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between Myra and Mary, to run the risk of leaving them to walk side by side a couple of miles. It was accordingly settled, that Esther should take Mary, and Agnes, Myra. "As for Sophy," remarked Esther, in a tone of pique and resentment, "I wonder why she is to go with us, she does not belong to our class, and I cannot see why she should be a privileged person."
Agnes made no reply to this speech. She loved though she neglected her sister, and it was but seldom that Esther ventured to make any observations about Sophy.
The party set forward in the order the friends had planned. Ellen Ford invited Fanny and Sophy to join her, and then led the way-now along the turnpike road, where from time to time, they called at the door of some cottage, to collect a subscription, however trifling, towards purchasing that greatest of treasures, a Bible; and now they would turn down a pleasant field-path, leading to the hut of a farm labourer, their errand being still the same. For the most part, they met with a civil reception, for Ellen Ford was not one of those young ladies who assume or dictate to the poor. She often said, that she never felt so truly humbled as when visiting the abodes of poverty; and contrasting her situation and circumstances with those of her indigent neighbours. There was no air of condescension in her kind inquiries after the inmates of the different dwellings she visited, or in her simple and ingenuous remarks. No, Ellen's religion had taught her that true sympathy which speaks to the hearts of those to whom it is addressed, and convinces them that there is no lurking sense of superiority, no feeling that they are a different class in the scale of created beings, but on the contrary, every thing to induce the belief that although God in his all-wise providence, has seen fit to place them in different stations in life, the difference extends only to externals-that they are the possessors of one common nature, the children of one heavenly parent, with whom "there is no respect of persons," and the ransomed of one precious Redeemer who has proclaimed himself "the Saviour of all men."
With such views and feelings, it is no wonder that Ellen Ford's manner was calculated to win the confidence, and secure the good will of the majority of the poor in her Bible district; but candour obliges us to add there was here and there one who refused to contribute, and who accompanied their refusal with rude remarks
and insolent demeanour.
An instance of this kind occurred on the afternoon in question. The party had made their way through the narrow pathway of a plantation, which conducted them to the door of a small, but picturesque looking cottage, before which several children, dirty and ragged little creatures, were playing about. To the eldest, a girl of about nine years of age, Ellen addressed herself, and enquired if her mother was within.
"Yes," replied the child, with a stare, partly of curiosity, partly of assurance. "Yes, she is at home, but she won't give you anything, I am sure; she says she has something else to do with her money." The child accompanied these words with a laugh, in which she was joined by the whole group of little ones, whose training had rendered them capable of finding pleasure in unkindness and insult, even when they did not fully comprehend its meaning.
The laughter of the children brought their mother to the door. Ellen accosted her pleasantly, and inquired kindly after the family; but the woman scarcely returned her civilities, and poured forth a torrent of complaints and reproaches, which excited much astonishment on the part of the young ladies, who had scarcely begun to retrace their steps, ere they expressed their surprise and indignation at the reception they had met with.
"I hope you never will call there again, dear Miss Ellen," exclaimed Sophy.
"On the contrary, I shall call and call until I succeed," returned she, “and what is more, Sophy, I am actually contemplating getting your permission to give some of those nice little clothes you have made at your Dorcas meeting to these very rude children."
"And, why?" asked Fanny, "why should such rude, insolent little creatures be rewarded for their impertinence?"
"Did you not hear," replied Ellen, "that the excuse the mother made for not going to church, or sending her children to the Sabbath school, was the want of suitable clothing?"
"Yes, ma'am, but she spoke in a tone which seemed to reproach you for her poverty, which is no fault of your's, you know."
"My dear Fanny," said Ellen, "you have been blessed with every comfort during your whole life, and you little understand the feelings of those who suffer the want of the common necessaries
of existence. That poor woman loves her children, perhaps, as dearly as your parent loves you, but she is ignorant and ill-tempered; she does not love and fear God, nor understand her duty to him, and therefore you cannot wonder if she feel angry and discontented when she compares the privations and poverty of her little ones, their rags and coarse food, with the dress and appearance of children such as you." As Ellen finished speaking they crossed the stile, which was placed at the entrance of the plantation, and turned to look once more towards the little cottage, the chimneys of which they could distinguish through the trees.
"It is a pretty little spot," observed Esther, "and I think the people might be happy enough, if the woman were but clean and contented."
"Yes," said Ellen, "they might be much more comfortable if they had the disposition to make the best of their situation. Pray, Esther, what should you think was the feeling which induced the woman to treat us so rudely?"
"I cannot tell, indeed," was Esther's reply.
Ellen looked inquiringly upon the rest of the party, but all were silent. "Well," she said, in a cheerful tone, "we are not far from the church. Now I will give each of you till we reach the old yew tree near the chancel, to think about my question. We will sit down and rest there for a short time, and talk the matter over. So saying she led the way, and the young people followed in silence.
The church towards which they were fast approaching, was a small and ancient building of that rude style of architecture so frequently seen in rural districts. Its exterior walls displayed a goodly array of frightful heads, which Agnes laughingly remarked, "never could have been intended for saints.” The ground occupied by the church-yard was slightly elevated, and commanded a fine view of the surrounding country. The yew tree, to which reference has been made, formed the principal ornament of the burial ground. It threw its gloomy shadow over a tombstone, the last resting place of several squires and dames of high degree, the former proprietors of an old mansion in the neighbourhood, now degraded into a farm-house.
The tomb itself was distinguished by time-worn sculpture, which proclaimed alike its antiquity, and the perishable nature of all earthly distinctions, for this last memento of past greatness was
sinking into decay. A rude bench had been placed under the yew tree, for the convenience of such of the congregation as came from a distance; and here the young ladies seated themselves, Myra remarking, as she did so, "that the sight of the tomb stone opposite, always made her feel melancholy."
"Why so?" inquired Agnes.
"Because," she answered, "I recollect that there is not a single person belonging to that family alive now, and there is something sad in the idea of an ancient race becoming extinct." As Myra spoke, Esther and Agnes, according to their usual custom, exchanged a look, full of meaning, by which, they imagined, they shewed their quick perception of what they termed Myra's passion for gentility. They listened eagerly, in the hope that Ellen would reply to her observation. They were, however, disappointed; she was apparently intent upon examining the contents of her bag, from amongst which she selected a slip of paper, which she opened, and appeared busied with its contents.
"Oh!" exclaimed Fanny, with a shudder, as she glanced at the graves about her, "there is something very terrible in the idea of death; I cannot bear to think about it."
"Well then, don't think about it just now, Fanny, for we have not yet answered Miss Ellen's question," said Sophy.
"Come, Esther, you are the oldest, it is your turn to speak first."
"I will yield my place to you, if you please," replied Esther, ❝for I see you are prepared with an answer.”
All eyes immediately turned towards Sophy, who, on receiving an encouraging smile from Ellen, said, "Well, then I think the feeling that induced that cross woman to insult us all, was a sort of pride."
"Pride!" exclaimed Fanny, "why what has she to be proud of, I wonder."
"That I cannot tell," returned Sophy, "but my text this morning was, in lowliness of mind, let each esteem others better than themselves.'-Now this woman behaves as if she thought herself as good as any body, and as if she were ill-tempered and rude, because other people don't think so too: pray am I right, Miss Ellen?"
"You are not far wrong, I think, Sophy. It is a great mistake
to imagine that pride is a sin peculiar to the rich. It is to be found in some form or other in all stations, and in all individuals. And now, my dears," pursued she, "I brought you here for the purpose of conversing on this very subject; you have not forgotten our agreement last Sabbath evening; I have, as you requested, taken particular notice during the week, and the result of my observations is, that pride is the besetting sin of each of you. It manifests itself differently according to the character or previous education of the individual, but the root is the same; and a root of bitterness it has proved during the last few days, if I am not mistaken."
"No, indeed, ma'am, you are not mistaken," said Sophy, as the tears started to her eyes, 66 we have been very unhappy since our Dorcas meeting,"
"But pray, Miss Ellen, how have Agnes and I manifested our pride?" asked Esther in a tone somewhat insolent.
“I should not have found it very difficult to answer that question, even without the help of this," she replied, producing the slip of paper. "It is a list of texts that dropped from your Bible as you left the room after breakfast this morning. Intending to restore it, I took it up. I believe the writing is that of Agnes and yourself.”
As Ellen spoke, Agnes coloured deeply, and starting up, seemed as though she would have gained possession of the paper by force. Recollecting herself, however, she sat down, and hiding her face, sobbed convulsively.
"I must beg the loan of these texts a little longer," continued Ellen, without noticing the emotion of Agnes, "they will form excellent mottoes for me, and I will return them, when we go home."
Here the sobs of Agnes were redoubled; and Esther showed signs of considerable uneasiness.
"You need not fear, that I shall say anything to widen the breach, and cause fresh dissensions amongst you," pursued Ellen, "my object in bringing you here this afternoon, was, if possible, to act as a peace-maker-to induce you to view yourselves in true colours to study self; because the true knowledge of ourselves has a tendency to make us kind and forbearing to others, and willing to forgive, because, conscious that we have much to be forgiven: And now," continued she, "I will read to you the texts