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- Lady Mary and her Nurse - 22/22 -
loaded with blossoms; see, they are quite bowed down with the weight of all these flowers."
"These small shrubby asters grow on dry gravelly banks of lakes and rivers."
"But here are some large dark purple ones."
"These are also asters; they are to be found on dry wastes, in stony barren fields, by the corners of rail-fences; they form large spreading bushes, and look very lovely, covered with their large dark purple flowers. There is no waste so wild, my lady, but the hand of the Most High can plant it with some blossom, and make the waste and desert place flourish like a garden. Here are others, still brighter and larger, with yellow disks, and sky-blue flowers; these grow by still waters, near milldams and swampy places. Though they are larger and gayer, I do not think they will please you so well as the small ones that I first showed you; they do not fade so fast, and that is one good quality they have."
"They are more like the china asters in the garden, nurse, only more upright and stiff; but here is another sweet blue flower--can you tell me its name?"
"No, my dear, you must ask your governess."
Lady Mary carried the nosegay to Miss Campbell, who told her the blue flower was called the Fringed Gentian, and that the gentians and asters bloomed the latest of all the autumn flowers in Canada. Among these wild flowers, she also showed her the large dark blue bell flowered gentian, which was indeed the last flower of the year."
"Are there no more flowers in bloom now, nurse?" asked the child, as she watched Mrs. Frazer arranging them for her in a flower-glass.
"I do not know of any now in bloom but the golden rods and the latest of the ever-listings. Rosette shall go out, and try to get some of them for you. The French children make little mats and garlands of them to ornament their houses, and to hang on the little crosses above the graves of their friends, because they do not fade away like other flowers."
Next day, Rosette, the little nursery-maid, brought Lady Mary an Indian basket full of Sweet-scented everlastings. This flower had a fragrant smell; the leaves were less downy than some of the earlier sorts, but were covered with a resinous gum, that caused it to stick to the fingers; it looked quite silky, from the thistledown, which, falling upon the leaves, were gummed down to the surface.
"The country folks," said Mrs. Frazer, "call this plant Neglected everlasting, because it grows on dry wastes by road-sides, among thistles and fireweed; but I love it for its sweetness; it is like a true friend-- it never changes. See, my dear, how shining its straw-coloured blossoms and buds are, just like satin flowers."
"Nurse, it shall be my own flower," said the little girl, "and I will make a pretty garland of it, to hang over my own dear mamma's picture. Rosette says she will show me how to tie the flowers together; she has made me a pretty wreath for my doll's straw hat, and she means to make her a mat and a carpet too."
The little maid promised to bring her young lady some wreaths of the festoon pine; a low-creeping plant, with dry, green chaffy leaves, that grows in the barren pine woods, of which the Canadians make Christmas garlands, and also some of the winter berries, and spice berries, which look so gay in the fall and early spring, with berries of brightest scarlet, and shining dark green leaves, that trail over the ground on the gravelly hills and plains.
Nurse Frazer brought Lady Mary some sweetmeats, flavored with an extract of the spicy winter green, from the confectioner's shop; the Canadians being very fond of the flavor of this plant. The Indians chew the leaves, and eat the ripe mealy berries, which have something of the taste of the bay-laurel leaves. The Indian men smoke the leaves as tobacco.
One day, while Mrs. Frazer was at work in the nursery, her little charge came to her in a great state of agitation--her cheeks were flushed, and her eyes were dancing with joy; she threw herself into her arms, and said, "Oh! dear nurse, I am going home to dear old England and Scotland. Papa and mamma are going away from Government House, and I am to return to the old country with them; I am so glad, are not you?"
But the tears gathered in Mrs. Frazer's eyes and fell fast upon the work she held in her hand. Lady Mary looked surprised, when she saw how her kind nurse was weeping.
"Nurse, you are to go too; mamma says so; now you need not cry, for you are not going to leave me."
"I cannot go with you, my dearest child," whispered her weeping attendant, "much as I love you; for I have a dear son of my own. I have but him, and it would break my heart to part from him;" and she softly put aside the bright curls from Lady Mary's fair forehead, and tenderly kissed her. "This child is all I have in the world to love me, and when his father, my own kind husband, died, he vowed to take care of me, and cherish me in my old age, and I promised that I would never leave him; so I cannot go away from Canada with you, my lady, though I dearly love you."
"Then, Mrs. Frazer, I shall be sorry to leave Canada; for when I go home, I shall have no one to talk to me about beavers, and squirrels, and Indians, and flowers, and birds."
"Indeed, my lady, you will not want for amusement there, for England and Scotland are finer places than Canada. Your good governess and jour new nurse will be able to tell you many things that will delight you; and you will not quite forget your poor old nurse, I am sure, when you think about the time you have spent in this country."
"Ah, dear good old nurse, I will not forget you," said Lady Mary, springing into her nurse's lap, and fondly caressing her, while big bright tears fell from her eyes.
There was so much to do, and so much to think about before the Governor's departure, that Lady Mary had no time to hear any more stories, nor to ask any more questions about the natural history of Canada; though, doubtless, there were many other curious things that Mrs. Frazer could have related; for she was a person of good education, who had seen and noticed as well as read a great deal. She had not always been a poor woman, but had once been a respectable farmer's wife, though her husband's death had reduced her to a state of servitude; and she had earned money enough while in the Governor's service to educate her son, and this was how she came to be Lady Mary's nurse.
Lady Mary did not forget to have all her Indian curiosities packed up with some dried plants and flower seeds, collected by her governess; but she left the cage, with her flying squirrel, to Mrs. Frazer, to take care of till the following spring, when she told her to take it to the mountain, or St. Helen's Island, and let it go free, that it might be a happy squirrel once more, and bound away among the green trees in the Canadian woods.
When Mrs. Frazer was called in to take leave of the Governor and his lady, after receiving a handsome salary for her care and attendance on their little daughter, the Governor gave her a sealed parchment, which, when she opened, was found to contain a Government deed for a fine lot of land, in a fertile township in Upper Canada.
It was with many tears and blessings that Mrs. Frazer took leave of the good Governor's family; and, above all, of her beloved charge, Lady Mary.
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