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effect of exciting in others a proportionate degree of censoriousness, and even of dislike. Thus the young beauty is, of all human beings, placed at the greatest disadvantage as regards self-knowledge. It is true, then, that not only is the study itself a difficult one to pursue, at all times, and under all circumstances, but that Ella More was situated in a manner peculiarly disadvantageous to the attainment of this most important kind of knowledge. Not more so, however, than other young and lovely beings are, and have been. Thousands, at this very moment, are becoming entangled in the same complicated network of mixed purposes, wishes, hopes, and acts. Thousands are self-deceivers in the same way, to a greater or a less extent. And it is because they are so, and because no one dares personally to tell them the truth, or because no one tells it at the right time, in the right words, or the right spirit-perhaps because they will not listen when it is told-it is for this reason, that these otherwise worthless pages are written this otherwise unimportant history of a human heart, pursued.
The plan devised by Ella's champion for rescuing her from impending doom, was a very simple, and a very pleasant one; being no other than the cultivation of greater intimacy between her and the Stanley family. This he managed to bring about through the good-natured instrumentality of his friend Mrs. Stanley, who, for his sake, departed from her accustomed rule, so far as to call most perseveringly upon the Mores, until one day she succeeded in obtaining from Ella a promise that she would take her work, and spend a quiet evening with the Stanleys at their own house.
It was seldom indeed that this family invited company other than a social friendly way, and it was the more rarely even in this way, because of the humble opinion which both Mr. and Mrs. Stanley entertained of their ability to make an evening pass pleasantly, except to very domestic and simpleminded people. The wife, it is true, would fain have combated this notion on the part of her husband, and she did so in words with great spirit and perseverance, for no human being, in her
But when it came
opinion, could be more interesting or agreeable than Mr. Stanley, when he felt himself perfectly at ease; nor was any home, she thought, so pleasant as her own. to a practical illustration of her arguments; when things went so far that company had to be invited upon the strength of what she said, and said so confidently, then her courage for the most part failed her, for she thought, if Mr. Stanley should draw himself in, or shrink under the veil which he knew so well how to assume, and if the agreeableness of the evening should be left to her, how could it be possible by any effort of her own to get the time over with pleasure to her friends, or with credit to her home?
Willis Cawthorne, however, had been so persevering in his requests that this experiment might be made upon Ella, and so confident in his assurances that he would himself discharge all the duties of host and hostess, so far as conversation went; he had, too, such a happy influence over the children, whom he could always keep in moderation without scolding, and without Martha having to be called in, that, as already stated, the invitation was at last ventured upon, and accepted; and Ella, with a little work-bag in her hand, repaired to the house of the clergyman according to agreement, at an early hour, to spend a quiet evening, without meeting any other guest.
As for Willis Cawthorne, he had ceased to be considered as a guest, and perhaps Ella was not displeased to find him at the house when she arrived; for a kind of brotherly and sisterly acquaintance was now established between them, which rendered it on both sides pleasant to meet, though on one the meeting was always as free from excitement, as the subsequent parting was without regret.
On the present occasion, Willis had arrived at least an hour before the usual time of paying the most friendly visits. For what reason he did so, Mrs. Stanley never knew; but he was always welcome, and besides this, he kept the children occupied while she was making herself and all things ready. Willis, had he chosen, could have told her a little secret about his early
arrival ; for he wanted to see that everything in and about the Stanley establishment wore the brightest aspect of which it was capable; and being on the best possible terms with old Martha, now that he always spoke to her as one of the family, he could whisper into her ear a few suggestions, such as the lighting of an additional lamp; or the taking up of a piece of drugget at the door, which usually assumed the appearance of a roll of rag within five minutes of its being laid down perfectly straight upon the floor.
Indeed there were doors in the Stanley establishment which for years had not opened without scraping back the carpet over which they ought to have slided without ruffling a thread; and yet no one ever thought of being angry or irritated about these doors, but contentedly pushed, and pushed, until they were wide enough open to pass through, then stepped over the crumpled carpet, and thought no more about the matter. Only once, when the mother herself, being in unusual haste, tripped upon this crumpled heap and fell; but even then, as she was taken up laughing, and not at all hurt, no one dreamed of preventing such a catastrophe in future; except Reginald, the oldest boy, who feeling a little scandalized at the loss of dignity to his parent, suggested that they should do without carpets for the future. Martha, too, as usual, repeated her suggestion of nails and hammer; but as neither one nor the other could be found in the house, the affair passed over, and was soon forgotten altogether.
On the afternoon of Ella's visit, however, there had been the uncommon sound of a loud knocking heard in the neighbourhood of one of these obstinate doors, and that sound occasioning an unusual and unexpected reverberation, Mr. Stanley had stepped out of his study to ascertain what it could be. He found Willis Cawthorne on his knees busy with hammer and nails, but so many children were sitting on his back, urging him on with all the gesticulations which accompany difficult and desperate horsemanship, that Mr. Stanley had quietly betaken himself to the society of his books again, deeming it altogether
a matter of amusement amongst the young people, in which he had as little business, as he had desire to meddle.
Had Willis Cawthorne been an accredited upholsterer, he could scarcely have been more busy than he was for a full hour before Ella's arrival; and little did she think, on seeing the well-lighted, neat, and pleasant-looking parlour, whose hands had been employed upon the arrangements there. The effect, however, was such as to reward the most laborious endeavours, for Ella smiled with unusual sweetness, and looked really happy to find herself welcomed by such genuine kindness as always formed the leading characteristic of the Stanleys' hospitality. The society of children, too, though somewhat strange to Ella, soon assumed a charm in her eyes, and worked a passage to her heart. In this instance the charm might well be irresistible, for the little Stanleys were remarkably fine children, and although left very much to do as they liked, they had never seen rudeness or harshness in those they loved, and, therefore, had not learned to reconcile it in themselves, or to tolerate it in each other.
The affectionate part of Ella's nature was always soon touched, and her own lovely face and form had a strong attraction for all who were capable of feeling the influence of beauty in its natural freedom from affectation or art. Reginald Stanley, a boy of about twelve years of age, gazed into Ella's countenance, and became perfectly fascinated; so much so, that even Martha observed it when she had occasion to come into the room, and giving him a sharp pluck by the sleeve, whispered into his ear while passing, that ladies did not like to be stared at in that way. The boy blushed deeply, hung down his head for a moment, and then immediately began to look at Ella again, as earnestly as before.
My dear boy," said Mrs. Stanley, smiling, and at the same time gently touching her son's knee under the table; "if you would think about handing Miss More's cup, it would be kinder than to fall into one of your dreams just
Reginald was an inveterate dreamer, and though at the moment so suddenly surprised into a sense of duty, as to snatch the cup hastily and spill half its contents, he soon fell to dreaming again, and out of one of these visions he asked abruptly of his father, why angels were never spoken of, or written about, as women?
"Why, really," replied Mr. Stanley, "that is a question which I should myself be very glad to have satisfactorily answered; for I confess that the same thought has sometimes crossed my own mind."
"For instance," continued the boy, still lost in his dream; "if Miss More had a pair of wings growing out of her shoulders, I am sure she would be quite an angel."
"And your mother?" observed Mr. Stanley, endeavouring to give the idea a different direction.
"Oh, mamma!" exclaimed Reginald, laughing. thought of wings for mamma.
I am afraid mamma would
fly more like a duck than an angel. But she is a very dear little duck, notwithstanding;" said he, throwing his arms around his mother's neck, for he had gone to the back of her chair on some errand for the youngest child; and while there, taking the opportunity of imprinting a fervent kiss upon her cheek, he left no room to suspect that any resemblance to the duck genus could possibly stand in the way of his filial affection.
One thing after another occurred that evening to make the little party every moment more at home with each other. Ella found new skill in her fingers, or rather their skill was brought to light in a manner scarcely practised since childhood, for she cut out in white paper, and placed upon the table, a complete Noah's establishment of creatures which assuredly never "went up into the ark," or, at all events, never came out again, for they were such as have no likeness now in earth, air, or sea; and when her invention in the creative art was exhausted, she bethought herself of some pleasant Scottish lilts, and snatches of old songs, which she sung to