... ... .. .
Mmh Badwin =LIbr
U N XPI''TED I' ASIlAEs,
LEFT ALONE IN THE HOLIDAYS.
MRS. GEORGE CUPPLES,
AUTHOR OF THE LITTLE CAPTAIN,' 'MISS MATTT,' ETC. ETC.
WILLIAM P. NIMMO,
LONDON, 14 KING WILLIAM STREET, STRAND);
MURRAY AND GIBB, EDINBURGH.
PRINTERS TO HER MAJESTY'S STATIONERY OFFICe
(C7IAP. I. OFF HOME, .
II. WILDERING COMMON, 17
III. ARCHY'S ADVENTURE, .
IV. SNOWED UP, 55
V. ROUND BY HIGGS' POND, 73
VI. OUR HERO FINDS NO WANT OF OC-
VII. A SINGULAR CHRISTMAS PARTY, 117
VIII. ARCHY IS CALLED AWAY, 131
IX. MAYBROOK, 149
X. EVENTS AT EDGELY, 169
XI. COMING BACK, 191
SPLAND HOUSE-' private college for
young gentlemen,' situated in one of
the midland counties of England-
was in a perfect state of confusion
from kitchen to garret, for the Christmas holi-
days had come. Books and lessons were thrown
to the winds, and nothing was thought of but
how boxes and bags could be got to hold the
things they must take home with them. Ushers
in vain tried to keep order and insist upon quiet-
ness, but at last had to give it up in despair, and,
instead of aught else, lay aside their usually grim
looks, adding their own laughter to swell the
I can't for the life of me imagine,' said George
Maudsley, the senior boy of the school, how all
these things of mine came here. I've stuffed and
4 UNEXPECTED PLEASURES.
stuffed, and it does not seem to make a bit of
impression; yet I know I not only brought them,
but some cakes, and that sort of thing besides.
I say, Douglas,' he called out to a boy who was
looking anxiously out of one of the windows,
' didn't I hear you say just now your bag was
packed? I wish you would lend a hand here,
like a good fellow, if you don't want to see my
black wig a grey one before night.'
The boy addressed turned at once from the
window to help his friend; but it was done in
such a listless manner that George could not help
Why, man, Archy, what's the matter? Are
you ill ?'
'Oh, no; I am quite well,' was the answer.
*I'm only anxious about the postman coming
with the letters, for I haven't heard from my
uncle in answer to the letter Dr. Wells wrote
about my holidays, and I can't help fancying,
from something he said in his last note to me,
he means me to remain where I am.'
What I during the holidays ? said George,
his black eyes opening to their utmost extent
with astonishment. 'Such a thing couldn't
happen, man. I never heard of such an absurd
case in my life I declare it makes me feel as
if a bucket of cold water had been poured down
my back-bone, to hear how coolly you speak
about it; and, goodness knows, I was hot enough
a minute ago, with this disgusting portman-
At this moment one of the servants came
struggling through the general confusion, and
handed the expected letter to Archy, saying at
the same time, that Dr. Wells desired a few
minutes' conversation in the library with the
young gentleman, in half an hour.
Archy, on glancing over the few brief lines,
found that his fears were fully realized; for the
uncle, in the first place, stated that his nephew
must necessarily remain through the holidays, if
from no other reason than that his country resi-
lence, now under repair, was not yet ready for
visitors. His uncle went on to say, that other
circumstances prevented him from making use
of his town mansion for the purpose. He had
lately bought a property in the extreme north of
Scotland, his own native country, and was now,
along with his wife and family, on the point of
starting for that distant locality. As the journey
was so great, and the whole plan was a first
experiment, he could not think of inviting, or
indeed allowing his nephew to follow alone on
6 UNEXPECTED PLEASURES.
such an extended route, the latter part of which
must be performed without the help of a railway.
Besides, he took occasion to remark, that, con-
sidering how much his nephew must depend on
his own exertions in life, he would be none the
worse of an opportunity for a little extra study.
'I have, therefore,' he wrote, 'requested Dr.
Wells to hand you some pocket-money as a
Christmas box, and to mark out a course of
lessons for you to follow during the interval;
and if you apply yourself as you ought, the time
spent will most certainly tell on future compe-
tition with your equals.'
Archy had allowed his friend to glance over
his shoulder at this concluding sentence, and
George now exclaimed-
'Oh, the monster I It's a shame-a downright
disgrace to society-that such a man should be
allowed to live, much less to hold a responsible
situation under Government! I say, you fel-
lows, listen to this. Here's that uncle of Archy
Douglas's has written to him, telling him that he
is to stay here in this old prison, and not to go
home at all !'
The boys gathered round, with various ex-
clamations of disgust from all parts, for the news
spread through the rooms like wildfire; and the
general feeling was, that a deputation should
proceed at once to themaster; for all were of
opinion that, however strict a disciplinarian, he
would never approve of such an injustice being
done,-not only so, but he would recoil with
horror from such an outrage on established
'It's very kind of you,' said Archy, in his own
quiet, decided tone; 'but though Dr. Wells
might agree to all you say, I know my uncle.
I shall have to do exactly as he wishes; for
he never changes his mind when once made
'If that old fogie, your uncle-I beg your
pardon, Archy, but he deserves the name-had
only made his intentions known sooner,' said
George Maudsley, some of us could have made
arrangements for you to come with us. As it is,
if you don't mind going without a direct invi-
tation, why, I'm sure you'd be made welcome by
my governor for one.'
The proud old Scotch blood flushed into
Archy's cheek, at the same time his eye glanced
gratefully towards his classmate, as he answered,
'Thanks I it's very good of you, George, it is
indeed; but I shall do very well here. I dare
say some of you will lend me some books-'
8 UNEXPECTED PLEASURES.
Here he was interrupted by an order to consider
not only their books, but all the various pro-
perties left behind, at his entire disposal. To
this they added a unanimous promise, that a
full description of the news and fun should be
treasured up for him, from all the different
quarters, to be brought back for his sole benefit
on their return. They then resumed their pack-
ing with renewed vigour and bustle, with the
exception of a delicate-looking little boy, named
Hugh Dickson, who crept up to Archy's side,
and whispered, If you like, I'll stay with you,
Archy had been kind to little Hugh, and stood
his friend on all occasions, partly because they
came from the same country, and partly because
Hugh was so delicate, and, like Archy's self, his
father was abroad in India. Once Hugh had
been confined to bed, and Archy had read to
him about these illustrious ancestors of his, the
knightly Douglases,-of their grand victories
and still grander disasters,-from whom Archy
boasted he was descended in a straight line-a
statement which his little friend Hugh believed
most devoutly, and which none of his school-
fellows cared to dispute, for there was something
in his keen grey eye and marked eyebrows that
made them feel the old spirit of this ancient race
Archy looked down into the wistful face of
little Hugh with a feeling that the tightness on
his throat had increased in a very unaccountable
manner, and his eyes would moisten in spite of
'Well done, Hugh!' said George, seeing how
matters stood, his kind heart prompting him to
screen his companion from this slight degree of
weakness. 'You are a good fellow, Hugh, a
plucky little fellow, upon my word; though, I
dare say, you would enjoy hearing all the stories
of the old Douglases Archy has at his tongue's
end better than living with those queer little
maiden aunts of yours.'
No, I should like to see my aunts better,'
said the candid little Hugh; for they are always
so kind to me; and they don't look so queer to
my eyes as some people seem to think-perhaps
because I've known them all my life.'
Hugh was brave where his friends were con-
cerned, and George very properly felt bound to
retract his words, declaring that he had not the
slightest doubt they were the nicest old beings
going, which was quite apology enough for little
Hugh, who continued-
10 UNEXPECTED PLEASURES.
'Though I do like going to them, they would
wish me to stay with Archy; for they know how
kind he was to me when I was ill. I'd be better
than nobody; for I remember he said once he
disliked sleeping alone.'
'You're the best-hearted little fellow I know,'
said Archy, gulping down the ball that was
choking him; but I'm not quite so selfish as to
take you at your word. Don't you trouble your-
self about me. If I could not manage to spend
the time pleasantly, with the books for my com-
panions, I ought to be ashamed of myself. Think
how many of my ancestors, Hugh, had to spend
their days under harder circumstances.'
Well,' said George Maudsley, laughing, it's
a good thing you can resign yourself to your fate
so easily, and can call up the recollection of your
defunct ancestors to bear you company I for
one,' he continued, 'would rather be excused
from that. I prefer spending my holidays in jolly
style among lots of friends and relations.' Here
he stuffed his last flannel-shirt into his bag, and
with it apparently all further regrets for his friend,
who stole away to the library to have the desired
conversation with the formidable Dr. Wells.
It was rather soothing to find that the master
felt for him as much almost as the boys had done ;
and though he had not forgotten the list of
lessons his uncle had written about, he had made
it as short as he possibly could. There's nothing
like work for making the time pass quickly, as
your uncle says; but-' here the usually grave
face of the Doctor broke out into a pleasant
smile, and he pinched Archy's ear playfully, a
sign that he was friendly disposed towards the
owner,-' but my young friend, "Sir Sholto,"'
continued he, chuckling at his usual pet appella-
tion for Archy when successful at his lessons, I
remember the wise saying of King Solomon,
" There is a time for everything;" but I do hope
that, though you are to have all work and no
play, you will not be a very dull boy.' The
Doctor then mentioned that he was going to pay
a visit, with his wife and daughter, to an old
college friend of his, lately returned from India,
Sir Henry Maybrook of Maybrook Hall, some
thirty or forty miles from Upland House.
'I might certainly take you with us to May-
brook,' said the Doctor kindly; but-but-' and
here he hesitated, it would of course have been
a liberty. Besides, we are first obliged to visit
some relatives, who might not have sufficient
The boy could not help wincing at all this
12 UNEXPECTED PLEASURES.
kindness, which fixed the peculiarity of his case
upon his mind. 'Thank you, Dr. Wells,' he said;
'but I shall do very nicely by myself. I have
plenty of books, and shall go about a good deal of
course.' The Doctor, with a kind nod, then handed
a list of studies, in which he really seemed to
have been most indulgent, and Archy retired.
The English ushers were to leave by the same
train with the boys; Mr. Welkinshaw, the classical
assistant, was to go off the next day all the way
to his friends at Birmingham; and Mr. Rolt, the
mathematical master, said nothing about going
off at all, as he seldom communicated his affairs
to any one, but the general supposition was, he
meant to keep house till the end. It was by no
means a pleasant prospect for Archy to have to
spend his holidays in the society of old Blusker,'
as the boys, for some inscrutable reason, called
Mr. Rolt, who was, properly speaking, a young
man. Archy thought with some bitterness that
his uncle, instead of considering it an obstacle
his going off to Scotland, might have known that
this fact would greatly have heightened the
pleasure of holiday time; for although born in
India, he most stoutly held out for the right to
call Scotland his native country. However, as
he wisely said, arguing the point with himself
would not mend the matter, so he determined to
show his schoolfellows that a Douglas could be
brave under any difficulty. Quiet and reserved
as he usually appeared, he now showed himself
in quite a new light. He joked, and chatted,
and laughed, as indefatigably he helped with the
packing whenever he saw any one losing heart.
He stood upon and stamped down lids that re-
fused to shut; he screwed round the clasps of
carpet bags when all other fingers had failed; he
wrote out dozens of addresses, not forgetting to
add the much admired ornamental flourishes he
was so celebrated for; and he did everything to
facilitate their departure in every possible way.
His schoolfellows were a good deal surprised at
his behaviour, and their opinion was that 'Lord
Bell-the-cat'-as they in fun called him from
some recent historical exercise-was a much
better fellow than they ever supposed ; and it was
doubtful if any one else could have shown the
same amount of pluck,' had they been placed in
a similar position.
But when the last of them had driven off in
the crowded omnibus to the railway station, three
miles distant, and Archy had returned to the
large empty dormitory, he thought how desolate
he should really feel. He was far from being a
14 UNEXPECTED PLEASURES.
coward; but he was sensitive, and his fancy
lively, as is the case with boys of a superior,
though excitable nature. It was quite true, as
little Hugh had said, he hated to sleep in a room
by himself, and he knew that when night came
he would people the long rows of beds with
strange forms, till sleep would be quite driven
away. At the very thought of what was in store
for him, and in spite of his brave outward bear-
ing, and his pride and dignity, he flung himself
down upon his bed, and tried to get rid of these
thoughts. For the time he almost wished that
these mysterious chiefs and doughty barons of
his race could have been extinguished from his
pedigree, so that he might have ceased conjur-
ing them up. He applied himself most heroically
to drive these images out, by counting vast series
of numbers, or working out short arithmetical
problems; and, on the whole, succeeded pretty
fairly, though, it must be owned, in the end the
feeling of desolation overpowered him, and he
turned his face on his pillow, and cried himself
to sleep. And who shall venture to say he was
weak in doing so ? He might have said with
truth, with but a slight change from the speech
of a grander hero, I dare do all that may be-
come a boy; who dares do more is none.'
,,[., 'i. -. .. ,- .
^'tN the following day, before Dr. Wells
_'j,| left, he met Archy near the library,
: and, seeming to be reminded of some-
thing, called him into the room. The
Doctor had been giving charge to Mrs. Falkoner,
the housekeeper, about the clearing up the dis-
order he had left among the books and papers.
He now called Archy's attention to a particular
packet, which he placed in a drawer, asking the
boy to help Mrs. Falkoner to remember them.
He mentioned that it was possible he might re-
quire to have it sent to him after his arrival at
Sir Henry Maybrook's; in which case, if no one
else were at hand, he felt sure he could intrust
them jointly with its safe despatch. The carriage
was already at the door, and the Doctor's party,
18 UNEXPECTED PLEASURES.
after bidding Archy an especial kind good-bye,
The classical usher, Mr. Welkinshaw, had gone
off by himself to Chattington, to catch the morn-
ing mail-train, on his journey for Birmingham,
where his friends resided. Much to the surprise
of the remaining household, he came back before
dinner, in a somewhat ruffled and excited con-
dition, informing his colleague, Mr. Rolt, that he
had met with an accident, which would prevent
him from leaving till next day.
I had no sooner gone out of the lodge gates,
on my way to Chattington,' said Mr. Welkinshaw,
'than I was overtaken by Mr. Churchwarden
Grey of Broadmead Farm, who was being driven
in his dog-cart to the railway, and he pressed
me to get up behind, which I did. We were
near the entrance of the town, when the horse
took fright, having been startled, I believe, by
the roar of some wild animal. I must explain
that the caravans of a travelling menagerie have
been erected on some waste ground beside the
town, attended by various puppet-shows or strol-
ling exhibitions. The result was that we were
overturned, though without injury, except to
Mr. Churchwarden Grey, who is, you know, ad-
vanced in years.'
I know-of course,' said Mr. Rolt, looking at
the dinner just placed on the table. In short,
you did not go. I can't say I know much of
Farmer Grey, and care less ; he is a crotchety old
grim-wig by all accounts.'
He has had great trials, Mr. Rolt,' said the
classical usher, mildly; and now he is a good
deal hurt, after his kindness to me, I could not
but attend him home; so must just put off my
journey till to-morrow.'
Archy was very glad indeed of this, for the
prospect of spending much of the time alone with
Mr. Rolt was what greatly aggravated his trial;
and even as it was, dinner passed off very drearily
in the large dining-room, though the housekeeper
had of course already reduced the size of the
Mr. Rolt was teacher of the whole mathe-
matical department at Upland House. He was a
young man, with very fair hair, very chubby
cheeks, and very blue projecting eyes. He had
remarkably' thick legs, and although his arms
were short, he piqued himself on their strength,
indeed, many boys knew this to be his only weak
point, and would even venture to flatter him on
the subject, or at least double up if he cuffed
them. He was inclined to be surly, and as he
20 UNEXPECTED PLEASURES.
was a B.A. of Cambridge, he wished always to
be called mathematical master, while the others
were contented with the usual title. Mr. Wel-
kinshaw was understood to have even a higher
degree of his own, only it had not been got from
an English university, as he had studied deeply
in more than one foreign country. He was mild,
absent-minded, middle-aged, and very short-
sighted-hence wearing spectacles; the latter
circumstance appearing as an eccentricity to the
would-be wits of the school, to which they joined
the fact that he had long legs, wore gaiters, and
carried an umbrella which was known to be only
alpaca. However, it was perhaps a proof of the
estimation he stood in, that there was no secret
nickname for him as for Mr. Rolt.
Mr. Welkinshaw had now arranged to go by
the first train in the morning, instead of at night,
which would have been in many ways unsuitable.
He had some little alterations to make in his
portmanteau, thus leaving Archy alone to Mr.
Rolt's society till tea-time. This proved a dis-
agreeable enough sample of what was to come,
as Mr. Rolt sat before the fire with his legs
spread, picking his teeth in gloomy silence, and
seeming to be somewhat troubled in some extra-
ordinary way with his throat.
When Mr. Welkinshaw came in to tea, Mr.
Rolt left him to pour it out, although he was
very awkward at anything of that kind; yet
this made Mr. Rolt no less cross about having
too little sugar, or too much cream. At the
same time he took a favourite little book out of
his pocket, rested it against the bread-basket
where the other usher could not see it, and
occupied himself in reading while apparently at-
tending to whatever was said by his colleague.
As to Archy, who sat at the side, he seemed to
be considered quite beyond notice by that end of
'I declare I had forgot,' suddenly exclaimed
Mr. Welkinshaw, starting up, 'that my cousin
will expect me to-night!'
'Ah! to be sure,' said Mr. Rolt, showing no
great sympathy, not even taking his eyes from
'It is far too late for any post, and my cousin
is very nervous,' said Mr. Welkinshaw, in evident
distress. What shall I do?'
'Humph,' was the ungracious reply; 'must
have a little patience, that's all.'
'There is the telegraph at Chattington, sir,'
'You're right, my boy; I really did not think
22 UNEXPECTED PLEASURES.
of that. I must send over at once; no, I shall
take it myself,' decided Mr. Welkinshaw, getting
up from the table. What do you say to a walk,
Mr. Rolt? it seems a fine evening though frosty.'
'Thank you.' Mr. Rolt gave a shrug and a
shiver, and drew his chair closer to the fire, which
he poked violently. No, I think not; my throat
seems to be getting rather worse.'
It proved that Mr. Rolt had really symptoms
of a severe sore throat, on account of which some
portion of his grumpiness became excused in
Archy's eyes, and Mr. Welkinshaw felt somewhat
concerned for him; at the same time the worthy
usher cordially assented to the boy's proposal to
accompany him, and they set out together.
In going to Chattington on foot, the nearest
way was by a path across a common which lay
between the village of Edgely and the town; and
as the night was favourable, Mr. Welkinshaw
preferred this to the market road. The weather
had lately been of that raw, sloppy, disagreeable
kind, which is liked by nobody, and least of all,
perhaps, by schoolboys; but now it was dry and
frosty, the air bracing, and the sky clear.
'Oh I isn't this prime, sir ?' exclaimed Archy.
'If this frost holds, there'll be such capital skating
on Higgs' Pond.'
The usher smiled indulgently. 'And where
is Higgs' Pond?' he asked. 'You should not go
alone; you must take great care, my boy.'
SHiggs' Pond is by the common, over yonder
to the left. 'Tisn't deep, though, and there will
be plenty of people out. Then I know all
Wildering Common quite well.'
'Why is it called Wildering Common, do you
know ?' asked the usher simply, with a defer-
ence to Archy's superior knowledge that rather
'Oh, the stupid country people hereabout
think it is bewitched. So ridiculous of them!
isn't it, sir?'
Mr. Welkinshaw was evidently thinking of
something else; and though he answered, Cer-
tainly, yes, to be sure,' it was doubtful if he
had heard Archy's words. It came out at last,
for he said, after a few minutes' silence: 'But
one thing I should like you to do, after I leave,
Arcnhy; will you go over to Broadmead Farm-
Mr. Churchwarden Grey's,-and find out for me
how he is? Then perhaps you could write to
me at Birmingham, to let me know.' The boy
readily promising, Mr. Welkinshaw continued:
'The Churchwarden is not liked by some; but he
is a worthy man, and he has had one terrible
24 UNEXPECTED PLEASURES.
affliction that cannot be forgotten. He had an
only son, Archy; and that son, if not just ex-
actly so wicked as he has been called, was a
sore trial to his father.'
'I never heard about him, sir,' said Archy.
'What did he do ?'
I cannot go through the story; enough to
say, he made his own country unfit to hold him,
then escaped abroad, and is now known to be
dead; in short, it is better to hear of his death
than of what went before. Even his father, who
had always been so kind to him, was forced to be
thankful at it, for he had vowed never to forgive
him in this world.'
How dreadful! was it not, Mr. Welkinshaw ?'
said Archy. It made him thoughtful, and he
could not help looking up at the stars, which
seemed never before to have been so many and
so bright; indeed, Mr. Welkinshaw had been led
to mention, a little before, that they were supposed
to be all worlds, or rather suns surrounded by
clusters of unseen planets like earth itself. He
wondered secretly whether there was any of them
in which Mr. Churchwarden Grey and his son
might be likely to meet, so that one could
forgive the other.
'Pleasure was poor Frank Grey's ruin,' Mr.
Welkinshaw went on to say. He wanted it, and
he went after it headlong, over every considera-
tion or obstacle-just as he used to do when fox-
hunting, of which I am told he was very fond,
poor fellow. But it is foolish of us, my dear
boy, to hunt after pleasure; it will not be found
in this manner. Have you not frequently noticed
how often a set pleasure party seems to have
given nobody any satisfaction, whereas a mere
casual walk will produce delight to all concerned ?
At all events, our greatest happiness is always
unexpected; and, as the poet says,
True pleasure of itself will come
Not in the form we're seeking."
' So you see, my boy,' concluded his companion,
turning the conversation to a lighter vein, you
must not suppose you are worst off in being left
SOh no, sir,' was the stout response. I'm
only sorry that Mr. Rolt does not go off any-
where. Has he got no friends at all, do you
think, Mr. Welkinshaw ?'
Most preposterous notion! No friends !-Mr.
Rolt? Certainly he has-very many-a wide
circle of them. Mr. Rolt delights in the quiet-
ness to pursue his scientific studies. But it is
possible he will go on a visit somewhere or other.
26 UNEXPECTED PLEASURES.
Mr. Rolt did not inform me,' said Mr. Welkin-
shaw mildly, as they reached the town and passed
through towards the station.
'I do hope, sir,' said Archy fervently, 'he is
not going to be laid up with his sore throat, it
might prevent his going.' Amidst the bustle of
the station and the sound of a train coming in,
no answer could have been heard, though Mr.
Welkinshaw did not apparently like this topic.
So far as his own intended excursion was con-
cerned, it could scarcely be said to be a pursuit
after pleasure; for the report among spiteful
dunces at school was, that his cousin at Birming-
ham was his only relation, and she had married
a drysalter, and they had no children, so that
his only occupation would be to arrange the shop
accounts, and help to make out the Christmas
The important message having been duly de-
spatched by telegraph, they set out on their
return, and got safely back half way through
Wildering Common, when their conversation was
again attracted to the stars, which sparkled over
them on every side with the peculiar distinctness
of a frosty winter night, now once or twice
diversified by the fall of a brilliant meteor. It
was Mr. Welkinshaw's habit, when walking with
favourite pupils, to draw their notice to surround-
ing objects, in illustration of the course of study
at school. His knowledge was not confined by
any means to classical subjects, and although he
particularly avoided any interference with the
department of another master, he had the skill
to make the driest science interesting. He had
already shown Archy how to find the Pole-star in
a moment, by a glance along the great constella-
ion of the Plough, and up by the two bright
stars, at its end, called the Pointers. He had
also taught him to find the Pleiads, in the top of
the sky, where, though not conspicuous to notice,
they glitter like some precious diamond ornament.
He now directed attention to the Milky Way
stretched overhead,-that sublime river of stars
and star-systems, in one side eddy of which our
sun and its planets are supposed to revolve; he
then traced out from the horizon of the south
the starry figure of the giant Orion, with his club
pointed at the Bull-a figure as familiar to the
astronomer as that of his most intimate friend, and
which a boy will not forget when once discerned.
Oh, I do wish, sir,' said Archy eagerly, that
the use of the globes had to be learned in your
class. I never thought before that these figures
were real. Pray, sir, what goes next this way ?'
28 UNEXPECTED PLEASURES.
'Enough of that for to-night, my boy,' said
Mr. Welkinshaw, smiling ;' but look back a mo-
ment at the great Plough there. It was quite
level along the sky as we set out on our walk;
now, it is aslant, and toward midnight it will be
upright. It is like the figure on the face of a
clock, always swinging silently round the Pole-
star. Orion, too, gradually leans over on his
endless chase of the Bull, and sets westward, so
that one might learn to know the time by a glance
at the heavens. In Paul and Virginia, do you
remember how the negroes say, Midnight is
past, the cross begins to bend ? That is a con-
stellation seen only from the southern side of our
globe,' explained the usher; but it is the same
'But the fixed stars don't move, sir?'
'No, of course not. I spoke of what is called
their apparent motion,' was the answer. 'It is
not they that have moved, but we and our earth
have been absomtely whirled round hundreds
and hundreds of miles since we set out for Chat-
tington; indeed, we might almost say we see the
earth's motion, by the space we have fallen down
from the head of the Plough yonder, during this
short interval '
Mr. Welkinshaw stood still, turning round as
if absorbed by the sublime prospect, while Archy
turned with him. Singularly enough, when Mr.
Welkinshaw gazed at the stars he took off his
spectacles and held them in his hand, appearing
to see better without them, at least so far as those
vastly distant objects were concerned. Strange,'
he murmured abstractedly, to think of the clear-
ness our vision may yet attain, when we put off
our eyes with our mortal body!' He checked
himself, and, instead of pursuing that theme,
repeated aloud the fine words of Longfellow:-
'I saw, as in a dream sublime,
The balance in the hand of Time,
O'er east and west its hours of light,
Was slowly sinking out of sight,
While opposite, the scale of night
Silently with the stars ascended.'
Oh, please, we have got off the path!' in-
terrupted Archy, who had engaged himself in
looking more prosaicly at the circumference of
the common itself. 'Do you know, sir, in which
direction we ought to go ? I am afraid we have
gone wrong in turning round, Mr. Welkinshaw.'
Wildering Common was, more properly speak-
ing, a piece of open down, broken here and there
by gorse and broom, with an old sand-pit or two
about the middle. The outline of the woods on
either side did not differ much, even by daylight;
30 UNEXPECTED PLEASURES.
and though you saw lights from the windows of
the village at one end, or from the outskirts of
the town at the other end, it was quite easy to
'I think we are really going back to Chat-
tington,' said Archy, or else walking towards
'Why, the points of the compass are quite
plain,' was the answer. There is one of the uses
of astronomy. Yonder is the north, under the
Pole-star, and Orion is now directly in the south.
Yet, dear me! the question never occurred to me
before, in what direction Chattington and Edgely
stood to each other. Dear me how humiliating!
After feeling indignant at ordinary people's un-
observant habits, to find one's self convicted of
such gross stupidity 1'
They were happily extricated from their di-
lemma by the sound of heavy footsteps across
the common. It was a rustic on his way home,
apparently from tippling at the nearest tavern,
to judge from his muddled appearance and
manner. Nevertheless he was able to set them
right in a moment-proving Archy's supposition
to have been correct as to their having actually
been about to retrace their steps to the town,
not that the man professed to know north from
south, nor one side of the common by head-
mark from the other.
'Well, master,' grinned he, rubbing his hair
under his hat, once ye turns round i' Wildering
Common, there's nout else for't, to my mind,
but to sniff hard .for t' scent o' Farmer Grey's
hog-pens. They be o' right side, ye see, if ye
faces for Edgely.'
As they left him, Mr. Welkinshaw sighed
audibly, but contented himself with a careful
observation by the stars, for future guidance, and
they reached home in due time.
When just entering the lodge gate of Upland
House, which looked toward the village green of
Edgely, the attention of Archy was attracted to
a somewhat unusual scene in front of the inn.
A large yellow caravan, of the kind peculiar to
travelling shows, had halted in the road, while
a smaller one, such as is used for the proprietor's
domestic wants, had met with some accident
which the village wheelwright was trying to
repair. The smoke was coming out of the chim-
ney, and firelight was flickering cheerfully inside,
and altogether the circumstance stirred an in-
terest in Archy, as it evidently did among the
inhabitants of Edgely, both young and old. He
was informed by Cox, the gardener at the lodge,
32 UNEXPECTED PLEASURES.
part of whose family had gone over to the spot,
that these 'vans' contained some show of a very
grand kind indeed, he could not just say what;
but, at any rate, they were not to exhibit in
Edgely, but were going on to Deepbridge, when
the said accident had stopped them on their way.
r.,-'s b.. tnfurt.
EXT morning Mr. Welkinshaw was
taken to the station in the waggonette,
driven by old Cox, accompanied by
Archy, who took his skates with him,
as he was bent on paying a visit to the ice on
Higgs' Pond. There was no possible question
about the strength of the ice, and he was, besides,
provided with a most serviceable attendant, in
the shape of the great Newfoundland watch-dog,
Triton, who displayed a particular attachment to
Archy, and now that his nightly duty was over,
became free to follow in the expedition. In
passing the inn, the boy was reminded about the
caravans, and asked Cox if he knew what had
become of them; and was told that they were
still in the neighbourhood, the village smith not
having been able to mend the axle so soon as
36 UNEXPECTED PLEASURES.
had been expected. It was still frosty, indeed
the cold was intense, but there was a dulness in
the atmosphere that foretold a fall of snow, and
already a few flakes were flying at intervals; but
this betokened a heavy fall, Cox said, or was
what he called 'a feeding storm.' When they
reached Chattington, they drove first to the post
office-which happened to be the apothecary's
shop also-and Archy got down to ask after a
letter Mr. Welkinshaw expected. Being so early,
he fancied he would be the first visitor; but he
was already preceded by a little girl, whose voice
and appearance somehow attracted his curiosity.
She spoke quite differently from the people of
the neighbourhood, and her dress, though even
inclining to be shabby, had something foreign
about it, or at all events unusual. She had a
straight, springy figure, a rather sun-browned
face, and a bright eye, that gave her a very lively
expression as she responded to the advances of
Triton, who suddenly poked his great muzzle
under her hand from behind. She did not start
at all, but took it quite easy, and patted him in
a half-laughing way, looking neither too shy nor
too forward. Triton, who seemed greatly pleased
with her attention, sat down and offered a paw
in his most solemn manner, which was not a usual
thing for Triton to do, being chary of strangers;
and the paw was taken with a smile and cordially
shaken, as if she was quite accustomed to dogs.
Having put her bottle of medicine into her little
basket, she left the shop, pulling her dark blue
hood further on her head; and when Archy had
got up to his seat again, and was moving down
the street, he noticed her turning to the lane that
led into Wildering Common, towards Edgely. Of
course he soon forgot all about it in the bustle
of the station, and getting Mr. Welkinshaw safely
off, which was accomplished without further
hindrance; Archy, having again promised to re-
member about Churchwarden Grey, and to be '#
careful not to get into any danger, felt really
sorry when the train rushed away. He then
appointed with Cox, who had to drive further
on, and return to some business in the town, that
they should meet at the Railway Inn, after he
had had some skating. The snow was falling
pretty fast, and the gardener remarked that he
feared it would be a serious business.
'Oh, so much the better, Cox,' said Archy, in
high spirits; this is really jolly. Christmas is
nothing without snow I'
'But mind, Master Douglas, now,' said the
gardener, how you cut across the corners of the
38 UNEXPECTED PLEASURES.
common. It's a queer, confusing sort o' place at
any time, specially in this weather. It's like no
end o' bee-hives a-swarming, it is.'
'All right, Cox; I'll trust to Triton for all that,'
said Archy, laughing. He's better than a pocket
compass any day.' And as he turned off, followed
by the Newfoundland, he could not help thinking
to himself, Ay, or perhaps than the stars either,
and for that matter, all the hog-pens in the whole
country-side to boot.'
Until he had got out to the open common,
he had really had no notion of the snow-storm;
nevertheless he held stoutly in the direction of
the pond, guided by various well-known objects
in that quarter. The busy flakes had a strange
bewildering effect, that would almost have daunted
him had he been quite alone; now and then it
thinned a little, so that he could see his where-
abouts; and as to Triton, he enjoyed it thoroughly,
tossing the snow up with his nose, and rolling over
and over, as if it was there for his express amuse-
ment. In one of these pauses, as the wind came
powdering along, Archy thought he heard a cry
of some kind. The quietness that followed was all
the more awful, broken as it was by the drowsy
whisper of the snow-flakes alone; but Triton had
pricked up his ears, and evidently heard distincter
than the boy, for he made a sudden dart off and
was soon out of sight. Archy stood still, whis-
tling now and then to guide the dog back, though
he knew that was scarcely necessary, for Triton
would be sure to return in a few minutes; and,
sure enough, there he came, positively ploughing
up the snow in his haste. He was so excited
and restless, that Archy was sure he had made
a discovery; and fancying it might be a hare, or
even a fox caught in a trap, he fastened the
straps of his skates to the dog's collar that he
might guide him to the place, as he was deter-
mined to see what it was.
'Go ahead, old dog,' said Archy gleefully.
'Heigh ho, chevy! off you go; only see and don't
lead me on a wild-goose chase, that's all.'
The dog, putting his nose to the ground, trotted
away, amusing Archy by the careful way he re-
traced his steps through the snow as if he was
following up a trail. The snow was falling even
faster, and the wind drifted it along, sweeping
into the hollows, so that two or three times both
Archy and the dog lost their footing and rolled
over together. At last Triton stopped at a snow-
drift formed by a clump of gorse. Snuffing hard
round it and whimpering, he seemed to be satis-
fied that this was what he wanted, and tugging
40 UNEXPECTED PLEASURES.
the strap from Archy's hand, he began to scrape
the snow vigorously, while Archy, who was strug-
gling against the wind at the moment, cried out,
'Go it, good dog, unearth the scoundrel from
his cover.' When Archy got close up to him,
what was his horror, instead of seeing a fox or a
wounded hare, when he found the very little girl
he had met at the post office, curled up close to the
bush, apparently fast asleep! She had crouched
in close for shelter; but the wind had driven the
snow round upon her, and she was quite covered,
only her head with the blue hood being visible.
He had often read of people sinking to sleep in
snow, and being found dead next morning, and
he hastened to rouse her. It was no easy matter,
for it was more of a stupor than sleep, and it was
only after he had slapped and shaken her till he
was quite out of breath that he managed to get
her to open her eyes.
'Oh dear! where am I?' she said faintly, rubbing
her eyes and staring about her. Is it the bush ?'
'Never mind; don't you bother yourself,' said
Archy rather cavalierly, for he was quite at a
loss what he was to do, not being accustomed to
girls. Get up and let me put my overcoat on
you, else you'll be going off again into one of
those dwams, or whatever they call them.'
Oh, yes! I know now,' said the little girl, her
lips beginning to quiver; I got lost in the snow,
and- But where's my basket ? Oh dear! where is
my basket?' she cried in great distress.
The basket having been found at the foot of the
bush, Archy again urged her to hasten, for he
was beginning to be alarmed for his own safety,
the snow was so dense, and the wind rising
higher every moment. Getting hold of the strap
at Triton's collar again, he bade him lead them
back, knowing that he must place all dependence
on the dog's sagacity, who seemed to understand
quite well what was required of him. It was a
very difficult time they had of it; what with the
wind and the weakness of the girl, though she did
exert herself to the utmost, showing, as Archy
said, 'more pluck' than he could have believed
was possible for a girl to have in her; never
complaining though she got some pretty severe
tumbles, her whole anxiety being for the safety of
the bottle of medicine. But they reached the lane
at last, where they met Cox and a friend of his
coming in search of the boy, and they were not a
little surprised to find the young gentleman with-
out his topcoat and in such company. The man,
seeing that the girl was almost exhausted, took
her up in his arms, and they soon reached the
42 UNEXPECTED PLEASURES.
inn, where the good landlady was not long in
preparing a steaming cup of coffee to put some
life into them, and gave them the benefit of her
company while they drank it. She was of course
greatly interested in the little girl, who had made
such a narrow escape; and by the questions she
put, Archy discovered that his little companion's
name was Lizzie Grey, that she lived with her
two uncles and her aunt in the caravan that was
at present at Edgely, and that she had come
across the common with a woman who was going
to the station that morning, to get a bottle of
medicine for her Uncle George, whose cough had
troubled him all night. She had gone back the
road she came, fancying she knew it quite well,
when the snow had overtaken her, and then she
lo0 her way, and wandered about, often coming
back to the same spot she set out from. She
was so dreadfully tired and frightened that she
sunk down beside a bush, and couldn't say how
long she lay, till the young gentleman and the
large dog came and found her.
'Poor child!' said the landlady, stroking her
hair as she poured out another cup of coffee; to
think that had Master Douglas not found you,
it might have been your last sleep.'
'And the dog too, ma'am,' said little Lizzie.
'It was the dog who heard me cry, and brought
him to help me, the young gentleman said
that. And oh I if I had died in the snow, what
would Uncle George have done without me?'
And she flung her arms round Triton's neck,
and, to Archy's great dismay, began to cry
'It'll do the poor thing good, master,' said
the landlady; she's weak yet, poor thing! Only
think of her belonging to a caravan! she doesn't
look the least like it; shouldn't wonder now that
she's been stolen.'
When this idea was suggested to her, she
became quite indignant. 'Uncle steal me!' she
said in astonishment. Oh, no; Uncle George is
too good a man to do that. He brought me all
the way from Australia when poor papa died, and"
because he lost the sight of his poor eye by an
accident at the theatre, and so couldn't make any
'And is your uncle's other name Grey too?
said the landlady.
'No, it was Hammond,' Lizzie said; and her
aunt and uncle's name was Mudge. Her aunt
was Uncle George's sister, and they had lived
with the Mudges ever since they arrived in
England, nine months ago. Her Uncle George
44 UNEXPECTED PLEASURES.
had taken a severe cold, and had not been very
strong lately, as he felt the cold very much.
Archy was more than ever interested in the
little girl; for, independent of her being an
Australian child, the idea of her living in a
caravan was such an out-of-the-way thing, and
quite a mysterious sort of life altogether.
'But are they kind to you, those uncles of
yours?' asked the landlady, who had a very low
idea of show-people generally. 'That aunt
doesn't make you work beyond your strength
now? And what is it you do,-dance on them
dreadful dangerous tight ropes?'
'Oh, no,' said Lizzie, her lip curling a little
scornfully, I do nothing of that kind. Uncle
George will hardly allow me to go into the
show as the people do to see it. I stay at home
and take care of the house, when Aunt and
Uncle Mudge are exhibiting the waxwork. Uncle
George sometimes helps them when there has
been many visitors and Aunt Joan is tired; but
I do nothing but read, or sometimes I sew new
dresses for the dogs.'
'Dogs !' said Archy, joining in the conversa-
tion; 'what do dogs want with dresses?'
'These are Uncle Mudge's troop of performing
dogs,' said Lizzie; 'and the last clothes I made
for them are so pretty. Uncle George is some-
times annoyed when he sees me taking an inte-
rest in the dogs; but I like them so much. Oh,'
she continued, shaking her head slowly, 'Uncle
George is very particular about me, very careful
about me indeed.'
When Archy and Lizzie were safely wrapped
up in the waggonette, he holding a large cotton
umbrella, lent by the landlady, over her head,
he asked her a few questions about the dogs; and
this being a favourite subject apparently of little
Lizzie's, she described with great delight all their
clever tricks, and said that her Uncle Mudge
was very proud of them, and took such pains
with their education, and ended by saying that
she should have liked so much if the young
gentleman could have seen them perform.
When they were near to Edgely, the fall of
snow had lightened for the time, and they were
passed by a man going the other way, who imme-
diately called out to Cox, as if he were hailing a
ship, Ha'n't passed a young gal on the road,
Oh, it's my Uncle Mudge,' cried little Lizzie,
springing from her seat. Here I am, uncle, all
safe. I've been nearly lost in the snow; but this
young gentleman found me-and I got hot coffee
46 UNEXPECTED PLEASURES.
-and the dog found me too-and I'm quite right
'Well, that's good,' said the uncle heartily.
'The missus she 'ave been in a precious taking
about ye, and there was nothing for it but I
must go on the look-out; so here I finds ye,
a-coming home like a dook's daughter.'
When Mr. Mudge was speaking he showed a
polite sense of there being a young gentleman
present in the vehicle; but Cox, who did not
want to be longer away from his fireside than
could be helped, suggested that he had better get
up beside him, and be driven home along with
his niece, wherever that might be.
'Well, I will,' said the man, at once jumping
up to the vacant seat beside Cox. 'This an't
pleasant weather, and I'm afraid it may last long
enough to block up us road-people yonder, on
the way to Deepbridge. 'Twas that blessed old
wheel of our house-van that failed us again, and
goodness only knows when we'll get off. Well,
I an't sorry either, for Uncle George's sake,' he
said, turning to speak to Lizzie; we'll get time
to see about that cough. He's my wife's brother
is Uncle George,' he added, addressing Archy;
'and my very good friend; a great actor, sir,
Mr. Mudge was a strong, roughish-looking
man, with a rough blue coat buttoned up to his
chin, and a fur cap, which gave him for the time
rather a Russian appearance. His voice and
manner, too, were in keeping with his outward
exterior; yet the little girl seemed to be re-
garded by this uncouth relative with particular
fondness, and, judging by the glances exchanged,
there was quite a friendly understanding between
The waggonette passed the lodge of Upland
House and through the village, till they got out
between the woods and the edge of the common,
where the two caravans had drawn up. As the
storm showed no sign of abating for the day, the
horses had been taken out and sent to the inn
stable, and the show-people were evidently mak-
ing preparations to stay over the night. The
chimney of the smaller caravan was smoking
briskly, its pannelled yellow sides looked vivid
through the snow flakes, and a flicker was thrown
out from the stove, accompanied by a smell of
cooking not altogether unpleasant. In the door-
way a woman sat sewing, who started up at the
sudden arrival of the waggonette, at the same
time holding up her finger to speak low.
'He's asleep,' she said; 'that'll be better for him
48 UNEXPECTED PLEASURES
than the medicine. But whatever in the world
has come over you, child?' The girl hastened
to explain, so as to set her aunt's curiosity soon
at rest. The latter was a dark-complexioned,
middle-aged woman, who no doubt had been
handsome, though now too decided-looking to
seem pleasant; still, she had no sooner got her
little niece beside her, than she softened, and at
the discovery of how much they owed to Archy,
she not only thanked him warmly, but it was
plain that she thought him more of a hero than
he really was.
'Oh, for that part of it,' he said, laughing,
'you've got to thank Triton there, far more than
me Triton was at that moment rather embar-
rassed by the company of a small dog who had
been following Mr. Mudge, aggravated by the
sudden addition of several more from about the
caravan, including a very cross-tempered white
bull-terrier, apparently called Rosie.
SHere, Rosie, down I' cried little Lizzie ; don't
worry Triton; he could swallow you if he weren't
so good a dog.'
'Come, no more o' that, dogs!' cried Mr.
Mudge in a voice of authority, at which they all
vanished. 'You may think, sir,' he said, turning
to Archy, them dogs be not great things to look
at; but they're worth all the wax-workses in the
world, though the missus, here, don't think so.
They're the celebrated performing dogs; and
though I say it, there an't dogs to beat them
anywhere, if there's their match.'
His wife appeared to take no great interest in
them, and her face expressed as much, which
perhaps annoyed her husband, for he continued
in a slightly rougher voice: Now, it's likely
there's wax-workses as good as ours, I won't say
better, or ekally well described when going, but
as to performing daugs-'
'Well, well,' interrupted Mrs. Mudge; we
know your taste, Tom. It's not in the high walk,
at any rate. Don't keep the young gentleman
out more than need be.'
Cox here inquired if the great wax-work would
not be shown at Edgely, now that they were
stopped, more particularly this being the festive
season. Mrs. Mudge, however, viewed Cox and
his question with a good deal of scorn. She took
all the reply upon herself; indeed, there could
be no doubt that she commanded matters, at any-
rate so far as the wax-work was concerned.
'We don't exhibit in country places,' she said,
rather loftily; 'nor anywhere short of county
towns. There's a menagerie going to open over
50 UNEXPECTED PLEASURES.
at the town there, it seems, and, for anything I
know, they may have a giant or a pink-eyed lady
in partnership; but we've no connection with
them, not in the least. It was a mere chance
that they came the same road just now.'
Archy now bid them good-bye, to which all
three responded in their different ways; and
Cox lost no further time in driving home.
Mr. Rolt was in the library, with his travel-
ling rug wrapped round his shoulders, crouching
over the fire. His cold was evidently worse,
which did not improve his temper, for he answered
the few kind questions Archy asked in such a
snappish way that the boy naturally fancied he
preferred to be left alone. Mrs. Falkoner, the
housekeeper, who was a kind-hearted, motherly
woman, was not slow in seeing how matters
stood between the master and the pupil, and
when Mr. Rolt had gone off to his room, which
he did immediately after dinner, she came in
and invited Archy to drink tea in her room.
'I can't say as how I'm the best of company
in the world, Master Douglas,' she said, smiling;
'but I'll do my best, sir, for it's dullish work for
you being in this great room all by yourself.'
Mrs. Falkoner had done him a kind service
before this by preparing for him a small bedroom
ARCHY'S ADVENTURE. 51
close to Mr. Rolt's, so that Archy's dislike to
sleeping alone had been greatly lessened. A
very pleasant evening Archy spent in the house-
keeper's room. Mrs. Falkoner sat with her
sewing, listening to his account of the day's
adventure, which led her to relate many wonder-
ful stories about Wildering Common, and other
strange tales, of which she seemed to have an
'This is about the pleasantest time I've had,
Mrs. Falkoner,' said Archy gratefully; 'and, if
you please, I should like to come again.'
'That you shall, Master Douglas, as aften as
you like,' said the housekeeper; and laying her
hand on his shoulder, she added in a confidential
.whisper, 'Whenever Mr. Rolt looks as if he
would like to be alone, or grumpy,' she said,
laughing, 'just you come here to me, sir.'
no ott up.
SNO WED UP.
SHE next day was Sunday, and a day
of snow still falling, in the midst of
which Archy went to church, where
he sat in almost solitary dignity, the
sole representative of Upland House, so far as
school was concerned. It was a fine quaint old
specimen of English country churches, with one
old stained window that did much to warm one
amidst the cold, not to speak of the glowing
figures of patriarch and apostle there represented
in radiant reds, blues, and greens, which some-
times threw a light upon the service or the ser-
mon. Up in the choir, moreover, was a new
organ, lately presented by the squire of Edgely,
beside which Archy once or twice noticed the
head of a stranger, and finally came to the con-
clusion that this was no other than his recently
56 UNEXPECTED PLEASURES.
made acquaintance, Mr. Mudge. This was al-
most the only circumstance, besides the falling
snow and his own solitariness, which diversified
the usual course of the day. It was to be in-
ferred, however, that these curious show-people
and their friends were still close by, while at
the same time it said something for their re-
spectability that any of them attended church.
The rector of Edgely and Chattington was an old
man in failing health, who did not live in the
parish, and did not therefore do any duty. It
was Mr. Vernon, the curate, who preached; and
there was often something in what he said that
drew the attention of the idlest boy, while Archy
had a particular admiration for the curate on
various accounts. When night came, he found
himself wondering how little dulness he had
really felt all the day, after looking forward to it
almost with dread, as he got up in the morning.
Mr. Rolt had not been able to leave bed; indeed,
Mrs. Falkoner thought he was much worse, and
had proposed to him that the Doctor should be
sent for; but to this Mr. Rolt would not listen,
and had seemed not a httle irritated at the idea.
Before Archy went to bed, the worthy house-
keeper suggested that he might go up and ask
if he could do anything for him. For, do you
see, Master Douglas,' she said, though sick folk
always say they don't want to be troubled, they
like to have attention shown them, and to be
This Archy accordingly did, though it cost
him some effort both of resolution and good feel-
ing. Mr. Bolt's answer was wonderfully mild;
and when Archy wished to be allowed to get him
some oranges, although the usually crusty usher
said he had a particular dislike to that fruit, he
nevertheless bade him good night in a rather
The snow-storm continued into the night, fall-
ing at first so thickly and fast, that it was some-
thing almost awful to see from the window, before
putting out the candle. It must have ceased to
fall before morning; but the wind rose, drifting
it with a hiss against the panes, so as now and
then to wake Archy between dreams, in which he
sometimes thought himself under an avalanche
among the Alps, or shut in a frozen-up ship
toward the North Pole.
In the morning all was perfectly still; the day-
light came in white and cheerful, in strong con-
trast to the dulness of the past day or two. How
curious it was to look out at the effects of the
snow-storm, and at the same time how beautiful!
58 UNEXPECTED PLEASURES.
The fierce drift had come on in the dark like
fresh forces to the help of the snow that fell; and
they had assaulted the whole place as if to over-
whelm it. Over pales and hedges, through gate-
way, avenue, and alley, it had showered, driven,
powdered, and eddied, till it sheeted the trees
and wreathed the shrubs, with many a spray
about the ivy, and the most extraordinary crests
and plumes curling over the garden walls and
greenhouses. Fairy stories came back to Archy's
mind, along with the famous accounts of Russian
snow-palaces, and he could well have entered
into the American poet's description of-
'The north wind's masonry.
Out of an unseen quarry evermore
Furnished with blocks, the fierce artificer
Curves his white bastions ; and astonished Art
But-mimics in slow structures, stone by stone,
Built in an age, the mad wind's night-work,
The frolic architecture of the snow.'
But close in to Upland House itself, particu-
larly at the most exposed side, the state of things
had assumed rather a more formidable aspect,
producing considerable household inconvenience
to Mrs. Falkoner. Even the front door could
scarcely be opened. But the whole of the back
premises were fairly sealed up for the time, in
a way to alarm the good housekeeper as to pro-
curing many of the most important necessaries
of life; this, too, without the presence of what
she called 'a single man person in a state of
health to count upon for help.' Most of the
maid-servants, she declared, were perfect ninnies
at handling a shovel of any kind; while the gar-
dener and his family in the lodge were separated
at a considerable distance. There was now, how-
ever, an opportunity for our hero to distinguish
himself, and he did not prove unequal to the oc-
casion. It was he who led the way in clearing
a passage out to the court, where the fuel was,
and to get water, and have the poultry fed, then
to relieve poor Triton from being half suffocated
in his kennel. And in these labours, as well as
in others too numerous to mention, he gloried
with all a schoolboy's enjoyment, feeling himself
of some real consequence, as he was appealed to
for advice on every side. Mrs. Falkoner was
even forced to own herself in the wrong about
the man person,' for he had done as much work
as half a dozen of them ; and as for keeping the
maids to their duty, nobody could have done it
better. By this time voices of encouragement
were heard from the direction of the lodge, where
Cox and his boys were hard at work cutting a
way to meet Archy's. After that, attention had
60 UNEXPECTED PLEASURES.
to be given to a matter the most pressing of all:
the usher, Mr. Rolt, was undoubtedly worse,
and he now offered no opposition to the doctor
being sent for. The nearest doctor lived at
Chattington; and a horse had not only to be got
out, that the gardener might ride off at once,
but a way made for it along the road. The road
being sheltered in comparison, it happily was not
by any means so difficult to traverse; so that the
message was soon taken, and word brought back
that Dr. Cobold would lose no time in coming
round that way.
The short day being filled up with these occu-
pations, it had passed quickly; and in the after-
noon the doctor arrived, and saw the patient.
As he came out of the room, he closed the door
carefully behind him, and went on a little way
with Mrs. Falkoner, to whom he said--
'Well, ma'am, the truth is, it is rather a sharp
attack of inflammation in the throat, and we
must be careful. The medicines must be given
regularly through the night, and till I get here
in the morning. Otherwise, all we want is quiet-
ness. Ah he continued, catching sight of
Archy in the hall; not away for your holidays
yet, my boy ?'
Mrs. Falkoner, who had been anxiously pro-
SN WED UP.
rising that all should be done as he desired for
Mr. Rolt, here explained that the young gentle-
man was remaining at home, but his doing so
had been almost providential for them, as but
for him they might not have got the path cleared
'I hope Mr. Rolt is not seriously ill, sir ?' said
Archy, stepping forward to open the hall door.
'Well, we can't say at present, Master Douglas,
but we hope not,' said the doctor; and he added,
laughing to Mrs. Falconer, 'Shall we press him
into my service in the sick room, ma'am? Ah,
well, we'll see,' and he took his leave.
Archy sat during the rest of the afternoon
studying his lessons, occasionally going up to
hear if Mr. Rolt required anything; then Mrs.
Falkoner came to invite him to have tea in her
room again. While they were taking it, they
heard the kitchen bell ring, which Mrs. Falkoner
seemed rather surprised at, for, as she said, the
weather would incline few people to leave their
own firesides. It turned out, however, to be a
visitor for Mrs. Falkoner herself, for in a few
minutes one of the servants came to say, a
person who called himself John Stocks wanted to
see her. Before the girl had got the words out,
he presented himself without further delay in the
62 UNEXPECTED PLEASURES.
doorway. An active man, with the look, at first
sight, of the mate of a ship, he stood gently
stamping the snow off his boots on the door mat,
laughing in a low tone as if he was very much
pleased to see the worthy Mrs. Falkoner, and was
enjoying her stare of astonishment to the full.
'Dear bless me, John, is it really you?' said
Mrs. Falkoner, almost running to meet him.
'Whatever wind has blown you here ?'
'No wind at all, Mary, nought but the snow,'
he said, laughing ; but, correcting himself, he
added, Ah, well, there was a wind after all, for
we're fairly drifted up a few miles t'other side of
the Junction, and so I got leave to run over and
see you: not often I get the chance, is it, now?'
All this time he had been taking off his outer
coat; and when he was fairly in the room, Archy
found he was a young man, certainly not more
than thirty. He had crisp black hair, a bold
manly face, very red with exposure to the
weather, and at the same time expressive of great
determination of character. But one peculiarity
about his face was, that though so young, his
forehead was not only scarred and lined, but
round his eyes and about his mouth it was
puckered and wrinkled to a most extraordinary
degree. Archy felt a great curiosity about him,
but was not left long in doubt, for Mrs. Falkoner
took care to make her visitor known to the young
gentleman, as her youngest half brother, and
an engine-driver on the main line. Our hero
immediately proposed that he should go up to
see after Mr. Rolt, but to this Mrs. Falkoner
would not consent. He must have his tea, she
said; and, besides, if he went away, he would
make John feel so uncomfortable as to be able to
say nothing. A remarkably quiet man did John
Stocks seem in regard to general conversation;
he said very little about the weather, and less
about things going on in the great world, and
anything he did say on these topics had almost
to be coaxed out of him. However he evidently
took great delight in giving all the family news,
even to the most minute particular.
'Of course you've heard,' he said, warming one
hand at the fire, 'that Bob's come home from
America? Then that old Thompson has given
up the shop ?'
Yes, so I heard,' said Mrs. Falkoner, pouring
out another cup of tea, not appearing to take
very great interest in them. 'No accidents on
your line lately, I hope ?'
'Not much,' was the answer, and he again
went back to the family news. Jenny's got a
64 UNEXPECTED PLEASURES.
baby,' he said suddenly, with great glee, as if
this piece of news was far before any other.
This intelligence at least was news to Mrs.
Falkoner, and she listened to all he had to say
about it with great interest. But when Mrs.
Falkoner had to go up for a few minutes to Mr.
Bolt's room, where the cook was in attendance, it
became necessary for Archy to stay and entertain
the visitor till her return. Of course Archy had
many questions to put about the railway and
the engines, and dangers and catastrophes. John
was excessively civil, and on this subject was full
of intelligence; but when he was asked if his
own engine had broken down in the snow, he
became quite horrified, if not indignant.
'What, master, broke down?' he said. 'Not
a bit o't. I'd back the old Bison against a drift
twice as heavy. But, d'ye see, when you comes
and finds an engine and seven waggons o' mine-
rals, and another engine and waggons besides
that, all ahead o' ye, and stuck fast, why, I says,
ye must give in. There ain't no use expecting
yer engine to drive through 'em, so must lie by till
all's cleared, which won't be for five hours at least.'
'How is it that the line's blocked up now?'
asked Archy. 'There has been no more snow
Ay, that's true, master,' said the engine-
driver. But, d'ye see, a mile from the Junction
there's a bit of heavy cutting with a steep sloping
bank on either side. Now, this afternoon there
was a slip; most all the snow drifted there, and
part of the bank itself fell in, and so there is a
block up. As I said afore, the mineral train, she
comes up first, and she sticks fast, and then we
has to follow as a matter in course. But had my
old Bison been front, he'd have done differently,
I make no doubt.'
'Is your engine a much stronger one?' said
Archy, greatly amused to hear how funny it was
to call a train she, while he called the engine he,
and by an animal's name too.
'It's not that he's stronger, sir, but he's got
more go in him, has the Bison. He's an ex-
traordinary plucky engine. I've seen him do
wonderful things when Mat Whitlaw was driver,
and me stoker to 'em. I'll just tell you one on
'em, and then ye can judge what sort o' stuff the
Bison's made o'. It was one day in summer,
some two years ago, we had just taken in water
at the Junction, and were about to run back to
couple on the coaches, when an engine passed us
tearing along at a tremendous speed on the other
line o' rail, but, mark me, without a driver or
66 UNEXPECTED PLEASURES.
stoker, or aught else on it. I thought my mate
was mad, when he got up steam and off in the
same direction, but in a moment I saw what he
was up to. The Bison was going in chase. See
to the brake, John," was all Mat said, when off
we were after the runaway at full speed. It
seemed to me nought but a wild-goose chase; for
d'ye see, master, we were on another line o' rails
altogether. But Mat knew what he was about,
and it was my place to do his bidding. I was
always proud o' the old Bison before that morning,
but I never knew till then, what a good engine
was, and what was depending on it. You would
have thought he fairly snorted to his work, going
kt the rate o' forty miles an hour we were, and
at last we got abreast o' the runaway engine,
and could have passed him, but that would have
been useless. There wasn't another driver on
the whole line would have thought of the thing
so quickly as Mat did, nor could have regulated
the speed so nicely to a moment. The two diffe-
rent engines were running just opposite each other,
on the two different lines, the runaway being a
good deal worn out now, and going much slower
than at first, when Mat he says to me hoarsely,
" Jump across. It'll be safer if I stick here to hold
the regulator; but I'll go if you'd rather stay."
I had such confidence in Mat Whitlaw, that I
could trust my life with him before any mortal
man, and the instant he gave the word I jumped,
and did it safe. We each put on our brakes and
took breath, and desperately hot we both were, 1
can assure you.'
'Were you not terribly afraid ?' said Archy,
who had been almost breathless during the
'I can't say that we were,' said John, coolly;
'but I'll tell you I was frightened enough the
next moment, when Mat looked at his watch and
sees that the down express was due in a few
minutes on his line. I believe that Mat thought
more o' the passengers that might be smashed,
and the risk for the Bison, than o' his own safety.
He said it would never do to reverse the engines
now, but if we kept on he thought there might
yet be time to run into the siding at the nearest
station. So on we went once more at increased
speed, straight on ahead, though it was like run-
ning into the very face of the danger. The tele-
graph had been hard at work, and the station
people had been laying their heads together,
and they were at the points. So, when they heard
the whistle, and saw Mat putting on the brake,
they at once opened the points, not a moment
68 UNEXPECTED PLEASURES.
too soon I can tell you, and in he ran into
the siding. Now, what Mat did, sir, was what
I call about equal to m6st generals in war, and
as great a benefit to society.'
'He must be a brave fellow,' said Archy ; 'and
I hope you were both rewarded for it.'
'The company behaved very handsome,' was
the answer. Mat he got on to the Great Western
line at once; but the worst of it is, he and I are
parted, and the old Bison; he felt his loss as
much, if not more than me.'
Mrs. Falkoner, who had come in during the
latter part of the story, now said-
'But tell the young gentleman what you did
your own self, and what the company thought of
'Tuts, Mary,' he answered; I did. nought ex-
traordinary; there ain't a man in the service but
could have done the same, had they known old
Bison as well as I did.'
'I should like to hear it, John,' said Archy,
who was standing ready to leave the brother and
'Well, 'cept it be to tell you how I got to be
driver of the Bison myself, it's not worth the
listening to. When Mat left, Bill Jones got to
be my mate-the worst driver on the line-at
least he couldn't manage the Bison. He did not
understand that engine one bit, and was con-
stantly getting into trouble, till I was driven
almost wild. Bill would say, "Bison, indeed!
he ought to be called Donkey; it would suit his
kicking ways better." It was quite true he
kicked, but he never did it with Mat on him,
and went along the rails as smooth as smooth.
Well, at one part o' the line, there is a gradual
long incline; and one day we were just putting
on more steam to run up, when we sees at the
top two or three coaches coming tearing down
straight upon us. We knew there was a heavy
excursion train on ahead, and we had been going
rather slow on that account, and this was some
of the coaches that had got uncoupled from the
rest. Well, Bill, my mate, no sooner saw it
coming, than says he, Jump for your life!"
and out he went. But I knew what a quick
engine the Bison was, and moreover I saw our
guard had noticed the danger too, and would
work with me; so I reversed the engine, and
ran back till the coaches came up to us, but did
no further damage except giving us a bit of a
shake as they struck on the old Bison; and so
we drove them afore us right up to the station.
Bill was killed, as might have been expected,
70 UNEXPECTED PLEASURES.
for he had no faith in the Bison whatever; and
so the company they came to see I understood
that engine, and they made me driver o' him
from that time.'
Archy now bade the worthy engine-driver
good night, saying that he should always take a
greater interest in engines than ever, and that he
should have liked very much to have seen such
a famous one as the Bison.
John Stocks evidently took this speech as a
personal compliment, and, in consequence, bade
Archy a very friendly good-bye, saying, as he
did so, that people now-a-days talked of nothing
but ships and extraordinary guns, and what not,
but to his mind a good engine was before them
zunk bg pffigg's' ll.ab.
ROUND BY HIGGS' POND.
RCHY set out early the next morning,
with Triton and his skates, for Higgs'
Pond. No chance of losing himself
now, for the day was as bright as a
day could well be, and there were plenty of
boys from the village on before him, so that
there was a good foot-path, and walking was
comparatively easy if the path was followed.
The boys from Chattington were also there in
great numbers, all bent on sliding, there being
but one skater. This boy, Archy knew, was
called Bailey, and that he was the son of the
wealthiest merchant in Chattington. 'A fellow
who attended a grammar school, an upsetting
fellow,' the boys at Upland House called him,
because he tried to get to be on a friendly foot-
ing with them whenever they met at Higgs'
74 UNEXPECTED PLEASURES.
Pond. He had at present rather a hard time of
it, had this Bailey, for the common boys' both
of Chattington and Edgely were 'taking their
fun off the grand gent whose skates wouldn't
carry him.' Bailey, however, paid no attention
to their jibes and jeers, but skated about with
his hands deep down in his coat pockets, picking
himself up with great deliberation when the
points of his skates, having stuck in the snow,
threw him down. There was, Archy thought,
something 'plucky' in his conduct, and after all
he might not be such a bad fellow as was sup-
posed; so when Bailey, in passing to and fro,
made a remark upon the bad state of the ice for
skating, Archy answered politely enough, and
even went so far as to propose that they should
give up their sport, and slide instead. The ice
was in a glorious condition for slides, for, once
cleared, there was such good firm footing for a
long run. The sliders seemed to be enjoying
themselves so much, that Archy took off his
skates and joined them, leaving the merchant's
son-the select Bailey-to skate by himself once
more. As the morning advanced, the boys from
Chattington got tired of sliding, and began to
make a huge snow-ball, the boys from Edgely
of course beginning one in opposition. There
ROUND BY HIGCS' POND.
had always been a grudge between the boys of
the village and their town neighbours, that was
easily roused up; so that, when the boys of
Edgely signified their intention of making the
largest ball, the challenge was received with
shouts of derision. There was a greater num-
ber from Chattington, but the Edgely boys had
the advantage in years. Archy, who had put on
his skates again, watched the operations from
the pond, and admired the way the Edgely boys
set to work, choosing a high piece of ground to
roll the ball upon, where it showed to the best
advantage, then heaping more snow upon it, till
it became like a colossal monument; but not
content with that, they made another similar
ball, and placed it on the top of all, when
their structure became like a mummied giant,
and their shout testified their work was accom-
plished, and their town neighbours left far be-
hind. The Chattington boys were quite wild
with envy, and they showed it by flinging snow-
balls, evidently intending to take possession of
'Now, that is what I call mean,' said Archy to
the boy Bailey, at the same time hastening to
take off his skates. 'I suppose you won't mind
joining to drive these low fellows back; there
76 UNEXPECTED PLEASURES.
are ever so many more of these Chattington boys,
and a mean, low set besides.'
'Well, I don't care to mix myself up in it,'
said Bailey. They are all a low set together; it
won't hurt them if their block of snow is taken.'
Archy, who felt his blood beginning to boil at
Bailey's want of proper feeling on the occasion,
hurried off, feeling that it would have been a
great satisfaction to have knocked the spiritless
fellow down. Our hero had now not only to
fight his way through the ranks of the Chatting-
ton boys, but through the Edgely ones as well,
for they mistook him for a foe, and nearly had
their snow pillar taken by concentrating all
their fire upon him. He, however, soon let his
intentions be known, and fought bravely, lead-
ing on the boys as a real general would have
done, fighting as if his very life depended upon
gaining the day. Bailey had taken off his skates
also; and, perhaps, because he wanted Archy to
keep a favourable impression of him, was making
the circuit of the pond to join the Edgely side
also. His intention, however, was observed; and
the Chattington boys made a rush upon him, and
took him prisoner; not only so, but they bound
his arms fairly behind his back with the strap of
his skates, and tied his legs with various pieces
ROUND BY HIGG.S' POND.
of cord. They then placed him with his back
against their ball; and as they couldn't spare any
of the boys to watch him, they piled up snow
about his body, leaving only his head and
shoulders free. During this operation, Archy had
time to get the Edgely boys into proper fighting
order. A favourite game in the playground at
Upland House, was the storming of what they
called a citadel, erected for the purpose with
turf; and to protect this from the storming party,
he was always chosen leader. He now got the
medium-sized boys placed in front, which he was
to lead himself. The tallest boys, under the
leadership of Jim Taylor, the village smith's son,
had instructions to fire over their heads; while
the smaller boys were ordered to remain behind
and make as many snow-balls as they could, to
supply the stronger ones with ammunition. By
the time poor Bailey was made quite fast, they
stood with their pockets full of snow-balls, and a
pile on their left arms, while the little boys were
working like galley slaves to keep up the stock.
The Chattington boys were rather surprised at
these warlike preparations; and more so, when
Archy came forward a little in advance and
'Look here, you fellows, we mean to fight you,
78 UNEXPECTED PLEASURES.
but we don't want to take advantage of you. We
will give you time to make as many balls as we
have ready, on the condition you set that boy
There was a cry for Jack Turrip to answer the
Upland gent; and in a minute after, a boy, much
smaller than Archy, but with a most impudent,
spirited face and manner, stepped out from the
rest, and making a low bow, said, All we've got
to say is, we won't. If you wants him, why you
may come and take him.'
'Well,' said Archy, 'so we will; but I should
like to see your leader for a moment, if you have
There was another cry for 'Gollocky Tim;' and
a boy, the owner of this extraordinary title, came
forward, and asked if there were any orders,
'For,' he said-while his companions were con-
vulsed with laughter at what they considered
his wit-' if their ain't, I'd be glad to know.'
He had taken off his cap, and his hair was
sticking up so straight, that it looked as if at one
time it must have got a fright and had never
recovered from it. Before he could even guess
what Archy meant to do, our hero had flung a
snow-ball with such good aim, that it broke on
Gollocky's head, forcing his hair to lie straight,
ROUND BY HIGGS' POND.
for a minute at least. Then the fight began-a
fight that was long remembered in the annals
of their boys' warfare. The Edgely boys having
so much ammunition ready, had time to take
good aim, while those of Chattington had to make
as they fought. Yet they fought well; 'Jack
Turrip,' and a smaller boy, 'Roger Fry,' along
with 'Gollocky Tim,' proving themselves good
leaders, as well as brave fellows.
Give it 'em well, boys,' Roger Fry would call,
making a dash forward; down with the Edgely
To which speech Archy would shout in reply,
'Down with the Chattington cowards. Edgely
The Chattington boys were driven back, foot by
foot, beyond their ball; and so the prisoner fell
into the hands of the boys of Edgely. While
some of the smaller boys released him, one of
them was struck on the temple, and cut severely.
At once, even before the snow-ball was examined,
it was known that there had been a stone put
in-an action always abhorrent to any proper
spirited boy. The enemy had drawn off in the
direction of home, and were making a stand near
a clump of broom, when it was discovered they
had come upon some gravel, and were putting in
80 UNEXPECTED PLEASURES.
stones. Another of them was hurt and bleeding;
and the Edgely boys stood for a moment uncertain
how to meet this new feature in the fight, when
Archy, his face scarlet with indignation, rallied
them once more, and shouted, 'Now for it;
charge the low scoundrels, drive the sneaks home.
Edgely for ever I' And with 'Edgely for ever!'
for their war-cry, they rushed forward to close
with the enemy. Whether they would have gained
the day is uncertain; but Triton, who had been
ordered to lie down, and keep guard over Archy's
skates, getting tired of this duty, or, perhaps,
thinking he might be of more service elsewhere,
now made a rush in the direction of the Chatting-
ton boys; and dashing in amongst them, with a
growl that was at times really alarming, sent
them flying hither and thither in the greatest
state of terror imaginable. The Edgely boys
were not long in seizing the opportunity to follow
up and make a complete rout of the enemy, never
resting till they had driven them even beyond
the very common itself.
After this glorious victory, the Edgely boys
naturally looked upon Archy as the mainspring
of the whole; and he began to be afraid that
even their dull minds might work round to the
notion that it would be proper to carry him
ROUND BY 1IGGS POND.
through the village in triumph, as they did the
successful candidate at an election. Not relish-
ing this idea, he slipped quietly away for his
skates, and remembering his promise to Mr. Wel-
kinshaw, he set off across the common to pay a
visit to Churchwarden Grey.
It was a long walk even by the near cut across
the common, and Archy, feeling rather knocked
up with the exertions of the last few hours, was
very glad when he reached the great farm house,
with its sheds and ricks half buried in the snow.
A smart servant girl opened the door, whose
smiling face seemed almost out of place amidst
the general quiet and feeling of soberness, even
gloom, of the house. The master was at home,
Archy was informed, and he would, no doubt,
see the young gentleman; and he was shown into
the drawing-room, where a fire burned brightly
in the large fireplace, making everything appear
cheerful. It was a large wainscoted room, with
old-fashioned furniture, and deep pannelled doors
and windows; yet there was some degree of
taste in the arrangements, and many handsome
books and other articles of value were scattered
on the various side-tables about the room. There
were, however, two objects which caught oum
hero's eye, and drew his attention from every-
82 UNEXPECTED PLEASURES.
thing else. These were two pictures: one of a
young girl, whose face somewhat puzzled him, he
could not help fancying he had seen it before; yet
such a thing was impossible, as the fashion of the
dress showed plainly it belonged to a much earlier
date than the present. It was hung at one side
of the fireplace; while at the other, correspond-
ing in size, was its companion, equally puzzling
to Archy, for it had its face turned to the wall.
There were on the opposite wall two other pictures,
one of the churchwarden, and another apparently
his wife's; and Archy had no doubt the turned
one was that of the son Mr. Welkinshaw had
spoken about. He had risen to take a nearer view
of the likeness of the little girl, and was so much
absorbed in it, that he did not hear the door
open, and was not aware of the presence of the
master of the house till he had come some dis-
tance into the room. Farmer Grey was a tall,
stout old man, with a ruddy face and white hair;
he stooped a good deal, with advancing years,
and at present had a slight limp from the effects
of his late accident, but at the same time he was
hale and vigorous. His features showed traces
of an originally harsh and passionate temper, but
this had been chastened, so as to give one the
impression he must have suffered greatly. Archy
ROUND BY HIGGS' POND.
hastened to deliver Mr. Welkinshaw's message,
which seemed to please Farmer Grey; and his
face lost a great many of the hard lines, as he
thanked his young visitor for the attention he
had shown in coming in such weather.
'You were looking at that portrait when I
came in,' he said, somewhat suddenly. Are you
fond of paintings ?'
'Yes, sir,' said Archy. 'I like them very much;
but I was looking at this one, because I have
seen somebody so very like it, only I can't just
remember who it is.'
'She is dead many years ago,' said the church-
warden quietly, letting his eyes dwell upon the
picture. 'It is the likeness of my little girl-
the only one. That was painted shortly before
we lost her, and it's a good portrait, it's like life!'
But though old Mr. Grey had been so par-
ticular about this picture, Archy noticed that he
avoided looking at the other one, and gave no ex-
planation whatever, though he must have known
its position would naturally have surprised him.
He then rung the bell, and ordered cake and
wine to be brought in for Archy; altogether
treating him very kindly, and seeming to like to
detain him a little to talk with him. He asked
why he was not away like the other boys; and
84 UNEXPECTED PLEASURES.
this having been briefly explained, the church-
warden said, You see, my boy, I'm about as
badly off as you; however,' he said, in a half
jocose way, 'we must fall back on our own re-
sources, you know. I've no young folks about
me now, nor no party: it used to be different a
while ago; but such is the case, and it can't be
helped. Not but what there are plenty who
would come; but I've had enough of relations
and their brats poking about and hankering for
an old man's death.' He checked himself as if
he had been carried further than he had intended
on such a subject; but he entered with interest
into the question of how our hero meant to spend
his time, and how he had already contrived to
amuse himself. Before he left they were on the
most friendly terms, and Archy had promised to
come up to the farm whenever he had time, to
see the celebrated short-horns and the thorough-
bred foal. The boy did not flatter himself that
all this kind reception was due to his own merits;
he remembered Mr. Welkinshaw's story of Mr.
Grey's only son, and in spite of the father's keep-
ing his eyes off the turned picture, it appeared
as if much of his warm hospitality might be
owing to the recollection thus brought to mind.
At parting, Mr Grey had said, Seeing you and
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your skates, my boy, put me in mind of old days.
Ah, well, these days are past. Remember to
thank your worthy master for me; good-bye, and
God bless you.'
It was the custom in that district to say God
bless you' at parting; yet though Archy was
quite accustomed to hear it, it seemed to have a
different meaning, as if he were really asking a
blessing for him. Archy went down the road
thinking of and wondering how the report had
spread that he was so disagreeable. 'For my
part,' he said to himself, 'I think him very jolly-
the nicest old gentleman I've seen for a long
All the way from the farm, and along the road
to Edgely, parties of farm servants and men from
the village were clearing away the heavy drifts
that had fallen in some places, piling it up on
each side till it overtopped the wall. As he got
near the church, on a straight part of the road,
he saw little Lizzie Grey, her blue cloak and
hood distinguishing her easily even in the dis-
tance. She seemed to be sporting about between
the walls of snow with two little dogs, and was
apparently playing all sorts of tricks upon them.
As he came past the end of the common, they
were busy there also clearing a drift a few yards
86 UNEXPECTED PLEASURES.
from the large caravan, that had completely
blocked it up from the road; and, as he was
passing, Mr. Mudge, who was superintending the
operations, noticed him. Good afternoon, mas-
ter,' said Mudge, coming over to the road. I
'ope we find you none the worse of this stormy
time.' Archy having answered that the snow
suited him beautifully, Mudge continued: Might
one hax you to step up for a minute, sir ? Here's
Mr. Hammond, my good missus's brother; he
be very anxious to thank you for helping our
little gal. His cough ain't quite away, else he'd
have come down to you himself.' To this Archy
of course made no objection, and was glad, be-
sides, of the opportunity of seeing the inside of
this travelling house. At the foot of the steps
Mudge tapped him on the shoulder, and said, in
a confidential whisper, 'Uncommon man is Mr.
Hammond, mind you. Was at one time one of
the most rising actors on the stage-reglar star
he was out in Australy, till he lost the sight o'
one eye, and it ruined him. You should ha'
seen him, sir, in Felix," in the "Hunter of the
Alps;" it was grand! But step up, sir, and
you'll see him.'
Archy accordingly went up, and was followed
so close up the steps by Mudge, as almost to
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push him into the presence of his brother-in-law,
who sat by the stove reading. Mr. Hammond,
here's the young gentleman- Beg your pardon,
but I think you said your name was Douglas.
Ah-this, Mr. Hammond,' he continued, show-
ing marked respect for his relative, ''tis Master
Douglas, from the Hall yonder, who was so lucky
as to come across our Lizzie in the storm.'
Mr. Hammond rose in a moment, and not only
made a polite bow, but shook hands even affec-
tionately with Archy, and thanked him in terms
still more overwhelming than those of Mr. Mudge.
Mr. Hammond was not at all the kind of person
one expected to see in a caravan. He was a
slender, elderly man; while his smooth-shaven
face almost looked as if it would crack, and gave
him an old-young appearance, peculiar to his
former profession. He must have been even
more handsome in his time than his sister, Mrs.
Mudge, at her very best; and he was still re-
markably neat in his dress, with all a gentleman's
nicety about his linen and his hands, on one of
which he wore a seal-ring. As for the injury to
his sight, it was not outwardly observable. He
certainly spoke now and then in rather a high-
flown way, or in a stilted manner, but it was all
in the best English accent, and he seemed quite
88 UNEXPECTED PLEASURES.
able to change his tone in a moment to an ordi-
nary one. In speaking of little Lizzie, he said,
'She and I came across the ocean together, sir,
from the land of wool and gold-I mean Austra-
lia. We did not bring any of these commodities
with us, unfortunately,' he added, gazing round
the interior of the caravan; 'but we don't love
her the less, do we, Uncle Tom? It would have
been a sad blow to me-to all of us-to have had
her lost like that.'
'Don't mention it!' said his much rougher
brother-in-law, dropping his head for a moment
into his two hands, and shuddering. 'Again I
say, don't mention it!'
Archy felt this a little awkward; but he had
the tact to lead off from the subject altogether,
by looking round the caravan, and saying how
nice and snug it was, and so much larger than
one would think from the outside. It was very
like the cabin of a small ship, only tidier; with
the bright polished stove at one end, and at the
other something like a large shelf, with a curtain
in front, where a neat bed was made; while on
the walls between were hung or perched in all
sorts of ingenious ways a variety of household
'I often used to wish I could live in such a
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way,' said Archy to Mr. Mudge. 'What a num-
ber of places you must visit!'
'Well, it ain't bad travelling, it ain't,' said the
sturdy proprietor, good-humouredly; but ye'd
get tired of it in time. Thanks to my missus,
she do keep us pretty well trimmed up. It's a
good sort of life for us-for me, at any rate, who
has been born and brought up in it, and couldn't
do in no other style; but as to Mr. Hammond
here, we can't expect him to put up with it long.
He's only going with us so far south, when we
has to turn off on our regular circuit.'
'You have made us very comfortable indeed,
Thomas,' said Mr. Hammond, with a slight wave
of his hand towards his relative. 'But still, I
really do not think we can go much further with
you; indeed, I have been thinking there could
not be a better neighbourhood to stop and re-
cruit one's health in. It seems salubrious. No
doubt very reasonable lodgings could be had
Why, what can be better for the health than
constant change of air?' argued Mr. Mudge.
'No need to leave us so soon as that, surely?
There's our little Lizzy, now, she seems to agree
with the young gentleman here. She takes to
our life like perfect milk and honey, she do!
90 UNEXPECTED PLEASURES.
Besides, it's an odd time to be choosing one's
country quarters, with so much snow on the
ground. We shan't get on the road for Deep-
bridge till to-morrow,' he added; 'and I shouldn't
wonder if we are to be caught up here by Old
Christmas hisself. No, we will not let you leave
us yet awhile, Uncle George; we won't.'
'I have my own plan of things, Mudge,'
replied the old actor, leaning back in rather
a dignified attitude; 'we cannot always be
travelling on. The journey must come to an
end some time. I told you before, Thomas, I
had an object in view, and it is time to ac-
All conversation of the kind was here broken
off, by the sudden appearance of Mrs. Mudge
from out of the large caravan; she evidently
objected in a most decided way to family affairs
being spoken of before strangers, however young.
' The stove of the Cabinet of Art was out,' she
said to Mr. Mudge, somewhat crossly; 'and in
the frosty weather it's dangerous for the whole
gallery. I almost thought there was something
wrong with the Emperor Napoleon; and what's
worse, I thought Burke the murderer was getting
quite shaky. If the young gentleman feels any
way interested in historical art,' she concluded,
ROUND BY HIGGS' POND. 91
with a cordial smile, he'd be very welcome to a
Archy, however, looked at his watch, and
found that he had already far exceeded the pro-
per time for his return home. He thanked Mrs.
Mudge, but was oblige to decline and take his
leave. This he accordingly did; but was sorry
to have seen nothing more of the little girl
before they left. When Archy got home, Mr.
Rolt still continued ill, indeed, rather inclining
to be worse, his illness having taken the serious
form of erysipelas. He had been very restless
during the day, and had been asking for Archy
two or three times, Mrs. Falkoner said; so he
went up and sat all the evening in the sick-room,
ready to give any assistance required, while he
occupied himself in writing to Mr. Welkinshaw