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قراءة كتاب The Girl's Own Paper, Vol. VIII: No. 353, October 2, 1886.

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‏اللغة: English
The Girl's Own Paper, Vol. VIII: No. 353, October 2, 1886.

The Girl's Own Paper, Vol. VIII: No. 353, October 2, 1886.

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 3

misty—I did so love Aunt Agatha's eyes.

"Dear," she said, very gently, "I wish this could have been prevented; but, for my husband's sake, I dare not throw cold water on your plan. I cannot deny that he has had a heavy loss, and that we have to be very careful. I would keep you with me if I could, Merle, for you are just like my own child, but Ezra is not young;" and here Aunt Agatha's forehead grew puckered with anxiety.

"Oh, Aunt Agatha," I exclaimed, quite forgetting the gravity of my proposition in sudden, childish annoyance, "how can you call Uncle Keith, Ezra? It is such a hideous name."

"Not to my ears," she answered, quite calmly; "a wife never thinks her husband's name hideous. He loves to hear me say it, and I love to please him, for though you may not believe it, Merle, I think there are very few men to compare with your uncle."

She could actually say this to my face, looking at me all the time with those honest eyes! I could not forbear a little shrug at this, but she turned the subject, placidly, but with much dignity.

"I have been a working bee all my life, and have been quite contented with my lot; if you could only follow my example, I should be perfectly willing to let you go. I have thought once or twice lately that if anything were to happen to me, you and your uncle would hardly be comfortable together; you do not study him sufficiently; you have no idea what he really is."

I thought it better to remain silent.

Aunt Agatha sighed a little as she went on.

"I am not afraid of work for you, Merle, there is no life without activity. 'The idle man,' as someone observes, 'spins on his own axis in the dark.' 'A man of mere capacity undeveloped,' as Emerson says, 'is only an organised daydream with a skin on it.' Just listen to this," opening a book that lay near her. "'Action and enjoyment are contingent upon each other. When we are unfit for work we are always incapable of pleasure; work is the wooing by which happiness is won.'"

"Yes, yes," I returned, rather impatiently, for Aunt Agatha, with all her perfections, was too much given to proverbial and discursive philosophy; "but to reduce this to practice, what work can I do in this weary world?"

"You cannot be a governess, not even a nursery governess, Merle," and here Aunt Agatha looked at me very gently, as though she knew her words must give me pain, and suddenly my cheeks grew hot and my eyelids drooped. Alas! I knew too well what Aunt Agatha meant; this was a sore point, the great difficulty and stumbling block of my young life.

I had been well taught in a good school; I had had unusual advantages, for Aunt Agatha was an accomplished and clever woman, and spared no pains with me in her leisure hours; but by some freak of Nature, not such an unusual thing as people would have us believe, from some want of power in the brain—at least, so a clever man has since told me—I was unable to master more than the rudiments of spelling.

I know some people would laugh incredulously at this, but the fact will remain.

As a child I have lain sobbing on my bed, beaten down by a very anguish of humiliation at being unable to commit the column of double syllables to memory, and have only been comforted by Aunt Agatha's patience and gentleness.

At school I had a severer ordeal. For a long time my teachers refused to admit my incapacity; they preferred attributing it to idleness, stubbornness, and want of attention; even Aunt Agatha was puzzled by it, for I was a quick child in other things, could draw very well for my age, and could accomplish wonders in needlework, was a fair scholar in history and geography, soon acquired a good French accent, and did some of my lessons most creditably.

But the construction of words baffle me to this day. I should be unwilling to write the simplest letter without a dictionary lying snugly near my hand. I have learned to look my misfortune in the face, and to bear it with tolerable grace. With my acquaintances it is a standing joke, with my nearest and dearest friends it is merely an opportunity for kindly service and offers to write from my dictation, but when I was growing into womanhood it was a bitter and most shameful trial to me, one secretly lamented with hot tears and with a most grievous sense of humiliation.

"No," Aunt Agatha repeated, in the old pitying voice I knew so well, "you cannot be even a nursery governess, Merle."

"Nor a companion either," I exclaimed bitterly. "Old ladies want letters written for them."

"That is very true," she replied, shaking her head.

"I could be a nurse in a hospital—in fact, that is what I should like, but the training could not be afforded, it would be a pound a week, Aunt Agatha, and there would be my uniform and other expenses, and I should not get the smallest salary for at least two or three years."

"I am afraid we must not think of that, Merle," and then I relapsed into silence from sheer sadness of heart. I had always so longed to be trained in a hospital, and then I could nurse wounded soldiers or little children. I always loved little children.

But this idea must be given up, and yet it would not have mattered in a hospital if I had spelt "all-right" with one "l." I am quite sure my bandages would have been considered perfect, and that would have been more to the point.

(To be continued.)



We believe that young people generally have a desire to be useful. Sometimes not an actually formulated desire, but a vague intention which they mean some day shall have a practical issue, when and how they do not quite know, or in what way. It is proposed in this article to point out one means of eminent usefulness—i.e., that of amateur organ playing in our churches. It is scarcely necessary to show what a large field of good useful work is open to amateurs in this direction. We all know that on the one hand parishes wholly agricultural—the other suburban parishes in large towns—are utterly unable to pay for the services of a professional player; while there is nothing so calculated to lift up the heart of the congregations such as these are likely to obtain, as good music. Would it not therefore be a pleasant duty for anyone gifted with musical talent and leisure to qualify in the best manner possible for this ennobling and helpful occupation?

The intending organ-player must ascertain that he or she has a gift for music, and this need not be of the highest order, as even a small portion of the gift can be improved with care, and fostered into usefulness. A first rate ear can be a snare to those who trust to it too much—although it is undoubtedly the best of servants, if kept in its proper sphere of work. A very ordinary measure of talent, supplemented by calm and good sense, clear power of thought, and determined perseverance, will be a good foundation to start with. Good sense and attention have more to do with the good music of ordinary persons (as opposed, we mean, to remarkably clever ones) than people are apt to think. It was said of Mendelssohn that music was the accident of his being; and there are many of whom the same could be said, with this meaning—i.e., that the powers which make them succeed in music would enable them to succeed in other great things if attempted.

We will therefore suppose the case of a young lady possessing a moderate gift for music, desiring to improve it and herself, and to take up organ playing with a view to real usefulness. She should first find out whether her playing on the piano is perfectly correct, taking the easiest possible music to exercise herself