« AnteriorContinuar »
sentenced to the heaviest penalty of the law. Polly's youth and inexperience were mitigating circumstances, and her punishment was almost nominal.
About twilight on the evening of that day, Edward came home, as I thought, with a stranger. In a moment, Polly was at my feet, asking pardon through gushing tears. Her story was soon told, and I comforted the
young penitent with Christian promises.
The next morning she came down with her calico frock and apron, her hair parted again with girlish simplicity, and hid her bashfulness in caresses of
Frederick. She has been my tried and faithful friend, through joy and sorrow, for many years; and is now sitting in her low chair, with a plain, respectable looking cap over her hair, which is just revealing the first tread of time, while my grand-daughter Clarissa is roguishly trying on her new spectacles.
his aspect breathed repose,
CASTLE OF INDOLENCE.
It was winter when I returned to housekeep ing, and installed Lydia, commonly pronounced Lyddy Pierce, as president of the dishcloth. She was of the demure sort, as silent and regular as the stars, past the heyday of youth, and had reached an age which the eagle-eyed housekeeper loves. I had restored Polly to full confidence. The sooner you trust in a generous mind after error, the more hold you possess over its returning rectitude, and the more it feels the practicability of virtue.
One of our visiters was Mr. Stockton, a gentleman of broken mercantile fortunes, about thirty-five years of age. He had reserved from
his creditors just sufficient for his own support; but not having much energy of character, stood still at that point, and kept himself alive by calling about once a week to pass an evening with his friends. His ideas were all in a cir cle, and to us it was a mental tread-mill. We soon learned to distinguish his knock at the door, and what a death-peal was it to our imaginations when, after having put Frederick to bed, I sat sewing and Edward reading, in the luxury of winter evening repose. We could have tolerated his visits with cheerful politeness had they been of moderate length; or had he possessed any conversational powers, we would have listened patiently; but Mr. Stockton seemed to have nothing on earth to'say. Why he came to see us, and why he tarried so long, I have never learned to this day. I once heard a father say to a son who was going to college, “Samuel, however intimate you may be, never make long visits.” This good advice Mr. Stockton either never heard, or disregarded.
He had been sitting with us one evening five
hours, having come to sociable tea.' A pause in the conversation being unusually long, I looked up from my sewing, and saw Edward asleep. I felt a little fidgety, and took the tongs to mend the fire. Edward stretched forward his legs and called out, "May it please your honour, the plaintiff —" I contrived to pass near him, and trod upon his foot. He started and recovered, somewhat refreshed, while Mr. Stockton, brightening up with the incident, thought proper to sit an hour longer.
Another evening (it was the Sabbath), when Edward had taken two or three nods I went into the kitchen, and with a preliminary yawn told Polly that I could keep awake no longer, and bade her come in and collect the silver to carry to my bedroom, and close the parlour shutters. “ There is some hope,” said I, “that Mr. Stockton may observe what you are doing and depart.” It was then ten o'clock. Polly bustled about and closed the shutters, and as she passed me I whispered, “ Make as much noise as possible."
“An excellent plan that,” said Mr. Stockton, " to close the shutters; it keeps in the warm air;" and he buttoned up his coat, drew his chair nearer the fire, and put his feet on the fender.
Edward almost groaned, and we sat cogitating until eleven o'clock before Mr. Stockton said, with a hem and a little hitch of his chair, that he“ believed it was getting late.” Edward and I were silent.
“The evenings are growing long," said he. “Very,” rejoined Edward and I, in a breath.
“ These are fine nights for sleep, Mr. Packard,” said our imperturbable visiter.
* Very,” answered Edward, and I echoed “Very.”
“The fire treads snow,"* said Mr. Stockton, “I think we shall have falling weather.”
Edward rose, unbolted a window, and looking out, said, “Yes, falling weather;" and bolting the window-shutter again, sat down.
“I believe I must think of going,” said Mr.
* A phrase for a crackling sound in ignited wood.