"Art she had none, yet wanted none;
For Nature did that want supply:
So rich in treasures of her own,
She might our boasted stores defy."
A WELCOME PROPOSITION
"ELLA, run and touch the gong again. It is really very tiresome of your father to keep us waiting like this," said Mrs. Wright, glancing at the dining-room clock, which showed that the vicar had already kept them waiting fifteen minutes.
Dinner was on the table, and the parlor maid stood ready to remove covers as soon as the vicar appeared.
"Give it a thundering good thump, Ella," said Grace, as her sister was leaving the room.
"Grace, I will not have you make use of such expressions. You really get worse, instead of better. Miss Armitage," to the governess, " I really think you must punish Grace every time she uses such objectionable, unladylike expressions."
"Mother, can you tell me any adjective or adverb more applicable to a gong than thundering?"
Mrs. Wright ignored the question. "I hope you will give her an imposition this afternoon, Miss Armitage," she added.
"Certainly," said Miss Armitage in her meek, quiet way. The words were lost in the thunder of the gong, as Ella followed her sister's, as well as her mother's, instructions.
The noise brought the vicar from his study as if a cannon had exploded. He entered the dining-room with a smiling, preoccupied expression on his face.
"Have I kept you waiting? Really, I am very sorry. I did not notice the gong before. Has it sounded more than once?"
"This is the third and last time of asking, father. So I made it as loud as I could," said Ella.
"Naughty girl! You have given my visitor a shock he will not easily overcome. He fairly jumped from his seat."
"What a pity the door was shut; I should like to have seen him. Did you jump from your seat too, father?"
"In double-quick time," said the vicar smiling.
"It is very inconsiderate of people to come just at lunch time. Who has detained you? Grace said it was only an old countryman, or I should not have had you disturbed," said Mrs. Wright.
"Grace must learn to be more respectful, and not always judge of people's positions from their appearance. Mr. Burnside is an old parishioner of mine from Birchdene. He has come to see me on most interesting business; in fact, to make a proposition which I believe you will all welcome most heartily."
"What can it be? Do tell us quickly, father," said Ella who was blessed with an inquisitive disposition.
"Presently — presently, have a little patience, Ella," said the vicar with a look towards his wife intended to inform her that the business was of a nature which he believed would meet with her approval. They were seated at the table by this time. Grace was said, and the maid removed covers.
After every one was served the vicar asked for another plate, which he sent into the study to his visitor.
"Why don't you ask him to come here, father, then we could have a look at him?" asked Ella.
"Because I believe he would prefer the arrangement I have made, Ella," the vicar said in a tone which silenced Ella for a little time.
Luncheon, as it was generally called, but which was in reality dinner, was not unduly long that day. Mrs. Wright, as much as her daughters, was curious" as to the nature of the business the thought of which seemed decidedly to please her husband.
As soon as the maid had left the room her eyes asked the question which she had been longing to utter, "What is it?" The vicar was quite as anxious to communicate the news, and quickly responded to the mute inquiry.
"Mr. Burnside, as I have already stated," he said, "cornea from Birchdene. At the time I knew him he was a blacksmith, the village blacksmith. He now informs me that some years ago a brother, who went to the gold diggings in Australia, died, and left him a little fortune — it seems quite a big fortune to him. From what I gather it amounts, securely invested, to between five and six hundred a year. He has one child, a daughter, in her sixteenth year, about the same age as Ella, and he has a great desire for her to receive a lady's education. He is willing to pay two hundred a year; in fact, he offered three, if we will take her and let her complete her education with our daughters. She has so far been educated by the curate's sister. Burnside has a great deal of shrewd common sense, and he judges rightly that there are many things which she cannot learn except by living in a gentleman's family. What do you think of the proposition, my dear? Should you care for her to live with us for a time?"....