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Cummins, Maria Susanna, 1827-1866 [1857], Mabel Vaughan. By the author of The lamplighter. (John P. Jewett and Company, Boston) [word count] [eaf533].
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To nurse the sickness, to assuage the care,
To charm the sigh into the happier prayer;
Forestall the unuttered wish with ready guess;
Wise in the exquisite tact of tenderness.
New Timon.

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A letter from Mabel to Mrs. Herbert, written about a
year and a half subsequent to her arrival in the West, furnishes,
in her own words, the best index to her mode of life,
and the successive changes which had, within that period,
transpired in the household. It ran as follows:—

“Dear Mrs. Herbert:—Your kind New Year's letter,
with all the pleasant reminiscences, affectionate messages, and
loving inquiries from yourself and the dear girls, was a most
welcome proof of the tender interest with which you have
followed me to my new home, and claims a hearty response;
though before I have answered half your questions, I fear
you will weary of my Western experiences. We have now
passed two winters in our new home, and begin to feel ourselves
old settlers;—the more so, as no less than thirty families
have established themselves in the village since our arrival.
As we are a little on the outskirts of the town, however, we
have no near neighbor, except Mr. Gracie, the clergyman,
who lives across the opposite bit of prairie, and who, with his
daughter, are our most intimate and esteemed friends. I have
frequently spoken of Helen in my letters, so her name and many
points of her disposition and character are no doubt familiar to
you. But you cannot imagine the treasure she has been
to me, ever since the first moment of our acquaintance. Next
to yourself, there is no one to whom I am so much indebted
for the ease and pleasure with which I have been enabled to

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adapt myself to our new circumstances. Care sits so lightly
on her shoulders, and she knows so well how to combine employment
and recreation, that in her society the most important
duties cease to be burdensome, and little mishaps afford
only new occasion for merriment. The children of the rough
backwoodsmen, who are among her father's parishioners, hear
the sound of her horse's feet, and run to meet her the moment
she is in sight, sure of some trifling gift, a story, or a ride on
the pony, which seems to be common property. If she goes
with her basket of medicines to visit the sick, at a distance,
she comes back so laden with flowers, you would think she
had been a Maying; and an old Canadian Indian woman, to
whom she daily reads a chapter in her French Bible, declares
her voice more musical than running water. I have never
seen father so abstracted with the cares of business that he
has not a pleasant word for his fairy nurse, as he calls her,
and no bribe is so effectual with the boys, or inducement
rather (for I, like you, scorn the use of bribes), as the promise
of an evening visit to Helen. As for Harry—but never
mind about Harry—sisters are so suspicious, you know, where
their brothers are concerned.

“I wish you could see Harry, Mrs. Herbert; you would
never recognize in him the youthful dandy who wore such exquisite
straw-colored kid gloves, and boasted such a faultless
necktie. Not that he has grown slovenly—quite the reverse—
but, except under his curls, where his forehead is as white as
ever, his complexion is completely embrowned by the sun; his
figure has become broad and firmly knit, and he lifts me in his
arms as if I was only a feather's weight; while the lassitude of
manner which was always apparent in him, has given place to
the quick, earnest movements of a man with determined motives
in life and an honorable aim. Then too, he is so happy, and
brings such animation into the house whenever he returns home
for a day or two, and I am so proud of him! Dear Mrs. Herbert,
you must come out here sometime or other, and see what
a worthy member of society you have helped, by your influence,
to rear. My boys, too, I consider in some degree objects of

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your training, for they are daily practising the same round of
lessons in which, I now thank you most sincerely for having
me thoroughly drilled. I am their only teacher, except that
Alick studies Greek for an hour every day with Mr. Gracie,
and their improvement is regular and encouraging. Murray
is backward and rather dull at his books, though a very smart
boy at his play. He is a good reader, but has not yet learned
to spell correctly; and he experiences all the distaste I once
had for the Latin Grammar, which he is just commencing; he
has lately made great progress in his Arithmetic, which I
attribute entirely to his uncle Harry's having told him, on his
last visit to us, that he must devote himself especially to Mathematics,
if he ever wished to become an engineer, a vocation on
which he has set his heart. I hope I shall be equally fortunate
in suggesting an impulse which shall influence him in other
pursuits. With Alick I am obliged to adopt quite another
course; the only fear being, that he will injure himself by his
devotion to books. He devours all the reading matter which
comes in his way, and his greediness for knowledge is insatiable.
I am obliged to invent out-of-door employments for him, and
entice him into the open air by every possible means, lest his
health should suffer from too close application. He is a remarkable
child, and the responsibility of his moral and mental
training would alarm me, if I were not blessed with the aid of
our good Mr. Gracie, who is as judicious and lovely in his disposition
as he is wonderful in his attainments. We do, indeed,
enjoy a rare privilege in having such a man for our friend and
pastor. His little church is a fountain of good works, and his
life, as well as his preaching, is a beautiful illustration of the
Christian doctrine. Beside Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, in
which he is a proficient, he is an excellent French and German
scholar, and is so versed in the natural sciences that he is able
to impart a lively interest to all our simple pursuits and
pleasures. You will naturally wonder that the talents of this
gifted man should be restricted to so narrow a sphere; but it
gives added power and beauty to his self-sacrificing labors, that
he left a flourishing church at the Eastward, and came hither

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in a truly missionary spirit. He is the only man in the neighborhood
who is my father's equal in years, and each seems to
find pleasure and benefit in the other's society.

“Of my housekeeping I have already furnished you, in past
letters, with many of the details. I never can be thankful
enough for those lessons in domestic economy which I learned
under your roof, and which, although uncalled for during one
short winter in New York, have been invaluable ever since.
I do not believe that people generally realize how much girls
acquire from observation, and how much of their future skill in
every branch of household matters is due to this sort of unconscious

“Do you remember how perseveringly Em and I used to
watch all your operations in the kitchen on baking days, artfully
suggesting the propriety of your testing the heat of the
oven with a taster, of whose merits, when well baked, we
expected to be the judges? I was reminded of it, and had
reason to thank you for your patience with us, when, on occasion
of my making my first Thanksgiving pies, Helen Gracie
came over to assist me, and declared she knew I must be an
expert in the business, from the manner in which I held the
rolling-pin, buttered the paste, etc., in all which proceedings I
was only the creature of imitation. I still retain Melissa in
my service, thanks to the attractions of James, the farmer, who
seems very slow to comprehend the partiality with which he is
regarded by my handmaiden. James is not what our neighbors
would call a forehanded man, and is blind to his own interests
in more ways than one. He is at liberty to cultivate as much
of my father's land as he pleases, at the halves, and yet he is so
wanting in energy that I can not perceive the slightest extent
in the boundaries of his wheat and corn fields, or in the number
of his flocks and herds, which can be maintained so easily in
this excellent grazing country.

“You refer to my lack of books, periodicals, etc., but in this
respect I enjoy a rare advantage. Harry resides at only ten
miles distance from a beautiful estate, called the Lake Farm,
owned by a gentleman of taste and cultivation, with whose

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venerable mother I have the privilege of claiming a warm
friendship. From them I receive regularly everything that is
new and valuable in English literature; and have also derived
great encouragement in the study of German, which Helen and
I are pursuing together, and for which I contrive to reserve a
little time every day, in spite of my numerous avocations;—for
I have learned the truth of what you used to tell us, dear Mrs.
Herbert, that the more we have to do, the more time we find
to do it in.

“I wish I could close this long letter by giving you favorable
accounts of my father's health, in which you always express
so kind an interest. You would think him greatly changed;
his hair is snowy white, his figure attenuated and bent, and he
suffers from a slight lameness, consequent upon his injuries at
the time of the railroad disaster. If, however, he could be persuaded
to relinquish the cares and anxieties of business, which
I trust may soon be the case, we might still hope to see him
enjoy tranquility and length of days; and for this happy termination
of his arduous life, I never cease to pray. With the
warmest love to Sue, Em, and Charlie, and those of the girls
who were my fellow pupils,

“Ever truly and affectionately yours,
Mabel Vaughan.

About this time Mabel received a communication through
the post-office, which proved the occasion of much thought,
and eventually of decisive action. Upon first perusing it, her
countenance expressed a just and generous indignation, and
this continued to be the prevailing tone of her feelings during
the remainder of the day. The quiet evening hours afforded,
however, an opportunity for meditation, and for holding counsel
with her father, who assented to her suggestions with his usual
air of indifference to all things connected with their present
mode of life, and the next morning gave evidence of the conclusion
to which she had arrived; for, after carefully inspecting
the size and furniture of their best vacant room, taking
an inventory, as it were, of its contents, and of the various

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comforts which that and the house generally afforded, she
seated herself at her little table, and committed her thoughts to

Dear Aunt Sabiah:—thus she wrote—I have been
wandering about the house for the last half hour, asking myself
whether the cottage-roofed chamber above can be made
warm in winter, and cool in summer, whether the stairs are
not too steep for any but youthful feet to climb, whether our
parlor is not too contracted for comfort, and the view from its
windows too strange and dreary to ever wear the look of home;
and I have concluded, in spite of all disadvantages, that, with
love on our side, and the earnest wish to make you happy, you
would be far more comfortable here, than in my aunt Ridgway's
spacious and richly-furnished mansion. I never dared
say this before. I never ventured to breathe the hope I have
long had at heart, for I knew your love of old associations, and
your dislike of change. But your last letter has made me
bold. I cannot bear the thought that you are subjected to
such trials, such hardships, and such absolute indignities, as I
plainly perceive you have lately been made to suffer, when
here you would be independent, appreciated, and beloved. It
is true we have not, as we once had, luxuries to offer, but we
have all the necessaries and most of the comforts of life, and
these, too, in abundance; for our Western lands are so lavish
in their produce, that hospitality with us almost ceases to be a
virtue. Then, too, although my father, as you well know, has
sacrificed everything but this Western property for the payment
of his debts, and is unwilling to dispose of any portion of
the estate at present, Harry is gradually bringing a large part
of it under cultivation, and, if his success continues, the rent
which he insists upon paying, will not only furnish us with
every needed supply, but enable us to lay by something for
the children's education. So, even if your poor hands are dis
abled with the rheumatism, you need not fear that your presence
here will be the burden which you say it is to my aunt
Margaret. On the contrary, we shall hail your coming with

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delight, and shall rejoice to contribute in every way to your
happiness. I have consulted father, who quite agrees with me
in my view of the matter, and will, I am sure, be rejoiced to
welcome you. The boys are improving very much as they
grow older, and now that they have such an ample play-ground,
you will not suffer at all from their noise. Our village shop-keeper
goes to the eastward every spring for the purchase of
goods, and will be a most excellent escort on the journey. You
see I am quite taking it for granted you will come, but it is
because I feel so truly, dear aunt, that your rightful and
natural place is at our hearth-stone, as well as in our hearts;
and because I know you so well that I venture to believe you
will not disappoint the earnest wishes and hopes of

“Your own dear, loving

This cordial invitation, as Mabel had justly anticipated,
resulted in the arrival of Aunt Sabiah, who, so far from refusing
the summons, accepted it with joyful gratitude; and one
evening in the month of May, the parlor door was suddenly
thrown open, and Murray rushed in, waving a stick in his
hand, and exclaiming, “She's come! I've seen her! I saw
her old black bonnet just getting out of the stage.”

“Run, then, and help bring her parcels up to the house,”
cried Mabel. “See, Alick has got the start of you already,”
and, without waiting for bonnet or shawl, she herself hastened
to meet her aunt, who, left by the inexorable stage-driver,
according to his custom, at the turn of the road, was looking
about her with a bewildered air. A moment more, and Sabiah
was toiling up the gentle slope which led to the house, leaning
on the arm of her joyfully excited niece, whose circle of loved
ones was now complete, while Alick and Murray, whose shout
of welcome had been followed by eager offers of assistance,
were stumbling along as they best might, laden with the traveller's
smaller articles of baggage.

“Bless my heart, do see them boys!” cried Sabiah, as Murray
rushed past with a band-box on his head (upside down, as

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an examination of its contents afterwards proved), and Alick
might be heard breathing hard, as he followed behind, tugging
at a small, old-fashioned trunk. “Now ain't they grown considerate
and strong? La's me! they don't look like the
same children; and how civil spoken they are, too! And so
I've got here at last, have I?” continued she, as she entered
the family sitting-room, and weary with her long journey, sank
into the nearest chair, exhausted, and not a little agitated.
“Well, it's a long road, but it has come to a blessed end;” and
after fumbling in vain with a trembling hand at her shawl pin
and bonnet strings, she submitted, as she never had submitted
in her life before, while Mabel, kneeling on the floor
beside her, gently removed her various wrappings, and succeeded
in discovering her cap amid the chaos which Murray
had created in the band-box.

Nor was it merely the fatigue of travelling, and the agitation
of arrival, which had reduced Sabiah to helplessness and
dependence. Two years residence with Mrs. Ridgway had
accomplished what her mother's injustice and fretfulness, and
years of loneliness and neglect had failed to do; and with a
spirit and health utterly broken, and a self-reliant will entirely
subdued by her sister's hard and overbearing treatment, the
crushed, enfeebled, and prematurely aged woman had thankfully
sought the repose and shelter of her brother's humble
home, and Mabel's unquestioned affection.

And how welcome were they to the aching heart which,
amid the abodes of wealth, had sighed for some quiet, unpre
tending spot, where, without the oppressive sense of intrusion
or restraint, she might spend the remainder of her days in a
round of simple usefulness, and in an atmosphere of love.
Mabel would scarcely have apologized in her letter for the
plain furniture, the clumsy stair-case, the low-roofed rooms, or
the solitude of the place, could she have foreseen the sense of
peace and security which their very simplicity imparted to her
aunt, awakening at once the thought, “Here I can feel at
home!” Nor would she for a moment have doubted her own
unaided power to make the new inmate happy, could she have

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realized the ever increasing satisfaction with which the desolate
heart would treasure up for days and years her first impulsive
outbreak, as she threw her arms around the tottering
figure, exclaiming, “Dear aunt, we have got you back at last;
we shall never let you go again!”

“Well, really now, Mabel,” said Sabiah, as she seated herself
after tea, at a window, and drawing a huge ball of yarn from
her pocket, commenced setting up a stocking, “I do n't see such
a great difference, after all, between this country and what I've
been used to at the East. That 'ere great field, prairie, or whatever
you call it, is pretty much like our meadows at home, only
it ain't fenced off; and rivers are rivers anywhere, and always
will run down hill, and trees are trees, and sky's sky, and as to
the people, you say they're most all New England settlers so
I do n't see as there's anything heathenish about the place after

“Heathenish!” exclaimed Mabel, who had been replacing
the tea-cups in the closet, putting the room in order, and arranging
everything pleasantly for the evening, but who now came
and stood looking over her aunt's shoulder, “who calls this
noble country heathenish?”

“Oh, your aunt Margaret calls it by that name, and plenty
that are worse.”

“I was going to say I should resent the charge,” said Mabel,
laughing; “but I should have so many more serious ones to
settle with her first on your account, aunt, that her abuse of
the country merely, would come very low on the list; so we
must let it pass, I suppose. But these boundless woods, and
lakes, and prairies, are well able to defend themselves;—they
excite one's activity and energy, too, by their richness and
munificence. I am sure I never look upon them without feeling
strengthened for everything that is good, and great, and

“La, dear,” said Aunt Sabiah, “you never needed to look
out of doors to learn that; you always had it in you. Have n't
you given up everything for other folks? Did n't Louise
impose upon you as long as she lived? And were n't you the

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making of Harry? And don't these healthy, good behaved
boys speak for themselves? And I—well, I can't speak—
I can only just thank the Lord inwardly for my share of the
blessing, and pray that you may get your reward one of these
days—that's all.”

“Reward, aunt!” said Mabel, fervently, “I have done little
enough, and have wasted many a good opportunity that will
never come again,—but what reward can I ask that I have
not got already?—my duties all bring their pleasures with
them. I am so proud of Harry, and the boys and I love each
other so dearly,—and I have got my good auntie back to knit
stockings for us all, and—but here comes my father,” and her
playful tone changed to one of deep sadness; “I cannot boast
that I have kept him well and strong;—poor old gentleman—
see how changed he is.”

“Can that be my brother John? Well, he is altered, I
declare,—but it isn't your fault, child;—he has grown old,
to be sure, though,” and Mabel and her aunt watched him with
mournful interest, as, alighting from a shabby wagon, he fastened
his jaded horse to a post, with the air of one not yet
familiarized to the necessity of performing such offices for himself,
and then walked feebly in the direction of the house. He
seemed really glad to see Sabiah; there was something touching,
too, in his reception of her, as if misfortunes had replaced
him in the position from which she had never arisen, and so
united them more closely in interest and in heart. He felt
instinctively that she would not perceive or suffer from the
deficiences in his present establishment, and there was something
soothing in the sight of her, and in the thought that she
would relieve Mabel's solitude, and perhaps share the labors to
which he could not, though he strove to, be blind; and so,
whatever her fears might have been in regard to the welcome
she should receive from her brother, they were relieved at once
by his manner, and Sabiah felt herself fully installed in the

And now succeeded days, months, and even years, of almost
uninterrupted calm. Mabel's life, like most human lives, had

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presented a period of rapid incident, startling vicissitudes, sudden
bereavement, and great and increasing responsibilities.
But to her, as to most persons who have experienced such a
crisis, there had come a season when the spirits of revolution,
disquiet, and change, which are ever rife in the world, seemed
for a time to have forsaken Mr. Vaughan's quiet dwelling, and
time in its noiseless and scarcely realized progress, marked no
striking or memorable event on the household calendar. Harry
still continued at his farm, gradually widening the limits of his
rich grain lands, planting young orchards, building store-houses
and barns, and reaping the fruits of his manly toil in the high
health, cheerful spirits, and sturdy independence, which are the
sure rewards of honest and well-directed labor. From this
source, too, his father's family derived their chief means of support;
for though Mr. Vaughan had scorned to receive his son's
yearly apporpriation in the form of rent, and seemed with
strange pertinacity to ignore the wants of his household, he
could not shut his eyes to the fact that all the family supplies
were forwarded by Harry, nor could he be insensible to the
comforts which were purchased with the surplus cash, paid
regularly into Mabel's hands, and by her expended for the
common good.

The old man persisted, however, in considering these mere
temporary expedients, and still continued to dream by night
and day of the prospective fortune which he and his children
were yet to realize, forgetting, in his sad infatuation, that on a
swifter and a surer road than that for the success of which he
planned and schemed, his only adversary, relentless time, was
steadily bearing him downward to the grave.

Meanwhile, Sabiah's bruised and wounded spirit revived
under the soothing influence of affection; her stiff and angular
traits, both of thought and action, became softened by Mabel's
persuasive and winning grace, and gently and unconsciously
she slid into that household niche for which nature had seemed
to destine her. The light and irresponsible, though somewhat
monotonous duties which she voluntarily assumed, became her
pastime and her pride; the respectful attention with which she

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was invariably treated laid to rest every suspicion that she
might be deemed an intruder; and the confidence with which
she was received into family discussions and counsels, made
her interests one with those of her young relatives.

Her dread of strangers seemed as great as ever, for Mabel
could not but observe that the first allusion to Helen Gracie,
as a neighbor and friend, caused her aunt to start and shrink
with seeming annoyance and alarm, exclaiming at the same
time, “Who is she? I never heard of her before.” And when
Mabel replied, “A dear little friend of ours, daughter of our
minister,” Sabiah turned away rather shortly, as if (at least, so
Mabel interpreted the movement,) ministers and their daughters
were among the inevitable trials of earth. It was surprising,
therefore, what a cordial and tender friendship eventually
sprang up between the faded spinster and this sweet fragile
flower of the prairie. At first Sabiah only watched her with
an observant, critical eye; then, after a few interviews, spoke
to her with a more than common interest, and Mabel smiled to
see how frequently she would lay her hand on the fair girl's
head with a degree of tenderness which she was not wont to
manifest. Finally, no one could tell how or why, it became
an established custom and a well-confirmed understanding, that
the seat next to Aunt Sabiah, whether at the table or the fire-side,
was sacred to Helen whenever she chose to occupy it;
and it was an equally acknowledged fact, that no one, not even
Mabel herself, held a more certain place in her shrunken and
exclusive heart, than the minister's lovely and loving child.

With the minister himself, however, Sabiah never seemed
disposed to cultivate any acquaintance. Perhaps his conversation
was too elevated to please her taste; for he was such a
philosopher, scholar, and naturalist, that he frequently soared
into the regions of scholastic lore, and it might be that such
“high talk,” as Sabiah used in old times to stigmatize conversation
of this class, wearied her; for she never engaged with
Mr. Gracie in conversation upon any topic, often left the parlor
when he was seen approaching, and sometimes, when every one

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else thought him uncommonly interesting, she would quietly
slip out of the room and go to bed.

These very circumstances, however, were a manifestation of
that independence which, in her present simple and unartificial
life, Sabiah now enjoyed, and in all things it was easy to perceive
that at last the solitary woman had found the sanctuary
which her spirit craved, and was an honored, respected member
of a happy home.

And in this home Mabel continued to be as she had been
from the beginning—the presiding genius. She walked, talked,
studied, and played with the boys, encouraging them by her
example, inciting them by her earnestness, cheering them by
her mirth, and governing them by her love.

And if she sometimes felt half impatient with the tedious
and self-imposed tasks which their education involved, and
sighed with weariness as she bent her head over the difficult
translation or intricate problem which she must herself master
before she could play the part of instructress to her nephews,
she was more than recompensed for the effort when she noticed
the respect which they involuntarily paid to her superior
knowledge. Nor was the advantage which she thus acquired
confined to a single occasion. It served to confirm her general
influence, and strengthen her power to guide and direct their
minds; for no boy is less susceptible to the loving sway of
woman because his intellect, as well as his heart, pays her

With her own and Harry's friends at Lake Farm she was
in constant correspondence; and though, as yet, there had been
no opportunity for an often-projected exchange of visits, she
was daily brought into close proximity with their minds and
thoughts. Madam Percival seemed ever to have her happiness
and improvement at heart. Books, pamphlets, and news-papers
were forwarded to her almost weekly, and during a
period of more than a year, which was passed by the good lady
herself in New York, there was no deficiency in the supply.
While thus receiving continual proof of the thoughtfulness of
her brother's friend, she was also, by the selection of authors,

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the marked passages, and the notes pencilled in a manly hand,
brought into familiar intercourse with the vigorous, cultivated,
and original intellect, the generous, expansive, and philanthropic
heart of Percival. Nor was it by these means only that she
learned to set an exalted estimate upon the character of this
noble-spirited, enterprising, and truly gifted man. The voice
of public opinion, as likewise Harry's confirming testimony,
soon marked him as one destined to do honor to his country
and the world. Though his flourishing estate, which he had
himself redeemed from the wilderness, was the place dearest
to his affections, it was not here alone, or principally, that his
duties centred, for he had been trained to the profession of the
law; and while all his leisure time was devoted to agricultural
pursuits, the large and rapidly increasing city, at some ten
miles' distance, was the scene of his legal labors. Here it was
his exalted province, and one which he strove to prove worthy
of man's highest powers,—not to foster differences, but to allay
them; not to embitter the heart, but to reconcile human disagreements
and rights;—at once seeking to promote peace on
earth and good will to men, and redeeming one of the noblest
professions from the discredit which has been heaped upon it
by false, designing, and self-seeking slaves of sin, unworthy to
style themselves servants of the law. Nor holding, as he did,
to the highest standard of truth and right, and bringing to the
cause the most shining abilities, could his talents long continue
obscure, or his name unknown. He was acknowledged far
and wide as the man whom the people trusted, and though he
had perseveringly declined all public office, his personal influence
and sway were widely felt and exercised.

Had Mabel known no other interest in him than that which
one earnest, truth-loving mind cherishes for another of the same
scope and order, her enthusiasm would have been readily
enkindled by the reports which reached her of his honorable
and well-earned fame. As it was, she read his arguments
with as intense a zeal as if the cause had been her own; studied
his character through the various means which were open to
her; sympathized in his principles, and, unconsciously to herself,

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made him the model by which she strove to mould her nephews
to the stature of honest and upright men.

Thus, dwelling in a neighborhood which presented but few
of the refinements of life, associating constantly with boys just
ripening into manhood, engaging with them in some of the
sterner studies usually confined to their sex, and cultivating an
intimate acquaintance with a mind accustomed to grapple with
subjects of vital interest to society and the State, it might have
been feared that Mabel's manners would lose something of their
delicacy; that the sweet and feminine graces which constitute
woman's highest charm, would give place to bustling activity,
or misplaced enthusiasm, and that her tone of thought, if not
her mode of expression, would become masculine and harsh.

But could Mabel have been so utterly false to her truer self,
to that divine and saintly spirit, by the aid of which all her
victories had hitherto been won, there was an influence ever at
work to keep alive the tenderest emotions of her heart, and
call into action all those gentle sympathies which soften, chasten,
and subdue the soul.

For there was one shadow ever darkening on the hearth-stone,
and reflecting itself in the heart and on the countenance
of the young girl, who watched over her aged, care-worn, disappointed
father, as if she had been the fostering parent and
he a feeble child. And, as a mother's heart grows purer,
stronger, holier, amid her anxieties, cares, and fears for her
suffering infant, the soul of Mabel became more and more imbued
with sweet, womanly tenderness, as she learned a new
lesson of sacred love at the altar of filial duty.

Thus, as time passed on, and every succeeding year ripened
and enlarged her mind, and her genial and sunny temper shed
light and gladness on her earthly sphere, there was ever one
sad and plaintive strain mingling in the harmony of her life,
one subject of faith, and hope, and prayer, which kept her heart
turned heavenward.

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Cummins, Maria Susanna, 1827-1866 [1857], Mabel Vaughan. By the author of The lamplighter. (John P. Jewett and Company, Boston) [word count] [eaf533].
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