« PreviousContinue »
would not choose any breakfast. When Mr. Fairchild heard Lucy's.voice at the study door, he came out, and followed her into the parlour.
When Mrs. Fairchild looked at her husband's face, she saw that something had grieved him very much. She was frightened, and said, “ My dear, I am sure something is the matter: what is it? Tell me the worst at once: pray do?”
“ Indeed, my dear," said Mr. Fairchild, “ I have heard something this morning which has shocked me dreadfully; I was not willing to tell you before you had breakfasted. I know wbat you will feel when you hear it.”
“ Do, do, tell it me,” said Mrs. Fairchild, turning quite white.
“ Poor Augusta Noble !” said Mr. Fairchild.
“ What! Papa?” said " Lucy and Emily and Henry, in one voice.
“ She is dead," said Mr. Fairchild.
The children turned as pale as their mother; and poor Mrs. Fairchild would have dropped off her chair, if Betty, guessing what was the matter (for she had heard the news too, though she had not chosen to tell it), had not run in, and held her in her arms.
“Oh! poor Lady Noble! poor Lady Noble!” said Mrs. Fairchild, as soon as she could speak : poor Lady Noble !”.
As soon as their mamma spoke, the children all together began to cry and sob, which affected Mr. Fairchild so much that he hastened into bis study again and shut the door.
Whilst the children were crying, and Betty hold. ing Mrs. Fairchild, for she continued very faint and sick, Mrs. Barker came into the parlour. Mrs. Barker was a kind woman; and as she lived by herself, was always at liberty to go amongst her neighbours in times of trouble. ". Ab, Mrs. Fair
child !” she said, “ I know what troubles you: we are all in grief, through the whole village."
When Mis. Fairchild saw Mrs. Barker, she began to shed tears, which did her much good ; after which she was able to ask Mrs. Barker what was the cause of the poor child's death, "as,” said she, “I never heard that she was ill."
“ Ah, Mrs. Fairchild, the manner of her death is the worst part of the story, and that which must grieve her parents more than all. You know that poor Miss Augusta was always the darling of her mother, who brought her up in great pride, without fear of God or knowledge of religion: nay, Lady Noble would even mock at religion and religious people in her presence; and she chose a governess for her who had no more of God about her than herself.”
“I never thought much of that Miss Beaumont," said Mrs. Fairchild.
“ As Miss Augusta was brought up without the fear of God,” continued Mrs. Barker, “ she had, of course, no notion of obedience to her parents, farther than just striving to please them in their presence: she lived in the constant practice of disobeying them; and the governess continually concealed her disobedience from Lady Noble. And what is the consequence? The poor child has lost her life; and Miss Beaumont is turned out of doors in disgrace."
“ But,” said Mrs. Fairchild,“ how did she lose her life through disobedience to her parents ? Pray tell me, Mrs. Barker."
“ The story is so shocking I tremble to tell you,” answered Mrs. Barker : “ but you must know it sooner or later.-Miss Augusta had a custom of playing with fire, and carrying candles about, though Lady Noble had often warned her of the danger of this babit, and had strictly charged her governess to prevent it. But it seems that the governess, being afraid of offending, had suffered her very often to be guilty of this piece of disobedience, without telling Lady Noble. And the night before last, when Lady Noble was playing at cards in the drawing-room, with some visitors, Miss Augusta took a candle off the hall table, and carried it up
stairs to the governess's room. No one was there, and it is supposed that Miss Augusta was looking in the glass, with the candle in her hand, wben the flame caught her dress: but this is not known. Lady Noble's maid, who was in an adjoining room, was alarmed by her dreadful screams, and hastening to discover the cause found poor Augusta in a blaze, from head to foot: the unhappy young lady was so dreadfully burnt, that she never spoke afterwards, but died in agonies last night-a warning to all children how they presume to disobey their parents!
that nocketh at his father, and refuses to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.' (Prov. xxx. 17.)”
When Mrs. Fairchild and the children heard this dreadful story, they were very much grieved. Mrs. Barker staid with them all day; and it was, indeed, a day of mourning through all the house. This was Wednesday; and on Saturday poor Miss Augusta was to be buried. Mr. Fairchild was invited to attend the funeral; and the children also were desired to go, as they had been sometimes the playfellows of poor Miss Augusta. Mrs. Fairchild dressed them in white ; and at four o'clock in the afternoon a coach covered with black cloth came to the door of Mr. Fairchild's house, to take them to Sir Charles Noble's.
When Lucy and Emily and Henry got into the coach, with their papa, they felt very sorrowful; and not one of them spoke one word all the while
the coachman was driving to Sir Charles Noble's. When they came into the park, they saw a hearse, and a great many coaches and other carriages, standing at the door of the house, besides many persons on horseback in black clothes with white scarfs and hat-bands. The hearse was hung with black, and so were several of the coaches ; and at the top of the hearse were plumes of white feathers. Perhaps you may never
bave seen hearse: in case you have not, I shall try to describe it to you. It is a long close coach, without windows, used for carrying the dead from their houses to their graves.
Sometimes black, and sometimes white, plumes of feathers are fixed at the top of these bearses, according to the age of the person to be borne. Hearses are always painted or hung with black, and are in general drawn by black horses: so that they make a very dismal appearance.
When the children came near to Sir Charles's house, and saw all the people and carriages waiting to accompany their poor little playmate to her grave, they began to cry afresh : Mr. Fairchild himself looked very sad; and this verse presented itself to the minds of the children: “ The eye of him that hath seen me shall see me no more: thine
eyes are upon me, and I am not.” (Job vii. 8.)
When the coach came to the house door, a footman came out, dressed in black, and took them into the hall, where white gloves and scarfs were given to them, and they were led into the dining-room. There, upon a large table, covered with black cloth, was the coffin of poor Augusta, covered with white velvet, and ornamented with silver. Almost all the gentlemen and ladies of the neighbourhood were in the room; but Sir Charles and Lady Noble were
there. When Emily and Lu saw the coffin, they began to cry more and more; and little Henry too eried, though he rubbed bis eyes, and tried to hide his tears.
When every thing was ready, the coffin was lifted up, and put into the hearse: the company got into the coaches; and they all moved slowly to the parish church, which was close to the village, about two miles distant. As the children passed back through the park in the mourning-coach, they savy many places where they had walked and played with poor Augusta : and this made them the more sorrowful, to think how suddenly their little playmate had been cut off; making out the words of the prophet, As for man, “ all flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof as the flower of the field.” (Isa. xl. 6.)— When they passed through the park gate, they could hear the church bell tolling very plainly. The carriages moved on very slowly, so that it was between five and six when the funeral reached the church. The churchyard was full of people. The coffin was taken out of the hearse and carried into the church, the clergyman going before and all the people following. The coffin was placed on a bier in the middle of the church whilst the clergyman read the first part of the Funeral Service. Lucy and Emily and Henry stood all the time close to the coffin, crying very bitterly.
-Perhaps you have never read the Funeral Service with attention : if you have not, I would advise you to read it immediately, and consider it well; for there are many things in it which may make you wise unto salvation. -Poor Augusta's coffin was then lifted up, and carried, not into the churchyard, but to the door of a vault under the church, which was the burying-place of her family; and while the clergyman continued reading the prayers it was removed into a dark part of the vault, and Lucy and Emily and Henry saw it no more.
When the service was done, Mr. Fairchild re