Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

thought they had never made so much noise before, nor did she wonder when she saw every head in the school, (not fewer than a hundred,) turned towards her; and when, at last, she came to the end of her painful march, and was placed among a set of children, all of them two or three years younger than herself, and had to shew before them all that she hardly knew a letter of the alphabet, she felt bitterly ashamed: she could not tell the governess then that this was no fault of hers, for that nobody had taught her, and she knew she must be condered stupid and ignorant by everybody who saw her. A week passed, and at the end she had hardly compassed the alphabet, all the while feeling very dull and uncomfortable. Next Monday morning, as she was sitting in her usual place, with a little slip of calico, on which she was learning to hem and sew, in her hands, she heard the children about her whisper to one another, “ Miss Seymour !” and looking up, she saw a young lady enter the room. She had a kind, pleasant countenance, so that Naomi did not feel surprised that the girls seemed pleased when she came near them. As hers was the lowest class, it was the last Miss Seymour attended to. After all had stood down from the form, and made a curtsey, Miss Seymour began to look over their work one by one. An odd little set of patches they were to examine and criticise; sometimes the stitches were all underneath the hem, so that it was not caught or fastened down at all, while in others they were so high and long that all was puckered up into a frill. Naomi could hear, as Miss Seymour came round, her remarks on each little piece of hemming; how they were to set in their needle, and hold the hem over the forefinger, and not také such long needlesful, nor let the thread get so sadly dirty, nor race over their task with such monstrous stitches, as if the only point was to get it done as quickly as possible. At length she came to Naomi; and either she observed that she was new in the

school, or remarked on her sickly appearance and the crutches lying near, for she sat down by her and began to ask her many questions. At first Naomi was very shy, but soon she was led on to tell all about her long illness, and the quack-doctor, and her mother's trouble. Miss Seymour then gave her a little instruction about her work, which was better done than most of the others, as she had learned something of sewing, though it was but little. Miss Seymour saw she took pains in attending to what she said, and was pleased with her. In the afternoon when the lessons were said, Miss Seymour again paid some attention to her. The governess said, she feared she was dull to be so backward; but there was something in Naomi's serious and earnest look which did not seem like dulness. The children were repeating a hymn after their teacher, without seeming to understand much of the meaning; so Miss Seymour took the book out of her hand, and began herself to ask some questions. Most of the girls stared and did not know what to answer; but when it came to Naomi's turn, she seemed to brighten up and really use her mind; and her answers convinced Miss Seymour, that though ignorant, she was not dull or stupid; while Naomi was pleased and interested by the nice simple questions, which seemed to make every thing so easy and plain to her.

After this time, more than two years passed, on which I shall not dwell. All that while Naomi had been most regular in her attendance, and had always pleased her governess by her attention and good conduct, if not by her brightness; for she still thought her rather dull. Miss Seymour, too, had continued her visits when it fell to her turn; and through her care and that of other ladies assisting the governess, the school had gone on improving, and now excited some interest in the town. Amongst the points of chief importance was considered the sewing; as this was thought in some ways as necessary as reading itself-equally necessary to make a good ser

vant or a managing wife; and great pains had been taken with it in Marston school. It happened at this time that an old lady paid a visit to the school to observe upon it generally, and especially to look at the sewing : “For,” said she, “ I think little of any girl's education—be she high or low, rich or poorwho has not been taught to be a good needle-woman. A lady is not a lady to my mind, unless she can sew like one; and what is a poor woman fit for, that cannot make and mend her father's or her husband's shirts ? No, children,” she continued, “ attend to an old woman's words; and depend upon it, that after knowing your Prayer-book, and how to read your Bible, there is no learning that will be so useful to you as a thorough knowledge of needlework—nothing will make you happier or more useful while you are well, or help you better in times of poverty and distress, or be a greater comfort to you in sickness, or even old age; for I may say so, who have tried it. Many and many a time have I been too heavy and dull of heart to be able to turn my mind to reading or writing, either of a diverting or serious sort; my thoughts did not seem my own, I could not master them; but let me only sit down to my work, and feel my needle pass rapidly along, at once, without knowing how, I have seemed to feel my troubles grow lighter, and myself better able to bear them; and ten to one, good thoughts, that would not come when I sat with my hands idly folded waiting for them, would then flock into my mind, till, perhaps, that hour of sorrow was turned into a blessing, to be remembered and looked back upon with thankfulness all one's life long. And now,” she said, “ to make you remember my advice, I have thought of a plan for you. The ladies that attend so kindly here have agreed to it; and they have settled, that the six best workers and those who have taken most pains in the school shall be chosen out, and each of them shall make a shirt all by herself, and of those the three best shall each receive a prize--a sovereign to the

66 Of course,

66

first, half a sovereign to the second, and five shillings to the third.

The old lady's kind address, and especially its unexpected conclusion, caused a great excitement in the school, particularly in the first class, from which the workers were to be chosen. All were anxious to be allowed to try for the prizes, and were eager to know when the names would be given out; but this was a matter that required some thought, and a consultation between the governess and the ladies. It was important to choose the best sewers, and also the most deserving.

,” said one of the ladies, “ Susan Forbes must be set down first, she is such a beautiful worker; she is sure of the first prize.” “Yes, ma'am," answered the governess,

I suppose she is ; she seems confident of it herself already, from what I heard her whisper to one of the children as I passed : “Phæbe,' she said, “I must have the first prize myself; but I should like you to have the second.'"

The ladies smiled, and some shook their heads. After Susan Forbes four others were fixed upon; so that only one more was required.

“What do you say,” said one lady, “to Ellen Jones?"

“ Yes, ma'am,” answered the governess, “ she might do, and she is very anxious no doubt to be chosen."

“ Ellen Jones has been very impertinent to you, governess, lately,” said Miss Seymour, “and she does not deserve it."

“There is not a girl in the school deserves it better,” said the governess,

" than Naomi Stevens; but she has not been long in the first class.”

“She has been more than two years in the school,” said Miss Seymour, “and has got on very well all the time, never failing to come in all weathers, when it must have been pain to her, weak as she is and on crutches."

vant or a managing wife; and great pains had btaken with it in Marston school. It happene this time that an old lady paid a visit to the selto observe upon it generally, and especially to lo* at the sewing : “For,” said she, “I think little girl's education—be she high or low, rich or po who has not been taught to be a good needle-wo. A lady is not a lady to my mind, unless she cat like one; and what is a poor woman fit for, that make and mend her father's or her husband's No, children,” she continued, “attend to an man's words; and depend upon it, that after ing your Prayer-book, and how to read your there is no learning that will be so useful to a thorough knowledge of needlework-nothi make you happier or more useful while you or help you better in times of poverty and di be a greater comfort to you in sickness, or age; for I may say so, who have tried it. many a time have I been too heavy and dul to be able to turn my mind to reading or either of a diverting or serious sort; my did not seem my own,

I could not master let me only sit down to my work, and feel pass rapidly along, at once, without knowi have seemed to feel iny troubles

grow lig myself better able to bear them; and te good thoughts, that would not come with my hands idly folded waiting for th then flock into my mind, till, perhaps, t1 sorrow was turned into a blessing, to be re and looked back upon with thankfulne life long. And now,” she said, “to 11 member my advice, I have thought you. The ladies that attend so agreed to it; and they have settle workers and those who have t: the school shall be chosen out, ai make a shirt all by herself, an best shall each receive a prize

« НазадПродовжити »