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AUNTIE. {From the Queen.") Granting that society, as society, would get on better without its old maids pry ing here and chattering every- where, what about auntie? Auntie as a domestic power and personal presence is invaluable, and to blot her out of our calendar would but make life poorer and the family both less cared for and less happy than at present. In Roman Catholic countries auntie lives in the convent, and the whole body of nuns supply her place to the mothers who want help in the manage- ment of their daughters. Those convent days are oftentimes the happiest of all to the girls who are cared for by the mild-eyed wimpled nuns; and the sisterhood is auntie multiplied by as many as there are friendly mistresses and even-tempered companions. But with us auntie unmarried is a nun at large, and concentrates on her own family the affectionate cares and personal energies which the good sisters spread out over all the young who come under their charge. To the little ones of the family auntie is a kind of supplementary Providence, who fills in the chinks and crannies that have been left by the rapii handiwork of fate. She is the Bona Dea of the nursery, whose advent is hailed with shrill, sharp, infantile paeins, and wboae presence means pleasure. She carries an inex- haustible cornucopia somewhere in the depths of her pocket, and breaks through mamma's wholesome rules of restriction for the delicious contraband of cakes and sweeties, which are sure to disorder the young stomachs that receive them. But when did childish mouths cloae themselves against the temptation of bull s eyes and lumps of delight, for the chance of retribution in the shape of rhubarb and magnesia to follow ? If auntie offers, the wee Adams and Eves accept; and for the rest there is more than one apple on the tree. Her toys come in showers like the pearls and diamonds of the fairy tale; and when the little ones think of Santa Olaus, it is as auntie in a white wig and grey blanket, or in a gauza scarf and wings, according as the night-coming genius is a son of old Father Christmas or the daughter of fairyland to their ima- gination. Growing older, auntie is still their provi- dence, if the character of her care a little change". When mamma is tired, when baby brother wants her in the nursery and mysteries are on hand from which the children of the first rank are excluded, auntie is ready to do all that is wanted by way of com- panionship, and to lift the hours from weariness into pleasure. If the weather is fine, that nice long walk to the wood for anemones and primroses, or to the meadow for cowslips and cuckoo flowers, can be taken under her escort; or if the croquet ground is avail- able, it ig ahe who se's the hoops and organises the game. Auntie is the moveable feast at which all in turn find their fitting date, and when wanted is ever at hand. She has nothing to do, according to the family superstition, and mamma has so much The truth of things may be that auntie carries by far the heavier end of the domestic stick, and that baby brothers, with all included in the plea, are only oolourable excuses for mamma's unconquerable indo- lence, which she would fain bide but must indulge— an indolence, too, which increases with her years, and which is at its height when her children most need her activities. Older still, auntie is the chaperon of the girls, and ■ takes them to balls and parties at the sacrifice of her j own strength and reet, while dear mamma lies soft j and warm in her bed, and is so thankful that the girls I are enjoying themselves meanwhile; hoping that ] auntie too is having a pleasant evening, and that Lady This hia p iid her a great deal of attention, that Lord j That handed her in to supper. What a blessing it is, < thinks mamma, turning over for her second sleep, ) that auntie likes going out so much! What would she, who hates it, do if she had it all on her own hands ? At this moment auntie is yawning behind her fan, wearied to death, but smiling and good-natured to the last. It is not one of the least of the little pin- pricks of her life that she is assumed to like for her- self all that she does for the children, and that sacri- fice is not so much as dreamed of in her career. The girls are very fond of her certainly; that is one great joy, and the supreme reward of all her cares, outside the fact of knowing how much she has saved her sister. They will tell things to her which they would not confide to mamma, she seeming to stand in one sense nearer to them than does mamma—more familiar if less adored, more a companion if less a divinity. The first little dawnings of their love affairs are reflected In the mirror of auntie's consciousness long before mamma sees the flush; their little tiffs and difficulties now with each other at home, and now with their friends and companions without, generally P486 into auntie's hands to arrange and compose when they meditate an onslaught on the domestic peace by means of a party, it is she who is first sounded and htr advocacy se- cured and, to do her justice, she is as ready now to promote their pleasure as she was when she used to beg them off their impositions and secure their holi- days, though she not unfrequently barns her fingers in their pie as the result. The boys call her jolly, and the girls' pet name for her is Pussy; and mamma herself confesses that she should not know what to do without her. She supplies surreptitious pocket money as formerly she supplied surreptitious sweets, and conceals all scrapes which it would do no good to reveal. In the beginning of things it was, Mary Jane's torn frock which she mended before mamma could scold tearfully or nurse storm wrathfltlly; or she bound up Jack's cut finger before anyone could faint at the sight of the gash and the blood. Later, as characters develop. and the scene of action shifts, it is Mary Janes imprudent confidence which has borne such disastrous rruit in that penniless young cornet's confession, or Jack's worse than imprudent extravagance which has landed him on the thorny side of the monetary hedge. She does what she can to repair the damage in*1 and even when the authorities have to be told Bhe softens the first shock, and diverts the trouble from the peccant head not unfrequently to her own. This is auntie in her ideal, but not always auntia in the reality of things. Sometimes, iadeed, she is a stiff starch martinet, ever on the side of sternness and the wholesome rod, and whose severity mamma has to temper by the more liberal tenderness of her in- stinct. The noise and restlessness of the little crea- tures are naughtiness to her, just as their impru- dence and thoughtlessness when older are shocking examples ot youthful depravity, and not to be endured j anyhow. Her sister tells her frankly that she does not understand children-how should she, unmarried as she is ? But auntie retorts with aphorisms which would make it appear that the last person in the world who ought to guide her young is the mother, and that the maiden aunt is specialty consecrated to a task which, to be well done according to her, must exclude the weak generosities of love, and be based on the rigid principles of suppression and condemnation instead. Sometimes auntie is simply an upper ser- fant in this housft, who finds her pbsitidn hard, ana works sullenly for her wages of food and shelter. She and the brother-in-law qaarrel, and she foments every small and insignificant sore between them till it beL-omes a bad and serious wound or she goes on the other tack, and c-irnies her sister's husband till she makes him think that he m stook his way when he chose the ne, and left the other, and that if he had married Mary and left Jane go free, the th>ngs of his life would have been better managed throughout. If not often, yet it is at times a fact that the wife's sister, the auntie of the nursery, is neither more nor lees than a snake in the grass, and the worker of infinite mischief to the household. It is an experiment this of the supplemental providence, the auntie who is to have the mother's care and not the mother's reward, her re- sponsibilities and not her authority and it does not always succeed. When it does, it is an arrangement than which nothing can be better or happier. When it does not, our auntie is just a millstone round the neck of her sister and a thorn in the side of her brother-in-law; while to the children she is a rod in perpetual pickle, and one which no amount of using softens or wears out. Let us, however, shut off that side of the picture, and for our last look turn to that where auntie is in babyhood the best nurse, in child hood the fairy godmother, in youth the untiring com- panion, and for all time the dear friend and sympathising corfidante, now of pains and now of pleasures; to-day brightening the already lustrous hope, to-morrow soothing the biting disappointment; always and at all times auntie, dear, good, kind auntie—"our second mother," as the children say when they pat her nice kind face and add, Dear old Pussy, what a darling you are, and what should we do without you 1"