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BY THE AUTHOR OF "ADELAIDE LINDSAY"
GEORGE ROUTLEDGE AND SONS
THE BROADWAY, LUDGATE
NEW YORK: 416 BROOME STREET
WYMAN AND SONS, PRINTERS, GREAT QUEEN STREET,
LINCOLN'S-INN FIELDS, W.C.
THE MOSS HUT.
OH, dear Aunt Eleanor," cried Helen,
running one morning into Mrs. Thornton's
room; it is such a lovely day,-and we
finished the hut in the wood yesterday, and
we want so much to go and play in it,-
need we do our lessons this morning ?"
Mrs. Thornton was standing before her
glass finishing her dressing, for it was not
much past eight o'clock.
No, you need not," she said.
But must we do them in the afternoon?
it will be the best part of the day," said
Helen; it will be so tiresome to have to
leave out play when we have got quite into
2 HELEN'S FAULT.
it. Dear Aunt Eleanor!" in a most be-
seeching tone, "mayn't we have a whole
holiday this once-just this once !"
AuntEleanorlookedrathergrave. Her maid
saw her face in the glass, as she stood behind
her fastening her dress; but Helen did not.
"Yes, my dear," she said, "I will allow
you to have a whole holiday."
Thank you, thank you, darling Aunt
Eleanor," cried Helen, clapping her hands.
She ran towards the door, and then came
back again to the dressing-table.
"Aunt Eleanor," she said, "we mean to
have a feast in our hut,-a feast for a house-
warming, Maurice says. May we ask Mrs.
Hudson to let us have two cheesecakes--two
little cheesecakes, Aunt Eleanor?"
You may, my dear."
Or may we have four ?-it will be only
And might we have a few strawberries,
-just a few,-and a spoonful of white sugar,
and Mary's doll's jug full of cream?"
"Yes, Helen, you may. What else do
you wish for?"
Oh, if you would be so very good as to
let us have a tiny bit of meat for the top-
dish, it would be so nice. It would look like
a real dinner. May we have a piece of meat ?'"
Mrs. Thornton sat down. She had finished
dressing. She took Helen's hand, and drew
hef towards her.
In short, Helen," she said, you want
a dish of cheesecakes, and a dish of straw-
berries, and a dish of meat,-and cream and
sugar, and anything else you can get."
It will look very bad to have only one
side-dish, will it not, Aunt Eleanor ?"
And you would like to have a tartlet or
a custard for the second, you mean?"
Oh yes; that would be delightful!"
"My dear Helen, there is no harm in
your wishing to have all these things, and
no harm in your asking for them; but I
should be much better pleased, if you would
make your requests in a more straightfor.
ward manner. I do not at all like this way-
4 HELEN'S kAULT.
you have of trying to get what you want
little by little. It is not quite open,-not
quite honest, my dear."
Helen blushed up to the eyes, and hung
down her head. Two or three tears rolled
down her cheek.
I am not angry with you, my love,"
said her kind aunt. "But do not you think
it would have been much better if you had
said at once, 'Aunt Eleanor, may we have a
whole holiday, and may we have a feast,'
instead of asking, as you did, first for half a
holiday, then for a whole; then for two
cheesecakes, then for four; and so on. Do
not you think so, Helen?"
Helen made no reply, but looked the pic-
ture of confusion, while her tears began to
fall faster. She could never bear the least
.Aame. She cared much less for doing what
was wrong, than for being found fault with
for doing what was wrong; provided she
could escape the blame, she did not much
trouble herself about the action. This was
a very sad defect,
HELEN'S FAULT. 5
"Now, Helen, you need not cry any
more," said Mrs. Thornton, drying the little
girl's eyes with her pocket-handkerchief;
"you have done nothing very wrong this
time;-the next time you come to beg for
anything, let me know what you want at
once-that is all. If you would make a
resolution to try to do this, it would be
much better than crying. And now run
away; I will send word to Mrs. Hudson
what you are to have for your feast."
Helen walked from the room,-she did
not run this time. She waited a little to
recover herself, and then went down stairs
to the schoolroom.
WELL, Helen, may we?" exclaimed her
cousins, Mary and Maurice, as she opened
the schoolroom door.
Oh, no, I see we mayn't," cried Maurice.
in a tone of vexation, as he looked at her
6 HELEN'S FAULT.
face, which still bore traces of tears. How
Aunt Eleanor says we may have a holi-
day," said Helen.
Maurice danced about the room, and flung
the lesson-book, from which he had been
learning, up to the ceiling. Then stopping
short in the middle of his ecstacy, he said,
"Then what has been the matter, Nelly?
Something has, I can see by your eyes."
Oh, nothing, nothing," said Helen
Something has, though," said Mary.
" Do tell us, Nelly dear!"
Indeed, it's nothing. I wish you would
not teaze so, Mary."
Mary had no intention of teazing, so she
made no further inquiries as to the cause
of her cousin's red eyes, and Helen con-
Aunt Eleanor says we may have a whole
-whole holiday; and we may have a feast;
and Mrs. Hudson is to give us cheesecakes,
and strawberries, and meat, and cream, and
sugar, and tartlets, and custards, and all
sorts of things."
Oh, what a grand feast we shall have !"
cried Maurice. Are we really to have all
that, though? Did mamma say so? Why,
we shall hardly have room enough upon the
table for our dinner. It will be a lord
mayor's show--feast, I mean. Let me see,"
and he began counting upon his fingers;
"meat, one; cheesecakes, two; strawberries,
three; tartlets, four; custards- "
Oh, perhaps we shall not have both tart-
lets and custards," interrupted Helen.
Why you said so," said Maurice, and
all sorts of things besides."
Well, cream and sugar," said Helen.
"I declare you said besides cream and
sugar. Now did she not,' ary?" appealing
to his sister.
I thought so, certainly," replied Mary.
I wish you would not exaggerate so,
Helen," cried Maurice, pettishly. You
always do exaggerate so much. I dare
say we are to have nothing after all but
8 HELEN'S FAULT.
an old dry crust, and two or three straw-
What nonsense you talk! But you are
always so particular, Maurice. If I say the
least little bit more than is quite exact, you
always say I exaggerate so; and I am sure
it can't matter a bit."
Well, mamma says it does; and that we
may get into a habit of being careless about
truth, by saying a little too much in the sort
of way you do."
Or by saying a little too little," added
Well, I am sure I did not mean to tell
an untruth; and it is very hard that you
should call me a story-teller just because I
said, custards and all sorts of things.' "
There you are,-at it again," cried
He never said you were a story-teller,
Helen, indeed," said Mary.
But he meant it, though; and that is
just as bad." And Helen's tears began to
HELEN'S FAULT. 9
Indeed, I never meant any such thing,
Nelly," said Maurice; so don't cry, there's
a good girl. We shall have our happy
day quite spoilt. Now do smile again, and
I won't even say that you exaggerate."
Helen dried her eyes, and the little party
were soon as merry and as in great good
humour as if no little disagreement had hap.
The nursery-maid now came in with rather
a large basket in her hand.
"Mrs. Hudson has put everything into
this basket, Miss Mary, that your mamma
said you were to have for your feast."
Oh, what a famous baset," cried Mau-
rice, running up to Martha. "I wonder if it
it's full-I wonder what we've got?" and he
seized hold of the handle of the lid.
"Oh, don't, Maurice!" exclaimed Mary
and Helen at once. "Martha, don't let
him. It will spoil all the pleasure if we
know beforehand. It will be so nice to un-
pack the basket at the hut. It will be just
as if you were to come in from hunting,
10 HELEN'S FAULT.
Maurice, and we did not know what you
would bring us for dinner, till we looked into
your game-bag, as we do when papa comes
in from shooting."
Very well-very well; I won't look,"
said good-natured Maurice, shutting down
the lid. "But I saw-what do you think I
Oh, tell us !" cried Helen.
And a minute ago you did not want me
even to look. I am not going to tell you."
Oh, no," said Mary, don't tell. We
shall soon know, Helen."
Yes, we shall soon know," replied Helen,
And now'what are we waiting for? Oh,
Mary, don't you think it would be very nice
if we were to write a little letter to invite
Aunt Eleanor to come to our feast ?"
What a good thought!" exclaimed
Mary. Oh, yes, let us."
You must write it, then, because you
write so much better than I do," said Helen.
HELEN'S FAULT. 11
Very well." And Mary sat down to write.
What must I say? Maurice-Helen-
just tell me."
Oh, you must begin-Stay a moment;
what shall our names be? We must not be
Maurice, and Helen, and Mary-that will
be so very stupid."
Oh, I'll be the Black Prince!" cried
Oh, Maurice, how ridiculous ex-
claimed Helen, contemptuously ; whilst
Mary burst out laughing at the pompous
manner in which he announced his determi-
nation. What can the Black Prince have
to do with a hut in the wood?"
Then Ill be Alexander Selkirk."
And what are we to be? Alexander Sel-
kirk -was quite alone on the desert island."
Oh, you may be my two cats. He had
two cats, I think; or at all events, he might
"I dare say," said Mary, laughing again.
"I Very nice for you, Mr. Alexander; but I
12 HELEN'S FAULT.
suppose you would not ask your cats to sit
down to dinner with you, and we should get
none of the feast."
Oh, yes, you would. Alexander Selkirk
and Robinson Crusoe were always very polite
to their dumb animals; because, you know,
there was no one else for them to speak to.
I promise to give you something to eat, poor
I won't be a poor pussy," cried Helen;
"or, if I am, I will be the White Cat in the
Fairy Tales; and you may be the Prince,
Maurice, and Mary, my confidant."
I dare say,-and you to be the mis-
tress of the whole thing, then!" returned
"Well, please settle something," said
Mary, who had been sitting all thistime at
her desk, with a piece of her best note-paper
open before her, and a pen in her hand;
" we shall never get out to-day !"
Oh, I can't!" cried Maurice, pettishly,
throwing himself into a chair; Helen ob-
jects to everything."
HELEN'S FAULT. 13
"Because you choose such absurd names!"
"Oh-well then-call me Mr. Hopkins,
or anything; I don't care."
"Suppose," said Mary, "that you were
to be Robin Hood, Maurice?"
Oh, yes; Robin Hood, of course!"
cried Maurice, springing from his chair;
" of course, Robin Hood. How stupid not
to have thought of him before."
And what am I to be ?" asked Helen,
in a piteous voice.
You can be Little John, you know; and
I will be Friar Tuck."
Oh, that will be charming!" cried
Helen, clapping her hands with delight.
"Now, Mary, make haste."
Well, what ought I to say? How do
grown-up people write invitations? "
" Oh, you must use some grand words!
you must say something about entreating-
and felicity-and beneficence, or munificence
-which is it? and great gratitude-and com-
pany to dinner. Something of that sort."
14 HELEN S FAULT.
"Shall I read what I have written?"
asked she, when she had finished.
"C Oh, yes; of course."
Robin Hood, and Little John, and Friar
Tuck, request and entreat mamma will have
the munificence to be so- good as to give
them the felicity of her company to dinner,
in their hut in the wood."
"Will that do?" she asked.
Oh," said Helen, "you should not have'
put 'mamma,' Mary; that looks so-so-
I don't know what; you should have written
'Mrs. Thornton;' or stay-the Lady,' as
it always is in the ballad books, the Lady'
Thornton, or the Lady' Eleanor."
Lady Eleanor-that sounds very pretty;
I will write it over again," said Mary.
Stop," cried Maurice, who had been
reading over Mary's composition; you have
never said at what o'clock; and I don't like
the 'hut in the wood;' it is almost as bad as
HELEN'S FAULT. 15
"What am I to call it, then?" asked
You must say at the Trysting tree,' as
it is called in Ivanhoe, and the Ballads."
Mary soon accomplished a second note,
with the desired alterations. It was sealed,
and directed in full, with due ceremony, and
handed to Martha, who had been standing
by, much amused, the whole time of the
discussion, with most particular injunctions
by no means to forget to deliver it.
And now the two little girls put on their
bonnets, Maurice seized his straw hat, and
they went through the open glass-door into
the garden. It was a lovely June day.
There was not a cloud to be seen on the
deep-blue sky. The birds were singing
cheerily, and a gentle breeze, that stirred
the leaves of the trees, prevented it from
being too hot. It was not much past nine
Mary and Helen carried the basket be-
tween them; for Maurice, good-natured as
he was in general, did not offer to help them.
1G HELEN'S FAULT.
Indeed, it never came into his head to do so,
as certainly it would have done if he had
thought more of other people's convenience
and less of his own pleasure; but he liked
to i an backwards and forwards, and to leap
over the flower-beds, brandishing a long
rod, which he called his lance, and fancying
himself a gallant knight upon a spirited
steed; and if he had carried the basket, he
would not have been able to do this.
The wood where the hut was lay at the
other side of the flower-garden, and it was
not long before the children reached it.
*Maurice had galloped on first, and stood
at the little gate which opened into the
wood, waiting, as the two girls came up.
"How slow you are!" he cried; "we
have got so much to do. We must get fern
for seats, and find a large stone for a table,
and I don't know what besides; and you
two girls creep on as if you were mounted
upon donkeys. My noble war-horse has
been waiting this age, tearing up the ground
HELEN'S FAULT. 17
And Maurice jumped about, snorting anci
pawing the ground with his foot, in imita-
tion of the horse upon which he fancied him.
"Oh, this basket is so heavy!" exclaimed
Mary; "let us put it down, and rest a little,
Rest? what stuff!" cried Maurice.
"Come, come, little donkeys, move on."
No, we won't till we've rested," said
Helen. It's all very well for you, Maurice,
who have had no heavy basket to carry."
"Heavy ? What nonsense !" replied he,
laughing, and seizing hold of the basket;
"Why, it's as light as a feather !"
I wish you would carry it yourself,
then," said Helen.
So I would, only you see I am mounted
upon my noble steed; and see how he kicks
at the very idea of being made a pack-horse
of !" and Maurice kicked, and plunged, and
snorted afresh. .
"Now do, dear Maurice," said Mary,
18 HELEN'S FAULT.
" let us rest in peace for a minute, and we
will go on directly."
Very well; you are a good little don-
key, you, Mary; but as for this other one, I
don't know what to say about her. I think
she must have no hay for her supper. Eh,
little donkey?" and he went up to Helen,
and patted her head.
Oh, I am very good, too;" she replied;
but you always praise Mary, and never
me. Come, Mary, I am quite rested; are
Mary was quite rested, she said, and on
they went again. And now, whilst the chil-
dren are walking through that pretty wood
to their hut, it must be told who Helen was,
and how she came to be living with her
Helen's mamma was sister to Mrs. Thorn-
ton. She had married an officer, and gone
with him to India almost immediately after-
wards. There Helen was born, and there she
had lived with her parents till she was nearly
"eight years old. It then became necessary
HELEN'S FAULT. 19
to send her to England, for few children can
stand the Indian climate after they reach
that age. Little Helen's health began to
fail, and Captain and Mrs. Grey were obliged
to part from her, to their great sorrow, and
send her to her -aunt Eleanor, who had
kindly offered to take charge of her, and
bring her up with her own children. Helen
had no brothers or sisters of her own. Poor
little Helen felt very lonely and desolate
when her papa and mamma kissed her for
the last time, and left the ship which was to
take her to England. She cried very bitterly,
and it was a long time before Mrs. Simpson,
the lady who had promised to take care of
her during the voyage, could succeed in
There were several children on board the
ship about her own age, and in a few days
Helen became as gay as ever again. As she
was a lively, pretty child, everybody was
very good-natured to her, and she was made
a great pet of, much indulged, and ever
found fault with. Mrs. Simpson, her
20 HELEN'S FAULT.
mamma's friend, was very ill almost the
whole time of the voyage, and quite unable
to pay much attention to her charge. Under
these circumstances, it is not surprising that
Helen became rather spoilt. She liked to
be flattered and caressed by the gentlemen
and ladies on board, and she liked to be left
to amuse herself as she pleased, and to have
no one to make her do her lessons with regu-
larity. She had never been a very diligent
child, and now she grew very idle, and very
thoughtless, and vain also; and because there
was no one kind enough and sensible enough
to take the trouble to correct her when she
was naughty or silly, she began to think that
she had no faults at all.
She had a way, too, of saying lively things
which sounded much more clever than they
really were; and when she found that this
was admired and made people laugh, she
became by degrees careless about the exact
truth of what she said; and if she did not
invent, at least she very much exaggerated
any little relation she happened to make,
RELEN'S FAULT. 21
because it made it sound so much more
At last the ship reached England, and Mr.
Thornton now came on board to fetch his
little niece, and take her to his house in the
country, which was to be her home for the
future. She had not been settled there very
long before her aunt Eleanor began to per-
ceive many little things in her conduct of
which she could not approve. She was much
too kind and too excellent a person to allow
them to pass by unnoticed, but plainly and
gently pointed out to the little girl where
she was wrong. This was a great mortifica-
tion to Helen, who had begun, as it has been
said, to fancy that she had not a fault in the
world. She cried bitterly because she found
her aunt Eleanor did not think so, but she
made no serious purposes of amendment.
She only took care not to repeat the fault in
her aunt's presence. She forgot that there
is One who can see everywhere, and who
knows every thought of the heart; if she
had not forgotten this, she would also have
22 HELEN'S FAULT.
been more attentive to her prayers. These
had become very much neglected, and though
she never failed night and morning to kneel
down and repeat the prayers her mamma
had taught her, yet her thoughts were far
away. She repeated the words without the
least attention, hardly even knowing what
she said, and never thinking whom she was
pretending to address.
Maurice and Mary, Mrs. Thornton's two
oldest children, soon became very fond of
their sprightly, good-natured little cousin,
and Helen, who was very affectionate, loved
them very much in return. Maurice was
eleven years old, Mary a few months younger
than Helen. Mrs. Thornton had, besides,
two other children a good deal younger than
Maurice and Mary, the eldest of them being
only four years old. And now, I think we
may go back to the wood and the three
children and the hut, which by this time
they have reached.
HELEN'S FAULT. 28
A PRETTY little sparkling rivulet ran
through one part of the wood, and upon the
bank on the other side of this rivulet the
children had built their hut, standing a lit-
tle back under a large oak-tree. A narrow
bridge, made of two planks joined together,
with a hand-rail on each side, crossed the
rivulet opposite to it. This was one of the
attractions which had made our three chil-
dren choose this spot before any other.
They thought it very charming to run over
this bridge, which, though quite safe, was so
slight that it swayed backwards and for-
wards when any one crossed it. Maurice
called the rivulet his- moat, and the bridge
the drawbridge. He would have given a
good deal to have been able to make it into
a real drawbridge, but this was quite beyond
his powers, so he was obliged to content
himself with fancying it such. A little way
24 HELEN'S FAULT.
behind the hut, and surrounding it at a
little distance, were some tolerably high
rocks; birch-trees, wild roses, blackberries,
and the foxglove, with its tall, handsome
pink flowers, grew in profusion from these
stones, nearly hiding th-m in some places,
whilst in others they stood out in large
pieces. There were stone steps cut in one
place up this rock, which led to the top, and
so into the wood again. You can fancy now
how the hut stood, upon a plot of fine soft
moss, which in spring was quite bright with
theblue hyacinthand delicate white anemone.
In front of it was the rivulet, and on every
other side, at a little distance off, were these
pretty rocks. There was no way of getting
to it but across the bridge or down the rock-
steps, without wading through the water, for
the rocks stretched round to the rivulet on
"both sides of the hut. The hut was made of
good strong stakes, driven into the ground,
and bound together at the top. These stakes
were joined together on the sides by wattles,
as they are called. Wattles are slighter
fELEN'S FAULT. 25
sticks, which bend easily, and are woven in
and out, making a kind of basket-work, only
very coarse. The children had not done
much of this work; they had had the
gardener's boy to help them. He had
driven in the stakes with a mallet or wooden
hammer, after first pointing them at one end
with his bill-hook, to make them go more
easily into the ground, and he had woven in
the wattles; but Maurice and the two girls
had collected the moss, and stuffed it into
the spaces left by the wattles. It had taken
a great deal of moss, and a great deal of
time and trouble; for at first, till they got
expert by practice, the moss would tumble
out as fast as they put it on; and the birds,
too, came and pilfered it for their nests,
so it had taken a great many days before
it was finished. Now, however, it looked
very pretty, neat, and snug, and rather like
a bird's nest itself. I must not forget to
say, that there was a doorway, though no
door, and a small, square hole for a window,
with no window in it.
26 IIELEN'S FAULT.
"How pretty and nice it looks," cried
Helen, quite like a real hut; doesn't it?"
To be sure it does," returned Maurice;
"and I should think it was a real one, too!
Oh, how nice it is to gallop over this bridge.
Oh, how I wish it were a real drawbridge;
and then we could pull it up when we had
got across, and nobody could come near us!
I would call it my castle, then."
"You forget the steps," said Mary.
"Ah, to be sure, those steps! but you
know we might defend them."
Oh, Maurice, you are so full of your
knights, and your castles, and your war-
horses and drawbridges, there is no gettingC
you to do anything!" exclaimed Helen.
" You are Robin Hood now, remember, and
have nothing to do with all that;-now just
cross the bridge, there's a dear boy, and let
Mary and me pass."
Maurice moved on, and in the next minute
all three stood on the grass before the hut.
Maurice was the first to run in. Oh,
Mary Helen !" he cried, look here-
HELEN'S FAULT. 27
see here Just the very things we wanted
to make us complete! A table, and two-
three-four little stools, I declare."
Oh, how delightful! Oh, what a lovely
little table! Oh, who can have put them
in ?" cried the two girls, with one voice.
There, in the middle of the hut, indeed-
stood a pretty little low table in what it
called rustic work, and there were four stools
to match. The delight of the children was
unbounded. Who can have done it ?-are
they really for us?-darling little table!"
was repeated over and over again.
I have thought of such a nice plan,"
cried Helen, when the delight had a little
subsided; "let us get a great quantity of
foxgloves, and make a kind of wreath round
the doorway,-would not that look very
Oh, Helen, you always have such pretty
plans !" said Mary. Oh, yes, let us do it,
"It will look like a triumphal arch!
cried Maurice, who was reading the Roman
23 HELEN'S FAULT.
history with his mother. It will be capi-
"Well, then, we must all set to work and
gather as fast as we can," said Helen, lead-
ing the way to the rocks.
Mary and Maurice followed, and they had
soon each gathered large handfulls of the
beautiful flowers. Then with some rushes,
which grew in quantities a little lower down
the stream, they bound the long stiff stalks
together, taking care not to knock off or
injure the blossoms, till they had made three
rods of foxglove, as it were; one for each
side of the doorway, and one to be bent in
an arch over the top.
Now, Maurice, have you your ball of
string in your pocket ? asked Helen, when
they had finished. We must tie on our
wreaths to the stakes. How pretty they do
Maurice produced some string and a
knife, and with the assistance of the two
little girls, fastened the flowers into their
proper places. They then stood back a few
nELEN'S FAULT. 29
pates to admire their handiwork. It cer-
tainly did look very pretty.
Oh, I hope mamnta will come before
they are all withered!" said Mary. "I
should so like her to see them, just as they
look now, so fresh and pink. What
o'clock is it, Maurice, do you think ?"
"I can't tell a bit; but I am sure we must
have been here an hour and a half at least."
"Oh, more than that, Maurice, a great,
great deal more !" exclaimed Helen. Only
just think how long it took us to gather the
foxglove; and hours, I am sure, hours, to
put them together."
"Oh, Helen! said Mary, laughing.
" Hours! What can you be thinking of! "
I suppose we must not say she is think-
ing of exaggerating again," said Maurice,
Well, I am sure if you exaggerate in
little, I may in large. I do not see that
there is any more harm in making a thing
more than it is than less-as you always do,
30 HELEN'S FAULT.
You always say always, Helen; but if I
do, it is best to be upon the safest side.
Now isn't it, Mary? Besides, I only said
I thought we had been here more than an
hour and a half."
And you think so too, Helen," said the
peace-maker, Mary; "so, for my part, I
don't see what you are quarrelling about."
"Because I don't like always to be called
names," said Helen, to whose eyes the
ready tears were rising. "Maurice always
calls me names. Nobody ever did so on
I don't call you names," said Maurice;
I only say you exaggerate a little; and you
know mamma has often said just the same
"Oh, but Aunt Eleanor is so very,very par-
ticular. She finds fault ifI ever say the least
little word more-more-" Helen hesitated.
More than what is true, I suppose you
mean, Nelly," said Maurice; and if they did
not find fault at that on board ship, the sooner
everybody does it on land the better, I say."
HELEN'S FAULT. 31
Helen walked away. She looked very in-
dignant. Maurice laughed. Mary looked
You should not say such things to her,
Maurice dear," she said. "Remember, she
has no papa or mamma, and no brothers or
sisters, as mamma says; and so we ought to
be so very kind to her."
"Well, and so we are," replied Maurice.
" I am sure I did not mean to affront her;
but she never can bear the least thing said
to her that is not flattery."
"Oh, Maurice! Indeed, I don't think
that. I am sure she is very good-natured."
Oh, I know she is very good-natured,
and would give me anything she had in a
minute, if she thought I wanted it; or do
anything I asked her to do; and I like her
Mary wanted no more. Away she ran to
Helen, who was walking slowly towards the
Stop, Helen!" she cried. "Where are
you going ?"
32 HELEN'S FAULT.
I am going away," was the reply.
Oh, why ? Don't goaway. Why should
you go away?"
Because.I see Maurice hates me, and I
dou't like to be hated. I shall go home,
and you and Maurice may play together
alone, as you used to do before I came."
Helen walked on. She reached the steps,
and began to mount them. Mary laid hold
of her frock.
Helen, dear, don't go away. Maurice
does not hate you-nobody hates you. Do
come back and play."
No, I don't like-you are all very un-
kind. I wish I was with my own dear
mamma and my papa; they never thought
me so bad as everybody does here."
Helen sat down upon the steps, covered
her face with her hands, and burst into tears.
Poor Mary stood by her. She felt so un-
happy at seeing her cousin cry, and almost
inclined to think that they had been treat-
ing her very unkindly. She could not bear to
hear her speak in the way she did of her "own
HELEN'S FAULT. 33
mamma and papa," and thought how un-
happy she would feel if sent away from
Don't cry, Helen," at last she said;
"Pray don't cry. Maurice says you are so
good-natured, that you are always ready to
give him anything that you have, that you
think he will like."
Helen's sobs began to subside a little.
And that you are always ready to do
anything he asks you to do."
Helen's sobs quite stopped. Mary sat
down by her side, and pulled her hands with
some difficulty from her face.
And he says he likes you very much,"
Mary continued; "so don't cry, there's a
darling Helen; and don't think that Mau-
rice hates you, or that anybody hates you,
because we all love you so very much. It
is only that one little thing, Helen,-only
that exaggerating. Don't you think you
could give over exaggerating?"
Oh, I don't care about that," replied
Helen, "if you do all really love me, and if
34 HELEN'S FAULT.
Maurice would not be always telling me
But if you gave over doing it," said
Mary, "you know he could not tell you
If I saw any harm," answered Helen,
" I might, perhaps; but I do not see there is
any harm. I am sure I would not tell a real
story any-more than you or Maurice would."
Oh, of course you would not-nobody
ever thought you would, Nelly dear; but
you know mamma says that we cannot pos-
sibly be too particular about speaking the
exact truth. Mamma seems to think that if
we get careless about little things, we might
by degrees get careless about great things.
I suppose she means that if we do not mind
little faults, they will grow into big ones,
almost before we know."
Helen made no reply.
"Come, Mary," shouted Maurice, from
below; "what are you about? Are you
and Helen ever coming? I shall look into
the basket, if you don't make haste."
HELEN'S FAULT. 35
"Oh, we are coming-we are coming!"
cried Mary. Just wait one minute, Mau-
rice. Now, Helen, won't you give me a
kiss-and then we will run down the steps
and open the basket?"
Helen gave it readily; and, taking Mary's
hand in hers, they flew down the steps toge-
ther, and were at the hut in a moment.
Maurice was discreet enough to make no
allusion to this third little quarrel of the
day, which passed off as completely as the
two first. The basket was opened, and the
contents laid one by one upon the table,
an exclamation of delight accompanying
Mary's doll's china was at the bottom of
the basket, and in it the children began to
arrange their feast. Should you like to know
what Mrs. Hudson had sent them?
In the top dish there were some tiny thin
slices of cold roast beef. In the bottom dish
there was the wing of a chicken. There
were four cheesecakes; but as these were
too big to go into one dish, they were obliged
36 HELEN'S FAULT.
to put one into each corner dish, so they had
four dishes of cheesecake. They had two
dishes of strawberries, four in each dish; one
tartlet cut into small pieces in another dish,
and some jelly in another. In the middle
of the table was an iced queencake, and a
tiny jug of cream, and another of pounded
sugar. Belonging to the doll's dinner-ser-
vice were four pretty little blue glass de-
canters, and six wine-glasses to match. The
decanters were filled with water at the stream,
and then placed upon the table.
And now the children began anxiously
waiting for the arrival of their guest; and at
length Mrs. Thornton was seen coming down
the wood-walk which led to the bridge, while
little Willy scampered on before.
RoBIN HooD, Little John, and Friar Tuck,
received the Lady Eleanor with due cere-
mony, and led her into the hut. It must be
HELEN'S FAULT. 37
confessed that the Lady Eleanor looked
rather like a giant amongst the dwarfs, and
that she had to stoop her head very low, for
fear of knocking it through the roof of the
hut. She managed, however, to take her
seat upon the stool which was offered to her,
without doing any damage to the edifice.
Willy was in great delight, and just the
right size for an inhabitant. He sat upon
the ground, for there was no stool for him,
but got his full share of the good things
Oh, here comes Fairy-just in time,
before the dinner is all eaten up !" exclaimed
Maurice, as a beautiful little black-and-tan
spaniel ran into the hut, barking and jump-
ing upon everybody, to show his joy at hav-
ing discovered them.
Fairy was Mrs. Thornton's dog, and a great
favourite with all the children; he was so
pretty, and so playful and good-tempered.
And now all the children were eager to give
him something to eat; so he ran from one
to another, and got here a piece of cheese-
38 HELEN'S FAULT.
cake, there a bit of meat, till at last there
was not a crumb left upon the table.
Mrs. Thornton now looked at her watch,
and said it was time for her to go home, as
the carriage was ordered in half an hour to
take her to make some calls. Would any of
them like to go with her?
Oh no, no !" they said, don't let any
of us go. No thank you, mamma, we would
much rather stay and play at home."
Very well, my dears, do just as you like,"
said their mother. You know you have a
whole holiday; but it is nearly half-past
twelve now, remember the schoolroom
dinner at one."
Oh, we don't want any dinner," cried
Helen, do we, Mary? do we, Maurice ? We
have had quite enough to last us till tea-time."
Mrs. Thornton laughed.
Rather a fairy-like meal," she said, I
think you will be sorry to have missed your
roast mutton and pudding before tea-time,
and be coming like a pack of hungry hounds
to Mrs. Hudson long before then."
HELEN'S FAULT. 39
Oh no, indeed we shan't, Aunt Eleanor,"
said Helen; "I am sure we have had loads
to eat: I would rather not have any more,
indeed-would not you, Mary-aid Maurice ?"
Very well," said Mrs. Thornton, "d(
jast as you please; only remember, that
there will be no more dinner after one
o'clock. Good-bye, my dears, and enjoy your
holidayto your hearts'content. Come, Willy,"
and Mrs. Thornton and Willy went away.
Oh, I am so glad you neither of you
wanted dinner," said Helen, as soon as she
was gone. "It would have been so stupid
to have gone into the house, and put on our
pinafores, and sat down to dinner just as on
And to have had to talk that horrid
French 1" cried Maurice, "and Miss White
telling one, Ne mangez pas si vite, Mon-
sieur;' 'Effacez les 6paules, Mademoiselle
Marie;' 'Parlez done Frangais, Mademoi-
selle HflBne;'-and all that stuff! How I
do wish mamma did not wish us to talk
French-what is the use?"
10 HELEN'S FAULT.
Oh, Maurice," said Mary, "how foolish
you are; would you not like to talk French
as beautifully as papa does? and I am sure
it is not such a very great trouble, just for
the time we are at dinner, after all."
Well, I hate it all the same," replied
Maurice, who was no wiser than most boys
of his age; "I never want to go into France,
and I never want to look into a French book,
and I detest 9tre,' and avoir,' and regime
directed, and all that humbug,-and I wish
it had never been invented, and I can't think
why we should be bothered with it-I am
sure we should get on just as well without it."
"You might as well say, why are we
bothered with two eyes," said Mary, laugh-
ing; "we should see just as well with one;
and though you don't want to go to France
now, perhaps you may when you grow a
great man;-or if you do not want to go to
France, you may want to go to some other
country, for you often say you should like
to travel about, and see the curious things
we read of in our books; and mamma says
HELEN' AvL.T. 41
that if we know French readily, we may get
about anywhere-in Europe, at least-
because almost every one knows it."
But that will not help me to see better,"
said Maurice; "I do not see with my tongue!"
No, but you hear with your ears," said
Helen, who thought Mary quite right, and
did not dislike French herself; "and don't
you remember, Maurice, the other day, when
we went to see the China manufactory, how
stupid that French gentleman seemed there,
who could hardly speak or understand a
word of English, and yet wanted to know so
much about the chinas And how pleased
lie seemed when we came into the room
where he was, and Uncle Thornton spoke to
him in French, and explained to him all he
wanted to know?"
"Yes," said Mary, "and mamma said
that he thanked papa so much, and said that
it was such a pity that French people were
not taught English more when they were
boys, and that how he found it so difficult to
learn it, that he was afraid he never should;
42 HELEN'S FAULT.
and papa said, I remember, as we were
coming home, that a man might almost as
well be deaf and dumb, as traveling a foreign
country without knowing any language but
Oh, well," said Maurice, I suppose you
are right; and now don't let us talk any
more about it. What shall we do next?"
We must wash up the dinner-things
first," said Mary. "Come, Helen. Oh,
dear, we have not got anything to dry them
Oh, yes, our pocket handkerchiefs," an-
swered Helen. Look, Mary, what a nice,
smooth, flat stone there is close to the side
of the bank! You hand me the plates and
dishes, and I will kneel down upon it and
And Helen, as she spoke, jumped from
the bank upon the stone, and, tucking up
her petticoats around her, knelt down ready
to commence operations.
Mary thought she would much rather
have washed her own.china herself, and that
HELEN'S FAULT. 43
she, too, would have liked to have been upon
that flat stone, with the cool water round
it, just like a real island, than to have stood
upon the edge of the bank, handing the
plates and dishes. However, she said no-
thing, and did as Helen asked her.
Maurice, meanwhile, loitered about, throw-
ing pieces of stick into the stream, and try-
ing to make Fairy go in for them. But this
Fairy would not do, and only replied to all
Maurice's coaxing and urging by loud barks,
frisking and bounding.
Tiresome Fairy! I have a great mind
to throw you in from the bridge!" cried
Oh, no, Maurice, you must not. Poor
Fairy He would not like it,-would you,
Fairy?" said Mary.
"Nonsense, Mary! It won't do him a
bit of harm this hot day. Come, Fay, Fay !
Poor Fay 1"
Fairy ran up to him, tossed his long silky
ears about very saucily, and then scampered
away again. Maurice pursued. Fairy rushed
44 HELEN'S FAULT.
up the rock steps, as if quite aware of the bath
Maurice proposed giving him, and then stood
still at the top, wagging his tail, till Maurice
had nearly reached him, when off he started
again, and Maurice after him; and the next
moment both were out of sight.
Mary and Helen, in the meanwhile, went
on with their washing, which being ended
with only the breaking of one plate, Helen left
the flat stone and jumped on the bank again.
Oh, Helen," cried Mary, "what a mess
your frock is in! and your petticoat, too!
Do look !" and she held up the frock and
petticoat to Helen's horrified gaze.
In spite of her having, as she thought,
tucked them about her so carefully whilst
kneeling on the stone, an end of each had
dipped into the water; then, in getting up
the bank again, they had dragged upon the
sand; and the consequences may be supposed.
Both frock and petticoat were in a sad mess.
Oh, dear, what shall I do?" said Helen.
" I thought I had tucked up my frock so
very carefully. How shall I manage? Mres,
HELEN'S FAULT, 45
Freeman will be so angry. This is one of
my best frocks. If it had been done any
other way,-if somebody else had done it,-
then she could not scold me so much. But
she will say it is all my fault, I know, and
that I had no business near the water."
But you did not do it on purpose, Helen,
so nurse cannot be very angry; and sup-
pose she is, as you have not done anything
really wrong, you need not mind very much."
Oh, but she told me to be sure and
change my frock before I went out, and I
promised I would," replied Helen.
"Did you forget, then?" asked Mary.
"Yes-no-not exactly forget. But it is
such a trouble to change one's things; and
I thought I should do it no harm., No more
I should, if it had not been for this tiresome
washing-up. I wish you had done it, Mary. I
am sure you ought, for theywereyour things."
See how one fault leads to another! and
how cross and unjust Helen was getting,
because she felt she was'to blame about not
keeping her word to change her frock.
46 HELEN'S FAULT.
I thought you liked to wash up the
things yourself," said Mary, or I am sure
I would have washed them. I should have
liked to have done it very much."
I wish you had said so, then," said
Helen, pettishly; "and then I should not
have dirtied my frock."
Well, it cannot be helped now, Helen,"
Oh, I don't know! I wonder whether
I could wash it out?" And Helen jumped
back upon the stone, dipped the dirty end
of the frock into the water, and began rub-
bing it with both hands, as she had seen
You had better not, Helen, indeed,"
said Mary; "you will only make it worse."
And so, indeed, she did. The soil was now
nearly half-way up the pretty pink frock.
Helen was ready to cry.
What shall I do! What shall I say,
Mary dear,-do tell me !"
Oh, never mind, Helen. Just tell the
truth-that is all you can say, you know."
HELEN'S FAULT. 47
But nurse will tell Miss White, and
Miss White will be so angry, because of my
saying I would change my frock; and she
will set me a horrid task, and perhaps tell
Aunt Eleanor! Oh, Mary, you must help
me to make some excuse. I should not
mind now about having dirtied the frock, if
it had not been for my promise !"
"Yes, that is just it," answered Mary.
" What a pity you did not keep it, Helen
dear I don't think mamma and Miss
White would mind about the frock, if you
had only not made the promise."
But how could I, if I forgot it ?" asked
Oh, but Helen, you know you said you
had not forgotten it,-that you did not do it
because it was a trouble."
Helen looked down, confused. After a
little silence, she said:-
But I was very near forgetting it; and I
dare say-I am quite sure-I should have
forgotten it, if I had not just happened to
pass the open nursery-door as I was leaving
48 HELEN'S FAULT.,
Aunt Eleanor's room, and saw Martha
changing Willy's frock; and that put me in
mind. It is very hard I should be punished
just because the nursery-door was open; for
if I had forgotten, I should not be blamed
half so much. I have a great mind to
say I forgot all about it. You won't tell,
Mary, what I just told you by accident, will
Oh, Helen-Helen-what are you think-
mg about !" said Mary, quite shocked. You
know it would be telling quite an untruth."
Oh, but such a little, tiny one-and
that cannot possibly do any harm to any-
Oh, Helen, if you tell an untruth, what
difference will it make whether it is a little
one or a big one? It will be an untruth all
the same; and though it would be still more
naughty to do a wrong thing if it would
harm any one, it will not make a wrong
thing less wrong because it does not, will it ?"
Helen hung down her head. She kept
drawing the spoiled end of her frock back-
HELEN'S FAULT. 49
wards and forwards through her hands. The
tears gathered in her eyes, and rolled down
Then I shall be scolded and punished,
and Aunt Eleanor will think me so naughty,
because I broke my promise once before
about not coming back to my sewing, when
Miss White allowed me to go and play in
the garden for half an hour upon conditions
that I would. And all might be saved if I
had only not remembered! Oh, how I wish
I had not passed the nursery-door!"
If Helen had wished that she had had a
greater regard for her word, it would have
been much better, and still better if that
wish had proceeded from sorrow at having
done what was wrong, not from the dread of
being punished for what she had done wrong.
Mary's kind heart was full of compassion
at seeing her cousin's distress.
"I am so sorry for you, dear Helen," said
she, taking her hand; so very sorry "
Helen drew her hand away.
You pretend to be very sorry, Mary," she
50 HELEN'S FAULT.
said, and yet you will not help me one little
bit. I am sure I would do anything for you."
"But I never would ask you to do any-
thing wrong for me, I hope, Helen."
"I don't think it is wrong!"
Oh, Helen how can you say so? Here
comes Maurice; we will ask him whether it
is ever not wrong to tell an untruth."
"Oh, no, no," said Helen; don't Mary,
please don't! I don't mean that exactly; I
don't mean that it is not wrong to tell an
untruth. 'Don't say anything to Maurice,
he will laugh at me so, and think me so
naughty. I will not say I forgot to Mrs.
Freeman; indeed I will not."
There's a dear, Helen," said Mary,
!kissing her; you will tell her all the truth,
will you not ?"
Yes,-yes; if she asks me."
At this moment Maurice reached them.
His face was red and hot, and he threw him-
self upon the grass.
Oh, I have had such a chase after Fairy.
I am so tired," he cried.
HEILN'S FAULT. 51
Why, where have you been?" asked
"Oh, quite up to the house, running all
the way; and it is so hot! Fairy ran home,
and mamma was just going out when I got
to the hall-door. I waa so hungry with my
running. Mamma laughed when I told her,
and said she knew I should be; but that the
schoolroom dinner was over now; but that
I might go and get as much bread-and-but-
ter as I wanted from Mrs. Hudson. So I
did; and then came back again, as you see.
I could not catch Fairy, though."
Oh, I am so hungry, too," cried Helen;
"I wish you had not talked about dinner."
And so am I," said Mary. Oh, Mau-
rice, why did not you bring us some bread-
and-butter too? "
"How do you know I have not? There,"
said Maurice, "look in that basket; y9u
will find plenty. You see Robin Hood did
not forget his comrades. You must fancy it
The two little girls fell upon the basket
52 HELEN'S FAULT.
and its contents very much like the hungry
hounds Mrs. Thornton had talked about.
As Helen passed close to Maurice as he lay
upon the grass he perceived the state of her
What a pretty mess you are in, Neily,"
he said, laughing; "you look as if you had
been dragged through a pond. I would
rather not be you when nurse sees it."
Oh, never mind," said Helen," tuck-
ing the dirty end beneath her as she sat "
eating her bread-and-butter upon the grass;
"it is no affair of yours, Maurice. What
shall we play at next? I am quite tired of
being Little John."
"You had better go to the house and
change your frock first, had you not, Helen?"
asked Mary. "It must be so wet and un-
comfortable; and you may catch cold."
"Will you come and take it off for me,
Mary? I dare say the servants have not
done dinner yet; and we might get in by the
library window, and no one would see us."
Nurse must see your frock, sooner or
HELEN'S FAULT. 53
later," said Maurice; so I don't see what
Perhaps nurse might not see it at all.
Martha is so good-natured; I shall tell her,
and I dare say she will say nothing about it
to nurse. Come, Mary, let us make haste
before the servants have done dinner. Wait
for us in the flower-garden, Maurice." Mau-
rice said he would, and the two cousins
walked quietly towards the house.
"If I were you, I think I would tell
nurse at once," said Mary, as they went,
after a little thought; "I am sure you will
feel much more comfortable. It must be so
very uncomfortable always to be afraid of
something being found out. Indeed, Helen,
you had much better tell."
It is no affair of yours, Mary," answered
Helen, crossly; "so I wish you would not
say anything more about it."
Mary did say no more about it, as she
found it so useless. They reached the house,
and went through the library window, which
they found open, upstairs to their own room,
54 HELEN'S FAULT.
which was next the nursery. The frock
that Helen should have put on lay upon the
bed ready for her. Quickly she slipped off
her pink frock, with Mary's assistance, and
quickly was she dressed again in a clean
petticoat and her other frock. Quickly, too,
did she roll the dirty one up, and thrust it
into one of her drawers. As she was trying
to shut it, for it was very full, the servants
were heard coming up from dinner.
Mary, Mary, help me, quick; I cannot
shut this drawer; do make haste!" cried
Helen, her voice trembling with eagerness,
and her face quite red with fright.
It certainly would have been much better,
as Mary said, to have told about her accident
at once. It is very uncomfortable, indeed,
to have anything to conceal. With Mary's
assistance the drawer was shut, the servants
assed on; no one came into the room.
Helen breathed again.
'How frightened you look, Helen," Mary
could not help saying; I wonder you mind
HELEN'S FAULT. 55
Helen made no answer; she was tying on
her bonnet and tippet.
Let us go down into the garden again,"
she said, when she had finished, "I am
They found Maurice waiting for them, as
he had promised.
I have thought of a game," said he, as
they joined him.
Let us play at 'I spy. I will hide
first, and Mary and you must look for me,
"Very well," said Helen; only let us
make some boundary rule. If you go and
hide in the wood, we shall never find you;
and it has got so hot we do not want to run
very far, do we, Mary ?"
"Then we will make it a rule not to go
out of the flower-garden," said Maurice;
and the summer-house is to be the safety-
So that was satisfactorily settled, and
Maurice went to hide while the two girls
walked to the summer-house.
56 HELEN'S FAULT.
Now this flower-garden was a very beauti-
ful one, and full of beautiful flowers; which
were cultivated, as all beautiful things must
be, with very great care. Mr. and Mrs.
Thornton were both very fond of their gar-
den, and often worked together in it with
their own hands. The head gardener had
obtained several prizes at the annual flower
exhibition in the neighboring town.
Our children were allowed to play in this
beautiful garden as much as they liked,
under the condition that they were not
to run over the borders or gather the
There he is," exclaimed Helen, when
the little girls had been seated a few minutes
in the summer-house, as a "whoop!" was
heard from a distant part of the garden; "he
is near the fountain."
It sounded more from the sun-dial, I
thought," said Mary. Hush-there he is
The fountain, certainly," cried Helen.
HELEN'S FAULT. 57
Well, you go towards the fountain, and
I to the sun-dial," replied Mary, and we
shall see which is right."
And off they started in different direc-
Slowly and cautiously crept Helen towards
the fountain, peering into every bush as she
passed, starting at every sound. She reached
the fountain in safety-no Maurice was to
I spy!" shouted Mary at the top of her
voice from the other side of the garden;
" run, Helen, for your life!"
Helen saw no one, but flew back towards
the safety-place. Now it happened that
directly in her way lay a bed of very fine
tulips, which Mr. Thornton had been culti-
vating with the greatest pains. The bulbs
had been sent him from Amsterdam. These
tulips were to be exhibited at the flower-
show, which was to take place in a day or
two, and the gardener felt sure he should
gain the prize for the finest specimen of
cut tulips." The children bhJ been espe-
58 HELEN'S FAULT.
cially warned not to go near this bed till the
flower-show was over.
Helen-- Helen-run!" cried Mary;
" Maurice is behind you!"
She had herself already reached the sum-
mer-house. Helen gave one hasfy glance
behind. Maurice was running round the
fountain to catch her. The tulip-bed lay
just between her and the shortest way to the
safety-place. She dashed through it-snap
went two of the finest tulips-breathless she
reached the summer-house, and threw her-
self gasping upon the seat.
Mary burst into a joyous laugh.
Maurice came up to the summer-house.
"I thought I should have caught you,
Helen; I was creeping up to you as you
stood by the fountain, only Mary saw me
and called out 'I spy;' and off you started
like a deer. I can't think, though, how you
managed to get safe, without you ran through
some of the flower-beds,-for there were so
many in your way, I felt sure I should catch
you still. But I lost sight of you as I ran
HELEN'S FAULT. 59
round the great rhododendron-bed, and when
I saw you again you were close to the sum-
mer-house;-how fast you must have run!"
"Yes !" said Helen, fanning herself with
her bonnet; oh, how hot I am !"
Now, Maurice, go and hide again," said
Maurice went. After little pause-
"How silent you are, Helen," she continued.
I am so tired !" said Helen. But she
was thinking of the tulip-bed.
Maurice shouted from his hiding-place.
The girls started upon the search. They
could not decide where the voice had pro-
ceeded from this time, and Maurice gave no
Helen went towards the wood; she could
think of nothing but the tulip-bed, and
longed for an opportunity of going there
alone, to see what mischief she had done.
She was startled by a rustling in a thick
bush close to her.
"I spy!" she shouted, and rushed to-
wards the safety-place. A blackbird flew
60 HELEN'S FAULT.
out of the bush, and Helen fell into the arms
"Ha! ha! I have caught you this time,
Miss Helen! Did I not manage it cleverly?
I shouted from the other end of the garden,
and then ran as fast as I could round by the
shrubbery to the summer-house; and when
you called 'I spy,' I waited till you came
quite near, and then jumped out upon you
like a spider upon a poor little fly."
Mary joined them.
"Are you caught, Helen ?" she asked.
Yes, I am; and now I am going to hide."
Well, make haste," said Maurice.
Helen went away in the direction of the
tulip-bed, which was not in sight of the
summer-house. Her heart beat fast as she
approached it, and faster still when she
found that her fears were too true; two of
the tallest and finest tulips lay snapped upon
the ground, and in the middle of the border
was the print of her foot. She stood gazing
upon the consequences of her disobedience
for some few moments, not knowing what
HELEN'S FAULT. 61
to do, and feeling very much inclined to
cry, and very miserable indeed. She never
thought of the straightforward course of tell-
ing her aunt what a misfortune she had met
with,-she only thought of the best way of
concealing it. When people once allow
themselves a bad habit, it is very difficult
to leave it, and very easy to increase it.
Helen allowed herself the weak and cow-
ardly habit of concealment when she did
anything that she feared would be blamed.
Every time that she did wrong, every time
that she met with an accident, only made her
more cowardly. We have seen how she
acted about her frock earlier in the morn-
ing. She was more afraid of her uncle than
of Mrs. Freeman or Miss White, and there-
fore still more resolved to hide this second
misfortune. Accordingly, she pulled a little
branch off a tree, and smoothed over the
mark of her foot, and she picked up the
broken tulips, and threw them into the rho-
It will never be found out," thought she,
62 HELEN'S FAULT.
" there are so many! I am sure no one will
ever miss these two. After all, I could not
help it. It was quite an accident I never
meant to break the rules."
No more Helen did. She had run over
the border in the hurry of the moment. It
was a misfortune that might have happened
to any one,-to Maurice, or even Mary, who
was so careful. But Maurice and Mary
would have told immediately. They would
have taken the flowers to their papa, have
told him how sorry they were, and have
begged him to forgive them. You may think
it was much easier for Maurice and Mary to
have told Mr. Thornton, because he was
their papa, and that being only Helen's
uncle, she was naturally more likely to be
afraid of him. But, dear children, we must
not make excuses to ourselves for doing what
is wrong because it is painful and difficult to
do what is right. We must do right, without
counting the cost, and at any sacrifice.
What an age Helen is !" said Maurice
to Mary. "What can she be about?
Helen!" he shouted, with both hands to
UELLN'S FAULT. 63
his mouth, by way of a speaking trumpet,
" Helen! Will you ever be ready! We
are tired of waiting! We are coming out!"
Helen heard his voice, and recollecting her-
self, ran behind the nearest bush.
"Whoop !" she cried.
I spy !" cried Maurice. "Why, Helen,
you stupid girl! as he and. Mary regained
the summer-house, followed by Helen;
" What could you be thinking of? I saw
you the moment I turned the corner of the
"I am tired of 'I spy!' said Helen,
who had lost all pleasure in the game. I
am tired of play."
"What, already?" said Maurice. "Why,
our holiday is not half over."
Let us go in, and paint till we are
rested," proposed Mary. I will lend you
my best paint-brush, Nelly, and my pictures
of the History of England, if you like."
But even this could give Helen no plea-
sure. She feared to go into the house, for
fear Mrs. Freeman might have found out
about her frock; she'was afraid of staying
64 HELEN'S FAULT.
in the garden, for fear the gardener, or,
worst of all, her uncle, might find out about
the tulips. She felt very miserable.
How wretched you look, Nelly," re-
marked Maurice. "What is the matter
No, I don't," said Helen. How teaz-
"ing you are, Maurice !"
And how cross you are, Helen There
is no speaking to you-there, go away! I
don't want to play with you any more!"
No more do I want to play with you
any more, you tiresome boy !"
Oh, don't !" said Mary, who could not
bear to hear any one quarrel. Leave her
alone, there's a dear Maurice-she is only
so tired. Come, Helen, let us go in doors."
WHEN the two little girls went to their
own room that evening, to dress for dessert,
Helen told Martha what had happened to
IELEN S FAULT. 65
her frock, and entreated her to get it washed
without letting Mrs. Freeman see it. Mar-
tha, who was very good-natured, was quite
willing to assist Helen to escape nurse's
anger, whom she thought was often much
more cross than was necessary about such
accidents. She knew nothing about Helen's
promise, or she would have thought it her
duty to mention how ill she had kept it. So
she promised to take the pink frock to the
laundry, and wash it herself that very even-
ing. Helen felt very much relieved.
When they were dressed, the cousins went
down to dessert with Maurice and little Willy.
Well, dears, have you had a very plea-
sant day?" inquired Mrs. Thornton.
"' Oh, yes, mamma," said Maurice, such
a delightful day! I wish we might have
holidays all the summer through."
You would soon be tired of them, my
boy," answered his father; at least, I
Oh, no, I should never be tired of them!
But why do you hope so, papa?"
66 HELEN'S FAULT.
Because I hope you have more in yor
than would be satisfied with nothing but play
from morning till night-something of the
bee, as well as the butterfly."
"Let us hear what you did with your
holiday," said Mrs. Thornton. Did you
play in the hut all day, Helen?"
Oh, no, Aunt Eleanor. Mary and I were
tired, and we went and painted indoors."
You forgot our game of 'I Spy' first,
Helen," said Mary.
We played such a short time at that,"
Indeed, we played nearly an hour at it,"
said Maurice, "and I thought it the most
amusing game of all. Oh, papa, you cannot
think what a bad place Helen chose to hide
in After keeping us waiting ever such a
long time, when we left the safety-place the
first thing we saw was her, so of course we
just walked quietly back again."
"Where did you play?" inquired Mr.
"In theflower-garden," answeredMaurice,
HELEN'S FAULT. 67
"Rather a bad place to choose for a game
at I Spy,' Maurice."
Oh, papa, we were very careful not to
hurt any of the flowers, or go over the beds,"
I cannot tell you how uncomfortable and
miserable Helen felt all this time. How she
longed to creep from the room-under the
table-anywhere; for she felt her cheeks
growing burning hot, and she was so afraid
it might be noticed.
I am glad to hear that," said Mr. Thorn-
ton. Talking of the flower-beds puts me
in mind! My dear mamma, I am afraid
you will be nearly as vexed as I am, and as
poor Green is. I went, as usual, to look at
the tulip-beds when I came in from town, and
was very much annoyed indeed to find that
two of the finest,-De Ruyter and De Witt,
-have disappeared !"
Helen's heart died within her.
Disappeared!" exclaimed Mrs. Thorn-
ton. How very strange! What can have
become of them?"
68 HFLEN'S FAULT.
They appear to have been broken off
close to the ground; but as they are not to
be found, they evidently must have been
carried off by some one or something."
Were there no footprints upon the bor-
der?" asked Mrs. Thornton.
No; I examined very carefully. There
was a little scratched mark, but it did not
look like a footmark, without it was a very
light one, and had been brushed over."
Some animal might have broken them
off-a rabbit, perhaps," said Mrs. Thorn-
So I should have supposed; only rab-
bits do not eat tulips, and the tulips them-
selves have disappeared. It is this which
makes me think some person must have ga-
thered them. You are quite sure, children,
that none of you did gather them ?"
Oh, no, indeed, papa," cried Maurice
and Mary, both at once; we should never
have thought of doing such a thing."
Nor you, Helen?" asked Mr. Thornton,
turning to her.
HELEN'S FAULT. 69
No, indeed, uncle !" she answered; but
her face grew scarlet.
I am sure Helen would not have ga-
thered them any more than we would, papa,"
Oh, if Helen could have had the courage
to confess, that though indeed she had not
gathered the tulips, yet she had been the
cause of the accident She saved her con-
science, she thought, and told no untruth.
She only equivocated. But did she not de-
ceive quite as much? And so fearfully near
the edge of a falsehood as she stood, who
can answer for themselves that the next mo-
ment may not plunge them into one?
This time she escaped, for Mr. Thornton
did not carry on his examination, and ad-
dressed her no more upon the subject.
Helen's spirit revived again within her;
but, instead of making a resolution that she
would do her utmost to avoid falling into
such a temptation of deceitfulness again, she
only congratulated herself that she had been
so lucky as to escape further questioning.
70 HELEN'S FAULT.
After dessert, Mr. and Mrs. Thornton
stepped out of the open glass windows of the
dining-room into the flower-garden. The
children followed them, and so did Fairy,
who had been lying at Mrs. Thornton's feet
during dessert. The children ran about the
terrace with little Willy, enjoying themselves
in the soft, warm summer evening. Helen
thought herself now quite safe from being ever
found out, and was as merry as any of them.
Oh, what has Fay got?" cried Willy.
" He has got something in his mouth; look
Morry!" He could not say Maurice.
" Here, Fairy, Fairy!" shouted Maurice,
running after him.
ihe little dog stopped, looked Maurice in
the face very saucily, and then pretending
to growl, scampered away again. He cer-
tainly had something in his mouth, which
every now and then he tossed up into the
air and caught again.
Willy laughed very much, and so did Mary
and Helen, who joined in the pursuit.
Maurice soon caught him this time.
HELEN'S FAULT. 71
"Oh, papa! oh, mamma I" he cried, what
do you think? Fairy has got the tulips!
Look! look!" and he ran towards them,
holding the flowers in his hand, which were
now so torn and tattered that they bore
little resemblance to the stately De Ruyter
and De Witt which had so lately raised their
gaily-painted heads above the other beauties
in the tulip-bed.
Are these them ?" Maurice continued,
handing them to his father.
No doubt of it," said Mr. Thornton;
" how did Fairy come by them ?"
He had been routing about in the rho-
dodendron-bed for some time, and presently
he ran out with them in his mouth."
I think there can be little doubt ofiAis
being the culprit," said Mrs. Thornton.
"Oh, fe! Fairy!" as the little dog came
up, wagging his tail, and jumping about
Mr. Thornton to recover his playthings.
"No, no; naughty dog said his mas-
ter. "This will never do. If you take to
breaking the flowers and running off with
72 HELEN'S FAULT.
them, it will be sad work. You must be
punished for this, Mr. Fairy."
Helen, Mary, and Willy now came up.
We have found out who did the mis-
chief," cried Maurice; it is Fairy. Oh,
bad little dog !" shaking his hand at him.
Poor little Fairy, untroubled in his con-
science, still kept jumping up for the flowers.
Mr. Thornton broke off a small switch
from a tree near him.
"Oh, what is papa going to do?" cried
"I must punish him, my dear; for I can-
not have him get into the habit of spoiling
my flowers." He held up the rod threaten-
ingly. Fairy crouched at his feet.
"Oh, Uncle Thornton," cried Helen,
"Please don't hurt him. Perhaps he did
not do it after all. Please don't, Uncle
Thornton," and the tears rose to her eyes.
You are a kind-hearted little girl, Nelly,"
said Mr. Thornton, patting her head; but
I think there is no doubt of Fairy's having
done the mischief, and I own I am not sorry
HELEN'S FAULT. 73
to be satisfied that it is no one else, who
might have known better. I think it neces-
sary to punish him; because if I do not, he
will get into the habit of being mischievous,
and I should have to give him away, which I
should be sorry to do."
Give Fairy away! Oh, no, papa !" cried
Mary, Maurice, and Willy.
"Then I must punish him," said Mr.
Oh, don't hurt him!" cried Helen.
Only a very little, my dear."
Helen and Mary ran away, that they
might not see the punishment inflicted. But
though Helen stopped her ears, she could
not help hearing the cries of the little dog
as Mr. Thornton gave him two or three sharp
switches with the rod; and every cry went
to her heart, for she knew it was not Fairy
who deserved the punishment, and that she
might have prevented it had she not been so
cowardly and weak. The little dog ran off
as soon as his punishment was over, little
the worse for it, and as gay as ever. But
74 HELEN'S FAULT.
Helen felt very unhappy for the next quarter
of an hour, and very much ashamed of herself.
Then she thought, it is only a little dog,
after all, and he does not mind being punished
half so much as I should."
The children had cake for tea. Helen kep,
a large piece of hers to give to Fairy, and her
conscience felt satisfied. Ought it to have
IT was some little time after the disaster
with the tulips. Helei had forgotten all
about the adventures of that day. She had
even given over being sorry at her own con-
duct, for she had never been found out,
never been punished, and the remorse she
had felt for a little time had made no lasting
impression upon her.
Helen and Mary were playing together in
the library one afternoon. It was a wet day,
and they could not go out of doors. The
children were very fond of playing in the
library, for there was a little gallery whicb
ran round the room, about half-way between
the floor and ceiling, and a flight of iron
steps, with pretty brass bannisters, led to
76 HELEN'S FAULT.
this gallery. There were high bookcases
all round the library, and it was to enable
people to reach the books in the top shelves
that this gallery had been constructed; and
up and down the steps and round and round
the gallery the children were very fond of
running. They were not allowed to take out
any of the books to look at,-of these they
had plenty in their own schoolroom, picture-
books and others; and Mr. Thornton was
very particular about his books.
Maurice had gone back to his school,
which was the reason that Mary and Helen
were playing alone this afternoon. Helen
was engaged with her doll. She had put its
hair into papers, and now with a tiny tor-
toiseshell-comb she was combing out the
curls. Mary was playing with her box of
bricks, and had just finished building a
round-tower nearly as tall as herself.
How I do wish it would have done rain-
ing !" exclaimed Helen, at last. I want to
go out so much. It is so stupid staying
indoors. Is not it, Mary?"
HELEN'S FAULT. 77
Yes. I wish it would have done," said
Mary, carelessly. She was putting the last
row of bricks to her tower.
"It would be of no good if it was to stop,"
Helen continued, looking out of the window.
"It is so soaking wet, that I am sure Miss
"White would not let us go out, if it were to
turn out ever so fine.. I wish it would never
rain, don't you, Mary?"
No, I don't, indeed, Helen; for what
would become of all the poor flowers? Why
it was only yesterday that you were longing
for rain, because your garden was so parched
up with the sun, and your flowers all fading
away, because you did not like the trouble
of watering them."
Helen could not make any reply to this.
She had thrown aside her doll, and now stood
at the window, following the rain-drops with
her finger, as they coursed one another
down the glass. "I wish Maurice was come
home again," was the next thing she said:'
we never can have any nice plays without
him:" and she yawned.
78 HELEN'S FAULT.
Mary was roofing in her t6wer with the
greatest care; the least unwary touch and
down it would have gone.
When he was here you always were
wishing him at school, Helen," she replied.
Oh that was only when he teazed me,"
answered Helen. I should not mind that
a bit, if he were only back again. When
shall you have finished that tower, Mary?
You have been such a long time about it,
and I do so want to build a palace. Do let
us build a palace."
With one touch Mary, the good-natured
Mary, demolished her tower, which fell with.
a loud crash to the ground, and began, with
Helen, to raise an edifice of another order of
architecture. However, the two little girls
could not make anything to their satisfac-
tion, with all their united genius. Four or
five different attempts had been made, to be
knocked down one after the other in disgust,
before they were half completed, when Sally
opened the door, requesting Miss Mary would
go to the nursery, as Mrs. Freeman wanted
HELEN'S FAULT. 79
to try on a new frock she was making for
Sally was a girl about fourteen years old,
who was employed to wait upon the nursery,
to fetch up water and coals, dust the room,
run errands for the nurse, and so forth. She
was not very much wanted, but she was the
daughter of an old servant of Mrs. Thorn-
ton's, who had married a worthless, drunken
kind of man, and who lived in great want in
the village; and so Mrs. Thornton had kindly
taken this girl into her house to take her off
her mother's hands, and out of her bad
father's way, who used often to beat and ill-
use her, and also that she might have the
advantage of learning, under Mrs. Freeman's
strict eye, how to become a good and useful
Mary went away with Sally, and Helen
was left alone. She amused herself with
trying to build a church. But she could not
make anything that looked the least like one.
Suddenly it came into her head that if she
had a picture of one before her, she might
80 HELEN'S FAULT.
perhaps be able to copy it; and she remem-
bered that, not long ago, her aunt Eleanor
had been making a water-colour drawing
from some beautiful architectural engravings,
in a large book in this very library. She
rose from the floor to look if she could see
this book. She recollected it perfectly. It
was beautifully bound in red morocco, and
Helen went all round the bookcases in
search of it; but she could not see it, though
in one of the bottom shelves there was a gap
as if some large book had been taken away.
"Aunt Eleanor has taken it into the
drawing-room," she thought. But Aunt
Eleanor had done no such thing, unfor-
tunately. The book lay upon the library-
table, and as Helen was returning to the
window and the bricks, there she saw it.
" How stupid !" she exclaimed; "there it is
all the time." And she carefully opened the
Now it has already been mentioned that
the children were expressly forbidden ever
HELEN S FAULT. 81
to meddle with the books in the library,-
books of engravings most particularly, as
these were the most likely to attract them.
While Helen was looking for the book, she
had not remembered the prohibition; but
directly that she opened it, and saw the pic-
tures, it came back to her mind, and she knew
that she ought to have closed it immediately.
But the pictures were so beautiful; and
she caught a glimpse, as she turned two or
three leaves hurriedly over, of such a lovely
church-just the church she wanted; and it
looked so easy, she was sure she should be
able to make something like it with the bricks.
The temptation was too strong for any one
as weak as Helen to resist. Every time we
yield to temptation we become weaker; and
Helen always yielded to temptation.
What harm can it possibly do the pic-
tures ?" thought she. "I am sure Aunt
Eleanor would allow me to look at them if
she knew how usefully I wanted them; be-
sides, nobody will know."
Oh, that dangerous "nobody will know."
82 HELEN'S FAULT.
Helen turned to the church again.
I will only look at this one church," she
But as she looked, it occurred to her that
the arched window would be too difficult
for her to accomplish; she would just turn
over two or three more pages, to see if she
could find one more easy. But no; all the
churches seemed one more difficult than an-
-other,-so she thought, as instead of two
Sor three, she turned over at least ten pages.
I will not try to build a church at all,"
she said to herself. "Here is a beautiful
old house! All the windows are square.
This will be nice and easy-I will try this."
The book was at the further end of the
tdble from where the bricks lay. Helen
found she must bring the book to this other
end, and open as it lay at the place she had
found, she began to pull it to where she
"wanted it to be.
Now it so chanced that Mr. Thornton had
been engaged at his accounts with his bailiff
in the library that very morning, and had
HELEN'S IAULT. 83
been using red ink to rule the lines in the
accounts. For some reason or other he had
been called suddenly away, and had left the
red-ink bottle uncorked upon the library-
table. It was a small stone bottle, rather tall
for its thickness; and Helen never perceived
it, as she pushed the heavy book along, open
at the picture of the beautiful old house, till
a crimson stream vder the page attracted her
attention to it in a very disagreeable manner
She had, somehow or other, contrived to
knock the bottle over, and the ink poured
over the engraving.
Helen gazed at the mischief she had done
in speechless dismay for a few seconds; and
then, half wild with fright, felt for'her pocket-
handkerchief to dab up the ink. She had
not got one!
What could she do? What must she do?
The ink river was getting wider and wider I
What would her uncle say? The book would
be quite, quite spoiled!
These thoughts passed through her head
84 HELEN'S FAULT.
much faster than I can write or you can
read, as she looked wildly round the room,
in the hopeless endeavour to see something
that might serve her to wipe up the ink with.
There was nothing.
There was no help for it-she must run to
the housemaid for a duster; and, quick as
lightning, she was through the door which
led to the back stairs, in search of Susan.
She had not ran many steps along the pas-
sage, when, oh joy! she saw something
lying in a heap in a corner,-a cloth of some
kind,-what it was she never stopped to ex-
amine; but, crimson with excitement, stooped
down, picked it up, and ran back again into
the library, banging the door after her.
All this had taken her such a little time
to do, that the ink had not dried upon the
book, and she wiped most of it away with
the cloth; but the stain remained. The
broad stain, like a red river, ran straight
down the middle of the roof of the old house,
over the front door, and through the park,
drowning a group of deer in its passage.
HELEN'S FAULT. 85
Many plans passed through poor Helen's
head. She would scratch it out with a pen-
knife-perhaps some water would take it out.
But she chanced to have on that very pink
frock upon which she had made the unsuc-
cessful experiment the day of the feast in the
hut. She remembered how much worse she
had made it by trying to make it better, and
thought it more prudent to make no attempts
upon the book.
And niow again she began to ask herself
what she was to do? What would her uncle
say? Oh, she never, never could dare to tell
him He would be so much displeased!
Then she thought, why should he ever
know ? She had never seen him look at pic-
ture-books in her life. Aunt Eleanor had
finished her drawing, and was not likely to be
looking at the book again. Mary was cer-
tain never to find it out. She would never
dream of opening any of the b6oks in the
library-she was so obedient; and, as Helen
thought this, her heart smote her.
No," she went on thinking, I will not
86 HEEEN'S FAULT.
tell. It will only vex Uncle Thornton very
much. Perhaps it may never be found out;
and who knows, perhaps the red ink may
fade, and the stain go quite, quite away, in
time. It looks paler already, I do think!"
Helen shut the book, and pushed it back
to its-place. But, oh, how heavy her heart
And now Mary came bounding in, so
happy and gay. She had nothing to hide.
"Oh, Nelly, are you not quite tired of
waiting? I thought I never should have
come back to you! Nurse Freeman was so
particular,-so particular! And I could
hardly stand still at last, I was so impatient
to get to the bricks again, for I have thought
of such a beautiful plan!"
Have you been playing with the bricks
all this time ?" Mary continued, as she knelt
down on the floor, and began arranging them.
" Look, Helen, this is my plan! This is to
be the porch,-look! But you are not pay-
ing any attention, Helen. Do see! Is not
HELEN'S FAULT. 87
"Yes,very," saidHelen,hardly looking at it.
At this moment the door opened, and Mr.
Thornton came in.
Well, young ladies," he said, "what are
Making houses with our bricks, papa,"
Helen was too much frightened to say a
Papa, do come here for one moment,
and see! Is not this a beautiful portico?
All out of my own head, papa 1" continued
It is a grand portico, indeed," said Mr.
Thornton, coming up to her, and stroking
Oh, papa, do stay and help us Do papa;
you always invent such beautiful buildings."
"Another day, dear; I have not time
now. I have only come for a bottle of red
ink I left here;" and he went towards the
Helen's heart actually stopped beating, as
Mr. Thornton took up the bottle. Some-
88 HELEN'S FAULT.
thing seemed to surprise him, for he walked
to the window and looked into the bottle.
"How very odd!" he said to himself. "I
could have been certain there had been more
ink in it than this."
Oh, Helen," cried Mary, "please take
care Oh, you have knocked it all down !
Never mind !" seeing Helen's look of con-
fusion and alarm, and supposing it to be
caused by her sorrow for having ruined the
portico; I will soon build it up again."
Mr. Thornton left the room with the ink-
bottle, without saying any more about its
diminished contents. Helen and Mary con-
tinued to play with their bricks till Sally came
to fetch them to tea.
Two or three days passed. The accident
to the book remained undiscovered; and
though Helen had felt so uncomfortable the
first night that she almost made up her
mind to tell, yet every hour that passed with-
HELEN'S FAULT. 89
out her having done so made the confession
more and more difficult. This is always the
Helen thought that her misfortune would
never be found out; but she was mistaken,
as we shall presently see.
Miss Mary, your papa wants to speak to
you and Miss Helen, in the library," said
John, the footman, opening the schoolroom
door one day.
These words seemed very simple; but sim-
ple as they were, Helen turned pale. She
could hardly be comfortable whenever her
uncle was in the library, for fear he should
find out about the book; how much more
alarming was it to be sent for to speak to
him there. She felt dreadfully afraid it had
all been discovered, and that she and Mary
were now called in to be questioned. But
there was no help for it, her uncle had sent
for her, and she knew she must go, so she
followed Mary, though very reluctantly.
Mary opened the library door, and they
both went in. Helen cast a hasty glance to
the table. There sat Mr. Thornton. The
90 HELEN'S FAULT.
book open before him at the place where
was the red ink, Helen felt sure, and she
turned quite giddy.
Well, papa, what do you want us for ?"
Mary said, running gaily up to him. "Have
you anything pretty to show us ?"
She was at his side; but Helen still lin-
gered at the door. She had knelt down,
pretending to tie her shoe, for it was not
really untied; but she thought it would give
her time to recover her confusion. See how
one fault leads to another! Helen was
beginning to deceive.
Your mamma and I are going to call
upon a lady who lives some distance off, and
as we shall pass some very beautiful ruins
on the way, we mean to take you and Helen
with us. As you are both of you so fond of
building, and so ingenious with your bricks,
we think you would like to see these ruins,
which are veryfamous. Shall you, my dears ?"
Oh, yes," exclaimed Mary; "so much,
so much! Nelly, do you hear? Won't it
be delightful I Shall you not like it ?"
HELEN'S FAULT. 91
Helen, who had felt very much relieved
by finding that at all events she was still
safe, now came up to the table, and had it
not been that the dreaded book lay so very,
very near, would have felt, as happy as
You two little girls must be quite ready
by half past twelve," Mr. Thornton con-
tinued. "We shall take luncheon with us,
and you shall eat it in the ruins."
Mary clapped her hands with delight.
"We shall be there an hour at least, as
your mamma is going to sketch; and now,
my dears, I sent for you here to show you
some views of these ruins before we go, as I
think you will understand them better, and
therefore enjoy seeing them more, if I ex-
plain to you about them beforehand. There
is a drawing in this book of the ruins re-
stored," as it is called, that means, as it is
supposed they stood before the building was
knocked to pieces by Cromwell. I will show
you this view first, that you may understand
how the castle was when it was perfect; and
92 HELEN'S FAULT.
then I will show you another picture of it, as
it now stands, and as you will see it to-day.'
Mr. Thornton turned over the leaves of the
book as he spoke, looking for the views he
I cannot describe to you how Helen felt
as she stood by as her uncle was doing this,
expecting every fresh leaf he turned over
would discover the dreadful stain.
Slowly and carefully Mr. Thornton turned
them over-for the engravings were very
valuable-slowly, one by one.
How beautiful they are, papa!" cried
Mary, who was eagerly looking on. "What
lovely pictures! Turn them still more
slowly, dear papa. I like looking at them so
Her father complied, and drew her upon
.iis knee, that she might see them still better.
But Helen can't see," said Mary; who
always thought of other people's enjoyment.
"Helen, you are not looking! Yes, I
can,-yes, I am," said Helen; who wished
the book anywhere but upon the table,--
anywhere but in Mr. Thornton's hands.
HELEN'S FAULT. 93
Mr. Thornton made more room for her.
"Stand upon the stool, Nelly," he said,
" and then you can see quite well."
Slowly he turned over the pages, stopping
every now and then to explain to the chil-
dren anything that was particularly curious
and interesting. They had now got nearly
to the middle of the book. Helen knew that
the "Old House" was coming. She felt
very sick, and turned quite pale.
Should she tell all, before her uncle came
to the fatal page?
She was just thinking this, when her
This is a very valuable book indeed.
There were very few copies of it published,
and it was given to me by a friend, who is
now dead, and whom I loved very much
indeed; I mean your mother's brother, Mary,
whom you have often heard her speak of,
though he died before you were born."
Helen gave up all thoughts of telling now.
Mr. Thornton turned over the next page.
Why, how comes this?" he cried;
" who can have done this ?"
94 HELEN'S FAULT.
There lay before him the "Old House,"
with the red-ink river over the roof, over the
front door, through the park, and drowning
Oh, what a pity!" exclaimed Mary; "oh,
papa, what a pity !" Helen said nothing.
"I must find out about this," said Mr.
Thornton, lifting Mary from his knee, and
rising. He bent down close over the paper.
It is red ink," he said; some one
must have been looking at this book who had
no business to touch it." He looked very
much displeased. "The stain looks quite
fresh," he continued. It must have been
made quite lately. Run, Mary, and ask
your mamma to be so good as to come here
for a moment. She was drawing from this
book last week. I want to know whether
she happened to see this view then."
I will go, Mary," said Helen, who could
not bear the thoughts of remaining alone
with her uncle and the book. And before
Mary could make any remonstrance she was
out of the room.