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THE CHIMNEY CORNER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 256, 31 January 1881
THE CHIMNEY CORNER.
ROMANCE OF A JANITRESS. [Continued, ] I had heard from Mr. Talbot’s att mdanl that he was dangerously ill. As he seemed to have neither mother, wife nor sister, I felt very sorry for him. It is bad enough to live alone, but still worse to die alone —to take no look of love across the river. I was thinking of the sick man one morning, wishing I could do something for his comfort, when my door opened and, to my astonishment, Dr. Colville came in.
“ Good morning, Miss Ruth, why what a- pretty nest you have here! With, bright-colored chintz, birds, flowers, and sun-light, you are to beenvied. Will you hire this room out furnished? If you will, I’ll be your tenant/’ and not waiting for an answer he seated himself in an easy chair, then said : “ I have come to hear the story. Tell the truth, but spare me the love passages. Don’t look indignant ! ” I interrupted him by saying that I always told the truth, and that all the love I had given had been reciprocated.
“ Well, well, we won’t qunrrel. I sav Mr. Flemming to-day, and he wished me to ask you the story of your life, and the whys and the wherefores of your leaving your country home ? ” Mr. Fleming’s name was enough. Much as I disliked the idea of looking back, I was afraid to refuse. As I hesitated for a moment, scarcely knowing how to begin, the doctor said : “Just tell me of your home,” and so I obeyed, as if under mesmeric influence :
“My home was away among the Green mountains. It was a fine old mansion, overlooking green meadows, through which a beautiful river wends ; its bright waters sparkle like silver gems through silver boughs ; proud old trees tower above the roof; hawthorn hedges enclose the yard and gardens, and make sweet the air; high mountains rise in the distance, their tops hidden in the clouds; the village church nestles down in the valley, with its quaint white tower, a row of poplars waving quietly in front of it; and over the low churchyard wall hangs the ivy whose leaves never change. O ! how dear is every tree and spot about that loyed place. There were fourof us—father, mother, and Bah, My mother was my idol—l will rrdf attempt to describe her. My father was a descendant of one of the old Covenanters, stern and cold, I do not remember of ever sitting on his knee nor having my arms about his neck; he never kissed his children ; he shut us out from his life completely—he did not seem a part of us. But we were happy, mother, Ben, and I; all our childhood joys and sorrows we shared with her. Ben was a gentle boy, shrinking from a harsh word or look, in constant, dread of father’s anger, while I did not know what fear was. I think father saw something of his own nature in me, and till I was about twelve years old I seemed to be his favorite. Then I angered him and was unforgiven to the end. His last act showed that he considered I had forfeited all claim to my birthright. When I heard my father’s will read was the first time for years I had thoughts of that occurrence. Then the scene came vividly before me. “It was on Sunday, a warm, bright October day. The trees flushed with life; some amber, some ruddy, and others still green. Oh ! how pleasant it was. The air was filled with the aromatic scent of leaves, and my brother and I, forgetting that it was Sabbath, thoughtlessly strayed down into the orchard. We had always spent Sunday afternoons with mother, who, by singing us hymns and telling us Bible stories, made the time pass happily. But this day she was not well, and we were left to our own resources. Had it not been for mother, Sunday would have been a day of perfect misery to us, as lather insisted upon having it a day of rest. We knew that father had forbidden us to leave the house after church, but everything in nature seemed to call us out and we found ourselves under the old apple-trees, I making wreaths of leaves and Ben telling of his sea life that was to come. I said : ‘ I can climb better than you,’ so in a moment I was at the top of the tree. Ben made the attempt to follow me, but was a poor climber. I was laughing merrily at his awkward efforts, when without any warning father appeared before us. He said : ‘ Ben, come here.’ Ben was pale with fright, but came down instantly. “My father had a cane, with which he struck him across the face, drawing the blood —had raised the stick for another blow, when I rushed towards him, seized the stick, threw it as far as I could, stamped with rage and said: “ How dare you ? Strike me ; it was my fault. I don’t think it half as wicked to climb trees on Sunday as it is to get in such a rage. Why doesn’t God strike the birds and squirrels for playing about ? If it is so wrong, He would teach them to keep still.’ (This was poor philosophy, but remember I was but a child), “My father looked at me for a moment, then walked towards home. My brother was trembling with emotion in conscouence.
“ We did not tell mother, and as my hither never mentioned it again, we forgot altogether. ! Mother wasn’t quite well "after this, though she lived some years, sometimes suffering intensely, then having hours of ease. When she was able she tried to reconcile me to the thouglltrof ’her ' death. She would’ say; ‘Darling, it is only my poor, suffering body that will be taken from you. My spirit will always be near you, watching over , you. You’re not to grieve, for you will give me pain. You must stay with your father and care for him;’ “At first I was perfectly incpnsolable; but when I saw her and heard her pray to be taken, I gave her up to God. At last she left us. The last words-were r* Care for your father,’ and with her arm about Ben’s neck she fell, asleep. .J : obeyed Iber,. tried to be happy, felt she was near me, fancied I could feel her band upon my head, her kiss on my face. After she was. gone, father grew more stern. I knew he ’ loved my mother, but he never mentioned her, , . ( “ Beb waif’so Unhappy that 1 urged him to leave and go to the city.
Father made-no objections, so w e were left alone. I did what I could for him, but cotild get ho nearer. “ About a year after mother’s deal It he told me he was obliged to go to the city. Remained a few days then went again, arid again. The last time he brought home a wife—a widow sister of his lawyer’s. She hid two daughters. ‘ I was an ignorant countrywoman,’ so they said, and it was true ; I had never been at school"WfW^ ,ra ’ teacher had been my mother, with whom I had read many modern'and ancient authors. -- -*■
“ The new wife.had only been L th«eA. a few months when my father,- troe~ttr — his nature, turned his face tor and died without a iaSt'wbrd. « My stepmother’s 'brother r wa’s4fi'#<V After the funeral they came to mv room, asked me what T intended''dbirig, T as I must now earn rnyliyigg. said that my father had'disinherited me, owing to my rebellious cpnd-PFt-v-'l I could, in reviewing my life, only remember that one childish act bf ’anger. But I did not question tb9U“sti9ej,oß truth of what she said. Mrs. Hopkins said : ‘ There is all your fathef left ybu, twenty-five dollars; this will be enough,, to take you to the city, arid' then you must get some situation. You are only fitted for a servant, ; asr you have nb education.’ ■ ■
“ I knew she spoke the truth,. I ... asked our minister for a Je|ter, took a last look at my dearly-lovedihomri/and with the letter and any gift,) I I. came to the city. Saw the-* advertise- C ment for a janitress, and answeied it in person. Fortunately, Nfry Ijem iri£ trira A ‘ Mr. Morton had beeri schoolmates, so the letter from him gave me- this . position. 4 .7:: • Mr. Fleming has been rooslh kind tetii W me, and tries to make me forgeiimyaiaA menial position. All the tenants treat" ‘ me with respect lam always b&fST having no time for unhappy thought!. If I only Joiew my brother -was liyjqg- | I should be content; but as I have had k | no letters from him since father’s maif- \ riage, and the last time I heard he was on the eve of sailing fop South AmericaJ I fear he has been lost at sea. “Now, Doctor, you may think it strange that I should thus frankly give ' you my whole ,life,.buGrememberl am j not a city lady, but ail ignorant country a woman.” ... r. . • - The doctor said“ Yoti’ye .done right. To repay you forTt, I hay«| gpo,4 ft ; news for you. lamp, what would you .wish for P 7 t hK ’ “ Two irapossibilsties-*-riiy bid. hbn^f^. ■ arid my brother Ben.” • : : ' v‘ “ Now, listen to my story. Once bn a time there was a very sick £ thinking he was goirig to die,'made a father confessor ofhisdqctppjitold him'/, r that he was a lawyer; a few. months 1.. before had forged a will defrauding an orphan of her home for the purposed enriching his sister. . This , gjrjwas made to believe ’ that ne‘f brother%as lost at sea —all- h'isMettetVwefe interr.. ’’ cepted. These were written from South America. Now, never mind, Miss Ruth, don’t; faingndrifall qd floor in your favorite attitude.”
As the doctor was speaking I drew closer to him. lat tfiisi .dalj& his hand, exclaiming : “ Oh, my brother is, alive 1 Thank; God! Tell me all about - I 1 The doctor said ; “ Please don’t squeeze my hand so, city'girls would know better. Now sit down. ;.qufekly/-, i and I will tell you.' My patient, Mr. * Talbot, is your stepmother’s brother. He has made all the reparation In' his power. Written to her to leave, bag and baggage, and to put everything in the exact order you left it. The words of kindness you sent the side, man Stith the flowers touched his heart; that, i with the fear of death, gives .yori back'O. your home and your brother.. you are,- r not to cry and spoil yotir taCC, for I’vd l 1 got a favor to ask., I- want yon to put your hand in mine and say with your namesake of Bible renown ; * Where’er -thou goest I will go ; thy people will be my people thy God, tpy God."’ ’ tV[ | I don’t khbw what answer T‘ made, but I felt myself drawn close to that noble heart, and a feeling of perfect trust and rest came to tne, which has never left me, though more than a year has passed since that happy day. —■ After a few minutes’ silent joy the doctor said: “ I have watched jrou ' closely since that day, and have grown to love you as I never thought to love, : J and I did not intend telling you yfct’j-'- 1 * but I forgot my intentions when I heard the story of your life and felt you were so alone, and as I have none to care for me; I thought perhaps- yott 1 ft would come and be an. old man’s dar- ; ling. I won’t ask such an independent woman to live with me altogether, you can stay at my city, home; one-half of the year, and I will live at your country paradise the ether half. So now \ Mr. Fleming can get a rieWqanitfess, for * in one week from to-day I want you to . take charge' of ‘ rife. I "-Will- paijf ! ' !
better salary than he dqes,and give you a new name—Mrs.' Arthur Colville. Don’t blush, but go and tell Bridget to ask all her friends to the wedding, and to order the largest cake to be had in the city.” ■}i i All this happened months ago —spelt happy months !. Ben came home, inudi ii ' withmis wife has spent the summer with ! us. We have lived our childhood- days over again. J, feel that .9 ; near us rejoicing with her children^ The doctor has given up 1 hiff ' rc tiee, and says that he has to devote his whole time to .the work of ; keeping his j wife in order, who still insists upon, rub . . f , ing the house.
THE CHIMNEY CORNER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 256, 31 January 1881
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