Elizabeth Missing Sewell.

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the small ones. Of course I believe to-night that
Goff thrust himself upon you ; that you only walked
with him through the fields ; and that he said
nothing which I should object to your hearing. I
very much disapprove of any thing of the kind ;
and most unquestionably you were wrong in not
taking the shortest path. If the thing should happen
again, some stricter precautions must be taken, as it
would be evident that you are not fit to be trusted."

Clement's heart was very full. He was upon the


point — all but upon the point of being candid ; but
he hesitated still; a knock at the door was heard —
and he was silent.

So it is : we will not take the right step at the
right moment ; when we wish to take it the oppor-
tunity is past. Surely not in vain is it written, " To
every thing there is a season, and a time to every
purpose under the heavens."

Clement went home weak and miserable.



CHAP. xxxm.

" Here is a note from Grandmamma, Aunt Mildred,"
said Ella, entering Miss Vivian's morning-room with
a countenance expressive of any thing but satis-

" No bad news in it, I hope ; " and then Mildred,
catching the meaning of Ella's face, added, •' She
does not want you back again ? "

" She says Aunt Bertha is coming to talk to you
about it to-day."

It was Mildred's turn to look a little uncomfortable
then. This visit of Bertha's had been hanging over
her like a nightmare ever since Ella had been with
her. Yet she answered cheerfully, " We must make
the room look pretty and comfortable if Aunt Bertha
is coming. I should like her to have a pleasant im-
pression of the Hall.''

" I am sure she will have one if she is like me,"
said Ella, drawing her chair nearer to her aunt's
sofa. " But then she is not at all like me, that is the
misfortune;" and she sighed.

" Or you are not like her, Ella, and that is the
misfortune;" and Mildred looked at Ella, and

" Now you wouldn't Avish me to be ? Aunt Mildred,
you must say it ; you wouldn't be pleased if I were
like Aunt Bertha."


Mildred considered. " I should be pleased, Ella, I
am sure, if you were like her in some things."

" Some, yes ; of course she is not a monster, she
has some good points."

" A very great many, if report says truth."

" Report and Mr. Lester," replied Ella. " He lands
her to the skies."

" Then she must deserve to be lauded. I don't know
any one more unprejudiced than Mr. Lester."

"But what is being unprejudiced. Aunt Mildred?
It is one of the words I hear so often, and I never
can in the least tell what it means."

"Derivations help one very much in the meaning
of words," replied Mildred. "Prejudice is prejudg-
ment, judging beforehand; unprejudiced persons,
therefore, don't form their judgment before they are
acquainted with facts."

" That scarcely applies to Mr. Lester and Aunt
Bertha," observed Ella. " Of course Mr. Lester
judges according to what he sees ; and so would
every one."

" I beg your pardon, Ella. One of the rarest
qualities to be met with in this trying world is that
of judging according to what a person sees."

" Is it ? " and Ella looked extremely surprised.

" I will tell you how people generally form their
judgments," continued Mildred. " They have their
own preconceived notions of right and wrong, pos-
sibly correct, possibly incorrect; but, either way,
these notions are their standard to which they think
all ought to submit. When they become acquainted
with any individual, they try him by them. If they

D 2


are religious, they find out whether he holds certain
doctrines ; if they are politicians, they test him by
his opinions upon some of the questions of the day.
They don't look upon his whole character, but
without having had time to become acquainted with
him thoroughly, they form their judgment and like
or dislike him."

"I am sure that is natural enough," said Ella.
"I can always tell after I have seen persons twice
whether I like them."

" No doubt you can : but the mischief is that pre-
judiced persons allow their private feelings to blind
them to facts. I will give you an instance of what I
mean. Suppose you were reading a book written by
a person you disliked; if you were prejudiced you
would begin with a conviction that the writer held
certain opinions, and instead of taking his words in
their natural meaning you would twist them to suit
your own preconceived ideas of what he thought.
So again, if it were a book Avhich you could not help
admiring because it showed great talent, you would
leave the beauty and dwell upon some small defects.
This is especially common in the case of sermons.
If a clergyman does not hold precisely the opinions
approved by those who hear him, they will put aside
all that is really true and right in what he says and
harp upon what may be defective, till at last one is
tjpt to forget that he really has told one any thing
from which one might profit. Now all this kind of
narrow-mindedness Mr. Lester is totally free from.
He would give a candid and impartial judgment of
his greatest enemy."


^' Does that mean Aunt Bertha ? " asked Ella, mis-

Mildred laughed. "Not quite. He admires Aunt
Bertha extremely."

" He hasn't to live with her every day," said Ella.

" That does make a difference, certainly. He sees
enough of her though to know Avhat she is really
like ; and he is quite aware of her defect of manner ;
but it would never make him form a false judgment
of her."

" Then you think I am prejudiced, Aunt Mil-

" Yes, very."

" Thank you for being honest," and Ella blushed,
and tried to smile, but almost cried.

"Prejudice is a most common fault with young
people," continued Mildred ; " one may almost say it
is natural to them. But there is hope for you, Ella,
for that very reason. The prejudiced persons whom
one really grieves over are the well-meaning people
who shut themselves up in their own fancies, and mix
only with those who agree with them, and so never
give themselves the opportunity of being cured."

" Oh ! Aunt Mildred an advocate for dissipation !"
exclaimed Ella.

"I hope not. Worldly people are just as likely to
be prejudiced in their way as religious persons are in
theirs. But certainly it does vex one heartily to see
tlie mischief that is done in these days by the preju-
dices of really kind-hearted people, who yet can see
nothing good beyond their own narrow circle. The
moment an unhappy individual differs from them on

D 3


certain points, he may be as earnest, and honest, and
self-denying as a saint, but his Avords and actions are
distorted until one begins to think that truth has left
the earth. There, Ella," and Mildred laughed, " I
have delivered my testimony, as Mause in Old Mor-
tality vp-ould say. You didn't think I could get so
excited, but if there is one thing in the world I dread
more than another, it is prejudice. Perhaps," and
her manner became graver, "it is because I know
that I have a tendency to it."

" If I am prejudiced, I don't know how to find it
out," said Ella.

"One can easily test oneself," replied Mildred.
" You are fond of me, you are not fond of Aunt Ber-
tha. Suppose each of us had done something very
noble, or written something very clever, which should
you admire the most ? "

The reply was a hearty kiss.

" Thank you for the kiss, dear child, but not thank
you for the prejudice."

" Seeing a fault is not curing it though," said

" It is the first step towards it. I found out my
own prejudice before Mr. Lester came, when we had
a clergyman whose manner I disliked extremely, but
who really was a very good man, and preached ex-
cellent sermons. In those days I was not quite such
a cripple as I am now ; at least, I was able to go to
church oftener. I discovered that, instead of thinking
of what the clergyman was saying in church, I was
always criticising his unpleasant manner, or some par-
ticular expression which I disliked. One day he


preached a sermon which my father admired very
much, and as usual I cried it down, and seized
upon certain sentences which I disliked. The next
week I was reading a new volume of sermons by a
person whom I especially reverenced, and I actually
found this very same sermon amongst them. I really
was shocked at myself, and from that day I set to
work to cure myself of prejudice."

" I dare say you did it at once," observed Ella ;
" you could never have had any difficulty in conquer-
ing your faults. Aunt Mildred."

" I beg your pardon, Ella ; it has been the work of
years. You know I scarcely see any persons except
the few living near Cleve and Encombe ; and that
kind of life certainly tends to encourage prejudice.
However, I do try to guard against it."

" But how ? " inquired Ella.

" When I am going to meet a person whom I think
I shall dislike, I try to give up any preconceived idea
I may have formed of his character, and to judge him
only by what actually comes before me."

" That is so difficult," said Ella.

" Yes, and for that very reason a rule I have made
for myself is never, if I can avoid it, to express an
unfavourable opinion of any thing said or done by a
person whom I don't like until I have thought the
question over twice. If it is impossible to praise, I
try to be silent."

" But, Aunt Mildred, I do dearly love hearty likes
and dislikes. That constant caution is so tame."

" I go with you entirely, Ella. Like or dislike

D 4


actions or principles as mucli as you choose, and I
will join with you to your heart's content. But there
is no real, honest approval or disapproval in preju-
dice. It is a mere petty, narrow-minded, uncharit-
able giving way to personal feeling, the only thing
about it which is not exclusive being that it is
common to all sides and all parties."

" Good people as well as bad ; then one need not be
so ashamed of it," said Ella.

"Prejudice again, Ella. A fault is a fault who-
ever is guilty of it. I can't help thinking myself,
indeed, that it is all the worse when it is found
amongst the good, and I am sure it does more mis-
chief. Truth requires no support from prejudice, it
needs only the faith of those who profess to fight
for it."

" Dear Aunt Mildred, you are so tired," said Ella ;
and she looked at her aunt anxiously.

Mildred smiled. " That is because I have been talk-
ing so much, Ella ; but you don't know what a rare
thing it is for me to find any one to whom I can speak
out freely, except, perhaps, Mr. Lester, and I see him
so seldom. I lie on my sofii and read in the news-
papers what is going on in the world ; all the preju-
dice, and bitterness, and party-feeling ; till at last
I become so interested and excited that I feel as
if I really could bear my solitude no longer ; and
sometimes I write it all out, and sometimes I talk
it out, and that is what I have done to-day. But it
is not wise."

" When I am gone from you, you will be in solitude
again," observed Ella.


" Yes, but you must come and see me often ; I feel
as if I had learnt to know you now."

" To know how bad I am," replied Ella.

" To know how good you may be rather. Ella,
dear, you have done wonders lately."

" Because I have had you to help me and keep me
up. I have had sympathy : Aunt Mildred, that is
what I require."

" What you would like, you mean," replied Mildred.
" We require only what we have."

" It does not seem so at home," said Ella, sorrow-

" Is any one of your duties too much for you ? "
inquired Mildred.

" Not any one exactly, but all together are."

" That can scarcely be. Duties are not like sol-
diers. We don't confront them in masses but singly.
When two come together, one is forced to yield."

"But it is possible to be wearied with fighting
singly,'' said Ella.

" Ah ! there I grant you is the difficulty, especially
with persons who are a little inclined to be lazy ; "
and Mildred looked at Ella and smiled. " But, Ella,
there is a remedy for that too. To use another simile,
indolent people, who have not strength to swallow
their disagreeable duties at one dose, should learn
to sip them by degrees."

" I don't understand what you mean by sipping,'*
replied Ella.

" Each day's duty is a drop, and we are never re-
quired to take more at a time. However indolent we
may be, we can rouse ourselves to swallow the drop ;


and if we do this every daj, we sliall have the victory
in the end quite as surely as if we had endeavoured
to take the whole at once."

" But persons never can take the whole at once,"
replied Ella. " They can't tell what will be required
of them."

" They can rouse themselves to the effort of resolu-
tion," replied Mildred ; " and if you inquire, you will
find that in many cases this is done. When a duty is
put before a very energetic, persevering person, it is
generally seized and determined upon at once. I
mean in this way : take the case of a bad temper.
Energy generally goes with it. An energetic person
making a humble resolution to strive against ill tem-
per will not always succeed ; yet the resolution once
taken, its impetus is sufficient, through God's grace,
to carry him on for years. Of course, constant
watchfulness, and self-recollection, and, above all,
fervent prayer, are necessary; — but once let it be
determined that the evil shall be subdued, and,
humanly speaking, it is subdued. Tlie resolution
made cannot be shaken. So it is with bad habits,
evil company ; one earnest exertion of the will, in
dependence upon God's help, and the victory is
gained for life. This I call being able to swallow
the duties of a life at once ; and a great advantage
it is : only, when we are inclined to envy it, we must
remember that special dangers go with special bless-
ings. There is a risk of self-reliance in this strength
of purpose. It requires great watchfulness not to be
led to rest on ourselves, when we find that what we
resolve to do we can do."


"It must make it much more easy to be good
though," said Ella.

" Perhaps so, in some ways ; but indolence is not
so very difficult to cure if it is properly dealt with.
What I meant in your case by sipping your duties was,
that you should not try to make the strong resolution
I have named to subdue a fault at once. Resolve
for one or two days, or for a week, and learn to leave
the rest to God. Don't ever allow yourself to think
of what it will be to continue striving for your whole
life. Our Lord's warning about earthly anxieties is
equally applicable to spiritual ones, " Sufficient unto
the day is the evil thereof." You must remember that
to discipline ourselves properly, it is necessary to
accept our characters as they are, not to deal with
them as if they were what they are not. A very
indolent and changeable person cannot possibly make
the strong resolution which will carry him through
life ; but a continuous determination will do the same
work as a strong one. And it is a great point, Ella,
to keep ourselves from being disheartened. Half our
task would be done if we were sure of success."

Tears gathered in Ella's eyes, and resting her arm
upon Mildred's pillow, she said, " I have more cause
to be disheartened than any one, for I have made so
many resolutions, and strong ones too."

" Excitable resolutions, you mean, dear Ella," re-
plied Mildred. " There is a vast difference between
strength and excitement."

" I don't feel the difference."

" Strer.gth is quietness, calmness ; the power to
foresee difficulties without shrinkin": from them. It


is the effect of reason rather than of feeling ; and
where it exists, it is accompanied by a certain
consciousness of power granted by God, which is,
in the warfare of the soul, what the courage of the
soldier is who has never been known to retreat in

" Oh ! if I did but possess it ! " exclaimed Ella.

" It is nature, not grace," replied Mildi'ed ; " and
grace can make up for all the deficiencies of nature.
Only we must remember that grace will not destroy
nature, — it will but guide it. Once more, dear
Ella, I would entreat you to deal with yourself
wisely ; and whatever resolutions you may make, let
them be for a day, a week, or at the very utmost a
month, and then renewed. So, through God's mercy,
we may trust that you will have that prestige of
victory which carries us half-way towards our next

"And I must go home to-day and begin," said
Ella, mournfully.

" I hope not. My father would like to keep you
here ; and I think your Grandmamma will wish to
please him."

" It is not Grandmamma, it is Aunt Bertha,"
said Ella ; and then seeing Mildred look a little
grave, she added, " Aunt Bertha thinks I am only
a trouble here ; but it is not quite that, is it ? "

" Not since you have taken to reading out to
Grandpapa at night, certainly," said IMildred, kindly.

" And he let me walk with him yesterday," con-
tinued Ella ; " and we got on beautifully till he fan-
cied, I am sure, that he saw Captain Vivian talking


to Clement, and then he turned away, and scarcely
spoke again. I found afterwards that it was not
Captain Vivian, but I didn't venture to tell him so ;
was I right ? "

" Perhaps so. I can scarcely tell. It depends so
much upon the mood he is in."

Ella looked thoughtful. "Aunt Mildred, there
are some questions I should like very much to ask
you, only I am afraid you wouldn't like them."

" Then don't ask them," replied Mildred, a little
quickly, but checking herself directly, she added,
" Doubtful questions are always better avoided, unless
there is some good to be obtained by them."

Ella was evidently rather disappointed.

" You shall have them all answered some day, dear
Ella, but I doubt if this is the time."

" There would be no opportunity, if it was the
time," said Ella, as she went to the door. " I am
sure I heard the hall bell. It must be Aunt Bertha."

She went a few steps into the passage without
remarking how very pale Mildred looked, or in the
least guessing her feelings. For herself there was
some excitement in the idea of doing the honours of
the Hall, in spite of the little pleasure she had in
seeing her Aunt.

Ella was right ; it was Bertha, and she ran up to
her quickly. Bertha's manner was kind, but ex-
tremely nervous ; and her first question was, whether
General Vivian was at home ?

" No ; it is his hour for going into the park ; he
won't be in for another half-hour or more. How are
they ail at home, Aunt Bertha?"


" Pretty well ; tolerable. You are quite sure
General Vivian is gone out ? "

'•' Oh, yes ; Grandpapa is in the park, isn't he,
Greaves?" and Ella turned to the grey-headed
butler, who was the General's confidential servant.

" The General went out about ten minutes since,
ma'am. He will return to luncheon at one."

" And you will stay to luncheon. Aunt Bertha ?
I don't think you have ever seen the dining-room,
have you ? It is such a beautiful room."

Twenty years before Bertha had once been in that
room, on the occasion of a public meeting, the first
at which she had ever been present. It was a dream
of awful grandeur to her, — one of the most impres-
sive of her youthful recollections ; and she could
recall the stately courtesy of the General, — the po-
lished civility of his manner, giving that undefinable
impression of dislike which can neither be reasoned
against nor overcome ; and Edward Vivian, — young,
handsome, full of hope and energy, distinguishing
himself by a speech of considerable talent, — and
Flora listening with her head bent down, but with
a rapt attention, which had been the first thing that
awakened in Bertha's mind the perception of her
attachment. Yes, they were memorable associations
connected with the great dining-room at Cleve Hall.
Bertha had no wish to disturb them by the sight of
the stern old man, — the martyr to his own principle,
sitting alone in his proud consciousness of recti-
tude, amidst the ruins of happiness which himself had
caused ; and she hurried on with her eyes dizzy, her
memory full of shadowy images, and scarcely con-


scious whether she was walking in dream or in
reality, until she found herself at the door of Mil-
dred's apartment.

Ella threw it open eagerly. She was amused and
excited, and her eyes were bright with animation, —
a strange contrast to the cold and self-restrained, yet
somewhat furtive, glance which Bertha cast around
her, as, for the first time, since the events which had
shed a gloom over both their lives, she stood face to
face with Mildred Vivian.

" Ella, dear, draw the easy-chair near for your
aunt. I am such a cripple. Miss Campbell, that it is
difficult to move ; but I can give a welcome still ; "
and Mildred held out her hand, and the rebellious
tears which rose to dim her eyes were kept back by
a strong eiFort, as she added, with a winning smile,
" I think I ought to quarrel with you for not having
come to see me before."

" I fancied you seldom received visitors," was
Bertha's reply, uttered with a quietness and preci-
sion which even Mildred's quick perception could
not have discovered to be a cloak for painful feel-

" Not very often ; we have so few neighbours ;
but," — Mildred was a little confused by Bertha's
composed gaze, and rather hesitated, as she added,
" I hoped that Ella's being here might have proved
an inducement ; but it is rather a long walk."

" I am a very good walker," replied Bertha, not
accepthig the excuse. " It is scarcely more than a
mile and three quarters by the cliff."

" Oh, you came that way, did you?" IVIildred's


voice showed her relief at having reached an easy
topic : " the wind must have been rather high."

" Rather ; but it was deliciously fresh. Ella, shall
you mind returning that way ? "

" Return, must I ? Oh, Aunt Bertha ! "

" Grandmamma thinks you have had rather a long
holiday," continued Bertha.

" But I have not been at all idle, have I, Aunt
Mildred? especially the last week. I have worked
much more regularly than at home."

" If Mrs. Campbell could spare her a little longer,
I think my father would be pleased," said Mildred.
" She reads to him in the evening, and I think he
will miss her."

Bertha's face lighted up in an instant : " Of
course," she said, " if General Vivian wishes her to
remain, it would cause a difference,"

" And she has been walking with him, lately,"
continued Mildred ; " making herself much more
useful than I can. I am only afraid," she added, with
an air of interest, "that her absence will throw a
burden upon you with the little ones. I wish I was
near enough to help you."

With any other person the wish might have seemed
only matter of civility ; but there was an innate
truth in Mildred's manner which made it impossible
to take what she said for mere words. Bertha's
'• thank you," was cordial.

" Ella tells me that you give her a great deal of
assistance always with the children," continued Mil-
dred. " That must be rather troublesome, when
Mrs. Campbell is such an invalid."


" Aunt Mildred tells me I am not to let you help
me any more," said Ella bluntly. " And if I were to
go home now, j)erhaps I should be good and do it all
myself quite properly. I have made a number of

Bertha's face was graver than the speech re-
quired, and Mildred, fearing a lecture, said lightly,
" Aunt Bertha will think with me perhaps, Ella, that
good deeds are worth more than good resolutions ;
however, I give you credit for both here."

" I have had experience of Ella's good resolutions,"
said Bertha, coldly ; " but I am glad she has improved
in any way."

Nothing, perhaps, tests humility more than being
told one is improved. Ella had not yet reached the
degree of lowliness which would permit her to hear
it with patience, and she said angrily, " I know. Aunt
Bertha, you are not likely to give me a character for

A very gentle sigh escaped Mildred ; Ella heard
it, and went up to her : " You are vexed with me,
Aunt Mildred. I ought not to speak out so ; but
Aunt Bertha never gives me much credit for any-

" I dare say she gives you as much as you deserve,
and perhaps a great deal more," said Mildred smiling.
"But suppose you take your books upstairs now, if
you really are not going home, and leave Aunt Ber-
tha and myself to talk a little together ; we shall find

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