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TORY OF THE WHITE-ROCKOOVE
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THE WHITE-ROCK COVE:_ *ea-Sibe 5torg for the _tirniLONDON:T. NELSON AND SONS, PATERNOSTER ROW;EDINBURGH; AND NEW YORK1873.
PFg.I. LONG AGO AT BRAYCOMBE, ... ... ... 9II. ALECK'S WELCOME, ... ... ... ... 27III. A WHOLE HOLIDAY, ... ... ... ... 43IV. THE RIDE TO STAVEMOOR, ... ... ... 60V. SHIP-BUILDING, ... ... ...... ... 92VI. THE SCHOONER-YACHT, ... ... ... ... 104VII. THE MISSING SHIP, ....... .. ... ... 142VIII. ANOTHER SEARCH, ... ...... ... ...158IX. SORROWFUL DAYS, ... ... ... ... ... 182X. SUNDAY EVENING, ... ... ... ... ... 206XI. THE WHITE-ROCK COVE AGAIN, ........ 210___(
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Nj-.- -gTHE STORYOFTHE WHITE-ROCK COVE.CHAPTER I.LONG AGO AT BRAYCOMBE.HE Story of the White-Rock Cove-"tobe written down all from the verybeginning"-is urgently required bycertain youthful petitioners, whoseimportunity is hard to resist; andthe request is sealed by a rosy pair of lipsfrom the little face nestling at my side, in amanner that admits of no denial.* *" From the beginning;"-that very begin-ning carries me back to my own old school-
10 LONG AGO AT BRAYCOMBE.room, in the dear home at Braycombe, when,as a little boy between nine and ten yearsold, I sat there doing my lessons.It was on a Thursday morning, and, conse-quently, I was my mother's pupil. Forwhereas my tutor, a certain Mr. Glengelly,from our nearest town of Elmworth, used tocome over on Mondays, Wednesdays, andFriday for the carrying forward of my edu-cation; my studies were, on the other daysof the week, which I consequently liked muchbetter, conducted under the gentle superin-tendence of my mother.On this particular morning I was workingwith energy at a rule-of-three sum, beingengaged in a sort of exciting race with theclock, of which the result was still doubtful.When, however, the little click, which meant,as I well knew, five minutes to twelve,sounded, I had attained my quotient in plainfigures; a few moments more, and the processof fours into, twelves into, twenties into, hadbeen accomplished; and just as the clockstruck twelve I was able to hand up my slatetriumphantly with my task completed."A drawn game, mamma!" I exclaimed,
LONG AGO AT BRAYCOMBE. 11"between me and the clock;" and then witheager eyes I followed hers, as she rapidly ranover the figures which had cost me so muchtrouble, and from time to time relieved mymind by a quiet commentary: " Quite rightso far;-No mistakes yet;-You have workedit out well."Frisk, the intelligent, the affectionate, thewell-beloved companion of my sports, and therecipient of many of my confidences, wokeup from his nap, stretched himself, came andplaced his fore-paws upon my knees, and, look-ing up in my face, spoke as plainly as ifendowed with the capacity of expressinghimself in human language, to this effect:-" I'm very glad you have finished your lessons;and glad, too, that I was able to sleep on amat in the window, where the warm sun-shine has made me extremely comfortable.But now your lessons are done, I hope you'lllose no time, but come out to play at once.I'm ready when you are."And Frisk's tail wagged faster and fasterwhen my mother's inspection of my sum wasconcluded, so that I could not help thinkinghe must have understood her when she said,-
12 LONG AGO AT BRAYCOMBE."There are no mistakes, Willie; you havebeen a good, industrious little boy this morn-ing; you may go out to play with a lightheart."I did not need twice telling, but very soonput away all my books and maps, and theslate, with its right side carefully turneddown, that it might not get rubbed, wipedthe pens, placed my copy-book in the drawer,and presented myself for that final kiss withwhich my mother was wont to terminate ourproceedings, and which was on this occasionaccompanied by the remonstrance that I wasgetting quite too big a boy for such nonsense.Then at a bound I disappeared throughthe window, which opened on the lawn, andlet off my pent-up steam in the circumnavi-gation of the garden, with Frisk barking atmy heels; clearing the geranium-bed with aflying leap, and taking the low wire-fence bythe shrubbery twice over, to the humiliationof my canine companion, who had to dipunder wheie I went over.The :conclusion of these performancesbrought me oiree again in front of the school-room window, where my mother stood beck-
LONG AGO AT BRAYCOMBE. 13oning to me. She had my straw hat withits sailor's blue ribbons in one hand, and a sliceof seed-cake in the other." Here, Willie," she said, " put on your hat,for the sun is hot although there is a freshbreeze; and-but perhaps I may have beenmistaken-I thought perhaps some people ofmy acquaintance were fond of seed-cake forluncheon."" No indeed, dear mamma," I made answerspeedily, " you are not at all mistaken: somepeople-that is, Frisk and I-do like it verymuch; don't we Frisk, old fellow?"" And now," continued my mother,-whomust certainly have forgotten at the momenther opinion expressed just five minutes beforeas to the propriety of kisses, for, smoothingback my hair, she stooped down to press herlips upon my forehead before putting my haton,-" and now you are to take your trouble-some self off for a long hour, indeed, almostan hour and a half: away with you to yourplay.""May I take my troublesome self to oldGeorge's, mamma ?" I petitioned."If you like," she answered; "only be
14 LONG AGO AT BRAYOOMBE.careful in going down the Zig-zag; I don'twant to find you a little heap of broken bonesat the bottom of the cliff."I confess myself to being entirely incapableof conveying on paper to my young readersthe charms, the manifold delights, of that Zig-zag walk, which was our shortest way downto the lodge.You started from the garden, then throughthe shrubbery, and from the shrubbery by alittle wire gate you entered the natural woodwhich clothed the upper part of our hill-side.The path descended rapidly from this point,being very steep in parts, and emerging everyhere and there so as to command an uninter-rupted view of the beautiful Braycombe Bay,which on this bright summer morning wasall dancing and sparkling in the sunshine.Lower down, the wood gave place to rock andturf, until you reached the top of the shinglewhich the path skirted for a little distance;and, finally, crossing an undulating meadow,you gained the lodge, the abode of my friendold George, mentioned above.It was not its picturesque beauty alonewhich endeared the Zig-zag walk to me,
LONG AGO AT BRAYCOMBE. 15although, child that I was, I feel sure theloveliness of the outer world had the effect,unconsciously to myself, of brightening mylittle inner world ; but over and above allthis must be ranked my keen enjoyment of ascramble, and of the sense of difficulty anddanger attendant upon certain steep parts ofthe descent. It was one of my great amuse-ments to be trusted occasionally to guide myparents' visitors down by this path, for thesake of the view, whilst their carriages wouldbe sent the long way by the drive to meetthem at the lodge. There were precipitousplaces, where even grave and stately grown-uppeople would give up walking and take torunning; and then again little perilous points,where ladies especially would utter faint criesof fright, and would require gentle persuasionto induce them to step down from stone tostone; whilst I, fearless from long practice,would triumphantly perform the feat two orthree times, to show that I was not in theleast afraid, devising, moreover, short cutsfor myself even steeper than those of therecognized path.I question whether the birth-day which
16 LONG AGO AT BRAYCOMBE.conferred on me the privilege of going aloneup and down the Zig-zag was the greatestboon to myself or to my nurse; the exertioninvolved in scaling the hill-side being to thefull as wearisome to her as it was enchantingto myself. The emancipation, however, cameearly in my career, since my friend, old George,by my father's consent, assumed a sort ofout-of-door charge of me at a period whenmost little boys are exclusively under nurserydiscipline. For my father reposed the utmostconfidence in the old man's principles, anddid not hesitate to let me be for hours underhis care, saying, often in my hearing, that hewould rather have me out on the water learn-ing from him how to manage the boats, orclimbing the rocks and exploring the cavesunder his safe guardianship, than learningfrom a woman only how to keep off the rocksand avoid tumbling into the water. He wasan old seaman, united by strong ties of friend-ship and gratitude to our family. In earlieryears he had served on board the same shipin which my father had been a young mid-shipman; and on one occasion, when myfather fell overboard, at a time when the(172)
LONG AGO AT BRAYCOMBE. 17vessel was at full speed, had thrown himselfinto the water, and held my father's head upwhen he was too exhausted to swim, until theboat put out for the rescue had time to comeup and save both lives, which the delay hadplaced in great peril. When, some yearslater, on my grandfather's death, my fathercame to live at Braycombe, he insisted uponGroves, who was just about to be pensionedoff through some failure in health, coming tosettle with his wife at the lodge, promisinghim the charge of our boats, so that he mighthave a taste of his old occupation. Hisdaughter-in-law, widow of his only son, whohad been drowned, obtained the situation ofschoolmistress, and lived near to the old couplewith Ralph, her only son, a lad some fewyears my senior, who was employed aboutthe place under his grandfather's supervision,and helped in rowing when we went out uponthe water.A friendship firm and tender had grownup between myself and the old seaman, Iaccepting him as a grown-up playfellow, andrevealing to him in detail all the many planscontinually suggesting themselves to my(172) 2
18 LONG AGO AT BRAYCOMBE.fertile imagination, and finding in him anever ready sympathy, and, when possible,active co-operation in my schemes.From which digression, explanatory of therelationship subsisting between old George-as he had taught me from infancy to call him,Mr. Groves, as he was more properly desig-nated by the neighbourhood-and myself, Imust return to the bright June morning uponwhich, after my usual fashion, I descendedthe Zig-zag, running, scrambling, sliding, withFrisk scampering and capering at my side,making wild snaps at pieces of cake which Ibroke off for him from time to time, and heldup as high as I could reach, that he mighthave to jump for them.We were not long in gaining the lodge,which, by the carriage drive, was nearlythree-quarters of a mile from the house. Iproduced a series of knocks upon the door,like those of a London postman, though, asold George was wont to remark,-" What's the use, Master Willie, of knock-ing like that; you never stop to hear me say'Come in,' but just burst open the door anddrive in like a gust of wind promiscuous."
LONG AGO AT BRAYCOMBE. 19But, in self-defence, I must explain that mydefective manners in this particular wereentirely due to my old friend himself, who,from earliest infancy, had trained me in allmanner of impertinent familiarities. It wastraditional that I cried to go to him whilst Iwas still in arms; that I made attacks of anaggravated character upon his brass buttonsbefore I could walk alone; and I could justremember experiments upon his white beard,as trying doubtless to him as they were in-teresting to myself, conducted with philoso-phical determination on my part, in order toascertain whether it came off by pulling ornot! In all of which proceedings my friendgreatly encouraged me, so that the blame ofmy failure in the laws of etiquette lay at hisdoor.Only Mrs. Groves was in the cottage whenI rushed in eagerly upon the morning inquestion. She was busy in culinary mysteries,but assured me her master would be soon in,and, in the meantime, I was to make myselfat home; which I did at once." And your dear ma, how's she ?" inquiredthe good lady presently, settling a cover on
20 LONG AGO AT BRAYCOMBE.a saucepan in a decisive manner, and sittingdown during a pause in her operations. " Isaw her drive by yesterday; and Susan toldme she'd been at the school. A blessed timechildren have of it these days, going to school;it's very different to what it was in mytime."" Then you didn't go to school ?" I asked,being privately of opinion that she was ratherfortunate as a child." Oh yes, sir, I went to school, but notlike the schooling children has now-a-days, witha high-born lady like your ma going herself tosee them;-our old dame, she reached us allshe knew-to read, and mark, and learn,-""And inwardly digest? " I suggested, asMrs. Groves hesitated in her enumeration ofaccomplishments.But there was not time to satisfy me con-cerning this branch of her education, for oldGeorge appearing at the moment, I flew tomeet him, and we strolled down to the water'sedge together." I've been longing to see you," I exclaimed."It's about Aleck, my cousin Aleck, I wantedto tell you. He's coming, and uncle and
LONG AGO AT BRAYCOMBE. 21aunt Gordon, on Thursday week; that's onlyjust a fortnight, you know."Aleck was my only boy cousin, and eversince there had been a notion of his comingto Braycombe, I had been thinking anddreaming of him incessantly. My auntGordon had been in very delicate health, andthe doctors ordered foreign air and constantchange for the summer months, and a winterin some warm climate. There had been somehesitation as to how my cousin, their onlychild, should be disposed of. He was notvery strong, and school life, it was feared,might be too great an ordeal for anotheryear; so my parents had written, offeringthat he should spend that time at Braycombe,and share my tutor's instructions. The deci-sive answer from my uncle had only justarrived, and I was in a tumult of joy andexcitement that it was in favour of mycousin's coming to stay with us, and that theactual day of our visitors' arrival had been fixed.George listened with every appearance ofinterest to my communication."I'm glad your cousin's coming, MasterWillie, as you're pleased," he said.
22 LONG AGO AT BRAYCOMBE." But aren't you glad, too, for your ownsake ?" I asked. " It will be so nice havinghim to play with us."" Oh, I'll be pleased to see him, never fearfor that," responded George. " I knew hisfather when he was but a little fellow likeyourself."" Mamma calls me her big boy," I threwin, disapprovingly. " But what do you thinkAleck will be like?""Well, sir, I should expect very muchsuch another young craft as yourself; or,now I come to think of it, perhaps a yearolder or so.""Not a year," I replied; "ten monthsand a half. I asked mamma his birth-day.Do you think he'll be as tall as me ? becausepapa and mamma say I'm tall for my age."" His father stood six feet one the day hecame of age. I daresay his son will takeafter him," said George."And be as tall as that?" I inquired,feeling rather anxious, until reassured, at thetransformation of my cousin in prospect intoa young giant.I suppose that few children had ever seen
LONG AGO AT BRAYCOMBE. 23less of other children than I had up to thistime. There were but three gentlemen'shouses in our neighbourhood : the Rectory,where lived the elderly clergyman and hisWife, who had never had a family; the Elms,a country seat, where Sir John and LadyCosington and two grown-up daughtersresided; and Willowbank, another countryplace, occupied by a young married couple,with one little baby. Elmworth, our nearesttown, was seven miles off; and this distancealmost entirely precluded intercourse withany of the families there.In consequence of this, I had been com-pletely without companions of my own ageup to this time. In books I. had read much ofchildren's amusements with their companions;and although the perfect happiness of myown home left nothing really to be wishedfor, if ever a wish did occur to me for any-thing I had not, it was for a play-fellow andcompanion somewhere about my own age; andnow, when this wish of mine was really on theeve of being realized, I was filled with vaguedreams and anticipations of all the delightwhich it was to bring to me. When George
24 LONG AGO AT BRAYCOMBE.and I had mutually agreed that my cousinAleck-allowing for the difference of age-might be reasonably expected to be somewhattaller than myself we sat down on the beach,and began to discuss certain plans of mine forgiving him a suitable welcome.Dim ideas, the result of " Illustrated Lon-don News' " pictures, were floating in mymind-bouquets, triumphal arches, addresses,and so forth-even although I wound up bysaying-" Of course, not like that exactly; onlysomethiing-something rather grand."Old George, however, kindly and wiselypulled my schemes down, and laid them affec-tionately in the dust:-" You see, Master Willie, anything written,even in your best hand, wouldn't come up towhat you will say in the first five minutesby word of mouth; and then the schoolbanners, though very suitable for a feast-and I'm sure my Susan would be right pleasedto look them up for you-would be no wayssuitable. 'A merry Christmas and happyNew Year,' or, 'Braycombe Schools, founded1830,' would look odd-like flying in tho
OLD GEORGE AND WILLIE
LONG AGO AT BRAYCOMBE. 25avenue at this time of year. And thoughI'd be glad to do anything to give youpleasure, I'd rather be opening the gate toyour uncle and aunt and cousin, as they driveup, than firing off a gun, which might dis-turb their nerves, not to say frighten thehorses."All of which was perfectly unanswerable.But as old George put on his spectacles inconclusion, I knew he meant to consider thesubject with attention ; and I thereforeremained quietly at his side, sending flatstones skimming along the water, or throwingin a stick for Frisk to fetch out again, until,as I expected, he signified to me that he hadthought of what would do.He said that the light arch which supportedthe central lamp over the gate might be veryeasily decked with evergreens for the occa-sion, and the word welcome, traced in flowers,put up so as to appear very pretty with thegreen background; whilst the flag-staff atthe top of the hill, just by the shrubbery,should display all the flags that our establish-ment could boast of.Groves' scheme, though not quite so exten-
26 LONG AGO AT BRAYCOMBE.sive as those which had floated through mychildish imagination, was sufficiently attrac-tive to be very welcome ; and I eagerlyinsisted upon our immediately returning tothe lodge, where George took certain measure-ments of the arch which impressed me won-derfully with a sense of his superiority, andwisdom.By which time Mrs. Groves looked out tosay that her husband's dinner would bespoiled by waiting, or eaten by the dog,"which there was no driving off." And I,thus reminded of the time, settled the diffi-culty about Frisk by taking him up bodilyin my arms, and, hurrying off, reached homeonly just in time to get ready for dinner be-fore the gong sounded.*.t--. .'lz
S^ _. M -_ .. I .. _- -_CHAPTER II.ALECK'S WELCOME.is almost unnecessary to remarkthat the fortnight preceding mycousin's arrival was one of thelongest I had ever spent evenlonger than those preceding birth-days or Christmas. However, the longlooked-for Thursday came at last.I pleaded hard for a whole holiday, butmy mother would not be persuaded; so Ihad to do my morning lessons as usual, andconfessed, after they were over, that thehours had passed much faster than I at allexpected.In consideration of the travellers having,in all probability, had but little time forrefreshment, dinner was to be rather earlierthan usual; and Aleck and I were to haveit, for once, with the elders of the party.
28 ALECK'S WELCOME.Luncheon was also early; and not having thetime to go down to the lodge before it, I wentout into the garden with my mother to helpin gathering a nosegay for my aunt's room.How fresh and beautiful everything lookedthat morning, as we stood there amongst theflowers, my mother selecting the materialsfor the nosegay, and I holding the basket,and handing her the scissors as she wantedthem, or executing at intervals little by-playswith Frisk. I remember feeling a kind ofintense thrill of happiness, which to this dayis vividly recalled by the scent of those parti-cular roses and geraniums; and also a sort ofdim wonder about the unhappiness which Ihad heard and read of as the fate of some-pondering in my own mind how it felt to beso very unhappy, and whether people couldn'thelp it if they would only go out into thefresh air and warm sunshine, and enjoy them-selves as I did. From which speculations Iwas recalled by my mother saying,-" I think we have enough flowers, Willie;perhaps just one creeper for the outside of thevase. There-we shall do now."Then we went in by the school-room win-
ALECK'S WELCOME. 29dow, and I fetched the large vase from theeast bed-room, and stood by my motherwhilst tastefully and daintily she arrangedthe flowers as I thought none but she couldarrange them. She had nearly completedher task when my father came into theschool-room."I am sending the carriage early, dear,"he said to her; "for although I think theycannot arrive until the 4.50 train, there isjust the chance of their catching the onebefore. Have you any messages for Rick-son?"" None, dear," answered my mother."But you must stay for a moment and lookat my flowers. Are they not sweet andpretty ?""Very sweet and very pretty," replied myfather. But I thought he looked at hermore than at the flowers when he said so;and she laughed, although, after all, therewas nothing to laugh at."Willie and I have been gathering them,"she said; "and now we are going to putthem in Bessie's room.""I know who remembers everything that
30 ALECK'S WELCOME.can give pleasure to others," observed myfather, whose hand was on my shoulder bythis time. "Willie, I hope you will growup like your mamma."Not quite seeing the force of this observa-tion, I replied that, being a boy, I thought Ihad better grow up like him. And both myparents laughed; but my mother said shequite agreed with me, it would be far better.Then we carried the vase up, and placedit on the table in the window of the eastbed-room ; and my mother flitted about,putting little finishing touches here and thereto complete the arrangements for the comfortof her visitors, whilst I received a commis-sion to inspect portfolios, envelope-cases, andink-bottles, and to see that all were freshlyreplenished.These matters being finally disposed of, Ipersuaded my mother to ascend to the moreremote part of the house, where a room nextto my own had, at my earnest request, beenprepared for my cousin, and in the decorationof which I felt peculiar interest. There wasa twin bedstead to my own, and variousother pieces of furniture corresponding
ALECK'S WELCOME. 31moreover, in an impulse of generosity I hadtransferred certain of my own possessions intoAleck's apartment, with a noble determinationto be extremely liberal.My mother noticed these at once, but Iwas a little disappointed that she did notcommend my liberality."You see, mamma," I explained, "there'smy own green boat with the union-jack, andthe bat I liked best before papa gave me mylast new one, and the dissected map of thequeens of England.""Yes, I see, Willie," replied my mother;proceeding in the meantime to certain re-adjustments urgently called for, by the criticalposition of the bat standing on the drawersagainst the wall, and the boat nearly fallingfrom the mantelpiece."There, my child," she said; "the batwill do better in the corner, and the shipupon the drawers. And now the puzzle:why, Willie, this is the very one of which Iheard you say there were three pieces miss-ing and then Mrs. Barbauld you thinkchildish for yourself!"My countenance fell, for I had been in-
32 ALECK'S WELCOME.dulging in the cheap generosity of givingaway second-bests, and I could see my motherdid not admire such liberality. Indeed, aftera moment's consideration, I was ashamed ofit myself, and hastened with alacrity to hideMrs. Barbauld, and the Queens of England,and one or two other trifles, in the obscurityof my own room; whilst my mother decidedupon the best position for a couple of prettily-framed pictures which she had had broughtup, and fastened an illuminated text, similarto one in my own room, opposite the bed-" The things which are seen are temporal;the things which are unseen are eternal "-and placed a little statuette of a guardianangel, with the scroll underneath, "He shallgive His angels charge over thee," over thebed-head." What a good thought, mamma," I said,when she had finished her arrangements;"that looks exactly like mine.""Just what I want it to look, Willie.You and Aleck are to be as like brothers toeach other as may be. You have never hadbrother or sister of your own, Willie-notthat you can remember [there had been one
ALECK'S WELCOME. 33infant sister, whose death, when about amonth old, had been my parents' greatestsorrow]-but now that your cousin is likelyto stay a long time with us, I hope that youand he will be as much as possible likebrothers to each other."Then my mother, who was sitting at thefoot of the bed, drew me towards her, andquietly talked to me about some of the newduties as well as temptations which wouldcome with new pleasures, bidding me re-member that I was to try never to think firstof myself, but to be willing to consider othersbefore myself. We had been reading the 13thof First Corinthians that morning together,and her observations seemed to me as if drawnstraight from that source; indeed, before longshe reminded me of it, bidding me rememberit supplied the standard we ought to aim at,and telling me that strength would be alwaysgiven, if I sought it, to help me to be what Iwanted to be; it was only those who did notheartily strive who got beaten in the conflict.It is not to be supposed that this was alluttered in a set speech; I am giving the sub-stance only of a few minutes' quiet talk which(172) 3
34 ALECK'S WELCOME."we had up there in the bed-room togetherthat morning before luncheon, and which Iconfess to having felt at the time rathersuperfluous, my delight in the anticipation ofmy cousin's arrival convincing me that therewould be no fear of my finding anything buthappiness in my intercourse with him.My mother, on the contrary, as I afterwardshad reason to know, was by no means withoutanxiety. She knew that hitherto I had beencompletely shielded from every possible trial.The darling of herself and my father, and, asthe only child, a favourite amongst the at-tached members of our household, my wantshad been all anticipated, and every pleasuresuited to my age had been planned for me soingeniously, that I had never had the chanceof showing myself selfish or ill-tempered. Shefeared that when for the first time I foundmyself not first considered in all arrangements,I might fail in those particular points of con-duct in which she was most anxious I shouldtriumph.My mother's gentle admonitions, to whichI at the time paid little heed, were interruptedby the luncheon gong.
ALECK'S WELCOME. 35" When will the wonderful preparations atthe gate be ready ?" asked my father whilstwe were at table."Oh, there's nothing left to do but to fastenup the flowers. Old George says it won'ttake an hour," I replied." Then if I come down at three o'clock theshow will be ready ?"" Quite ready," I said. "And mammawill come too ?""Of course mamma's coming too; unless,indeed, you mean to charge so high a pricefor the exhibition," said my father comically,"that I cannot afford it. But even then,"he added, "mamma shall see it; I'll give itup for her."I was off from the luncheon-table as soonas possible, but found nurse lying in wait tocapture me and enforce upon my mind thefirst duty of returning by four o'clock, to bedressed properly before the arrival of ourvisitors, whose impression of me, she conceived,would be most unfavourable were they tofind me in what she was pleased to call "thistrumpery," referring to a little sailor's suit ofwhite and blue in which I was very generally
36 ALECK'S WELCOME.attired, and which nurse chose-to disapprove.She wound up her admonition by a sort oflament over my light-mindedness as to mybest clothes; a spirit which, she remarked,was apt to cling to people to their graves-sometimes afterwards; which I scarcelythought possible.Frisk and I darted down the Zig-zag at ourusual pace, so soon as I was released fromnurse's kind offices, and joined old George,who was on the look-out for us.Very pleased we were with the result ofour exertions when the really pretty triumphalarch was completed; the letters of the wordWelcome in conspicuously gay flowers forminga pretty contrast to the leafy background, andeliciting what we felt to be a well-meritedadmiration from my parents and a selectcommittee of servants, who came severally toinspect our handiwork in the course of theafternoon."It's fit for Her Majesty," said my fatherin his playful way, "and far too fine for alittle stranger boy! In fact, it seems scarcelyproper that a humble individual like myselfshould pass under it !"
ALECK'S WELCOME. 37"You're not a humble individual, papa "I exclaimed vehemently."Oh, dear! oh, dear!" sighed my father,"that it should come to such a pass as this;my only son tells me I am wanting inhumility-not a humble person !""An individual!" I said, feeling thatmade a great difference. "But now, papa,you're only in fun; you know I didn't meanthat.""One thing I do mean very distinctly,Willie, which is, that I must not stay chatter-ing here with you any longer, or my letterswill never be ready before post-time. Youmay stay a little longer with George if youlike."I stayed accordingly, determining to behome by the Zig-zag at the appointed hour.But my parents had scarcely had the timenecessary for walking up to the house, whenthe sharp sound of horses' trot suddenlyaroused my attention, and in another momentour carriage, with the travellers inside, wasrounding the curve of the road, and haddrawn up before the gate.My confusion and shyness at thus being
38 ALECK'S WELCOME.surprised were indescribable; and a latentdesire to take to immediate flight and gethome the short way might probably haveprevailed, had not my uncle's quick eyecaught sight of me as I drew back under theshelter of old George."Why, surely there must be Willie !" heexclaimed; 'and in another moment Groveshad hoisted my unwilling self on to the stepof the carriage, and was introducing me tomy relations, regardless of my shy desire tostand upon the ground, and make geologicalresearches with my eyes under the wheels."Yes, sir, this is Master Willie; he's beenuncommon taken up with the other youngmaster coming, and it's his thought havinga bit of something [To think of old Georgedesignating our beautiful arch as a bit ofsomething !] put up at the gate to bid himwelcome.""There's for you, Aleck," said my uncle toa fair-haired boy sitting in the furthest cornerof the carriage opposite to my aunt, whom Ijust mustered courage to look at. "You'llhave to make your best bow and a very grandspeech, to return thanks for such an honour."
ALECK'S WELCOME. 39"Master didn't expect you so soon, sir,"proceeded George; "he thought you'd becoming by the next train; that's how it isthat Master Willie was down here.""Then I think the best thing we can dowith Master Willie is to carry him up to thehouse with us," said my uncle. And accord-ingly I was lifted over from my step intothe midst of the party in the carriage, andseated down between my uncle and aunt.The coachman was compelled to rein in thehorses a minute longer, whilst they all lookedat and admired the arch, and then we bowledoff rapidly up the avenue. I sometimes thinkwe remember our life in pictures: certainlythe very frontispiece of my acquaintance withmy cousin Aleck always is, and will be, adistinct mind's eye picture of that party inthe carriage, with myself in their midst."Uncle Gordon sitting in the right handcorner with his arm round me, keeping mevery close to himself, so that I might notcrowd my aunt, who was leaning back on theother side of me, as though weary with thelong journey. Opposite my uncle my aunt'smaid, with a green bonnet decorated with a
40 ALECK'S WELCOME.bow of red velvet of angular construction inthe centre of the front, to which the partingof her hair seemed to lead up like a broadwhite road; she was grasping, as though herlife depended upon her keeping them safely,a sort of family fagot of umbrellas in onehand, whilst with the other she kept a leather-covered dressing-case steady on her lap. Inthe fourth corner was my cousin, in fullHighland kilt, such as I had hitherto seenonly in toy-books of the costumes of allnations or other pictures, and which inspiredme with a wonderful amount of curiosity.Lastly, myself in blue and white sailor's dress,looking, no doubt, as if I had been capturedfrom a man-of-war; conscious of tumbled hair,and doubtful hands, and retribution in storefor me in the shape of a talking-to from nurse,who had still unlimited jurisdiction over mywardrobe, for having been surprised in astate she would designate as "not fit to beseen."Aleck and I found our eyes wanderingto each other momentarily as we drove along.When they met, we took them off again, andpretended to look out at opposite sides of the
ALECK'S WELCOME. 41carriage; but this happened so often, that atlast we both laughed, and-the ice broke. Iwas quite on chatty terms before we reachedthe house."There are papa and mamma!" I exclaimed,as we came in sight of the entrance. Theyhad heard the carriage, and -were at the doorto welcome their guests." See, I have brought you two boys insteadof one," said my uncle, lifting me out first,and then proceeding to help out my aunt, asif she were a delicate piece of china, and"With care " labelled outside her."When the greetings were over, my motherdeclared a rest on the sofa in her room and acup of tea indispensable for my aunt's refresh-ment. My uncle took my father's arm anddisappeared into the study; and we two boyswere left to take care of each other untildinner-time.I proposed going round the garden, andFrisk being of the party, proceeded to showoff his accomplishments. This led to an ani-mated description of my cousin's dog, Csesar,and a comparison of the ways and habits ofCaesar the Big with those of Frisk the Little,
42 ALECK'S WELCOME.on the strength of which we became veryintimate.Afterwards we returned to the house, andhaving shown Aleck his room, I took him intomine, where we were found seated on thefloor surrounded by "my things," which Ihad been exhibiting in detail to my cousin,when nurse came, a little before six o'clock,to see that we were ready for dinner."Aleck, tell me one thing," I had just saidto my cousin; "are they really your kneesor leather?"Aleck stared. "Leather! why, of coursenot; what made you think such an oddquestion ?"" I didn't think they could be leather afterthe first minute," I replied, doubtfully; "butI couldn't know-"-- -' .^ A-^^-.'^
L -''CHAPTER III.A WHOLE HOLIDAY.- O what boy or girl does not the pro-Smise of a whole holiday convey a"sort of Fortunatus' purse of antici-pated enjoyment! I used to wonder-I remember wondering that veryday after Aleck's arrival, when I had themost enjoyable whole holiday I ever spent-why grown-up people who always had themshould seem so indifferent to their privileges,writing it down upon the secret tablets of myresolve, that when I grew up things shouldbe very different with me.My cousin and I sat side by side at thebreakfast-table in a vehement impulse ofboyish affection, so completely taken up witheach other that I for one never remembernoticing any one else during the progress ofthe meal, except when once I caught a wistful
44 A WHOLE HOLIDAY.look from my aunt, and heard her saying,in a rather sorrowful low voice, to mymother,-" I am very thankful to see our boys taketo each other; it is quite a load off my mindthat Aleck should be with you instead ofbeing left at school.""Won't Aleck come too?" I asked mymother, when she summoned me to our usualBible-reading after breakfast."Not whilst his own mamma is here," wasthe answer; and I was obliged to rest content.But the moment I had put away my Bible, Iflew off in search of him, eagerly explainingthat we were to do what we liked for thewhole of the morning, and sketching out aplan for our amusement such as I thoughtwould be pleasant to him:-" First, we must go over the whole house-you've only seen a little bit of it yet-andthe kitchen-garden and the stables, and thendown the Zig-zag to old George's, and we'llget him to go out with us in the boat. It'ssmooth enough to sail the 'Fair Alice'-that'sa little yacht of mine that old George gaveme."
A WHOLE HOLIDAY. 45Aleck's face brightened. "May you goout in a boat when you like ?" he asked,eagerly. " Oh, how de-light-ful !"How we careered over the house thatmorning, visiting every nook and corner ofit, from the "leads" on the roof, accessibleonly by a ladder and trap-door, to the mosthidden repositories in the housekeeper's do-main The servants good naturedly remarkedI had gone crazy. Presently I bade Aleckshut his eyes, and submit to my guidanceblindfold, whilst I led him to the only roomhe had not been in. We passed throughseveral passages, and then I went forward,tapped at a door, and finding I might comein, fetched Aleck, still with eyes shut." There now, you may look," I exclaimed,watching in a satisfied manner the astonish-ment with which he opened his eyes to findhimself in the study, and his confusion onseeing my father seated at the library tablenear the window, surrounded by books andpapers." Oh, uncle," he exclaimed, " I did notknow I was in your room!""And are very much startled at finding
46 A WHOLE HOLIDAY.yourself there," said my father, finishing hissentence for him. "What shall we do withthe culprit, Willie ? Prosecute him accordingto the utmost rigour of the law, and sentencehim to a year's imprisonment at Braycombe,with hard labour, under Mr. Glengelly andold George!""I think that would be a very goodpunishment," I answered, " only I shouldlike it to be more than a year."" See what a cruel fellow your cousin is,"said my father, getting up from his chair, andproceeding to take Aleck round the room,showing him various curiosities with whichI was familiar; then he sat down again, andkeeping Aleck at his side, told him that solong as he remained at Braycombe he was tofeel as much at home, and as welcome to thestudy as I was, and that he was to try andtrust him as he could his own father, until weall had the joy of welcoming his parents homeagain."Famous chats we get here sometimes, eh,Willie?" he concluded, appealing to me."Rather !" I answered emphatically, seatingmyself on the arm of his chair, and looking
A WHOLE HOLIDAY. 47over his shoulder. "Papa, shall you havetime to play with us this afternoon. It's awhole holiday. I want you to very much."" I fear not, Willie. I must be away allthe morning. Peter the Great will be at thedoor to carry me off in another minute, andI must keep the afternoon for your uncle andaunt. To-morrow afternoon I will give youan hour, only I stipulate you must havemercy upon your old father, and not expecthim to climb trees like a squirrel, or run likea hare."" You know you're not an old father, papa,"I said; " and, Aleck, papa can run quite fast-faster than anybody else I ever saw, andhe climbs better than anybody else. He'sbeen up the tree I showed you in the avenue.""Whatever papa's qualifications may be,"my father observed, "the end of the matterjust at present is, that Rickson is cominground with the horses, and I cannot keep hisimperial majesty waiting."" What does uncle do ?" inquired my cousinafter we had been to the door and had seenmy father mount and ride away on Peterthe Great.
48 A WHOLE HOLIDAY."Papa oh, he does quantities of things,"I replied, somewhat vaguely." What kind of things ?"I proceeded to enumerate them promis-cuously :-" Why, he's a magistrate, and tries casesat Elmworth, and sends people to prison;and he goes to a hospital twice every weekat Elmworth, and he goes to see poor people-we often have some from the hospital downhere; and he always has quantities of letters;and he reads to mamma; and, do you know,he once wrote a book-"I paused, not so much because I had ex-hausted the list of my father's employment,as because I had named that achievementwhich of all others filled me with the deepestawe and reverence. I could remember how,when I was four years old, my mother hadlifted me up to see a volume on the counterof the great bookseller's shop at Elmworth,and had let me spell through the name" Grant" on the title-page. I felt as if I hadrisen in life, and looked upon books in generalwith a feeling of personal friendship, as fromone behind the scenes, from that day; whilst,
A WHOLE HOLIDAY. 49personally, I was much elated by the thoughtof what a very wonderful and extraordinaryman my father was. I was rather glad whenAleck told me that he did not think his papahad ever written a book;-it made me feel alittle bit superior to him.After going to the stables to see my pony,we proceeded to the Zig-zag, chattering fastthe whole way. I was full of plans andprojects, and anxious at once to interest mycousin in every one of them." You see," I explained, "there are quan-tities of things that we haven't been able todo, because there's been only George and me;and he's always had it to say that there wereonly us two, and that he was old and I young,but he can't say that now."" He doesn't seem so very old," remarkedAleck."I don't think he is," I answered, "buthe's taught me to call him old George since Ihave been a baby; everybody else calls himGroves or Mr. Groves. Now there's one thingI want very much to begin, and that isdigging a hole right through the earth tocome out at the other side, where, you know,(172 4
D0 A WHOLE HOLIDAY.we should find ourselves standing on ourheads George has always kept putting offbeginning. But haven't you heard of manypeople beginning to do something great whenthey were boys ?""Yes," answered Aleck, musingly; "Ihave a book about wonderful boys, and oneof them cut out a lion in butter, and anotherdrew a picture upon a stump of a tree; butI don't think we should be able to dig sovery far down-we should have to stop atlast."This unprejudiced opinion of my cousin's,adverse as it was to my favourite scheme,was rather disappointing, but we were nowengaged in the excitement of descending theZig-zag, so I had not leisure to think muchabout it." Isn't it a jolly way down ?" I exclaimed."Papa says it's two hundred feet to that pieceof rock down below."" It's not steeper than oar hills at home,"said Aleck; " only we have not the sea nearus-oh, how I wish we had !"Aleck was quite as good a scrambler as Iwas, so we were not long in reaching the
A WHOLE HOLIDAY. 51lodge, where old George seemed to be on thewatch for us, and welcomed us both with hiswonted heartiness." Master told me you'd be coming down,young gentlemen, as he rode by, and thatyou were to go out as much as you liked inthe boat; and so I've been telling my goodwife she must keep the look-out for thegate. Ralph's coming along presently, andwill be down at the Cove most as soon as weshall."George wanted Aleck to go into the lodgeand see certain objects of interest, which, to usehis own words, he " set great store by." ButI was too eager to allow of this, and insistedupon, our setting out at once for the Cove."I want to show him the greatest treasureI have of all my treasures," I exclaimed." Is that the 'Fair Alice' you were tellingme of?" asked Aleck."Yes; you'll see her presently," I replied;" and you won't wonder 'that I like her betterthan all my other things."I led the way at once by a footpath fromthe lodge across the sloping green meadow,then through a little tangled copse, and finally
52 A WHOLE HOLIDAY.a short rocky descent to what was at Bray-combe always styled the Cove. Not but thatthere were many coves on our beautiful in-dented coast, but this one was the mostaccessible on our grounds. The boat-houseand the bathing-box were both here; and here,too, as being within easy reach, I had fromearliest years climbed and scrambled andexplored, until every stone was almost asfamiliar as the letters of my alphabet; and Icould tell at what state of the tide certainrocks would be uncovered, and knew at aglance whether it would be safe to cross fromone part to another on stepping-stones, orwhether, to reach a given spot, we must goround by the side of the hill. How I loved,and do love, every foot of the ground, everystone, every rock, every silvery ripple ofthat the most charming of all possible play-grounds !Thither, then, I led the way, Aleck follow-ing me closely, and George more slowly behind."There now," I cried, drawing up breath-lessly as we gained our destination, "see,that's my boat-house." It was an exactminiature of the real boat-house, and Aleck
A WHOLE HOLIDAY. 53stood transfixed with admiration looking atit; for of all things calculated for the amuse-ment of children, nothing, I think, succeedsso well as real miniatures-imitations in pro-portion-of things which belong to the grown-up world. But the true kernel of the nut-the jewel of the case-was the elegant littlemodel yacht, which I presently drew forthfrom her moorings within." Now that's the 'Fair Alice,'" I continued;"isn't she lovely?"" Awfully jolly," Aleck replied, after gazingfor a moment in speechless admiration. " Inever saw anything half so nice before Oh,if only we were small enough to get into it!Just look how beautifully the deck is made-I can see all the little timbers; and the mast,it's nearly as high as I am; and those littlepulleys-oh, how perfect they are !""You must see her with all her sails set,"a-scudding before the breeze, Master Gordon,"said George, overtaking us. "I reckon there'snot a craft of her size that would beat herfor speed."" Can you do the sails ?" my cousin askedme, regardless of nautical phraseology.
b4 A WHOLE HOLIDAY." Master Willie! he knows as much as asailor born about reefing and unreefing thesails," said George, answering for me." Then please do let us sail her at once.I do long to see her on the water," beggedAleck.And accordingly we two sat down, over-looked by George, who, from a delicate desireto show off my capacity to manage the sailsalone, abstained from offering any help; and,drawing the boat up between us on the beach,set the sails, and then proceeded to launchher upon the clear deep water of the Cove."This way now," I said to my cousin,when we saw that the breeze was filling thesails, and the "Fair Alice" was making herway out towards the mouth of the Cove." Come and see my harbour bar;" and spring-ing quickly from rock to rock, and runningwhere there was sand, I guided my cousin tothe entrance of the Cove, which was verynarrow in proportion to the width and extentof the inlet. On each side of it there was alow stake strongly fastened into the rock, andfrom stake to stake a rope was stretched : itwas long enough to lie along the bottom of
A WHOLE HOLIDAY. 55tne ground, and so offer no impediment to theboats; but when I was sailing my vessel inthe Cove, and the tide was in, it was alwaysstretched more tightly, so as to prevent thepossibility of my little ship escaping from meinto the wide sea."See," I said, "I have only to slip thisring over the stake, and then I can feel quitesure the 'Fair Alice' is safe. She can't getpast my harbour bar."In the meantime the little yacht had kepther course nearly to the entrance of the Cove,but a sudden shifting of the wind landed heron the opposite side, and I had to make myway all round to get her off again. Aleckremained on his side of the Cove, and weamused ourselves for some time in contrivingto get the little boat to sail backwards andforwards, tacking gradually down to the boat-house.My cousin was so absorbed in the enjoy-ment of sailing the "Fair Alice," that he wasless eager about getting into our own boatfor a sail than at first. But by-and-by, whenwe were dancing over the waves outside theCove, he became quite wild with delight, and
56 A WHOLE HOLIDAY.enjoyed himself, I verily believe, as muchas is possible for a free, happy, eager boy;and that is saying a great deal. Of courseI caught the infection from him, finding afresh delight in my ordinary amusementsthrough having a companion to share them;and, truly, a merrier boat's crew than wemade on that whole holiday morning couldnot have been found.Aleck's love for the sea was an absorbingpassion; and it quite amused me to hear allthe questions he kept putting to old George-as, for instance, how old he was when he wentto sea; how long before he went up the mast;how they reefed the top-sails in his vessel, andwhich of the ship's company did it in a gale;together with many other inquiries, showing adegree of technical knowledge that perfectlyoverwhelmed me, and which, he explained tous, was extracted from " The Cadet's Manual,"and a big book on "The Art of Navigation"which they had at home.I almost wished my cousin did not knowquite so much; it made me feel as thoughthe ten months were a longer and moreimportant period than I had admitted to
A WHOLE HOLIDAY. 57myself. But it was a relief, when the oarswere called into action on our way in, to findthat he could not row, whereas I had handledan oar almost as soon as I gave up a rattle;and, as I showed off my best feathering, Ifelt we were equal again." How is it you can't row, sir, when youknow so much about it?" asked Groves."Why, there are only streams and theriver at my home in Scotland," explainedAleck. "We're up amongst the hills, youknow. I have often fished, but I've scarcelyever been in a boat before, except when we'vebeen travelling; and then it was going outto the steamer, and I mightn't do anythingbut sit still. It was famous, though, in thesteamer," continued Aleck, kindling with therecollection of his journey. "I went down,and saw how the engine worked; and helpedthe man at the wheel; and learned about thecompass-at least, I knew the points before,but it was different seeing how to steer by it.Only I liked the stoker the best. I had justgone down again with him to the engine-room, to see the engine stopped, and pulledoff my jacket because it was so hot; and
58 A WHOLE HOLIDAY.then the steam was let off, and made such anoise! Just when there was all the noiseof the steam, I heard somebody shouting myname, and calling so loudly to me that I ranup to the deck at once. I had quite for-gotten about not having my jacket on, and Ibelieve my face had got blacked-it was, Iknow, when we got on shore. Everybodylaughed at me; only mamma was poorly andfrightened-she thought I had tumbled over-board. I suppose I oughtn't to have gonedown just then, for that was the place wherewe were to go on shore," Aleck added, some-what thoughtfully, remembering how verywhite was the face to which his ownblackened one had been pressed.By this time we were re-entering the Cove."You'll only be just in time for yourdinner, young gentlemen," said George, aswe drew in towards the landing-place; "Ireckon it won't come a minute before you'reready for it."" You'll teach me to row, will you not, assoon as possible?" said my cousin, as weparted. "I should like to begin at once.please."
A WHOLE HOLIDAY. 59" So soon as you like, sir. Master Willie,you mustn't be long in bringing down yourcousin."Thus saying, Groves took his way to thelodge, and Aleck and I clambered quickly upthe Zig-zag, reaching home in time to appear,with smooth hair, and rosy cheeks, and keenappetites, at the luncheon-table.Aleck was in wild spirits, and confided tome that he didn't think he had ever enjoyedhimself so much before." D'.". " ,__'. I, o
CHAPTER IV.THE RIDE TO STAVEMOOR.MONTH after Aleck's arrival atBraycombe, it seemed so perfectlynatural to have him with us-hehad fitted so completely into theposition of companion, play-fellow,school-fellow, brother-that I could scarcelyfancy how it felt before he came.My uncle and aunt had left us after afortnight's visit, and were now on the Conti-nent. The parting was hard work-harder,I fancy, to them than to him, for boys soonget over trouble, whereas it was plain to seein my aunt's wistful eyes that it was a soretrial to her to leave her child behind. Ibelieve that she did not anticipate, in assanguine a spirit as did her husband, thehappy meeting again that was talked of forthe spring, after a winter in Madeira,
THE RIDE TO STAVEMOOR. 61It was a subject of great thankfulness, toboth my uncle and aunt, that Aleck and Ihad formed such a friendship for each other.They had scarcely driven from the door, andAleck's eyes were still wet with tears, whenhe told me that he did not think he could beso happy anywhere away from his papa andmamma as at Braycombe, with me for hiscompanion; and I answered by assuring himI should never be happy again if he were togo away from me.We soon settled down into our school-roomoccupations together. Mr. Glengelly, whoused to come three times in the week, nowcame daily, staying for the whole morning,and leaving us always lessons to prepare forthe next day. Aleck and I spent almost thewhole of our play-time down at the Cove; hispassionate enjoyment of everything connectedwith the sea continuing in full force, whilsttwo or three times every week we had walks,rides, or drives with one or both of myparents.Aleck could ride beautifully, having beenaccustomed to it at his own home, and Iwas delighted to lend him my pony from
62 THE RIDE TO STAVEMOOR.time to time-more ready at first, if thetruth is to be told, than afterwards. He alsolearned to row, though not so quickly nor soeasily as I should have expected; and feather-ing remained an impossible mystery to him,being, as he said, more than could be expectedfrom his clumsy fingers.In this one point-that of being unskilfulin the use of his hands-Aleck was belowthe mark; in lessons he was far my superior,being, as I soon found, more than his yearahead of me. But, oddly enough, as itseemed to me, it was always in mattersrequiring skilled fingers that he was anxiousto excel. He was never tired of playing atsailing the " Fair Alice," but would daily,before we launched her, examine afresh allthe different parts of the little vessel, andsigh over the neatness of their workmanship,and ask himself and myself whether it werepossible he should ever be able to make aship like it. Various abortive attempts wereto be seen in our play-room-pieces of woodcut, and shaped, and thrown away in dis-gust; but as yet he made no progress towardsanything like skill in carpentry. The old
THE RIDE TO STAVEMOOR. 63play-boat of mine which I had given to himafforded very little pleasure: it was not likea real vessel. Having seen the "Fair Alice,"anything that fell short of it gave him nosatisfaction. It added greatly to the pleasurewhich I had always felt in this possession, tosee how ardently my cousin admired it, andhow much he thought of the title of captain,which, as owner, had been playfully adjudgedto me.I scarcely know when it was that thefeeling first began to steal over me that Iwas not always quite so glad as I had beenat first that my cousin was living with us.It was an unworthy feeling, and I feltashamed to confess it to myself; but there itwas, and I discovered it at last.Perhaps it was because of his quickness atlessons; perhaps because, from time to timein his turn, enjoyments which could not beshared by both were permitted to him-I hadonly the half, where before I should have hadthe whole; perhaps it was all this together,combined with the secret evils I had nothitherto found out in my own heart and dis-position; but the result was, that I had now
64 THE RIDE TO STAVEMOOR.and then such miserable moments of beingangry, and provoked, and unhappy, not be-cause my cousin had done anything unkind,but simply because he had, in some uninten-tional manner, interfered with my pleasure,that I was ready to wish I had never had acousin, or that he had never come to Bray-combe.It is not to be supposed that this was mysettled, constant state of mind. Far from it.In general, we two boys were as frisky, andmerry, and happy with each other, as boyscould be; but these dark feelings came andwent, and came and went, until I began tobe less surprised at them than when I firstfound them out. For some time my motherhad no idea of their existence. To all out-ward appearance we were just as we hadbeen in the early days of our friendship;and if I did not so often enlarge upon thehappiness of having Aleck to live with me, Iknow now that she only put it down to thenovelty of the companionship wearing off. Iremember quite distinctly the first time thatshe noticed some little indication of thesecret mischief that was going on. It was
THE RIDE TO STAVEMOOR. 65the time of afternoon preparation of lessonsfor the following morning, and I was sittingwith my books before me at the school-roomtable, writing a Latin exercise; or perhaps itwould be more correct to say, not writing myLatin exercise, for my pen had stopped half-way to the ink-bottle, and my chin was rest-ing on my left hand and my elbow on thetable, and I was indulging uninterruptedly inmy own reflections, when the door opened,and my mother entered the room." Where's Aleck?" was her first inquiry,as she looked round and saw that I wasalone." He's been gone five minutes," I replied,without raising my eyes, and in a tone whichI meant to convey-and, I am aware, didconvey-that I was in no pleasant mood." How's that ?" rejoined my mother, takingno notice of my manner. " Aleck was toldnot to leave the school-room until his lessonswere finished. He knows my rule, and isnot generally disobedient. I must go andsee about him. Where is he ?""In his room, I suppose"-still in myformer sulky manner; and, without further(172) 5
66 THE RIDE TO STAVEMOOR.words, my mother left the room, and went insearch of my cousin. I presently heard hervoice calling to him at the foot of the stair-case leading to our rooms, and Aleck's voicemore distantly replying to her. As, how-ever, he did not immediately appear, I heardafterwards that she had gone up-stairs, andfound him pulling down his sleeves andshaking off pieces of wood, and generallyendeavouring to render his appearance respect-able; which was made the more difficult as,in the course of his operations, he had dippedhis elbow in the glue-pot, and was consider-ably embarrassed by the fringe of shavingswhich he was unable to detach." I'm coming as fast as I can, auntie," hesaid, pulling at the shavings, and giving him-self a rub with a duster in hopes that wouldmake him right." But, Aleck, how is it you're not in theschool-room ?" said my mother. "I have justseen Willie there alone. You know the ruleabout not leaving until lessons are finished.I fear that you have been tempted away toosoon by your ship-building tastes.""Did not Willie tell you I had finished
TITE RIDE TO STAVEMOOR. 67my lessons ?" said Aleck, quickly. "Oh,auntie, I would not have left before."" Really finished, Aleck? Take care tobe quite honest with yourself, for indeedyou've had but short time."" Really and truly, auntie. I tried to bevery quick to-day, because I do so want toget on with this last ship I've begun. Itseems coming more like than the others. See,the stern is very like a real one."My mother carefully inspected the unshapelyblock upon which my cousin was at work,gave him a word or two of advice upon thesubject, and came down-stairs again to me;having decided in her own mind, as she after-wards told me, to be present the next morn-ing when Mr. Glengelly came, and noticewhether Aleck's work had been thoroughlyprepared." How soon shall you have finished, mychild?" she said, laying her hand softly onmy shoulder, and bending down to inspectmy writing. " Let me see what there is tobe done.""This exercise, and the verb to be learned,and my sum"-very grumpily.
68 THE RIDE TO STAVEMOOR." And how much have you done already ?""Part of the exercise-not quite half;and I'm doing the verb now; and the sum isfinished, all but the proving."My lip was quivering as I completed thelist of what I had achieved, and I was asnearly bursting into tears as possible.My mother's loving, pleasant way stavedoff the sulky fit, however."These lessons begun, and not one of themfinished off! " she exclaimed. "Let us seehow long they will take you. First the ex-ercise, we will allow a quarter of an hour forthat; five minutes will prove your sum; andthe verb, an old one you say and very nearlyperfect, two minutes for that: less than twenty-five minutes, Willie, and you will be so per-fectly prepared that you will be longing forten o'clock to-morrow, and Mr. Glengelly tocome, all the rest of the evening."I could not help laughing at the notion ofmy pining for Mr. Glengelly's arrival, and alaugh is an excellent stepping-stone out of thesulks. My mother put her watch on thetable, and stayed in the room, helping me byquiet sympathizing superintendence, and I set
THE RIDE TO STAVEMOOR. 69to work with such earnestness that I hadcompleted my tasks in twenty minutes, andwas off to the play-room without a trace ofmy wrong temper, as eager to join my cousinin the carpentry as if nothing had gone wrongbetween us, and only rejoicing that my lessonswere over at last, without troubling myself toremember that the trial of Aleck's being somuch quicker than myself at his studies wassure to recur again and again, and that, un-less my dislike to his superiority could beconquered and stamped out, I should soonfind every-day trouble in my every-daywork.And in truth the conquering and stampingout of such feelings as these is no easy task.It is unquestionably a real trial to find thatwork which takes you an hour's hard labourcan be accomplished by your companion innot much more than half the time; that eventhough the lessons are apportioned so as to givehim the heavier burden, he can always dis-pose of the heavier more readily than you canof the lighter. In my own case, Aleck wasoften very good-natured, and would linger inhis work to give me a help in mie ; or pur-
70 THE RIDE TO STAVEMOOR.posely keep pace with me, so that we mightgo out to play together. But this was notalways the way; when he was very eagerlyengaged in any play-time occupation, he wouldbend all his energies to getting his tasksfinished off quickly, and then hurry away,without appearing in the least troubled thatI could not accompany him. Upon whichoccasions I thought him selfish and unfeeling,and was inclined not a little to regret that hehad ever come to Braycombe.The worst of it was, that though I knew Iwas wrong, I could- not muster courage tospeak to either of my parents about it; no,not even in that moment of deepest confidencewhen my mother looked in to wish me good-night before I went to sleep, and sat, as shewas wont to do, upon my bed talking to meabout the various things which had happenedduring the day.Many a time, on such occasions, I thoughtof telling her my troubles, but was afraid lestshe should think me very naughty; so I triedat last to persuade myself there was not muchto tell after all.Half an hour spent with us in the school-
THE RIDE TO STAVEMOOR. 71room the next morning convinced my motherthat Aleck's work had been well done. Ifancy that she watched me a little closely fora few days, but I happened to be speciallyprosperous in my lessons, and nothing occurredto disturb my serenity, so that she dismissedafter a time the anxiety which had begun toarise ir her mind concerning me.As fhr Aleck, he had no notion of the realstate cf things. I am sure he must havethough- me selfish and cross very often, butalmost as often he would win me into goodtemper again; and his own temperament wasnaturally so bright and sunshiny, that troublenever seemed to remain long with him.It was about a fortnight later that I wassitting, after breakfast, in my father's studydoing my arithmetic. Our school-room ad-joined the study, and it was not an unfrequentarrangement, that whilst Aleck did his con-struing with Mr. Glengelly, I should take inmy slate to my father's room and do mysums. I fancy he liked to have me withhim; for whenever he was at home he wouldlock up with quite a pleased expression when,after knocking at the door, I appeared with
72 THE RIDE TO STAVEMOOR.my slate and made the usual inquiry whetherI should disturb him if I came in just then;and would tell me that I never disturbed him,and bid me show him my sum before I re-turned to the school-room, when he hadalways some pleasant remark to make upon it.I then was sitting on my favourite seat inthe window working at compound division,when my mother came into the room."I've been thinking," she said to myfather, "that it's a pity both the boysshould not go with you to Stavemoor: if youcould manage without Rickson, or let himride one of the carriage horses, I think youmight trust Aleck on the gray."I listened to every word, my pencil goingslowly and more slowly, whilst I put downthree times nine, twenty-seven-two, carryseven; and was hopelessly wrong afterwardsin consequence. This ride to Stavemoor wasa special pleasure in prospect. Both Alekand I had wanted to go; but the pony beingmine, I had taken it as a matter of course thatI should be the one chosen, and my cousinhad not thought of questioning my rights.But now to hear my mother quietly proposing,
THE RIDE TO STAVEMOOR. 73not only that Aleck should go, but that heshould ride the gray-it was a sore trial tomy feelings: that gray had for months beenthe object of my ambition, but I had notbeen thought a good enough rider to betrusted, and now that my cousin should bethus promoted was hard to bear.The colour mounted to my face when Iheard the proposition, and then my father'sanswer :-"I am not sure about it; and yet the boyis at home in the saddle, and has a firm seat.I'll speak to Rickson. Aleck's been lookingpale of late, and I think more rides than hecan get when there's only the pony betweenthe two boys, would do him good.""Papa," I said, with quivering lip and re-proachful voice, " you've never let me ridethe gray. It's always Aleck now-he getseverything, it doesn't seem to matter aboutme."My father gave one quick glance of surpriseand consternation at my mother, and thenturned to me:-"Willie my own little Willie " he said,pausing as if for an explanation, and putting
74 THE RIDE TO STAVEMOOR.out his hand in a manner that meant I wasto come to his side, which I did rather slowly."I've so often asked you to let me ridethe gray, papa, and you've never allowed it,and now you're going to let Aleck. I don'twant to go to Stavemoor-Aleck may havethe pony; I wish I had said so at first; Idon't want to ride the pony, and have himon the gray." And thereupon, almost fright-ened by the evident distress my sentimentshad occasioned, I burst into a passionate fitof crying, which permitted only a few morebroken words to the effect that I wishedAleck had never come to Braycombe; I hatedhis being there; and that my parents werevery unkind to care for him more than theydid for me.My father held me there at his side whilstI sobbed and cried as if some tremendouscalamity had overtaken me. I knew withoutlooking up, which I was ashamed to do, thathis eyes were resting upon me with an ex-pression of sad surprise; and the silence becameperfectly unbearable. He spoke at last:-"My poor little Willie," he said, "whatsad feelings you have allowed to creep into
THE RIDE TO STAVEMOOR. 75your heart! how unhappy they will makeyou! You have said very wrong words, mychild, and I cannot tell you how much painyou have caused to me and your mamma. Ihope that you will be very sorry by-and-by;but you know, Willie, being sorry will not undoyour fault, nor take away the envious feelingswhich you have allowed to spring up withinyou; and unless such feelings as these areconquered you will be an unhappy little boy,and grow up to be an unhappy man. Willie,"he added, after another pause only interruptedby my struggling sobs at longer intervals thanat first, " you know, my child, whose strengthyou will need to help you in the battle: youare but a weak little boy, and cannot helpyourself; you must pray for the help of God'sHoly Spirit, or else you will never conquerthese wrong feelings."I hung my head, and remained silent."I trust Aleck knows nothing of all this,"resumed my father. "We have promised tocare for him as though he belonged to us. Iwill not allow him to feel that he is dislikedby the boy who promised to love him.""No, papa," I put in, for my temper had
76 THE RIDE TO STAVEMOOR.well-nigh expended itself; "I do like himstill-rather-only not always. I like himvery much sometimes: I think now I'm veryglad he came-only. I don't like his havingthings that I mayn't have.""That, Willie," answered my father, "mustbe left to me to decide. I shall miss mylittle boy very much this afternoon; but Icannot allow you to come to Stavemoor withme to-day, after all that has passed."There was just this ray of comfort in theannouncement, that at least Aleck would noton this particular occasion gain the object ofmy ambition."Is Aleck to ride my pony, then ?" Iinquired, half ashamed of myself for asking.The quick, decided manner, in which myfather withdrew the arm he held around me,and answered,-"Certainly not, unless I find Ricksonthinks the gray would be unsafe," made mefeel more unhappy than ever; and it was witha sorrowful heart that I obeyed a summons tothe school-room brought in at that momentby my cousin, and showed up my incorrectand unfinished sum to Mr. Glengelly.
THE RIDE TO STAVEMOOR. 77I suppose that he saw something had gonewrong with me, by my appearance; he wascertainly more merciful than usual over myshortcomings in arithmetic, and the lesson-timewent by so pleasantly that I was quite ingood humour by the time it ended, and wentout in restored spirits for the half hour's ex-ercise which preceded our dinner, determiningthat, the first moment I could see my father,I would tell him I was sorry, revoke what Ihad said about Aleck, and ride my pony toStavemoor.In furtherance of these views, I ran roundby the stables, and finding that only Peterthe Great and the gray had been ordered, toldRickson in confidence that I had said to myfather in the morning I would rather not ride;but, having changed my mind since then, hewas to be sure and be ready to send roundthe pony as well.Aleck, in the meantime, heard of the treatin store for him, and was greatly elated, chat-tering briskly during dinner about the expe-dition, without any idea that I was likely tobe left behind.My father was not a great luncheon eater,
78 THE RIDE TO STAVEMOOR.and when very busy, would often only havea glass of wine and a biscuit sent into thestudy, instead of joining us at table. Find-ing this was to be the case on the presentoccasion, I asked leave to carry in the tray,and was permitted to do so after I hadfinished my own dinner.My father was at his writing, and lookedup when he saw me, making a place amongsthis papers at the same time for the tray."Papa," I said, when I had put it down,"I'm sorry for what I said this morning. Idon't mind Aleck's riding the gray; and pleaseI should like to ride my own pony. I sawRickson before dinner, and told him I hadchanged my mind, and that very likely thepony would be wanted."My father answered, in a quiet, gravevoice: "You might have spared yourself thetrouble, Willie, of speaking to Rickson, for,though I'm sorry to leave you behind, I can-not allow you the pleasure of the ride toStavemoor this afternoon.""But, papa," I pleaded, "you always for-give me when I say I am sorry.""And I do not say now that I will not
THE RIDE TO STAVEMOOR. 79forgive the wrong things you said this morn-ing," he answered; "but I cannot let yourconduct pass without punishment. You mustremember, my child," he added, drawing metowards him, " that forgiving and not punish-ing are very different things. Do you re-member when God forgave David his sin, yetHe punished him by the death of his son.And it would be contrary to His commandsif Christian parents were to allow their chil-dren's faults to be unpunished, although itis a Christian duty to exercise a forgivingspirit."The practical result of this statement waswhat I thought of most; it was clear to mymind that the ride to Stavemoor had to begiven up, and my brow grew cloudy."Then, papa," I said, poutingly, "I mayn'tgo with you this afternoon? ""Certainly not, Willie," very decidedly;"you will spend one hour, from the time westart, in your own room; and I trust that youwill remember during that time-if you arereally sorry-that mine is not the only for-giveness you have to seek.""Aleck's, papa? "
80 THE RIDE TO STAVEMOOR."No, not Aleck's; I hope he will neverhave an idea of all the wrong feelings youhave entertained towards him.""You mean God's forgiveness," I said,more seriously; for that was a name neverto be pronounced without deep reverence."Yes, Willie; don't forget, my child, thatthe youngest as well as the oldest of us hasneed to seek the Fountain opened for all un-cleanness. No repentance will wash us clean.You must ask, through the Lord Jesus, notonly that your sins may be forgiven, butthat you may also have strength to do betterfor the future. You may go now. Remem-ber what I said about the hour in your ownroom."I departed accordingly, passing Aleck inthe passage all ready and equipped for hisride. Brushing past him, without giving ananswer to his inquiry whether I was going toget ready, I ran quickly up-stairs to my ownroom, shut the door, and burst into tears.By-and-by I heard the horses coming round;then I wiped my eyes, and kneeling upon achair at the window, where I could not beseen, watched all the proceedings.
THE RIDE TO STAVEMOOR. 81Rickson, faithful to my interests, had, Iperceived, brought up the pony ready saddled.I almost hoped that Aleck would have hadit after all. But no; I saw him in anothermoment mounted upon the gray, which, appar-ently conscious of a lighter weight than usual,began shaking its head, and showing off itsmettle. Rickson held it firmly. "So-ho !so-ho! " I heard him saying. "Ease her abit, Master Gordon; ease her mouth; there-there-so-ho "Aleck held the reins firmly, and his ring-ing voice came up cheerily through the air."I'm not a bit afraid, thank you, UncleGrant."My father in the meantime mounted Peterthe Great; and before starting I saw the stable-boy give him a leading rein, which he putinto his pocket, for future use I mentallydecided, in case Aleck should have difficultyin managing the gray. But no such difficultyoccurred within the range of my observation.When Rickson removed his hand from thebridle she bounded off rather friskily; but inanother moment Aleck had reined her in, andwas displaying such ready ease in the man-(172) 6
82 THE RIDE TO STAVEMOOR.agement of his steed, that it was clear myfather's confidence in his horsemanship wasjustified.As I turned round from the window Iheard my mother's soft footstep in the passage,and in another moment she had entered myroom. She had her walking things on, anda little basket in her hand, well known tome as invariably containing jellies, puddings,or packets of tea for some of the many in-valids to whom my mother was as an angelof mercy. She stopped only for two or threeminutes, to tell me how thankful she was toknow I had felt sorry for my behaviour inthe morning, and how grieved to have toleave me at home when she would have likedme to have been out riding with my father, orwalking with her; and then, after some furtherwords of monition, she left me to my solitaryhour's watch, and I could see her taking herway down the drive, and turning off throughthe wood, until the last flutter of her blueribbons was lost in the distance. Then Ibethought me of seeing how much longer Ihad to spend in my own room, and, lookingat the clock-tower over the stables, found it
THE RIDE TO STAVEMOOR. 83was scarcely more than three o'clock. I couldnot feel free until a quarter to four, and thetime began to feel very long and wearisome.In general, I was a boy of manifold re-sources, and every moment of my leisure timeseemed too short for the many purposes towhich I would willingly have applied it.But on this particular afternoon I seemed toweary of everything. Even my last newbook of fairy stories failed to interest me. Ifelt as if, instead of fancying myself the heroof the tale, I was perpetually being compared,by my own conscience, to the unamiablecharacters-Cinderella's sisters, for instance,or the elder of the two princes who lived ina country long ago and nowhere in particular;elder brothers being in fairy tales, as all trueconnoisseurs are aware, jealous, cruel, and sureto come to a bad end; whilst the youngerbrothers are persecuted, forgiving, and finallytriumphant, marrying disenchanted princesses,and living happy ever after. I threw asidemy fairy book, and sought for some othermeans of amusement in a repository of oddsand ends, established in a corner of the roomby the housemaid, whose efforts to observe
84 THE RIDE TO STAVEMOOR.order in disorder were most praiseworthy.There I was glad to discover a piece of willow-bough stripped of its twigs, and in course ofpreparation for the manufacture of a bow.Immediately I set myself to adjusting a pieceof string to it, and completing its construction.This occupation was far more engrossing thanthe reading had proved; and almost soonerthan I had expected, the three-quarters chimeof the clock proclaimed my liberation. Iseized my garden hat, ran down-stairs, andsped out upon the lawn, determined to feelvery merry, and to enjoy trying my newly-made bow as much as possible. It wasannoying that Frisk had gone with thehorses-it made me feel more lonely not tohave him to play with; but still, my hour'simprisonment being over, I thought I couldfind plenty of amusement. So I began firingaway certain home-made arrows, to whichmy mother's loving fingers had carefullyfastened feathers; putting up a flower-pot ona stand as a mark, and trying to hit it. Butthe arrows did not go very far after all, andI leant down upon the bow and tightened thestring, and then tightened it again, until there
THE RIDE TO STAVEMOOR. 85was a sudden snap, and a collapse-it hadbroken in two pieces! I threw the bow asidein disgust, and went off into the shrubbery,and then down the carriage drive, hoping tomeet my mother; but she happened to bedetained that afternoon at one of the cottageswhere she was visiting, and missed her usualtime for returning. Feeling very dreary anddisconsolate, I finally wandered back againinto the house, and hung about in the differ-ent rooms in a listless, dissatisfied mood, until,at about half past five, I could hear the rapidtread of horses' feet, and in another momentmy father and Aleck cantered up to the door.Frisk was flourishing about in his usual style,and found me out in a moment, jumping upupon my shoulders, and licking my hands,and expressing in perfectly comprehensiblelanguage his regret that I had not been ofthe party, and his pleasure in seeing meagain.Aleck was in a high state of spirits, tri-umphant at having proved himself sufficientof a horseman to manage the gray, and de-lighted with all the incidents of the expedition.He did not know the reason of my having
86 THE RIDE TO STAVEMOOR.stayed at home; but told me how sorry hewas I had not been with them, and tumul-tuously recounted the various pleasures he hadenjoyed."See, I've got lots of shells," he said, "andseveral beautiful madrepores. You must havesome of them. They'd had a wedding, too,and we had to eat some of the bride-cake,and drink their health, and-"But Aleck's enumeration did not proceedfurther, for I think my father perceived howkeenly I was feeling the contrast between hisjoyous excitement and my own very drearyheaviness of heart, and called to me to cometo the study with him, and put away hisriding whip. So I gladly turned away frommy cousin, and followed my father to hisroom.To some children, the study, library, orwhatever other room is consecrated to the useof the head of the family, is a sort of dreadfuland solemn place, generally closed to them,but opening from time to time as a court ofjustice, to which they are brought when theirmisdemeanours have exceeded usual bounds,and are considered to require severer measures
THE RIDE TO STAVEMOOR. 87than are within the province of the lesserauthorities. Very alarming, in consequence,is the summons when it comes.With me, however, the case was happilyvery different; the study was associated withcountless hours of happy intercourse with afather whose very countenance was beamingwith love. Times of reproof and punishmentthere had been also, but the returning happi-ness of forgiveness, the loving words of advice,the kind and constant sympathy, I neverfailed to find from him, made me look uponan invitation to his room as the best thingthat could happen to me, whether I washappy or in trouble."My poor little Willie," he said, sittingdown almost immediately, and drawing metowards himself; " have you been verysorrowful ?"I hid my face on his shoulder, and sobbedout that I was quite miserable."Have you thought what it is that hasmade your day so sad, Willie ?" he asked,kindly."Yes, papa," I answered between my sobs;"I wasn't allowed to go to Stavemoor, and I
88 THE RIDE TO STAVEMOOR.Was so unhappy in my own room all alone,and-and-I broke my bow just after I hadfinished making it-""But the beginning of all this unhappiness,Willie-quite the beginning? ""Aleck's having the gray, papa," I said."I think that was quite the beginning.""So do I think so, my child," rejoined myfather; "or rather, the wrong feelings towhich this gave rise. And now consider,Willie, how wrong and ungrateful you havebeen, to let this grow up into such a trouble.Just think of all to-day's mercies: your home,your loving papa and mamma, all the comfortsthat so many little boys are without; andthen, besides all these, a pleasant excursionplanned to give you special pleasure on yourhalf holiday. And, in the midst of all theseblessings, instead of being thankful and happy,you are suddenly overwhelmed, as though bya great misfortune; not because any of yourenjoyments are to be diminished, but becauseanother is to have a pleasure which you thinkgreater.My father paused for a moment, and Icould not help feeling that, according to his
THE RIDE TO STAVEMOOR. 89way of putting it, I certainly had been bothnaughty and foolish: still, it occurred to methat being happy was not in itself possibleat all times; and that, similarly, if I were un-happy, I was unhappy, not by choice, butbecause it was not in my power to feelotherwise. I thought this, not indeed inwords, or in any semblance of coherent argu-ment, but in a sort of confused perplexity,which was only partly represented by myreply to my father :-"Papa, I couldn't help feeling unhappywhen I heard you talking about Aleck's going.I couldn't make myself feel happy.""Ah, Willie, you've come to the root ofthe matter now," he answered ;-" 'couldn'tmake myself feel happy!' That is just it,Willie; a wrong feeling of envy came intoyour heart-you know it was a wrong feelingthat feeling of dislike that another should behappy, so I need not waste time in provingit to you; and you could not chase the enemyfrom your own heart, so, without ever remem-bering that there is One who promises to helpall who cry to Him for help, and who isstronger than the strong man armed, you
90 THE RIDE TO STAVEMOOR.give in at once to the enemy; and as youcouldn't help yourself, came out of the battleconquered and vanquished."I hung my head down, feeling I had beena coward. " I'm so sorry, papa," I whispered."I thought you would be ere long, mychild," he said. "I hope you used the timein your room partly as I intended."I knew I hadn't, and felt still more ashamedof myself, but said nothing; I was never re-quired to mention whether I had followed myparents' advice on such occasions, they wereso fearful of making me a hypocrite."Our heavenly Father will have forgivenyou all your fault, if you have sought forgive-ness through Jesus Christ; and now yourearthly father is quite ready. to forgive also,as you seem really sorry."My father gave me a kiss, and I threwmy arms around his neck, and felt the loneli-ness and sadness of the day all over. Mymother came in a few moments later, andjoined us in the study, and with her loving,gentle words, completed my happiness in beingforgiven and received back again into myusual position.
THE RIDE TO STAVEMOOR. 91She did not forget all that had passed,however. I found that out at our Biblereadings; for almost the very next day shetook for her subject with us boys, the sinof envy and its consequences, and the bestmeans of conquering it. I can remember tothis hour the different illustrations-Cain, andSaul, and the blood-thirsty Pharisees on theone side; and Moses, and David, and Jona-than, and Paul, on the other; and the verseswe found out in Proverbs and in the Epistles:they perhaps did me some good at the time,but my heart was not really touched. I hadnot found out, in my own little personal ex-perience, what my father meant by the Foun-tain opened for all uncleanness, and therewere bitter but necessary lessons still in storefor me.tie.
CHAPTER V.SHIP-BUILDING.,Y story would grow too long were I" ,' to tell of all the employment,- amusements, and adventures, which' made the months fly rapidly by" "with us boys that summer and"autumn long ago at Braycombe.My cousin's companionship made me morethan usually diligent in my studies, and morethan usually eager in my amusements; whilstthe watchful care of my parents seemed toscreen me from many of the minor trials andtemptations which might otherwise haverendered me less happy than I had been informer days.I can remember now with admiration, howcarefully they measured out even-handed jus-tice to my cousin and myself. They neverseemed to forget that they had promised
SHIP-BUILDING. 93Aleck should be as my brother, thereforeevery arrangement took us equally into ac-count. And although the meanness of envywas held by them to be not only sinful, butcontemptible, they were quite alive to the keensense of justice which is born with most chil-dren, and would never violate it by the exer-cise of a partiality too common amongst thosewho have the charge of the young, either withthe object of giving me as their child somespecial pleasure, or Aleck as our visitor somespecial indulgence.It was not long after the Stavemoor expe-dition that I was allowed to try my horse-manship by mounting the gray. Ricksonwas on the alert; but had it not been for hisinterposition, my equestrian pursuits wouldhave come to a very disastrous ending. Iwas convinced against my will of the wisdomof my father's decision, that I should for thepresent be content with my pony; relying, forconsolation, on his promise that, before very"long, I should learn to manage the morespirited animal. In the meantime I no longerfelt it a trouble that my cousin's superior skillin this respect should be recognized.
94 SHIP-BUILDING.Aleck seemed to care less about the ridingthan I did. His passion for the sea-forboats, sea-weeds, stones, caves, and cliffs,everything directly and indirectly belongingto the sea-grew and strengthened upon him.His special ambition was to succeed in con-structing a rival to the "Fair Alice;" butalthough honourable scars on his fingers borewitness to the industry with which he pliedhis tools, his attempts at ship-building hadhitherto proved signal failures. I was moresuccessful in my carpentry than he was, andit was quite a pleasure to me to give him allthe help I could. Between us we at lastproduced something more resembling a shipthan all former attempts, and we rushedeagerly down to the Cove one bright Septem-ber afternoon, impatient for the launch.Aleck and I had the Cove all to ourselves:old George had not been with us so much asusual for weeks past; there were, indeed, fewdays we did not see him, but he did not staywith us all through our play-time; he wouldcome and go, and come and go, until we boyswould take to teasing him with questions asto what it could be that kept him so much
SHIP-BUILDING. 95occupied. I had my owni private suspicions,and communicated them to Aleck; but oldGeorge would throw no light upon the subject.I had good reason for remembering thatthe 20th of September, now drawing near,was my parents' wedding-day, my mother'sbirth-day, and almost the greatest festival inthe year to us at Braycombe. Old George,who lay in wait for opportunities of givingme presents, always looked upon this anni-versary as one that would admit of no ques-tioning, and more than once the offering tome-by which he meant to show his love tomy parents-had been the result of many along hour's secret work. The "Fair Alice"had been my present on the preceding year,and I had dim suspicions-built upon a cer-tain hasty glance into a little room called thework-shop at the back of the lodge-thatsomething else was even now in course ofconstruction, which I half suspected to be aschooner-yacht with two masts, such as I hadmore than once expressed a wish to possess.But George was impenetrable, and kept thework-shop closely bolted, so I had to nursemy curiosity until the 20th. It was the day
96 SHIP-BUILDING.before this great occasion that Aleck and Iran down to launch our boat, as before-men-tioned.Alas! we had scarcely pushed it out uponthe water, when, with a roll and lurch, itturned over upon its side, and floated like awreck, in a helpless and melancholy manner.We drew it up on shore again and set to work;I cheerily and hopefully, feeling perfectlyaware that everything that was at all good inthe workmanship was mine; Aleck mourn-fully, knowing that all the faults in its con-struction were his."I wonder at Groves not coming," he said,presently; "I can't help thinking he couldtell me how to make it float straight.""I'll just go and make him come," I re-plied; "he's been so little with us the lastfew days, I'm sure he might find time."Aleck agreed, and I set off to the lodge,leaving him to puzzle on by himself over themanifold difficulties of ship-building. Tobring old George to the rescue, however, didnot turn out the easy task that I had antici-pated. He was in the work-shop, the doorsafely bolted, and not even the smallest aper-
SHIP-BUTLDING. 97ture anywhere, through which I might discoverthe nature of his employment. My persuasionswere all carried on at a disadvantage, and theconversation resolved itself into:-"Please, George, do come and help us; it'svery important. Aleck wants you particu-larly down at the Cove." This from my sideof the door.Then from his side :-" I'm afraid, MasterWillie, I can't possibly find the time; I'm verybusy."From my side :-" But Aleck's boat won'tsail, and we've tried everything to make it,and unless you come we can't do anythingmore."From his side :-" I'll come to-morrow,Master Willie, and then see if we don't getMaster Aleck's ship to sail as merrily as the'Fair Alice' herself.""Even you will not be able to do so muchas that," I rejoined; whereupon a low chuckleof merriment and satisfaction was clearlyaudible on the other side. I continued:-"It's very well to laugh, but if you couldsee Aleck's boat all lying on one side, lookingnot so nice even as the tub-boat in the 'Swiss(172) 7