In the morning, the first thought which came into her mind was, that Mary Bell was coming to see her. She anticipated the visit from her former charge with great pleasure. She had had Mary Bell under her charge from early infancy, and she loved her, accordingly, almost as much as if she were her own child. Besides, as Mary Bell had grown up she had become a very attractive and beautiful child, so kind to all, so considerate, so gentle, so active and intelligent, and at the same time so docile, and so quiet, that she was a universal favorite wherever she went. Mary Erskine was full of joy at the idea of having her come and spend several days and nights too, at her house, and she was impatient for the time to arrive when she might begin to expect her. At eight o’clock, she began to go often to the door to look down the road. At nine, she began to feel uneasy. At ten, she put on her hood and went down the road, almost to the corner, to meet her—looking forward intensely all the way, hoping at every turn to see her expected visitor advancing along the path. She went on thus until she came in sight of the corner, without seeing or hearing any thing of Mary Bell; and then she was compelled to return home alone, disappointed and sad. She waited dinner from twelve until one, but no Mary Bell appeared. Mary Erskine then concluded that something had happened to detain her expected visitor at home, and that she might be disappointed of the visit altogether. Still she could not but hope that Mary would come in the course of the afternoon. The hours of the afternoon, however, passed tediously away, and the sun began to decline toward the west; still there was no Mary Bell. The cause of her detention will now be explained.
When Mary Bell came down to breakfast, on the morning after her mother’s visit to Mary Erskine, her mother told her, as she came into the room, that she had an invitation for her to go out to Mary Erskine’s that day.
“And may I go?” asked Mary Bell.
“Yes,” said her mother, “I think I shall let you go.”
“I am so glad!” said Mary Bell, clapping her hands.
“Mary Erskine wishes to have you stay there several days,” continued her mother.
Mary Bell began to look a little sober again. She was not quite sure that she should be willing to be absent from her mother, for so many days.
“Could not I come home every night?” said she.
“Why, she wishes,” answered Mrs. Bell, “to have you stay there all the time, day and night, for several days. It is an opportunity for you to do some good. You could not do Mary Erskine any good by giving her your money, for she has got plenty of money; nor by carrying her any thing good to eat, for her house is full of abundance, and she knows as well how to make good things as any body in town. But you can do her a great deal of good by going and staying with her, and keeping her company. Perhaps you can help her a little, in taking care of the children.”