Once a Week (magazine)/Series 1/Volume 3/The Herberts of Elfdale - Part 2


Author of “Susan Hopley,” “The Night-Side of Nature,” &c., &c.

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(See p. 481.)


It was on the evening of the third day that we arrived at Mr. Carter’s. By him I was received with dry indifference; by his wife with considerate kindness. She had children of her own, and was able to sympathise with the unhappy little urchins who left cheerful homes, tender mothers, and indulgent fathers, and who usually arrived with red eyes and swollen cheeks. But in my case there was no need of her consoling offices, for, barring my shyness and timidity, I had never felt so pleased before. The very excitement of the journey to me, who had not been ten miles from Elfdale in my life, had already done me a great deal of good. It had opened entirely new views of the world, and I began to suspect that it was not altogether such a dreary place as I had hitherto found it. The butler accompanied me, and we travelled by the coaches and mails; and although we met with no adventures, the large towns we passed through, the inns we stopped at, the meals we took in the coffee-rooms, and the variety of travellers we fell in with, kept me constantly astonished and amused, and I wished nothing better than a prolongation ad infinitum of so agreeable a journey. However, on the third day it came to an end; and the butler, having taken his leave, I found myself amongst strangers; but, compared to my grandmother, Mrs. Carter appeared to me an angel of light, and even her husband, though a schoolmaster, had a less disagreeable air and manner than my father. The boys were in the playground, engaged in various sports, and their loud voices and merry laughs, their balls, their tops, their kites, things I had always longed for but never had, would have given me a lively idea of the joys of heaven, had I ever heard of them, which I had not, my grandmother being too eager to impress on my infant mind the pains and penalties I was incurring by my naughtiness, to remember to mention them.

These joyous impressions brightened my countenance, which, from continual rigour, I am sure must have acquired a disagreeable and sullen expression. People do not reflect, when they treat infancy with coldness and severity, that they are not only injuring the character, but that they are impressing the ductile and pliable muscles of the face with an expression that they themselves would be the first to lament in after life. Still the natural consequences of my early experiences remained. I was sullen, cowardly, suspicious, Page:ONCE A WEEK JUL TO DEC 1860.pdf/486 Page:ONCE A WEEK JUL TO DEC 1860.pdf/487 Page:ONCE A WEEK JUL TO DEC 1860.pdf/488 Page:ONCE A WEEK JUL TO DEC 1860.pdf/489 Page:ONCE A WEEK JUL TO DEC 1860.pdf/490 Page:ONCE A WEEK JUL TO DEC 1860.pdf/491