Th, Iilln. Lhrmr
_ __ I I I I r
A CRUISE IN THE ACORN
. -, 'I . _-
TO MY YOUNG BROTHER,
sibnty Smt alb,
I DEDICATE THIS LITTLE BOOK,
IN LOVING REMEMBRANCE OF HIS BOYHOOD,
WHICH HAS BRIGHTENED THE LIVES OF ALL AROUND HIM.
I.-THE DEPARTURE 7
II.-SUNNY'S "GREEN FRIEND" 30
III.-ROWLY TO THE RESCUE 50
IV.-HARDY'S DREAM 74
V.-HoPES AND FEARS 101I
VI.-THE MYSTERY SOLVED 24
HARDY AND SUNNY SET SAIL (p. ) Frontispiece.
"WHAT IS THE MATTER, SUNNY?" 38
THE FIVE BLUE EGGS 61
THE SERENADER 9
DELIVERING THE LETTER 121
THE SPIRIT OF SPRING (p. 140) 131
A CRUISE IN THE ACORN,
SCHAP. I.-THE DEPARTURE.
-UNNY'S real name was Lillie,
S but her father and' mother had
-: -'-i called her Sunny when she was
-- -- quite a baby, because of her
: -.---:--- bright yellow hair, and laughing
^ eyes, and merry little ways; and
-- 7.,, as she grew bigger, she was
I-- still so good-humoured and gay
That her baby-name clung to her.
.. "There goes my little Sunny!"
er father would say to himself,
S i' th a smile, as from his arm-chair
by the library table he heard the pat-
S ter of small feet on the staircase, and the
cheery singing of a childish voice. Sunny!"
her mother would call, as the little figure tripped by
her morning room-" Sunny, won't you come and
A Cruise in the Acorn.
see if you can find a kiss for me ?" The servants of
the house, from the old housekeeper to the stable-
boy, who ran errands for his mistress occasionally,
all petted and really loved the child. Miss Sunny was
a popular personage in the kitchen and farm-yard. As
for her brother, the first thing he said, regularly every
afternoon as he came in from his school, was, "Where's
This brother had a nickname, as well as his sister.
He had been called Laurence until he was about six
years old, when an incident occurred that procured for
him the name by which he was now always known-
that of Hardy. He would be very angry with me if I
did not tell you how he acquired his nickname, so I
had better relate the story directly, had I not?
His father took him out for a drive one day, in a
deserted part of the surrounding country. He was
alone with his father, who drove the basket chaise in
which they were himself. At about two miles' distance
from home, a heavy storm of rain overtook them; not
a few casual drops, but a determined, splashing rain,
that startled the pony by its force, for the pony fell to
kicking vigorously, and smashed the basket-work of
which the frail vehicle was composed into such condi-
tion, that Hardy and his father were obliged to get
out of it and walk homeward, leading the pony by the
reins. This was not easy work, for the pony was
decidedly skittish, and plunged about him, throwing
his head back and snorting, whisking his tail, jerking
his legs in uncomfortable ways, and every now and
then making a furious rush at some inoffensive paling.
Hardy was a brave little boy on that occasion. His
father was in great distress at the possibility of the
child being tired or catching cold, and was very
anxious to carry him in his arms, where he might
be sheltered under his greatcoat. But his boy would
not hear of this, and walked stoutly on in spite of the
rain, and at last even carried his father's whip for him.
Of course, it would have been out of the question for
either to have ridden the pony, who was quite enough
trouble without being further irritated. From that day
Laurence was called Hardy: his father had been so
pleased with his conduct that he used to say very often
-He's a hardy boy; or, He'll make a hardy man; or,
He's hardy enough; aren't you, my boy? until everyone
became used to say much of the -same thing, and his
present name was given by common consent.
At the time when you first make their acquaintance
Hardy was twelve years old and Sunny was only just
nine; but though there was that difference in their
ages, and though, as Hardy would sometimes com-
plain, "Sunny was a girl," the brother and sister got
on admirably, and were so attached to each other, that
Sunny had more of Hardy's play-time than his school-
"Where's Sunny ?" Hardy asked, as usual, as he
came back one splendid summer day in the very begin-
ning of June.
Sunny had been looking out for him, and before
the servant could answer, was flying downstairs to meet
"I've something wonderful to tell you," said Hardy;
"you'll be so surprised."
"What is it?" asked Sunny, eagerly, running after
him as he went towards the play-room.
"Don't you be in such a hurry," said Hardy,
10 A Cruise in the Acorn.
unable, boylike, to resist a little teasing; "I'll tell you
And Sunny waited patiently, only showing her
feelings by her expressive eyebrows, while Hardy put
his school-books away.
Now, Sunny, what do you think it is?" he said,
when he had finished.
Oh, I don't know," said the little girl-" do tell me."
"Well, it's this. You know old Rowly, who's got
that queer little hut under the trees by the river. I
was talking to him to-day, and, Sunny, he's got a
boat-a very little one, but quite big enough for you
and me-and I want papa to buy it for us; Rowly says
he'll sell it very cheap. You know, I could take you
for a trip on the river; it would be such fun; and you
wouldn't be frightened, would you, Sunny?"
Oh, no-not if you went," answered Sunny, caper-
ing about with delight at the idea. Oh, what a nice
boy you are to think of all that! I'm sure papa will
buy it for us. And when can we have our first try at it,
Oh, you're just like girls, you ask such a lot of
questions," observed Hardy. "Well, we can't do any-
thing, I suppose, before my holidays begin."
Sunny's face fell, then suddenly brightened again.
" But we can ask papa, Hardy, to buy it for us before
that, can't we ?"
"Oh, yes, the sooner the better," replied Hardy;
" or else, if we are slow, some of the other boys will get
hold of it."
And so it happened that after tea that evening, when
Sunny was perched in her usual place on papa's knee,
she looked round to see if Hardy was listening, and
The Departure. 1I
then said in a low voice to her father-" I've got such
a secret to tell you, papa !"
"Am I not to hear it, Sunny?" asked her mamma,
coming from the window with her embroidery.
"Yes, you may hear it, mamma, but you mustn't
breathe a word to anyone, or the boys will get it before
us, Hardy says."
"Will get what?" cried papa. "I shall be quite
frightened directly, Sunny, if you don't reveal the
Hardy is going to ask you something, papa, and
we do so hope you will say yes, and buy it for us, for
we shall be able to have such fun; and Hardy says he
will take great care of me, and he's sure old Rowly will
sell it very cheap."
In her breathless excitement Sunny forgot to say
what the object of her demand was; and her father was
just laughing at her, and protesting that it was a great
mystery, when Hardy broke into the room, and in a
few blunt words revealed the important truth.
Now I understand," said papa. So Sunny
wants a boat, does she ? Well, I daresay I shall con-
trive to satisfy her, and you also, Hardy; but before
I make any promises, I must go round to old Rowly
myself and look at his boat, and see that it's quite safe,
or else we might have a fewaccidents-the boat turning
over, Sunny floating in the water, and Hardy exerting
all his strength to swim and save her, and a few little
trifles of that kind; eh, mamma?"
Mamma said nothing, but looked very anxious and
frightened, and papa dismissed the matter with a laugh,
"I won't forget to call in on old Rowly, and I dare-
12 A Cruise in the Acorn.
say something will be done to please you both, children.
Now, mamma, it's time for you to give us some music,
is it not? and Sunny can meditate over her. boat while
I smoke, and Hardy-"
Oh, I'm going back to my lessons," said Hardy;
and, suiting the action to the word, he left the room.
Sunny's enjoyment of the music was at first very
much spoilt by thoughts of the possible defects in old
Rowly's bargain, and of the disappointment Hardy and
she would feel if papa did not think it worth buying.
Gradually, however, Sunny's head drooped towards
papa's shoulder, her recollections of the afternoon's
surprise became very vague, and were mixed up with
the sounds of the piano, until at last she forgot every-
thing in a sound sleep.
The next morning the children's father went to old
Rowly's hut, and talked to him about the boat; asked
if Rowly was sure it was thoroughly sound, if Sunny
and Hardy could be trusted in it, if the oars would be
easy to manage, and many other questions. Old Rowly
gave satisfactory answers to all, and it was agreed that
the children should have the boat.
You can imagine the delight of Sunny and Hardy
when they heard the news. They were so anxious to
have their first expedition in it that they could think
of nothing else, and Hardy's mind was so occupied,
that he wrote the words boat and rowing" several
times in his exercises at that time instead of the
correct words; and once, when his master asked him,
during school-time, the name of England's greatest
poet, Hardy answered, "Old Rowly!" much to the
amusement of the whole school.
Old Rowly seemed to be very slow about the fitting
The Departure. 13
up of the boat to the children's minds, and Hardy
began to fear that his holidays would begin before it
was ready. However, on the morning of the first day
of this much-anticipated holiday-time, old Rowly sent
round to say that the boat was quite complete, and
that he hoped the young gentleman would come and
have a look at it. I am inclined to think, for my part,
that the children's father gave directions to old Rowly
not to finish his work too soon, otherwise Hardy would
spend all his spare time over his new toy rather than
with his lessons. I saw his father smiling quietly
once or twice while Hardy was deploring the slow
progress of the boat towards completion.
As you may imagine, Hardy was not long in com-
plying with old Rowly's suggestion.
"Come along, Sunny!" he cried, seizing his sister
by the hand; "run upstairs and put. your hat on, and
we'll be off for a nice long row. Do try and be quick,
Sunny-girls are always so slow."
Sunny was scampering upstairs as fast as her little
feet would carry her, when she knocked against her
father, who was coming down.
What is the matter, Sunny dear ?" asked her
father, almost frightened at her excessive excitement.
"Oh, nothing, papa," she answered, "only the
boat's ready, and Hardy and I are going to see it and
have such a row I Won't you come too, papa ?"
"Of course, I shall come I" papa said, with a laugh.
"Why, I must see that you are not drowned, both of
you I Run up and get your hat, and we'll go and have
a look at this wonderful boat."
Papa and Sunny and Hardy were soon on their
way to old Rowly's hut. Hardy walked along gravely
14 A Cruise in the Acorn.
beside his father, as if he were not at all inclined to
run; but Sunny could not control her impatience, and
ran in front of them, and then back again, and then in
front once more, just like a frisky little dog.
At last they reached old Rowly's hut. They found
the old man quite as interested about it as they were;
he grew quite eloquent as he described the many
graces and merits of the boat. They followed him to
the river bank where this treasure was moored.
"Oh, papa, papa, how delightful !" cried Sunny,
jumping up and down and clapping her hands, as her
eyes fell on the pretty little "craft," as sailors say,
dancing on the water.
Don't be so silly, Sunny," whispered Hardy, who
was nevertheless gratified at his sister's pleasure. "It's
a capital boat, though, and we will have such a row in
it; won't we, papa?"
"Oh, yes," returned papa, "we must see how it
goes. Why, Sunny, how quiet you are. A penny for
your thoughts Do you think they are worth it; eh?"
I was wondering what we could name the boat,
papa," Sunny replied. The question was a serious one
to her, and she looked quite grave over it.
"Well, can't you think of one," laughed her father.
"Call it Nelson/" cried Hardy; "he was a sailor,
so that will do capitally."
Call it Sunbeam," suggested papa, "in imitation
of Sunny 1"
"Or Victory," added Hardy, "or The Nile, or
Hardy's mind is evidently running on Nelson
to-day," said papa, laughingly. For my own part, I
think the boat rather small for such heroic names.
The Departure. 15
Come now, Sunny, you must have thought of some-
"I was going to say, call it Acorn, because it's
brown outside and green inside, like an acorn," said
Sunny, very timidly, fearing that her simple idea
would be. too much like that of a girl to please papa
and Hardy. But they were pleased with it.
"That will do-won't it, papa?" cried Hardy.
Papa liked it too; so the boat was christened The
They did not go for a long trip that day, for Hardy
found rowing, especially with his father and Sunny in
the boat, harder work than he had expected. He was
not at all sorry to leave off, and found that his arms
ached dreadfully, and his hands were blistered.
"It won't always be such hard work for you, my
boy," said his father, "because I shall not be with you,
and Sunny will learn to manage one oar by-and-by, I've
no doubt. I shall come with you the first few times
to take care of you, and see that you know what you are
about; and when I am quite convinced, I shall leave
Sunny in your charge."
Hardy soon became a practised oarsman, and his
father had no scruple in allowing him to have the care of
Sunny, who, of course, would far sooner have doubted
the power of her own feet to carry her body, than Hardy's
perfect reliability and strength. The children had some
very pleasant excursions during those early holidays,
and seemed, to enjoy the possession of the Acorn more
and more every day.
One morning, as papa was reading his letters at
breakfast-time, he came upon one from a friend, asking
him to spend a week or ten days at his sea-side house.
16 A Cruise in the Acorn.
"What do you think, mamma?" said papa. "Shall
"Am I invited also?" said mamma. "Yes, I should
like to go very much. But then, the children-how
shall we leave them ?"
"Oh, the children will be right enough," said their
father; "only they must be very careful about the
The children promised that they would take every
possible care, and mamma was re-assured.
The next day Sunny and Hardy were left alone, for
mamma and papa went to see their friend, with whom
they were to stay a week. It was a very hot day, and
Hardy found the exertion of rowing more tiring than
usual when they went on their daily expedition.
I wish we could find some way of getting the boat
along without rowing," said Hardy, as he rested on his
"Couldn't we make a sail ?" suggested Sunny,
"Bravo, Sunny!" cried Hardy, with a shout, and a
bound that threatened to overturn the Acorn; "we'll
have a sail Then we shall have no trouble, you
know; we can just settle ourselves comfortably in the
boat, and float along; and we shall go so fast, too.
That's a capital idea for a girl."
Hardy was so excited about it that he gained fresh
energy for rowing, and they went back towards home
and old Rowly's hit at a wonderful rate, considering the
young oarsman's previous fatigue.
Leaving Sunny to tie up the boat, Hardy rushed
into old Rowly's hut, shouting-" Rowly! Rowly! I
say, Rowly, we've got such a splendid idea You
The Departure. 17
know it's awfully hot rowing this weather; Sunny can't
help a bit, so I have to do it all; and to-day I was
nearly tired out, when Sunny thought of a sail! Can't
you make us a sail, Rowly? Papa will pay you for it
when he comes back. Could you make one quick, do
you think ?"
The old man hesitated. "Well, it seems to me,
Master Hardy, that I ought to wait and ask your papa,"
he said, slowly. Not but what I've got a little sail that
used to belong to my boy's pleasure-boat, before he went
out to America; it's a neat little sail enough; and it isn't
because I want to be paid down, Master Hardy; don't
you think that. But I do think I ought to wait till your
papa comes back-I do, really."
"Oh, that's all nonsense, Rowly," rejoined Hardy,
eagerly. "You know I can manage the boat as well as
possible, and papa wasn't a bit afraid to leave us, though
he knew we were going out rowing every day; and if
you've got a sail that will do, why, I'll answer for it
that papa won't be angry; besides, I shall tell him when
I write to him. Come now, Rowly, do let us have it;
there's a dear old fellow; won't you ?"
Old Rowly shook his head, and muttered to himself,
and, after much deliberation, told Hardy he'd fix the
SAcorn up for them, somehow, by next morning.
Accordingly, after undergoing a fever of anticipation,
the children ran down to the place where the boat was
moored, the next morning, and found that old Rowly had
been as good as his implied word; for the Acorn was
embellished with a sail that was not as white as the
children had expected to see it, but was still, Sunny
declared, oh, ever so pretty!
For the first few days all went on well. There was
18 A Cruise in the Acorn.
a very slight breeze, and the Acorn sailed lazily along
in a quiet, easy manner that was delightful to its young
proprietors. One day they resolved to have a species
of picnic. They asked the housekeeper to give them
some bread and butter, some cold meat, and some cakes
and fruit, and to put all these eatables into a basket.
The housekeeper was in a good temper, and humoured
them, slipping a few extra nice things into little corners,
and observing that, if they ate all she had provided, they
wouldn't starve, like the Babes in the Wood, yet awhile.
The children were in ecstasies, and ran and jumped
about while the basket was being packed, anticipating a
delightful day. Presently it was all ready, and they
started off, laughing heartily at the housekeeper's parting
injunction not to get drowned.
It was a beautiful day, and there was more breeze
than there had been hitherto for their sailing excursions.
The Acorn danced merrily on the surface of the clear
water, and Sunny and Hardy lay back in their seats
discussing all sorts of adventures, possible and impos-
sible, and enjoying their treat excessively. I think they
must have gone almost to sleep for a little time. The
fresh air, combined with heat, often makes one sleepy,
you know; and these children had slept less than usual
the previous night, I suspect, because of their excitement
with regard to the picnic. (See Frontispiece.)
"Why, Sunny!" exclaimed Hardy, suddenly, "look
how wide the river is here!"
Sunny looked, and saw that on either side of them
the banks appeared some way off. "Why, it's the sea!"'
she said, in an awestruck voice.
How can you be so silly?" said Hardy. "Why, if
it's the sea, where are the waves ?"
The Departure. 19
This was an unanswerable argument to Sunny's mind,
for she glanced apologetically at Hardy, and said that she
had forgotten the waves.
I should think it's time to have something to eat;
don't you think so?" suggested Hardy. I know I feel
"So do I," answered Sunny. "What time is it?"
Hardy looked at his watch (his last birth-day present)
and pronounced the time to be past one o'clock.
"Shall we have it in here, or shall we go out some-
where ?" asked Hardy.
Oh, it would be much nicer to get out and sit on
the grass," said Sunny, staring about her for a suitable
place. "There-look, Hardy! we're coming to a little
island, such a pretty place! We can get out there and
have our dinner. Do you see it?"
"Yes, I see it," said Hardy, tugging at the rudder-
ropes; "but it's a fine long way off, and look how wide
the river is just there."
Perhaps we had better not go so far, then," replied
"Oh, that's just like you girls: you suggest a thing,
and then directly afterwards you say, 'We had better
not do it,'" said Hardy, disdainfully. "We may just
as well go there as anywhere else."
So on they went, the Acorn skimming along
quickly in the fresh wind. After much agitated
manoeuvring on the part of Hardy, the little boat was
induced to draw up," as Sunny expressed it, alongside
the island, which they found to be by no means so small
as they had at first thought. They did not stop to
look about them much, however, on landing. They
fastened the Acorn, by means of the rope, to an old
20 A Cruise in the Acorn.
stump that protruded conveniently from the bank, and
then, seizing the basket of provisions, ran off to sit
down under the shade of the trees and enjoy their
meal. There was no lack of food; and after they had
eaten such an amount as only children of that age, out
for a treat, can eat, they had a very fair quantity to put
back into the basket for a future onslaught. And then,
what do you think they did? Why, they imitated
many of their elders, and, having eaten their dinner,
fell fast asleep.
Hardy woke up first. "Here, Sunny, Sunny !" he
cried. I say, don't you go to sleep like that I You'll
be catching cold, or something of the sort. Let's go
and have a look at this island."
Poor little Sunny roused herself, and for a moment
could hardly realise where she was, until Hardy
repeated his wish to have a look at the island, when
she started to her feet, exclaiming-" Oh yes! come
along-let's have a walk round it She took up the
basket to carry with her, but Hardy said she had better
leave it at the foot of a tree among the grass. "We're
sure to remember it when we come back to get the
Acorn, you know."
So Sunny put the basket down as she was bid, and
the pair started on their exploring trip.
There were plenty of curious thiligs to see on the
island: there were, first of all, the solid masses of wild
flowers of all shades of colour, which had such a strange
effect growing under the branches of the forest of trees;
then there were the risings and sinkings of the ground,
the varied carpets of moss, and the vast growth of
feathery ferns waving gently in the wind that reached
them from the distant river. For the river seemed a
The Departure. 21
long way off to the children as they stood in the thick
of the underwood, looking at all around them with the
keen interest of youth. Then there were the buzzing
long-legged flies to watch; the shining coloured beetles
to chase and catch, if possible; the birds to tempt by
stray crumbs of bread and biscuits that were found in
odd corners of pockets. Frogs and toads played im-
portant parts in the afternoon's enjoyment, for every
now and then a damp, marshy spot was discovered,
from which the croak of a frog was distinctly heard.
Thereupon Sunny would institute a careful search, and
would at last triumphantly point out to Hardy the
frog's retreat. Hardy liked the toads better, he said,
and treated frogs with great contempt; observing that
they were like girls-they were always jumping about
Sunny was engaged in a keen investigation of one
particular spot, rummaging in the damp grass with her
quick little fingers, when she was aroused by hearing
Hardy, who had been energetically throwing stones at
nothing, for some moments, call-
"I say, Sunny, it's getting rather late; don't you
think we had better find the Acorn and go back?"
Sunny knew that such prudence on his part meant
something more than prudence, and answered by a
"Are you tired, Hardy ?"
"Well, you know," said he, "it's rather slow, after
a time; and then you go staring into holes, and poking
about in the grass, instead of having a good game.
Besides, it's getting late."
Sunny started to her feet and volunteered to join
in a "good game;" but Hardy was not to be moved.
22 A Cruise in the Acorn.
"Why, what time is it?" his sister asked.
"Well, it's five o'clock," said Hardy, looking again
at his watch; "and, you know, it will take us some
time to get home."
"Very well," agreed Sunny. "Then we must go
back and fetch our basket first. But, Hardy," she
added, looking round her, half-puzzled, "which is the
If that isn't just like you, Sunny! Why, we must
turn back, of course I"
So they turned back, and Sunny skipped along
beside her brother, wondering, but never dreaming of
questioning his judgment. Hardy seemed uneasy in
his mind, and walked forward, looking almost anxiously
about him. Suddenly he stopped abruptly, saying-
Sunny, we've lost our way. Whereabouts do you
think the Acorn is?"
I am sure I can't tell," she answered; "but it's
not much matter, because, you know, we can walk all
round the bank until we find it."
So we can," said Hardy, re-assured somewhat;
and they trotted along briskly, laughing and talking
as they went. However, they walked some distance
along the bank and did not find the Acorn. At last,
Hardy suggested that Sunny should sit down by the
water's edge, while he ran as fast as he could all round
the island. "Then there's the basket to find as well,"
Oh, but that is close by where we tied the boat,"
said Sunny. "Don't you remember we sat down
directly we had landed. When we find the Acorn, I
can find the basket directly."
"You stay here, then," said Hardy, "while I run
The Departure. 23
round. When once I've found it, we can soon get to it
together; and the island isn't so very big after all; I
shan't be long."
But the island was big, and he was a very long
time, and Sunny was getting half-frightened about
him. She did not dare to move from her place, but sat
like a little sentinel just where Hardy had left her,
feeling so strange all alone in the wonderful stillness.
She began to understand, she thought, what Robinson
Crusoe must have felt on his desert island; and she
almost forgot Hardy in her interest in comparing her-
self to Crusoe. As she was looking far away into the
river, with meditative eyes, she heard Hardy's' footsteps
behind her, and jumped up, half-frightened, half-laugh-
ing, exclaiming-" Oh, Hardy, I thought it was Man
Bother Man Friday," was Hardy's unsympathetic
reply, uttered in so serious a manner that Sunny was
startled. Do you know that I've been all round this
island and can't find the Acorn /"
"Can't find the Acorn /" repeated Sunny, in amaze-
ment. "Why, where's it gone?"
"Well, that's just what I want to know," answered
Hardy, moodily, throwing himself down on the grass,
and cutting at the tufts of weed and wild-flower with
a switch he had procured from a neighboring bush.
"But it must be there somewhere," said Sunny;
S"you must have missed it. Perhaps it has got among
the weeds, and you only saw the green, and didn't think
the boat was just beside, and ran on."
"Well, if you like to go and look among the
weeds," said Hardy, "you must go alone, I'm so
tired. I suppose you're not afraid, are you ?"
24 A Cruise in the Acorn.
Sunny would not have dared to confess that she had
been a little bit afraid before he came back, still less
that she was afraid now; because she knew that, tired
as he was, he would have walked with her. So she
summoned up all her courage, and saying, No, she
didn't mind at all-she started off, invigorating herself
every time she felt the least timid by remembering
how tired poor Hardy was. You see, Sunny was
a brave little girl; was she not?
She walked on and on, making sure at every step
that she had not passed the Acorn, and peering
anxiously into every corner and crevice of the river
bank. At last, as she stopped at one rather broad
opening and looked about her, she thought-" Why,
this is where we moored the boat!" Very carefully,
and with beating heart, she examined the bank. Yes,
she was certain they had landed there. She remem-
bered that thick clump of weeds, by the water, which
Hardy had told her not to touch, because she would
make her hands all green and slimy. Yet, where was
the stump of tree to which they had tied the boat?
She knelt down, and gazed with all her might, and
discovered a big hole in the earth, just where she was
certain the stump had been. Yes, the hole looked
quite freshly made, and little stray twigs and ends of
root were clinging about, as if the stump had been
recently torn away, root and all. It was evident that
the constant drag of the boat had exhausted the
resistance of the worn-out, decayed branch, which had
finally given way. The Acorn had drifted down the
river-far, far away from its young owners-and was
travelling rapidly towards the open sea.
Sunny was too excited to be much alarmed as yet.)
The Departure. 25
"Hardy! Hardy!" she screamed, running back in
his direction. Hardy come directly, Hardy!"
As she ran, she saw him running to meet her.
"Well, what's up?" he panted, as they met. "How
you do frighten a fellow I thought you'd fallen into
"Oh, no," laughed Sunny; "but, Hardy, the
Acorn's gone! I've found the place where we tied it
up, and stump and all are gone I"
"You must have made a mistake," said Hardy. "It
can't have gone, you know. Why, the stump was firm
enough. Are you sure it's the place ?-have you found
"No, I quite forgot the basket," Sunny confessed.
"There, you see rejoined her brother. "That's
the thing to decide if it's the place. Of course; if the
basket is where you left it-I mean, just the same
distance and on the same side of the bank-I shall think
you're right about the stump."
When they reached the spot Sunny had indicated,
Hardy looked grave: he, too, remembered the general
appearance of the place, and the peculiarities of the
Without a word as to his recollections, he turned
to Sunny, saying-" Now, where do you say you put
,the basket ?"
Sunny pointed out a group of trees close by, and
said she thought she knew the very tree, and ran to-
wards a particular one. Hardy watched her intently,
and saw her turn to come back to him with the basket
in her hand I
I say, this is no joke," said Hardy, as Sunny
came quietly to his side. "I don't know what we're
26 A Cruise in the Acorn.
to do. This is the place where we tied the boat; the
basket decides it. You're right about the stump, too,
Sunny; and there's a little bit of painted wood off the
side of the boat stuck in the weeds; do you see ?"
Sunny did see-it was just a thin slip of the familiar
light-brown painted wood-and the remembrance that
that was all now left to them of their much-prized
Acorn affected her so much, that she burst into tears.
"Come, don't cry, Sunny," said Hardy, kindly;
"we shall get home somehow, I suppose, though I
don't exactly see how."
Sunny soon dried her tears; and the two children
walked restlessly about, straining their eyes across the
river in search of a boat; watching the far-off banks,
as well as they could, in the hope of seeing some human
creature to whom they could make signs of distress.
But the far-off banks looked as desolate as those of
the island: they could see nothing but dark masses of
tree and bush.
I know what you are about to say-Couldn't Hardy
swim? Yes, he could swim very well for a boy of
his age; but swimming in a swimming-bath, with
numbers of school-fellows sharing the sport, and several
masters overlooking, in order to ensure the boys' safety,
was a very different thing to striking out alone in a
strange place, and for a distance which he might not
be able to accomplish. Of course, it was out of the
question that he should attempt to swim all the way
down the river until he reached old Rowly's hut: very
few strong men would have been able to accomplish
such a feat as that. He hesitated for some time
whether he should make a try for one of the opposite
banks. There did not seem, however, much to be
The Departure. 27
gained by that, for even if his strength lasted until
he reached the shore (which he doubted, and so do I),
he could not be much wiser, for he had no idea where-
abouts they were, and might lose himself hopelessly,
alone at night in a strange and desolate place. The
most important argument, however, was that he could
not leave Sunny. The poor child felt secure as long
as he was with her; but I expect she would have died
of fright if he had left her. She was brave enough as
yet, though, and talked quite gaily to Hardy about
their adventure. It was getting dark very fast-that is
to say, as dark as it was likely to be, for the nights
had been very clear and light of late. Luckily, too, it
was summer-time and unusually hot, so they were not
likely, being strong, healthy children, to run any serious
risk in sleeping out of doors.
"We have got something for supper, haven't we?"
said Sunny, with a laugh, as they were discussing all
the points of the adventure.
"Yes, by-the-bye," cried Hardy, "so we have. I
propose we have something now. Get the basket,
Sunny, and we'll sit down here and eat part of our
provisions this moment."
They sat down, poor children! and had a very good
meal, in spite of the mishap.
"How shall we ever get back, do you think,
Hardy?" asked his sister, presently, after an interval
"Oh, it will be all right to-morrow," said Hardy.
"Old Rowly will find we haven't come back, and he'll
get hold of a boat, and will row after us till he finds
us. You know, he saw us start, and knows which way.
we came; and if he follows the river straight along, he
28 A Cruise in the Acorn.
can't miss us. We must keep a sharp look-out that
he doesn't pass right beyond us, that's all. They will
be nicely frightened at home; won't they!"
I'm so glad papa and mamma are away," mur-
"Yes, and so am I," said the boy. In a few
moments he added-" I say, Sunny, I'm so sleepy and
tired; are you?"
I'm very tired," was her answer; "I don't think
I'm very sleepy." Then the idea that struck her
seemed irresistible, for she burst into a hearty laugh, say-
ing-" Oh, Hardy, how are we to go to sleep? we have
nothing to cover us, and how uncomfortable it will be
on the ground. This is an adventure; isn't it ?"
Hardy assured her she would be very comfortable,
on the contrary. He showed her how the boys at
school managed when they lay down on the ground.
They made a little hole for their thigh and another for
their elbow, and then their bones didn't ache. Sunny
thought this an excellent idea, and was quite anxious
to try it.
While Hardy was scooping out some holes, as he
had seen his school-fellows do, Sunny suddenly said-
"Hardy, don't you think we ought to try and
arrange some sort of sign to attract old Rowly in the
"Yes," said Hardy, stopping in his work, "so we
ought. What can we do? Oh, I'll tell you! we can tie
my handkerchief on to a tall stick. That's sure to
surprise him; won't it! That's a capital notion.
Wait till I've finished these holes, and I'll see
The plan succeeded admirably, and Hardy's pocket-
The Departure. 29
handkerchief floated most gracefully over the waters;
and they were both delighted at their clever device.
Hardy then took one arm out of his coat-sleeve-
I am dignifying it by calling it a coat, remember-and
stretched himself on the ground, calling to Sunny to
come and lie down beside him. Having shown her
how to arrange herself comfortably, he made her put
her little arm through his empty sleeve, then he put
his arm round her neck, somehow, and she declared
herself as easy as could be."
They did not speak for a few moments; and
suddenly, Hardy felt Sunny's head shaking con-
"You are not crying, Sunny?" he asked; but she
didn't answer. "Come, don't cry," he resumed. It
will be all right to-morrow when old Rowly sees our
Sunny laughed then, and Hardy heard her whis-
per-" Good-night, Hardy," and he felt a soft kiss on
Good-night, dear Sunny," he replied.
Sooner than you may think, the children were
sleeping the innocent sleep of childhood.
7~* -*** ,^- .^ [l . ^3t;t
CHAP. II.-SUNNY'S "GREEN FRIEND."
UNNY did not sleep very long: she was aroused by
hearing a "Croak, croak, croak !" just by her head.
She listened intently-yes, it was certainly the croak of
a frog-and to her young imagination it seemed as if
the frog was in trouble. She wanted to get up and
look, but she was afraid of waking Hardy, and he
would be so angry, especially if it were about a frog,
because he didn't like frogs. "Croak, croak, croak I
Croak, croak, croak 1" She felt she must get up and see
what was the matter with it; so, very softly and
tenderly she disengaged Hardy's arm from her neck,
and folding his jacket over him, she began to look about
for the frog. It was a difficult matter to find it, as you
can fancy; for although the night was not dark, still a
frog in the grass at any time is almost as bad as a
needle in a bottle of hay. However, by feeling about
with her hands very carefully, Sunny at last discovered
it; and taking it up in the palm of her hand, she tried to
see what was the matter, for she was certain something
was wrong with it. She could feel the throbbing of its
body as she held it; but she was sufficiently wise to
know that meant nothing. It felt quite dry and hot,
too, and that she was sure was not right.
Sunny's Green Friend." 31
"Why, poor thing !" she said to herself; "it wants to
be put in some cool, damp place, of course; and that's
why it has been croaking like that. I wonder where I
can take it; it's so dark to go wandering about here.
I wonder if Hardy would be very angry if I woke him."
She looked at Hardy's recumbent figure hesitatingly,
and at that very moment, as if Hardy knew what she
meditated, he gave a half-grunt-something between a
grunt and a snore-and Sunny felt she would not dare
wake him. Besides, he was so tired, poor Hardy!
So she turned away, with the frog in her hand, and
walked a few yards towards the river. Then she
thought she had better not put it in the river-it
wanted a marshy, weedy, damp place, but not pure,
running water. Wondering which way to go, she
looked all round her, and was astonished to find that
her fears about the dark were fast disappearing. Why,
it didn't seem so dark after all! thought she. There was
quite a bright sort of green light far away under the
trees. If only she could wake Hardy, they might both
go and see what was the best place for the frog. Half-
unconsciously she went towards the particular spot where
the curious green light was brightest. The trees, too, all
looked very pretty, she thought; some of the branches
were like silver, while others were like green stones-
like the green stone in mamma's ring.
Oh, how I wish mamma could see this island !" said
Sunny to herself; how she would like all the pretty
flowers, and birds, and trees, and- Here she
stopped abruptly, for she saw something moving in the
grass-something of a bright green, that looked like an
immense frog. Half-frightened, she stooped to see, and
then burst out laughing-" Why, it's quite a party of
32 A Cruise in the Acorn.
frogs! What a number of them I Oh, if only Hardy
would wake up, I am sure he would like it!"
The frog in her hand began to move its legs about,
and presently it leapt from her fingers on to the ground,
and then prepared to follow its fellow-frogs, who were
moving very slowly forward. Slowly as they moved,
however, they went in perfect order, dragging their little
bodies on for regular periods by their forelegs, and then
all leaping together. Every frog seemed able to
measure the distance of its jump, and to make some
kind of calculation, for none of them came to the
ground a second behind or before time, or the quarter
of an inch out of place.
Sunny stood looking in astonishment.
"What ftinny frogs !" she exclaimed. "Where can
they be going? I shall follow them and see. Hardy
would be interested even in frogs, I'm sure, if he could
see them. However, it's of no use waking him, so I
shall see where they are going. After all, it will be
great fun telling him to-morrow."
She walked on behind the little army of frogs, and
soon found that they did not move so slowly, for some-
times she could hardly keep up with them. The green
light under the trees grew brighter and brighter, and
now and then the leaves seemed almost on fire, so
brilliantly green were they, with a sort of white or silver
mist like smoke arising round them. Presently, she
came upon a clear space of grass where the frogs
stopped. She could see them quite well, for it was like
daylight when one looks through a piece of green glass.
I wonder she was not frightened at such a strange sight;
but she wasn't, and stood beside a tree, laughing
heartily at the frogs' movements, and stopping her ears
Sunny's "Green Friend." 33
when they all croaked together. In a few seconds-you
will hardly believe it, but I refer you to Sunny-they
began to dance; yes, to dance 1 Then there was such
an uproar of croaking, such a confusion of leaping; it
was the funniest thing imaginable to see them capering
about on their hind legs, their heads thrown back, and
their bodies panting and throbbing as if they had no
"Now, I certainly will wake Hardy," thought
Sunny; "if he's cross at first, he won't be afterwards.
I shall run back and fetch him quick." So, with a part-
ing glance at the frogs, who were evidently not going to
give up their festivities yet awhile, she ran off to fetch
It seemed to her that she went a long way; she
didn't think she had walked so far; she never remem-
bered to have seen, either, all those stumps of trees with
their intertwined roots bursting out of the ground.
Surely she hadn't lost herself. Oh, no! it was all right!
Not far off she saw their flag-Hardy's handkerchief-
floating about. She ran up to it. There was the place,
right enough; there were the tree, and the basket, and
the holes in the earth that Hardy had scooped out;
but-where was Hardy /
She looked under ever so many trees, thinking that
perhaps Hardy had moved, or that she had made a
mistake; but he was not to be seen anywhere.
"He'll come back here to look after me, though, I'm
sure," said Sunny, hardly knowing whether to cry or
not, and forgetting all about the frogs. Oh, I wish I
had never got up and left him. I suppose he woke, and
when he found I was not there he went to look for me.
I shall wait here, at all events, till he comes back."
34 A Cruise in the Acorn.
She sat still a very long time, looking keenly about
her in every direction, but Hardy never came.
Sunny was in great distress, as you may imagine, as
the time passed on, and still no Hardy appeared.
"Where can he have gone?" thought she. "He
can't have gone home, because there's no boat; besides,
he would never have left me all alone like this. No, I
suppose he has been walking about the island looking
for me, and he'll be here presently."
She waited again for another very long space of time,
and she was certain that she herself could have gone
round the island twice in the interval. At last she made
up her mind that she would go and look for him. She
was a brave little girl, as you know, and she did not
cry or get frightened at being alone in this strange
place-as many of her young friends would have done-
but trotted cheerfully on, peeping into every nook and
corner for truant Hardy. Suddenly, a bright idea
"Why, he's found the frogs, of course, and is
watching them dancing, and I daresay he's forgotten all
She skipped on gaily in the direction of the frogs'
party, as far as she could judge of the direction. She
could still see a green light shining under the trees, but
the light was more equally spread and less vivid in
certain places; and, of course, this made it more difficult
for her to find the precise spot on which the festivities
had been celebrated. She went from one side to the other,
from tree to tree, from grass mound to grass mound,
but could not discover any trace of the frogs' ball.
Sunny was fairly puzzled now, for she could not find
Hardy, and could not even find the frogs. I don't
Sunny's Green Friend." 35
like this island," she said to herself, as she roamed
about, straining her eyes to see if Hardy were not to be
perceived far away in the distance-" I don't like this
island, after all. It seemed so pretty and cheerful, and
so small, at first, as if one could run about all over
it ever so often; and since we've been here we've
done nothing but lose our things, and now we've lost
each other. Oh, how I wish the morning would come,
so that old Rowly might arrive, with the boat, to take us
away though I couldn't go without Hardy-I forgot
that-and I can't find Hardy anywhere." Here poor
Sunny sank on to a knoll of grass, and was just begin-
ning to soothe her sorrow by a few tears, when a little
voice close beside her seemed to say-
"Don't cry, Sunny!"
She turned round in much astonishment. There
was no one to be seen I Not a sound stirred the air.
Not an indication of any living thing on the island, save
herself, was perceptible. Too unhappy to be frightened,
she thought it was her fancy that had conjured up the
voice, and resumed her downcast attitude on the grass
knoll, clasping her hands over her face, and resting her
elbows on her knees.
Don't cry, Sunny!" she heard again.
How silly I am," she whispered to herself. How
Hardy would scold me if he thought I was so babyish."
Then the remembrance of Hardy, conjured up by these
reflections, overcame her entirely, and she burst into a
passion of tears-real tears of sorrow this time.
Don't cry, Sunny; don't cry, little Sunny !"
Sunny raised her head and looked about her, her
eyes shaded by tears and her lips still quivering; but
she could see nothing.
36 A Cruise in the Acorn.
"What can it be ?" thought she. I certainly heard
the words as plainly as possible. How can any one
know my name? Perhaps it's Hardy disguising his
voice and trying to frighten me; that would be just like
him. I'll walk about and see if I can find him."
Quite invigorated by this idea, Sunny started to her
feet and pattered away as cheerfully as could be. Once
she saw at a little distance from her a figure of about
Hardy's size moving quickly in the shade of the trees.
She was so pleased, and began to run, in order to reach
her tiresome brother, who "must be delighted to have
this opportunity of teasing me," thought she. She ran
a long way; she groped about among trees and bushes;
she stumbled over stones, and no Hardy came forward
to reward her trouble by success. At last she found
herself once more at the river side, and, after sitting
down on a block of stone to rest her active little frame,
she perceived that the dawn of day was at hand. There
were faint, strange hues in the distant sky that were
reflected in the calm waters of the river; and the trees,
and flowers, and grass around her seemed to have
gained brighter tints from the first glimmer of light.
Everything looked so fresh, so happy, so gay, that
Sunny's spirits rose immediately, and she felt convinced
that all would come right presently: Hardy would pop
upon her suddenly, old Rowly would appear with his
funny ricketty boat, and they would go off home to make
a good breakfast, and be well scolded and petted at the
same time by the kind housekeeper.
Do you like this place, little Sunny?"
The child started, for it was the voice that she had
heard in the midst of the trees, and had taken to be
Hardy's voice. She turned to see if it really were
IL FOR NONE SHALL~
A ,j, ii d, i, r
Li Th- b
I ih ,. r lhp., .,jr
E rrrzior, a. a r
Sunny's "Green Friend." 39
Hardy who was trying to frighten her, and then she
started still more violently, for she saw beside her a
curious little figure dressed in a peculiar dark bottle-
green, wearing a very odd-shaped hat, such as Sunny
had never before seen. The oddest thing about him,
however, was that he had wings-glimmering, trans-
parent wings-such as Sunny had seen in pantomines
once or twice on those rare occasions when her father
and mother had taken her to London. There was no
possibility of mistaking this queer person for Hardy;
anyone less like her brother, Sunny did not remember
to have seen. His face was very dark, almost like a red
Indian, thought Sunny; his eyes were large, and black,
and glittering; and altogether he was so strange-looking
a little fellow that most children would have been much
more frightened at him than Sunny was. His voice
was the pleasantest thing about him, for it was low and
soft; and he spoke with a measured, foreign intonation,
totally different to Hardy's loud treble.
"What is the matter, Sunny?" he asked again.
"Why don't you answer me? Perhaps I can help you
if you are in trouble. But if you don't tell me why you
are crying, how can I do anything for you ?"
"Oh, I wish I could find Hardy sobbed Sunny,
now fairly frightened at the strange person's persistence;
" it's very unkind of him to leave me all alone like this.
I suppose he's hiding somewhere, or perhaps he is
looking for me, and is angry because he thinks I'm
playing with him. I hope he won't catch cold, that's
all: he was so hot this afternoon, and papa always
says that it's very bad to get cold afterwards. And
Hardy has such bad coughs too, and I thought I heard
him coughing to-night just before we went to sleep; and
40 A Cruise in the Acorn.
then-and then-if he has another cough he might die,
and I should never see him any more Oh, what shall
I do! what shall I do!"
Sunny's eyes were so dimmed with tears that she
never noticed how strange her green friend, as she
always called him, looked while she was deploring
Hardy; but, overcome with grief, not unmixed with
fear, if the truth be told, the poor child threw herself on
the ground, as if the kindly earth were the best resting-
place in her trouble. And I will not undertake to say
that Sunny's instinct was wrong.
Her green friend did not allow her to meditate on
the comfort afforded by the damp ground, however.
Come, my child, get up directly," he said, or you
will be ill, and then you won't be able to find Hardy,
Sunny started to her feet obediently, and wiped her
eyes. She glanced timidly at the curious figure beside
her, and at last ventured upon asking-
How did you know my name, sir, and Hardy's
He laughed, answering, "Oh, that I shall not tell
you. I know everybody's name; yours is written on
your forehead, here, among your curls." Sunny looked
so frightened at this astounding answer to a very
commonplace question, that he laughed again, and
said-" I'm sure you want to ask me something more;
don't you ?"
Yes, please," Sunny replied; I want to ask you
your name, if you will tell me."
My name is Imp !"
"What is that for?" said Sunny. "What a funny
name! isn't it?" and, for the first time since she had
Sunny's "Green Friend." 41
discovered Hardy's disappearance, she burst into a
And now, I suppose you want to know why I am
"Why, yes, of course I do," said Sunny, still
"Because my parents saw that I was always in
mischief," replied Imp, very gravely, yet with a curious
twinkle in his eye.
"What a strange name!" murmured Sunny, who
had by this time completely recovered her usual fear-
lessness. "What does it mean, really f"
I have already told you," he said. It means that
I was always in mischief. Have you never heard of an
'imp of mischief,' Sunny? Don't you know what mis-
chief means ?"
"Oh yes I" she answered. "Hardy is an imp too,
then, for he is always getting into mischief, old Rowly
says; and papa says so too, sometimes."
After this, a very long silence ensued. Sunny ran
about picking flowers here and there, glancing furtively
at Imp, looking on every side for her brother, and
wondering, also, when the real daylight was coming.
Suddenly her strange companion said-
Sunny, you like me well enough to obey me; don't
The child looked up in his dark face uneasily, and
could find nothing more satisfactory to say than that she
didn't know; at which Imp laughed.
"What do you want me to do?" she added.
"I want you," said Imp-and, as he spoke, the
whole place seemed growing darker, and involuntarily
Sunny clung to the hand he stretched to her-" I want
42 A Cruise in the Acorn.
you to come with me now and live in my palace, and be
my little daughter. I will be so kind to you, Sunny
dear, if you will."
"But I can't, and I won't !" cried Sunny. "You are
not my papa; you know you are not; and what would
my own dear papa say to me if ever he knew it ? I don't
like you at all; and directly I get home I'll tell papa all
you said, and he'll be very angry with you for frighten-
ing me, and will have you shut up. Why don't you try
and find Hardy if you want to go home and don't like
to leave me alone ?" Sunny was beyond crying now;
she was so indignant with Imp for having proposed that
she should leave her pretty home, and, above every-
thing, her father and mother and Hardy, and to be his
little daughter, that she never thought of such things as
tears. Her face became crimson with anger as she
meditated on the grievous insult offered her. At last,
finding that Imp made no attempt to answer, she turned
to see if he might not have disappeared, and to her
horror she perceived that the darkness had become
intense. She could not distinguish the outline of the
trees; she could not prevent herself knocking her arms
and outstretched hands against their solid trunks; she
put her little feet into pool after pool of dank, reedy
water; she trod on huge stones that cut her, and on
nettles that stung her and pricked her; at one moment
she felt an icy wind that made her shiver with cold; at
another, it seemed to her that she had never yet known
the true meaning of the word heat. Poor Sunny I How
many children would have been as brave as she was, I
"Well, Sunny dear, how do you like this island
now ?" asked Imp, who was still close beside her.
Sunny's Green Friend." 43
I don't like it at all, I tell you," answered Sunny,
vehemently, "ever since I lost Hardy. I shouldn't
mind a bit if he were here, for he would take care of me,
and I'm sure he wouldn't be frightened at anything you
did. He doesn't mind the dark, or the cold, or the heat,
or the water, or the rain, or the frogs"-here Sunny's
sense of truth induced her to make a reservation-" that
is to say, he doesn't quite like frogs, of course, but he's
very fond of toads; and," she continued, rather incon-
sistently, I must own, "I know he wouldn't be frightened
at anything you said. Besides, he is so much bigger than
you are, that, if he didn't like you, and if you were unkind
to me, I'm sure he would fight you if I asked him."
"I am very much obliged to you, Sunny, for your
kind intentions," said Imp, chuckling as he thought of
the tricks he would play when once the children were
fairly in his clutches; but, you know, I'm afraid your
brother isn't very valiant if he would only fight me
because he is so much bigger than I am."
"How dare you say such things about Hardy!"
Sunny almost shrieked in her excitement and renewed
indignation; and, being very much exhausted, she sud-
denly fell into a violent fit of crying.
"My dear child, I didn't say anything about your
brother," said Imp; "you said yourself that he was so
much bigger than I, that- "
Here he was interrupted, for he felt Sunny's little
hands clutching his arm, and he heard her murmuring,
as if at her last gasp-
"Do, please, take me home. I will be so good if
you do. I'll do everything you ask me, and I'll be so
obedient. I'm sure my papa will give you all the money
he's got if you'll only take me back."
44 A Cruise in the Acorn.
A new idea struck Imp at this juncture, and he said
in his very softest voice-
Come, Sunny dear, you mustn't cry any more, or
you won't be able to see your papa when you get home.
Come, look up; there's a good girl; and tell me you've
forgiven me for teasing you.
Sunny raised her head and opened her eyes. She
could hardly believe her senses. She rubbed her eyes
again and again; she pinched her arms until there were
great violet marks on them; she stared about her so
wildly, that Imp thought for a moment she was really
mad; and, finally, she turned to him with a brilliant
smile on her pale face, as if to ask him what it all
She may well have been astonished I
The sun had risen in all its magnificence, bedewing,
it seemed to her, every blade of grass in its golden
splendour. The leaves of the trees were radiant; the
distant streams of water were flowing like molten gold;
the ground at her feet appeared one vast sheet of gold;
in short, far away, far as eye could see, there was nothing
but the same golden hue shed by the glorious morning
"There, you see!" said Imp, smilingly; "I am not
so very bad as you thought, am I ?"
"I didn't know you were only joking," answered
poor Sunny. How should I ? And then, when it was
so dark, I thought perhaps you were a fairy, or a demon,
or an elf, or something, and wanted to turn me into a
stone, you know, or a frog-like the fairies do in my
books. I am so glad that the day-time has come at last.
I'm very much obliged to you for taking care of me all
night." There was a peculiarity in Imp's smile just then
Sunny's "Green Friend." 45
that induced her to add, with an uneasy glance at his
curious face, You are not angry, I hope, are you, because
I said I couldn't be your little daughter? You know, I
was papa's little daughter, oh, ever so long ago I and he's
always so kind to me and so fond of me; but I'll be
very grateful and obedient to you, if you'll take care of
me until I can get home again."
I She gulped down her tears bravely, and determined
to do her best, so that Imp might not be angry once
more, and refuse to help her to her own dear home.
Imp took her passive hand, and led her swiftly on
in the sunlight. She did not know how or why it was,
but she did not feel at all tired; she did not stumble,
her feet did not ache, and yet she had been walking about
the island the whole night through. It seemed to her
as if she were hardly touching the ground, so lightly did
she step. What did it mean? said she to herself.
Presently, she stooped to pick a gleaming flower
that lay across the narrow path they were following, and,
as she did so, she noticed for the first time that her feet
were encased in white shoes! Hardly believing her
eyesight, she glanced at her frock, which was also white
as the driven snow I
"Don't you like your new dress ?" asked Imp, seeing
her look of utter amazement.
"Oh yes, I like it," she said, slowly; but who gave
it me? where did it come from? I am sure I hadn't got
this one on when we came out in the boat, because
Hardy doesn't like white frocks; he always says they
look babyish. I don't think I could have had such a
frock either; I don't remember mamma buying it.
Why!" she cried, as she looked down at her new
splendour-" why, it's not all white, after all, is it ?"
46 A Cruise in the Acorn.
"What is the matter with it, then ?" said Imp, who
seemed very much amused at Sunny's excitement. It's
only got a green border to it. I think it looks very
pretty indeed; don't you ?"
"Yes," answered Sunny, "it's very pretty indeed,
Imp; but whose frock is it?"
Now, how should I know?" said Imp. "You have
had that same frock on ever since I first saw you. I
didn't give it to you, did I ?"
Sunny considered this reply for a few seconds, and
then asked suddenly, with the instinctive logic of a
But why did you, then, call it my new frock ?"
Imp was not to be beaten, however; he answered
promptly, with a curious chuckle, that did not sound to
Sunny at all like a genuine laugh-
"Well, I guessed it was a new frock, because if it
had not been new you would have remembered it, and
you would also have remembered the green border on it."
Sunny did not feel at all satisfied, but she wisely
abstained from asking further questions on the subject,
yet awhile, at all events.
The novelty and marvellous beauty of everything
around soon led her to forget Imp's failings, and she
found herself prattling away to him presently, as freely
as if she had been talking to Hardy. She told him all
about her papa and mamma, and old Rowly, and the
housekeeper; in fact, she related to her green friend so
many things, that at last she could not remember what
she had told him and what she had not. However, he
didn't seem to hear Sunny's chatter; or if he did, he
never noticed when she stopped.
They were walking, or rather flying, along at a
Sunny's Green Friend." 47
remarkable rate now; and although Sunny fancied she
never went so fast in her life before, she did not feel
a bit tired. Imp held her hand, and led her, or rather
dragged her, so swiftly, that she wondered he was not
tired even if she were not. The sunlight, too, seemed
growing so strong that it hurt her, poor child I and had
er long eyelashes not shaded her eyes, I am afraid Imp
might have been answerable for much pain.
As Imp's pace was rapidly becoming beyond Sunny's
powers, as his hold upon her slender wrist was now more
like the iron grip of one of the ancient instruments of
torture of which she had read, and as the fierce sunlight
was, or seemed to be, really burning her unprotected
head, she thought the moment had come for remonstrance.
Gathering her courage together, she said at last-
Please, Imp, would you mind walking only a very
little bit slower? I am not tired, you know, but the sun
is so hot, and it hurts my head."
"Why does the sun hurt your head, Sunny dear?"
I don't know," answered Sunny; I suppose
because I haven't got my hat on."
"Why, yes, you have !" said Imp.
Sunny, in utter surprise, put her hand to her head,
and found that there was, in truth, something there,
but she could not tell exactly what.
How funny that is I" said Sunny, laughing heartily.
"How could it have got there? It's fixed on so tightly,
She tried to pull it off; but the more she tried, the
firmer it became.
"I should think you had better leave your hat
alone," said Imp, still holding her hand, and leading her
48 A Cruise in the Acorn.
on. "What is the use of pulling at it like that? You
will never get it off unless I choose."
"I don't want to take it off," answered Sunny,
meekly, "only it seems so funny, doesn't it?" and here
she could not help another burst of laughter.
Presently, seeing, as she glanced at Imp, that he was
smiling, she ventured to say-
"Would you mind telling me, please, Imp, what sort
of hat it is on my head ?"
Imp did not answer, and Sunny waited for a few
seconds, not daring to address him yet, nor even to look
at him. At last she said again-poor child!-as Imp's
pace increased moment by moment-
"Oh, please, don't walk so fast, Imp; it hurts me
so; indeed it does. Do let me rest a bit, and then I'll
run as fast as you like. And why do you hold my wrist
so tight ? why do you want to hurt me ? I haven't done
anything to you, have I ?"
Imp never answered, but dragged her on by the
wrist, until Sunny thought she must be going mad, or
dreaming, or dying.
At last, Imp stopped suddenly.
Sunny was so startled, that she opened her eyes wide
to look at him; and as she did so, he said, with the
unearthly, curious chuckle she had noticed before-
Do you remember what I asked you a little time
ago, Sunny? Do you remember that I wanted to take
you to my palace to be my little daughter, Sunny? Do
you remember; eh?" Imp's voice was insinuatingly
soft for the moment, and his eyes looked quite kind and
gentle, thought Sunny; still, she was faithful to her
" own dear papa," and answered-
"Yes, I remember; but you said afterwards you
Sunny's Green Friend." 49
were only teasing me. Oh, I wish Hardy would
"Answer me once for all, Sunny," cried Imp,
"Answer me immediately. You shall have everything
you can possibly desire, Sunny dear; you shall have the
finest of fine dresses, you shall have servants to wait
upon you, magnificent flowers to perfume the air you
breathe, jewels of rare value to adorn you; the daintiest
dishes, the costliest viands, the most delicate fruits shall
be yours, dear Sunny, if you will only say yes-if you will
promise to obey me, and to be my little daughter, and
forget all your past life. You would soon grow to like
me as well as you now like your own papa; don't you
think you would ?"
Imp looked very unlikeable, certainly, at that moment.
His eyes had an excessively unpaternal gleam in them;
and as for giving poor Sunny all the advantages which
he had just promised, his manner, to my mind, would
have indicated nothing better than a "cup of cold
poison" if she refused to obey him-or, at best, slow
Sunny was about to answer him, when he put his
dark, wicked face close to hers, saying with a smile-
"Won't you be my little Sunny?"
This frightened her so terribly that she ran away
from him as fast as her feet would carry her, without
looking back at him, without glancing to the right or to
the left or even in front of her, to see where she was
going-only running away from him, the brilliant sun-
light in her face and on her head-shrieking at the top
of her childish voice-
"Hardy! Hardy! Hardy!"
CHAP. III.-ROWLY TO THE RESCUE.
", SAY, Sunny Sunny I here, wake up I what is the
I matter with you, Sunny? Why don't you wake up
and be quiet I" Sunny started to her feet, and stared
about her so wildly, that Hardy was alarmed for a
Why don't you sit down and be sensible, Sunny?"
he said, crossly, instead of looking as if you were going
mad, and frightening a fellow out of his senses almost.
What's the matter with you? You've been crying and
screaming and plunging about in the most awful
Sunny couldn't tell him, however, yet a while; for
directly she saw Hardy's familiar face, she threw her
arms round his neck, and hugged and kissed him until
the fear of his displeasure restrained her. Then she
settled herself comfortably against the trunk of the tree,
and indulged in a capacious flood of tears.
At first Hardy whistled; then he threw stones into
the water, until he nearly overbalanced himself; then he
looked at his watch, glancing furtively every now and
then at Sunny to see if she had finished crying; and
finally, he cried out to her, as if she were about five
miles from him-
Rowly to the Rescue. 51
"Come now, Sunny, stop that-do; and tell a fellow
what's the matter with you. What's the use of crying,
I should like to know?"
But Sunny couldn't answer him yet; that was very
evident; so he shrugged his shoulders, and fell to
whistling again. Presently he heard Sunny calling him,
in a smothered voice, broken by convulsive sobs-
Hardy I won't you-come and sit beside me-and-
I'll try to tell you what's the reason-why I've been-
"Of course, I'll come," grumbled Hardy; "but if
you're-. Now, I tell you what it is, Sunny; if you
don't stop it, you know I shall be off somewhere or
other. I never saw anything like you. You go to sleep
right enough, and then directly you're asleep, you begin
plunging and kicking about, and screaming and shouting
and yelling in my ears, and hugging me as hard. as you
can; and then when you do wake, you nearly choke me
first of all, and then you sit down and cry as if you were
about two months old. Sunny, indeed I you're fine and
sunny, you are. I'm sure, if papa and mamma could see
you now, they would call you Rainy instead of Sunny."
I expect Hardy felt exhausted after he had elaborated
this wonderful joke, or perhaps he was really as tired as
he appeared to be; anyway, he threw himself at full
length on the bank, and, having collected a whole pocket-
ful of stones, proceeded to despatch them one after the
other, as fast as he could, into the river; after which
mental refreshment he once more resorted to whistling.
Children's tears seldom last long, however; and
Sunny was only crying from the delight of finding
Hardy. She hardly knew how she had come upon him.
Still there he was, unmistakable, in his way, and that
52 A Cruise in the Acorn.
was quite enough satisfaction for his sister. So after a
few moment's crying, Sunny dried her eyes and called to
Hardy turned his head towards her, and, seeing she
was no longer in tears, said-
If you've finished, why don't you come over here;
eh, Sunny? and then, when you're going to begin that
game again, you can go back to the tree. I hate to see
girls crying, all the time."
I am very sorry, Hardy," said Sunny, forgetting her
own trouble in her penitence at having vexed Hardy;
" I didn't meant to prevent you sleeping, but-but I was
so pleased to see you this morning that I couldn't help
it, you know; so don't be cross; will you, Hardy?"
Hardy muttered that she had seen him every morning
for more than nine years, -and he didn't see why she
should cry on this particular occasion. However, of
course, she could do as she chose; girls usually did.
Sunny went up to him and sat down beside him, and
I don't think any very bitter words passed between
them; for Hardy was excessively fond of his sister,
although, boylike, he did his best to disguise the fact.
Sunny was just wondering how she should tell Hardy
about Imp, when Hardy said-
I say, Sunny, without nonsense, though, how shall
we get home ?"
Get home I" repeated Sunny after him. "Oh yes,
I know; I had forgotten."
Forgotten what ?" said Hardy-" forgotten that you
had got a home, or that you had got to get back to it, or
that you left it, or what?"
I had forgotten, though," laughed Sunny, "whether
you believe it or not; I had forgotten all about the
Rowly to the Rescue. 53
Acorn, and the island, and the sail, and our coming
here, and our losing it, and everything."
"Well, it's all very well laughing," said Hardy,
laughing too, in spite of himself; "but to tell you the
truth, I don't know how we shall get home, unless
Rowly brings a boat to fetch us. I wonder whether he
will think of it. And I'm awfully hungry, and of course
you are too; aren't you ?" he added, ruefully.
"No, I am not very hungry," Sunny replied-which
was true, poor child I-" but you must be. I wonder
where the housekeeper's basket is. Shall I try and find
it for you ? We left something in it, didn't we?"
"Why, of course we did," shouted Hardy, jumping
up and clapping his hands. "I forgot all about that;
wasn't it stupid of me? Never mind, we'll have a rare
good breakfast, won't we? and after that we'll find
some way of getting home. I daresay you too won't be
sorry to have something to eat; now will you, Sunny?
You look awfully tired, and if you go on looking like
that, I expect they will blame me for not taking better
care of you. However, I suppose you can't help it.
Anyway, I wish you'd find the basket-will you, Sunny?
-while I see if I can get some water fit to drink."
It was a severe trial to Sunny to turn her eyes towards
that fearful forest where she had met Imp, even in the
broad light of a summer sun; still, she felt ashamed of
her fears, and went bravely towards the tree, found the
basket, and brought it back to the river-bank. As she
stopped to see what might be left inside it, she heard
Hardy shouting to her-" Sunny, Sunny! do you know
what I've found ?"
"What is it? do tell me. Not the Acorn, Hardy?"
Not exactly," he answered, with a laugh; but isn't
54 A Cruise in the Acorn.
this pretty? look !"-and he held out to her what seemed
a tiny blue egg-" and if we could only find the nest, you
know, we might take it home, mightn't we? Wouldn't
long strings of them be pretty to hang on the wall, you
know, like they do festoons of flowers 1 I wonder if
they are nice to eat I"
"What raw eggs, Hardy!" cried Sunny, with an
expression of such horror on her face, that her brother
burst out laughing, and exclaimed-
"Well, you wouldn't do for a desert island, if you
can't eat raw eggs. If they're good when they're cooked,
why shouldn't they be good when they're raw; eh,
Yes, by-the-bye, I had forgotten that," said Sunny,
"You always do forget," remarked Hardy, as he
opened the basket, and took out the contents, on which
they were not likely to starve-just yet, at all events.
"Well, Hardy," his sister said, I didn't forget the
basket, now, did I, when you were hungry?"
No more you did, though," said Hardy. I forgot
that myself, didn't I? Never mind, Sunny, let's begin
breakfast, shall we? and directly we're finished, we'll
find some birds' nests, and take them home with us.
Why there's quite a jolly breakfast here, isn't there ?"
"What did you say?" asked Sunny; "I couldn't
Hardy shook his head vehemently, and got very red
in the face, but he could not do more; his mouth-a
tolerably capacious one-being crammed with bread and
meat; and when Sunny perceived his predicament, she
forbore questioning him further. Once her spirit of fun
led her to ask him if she should thump him on the
Rowly to the Rescue. 55
back, as she had seen nurses do to children sometimes,
in order to prevent their choking; but this innocent
suggestion met with such a decided repulse, in the form
of a violent fit of coughing, brought on by what is
known as "food going down the wrong way," that
Sunny was quite frightened, and did not venture on
another observation for some time.
They managed to eat very fair breakfasts, however;
for which, in their hearts, they duly thanked the thought-
fulness of the old housekeeper. And well they might;
for doubtless, if they had not had such wholesome food,
and so much of it, the previous day and on this particular
morning, they would not have been so well able to sup-
port the hardships, slight as they may seem, of their
When Hardy had eaten as much as he could possibly
eat, and when Sunny, too, had eaten much more than
she would have been able to eat had she been at home,
Hardy suggested that they should wait for a few
moments before opening the bird-nesting expedition,
on which he had been so anxious.
"What time is it, I wonder?" said Sunny, suddenly.
"Haven't you got your watch, Hardy?"
"Yes, of course, I have. But I never wound it up
last night, and I expect it's stopped by this time." He
took it from his waistcoat pocket, however, and put it
to his ear, and stared at it, and put it to his ear again;
and, after keeping Sunny on tenterhooks for some five
minutes, he informed her that it was seven o'clock, or
"What seven o'clock in the morning !" exclaimed
"Does it look like seven o'clock in the evening?"
56 A Cruise in the Acorn.
asked Hardy, derisively. "Upon my word, Sunny, I
never did see any one like you. Don't you think it's
light enough, or do you think the sun has made a
mistake and got out of bed the wrong time; eh? Come,
now, what do you think?"
How can you be so silly," said Sunny, laughing
good-humouredly at Hardy's banter. I was surprised,
though, to find it was so late; but I knew the sun didn't
get up in the evening, of course. When are we going
to get those blue eggs, Hardy? I should like to make
a necklace of them for mamma; wouldn't you, Hardy?
or you might make a kind of watch-chain for papa;
couldn't you? Don't you think you might? don't you
think he'd like it?"
While Hardy was doing his best to rise from his
reclining position, after his heavy breakfast of bread and
meat and seed-cake and cherries, Sunny startled him by
"'Who's to look out for old Rowly, if we both go
"But Rowly won't come yet, you know," Hardy
answered. "Why, just think what a long time it took
us to get as far as this, didn't it. Then poor old Rowly
can't row very fast, and. his boat is awfully heavy.
Don't you remember papa saying it was wonderful that
he managed to get it along at all ?"
"Yes, I remember," said Sunny; "but still, you
know, I'm sure if Rowly knew we were here, he would
get up early, and it would be dreadful if he happened
to pass the island while we were finding the eggs.
"What can we do, then ?" Hardy enquired. How
can we manage to let him know we are here? Where's
Rowly to tke Rescue. 57
Before Sunny had time to incur Hardy's displeasure
once more, by her forgetfulness of the '"flag" and its
whereabouts, that young gentleman's keen eyes had
discovered it, and his quick fingers had uprooted the
stick to which it was fixed, and he was waving it about
delightedly, while Sunny had hardly realized what it all
I wonder if old Rowly will come, though," hazarded
"Well, I should hope so," replied the brother; "be-
cause if he doesn't, I don't see how we shall ever get
home, unless I swim, like what's-his-name, across the
Hellespont, you know." The illustration was not sin-
gularly appropriate, nor was it explicit; but Hardy
himself knew what he meant, I suppose.
Sunny was too intently occupied in devising some
scheme that would take them back, to notice Hardy's
incoherence. I wish I could swim," she murmured.
" I wonder if I could, supposing you tried to teach me;
do you think I ever could ?"
Of course you could, if you made up your mind
not to be afraid," rejoined Hardy; but you girls are
always afraid of everything." With which summary
dismissal of the matter Hardy turned on his heel, with
the evident intention of going alone on his voyage of
discovery in quest of blue eggs."
Aren't you coming, then," he said, presently.
"Oh yes, I want to come, dreadfully," Sunny
answered. I wonder if Rowly will call us, or whistle,
or halloo, or something, as he passes by !"
Of course he will. What a worry you are, Sunny.
You'd better go to sleep again, I should think, until
Rowly does come; then when you wake, you can hug
58 A Cruise in the Acorn.
him instead of me. I don't know how he'd like your
screaming and plunging in the boat, though. I should
think the whole concern would sink, Rowly and all."
The mere suggestion of Hardy leaving her recalled
to Sunny's mind the terrible behaviour and threats of
Imp, which she had not yet related; and she ran after
Hardy, crying, Don't go away; I'm coming with you,
Hardy; only I can't run so fast as you can. Won't you
wait for me?"
"All right, then. Only I wish you would come
directly, if you are coming at all." Hardy held out his
hand to help her along, and Sunny again forgot Imp in
chattering and laughing with her brother, who, if more
practical, was certainly much more pleasant than her
Now Hardy was by no means so inconsiderate and
careless as he may have seemed; he had noticed his little
sister's pale face and heavy eyes, while she was still
sleeping uneasily in the early morning; and, fearing
that she had been dreaming all kinds of horrible things,
by her evident reluctance to confess how stupid she
had been, he was wise enough to ask no questions until
they were both safe at home. Such kindly wisdom is
rare, I must own, among children, and especially among
boys of Hardy's years; but it exists. I have a young
brother, whose handsome face is dearer to me than could
be that of a sister-because of his womanly tenderness,
and more than manly wisdom-at an age when very
many schoolboys have no thought beyond their marbles
and catapults, and the various actively-unpleasant recre-
ations they patronise.
Hardy, however, was not given to demonstrative
affection, like the good boys in story-books, as you
Rowly to the Rescue. 59
know. Much as he loved Sunny, I am sure he never
told her anything more satisfactory than that he supposed
she wasn't worse than other fellows' sisters; and that
when she grew up, she would, most likely, be as vain
and silly as the rest of them. His papa and mamma
laughed occasionally at his uncomplimentary, not to say
vague allusions; but when they saw how carefully he
looked after Sunny, how anxious he was about the
slightest ailment the child might have, how cross he
was on his return from school when he found she was
not at home, they knew that Sunny had the best friend
a little girl can have-a loving brother.
All this time Hardy was busy searching for eggs;
he had found some half-dozen, which he had given to
Sunny, who was considering how they could be packed
for transport without breakages. At last he cried-
"I say, Sunny, do come and look. Here are five
blue eggs, all in one nest. Just come and see how
pretty they look."
But where are you, Hardy? I can't see you a bit."
Hardy put his head out of a mass of green leaves,
a few feet above Sunny's golden head, and laughed
heartily at Sunny's discomfiture.
Oh, Hardy?" said Sunny, disconsolately, "how can
I see them if they're up in the tree? I can't climb up
there, can I ? Do you think I could, if you helped me,
Here I come along !" cried Hardy. "I wouldn't
be a girl for something-not to be able to swim, or play
cricket, or climb trees, or anything. You ought to be
able to climb up here, at all events, as easily as possible;
and if you give me your hand, I'll pull you up; shall I ?
only be quick."
60 A Cruise in the Acorn.
Here ensued most extraordinary exertions on the
part of both children, during which Hardy's face got
crimson (like a lobster, as Sunny afterwards observed in
an incautious moment), and there were ominous cracks
in his clothing, of which, doubtless, the old housekeeper
knew something afterwards; there was a shower of
buttons of all kinds and sizes-some with brass rims, as
it were, some with suspicious shreds of white clinging
about them, some of a shining substance, that reminded
one of shirt buttons. I don't pretend to relate how
Hardy arranged himself when he was once more on
terra firma, or how he kept them on (I say no more
than that), or how he managed to excuse himself sub-
sequently to the housekeeper; all I can vouch for is,
that he left a perfect plantation of buttons beneath the
tree they climbed. However, he contrived to get Sunny
as far as his point of elevation, after which he found a
notch in the solid trunk of the hospitable tree, and
placing Sunny's two little feet upon it, bade her keep
still for a moment.
Poor Hardy! He looked so hot and tired; his
jacket was covered with some mossy growth, varied with
dust and stains of various kinds-some of them, I
suspect, closely connected with the cherries of the morn-
ing meal. He didn't care much about his -personal
appearance, fortunately, as yet, and appeared totally
regardless of the awful aspect he must present.
Sunny didn't look much better, to tell the truth, than
he did. Her frock was a mass of holes, and her arms
and hands were almost as red as Hardy's face had been.
She was not a bit more disturbed about it than her
brother, however; and their chief interest seemed with
regard to the five blue eggs.
h I i
een and blue I
r ... a ',j
V ;T~7T77 ( l;
Rowly to the Rescue. 63
"Where are they ?" she whispered, presently, looking
about her as if the' eggs knew their designs, and might
Hardy seemed equally impressed, for he answered
as softly as he could-glancing cautiously around-that
they were in the nest, of course.
Mayn't I see them, please ?" said Sunny.
"Yes, of course you shall," whispered Hardy; "only
you must wait a minute, you know, until I find a nice
place for you to look through. Oh, Sunny I there's like
a frame, isn't it, in that branch? Wait a minute; you're
always in such a hurry." He put his head cautiously
through the frame" in the branches, to see if his sister
would be able to see also. Finding that she would, he
beckoned to her; she thrust her pretty golden head
forward, gently putting the leaves aside, and following
the direction of Hardy's eyes, saw the blue eggs lying in
You have no idea of the sweet picture made by the
children's fair faces, framed in delicate tints and shades
After Sunny was fully satisfied that they were really
eggs, and that Hardy was not joking, she stretched out
her hand, intending to take one.
Don't you touch them yet, Sunny," said Hardy;
" you know we can't stop up in this tree all day, can we?
and I had better get you safely down, and then bring
the eggs, or else they might get broken."
Sunny acceded to this very sensible proposition,
and her brother helped her down to the ground, and
told her to be quiet while he secured the eggs. I can't
exactly say why both children were so particular as to
the quiet necessary for this collecting of eggs; had the
A Cruise in the Acorn,
parent birds been in the neighbourhood of the tree, they
might have considerably disturbed the serenity of the
Just as Hardy was wondering how he should carry
these treasures without breaking them-whether he
should put them in his mouth, as boys do, when the
eggs are small, or the mouths are large; or merely hold
them in one hand, letting himself swing to the earth by
grasping the end of a branch with the disengaged hand
-Sunny called suddenly to him-
"Hardy Hardy come down quickly I do believe
there's old Rowly."
"Oh, nonsense!" was the answer; "you're always
startling one for nothing. Where's old Rowly? I can't
see him anywhere, and I don't believe you can either;
only, I suppose, you thought you had been quiet long
enough." Hardy grumbled and muttered to himself as
he swung himself to the ground, and looked very much
out of temper when Sunny asked him if he'd broken
No," he replied, crossly; "but it is't your fault if
I haven't. I never heard anyone shout like you do,
Sunny, and always when there's nothing to shout for.
If you saw old Rowly, I suppose he's somewhere about
At any other time Sunny would have excused herself
for having been so abrupt, but just at this moment she
was too excited, and merely exclaiming, I'm sure I
saw him I'm sure I saw him !" was about to start off
running, when she was suddenlJy reminded of Im) by
the sight of a frog. Now the remembrance of Imp
recalled the horrors of the previous night, when she had
been in such despair at losing Hardy; so she thought
Rowly to the Rescue. 65
to herself that she had better make it up" with him,
or he would be "going away again, or something."
Sunny hardly realized yet that Imp was not lurking
behind some distant tree, waiting for twilight, in order
to tease her anew.
"Where did you think you saw Rowly?" asked
Hardy, laying great stress upon the word think. "Was
he flying, or swimming, or riding, or driving, or what ?"
"Oh, I don't know," said Sunny; "but just as you
were coming down, I thought I saw something like a
boat on the river there-over there-and it looked
exactly like old Rowly's boat; and that's why I called so
loud, you know."
"Yes, it's all very well calling to me when I'm up
the tree," said Hardy; "but why didn't you call to old
Rowly? that would have been of some use. I say,
Sunny!" he shouted at the top of his voice, and running
as hard as he could at the same time-" there he is, boat
and all I Here, Rowly I Rowly I Here we are I Don't
I don't know what would have happened to Hardy, if
Rowly had not seen him at that very moment, and nodded
to him as vigorously as he could. The boy was really
in a condition of heat and excitement that would have
been dangerous had it lasted; for running at full speed
(while shouting with all the force of one's lungs) is never
agreeable, but is positively most dangerous, in the sun
of even an English summer. And yet, hot and ex-
hausted with running as Hardy was, directly he found
that Rowly saw him, and was coming slowly to their
rescue, he set up a triumphant dance, compared to
which the celebrated war-dance of the Ojibbeways was
tame and inexpressive. He threw his straw hat in the
A Cruise in the Acorn.
air; he threw the five blue eggs in the air, one after the
other, as conjurors do, only with this difference, that,
as a rule, conjurors catch their balls, while Hardy was
reckless as to the fate of the eggs, and saw them fall and
break without compunction; he executed a marvellous
step, that must have been unlike anything ever seen
before or since; he dragged Sunny with him in his wild
career once or twice, but she looked quite frightened,
and broke away from him; and at last he threw himself
at his full length on the ground, and confessed that he
was "rather tired."
Old Rowly had seen him, and was evidently medi-
tating relief; still, to the children's impatience, it seemed
as if he would never be able to reach the bank. But he
did reach it, though, in due time; and after a great
amount of persuasion, he consented to have a look at
the place" at some future period.
"What nonsense l" said Hardy, who had by this
time recovered somewhat his usual equable disposition.
"Do come now, Rowly; we shall never come here
again, I'm sure; and if we did, it wouldn't be the same
thing; would it, Sunny?"
"Well, you see, Master Hardy," the old fellow said,
speculatively, rubbing his chin as he spoke, "it's taken
me some time to come up here; you see it's a good way
from my shed; and I'm rather tired."
Hardy seemed puzzled at this explanation, and
"Well-but-all the more reason for resting, then,
"The truth is, Master Hardy, I should like to get
back and have a bit of sleep," said Rowly, who looked,
in truth, exceedingly sleepy.
Rowly to tke Rescue. 67
"What a nuisance you are!" began Hardy; when
suddenly an idea dawned upon him, and upon Sunny
also, at the same time, for both the children exclaimed-
Oh, Rowly! haven't you been to bed all night ?"
"You see, Miss Sunny, about the going to bed part
of it, I certainly have been to bed, but I couldn't sleep
much, you know; could I ? Miss Sunny, too, looks very
tired; and the old lady-the old house-lady, I can't
bring her name to mind-but she said if I found you
out, I'd better bring you both back directly."
Oh, Rowly, Rowly! was it Mrs. Trust who came
to you?" whispered Sunny, her eyes wide open with
"Why, of course it was, Sunny!" said Hardy, im-
patiently, anxious to hear Rowly's story, and very angry
with his sister for preventing the recital by her silly
questions." What's the use of bothering Rowly I Who
could it be but Mrs. Trust!"
Now, if you'll both of you get into yon boat, and
come along back," said old Rowly, I'll tell you all
about it; but-" Here he stopped, for he had been
looking all round more and more surprisingly, and
relieved himself by ejaculating-" Well, I'm blessed if
ever I heard of such a thing I Why-why-where's the
"We've lost it," grunted Hardy.
"Lost it Lost the boat! Lost the Acorn / new
sail and all! Dear, dear, dear, Master Hardy! how did
you do that ?"
"Oh, I don't know," answered Hardy; "ask Sunny,
she'll tell you; only if we've got to go back, she may
just as well tell you afterwards, I should think."
Come along, then," said Rowly, good-humouredly,
68 A Cruise in the Acorn.
"and you can tell me yourself, Master Hardy, when you
aren't quite so cross."
Sunny glanced timidly at Hardy, fearing that Rowly's
daring speech would provoke an outburst from that
young gentleman; but Hardy only laughed, and pro-
tested that he was not a bit cross, not a bit; and in
proof of this, directly they were comfortably seated in
Rowly's boat, and old Rowly himself was lazily directing
it homewards, Hardy related all their misadventures and
hardships, beginning with the loss of the Acorn. He
gave a wonderful description of Sunny awaking from her
troubled sleep, and professed to be much alarmed when
he found that she had fallen asleep again, poor child!
her head on his stalwart shoulder, saying she would turn
the boat over when she woke. But she did not seem
at all inclined to wake, and after a few moments' joking,
Hardy put his arm round her, and she slept soundly
until they reached the river bank by Rowly's hut.
In the meantime, however, Hardy having related all
his grievances, insisted on hearing how Rowly had
discovered them, and how he had known of their dis-
appearance: upon which old Rowly told, bit by bit, how
anxious he had been about them-how Mrs. Trust, the
old housekeeper, had come to him somewhere near
eight or nine o'clock in the evening, crying, and looking\
awfully disturbed in her mind; and he had tried to
comfort her, poor thing! by telling her the children
would be sure to be back presently-that no news was
good news-that he was certain no harm could come to
them, etc., etc.; and how, finally, he 'had, seeing her
distress, promised her to follow the direction in which
he had seen the Acoin start.
"So I goes to bed much earlier than usual," con-
Rowly to the Rescue. 69
tinued old Rowly; but as I told you, I couldn't sleep
a wink, so I just gets up again, and started off after you;
and I found you, you see. So that's how it happens I'm
so tired, as well as Miss Sunny; I was anxious, too, and
that always tires an old man like me. Howsomever, I'm
afraid poor Mrs. Trust has got a fever by this time."
"What time was it, then," asked Hardy, "when you
left home ?"
"Well, you see, Master Hardy, I don't exactly
know," he replied meditatively; "it might have been
eleven, and it might have been twelve, but it couldn't
have been far from one of them. Then I had made up
my mind that I wouldn't go back until I had found you,
somehow. Why, what would your papa have said to
me, if he'd come back with his good lady, and you and
missy there hadn't been on the spot like to welcome him ?
Well, well, there's no use in talking; is there, Master
Hardy? but I'm mighty pleased your folks was not at
home, all the same."
"So am I, of course, Rowly," said Hardy, speaking
quite softly, for fear of waking Sunny; and when they
do come back, I shall get them to do I don't know what
Presently both Hardy and Ro'vly heard a great cry
from the bank, and as Hardy turned to see what had
happened, he perceived Mrs. Trust (the old housekeeper,
you know, who had almost offended them only the day
before by foretelling disasters) waving her hands and
her handkerchief, and evidently half beside herself with
excitement. Rowly had no sooner brought his boat to
the usual moorings, than Sunny woke up, and, recog-
nising the familiar faces, as well as the familiar spot,
70 A Cruise in the Acorn.
"Isn't it wonderful, Hardy? why, here we are at
home again I How did Rowly know we were there?
Did you write and tell him, Hardy? Why, there's Mrs.
Trust, too! Isn't it funny, Hardy?" Without waiting
for answers to these not very lucid questions, the child
sprang from the boat to the bank, and threw her arms
round Mrs. Trust's neck, kissing and hugging her, until
she heard Hardy laughing and saying, "You're in for
it, Mrs. Trust. That's just the way she went on this
morning when she woke. She'll take to kicking and
screaming and fighting you, if you don't mind."
Hardy's jocularity reminded Sunny of her friend
Imp, and she said to Mrs. Trust, in a solemn voice-
"I had such a funny thing happen, do you know.
Hardy's been laughing at me ever since, because he was
fast asleep when it all happened, so he didn't want to
"Come now, stop it, Sunny," said her irreverent
brother; "if you're not hungry, I am, and so is old
Rowly. You've been bothering about that silly dream
of yours for ever so long. If I were you, I should be
ashamed to dream such nonsense."
Sunny's amazement at the word dream led her to
Do you think it was a dream, Hardy, then?/ You
didn't say so before."
Hardy's look of contempt was more expressive than
any amount of words; indeed, it was so irresistible,
that the three persons who saw it could not help
But at this juncture old Rowly declared that he
couldn't waste all his day, and that they'd better go
home and tell their dreams, or go to bed, or have their
Rowly to the Fescue. 71
dinners, or do something sensible. Hereupon he turned
into his shed, and pretended to be very busy about his
tools and implements, and finally shut the door with a
bang. Hardy always declares that he slunk out of a
back door, and made the best of his way to a festive
establishment in the neighbourhood, called the Swan,
where old Rowly was in the habit of putting into
practice a well-known parody, which runs thus:-
"Man wants but little here below,
But wants that little strong !" *
I cannot vouch for the truth of Hardy's assertion; I can
only testify to the fact that old Rowly left them very
abruptly, and, late in the same evening, was heard
singing on his way home.
You may be assured that the children went to bed
early that night, and slept well; in fact, they slept so
well, that Mrs. Trust was once or twice almost alarmed.
However, they made up for the anxiety she had suffered,
when they did come down, by their chatter and laughter
and gratitude and adventures, and also by their appetites.
She was very much grieved about the Acorn-that
is to say, she said she was; but, as Hardy observed at
the time, her sorrow was expressed in very brisk tones,
and in very cheerful language.
After breakfast, Sunny refreshed herself by telling
about Imp to Hardy, who was very scornful at first, but
gradually became intensely interested in the develop-
ment of the dream, much to Sunny's delight.
*The original lines, it may be as well to mention, are as follow, and occur in
Goldsmith's Turn, gentle hermit of the dale" :-
"Man wants but little here below,
Nor wants that little long."
72 A Cruise in the Acorn.
When she had finished, and was expecting some
sympathy from him for her sufferings, even if they were
but in dreams, Hardy whistled what his schoolfellows
called "one of his own compositions "-that is, a long
rambling tune, having little resemblance to anything
human-walked about the room, opened and shut the
windows, contriving at the same time to tear the delicate
muslin curtains; and, finally, nearly frightening Sunny
out of her wits by ejaculating-
"It's nightmare !"
"What's nightmare? What do you mean, Hardy?
You frighten me as much as I frightened you, I'm
"Well, I wouldn't be so silly as that," said Hardy.
"Don't you know what nightmare is? Can't you
Is it anything to do with horses?" ventured Sunny.
"Horses I" said Hardy; "it's my turn to ask you
what you mean. However," he added, superbly, I
suppose you've read something about a mare-about
Dick Turpin's black mare-and you think a nightmare
is the same sort of thing. Shall I tell you what it
means; eh, Sunny?"
Oh I do, please," murmured Sunny.
"Well, it means that you have eaten too much for
tea and supper," said her tormentor.
Sunny looked very much mystified, as well she
might, and shook her head despairingly.
How provoking you are I" said she, presently,
unable to keep her curiosity in check; do tell me what
It means as I told you," laughed Hardy; that you
had eaten too much, and so you had a bad dream."
Rowly to the Rescue.
Is that really true?" asked Sunny, evidently very
doubtful as to her brother's veracity when he was in a
"Of course it is. What did you suppose was the
reason of your dream about Imp ?"
But I didn't eat very much, I'm sure, Hardy. You
ate much more than I did; didn't you ? yet you didn't
have a nightmare."
How do you know that I didn't; come, now," said
Did you, Hardy! did you I" Sunny almost screamed
in her excitement. Do tell me your nightmare; won't
"Of course I will," Hardy answered, when I know
what it is myself."
CHAP. IV.-HARDY S DREAM.
A S may be imagined, Hardy did not allow Sunny
much time in which to indulge in any reveries
with regard to her strange dream, even had she been
disposed to do so. He teased her most unmercifully
from morning till night; he called her Imp; he was
never tired of laughing about the frogs' ball; and was con-
stantly bringing her enormous envelopes, which he said
were invitations to magnificent parties held on the
island by Sunny's choicest frogs. But although Sunny
begged and implored him to tell her what his nightmare
had been about, he only laughed at her the more, and
said he should never tell her, so she need not bother
him. She did "bother" him continuously, however,
and Hardy had no peace until he promised most
solemnly that he would tell her some time or other."
This was vague enough, it is true, but Sunny was
obliged to be content therewith. Both the children
wrote to their papa and mamma, and described their
mishaps; and their letters caused the utmost amusement,
when the first burst of surprise was over, among their
parents' friends. Both epistles were singularly character-
istic, as children's letters usually are; they were so long,
however, that I cannot attempt to reproduce them.
Hardy's Dream. 75
Mrs. Trust wrote also to assure mamma that the child-
ren had not caught cold or spoilt their clothes; and
papa wrote a very kind letter to old Rowly, thanking
him for his thoughtfulness and care for the dear
children, and promising to substantiate his gratitude on
his return. So old Rowly was delighted, and brought
the letter to the house for Hardy to read to him. I
believe he afterwards had it framed and hung up in his
boat-shed, if the truth were told.
I expect the children would have forgotten all about
the island, and Imp, and their dreams, had not they
been daily, and almost hourly, reminded of these facts
by the loss of the Acorn. For the first few days they
were so busy talking about their adventure-relating
incident after incident to the unfortunate housekeeper,
who soon knew their stories quite as well as they did-
that the disappearance of their much-prized Acorn was
a trifle in comparison. There was also a lingering hope
in their young minds that by some extraordinary device
or chance their boat would be restored to them; they
could not believe that they should never see the pretty
" craft" again-that they had enjoyed their last cruise in
her! Hope told them the flattering tale that she always
tells to those who will listen. I expect the Acorn
played a very prominent part in Sunny's dreams about
that time, had she chosen to confess the fact; but she
only betrayed her anxiety by frequent glances at the
river when she went out walking with Hardy or Mrs.
Trust, and by pathetic appeals to old Rowly, every now
and then, respecting the fate of the boat. Old Rowly
would shake his head despondingly; look down the
stream, as if the Acorn might be expected to turn the
corner at any moment; and mumble, half to Sunny and
76 A Cruise in the Acorn.
half to himself-" Well, you see, Miss Sunny, it's just
like this, you see-she may come, and she mayn't: I
can't say, for sure, which she'll do. It's all along of that
sail. Master Hardy would have it, you know; and I
told him how it would be. But there! it's no use talk-
ing to him; young folks is so obstinate;" and he would
add to this encouraging speech, as he hobbled away-
"downright pig-headed, I call 'em "
But all Rowly's grumbling would not, could not,
and did not bring back the lost Acorn, as Hardy
philosophically observed when Sunny repeated to
their father these and similar remarks on the part of
the old man.
One morning, as the last days of Hardy's holiday
were at hand, that young gentleman came bounding
into the so-called nursery, and executing caper after caper
in the very centre of the floor, much to Sunny's amuse-
ment and amazement, cried-
Now, Sunny I come, look alive and flourish your
handkerchief. What do you think has happened?
Come, now, be quick."
Poor Sunny could only gasp-"Acorn ?"
"No, no, no !" shouted Hardy, laughing and shout-
ing at the same time. "Come, guess quick, or I shall
have to tell you 1"
Sunny looked excessively frightened now, for Hardy's
excitement had reached, what seemed to her, a dangerous
pitch. She was standing by the window watching his
antics, with the fascination that would have attracted her
to the bear-pit in the Zoological Gardens, when suddenly
she heard her father call from the staircase-
"Hardy! Hardy! Hardy! have you lost your senses,
or are you making this noise for a wager?"
Hardy's Dream. 77
Hardy stopped very abruptly indeed, for a moment,
and then answered-
"Oh, it's nothing, papa; I was only giving your
message to Sunny. I'll be quiet now."
Sunny stared at him in yet greater astonishment.
She would have doubted the evidence of her own senses
almost, but that she heard her father laughing as he
passed along the corridor to his dressing-room.
"What is the matter ?" she asked timidly, presently.
" What is papa's message to me ?"
Oh, nothing.! what a nuisance you are l" was
Hardy's inexplicable answer, accompanied with a further
burst of laughter. Then, seeing his sister's dismay, he
rushed out of the room just as violently as he had
For about ten consecutive moments he was quiet,
leaving Sunny to resume the reading of her story-book
in comparative peace. But the respite was not of long
duration. Very few boys can be quiet for any great
length of time, unless they are devising some specially
diabolical scheme; and Hardy was by no means an
exception to this pleasing rule. He began his second
attack on Sunny's curiosity by opening and shutting
the nursery door at intervals, poking his head through
the aperture, nodding and winking at Sunny, and then
indulging in apparently unrestrainable mirth in the
corridor. Presently he varied this intelligent amuse-
ment by jerking out stray sentences at Sunny, who
would not pay any attention to him at first, but was
soon induced, by the originality of his proceedings, to
listen to these disjointed remarks, each of which was
emphasised by a bang of the door, and a withdrawal of
Hardy's head. I cannot attempt to repeat all the
78 A Cruise in the Acorn.
witticisms in which this young gentleman indulged;
the final epigrams, however, to which he treated his
sister, will amuse young readers who have brothers
equally jocular. Having, as I have told you already,
begun operations by opening and shutting doors with
unnecessary violence, and adding to the soothing
character of this proceeding by shouting-" Oh yes, I
daresay !" Don t you wish you may get it ?" Ha
ha I you don't know what it is !" "And you don't care,
do you, now?" "All right, I won't tell you then;" he
finished up by the following series-" Somebody's
coming." "Who do you think it is?" "What will
you give me if I tell you ?" "Ah, I know all about it,
you see 1" "What will you say if it's nothing?" "Girls
never can guess anything."
"Oh, Hardy !" said Sunny, half-laughing and half-
crying; "what a troublesome- "
"I say, Hardy!" cried his father again, from his
dressing-room; "how many times must I speak to you I
You will alarm the whole neighbourhood if you shout
in that manner. I expect your mother is already in
hysterics. What does he mean by it, Sunny? What
have you been doing? Have you been teasing him?"
Sunny had raised her eyes from her book long ago,
as may be imagined; and she would have done so now
in any case; for her father himself opened the nursery
door, by way of emphasising his reproof.
"Where is Hardy?" he asked.
"I don't know what is the matter with him, papa
dear," said Sunny. He has been going on dreadfully,
and he looks so hot and red, and he doesn't seem to
know a bit what he's saying. I thought just now,
papa"-here Sunny lowered her voice confidentially
Hardy's Dream. 79
-"that he might have caught it from Mrs. Trust's
nephew's dog, don't you remember, who always bites
people in the summer-time, and then they die, because
they can't drink any water, or even look at any one-so
Mrs. Trust said; and he bit Mrs. Trust once, and she had
to have it burnt out with some acid from the chemist's,
that hurt very much. I hope Hardy has not been bitten
by the same dog-do you think he has, papa ?-because
Mrs. Trust said she went on just like that." Here poor
little Sunny was interrupted by fresh shouts of laughter
from Hardy, mingled with cries of-
Oh, I say, stop it, Sunny-do, there's a good girl-
or you'll kill me. Why, you see, even papa can't help
laughing at you !"
Sunny herself, however, seemed on the point of
crying, when she noticed the intense amusement de-
picted on her father's kind face; and I think there
would have been a few tears for Hardy to wipe from her
bright eyes, had not papa bid Hardy moderate his
transports, in very decided language indeed.
As you already know, Hardy was very fond of his
sister; and directly he saw she was really frightened, as
many wiser people than Sunny would have been, he
promised his father that he would be quite quiet; and
he furthermore ran on to the stairs in order to whisper-
I say, papa; you won't say a word, will you, until
Papa promised. If I had been in Hardy's place,
however, I should have wondered what that twinkle in
papa's eyes meant. But Hardy was too excited to
notice any such detail now; and also, boys are never
quick observers of expression or character. He went
back to the nursery, and, with the view of entertaining
8o A Cruise in the Acorn.
Sunny, offered of his own free will to tell her his
Sunny was so enchanted at this suggestion, that she
could hardly keep her impatience within ordinary limits.
"Will you, Hardy?" she cried, the colour rushing to
her cheeks, and the light to her eyes. "When will you
"Yes, if you like," answered Hardy, in an indifferent
manner, as if he had been used to similar attentions and
honours through the whole of a very long career.
"Shall I begin now or after dinner ?"
As a rule, the children dined at one o'clock, when
their father and mother had lunch; but during Hardy's
holidays they all dined together at five o'clock, so that
Sunny's strength of mind was sorely tried by this simple
enquiry of Hardy's. After due consideration of the
question, she said-
"Can't you tell me after lunch, Hardy? I would
much sooner hear it this afternoon."
Hardy gave his assent to this plan, and the children
were tolerably quiet for the next half-hour-that is, until
the lunch-bell rang. I think mamma may very well
have been excused, if she thought papa and both the
children were very queer in their behaviour; all the three
of them were laughing, and each at something different.
Mamma looked distracted once or twice, for she could
not see the force of the allusions that amused them so
much. For instance, when she asked Hardy to get her
some special dainty from the cupboard, that young
gentleman was seized with such a violent fit of laughing
and choking combined, that Sunny had to fetch the
dainty, while his mother untied his scarf and patted his
Hardy's Dream. 81
"What is the matter with those children?" asked
mamma, when lunch was over, and Hardy and Sunny
were on their way to the summer-house at the farthest
corner of the garden, in order to fully enjoy the horrors
of the nightmare. "They have been looking at each
other, and at you, too, all lunch-time; and have been
laughing, and winking, and nodding, and choking, as if
they were the greatest wits conceivable. And you were
nearly as bad," she added, with a perplexed smile.
Papa smiled, saying-" Oh, children have always
some jokes and surprises on hand. Hardy is so full of
fun, that it would be impossible to keep him quiet; and
laughter won't hurt either of them."
In the meantime, Hardy and Sunny had ensconced
themselves very comfortably indeed in the summer-
house. Hardy had secured a varied collection of fruits
and sweetmeats, and biscuits and crackers (at which last
Sunny was looking in dismay, wondering how she
should contrive to pull one end of these explosive
instruments, and stop her ears at the same time), and
some very weak ginger-wine and water, for a treat,"
as Mrs. Trust had said, in giving this cheering concoction
to her young master.
I am so sleepy, Sunny !" began Hardy, by way of
displaying to the full his capacity for teasing.
"Oh, Hardy! What! sleepy now /"
His sister looked so reproachfully at him, that he
burst into a laugh, and said, pretending to stifle a
"Never mind, I daresay I shall manage to keep
awake until I've told the dream."
Sunny did not venture any further remark, but
waited patiently till he should please to begin his story.
82 A Cruise in the Acorn.
The poor child waited what seemed a very long time.
Not a word did her young tormentor utter. At last
she whispered his name in the lowest possible tone,
thinking he might perhaps have fallen asleep.
"You've woke up, then, have you ?" growled Hardy.
"Woke upl" repeated Sunny. "Why, I haven't
been to sleep; I have been waiting for you to say you
were ready to tell me your dream. You know you
promised to tell me of your own accord, Hardy; now
"Well, so I will," replied& Hardy; "but what's the
use of my beginning if you are fast asleep."
Sunny knew better than to repeat her assurance of
not having slept; and when Hardy had gaped and
sighed, and caught at a few flies, with pretended in-
difference, he stretched himself at full length on the
summer-house bench, and leisurely pulling the honey-
suckle creeper that covered it to pieces, began-
Well, here goes, Sunny Once upon a time there
was an old fairy, whose name was Powly-I mean
Rowly; it's all the same, you know."
"Oh, Hardy!" interposed Sunny; "how can you say
such things. Old Rowly a fairy I"
The incongruity of the idea appeared to strike the
narrator as well as his sister, for he conceded that he
had made a mistake perhaps; but anyhow," he resumed,
" the old fairy has nothing to do with my nightmare, so
it doesn't much matter who she was; does it?"
"Then why did you begin about old Rowly," said
Sunny, "if he wasn't a fairy, and the fairy doesn't
"Now I tell you what it is, Sunny," said Hardy,
solemnly, raising himself on his elbows; if you're going
Hardy's Dream. 83
to interrupt me every minute, by talking about fairies
-and imps and things, I shan't tell you any more about
my dream. 'So now you know."
Sunny did not seem much impressed at this majestic
statement, for she answered, somewhat irrelevantly-
No, I won't interrupt-but where did you dream
your nightmare, Hardy? Was it on the island ?"
"Of course it was."
"But I mean, Hardy, did you dream about the
island while you were on the island ?"
"Why don't you wait and see, Sunny?" remarked
her brother, instead of asking such a lot of questions."
Thus reproved, Sunny again promised to be quiet,
and succeeded in keeping her promise for a few moments,
while Hardy resumed-
I've forgotten all about my dream, I expect, because
you will bother a fellow so. What a nuisance you are,
with your dreams and nightmares, and imps' and frogs'
balls. Why don't you tell it yourself?"
"What! tell your dream I" cried Sunny.
"There you go again, interrupting me when I'm
trying to recollect. Well, as I was saying, just after
you had gone to sleep that night- "
"Which night, Hardy?"
"Why, that night on the island, of course; how can
you be so stupid! Let me see, where was I ?-oh yes,
I know. Well, just as you we're snoring as loud as you
could, until I thought you would wake all the frogs on
the island, I thought I would see if I could snore too,
just for the fun of the thing, you know. So I tried, and
I must have succeeded, for I don't remember anything
sensible after that, until I was awoke the next morning
by your kicking and crying. I suppose I must have
84 A Cruise in the Acorn.
gone to sleep, somehow, for I dreamt such a queer thing.
Don't you remember that book I had, Sunny, that you
didn't like, because there was a lot about shooting bears
and tigers and elephants in it? Don't you remember
my telling you, just before the holidays began, that one
of the fellows in the book got nicely caught going
serenading some school-girl, or some nonsense like that ?
Well, when I heard you snoring in that frightful
manner, I couldn't help thinking about all the animals
I'd read of in that book, and, as I said just now, I was
wondering what you would think if you could have heard
yourself, when I fell asleep too. And then, of course, I
dreamt about the animals. I dreamt that you and I
were walking in the Zoological Gardens in London, you
know, and that we had lost our way. There was no one
to be seen anywhere-"
"Not even any animals!" said Sunny. "How funny!"
Well, it wasn't funny at all, then, I can tell you-at
least you didn't think so in my dream. You were
staring all over the place, and crying like a baby, and
saying you were awfully hungry, and what should you
do. Just as I was trying to stop your crying, you said
you saw someone running along in the distance, like one
of the keepers. So I ran after him to ask the way
home. He told me he didn't know what to do, because
the elephant had fainted, and there was no one to help
"But elephants don't faint, Hardy, do they?"
observed his sister.
"I'm sure I don't know," continued Hardy; "why
shouldn't they faint just as well as any one else. I
wouldn't mind betting anything you like that the half
of them only pretend to faint, because they want to
Hardy's Dream. 85
be petted and carried out of ball-rooms, looking very
romantic, with their hair down, and all that humbug."
Sunny was too interested to notice the total want of
coherence in Hardy's description of romantic young
ladies and fainting elephants; and if she had been more
observant, she would doubtless have been afraid to
interrupt the flow of his eloquence so soon again.
So I told the keeper that the elephant in the book
I had read often was ill, and used to be bandaged up
with glycerine and cotton-wool, and supported in an
enormous kind of hammock, with his four paws hanging
out. What are you staring at, Sunny? It's perfectly
true; why, I read it in a book only the other day.
Then when I turned round to look after you, you had
got quite friendly with another elephant, and were as
cross as possible, because I wanted you to look at a
tiger and a bear, and all the other animals. However, I
made you come all the same, and you didn't like it, and
kept saying you wanted to go home, because you were
sure mamma would be angry if we stayed out any
longer. So you went home safe enough. And I was
looking about at the animals, and snakes, and things,
till it was long past dark. Then I met papa in the
gardens, and he said you had not come home, and I
mustn't come home till I had found you, because it was
all my fault, for I was very careless and unfeeling; and
then papa finished up by saying that neither mamma nor
he wanted to see me again, unless I brought you back.
That was a pleasant pickle, wasn't it? So off I walked,
to see if I could get hold of you; and I can tell you this,
that I didn't feel particularly pleased with your proceed-
ings. You had led me a nice way already; and when I
found I couldn't go home without you, I just wished
86 A Cruise in the Acorn.
there were no such nuisances as girls, and sisters, and
"Poor Hardy said Sunny; "what did you do?
Did you cry !"
Cry !" echoed Hardy, with a world of scorn in his
voice; "what would have been the use of crying, I
should like to know? Do you think boys are always
crying, like girls?"
Sunny did not answer-as she might have done, had
she been malicious-that she had, even in her short life,
seen boys cry for far less reason than girls usually do;
but she was not malicious, and she allowed Hardy to
continue his nightmare narrative in unbroken serenity.
No, I didn't do anything of the sort. I just walked
about and looked at the animals, until I was awfully
tired, and then- "
But I thought you said it was quite dark, Hardy?"
"Yes, of course it was dark for summer-time, but
one can often see nearly as well in the dark as in the
light; I mean that-that-I say, Sunny, I shan't tell
you any more if you're going to bother me like this,
instead of letting a fellow alone."
Sunny looked very penitent, and Hardy resumed-
"After all that walking about, I got awfully hungry
and thirsty and sleepy, and I hadn't got any money; so
I thought that I wasn't going to starve yet awhile, and
I made up my mind to forget all about papa and mamma,
and you too, for the matter of that, and never to see any
of you any more."
Oh, Hardy, how could you I" said Sunny, reproach-
"Well, it was only in a dream of course, or else, I
suppose, I shouldn't have thought of it; and if I had, I
Hardy's Dream. 87
shouldn't have liked to leave you-that is, if I was
never coming back again."
After which vague indications of fraternal affection,
Hardy, boy-like, resumed his story, with additional
pungency of tone and glance.
But even then, you see, I didn't know what to do,
for I couldn't eat the grass, and I couldn't catch the
birds and eat them alive, feathers and all; and I didn't
know where the frogs were, or I should have eaten them
quick enough, I can tell you, just to spite you for
having got me into this pickle. Suddenly I heard the
lion roaring-at least I dreamt I heard him; it was you
snoring, I suppose; and, as you can fancy, that didn't
sound very comforting in the dark, and all alone. So I
tell you just what I did: I ran as hard as ever I could
until I got out; I am sure I don't know how I got
through the turnpikes, or whatever you call them;
however, I did manage it somehow."
"How did you get something to eat and drink,
Hardy," asked little Sunny, "if you had no money?"
"Well, that's just what I was going to tell you.
When I was outside in the park, I sat down on a seat
and emptied all my pockets, to see if I had made a
mistake; I thought I might perhaps have a penny left
from my last week's money. I couldn't find any, though,
and was just preparing for another search, when I heard
a drum beating, and a flute, and a bagpipe, and all sorts
of fine things; and I saw some lights twinkling in the
distance. So I thought I would go and see what it was
about. Presently I got out of the park, and I wasn't
sorry, I can tell you; I expect if you had been there all
alone, with the lions roaring like wild, you'd have been
frightened to death-now, wouldn't you? come! Let
88 A Cruise in the Acorn.
me see-where-what was I saying ?--oh yes-all right.
I don't know any more-I mean I don't remember any
more, because I woke just at that moment, you know."
Sunny was too shrewd, however, to be taken in so
quickly; she did not answer, except by the deprecating
expression in her eyes, and Hardy soon made up for his
aggravation by continuing in this wise-
I was only teasing you, Sunny; I do remember a
little more. When I got out of the park, you knbw, I
heard the drums, and all the rest, going it louder than
ever; and then I saw a lot of people running, and of
course I ran too; and then at the end of a road I saw a
great big tent, like they had for the circus down here-
don't you remember, Sunny ?-and there was a man at
the door of it playing a drum, and calling all the people
in. I forgot I hadn't got any money, and I ran to the
door, thinking to myself, 'Well, as papa says I'm not to
go home without Sunny, I shall go in here and see
what's up.' Of course, when I got to the entrance, the
man who was playing the drum asked me for my money,
and at first I thought he wouldn't let me in; but he did,
and told me he should call on papa the very next
morning for the money.
"When I got into the place, I found that it was just
like that circus where we went with Mrs. Trust, only it
was much prettier, of course, because it was right up in
London. And then there was a clown, and an old fellow
with a crutch, tumbling about, and a white monkey-I
mean a white elephant "-here Hardy glanced at his
sister mischievously, but she was too interested to be
suspicious-" and a yellow tiger, and a red, white, and
blue parrot, and a green lion "-here Hardy paused, and
looked about him with the gravest face in the world, as
Hardy's Dream. 89
if he were doing his utmost to remember-" at least-
let me see-was it green, or was it red, I wonder ?"
I should think it was more likely to have been red;
wasn't it, Hardy?" suggested Sunny.
"Well, then, if the lion was red, it was the unicorn
that was green. I am certain that one or the other was
green; it doesn't much matter which, as it was only a
dream; does it? so I'll go on. All these animals
performed tricks, you know, Sunny-jumping through
hoops, and over bars, and doing all kinds of extra-
ordinary things. I am sure you would have been awfully
interested if you had seen all they did. When the people
got tired of them, then they acted a piece-"
"Who did, Hardy? not the animals !" cried Sunny.
"Why, of course not-I meant the boys and girls,
or something belonging to the circus. They acted a
piece, where there was a boy named Lancelot-and a
nice milksop he must have been too-who wanted to
make a girl named Flora fall in love with him, or some
such nonsense. So he borrowed a suit of very romantic-
looking clothes from somebody, and went and sang a
song underneath this Flora's window, just like the
fellow in the book I was telling you about."
"Did they do all that in the circus, Hardy?"
exclaimed Sunny. "Oh, I wish it wasn't a dream, I
should so like to see it acted I What did he do after-
"What did who do after when?" asked Hardy,
"Why, Lancelot, after he had sung the song, you
know I Did the girl named Flora see him from 'her
"How should I know?" said Hardy, impatiently.
90 A Cruise in the Acorn.
I was telling you my dream, not the boy's, or Lancelot's"
-no words could describe the contempt with which
Hardy pronounced this fine name-" and if you don't
want to hear any more, you may as well say so, and I'll
go to sleep in real good earnest."
Here he gaped, and closed his eyes, and grunted
Of course, I want to hear some more," said Sunny.
" Do go on, Hardy."
"As you may guess, then, Sunny, I didn't much
care for that sort of fun for long, and I was just
wondering how I should get some money to buy some-
thing to eat, when I thought I heard your voice crying
or laughing, or perhaps both. I looked all round the
circus, and couldn't see anyone a bit like you. It was
just then that this Lancelot was singing his serenade, or
whatever he called it. It all looked capital, I can tell
you. The trees, and the house and windows, looked just
like life; and the boy with his banjo (he said it was a
lute, but it was nothing of the kind, and so I would
have told him in another minute) didn't look bad either,
at a distance. Well, all the time he was singing, I
fancied I heard your voice somewhere- "
"What was he singing, Hardy?" asked Sunny.
"Oh, I don't know; something about 'My lady
weeps,' and 'her lover sleeps,' and 'western steeps,' and
'golden peeps,' and 'silver deeps,' and 'azure creeps,'
and any quantity more in the same style. Suddenly he
played an extra twang on his banjo, because he was
supposed to see her at the window. I looked up at the
window too, and there was a girl standing there with a
white frock on, and black hair; and as I looked at her,
I saw that it was you, only your hair had turned black
WIND r h
pp 9f p-
CFb S l.
Hardy's Dream. 93
somehow or other. So I screamed out to you as loud
as ever I could to come home directly, because papa and
mamma wanted you, and wouldn't let me in till I'd
found you. Then all the people in the circus were in an
awful rage with me for interrupting the performance;
and the manager said he'd have me locked up if I didn't
keep quiet. Well, I didn't mind a bit what he said, and
kept on shouting to you to come away, and you didn't
take any notice at all, beyond laughing at me the whole
"Oh, Hardy l" Sunny interposed; "I am sure I
couldn't have been laughing at you; you must have
made a mistake."
Well, I suppose I know best about my own dream,"
was Hardy's answer; to which Sunny replied by a wise
silence. "I tell you that you looked at me ever so
many times, and shrieked with laughter, and said you
wouldn't come home. Then the manageI said I must
be turned out of the circus; and the more I called to
you, the more you laughed. At last the manager took
hold of my jacket collar and dragged me out of my
seat, and was just beginning to pommel me with
his fists and boots, when I woke up and found you
kicking and hugging me as hard as you could; don't
Is that all ?" asked Sunny, her eyes wide open with
wonder-as well they may have been-at the strangeness
of the dream, and at Hardy's supreme indifference to its
"All I yes, I should think so; and quite enough, too.
I'm so hot and sleepy; aren't you, Sunny?"
"How funny of you never to tell me before!"
murmured Sunny, totally disregarding Hardy's remarks.
94 A Cruise in the Acorn.
"Why, if I had had a dream like that, I should have
told you the very minute, shouldn't I ?"
I'm sure I don't know what you would have done,
if you had had a dream like that," said Hardy.
There was something significant in his tone of voice,
which made Sunny raise her eyes to his face. He was
laughing, it is true; but then he was always laughing,
so that did not impress her much.
"Are you sure that you have not forgotten anything,
Hardy?" she asked.
"Oh, I don't know; I don't suppose I have," was
the careless answer; "but it's such a long time ago,
you know. Anyhow, I am sure it's quite as good a
dream as yours, and ever so much more sensible; now,
Sunny was, however, evidently disappointed. She
had expected something far more improbable and
romantic and fairylike, than Hardy's very realistic form
of dream-the strict authenticity of which, between
ourselves, I strongly question-also, it was by no means
long enough to suit her; and there was something very
unsatisfactory in Hardy's manner, and apparent enjoy-
ment of her disappointment.
That young gentleman amused himself for a few
moments in staring about him, whistling, eating, and
drinking what little remained of Mrs. Trust's ginger-
wine and water. At last, happening to catch sight of
his sister's face, he exclaimed-
I tell you what it is, Sunny; if you're always going
to be sulky and gloomy, because I can't dream just what
you like, I shall never tell you any more nightmares, or
do anything nice at all. And I shan't ask papa to buy
any more Acorns, and I shan't take you any more sails
Hardy's Dream. 95
or cruises in her, if you are going on like that! So you
had better cheer up, I can assure you."
But I can't make it out, Hardy," murmured Sunny;
"it seems so funny that you never told me while we
were on the island, instead of waiting such a long
time. And-and-then you were laughing so much
this morning in the nursery, that- Are you sure
you really dreamt it, Hardy?"
Hardy did not answer; and when Sunny looked at
him to see what he was doing, she was surprised to find
that he was fast asleep, or at all events pretended to be
so. For my part, I don't think he was even sleepy.
Sunny stood looking at him, meditatively, wondering
what she should do-if she dared wake him by the
primitive method of pulling his hair. As she pondered
on the various pleasing forms of effecting a very un-
gracious task, she kept her eyes fixed pensively, almost
abstractedly, on her brother's ruddy face. Suddenly, to
her fright, her indescribable surprise, she saw one of
Hardy's big brown eyes open furtively, and close again!
She gazed in mute horror, and presently the same eye
performed exactly the same trick!
"What does it mean?" thought little Sunny. "I
must be dreaming; I am sure he couldn't open one eye
in his sleep like that. What a funny thing !"
Just then, Hardy again performed this not very
marvellous feat; and catching the expression of mingled
horror, and amazement, and curiosity, and amusement
depicted on Sunny's face, burst into such a loud laugh,
that Sunny, after half-a-moment's stare, ran out of the
arbour, or summer-house, as fast as she could go, flying
along the walks and lawns as if she were no heavier
than a butterfly.
96 A Cruise in the Acorn.
This did not suit Hardy at all, for he had a plan in
his mind, carefully concocted by himself, and confided to
his father, which absolutely required Sunny's absence
from the house. So he called her back to the summer-
house, offering all manner of bribes, in the way of sweet-
meats, and fruits, and picture-books, and paint-boxes,
and baskets, and beads, and other equally seductive
gifts; but she only surveyed him doubtfully from the
doorway leading to Mrs. Trust's department, and never
answered a word. I expect she was really frightened--
as well she may have been-at Hardy's extraordinary
dream, and extraordinary behaviour; and she felt half-
afraid to return within the glance of that one eye I So,
after gravely considering the matter for a few minutes,
she evidently made up her mind that Mrs. Trust was
much more reliable than Hardy, and accordingly re-
treated into that estimable lady's parlour. Now, Hardy
did not approve of this arrangement from any point of
view. It might seriously interfere with his elaborately
conceived plan, and spoil all the fun. And he was
rapidly getting very cross indeed, as he pondered on the
best way of inducing Sunny to leave the dangerous
quarters of the kind old housekeeper.
Sunny, however, was far too amiable to keep away
from him when she knew that he wanted her; so in a
few minutes she came back to the summer-house, and
said she was very sorry if he was offended with her, but
that he had frightened her when he opened and shut his
eye in such a strange manner.
To which apology the only reply Hardy vouchsafed
"What do you say, Hardy?" his sister said.
Hardy's Dream. 97
"I said, Bother!'"
She looked puzzled, and finally ventured to say,
But, 'bother' what?"
I suppose Hardy was thoroughly determined to make
himself explicit this time, for he answered immediately-
Everything and everybody!"
"Well, that's what I call a fair field and no favour,
my boy!" said their father's voice from the door of the
Hardy started to his feet, his face crimson with
vexation; while Sunny forgot her disappointment at the
matter of Hardy's dream in the triumph of having heard
it, and ran to clasp her father's hand, crying-
"Oh, papa dear I he's told me at last. And it is
such a pretty one-all about the lions and elephants.
Then there is a circus, and a serenade; and he thought
he was looking for me everywhere, and couldn't find me,
and you wouldn't let him come home without me; and
when he got into the circus, he found it was me at the
window, and he called me ever so often to come, but I
wouldn't. I had black hair, too; and yet I looked just
the same, he says."
"How did it all' end, then, Sunny?" papa asked,
with a very broad smile on his face.
"Well, you know, papa dear, Hardy kept calling me
all the time, and of course, as I wouldn't come, the
people didn't like it, because he made such an noise; so
the manager came round to him, and took hold of him
by his coat, and actually turned him out! Just fancy
"Why, to tell the truth, Sunny," said her father,
laughing as he spoke, I am not at all surprised at that.