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daughter of the old man by his former marriage, for he was a widower. She, you know, is only related to the young son, but they all call her sister, by way of respect, I suppose. She is between fifty
I and sixty."
“What, four families, and all live together ?”
“So it seems; but in point of numbers it is not at all an overwhelming household.”
“It's not the number, boy, but the quarrelling."
“They don't seem to quarrel, though the mother is dead. Mr. Mortimer is fond of his step-children. He must be a most amiable old fellow, I am sure. Brandon says he never saw him till after the wedding, when he patted him on the head and gave him a sovereign. That, running off to spend it, he met some gipsies in a lane and showed it to them, whereupon they persuaded him to buy a young donkey of them with it. He said he rode the miserable little beast home, and, being afraid it would be taken from him, actually managed to get it up the back stairs without being observed, and secreted it in a light closet in his bed-room. The circumstance was not discovered till the next morning, when the bride and bridegroom were awoke by its tremendous braying. He was delighted at his mother's marriage.”
“Odd, for he knew already what a stepfather was."
“But his experience of stepfathers seems to have been peculiar, for when I asked him if he remembered Grant, he said, 'Yes, he used to make Grant rig ships for him, and play with him when his mother was ill ; in return for which he was expected to learn hymns and come into the study to say his prayers.''
So the conversation ended. I have often felt pleasure in hearing anecdotes about the childhood of people whom I cared for and looked up to. One sees them thus under a new aspect, and feels a kind of tenderness towards them, as they were in those far-off days. I felt it then towards that little curly-headed urchin at his pranks; but when Uncle Rollin said, “ Deep in thought, Dorothea? What are you musing about ?" I was startled, and could not reply, “ I was thinking about Mr. Brandon,” for Tom had made it awkward for me even to mention his name. There was the real pity. He had put thoughts into my head that teased me. I did not like to say Mr. Brandon had given me a ring, lest there should be some mistake about it; and so I hid it, and it made me uncomfortable and conscious whenever he was mentioned. I did not like to speak of him as I did of Miss Tott and the chil
the consequence was that I thought of him far more than I should have done otherwise, and made a kind of hero of him in my mind, towards whom I felt a certain growing enthusiasm, which affected my imagination, but, so far from making me wish to see him again, kept me kecnly anxious to remain at a distance. A sort of
girlish shyness made me think of him as a superior being. My feeling was precisely that which familiarity would have melted away, and if I had even talked about him the halo that surrounded him would have faded. But now, when the sea was rough and I had no book, when it rained and I could not go on deck, when the weather was calm and I sat in the place where I had talked to him, I was obliged to torment myself with troublesome, teasing doubts and fears as to whether he might have fancied, as Tom did, that I had given away my heart to him, or that I had not treated him with enough reserve.
This went on for some time, and we cruised about here and there. Sly uncle only cared to be afloat, and Tom loved desolate places. He liked to cruise in little lonely creeks, among rocky islets--places where gulls bring up their families, and puffins sit, and penguins live and stare out foolishly at intruders.
I liked this too, when I could land, but that was not often, for my uncle loved to give rocks a wide berth, and I did not like to leave the yacht and go ashore in a boat; but sometimes we used to lie in some snug little harbour, then I was happy.
We sailed up north, and I saw the shoals of herrings come down. Sometimes we got into the midst of one, and I saw them turn up their silvery sides and jostle one another, for they seemed to swim in several layers, and so thickly imbedded that the sea looked a little higher where they were, as if they lifted the water on their backs.
I reared and trained many young sea-birds,-nearly twenty of them followed the yacht, and used to roost in the rigging. They would come down at my call to be fed, and when I would let them they would sit on my knee while I read, or perch on my head and
We had a delightful yachting tour all by the beautiful west coast of Ireland. I had always been accustomed to look upon this world as consisting of certain countries bordered by the sea ; now I began to think of it as a globe of water. I no longer thought of the shapes of continents, but of the shapes of the seas in which they lay. I could not help this. I began to attach great importance to places that had fine harbours ; islands were no good unless there was safe anchorage round them ; rivers were delightful because we could sail up them. I soon began to know what rivers could take us on their bosoms, and how far we could go. Sometimes, when I came to a bridge and a town, it appeared surprising to me that so many people could live contentedly on shore ; and, after a few days spent in looking about me, I was generally glad to sail again.
Sometimes at the towns on the coast-guard stations old naval officers and young ones came on board, and were made much of. If they were very old friends, my uncle sometimes returned their visits. Tom often did, and not unfrequently one or two would come on board
for a few days; but we did not have the Mompessons,--one of their children was ill, and they put off their visit indefinitely.
At last, about the middle of September, after loading ourselves with everything we could possibly want, and after many presents from my uncle to me, of ribbons, laces, shawls, gloves, scarves, silks, and other most useless adornments as I then thought them, we set sail for a winter cruise to the West Indies, and after that I was told I should
I was greatly delighted, and would fain have flung every scrap of finery into boxes and there left it till I landed; but Mrs. Brand, as she sat in my cabin at work on the bows of a handsome sash, said to me, rather pointedly, when I entered one afternoon, Dear
me, ma'am, to think of your putting on that ugly waterproof.'” · Ugly is it?" I answered ; and I turned
head over my shoulder, for I knew it was short, and that it showed the flounces of my gown beneath it. “Well," I continued, "I can't always be thinking of my dress.” “ Can't you, ma'am ?" she answered, quietly. “Well, it's lucky,
" then, that in general you don't object to my thinking of it for you."
She took off my cloak, for it was wet; and then, as I made no objection, she tried the sash against my waist.
“ You can't go on deck again,” she said ; “ and as it only wants an hour to dinner-time, it would be a good thing if you was to let me dress you."
“Very well,” I answered, for I was a little struck by her manner r; and I stood quite still while she took out various things, and considering what would look well together, proceeded to put them on.
“You scarcely ever look at yourself in the glass, ma'am," she presently said.
“There is no occasion," I answered, laughing. “You take good care that I shall never leave your hands till I am perfectly neat and nice!”
"Most young ladies," she answered, a little reproachfully, “look at themselves very frequent! Master, he was saying, only yesterday, to Mr. Graham, that you were improved to that degree, since you came on board, nobody ever could know you."
“Do you think it is so?" I inquired, with pleasure.
“Of course," she answered ; you were so pale then. Not but. what I liked the looks of you from the first. I thought,” she continued, looking at me affectionately,—“I thought you had the innocentest face anybody ever saw.”
“You mean a baby face, don't you?”
You look so graceful and slender, specially when you're well dressed.” And so she went on," I should take a world of pains, if I were
you, ma'am, to have them always proud of me, and be as particular every day as if there was to be ever so many strangers to dinner. You've got such dozens upon dozens of light kid gloves, why shouldn't you wear 'em in the evening; you've got such laces, such sashes, and, I don't know what. Dear me, make yourself a charming young lady with it all, or else after this one cruise, you may depend on it, you won't stay on board long."
She spoke with slow impressiveness; and I was so certain she had good ground for what she said that her words fell on me like a thunder-bolt. I knew my being on board was a great pleasure to her. I knew that many things were said before her and Brand that were never said before me; and I resolved, there and then, to follow her advice to the utmost. So, when she had dressed me in a lilac silk petticoat, with an embroidered white dress over it, and when she had given me a pair of lilac gloves of a still paler tint, I went up to the glass, thankfully acknowledged a great improvement, and looked at myself with much attention.
"Well, ma'am," she inquired,—“ don't look so grave,--will it do?" The gown had a light, transparent body, and I took courage; for I was sure I had never looked so well in my life.
"I think it wants a little gold about it," I replied; and she brought out a gold necklace that Tom had given me, and a gold bracelet. So I put on my gloves, and she said—
"Now don't be downhearted, ma'am ; but just you give yourself all the airs that ever you can!"
I turned to kiss her; but I was rather in dismay, and as I came floating into the chief cabin, with my delicate skirts behind me, I felt myself blush with shyness and discomfort.
But some people are destined to find out things and others to act upon them. To describe the change in my uncle's manner, and Tom's too, would be quite impossible! And what amused me most, when I could dare to think of it, was that they were perfectly un.conscious, both of the change and the cause of it.
No, I never despised my fine array any more. I saw at once how much in their opinion it did for me, and though I caught sight of myself several times that evening in the different glasses, and thought I looked rather too much like a dressed-up flaxen-haired doll, I drew my long dress after me with all gravity, and when my uncle asked me to play on my new piano that he had bought for me, and which I had far too much neglected, I rose, and Tom opening it for me, I forbore to thank him, but took the attention as a matter of course, which I thought would have a good effect, and it had.
I never once again went on deck when it rained, or blew so hard that I could not be well dressed; and I had frequent consultations with Mrs. Brand as to what I looked best in. It appeared from various little things she said, that I had already been in danger of
being placed with a family on shore, and I found that it was not my dear old uncle who felt that the yacht was an unfit place for me, but this brother whom I so much loved.
I utterly forgot Mr. Brandon in my desire to make myself agrecable and ornamental. Tom was so fond of seeing pretty things about him, and graceful ways, that I could almost always tell whether he liked my dress or not; and Mrs. Brand was so clever, that there was
: no need for me to weary him by want of variety.
So I dressed to please my old uncle and my young brother; I found out, with Mrs. Brand's help, what was becoming ; and, strange to say, my lot has been so cast, that it has been my duty as well as my interest to study the art of dress ever since.
That was a delightful winter ; but Tom has published an account of those travels, and if I were to write of them they would fill volumes. We went gliding about, first among the West Indian Islands,-left our own bare green levels with their low-lying broidery of meadow flowers, and went sliding down over the polished water to the middle of the world ; then, while all the top of it was white, and all its best things were neatly put away, and covered up till spring under the snow, we hung about in little land-locked coves, with polished azure floors, and cliffs as pale as cinnamon, and sometimes stole into the edges of the steaming forests, and saw dangerous wedges from the sun shoot straight in like gold thunderbolts, and the sleepy cayman sweltering in their lukewarm swamps would snap at them, and stretch their yawning jaws as if to take them in.
We fluttered about here and there, from continent to island; we treated all with great respect; it did not belong to us who lived on the edge and upper fringes of the earth, and there was danger in the beauty and beauty in the danger.
Then it was that after awhile I began to be sure that the world was yet young ; she was a wild thing that God and His time had only half tamed ; and sometimes by day and always by night, I derived from her ways and the sleep that was on her a consciousness of her life as a whole.
For after sunset, till about midnight, it would often seem that she was slumbering while yet everything on her that had life was restless and stirred, and came out to drink; and they called and cried to one another and to their Maker (for they are not so unconscious of God as men are,—at least it has long appeared so to me,—but they do not love Him as many of us do), and some of them seemed to cry to Him defiantly, and others grumbled and complained.
Then, about the dead middle of the night, in some parts of the tropical zones, but not in all, there would come a pause, as if the living creatures were appeased and at rest, and thereupon the dark beautiful world would wake up, and while the stars in their courses made it plain to me how fast she was rolling, a sort of murmur would