• TABLE OF CONTENTS
HIDE
 Front Cover
 Front Matter
 Half Title
 Frontispiece
 Title Page
 Climbing trees
 The governess
 The governess on the haystack
 The robbers' den
 The gipsies
 The gipsy voyage and camp
 The old man
 Nora and Charlie
 Agnes Vernon
 The rescue
 Another move
 Home again
 Advertising
 Back Cover
 Spine






Group Title: runaways and the gipsies
Title: The Runaways and the gipsies
CITATION THUMBNAILS PAGE TURNER PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE
Full Citation
STANDARD VIEW MARC VIEW
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00015671/00001
 Material Information
Title: The Runaways and the gipsies a tale
Physical Description: 200, 4, 16 p., 1 leaf of plates : ill. ; 16 cm.
Language: English
Creator: George Routledge and Sons ( Publisher )
Publisher: George Routledge and Sons
Place of Publication: London
New York
Publication Date: 1874
Copyright Date: 1874
Edition: New ed.
 Subjects
Subject: Twins -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Gender identity -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Child rearing -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Runaway children -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Romanies -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Governesses -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Discipline of children -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Brothers and sisters -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Children -- Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Pictorial cloth bindings (Binding) -- 1874   ( rbbin )
Publishers' catalogues -- 1874   ( rbgenr )
Onlays (Binding) -- 1874   ( rbbin )
Bldn -- 1874
Genre: Pictorial cloth bindings (Binding)   ( rbbin )
Publishers' catalogues   ( rbgenr )
Onlays (Binding)   ( rbbin )
novel   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: England -- London
United States -- New York -- New York
 Notes
General Note: Date from inscription.
General Note: Publisher's catalogue follows text.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00015671
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: ltqf - AAA8114
notis - ALG8983
oclc - 50199478
alephbibnum - 002228672

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Front Matter
        Front Matter 1
        Front Matter 2
    Half Title
        Half Title 1
        Half Title 2
    Frontispiece
        Frontispiece 1
        Frontispiece 2
    Title Page
        Title Page 1
        Title Page 2
    Climbing trees
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
    The governess
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
    The governess on the haystack
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
    The robbers' den
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
    The gipsies
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
    The gipsy voyage and camp
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
    The old man
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
    Nora and Charlie
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 123
        Page 124
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 127
        Page 128
        Page 129
        Page 130
    Agnes Vernon
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
        Page 136
        Page 137
        Page 138
        Page 139
        Page 140
        Page 141
        Page 142
        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 145
    The rescue
        Page 146
        Page 147
        Page 148
        Page 149
        Page 150
        Page 151
        Page 152
        Page 153
        Page 154
        Page 155
        Page 156
        Page 157
        Page 158
        Page 159
        Page 160
        Page 161
        Page 162
    Another move
        Page 163
        Page 164
        Page 165
        Page 166
        Page 167
        Page 168
        Page 169
        Page 170
        Page 171
        Page 172
        Page 173
        Page 174
        Page 175
        Page 176
        Page 177
        Page 178
        Page 179
        Page 180
        Page 181
    Home again
        Page 182
        Page 183
        Page 184
        Page 185
        Page 186
        Page 187
        Page 188
        Page 189
        Page 190
        Page 191
        Page 192
        Page 193
        Page 194
        Page 195
        Page 196
        Page 197
        Page 198
        Page 199
        Page 200
    Advertising
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
    Back Cover
        Page 123
        Page 124
    Spine
        Page 125
Full Text



























45








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The Baldwin Library
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THE

RUNAWAYS AND THE GIPSIES.










































RM -E

The Gipsy Encampment. Frant.










THE RUNAWAYS



AND.




THE GIPSIES.


A. 3ETV EDITION.





LONDON:
GEORGE ROUTLEDGE AND SONS,
THE BROADWAY, LUDGATE;
NEW YORK: 416, BROOME STREET.












THE


RUNAWAYS & THE GIPSIES.



CHAPTER I.
CLIMBING TREES.
GRACE and Bertram Astley were twins, and, at the
time my story begins, they were rather more than
nine years old. They had several brothers and sisters
younger than themselves, but none older; and in con-
sequence of this they had been turned out of the
nursery at an early age, as the younger ones mul-
tiplied, and had been left pretty much to amuse
themselves, and to run wild about their father's park
and grounds as they chose. They had thus acquired
habits of independence beyond their years, which is
often the case with the elder children of a large
family.
Lord. and Lady Astley had no very particular
theories as to the bringing up of their children-his
lordship contenting himself with requiring that they
should always be well dressed and civilly behaved,
and occasionally remarking that Bertram ought to
be at Eton by this time;" and her ladyship secretly
resolving to keep him at home as long as she possibly
could, and meantime doing her best to instil into the




CLT3I3ING TREES.


hearts of all her children the fear of God and a love
of truth.
Bertram was a bold, fearless, handsome boy, always
ready for any fun, provided Grace could share it
with him; and hitherto there had been few difficulties
in this proviso, for Grace was chiefly remarkable for
her intense devotion to her twin brother-a devotion
which appeared to swallow up all other feelings, all
girlish fears, and childish tempers. Bertram was
everything to her; and, under his able guidance and
tuition, she could keep up with him in all his sports.
Climbing trees and gates, scrambling through hedges,
shooting with a little wooden cross-bow, exactly like
Bertram's,-sliding in winter, cricketing in summer,-
riding, walking, and, it might almost be said, dressing
like her darling brother,- Grace Astley was but
another Bertram. In one thing alone she surpassed
him and differed from him. Grace was not only very
quick at her books, but she delighted in them. She
would have enjoyed the lesson-time, when she and
Bertram had their mother's undivided attention; for,
with the exception of Bertram's Latin, to which the
clergyman of the parish devoted an hour daily, Lady
Astley had hitherto managed to teach them herself;
but the two hours after breakfast which she was able
to devote to them were generally so irksome to poor
Bertram, that Grace found she could not look for-
ward to them with any pleasure. Not that Bertram
was a stupid boy: on the contrary he was quick and
clever at everything except arithmetic, and could get
through his work in a very short time if he chose to






CLIMBING TREES.


apply; out it was a choice that he did not often
make, for somehow or another he generally fixed
upon the lesson-hours as the best time for thinking,
and he would sit with his books before him, gazing
at them, and apparently busy with them, when his
thoughts were wandering far away.
Sometimes Grace would forget herself for a short
time in the absorbing interest of a compound long
division sum, or even of a French exercise; but when,
with burning cheeks and a bright face, she rose from
her little corner, to bring her slate or her book to her
mother, her eye would fall on her poor Bertram as he
lounged against the great school-room table, trying
in vain to conquer the difficulties of the simple
division, and helping himself thereto by drawing tiny
ships filled with gigantic men,-or, what he excelled
:n much more, horses and dogs of all kinds and
descriptions, round the unlucky sum ; and then
Grace's joy was over, and she wished she could give
Bertram half her pleasure in her lessons, or that she
did not care for them so much herself. It almost
seemed to be unjust to him that she should like what
gave him so much trouble. Her great consolation
under this little trial arose from the fact of her being
able to sympathize with him in his intense hatred of
French verbs-for in this one branch of literature
Grace took no pleasure whatever; and when they
began to read history, she was quite happy, for his
delight and interest were only to be equalled by her
own, and were understood by no one but herself; for
their gentle mother was surprised, in her own quiet
B2





4 CLIMBING TREES.

way, at the interest Pinnock's Goldsmith's "Rome,"
and even "'Mrs. Markham," excited in her children.
She supposed children in these days were very dif-
ferent from what they were in her time, for she was
quite certain that she and her sisters and brothers
were equally indifferent to history and arithmetic;
but, on the whole, she was rather proud of this new
and striking feature of childhood, and she felt placidly
convinced that there were no children like hers in the
world.
* The two hours over, Grace and Bertram were free
to go where they chose, within the park. Dressed in
their stout brown-holland gaberdines, happily they
worked in their little gardens, or dug out caves in the
sandy rocks behind the house. Lord Astley was
much away from home, and so much engaged when
he did come, that his children saw little of him. He
was a clever man of the world, and many people
asserted that he had never been anything else-that
he had had no childhood, but was born a ready-made
statesman. He had been an only child, and, having
lost his parents in his babyhood, had been brought up
by a stern old aunt, who disapproved, on principle, of
all childish amusements. Lord Astley, therefore, had
grown up in utter ignorance of all such youthful
vanities as delighted his own children; and, as
for the said children, he looked upon them as a
necessary part of his establishment-much as he
regarded his servants, and his horses, and the hand-
some service of plate which had descended from father
to son in the Astley family for many generations.






CLIMBING TBEES.


Lady Astley had lived much in the world before
her marriage; but she did not now regret the world,
although nothing could be much more retired than
her life as it passed at Combe Astley. Among her
children and her flowers she was happy, and she
desired no more; she even occasionally wasted a
sigh as the thought passed through her mind, that
the time must come when her duty to her children
would oblige her once more to quit her much-loved
solitude. During their father's short visits to his
home, her chief care about Grace and Bertram hitherto
had been to make them fit to be seen, and to keep
them out of mischief. They had learnt, therefore,
not to look forward to these visits with anything like
pleasure, and were only too glad when their father's
departure left them at liberty to return to their dear
brown-holland dresses and wild habits.
Soon after these children had passed their ninth
birthday, their happiness received a severe shock from
a few words which they accidentally overheard between
their father and mother. It was a brg spring day, and Lord Astley having arrived unex-
pectedly from town, Bertram and Grace were running
wild, as usual, after their morning lessons, instead of
being caught up, like young horses, to be combed and
dressed, as they always were when his lordship was
expected.
On this particular morning there happened to be a
wedding in the village, and the two children had
climbed, by means of the huge old shrubbery trees, to
the top of the very broad wall which commanded





CLIMBIlNG TREES.


a good view of the church and village street, and
here they were sitting side by side, perfectly indif-
ferent to their great height from the ground, when
their father and mother strolled slowly by in the
avenue behind them.
Grace was just drawing her brother's attention to
the bridal party, now issuing from the church, when
Bertram, hearing his father's loud and important
tones, exclaimed,-
Hush, Gracey There's mamma coming-and my
father too, I do believe. Keep quiet, and they will
not see us here; the trees are nice and thick between
us."
Gracey did hush directly; and Lord Astley was
heard to say, in a voice of great decision, as if he
was for ever setting at rest a disputed question,-
My dear, the thing is settled; the children must
have a governess. It will break the boy in for school;
and as for Grace-"
The children were obliged to remain in ignorance
as to the effect their father intended la governess to
produce on Grace, for the end of his sentence was
lost in the trees, and never reached their anxious
little ears.
They looked at each other in dismay. A governess
was an evil which they had never contemplated, and
all their interest in the village wedding was gone for
ever.
Grace!" said Bertram, in a low tone, expressive
of immense surprise and indignation at this unexpected
insult, as he regarded it. Grace! did you hear ?-a





CLIMBING TREES.


governess--a real governess,-and for me-a big boy
like me!-why school would be better!" and he re-
mained transfixed.
Grace felt as if she had never fully realized the
horror of such an affliction before, now that she saw
the terrible light in which Bertram regarded it; and
when he went on to describe, in the most touch-
ing manner, how, on the arrival of the dreadful
governess, they would never be allowed to stir
beyond the house-door without her, never again
visit the horses in the stables, nor the pigs in the
pigsty, nor even to go to see the cows milked,-
while climbing trees, ferreting and digging in their
little gardens, would be regarded as equal to robbery
and murder, and punished accordingly by this house-
hold tyrant,-Poor Grace could bear it no longer, but
fairly burst into tears. As she seldom cried, Bertram
was rather startled at this unexpected result of his
words, and he began to console her with all the
energy in his power.
Never mind, Gracey, don't cry, and we'll manage
her. I'll knock her down if she dares to follow us
about. I ain't a boy for nothing. Look at this
arm"-and he bared a sturdy little brown arm-" look,
isn't this strong enough to beat any governess; I'll
take care of you, never fear;" and he raised his
voice in his excitement, till Grace in terror begged
him to stop.
For," said she, "they are coming back; and, 0
Bertram! there is some one with them-perhaps it's
the governess !"





CLIMBING TREES.


Nonsense," returned the boy; governesses don't
grow among the bluebells near the lodge, and that's
where they've been. I wish they did grow there, the.
wretches!" added he, shaking his fist, "and I'd
soon put a stop to them and their cruelty. Not that
I care for myself though, Gracey, because I'm not a
child now, you know; but what I think is, if they
take it into their heads to send me to school, you'll
be bullied into a scarecrow, and I sha'n't be able
to help you; but, hush! here they come. Who is
that with them ? "
"Mr. De Verrie;" whispered Grace, don't you
see, now ? "
Hush repeated Bertram; and the two children
sat like little mice on their high perch, while Lord
and Lady Astley came slowly on, accompanied by
their friend and neighbour Mr. Do Verrie, whom
they had met at the lodge-gate. Bertram and Grace
hoped they should hear more about the governess
now, as they fancied it must be a subject of great
importance, and that everybody must be interested
in it; and they were much disappointed at hearing,
instead, only a few remarks about trees. The little
party stopped just in front of a great tree which
stood close to the children, so close that they were
leaning against one of the branches which grew over
the wall. Lord Astley was pointing out the beauties of
this tree to his visitor, and they all looked up at it,
and began to walk round to examine it. Bertram and
Grace trembled on high, as Mr. De Verrie, advancing
nearer than the others and scoring up among the





CLIMBING TREES.


branches, caught sight of a little piece of brown-
holland,-being neither more nor less than one of
their gaberdines.
"Why, Lord Astley," he exclaimed, "you grow
funny little brown flowers up in your trees."
"Eh ? what ? said his lqrdship, who had dropped
his cane, and was stooping to pick it up; you must
ask Lady Astley about the flowers,-she knows more
about them than I do."
"I dare say she does, at least about these peculiar
flowers," said Mr. De Verrie, smiling, and turning
towards her, while she looked imploringly at him, and
said, in a hurried voice,-
I know nothing of flowers in trees; but come
to my garden, and you shall see some worth look-
ing at."
Mr. De Verrie did iot remark her looks nor attend
to her words, but he called again to Lord Astley to
look up at the flowers, for he fancied that he would
be amused at the situation of the children.
The poor man soon discovered his mistake. Lord
Astley looked up, and saw, not only the brown-holland,
but a little brown hand put gently out to gather it up
out of sight.
"Holloa!" said he, in his loudest, most terrible
voice, "who is there? Come down this instant,
young vagabonds! This is always the way," he
added, turning to Mr. De Verrie; the ingratitude
of these poor children is scandalous. In spite of all
Lady Astley's schools, and charities, and rewards,
there they are destroying my trees, as if there was




CLIMBING TREES.


no school in the parish. Come down, you young
rascals!" he roared again.
Mr. De Verrie was very sorry for the children,
still more sorry for having been the cause of getting
them into the trouble he foresaw for them. He saw
that they must be discovered-the sooner.the better
-and he said,-
"I don't think they are exactly rascals, Lord
Astley, but more like your own children than any-
thing else. Let me see;" and, without another word,
or waiting to be forbidden, he sprang on to one of the
lowest branches, and, seizing a higher one, he swung
himself up to where he could get a good view of the
children, who still remained trembling on the wall.
"Ah, Grace!" said he, as soon as he saw her little
face peeping out, how do you do ? How did you
get up there, and how do you intend to get down ?
-three questions for you in a breath, so don't an-
swer one, but let me help you."
"No," said Grace, shrinking back.
Come down!" roared their father from below.
"Be careful, my dear, dear children, and make
iaste down," said their mother's gentle, tremulous
voice; for she looked upon the tree as a burning
house, and thought that every minute they remained
in it increased their danger; while the children,
regarding their father at this moment as some-
thing more to be dreaded than any burning house,
were in no hurry to move. At another roar from
Lord Astley, however, they began most cleverly to
let themselves down from their height; but her





CLIMBING TREES. li

mother's repeated exclamations of terror made
poor little Grace so exceedingly nervous, that,
although quite as good a climber as Bertram,
and although she had been up and down that very
tree hundreds of times before, she contrived, on this
particular occasion, to lose her hold and slip,-not
very far, however, for two huge friendly branches
received her; and in another moment Mr. De Verrie
was at her side, and with very little difficulty extri-
cated her, and placed her in perfect safety by her
mother's side.
Bertram now stood by her. Lord Astley's anger
had been so much increased, and he felt it to be so
entirely justified, by the sight of Grace's danger, that
he could hardly thank Mr. De Verrie with becoming
civility; but Mr. De Verrie was quite thanked
enough by Lady Astley, whose tears, being in
the habit of appearing at the shortest possible
notice, were now, of course, flowing in the strongest
consciousness of having every right to do so. Lord
Astley scolded the children severely, and ordered
them to their rooms for the rest of the day, and
neither Lady Astley nor Mr. De Verrie said a word
in their behalf, as they knew that it would be of
no avail-for, although Lord Astley's naturally very
violent temper was usually well under control, yet,
when once it was roused, he would bear no opposition,
especially if the cause of his anger concerned in any
way his household, in which he included, as before
mentioned, his servants, his children, his horses, and
his plate.





CLIMBING TREES.


The children walked off, hand in hand, Grace cry-
ing quietly, but Bertram with his cheeks burning,
and his head upright, taking very long steps, and
longing to be tall and big, and almost to go back and
answer his father.
When Lord Astley found that he was not opposed,
his anger rapidly cooled down, and he consoled him-
self by talking most impressively to his wife and his
guest on the subject of the impropriety of young
ladies running wild about the country with their
brothers; of his own extreme horror at the unfor-
tunate brown-holland dresses; and he ended by point-
ing out how much better it would be for Grace to be
dressed like a lady, and to spend her time in learning
the harp or piano, declaring that he would that very
day write to town for a governess,-which article
of household furniture, apparently, his lordship ex-
pected to be able to order dowi from town from
some repository or warehouse with as much ease
as he would have obtained a pianoforte. Lady
Astley mildly remarked, that Grace was too
young for the harp, and that she had done all
her lessons before she went out, and really played
very well on the piano for a child of her age; and as
to dress, she was always well dressed when anybody
was expected."
"And am I nobody ?" inquired Lord Astley,
in a tone of imposing dignity, and not the least
as if he really wanted to know her opinion on the
subject.
"Indeed, my dear," replied his gentle wife, "indeed,





CLIMBING TREES.


I always have them well dressed when you or any
other company are expected,-only, you know, you
never said you were coming to-day."
"And I am to be regarded as company in my own
house, Lady Astley? said he, in a tone which was
intended to convey a depth of solemn sarcasm, but
which really sounded so exactly like a simple ques-
tion, that her ladyship answered quietly,-
Yes, my dear, if it is your wish. They only wear
their old brown-hollands when they are alone with me
here; and you know "-with a gentle sigh-" you
know that is more than three-parts of the year."
Perhaps Lord Astley was tired of hearing of the
brown-holland; at all events, he turned rather hastily
to Mr. De Verrie as his wife spoke, and asked if he
knew of a good governess,-though it was not very
likely that a young man of one or two and twenty
should know much about governesses-and no doubt
Lord Astley would have thought of this if he had not
been in a hurry to escape from brown-holland.
Now, strangely enough, it appeared that Mr. De
Verrie did know of a governess, although he was a
young man of one or two and twenty; and he hastened
to tell Lord Astley that his youngest sister was just
seventeen, and that his mother was very anxious to
find a good situation and a happy home for Mrs. Abel,
the lady who had filled the double situation of gover-
ness and friend to Laura De Verrie for the last
seven years and a half. If either Lord or Lady
Astley would like to talk to his mother about this
lady, he would be delighted to drive her over any





CLIMBING TREES.


morning, or he would bring Mrs. Abel herself if they
preferred.
Lord Astley was as pleased with this proposal as
was consistent with his dignity, and as he generally
was with any proposal that came from Mr. De Verrie,
for he entertained a very high opinion of that young
man's sense and abilities. Lady Astley, therefore,
was obliged by her lord to write a very civil note to
Mrs. De Verrie, for Reginald to take back, stating
how very anxious she (Lady Astley) was to procure
a governess for her children, and making many in-
quiries as to the likelihood of the situation suiting
Mrs. Abel, and of Mrs. Abel's willingness to under-
take the same. Reginald rode off with the note
directly after luncheon; and Lady Astley, having
watched his rapidly retreating figure till it was quite
out of sight, went with her knitting and a heavy heart
to hear from her husband a repetition of all his old
lectures upon young-lady proprieties and dress, em-
bellished, on this occasion, with many additions and
several pretty severe reprimands for her carelessness in
having already allowed Grace to become such a tomboy;
very little of which did her ladyship attend to, as her
thoughts were completely taken up with wondering
how the children had interpreted the order which
sent them to their room,-whether they had retired
to the solitude of their bed-rooms, or were quietly
amusing themselves in the cheerful play-room,
so soon and so sadly to be changed into the
"school-room." At length, to her great delight,
the superior claims of stewards, carpenters, and





CLIMBING TREES. 15

bailiffs, left her at liberty to creep out of the
room.
My love!" were the words that stopped her as
she reached the door, "you are not going to pity and
spoil, those children; I will not have them down to-
day. Grace must learn to be ashamed of herself."
"Very well," said Lady Astley, leaving the room.
As she went along the passage to the play-room,
it occurred to her to wonder what harm Bertram had
done. It might be foolish for Grace to climb trees,
but even Lord Astley had been heard to say that
boys ought to be hardy; and one of his chief reasons
for wishing to send the child early to school was,
that he might grow up like other boys. And what
can be more like other boys than climbing trees ? "
thought Lady Astley, as she put her hand on the door
of the play-room and pushed it open.













CHAPTER II.
THE GOVERNESS.

BERTRAM and Grace were sitting in the great
window recess, looking very mournful and downcast,
for so seldom did their father interfere with their
pursuits, that a real scolding, as they called it, from
him was quite an event, and a most disagreeable one,
in their little lives. Even Bertram, his first anger
and mortification over, was quite subdued; and they
had been sitting for the last ten minutes just as their
mother found them, in perfect silence, not daring to
leave the room, longing for some one to break the
monotony of their imprisonment, and yet dreading to
receive a message from their father requiring their
presence in the study-a room which they never
entered without feelings of restraint at the very best
of times.
Both the children came running up to Lady Astley
as she entered the room. "Mamma, mamma!" said
Grace, Oh, mamma is he very angry ?-mayn't we
go out ?-Oh, mamma!" and they each seized a hand
and clung to her.
"He is angry, Gracey," said their mother; "he
thinks that little girls should not romp about and
climb trees; and indeed, my dear child, it makes me




THE GOVERNESS.


quite tremble to think of the height you were from
the ground, and you must promise me never to get
up there again."
"But, mamma, I was there to take care of her,"
said Bertram, stoutly. "There wasn't the smallest
atom of danger;-she never slipped before, only you
flurried her by being frightened;-she climbs as well
as I do."
My dear boy, climbing is not a desirable accom-
plishment for a young lady, and I cannot allow your
sister to do it any more. Gracey, my darling, you
must promise me that you will never climb trees
again."
Lady Astley put her arm round the little girl's
waist, and drew her towards her in her own peculiarly
gentle, engaging manner.
Promise never to climb trees again! Poor Grace!
it was indeed a trial; for she knew perfectly well the
value of a promise, and it never entered her head to
give her word and then afterwards to break it,-and
yet how to disobey her mother! Grace stood motion-
less, passively receiving her mother's caresses, but
making no reply; while Bertram exclaimed, in a
thorough passion,-
"Grace! you must not promise-you shall not
promise!"
"Bertram!" said Lady Astley.
It was but one word, but the sad tone in which it
was uttered cut him to the heart far more than his
father's many and angry words; and he turned away
to the window, and stood with his back to his mother
c




THE GOVERNESS.


and sister, gazing out into the bright lovely park,
where the deer were grazing, in happy ignorance of
the woes of their young master and mistress.
Grace," continued Lady Astley, imploringly, "I
must have your promise-I know I can trust you.
My child, think of my misery if you were to fall from
one of those dreadful trees, and perhaps be very much
injured, or even killed. Grace, I shall not have a
moment's peace when you are out of my sight.
Indeed-indeed- "
Lady Astley was working herself up into a state of
agony.
"Mamma, I promise !" burst from poor Grace; and
she slid from her mother's arms, and, sinking on the
floor, burst into a passion of tears.
Lady Astley was grieved to distress her little girl,
but she was satisfied-she was more than satisfied-
she was proud of her daughter's promise, and of her
obedience-and she felt highly delighted at having so
favourable a circumstance to report to her husband.
She had no idea of what that promise cost Grace; and
after telling the children that they must on no account
leave that room without their father's permission, and
advising them to keep as quiet as possible, she left
them, to return to the study, and watch for a favour-
able opportunity of obtaining a remission of their
sentence by giving an account of Grace's promise.
The children, on being left to themselves, remained
for some minutes, the one on the floor, the other at
the window, without speaking. Grace was the first
to move. She crept to Bertram and looked up in bis




THE GOVERNESS. 19

face, half afraid to see how angry he was at the death-
blow which she felt that she had given to many of
their peculiar little plans and ways. He was still gazing
out of the window, struggling to keep back the tears
which for worlds he would not have been seen to shed.
Bertram, I could not help it," said the little girl.
The boy turned to look at the little tearful face,
and throwing his arm round his sister's neck, he
kissed her, and answered, as if suddenly convinced of
the truth of her words,-
"No, Gracey, you are right; but oh, Gracey!"-
and his tone changed,-" think, only think, never,
never, never to climb again; not the little beech, or
the wall-tree, or even the great cedar, never-till you
are quite grown i p as much as mamma, and may do
as you like. Oh, Gracey!" and as he named each
favourite tree, he looked down into her face to see how
she could bear it. The tears were still flowing, but
the little face was firm.
"I know it, Bertram," she said; I thought of it
all when mamma was talking. It is giving up a great
deal, but then it is for our own darling mamma, and
I would do anything in the world for her. Don't
you remember when we were wondering if we should
have had courage to leap down the gulf, like Marcus
Curtius in Roman History, we said we would do it
for mamma any day, and that would have been worse
than giving up climbing? "
I don't know that," replied Bertram, doubtingly.
"There would have been glory in that, at all events,
and there is none in thi-."




THE GOVERNESS.


Grace reminded him that the glory would have
been of no good to them if they were dead; and they
continued talking on the subject of glory and sacrifices
till Bertram became so enchanted with the idea that
he exclaimed,-
"I'll tell you what, Gracey, I'll give it up
too;-I'll go to mamma and promise to give up
climbing."
"No, Bertram," said Grace, "that will never do.
They won't like that; boys must climb. There are
plenty of other great things for you to do."
"I don't know what," said Bertram, sadly; "and
besides, if they like me to climb, why was my father
so angry with me ?"
Oh, because it is spoiling the trees, that he does
not like; besides, I don't think he was so angry with
you, and perhaps if he had found you alone up there
he would not have said much."
At this point of the discussion Lady Astley re-
turned to tell the children that their father had
forgiven them on hearing of Grace's promise, and
that they had better go and make themselves fit to
be seen.
To tell the truth, Lord Astley had very speedily for-
gotten all about the children in his multiplicity of
business; and when their fault and punishment was
recalled to his recollection by his wife, just as he had
concluded a most satisfactory examination of his
banker's book, he had remarked hastily, but with
good humour,-" Oh, to be sure, let them out; but
mind you, no more brown holland suits; let them be




THE GOVERNESS.


dressed like gentlemen's children, and behave as
such."
Lady Astley had tried to touch his heart by re-
lating the promise Grace had made to climb no more,
of which she thought so much herself; but he per-
sisted is regarding it, most provokingly, as a thing of
course that a child should promise to be good imme-
diately after punishment, and would by no means be
worked up to a pitch of admiration, or even to bestow
another thought on the matter.
Mrs. De Verrie was a sensible, strong-minded
woman, and her friendship might have been of great
advantage to Lady Astley ; but Lady Astley was
slightly afraid of her, and disliked her rather blunt,
plain-spoken manner, and as Mrs. De Verrie was not
a person to push her friendship when she saw it was
not required, the two ladies met but seldom, although
the son of the one was a great favourite at Combe
Astley, and the children of the other were objects of
much interest at Rangley Park, which was the name
of the domain of the house of De Verrie.
Reginald De Verrie had taken a great fancy to
Bertram Astley, and had often lamented to his mother
and sister the strange wild way in which, it was
evident, these children would be allowed to grow up.
"It does not signify," he would say, "now that
they are so young, and it is well that they should be
hardy; but Lady Astley has no idea of anything
better for them as they get older. The boy sees no
one but his sister and the servants, and some of these
days, when he is suddenly taken from home and put




22 THE GOVERNESS.
to school, it will go hard with him. They are as wild
as young colts, and as shy too. They run away and
hide even when they see Laura and me riding up
to the house, though we are friends enough if we do
meet."
Mrs. De Verrie had sometimes asked the children
to come to Rangley, but Lady Astley did not like them
to go out alone, and felt herself unequal to the exer-
tion of accompanying them."
Reginald and his mother rejoiced in the prospect
of introducing Mrs. Abel at Combe Astley, for they
hoped that not only would she prove a real friend to
the children, but that she might be the means of
bringing them out of their solitude and making
them associate with other children in the neigh-
bourhood more than the pride of their father and
the indolence of their mother had hitherto allowed
them to do.
Lady Astley and Mrs. De Verrie interchanged a
few notes on the subject, and it was finally settled
that Mrs. Abel should go over to Combe Astley as
soon as possible, to arrange preliminaries.
Unfortunately, Mrs. Abel was attacked by a severe
cold, and was unable to go to Lady Astley's for some
days, and before she was well enough to venture out,
Lord Astley had returned to town; not, however,
without extracting a promise from his wife that she
would engage Mrs. Abel,-of whose fitness he enter-
tained no doubts,-to undertake her new charge as
soon as possible.
Now, to confess the truth, Lady Astley had quite




THE GOTVENESS.


as great a horror of a governess as her children had.;
for she, like her husband, was an only child, and had
been entirely educated by her mother. She did not
look forward with any pleasure to having a stranger
domesticated in her home, and either constantly
interfering between herself and her children, or en-
tirely drawing away and monopolizing their affections.
A spy upon her actions, and it.rribly in the way, she
was convinced a governess would prove to be; nor
did she incline to like her the better when she recol-
lected that Mrs. Abel would come direct from Mrs.
De Verrie, and had resided for so many years in that
lady's family as to have established a right of friend-
ship, of which Lady Astley did not doubt she would
avail herself as much as possible, as a consolation for
the vexations and annoyances which she could not
but find in a house where her presence was so little
desired by any one member of the family; and by
this means her ladyship feared to be drawn herself
into that intimacy with Mrs. De Verrie which it had
been her almost unacknowledged object to avoid for
so many years.
Both Lady Astley and her children, therefore, were
at this time in a most uncomfortable state of sus-
pense, with this difference in their sufferings: that
whereas the mother knew from what quarter the blow
might be expected, and that therefore her mind was
comparatively at rest for the day on the subject after
the arrival of the morning post, the children were
living in perpetual dread, from morning till night, of
the sudden arrival of their tyrant,-fearing every





THE GOVERNESS.


carriage, every gig, and even every cart, whether it
came from the direction of Rangley pr any other
place,-and scarcely daring to venture forth to their
more distant haunts for fear that the new governess
should pounce upon them and at once marshal them
into a state of terrible cleanliness and propriety.
At last, one bright morning, the expected letter
arrived, announcing that Mrs. Abel was sufficiently
recovered to wait on Lady Astley, and that Reginald
De Verrie would drive her over that afternoon in his
dog-cart; for his mother, having perceived that she
herself was no favourite at Combe Astley, had decided
that Mrs. Abel would be more likely to please if
introduced in the first instance by another and more
favoured individual.
On receiving this note, Lady Astley felt somewhat
relieved, for she had been dreading the formal intro-
duction-the long-winded praises of Mrs. Abel which
she expected from Mrs. De Verrie, and she was sure
that Reginald would do the thing much better, and
set everybody at ease at once. It now occurred to
her that the children ought to be told of what was
hanging over them. Little thinking how much they
already guessed, she went immediately to the play-
room, where they were waiting for their usual
lessons, and she told them, in a manner which she
endeavoured to render as quiet and composed as
usual-in which endeavour, however, she did not en-
tirely succeed-that the little ones required so much of
her attention, that she and their father thought it best
to engage a lady to come to live in the house to assist





THE GOVERNESS.


with their lessons; "but," she continued with a sigh,
as she wondered within her own mind how far the
strong-minded and imperious governess she expected
Mrs. Abel to prove would allow her to fulfil her own
words,-" but I do not mean entirely to give up
teaching you; I shall still come into the school-room
every morning, at least at first, and till you get used
to the new ways and greater strictness to which you
must now accustom yourselves." And her eyes filled
with tears as visions rose to her mind's eye of her
little Grace in backboard and stocks for the improve-
ment of her figure; and Bertram in perpetual dis-
grace and punishment for the sad long division sums,
which she really began to believe he could not master;
and then fearing she had said too much and given
them but a sad idea of their governess, she added,---
;n a voice which she strove to raise to cheerfulness,
but which only trembled the more in consequence,
and thereby made her own dread of the new life more
evident, and increased the terror which was stealing
over the children's hearts,-" But I am sure you will
like the lady who is coming; she is a very superior
person, and will be very kind, and you will learn quite
to love her."
To love a governess !-Bertram would have scorned
the very idea at any other time; but there was some-
thing so strange in his mother's manner on this day,
that he felt quite awestruck, and as Grace always
followed in his lead, neither of the children spoke a
word, but they hid their faces in Lady Astley's dress,
while Grace gave free vent to her tears, and Bertram




THE GOVENEBSS.


swallowed his with a choking feeling in his throat and
a strong desire, in spite of his awe, to knock down
every governess that had ever been invented, and
especially this very superior one who made his mother
cry. For although Bertram had seen her tears flow
over and over again at an interesting book, or a tale
of distress, or at the slight maladies and misfortunes
of "the little ones," as, in the full consciousness of
their nine years, he and Grace were in the habit of
designating their younger brothers and sisters,-yet
he did not, in his whole lifetime, remember ever to
have seen such tears called forth for any matter con-
cerning himself and Grace; so entirely apart, and in
a little world of their own, had these two young ones
passed their short lives. They loved their mother,
and she loved them ; but for comfort in all their little
sorrows, for amusement, for sympathy, they had been
all in all to each other. And now, when they saw
her so strangely moved on a subject which concerned
them alone, they felt that it must indeed be some-
thing very terrible which was hanging over them.
Lady Astley gave them each a long, lingering kiss,
highly suggestive of the idea that the new governess
would never let her kiss them again, and telling them
that they might have a whole holiday, and advising
them to make the most of it, as it would probably be
the last they would have for no one knew how long,
she left the room, having, in perfect innocence, done
all in her power to set the children against the
governess, and to render that lady's task as difficult
as it well could be.




THE GOTVENESS.


Poor Mrs. Abel! Had you known what was pass-
ing at Combe Astley that morning, as you sat quietly
in the pleasant drawing-room at Rangley Park, talk-
ing so cheerfully to Mrs. De Verrie of your new
pupils, of your kind hopes and plans for their
good and amusement,-of the interest which you
already felt in them and their gentle, amiable mother,
and of the love which you were longing to bestow
upon them; had you but seen all that was passing in
their hearts about you, would you not have been
ready to give them up for ever, and with them the
pleasant prospect of remaining so near the pupil
whom you must leave, and whom you love as a
daughter and a friend-so near to her mother whom
you esteem and look up to, and whom also you have
learnt to love for her worth, in spite of her bluat
manner ?
Lady Astley need not have feared that because
Mrs. De Verrie was blunt in her manner and strong
in her mind, her daughter's governess must of neces-
sity possess the same characteristics. No two women
could be more different than Mrs. De Verrie and
Mrs. Abel: the latter was an amiable, though ec-
centric, person, whom, when well known, it was im-
possible not to love, wherein she bore a much stronger
resemblance to the lady whose house she was about
to enter than to the lady whose house she was about
to leave. For although Mrs. De Verrie's very good
sense and real kindness of heart had gained her many
true friends, yet it is right to remark that there
still remained a considerable number among her ac.




28 THE GOVERNESS.
quaintance who found no difficulty whatever in not
loving her at all:-for many are those who are influ-
enced in their likes and dislikes far more by manner
than by sterling worth.
Meantime, as Mrs. Abel had no idea of the feelings
with which her new pupils and their mother were
awaiting her arrival, she went upstairs with a light
heart to put on her bonnet and shawl for her drive,-
for she was one of those happy individuals who
possess the enviable faculty of looking always on the
sunny side,-and although she grieved much at the
prospect of parting with the De Verries, she could
not forget that she should be but seven miles from
them; and besides, this was but a preliminary visit-
the parting hour was not yet come.
And so Reginald and Mrs. Abel set off in the dog-
cart, while Laura watched them drive away, and
turned into the house, with tears in her eyes, as she
thought how soon, how very soon, the day would
come when her friend would drive away from that
house for ever-only to return as an occasional
visitor.
Laura was not hopeful and cheerful, like her go-
verness; she "enjoyed bad health," as people say,
though it would be difficult to imagine what enjoy-
ment is to be found in that luxury. Weak nerves,
too, were her sad portion; and the spirits of her
mother and brother being often too much for her, she
knew that she must sadly miss the more gentle and
congenial spirit of Mrs. Abel, with whom alone did
she venture to throw off the reserve which was





THE GOVERNESS. 2.

natural to her. In every-day life she had been
accustomed to seek for comfort and companionship
in the cheerfulness of her governess ;-but, had these
two characters been tried in the battle of life,
Laura's would have proved the stronger of the two;
for she possessed what Mrs. Abel lacked-decision of
character. But the one did not know her want, nor
the other her power. With all her low spirits and her
bad health, Laura would have made a better governess
for the little Astleys than poor, happy, good Mrs.
Abel, in spite of all her good-will and spirits. Mrs.
Abel's eccentricities of dress and manner were
highly calculated to excite the ridicule of two lively,
clever children like Grace and Bertram, who would
hardly be able to detect the real sterling worth con-
cealed beneath much that was truly absurd.
But all things that be, are ordained for the best,-
"even"-as a lady was once heard to remark-" even
that rabbits should have long ears, though we know
not why;" and therefore, no doubt, it was for some
good end that Laura's decision and sense should be
shut up in the drawing-room at Rangley Park, or
should drive listlessly among the deep shady lanes of
the country; while Mrs. Abel's indecision and weak
judgment should be employed in the laborious task of
curbing the youthful tempers of, and instilling all
possible virtues and accomplishments into, Grace and
Bertram Astley.
Laura De Verrie is sitting in her large pleasant
window, watching the hay-makers pile up the huge
cocks of hay in the field beyond her own peculiar




THE GOVERNESS.


garden, among the flower-beds of which her beautiful
large St. Bernard dog is lazily reposing, watching
for his young mistress to appear; and the sweet
scent of the hay is wafted to her by the gentle
breeze, which ever and anon lifts and turns with a
fluttering noise the leaves of the book which rests
beside her; and Laura wonders whether she means to
go out or to stay where she is, in dreamy listlessness,
and then wonders again at the activity of her mother,
who now appears below, decked in a huge sun-bonnet,
and armed with a basket and a pair of scissors, passing
through the smaller garden to reach her own, where
she intends to spend the next hour in cutting roses;
while Mrs. Abel and Reginald discourse cheerfully as
the dog-cart bowls rapidly along the high road, and
the splendid thoroughbred, which is Reginald's pecu-
liar pride and favourite, arches his beautiful head
and pricks up his small ears as his master whistles
to him and he steps firmly along the smooth hard
road. In the mean time, Bertram and Grace
Astley are preparing for their first introduction to
their new governess, by hiding in the bushes near
the gate at which they expect her to enter. Bertram
had great ideas at first of jumping out and stabbing
her; but they dwindled down to the less heroic and
somewhat more feasible plan of frightening the horse,
in hopes that they might run away, and that "she"
might be thrown out, and perhaps sprain or break
something, which happy accident would at least post-
pone her reign.
Lady Astley had told them her name, and that she




THE GOVERNESS. 83

was coming from Rangley, and they fancied that of
course she would come in the Rangley barouche.
When, therefore, they saw the dog-cart approaching,
it never entered their heads that she" might pos-
sibly be in it, until Bertram exclaimed,-" Why, it's
Lofty !"
Then it must be Mr. De Verrie," said Grace;
"for he told mamma he would not trust any one to
drive Lofty but himself,-and, if it is Mr. De Verrie,
perhaps she's with him."
"Nonsense, Gracey-governesses never come in
dog-carts;-who ever heard of such a thing ?" ex-
claimed Bertram, who evidently laid claim to great
knowledge as to the natural history of governesses,
although he had scarcely ever spoken to one in his
life, while his reading on the all-important subject
had been neither deep nor extensive.
"It is her, though, depend upon it," returned
Grace, as the dog-cart approached.
Then," said Bertram, solemnly, being con-
vinced in spite of himself, -" then, Gracey, I
can't jump out--Lofty mustn't be frightened,-
but you are my witness that I solemnly declare
that I will make her a most dreadful face as she
passes-a face that must frighten her into fits if
she gets a good view of it; and you must make
one too."
Oh, no, Bertram-not me."
Grace, I command you!" said the boy, raising his
finger with an imperative gesture,-" I command you,
on your allegiance! Remember, boys are made to





32 THE GOVERNESS.

command, and girls to obey. I heard my father say
so to mamma the other day."
Grace was always easily quelled by Bertram, espe-
cially when he used fine words which neither of them
understood, a little practice in which he delighted.
Therefore, she prepared to obey as the dog-cart
approached the gate.












CHAPTER III.

THE GOYVENESS ON THE HAYSTACK.

THE groom jumped down to open the gate, and the
cart whisked past the children, who instantly pushed
their little faces out of the bushes, and made two of
the most hideous faces upon record at the retreating
form of their new governess; but it unfortunately
happened that Reginald had caught sight of Gracey's
bonnet in the bushes, and guessing that they would
rather not be spoken to, he contented himself with
laughingly telling Mrs. Abel, with a nod towards
them enpassant, that there were her pupils watch-
ing for her;" in consequence of which, that lady
turned her head just in time to get the view of
Bertram's face, which he had foretold must send her
into fits. It had not, however, the desired effect.
Mrs. Abel laughed heartily, and remarked that
"they must be very funny children, and so different
from dear Laura;-and therefore all the better for
me, you know, though nothing could be more perfect
than she is, dear girl; but then, you know, it is always
an advantage to one to have fresh characters to
study."
Reginald made no reply, the perfection of his sister





34 TIE GOVERnESS ON THE HAYSTACK..

being one of the points at which he was at variance
with Mrs. Abel; for, whereas she would persist in
seeing no faults in Laura, he could not but lament
her extreme indolence and reserve, while he felt that
she was capable of better things, and would have
given worlds to induce her to make a friend and com-
panion of himself, instead of being satisfied with
the weak, friendly cheerfulness of her amiable
governess.
Arrived at the house, they were ushered into the
great drawing-room, where Lady Astley awaited their
arrival. She was really glad to see Reginald, and as
it was not in her nature to be ungracious to any one,
Mrs. Abel could not but be charmed with the recep-
tion she met with.
I have brought you one, Lady Astley," said Mr.
De Verrie, who, I am sure, will prove as great an
acquisition to your family as she will be a loss to
ours."
Lady Astley secretly wished the loss was to be hers
and the acquisition theirs, and yet she felt at once that
she had nothing to fear from the overbearing conduct
of the possessor of that bright, washed-out looking
face, with the funny, twinkling little eyes, and the
thick, soft, old-fashioned flaxen curls, reposing in two
huge masses on the forehead.
Reginald went on: "I can hardly believe that you
have never seen Mrs. Abel before, so well and so long
as I have had the pleasure of knowing you both; but
my sister's long residence abroad must be the reason;
and as I suppose you will have a great deal to say to




THE GOVEBRNESS ON{ THiE HALYSTIK.


Mrs. Abel, I will take a turn out and leave her with
you."
Lady Astley begged him to stay, as all particulars
had been arranged by letter, and she felt a slight
tremor at the idea of being so soon deprived of the
support which the presence of a third person afforded
her.
I think I have no secrets to discuss with Mrs.
Abel as yet," said she, nervously, but with her
sweetest smile; and indeed I had rather you should
stay, unless you wish to go to see after your beau-
tiful horse, for I know that you do not think a groom
fit to touch him;-but ours are quite used to our
horses and to yours too, so often as you come. I am
always glad to see you, and the children love
to see you ride Lofty,-you are so clever with
horses; and indeed," and she turned to Mrs. Abel,
"I do think it ought to form a part of every boy's
education, and girl's as well. I hope you agree with
me ?"
Her ladyship waited for a reply, which Mrs. Abel
gave in the form of the usual small laugh with which
she was in the habit of beginning her sentences, anS
a Certainly," while she wondered to herself, with
slight trepidation, whether Lady Astley could pos-
sibly really mean that all boys and girls should be
taught to be clever with horses, and if so whether she,
Mrs. Abel, should be required to teach this accom-
plishment.
Lady Astley was quite satisfied with this her first
little attempt at gaining for her children some promise





36 THE GOVERNESS ON THE HAYSTACK.

of their accustomed liberty, and on the strength of it
she said: "I should like you to see your little pupils,
Mrs. Abel; I am sure you will soon learn to love
them; and, as they are very shy, I am anxious that
the first meeting should be over. I don't think you
will have any very great difficulty with them, if once
they can be got to look at you, for they are very
clever children. They take after their father, and
always know what they wish to do, which is a very
good thing,-at least I always think decision is most
desirable. They are far too clever for me, and I shall
be quite glad to turn them over to you, though I shall
wish to keep some of their lessons to myself at
first. As for poor dear Bertram, I do not think
he will ever conquer long division, although Grace
thinks it pleasant; and I often think he has a
great turn for mechanics, for when he was but two
years old we could never get him away from the well
in the yard. We can always tell a child's natural taste
-do you not think so ? I will ring for the children."
Mrs. Abel being rather at a loss for an answer
to this complicated speech, contented herself with
another laugh.
"I saw the children as we drove up," said Reginald;
so if you have no objection I will go and fetch them
myself. It would be hard upon them to have to say,
'how do you do P' to two people at once;" and he
left the room.
There was a silence for a moment, broken by Mrs.
Abel, whose conscience had smitten her at the men-
tion of Bertram's supposed taste for mechanics, know-




THE GOVERNESS ON THE AIYSTA.CK.


ing, as she well did, that her own tastes lay in a
totally opposite direction.
Having sent forth her usual little laugh, as if to
pave the way, she said: "Your ladyship mentioned
mechanics. I feel it my duty to remark that I am
quite ignorant on the subject. It was never required
by Mrs. De Verrie; but though I think it right to
mention this, I have no doubt I can easily get up
enough of the science to be able to instruct your dear
little boy for years to come. Mrs. De Verrie, I know,
will be happy to render me any assistance in the
matter."
Mrs. Abel seldom used fine words or formal expres-
sions excepting on what she considered as matters of
conscience; indeed, she was not often grave on any
other subject, and it was unlucky that she was so on
this occasion, for Lady Astley had been so entirely
satisfied with the manner in which her long rambling
speeches had been received, that she had really begun
to like the governess," when this unhappy sentence,
and above all the double mention of her favourite
aversion, Mrs. De Verrie, gave her a cold : iill of dis-
appointment.
"This is how it will be-I shall hear of-,'u.tlij
but the perfections of Mrs. De Verrie from'morn-
ing till night," thought she, and she answered
with her usual gentleness, but a slight flush
on her cheeks: Oh, it will not be necessary to
trouble Mrs. De Verrie at all-his lordship knows
everything, and settles everything of that sort;
and-"





38 THE GOVERNESS ON THE HAYSTACK.
"No trouble whatever, I assure you; Mrs. De
Verrie will be too happy," interrupted Mrs. Abel.
"I do not think Bertram has the slightest turn
that way now," replied Lady Astley; it was quite
a childish taste, and is quite gone,-ever since he
tumbled into the well from looking in too far."
Mrs. Abel was satisfied, and she made a movement
which she thought was a bow, but which was not;
and at this moment Reginald made his appearance
with the children. He had had little trouble in find-
ing them, but rather more in persuading them to
come in with him.
I am quite sure you will like Mrs. Abel," said he;
she is not the least like the stiff, prim governess you
expect. She is not like a governess at all, but is very
funny, and says such odd, amusing things, that you
will be obliged to laugh; and she laughs too, a great
deal more than I do, or you either."
"Will she go out with us.?" anxiously inquired
Bertram.
That will be as your mamma likes," replied Regi-
nald; "but I think you will soon ask her to go of
your own accord. Why, I found my sister crying the
other day, because Mrs. Abel is going to leave her.
She quite envies you having her."
"I'm' sure she is very welcome to keep her!" was
the ungracious rejoinder. She's as deaf as a post,
and a great deal uglier."
"Who? Laura, or Mrs. Abel ?" asked Reginald,
laughing.
"Oh, not Laura. I mean Mrs. Abel."




THE GOVERNESS ON THE HAYSTACK. 39

Reginald asked what made him think Mrs. Abel
deaf.
"I heard you speak loud to her as you passed,"
said he, as they reached the house.
Mrs. Abel met them with a cheerful How do you
do, dears ? I have been longing to make your ac-
quaintance. I have seen you before, you know,-yes,
I saw the funny faces you made at me out of the
bushes,-very funny. Yes, I am sure we shall be
friends-yes."
The children coloured up to the eyes, while Lady
Astley looked rather shocked, and said,-
"Indeed, I hope they were not so rude; I trust
you are mistaken."
"Oh! I dare say I am-quite so, no doubt-oh,
yes," rejoined Mrs. Abel.
"No, you are not," said Bertram, in a hoarse, shy
voice; "I did make a face at you, because I said I
would, and I made Gracey do it too."
"Funny children," laughed Mrs. Abel; "full of
fun, but shy as yet! Yes,-oh, I feel sure we shill
get oh together. I am sure our tastes are just the
same. I can see they are used to be a great deal out
of doors; and so am I, you know, Mr. De Verrie,
with dear Laura,-yes, always out."
Bertram longed to ask if Laura had a garden to
dig in; but he did not dare to speak again,: hough
he raised his eyes from the carpet, and took a good
look at Mrs. Abel, while she rattled on to Lady
Astley. Nobody was very sorry when Reginald said
it was time to go, for Mrs. Abel never was sorry in





40 THE GOVERNESS ON THE HAYSTACK.

her life; and Lady Astley had said all she had got to
say, and did not want to be at the trouble of making
more speeches.
Mrs. Abel was, as Reginald expected, in raptures
during the whole drive, about that sweet Lady
Astley and those handsome children." And on the
whole, Lady Astley was rather pleased than not with
this first interview with Mrs. Abel; while Bertram
confided to Grace that, "after all, she was not so bad
as he expected, but certainly a good deal uglier than
the old clerk," who had hitherto been to their young
minds the ne plus ultra of all that is ugly. He
added, moreover: She laughs too much, and I think
we can manage her; but mind, Gracey, we must not
tell her any of our hiding-places, because we may
want some place of retreat if she is very savage, and
we can't tell yet. I believe they generally begin by
being all right."
In a few days Mrs. Abel arrived to take up her
abode at Coombe Astley; and very dreary to the
children was their first school-room tea, presided over
by a real governess, instead of their own favourite
Emma, the second nurse, who now retired, vice Abel,
promoted. They were rather cheered, however, by
hearing Mrs. Abel declare that nothing should induce
her to change the name of the room, unless their
mamma insisted upon it.
"It has been called the play room till now,"
she said, "and why should we call it a school-
room F I hope we shall play in it as much as
ever. I suppose the school work has been always




THE GOTERNESS ON THE HAY1STACK.


done here; and yet it has not been called a school-
room yet."
Bertram afterwards pronounced that she had spoken
like a sensible woman, and he shouldn't wonder if
she were one after all. In a few days the children
learnt to like her; and Lady Astley discovered that
such a cheerful, happy spirit as Mrs. Abel's was so
far from being a check to her comfort, that she sought
her society as much as possible after the daily lessons,
which she very speedily gave up to her entirely. Her
manner of teaching was very good, and in many
things the children unconsciously preferred it to their
mother's. They felt that she took a more lively
interest in their beloved history; and as for the long
division sum, it was in a fair way of being conquered.
When Mrs. Abel found how very welcome a visitor
she was at Lady Astley's work-table, and that, how-
ever well she got on with the children during the
school hours and at meals, they still preferred perfect
liberty in their out of doors amusement, she very
willingly went with the tide, spending her spare time
almost entirely with Lady Astley, while the children
ran wild as before. This happy state of things lasted
for about three weeks, with no drawback but an occa.
sional, momentary uncomfortableness on LadyAstley's
part at the very frequent mention of Mrs. De Verrie;
but at the end of the three weeks, a letter arrived
from his lordship, announcing his speedy advent at
Coombe Astley. In consequence of which, as usual,
the children had to be caught up and dressed.
His lordship arrived, and was introduced to Mrs.





42 THE GOVERNESS ON THE HAYSTACK.

Abel, with whose old-fashioned appearance he was
somewhat startled. He did not, however, bestow a
second thought on the matter, but concluded that the
person who had educated so peculiarly ladylike a girl
as he had considered Miss De Verrie to be, the only
time he had ever seen her, must be perfectly compe-
tent to bring up his own little girl.
The day after his arrival, on entering the drawing-
room at half-past twelve o'clock, he was surprised to
find Mrs. Abel sitting there, reading aloud to his
wife. He raised his eyebrows, but said nothing,
and merely passed through the room, supposing the
children to be in the school-room. In another hour,
having occasion to return, he was still more surprised
at finding Mrs. Abel employed as before, while at the
same time he caught sight, through the open window,
of two little figures rushing across the lawn, one
trundling a wheelbarrow, and the other dragging
a spade. Lady Astley looked up as he shut the door,
and said, in her usual calm voice,-
"I thought you were gone to Gatesford for the day,
my love ? You said you should go at twelve."
I did; but the man whom I wished to see came
to me," said his lordship shortly; and he turned to
Mrs. Abel, and continued, "May I ask where your
pupils are at this moment ?"
Oh, certainly;" and Mrs. Abel gave her usual
little laugh. I don't in the least know where they
are, or what they meant to do this morning; but I
have no doubt I can find them directly. Shall I go ?"
And without waiting for a reply, the good woman




THE GOVERNESS ON THE HAYSTACK.


began to trot out of the room with a gait peculiar to
herself. Lord Astley stopped her.
Oh, no trouble, I assure you," she began.
A trouble which I could wish you spared,"
returned his lordship with an awful dignity, that
struck even Mrs. Abel dumb for the moment.
"Lady Astley, I fear, has been sadly wanting in her
duty, both to you and to her children, for I cannot
suppose that a lady so highly recommended by my
friend Mrs. De Verrie, would betray the trust re-
posed in her. I must beg you to be seated while I
explain myself. Lady Astley was perfectly compe-
tent to the education of her children, as you must be
well aware, but her health, and-and-numerous
avocations,"-he glanced at the huge piece of work
on which her ladyship was engaged, and cleared his
throat,-" prevented her from-from-keeping them
with her during the whole day. Under these circum-
stances, therefore, we thought it best to engage a
person who-who-who-in short, could be con-
stantly with them, and train them, especially my
daughter in those habits of elegance and good-
breeding which are so essential to them, and in
which I have great reason to fear they are too de-
ficient. I had hoped and expected that Lady Astley
would have explained this herself, as I was unfortu-
nately absent from home at the time of your arrival;
but I see that she has left it for me to do. I trust
we now understand one another." And his lordship
rose to leave the room, while Mrs. Abel, who had





44 THE GOVERNESS ON THE HAYSTACK.

ample time to recover herself during this long speech,
hastened to say,-
Oh, I assure your lordship I shall be delighted
to be always with the dear children. I never left
Laura De Verrie-sweet girl! and Mrs. De Verrie
used often to say, Mrs. Abel, I mistook you for
Laura's shadow!' and she has written to me twice
to say how she misses her shadow-dear girl -yes !"
Lord Astley bowed, and left the room, and soon
after the house-having given a blow to the peace of
his household,-a blow which was destined to revert
upon his own head in a manner of which he little
dreamed.
From this day forward commenced a system of
petty battles between the young Astleys and their
governess, for while she was cheerfully striving to
fulfil their father's commands, and never to lose
sight of them, they, unable to comprehend this
sudden change in her tactics, or to bear the constant
surveillance over their movements, were again begin-
ning to indulge in all their ancient and almost for-
gotten hatred for governesses, and to listen to all the
foolish nonsense which servants are in general but
too ready to talk to children on the subject.
Mrs. Abel was not judicious. She changed too
suddenly, from leaving them quite to themselves to
the opposite extreme; and, in spite of her great good
nature, they were highly indignant, and rejoiced in
what they considered as Bertram's wisdom in "not
being taken in by her at first."





THE GOVERNESS ON THE HAYSTACK. 45

"Didn't I tell you, Gracey," said he, "that they
all begin fairly, but they are sure to turn out villains
at last. Now, you see how wise it was not to tell her
our hiding-places. To-morrow, when she goes to put
on her bonnet to walk with us, we will slip out and
hide."
Grace was quite willing; and, with her usual
thought for Bertram's comfort, she slipped into her
pocket one of his favourite story-books, well knowing
that he would think it no fun to sit in a hole for an
hour or two in idleness. Bertram had been equally
thoughtful for her comfort, and perhaps for his own,
in another line; for he had secured a large basket of
fruit, and concealed it not far from the stack which
he intended should serve as their hiding-place that
day. Accordingly, as soon as Mrs. Abel retired to
put on her bonnet, the children flew down to the hall,
and seizing their little hats, ran as fast as they could
across the lawn, and through the shrubbery, to the
rickyard beyond. Bertram set a ladder against a half-
consumed haystack, and Gracey ran up it, followed
speedily by her brother and his basket. Here, in a
most delicious recess, they made themselves a very
comfortable nest, and prepared to enjoy the book
and fruit to their hearts' content.
They had not been there more than half an hour,
however, before they heard a well-known and rather
cracked, but eminently cheerful voice, inquiring of
somebody if Master Bertram and Miss Astley had
passed that way." "Somebody" answered that he
" didn't know not nuffin about 'em."






46 THE GOYEwSESS ON THE HAYTSTACK.
The children peeped out, and saw poor Mrs. Abel
toiling along over the rough ground which sur-
rounded the rickyard, holding her dress very high,
and every now and then putting her hand up to
shade her eyes while she looked anxiously around in
search of them.
Come back, Grace-she'll see us," said Bertram;
and they retreated into their nest, and went on eating
their fruit.
Presently a little rustling was heard below the
stack, and somebody muttered, "They can't be up
here-but I may as well see-yes;-they do get into
such odd places-yes;"-and then a heavy step was
put on the ladder, and began slowly to ascend.
She'll never climb the ladder !" whispered
Bertram.
"Impossible-a governess on a ladder!" responded
his faithful copy; but, at the same time, the hard
breathing, as of one using unwonted exertions, was
heard to approach, and presently a huge straw bonnet
with yellow bows appeared slowly arising bove the.
top of the stack, and in another minute a pair of small
laughing eyes met theirs; and with her well-known
laugh, their governess exclaimed, "Ah, you little
rogues, I have caught you! How pleasant! Why,
you never told me where you were going to! Don't
move, loves-don't move!" as they began to creep
out of their den; I should like to join you-yes-
I've got my book too, and we'll make a merry' little
party-if I could but get over the ladder to you."
"There isn't room, I'm afraid," said Gracey, with a




THE GOVERNESS ON THE HAYSTACK.


sinking heart, as the conviction forced itself upon her
of the utter impossibility of escaping from such an
enterprizing governess-one who was not even to be
stopped by a ladder.
Yes, there is room," said Bertram. Hush,
Gracey !-Lots of room, Mrs. Abel. Come on; I'll
pull you up ;" and he whispered to his sister,
"Better to have her up here than to take a sober
walk with her down there."
Besides, Bertram's heart was always touched by
anything like courage, even in a woman; and so it
was with a good will that he lent his small strength
to assist Mrs. Abel over the top of the ladder and
into their little nest. The three then busied them-
selves in arranging a place for the new arrival, and
finally settled down very happily to their fruit and
books, till they were roused by the sound of horses'
feet on the soft turf in the distance.
Bertram stood up to reconnoitre, and perceived a
lady and gentleman on horseback cantering up the
park, while their pleasant ringing voices were borne
to him by the breeze, which lightly lifted his own
dark curls and the eccentric flaxen ones of his odd
governess. A large dog ran before the riders; and as
soon as Bertram perceived him, he waved his cap, and
exclaimed, "It is Norna-here, Norna! here, here,
he-re Norna being the name of Laura De Verrie's
dog.
Mrs. Abel immediately essayed to spring upon her
feet, to see what members of the Rangley family she
might expect to greet; but, in the rapidity of her






48 TrE GOVERNESS ON THE HAISTACK.

movement, she managed to entangle her feet in her
dress in such a manner that she was forced to sink
upon her knees, where she still remained, engaged in
frantic and fruitless efforts to extricate her feet from
her torn dress, and to regain her command of them,
when Reginald and Laura De Verrie drew in their
reins as they neared the stack. Laura's astonishment
and Reginald's amusement at the position of their
ci-devant governess was extreme. Mrs. Abel on her
knees, plunging violently on the top of a haystack-
an eminence which, to the best of their belief, she
must have attained by means of a ladder-was a
spectacle which they never could have imagined, even
in the hours of their most juvenile romancing.
"Oh, my love-Laura! how delighted-how en-
chanted I am to see you! Wait a minute-I am
coming down," said Mrs. Abel in an ecstasy of delight
and perfect unconsciousness of the oddity of her
situation. As she spoke, she succeeded in regaining
her feet; and, advancing to the side of the stack, shb
seized the top of the ladder, and prepared to descend,
-first, by peeping down it, and then by putting one
foot on the second step, very far in advance of the
rest of her body,-talking rapidly the whole time.
So nice of you to come-I quite long to kiss you-
how am I to get down ?-so very nice-oh, backwards,
perhaps,"-and here she turned suddenly round, and
waved one leg out behind her in search of the ladder,
by which means she managed to kick it completely
down, and, losing her own balance, she fell forward
on her face on the stack, and only saved herself from




THE GOVERNESS ON THE HAYSTACK. 49

shopping quite off by catching hold of a thong which
confined one of the trusses of hay.
Stay," exclaimed Reginald, as he jumped from his
horse, and flung the rein to his sister, I'll take you .
down-though how or why you got up there surpasses
the power of man to comprehend;" and with that he
replaced the ladder against the stack, assisted Mrs.
Abel to put her feet firmly on the steps, and soon
placed her in safety on the ground. The children
followed; and the little party set out for the house,
Laura reining in her horse to keep back to Mrs.
Abel's odd trot, and Reginald leading his in advance,
with Bertram and Grace by his side.












CHAPTER IV.
THE ROBBERS' DE'.
REGINALD DE VERRIE had been curious to see how
the children were getting on with their governess, but
he had thought it best to keep aloof for some time.
On this day, however, he had persuaded his sister to
ride over with him to call on Lady Astley, and see
what was going on, and he was not a little surprised
at this first coup d'oil. He managed, in the course
of the visit, to get a few quiet words with Mrs. Abel,
and he immediately inquired whether it was her usual
custom at Combe Astley to pass the mornings on a hay-
stack with her pupils. She laughed good-humouredly,
and gave him an account of her interview with Lord
Astley, which had obliged her to make so thorough a
change in her first most successful management of
the children, and so entirely overthrown the happy
arrangement which enabled her to devote half her
time to them and half to their mother, to the mutual
satisfaction of all parties. Reginald advised her to try
to win the little rebels by some of the long stories in
which his sister used to delight, and for which Mrs.
Abel was famous. She was enchanted at the idea,
and, sanguine as usual, had not the smallest doubt of
its success; and Reginald and Laura rode off, having




THE ROBBERS' DEN. 51
actually obtained a promise from Lady Astley that
"one of these days" Mrs. Abel and the two children
should spend a long morning at Rangley Park.
The next day Mrs. Abel, with hearty good will,
essayed the "story cure;" but homeopathy, or the
water-cure, might have been tried with equal success.
Her happy fairy tales, in which everything went right,
and everybody had what everybody wished, exactly at
the moment everybody wished for it, and the most
marvellous feats were performed as if by magic, had
no charms for children whose chief pleasure in that
line was derived from sterner and far more noble
accounts of Spartan fortitude and Roman heroism,
and who delighted yet more in racing wild over hill
and dale without any stories or books whatever.
They made several more attempts at escape, and
various and strange were the hiding-places they
selected; but in vain: Mrs. Abel was sure to find
them out. This went on for some days; but at
length Bertram hit upon a plan which, though
slightly indefinite, was so full of delightful mystery
and uncertainty that he felt sure it could not fail of
success.
Gracey," said he, we have been foolish to waste
our time in trying to hide so near home;-besides,
now she knows pretty well where to look for us. We
must go a long way off, and I have settled where. The
Robbers' Den in Combe Wood will be the very place;
and we will not go there only just to get away from
her in play-time, we will regularly go and live there.
Don't interrupt me,"-as Grace began eagerly with a
E2





THYE IROBERS' DEX.


" But." Listen, and I will explain my plans. I have
thought about it for an immense time-ever since her
nasty long story about the magic cave."
That was yesterday," put in Grace.
"Was it ?-well, never mind when;-but I didn't
tell you before, because girls never can keep secrets,
and I don't know what mightn't happen if she heard
this. Now, what I mean to do is this. We must,
by degrees, get everything that we can possibly want
down to the den, and when it is quite ready we shall
go and live there. Even if she knows where we are,
I know she'll never dare to come, because she
must cross the park, and she is a horrid coward at
cows."
"But she might tell," suggested Grace.
"We'll find a way to stop her mouth," said Bertram,
mysteriously; besides, she never could find out. So
now my commands to you are, to collect together
all the things we can possibly want for a very long
time."
"What sort of things ?" said Grace.
Oh, I don't know-everything-anything you can
get; we can't have too much; but that's your part.
You know women must know best about keeping
house and all that."
Grace felt quite grown up at this sentence, and
said, Perhaps I had better make a list for you to
look over."
"Ah, yes, that might be better," said Bertram,
with a consequential little nod:" meantime, I shall
provide a basket of fruit, and the heavy things-




THE ROBBERS' DEN.


railroad wrappers, I mean, and pillows, that would be
too heavy for a woman to carry."
"But," said Grace, when shall we be able to get
them down-it is such a way ?"
"Leave that to me," said Bertram, with another
mysterious look.
What shall we do to amuse ourselves in the den,
-shan't we get tired of it ? was Grace's next idea.
"No," replied Bertram, deliberately; "no# I think
not. Don't forget Pinnock's 'Rome,' and 'The
Gipsies,' and 'Highwaymen and Robbers,' and that
will do for us."
Grace ran off to make the list, which she slipped
into her brother's hand next day as they went into
dinner. It was much as follows:-
Meat-a great deal Books and fruit. (B)
A paper of salt. Our cross-bows.
Ditto of sugar. A knife. String.
Loosifer matches and box. Ralerode rappers.
Needles, and pins, and thread. Pilows.
Bertram graciously approved the list, adding of his
own accord the item "arrows," and remarking that
they need not be particular about meat," for they
could easily shoot rabbits with their bows; and besides,
they might creep out at night and get a chicken from
their own poultry-yard if they liked. Remember
to take knives and forks and spoons though," added
he, as he left the room where this important confer-
ence had been held.
This new plan occupied the children for some days,
and Mrs. Abel was perfectly satisfied that she had at





54 THE ROBBERS' DEN.
last found the way to their hearts, through the
delight they took, as she imagined, in her stories;
for Bertram had pronounced it necessary to throw
Mrs. Abel off her guard by being perfectly tractable
till all their preparations for flight were complete.
This conduct had another and most unhoped-for
effect, extremely favourable to the children's plans.
Mrs. Abel, finding them so quiet and so rapidly losing
their wild ways and untidy habits, began gradually to
leave them more alone, and even occasionally gave
them a whole afternoon to themselves, while she
devoted herself to Lady Astley, who was becoming
quite fond of her.
These times were seized upon with avidity by the
children to convey by slow degrees all their little
goods and chattels, and many other things besides, to
the Robbers' Den," with which name they dignified
a large cave which they imagined was known only to
themselves. It was situated at the farthest end of a
very ancient wood, which bounded the park on the
side nearest Rangley. It had probably been the
resort of smugglers in days gone by, as Combe Astley
was but two miles distant from the sea, on the
southern coast; and the surrounding country had
been much pestered by the free-traders in the younger
days of these children's father; and even now, although
they were seldom heard of elsewhere, the peaceful
inhabitants of Combe Astley, Rangley Park, and the
surrounding neighbourhood, were occasionally enter-
tained rather than alarmed by the intelligence that a
small schooner, supposed to be a smuggler, had been





THE ROBBERS' DEN.


seen off Pester, the small fishing village nearest Lord
Astley's park; and the coastguard was at times
known to keep a sharp look-out in that quarter. The
ground was very rocky about the cave, which was
itself partly natural and partly artificial. The ruins
of an old cottage stood some paces behind it, consist-
ing merely of three shattered walls, and a space
showing where a fireplace had been; while immedi-
ately below the ruin, from which the ground descended
abruptly on each side, was a dark pond, the waters of
which were almost black from the rich loamy earth
of the place, and cold--to the children's fancy-
with a supernatural coldness. This pond was com-
pletely shut in by trees, excepting on the side of the
ruin. Sombre and heavy were the trees,-massive,
and bending under the weight of their huge boughs;
bending forward over the dark waters, as if they were
trying to catch a glimpse of their own huge forms
below. Lower and lower they bend, and lower still,
the farther from the ruin, till one mighty monarch is
laid low in the waters; and lighter brushwood and
creeping moss have grown over his prostraterform in
rich luxuriance, and have stolen among his dead,
leafless branches, into the cold waters beneath.
The park-wall was very low here, almost touching
the ruin, and running by the side of the pond,
although completely hid by the trees and brushwood.
The lane leading to Rangley on the left, and Pester
on the right, was on the other side of the wall; but
it was a deep, rough lane, very little used excepting
by visitors between Rangley Park and Combe Astley,






T'LE ROBBERS' DEN.


and the poor inhabitants of Pester, who brought fish
to either place.
Most children would have been afraid to ap-
proach so gloomy a spot as the one just described;
but Bertram's habits of independence and daring,
and, above all, his familiarity, with the place from his
very babyhood, made him fearless regarding it, and
Grace considered him protection enough under any
circumstances and in any place.
In this cave, therefore, the children had already
collected and concealed a great part of what they
considered necessary, even to the knives and forks
and spoons, when Reginald De Verrie rode over again,
to persuade Lady Astley to fix a day for the visit to
Rangley. Her ladyship was with very little trouble
induced to consent that the expedition should take
place on the following day; and, accordingly, at half-
past eleven the next morning, the children, attired in
their most worldly garments, plunged into the
barouche after Mrs. Abel, and set out for Rangley
Park, scarcely pleased with the unwonted indulgence,
as they grudged the interruption to their important
preparations, were afraid of Mrs. De Verrie, did not
care for Laura, and hated their fine clothes. The
holiday, however, was something, and the prospect of
seeing Lofty, Norna, Laura's tame rabbits, and Regi-
nald was still more.
They had to skirt Combe Wood for some way, and
as they neared the spot where a glimpse of the ruin
was visible, Bertram thought it prudent to direct
Mrs. Abel's attention to some object in an opposite





THE ROpBnEiS' DEs. 57

direction, and to talk very fast, as if he feared that
the railroad wrappers and books would be discoursing
in a loud voice, or the spoons, knives, and forks play-
ing at hide-and-seek outside the wood.
Mrs. Abel, thinking no evil, was quite ready to look
in any direction that anybody pleased, and Bertram
was able to bestow a triumphant smile upon Grace,
as, having quitted the park and turned up the lane
in the Rangley direction, they again passed the ruin,
but this time yet nearer, though separated by the
park-wall, and he again repeated his little manceuvre
with equal success. Grace did not observe his glance,
however; for, less wary, she was gazing with all her
might and eyes into the wood. Bertram felt quite
vexed at her want of caution, and touched her foot
with his, under the seat, to recall her to her senses.
The effect was instantaneous; but she took the first
opportunity of whispering, when Mrs. Abel was look-
ing the other way, Secretus portentus," which were
the words the children had agreed upon to be uttered
as a sign-whenever they had anything important to
say to one another about their beloved secret. Ber-
tram told Grace that it was Latin for "important
secret," and she entirely believed it, and thought that
she was very lucky in possessing a brother who could
teach her Latin if he chose. Bertram nodded in
answer to her whisper, but troubled his head little
about the matter, for Grace's pride in the words often
induced her to cry wolf when there was none.
The day passed happily with Mrs. Abel and Ber-
tram. Grace would have enjoyed it too, but for her






THE ROBBERS' DEN.


anxiety to speak to her brother alone, for she really
had seen something that gave her some alarm as to
the safety of their hiding-place, and still more of its
now somewhat valuable contents. At Rangley it was
impossible to get Bertram alone for one minute, and
it was not till after their return home, when Mrs.
Abel was gone to take off her bonnet, and the chil-
dren were waiting for tea, that she was able to tell
him what she had seen.
It will be remembered that the park-wall was low
on the .side of the Rangley lane, and there was a
gap in the thick foliage exactly opposite the ruin.
Through this gap Grace had distinctly seen two
figures, both of men,-the one standing on the top
of the hillock beneath which was their "Robbers'
Den," and the other creeping among the brushwood
in the direction of the pond. Grace finished this
account, in a state of great excitement, by saying,-
"This shows that some people in the world do
know the place as well as ourselves,-beggars or
robbers, perhaps; and O, Bertram, the silver spoons!
What can we do ? I have been thinking of them all
day. We must get them back to-night somehow, if
they are not already gone, and never, never take
them out again."
Bertram pooh-poohed" it at first, and tried to
quiet her with his usual "Nonsense, Gracey!" add-
ing,-
They might be there all day and never find out
the cave, and they might be in the cave for a week
and not find any of the things. Don't you know we





THE ROBBERS' DEN.


hid them quite deep in the dark part, where few
people would dare to go."
But he could not help being rather alarmed him-
self; and at last he promised that he would go out
directly after tea, and run down to bring back the
spoons,-if they were still to be found, which poor
Gracey almost despaired of. He did so accordingly,
and, in a very short space of time re-appeared, singing
as he entered the drawing-room, where his mother
and Mrs. Abel and Grace were sitting,-
"I've been roaming, I've been roaming,
Where the honeysuckle's sweet;
And I'm coming, and I'm coming,
With no dust upon my feet."
The words "no dust" being pronounced with' em-
phasis, for this was another of those secret signs in
which these children delighted; the words being
changed to lots of dust," if any little plan in which
they were engaged had failed; while by "no dust"
Grace 'understood 1hat all was right, and the spoons
safe in the house again.
Lord Astley came home the next day, positively for
one night only, and Mrs. Abel flew at him in the full
assurance of his sharing her own exuberant joy at the
success of her entire obedience to his orders, and was
slightly shocked by the quiet unconcern with which
he received her report. She could not help, however,
giving him an account of the manner in which she
and her pupils passed every half-hour in the day, and
was rewarded for her pains by a few cold words ex-
pressive of his opinion that it was highly unnecessary






THE ROBBERS' DEN.


to devote so much time to exercise and relaxation,
and that, at all events, a few hours in the afternoon
might be reserved for study; two hours only in the
morning were not, in his opinion, enough for the
education of children, who were now, he believed, in
their tenth year."
Accordingly, the next day, poor Mrs. Abel cheer-
fully, but reluctantly, informed Bertram and Grace
that they must come to the play-room at four o'clock,
for "just a few more lessons," as she expressed it.
Bertram was indignant. Such an infringement
upon the rights of freeborn British children was not
to be borne. Measures must be taken immediately,
and a whispered "Secretus portentus" summoned
Grace to a conference.
"Grace," he began, I cann t stand this,-my
mind is made up. We must run away to-night."
The short, stern sentences, and the Grace," had
their due effect upon her,-for Bertram never called
her anything but Gracey," excepting on occasions
of great importance, or wnen he was angry with her.
She made no opposition to his proposal therefore, and
he went on,-
"I have been thinking seriously about the men
you saw near the Robbers' Den;' and though they
miqg7 t have been only village boys, I do not think
it would be safe for us to stay there long. I might
bribe them not to tell, certainly (for I have five shil-
lings in my purse); but it would be safer to go still
farther pff, and-do not be frightened-I mean to go
to sea. We will creep out of the house to-night, and





THE IOOBBERS' DEN. 61
walk to Pester, where I will get on board a ship, and
work my way out as cabin-boy, as many great men
have done before me."
Grace's first thought was a pang of desolation
at the idea of Bertram's leaving her; but, unselfish
in her nature, she discussed his plans for some
minutes before she even asked how she was to get
back from Pester alone. Bertram's ideas on this
point were highly indefinite.
"Perhaps, after all, Gracey, you had better stay
behind," was his suggestion at length ; but she
scorned the idea of deserting him, and, at all events,
would see him safe on his road, before she returned
to have her tongue cut out, or endure any other of
the tortures which Bertram assured her it was highly
probable Mrs. Abel or his father would think fit to
inflict upon her to extort from her the secret of his
retreat.
At eight o'clock, as usual, the children went to bed.
Grace slept in a small room, opening into the
one occupied by Mrs. Abel, and Bertram in just
such another close by. Mrs. Abel's room and the
play-room fronted the park, while the children's
rooms formed the angle of the house, and their
windows opened on to a balcony, directly in front
of the dark bushes which formed the boundary of
the park and the beginning of the shrubbery. A
flight of steps led from the balcony into a narrow
walk below.
Bertram desired Grace to be ready for him at half-
past ten, at which time the whole household would be






THE ROBBERS' DEN.


in repose, as Lady Astley kept very early hours in
the absence of her husband.
Grace lay awake as long as she could; in fact, till
long after the time fixed, but at last, although she
even tried holding her eyes open with her hands, she
could not help falling asleep; and when she was
roused, it was not by Bertram's tap at the window, or
knock at the wall which separated their rooms, but
by the usual "It's half-past seven, Miss Astley,"
from Emma.
Next -morning Grace was rather afraid Bertram
would be angry with her, but he was too thoroughly
ashamed of having been himself overpowered by sleep
when in the agonies of listening for the striking of
each quarter of an hour, to dare even to meet her eye
at the breakfast-table, much less to be angry with
her; and when Grace found an opportunity of beg-
ging his pardon in most humble terms, he was gra-
ciously pleased to pass over the offence. For this
day, therefore, they were obliged to submit to the
four-o'clock lessons, and before they went to bed
Bertram told Grace that he had been thinking that it
would be better for her to come to his room at the hour
fixed, instead of the first plan of his going to her;
"for," said he, "you are so much nearer Mrs. Abel,
and, of course, the less noise made in your room the
better; so as soon as you hear that all is quiet, come
and whistle three times, with a turn in the last, close
to my window; I shall come to it directly, and say
Pax ? You must answer 'Proprius Gracius,'
which is Latin for 'Your faithful Grace,' and then I





THE ROBBERS' DEN.


shall know it is you, and shall come directly." Very
well," said Grace, delighted at the grandeur and
mystery of the plan, "'Proprius Gracius;' I shall re-
member," and she repeated the words to herself till
everything seemed to say them. The servants walked
to the sound, the younger children cried them, and
the lively country dances, which Mrs. Abel played to
amuse them after tea, said "Proprius Gracius" so
plainly that Grace was almost afraid Mrs. Abel
herself must hear them, and, by some mysterious
connection, through them discover the whole plot!
Grace possessed a peculiar talent often to be seen
in grown persons, but seldom in children-a talent
which can be acquired with very little trouble by
those who have any determination or strength of will,
-namely, the power of waking herself at any time
that she chose. Accordingly, although she got into
bed, and even dozed for some half-hours, she woke
up thoroughly just as the large garden-clock struck
ten; at the same time she heard the drawing-room
bell ring, the door shut, and her mother's gentle step
and rustling dress on the stairs, accompanied by Mrs.
Abel's heavy trot, and the peculiar noise made by the
knocking of the extinguishers against the hand can-
dlesticks at each step taken by their bearers; she
heard the subdued voices at the top of the stairs;
Mrs. Abel's occasional breaking all bounds in an
hysterical word, with her odd laugh, and Lady Ast-
ley's gentle "Hush!" Then came the good-nights,
and Mrs. Abel's tiptoe entrance into her own room,
and her attempt at gently closing the door, which,






THE RIOBBEBS' DEI.


however, slipped from her hand and shut with a bang,
causing the good lady to exclaim, in a very audible
whisper, Hush, my dear door, bless the thing !"
Grace waited for some time longer, hearing her
good governess patter and trot about her room, and
she was about to get up and commence her own
operations, when the door between the rooms opened
just enough to admit a worthy, most benevolent, but
anything but beautiful, night-capped face, decorated
with two curl-papers, of a size and form hitherto un-
known to Grace. The face remained looking at her
for one minute and then withdrew, with a muttered
"Bless her, little lamb !" and a minute afterwards
Grace heard the owner thereof flounder into her bed,
which creaked and groaned as if it would rather not
have received her. Then all was still. Grace's heart
warmed towards the kind old lady, and she felt almost
sorry to grieve her, as she was about to do, but Ber-
tram must be obeyed: so as soon as the hard breath-
ing in the next room assured her that all was safe, she
slipped quietly out of bed and began dressing as
noiselessly and as rapidly as possible, but with trem-
bling hands and a beating heart. As she thrust her
arms into her little warm bear-skin coat she heard the
butler's creaking shoes as he ran upstairs to turn out
the lamp, and then ran down again. The steps died
away in the distance, and then she knew that all was
safe. That was the last legitimate noise to be heard
in the house that night. She tied on her little hat,
and was just approaching the window, when a thought
struck her. Pursuit might be avoided for some hours





THE ROBBERS' DEN. 65

if they could but put figures in their beds to repre-
sent themselves. The idea was followed by immediate
action. Quick as thought she opened a large cupboard
which took up one side of the room, and drew out, one
after the other, two gigantic dolls. One of these she
placed in her own bed, covering it with the bed-
clothes, so as to look as like herself as possible, and
with the other in her arms she again went to the
window. Noiselessly she raised the loose old sash, and,
stepping out, as noiselessly closed it. She trembled
from head to'foot at finding herself alone in the dark
outer world; but she stole on tiptoe to Bertram's
window, and gave the signal agreed on-the three
whistles, with a turn in the last; and she waited
breathlessly for the response, with the words Pro-
prius Gracius" trembling on her tongue. No answer
-all was still. She repeated the signal; still no sound
from within; while a slight breeze passing through
the mass of dark foliage behind her, and gently moving
the leaves with a mysterious whispering sound, excited
her already highly-wrought nerves to such a pitch of
agony, that, unable to bear the solitude a moment
longer, she hastily put her hand to the window,
and, lifting it quietly, entered the room and looked
anxiously round.














CHAPTER V.
THE GIPSIES.

BERTbAM was sleeping peacefully in his little bed,
with one sturdy little arm flung round his head, and
the other hand clenching the bed-clothes with an
energy highly characteristic of the child. The moon
was shining through the trees upon his face, and their
flickering shadows waved gently over it, giving, as
Grace thought, a strange, unearthly, but beautiful
expression to his countenance. His round and healthy
cheek reposed calmly on the smooth white pillow,
while his luxuriant dark brown hair looked as glossy
and unruffled as when he lay down to rest. Grace
called him gently,-
"Bertram!"
He made no reply-no movement.
"Bertram!" said she, louder, and at the same time
touching him.
An impatient noise escaped his lips, while he turned
heavily in his sleep; but his bed did not creak as Mrs.
Abel's had done-perhaps it liked having him.
Grace now pulled him harder and called him louder,
and after one or two more slight, impatient sounds, he
roused himself, and sat up in bed, opening lazily his





THE GIPSIES.


large round eyes, and gazing at her as if he thought
she was part of his dream.
"" Proprius Gracius,' Bertram!" said Grace, ner-
vously; "'Proprius Gracius!' and I am come, and it
is time to go."
"Eh-what?" returned the sleepy boy, "Time-
eh ? Why do you bore me so-can't you let one
sleep ?"
"'Hush!-not so loud! Don't you remember,
Bertram, 'Proprius Gracius' afternoon lessons?
Come on-it is so cold to wait,"-for the poor little
girl's very teeth were chattering with nervous cold
and fear.
Bertram then rubbed his eyes, and looked at her
-again, as if perplexed; but the recollection of his
wrongs and his plans at length reaching his torpid
-brain, he suddenly sprang up, exclaiming,-
"All right-I'll be with you directly-I forgot-I
,believe I was asleep."
Grace believed so too, and waited patiently till he
.was dressed and ready to set forth.
Bertram quite approved of the plan of putting the
dolls in their beds, and helped Grace to arrange the
one she had brought for his. He gave one look of
-regret round his little room as he prepared to step
out of the window, saying with a sigh, "Ah, it will be
many a long year before I sleep here again, I dare say.
Grace, shall I take my cross-bow ? I smuggled it up
last night in case I should want it. It might be useful
if we met any robbers."
Grace could not speak for a moment, for hot tears
F2






68 THE GIPSIzB.

had risen to her eyes at Bertram's words, and she
knew that he hated "women's tears" as he said, and
he had even often told her that he had a very high
opinion of her because she so seldom gave way to
them. Could she forfeit that high opinion at such
an hour! She was soon able, however, to answer,
"I wouldn't take it-it will only be in the way I
think."
"Think so?" said he. "Well, perhaps you are
right; at all events, my arm is enough to defend
you, I hope. Poor old Killdeer, though! I'm sorry
to leave him. Take care of him, Gracey."
The bow was an old favourite, associated with many
days of happiness in their young minds. They had
named it after the rifle of the famous Leather-stock-
ing.
Grace did not trust herself to answer, as she fol-
lowed her brother through the window, which he
carefully closed; and making her a sign to be quiet,
he crept down the steps and into the bushes. Grace
kept close at his heels, like a faithful dog. After a
little pushing they came into one of the shrubbery
walks. It was pitch-dark, for the trees met above
their heads and concealed the light of the moon; but
they knew the way well, and went on rapidly. Pre-
sently they came to a little low wicket-gate which
opened on to the side of the hilT on which their
father's house stood. They passed through it, and
paused for a moment to take breath, and to gaze
around them. The moon was high in the heavens,
and the vast plain before them was bathed in dew,





THE GIPSIES. 0

which shone like a sheet of silver in her clear soft
light; while the dark shadows of the trees, cast in
motionless solemnity beneath them, looked, to the
children's excited imaginations, like so many huge
giants, caught and chained in strange shapes and
attitudes by the magic power of the lady moon.
The happy, peaceful home in which they had been
born, and which had sheltered them all the years
of their little lives, frowned upon them from the hill
as if it would reproach them for leaving it. Its huge,
mysterious-looking shadow stretched out towards
them, as if to draw them back; while the great stair-
case window at the side-the only one which caught
the moonlight-looked smilingly and benevolently
down, as if it would ask them why they should flee
from its large, comfortable recesses, and the luxuriant
exotics which were blooming therein. There were
neither deer nor cattle in the plain; they had
all retired to rest in the woods or in the fern.
No human life was abroad, but what was contained
within those two strange little figures standing on the
hill-side, and looking singularly out of place there at
such an hour, and far more creatures of sunshine than
worshippers of the night.
Come on," said Bertram, in a low voice, we must
not waste time,"-and he strode off, while Grace
trotted by his side.
Now, could we have looked into the hearts of these
two childrert at this time, we should have seen in that
of Bertram Astley, although the originator and prime
mover of this scheme, a very great doubt as to its





70 THE GISLESS.

success, while Grace's would have shown us nothing
but the most entire faith in Bertram, his plans, and
his words. Grace had no doubt but that the next
sun would rise upon Bertram in a ship, bound for
some unknown country ; and upon herself in her soli-
tary play room, no longer gladdened by his presence;
for she did not suppose he would allow her to accom-
pany him very far on his way to Pester, and she
only hoped she might be let to go at least to the
park-gates.
Meantime, Bertram thought all the planning and
the escape at night very good fun; but, although he
did not confess it even to himself, sundry misgivings
had been stealing into his mind, dating from the mo-
ment when he had sat up in his bed and seen Grace
waiting for him. He did not like being roused from
his nice sleep, and he had rather uncomfortable feel-
ings about Combe Wood, through which they must
pass; and as the time approached, he began, too, to
wonder what he should say to the captain of the ship,
which he still believed he must find at Pester. How-
ever, he plodded on, rather ashamed of his fears, as
Grace appeared by no means to share them.
Gracey," said he, as they neared the wood, which
certainly looked most terribly dark and ghost-like,
"we won't go through the long drive by the lodge.
We must avoid the lodge, or they'll hear us ; so we'll
go by the Robbers' Den, and over the wall at the
ruin."
Accordingly, they turned off the great carriage-
drive into a very narrow path at one side. Pre-





THE GIPSIES.


gently Grace asked Bertram if he was sure he was
right.
"It seems to me as if we must have gone beyond
the den. I am sure the brambles are not so thick
that way-I can hardly drag through after you, and
they make such a noise on my frock, I'm afraid some-
body will'hear us."
"There's nobody near enough," answered Bertram,
half wishing there had been, and carefully avoiding
her questions, for he, too, began to find the brambles
unusually thick and the way long.
They went on for some minutes in silence, carefully
groping their way. At length Grace said, in a voice
which heralded the approach of tears, "Bertram, I
know we're wrong; and my legs do ache so, I cannot
go on."
"Wait a bit Grace!" was the cheerful reply.
"Cheer up heart a little longer; I see some light, and
we'll soon be out of the wood."
Then we have been going wrong all this time!"
sAd Grace, in the same tone.
"Wrong!" returned Bertram. Oh, no! Only,
you see, I thought it better to go round just a leetle
bit, to avoid the lodge, It's all right now. I know
where we are; there's the ruin!"-and he stepped a
little on one side to let her get a glimpse of it as the
soft moonbeams fell upon it and lighted up every
crevice and cranny in the old place.
"Why, we're coming to it from the Rangley
side !" exclaimed Grace, in a whisper. We must
have gone all the way round by the great oak!"






THE GIPSIES.


Bertram's courage had been fast oozing out at his
fingers' ends during his struggles in the brambles.
His legs ached, too, and he was getting hotter and
hotter as the form of each huge tree in succession ap-
peared before him; and now, when he saw once again
the clear calm moonlight and emerged from the thick
brambles, he seemed to breathe more freely; but at
the same time a strong sense of the comforts of rest
and home, and an increasing unwillingness to plunge
into the wide, wide world possessed him. He paused,
considering how he should break to his credulous and
faithful follower his sudden change of plan, and that
he actually thought of getting home to bed as quickly
and quietly as possible.
Gracey, I am afraid you are very tired. We must
rest a little," he began.
"Oh, no, no!" said Grace, earnestly. "Let us
push on now, and rest later, nearer Pester!"
Near Pester !-oh-ah! Well, but how will you
get back alone ?"
"I don't know," said Grace, trembling, though
more with the fear that he meant to send her back
that moment than anything else. "I don't care,
Bertram. Never mind me, I shall manage. The
chief thing now is to get you into the ship. You can
send for me, you know, some day !"
"But I must mind you, Gracey. It is my place
to protect you. It is too dark for you to go back
alone. Robbers, or anything, might come. I shall
take you back immediately!"
He doubled his little stick under his arm with





THIE GIPSIES.


an air of determination. Grace was miserable at
the idea of his sacrificing his own interests for her,
and was imploring him to go on, when he suddenly
started and put his hand on hers, saying, in a
whisper, "Hush, Gracey didn't you see something !
There, back among the bushes !"
No !-where ?-what ?" said the frightened child,
clinging to him.
I declare!" said he, in a trembling whisper,
"something light moved in those black trees !"
"Bertram! Bertram! I cannot go back through
there-indeed, indeed I cannot!"
Bertram's dignity gave way completely at this new
alarm, and his answer was a very meek, No more
can I, Gracey; what shall we do!"
"Let us get out of the wood and go home !" re-
turned Grace; and she shook with fright.
But it's all wood all round, except the wall," said
the boy; "and my legs ache so. Let's creep into
the cave and stay till morning."
Oh, no, not the cave! not the cave!" said Grace
in an agony. We'll get into the ruin-it's light
there, and we can hide in the fireplace."
Bertram agreed, and they went on as fast as their
trembling limbs would allow, and were soon snugly
curled up in what had once been the fireplace. Here
they nestled together very cold and very tired-
frightened at every leaf that moved near them-not
daring to look round, and thinking that daytime
would never, never come again. Before they had
been there ten minutes they were both fast asleep.





THE G1PSIES.


At the same moment that Grace and Bertram
Astley emerged from their father's shrubbery and
stood alone on the hill-side, a gipsy cart might have
been seen wending its way along the high road
between Rangley Park and Henley,-a large seaport
town situated about three miles from Pester. Some
of the gipsies were in the cart, while others walked
by the side, and some few lagged behind. One young
girl, with long black hair and eyes of an almost
unnatural brilliancy, walked by the side of the horse,
which was a better-looking animal than those usually
seen among the gipsies.
As the cart came up to and almost passed the
turning off to Combe Astley and Pester, a shrill voice
from the cart exclaimed sharply-" The eeuce is in
you, Nora, girl! Whatever are ye dreaming on ? Take
the turn, girl, and mind what yer arter-do !"
Nora did not speak a word, but she turned the
horse's head, and the heavy lumbering cart creaked
wearily down into the deep ruts of the unfrequented
lane, with a jolt that elicited many an oath from those
within the rickety yellow walls of the vehicle.
Nora walked slowly on for she was sadly tired, and
had been on foot many hours that day; but still she
kept her post by Drudo's head, for she loved the
horse, and well she knew that from none but herself
would he receive kindness.
"We'll be having a fine sail to-night, Nat," said
she, looking up into the heavens, now spangled by
myriads of stars.
"Yes," replied a gruff voice, whose owner had





THE GIPSIES.


moved forward to her side, "if the wind ba'ant a
rising ag'in; it's sagged jolly sin' the morning."
I hope Black Sam won't keep us waiting," said
the girl; I hate that place."
"Ai!" returned her companion; "there's no doubt
but what it's terrible ellinge and drearsome; but
Black Sam's up to snuff."
They walked on in silence for some time. Pre-
sently Nora shivered, and drawing her rag of a cloak
round her slight form, remarked,-" I've a bad feeling
about this lane. I wish I hadn't forgot the money,
and we wouldn't ha' come this way."
You're full o' bad feelings, to-night," returned
the man, shortly.
"I wonder why it's called the Headless Lane ?"
said Nora, musingly, and without noticing his re-
mark.
"'Cause o' the wife o' one o' them 'ere lords up at
the Combe. They say she walks up and down the
lane o' summer nights with her head in her hands,
ba-groaning," replied the man.
I hope we shan't meet her-d'ye think we shall? "
said a tall sprightly gipsy, who had joined them at
the beginning of Nat's speech.
Belike," said he in answer; there ain't no odds,
nor no sinification, as I sees."
The tall gipsy drew nearer, and seemed to dislike
the idea, but Nora dragged dreamily on in silence.
They now approached the wall of Lord Astley's
park, and, after skirting it for some little way, the
broad square shadow of the ruin appeared before






THE GIPSIES.


them, thrown straight across the lane. The moon
sailed m, in the heavens, and now she was behind the
ruin, and Bertram and Grace lay in darkness, still
ft asseap.
"Hait !" aid the shrill voice from the gipsy cart.
"Wo-o, Dru!" said Nora's gentle tones; and a
shr.'elled and ragged old gipsy, of most forbidding
aspect, began to clamber out of the cart, muttering
and mumbling as she knocked against the shafts.
Nora, girl, you'll go with me and get the money,"
said she, sharply ; "Nat'll stay wi' the horse."
Nora obeyed, and together they approached the
wall. Nora sprung lightly to the top, and pulled the
old woman over with less trouble than might have
been imagined, though not without eliciting groans
and curses in abundance. The two women then crept
to the back of the ruin, passing close to the uncon-
scious children, but without perceiving them. The
brushwood was very thick here; but the old woman,
lifting a huge mass of it aside, disclosed a trap-door
in the rock. Nora opened it with ease, and old Gran
began to grope her way down. Nora dropped lightly
after her. They stood in a passage scooped out of
the hill. It was very narrow, and not long, and they
soon entered a cave exactly behind, and, in fact, join-
ing on to the "Robbers' Den." At present there
was no communication between the two, although
originally the inner cave had been but a continuation
of the outer one. The gipsies were in utter darkness;
but Gran proceeded to strike a light and secure the
money-cleverly concealed in the ground-which was





THE GIPSIES.


so covered with dead leaves that had drifted through
a crevice in the top of the cave, that no eye but the
most practised could have guessed at the treasures it
contained. This was one of the great hoarding-places
of the gipsies, and many and various were the stores
herein concealed.
Grace and Bertram would, indeed, have started
with fright could they have seen what was passing so
near them. The old woman on her knees on the
ground,--her shrivelled claw-like hands busily em-
ployed among the bright coins, but covered with the
wet clammy earth in which she had been muddling
to reach them,-her nails standing out long and
black, and giving a finish scarcely human to the
withered form. Her coarse grey hair escaped in
bunches from the dirty blue handkerchief, which
served as her head-dress, and every line in her hard
puckered face was seamed with dirt, rendered distinct
by.the faint light of the lantern which her companion
held towards her.
That lantern cast its light upon but one other
being. Nora, stood beside her, with one hand resting
on her side, her whole form slightly drooping in an
attitude of extreme languor, like a parched flower
pining for the summer rain. Her long black hair
fell around her like a veil, and the red handkerchief
which had confined ithad been thrown back from her
head. Her eyes were large and deep, and so heavy, that
it seemed to be an effort to her to lift them to your face,
and when you met their gaze there was no escaping from
its mournful earnestness. They were shaded now by






THE GIPSIES.


the large heavy eyelids, with their long black fringes
resting on the pale thin cheek. But for the black
hair and eyes you would not have taken Norah for a
gipsy, so white were her hands and so white her face.
And now the task was done, and the gipsies left the
cave; Nora first, still holding the lantern. It was
harder work for the old woman to get out of the trap-
door than it had been for her to drop down, and her
words on the occasion were not at all like angel's
visits in any way. All having been put as before,
they again crept round the ruin, Nora still being first
with the lantern. She rounded the corner; the light
fell upon the little sleepers. Nora glanced round the
ruins and started. She had seen them. Her next
impulse was to pass on as if she had not seen them,
that her mother's attention might not be drawn to
them likewise. It was too late. Her start had been
observed, and its cause was perceived
Ah!" said the old gipsy, ah! what will this be ?"
and she hobbled up to the children and bent down
over them, peering with her half-blind eyes into their
faces.
Grace turned and half opened her eyes, and sharp
and shrill was the shriek she gave at that haggard old
face so close to hers. She might have thought she
was in her own little bed and dreaming, but still
she screamed. Quick as thought the gipsy's
hard bony hand was on her mouth, tight, tight,
'keeping back the screams, and poor little Grace
was caught up in her arms and held firmly beneath
her cloak.





THE GIPSIES.


Bertram awoke at Grace's scream; but his dream
was more pleasant than hers,-Nora's thin arm was
round him, and her mournful eyes were looking in his
face. He did not scream but only looked again,
thinking he was dreaming still wondering, and
hoping his pleasant vision would not pass.
Two of the gipsies had jumped over the wall before
Grace's scream was well finished, and now they
snatched Bertram from Nora, and before he had time
to recover from his astonishment his mouth was
stopped, and he was in the cart, jolting along the lane,
as fast as poor Dru could gallop. Gran sat beside
him, with Grace in her arms, and her hard hand was
still on the poor child's mouth. Grace still struggled
and tried to scream, and the old woman shook her
roughly, and told her if she didn't leave off and lie
like a lamb she'd soon find a way to quiet her for
ever." Grace was quiet enough then, and Nora
begged to be allowed to take her-for Nora was in the
cart too. But the old gipsy would not give her up, so
iTpra sat down by Bertram, and bent over him, trying
to save him from the rough jolting, which shook
.everything and everybody in the cart. Presently, by
Gran's directions, she poured a few drops from a
dirty glass bottle into a still more dirty blue mug.
The poor children were, by threats, induced to swal-
low this, and they obeyed in deadly fear. They went
on at a rapid pace for about a mile, and then Nat,
who had now taken the reins, and was sitting in front
of the cart, suddenly pulled up, saying, "'Tain't no
good pegging along this ere way; if we are afore
.0






80 THE GIPSIES.
Black Sam we'll only be having to wait, and the
others won't be up this hour." Old Gran answered
only by an oath, to which Nat paid no attention but
went on,,angrily, How ever did them 'ere children
get in there this time o' night, and what was you a
thinking on, a-snapping on 'em up, you old fool! I'd
like to know what good they'll do us, 'cept 'tis a
bringing you to the gallows, where you'd ought to a
bin by rights these forty years."
When you is chief, or chief's widdy, speak so, and
not afore, my chick," returned the old woman, with a
horrible grin, whereby she displayed a long row of
gum, toothless but for two long front incisors,
which, when her mouth again closed, resumed their
usual place over the lower lip, and considerably below
the upper, from which they protruded.
The man made no reply, for the elder gipsy pos-
sessed considerable authority over the gang; and the
cart jolted wearily on for the remaining two miles;
and, in spite of their fright, Bertram and Grace were
both fast asleep by the time they reached Pester, or
rather the small creek in which the gipsies expected
to meet their friends the smugglers, which creek was
somewhat to the right of the village, from which it
was concealed by a rise in the beachy ground. There
was but little real beach here, and the lane, which for
some time had little deserved the name, being no more
than an open cart-track, crossed by many others on
the half marsh, half beach common, reached nearly to
the sea. As the gipsies approached, they perceived
another party and another cart coming up from the





THE GIPSIES. 81

left, and sqns of recognition passed between the two
caravans. A boat, with two rough-looking men, was
waiting for them in the cove, and another now ap-
peared rowing rapidly from a ship, which lay with
flapping sails at a short distance from the shore. A
few words of explanation passed between the two
gipsy parties, while the old gipsy, Gran, seemed to
be giving a somewhat sulky account of the cap-
ture of the children to a tall, commanding-looking
man of the other party. He was evidently much
annoyed and perplexed at first, but finally appeared
to yield to her persuasions, and accordingly gave some
directions to several of the gipsies; in consequence of
which, Nora and the still sleeping children, with old
Gran, were put into the first boat, with almost all the
goods and chattels from the cart, and rowed off to the
ship. The contents of the blue mug, though not given
in kindness, were of the greatest service to the poor
little wanderers, for they slept on in the boat; and
still they slept, when they were lifted up the side of
tke ship, and received by savage-looking men, with
rough beards and rougher ways.
The boats plied backwards and forwards several
times between the ship and the shore, until all the
gipsies, and, last of all, their horses, were on board.
The carts had been taken to the village as soon as
they were emptied, and left there, as usual, under care
of some friends-for all the inhabitants of that dirty
little fishing-town were on the very best terms with
the gipsies and smugglers who frequented the place.
When all was ready, the ship sailed slowly away






81 THE GIPSIES.

from the coast, leaving far behind the dirty little
village, Headless Lane, and Combe Astley, the
good-natured governess, the lesson-books, and the
kind mother, whom Grace and Bertram had only
left, as it turned out, to join a set of wild, lawless
wanderers.












CHAPTER VI.
THE GIPSY TOYAGE AND CAMP.

AND now the drug which Gran had given the
children began to lose its power, and the rolling of
the vessel-for the wind was rising-helped to rouse
them from their death-like sleep. Grace was the first
to wake, and she opened her eyes and gazed around
her, wondering where she could be, and how she got
into such a strange place. Her head ached dreadfully,
and was so heavy that she could hardly lift it from the
bundle of rags on which she had been thrown. She
had little time to wonder, for soon everything seemed
to be going round and round, and she became dread-
fully sick. Between the paroxysms the poor child
cried very much, and longed-ah, how she longed !-
for her own dear mamma's cool soft hand to hold her
poor little throbbing head! She was dreadfully fright-
,ened, too, at being alone; but she was too weak and
too sick to move or to call out, and she ached and
trembled all over from the unusual exposure t;, the
night air to which she had been subjected. She and
Bertram had been put away in the cabin, and there
was only one dim tallow candle, stuck all on one side
in a hole in the rickety wooden table in the middle.
Grace did not see that Bertram was just behind her
S2






84 THE GIPSY VOYAGE AND CAMP.


till he too awoke, and began to look round and move
.bout.
Oh! Gracey, Gracey !" said he, "where are we ?
Why does everything move so ?"
Grace could only groan, and Bertram, a far better
sailor, crept to her side, and put his little hot hand
to her head. He didn't mind the rolling of the
vessel, or the noises and smells with which they were
surrounded, but his head throbbed, and he could nt-:
remember what had happened to them, for he had
hardly shaken off the effects of the drug. The poor
children were left alone for some hours, till they
became faint from exhaustion.
The gipsies were bound for the north of England;
and, instead of travelling by land, as they usually did,
they had engaged one of the gang, the Black Sam, of
whom Nora and Nat spoke, and who was a smuggler
as well as a gipsy, and owned one or two small vessels,
to take them by sea, as they greatly dreaded the
cholera, which was at that time raging in the southern
and midland counties.
A small party of the gipsies had been sent round
by Headless Lane to secure some money, which Nora
had forgotten when sent there some time before,
but they were all to meet-as, in fact, they did-at
Pester Creek, to be conveyed on board Black Sam's
ship. They were a rough, bad lot; but it had never
been part of their trade, nor would it have answered
to them, to steal children. Hubert, their head, or
chief, as they called him, was both puzzled and vexed
at the strange chance which had almost obliged them




THE GIPSY VOYAGE AND CAMP. 85

to take off the young Astleys. He had wished at first
to send them straight home, but old Gran had dis-
suaded him from this, by holding out hopes that a
reward would be offered for them, and also by repre-
sentations of the danger of letting them go without
discovering hl.w much of the secret of the cave and
passage they knew,-for she persisted in declaring
that they were awake when she found them, and that
they must have heard her talking with Nora about
the treasure and the trap-door.
The discussion, or rather, quarrel, was resumed as
soon as the sailing of the ship left the gipsies at
liberty, and so excited did they become on the subject,
rat the sun was high in the heavens before any one
thought of going to see after the little ones.
Nora, overcome with fatigue and sea-sickness, was
lying on deck, on a sort of couch made for her by
the kindness of one of the gang,-for poor Nora was
loved by them all. By the time she was able to creep
up again, many hours had gone by, and still the chief
and old Gran were at issue about the children, and
still the poor little half-fainting victims were alone
below. Nora approached Gran, and asked what had
become of" them ? "
Down below," was the short reply; and Nora
crept down the stairs, or rather ladder, to the cabin.
The light was still flickering, and looked strange and
dreary in the broad sunshine. Grace had sunk quite
back upon her rags, with her white parched lips open
as she gasped for breath. Bertram was curled up at
her side, supporting his aching head with both his





86 THE GIPSY VOYAGE A~ND CAMP.

hands. Nora was touched at the sight of their help-
less misery, and with all her little strength she raised
poor Grace's head.
Bertram turned at the sound, and said, in a hoarse
voice, "Water-O, please, give us water!"
She fetched some, which he drank with avidity;
and she then made Grace as comfortable as she could,
wetting her lips with brandy, and, after a little, suc-
ceeding in pouring some down her throat. The poor
child revived greatly after this, and soon was able to
sit up, leaning her head against Nora's shoulder,
though she was too much exhausted to speak. Ber-
tram sat up too, and looked better.
"What's your name P he began. "Where are
we, and why are we here? "
"I am Nora," said the girl, in a low, musical voice,
as she slowly lifted her eyes from his sister's face to
his own.
"Nora? What Nora ?" he repeated; and then
changing his tone-" Oh, if you could give me some-
thing to eat!"
Nat came ih at that moment, and Nora begged him
to fetch her some food. He was a man of Kent,"
and had joined the gipsies a year or two before. A
rough, bad specimen was he; but every one did as
Nora wished. He obeyed, therefore, and soon re-
turned with a portion of a most savoury mess, to
which no one had more right than Bertram and Grace
Astley, seeing that it was chiefly composed of rabbits
from their own father's woods. Grace could not eat;
but Nora and Bertram did justice to the repast; and





THE GkIPSY VOYAGE AND CAMP.


then the poor boy began to recall the past. They
ate in silence; but, when he had finished, he turned
to Nora, and said,-
"Where are we now? and where are we going
to? Are we going to mamma ? Oh! why did you
take us !" and the sobs began to burst forth.
Nora's eyes filled with tears.
We are going to the north," she said; we shall
live there a long time,'but I will beg them to let you
stay with me. I may not go out as they do, I am
weak; and if they will let you stay, I will make you,
happy."
But who are they ?" persisted Bertram; and Grace
opened her eyes and listened too.
We are gipsies," said Nora, slowly, and as if each
word was dragged from her.
Both the children began to cry.
"Hush! oh pray, pray, hush!" said Nora, implor-
ingly, as the door burst open, and old Gran hobbled in.
"What are ye kicking up this confounded noise
for !" she exclaimed, as she hit Bertram a blow that
sent him against the sharp corner of the table, the
blood streaming from his face.
Grace screamed, and Nora sprung up to catch him
as he fell. The old witch gave Grace a ringing box 1
on the ear, and called to Nora to leave palavering
the brat and tend to her."
Hubert appeared at the door before Nora could
obey, and just as old Gran was about to bestow a
blow upon her, he arrested her arm from behind, ex-





88 THE GIPSY VOYAGE AlD CAMP.

claiming, "Strike Nora! No one shall dare to strike
Nora, not even her mother !"
Nora looked her thanks as she supported the pro-
strate boy, and Gran hobbled off, cursing as she went.
Nora !" said the chief, "I give these children to
your charge, till we leave the ship."
Another grateful look from Nora, and he left the
cabin. Nora did her best to comfort her young charge,
but with poor success; that day was a sad and a long
one for the trio. At night Nora told them that they
must go to sleep, if they could, where they were, for
there were no better beds to be had.
"But I haven't said my prayers," said Grace; and
she tried to raise herself on her knees; but then came
the recollection of the last time she had knelt in
prayer, at her own little low chair, in her own little
room at home; and the visions of that home and of
her own gentle mamma rose before her, and the
poor child cried bitterly. After a time, how-
ever, she roused herself sufficiently to go through
her usual prayer, although the old familiar words,
" Bless papa and mamma, and all my dear brothers
and sisters," called forth her tears afresh. Bertram
was nearly as bad, and Nora watched them both with
heartfelt pity, not, however, unmingled with envy, for
she, too, longed to pray; but she knew-not how, and
she resolved that, at a fitter time, she would find out
from the children all about that great God to whom
she saw them raise their tearful faces and baby voices
in such simple confidence. For Grace and Bertram




THE lGIPSY VOYAGE AND CAMP.


prayed this night as they had never really prayed
before. The words came from their hearts, and when
they had done, they received their reward. They were
calmer far, and they lay down to rest with a compo-
sure which astonished Nora.
The gipsies soon came pouring down into the
cabin, for several of them slept there, although,
as the nights were fine, most of them pre-
ferred the deck, both for meals and sleep. Few of
them took any notice of the children, who, roused by
the noise, were terribly frightened at the strange, wild
forms and faces with which they were surrounded, and
clung to Nora. They slept, however; but awaking
very early the next morning, before any of the gipsies
were stirring, their eyes met as they were staring
round the room in fresh alarm and wonder at finding
themselves in so strange a place.
Bertram," said Grace, in a whisper, "is it a
bad dream, and shall we awake and find ourselves at
home ?"
No, Gracey daring," said the boy; "it is true.
These are bad gipsies, and they have stolen us, and I
don't know what will become of us. This is a ship
we are in. I heard them talk last night."
"So did I, Bertram,-and oh, such bad words!
Bertram, that tall, black woman said 'devil' so
often, I hid my face not to hear. 0 mamma!
mamma! "
Don't cry, Gracey darling-!" said Bertram, cry-
ing himself; "we'll run away !"
Next day Nora whispered to them, as the other





90 THE GIPSY VOYAGE AND CAMP.
gipsies were leaving the cabin, that they had better
pretend to be ill still.
"For then," said she, "I can keep you here; if
you are well, Gran '1 get ye. Gran's my mother."
Bertram shrank from her at this news; but her
mournful looks and sweet low voice soon overcame
his horror. It was no great stretch for them to pre-
tend to be ill, for Grace was dreadfully weak, and
Bertram suffering a good deal from his contact with
the table the day before.
A long, long day was this again. Nora's head was
giving her such violent pain that she could hardly
stir, and the other gipsies were tired of waiting upon
her, or, more likely, forgot her altogether. The poor
children were again nearly famished; but Bertram
was kneeling by Nora's side, stroking her head gently,
and Grace was clasping one of the gipsy's thin hands
in both hers, when a great noise and stir on deck
caused them all three to start. Voices were now
heard approaching the cabin.
Mamma! said Grace, joyfully, as she raised her
head and prepared to spring up.
Nora Nora said a voice outside.
Poor Nora's face flushed, and her beautiful eyes
were lifted from the ground as the door was pushed
open, and a tall young gipsy came eagerly forward. His
happy countenance fell as he caught sight of her face.
My poor Nora!-darling Nora! you are worse!
Curse them, there is none to take care of you when
I am away; and they make me leave you; but by -
I will not again!"




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