« AnteriorContinuar »
night with a sick person after the evening lecture, and I felt no hesitation in leaving Martha to Polly's care. We were prevented, by an accidental delay, from returning until ten o'clock. The ride over the neck, although it was fine sleighing, appeared uncommonly long, for I had never been so far and so long from my infant. The wind was sharp and frosty, but my attention was beguiled by sheltering Frederick with my furs, who soon fell asleep, singing his own little lullaby. As we entered the Square we perceived that the neighbouring houses were closed for the night, and no light visible, but a universal brilliancy through the crevices of our parlour-shutters. Our hearts misgave us. I uttered an involuntary cry, and Edward said, that “a common fire-light could not produce such an effect." He urged his horse,-we reached the house, I sprang from the sleigh to the door. It was fastened. We knocked with violence, There was no answer We looked through a small aperture, and both screamed in agony.“ fire!" In vain Edward attempted to
wrench the bolt or burst the door, that horrible light still gleaming on us. We flew to the side-door, and I then recollected that a window was usually left open in that quarter, in a room which communicated with the parlour, for the smoke to escape when the wind prevailed in the quarter it had done this day. The window was open, and as Edward threw down logs that we might reach it, we heard a stifled howl. We mounted the logs, and could just raise our heads to the window. Oh, heavens! what were our emotions, as we saw Growler with his forepaws stationed on the window, holding Martha safely with her night-dress between his teeth, ready to spring at the last extremity, and suspending the little cherub so.carefully that she thought it but one of his customary gambols ! With a little effort Edward reached the child, and Growler, springing to the ground, fawned and grovelled at our feet.
Edward alarmed the neighbourhood and entered the window. Poor Polly had fainted in the entry from the close atmosphere and ex
cess of terror. She could give no account of the origin of the fire, unless she had dropped a spark on the window-curtain. The moment a blaze appeared she endeavoured to extinguish it; “but,” said she," the flames ran like wild-fire; and when I found I could do nothing, I snatched Martha from the cradle, and ran into the entry to go out by the back door; after that I recollect nothing."
With prodigious efforts the house was saved, though with a great loss of furniture. But what were pecuniary losses that night to us? We were sheltered by a hospitable neighbour; our little cherub was clasped in our arms, amid smiles and tears; and Growler, our good Growler, with a whimpering dream, lay sleeping at
FACTS AND REFLECTIONS.
Mistress of herself, though china fall.
Pope. But see, the well-plum'd hearse comes nodding on.
Every housekeeper has experienced what is called a “breaking season," when the centre of gravitation seems shaken, as far as crockery is concerned. Such an era followed the departure of Hannah Sanders, who left me to reside with a minister's lady.
I will offer no excuse for this subject, since it forms the point of discussion for half my sex in their select circles, and constitutes, in some measure, the conversational boundary line between men and women. True to my character of housekeeper, let me proceed.
Compassion and interest induced me to offer the situation of cook to a Mrs. Sliter, whose hus
band had recently died in the neighbourhood She was one of those persons who may look de cently in new crape, but who generally, with a great display of pins on their waist and sleeves, put them nowhere else; or who apply them as if totally ignorant of the “fitness” of dress, as well as of things. I took her as a forlorn hope -one of those experiments that New-England ladies are so constantly obliged to make of the morals and dispositions of strangers. Edward was detained late at court the day on which she came, and I ordered some hashed lamb and roasted potatoes for his supper. Mrs. Sliter, with the hash in one hand and the hot potatoes in the other, issued from the kitchen, but unfortunately turned towards the cellar instead of the parlour passage. We were startled by a sudden noise, and hastened to the kitchen; but neither cook nor viands were there, and we heard a stifled voice from the cellar, crying, “ Marcy me, marcy me!" Following the sound, and descending the stairs, we found Mrs. Sliter lying at the foot, who with her meat and potatoes had rolled down