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way she had promised her uncle to avoid late hours, yet she never had much leisure before breakfast. She should not be ready for him the next day at ten o'clock, and she had so resolved never again to be unpunctual. The Doctor's countenance showed gradual signs of relenting, and at length he rose from the table, drew two tattered volumes from the shelf, and laid them beside Mabel's plate, exclaiming,
your medical adviser, I believe I should prescribe a very different treatment, but I am too amiable to thwart a patient's whims. Here are your books, Miss May Bird, and tell me when you reach the cool stage of the disease.”
“I am not likely to do that,” said Mabel, “ because I aspire to excel in Greek. The music of the language is yet sweeter than Italian, a complete embodiment of melody, as the sonorous roll of Latin is of harmony."
“And what place has Hebrew in your system of philology ?" inquired Geraldine.
“Uncle has promised to let me begin it with him, if I persevere in Greek until I reach a certain goal,” replied Mabel, exultingly. “That glorious, ancient tongue, is a far nobler incentive than the silver cup awarded as a guerdon at our schools and colleges.”
“ Is increased work to be the recompense of the Dons at Bryher p” asked the Doctor.“ In that case, Miss May Bird, I predict there will
" be few competitors for the bay-wreaths and laurels of your Alma Mater."
“Increase of intellectual wealth, rather," said Mabel, “and as regards work, Doctor, you agree with me at heart, and only argue from an innate love of controversy."
“ Work, with some definite aim in view, is I admit more tolerable than that hardest of all labours, doing nothing. But you know there may be such a thing as busy idleness, hence I ask for what end you are amassing such vast stores of learning ?”
Surely,” interposed Geraldine, “the cultivation of the talents GOD has given us should be enough to stimulate our efforts.”
“Quite enough, morally and theologically; I will own that God bestows no gift which He intends shall run to waste. But despite their poetry and enthusiasm, I have marked a vein half practical, and half Quixotic, in Miss Mabel and her small admirer at Holy Vale. The one pores over Swedish legends with beneficent designs towards gnomes and sprites; the other, I suppose, learns Hebrew, that she may seek the lost tribes. But what, fair student, do you meditate against the Russian Church and the Greek patriarchs? I fancied they beld high rank in your estimation,”
“My ambition is to read the Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament in the original,” said Mabel.
“And test the accuracy of the authorized translation,” pursued the incorrigible Doctor.
“Edward, you are a most inveterate tease !” pursued kindly Aunt Isabel, who had not spoken till the conversation at length reached her level. “Miss May Bird believes in her English Bible, which is more than can be said for all the Hebrew scholars of the land. Go away, dear, with Geraldine, and talk or study as you like; only at nine o'clock please come into the drawing-room and sing me a duet.”
“Some martial legend of the siege of Troy, I shall accept nothing less classical,” added the Doctor, as the door closed on the two young ladies.
“Aunt Isabel is trying to acclimatize me to the hot season in Bengal !” remarked Geraldine, as she caught sight of the huge fire which lighted up her bed-room with its ruddy blaze. “May Bird, if you appropriate that seat beside the hearth, I shall believe you near akin to the old lady in the nursery song, whose favourite temperature was that of the crater of Etna.”
Mabel, however, took her place as usual at the pretty rose-wood secretary, while her friend retreated to the coolest corner, where she was soon diligently reading by the light of a small softly-shaded lamp. The sense of silent sociability was very pleasant to them both, but not a word was spoken upon either side until Mabel laid down her pen after a final copy of the exercise, recited the Greek verb in a low whisper, without once referring to the Grammar, and then springing joyously across the chamber drew Geraldine to a sofa, exclaiming,
“Now I feel like a prisoner released, and we may have a quiet talk, unless you are under a vow to study history till bed-time.”
No,” replied Geraldine, “I had just finished a chapter, and I doubt if I should have begun another, even with the spur of your example.”
“ Not very long since,” pursued Mabel, “ Uncle Harland told me of a bishop who kept up with multifarious labours by not letting work accumulate upon his hands. What I wish is to introduce the same order and harmony into my mind. My memory is excellent, and I
have read extensively, but little of the knowledge I possess appears digested or available. Can you assist me by any suggestion ?"
“You would find something to the purpose in the life of the same prelate," answered Geraldine. We are assured his varied stores of information seemed mentally classified, like the shelves of a library, ach ready for immediate reference at the first call.”
“But by what means did he attain so valuable an art ?” asked Mabel.
“ The method is not given us by his biographer, and for the rest, I fancy each one must devise it for himself. My own theory is never to admit knowledge in a crude state, to avoid vagueness, as much as possible, placing every historical event, for instance, in a clear light as regards time and locality, and following the same plan with other studies. It is a great help to give imaginary lessons, for the actual process presupposes very lucid notions on the part of the instructor.”
“Yes, that is true," said Mabel, recollecting the delightful sense of power she enjoyed within the limits of those periods of Church History which she had made her own by lingering over them with the schoolchildren.
Then,” pursued Geraldine, “I read twice every standard work which I am able to retain so long in my possession, taking copious notes on the second perusal."
“I did so formerly,” said Mabel, “ until Dr. Lawson asked me what use I made of the extracts, and I was obliged to own I seldom glanced at them again, unless they chanced to be required as references in composition.”
“ I persist in thinking them useful, however,” pursued Geraldine. “Some striking passage reviewed in a leisure hour, will often recall the entire volume, and should they never be read again, or lent to others, the facts are yet engraven on one's mind by the mere act of writing.”
“Speaking about one's neighbours," continued Mabel, “ reminds me I wish often I could be more serviceable to them. People know I am fond of study, and they often ask me to recommend books for the young, or to name the best works on some subject with which I am quite familiar. It seldom happens that I can suggest anything at the right moment, whereas Lilla, whose memory is far less retentive, seems to have its powers under perfect control. Only last evening Major Verney wanted help in making out a list of publications to be ordered
from London for his children. I could not recall a single title, and he turned to Lilla, who, though knowing less upon the subject, gave him such ready assistance, that the letter was despatched to Masters' by this morning's boat."
“One must assert absolute sovereignty over one's faculties, and they will yield obedience like willing servants," remarked Geraldine. “My brother once impressed upon me there are few good works placed more continually within one's reach, than that of circulating healthful literature, whether by giving, lending, or by simply recommending books. Wherever he may be, one of his first endeavours is to found a library, and he thinks the diffusion of knowledge and light, amongst the highest obligations of all educated Christian people.
And did he give you any practical advice ?” asked Mabel. “No; we were interrupted by a summons from a sick parishioner, and the conversation never was resumed. I thought about it much, however, when alone, and after Ernest sailed it was the first employment which aroused me from listless depression to that active labour which I felt to be one of our truest bonds of union.”
Was it then you began to frame the catalogue you lent me long ago ?" demanded Mabel.
“ Yes; and I have constantly added to it, so that it already forms a bulky volume. I try to convey in half-a-dozen lines a general idea of the book, and unless you have tried the experiment you hardly would believe how difficult it is. I often re-write and correct the miniature abstract many times, before it is sufficiently clear and condensed to place in the collection.”
“I can imagine that,” said Mabel, “and the irksomeness of such a task must be considerable.”
“One has few possessions which do not cost weariness, however,” answered Geraldine. "My journal is a treasure, but although owning its value I should scarcely persevere against constant disinclination, were I not bound by a promise made to Ernest."
“Does Mr. Beverley as a clergyman consider the habit is of such importance ?" inquired Mabel with surprise. “I have always fancied it, if not a waste of time, at best merely an innocent diversion."
· Ernest did not insist on a voluminous diary; he said the leading event of each day would in case of necessity suffice, but that it would be more advisable to account for my use of time if I could find the leisure.”
“ You can have little to record at present, at least as regards the outward life," was Mabel's comment.
“A natural inference, but on the contrary I am amazed at the variety my chronicle discloses. I believe that were the most monotonous existence, the lot of a captive, for example, to be carefully examined, we should find the weeks composing it no less dissimilar than we know each leaf of the forest tree to be unlike its fellows."
“The rainy fortnight which succeeded our arrival here, would have effectually washed away your theory,” rejoined Mabel. “I assure you there was literally nothing to distinguish one day from another."
“ That is a surface aspect; take a microscope, and unforeseen varieties will start to view. I am convinced that each day of that period had not only its distinctive shape, but its peculiar colouring."
“ Granted, since you allow a microscope to aid one's vision,” returned Mabel laughingly.
“And it is by these tiny ripples on the stream of time, we often trace our progress on the voyage to eternity,” continued Geraldine.
“But how can you accomplish so much writing,” resumed Mabel. “I do a yet larger amount, but until very lately it has been at the expense of other claims, and I know well that never is the case with you."
“ Ernest once told me," answered Geraldine, “I must not let duties pursue me through the day. He said that if for instance I were interrupted in my practising, I should not try to make up the two hours later, but considering music at an end, pass on to Latin, or whatever came next on the list.”
“Only,” objected Mabel after some reflection, “there is much to which that rule cannot apply. Your Indian letter if not written in the morning must be finished in the afternoon or evening unless you
would lose the mail; and the same argument is true concerning household cares, and visiting the poor, in short everything upon which the comfort of our neighbours may depend."
“Undoubtedly, and also as regards the several branches of private devotion. Ernest referred rather to those employments for which we are humanly speaking only answerable to ourselves. He would not have advised me to dismiss music in so summary a manner, had I been practising for the choir, or to receive a lesson.”
“ Then the suggestion is comparatively worthless, after all,” concluded Mabel with a look of disappointment.
“ The economy of time is an abstruse science, towards the mastery