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An indignant outburst was upon the child's lips, but tne same hand was there too; and before Hulda had made up her mind whether she was too frightened or too angry to cry, Rosalie had taken her quietly out of the room. Her doubts were easily resolved then,
and long before they had reached the top of the stairs she was sobbing her little heart out upon Rosalie's neck. And more for her sister's wrong than her own-the shielding hand was kissed and cried over a great many times before Hulda's grief would let her speak, or Rosalie's silent agitation submit to control. She bent herself then to the task of calming Hulda-checking her displeased and excited speeches about Thornton, drying her tears, and endeavouring to make her understand that it was not always best for little girls to reprove their grown-up brothers. A difficult task! without compromising either Thornton or the truth.
"I don't care!" was Hulda's satisfactory conclusion; "I shouldn't love him if he was fifty times my brother! And I don't want to." “I love him very much, Hulda.”
I shouldn't think you would !" and a fresh shower of tears was bestowed upon Rosalie's hand.
“Why, my hand was not hurt,” said her sister.
you must love him and try to please him. Come, look up; a little impatience is not worth so many tears."
The child looked up inquiringly, as if she had detected tears in her sister's voice; but Rosalie's face was calm, though very, very grave.
“If you will jump down from my lap and ring the bell,” she said, “Martha shall bring your tea up here, and then we will talk and you shall go to bed.'
So the bell was wrung, and Martha came and went according to directions; but when she came the second time with the tray, Miss Jumps stood still.
“You aint afraid of getting fat, Miss Rosalie, be you ?" she said, cause you'll be in no danger this some time—that a brave man couldn't face, as Tom says. Now there's bread and butter down stairs no thicker than a thought, and beef, and preserves-and I'll fetch you up a cup of tea that shall smoke so you can't see it. What'll you have s Air's good enough in its way, but folks can't live on nothing else.”
“Thank you, Martha,” said her mistress, “but I am not ready for tea yet. Ask Mr. Thornton when you go down how soon he wishes to have it."
" I smell salt water,” said Martha Jumps, as she went down to the kitchen; ". I say I do, sartain sure. One of my forbears must have been a sailor, and no mistake.”
“Tom !-Tom Skiddy!-go up to the parlour straight, and ask Mr. Thornton if he wants his tea to-night or to-morrow morning. I guess he'd just as soon wait till morning; and I'd as soon ho would, and a little sooner.”
“It's like enough you'll be gratified, then," said Tom; "for I was up to the parlour a matter of five minutes ago, to ask when he wanted tea; and all I got was, that when he did, he'd let me know."
The evening had worn away, and Thornton and the newspaper still sat vis-à-vis at the table, when the door was quietly opened, and Rosalie came in. He heard her well enough, but the debating mood he had been in, resolved itself for the moment into a committee of pride and false shame; therefore he did not speak, nor look up. Neither when her hand was laid on his forehead-and its touch said a great deal to him, as the fingers stroked back and played for a moment with his hair-did he see fit to notice it.
“ Thornton,” said she, softly, “I wish you would put up the paper, and talk to me.
** Because you do not wish me to read the paper, or because you do wish to talk-which ?"
“ A little of both.'
“Well,”—and he sent the paper skimming across the table“ there. Now I am ready to hear what you've got to say. Let me have the lecture at once, and be done with it.”
“I have no lecture to give,” she said, gently. “I am neither wise nor strong-hearted enough to-night.'
“ I should think you were troubled with small doubts of your own wisdom,” said Thornton. * Why did you interfere between me and Hulda ?”
" To save her from unmerited punishment.”
“She did not mean to be. You forget what a child she is, and that you are her brother."
“ Ånd thermfore she may say what she likes, I suppose," said Thornton. " It's a privilege to have sisters at that rate!”
He had not looked at her since she came in, but the pure image in his heart was never brighter than at that moment-he felt what a privilege it was.
Yes,” Rosalie answered, as she knelt at his side, with her hand on his shoulder. 'Yes, it is a privilege to have sisters—and brothers,-to have any near and dear friends in this wide world ;-an unspeakable blessing."
“Is that the blessing you have been crying over, to-night?” said Thornton, glancing at her, in spite of himself. • It seems not to afford you much satisfaction. I wish you would speak out at once !" he added, impetuously. “Why don't you tell me that I have done all manner of bad things-shocked you, disgraced myself, and so forth ? Say—why don't you?"
"Because you had said it all to yourself before you came home,” she answered steadily, and without looking at him.
The words were spoken very gently, but in a way not to be contradicted, if, indeed, he had been so inclined; but among all the qualities, good, bad, and indifferent, that went to make up Thornton's character, a few had never been tampered with. Foremost among these stood truth. The very feeling which had moved him to tell how he had spent the afternoon, was partly good and partly bad. The strong contrast of the quiet rest of Rosalie's hope with
his own restless cravings, had wrought upon a mind dissatisfied with itself, till for a moment he was willing to make her dissatisfied; but another feeling had wrought, too, in prompting the disclosure -the consciousness that she thought he had been more faithful to her wishes than was the truth.
Therefore, when she told him that he was displeased with him, self, no word of equivocation passed his lips; though he coloured deeply. "You speak with sufficient boldness," he said.
“ And you do not call this lecturing one"
"No," she said, in the same quiet way, and resting her cheek on his shoulder. “Neither do you. But you try so hard not to understand your own thoughts sometimes, that I thought I would give you a little help.
"I hope you will explain your own words next.”
“ You remind me,” she said, with a little smile, which canie and went instantly, “of some one who said he would give to a certain charity if no one asked him to give. If any one did, he should probably knock the man down, and give nothing."
“And the key to this fable?" said Thornton.
“It is hardly needed. You know the truth-you appreciate it there is not one part of your character but sides, in its own secret persuasions, with right against wrong. And yet when I, or public opinion, or especially your own conscience, says, this is the wayof my own heart will I want you say, ' Nay, but after the desires
She paused a few moments, and then went on.
“You had better not,” he said, but more gently than before. “ According to your statement of the case, I shall not grant it. But let me hear; perhaps I am not in a perverse mood at present.”
• You must not be displeased with me. I wanted to ask, to entreat, that you will never again in such circumstances let_Hulda know where you have been or what you have been doing. Let her keep all her love and respect for you—all that childish faith and veneration for the Lord's day and his commands, which you sometimes please to call superstition. 0, Thornton! do not try to ruin more than one of our mother's children !"
Her arms were about his neck, and her face laid against his for a moment, and then she was gone ; and Thornton sat alone with his own reflections until the bright wood fire had become but a heap of white ashes, and Trinity church had told off more than one of the small hours.
He roused himself then, and stood up-that same sweet presence about him yet, his mother's picture before him,
and still sounding in his ears the words he had heard repeated to Hulda in the afternoon. He felt their power, even as some persons can appreciate a fine melody while yet they know not one note of music. He took his light and went thoughtfully up stairs, but Rosalie's door arrested him-he opened it softly, and went in.
The moon shone in brilliantly, but failed to awaken the quiet sleepers. Both in most quiet rest-yet Thornton saw and felt a
difference. Hulda, with her arm across her sister's neck, was in the very luxuriance of sleep—there were none of night's own visions, there was no lingering one of the day, to disturb her with its influence-her little train of thought was noiseless as a train could be, and apparently glided through fairy-land. Her sister's slumber was not so deep; and though undisturbed, though the lines of the face were more absolutely quiet than Hulda's, the mouth had not relaxed its gravity, nor were the eyelashes dry.
Thornton went to bed strangely dissatisfied with himself.
DESPITE the night's fair promise, the morning rose upon bad weather; but in the moral atmosphere the change had been the other way, and everything looked brighter. Though indeed, according to one fancy, the changes were much alike, and
The sulphurous rifts of passion and woé
Like burnt-out craters healed with snow. "I am so glad it snows !" exclaimed Hulda, dancing into the breakfast room. "You know you said you would give me a sleigh-ride, Thornton, as soon as I was well enough, and we had
She stopped short, the evening before suddenly in her thoughts. “As soon as we had some more what?" said her brother, looking off the paper. “Rain?"
“I was going to say snow," said Hulda, in a low voice.
“That is a tremendous word, certainly; it is not surprising that you were afraid to speak it. See here, Hulda—I don't want two guardians, and I think on the whole I prefer Rosalie to your little ladyship; so do you never take it upon you to give me advice. I am not gifted with the Moon's patience, unfortunately.”
* The Moon's patience !” said Hulda. “I never heard of that before."
"Why you know," said Thornton, "when a little dog once undertook to bark at the Moon, the Moon kept on shining.
"I don't think you are like the Moon,” said Hulda, laughing, but eyeing him a little askance; "not a bit.”
Never mind-in future you must deliver your opinions of me and my conduct to Rosalie, and she may repeat what of them she likes. Where is she this morning?"
She was at his side, even as he spoke; with a face so fair, so shadowless except for a little anxious feeling when she first looked at him-a half glance of inquiry as it were —that Thornton was too touched to speak; and taking both her hands, he kissed her first on one cheek and then on the other, wishing from his heart that he had ever done more to fill the vacant place of which that black
dress spoke. Such a purpose had often been formed, but when it came to the point there was always some hindrance. He had not learned yet how hard it is to obey the second great command while disregarding the first.
Then, do you think you will give me a sleigh-ride, Thornton?" said Hulda, emboldened by something in his face to press her request.
Half-a-dozen, if there is snow enough.' “O, that is very good of you !" said Hulda, “because Alie don't like to go alone. I guess there'll be snow enough-I mean I think there will-I saw one baker's sleigh go by.'
Which proves nothing concerning my runners," said Thornton, as he seated himself at the breakfast table. Bakers have a facility of enjoyment which belongs to few other people.”
“ Have they” said Hulda. But here comes another sleighI hear the bells."
“And a remarkably slow tinkle they make,” said Thornton ; “ I'll wager something that's a coal man. It's a singular fact that everybody is out of fuel as soon as a storm comes.
Yes, it is a charcoal man,” said Hulda ; "all white and black. And here comes somebody else."
Somebody else had better come here," said her sister, more than breakfast will get cold.”.
“I'll come,” said the child, getting down with some reluctance from the chair where she had been kneeling, and taking a last peep out of the
window: " but it looks so nice out, and the people a queer one! like a little old coach without any wheels. And it's stopping at our door! O Alie, I do believe it's Miss Bettie Morsel !!
And the next act being like to come off within doors, Hulda came to her breakfast.
The queer sleigh, which was in truth but a coach-body on runners, drew up at the door as she had said. A most literal drawing-up!-the driver tugging at his horse till both were slanted back at no inconsiderable angle. Then the driver got down and clapped his hands once or twice, and the horse shook his head to make sure he was all right again,-a fact attested by a miserable little bell that hung about him-somewhere. And
the coach-body door being at length opened, a little dark figure darted out through the white medium and up the steps. But her ring was by no means in accordance with so fierce a beginning. It was a kind of gentle intimation that if it was all the same to everybody, she would like to come in-a mere suggestion that perhaps there might be somebody outside in the snow,-a ring, which a thorough-bred waiter of the present day would go to sleep over, and dream of visitors.
But Martha Jumps, who was on duty while Tom carried buck, wheats into the breakfast room, and whose eyes, ears, and under. standing were always wide awake, dropped her duster, settled her cap, and went to the door. And having presently detailed her message to Tom, Tom entered the breakfast room and said,