Nellie Alton’s Mother
“Mamma, O mamma!” cried an eager young voice; and Nellie Alton, a plump, rosy school-girl of twelve summers, rushed into her mother’s room, and flinging her text-books on the sofa seated herself on an ottoman at her mother’s feet. Mrs. Alton looked up from her sewing with a quiet smile, and said, as she pushed back the tangled curls from Nellie’s uplifted forehead,--
"What is the matter with my daughter? Has anything serious occurred at the institute?”
“O mamma,” said Nellie, half reproachfully, “you can’t have forgotten that it is just a week to-day since I received that invitation to Minnie Shelburne’s party. You said at the time, that you didn’t know whether I might accept, and I think I’ve been very patient not to tease you about it. Almost all the girls are going. Mrs. Doane has bought the loveliest silk for Carrie and Jessie; and Mrs. Hilton has three women sewing for Emma’s dress. Here I am not knowing whether I can go. Cousin Sue said she thought my ‘mother a woman of great deliberation,’”
“In years to come you will rejoice over the truth of that remark, my darling.”
“But, mamma, please decide now, won’t you?”
“I have decided, my dear. Last night your father and I had a long talk about the matter, and we agreed—“
“To let me go?” cried eager Nellie.
“No, dear. Anxious for your truest good, we were sorry we should have to disappoint you. But we cannot grant you a harmful pleasure,” Nellie bit her lip, while her eyes filled with tears.
“May I ask your reasons, mamma?”
“Yes, dear; and I feel that my sensible little daughter cannot but be satisfied with them. All the advantages you are now having tend to make you, at some future time, a useful woman for society. To obtain their full benefit, your mind must remain undiverted from your studies, and you must be kept free everything that will detract from your health and strength. Parties will excite you, deprive you of sleep, fill your mind with foolish fancies, retard you in your school work, and make you thin, pale and irritable. We should sadly miss our bright, blooming Nellie. Do you wonder we refuse to let you attend the party?”
“But just once cannot hurt me,” pleaded Nellie.
“The one party, my child, will be followed by a score of them. If you go to Miss Shelburne’s the other girls will wonder why you cannot attend theirs, and ill feeling will arise. We will talk no more about it now. Sometime you will thank me for my course. Are you satisfied?”
“I’ll try to be, mamma,” said Nellie; but there were a few suspicious drops on her eyelashes.
The night of the party arrived. Nellie had had a very trying week at school, for the girls thought of nothing else besides their fine preparations. She bore it bravely, and after tea sat resolutely down to her lessons, which were unusually difficult. Half-past eight found her closing her books with the air of a conqueror, while she exclaimed,--
“Now, mamma, they’re all done, every one. May I run over and see cousin Sue off?”
Consent was given, and Nellie entered her Uncle’s vestibule just as Sue was descending the stairs, in a cloud of lace and pink silk. She felt a little choking in her throat, but said, quietly, “Sue, you look lovely; but to-morrow’s French exercise is terribly hard.”
“And Miss Propriety Stay-at-home has prepared for it, I infer. Aren’t you sorry you can’t go?” said Sue, setting her flounces with a satisfied air.
“Mother knows best,” said Nellie decidedly; then she went home. While her sixth hour of sleep, sweet and restful, was passing by, poor, tired, cross Sue returned home, and wearily climbed the stairs to her room.
Next day Nellie came home, saying, ”I am at the head of all my classes, Some of the girls were late, others had headaches, all of them were disagreeable, and none of them had half prepared their lessons. Professor Marshly was very angry, but he thanked me for my good example to the others. You dearest mother! I’ll trust you as long as I live.” And grateful Nellie sealed the compact with a kiss.
Years afterward, two ladies were seated in a pleasant room engaged in conversation. One of them reclined on a sofa, and her sallow features and restless, dissatisfied manner marked her an invalid. The face of the other was bright with health and vivacity. Her sunny smile and cheery voice showed her a stranger to sickness and pain.
“Nellie, my dear said the former, you can have no idea of the dreadful condition of my nervous system. I spend the greater part of the day on the sofa. The children are a perfect worriment, everything about the house goes wrong, Ralph looks so discontented. I cannot enjoy society at all. In fact, the doctor says I had too much dissipation when young, and ruined my constitution with the parties and late suppers. I would give my fortune for your good health and cheerful spirits.”
“Cousin Sue, I remember when you used to drive off to parties, and think scornfully of my quiet home evenings.”
“I remember, Nellie. Do hand me the hartshorn and another cushion, and please lower that shade a little. There, thank you. Now will you inform me to what you owe your healthy, happy life?”
At this moment the door opened, and a silver-haired, sweet-faced lady entered. Nellie rose to meet her, and twining one arm about the lady’s waist, “Cousin Sue, “she said, my perfect health, my calm, happy mind, the good I am enabled to do for God and humanity, the comfort I succeed in giving to my husband and children, the knowledge I have of my heavenly Father, and the love I bear Him, I owe to the judicious care, the wise counsel. and the tender love and prayer’s of my mother.”