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“ Angry? no,” he replied. “How can I be angry with a true friend, and a lady too ?” with a low bow.
“Thank you,” said I, “and now that I have gone thus far, may I proceed ?”
“Yes, cousin, I give you carte blanche." : “I shall do it by actions, not words,” I said, with solemnity; "and I warn you to be prepared, for I have solemnly pledged myself in prayer to God that I will never again aid the cause of the destroying angel. But promise me (not that I claim any right over you but that of interest in your welfare) that you will abstain from ardent spirits, now in the sunshine of your youth, before the evil days conre.?”
Ingols hesitated, reflected, and promised half earnestly, half jestingly.
On the following day no decanter was to be seen on my sideboard or table, and I carried the keys up stairs. Ingols was very amiable, and our week passed happily away. Edward returned, and took no notice of the withdrawal of the decanters.
I had retired to my bedroom early one evening, when I heard Ingols enter, and ask Polly for the keys. She came up stairs, and I gave them to her in silence. I heard her transfer them to him, and held my breath. He opened the door. I trembled so much that I could not stand. I had emptied every decanter. I heard the rattling of the keys as the door closed, and a faintness came over me at my own daring. A half hour passed away, and Polly came back with a slip of paper, on which was written, “ You have conquered, cousin. I thank you, and thank God.”
I burst into tears, and sobbed as if my heart would break; nor was I relieved until Edward returned and said he loved me better for my moral courage.
. CHAPTER XV.
Frae morn to e'en its naught but toiling,
The Twa Dogs.
The successor of Mrs. Sliter was Sukey Hopkins, an untamed damsel from Nantucket ; and as Edward required some attendance at the office, he engaged a friend of hers, Aaron Wheeler, who had driv her down, to remain with us. I passed every forenoon for a month in the kitchen, to initiate her in cookery; and even after that period was obliged to be with her whenever I had guests, of course at the period when I ought to have been most unincumbered with care. I was obliged to watch the last turn of the spit, and the last bubble of the boiling gravy, and even lay the meats in their right position; for know, inexperienced reader, that a lady may as excusably stand on her own head at her table, as have her turkey or goose in an unauthorized posture. One bleak autumnal day we had company to dine ; but I became so much heated with my business and anxiety as not to dream of the necessity of a fire. Just five minutes before dinner was carried in, Iran up stairs, changed my dress, and seizing a fan, descended to the drawing-room. My zeal in fanning was proportioned to the kitchen thermometer; and it was not until I detected a shiver in a lady who sat within the influence of my Æolus, as Edward prettily called a fan, • that I perceived my faux pas.
The day after Aaron's induction into his duties, I went to Cornhill, shopping; and Edward left word with him that if a certain gentleman called, he must ask him in to sit until he came. When Edward opened the door, what should he behold but Aaron, sitting with his feet on the fender, entertaining Mr. — with the last Nantucket news! A few evenings succeeding I invited com
pany to tea. I was the whole morning drilling Sukey and Aaron, and as I went to make my toilet, I said, “ be very careful, Aaron, that the ladies and gentlemen are all supplied with msugar and cream in their coffee.” When the company had assembled, and the very last visiter, according to the old and formidable rule, had arrived and was seated, Aaron entered with his tea tray, followed by Sukey with the cream and sugar. He walked round as carefully as if he were treading on eggs. When the circuit was over, and he had reached the door, his mind seemed to misgive him; and with an anxious look, standing on tiptoe, he said, “ I say, how are ye on't for sugar and cream in that corner ?" . -.
On that memorable evening a lady spilled some quince syrup on the carpet, when, to my utter dismay, Sukey set the waiter on the floor, rushed out, and brought in the mop to wipe it ир.
I have inserted these lingering reminiscences in this chapter, to show that the most skilful