When my father came home, we were walking in a garden at the back of our house, and I was shewing her mamma’s geraniums, and telling her what pretty flowers they had when mamma was alive.
My father was astonished; and he said, “Is this the sullen Elinor? what has worked this miracle?” “Ask no questions,” she replied, “or you will disturb our new-born friendship. Elinor has promised to love me, and she says too that she will call me ‘mamma.’” “Yes, I will, mamma, mamma, mamma,” I replied, and hung about her with the greatest fondness.
After this she used to pass great part of the mornings with me in my mother’s room, which was now made the repository of all my playthings, and also my school-room. Here my new mamma taught me to read. I was a sad little dunce, and scarcely knew my letters; my own mamma had often said, when she got better she would hear me read every day, but as she never got better it was not her fault. I now began to learn very fast, for when I said my lesson well, I was always rewarded with some pretty story of my mother’s childhood; and these stories generally contained some little hints that were instructive to me, and which I greatly stood in want of; for, between improper indulgence and neglect, I had many faulty ways.
In this kind manner my mother-in-law has instructed and improved me, and I love her because she was my mother’s friend when they were young. She has been my only instructress, for I never went to school till I came here. She would have continued to teach me, but she has not time, for she has a little baby of her own now, and that is the reason I came to school.
(By Mary Lamb)
My father has been dead near three years. Soon after his death, my mother being left in reduced circumstances, she was induced to accept the offer of Mrs. Beresford, an elderly lady of large fortune, to live in her house as her companion, and the superintendent of her family. This lady was my godmother, and as I was my mother’s only child, she very kindly permitted her to have me with her.
Mrs. Beresford lived in a large old family mansion; she kept no company, and never moved except from the breakfast-parlour to the eating-room, and from thence to the drawing-room to tea.
Every morning when she first saw me, she used to nod her head very kindly, and say, “How do you do, little Margaret?” But I do not recollect she ever spoke to me during the remainder of the day; except indeed after I had read the psalms and the chapters, which was my daily task; then she used constantly to observe, that I improved in my reading, and frequently added, “I never heard a child read so distinctly.” She had been remarkably fond of needle-work, and her conversation with my mother was generally the history of some pieces of work she had formerly done; the dates when they were begun, and when finished; what had retarded their progress, and what had hastened their completion. If occasionally any other events were spoken of, she had no other chronology to reckon by, than in the recollection of what carpet, what sofa-cover, what set of chairs, were in the frame at that time.