The Baldwin Library
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"THE STORY OF A MOUSE," "THE CASTLE AND THE
COTTAGE," ETC., ETC.
GEORGE ROUTLEDGE AND SONS
NEW YORK: 416, BROOME STREET
"How tiresome you are, Sybil," said Margaret
Grey to her younger sister, who had not yet risen,
though the first bell had rung, and she knew that
in half-an-hour's time the breakfast would be ready.
"I never saw any one so untidy as you are," con-
.tinued Margaret, as she stooped to pick up various
articles of wearing apparel that were scattered
about the floor. "I wonder, Sybil, that you have
not more consideration for mamma, when you
know what trouble it gives her to provide suitable
dresses for us all."
"Now don't go on in that manner, Margaret !"
exclaimed the impatient Sybil. It surely is not
such a very grave offence to leave a dress on the
floor once in a way."
"No, it would not be were it only once in a
way," replied her sister, "but you do so con-
tinually, and make mamma so vexed with your
tntidiness. But come, get up now,", continued
Margaret, "or you will be, as usual, too late for
prayers, and for breakfast."
"I promise you that I will rise the moment you
leave the room, Margaret," said Sybil.
And she was as good as her word in that respect,
although, as her sister had warned her she would
be, Sybil was again too late, both for prayers and
"Where is your sister ?" inquired Mrs. Grey of
Margaret, when they were all seated round the table.
" How strange it is that she scarcely ever makes her
appearance until we have nearly finished breakfast."
"I thought she would have come down this
morning, mamma," replied Margaret; it is more
than half-an-hour since I called her, and she pro-
mised me that she would get up immediately."
In truth Sybil had not broken that promise; she
certainly did rise as soon as her sister had left the
room, but I am sorry to say this young lady had
other faults besides that of untidiness; the fact is,
she lived a kind of dreamy life, so that she could
not be depended on, for however good the resolu-
tions might be, they were seldom carried out, as
every new object had power to distract her, so as
to vary her pursuits.
This morning she had indeed made a vigorous
effort, and jumped out of bed, as she had promised,
the moment her sister had left the room, perform-
ing her ablutions, and beginning to dress with all
sufficient haste; unfortunately, however, her eye
was attracted by an open book, lying on the dress-
ing table, where she had left it the preceding
evening. Sybil could not resist the temptation to
glance over the page, which was too full of interest
to admit of delay in reading it, and thus it hap-
pened that leaf after leaf was turned over, until
Sybil became so completely absorbed in the joys,
or sorrows, of its heroine, that dressing, and break-
fast, and promises were all forgotten in her present
A loud ring at the front door-bell, and a rather
unusual commotion in the hall, roused the dreamer
from her enchantment, and she started from her
seat to open the bedroom door and listen.
As she did so, she heard a musical voice in-
quiring for her, when the truth instantly flashed
across her mind respecting the invitation which she
had herself given to her friend, Miss Melville, to
join their nutting party, although she had never men-
tioned the subject to her mamma or her sisters.
The young lady's arrival at this early hour was,
therefore, as unexpected as it was pleasant, and
* much laughing ensued at Sybil's expense, when the
invitation of a week's standing, and the promise of
meeting half-way on the road to Woodbine Cottage,
were detailed by Miss Melville.
It is too bad of Sybil, I declare," said the in-
dignant Philip; "never to tell us a word about your
coming, then to forget all about the invitation, leav-
ing you to come the whole way by yourself, and
now expecting us to wait for her.-Sybil, are you
coming ?" Philip shouted impatiently. I can tell
you we are not going to wait any longer."
This not very polite address came from Philip
Grey, Sybil's elder brother, though she was some
years his senior; perhaps, however, I ought to have
introduced Mr. Grey's family before singling out
Margaret the eldest, and Sybil, the second daughter,
who were of the respective ages of twenty and
eighteen. Mabel, the third daughter, was sixteen;
Philip, fourteen; Sidney, twelve; and little Ethel,
the youngest, and by consequence, the pet of the
family, only six.
Mr. Grey was the captain and part-owner of a
merchant-vessel, possessing a tolerable income, but
it required all the good management of an excellent
wife to meet the exigencies of a large family. They
were at this time residing in the neighbourhood of
Ilford, in a pretty and very pleasantly situated house,
called Woodbine Cottage,and a nutting expedition
ha4 been agreed on a week previous to this time, and
Miss Melville, as we have seen, had promised to be
one of the party, and to come at an early hour, if
her friend Sybil would engage to meet her half way
on the road. She had arrived, as we have seen, and
Philip's shouted remonstrance to his sister induced
that young lady to plead for a delay.
"Oh, Philip !" cried Sybil, looking over the
banisters; pray don't take Alicia with you, if you
must go without me; I will be down in a very few
minutes, I will indeed," and she hastened back
into her room to fulfil her promise.
But here she was doomed to another mortifica-
tion, mainly attributable, no doubt, to her own
want of neatness and care.
How tiresome it is!" exclaimed the excited girl,
as she in vain tried to fasten the skirt of her dress,
the hook having vacated its place. Well, I must
pin it, I suppose, this morning," muttered Sybil;
"but I am determined to put a hook on to-day."
And now commenced a search after a pin, but
such a precious commodity was nowhere to be
found; and Sybil in her desperation, declared that,
"she was sure if she had a thousand papers of
pins, that tiresome Sarah, the housemaid, would
sweep them all away.
"Sybil!" again shouted her brother from the
hall, do you mean to come down, or are we to go
without you ? Alicia says she will go with us ; so
you must get your breakfast, and follow as quickly
as you can."
"Well, I suppose it must be so," replied the
mortified young lady, but she added to herself "how
selfish they all are, seeking their own pleasure,
without caring for that of others."
Oh Sybil, Sybil, what a condemnation you are
passing on yourself!
"I SHALL not go nutting to-day, dear mamma,"
said Mabel, the third daughter, who had observed
a care-worn expression on Mrs. Grey's face whilst
they were sitting at breakfast.
And why not, my dear ?" inquired her mamma.
"Why do you so seldom enjoy yourself with your
brothers and sisters? it is not good for you to stay
so much at home."
I would much rather stay at home and help
you, mamma," replied the affectionate girl; "you
know Philip and Sidney are going back to school
next week, and all their things will have to be got
ready for them. How dull we shall be without
.them, mamma," added Mabel, looking very sorrow-
"We shall indeed, dear," said her mother; "es-
pecially as your papa will also have to leave next
week in order to join his ship."
"Oh, when did you hear that, mamma ?" in-
quired Mabel. "You said nothing about it yester-
day, when we spoke of having a pic-nic party next
week, while Alicia Melville was with us."
I only knew of it myself last night, my dear,"
said her mother; "and I did not like to mention
it, lest it should damp the spirits of the nutting
Mabel no longer wondered at the grave look of
her mother, but she wisely abstained from making
further remarks, as Sybil just then made her ap-
pearance at the breakfast-table.
Mrs. Grey was still sitting at table, and Sybil
felt rather ashamed when her mamma said quietly,
"As usual, dear Sybil; I think you might have
made an effort to rise a little earlier this morning,
seeing that Alicia Melville is your own invited
guest, and that you promised to meet her."
"I know I did, mamma, and I am very sorry in-
deed that I should have forgotten all about it," said
Sybil; "I think Margaret might have reminded
me of it, or Mabel might."
I really'don't think that your sisters knew of
Alicia's visit," said Mrs. Grey, "and at any rate
Mabel has had too much to engage her this morn-
ing to attend to you, my dear Sybil; she has been
preparing lunch for them all, and that, I assure
you, was no light task."
"Then is not Mabel going with me ?" inquired
No, my dear, it was her own wish to remain at
home; I have a great deal of work to do to-day,
and she can help me much," said Mrs. Grey.
"Mabel always chooses to stay at home," re-
torted Sybil, petulantly; "I think she might
sometimes accommodate herself to other people's
"And is she not doing so in trying to help me ?
Don't be unjust towards your sister, Sybil," said
her mother; and I should advise you to despatch
your breakfast, and hasten after your party, or you
will let them get too far in advance."
Sybil took this as a reproof, as of course it was
intended, and soon finished her repast; then she
rose from the table, and inquired which way the
nutting party had gone.
"Why, that I really cannot tell you, my dear,"
said her mother; "I thought the matter had been
settled among yourselves, so I made no inquiry."
"No one ever said one word to me on the
subject," replied the young lady indignantly, as
she left the room in quest of Mabel, from whom
she doubted not she should gain the desired
Here again, however, our unfortunate heroine
was doomed to -disappointment, for Mabel de-
clared that not a word had been said as to the
direction the party intended to take; but she
I dare say, Sybil, they are gone to the Friar's
Wood, where we got such a plentiful supply of
nuts last year."
"Yes, but don't you remember," inquired Sybil,
"that Alicia Melville declared she would never go
An Unsuccessful Search. it
there again, on account of those two large dogs of
Mr. Hammond's that rushed out and frightened us
all so much?"
"Well," said Mabel, "they may have gone to
the Dell; but I don't think they have, it is such a
long way off. But Sybil, dear, you must be quick.
I dare say they are waiting about for you. What
a pity it is," added Mabel, that you did not come
down in time to go with them."
As our heroine had no relish for again discussing
this sore point, she hastily took her hat from its
accustomed peg in the hall, and sallied forth, it
must be confessed in a most unsatisfactory and un-
decided state of mind.
AN UNSUCCESSFUL SEARCH.
"Now which way shall I go ?" was the question
Sybil put to herself as she closed the garden-gate.
It was a very debateable point, and unfortunately
there was no time for debating; so Sybil permitted
distance to decide for her. She chose the Friar's
Wood, as the nearest point, saying to herself, as she
did so, "I dare say Alicia has forgotten all about
In this, however, the young lady was mistaken,
and consequently another trial awaited her; for,
after wandering nearly two miles without gaining
sight of her friends, she became aware of the vici-
nity of the dreaded dogs by a loud barking, and
before she had time to turn away, the dogs, who
had been liberated for the purpose of accompany-
ing their master over the grounds, rushed out of
the court-yard and came bounding towards her,
seemingly determined to punish her temerity in
thus venturing so near to their master's domain.
Poor Sybil, half-dead with fright, uttered a
piercing shriek, and sank on the ground, but before
any other mischief could ensue, Mr. Hammond
made his appearance, whip in hand, and the dis-
turbers of the peace slunk quietly back, while their
master gave his hand to the young lady, assisting
her to rise, and politely apologising for the alarm
she had been subjected to, though assuring her at
the same time that her fears were groundless, as
the animals would not really attack any one.
As soon as Sybil had recovered herself, she
thanked Mr. Hammond for his attentions, express-
ing herself ashamed of having been so cowardly,
and if the truth must be told, not a little vexed at
being seen by that gentleman wandering about
alone, so she thought it necessary to offer some
I came here, Mr. Hammond," said Sybil, "in
search of my brothers and sisters, who are gone on
An Old Acquaintance Found.
a nutting expedition; but I suppose they must
have taken some other direction, if they have not
passed your house."
"No, I can assure you, Miss Grey, no one has
passed by this way for more than an hour, or I must
have seen them, for I have been on the lawn more
than that time, and my two sentinels," added Mr.
Hammond, smiling, "would have given me notice
of the approach either of friend or foe."
Politely bidding Sybil good-morning, Mr. Ham-
mond returned to his disgraced favourites; while
the distressed damsel retraced her steps, deter-
mined never again to follow an advanced guard.
AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE FOUND.
IT was a lovely September morning, well calculated
to draw out the best affections of the heart that
was alive to the sweet influences of nature, and to
induce it to send up to heaven the grateful, though
it might be, the silent song of love and praise.
But Sybil Grey's impressions of high and holy
things early implanted by a good mother, had
worn off almost imperceptibly; not that they were
absolutely forgotten, but they appeared to be laid
by for some future day, when perhaps there would
be more leisure or greater need to attend to them.
This was indeed the spring-time of her life, the
season for gaiety and pleasure; and our young
friend, who was passionately fond of music and
singing (in both of which she was a proficient) was
flattered and admired by persons as thoughtless as
herself, to the great detriment of those higher and
better qualities, which it was the earnest desire of
both Mr. and Mrs. Grey that their children should
Another great fault of Sybil's was a fondness for
novel reading, to which she too often devoted the
time which should have been occupied in useful
pursuits, and gained a knowledge which puffed up
rather than edified her.
I have not painted a very estimable character;
and yet, with all her faults, no one that knew Sybil
Grey intimately, could help loving her, she was so
thoroughly good natured, so sympathetic to out-of-
door sorrows when they came across her path;
and yet, strange to say, so almost stupidly uncon-
scious of the claims to her sympathies which her
own family possessed, else she would not have been
so unobservant of the lines of thought and careful-
ness which often rested on the face of her mother,
nor have wondered at the devotedness of her
younger sister Mabel to those duties, which she
herself considered irksome and disagreeable.
As our young friend retraced her steps with
An Old Acquaintance Found.
the view of returning home-she had fully re-
solved not to follow the nutting party to the
dell-it must be confessed she was in no very
enviable state of mind; the hurried walk, the fright
from the dogs, her own disappointment of a day's
pleasure, and, most disagreeable of all, the reflec-
tion which she could not put from her, that indeed,
and in truth, she had brought all these seeming ills
upon herself, made the way home appear long and
tiresome, or rather would have done so, had not an
adventure presented itself just suited to the young
Sybil had crossed some fields, and was just
passing through a gate leading to the high road,
when she saw, seated on the stump of a tree on the
opposite side, a poor, but very decently dressed
woman, holding a baby in her arms, while a little
boy, apparently about three years old, leaned on
her knee with his bright eyes fixed on his mother's
It was a singularly interesting group, the child's
rosy cheeks and healthy appearance, contrasting
strongly with the pale, sickly appearance of the
woman, who seemed to be suffering from want as
well as from illness.
A much less sympathising person than Sybil
Grey might have been attracted by this spectacle;
but to our heroine it was irresistible, and the soft
and gentle tone of her voice, as she inquired of
16 Sybil, Grey.
the wayfarer, "Are you ill ?" went straight home
to the wounded heart, which found relief in a flood
of tears, though for the moment the poor woman
could return no answer.
Sybil's heart and eyes were full also, but she
tried to disguise her feelings by taking the hand of
the little boy, and asking him what his name was.
"Reg. Vicks," replied the child promptly, and
without the slightest hesitation; at the same time,
however, pulling his hand away from the young
lady, and clinging closer to his mother.
Rude boy, Reggie," said the poor woman, to
answer the lady in such a rough manner," giving
him, besides the rebuke, a very gentle tap on his
pretty curly head as it rested on her knee.
He has grown quite unruly, miss, since his
poor father left us, and we have been obliged to
mix with people whose manners are coarse and
Where is your husband gone, and why did he
leave you?" inquired Sybil, who no longer had a
thought to spare, either on the nutting party or her
"It is rather a long story, miss," replied the
woman; I don't like to detain you with telling it.
We were well off once. My husband is a carpenter.
He used to work for a very kind master, but after
we had been married more than five years, and I
had had three children, Mr. Morris died, and my hus-
An Old Acquaintance Found. l
band was thrown out of work. Unfortunately, one
or two persons persuaded us to go to London, as
they said there was always plenty of work to be
got there ; so we sold all our furniture, and came
to town, living on the money we received from the
sale till my husband obtained work. It was a very
different thing being in lodgings to having a house
of our own; still, I should have been content if
our health had continued good; but it did not. I
was the first to suffer from the change, and before
I had well recovered I lost my three darlings-a
girl and two boys-with scarlet fever."
Here the poor woman was quite overcome, and
sobbed and wept as if the wounds which time had
partly closed had all been opened afresh, while
little Reggie, not quite understanding why his
mother should cry, but connecting it somehow with
the appearance of the young lady, after giving her
a very reproachful look, hid his face in his mother's
Slap, and set up a loud roar on his own account.
His grief, however loud, was not so deep as it
appeared. It soon subsided when Sybil produced
from her pocket some acid-drops, and the curly
head was raised and stroked by a kind mother's
hand, as she continued the recital of her sorrows.
After the death of our children we removed to
another lodging, and as my husband still had work,
we got on pretty well for some few years, during
which time these two little ones were born; before
however, this dear baby was three months old, my
poor husband's health gave way, and he grew
worse and worse, until the doctor told us that if he
remained in London, he could not live: at the
same time he advised us to go to Australia in one
of the emigrant ships.
We had a little money given to us by some rela-
tions of my husband's former master, Mr. Morris,
who had always shown great kindness to us, but it was
not sufficient to enable us all to go away, though I
begged hard that we might not be separated. I
will send for you and the children as soon as ever
I can earn a little money,' said my husband; in
the meantime, Lucy, you must go and stay with
your mother.' And we are on our way to do so
now, miss; we have to go nearly twenty miles. But
I should not care for any hardship I had to endure,
if I could only hope to see my dear husband again.
I'm so afraid I never shall."
"Oh, don't give way to fears," said Sybil, as-
suming a cheerful tone. "You must keep up
your spirits for the sake of your dear little ones.
But how is it possible that you and Reggie can
walk twenty miles and you have not yet told me,"
added Sybil, "what your name is; I could not
understand what your little boy said."
"Vickers, miss, is my name-Lucy Vickers.
I know I cannot walk all the way; but there is a
carrier goes twice a week from Ilford to ,
An Old Acquaintance Found.
about three miles from my mother's cottage and I
have got five shillings in my pocket, which I re-
"ceived for my ring and a small gold brooch. I did
not sell them, I only put them in pawn; but I dare
say you don't know what that means."
"Oh yes, I do indeed," exclaimed Sybil. I
have been too often among the poor people not to
understand how impossible it would be sometimes
even to get a loaf of bread, unless they could pawn
some article of wearing apparel."
"The ring," resumed Mrs. Vickers, "was my
wedding-ring, and the brooch was given me when
I .was married, by the kindest lady I ever lived
with. Though it is more than fifteen years ago, and
I have never seen her since, I shall always have
her in my mind, as well as the dear little girl that
I nursed through the scarlet fever. All the three
children had it, but little Sybil was the worst, and
no one ever expected she would get better. I
nursed her night and day, for the darling was so
fond of me, and my poor mistress was almost worn
out with grief and anxiety. They all got better,
though, I am thankful to say, and no doubt they
are grown young ladies now, and have quite for-
"Sybil, did you say, was the name of the little
girl you nursed ?" exclaimed our heroine excitedly,
and what was her other name, Mrs. Vickers, for I
long to know ?"
20 Sybil Grey.
Grey, miss, Sybil Grey," replied the poor
woman. "I lived with Mrs. Grey three years, and
there never was a kinder or better mistress."
It is my mamma," cried Sybil, "my own dear
mamma! and, Mrs. Vickers, lam the child you so
tenderly nursed when I had the scarlet fever. I
have often heard mamma say that she believed if
it had not been for your constant care and watch-
fulness, I should never have lived over that dreadful
fever. Oh, how glad I am that I did not go nutting
to-day, for then I should not have seen you to thank
you for all your past kindness and to repay you for
it as much as I can," cried Sybil. But now,"
she added, "let us go to our house, to let mamma
know of the wonderful discovery I have made this
morning. We can discuss ways and means better
when you and dear little Reg have had some re-
freshment, and are well rested."
So saying, Sybil took the little boy by the hand,
and kindly assisted his mother to rise, saying as
she did so, "We'll give them nuts to crack, won't
we, Reggie, though we haven't been to the Dell?"
a question which, we need scarcely say, met with
no response from the bewildered child, who was far
too much occupied in watching his mother, lest by
some means she should be spirited away from him,
to attend to speeches made by a new-found com-
"MAMMA, mamma !" exclaimed Sybil, bursting very
unceremoniously into the breakfast-room, where
Mrs. Grey still sat writing letters, "do you re-
member the name of an old servant of yours, called
Lucy Stanger ?"
"Why, what can make you ask me such a
question, Sybil," said Mrs. Grey. Of course I
remember her, but you cannot, for you were much
too young when Lucy left us to remember anything
Oh, I know that, mamma," said Sybil; but I
have heard you and papa often talk about her, and
say what a good faithful servant she was, and how
few there were to be met with now, who could be
compared with Lucy."
"Very true, my dear,jand I am compelled still
to say that Lucy .-t ng.er was one in a thousand, so
far as my experience goes; but what in the world
could induce you to think of, and to mention, Lucy-
to me ?"
"You shall know all in good time, mamma,"
cried Sybil, darting out of the room as rapidly as
she had entered it, and leaving Mrs. Grey in a state
of bewilderment, which had the effect of putting a
stop to her writing, and of bringing back to her mind
visions of bygone years, both of sorrow and of
"Now you must come and see your old mis-
tress," said Sybil, addressing Mrs. Vickers, whom
she had left seated in a rustic chair in the garden.
" No, no," she added, I must not call dear mamma
old, though it is so many years since you saw her.
I wonder whether she will know you again," con-
tinued the young lady, taking Reggie's hand, and
preceding Mrs. Vickers as she made her way to
the breakfast-room, on opening the door of which
she exclaimed, I have brought you better nuts to
crack, mamma, than the other party will bring you,
I'm sure. Isn't this a fine specimen ?" she cried,
as she drew Reg toward her mamma.
What a strange girl you are, Sybil," said her
mamma, smiling kindly on her daughter, however,
as she spoke; and glancing at the poor woman and
her healthy-looking children. And who have you
got here?" she continued, as Sybil presented the
rather reluctant Reg Vicks to her mother.
This mamma, is a new friend, who belongs to
a very old friend of yours, whom I have often heard
you speak of. I met them as I was returning home,
and I have brought them to you to see if you can
recognize them; that is, the mother, not the chil-
Mrs. Grey hesitated for a moment, and then,
recollecting Sybil's question when she first entered
the room, she exclaimed as she rose from her chair,
" Lucy can it be Lucy !"!
"Yes, it is indeed, ma'am," replied Mrs. Vickers;
" I don't wonder that you should not know me, for
I am sadly altered."
"You are indeed very different from the healthy,
blooming young woman of fifteen years ago. But
sit down, Lucy," continued Mrs. Grey, as she her-
self resumed her seat, "and tell me all about
yourself and your family. If there is anything that
I can do for your comfort, you may be sure I will
Oh, ma'am," replied Lucy Vickers, sinking into
a chair and resigning the baby to Sybil, for she
seemed quite overcome, "you were always so kind
and considerate. I scarcely knew what care was
when I lived with you, but I have had a large share
for the last five years."
The change of nurses did not at all please
Master Reg, who plucked vigorously at his mother's
dress, and tried to make her understand by certain
shakings of his curly head, how great was his dis-
pleasure at her giving up his baby brother. How-
ever, when he observed Sybil go to the sideboard and
transfer a lump a sugar from the glass basin to the
baby' mouth, he thought proper to change his
mind, and seating himself contentedly on a little
stool which had been placed for him, he continued
to watch the progress of events, so that if he found
it expedient, he might improve his acquaintanceship
with his newly-found friend.
Meantime, Mrs. Grey had been informed of the
principal events in the life of her old servant, and
sincerely had she sympathised with her in her
sorrows and troubles; but the good lady did not
intend to satisfy herself with mere sympathy, to
say, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled,"
without supplying the necessities; so she left the
room after ordering a substantial meal to be pro-
vided, in search of various articles of wearing ap-
parel, which she well knew Lucy could turn to good
account, as she had always been very clever at her
"How strange that I should have fallen in with
you this morning," said Sybil, as she still sat nursing
the baby, while Mrs. Vickers and Reggie were en-
joying the good things which had been provided for
them; "I was to have gone on a nutting expedi-
tion with my brothers and sisters, only I was too
late in rising, so they set off without me," continued
our heroine. I am very glad now that I was left
behind, though I felt terribly vexed at the time.
But you know the old lproverb, Mrs. Vickers, 'It
is an ill wind that blows nobody atii profit.'"
"To me, it seems a providential thing, Miss
Sybil," replied Lucy Vickers. I can scarcely be-
lieve it to be true that I have seen my dear
mistress, and the little girl I loved so much, and
who used to cling so closely to me during her
"And I will still cling to you, Lucy," said Sybil,
"and do all that I can to help you and the dear
children. But what do you intend to do to earn a
living while you are with your mother? I suppose
she is not in a condition to support you."
"Oh no, miss," replied Lucy, "my mother has
very little for herself; but she has been used from a
child to make the pillow-lace, and she is so good a
hand at it that she is never at a loss for work. All
the gentry in the neighbourhood like to have lace
of my mother's making."
"And can you work at the pillow-lace ?" in-
quired Sybil, because that would be, I think, very
nice employment for you, and I think I can pro-
cure an order for you from a lady that I know
will want a considerable quantity."
Here the subject dropped, for Mrs. Grey just
then returned to the room with a large bundle of
wearing apparel, which she spread out upon the
table, in order, as she said, to pack it in as small a
compass as possible.
And now, Lucy," said this kind friend, you
must do as I bid you, and not think of going any
part of the way by a carrier. I will send the boy
to the railway with you, to carry the things, and I
will pay your fare to Pinner, which I think you say
is only two miles from your mother's cottage; per-
haps you may manage to walk that distance,
though you must not attempt to carry anything but
your baby. I dare say you can get a boy to take
the bundle and the basket of provisions, which I
have had put up for you, to the cottage."
With a great many heartfelt expressions of
gratitude, and a promise to write and let her kind
friends know of her safe arrival at her mother's;
with much shaking of hands, and with plenty of
kissings for the juveniles, Lucy Vickers and her
children left Woodbine Cottage cheered, refreshed,
A PAINFUL ANNOUNCEMENT.
BEFORE we return to the nutting party let us hear
our friend Sybil's suggestion concerning the em-
ployment she hoped to obtain for Lucy Vickers.
"You know, mamma," said the young lady,
"that Alicia Melville's sister is going to be married
soon, and I heard her say that all her things were
to be trimmed with lace. Now don't you think I
might recommend Mrs. Vickers to Alicia ?"
I think you might, my dear," replied her mother;
"for though Lucy herself might not be able to do
the best work, she might updcrt4ke the narrow
A Painful Announcement.
lace, and Mrs. Stanger could do the other. As you
are going back with Miss Melville for a few days,
you will be able to suggest this plan to them; but
now, dear Sybil," continued Mrs. Grey, what
are you going to do ? are you intending to follow the
nutting party to the Dell, or shall you remain at
"Oh, I shall not go out again," replied Sybil;
"I am going to ask Mabel to come and practise
this duet with me." This was said while she was
tumbling over all her music to find the piece in
question, which had been, as usual, carelessly
thrown aside as soon as it was done with.
"You are not going to disturb Mabel at her
work, my dear, I assure you," said Mrs. Grey
decidedly; "she has much, very much to do for
your brothers, and it will require all her time and
attention until the evening, when it will be more
convenient for both of you to practise your music."
But, mamma," urged Sybil, I want Alicia to
hear how well we can play this duet, and I think it
is unkind of you not to let Mabel come."
"And what must I say of your request, dear
Sybil ?" inquired Mrs. Grey. "Is it not unkind of
you to wish to deprive me of the only helper I
have in the house, just at the time when your
brothers are to be prepared for school, and your
dear papa for a sea voyage ?"
"For a sea voyage !" exclaimed Sybil, jumping
up from the floor, where she had been sorting her
untidy music. "Oh, mamma, why did you not
speak of this before ?"
I did not hear of it myself until last night, and
I did not like to speak of it this morning for fear
of spoiling your day's pleasure, Sybil."
"And where is dear papa going ?" inquired the
anxious girl, who was now thoroughly shaken out
of self, and no longer thought of music, or indeed
of anything but the one absorbing fact that her
papa was going away.
To the West Indies, my dear, and he will not
be with us again until Christmas; but I have much
to do after I have finished my letter writing, and
must not be interrupted again."
So saying, Mrs. Grey sat down again to her
desk, while Sybil, unable to settle herself to any-
thing after the shock she had received, stood look-
ing out of the window, absorbed in her own
melancholy thoughts, and dreaming away precious
time that might have been so well employed in
working for others.
But we must leave poor Sybil to her newly
awakened and most painful cogitations; Mabel to
.her useful occupations, and Mrs. Grey to finish her
correspondence, and once more join the young
and happy party who left Woodbine Cottage, after
breakfast, on the nutting expedition.
"Now, which way are we to go ?" inquired Sidney,
who had preceded the party, and was now standing
between two roads waiting for a decision; the
inquiry was made in the usual stentorian voice,
and greatly offended his sister Margaret, who had
a very particular dislike to schoolboy manners.
You rude boy, Sidney," said his sister, on
coming up to him; "could you not have waited
for a few minutes instead of rushing on and shout-
ing out in that manner ?"
Why, I think," retorted Sidney, "that Philip
and I have waited long enough this morning, seeing
we were ready to start at seven o'clock, and now
it is past nine."
"Speak for yourself, Sidney," said Philip, quite
forgetting seemingly that he had set the example of
rudeness in his remonstrance with Sybil, but he did
not wish to appear rude in the eyes of Miss
Melville, hence his tacit rebuke to Sidney.
That young gentleman was, however, sauntering
idly on in the direction of the Friar's Wood, till he
was called back hastily by the declaration of Alicia
Melville, that she would never again venture near
Mr. Hammond's garden, after the fright she had
received from the dogs.
Very well," said Sidney; "I can only tell you
that in the fields which we have to cross before we
come to the Dell, there are lots of cows, and I
dare say," he added, "bulls too, and they are
much more dangerous than dogs."
"Nonsense, Alicia," said Philip; "Sidney is
only trying to frighten you, because he doesn't
want himself to go to the Dell, it is such a long
Is" Oh, we don't mind going a long way, do we, Miss
Melville?" said little Ethel, putting her hand into
that of the young lady, and repeating her brother
Philip's assurance that Sidney was only trying to
"Well, we will go to the Dell, dear," said Miss
Melville, grasping the little warm hand, and making
a forward movement, followed by Miss Grey, Philip,
and the still reluctant Sidney, who appeared to be
considering whether he should proceed or turn
towards home again. Casting a glance, however,
at the well-stocked baskets, and remembering the
store of good things they contained, Sidney adopted
the wise plan of keeping them and their bearers
in sight; indeed, he so far propitiated his sister
Margaret, as to offer to carry the basket for her, a
proposal to which she willingly assented.
It was a lovely day, though as there was no
cloudy screen to intercept the hot rays of the sun,
we may imagine the young party to have a rather
warm walk in prospect, though at present all was
delightful. Suddenly they came to a stile, which
led into an adjoining field, and while Miss Mel-
ville, Margaret, and Ethel were making their way
over it, impetuous Sidney declared his intention of
leaping over the hedge.
"Not with that basket of provisions in your
hand, my fine fellow," interposed Philip; "leave
me to take care of that. And I would advise you
not to leap over the hedge; you don't know how
deep it may be on the other side."
"Parcel of nonsense !" cried the don't-carish
boy; here, take the basket, Phil, if you like, and
now see me leap." Sidney gave a vigorous spring,
but we cannot say that he landed on the other side.
On the contrary, to his own great disgust, and the
amusement of Philip, he came souse into a little
rivulet, that was making its way to join a neigh-
bouring river, when it was thus rudely arrested in
It was well for the whole party that the basket
of provisions had not shared in the catastrophe.
Philip had crossed the stile, and having ascertained
that Sidney was not suffering from anything worse
than a wet jacket, he laughed aloud, and drew the
attention of the advancing party, making Sidney
very wrath at his brother's unseemly mirth," as
he called it.
"Now do go away all of you," said the ex-
asperated Sidney, as the party closed round him;
and Margaret would fain have rubbed him down
with her pocket-handkerchief, for I must tell the
truth, and explain that not only the jacket, but the
trousers, shoes, and stockings were saturated with
It was in vain, however, that his sister, and Alicia
Melville too, begged him to return home and
change his clothes, even promising to wait for him.
Sidney disdained all such advice, and insisted that
it was "all right," though to judge by sundry
twitchings at his wet trousers as he went along,
which would persist in sticking to his skin, it was
anything but all right" with him.
After this little episode, the merry party pro-
ceeded on their way, passing the field of cows
without any misadventure from a bull, and reaching
the Dell, whose shady covert protected them from
the hot rays of the mid-day sun.
They had not, however, all this time been un-
mindful of the object of their expedition, for the
hedges had been ransacked, and a good store of
nuts had solaced them for sundry scratches, which
they had received from certain thorn-clad neigh-
bours of the pliant hazel-tree; they were but
scratches, however, and the pain they gave was not
to be compared with poor Sidney's inconvenience
in his wet clothes, though he treated the affair in
a very cavalier fashion, and after the first burst of
laughter from Philip, and of sympathy from the
young ladies, no one had teazed him by taking any
This is a beautiful spot," said Margaret, as they
came to a secluded little dell, very near to, though
high above the river, which they caught occasional
glimpses of between the trees and low shrubs.
"Had we not better spread our cloth here, and
set out our repast ?" she inquired.
A ready assent was given to this proposal by all
the party, and Philip and Sidney suggested that,
whilst the young ladies spread the cloth and pre-
pared the viands, they should go and fill an empty
bottle they had brought with them, with the clear
water of the sparkling river.
All was soon settled, and the whole party were
seated on the soft velvety turf, quite prepared to
enjoy both rest and refreshment, when a sudden
darkening of the sky caused an exclamation from
Miss Melville, and Philip, putting aside the leafy
screen, exclaimed, I do believe it is going to rain;
won't it be provoking if it does ?"
"Oh, nonsense !" cried Sidney, vexed at the
prospect of another disaster, though he feared for
something worse than a wet jacket this time, for
they would be disappointed of their lunch. The
young ladies, however, were much more afraid of
a thunderstorm, especially Alicia Melville, who was
of a nervous temperament. So all the young faces
that had been lighted up so lately with a. glow of
pleasure, were now darkened over with a cloud of
Oh, come," cried Sidney, as he helped himself
to a pasty, don't all of you look so frightened;
what does it matter if a shower of rain should come ?
we are safe enough under these trees; I don't
think we should get a drop of wet? We had
better," continued Sidney, "eat up our lunch as
quickly as we can, and put the nuts into the
"I am sure I could not touch a mouthful of
anything," cried Alicia Melville, as she stood
anxiously watching a heavy cloud which was sailing
towards them. She had risen from the ground on
the first appearance of a cloud, and holding back
the branch of a tree that sheltered them, she gazed
tremblingly at the changed scene that presented
itself. So bright and beautiful as everything had
been only half an hour ago, and now, all so very
threatening. "There !" she exclaimed suddenly,
" I felt a large drop of rain on my face. Oh, pray,
let us go home as quickly as possible! I am
frightened to death of thunder,"
"Why, you needn't be afraid of the thunder,"
replied Philip, "it is only the lightning that could
do us harm; but we are not going to have either;
it will just be a passing shower, depend upon it."
But even as Philip spoke, some low rumbling
sounds were heard in the distance, and the now
truly affrighted girls began hastily to pack up the
things they had spread out, in spite of the remon-
strances of both the brothers, who were obliged to
content themselves with snatching a hasty mouthful
or two, that, as they said, they might not be quite
Before the hurried task of packing was com-
pleted, a vivid flash of lightning, followed by a loud
peal of thunder, told plainly enough the necessity
of seeking some other shelter than that of over-
arching trees; and Philip suggested that beneath
the cliff, or stony road down which he and Sidney
had slidden to obtain water from the river, they
would be the most likely to find a safe shelter from
the lightning; and from the rain, which was now
falling in heavy showers.
The poor terrified girls were fain to follow
Philip's prudent advice; and he and Sidney carry-
ing the baskets, led them to the rugged pathway
which was not far off.
Oh, I cannot indeed get down over those
loose stones," cried Alicia; "I am sure I shall
slip, and fall to the bottom. You must leave me
where I am; I don't mind getting wet through."
"But the lightning, dear Alicia the lightning, it
is that we want to shelter from !" said Margaret, as
she held out her arms, and entreated her friend to
make an effort to descend.
All her entreaties, however, would perhaps have
been in vain, had not a flash, brighter than before,
accompanied by a terrific peal, seconded Margaret's
Supported by Philip, the terrified girl slipped
down the rugged pathway, and was led by her friend
under the cliff, though the brothers soon found a
more desirable place of refuge for them.
"Now look here," said Philip, as he led the
party a little farther on, though they were still par-
tially sheltered by the overhanging cliff, "you must
all try to squeeze yourselves behind this immense
stone. I wonder how ever it got here; I'm sure
we're very much obliged to it for taking up such a
It required, as Philip said, no little squeezing to
get behind this huge stone; but it proved a com-
plete shelter for the poor girls; and when the kind-
hearted brother had seen them safe and snug, as
he said, "as birds in their nests," Sidney and he
proposed to run home with the baskets, and either
send or bring cloaks and umbrellas for them.
No, dear Philip, no !" exclaimed his sister.
"Indeed, you must not go home through all this
rain; you and Sidney will get wet through. We
are well sheltered now, and we had better wait and
all go home together."
"No, Margaret," replied her brother; "though
you are so much older and Wiser than I, depend
upon it my plan is the best. Sidney and I can
change our things when we get home, and then
come back for you. Mamma, I know, will feel very
uneasy about us, especially as we did not tell her
where we were going."
This latter suggestion entirely silenced his sister's
objections. She began now to feel anxious about
her mamma, and as the rain was not falling quite
so heavily, and no more flashes of lightning had
been seen, the boys were suffered to depart in
By the time Philip and Sidney reached home the
rain had ceased, and, as is frequently the case after
a thunderstorm, the sun shone out as brightly as if
no clouds had been suffered to exclude his rays.
Still the two gallants would not hear of remain-
ing at home. As soon as they had changed their
wet clothes they set off again, expecting to meet
the distressed damsels half-way on the road home.
And in this they were not disappointed, for the first
cheering beams of the sun had entirely dissipated
Alicia Melville's fears, and Margaret's anxiety to
save her brothers the trouble of such a long walk,
induced them to leave their shelter and scramble
up the stony cliff the best way they could.
Thus, as had been anticipated, they met the two
boys half-way, and except for wet feet in walking
through the saturated fields, they all arrived home
in excellent spirits, and quite ready to avail them-
selves of the contents of the baskets, and all the
other good things which kind friends had prepared
THE DAY AFTER THE STORM.
THE occurrences of the preceding day had aroused
Sybil Grey out of her dreamy self. She rose at an
early hour, and as she dressed she pondered over
the events of yesterday with very mixed sensa-
The vexations of the morning, her improper
treatment of her friend Miss Melville, her dis-
appointed search, and the wonderful meeting with
her old nurse and the two sweet children, all
passed in review before her; but the painful fact,
that remained with her, and saddened her inmost
soul, was that her dear papa was on the eve of
another sea voyage. Mr. Grey, or perhaps we
should rather call him Captain Grey, was greatly
beloved by all his family; but Sybil, the impulsive
Sybil, believed that no one ever loved a father as
she did hers. This, of course, was a mistake; it
is not generally the most impulsive love that is the
truest. Silent, steady, yet active and self-denying,
these are its characteristics; and quiet Mabel
The Day after the Storm.
proved her love by her works. She grieved quite
as much as Sybil did at the thought of her papa's
going away; but she kept her feelings to herself,
or at least showed not half of what she felt.
On the previous day, when the thunderstorm
came on, poor Sybil had been in a dreadfully ex-
cited state about the nutting party, and it was with
some difficulty that Mrs. Grey prevented her from
going after them; though, even then, she did not
know that they had really gone to the Dell;
but, alas, she never thought of consequences. De-
lighted indeed she was when they all reached home
safely, and ready enough to help them to change
their wet shoes and stockings; but it was thought-
ful, quiet Mabel who had got all the things
ready for this change, while Sybil had been wan-
dering from window to door, and from door to
window, wishing for their coming home.
We must do our heroine the justice to say that
she had entirely ignored her own disappointment,
or rather, that she had confessed to herself that she
had fully deserved it-which was the truth.
The nutting party, as we have explained, had not
been told of Captain Grey's intended voyage, nor
was it mentioned to them until the following
morning; but when it was known, it had the
effect of damping the spirits of all assembled at
the breakfast-table; and as, under present circum-
stances, Sybil could not be expected to fulfil her
40 Sybil Grey.
engagement of going to stay with her friend, Miss
Melville, that young lady bade adieu to Mrs. Grey,
Margaret, and Mabel, while Sybil and the two boys
accompanied her to her home.
A TERRIBLE CATASTROPHE.
I SHALL pass over the intervening months between
this time and Christmas, for after the departure of
Captain Grey on his dreaded voyage, and the
leaving home of Philip and Sidney for school, the
house was indeed very dull. A marked change
had taken place in Sybil; her practising was ne-
glected, and her musical voice was seldom heard;
or if she did sing, it was sure to be something
pathetic. One thing, however, still had an interest
for her: Lucy Vickers and her children. Sybil had
heard that they had arrived safely at their destina-
tion, though the thunderstorm had obliged them to
wait a short time at Pinner. Mrs. Vickers wrote in
better spirits, as she expected soon to hear from
her husband, and she had received a promise of
work from a lady in the neighbourhood, who knew
her mother well, and who had been very kind to
her and the children.
A Terrible Catastrophe.
All this was very pleasant to Sybil; but she had
quite lost her usual gaiety of spirits, and she was
more anxious to be with her mamma, and if pos-
sible to help her.
Why are you so dull, my dear Sybil," inquired
Mrs, Grey, as they were seated at work one after-
I don't know, mamma," replied her daughter;
"I think it is because dear papa is away."
"But he has so often been away before; indeed
he is so seldom at home long, that I almost wonder
you should so take it to heart now. Besides, you
know, dear, he ,will be home with us again at
So spoke, and so thought, the loving wife ; but,
alas for her and her children Sybil's presentiment
was indeed the foreshadowing of a terrible catas-
Time passed on, and the longed-for Christmas
was at hand, when, on the I7th of December, the
papers contained details of the frightful earthquake
and hurricane which occurred at the island of St.
Thomas, in the middle of November.
We will quote some of the dreadful details':'
"The day of the i7th of November had been
remarkably fine up to three o'clock in the after-
noon, when, without the least warning, a fearful
earthquake took place. The noise was very great,
shaking, tearing, rocking, and an upheaving
42 Sybil Grey.
motion, horrible, it is said, beyond all concep-
"Then, worse than all, came the great earth-
quake sea-roller, roaring and tumbling into the
harbour, and destroying all before it. The ships
tugged and tore at their anchors, which, providen-
tially, did not give way, or they must have been
"The inhabitants of St. Thomas rushed from
their houses, many of which were thrown down, and
others partially destroyed.
Ten minutes after the first great shock, another
sharp shock was felt, and then came forth from the
sea a horrifying roaring noise, caused by another
great sea-roller, at the approach of which every
man, woman, and child fled towards the mountains
in thousands, giving up all but their young ones,
their aged, and their sick, who were snatched up
and carried off at great risks as far as possible
from the angry sea."
We need scarcely say that a great many lives
were lost in this terrible visitation! but the most
awful calamity was that the ship, of which Mr. Grey
was the captain, struck on a rock and sunk, carrying
down with her all on board, so that not one re-
mained to tell the awful tale.
A New Mode of Life Considered.
A NEW MODE OF LIFE CONSIDERED.
A FORTNIGHT before this dreadful intelligence ar-
rived, Sybil, Margaret, and Mabel, and even little
Ethel, had each been affectionately busy in making
some little Christmas present to surprise dear papa
and their brothers, who were expected to arrive
home about the same time.
Mrs. Grey was not at all satisfied with the ex-
planation Sybil had given her with regard to the
change she saw, but as she could obtain no other,
she was obliged to rest content; and Margaret
and Mabel, intent on the work they had on hand,
did not appear to have observed anything peculiar
in Sybil's behaviour.
All the accounts they had as yet received had
been favourable, and Mrs. Grey, although some-
times disturbed in mind by her daughter's strange
manner, so unlike her former self, did not again
allude to it, nor did she mention her uneasiness,
either to Mabel or Margaret. When, however, the
awful news arrived, and she felt that she was a
widow and her children fatherless, then it was that
she seemed intuitively to cling to Sybil, as the one
child on whose deeply loving bosom she could lean,
and find as deep a response.
What a house of mourning poor Philip and
Sidney had to return to And yet, strange to
say, the whole family appeared to cling to the
forlorn hope, that, by some merciful providence,
the husband and father might have escaped
the wreck; but as day after day, and week after
week went by, and no further intelligence came,
this forlorn hope died out of their hearts, and gave
place to anxiety of a very different kind, but suffi-
ciently formidable in its character.
How were they to live, now that their chief
support had been withdrawn?
Of course this inquiry pressed itself more on the
mind of Mrs. Grey and her eldest daughters than
it did on the others; but they were all sensible and
sensitive enough to feel and know that there must
be a change in their manner of living.
It is true the poor lady was not left entirely
without resources; she had an annuity of a hundred
a year. But what was this among so many?
Sybil, as we have seen, had become quite a
changed girl before the awful event which had
deprived her of a beloved parent, and she it was
who first ventured to assume the character of ad-
viser, as well as comforter, to her afflicted mother,
by whose side she was almost constantly to be
Dear mamma," said Sybil as they were sitting
alone one evening-Margaret and Mabel, the two
boys and little Ethel, being engaged in lessons, which
A New Mode of Life Considered. 49
occupation was a solace to them in their present
sorrowful mode of life-" I have been talking with
Margaret, and we both think that we had better look
out for some engagement as governesses; it will
not only relieve you of expense on our account,
but I trust we should be able to add to your
slender income, and so keep Philip and Sidney at
school some time longer. I do not mean," she
added, at boarding-school, for that would be too
expensive, but at some good day-school. Mabel
and dear Ethel would be your constant com-
panions. I know dear Mabel will teach Ethel, and
do everything she can to assist you, dearest
mother, and the poor boys, now that they have only
you to look to; oh, I am sure they will be good !"
Here the affectionate girl broke down, and throw-
ing her arms round her mother's neck, wept out
her great, great sorrow.
Mrs. Grey had no words of comfort for her child,
so they mingled their tears silently together, until
the entrance of Margaret caused an interruption to
their grief, and the proposition which Sybil had
presented to her mamma was again talked over,
and finally agreed to by that lady.
A FRIEND IN NEED.
AFTER the conversation held between Mrs. Grey
and her two daughters, Margaret and Sybil were
careful to look over the daily papers, to see if in
the advertisements they could find any situation
that might appear suitable for them.
They were engaged in this manner one morning,
when little Ethel came running in to say that
"Nurse Lucy," as she chose to call Mrs. Vickers,
had come, and that she wanted to see Sybil.
"Poor Lucy!" cried Sybil, "she is come to see
and to try to comfort dear mamma; it is very
kind of her to come all this way."
"No, no," persisted Ethel, "it is not mamma,
it is you she wants to see, sister; she did not ask at
all for mamma."
Well, dear," said Sybil, ask Lucy to come in
here to me; perhaps it is better that she should
see me before speaking to dear mamma."
So Mrs. Vickers was ushered into the breakfast-
room, only at first to sit down and weep, as soon
as she cast her eyes on the mourning dresses of the
now fatherless girls.
But tears are from a fount that will, in some
cases, soon dry up, if not replenished from a fresh
source of sorrow; and Lucy's errand this morning
A friend inl Need.
was not one of condolence only, but of kind sug-
When the first sorrowful emotions had subsided,
Mrs. Vickers ventured to explain the real object of
"I think I told you, Miss Sybil," said Lucy, as
she still insisted on being called, that a lady who
lived not far from my mother's, and had known her
for many years, had been very kind to me and to
"Yes, I remember, Lucy. I think you said in
your letter that her name was Rivers, and that she
lived at Stapleton Hall."
"Yes, miss, you are right." Well, continued
Lucy, "I saw her last week when I took some
work I had done for her; she was lying on the
sofa, and she said she had been very unwell with
rheumatic pains in her limbs. I wish,' Mrs. Rivers
said,' that I knew some nice young lady that would
undertake to read to me, and be a constant com-
panion, for I feel very dull, Mrs. Vickers, now my
son is from home,' and she asked me," added
Lucy, "if I heard of any one to tell her. I am
sure you will excuse me, dear Miss Sybil," con-
tinued Lucy, for thinking that you might perhaps
not object to live with such a good lady, and in
such a beautiful house. I cannot tell you how
much Mrs. Rivers does to benefit every one who
lives in her neighbourhood, and her chief trouble
48 Sybil Grey.
with regard to her rheumatic pains seems to be that
she cannot visit the poor people as she used to do;
and I think that is partly her reason for wanting a
companion, because she might take her place
among the poor. I hope, Miss Sybil," continued
Mrs. Vickers, that you will not be offended at my
coming to tell you about Mrs. Rivers."
"Oh, Lucy !" cried Sybil; "don't think so
meanly of me. My sister and I are quite ready
and desirous to do anything for dear mamma and
our brothers. But now we will go and find mamma,
and tell her what news you have brought; but pray
don't say a word about the dreadful past. It
would only open the deep wounds and make them
They found Mrs. Grey occupied in looking over
papers and letters, a painful task enough, but a
very necessary one, and Mrs. Grey never shrank
from duty. She knew that a change must be made,
and that speedily, and she had already engaged to
take a small house near London, as she thought
there might be greater facilities for gaining advan-
tages for her children as they grew up, and also
with regard to their schooling.
When Margaret and Sybil entered with Lucy
Vickers, Mrs. Grey looked distressed and discon-
certed; but she soon recovered herself, and ex-
tending her hand to Lucy, inquired kindly after the
A Friend in Need.
It was not without a great effort that Lucy con-
trived to restrain her tears and answer her kind
mistress's inquiries; but Sybil came to the rescue,
and at once explained to her mamma Lucy's kind
motive for coming so far to see them.
"Of course, ma'am," said Lucy, "I did not
mention Miss Sybil to Mrs. Rivers; but I am
ready to do anything you wish, and as that lady
asked me if I knew any one that I thought would
suit her, I could easily tell her anything you might
think proper with regard to Miss Grey's going to
"Well, that I think would be the best way to
do," said Mrs. Grey; "and we are all greatly
obliged to you, Lucy, for the trouble you have
taken. You can mention Sybil to Mrs. Rivers, and
if that lady wishes for an interview, Sybil will go to
Stapleton Hall any day she may appoint. But now
tell me," inquired Mrs. Grey, "have you heard
from Mr. Vickers ?"
It was a natural, but an involuntary question,
and one that made the warm blood flush over the
faces of both Margaret and Sybil; while Mrs. Grey
herself, as if the inquiry had brought back the most
painful recollections, turned deadly pale, yet listened
for Lucy's answer.
"I had a letter from Vickers last week, ma'am,
and he sent me as much money as he could spare;
but he says, I must not think of going to him at
Here the subject dropped, and Sybil, anxious
that her mamma should not be longer interrupted,
took Mrs. Vickers away to have some refreshment,
as the good woman said she must hasten back to
her mother and the children.
FULL of her new projects, early the next morning
Mrs. Vickers set off for Stapleton Hall. She
waited in the housekeeper's room until Mrs. Rivers
was ready to receive her; and she apologised for
coming so early by pleading her anxiety to serve
both parties. Indeed, in such glowing colours did
Lucy present Sybil to her benefactress that Mrs.
Rivers declared she should feel quite impatient
until she had seen this very charming young lady,
and she declared her intention of writing off that
very day, and asking Sybil to come, promising that
a carriage should meet her at the Pinner station
any time she chose to appoint.
In less than a week after the appointed inter-
view had taken place, Sybil Grey, the once thought-
less, careless Sybil Grey was the inmate of Staple-
ton Hall, the amiable and much-esteemed com-
panion of its benevolent mistress. As her salary
was to be no less than fifty pounds a year, she
was delighted with the idea of being able to give
assistance to her dear mother; for Sybil, unlike too
many young people of the present day, of both
sexes, would have scorned the idea of spending
upon her own person any more than was abso-
lutely necessary to make her appearance respectable
in the situation she held, when she knew that those
who were near and dear to her were suffering
privations. With what a thankful heart had Sybil
returned home to make preparations for her new
mode of life.
* With what a burst of passionate love had she
thrown herself into her mother's arms and exclaimed,
"Oh, dearest mamma, has not God been gracious
to me ? have I not cause of thankfulness in being
thus provided for, and of being able to help you
also? Mrs. Rivers wishes me to go as soon
as possible, but I don't like leaving you, dear
mother," continued Sybil, and she was going to
add, in all your trouble; but she checked herself,
and remarked, "I have a great many things to
A double rap at the door interrupted any further
conversation, and Miss Melville was announced.
It was not that young lady's first visit after the sad,
sad bereavement; she had been often to see them,
and had entered warmly into the family plans,
entirely approving Margaret and Sybil's wise deter-
mination not to remain at home to be a burden on
their mamma. She had come this morning laden
with a large carpet-bag, in which were as many
new things-underclothing-as she could contrive
to carry, and with a message from her mamma to
her dear friend Mrs. Grey, that she was either to
stay and make herself useful, or to bring back as
much work as it was likely she would get finished.
Oh, stay, dear Alicia, stay, and comfort mamma
when I am gone; how kind, how thoughtful of
you, to bring all these new things !" cried Sybil, as
Miss Melville drew them from the bag, and having
the assurance that she would be made useful, pro-
ceeded to take off her hat and cloak.
MRS. LEWIS AND FAMILY.
HAVING seen our young friend Sybil comfortably
established in her new home, let us now inquire
after Miss Grey, or as we would rather call her,
A month had elapsed since Sybil's departure;
Mrs. Lewis and Family.
Woodbine cottage had been given up, and Mrs.
Grey and her family had removed to a much smaller
house in the neighbourhood of Hampstead. It was
not long before our friend Margaret found a situation
as she thought, suited to her mind; true, the salary
was small, but there was the promise of an increase,
and three girls, the eldest only thirteen (the boys
were not mentioned) Margaret thought she should
have no difficulty in teaching, as her own education
had been carefully attended to. Alas, we do not
know what deep waters those who are dependent
often have to pass through; and to exchange
" home sweet home," when it has been a home of
love and peace, for temper and turbulence, must be
a sore trial; poor Margaret Grey found it so,
though she was too good a daughter ever to utter
a complaint to her mamma.
Very unlike the delightful home in which Sybil
was now domiciled was the babel of confusion into
which poor Margaret was introduced.
Three girls had been mentioned, but in the
schoolroom she found two boys also; I can
scarcely call them two young gentlemen, their
manners would not certainly warrant such a title.
Mrs. Lewis made an apology for their appearance,
by saying that their papa intended to send them to
school in a short time, but that she hoped Miss
Grey would not object to giving them lessons with
their sisters, as the trouble would not be much more.
Had Miss Grey, however, known of this, she
certainly would not have undertaken such an
arduous duty for the very insufficient sum of twenty-
five pounds a year; little more indeed than Mrs.
Lewis paid her housemaid.
Are the boys up, Edmund ?" said Mrs. Lewis,
appealing to her husband, who was waiting, book in
hand, for the family to assemble for prayers on the
"I don't know, I'm sure, my dear," answered
Mr. Lewis, a quiet, good sort of man, who, how-
ever, disliked trouble too much to try to keep his
household in order. Miss Grey and the servants
stood waiting, for neither had the three young ladies
made their appearance.
"I particularly wished them all to be down at
prayers and breakfast this morning," said Mrs.
Lewis, casting a reproachful glance at her husband.
"You know, Edmund," she added, "they have to
begin school at ten o'clock, and now it is past nine.
I wonder you don't make them get up."
"I did call them," said meek Mr. Lewis, "but
they don't mind me."
What a confession but it was quite true.
"I saw Master Ernest in the yard playing with
the rabbits half an hour ago," said the cook.
Then go and tell him to come in immediately,"
said the imperious lady.
Cook did as she was desired, but returned with
Mrs. Lewis and Family.
the message that the young gentleman said "he
Another reproachful glance was directed towards
paterfamilias, but no further remark was made,
and the reading commenced, interrupted, however,
by the girls trooping in one after another.
"I shall punish you for your conduct this
morning," said Mrs. Lewis, addressing Ernest, who
did not show himself until breakfast was half over,
and who said that he had left Charley in the yard.
This threat of punishment had been so often
repeated by Mrs. Lewis that it had entirely lost
its effect. Both the boys knew well enough that it
would never be put into execution. Papa and
mamma would forget all about it before the next
offence was committed, and thus they were per-
mitted to have almost entirely their own way-a
frightful state of things !
Breakfast over, after much noise and laughter, in
both of which the young ladies had by far the
greatest share, for they talked so incessantly that
there was little opportunity for their elders even to
make a remark, and often they talked altogether
without seeming to know it was either impolite or
vulgar thus to intrude themselves on observation.
It was an entirely new scene to Margaret Grey;
so unlike her own quiet home; but we must go
with her into the schoolroom now, leaving Mr. and
Mrs. Lewis to have a little family squabbling,
56 Sybil Grey.
which always ended in the gentleman's quick
retiring from the contest, and solacing himself by
reading the morning papers, inwardly, however,
rejoicing that they had got a governess, who, he
foolishly hopes will do his work, and so take away
his responsibility. Poor man he will find out his
mistake when perhaps it is too late. But we will
leave Margaret and her pupils for a time, and
inquire after the welfare of Mrs. Grey and the
family at home, as well as giving a passing glance
A FRESH INTRODUCTION.
BESIDES the family of Mrs. Melville, who was a
widow lady with two daughters, of whom Alicia
was the youngest, Mrs. Grey had other friends, but
none to whom she was so greatly attached; yet they
seldom saw each other, for the one was a great
invalid, and the other, Mrs. Grey, as we have already
seen, was so occupied with her family that she sel-
dom visited any one, though, like her friend Mrs.
Melville, she was ever ready for any charitable com-
mission which the clergyman or the doctor (who
were always her friends) brought for her discharge.
Of course her means of doing good were now small,
A Fresh Introduction.
but there was the same willingness, and that is always
Mrs. Rivers had taken great interest in Sybil's
family, ever since she had known of the painful
event which led to the introduction of so desirable
an inmate into her home. She had frequently in-
vited Mabel to the Hall to spend a week with her
sister, but nothing would induce the affectionate
girl to leave her mother.
"Don't press me to go, dear mamma," pleaded
Mabel; it would be no pleasure to me to visit the
most splendid palace, if you were not with me;"
and so the matter was suffered to drop, and Mabel
kept on her quiet way, teaching little Ethel, helping
her brothers with their lessons in the evening, and
in short, as she ever had been, the right hand of
We have before stated that among Sybil Grey's
accomplishments was an extraordinary talent both
for music and singing, and of both she was passion-
ately fond; and indeed until the one great sorrow
of her life had come upon her she had devoted her-
self almost exclusively to these, to her, delightful
Adversity however, that stern disciplinarian, had
effected what neither persuasion nor parental au-
thority had been able to effect.
Since that direful event, which had deprived her
of a loving father, Sybil had neither played nor
sung, except at the request of Mrs. Rivers, or when
that lady invited a friend or two to Stapleton Hall;
and this was the case one evening when Sybil had
been there about three months.
Sybil had been asked to sing, and her voice, so
sweet, so pathetic, could not fail to ensure rapt at-
tention. Suddenly the door of the drawing-room
was opened, and a young gentleman, who did not
appear as if he had changed his travelling dress,
made his appearance, to the astonishment not only
of the guests, but of Mrs. Rivers herself.
George, my dear boy," exclaimed the lady, rising
to embrace her son, who, unmindful of the lady visi-
tors, had rushed over to where his mother was
sitting, "what has brought you home without
your writing a line to tell me you were coming ?
who could have expected you at this time ?" she
"Why, you, it seems, my dear mother," replied
the laughing George, who was evidently enjoy-
ing the scene of wonder he himself bad excited.
"Can you say," continued her son, "that you
did not expect me, when you have invited my kind
friends to meet me" (and here Mr. George shook
hands heartily with all his lady friends), and caused
the most delicious music to sound in mine ears to
welcome me home, so that I was compelled to rush
in, to see who the siren was that uttered those sweet
sounds, even without making myself presentable to
A Fresh Introduction.
Mr. George's speech was followed by a burst of
merriment from his friends, who all declared they
needed no apology for his coming among them even
in a travelling dress, for that his company was
always very acceptable to them. All this was very
well among friends who knew each other intimately,
but Sybil, poor Sybil Grey, felt her position to be
a very painful one. Kind Mrs. Rivers, however,
soon set her mind at rest, by introducing her to
Mr. George, as the'young lady she had told him of
in her letters, and whom she designated as her
adopted daughter. "Then you are my sister, I
suppose," said the lively George Rivers, "and I
have found a new relative, and am among old friends
-it is quite delightful !"
The evening was spent very pleasantly. Sybil
again sang and played, and was again listened to
With rapt attention. When the little party broke
up, Mr. George," as he was always called, though
in truth he was Mr. Rivers, had many invitations,
but he declined them all.
"No, ladies, no; you must excuse me. My
dear mother will want me, I know, all the time I
am at home; and she has the first claim, has she
not ?" inquired her son.
I am sorry to say that one or two of the ladies
thought that his mother was not the only induce-
ment for George Rivers to keep so closely to the
Hall. They believed that sweet sounds had an
attraction for him; but if this really was the case, he
was doomed to be disappointed, for the very next
morning Sybil asked and obtained leave from her
kind benefactress to go and spend a week with her
mamma, as Mrs. Grey was not very well.
Go, my dear, by all means," said the good lady,
"to see your mamma. John shall drive you to the
station, and meet you there when you come back,
if you will write and let me know by what train
you will return."
Ah me I fear there are not many Mrs. Rivers'
in England, and very few such fortunate young
ladies as our heroine; but we must now see how it
fares with her elder sister.
TRIALS OF TEMPER.
MAMMA says you are not to set us lessons to
learn, Miss Grey," said Clara Lewis, pushing the
book which Margaret offered to her very uncere-
moniously away. Learning lessons all day makes
us dull and stupid, mamma says; she wishes you
to read to us and to tell us about things and
"I am always glad to do so, dear," replied Mar-
garet. You surely have not led your mamma to
Trials of Temper. 61
think that I give you lessons to learn all day;
but you must learn lessons to strengthen your
"Oh, I don't care about my memory being
strengthened," cried the rude girl; "I can re-
member well enough all I want to remember, and
mamma, I know, will be obeyed."
This was added with a slight toss of the head.
"Well, then, we must alter our plans, I suppose,"
said Miss Grey calmly. "You and your sister can
read and work by turns, and we can then talk about
what you have read."
"No, we are not to work," said Agnes, the
second girl; "papa says he does not wish us to
learn to work; he wants us to learn languages."
Poor Margaret! She could scarcely forbear
smiling, much as she was annoyed.
"But, my dears, how is it possible for you to
learn languages if you do not commit lessons to
memory ?" inquired the patient teacher.
Why, you must teach us to be sure," said the
forward Clara; that is what mamma engaged you
A slight flush of indignation suffused the cheek
of the young governess. She was learning her
bitter lesson, and there was no question of its being
engraven on her memory; but she was a good and
pious girl, and she knew where to look for help in
the hour of temptation and trouble; so she kept
62 Sybil Grey.
on at her daily task without complaining, never
mentioning anything that was disagreeable in her
letters to mamma, but often looking forward to the
holidays when she should join all the dear ones at
home, and be happy for a time.
We must do the two boys, Ernest and Charley,
the justice to say that, though they were so unruly
with their mamma, their behaviour to Miss Grey
had been much better than that of their sisters.
They were both younger even than Agnes, and had
not been perhaps so completely under the wing of
mamma, who considered herself an authority not
to be disputed by any one; indeed, Mrs. Lewis
appeared to entertain so high an opinion of her
own qualifications as a wife and mother, and a
model member of society, that it was dangerous to
the peace of the house to offer any opposition to
The two boys, when they were in the school-
room, always took Margaret's side in any dispute,
and many were the squabbles that arose between
the brothers and sisters on the most trivial matters.
"I told mamma," said Clara, "that Miss Grey
made bags for your marbles, and tails for your
kites, and lots of other things; and she said, I
hope Miss Grey does not do such things in school-
hours, for that would be most improper.'"
"And she doesn't do them in school-hours,"
replied Ernest; "you are a nasty tell-tale, Clara;
Trials of Temper. 63
you are always telling tales or making mischief for
somebody. I wish," he added, "that you had
Aunt Lucy to deal with, she'd soon teach you to
behave yourself. I remember," continued Ernest,
"when she first came to see us, that mamma said
to her, 'You must take care, Aunt Lucy, for I warn
you that you have a set of young critics to deal
with;' and mamma laughed as if she thought it
was a thing to be proud of. But Aunt Lucy said,
'Odious things I would as soon be surrounded
by wasps; but you must mean crickets, Selina;
they are very harmless insects,' Aunt Lucy said."
Insects, indeed!" exclaimed the indignant Clara;
"just think of her comparing us with insects !" and,
she added, I can't bear Aunt Lucy, she is always
finding fault with us when she comes."
"Because you are so proud and conceited,
Clara," chimed in Charley, who did like Aunt
Lucy very much. "I'm sure," he added, "she
does not like you, so there is no love lost."
Oh, come, my dears, leave off disputing," said
their kind governess. "I dare say your Aunt Lucy
loves you all, but she thinks children ought not to
"But I am not a child, Miss Grey!" replied
Clara passionately, and scarcely able to restrain
tears of vexation; "I shall tell mamma of you and
Ernest, Charley; you have been very rude to me !"
This speech produced a burst of laughter from
the two boys, which was reproved by Miss Grey;
though she could not help at the same time
taking notice of what Clara had said to her, and re-
marking, "If you are not a child, Miss Lewis, you
should show yourself to be a young lady, and be
careful to set a good example to your brothers and
As this admonition did not at all suit the ill-
conditioned girl, she walked out of the room,
intending no doubt to pour into her mamma's ears,
if not a garbled account of what had passed in the
schoolroom, at least such an one as would suit her
own purpose. And here let me remark, how much
mischief is often made by the repetition of some
observation perfectly innocent in itself, but losing
its character altogether by the manner and mode of
Tale-telling is indeed an odious vice; they that
practise it are the "whisperers who separate their
friends," and all lovers of peace should avoid them.
It will readily be believed that Margaret Grey's
life was anything but a pleasant one; yet she con-
tinued with Mrs. Lewis until that lady considered
it expedient to send all her children, except the
youngest, to school; and as we have no further
interest in the Lewis family, we will leave them to
follow Margaret to her very dear home.
The Home Circle.
THE HOME CIRCLE.
IT was Christmas-time, just two years since that
disastrous storm which had made many wives
widows, and children fatherless, Mrs. Grey and her
family being included in the number.
Since that melancholy event everything had
prospered with the Greys. Sybil, as we have seen,
had found a wealthy friend, and even a second
mother, in Mrs. Rivers, while Margaret, though the
lines had not fallen to her in such a pleasant
place, had nevertheless maintained her position
with credit, and been rewarded for it, while the
ever industrious and indefatigable Mabel, whose
talent lay in drawing, had contrived, together with
her other vocations, to make some very pretty
sketches, which she had sold with advantage among
friends by the kind aid of Miss Melville.
As for the two boys, Philip and Sidney, they had
grown much, and were sedate and steady. Made
wise by calamity, as children of their years often are,
they determined not to increase the trouble of their
remaining parent by any negligence in their studies;
they had therefore made such progress as had
ensured the approbation of the head master of the
school, and the many prizes they had brought
home testified to the diligence of their application.
All this was very gratifying to Mrs. Grey, and
little Ethel's delight, when she saw the load of new
books which her brothers brought home, knew no
Philip, it was intended, as soon as he was old
enough to become a candidate for the situation,
should try for a clerkship in the General Post-office ;
while Sidney retained the desire he had always
expressed, either to go to sea or to try his fortune
in Australia; but it was time enough to decide
this weighty matter, when a few more years had
passed over his head.
Margaret and Sybil had only met once since they
were first engaged in their respective situations,
and that had been twelve months from this time,
as during the summer holidays Mrs. Rivers had
been so unwell, that Sybil could not be induced to
leave her; and though the kind lady wished her to
write for Margaret to come to Stapleton Hall, Sybil
knew well it would be in vain to ask this of her
sister, whom no amount of pleasure could draw
from her mother's side.
Twelve months had wrought great changes in
Mrs. Grey's family, especially in the two elder
daughters, and it was with equal surprise and
pleasure when they met, that Margaret beheld in
Sybil an elegant and lovely woman; while with
pain and deep distress, Sybil saw before her, in-
stead of a blooming healthy sister, such as Margaret
The Home Circle.
had been, a pale, careworn face, and an attenuated
figure; though to judge by her cheerfulness and high
spirits, now she was once more with those she loved,
there was no room for uneasiness on her account.
"Margaret dear, how pale you look, and how
thin you are !" exclaimed Sybil, as after embracing
her, she held her sister at arm's length.
Now, I won't be made an object of pity," said
Margaret, freeing herself, and sitting down beside
her mamma. I am very well, though I do look
pale, and the roses will come back now I am with
you, dear mother, for I am sure to be happy."
Oh, what a blessing it is to see you all again,
and to find you all so much improved; even my
darling Ethel here is growing such a great girl, that
she will be no longer the pet of the family."
Oh yes, I shall, dear," cried Ethel, springing
into her sister's arms, which were spread open to
receive her; I mean to be always the pet, may I
not be, mamma?"
"Yes, dear, you shall remain my pet, though I
do not undertake to nurse you, if you grow much
stouter; we can't call you our little Ethel much
"No, I don't want to remain little," said the
child; I want to grow big, and work for you, dear
mamma; now I can't do anything but learn my
lessons, and hem pocket-handkerchiefs, and darn
stockings a little, and dust the room sometimes.
And what more can I do, mamma?" inquired
Ethel, having, it appeared, come to the end of her
"A great many things more, my darling," said
her fond mother, kissing her; "you make me very
happy by being so obedient; Mabel says you are
very diligent at your books, and your brothers give
you the character of always being ready to find
their slippers for them, to put on a button, and to
take care of their pretty canary."
"So you see the house could not go on very
well without you," said Sybil. "How then will you
be able to come and stay with me at Stapleton
Hall in the spring, Ethel ?"
"Why, mamma must come with me, of course,"
replied the child; "I can't go without her, and
she can't do without me 1"
"AND this is Christmas Eve," said Philip, as he took
his seat between his sisters Margaret and Sybil.
The whole family were, after tea, seated round a
bright fire, and looking very happy, though no
doubt painful memories would mingle with pleasant
hopefulness in the heart of the mother and her elder
"Now suppose," continued Philip, "instead of
telling ghost stories, as was usual in the olden
time, we each relate our own experience ?"
Philip laid a peculiar stress upon this latter word,
and smiled significantly, as if to convey the idea
that he did not use it puritanically.
As this suggestion was approved of by the whole
party, Margaret, as the eldest, was requested to begin.
"Oh! such a dull tale mine will be!" cried
Margaret. I'm afraid you will all drop off to sleep
before I have finished it; unless, indeed, as Charley
Lewis used to say, I 'cut it short.' The boys
didn't go to school, or I should have thought they
had learned the phrase there."
"Thank you, sister Margaret," said Sidney; "we
don't go to school to learn slang; do we, Phil ?"
"But we hear a great deal spoken; I know
mamma does not like it, so I try not to learn it,"
replied Phil. "But come, Margaret dear, go on !"
"I thought," continued Margaret, "the first few
weeks I was with Mrs. Lewis that it would be im-
possible for me to remain there. She was not
unkind, but she was so formal, and self-opinionated,
she could not bear to be contradicted, even by Mr.
Lewis, about anything, although he always did it
in the kindest way. Then the boys were very rude
and boisterous out of school-hours; and they were
never reproved, though they made the carpets so
dirty, and spoilt the good furniture by knocking it
70 Sybil Grey.
"Oh, Margaret !" exclaimed Sidney, fearing for
the good character of boys in general; you can't
expect us to be like girls, always sitting prim or
playing about without any spirit; I like a good
romp in the house, when we can't get out to play;
don't you, Phil ?"
"Well, I must confess," answered Philip, "I
don't like romping over chairs, and tables, and
sofas, and knocking things about, just for the sake
of our own play. It may be all very well to be
boisterous out of doors, but you know, Sidney, we
were never allowed to play with tables and chairs;
were we, mamma?" he added, appealing to his
"No, my dear," replied Mrs. Grey; "it was a
great fault in your dear papa's eyes, and you had
early lessons on the subject, which I am glad to say
you have never forgotten. But we must not in-
terrupt your sister any more."
"Well," continued Margaret, "the boys and I
soon became fast friends; I got to like them very
much, and they, I believe, were fond of me, for they
always came to me with their little troubles, and
they always took my part when their sister Clara
showed her temper. She was a girl I could not
manage; she resisted kindness as an offence, and
she cared not for reproof, unless administered by her
mamma; Agnes and little Rose were much more
amiable, but they did not like lessons, nor care for
anything but play, so it was impossible to do my
duty by them as I wished to do.
And yet, after all, I believe," added Margaret,
" the children were sorry when I left them; per-
haps it was the prospect of going to school that
frightened them; but that could not have been the
case with Mr. Lewis, who, as he was preparing to
leave home in the morning, bid me good-bye, and
said, I feel greatly obliged to you, Miss Grey, for
the interest you have taken in my boys, who, in-
deed, ought never to have been pupils of yours.'
As Mr. Lewis said this, he shook hands and gave
me this purse." And Margaret took from her
pocket a very handsome purse, opening it at the
same time, and placing in her mother's hand a Bank
of England note for twenty pounds!
Did Mr. Lewis give you this besides what you
were engaged for, dear ?" inquired Mrs. Grey.
Oh yes, mamma," said Margaret; "I had my
salary safely in my pocket. I think it was very
generous of him, but I am sure Mrs. Lewis did not
half like it."
"Well done, sister Margaret!" cried both the
boys, jumping up and giving her a hearty salute.
I think you should say, 'Well done, Mr. Lewis,'"
said quiet Mabel, who had all this time been a
silent, but a much interested listener.
"And so we do," said Philip; "so let us give
three cheers for Mr. Lewis, Sidney."
"And three cheers for our Margaret," replied
Sidney. And so suiting the action to the word,
there was a general rising except by mamma, and
though the young ladies did not let their voices be
heard, they heartily responded in feeling to their
Noisy boys," said their mother, smiling, though
with glistening eyes; "now sit down again quietly,
and hear Sybil's tale."
"Mine, you know, dear mamma," commenced
Sybil, cannot be a tale of much interest, unless I
were to enter into the details of all the poor
families to whom Mrs. Rivers does good; and
then, I am sure I should tire you, and it would
take too many words to tell, so it would be a tax
both on your patience as well as on mine."
"No, no," cried Philip, "we don't want the
history of your poor neighbours, Sybil, only so far
as they may affect yourself."
"Ah, selfish boy," exclaimed Mabel: "don't
you know that we ought to care for everybody ?"
"Well, I do care for everybody, that is, almost
everybody," returned good-natured Philip, though
he could not help laughing at the idea of his
having this very extensive charity; ",but you know,
Mabel," he continued, "we want now only to
hear how Sybil has got on at Stapleton Hall, and
how she likes the good lady there."
"Now, Sybil, we will not interrupt again," said
Margaret, and the young lady recommended.
"I have always told you, dear mamma, when I
have either seen or written to you, that a kinder
lady or a more considerate one than Mrs. Rivers
there could not be; but a shadow has come across
my path, which has robbed it of some of the
sunshine, though I hope not for long."
Mrs. Grey looked anxiously at her daughter, and
saw that a tear was standing in her dark blue eye;
but Sybil made a strong effort to subdue her
emotion, and she succeeded as she went on with
"I think mamma, I have mentioned to you the
name of a young lady, who has been more than
once staying at Stapleton Hall, Miss Masterman.
For what reason I do not know," continued Sybil,
" except she chose to look upon me as greatly her
inferior, her treatment of me has been such as to
occasion me much distress, and I cannot help dis-
liking her very much."
"I hope, my dear Sybil, that you will not give
way to this feeling," said her mother, whatever
provocation you may have. I know it must be
very painful to bear the arrogance of those, who,
except perhaps for the possession of riches, are not in
any way superior to yourself. But remember, my
child, we all have a cross to bear, and it must be
borne with patience and submission."
"Yes, dear mamma," said Sybil, "I know all
that, but what a dreadful thing it would be to me
to lose the esteem and affection of dear Mrs.
Rivers ?" And here, in spite of good resolves and
strenuous endeavours, our heroine fairly broke
down, and wept silently on her mother's bosom.
"Oh, come now, Sybil," cried Philip, "this is
really too bad; we won't have you cry to-night, so
if you have any more disagreeables to tell, we will
postpone them for some future occasion. Well I
declare!" continued Philip, "if the girls haven't
all got tears in their eyes, even pet seems as if she
were going to cry. Now down with your handker-
chief, Sybil, and make an apology for bringing us
all into hot water, for the sake of one Miss Master-
man; she is not going to be masterboys," continued
Philip; "we would soon let her know that, if we
had her here." As Philip spoke, he gently drew
the handkerchief from his sister's face, and to his
great satisfaction, saw there a smile instead of a
How could Sybil help smiling? and it so hap-
pened that the smile proved as contagious as the
tear had been; so there was sunshine after the
rain, which ended in a general vote of censure on
the proud Miss Masterman, whom Sidney voted a
bore or a bear, he didn't care which; and Philip,
the witty, seconded this remark by saying, "he
was sure she could not be a humain being."
I would just put one question to you, dear
Sybil," said her mamma, after the small tumult had
subsided. Has this young lady's advent among
you made any difference in regard to Mrs. Rivers'
conduct to you, or her feelings of esteem towards
you? And is she likely to visit the Hall again ?"
In regard to the first question, mamma,"
answered Sybil, I should say no; but of course
I cannot know exactly the state of her feelings,
though she has been to me the same considerate,
kind friend that I have found her from the first.
To your second question I am sorry to say that
Miss Masterman has invited herself to come to
Stapleton Hall the next time Mr. George Rivers
visits his mother, as she says it must be so dull for
him not to have some young companion. I
believe," continued Sybil, "that there is some
cousinly relationship, or surely no young lady,
however intimate, would take such a liberty."
You have told me enough, my dear," said her
mother significantly; "now go on with your story."
It will scarcely be my story, what I am going to
tell you now, mamma," said Sybil, "because it is
about Lucy Vickers. She very often comes to the
Hall, for she does all the plain work that Mrs.
Rivers has to do, as well as working lace, so I
should say she is getting quite rich. Little Reggie
often comes with her, and seems to be a general
favourite in the servants'-hall, and in the house-
keeper's-room; in the stable, and with the gardener
he is always at home. Reg Vickers I cannot say
is the pet lamb, but he is certainly the little lion of
the place, and he roams about like one, stately in
his pace, with his little chubby arms behind his
back, looking for all the world like some sturdy
farmer, who is taking care that all is going on right
on his grounds. Indeed, they often call him
Farmer Vickers, and when you ask him if that
is his name, he says Certainly not,' just like an old
man, and appears quite indignant.
"Mrs. Vickers," continued Sybil, "is proud of her
boy, and I scarcely wonder at it, for he is a fine
little fellow; I hope, however, that she won't spoil
him, by letting him have too much of his own way;
it would be such a pity.
"But I should have told you first of the father,
instead of the son, for Lucy has had such good
news from Australia, and such golden proofs that
the news is true, that I believe before long.she
intends to join her husband !"
"Well, this is really good news," said Mrs. Grey;
"I almost wonder Lucy has not been to see us,
and to tell us about it."
"Oh, you forget, mamma," replied Sybil, "that
Lucy's mother is often too poorly to be left with the
children, and, besides that, she has really got more
work to do than she can well get through, though I
know she is very, very industrious; depend upon
it, however, that she never forgets you and your
kindness to her, for she says, 'I hope, Miss Sybil,
whenever you write to your dear mamma, you will
give my best respects to her, and let her know how
we get on.' This, of course, I promised to do, but
I thought I would save this piece of news about
Mrs. Vickers until I came home; it is fortunate I
did so, or mine would have been a very short
story, as I was prevented from proceeding with
my narrative of grievances; and I am glad I was
prevented," said Sybil; for, indeed, indeed, I have
been very happy with dear Mrs. Rivers, and still
hope to be so.
"And now, dear Mabel," said the last speaker,
"it is your turn to give an account of yourself, for
Margaret's and my satisfaction."
"Oh, I have nothing to tell!" said the quiet
Mabel; "ours has been such a peaceful life, one
day so like another, just working, and reading, and
lessons, and sketching."
Yes, indeed, you may say sketching, or rather
drawing," interposed Sidney. "Why, Mabel has
drawn such beautiful pictures, Sybil, and made
such lots of money by them; enough, almost, to
pay for our schooling Oh, won't I work for her
when I am a man !" said the excited boy.
"Besides," continued Sidney, "it is Mabel that
helps us with our lessons, it is Mabel that mends our
clothes, and does such lots of things for us; don't
you, dear?" he questioned, as he threw his arms
round his sister's neck, and gave her such a squeeze
that Mabel was fain to remind him that there were
gentler ways of proving his affection.
"Oh, I hope I haven't hurt you," exclaimed the
warm-hearted boy, as he unclasped his hands from
his sister's neck.
"No, dear Sidney, you hive not hurt me: it is
my clean collar that will be the sufferer," said
Mabel, smoothing herself down.
"Then, if that is all, I shall buy you a new one
with my pocket-money this very week," said Sidney;
and he was as good as his word, for, before the
week was ended, a pretty new collar and cuffs were
added to Mabel's not very extensive wardrobe, by
her "affectionate brother."
We have not quite done with this pleasant fireside
picture yet, for there were prizes to be examined,
well-merited prizes, belonging to the brothers; some
of Mabel's sketches; and work, very neat work,
done by little Ethel, and copy-books that would
have done credit to a much older child. These
things were all spread out for the inspection, and of
course the admiration, of Margaret and Sybil, so that
really the time had flown away most rapidly and
most pleasantly; while Mrs. Grey sat by, with a
heart full of thankfulness to Divine Providence for
the blessings left to her, yet not without a secret
sigh and tear for the loved and lost, as she thought
of the joy it would have been to the dear departed
could he have seen his children as they then were.
Thus in our journey through life the wayside
flowers are generally wet with tears; and a youth of
sunshine and prosperity is often suddenly overcast
by the dark clouds of adversity.
And yet who shall say that the storm of thunder,
lightning, and rain does no good ? Is not all nature
renovated, the air clearer, the earth greener, the
flowers more exquisitely fragrant, after the storm ?
Even so, the heart that is made soft by the rain-
drops of sorrow, purified from self-seeking by shar-
ing in the calamities of others, and striving in one
way or another to alleviate them, sends forth a
richer fragrance towards heaven than could all the
golden treasures of earth. But the evening has
drawn to a close, the simple supper is ended, the
prayers of the widow and the fatherless have
ascended up to the Great Father and Friend of all,
and after warm embraces and mutual congratula-
tions, the little party retire for the night; either to
sleep without dreams, or with such dreams as are
generally associated with health of mind and body.
As Sybil Grey is the heroine of my narrative, it is
right that we should enter more intimately into her
trials, and endeavour to learn some few more par-
ticulars about the character and motives of the
young lady, who was the cause of them.
Christmas Day was bright, cold, and frosty, but
there was no snow; all Mrs. Grey's family, herself
included, attended the morning service at their
beautiful church, which was not far from their home.
Everything that needed preparation had been
got ready the day before; so that the little servant,
who was left in charge, was considered quite capable
of superintending the roast beef and plum pudding,
which, according to old English custom, was the
invariable dinner at Mrs. Grey's. There were no
superfluities in the shape of mince-pies, custards,
etc., the appetite, and not the palate, was catered
for; and although the young Greys certainly did
not despise a good dinner, I am bound in truth to
say, they all looked forward with much more pleasure
to the delightful walk they intended to take, after
they had dined, than to the repast itself.
It was Sybil's earnest request that she should be
left at home with mamma; and though there was a
slight demur to this on the part of her brothers,
yet, when it was pleaded that mamma would be
left all alone, if Sybil did not remain with her, the
objection was waived, and the joyous party set out,
in expectation not only of a brisk walk, but of a
slide on a pond, at no great distance from their
"And now, dear Sybil, tell me," said the anxious
mother, as soon as the party were gone, and they
two were sitting by the fire alone, "exactly what
has happened lately to give you so much un-
Mamma, dear," replied Sybil, I will tell you
everything, and I will do whatever you advise.
My chief cause of sorrow now is, the fear lest dear
Mrs. Rivers, who has indeed been a second mother
to me, should be induced, by misrepresentation, to
think me designing and ungrateful."
"Sybil, my dear, you astonish me," replied Mrs.
Grey; "pray explain your meaning."
Well, mamma," said her daughter, "I think I
told you that Mr. George Rivers (as every one calls
him, though of course he is Mr. Rivers now) had
been three times to see his mother since I have
been at the Hall. He is very lively, and like Mrs.
Rivers, very kind to everybody; free spoken and
friendly with all. It is impossible to be reserved
where he is, and indeed I never thought of being
so, until this visit of Miss Masterman's, when Mr.
George was at home about two months ago. I
did not like this young lady when Mrs. Rivers
introduced me to her; she bowed very stiffly, and
scarcely moved her lips to speak, though dear Mrs.
Rivers said, in the kindest manner: 'This is my
adopted daughter, Miss Masterman, and she has
been a good and dutiful child to me.' That day,
mamma," continued Sybil, "was a day of humili-
ation to me; Miss Masterman seemed to take every
opportunity of treating me as a dependent, and she
looked quite astonished when Mr. George talked
kindly and frankly with me as usual. In the
evening, when Mrs. Rivers asked me to play and
sing, Miss Masterman talked and laughed with Mr.
Rivers the whole time, until at last, I believe he
was ashamed of her, for he left the sofa where she
was sitting, and came and turned over the leaves of
the music for me. But this is not the worst part,
mamma," said Sybil, unable to suppress her tears;
" I was one day, I think it was the week after this
young lady came, going into the drawing-room,
where I had left a book I had been reading the
evening before; the door stood a little open, and I
did not know that any one was in the room, but
just as I entered I saw Miss Masterman sitting at
the head of the sofa, where Mrs. Rivers was lying
down; she sat on a chair, with her back towards
me, and was leaning her arm on the end of the
sofa, and I heard her say: 'Depend upon it that
Sybil is a designing girl, she is looking after your
son !' Oh, mamma! I heard no more, I left the
room without any one seeing me, and I have been
miserable ever since that day."
"But, my dear girl," said her mother as she
wiped away the tears that were fast flowing down
the hot cheeks that lay against her bosom, "let
me ask, have you observed any change in the good
* lady toward yourself since you heard this unfavour-
able speech ?"
Sometimes I have thought there was a coldness,
mamma," replied Sybil; "but perhaps my own
manner has in some measure changed; indeed, I
am sure that must be the case, for Mr. George has
once or twice said to me: 'Sybil, what's the
matter with you ? I think you are quite altered of
late; you used to be as gay as a bird in spring,
and now you mope like an owl.' Of course, he
said this laughingly, just as one of my brothers
might have said; but I felt a change in myself.
How could I help it, dear mamma, and what else
could I do ?" inquired poor Sybil.
Continue to do your duty to Mrs. Rivers, as
you have hitherto done, dear child," said her
mother. This is a cross you must bear patiently
for a while; seek for a strength superior to your
own; good Mrs. Rivers will, I doubt not, soon see
through the character of the young lady (if, indeed,
I may call her so) who so endeavours to abuse her
confidence; when she has left Stapleton Hall, I
trust you will be able in some way to convince
Mrs. Rivers that you are still, as you have hitherto
been, worthy of her confidence.
The only other recommendation I would offer,
dear Sibyl, is that you should be very guarded in
your manner and conversation with Mr. Rivers.
84 Sybil Grey.
This is, no doubt, the sore point with Miss Master-
man, whose fault evidently is the very one of which
she accuses you, and this, perhaps, will be also a
sore point with Mrs. Rivers, so that you must use
great circumspection. Do not treat Mr. Rivers as a
brother, but as the master and owner-as he will
eventually be-of Stapleton Hall."
After this conversation with her mamma, Sybil
recovered her usual cheerfulness, and became again
the life of the home circle; as indeed she was
wherever she went, as poor Mrs. Rivers found, now
that she was left to the tender mercies of Miss Mas-
terman, who had readily undertaken to supply
Sybil Grey's place to that lady during the holiday-
Mr. George Rivers, however, who appeared to
have an insuperable dislike to his mother's visitor,
took himself off the first weef after Sybil's depar-
ture from the Hall, under pretence of visiting a
college friend of his, but indeed, and in truth, it
was to avoid the overstrained attentions of a person
he could not endure.
"Why, will you leave me so soon, dear George,"
pleaded Mrs. Rivers, "when I am all alone ?"
Mother," replied her son, "if you were alone I
would not leave you, but I must tell you the truth;
I hate to be flattered and courted."
"You would not say this, George," said Mrs.
Rivers, if Sybil Grey were the flatterer." :
"Mother!" exclaimed George Rivers indig-
S nantly, "did I ever give you reason to doubt my
integrity ? Has that young fatherless girl ever given
you any reason to suspect her truth and honour-
** Never, my son, never," said Mrs. Rivers em-
Then," said George, let me give you a word
of caution before I leave. Suffer no serpent to
instil evil thoughts into your ears, and remember
that you will not see me again while you entertain
an enemy to truth in the house."
Saying this, George Rivers kissed his mother,
and left the Hall, without even bidding Miss Mas-
terman adieu, a circumstance most indignantly
resented by that lady.
A NEW LIFE FOR MARGARET.
IT would have been a consolation to our friend
Sybil could she have known of this advocacy in her
favour; but Time, that great revealer of secrets,
will bring this truth to light, and for the present we
find Sybil dismissing her sorrow, and being very
happy with the loved ones at home.
A very happy time had these Christmas holidays
86 Sybil Grey.
been, with pleasant walks in the day-time-for the
weather had generally been clear and frosty-and
still more pleasant evenings at home, when the
whole family were assembled, some working, others
drawing, and one always reading some amusing or
instructive book. This latter occupation was, of
course, taken by turns.
But this pleasant season was now drawing to a
close, and one morning this truth was brought
vividly before them by Margaret, who came to her
mamma with a newspaper in her hand, from which
she read the following advertisement:
"Wanted, in a clergyman's family, a lady to take
charge of two motherless children, whose respective
ages are two and five."
Now, mamma, what do you think; shall I ap-
ply for this situation ?" inquired Margaret.
Really, my dear," replied Mrs. Grey, I
scarcely know how to advise you. You are very
young to enter upon so responsible a situation."
"I am more than two-and-twenty, mamma,"
pleaded Margaret, and I believe that trouble and
being away from home has added at least five
years to my age, so that I must be really twenty-
seven ; quite a staid, matronly age. Now, what do
you say, mamma; shall I apply ?"
Mrs. Grey smiled lovingly on the special pleader
as she replied:
A New Life for Margaret.
"Well, dear Margaret, there can be no harm in
making some inquiries respecting the situation;
and as the distance from here to the Rectory is not
great, and an interview is requested, I will, if you
wish it, go with you this afternoon."
"I do wish it very much, mamma," said Margaret,
and so the matter was settled.
The idea of losing Margaret so soon again,
greatly discomposed Philip and Sidney, and they
were loud in their complaints.
"Why, mamma dear," cried Philip, I thought
you said you did not wish Margaret to go from
home again, and yet you are going with her to
look for a situation, though she has been little more
than a month with us."
"I did wish your sister to remain at home,
Philip," replied Mrs. Grey, because she looked so
wretchedly ill when she came from Mr. Lewis's; but
the long walks she has had, and your pleasant
company, my boys, have restored in some measure
the roses to her cheeks and vigour to her frame."
"Oh, then we have been the means of making
Margaret fit to leave us again, so now we must
plead for her to stop at home," expostulated Philip.
Do, dear Margaret, remain with us," he said be-
"But it would not be right of me to stay at
home, Philip," said his sister. "You know, dear,
what a struggle we have to live respectably, even
with the help that Sybil and I can give, so you
must be content to let me go, until both, or at least
one of you are old enough to do something towards
the family expenditure."
Oh, I wish I were old enough to get a situation
in the Post-office," exclaimed Philip. "It is men
who ought to go out to work, not women; they
should stay at home and take care of the house,
and see that the dinner is properly cooked, and
mend stockings, and make shirts, and all these
kind of things," added Philip.
Well, I must confess," said his mother, looking
with no little surprise at her eldest son, "you ap-
pear to have many exalted notions of the duties of
women. May I inquire, good sir,"continued she, smi-
ling, who is to teach the young idea how to shoot?"
Oh, we don't want to be taught that, mamma,"
chimed in Sidney; "we can shoot without being
taught, can't we, Phil ?"
"Silly boy !" said his two-year-old senior, "mamma
does not mean that kind of shooting; you don't
"I don't understand why you should call me a
silly boy," returned the offended Sidney, but mamma
interposed, and the matter ended.
In the afternoon of this same day Mrs. Grey
walked with her daughter to the pretty Rectory
of --, and inquired for the Reverend Mr. Cecil.
They were shown into his study, and after waiting
A New Life for .1:, -.'.
a short time a tall, thin, gentlemanly man made his
appearance; he might have been about forty years
of age, and his face bore the traces of care and
recent sorrow. He apologised for a certain negli-
gence in his dress by saying he had been occupied
all the morning in writing important letters, and
was not prepared to receive visitors.
Mrs. Grey hastened to explain the cause of her
intrusion, and introduced Margaret to Mr. Cecil as
a young lady well qualified by temper and disposi-
tion to take care of children.
My daughter, Mr. Cecil," she added, "has
been disciplined by adversity; brought up in the
fear of God, and as she has received, so I trust she
is able to impart Christian instruction, with a loving
spirit to children; I need say no more in her
As Mrs. Grey of course still wore her widow's
weeds, and Margaret was a quiet dresser, the
good clergyman seemed much disposed to come to
an agreement at once. "I have had," he said,
"many applications, Mrs. Grey, but I think from
appearances, and from what I have heard from you,
Miss Grey would be the most likely person to take
an interest in my darlings. My desire is that they
should be brought up 'in the nurture and admoni-
tion of the Lord,' so as I know they would have
been brought up had their best earthly friend been
spared to them. And I desire also, if possible, to
find for them some friend who would love them, and
care for them, should it please God to take me also
There was a deep solemnity which was very
touching in Mr. Cecil's manner as he spoke; it did
not fail to affect both his hearers greatly, though
Mrs. Grey was careful to conceal any emotion
which she felt.
I will do all in my power to assist in any way
you may suggest, for the comfort and happiness of
your dear children, Mr. Cecil," said Mrs. Grey;
"and should my daughter suit you, I trust I may
have frequent opportunities of seeing them, and in
letting them share in the love that I have to my own
"Thank you very much for your kind promise,"
said Mr. Cecil. "I am glad I have seen you, Mrs.
Grey; and I feel satisfied from what you have told
me, that Miss Grey will make a kind protector to
my little ones; perhaps you would like to see them
before you go !"
To this proposition there was a ready assent; and
Mr. Cecil rang the bell and desired the children to
be brought in. Two dear little pets with light
curly hair and soft blue eyes came in, led by the
hand by a nice, clean, modest-looking girl, scarcely
old enough, however, to have such a serious charge
to take care of.
Without any appearance of shyness, both the
children approached Mrs. Grey, who held out her
A New Life for Margaret.
hands for them, but their looks were turned towards
papa, who said, Now, my darlings, tell these ladies
what your names are."
"Oh, papa," said the eldest child, dear little
Sissy can't tell her name; she always calls herself
pet; but you know her name is Eva, and my name
is Emma. Do you think they are pretty names ?"
she inquired, looking innocently up to Mrs. Grey.
I think they are very pretty names, my darling,"
said the lady; "and now, do you think that your
little sister will let me take her in my arms to kiss
her, or will she be frightened ?"
"Oh, dear Sissy won't be at all frightened," said
the little damsel; "but," she added, "please will
you tell me what is your name ?'
Mr. Cecil could not forbear a smile as he re-
marked, "A very proper reproof to me, my little
girl; I ought to have told you at first that this
lady's name is Mrs. Grey, and the other is Miss
Grey. How should you like this young lady to
come and live with you ?" he added.
I should like it very much," said the child, as she
patted and stroked the chubby fat arm of little Eva,
who was seated now very comfortably on Mrs.
Grey's knee. She could teach dear Sissy to talk,
that would be so nice. Mamma would have taught
her," said the innocent prattler, quite unconscious
of the wounds she was opening; but she was very
poorly for a long time, so they took her away in a
coach; I was so sorry; I cried very much, but
nurse said she would soon come back to us, and we
shall be so glad when she does, for we love her so
As Mrs. Grey bent over the sweet child on her
knee, her tears flowed .very freely; she dared not
raise her head lest Mr. Cecil should discover her
emotion; but that gentleman had left the room-
the child's innocent prattle was too painful for him
to bear-and before he returned, the young nurse
came to announce that the children's tea was
ready, so with many a fond embrace they were
On Mr. Cecil's return to the study, Mrs. Grey
and Margaret rose to take leave ; they did not do
so, however, until an engagement had been entered
into, and it was agreed that Miss Grey should com-
mence her duties at the Rectory in the beginning of
the following week.
The salary offered did not much exceed what
she had before; being only thirty pounds a year;
but then her duties would be much more agreeable,
and she would have frequent opportunities of going
home to see them all.
THE next six months passed away without any
material incident, and the midsummer holidays
were close at hand. Time, of course, had not been
idle; he had been indeed very busily employed,
building up, and pulling down, as usual; but the
traces he had left in Mrs. Grey's family were not
very perceptible ones, and they were all of an im-
Mrs. Grey, Mabel, Philip, and Sidney, together
with the acknowledged pet of the family, Miss Ethel,
were all doing and looking remarkably well. Sunny
Bank, their pretty little home, seemed to agree
with them, and we know that it was a home of
peace and love.
Philip was now turned seventeen, and he was
diligently preparing for the examination he would
have to pass previous to his obtaining a clerkship
in the General Post-office.
Margaret had faithfully and lovingly performed
her duty to the little motherless children of Mr.
Cecil, and had besides made herself so useful in
household matters, that the good clergyman
earnestly entreated her to remain at the Rectory
during the holidays; telling her at the same time,
that he should be delighted if Mrs. Grey would
permit her youngest sister, Ethel, to come and stay
as long as she could be spared with his little girls.
Painful as it was to Margaret Grey to give up the
cherished hope of being for a few weeks in the en-
joyment of the society of her dear mamma, her
brothers and her sisters, she could not find in her
heart to refuse Mr. Cecil's request, especially as she
observed how thin and pale he was, and how much
weaker he appeared to become week after week;
indeed,lately hehad been obliged to engage a curate
to help him in his duties, though they were not very
arduous; and Margaret greatly feared that the dear
little creatures who were committed to her care,
and who had clung to her so fondly from her first
entrance to the Rectory, would soon be fatherless
as well as motherless.
Mr. Cecil, the day after he had proposed to
Margaret to remain at the Rectory during the holi-
days, again spoke to her on the subject.
"I am afraid, Miss Grey," he said, "you must
think me very selfish, and perhaps I am; sickness
and sorrow, I believe, have a tendency to create
selfishness, though they ought to have a very con-
trary effect. But I have been thinking for you
since I made the proposition yesterday, and I have
come to the conclusion that we may make this
holiday-time an agreeable time after all, by a little
good management. You know," added the rev.
gentleman, "the pony-carriage is always at your
service, and you and the children can drive over to
Sunny Bank whenever you feel disposed, and bring
Mrs. Grey, or your sister or brother, back with
you, for I shall always be delighted to see any
member of your family; and this," added Mr.
Cecil, "puts an excellent idea into my head.
Suppose we have a party next Monday; if the day
is fine you can drive over to-day, either with or
without the little ones, and invite your mamma, your
brothers, and your sisters-not, mind, forgetting
Miss Sybil, the lively Miss Sybil, if that young lady
is now at home. It will be something so new to
me," observed Mr. Cecil, "to have a party at the
Rectory, I think we shall enjoy it very much."
"Oh, thank you, dear sir !" replied Margaret;
"your intentions are very, very kind, but I fear
much the party you propose would prove a great
trouble to you, and interfere greatly with your quiet
Not at all, Miss Grey, not at all; we have plenty
of room at the Rectory, both out of doors and in,"
said Mr. Cecil; "so while you and the other young
people are enjoying yourselves in the garden and
shrubbery, Mrs. Grey and I can sit and have a quiet
chat. I shall ask Thornton (the curate) to come
and keep you all in good order. I have no doubt
that he will be very glad to have such a pleasant
duty imposed upon him."
Margaret, of course, could make no further ob-
jection, and the pony-carriage was ordered to be
got ready, to the great delight of Miss Emma, as
well as of baby Eva, who, seated on Margaret's
knee in the chaise, kissed her little chubby hands re-
peatedly, by way of bidding papa "dood-bye," which
she attempted to do in very imperfect English.
It would be impossible to describe the excite-
ment of Ethel, when, from the window at which she
was standing, she saw her sister and the two little
Cecils drive up to the door.
She rushed out of the room to open the front
door, exclaiming as she did so, Mamma, mamma !
Sybil, Mabel, come here !" without explaining the
why or the wherefore, which, however, was plainly
enough manifested when the parties thus adjured
came running with all speed to see what was the
The carriage was very soon relieved of its pre-
cious burden, and Ethel took her share of it, by
carrying off in her arms baby Eva, and closely fol-
lowed by sister Emmy, who, it must be confessed,
considered herself the most fit companion for the
"pet of the house," though she was that young
lady's junior by three years.
Mamma, dear, we are come to spend the day
with you," cried Margaret, as she embraced Mrs.
Grey and her sisters in turn. That is, if we are
welcome," she added, smiling. This latter remark
produced a shower of kisses on all sides, indeed
such warm embraces to prove the welcome, that
Margaret was fain to make her escape, under pre-
tence of looking after her darlings, whom Ethel had
so unceremoniously ran away with.
I know Pet is acting a most motherly part by
the little ones, in taking off hats, and capes, and
putting on pinafores," said Margaret; "but still I
must see after them myself; but oh, I am so glad
to see you all looking so well; and Sybil here too, I
scarcely expected that pleasure."
"I only came yesterday," answered Sybil, "and
I can only stay a short time, so I am very glad you
have come to-day, dear Margaret."
"Well, I will just look after the children, and
take off my things, and then we can all sit down to
chat," and Margaret bounded upstairs with a rapidity
rather unusual with her.
"Where are Philip and Sidney, mamma?" was
the first inquiry their sister made, as she returned
to the dining-room.
They went out for a walk about an hour ago,"
said Mabel; of course they had no idea of your
coming to-day, or you may be sure they would not
have gone; they will soon be home, I have no
Then I will wait with patience," said Margaret,
"*" and not deliver my message until they arrive, as it
pertains to them as well as to others."
"No, Margaret, don't wait for the boys, for ifj'ou
are patient, we are impatient, so please let us hear
what message you have for us," was the request of
both Sybil and Mabel. Mamma, of course, took the
matter more quietly.
"Well, then," said the young lady, Mr. Cecil
sends his very kind regards to mamma, with a re-
quest that she and the whole family will spend the
day at the Rectory next Monday. Now, mind,"
continued the speaker, not one of you must say
'no' to this invitation, for I am sure if you did, it
would be a great disappointment to one of the best
and kindest of men."
"But, dear Margaret," said Mrs. Grey, "does
Mr. Cecil remember the number of our family ? I
think he cannot know how many he is inviting."
"He knows perfectly well, my dear mamma, for
I expostulated with him; but he only said, The
more the merrier,' an old saying which I was sur-
prised to hear Mr. Cecil quote," said Margaret,
Why did you sigh, sister ?" inquired Sybil, who,
strange to say, had acquired this pernicious habit
I sigh, dear Sybil," said Margaret, with a touch
of sadness in her tone, very unlike the manner in
which she had been previously speaking, "because
I think that poor Mr. Cecil is gradually declining in
health, though I don't think he knows this himself,
at least I never hear him complain."