6. The Parsonage Again
FOR a few months I remained peaceably at home, in the quiet enjoyment of
liberty and rest, and genuine friendship, from all of which I had fasted so long;
and in the earnest prosecution of my studies, to recover what I had lost during
my stay at Wellwood House, and to lay in new stores for future use. My father's
health was still very infirm, but not materially worse than when I last saw him; and
I was glad I had it in my power to cheer him by my return, and to amuse him with
singing his favourite songs.
No one triumphed over my failure, or said I had better have taken his or her
advice, and quietly stayed at home. All were glad to have me back again, and
lavished more kindness than ever upon me, to make up for the sufferings I had
undergone; but not one would touch a shilling of what I had so cheerfully earned
and so carefully saved, in the hope of sharing it with them. By dint of pinching
here, and scraping there, our debts were already nearly paid. Mary had had good
success with her drawings; but our father had insisted upon her likewise keeping
all the produce of her industry to herself. All we could spare from the supply of
our humble wardrobe and our little casual expenses, he directed us to put into
the savings'-bank; saying, we knew not how soon we might be dependent on that
alone for support: for he felt he had not long to be with us, and what would
become of our mother and us when he was gone, God only knew!
Dear papa! if he had troubled himself less about the afflictions that threatened us
in case of his death, I am convinced that dreaded event would not have taken
place so soon. My mother would never suffer him to ponder on the subject if she
could help it.
'Oh, Richard!' exclaimed she, on one occasion, 'if you would but dismiss such
gloomy subjects from your mind, you would live as long as any of us; at least you
would live to see the girls married, and yourself a happy grandfather, with a canty
old dame for your companion.'
My mother laughed, and so did my father: but his laugh soon perished in a dreary
'They married - poor penniless things!' said he; 'who will take them I wonder!'
'Why, nobody shall that isn't thankful for them. Wasn't I penniless when you took
me? and you pretended, at least, to be vastly pleased with your acquisition. But
it's no matter whether they get married or not: we can devise a thousand honest
ways of making a livelihood. And I wonder, Richard, you can think of bothering
your head about our poverty in case of your death; as if that would be anything
compared with the calamity of losing you - an affliction that you well know would