This was George’s study. The same zeal for self-improvement, which led him to steal the much coveted arts of reading and writing, amid all the toil and discouragements of his early life, still led him to devote all his leisure time to self-cultivation.
At this present time, he is seated at the table, making notes from a volume of the family library he has been reading.
“Come, George,” says Eliza, “you’ve been gone all day. Do put down that book, and let’s talk, while I’m getting tea,—do.”
And little Eliza seconds the effort, by toddling up to her father, and trying to pull the book out of his hand, and install herself on his knee as a substitute.
“O, you little witch!” says George, yielding, as, in such circumstances, man always must.
“That’s right,” says Eliza, as she begins to cut a loaf of bread. A little older she looks; her form a little fuller; her air more matronly than of yore; but evidently contented and happy as woman need be.
“Harry, my boy, how did you come on in that sum, today?” says George, as he laid his land on his son’s head.
Harry has lost his long curls; but he can never lose those eyes and eyelashes, and that fine, bold brow, that flushes with triumph, as he answers, “I did it, every bit of it, myself, father; and nobody helped me!”
“That’s right,” says his father; “depend on yourself, my son. You have a better chance than ever your poor father had.”
At this moment, there is a rap at the door; and Eliza goes and opens it. The delighted—“Why! this you?”—calls up her husband; and the good pastor of Amherstberg is welcomed. There are two more women with him, and Eliza asks them to sit down.
Now, if the truth must be told, the honest pastor had arranged a little programme, according to which this affair was to develop itself; and, on the way up, all had very cautiously and prudently exhorted each other not to let things out, except according to previous arrangement.
What was the good man’s consternation, therefore, just as he had motioned to the ladies to be seated, and was taking out his pocket-handkerchief to wipe his mouth, so as to proceed to his introductory speech in good order, when Madame de Thoux upset the whole plan, by throwing her arms around George’s neck, and letting all out at once, by saying, “O, George! don’t you know me? I’m your sister Emily.”
Cassy had seated herself more composedly, and would have carried on her part very well, had not little Eliza suddenly appeared before her in exact shape and form, every outline and curl, just as her daughter was when she saw her last. The little thing peered up in her face; and Cassy caught her up in her arms, pressed her to her bosom, saying, what, at the moment she really believed, “Darling, I’m your mother!”
In fact, it was a troublesome matter to do up exactly in proper order; but the good pastor, at last, succeeded in getting everybody quiet, and delivering the speech with which he had intended to open the exercises; and in which, at last, he succeeded so well, that his whole audience were sobbing about him in a manner that ought to satisfy any orator, ancient or modern.