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of six or seven years old, she was the most unceasingly talkative, and consequently, notwithstanding her many amiable qualities, the most tiresome.
Six months ago I was on a visit at her mamma's house, and I heard Fanny's feet and Fanny's tongue running a race together along the hall and up the stairs—no pause, no stop ! what she said was nearly as follows :
“ There Mary never mind my shoes as I want to tell mamma how badly Pompey behaved when we were opposite the Duke's in the park ran at a dog's tail and the dog ran between a pony's legs and then they rolled over and overa policeman with three heads of cabbage which a woman had spoke to her about carrying parcels in the park — and then Harry's hat went away and my hoop rolled into the Serpentine—and you know you told me to give your love to Mrs. Johnes—and the footman said when he opened the door that his master had run away that morning then he told me not to stand there and slapt the door in my face.” The latter part of this story was rapidly told in the drawing-room, where I was sitting with Fanny's mamma; and the latter part only, attracted my friend's attention.
“ What do you mean, my love, by Mr. Johnes' having ran away ?” inquired Mrs. Eltham.
“ The servant said his master had run away, mamma, and he would not let me come into the hall, he was so rude!" answered Chatterbox, rather more slowly; and was running on with some magnified account (for great and rapid talkers never attend very strictly to what a friend—a Quaker friend --of mine calls “the bright ornament,” meaning truth), when her mamma desired her to stop.
“I must inquire into this,” she said, and rose to ring the bell. “Very strange !” she repeated.
Fanny persisted that it “was every word true;" that Mr. Johnes had run away; and that she was not permitted to enter the hall, though she had a particular message for her little friend Rosa.
“Is this so ?" inquired Mrs. Eltham of the servant; “Miss Fanny says Mr. Johnes has run away."
“So he has, ma’am,” replied the maid: “he ran away this morning from the small-pox, which all the children have got, and which he is dreadfully afraid of catching. The footman would not let us into the house because of the infection.”
Mrs. Eltham looked displeased with Fanny. “How is this?” she said. “You misrepresented two facts. Any one who heard you speak would imagine there must be some other cause for Mr. Johnes' running away; and that the footman deserved to lose his place for treating the child of his mistress's friend with rudeness : whereas poor Mr. Johnes ran away because of the small-pox; and the footman deserves great credit for so steadily preventing the entrance you would have forced; you might not only have caught the disease yourself, but brought the dreadful infection home to your brothers and sisters.”
“I beg your pardon, ma'am,” said Mary Browne, who was not only a very high-principled, good girl, but an excellent servant; “I beg your pardon, but I am sure Miss Fanny did not intend to misrepresent. She asked the footman why Mr. Johnes went away; but she did not attend to what he said, and then became rather angry because he would not let her run across the hall, as usual, to Miss Ellen's room. I would have explained it to her, ma'am,” added the maid, who was very gentle in her manner; “but, really, Miss talked so all the way home, that I could hardly get in a single word, much less an explanation. Miss does not mean any harm by it, ma'am, I am sure of that: she was in charming spirits; and when she is, her tongue never stops."
Fanny looked abashed; and her mamma lectured her with great kindness upon this fresh evidence of the danger of her bad habit. She shed a few tears, and promised to be more careful; but such was her love of chattering, that in less than an hour I heard her again talking to the parrot that hung in the hall;—a gay, merry bird it used to be, and formerly it said a great many words; but I dare say Mary Browne understood the cause of its late silence. She told me, just before the family returned to the country, that “Miss Fanny talked it dumb.”
Mary Browne was, as I have said, a very nice servantclean, active, orderly, respectful, and well-mannered ; she was what a good and faithful servant always is, a great treasure; and her mistress brought up her children so well, that they treated all the servants, but particularly Mary Browne, with civility and kindness. The young lady who gave her the most trouble was Chatterbox; not only from her incessant talking, but from the various scrapes she got herself and others into by never “ thinking twice before she spoke once.”
This “ Think twice before you speak once, and you will speak twice the better for it,” was as favourite a maxim of Mary Browne's, as “ Young ladies should be seen before they are heard” is of mine; but often as she repeated it to little Fanny, still Fanny talked, and talked not only without thinking twice before she spoke once, but without thinking at all. The old manor house of Eltham, where Fanny's papa and mamma reside the greater part of the year, is just at the end of the village which bears the same name. A beautiful old village it is: there is a river so full of trout, that on a summer evening you can see them leaping out of the water at the little grey thoughtless flies that go pleasuring along its surface, never dreaming of danger; and though one fly sees its brother or sister swallowed by a gaping fish, it never has the sense to keep where the fish cannot reach it. This river is crossed by two bridges: one a wide stone bridge of three arches, which leads into the village and to Eltham House; the other is only a little foot bridge of a couple of planks; you can see them from the wide bridge, spanning, as it were, the river where it is narrowest from bank to bank, protected at either side by a good stout rope. This little bridge is much used by the peasants who live near the common when they want to get quickly to that end of the village where the doctor and the curate live, and where the market is held on Saturdays. There is an old church, whose tower is crowned by ivy; and in that ivy dwell two old owls—white fellows, with huge, green, monster eyes: the inside of the belfrey is alive with bats, sparrows nestle beneath the eaves of the old roof: the churchyard is filled with humble graves, always green, and, in the summer, bright with starry-eyed daisies, and fragrant with the perfume of wild violets. Even Chatterbox is silent when she passes through that beautiful old churchyard; and people come to look at an old yew-tree which flourishes there though it is nearly three hundred years old. But Fanny and her sisters like the broad common,