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with a scarlet face and scarlet throat laid in fat folds. Her eyes were prominent and whitish. Her round elbows rested upon her hips, from whence her short arms projected, and her hands hung from her wrists with an imbecile air. She spoke softly, and was liberal in promises. Polly, whom my readers may recollect as the little girl of our establishment, was necessarily greatly under the influence of the cook, particularly as she occupied the same room. She was an orphan from the Female Asylum, bound to me until the age of eighteen. She was so docile and innocent, that could I always have sheltered her under my own wing, she would have been pure as a bird, and might have plumed her flight from me to Heaven; but after the birth of Frederick, new affections came to me and new cares to her. I could no longer confine her to the parlour, in her halfsized chair, with her calico frock and apron, and her hair simply parted. One morning I discerned a row of ambitious paper-curls on her head; soon, a soiled muslin frill was pinned round
her neck; and on the following Sabbath, when I was conjecturing what stranger was passing the window stealthily, a second look revealed to me Polly, with a bunch of faded flowers surmounting the simple green riband on her hat, and an old silk dress, which, hanging like a bag about her trim figure, betrayed at once the ungainly circumference of Mrs. Philipson. I called to her to come back. She blushed, and said “the last bell was tolling.”
“ Come in, immediately,” said I.
She walked slowly and sulkily back, and I asked her why she wore borrowed clothes ?
For the first time in her life she looked pertly as she answered, “I don't see why I can't dress as well as other folks."
I reasoned with her, and used affectionate persuasions, but finding her obstinate, ordered her to take off finery so unsuited to her age and situation. My anger was new to her, and she obeyed. For several days she was sulky and silent; every action seemed forced, and she looked at me as if I were a tyrant. This ex
pression wore off, and I hoped for better things. I would willingly have discharged Mrs. Philipson, but how could I, with an infant in my arms, my husband's comfort to study, and the fang-like chains of custom clinging to me?
Two weeks elapsed in apparent acquiescence to my wishes. My whole soul was absorbed in Frederick, or perhaps I should have noticed the under-current that was hurrying Polly to destruction. To see his intelligent smile awakening like young creation, to kiss his rounded limbs as they came flushed like the heart of a white rose from the morning bath, to feel his dimpled hand on my cheek, or press the little velvet luxury in my own, to dress him with maternal pride in robes wrought by the hand of friendship, to sing him lullabies conjured up from the breathings of love, and to whisper to my own heart a thousand and thousand times, “he is an angel”—was not tliis occupation enough for a young mother?
I was surprised one morning not to hear the usual movements in the house below, and on
descending, found the shutters unopened, no fire in the kitchen, and the outer door unlocked. I repaired in some trepidation to the kitchen chamber. It was untenanted. Astonished and agitated, I ran to acquaint Edward, and we proceeded to examine the premises. Polly's reasons for departing were told in language as strong as words, by a bundle of her plain clothes directed to me.
With what a crash comes the first breach of confidence on the affections, as the circle of agitation is more violent when a stone is thrown on a smooth lake, than on the wilder ocean ! I had loved Polly like a younger sister. She came to me when my cup of happiness was full, and I was glad to see her taste her daily draught with me. She had looked at me with a trustingness that seemed to say, "you are my oracle!" She had confided to me her childish sorrows, and was a willing hearer when I talked of Edward. I had administered to her in sickness, and when my head ached, if every other step was heavy, hers was light and careful.
[ looked round her chamber. There was the little glass hung against the wall, before which she had so often combed her parted hair, and which had recently reflected the first awakened glance of vanity. She had forgotten her Bible, Edward's gift. It was lying on the pine dressing-table, with her pocket-handkerchief folded over it, as if it had been her intention to take it, but it was forgotten! I glanced at Edward, and sinking on her bed, burst into violent and bitter tears. Edward comforted me with a husband's better love, but though a neighbour sent us breakfast and assistance, and we were at length seated at table, I could not speak; my voice was choked, and large drops fell from my eyes on Fred's silky hair, as he lay sleeping on my lap.
My dear mother hastened to me as soon as Edward sent her intelligence of my misfortune. She insisted on my returning with her, and passing the remainder of the season; and as Edward was deeply engaged in business, he urged it too. In making the necessary ar