Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

CHAPTER V.

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily, I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

St. Matth. XXV: 40.

li Fully believing that Madam Cadwallader would indulge Les me with the full history of those strange little girls, the hint

of which had so much impressed me, I had waited a suitable moment to ask her.

We were just at this time invited to spend a certain even

ing at the house of Mrs. Clement Porson's—two of her daughmi ters being pupils at Don Pico's school, had taken pains to

show us, Rose and me, great attention. The company was pie to be small and very select. W Mrs. Clement Porson lived in a fine house, just opposite

Madam Cadwallader's, and as in their calls of ceremony, Miss Porson and Miss Ella Porson had met Martha and Lydia Cadwallader, they also had received a note of invitation to the

"Porson Soiree," and, oh, joy, her mother had abated a moisit ty of her precision, and they too were going !

We had been taught to make all preparations in due season. I had decided to wear, it being now mid-February, and very cold, my rose colored merino dress, beautifully made and trimmed-startling contrast I with black velvet ribbon. I had also a necklace of jet, very pretty, and moreover very rare, that I designed should be my only attempt at any especial ornament.

Sally, the housemaid, came with a message from her mistress" would Miss Minnie please come down to her room for a few minutes ?

I complied at once. As I entered, Madam said to me, looking up with one of her kindest smiles

[ocr errors]

“Dear, I have thought as thee intends to wear that pink dress, if it suits thee, I will change the ribbons, and while ! out this morning, I found this lavender colored plush, which! I think is in better taste. Thy French mantua-maker is fond of strong contrasts."

“Ah! thank you, this is very lovely! I do really like it, better than my black velvet."

“I am glad it pleases thee. Now run and bring the dress, and we will put the plush right on—but the girls will be quite surprised."

I brought it instantly, and we were soon engaged in ripping off the bows and knots of black, and making ready to substitute the lavender color. My friend said

“That French-woman should have known better than to ! have chosen black to put upon this lovely rose color : in! perfect mimicry of the little rose on thy cheeks, and thy dark, curling hair. Altogether making but a wax dolly of thee.

“Do you not like my little winter roses then ?"

“On the contrary, I am only too glad to see that they do not fade, with thy studious habits."

“ Thank you. Mamma has had a brilliant color; and then, I walk a good deal.”

“Thee means to keep thy pretty inheritance ! But as thee has a lovely natural bloom, and thy hair is profuse and very nice, a sober dress becomes thee best. I will choose, rather that thy looks shall set off thy dress, than the reverse. And this pretty gown, as it was before, seemed to me but a parody upon the work of the Great Artist.”

"Oh, how pretty this is going to be ! Now, while running this row upon the skirt, will you not tell me all about those little girls who were sent here from India ?”

“Ah ! sure thee does not yet remember that mere allusion to them ?

“Dear friend, I fully comprehended the allusion, and know that thereon hangs a tale."

“It is very little I can tell thee. I knew neighbor Weedon before he went abroad; have seen him a few times zince his return. But he is very close, no satisfactory intelligence could ever be gleaned from him or his. But since thee asks, Minnie, I will tell what I know. Does thee know my youngest brother Penquite Chalkley, and his excellent wife ?.

“I have met them here and elsewhere."

“ Thee knows then that he married out of our Society, but a very nice person ; she was from the State of Connecticut, and what I am about to tell thee I learned from Martha Chalkley, and it must be to thee as if I said it happened under my own eyes. Martha, when young and single, lived with her parents in the small country town of M- , in the backward State of Connecticut. This Weedon family lived there too : vain and worldly people, but latterly much reduced in substance. They were getting into debt-too cowardly to withdraw from a life of fashionable appearances, and not possessing capital or capacity enough to succeed in honest business, they were sliding down into a whirlpool of vexatious cares. This oldest brother left the place and went to sea. He had a fair face, a smooth tongue, and a happy faculty of praising- himself. I think the family hoped great things from these gifts : they were not disappointed. He became great.” My friend paused, and I eagerly asked

“Is it possible for a man, with no larger outfit than this, to win greatness ?”

"I should have said, became greatly notorious.”

“Ah ! that may be, I grant. Pray tell me what followed the voyage to sea ?”

“I cannot say what followed it, but sure I know what came back.

“True.”

“In the course of a few years, there came to his father's house, from the far Indies, two little girls ; I should say four

[ocr errors]

This were slidi pacity

years old, and twins. They were nice, bright looking little ones, very different from the children there, unless it might be the children of the aborigines who were remotely connected with the families of the whites. They were spoken of as being colored children ; they were a pale olive, with large black eyes, black hair, and with such a shy, sad look, as if they were afraid, or maybe homesick. They were drest very nicely when they came ; or rather, I should say, their clothing was all of the richest material, and made in the most gorgeous fashion ; and with them came toys and trinkets such as never before found their way into the house of the Weedons, trifling and gay as they were. They came with the captain of a great trading vessel who knew, or pretended that he knew, nothing of them but their destination. But directly after these poor forsaken babies came, the Weedon's began to flaunt in gaiety, and seemed no longer pressed for means to live, and also with great show of wealth. There was an annual income, but from whence none could tell ; it came regularly, and was spent without hesitation."

“ Meantime, how fared these little strangers ?”

They grew up without education, without affectionservants without wages-toiling ceaselessly, hopeless of any change, yielding their labor to unremitted exactions, never rewarded, never cheered by the gratitude of those they served. They were never permitted to feel that they had any interests in common with the family, yet they were powerless to leave it. Sometimes together in their loneliness, these two girls wondered who and what they were, and whence they came. They could dimly remember that it was not always thus with them; they had at one time lived in a widely different way—but no one knew and no one dared to suggest the whole truth. Ah, well I poor, poor children.”

“But this is not all ?”

Not quite, but nearly all I can tell thee. Now thread the other needle with lavender-colored silk, if thee pleases, and have the scissors ready at hand. Well, to resume, a few years after the coming of these foreign children, Weedon himself returned to his native village, and soon after married a gay, frivolous girl, whose extravagance kept pace with his income, whatever that might be. Young Mrs. Weedon had quite a large family of children, who were

each and successively nursed and tended by these timid, 5 down-cast daughters of India.”

“Pray what were their names or what their color ?".

“ Names that sounded strange enough-Pia and Tsinnay. There was money and much fine goods sent yearly to this to man, which his wife quickly appropriated to her own use.

I hope she may be forgiven this sin ; but peradventure, she did not fully understand that she was doing this great robbery. So it went on year in and year out. I do not know

of any material change for better or worse—and this is all i I can say." DO “Now, I can guess a great deal, but I had much rather some one would tell me.”

“Content thee with guessing, then, for I doubt not thee will hit the truth."

“It is evident. I thank you, my friend, for this little - story-I shall never forget it. The poor mother defrauded

of her children, cheated into a belief that they were in a i happier land, more beloved and honored than they would be

in that which gave them birth; and they, cut off from all home ties, from mother or friends, robbed of their rightful inheritance, and made to serve those who rioted in the very

luxuries of which they were defrauded, are things to be long i remembered, and will surely not be hidden from retributive

stice."

“Nay, verily. Once I questioned neighbor Weedon right closely upon this subject, and though he winced like a galled ox, he gave no information. Ay, but he that covereth his iniquity shall not prosper. I am persuaded fully, that unless he repents him of the wrong done to his own flesh and blood, he will never see the face of the Lord in peace.”

« ПредишнаНапред »