I must own that the music had that effect on miss Lesley as to render these lectures less necessary, which I will explain to you; but, first, let me assure you that lady Harriot was by no means in the habit of saying these kind of things. It was almost a solitary instance. I could give you a thousand instances the very reverse of this, in her as well as in sir Edward. How kindly, how frequently, would they remind me, that to me alone it was owing that they ever knew their child! calling the day on which I was a petitioner for the admittance of Ann into the house, the blessed birthday of their generous girl.
Neither dancing, nor any foolish lectures could do much for miss Lesley, she remained wanting in gracefulness of carriage; but all that is usually attributed to dancing, music effected. When she was sitting before the instrument, a resemblance to her mother became apparent to every eye. Her attitudes and the expression of her countenance were the very same. This soon followed her into every thing; all was ease and natural grace; for the music, and with it the idea of lady Harriot, was always in her thoughts. It was a pretty sight to see the daily improvement in her person, even to me, poor envious girl that I was.
Soon after lady Harriot had hurt me by calling my little efforts to improve her daughter trifling, she made me large amends in a very kind and most unreserved conversation that she held with me.
She told me all the struggles she had had at first to feel a maternal tenderness for her daughter; and she frankly confessed that she had now gained so much on her affections, that she feared she had too much neglected the solemn promise she had made me, Never to forget how long she had loved me as her child.
Encouraged by her returning kindness, I owned how much I had suffered, and ventured to express my fears, that I had hardly courage enough to bear the sight of my former friends, under a new designation, as I must now appear to them, on our removal to London, which was expected to take place in a short time.
A few days after this she told me in the gentlest manner possible, that sir Edward and herself were of opinion it would conduce to my happiness to pass a year or two at school.
I knew that this proposal was kindly intended to spare me the mortifications I so much dreaded; therefore I endeavoured to submit to my hard fate with cheerfulness, and prepared myself, not without reluctance, to quit a mansion which had been the scene of so many enjoyments, and latterly of such very different feelings.
(By Mary Lamb)