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- The Children of the New Forest - 40/64 -
other places, and mixing with people of importance, be preparing yourself for your proper station in life, which I trust that one day you will resume? And does it follow, that because you are appointed a secretary, you are not to go out in the forest and shoot a deer with Oswald, if you feel inclined--with this difference, that you may do it then without fear of being insulted or persecuted by such a wretch as that Corbould? Do not hesitate any longer, my dear brother; recollect that our sisters ought not to live this forest life as they advance in years--they were not born for it, although they have so well conformed to it. It depends upon you to release them eventually from their false position; and you can never have such an opening as is now offered you, by one whose gratitude alone will make him anxious to serve you."
"You are right, Humphrey, and I will accept the offer; I can but return to you if things do not go on well."
"I thank you sincerely for your decision, Edward," replied Humphrey. "What a sweet girl that Patience Heatherstone is! I think I never saw such an enchanting smile!"
Edward thought of the smile she gave him when they parted but an hour ago, and agreed with Humphrey, but he replied--
"Why, brother, you are really in love with the intendant's daughter."
"Not so, my dear brother; but I am in love with her goodness and sweetness of disposition, and so are Alice and Edith, I can tell you. She has promised to come over and see them, and bring them flowers for their garden, and I hardly know what; and I am very glad of it, as my sisters have been buried here so long, that they can not but gain by her company now and then. No! I will leave Mistress Heatherstone for you; I am in love with little Clara."
"Not a bad choice, Humphrey: we both aspire high, for two young foresters, do we not? However, they say 'Every dog has his day,' and Cromwell and his Parliament may have theirs. King Charles may be on his throne again now, long before you catch a forest pony, Humphrey."
"I hope he will, Edward; but recollect how you laughed at the idea of my catching a cow--you may be surprised a second time. 'Where there is a will there is a way,' the saying is. But I must go and help Alice with the heifer: she is not very quiet yet, and I see her going out with her pail."
The brothers then parted, and Edward then walked about, turning over in his mind the events of the day, and very often finding his thoughts broken in upon by sudden visions of Patience Heatherstone--and certainly the remembrance of her was to him the most satisfactory and pleasing portion of the prospect in his offered situation.
"I shall live with her, and be continually in her company," thought he. "Well, I would take a less pleasing office if only for that. She requested me to accept it to oblige her, and I will do so. How hasty we are in our conclusions! When I first saw her father, what an aversion I felt for him! Now, the more I know him the more I like him, nay, more--respect him. He said that the king wished to be absolute, and wrest the liberties from his subjects, and that they were justified in opposing him; I never heard that when at Arnwood."
"If so, was it lawful so to do?"
"I think it was, but not to murder him; that I can never admit, nor does the intendant; on the contrary, he holds his murderers in as great detestation as I do. Why, then, we do not think far apart from one another. At the commencement, the two parties were those who supported him, not admitting that he was right, but too loyal to refuse to fight for their king; and those who opposed, hoping to force him to do right; the king for his supposed prerogatives, the people for their liberties. The king was obstinate, the people resolute, until virulent warfare inflamed both parties, and neither would listen to reason; and the people gained the upper hand--they wreaked their vengeance, instead of looking to the dictates of humanity and justice. How easy it had been to have deposed him, and have sent him beyond the seas! instead of which they detained him a prisoner and then murdered him. The punishment was greater than the offense, and dictated by malice and revenge; it was a diabolical act, and will soil the page of our nation's history." So thought Edward, as he paced before the cottage, until he was summoned in by Pablo to their evening meal.
"Edward," said Edith, "scold Pablo; he has been ill-treating my poor cat; he is a cruel boy."
"See, Edward, he's laughing; put him in the pitfall again, and let him stay there till he says he's sorry."
"I very sorry now, Missy Edith--but cat bite me," said Pablo.
"Well, if pussy did, it didn't hurt you much; and what did I tell you this morning out of the Bible?--that you must forgive them who behave ill to you."
"Yes, Missy Edith, you tell me all that, and so I do; I forgive pussy 'cause she bite me, but I kick her for it."
"That's not forgiveness, is it, Edward? You should have forgiven it at once, and not kicked it at all."
"Miss Edith, when pussy bite me, pussy hurt me, make me angry, and I give her a kick; then I think what you tell me, and I do as you tell me. I forgive pussy with all my heart."
"I think you must forgive Pablo, Edith," said Edward, "if it is only to set him a good example."
"Well, I will this time; but if he kicks pussy again he must be put in the pitfall--mind that, Pablo."
"Yes, Missy Edith, I go into pitfall, and then you cry, and ask Master Edward to take me out. When you have me put in pitfall, then you not good Christian, 'cause you not forgive; when you cry and take me out, then you good Christian once more."
By this conversation it will appear to the reader that they had been trying to impress Pablo with the principles of the Christian religion --and such was the case; Edith having been one of the most active in the endeavor, although very young for a missionary. However, Alice and Humphrey had been more successful, and Pablo was now beginning to comprehend what they had attempted to instill, and was really progressing dayly.
Edward remained at the cottage, expecting to bear some message from the intendant. He was right in his conjecture, for, on the third day, Oswald Partridge came over to say that the intendant would be happy to see him, if he could make it convenient to go over; which Edward assented to do on the following day. Oswald had ridden over on a pony; Edward arranged to take Billy and return with him. They started early the next morning, and Edward asked Oswald if he knew why the intendant had sent for him.
"Not exactly," replied Oswald; "but I think, from what I heard Miss Patience say, it is to offer you some situation, if you could be prevailed upon to accept it."
"Very true," replied Edward; "he offers me the post of secretary. What do you think?"
"Why, sir, I think I would accept it; at all events, I would take it on trial--there can be no harm done. If you do not like it, you can only go back to the cottage again. One thing I am sure of, which is, that Master Heatherstone will make it as pleasant to you as he can, for he is most anxious to serve you."
"That I really believe," replied Edward; "and I have pretty well made up my mind to accept the office. It is a post of confidence, and I shall know all that is going on, which I can not do while I am secluded in the forest; and, depend upon it, we shall have stirring news."
"I suppose you think that the king will come over," replied Oswald.
"I feel certain of it, Oswald; and that is the reason why I want to be where I can know all that is going on."
"Well, sir, it is my opinion that the king will come over, as well as yours; yet I think at present he stands but a poor chance; but Master Heatherstone knows more on that score than any one, I should think; but he is very close."
The conversation then changed, and, after a ride of eight hours, they arrived at the intendant's house. Edward gave Billy into Oswald's charge, and knocked at the door. Phoebe let him in, and asked him into the sitting-room, where he found the intendant alone.
"Edward Armitage, I am glad to see you, and shall be still more so if I find that you have made up your mind to accept my proposition. What is your reply?"
"I am very thankful to you for the offer, sir," replied Edward, "and will accept it if you think that I am fitting for it, and if I find that I am equal to it; I can but give it a trial, and leave if I find it too arduous or too irksome."
"Too arduous it shall not be--that shall be my concern; and too irksome I hope you will not find it. My letters are not so many but that I could answer them myself, were it not that my eyes are getting weak, and I wish to save them as much as possible. You will therefore have to write chiefly what I shall dictate; but it is not only for that I require a person that I can confide in. I very often shall send you to London instead of going myself, and to that I presume you will have no objection!"
"Certainly none, sir."
"Well, then, it is no use saying any more just now; you will have a chamber in this house, and you will live with me, and at my table altogether. Neither shall I say any thing just now about remuneration, as I am convinced that you will be satisfied. All that I require now is, to know the day that you will come, that every thing may be ready."
"I suppose, sir, I must change my attire?" replied Edward, looking at his forester's dress; "that will hardly accord with the office of
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