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The Adopted Daughter: A Tale for Young Persons


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  Transcriber's note:

  Text enclosed by underscores is in italics (_italics_).

  THE ADOPTED CHILD. _It was now Anna's turn to support her father. page 139_]

  THE ADOPTED DAUGHTER,

  A TALE FOR YOUNG PERSONS.

  BY MISS SANDHAM, _Author of "The Twin Sisters," "William Selwyn," and many other Approved Works._

  "You took me up a tender flower."

  _SECOND EDITION._

  LONDON: PRINTED FOR J. HARRIS AND SON, ST. PAUL'S CHURCH YARD. 1822.

  LONDON

  PRINTED BY COX AND BAYLIS,GREAT QUEEN STREET, LINCOLN'S-INN-FIELDS.

  PREFACE.

  The following tale is intended to shew what people ought to be, ratherthan what they are; as there are few, possessing Mrs. Meridith'sfortune, who have an inclination to dispose of it in the manner she isrepresented to have done. Indeed, the characters here introduced are toonear perfection to be met with in real life, yet the Author hopes thather young readers will receive instruction, as well as amusement, inperusing it.

  Some of the incidents may have been before introduced in works of thesame kind; though she is not aware of plagiarism, or borrowing fromother authors, and as she has endeavoured to pourtray those smallerdelineations of character which often escape a general observer, shehopes many of the ideas will be found to be new; and that the presentwork will not lesson the favour which her former publications has soabundantly met with; and which she holds in grateful estimation.

  THE ADOPTED DAUGHTER.

  CHAPTER I.

  "You took me up a tender flower."

  Mrs. Meridith was the heiress of two considerable estates, one of whichwas in Sussex, on which she was born, and where, at the commencementof this history, she came to reside: her earliest and happiest days ofchildhood had been spent in the village adjoining, where she was nursedby a respectable farmer's wife, having had the misfortune to lose hermother, who died in bringing her into the world. Various sorrows,and the loss of an affectionate husband very early in life, made Mrs.Meridith prefer the quiet scenes of the country to the glitter ofdissipation, or the more uniform amusements of a provincial town; andon entering Rosewood, the name of her estate, she hoped to lose theremembrance of her distresses, which had hitherto heavily oppressed her,in endeavouring to alleviate those of her tenants and the neighbouringpoor. Her father, Mr. Woodville, was a great fox-hunter, and on thedeath of his wife, which he did not feel so keenly as might be expectedfrom the amiable character she possessed, earnestly entreated Mrs.Campbell, who was the wife of his favourite tenant, to take charge ofthe helpless infant. He could have wished she had been a boy, as shewas his only child; "yet," said he, "she must be taken care of, thougha female, and I will not injure the fortune to which she will beentitled; and by and by, when she is old enough, I shall be glad to seeher at the head of my table;" but while she was a baby, he thought ifhe entrusted her to a careful nurse, such as he was sure Mrs. Campbellwould be, it was all that could be required of him. Nor was he desirousof having her in his own house, but perfectly satisfied that she shouldbe removed to the farm, where he could see her as often as he wished.He frequently called on his return from the chace, and repeated histhanks to Mrs. Campbell for her kind attention to his child, earnestlyrequesting her not to want any thing which his house afforded; but Mr.and Mrs. Campbell were above want, and possessed every comfort whichtheir moderate wishes required, so that, except the allotted stipendwhich Mr. Woodville engaged to pay, she sought no other recompence, andseldom went to Rosewood, but when its owner was confined by accident orillness, and wished his daughter to be brought to him.

  She continued with the farmer and his wife till nearly six years old,regarding them as parents, and loving them equally with her father,who, as she advanced in childhood, grew more attached to her, and,pleased with her winning ways, he never came to the farm without somenew toy, or sweetmeat, or sugar-plums, the servants at home beingordered to have something nice always in readiness for him to take totheir young mistress. These repeated presents insured him a welcomefrom his daughter, nor did he suspect that he was buying that lovewhich she freely bestowed on her mammy Campbell, for so she styled heraffectionate nurse. The little girl who was her foster sister alwaysshared in these favours, and another part was put by for the boys tilltheir return from school, and whom she looked upon as her brothers.

  It was the eldest of these boys who now occupied the farm on which Mrs.Meridith had spent her infant days; his father and mother were bothdead, and he had taken a long lease of it just before that lady cameinto possession of the estate. Mr. Woodville had been dead some years,but Mrs. Meridith had not visited Rosewood since that event, nor afterher marriage till now, being deprived of her husband, with whom shehad lived on her other estate in Lincolnshire, she turned her thoughtsto Rosewood, where she hoped to forget her grief, and if any of thecompanions of her childhood were living, she could by adding to theircomforts, increase her own. Here she found not the farmer Campbell shehad formerly called her father, but his son, whom she once loved as abrother; her good old nurse had died a few years before, and her fostersister also, but the latter had left a child, which the present Mr.and Mrs. Campbell brought up as their own. There were but two housesof any size in the village of Downash, except the parsonage, which wasoccasionally occupied by the vicar, a single man, who lost the pleasurehe might have found in assisting those whom he professed to take thecare of, in drinking and visiting the neighbouring towns, as often ashis situation would allow: the others were occupied by farmer Campbelland farmer Ward, who divided the arable land of Mrs. Meridith's estatebetween them, and the cottages of their labourers formed what was calledthe street. No sooner was Mrs. Meridith settled at Rosewood, than shefelt the ties of affection renewed which had bound her to it in infancy,and she felt the truth of the following observation--

  "Meanwhile returning to our native hearth, "How keen the pleasure that our grief repays, "When drinking every gale from kindred earth, "As redolent of youth's refreshing days, "Fancy the wonders of her art displays, "And o'er each object we in absence mourn'd, "Shedding the richness of her fairy rays; "Bids e'en the little hedge-row that we scorn'd, "Rise in a mellow light, by some new tint adorn'd." _Local Attachment._

  and she determined to seek for happiness once more within its precincts."Often as I have been disappointed in the search," said she, "andseverely as I have felt its loss, let me at least endeavour to use thoseblessings yet left me for the good of others: and is wealth alone theonly blessing left me?" continued she, as she walked pensively up anddown the avenue which led to her house. "Alas! I have now no relationswhom I can share it with, no one whom I can call an intimate friend!My fortune would make many profess to be such, but I have proved thefallacy of such friendship, and know on what ground they are formed. Iwill seek the Campbells: if they are like their parents, they will notbe parasites, for they were content with little, and thought the breadthey ate the sweeter for being procured by their own industry." Withthese sentiments she called at the farm, within a few weeks after herarrival at Rosewood, and found Mr. and Mrs. Campbell sensible of hercondescension, though not servilely so. They were both well informed,and paid her the respect which was due to her as the owner of theirfarm; nor were they ashamed to acknowledge her their superior, not onlyfrom her possessing more money, but from the difference the distinctionsof society had made between them. She found the farmer sitting with twochildren on his knee, and his wife with an infant on hers, in the veryplace where the late Mrs. Campbell used to sit, and to whom she hadoften ran with the sweet things her father brought her while a childunder her care. The shelves, the chairs, and oaken tables were the sameas when she lived there, except that several books were added to thesimple library her foster parents possessed. On entering the room quiteunexpectedly, she was not at first recollected as the lady they had seenat church the Sunday before; her face was particularly expressive, butit was marked with melancholy; and her voice faltered as she apologizedfor her abruptness; nor could she refrain from tears on observing theextreme likeness of the farmer to his good old mother, whose featuresshe perfectly recollected. "It is Mrs. Meridith!" said he, on seeing heradvance farther into their large stone kitchen; and setting the childrenon their feet, who were lost in astonishment at the appearance of astranger, he jumped up and hastened to offer her a chair. Mrs. Campbellalso rose, and remarking the agitation of her countenance, imagined thatsomething had alarmed her, and she had fled to their house for shelter.

  "Will you take any thing, Ma'am?" said she, "I am sure you are verymuch frightened."

  "No, no," replied Mrs. Meridith, "but the recollection of old timesand old friends were at the moment almost too much for me; thesewalls and that face are no strangers to me:--do you not recollect me,Mr. Campbell?" continued she, holding out her hand to him. With acountenance expressive of pleasure, yet with the utmost respect, he tookher offered hand.

  "Certainly, Ma'am, I do," he replied, "and esteem myself obliged thatyou should still remember me."

  "Alas!" said she with a sigh, "the loss of so many later friends hasmade me wish to see those of an earlier date; not that I did not oftenthink of those I left at the farm, and only wish there were now moreof them for me to meet. Your dear mother I know is dead; but my sisterAnna, where is she? Ah! that little girl puts me in mind of her--and ofa still dearer tie," added she, with a sigh half suppressed, while hereyes were suffused with tears.

  "It is her child, Madam," returned Mr. Campbell; "I lost my sister whenshe was born, and she is ours now."

  "Poor little thing," said Mrs. Meridith, drawing the child towards her,"your mother dead also! May you find in the present Mrs. Campbell askind a nurse as I did in the former, and you will not know your loss.But your brother," continued she, "is he living?"

  "Yes, Madam, and has taken a farm about fourteen miles from hence, andis married."

  "My poor Anna!" repeated Mrs. Meridith, "how sorry I am that you are nothere! she was the only one I ever called sister, Mr. Campbell: who didshe marry?"

  "A young man from the neighbouring town, Madam; but he was far froma kind husband to her: she lived with him but little more than atwelvemonth, and I fear it hastened her death, for she was so beloved byher own family, that she felt his unkindness doubly keen. This littleone is now three years old; on her death-bed she begged us to take it,and its unnatural father has never inquired for it since; nor have weheard of him, except that he was gone as a soldier or a sailor, andperhaps ere this is dead in battle."

  The little girl looked hard at him as he related this tale, seeming notto understand of whom he spoke, but as if wishing to be certain it wasnot herself, she took him by the hand with an inquiring look, saying,"_You_ are _my_ father, a'nt you?"

  "Yes, my dear, and always will be a father to you," he replied, with anaffectionate kiss. "But give me leave, Madam," added he, "to introducemy wife to you," who still stood contemplating the features of the lady,and hushing the baby in her arms, who seemed disposed to cry at a sceneso new to her.

  "Did I not know her, when a child?" asked Mrs. Meredith.

  "I believe not, madam; her name was Dallwyn, and her father the owner ofthe farm my brother occupies."

  "I can only say, that I shall be happy to know more of her," returnedtheir kind visitor, "and to see her often. Thirty years have notobliterated the kindness of your family from my memory, and I cannotforget that to your mother's care I owe my preservation in childhood.Neither have I forgot your own efforts to please me, when I used to callyou my brother William; you were always kind."

  "And you were so to me, Madam," returned Mr. Campbell, with a smile;"that shelf (pointing to the place where she used to deposit the sweetthings she reserved for her _brothers_ on their return from school)often reminds me of you."

  Mrs. Meridith smiled also. "Ah! those were happy days," said she; "wouldI could forget many that has intervened!"

  "Madam, I am sorry any of your days should have been less happy,"replied the farmer, "but let us hope that there are yet happier ones instore."

  Mrs. Meridith felt that the soothing voice of friendship, though from sohumble an individual, was a cordial to her heart, and she thanked himfor expressing it. "I wish," said she, "to forget all distinctions ofrank between us, for I have found very little to recompense me for thetrouble these have given; and for the future I hope you and your wifewill look on me as your friend, and treat me as such."

  "Your friendship, Madam," returned Mr. Campbell, "I should be ungratefulnot to prize, and I hope I shall do nothing to forfeit it; but thoughyou are so kind as to forget the distinction there is between us, Itrust we never shall. Consider _us_, Madam, as the most faithful ofyour servants, and from our knowledge of each other in our younger days,believe me the most attached of your tenants."

  Mrs. Meridith, after walking over the garden and visiting the barn, inwhich, when a child, she used to play with Anna and her brothers, fixeda day for Mr. and Mrs. Campbell to dine with her; and retired with asighing heart, yet not unmixed with pleasure at having found a friend.

  "Perhaps," said she to herself, "in these humble acquaintance I may findmore real pleasure, and greater gratitude than in more refined society:had his mother been alive, I should have been happy to have made hercomfortable; but at least I will do good to her sons. I know perhapsbetter than I did how to bestow what is useful, and money I have inplenty. May I be enabled to make a right use of it."

  She returned home more at ease than she had felt for some time, andresolved to exert herself for the people of the village. "But itshall be by employing them," thought she, and she immediately plannedseveral alterations in her gardens and pleasure grounds, and ordered herservants to employ all the old men and boys who were at that time out ofwork about them.

 
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