“And I’ve done nothing but make water-gruel and chop rusks for it,” quoth Miss Nicky, “and yet it is never satisfied; I wonder what it would be at.”
“I know perfectly well what it would be at,” said Miss Jacky, with an air of importance. “All this crying and screaming is for nothing else but a nurse; but it ought not to be indulged. There is no end of indulging the desires, and ’tis amazing how cunning children are, and how soon they know how to take advantage of people’s weakness,” glancing an eye of fire at Mrs. Douglas. “Were that my child, I would feed her on bread and water before I would humour her fancies. A pretty lesson, indeed! if she’s to have her own way before she’s a month old.”
Mrs. Douglas knew that it was in vain to attempt arguing with her aunts. She therefore allowed them to wonder and declaim over their sucking pots, colic powders, and other instruments of torture, while she sent to the wife of one of her tenants who had lately lain-in, and who wished for the situation of nurse, appointing her to be at Lochmarlie the following day. Having made her arrangements, and collected the scanty portion of clothing Mrs. Nurse chose to allow, Mrs. Douglas repaired to her sister-in-law’s apartment, with her little charge in her arms. She found her still in bed, and surrounded with her favourites.
“So you really are going to torment yourself with that little screech-owl?” said she. “Well, I must say it’s very good of you; but I am afraid you will soon tire of her. Children are such plagues! Are they not, my darling?” added she, kissing her pug.
“You will not say so when you have seen my little girl a month hence,” said Mrs. Douglas, trying to conceal her disgust for Henry’s sake, who had just then entered the room. “She has promised me never to cry any more; so give her a kiss, and let us be gone.”
The high-bred mother slightly touched the cheek of her sleeping babe, extended her finger to her sister-in-law, and carelessly bidding them good-bye, returned to her pillow and her pugs.
Henry accompanied Mrs. Douglas to the carriage, and before they parted he promised his brother to ride over to Lochmarlie in a few days. He said nothing of his child, but his glistening eye and the warm pressure of his hand spoke volumes to the kind heart of his brother, who assured him that Alicia would be very good to his little girl, and that he was sure she would get quite well when she got a nurse. The carriage drove off, and Henry, with a heavy spirit, returned to the house to listen to his father’s lectures, his aunts’ ejaculations, and his wife’s murmurs.
“We may boldly spend upon the hope of what Is to come in.”