly notice the person whom she thus encountered. But immediately afterwards, on asking her husband a slight question, she received no answer; and, looking up into his face for the reason of his silence, she was surprised to find that it bore the traces of strong, though suppressed emotion.
"What is the matter, dearest?" she inquired, in alarm. "Are you ill?"
"No-nothing, love," he stammered; and she forbore farther questioning, for she saw that he did not wish it. No more was said, and he soon became as cheerful as usual
"Whom shall we have to dine with us on Christmas Day?" said Caroline, as they were sitting around the fire after dinner.
It is almost too late to issue the invitations, now," remarked Jane, discontentedly. "We have always been in the habit of inviting a few friends for that day, Mrs. Sellers."
"So I understand," quietly observed the bride. "But we are in time yet. Have you any poor relations, Mr. Sellers, who would be glad of a good dinner of roast-beef and plum-pudding?”
The young ladies looked at each other, and then at their papa. But he, after one glance into the candid, loving eyes of his young mistress, answered composedly, though with a certain restraint, "I an almost ashamed to tell you, Martha, that I have nearly lost sight of them all. Let me see. Poor Jack Marvel, the first Mrs. Sellers's brother. An idle, dissipated sort of fellow he was, and we really could not do with him disgracing us here; so we let him know he was not very welcome. and, being as proud as he was poor, he soon made himself scarce. I have not seen him for the last six years. The last time I heard of him, he was living in one of the lowest parts of the town."
The bride had seated herself at a small writing"What is his address, dear?' table beside the fire. she said. "Duke's Yard, Skinner Street. At least, that was where he lived two years ago, when I heard a bad account of his health."
"Well, then," said Mr. Sellers, covering his face with his other hand, as if ashamed, "I suppose you are aware that I have another daughter, besides those whom you have seen?"
The sky was without a cloud, the granite pavement of the streets sparkled like diamonds, and the dirtiest houses looked almost gay in the winter sunshine, that penetrated every nook of the town
"I have heard some rumours of the kind, but I of Brankleigh. But there was a keen north-east wind, and the bride folded her warm cloak closer about her as she passed over the open space in the neighborhood of Skinner Street. They had called at the grocer's on their way, but he knew nothing of Mary. He said that a woman answering her description called occasionally; but she always paid ready money, and carried her small purchases away Yes, I was looking at those great Chinese man- with her in a little basket, and that was all he could darins that sit there nodding, nodding-a sort of tell them. He "thought she was a lady-looking percatch-penny, I presume. I was aware that we son, something above the common; but he had knocked against somebody, but I did not see her never troubled his head much about her, having face." enough to do to attend to his customers as they came.” So they were obliged to depart unsatisfied, to the bitter disappointment of Mr. Sellers.
"Oh, I have no doubt he and I shall suit admirably," said Martha, smiling. "Now for the addresses of Sarah Sissons and Tom Sellers."
They were given her, and then she turned towards the three sisters, who were all gazing at her with astonishment, though in Isabella it was mingled with admiration.
That somebody, Martha, was my own poor, dear child. She turned as pale as a lily; and she was not dressed so well as one of my servants. Ever since I knew you and came under your pure influence, I have doubted whether I have acted the part of a Christian father in forbidding her my
"It would have been a good plan to have left a note at Dawson's," said Martha, as they entered "Here is a nice Christmas party," said the bride. Skinner Street, and stooped under a clothes-line “One, two, three, four-with ourselves, nine. that stretched across it, loaded with wet linen. Nor will we confine our gay doings to the drawing-house, and disinheriting her merely because she" Only I fear she laid in her store of Christmas room. Always with your permission, my dear," groceries yesterday, and will not call again for laying her hand upon that of her husband, who had some time. It is a great pity. I should so have drawn his chair near the writing-table. "Have I liked to invite her to dinner for Christmas-day. Do you not feel with me, dear Charles, that it is a peculiarly suitable time for healing family breaches !”
had followed the dictates of her heart, fulfilled an
"You only did as most other fathers would have done," said Martha, soothingly. "The fault lies in the generally received ideas about the thing, not in the individual instances of carrying them out. An impartial arbitrator has long been needed between parent and child, Love and Mammon.”
"You know, Martha, how perfectly I agree with you in most things, and, above all, in your exhibitions of benevolence. But I cannot feel that one day is better than another for performing good actions,"
"We will inquire after him," said Martha. next."
"The next poor relation, love?" There is old Sarah Sissons--a kind of fiftieth cousin; and Tom Sellers, another cousin. I think these are all I can mention. Only, if you are inclined to be very charitable, there is one poor old friend of mine, whom my late wife never could bear. So just for peace sake, I was obliged to break with him. I have often repented it since. His address is John McFarlane, Swallow Street. He is a plain sort of man, but very sensible, though odd and abrupt in his manner. He was too candid for the first Mrs. Sellers."
"Certainly," said Mr. Sellers. And his eye, as it dwelt lovingly upon his young bride's calm, sweet face, expressed more strongly than his words, how willingly he gave way to all her kind impulses.
"Then we will invite all the poor people in the immediate neighbourhood, without exception, to dine in the large upper room in the new warehouse."
"A sort of Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in'-hey, Patty?" said Mr. Sellers, laughing.
"In everything but the compulsion, Mr. Sellers." That night, Mr. Sellers, not being very well, went to bed early; and when his wife followed, after a chat with the girls over the fire, she found him fast asleep. She had taken off her dress, and was arranging her hair before the glass in the dressingroom, when she heard the sound of some one speaking, and, going into the next room, found her husband sitting up in bed, and talking very fast in his sleep.
"Poor Mary! poor child!" he was saying; "so your cruel father would not speak to you. I-I-" The tears were running down his face, and he was so evidently distressed by the vision his fancy had conjured up, that Martha shook him by the shoulder to awake him.
She turned so pale," he continued-" so pale-I mean What is it, Martha? What is the matter?" "You have been dreaming, love. Feel, your face is bathed with tears."
"Yes, I remember." And he gave a heavy sigh that much resembled a sob. "Sit down, Martha; I have often wished to unburden my mind to you. I am a different man since I knew you, my darling. But perhaps you would rather undress first."
"No, love, tell me now; I shall not be so sleepy. The fire is very good, and I have on my thick dressing-gown. Here, give me your hand, and tell me
all about it."
did not know that she was still alive."
met her this morning."
'Did we, indeed? Where, dearest ?"
"Very true, my dear. I wish I had spoken to her this morning; but I had not yet made up my mind to do so, and the sight of her, so altered, completely unnerved me. Now I have lost all trace of
"Nor do I mean to say so. God forbid. But I think times and seasons are requsite for many people, just to remind them of the acts of kindness which they may have neglected to perform. The majority have not yet sufficiently drunk in the spirit of the gospel."
"We shall perhaps be able to trace her again," said Mrs. Sellers. "I daresay the grocer will know where she lives."
"Look! here is Duke's Yard. What a filthy! entry! We shall be ankle deep in mud."
"A bright idea. Thank you, my sweet comforter. I shall now go to sleep with a comparatively easy conscience."
"Never mind, my dear; you need not shrink on my account. My boots are thick, and this stout merino gown will take no damage. My dress is never a hindrance to me."
"See!" said Martha, again, pointing to a man
"Just one more question, dear. Are you sure that Mary's sisters never see her?" "No, love, I forbade all intercourse from the very who was sitting on the door-step of a ruinous house in a corner of the yard. "How bitterly that poor
"What a severe man thou hast been! How was fellow is weeping! Shall we speak to him?" it I happened to take a fancy to you?" "What is the matter with you, my friend?" in"Because you are an old young woman; so a quired Mr. Sellers, going towards him, and laying young old man was not a bad match for you. a kind hand on his shoulder. Nevertheless, I am, and always shall be, grateful for your disinterested affection to a man so much older than yourself, dear girl."
The man lifted up a haggard face, that too plainly bore the traces of recent intoxication.
The next morning Mr. and Mrs. Sellers set out on their errand of peace and good-will. They had not said anything to the sisters of their intention to find out the offending one, and offer her the right hand of reconciliation, because they wished to prepare a delightful surprise for them; especially for Isabella, who had from the first been thoroughly understood and appreciated by Martha, and through her, was beginning to be so by Mr. Sellers. So they allowed them to suppose that they were merely carrying their own invitations to Jack Marvel and
"Bless my soul !" exclained Mr. Sellers, "Jack Marvel, is it you?"
Poor Jack recognised his brother-in-law, but the recognition appeared to give him neither surprise nor pleasure. He coldly and distantly shook hands, and then relapsed into his fit of weeping.
"Can I do anything for you, Jack?" said Mr. Sellers again. "For old acquaintance sake, for the memory of your poor sister, my late wife, confide in me."
"Much reason you rich people give one to confide in you," at length, Jack replied. "You wish me to trust your friendship. Did you, six years
dead hody, which ought not any longer to be de-
"For his sake; for my boy's sake," he mur-
It was no difficult matter; for Tom walked with the dignity of an alderman, and looked as if nothing Just at this moment, two little girls, who would in the world had power to increase his speed or his have been pretty children but for the dirt, and rags, circulation. He was a round, sleek man, with falland emaciation that disguised their original appear- ing shoulders, close-cropped hair, and cheeks totally ance, ran in, and shrank back at the sight of the❘ devoid of whiskers. As they came up with him, he strangers. slowly turned, and stared abstractedly at them, with "Come in dears," said the bride; 'come in. an expression as though he were solving the fortiDon't be afraid." eth proposition of Euclid.
The youngest looked up in her kind face; and, apparently encouraged by what it saw there, came forward, and took hold of her gloved hand with its dirty little fingers.
"I want some bread," it said.
all but forbade me your house? You ago, when you were, no doubt, afraid that poor, tattered, drunken Jack would disgrace his rich half-sister's funeral, and so you did not even give him notice that she had departed this life"
“No, Jack, I must undeceive you there. At that time I had lost all trace of you; a heavy trouble had fallen upon me and my wife, and we seldom saw any one, or went abroad, except upon necessary business. No, Jack, there you do me wrong.' "So you condescend to justify yourself to me. It is well; times must be changed with you. Come into the house and learn a lesson upon riches and poverty a lesson for which you may be the better all your life."
Mr. Sellers turned towards his wife. Her soft dark eyes were brimming over with tears; but she bowed her head as much as to say, "Let us go in." So they followed Jack, who led them into a damp, mouldy apartment, where a few embers in a rusty grate gave out but a small degree of heat, that was by no means sufficient to dry the humid walls. But there was something there worse than the scent of mould and humidity. Upon an old deal table was raised a white heap, most fearfully like a coffin covered with a ragged table-cloth; and the room was filled with a pungent, searching odor, that caused both Mr. Sellers and Martha to step backwards. They attempted to recover themselves without giving any sign of their disgust, but Jack had perceived the movement, and he laughed bitterly.
"Yes," he said you are not deceived. It is a slovenly, unhandsome corpse that stands betwixt the wind and your nobility. You cannot breathe five minutes in the same room with it. How would
like to be compelled to eat with it, drink with and sleep with it?"
"But," said Mr. Sellers, "if you have not funds to bury the body of your poor child-for such I suppose it to be, though I never heard that you were married-if you have not the necessary funds, why did you not apply to me?"
"To the rich brother-in-law, who looked and sneered me out of his house!" said Jack Marvel. No, no; the poor relation, though reckoned, no doubt, the very scum of the earth, had too much pride for that. I contrived to beg and borrow from better men what would buy my poor boy a coffin, but not until he had lain dead a week. I then got some of my neighbors to go with me, and we took him to the churchyard, where his mother lies, if she hasn't been dug up to make room for others. There the man who wears a black gown asked me if the child had been baptised. I told him 'No. Where were the funds to come from? I should have to starve a month for the burial fees.' So he told me coolly he could not bury it there, and I had better take it away again. There is the difference between your rich and your poor. A poor man can neither get his soul saved nor his dead put out of his sight. You rich men intend to keep heaven very select, it seems "
Mr. Sellers saw it would be of no use attempting to reason with a desperate man, so he silently placed a couple of sovereigns upon the ragged tablecloth, and told Jack he would endeavor to make some arrangements for the interment of the
"I am quite of your opinion, my dear," returned
was Tom's own fault that our acquaintance dropped. He seems to have a good berth of it now, however, for I never saw a man so altered in eleven months' time. Come, let us overtake him.
Jack drew it towards him. "Mary shall have some bread soon, and Emma also. It is for the sake of these and that poor lad who there lies dead," he added, turning to Mr. Sellers, "that I do not refuse your dirty gold."
"My house is close at hand," he said, after the "I shall be most happy, first greeting was over. if you will do me the honour of stepping in." Pleased at the contrast between this and the former recognition, the bride and her husband com
The bride and her husband went silently away. plied, and were hospitably received by Tom's wife, Martha was the first to speak. a large, buxom, motherly body, with eyes as black as sloes.
'We have now to inquire for Tom Sellers," she said. "God grant that we may not witness such another scene. Oh! my dear Charles, the knowledge that such misery exists in our wealthy manufacturing towns, side by side with the utmost luxury, is enough to make even those who can afford them forswear all superfluities for ever."
"And how are the young ones, Tom ?” said Mr. Sellers, when they had discussed some excellent bread-and-butter, with a glass of home-made wine. "Let me see how many had you when I last had the pleasure of seeing you?"
"Seven, Mr. Sellers; now I have nine. The last time my good woman presented me with twins. I might have pulled a wry face at this, had not my election to the second mastership of the grammarschool taken place the next day. We shall now do very well, provided that Hannah be less bountiful in her presents another time."
"We will try to reclaim him," said the bride, eagerly, while her face glowed with charitable enthusiasm. "You, dear Charles, shall contrive the means."
The abode of Tom Sellers was quite at the other end of the town; and, as the bride, notwithstanding her stout heart, was by this time pretty well fatigued, as well as somewhat hungry, they stopped at a baker's to buy a couple of biscuits, and then got into a passing omnibus. This speedily conveyed them into the Central Market, where they alighted, and inquired at one of the shops for Cowgate.
But Tom Sellers had removed; and the people who had taken the house where he had formerly lived, being strangers, could give no information as to his whereabouts. It was now about twelve o'clock; and, as Mr. Sellers and Martha turned away disappointed, and puzzled what to do next, a troup of boys poured forth from a grammar-school close at hand. After them came a middle-aged man, of respectable appearance and comfortable exterior, whom Mr. Sellers immediately reoognized as his cousin Tom.
"I have not here the same cause for self-reproach as I had in the other case," he said to Martha. "It
"Good morning. Cousin Tom," said Mr. Sellers, cheerfully. "Allow me to introduce my wife."
Tom came slowly out of his mathematics, and presented a broad, beaver-clad palm, first to his cousin, and then to Martha.
and blind-man's-buff also, to their hearts' content.
So this plan was agreed upon; and Mr. and Mrs. Sellers departed, quite delighted with such a pleasant contrast to their other visit.
"Poor Mary! if we could but have found her out," sighed Mrs. Sellers. "It is of no use applying to a Directory. I looked among the D's the other day, and the name of Drummond was not among them. They must be in lodgings somewhere."
Christmas-eve arrived, presenting itself in very different aspects to the rich merchant and the poor artisan; the thrifty, and the drunken, and dissipated; the charitable, and those whose "bowels of compassion" had long been closed to the cry of their needy brethren. Around some hearths shone the cheering light of fire-glow and heart-warmth, It was, indeed, Mary. She had opened the win- rejoicing in surrounding comforts, and the power of dow to admit a little air, foggy and impure as it distributing them to those who were less happily necessarily was, in that unhealthy locality; and, situated. Others were jocund with song and laughupon beholding her father in the street below, stand-ter; but no remembrance of the poor and suffering ing transfixed and gazing upon her, she uttered a was there to moderate the laughter, and impart a suppressed shriek, and fell back into her husband's deeper tone of feeling to the song; and so both arms, who had just returned from giving a music sounded harsh and cold, and shallow as their lesson; the first since his long illness. Some were gilded with the lunar rays of gratitude, reflecting in their softened lustre the ardent beams of the sun of beauty that had called them into existence. On others, again, brooded a thick gloom of physical cold and darkness, and that bitterness of the spirit, which is still worse to bear than these outward evidences of selfishness, on the one hand, and improvidence, on the other.
Jack Mary ell's dead had been decently interred. The horror had been removed from under the ragged tablecloth or the deaf table; the house fumigated; and the little ones supplied for once with as much bread as they could eat. A cheerful fire burned in the rusty grate, and Jack himself was attired in an old black suit which had once belonged to Mr. SelWe leave the reader to imagine the hugging, and lers, and in which he looked more respectable than crying, and all the usual accompaniments of such a he had done before for many a long day. All this meeting; only stopping to relate how Martha was had been effected by the rich man's kindness; and detained outside by the tawdry servant, who firmly one would have expected to have found Jack's heart believed that a couple of thieves were taking the warmed and cheered, as were the still bare walls house by storm; and how Henry Drummond had to of his miserable dwelling. Yet, as the haggardgo down to bring her in, and vouch for her respect-looking man sat brooding over the fire-light, while ability. his little ones played about the floor, there was no genial glow on his features, to correspond with the improved aspect of things around him. In fact, as is common with poverty that has not left behind it the dross of pride in the furnace of affliction, Jack was wavering between an angry dislike, on the one hand, to receive these comforts from a man whom he had sworn to himself to hate and despise, and, on the other, a species of jealous dissatisfaction that more had not been done for himself and his children.
Just then, the noise of a window opening above his head, caused him to look up. A female head protruded itself through the open sash, and he stood as if struck dumb and senseless; for this head, in braids and cap, was that of his long-lost daugh
At the sound of that shriek, Mr. Sellers recovered from the amazement into which his daughter's sudden appearance had thrown him; and rushing to the lodging-house door, without giving any explanation to Martha, he knocked at it in a style so different from his usually gentle, collected manner, that had she not before divined what had happened, she might have feared that he had taken leave of his senses. A tawdry girl speedily appeared in answer to the knock; but he thrust her aside without ceremony, and, ascending the stairs three at a time, as if he feared his daughter would be spirited away from him, appeared before the sitting-roomdoor just as Mary opened it.
"Isabella has been before-hand with us, Mary tells me," said Mr. Sellers, when, the first excitement over, they were able to discuss matters quietly together.
"Indeed!" said Martha. "I trust you will pardon her disobedience. What a matter of pleasant surprise will this reconciliation be to her. There is scarcely anything in the world so delightful as experiencing an unlooked-for pleasure."
"Except the creating of it," said a deep voice at the door. All turned; and Andrew Fairlegh, for it was he, stalked forward into the middle of the
It was now unanimously agreed that the ad- loud knock came to the door, breaking in upon his ditional guests-honest Andrew being included in reflections, and startling him considerably. the invitation-should take their places at the Christmas-dinner, without previous notice to the Misses Sellers; and, all being satisfactorily arranged, the happy pair departed; Mr. and Mrs. Sellers arriving at home just in time to make themselves comfortable before dinner.
"What a fool I am," he thought. "I dare say only Sam Jones, coming in to beg a light. I'll teach him to knock, if he hammers in that way, the Come in," he shouted rudely.
The Sellers and he were soon intimate; for they speedily recognised a brother spirit, and he was already well acquainted with them, from Isabella's report who, the reader must be apprised, en passant, had been visiting Mary every day from the bride's arrival. Singularly enough, at each of these visits she had encountered Andrew; who, for some reason or another, was seldom away from the house.
The door was flung wide open, and in marchednot Sam Jones, as he expected-but two men, bearing between them a hamper of very considerable dimensions, and equally weighty with its size; if one might judge by the evident muscular exertion of its bearers, as they set it down on the mud floor. "All right," said one of them. "This 'ere be Mister John Marvel's, ain't it?" "Yes," said Jack, shortly.
The men departed; and the little girls, who had ceased their play to gaze at them, ran towards their father.
"Father, father, big box! Come, look, father!" Jack hesitated-for in the mood in which he then was he would have scorned to testify any curiosity, however natural-but the importunities of the children at length prevailed upon him to examine the hamper. It was well corded; and directed in a clear, decided feminine hand, which gave him no clue to the sender, as he was totally unacquainted with the handwriting.
"Father, be quick and open it. Do, pray, father."
"Leave me room, then lasses," said Jack, beginning to relax in his ill-humour at the touch of their importunate caresses; for, reckless and desperate as the wretched man had become, he had ever been a fond, affectionate father. Leave me a bit of room. You, Emma, take hold of this knot. Now, Mary, help to lift the end of the hamper--there, there's beauties-while I pull the rope from under. Now, we have only got to unfasten it, and look in."
And a glorious sight rewarded their exertions. First came three large bundles of clothing, containing shirts, stockings, drawers, and so forth, for Jack; and everything needful to clothe the little girls from top to toe. Then followed a packet of tea, another of sugar, a huge side of bacon, a large meat-pie, a piece of cold roast-beef, and, last, not least, a glorious Christmas pudding.
"Father," cried the little girl, as Jack extracted from the midst of these something nearly square, wrapped up in paper-" father, what is that?"
"While he was about it," thought the discontented man, "he might as well have got me back my bed, and that proud young madam, his wife, who scarcely deigned to speak two words when she was here, might have sent a bundle of her cast-off clothing, to make the children warm and decent. It is gall and poison to receive anything from the rich, but"-here Jack swore a fearful oath-" while The children began to dance with delight around I was doing the thing, I'd take care I did it hand- the old chest where all these good things were somely." spread out, occasionally stopping to smell at the He had just arrived at this conclusion, when a pudding, and extract a raisin or a bit of candied
It was a New Testament, out of which dropped a letter for Jack, superscribed by the same hand which had written the direction on the card. This letter was from Martha, as our readers will have already anticipated, begging, in a few words, that he would accept the hamper and its contents, as a Christmas offering of peace and good-will from Mr. Sellers, who would do himself the pleasure of calling upon his cousin in the course of a few days. "Do not refuse us," it concluded, "the happiness of being of service to you and your little girls, at a season when all old grudges ought to be forgotten, or only serve as incentives to the exercise of Christian forgiveness."
peel from its ample sides; and Jack, bolting the door to prevent the intrusion of any neighbour, sat down again before the fire, with Martha's letter in his hand, and, placing a foot upon each hob, fell into a totally new train of reflections suggested thereby.
It was Christmas-eve also with the Drummonds and their friend Andrew; and there, indeed, the hearts danced to the flickering of the cheerful blaze, and reflected its warmth in their own glow of happiness. For Mary, pleasant little Mary, looked so serenely content inthe anticipation of the morrow's delight, that her youthful freshness had all come back again, restoring the dimples that fatigue, anxiety, and sorrow had well-nigh changed into wrinkles. Her altered aspect communicated its gladness to her husband and their visitor. In short, the Yule-log was upon the fire, and they were determined to enjoy their Christmas-eve in fitting style.
"Dear me,' said Andrew, suddenly rising, and pushing back his chair, "I had almost forgotten. Mrs. Drummond, can you mull port?"
Mary answered in the affirmative; and forth issued from the prolific pocket of the shaggy great coat an ounce of nutmegs and a bottle of Oporto's best bee's-wing.
We may imagine what were the toasts drunk and the sentients expressed over the moderate bumpers of Mary's excellent mulled port.
it suits you so well, my little queen. And that anticipated the possibility of a mutual liking be-
"As real, darling, as the decorations of the walls
had herself directed the choice of Isabella's attire for the ocIt was to be of the simplest white lute-string, without fluttering ribbons or ornament of any kind. A broad dark-green sash alone restrained its smooth folds; and around the pale gulden tresses was bound a wreath of the delicate wild ivy, unintermingled with anything brighter or more showy.
The first arrivals were Mr. and Mrs. Tom Sellers, with their retinue of children; the five youngest of whom were sent for the present along with the servant, who had come to carry the twins; to play in a large cheerful room prepared for their reception; where a nice girl, the eldest of Carry's Sunday-school class, was in waiting to keep them in order. Mrs. Tom was rather timid and fluttered at first; for, being a plain master-builder's daughter, she considered Tom's relations very grand people indeed; but the sweet, frank manners of our bride soon placed her quite
at ease, and when the Misses Sellers at length made their appearance, she bore her introduction to them with great composure.
[THE GENDARMES' MARKET, BERLIN.]
"Isabella," said Martha, drawing her aside, "where
is your ivy wreath? Why have you on that bright pink sash? And what has detained you so long?"
Brightly shone the hollyberries, and cheerily waved the laurel, ivy, and bay, and other evergreens that decked the walls, the windows, and every available corner in the handsome drawing-room at BeechHouse. Mr. Sellers and Martha were already there to receive their guests, and were already anticipating the pleasant denouement of their little mystery.
"I am almost ashamed to tell you, Martha. When I was quite ready, I went to help my sisters, who had not yet begun to dress; they said it was so unfashionable an hour for a dinner-party, and such queer people were coming. They even doubted whether they should dress at all; and teased me so unmercifully about what they called my classical attire, ascribing it all to your singular notions, that I turned coward, partly for your sake,
"I trust," said Martha, "that Mary and her husband will arrive just at the right time,
neither too soon nor too late. I think our direc- ters are down yet. Isabella is not wont to be so and made a little alteration in one or two particu tions were plain enough."
long in dressing."
"Oh, I have no fear," replied her husband. "Let me look at you, dearest. One would get tired of black satin upon any one else, but really
Now, we must let our readers into a little secret, and inform them, that, with the true divination of a woman of her perceptive powers, the bride had
"And, if you wish to gratify me, dearest Isabella, at this my house-warming, you will alter back again to the wreath and the green sash, and take off that