couldnt spare. He was a blacksmith, and, of course, very necessary; and I thought and said, at the time, that Mammy and he had better give each other up, as it wasnt likely to be convenient for them ever to live together again. I wish, now, Id insisted on it, and married Mammy to somebody else; but I was foolish and indulgent, and didnt want to insist. I told Mammy, at the time, that she mustnt ever expect to see him more than once or twice in her life again, for the air of fathers place doesnt agree with my health, and I cant go there; and I advised her to take up with somebody else; but noshe wouldnt. Mammy has a kind of obstinacy about her, in spots, that everybody dont see as I do.
Has she children? said Miss Ophelia.
Yes; she has two.
I suppose she feels the separation from them?
Well, of course, I couldnt bring them. They were little dirty thingsI couldnt have them about; and, besides, they took up too much of her time; but I believe that Mammy has always kept up a sort of sulkiness about this. She wont marry anybody else; and I do believe, now, though she knows how necessary she is to me, and how feeble my health is, she would go back to her husband tomorrow, if she only could. I do, indeed, said Marie; they are just so selfish, now, the best of them.
Its distressing to reflect upon, said St. Clare, dryly.
Miss Ophelia looked keenly at him, and saw the flush of mortification and repressed vexation, and the sarcastic curl of the lip, as he spoke.
Now, Mammy has always been a pet with me, said Marie. I wish some of your northern servants could look at her closets of dresses,silks and muslins, and one real linen cambric, she has hanging there. Ive worked sometimes whole afternoons, trimming her caps, and getting her ready to go to a party. As to abuse, she dont know what it is. She never was whipped more than once or twice in her whole life. She has her strong coffee or her tea every day, with white sugar in it. Its abominable, to be sure; but St. Clare will have high life below-stairs, and they every one of them live just as they please. The fact is, our servants are over-indulged. I suppose it is partly our fault that they are selfish, and act like spoiled children; but Ive talked to St. Clare till I am tired.
And I, too, said St. Clare, taking up the morning paper.
Eva, the beautiful Eva, had stood listening to her mother, with that expression of deep and mystic earnestness which was peculiar to her. She walked softly round to her mothers chair, and put her arms round her neck.
Well, Eva, what now? said Marie.
Mamma, couldnt I take care of you one nightjust one? I know I shouldnt make you nervous, and I shouldnt sleep. I often lie awake nights, thinking
O, nonsense, childnonsense! said Marie; you are such a strange child!
But may I, mamma? I think, she said, timidly, that Mammy isnt well. She told me her head ached all the time, lately.
O, thats just one of Mammys fidgets! Mammy is just like all the rest of themmakes such a fuss about every little headache or finger-ache; itll never do to encourage itnever! Im principled about this matter, said she, turning to Miss Ophelia; youll find the necessity of it. If you encourage servants in giving way to every little disagreeable feeling, and complaining of every little ailment, youll have your hands full. I never complain myselfnobody knows what I endure. I feel it a duty to bear it quietly, and I do.
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