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[2056]

Next of Edith. Tall, gaunt, hard-favored was this candidate for the American calendar; but Bonilacia might be her name. From her earliest years she had valued all she knew, only as she was to teach it again. Her highest ambition was to be the school-mistress; her recreation to dress the little ragged things, and take care of them out of school hours. She had some taste for nursing the grown-up, but this was quite subordinate to her care of the buds of the forest. Pure, perfectly beneficent, lived Edith, and never thought of any thing or person, but for its own sake. When she had attained midway the hill of life, she happened to be boarding in the house with a young farmer, who was lost in admiration of her lore. How he wished he, too, could read! ‘What, can't you read? O, let me teach you!’—‘You never can; I was too thick-skulled to learn even at school. I am sure I never could now.’ But Edith was not to be daunted by any fancies of incapacity, and set to work with utmost zeal to teach this great grown man the primer. She succeeded, and won his heart thereby. He wished to requite the raising him from the night of ignorance, as Howard and Nicholas Poussin did the kind ones who raised them from the night of the tomb, by the gift of his hand. Edith consented, on condition that she might still keep school. So he had his sister come to ‘keep things straight.’ Edith and he go out in the morning,—he to his field, she to her school, and meet again at eventide, to talk, and plan, and, I hope, to read also.

The first use Edith made of her accession of property, through her wedded estate, was to give away all she thought superfluous to a poor family she had long pitied, and to invite a poor sick woman to her ‘spare chamber.’

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