When Mrs. Marvyn began to amend, Mary returned to the home cottage, and resumed the details of her industrious and quiet life.

Between her and her two best friends had fallen a curtain of silence. The subject that filled all her thoughts could not be named between them. The Doctor often looked at her pale cheeks and drooping form with a face of honest sorrow, and heaved deep sighs as she passed; but he did not find any power within himself by which he could approach her. When he would speak, and she turned her sad, patient eyes so gently on him, the words went back again to his heart, and there, taking a second thought, spread upward wing in prayer.

Mrs. Scudder sometimes came to her room after she was gone to bed, and found her weeping; and when gently she urged her to sleep, she would wipe her eyes so patiently and turn her head with such obedient sweetness, that her mother’s heart utterly failed her. For hours Mary sat in her room with James’s last letter spread out before her. How anxiously had she studied every word and phrase in it, weighing them to see if the hope of eternal life were in them! How she dwelt on those last promises! Had he kept them? Ah! to die without one word more! Would no angel tell her?—would not the loving God, who knew all, just whisper one word? He must have read the little Bible! What had he thought? What did he feel in that awful hour when he felt himself drifting on to that fearful eternity? Perhaps he had been regenerated,—perhaps there had been a sudden change;—who knows?—she had read of such things;—perhaps——Ah, in that perhaps lies a world of anguish! Love will not hear of it. Love dies for certainty. Against an uncertainty who can brace the soul? We put all our forces of faith and prayer against it, and it goes down just as a buoy sinks in the water, and the next moment it is up again. The soul fatigues itself with efforts which come and go in waves; and when with laborious care she has adjusted all things in the light of hope, back flows the tide, and sweeps all away. In such struggles life spends itself fast; an inward wound does not carry one deathward more surely than this worst wound of the soul. God has made us so mercifully that there is no certainty, however dreadful, to which life-forces do not in time adjust themselves,—but to uncertainty there is no possible adjustment. Where is he? Oh, question of questions!—question which we suppress, but which a power of infinite force still urges on the soul, who feels a part of herself torn away.

Mary sat at her window in evening hours, and watched the slanting sunbeams through the green blades of grass, and thought one year ago he stood there, with his well-knit, manly form, his bright eye, his buoyant hope, his victorious mastery of life! And where was he now? Was his heart as sick, longing for her, as hers for him? Was he looking back to earth and its joys with pangs of unutterable regret? or had a divine power interpenetrated his soul, and lighted there the flame of a celestial love which bore him far above earth? If he were among the lost, in what age of eternity could she ever be blessed? Could Christ be happy, if those who were one with Him were sinful and accursed? and could Christ’s own loved ones be happy, when those with whom they have exchanged being, in whom they live and feel, are as wandering stars, for whom is reserved the mist of darkness for ever? She had been taught that the agonies of the lost would be for ever in sight of the saints, without abating in the least their eternal joys; nay, that they would find in it increasing motives to praise and adoration. Could it be so? Would the last act of the great Bridegroom of the Church be to strike from the heart of his purified Bride those yearnings of self-devoting love which His whole example had taught her, and in which she reflected, as in a glass, His own nature? If not, is there not some provision by which those roots of deathless love which Christ’s betrothed ones strike into other hearts shall have a divine, redeeming power? Question vital as life-blood to ten thousand hearts,—fathers, mothers, wives, husbands,—to all who feel the infinite sacredness of love!

After the first interview with Mrs. Marvyn, the subject which had so agitated them was not renewed. She had risen at last from her sick-bed, as thin and shadowy as a faded moon after sunrise. Candace often shook her head mournfully, as her eyes followed her about her daily tasks. Once only, with Mary, she alluded to the conversation which had passed between them;—it was one day when they were together, spinning, in the north upper room that looked out upon the sea. It was a glorious day. A ship was coming in under full sail, with white gleaming wings. Mrs. Marvyn watched it a few moments,—the gay creature, so full of exultant life,—and then smothered down an inward groan, and Mary thought she heard her saying, ‘Thy will be done!’

‘Mary,’ she said, gently, ‘I hope you will forget all I said to you that dreadful day. It had to be said, or I should have died. Mary, I begin to think that it is not best to stretch our minds with reasonings where we are so limited, where we can know so little. I am quite sure there must be dreadful mistakes somewhere.

‘It seems to me irreverent and shocking that a child should oppose a father, or a creature its Creator. I never should have done it, only that, where direct questions are presented to the judgment, one cannot help judging. If one is required to praise a being as just and good, one must judge of his actions by some standard of right,—and we have no standard but such as our Creator has placed in us. I have been told it was my duty to attend to these subjects, and I have tried to,—and the result has been that the facts presented seem wholly irreconcilable with any notions of justice or mercy that I am able to form. If these be the facts, I can only say that my nature is made entirely opposed to them. If I followed the standard of right they present, and acted according to my small mortal powers on the same principles, I should be a very bad person. Any father, who should make such use of power over his children as they say the Deity does with regard to us, would be looked upon as a monster by our very imperfect moral sense. Yet I cannot say that the facts are not so. When I heard the Doctor’s sermons on “Sin a Necessary Means of the Greatest Good,” I could not extricate myself from the reasoning.

‘I have thought, in desperate moments, of giving up the Bible itself. But what do I gain? Do I not see the same difficulty in Nature? I see everywhere a Being whose main ends seem to be beneficent, but whose good purposes are worked out at terrible expense of suffering, and apparently by the total sacrifice of myriads of sensitive creatures. I see unflinching order, general good-will, but no sympathy, no mercy. Storms, earthquakes, volcanoes, sickness, death, go on without regarding us. Everywhere I see the most hopeless, unrelieved suffering,—and for aught I see, it may be eternal. Immortality is a dreadful chance, and I would rather never have been.—The Doctor’s dreadful system is, I confess, much like the laws of Nature, about what one may reason out from them.

‘There is but just one thing remaining, and that is, as Candace said, the cross of Christ. If God so loved us,—if He died for us,—greater love hath no man than this. It seems to me that love is shown here in the two highest forms possible to our comprehension. We see a Being who gives himself for us,—and more than that, harder than that, a Being who consents to the suffering of a dearer than self. Mary, I feel that I must love more, to give up one of my children to suffer, than to consent to suffer myself. There is a world of comfort to me in the words, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” These words speak to my heart. I can interpret them by my own nature, and I rest on them. If there is a fathomless mystery of sin and sorrow, there is a deeper mystery of God’s love. So, Mary, I try Candace’s way,—I look at Christ,—I pray to Him. If he that hath seen Him hath seen the Father, it is enough. I rest there,—I wait. What I know not now I shall know hereafter.’

Mary kept all things and pondered them in her heart. She could speak to no one,—not to her mother, nor to her spiritual guide, for had she not passed to a region beyond theirs? As well might those on the hither side of mortality instruct the souls gone beyond the veil as souls outside a great affliction guide those who are struggling in it. That is a mighty baptism, and only Christ can go down with us into those waters.

Mrs. Scudder and the Doctor only marked that she was more than ever conscientious in every duty, and that she brought to life’s daily realities something of the calmness and disengagedness of one whose soul has been wrenched by a mighty shock from all moorings here below. Hopes did not excite, fears did not alarm her; life had no force strong enough to awaken a thrill within; and the only subjects on which she ever spoke with any degree of ardour were religious subjects.

One who should have seen moving about the daily ministrations of the cottage a pale girl, whose steps were firm, whose eye was calm, whose hands were ever busy, would scarce imagine that through that silent heart were passing tides of thought that measured a universe; but it was even so. Through that one gap of sorrow flowed in the whole awful mystery of existence, and silently, as she spun and sewed, she thought over and over again all that she had ever been taught, and compared and revolved it by the light of a dawning inward revelation.

Sorrow is the great birth-agony of immortal powers; sorrow is the great searcher and revealer of hearts, the great test of truth; for Plato has wisely said, sorrow will not endure sophisms; all shams and unrealities melt in the fire of that awful furnace. Sorrow reveals forces in ourselves we never dreamed of. The soul, a bound and sleeping prisoner, hears her knock on her cell-door, and wakens. Oh, how narrow the walls! oh, how close and dark the grated window! how the long useless wings beat against the impassable barriers! Where are we? What is this prison? What is beyond? Oh for more air, more light! When will the door be opened? The soul seems to itself to widen and to deepen; it trembles at its own dreadful forces; it gathers up in waves that break with wailing, only to flow back into the everlasting void. The calmest and most centred natures are sometimes thrown by the shock of a great sorrow into a tumultuous amazement. All things are changed. The earth no longer seems solid, the skies no longer secure; a deep abyss seems underlying every joyous scene of life. The soul, struck with this awful inspiration, is a mournful Cassandra; she sees blood on every threshold, and shudders in the midst of mirth and festival with the weight of a terrible wisdom.

Who shall dare be glad any more, that has once seen the frail foundations on which love and joy are built? Our brighter hours, have they only been weaving a network of agonizing remembrances for this day of bereavement? The heart is pierced with every past joy, with every hope of its ignorant prosperity. Behind every scale in music, the gayest and cheeriest, the grandest, the most triumphant, lies its dark relative minor; the notes are the same, but the change of a semitone changes all to gloom; all our gayest hours are tunes that have a modulation into these dreary keys ever possible; at any moment the key-note may be struck.

The firmest, best-prepared natures are often beside themselves with astonishment and dismay, when they are called to this dread initiation. They thought it a very happy world before,—a glorious universe. Now it is darkened with the shadow of insoluble mysteries. Why this everlasting tramp of inevitable laws on quivering life? If the wheels must roll, why must the crushed be so living and sensitive?

And yet sorrow is god-like, sorrow is grand and great, sorrow is wise and far-seeing. Our own instinctive valuations, the intense sympathy which we give to the tragedy which God has inwoven into the laws of Nature, show us that it is with no slavish dread, no cowardly shrinking, that we should approach her divine mysteries. What are the natures that cannot suffer? Who values them? From the fat oyster, over which the silver tide rises and falls without one pulse upon its fleshy ear, to the hero who stands with quivering nerve parting with wife and child and home for country and God, all the way up is an ascending scale, marked by increasing power to suffer; and when we look to the Head of all being, up through principalities and powers and princedoms, with dazzling orders and celestial blazonry, to behold by what emblem the Infinite Sovereign chooses to reveal himself, we behold, in the midst of the throne, ‘a lamb as it had been slain.’

Sorrow is divine. Sorrow is reigning on the throne of the universe, and the crown of all crowns has been one of thorns. There have been many books that treat of the mystery of sorrow, but only one that bids us glory in tribulation, and count it all joy when we fall into divers afflictions, that so we may be associated with that great fellowship of suffering of which the Incarnate God is the head, and through which He is carrying a redemptive conflict to a glorious victory over evil. If we suffer with Him, we shall also reign with Him.

Even in the very making up of our physical nature, God puts suggestions of such a result. ‘Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.’ There are victorious powers in our nature which are all the while working for us in our deepest pain. It is said, that after the sufferings of the rack, there ensues a period in which the simple repose from torture produces a beatific trance; it is the reaction of Nature, asserting the benignant intentions of her Creator. So, after great mental conflicts and agonies must come a reaction, and the Divine Spirit, co-working with our spirit, seizes the favourable moment, and, interpenetrating natural laws with a celestial vitality, carries up the soul to joys beyond the ordinary possibilities of mortality.

It is said that gardeners, sometimes, when they would bring a rose to richer flowering, deprive it for a season of light and moisture. Silent and dark it stands, dropping one fading leaf after another, and seeming to go down patiently to death. But when every leaf is dropped, and the plant stands stripped to the uttermost, a new life is even then working in the buds, from which shall spring a tender foliage and a brighter wealth of flowers. So, often in celestial gardening, every leaf of earthly joy must drop, before a new and divine bloom visits the soul.

Gradually, as months passed away, the floods grew still; the mighty rushes of the inner tide ceased to dash. There came first a delicious calmness, and then a celestial inner clearness, in which the soul seemed to lie quiet as an untroubled ocean, reflecting heaven. Then came the fulness of mysterious communion given to the pure in heart, that advent of the Comforter in the soul, teaching all things and bringing all things to remembrance; and Mary moved in a world transfigured by a celestial radiance. Her face, so long mournfully calm, like some chiselled statue of Patience, now wore a radiance, as when one places a light behind some alabaster screen sculptured with mysterious and holy emblems, and words of strange sweetness broke from her, as if one should hear snatches of music from a door suddenly opened in heaven. Something wise and strong and sacred gave an involuntary impression of awe in her looks and words; it was not the child-like loveliness of early days, looking with dove-like, ignorant eyes on sin and sorrow; but the victorious sweetness of that great multitude who have come out of great tribulation, having washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. In her eyes there was that nameless depth that one sees with awe in the Sistine Madonna; eyes that have measured infinite sorrow and looked through it to an infinite peace.

‘My dear madam,’ said the Doctor to Mrs. Scudder, ‘I cannot but think there must be some uncommonly gracious exercises passing in the mind of your daughter; for I observe, that, though she is not inclined to conversation, she seems to be much in prayer; and I have of late felt the sense of a Divine Presence with her in a most unusual degree. Has she opened her mind to you?’

‘Mary was always a silent girl,’ said Mrs. Scudder, ‘and not given to speaking of her own feelings; indeed, until she gave you an account of her spiritual state, on joining the church, I never knew what her exercises were. Hers is a most singular case. I never knew the time when she did not seem to love God more than anything else. It has disturbed me sometimes, because I did not know but it might be mere natural sensibility, instead of gracious affection.’

‘Do not disturb yourself, madam,’ said the Doctor. ‘The Spirit worketh when, where, and how He will; and, undoubtedly, there have been cases where His operations commence exceedingly early. Mr. Edwards relates a case of a young person who experienced a marked conversion when three years of age, and Jeremiah was called from the womb. (Jeremiah i. 5.) In all cases we must test the quality of the evidence without relation to the time of its commencement. I do not generally lay much stress on our impressions, which are often uncertain and delusive; yet I have had an impression that the Lord would be pleased to make some singular manifestations of His grace through this young person. In the economy of grace there is neither male nor female; and Peter says (Acts ii. 17) that the Spirit of the Lord shall be poured out, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy. Yet, if we consider that the Son of God, as to His human nature, was made of a woman, it leads us to see that in matters of grace God sets a special value on woman’s nature and designs to put special honour upon it. Accordingly there have been in the Church, in all ages, holy women who have received the Spirit, and been called to a ministration in the things of God—such as Deborah, Huldah, and Anna the prophetess. In our own days most uncommon manifestations of divine grace have been given to holy women. It was my privilege to be in the family of President Edwards at a time when Northampton was specially visited, and his wife seemed and spoke more like a glorified spirit than a mortal woman, and multitudes flocked to the house to hear her wonderful words. She seemed to have such a sense of the Divine love as was almost beyond the powers of nature to endure. Just to speak the words, “Our Father who art in heaven,” would overcome her with such a manifestation that she would become cold and almost faint; and though she uttered much, yet she told us that the divinest things she saw could not be spoken. These things could not be fanaticism, for she was a person of a singular evenness of nature, and of great skill and discretion in temporal matters, and of an exceeding humility, sweetness, and quietness of disposition.’

‘I have observed of late,’ said Mrs. Scudder, ‘that in our praying circles Mary seemed much carried out of herself, and often as if she would speak, and with difficulty holding herself back. I have not urged her, because I thought it best to wait till she should feel full liberty.’

‘Therein you do rightly, madam,’ said the Doctor, ‘but I am persuaded you will hear from her yet.’

It came at length, the hour of utterance. And one day, in a praying circle of the women of the church, all were startled by the clear silver tones of one who sat among them and spoke with the unconscious simplicity of an angel child, calling God her Father, and speaking of an ineffable union in Christ, binding all things together in one, and making all complete in Him. She spoke of a love passing knowledge—passing all love of lovers or of mothers—a love for ever spending, yet never spent—a love ever pierced and bleeding, yet ever constant and triumphant, rejoicing with infinite joy to bear in its own body the sins and sorrows of a universe—conquering, victorious love, rejoicing to endure, panting to give, and offering its whole self with an infinite joyfulness for our salvation. And when, kneeling, she poured out her soul in prayer, her words seemed so many winged angels, musical with unearthly harpings of an untold blessedness. They who heard her had the sensation of rising in the air, of feeling a celestial light and warmth descending into their souls; and when, rising, she stood silent and with downcast drooping eyelids, there were tears in all eyes, and a hush in all movements as she passed, as if something celestial were passing out.

Miss Prissy came rushing homeward, to hold a private congratulatory talk with the Doctor and Mrs. Scudder, while Mary was tranquilly setting the tea-table and cutting bread for supper.

‘To see her now, certainly,’ said Miss Prissy, ‘moving round so thoughtful, not forgetting anything, and doing everything so calm, you wouldn’t ’a’ thought it could be her that spoke those blessed words and made that prayer! Well, certainly, that prayer seemed to take us all right up and put us down in heaven; and when I opened my eyes, and saw the roses and asparagus-bushes on the manteltree-piece, I had to ask myself, “Where have I been?” Oh! Miss Scudder, her afflictions have been sanctified to her! And really, when I see her going on so, I feel she can’t be long for us. They say dying grace is for dying hours; and I’m sure this seems more like dying grace than anything that I ever yet saw.’

‘She is a precious gift,’ said the Doctor; ‘let us thank the Lord for His grace through her. She has evidently had a manifestation of the Beloved, and feedeth among the lilies (Canticles vi. 3); and we will not question the Lord’s further dispensations concerning her.’

‘Certainly,’ said Miss Prissy, briskly, ‘it’s never best to borrow trouble; “sufficient unto the day” is enough, to be sure. And now, Miss Scudder, I thought I’d just take a look at that dove-coloured silk of yours to-night, to see what would have to be done with it, because I must make every minute tell, and you know I lose half a day every week for the prayer-meeting. Though I ought not to say I lose it, either, for I was telling Miss General Wilcox I wouldn’t give up that meeting for bags and bags of gold. She wanted me to come and sew for her one Wednesday, and says I, “Miss Wilcox, I’m poor and have to live by my work, but I a’n’t so poor but what I have some comforts, and I can’t give up my prayer-meeting for any money—for you see, if one gets a little lift there, it makes all the work go lighter, but then I have to be particular to save up every scrap and end of time.”’

Mrs. Scudder and Miss Prissy crossed the kitchen and entered the bedroom, and soon had the dove-coloured silk under consideration.

‘Well, Miss Scudder,’ said Miss Prissy, after mature investigation, ‘here’s a broad hem, not cut at all on the edge, as I see, and that might be turned down, and so cut off the worn spot up by the waist, and then, if it is turned, it will look every bit and grain as well as a new silk. I’ll sit right down now and go to ripping. I put my ripping-knife into my pocket when I put on this dress to go to prayer-meeting, because, says I to myself, there’ll be something to do at Miss Scudder’s to-night. You just get an iron to the fire, and we’ll have it all ripped and pressed out before dark.’

Miss Prissy seated herself at the open window, as cheery as a fresh apple-blossom, and began busily plying her knife, looking at the garment she was ripping with an astute air, as if she were about to circumvent it into being a new dress by some surprising act of legerdemain. Mrs. Scudder walked to the looking-glass and began changing her bonnet-cap for a tea-table one.

Miss Prissy, after a while, commenced in a mysterious tone:

‘Miss Scudder, I know folks like me shouldn’t have their eyes open too wide, but then I can’t help noticing some things. Did you see the Doctor’s face when we was talking to him about Mary? Why, he coloured all up and the tears came into his eyes. It’s my belief that that blessed man worships the ground she treads on. I don’t mean worships, either, ’cause that would be wicked, and he’s too good a man to make a graven image of anything; but it’s clear to see that there a’n’t anybody in the world like Mary to him. I always did think so, but I used to think Mary was such a little poppet—that she’d do better for——Well, you know, I thought about some younger man—but, laws, now I see how she rises up to be ahead of everybody, and is so kind of solemn-like. I can’t but see the leadings of Providence. What a minister’s wife she’d be, Miss Scudder! Why, all the ladies coming out of prayer-meeting were speaking of it. You see, they want the Doctor to get married: it seems more comfortable-like to have ministers married; one feels more free to open their exercises of mind; and, as Miss Deacon Twitchel said to me—“If the Lord had made a woman o’ purpose, as he did for Adam, he wouldn’t have made her a bit different from Mary Scudder.” Why, the oldest of us would follow her lead, ’cause she goes before us without knowing it.’

‘I feel that the Lord has greatly blessed me in such a child,’ said Mrs. Scudder, ‘and I feel disposed to wait the leadings of Providence.’

‘Just exactly,’ said Miss Prissy, giving a shake to her silk; ‘and as Miss Twitchel said, in this case every providence seems to p’int. I felt dreadfully for her along six months back; but now I see how she’s been brought out, I begin to see that things are for the best, perhaps, after all. I can’t help feeling that Jim Marvyn is gone to heaven, poor fellow! His father is a deacon,—and such a good man!—and Jim, though he did make a great laugh wherever he went, and sometimes laughed where he hadn’t ought to, was a noble-hearted fellow. Now, to be sure, as the Doctor says, “amiable instincts a’n’t true holiness;” but then they are better than unamiable ones, like Simeon Brown’s. I do think, if that man is a Christian, he is a dreadful ugly one; he snapped me short up about my change, when he settled with me last Tuesday; and if I hadn’t felt that it was a sinful rising, I should have told him I’d never put foot in his house again; I’m glad, for my part, he’s gone out of our church. Now Jim Marvyn was like a prince to poor people; and I remember once his mother told him to settle with me, and he gave me ’most double, and wouldn’t let me make change. “Confound it all, Miss Prissy,” says he, “I wouldn’t stitch as you do from morning to night for double that money.” Now I know we can’t do anything to recommend ourselves to the Lord, but then I can’t help feeling some sorts of folks must be by nature more pleasing to Him than others. David was a man after God’s own heart, and he was a generous, whole-souled fellow, like Jim Marvyn, though he did get carried away by his spirits sometimes and do wrong things; and so I hope the Lord saw fit to make Jim one of the elect. We don’t ever know what God’s grace has done for folks. I think a great many are converted when we know nothing about it, as Miss Twitchel told poor old Miss Tyrrel, who was mourning about her son, a dreadful wild boy, who was killed falling from mast-head; she says, that from the mast-head to the deck was time enough for divine grace to do the work.’

‘I have always had a trembling hope for poor James,’ said Mrs. Scudder,—‘not on account of any of his good deeds or amiable traits, because election is without foresight of any good works,—but I felt he was a child of the covenant, at least by the father’s side, and I hope the Lord has heard his prayer. These are dark providences; the world is full of them; and all we can do is to have faith that the Lord will bring infinite good out of finite evil, and make everything better than if the evil had not happened. That’s what our good Doctor is always repeating; and we must try to rejoice, in view of the happiness of the universe, without considering whether we or our friends are to be included in it or not.’

‘Well, dear me!’ said Miss Prissy, ‘I hope, if that is necessary, it will please the Lord to give it to me; for I don’t seem to find any power in me to get up to it. But all’s for the best, at any rate,—and that’s a comfort.’

Just at this moment Mary’s clear voice at the door announced that tea was on the table.

‘Coming, this very minute,’ said Miss Prissy, bustling up and pulling off her spectacles. Then, running across the room, she shut the door mysteriously, and turned to Mrs. Scudder with the air of an impending secret. Miss Prissy was subject to sudden impulses of confidence, in which she was so very cautious that not the thickest oak-plank door seemed secure enough, and her voice dropped to its lowest key. The most important and critical words were entirely omitted, or supplied by a knowing wink and a slight stamp of the foot.

In this mood she now approached Mrs. Scudder, and, holding up her hand on the door side, to prevent consequences, if, after all, she should be betrayed into a loud word, she said, ‘I thought I’d just say, Miss Scudder, that, in case Mary should —— the Doctor,—in case, you know, there should be a —— in the house, you must just contrive it so as to give me a month’s notice, so that I could give you a whole fortnight to fix her up as such a good man’s —— ought to be. Now I know how spiritually-minded our blessed Doctor is; but, bless you, Ma’am, he’s got eyes. I tell you, Miss Scudder, these men, the best of ’em, feel what’s what, though they don’t know much. I saw the Doctor look at Mary that night I dressed her for the wedding-party. I tell you he’d like to have his wife look pretty well, and he’ll get up some blessed text or other about it, just as he did that night about being brought unto the king in raiment of needle-work. That is an encouraging thought to us sewing-women.

‘But this thing was spoken of after the meeting. Miss Twitchel and Miss Jones were talking about it; and they all say that there would be the best setting-out got for her that was ever seen in Newport, if it should happen. Why, there’s reason in it. She ought to have at least two real good India silks that will stand alone,—and you’ll see she’ll have ’em too; you let me alone for that; and I was thinking, as I lay awake last night, of a new way of making up, that you will say is just the sweetest that ever you did see. And Miss Jones was saying that she hoped there wouldn’t anything happen without her knowing it, because her husband’s sister in Philadelphia has sent her a new receipt for cake, and she has tried it and it came out beautifully, and she says she’ll send some in.’

All the time that this stream was flowing, Mrs. Scudder stood with the properly reserved air of a discreet matron, who leaves all such matters to Providence, and is not supposed unduly to anticipate the future; and, in reply, she warmly pressed Miss Prissy’s hand, and remarked, that no one could tell what a day might bring forth,—and other general observations on the uncertainty of mortal prospects, which form a becoming shield when people do not wish to say more exactly what they are thinking of.

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