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CHAPTER VIII.

LOUISA'S STORY BEGUN.

Fear not,
Sweet Innocence! thou stranger to offence
And inward storm!-He, who you skies involves
In frowns of darkness, ever smiles on thee
With kind regard.

THOMSON'S SEASONS.

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MARY concluded her narrative : her mistress's pensive step had already reached the cot; her companions lingering behind, to prevent her hearing what might give so valuable a heart an

“ Well, Louisa,” said she, as they approached her, “do you not think I had enough to drive me from the world to this peaceful spot ?" "Really, Madam,” returned she,

were I to judge of mankind by some I have lately met, your absence is much to be envied; for though but seventeen, and only six weeks quitted a convent, I have had so disgusting a taste of society, that never do I wish to mix in the great world again.-But, with your permission, I will now, acquaint you with as much as I know myself of my unfortunate story.-Unfor. tunate, well may I say; for never have I experienced a paternal blessing — never the soft soothings of a fond mother-an innocent outcast even from my cradle !

". The first I can remember was (I suppose about the age of five) parting from an honest countrywoman who had been my nurse : the tears I shed, at parting from her, she repaid with interest; but, in spite of both, a woman, who was to have the care of me, tore me from her embraces, and put me in a chaise; in which we travelled some miles, till we reached an inn, where we stopped to dinner. --For two days we continued our journey, at the end of which time we embarked on board a vessel that took us to Calais; after stopping one day, we continued our route as far as Abbeville, where I was to be boarded in a convent.--On the day I was delivered to the care of the Abbess, in the parlour was an English girl about my own age, on the point of taking leave of a most amiable lady, who was her mother and returning to England. For me, taking me from my nurse, I regarded in so heinous a light, that brought me with so much indifference as to be noticed by the lady, whose daughter was in an agony of sorrow. Julia, my love,' said she, her own voice faltering,

observe this young lady, a lovely little companion for you; she will learn you fortitude,-she must, I am sure, have parted from affectionate friends, yet bears it with resignation.'—With these words she joined our hands. Indeed, Madam,' said I, had I a mamma to leave, I should grieve as much as Miss; but I have none, only a poor mammy, and her they have taken from me; so now they may put me where they please.' - The Countess of Melville, for that was the lady's name, immediately asked the Abbess of my family; who informed her I was an orphan, my name Louisa Villars, and dependent on the bounty of my guardian, who had paid my board eight years in advance. 'I fear she feels her dependence early,' continued slie; ' but she shall not want a friend.'—The Countess applauded her, and entreated I might be Julia's companion. These ladies, I afterwards found, were old friends, being brought up together in a convent; and their ancient kindness had still subsisted, though the one had taken the veil, and the other returned to her own country, where, being married, she was mother of a son and the sweet Julia. The father of this pair, by a mistaken notion of their being spoiled at home, insisted on their being put to school. The son was accordingly sent to Eton ;--the Countess rather chose, though more distant, to trust her darling with her old friend, than at a public boarding

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school; especially as Madame du Saint, the Abbess, though herself a rigid catholic, viewed every one who truly served God. (however different their forms) in as near a way to salvation as lierself.

“ The young Julia, at her mother's request that I might be her companion, threw her arms about my neck : 'No,' said she, she shall be my sister; then mamma, as she has none, will be hers; won't you, Madam ? The amiable Countess put an arm round each: 'Yes, dear girls, I will be mother to both; they have hard hearts indeed, Louisa, whom that countenance will not soften.' During this speech, I had caught hold of her band, and, bursting into tears, thanked her as well as my little heart, throbbing with gratitude, would permit.

After repeatedly taking leave, and as often returning, the Countess and Julia parted: for a while, we were very sorrowful; but at length, time, that common reliever, soothed our grief, and we became excellent companions. We learned, played, and slept together. At my first arrival in the convent, I had not even been taught to read; but, on some pains taken with me, I learned with such eagerness as delighted Madame du Saint, who treated us more with the tenderness of a mother than the superiority of a mistress.

"! Ei ht yearglided away imperceptibly; the

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