-M WHY rSEWS WAAE Foilgy 'r
- I -. .. .. ,. .. .
The Baldwin Librarv
JESSAMINE AND HER LESSON-BOOKS.
Ent btatw Sle flitcrlo tblc ipij) Clra.
"EYES To THE BLIND," "Til.' i LINETN-ROOM WISIDOW," ETC.
O may I like the bee, still strive
Each moment to employ,
And store my mind, that richer hive,
With sweets that cannot cloy."
A Child's Morning Hymn.--BERNARD BARTON.
SKEFFINGTON & SON, 163, PICCADILLY.
Pen dieion, Manchesler,
Sept. 5ijti, z886.
CHAPTER ].-SATURDAY AFTERNOON ...
II.-MONDAY MORNING ... 12
III.-JESSIE'S PUNISHMENT ... 25
JESSAMINE AND HER LESSON-BOOKS,
S ESS! "
This name, and its diminutives, echoing through
the garden and shrubberies of Ardleigh Hall, in a variety of
youthful voices, brought forth no response. And, tired of
shouting for her, Jessamine Harbord's brothers and sisters held
a consultation over her strange absence.
She must be doing it on purpose," decreed Verbena, the
second sister, a decided-looking girl of thirteen ; and we
can't waste any more of Saturday afternoon in waiting for her."
2 JESSAMINE AND HER LESSON-BOOKS.
But she will be so sorry to miss gipsy tea," said sweet
Cicely, the eldest; then turning towards a brother of eleven,
whose usually bright face for once was full of gloom ; Bertie,
don't you know anything about her ?"
No, I don't," he said. This morning, after lessons, I
couldn't find her either, and at dinner time she wouldn't tell
me what she had been doing. But don't go on without her,
Beenie, please. She will be so awfully disappointed if you do.
And she must be somewhere."
So she must! mockingly said Percy, who was next to
Cicely in age. "Come on, Cis and Beenie! Come-on, little
ones It only serves her right for going off like this
on a private lark of her own." For Percy, like a second-
rate photographer, represented "justice without mercy in
Without even telling Hubert !" said Verbena. Had it ever
before happened that Bertie and Jessamine were not in each
Cicely stood still a moment to consider, but the happiness of
the greatest number imperatively demanded the sacrifice of this
one sister's individual good. I'm sorry, Bertie," she said
gently, with a hand upon his shoulder, but it is really time to
start. Was anything wrong with her this morning ? Do you
think she is in any scrape? "
JESSAMINE AND HER LESSON-BOOKS. 3
No," said Bertie. Not particularly. She said she hated
Miss Churchill, but that was nothing."
No," agreed the sister. From Jess, who indulged in free
expressions of her feelings, that wasn't anything at all, and the
new governess was not very popular with any of her pupils. I
was afraid she was in disgrace, and fretting over it. Has she
any punishment task to learn ?"
She didn't say so," said Bertie. Let us call again, Cis.
Perhaps she'll hear this time."
And "Jessie Gipsy tea! Ravenshill! was sung out by the
chorus. When the rest of her brothers and sisters would wait
for her no longer, and ran off to the house to pick up the
provisions for their rural festival, Hubert lingered still, calling,
Jess where are you ? Do come after us. It's no fun at all
without you. Or shall I stay behind? And then he, too,
sighing, gave up all hope of finding her, and joined the others,
Cicely saying to him, consolingly;
I have been to mother, and she promises that if she sees
Jess, she will tell her where we are, and send her after us."
But Jess knew well enough where they were going. Every
syllable of their calls to her had reached her, and Bertie's final
appeals even brought the tears to her bright brown eyes.
There she stood, in the heart of a little wood, or thicket, into
which she had contrived to grope her way ; a tall, thin child of
4 JESSAMINE AND HER LESSON-BOOKS.
ten years old, with short red hair which curled about her neck,
a piquant little turn-up nose, and a firm, determined mouth.
In her hand she held an iron spade, heavy indeed for her to
wield, though a big deep hole in front of her, surrounded by
little heaps of fresh-turned mould, proved she had been work-
ing to some purpose. No wonder she looked hot and weary
as she rested, leaning on her spade, and that the small, resolute
face was mournful as she murmured,
I wish I could go with them ; but I may never get such a
*chance again. I wish I might tell Bertie, but it is best he
Then diligently she set to work again, making the hole
deeper and wider still. What could be the use of it ? Was it
a grave for some departed pet ?
There was another pause to watch the gipsying troop wind
slowly up the hill, which was separated only by the public road
from the grounds of Ardleigh Hall. A pretty lane led to the
clump of trees which crowned its summit, but the children
chose the more direct, but steeper, way across the fields, and
their figures stood out clearly from the grass. Percy and Ver-
bena, who were chums, were carrying the big basket, and little
Nellie, by way of helping, was hanging on to it, and getting
herself pulled up the rising ground. Master Julius, the youngest
of the party, openly sought aid from his eldest sister's hand,
JESSAMINE AND HER LESSON-BOOKS. 5
while Bertie, swinging the great black kitchen kettle, walked a
little bit apart,-as if by way of marking how lonely he was with-
out his twining Jessamine. Though Jess felt very sorry for
him, it was rather comforting to feel that she was being missed,
and brushing off a runaway tear or two with the back of a
grimy little hand, she proceeded stoutly with her task.
Well, at length the hole was big enough, and Jess threw
down her spade. Then crawling out through the bushes, she
looked carefully around her, and, satisfied that the coast was
clear, went lightly across the lawn, entering the house by a side-
door. Close to this door was the school-room, where, since
Miss Churchill's coming, Jess had passed many unhappy hours.
She frowned even at the recollection of them, and there was a
wicked light of mischief in her eyes. The room was simply
furnished, and the most striking thing in it was a big old-
fashioned cupboard or bureau, with deep drawers in the lower
part. The upper portion had glass doors, but these being lined
with faded crimson silk, the contents of the cupboard were not
visible. Jess pulled a chair up to the bureau, and mounting
upon it, easily threw open the glass doors, d;' l.1.0'1 a
long array of lesson-books. Jess looked upon these lesson-
books as so many enemies to the happiness of herself and
her brothers and sisters, and, for more than a nionth past,
had been vowing vengeance against them in her heart.
6 JESSAMINE AND HER LESSON-BOOKS.
This was a grand opportunity. Miss Churchill had gone
that morning to visit friends in the neighboring town of
Asseton, and was only to return in time for Monday's duties.
Jessie's father, Mr. Harbord, had a meeting which would keep
him away until half-past seven, and her mother, who was very
delicate, was taking a long rest in the morning-room, in order
to be bright for him that evening. Even the two restless little
ones, Nellie and Julius, who ran about the house at pleasure,
were safely disposed of for once.
Jess gathered up the skirt of her print garden-frock into a
sort of bag, and swept into it as many books as it could hold,
grammars, dictionaries, histories. Then, getting down from her
elevation, she trotted off with her load to the hole prepared for
it. There, standing on the edge, with a smile of satisfaction on
her countenance, she let go her frock, and the books dropped
down with a delightful thud into what she meant to be their
final resting-place. It was such a pleasure to see them lying
there, that she could hardly tear herself away from the contem-
plation, but even a summer's afternoon won't last for ever, and
she knew she must take many journeys to and from the house
before the shelves were emptied. Moreover, the drawers were
full of copy-books, and books for themes and French exercises,
and these also must be buried; and there would be room, too,
in the pit, for the drawing-boards and pens and pencils, and for
JESSAMINE AND HER LESSON-BOOKS. 7
two bottles of red and black ink respectively. Jess was not the
person to do things by halves i
On this principle, no doubt, she made no distinction between
her own possessions and those of her brothers and sisters.
Who could like lesson-books, or anything connected with
them ? And so Cicely's favourite, I Promessi Sposi, and
Verbena's not quite finished water-colour sketch of an old ruin,
which Miss Churchill, who was not given to much praising,
had pronounced to be "not only pretty, but clever," shared
presently the fate of Jessamine's own three special aversions,
Bu's First French Course, which she did indeed consider
very very nasty; The bottle of red ink, which ink-marked all
her errors and delinquencies; and The Modern Poetical Speaker,
out of which, in consequence of those marks, she ought at that
very moment to have been learning Barton's poem on The Sky-
lark." Small blame to her if she resisted the hollow mockery
of saying that she loved to track the Skylark's heavenward way,
when she was shut up in four walls to learn about it. There
was only one nice piece of poetry that she had ever come across,
and it did begin with a sensible suggestion.
"The house is a prison, the school-room a cell;
Leave study and books for the upland and dell;
Lay aside the dull poring, quit home and quit care,
Sally forth Sally forth Let us breathe the fresh air."
8 JESSAMINE AND HER LESSON-BOOKS.
It was her father who had taught her that, not a horrid preju-
But in spite of the royal impartiality with which she had
cleared the shelves, there was a very particular joy in distinguish-
ing her own taskmasters among the mass of fallen enemies.
Besides Bui, the arch-enemy, there were three more French
books : Les Malheurs de Sophie, which, little as Jess knew of
them, could be but trifling in comparison with the Malheurs"
of Jessamine ; Le Pe/it PrIcepleur, and Ahn's Exercises ; and
among many others, The Child's First Latin Book, Mrs. Mark-
ham's History of England, Colenso and Munde/la's Arithmetic,
and The Child's First History of Rome.
In spite of the aching of her arms from sheer hard work, Jess
felt so triumphant that she sang softly all the while she shovelled
in the earth upon her vanquished foes ; and when the hole was
filled again, she beat the ground smooth with the flat side of her
spade, saying a word with energy at every stroke.
Lie there-you nasty- horrid-tiresome- wicked-
things. Never- let-me- see-your-hateful -ugly--faces-
And then, in conclusion, she danced a sort of war-dance, very
prettily and with great spirit, on the top of them, with
" Hurrah for our holiday on Monday as a song of victory.
Jess had naturally the highest spirits in the family. and the
JESSAMINE AND HER LESSON-BOOKS. 9
excitement of this deed of daring carried her beyond herself.
But after a little while there came a reaction. A member of
a large household is seldom accustomed to playing alone, and
she couldn't think of anything else that seemed worth doing by
herself. And although she could confidently reckon upon
Monday as a holiday-for how can you have lessons without
lesson-books ?-and expected an ovation of gratitude for it from
all the others, deep down in her heart there was the fear of the
consequences of this enterprise. Indeed she knew she would
be punished somehow, and though she meant to be defiant and
show that no punishment was as bad as lessons, she did not
care just now to think about the day of reckoning. It was
only because she did not want Bertie to be punished with her,
that she had not told him of her purpose. What a waste this
was of the end of precious Saturday, and how about her tea?
She was very thirsty, and of course Cicely would have told the
servants there need be no indoor meal. Jess didn't like to go
and join the picnic party, because she was not supposed to
know where they had gone, and when Mrs. Harbord was resting
the younger children were not allowed to disturb her without a
good excuse. Jess strolled up the avenue, without thinking
much where she was going, and happened to meet the postman
coming down. He was rather a friend of hers and Bertie's, and
showing her a letter for her mother, l. asked if she would like
10 JESSAMINE AND HER LESSON-BOOKS.
to take it in. This was very convenient, and Jess ran round with
it to the morning-room window, which was open, and climbed
up on the sill.
"Is that you, Jessie ?" said her mother, catching a glimpse
of the little auburn head. Come round by the door, dear. I
want to speak to you." And when Jess was beside her sofa, she
said, gently; Why aren't you with the others ? They have all
gone to have tea on Ravenshill."
I had something else to do," said Jessie, getting scarlet, and
her mother, taking it for granted, from her embarrassment, that
this something was an extra task inflicted by Miss Churchill,
Have you done it now? Very well, then, I advise you to
run after the others as quickly as you can, before all the cakes
and raspberry jam are demolished. Ah opening her letter,
" and you can tell Cicely that Grandmamma and Aunt Ver-
bena have really settled to come on Tuesday evening. How
glad we shall be to see them !"
"Yes," said Jessie, heartily, for she was an affectionate little
girl, and very fond of her Grandmother. But her happiness
was spoilt by conscience, after Mrs. Harbord's parting whisper,
as her little daughter bent to kiss her.
Enjoy yourself, my Jessamine, and put lessons out of your
head until Monday morning. But it will make me very happy
JESSAMINE AND HER LESSON-BOOKS. 11
to see you trying to get on better with Miss Churchill. I know
she is a little strict, with you especially; but you have been a
very troublesome little pupil to her, I am afraid, and have never
shown her that you wish to please her. Let the new week be
a new starting-point."
A new starting-point, indeed, with not a lesson-book in the
MONDA Y MORNING.
SSECRET is not a pleasant possession, especially
to a little person who is unused to having such
a thing; and Jessamine Harbord found hers very
burdensome. From the moment that she joined
the merry-makers on the hill, she was assailed with questions.
"Where did you hide yourself?"
"What have you been doing?"
"Have you been crying?"
Getting scolded ?"
"Been up to any lark ?"
And Percy and Verbena, who were genuinely curious about
her occupation, continued these with such persistency both on
JESSAMINE AND HER LESSON-BOOKS. 13
Saturday and Sunday, that Jess had to take refuge in a sullen
silence quite foreign to her nature. Only to Hubert would she
say, with their arms entwined as usual: "Please don't ask me !
Please don't tease me You can't think how I want to tell
you, but it is best you shouldn't know."
And Bertie was so easy-going and good-natured that instead
of growing more inquisitive from this intimation, he let the
matter rest. Perhaps, too, he guessed vaguely that Jessie was
in trouble, for in spite of fitful bursts of gaiety, she was not
quite like herself.
And then came half-past nine on Monday morning, and Miss
Churchill-Miss Churchill, a middle-aged woman, with a grave
and rather stern, and what Verbena called a "boring," face.
But those who could read her character better than some of her
present pupils, knew how good and conscientious and unselfish
she was; and it was only her desire to do her duty thoroughly
which prevented her from ignoring much of Jessie's naughtiness.
The other children behaved fairly well on the whole, though in
her opinion the mother's want of health had caused them to be
brought up too indulgently; and school-room life would have
gone on far more smoothly had she but glossed over the mis-
conduct of this one young rebel. Jessamine would have been
greatly astonished to hear the serious and kindly way in which
Miss Churchill had discussed her in the rare pleasure of a quiet
14 JESSAMINE AND HER LESSON-BOOKS.
Sunday talk with one of her own friends, and the difficulty
there was felt in treating her.
"Such a strong will, such a brave and cheery nature, ought to
come to good," said Miss Churchill, sadly. But she puts her
whole force of character into resisting me, and against educa-
tion. One man can lead a horse to the water, but ten cannot
make him drink; and you have only to show Jessamine a book
she thinks instructive, to close up all the avenues to her intelli-
gence. She can even make herself look stupid, and she is such
a clever child. I am afraid I am impatient-not the right
person to deal with her-and yet I have her welfare earnestly
"She must be a naughty, tiresome, little girl," pronounced
Miss Churchill's friend, severely. Let her go her way. Don't
trouble or distress yourself about her. Confine your interest to
"That would be wrong. Besides, you don't understand. If
Jessie's eyes were opened, if she would but try to learn, she
would be a delightful pupil. It is her will that must be
Her will that must be wuon," suggested the friend's sister,
who had not yet spoken. Persuasion is better than force, you
know. Do you remember that old 'Dub,' or horsepond, in the
Isle of Man, Lucy, with the bright gorse bushes and the tall
JESSAMINE AND HER LESSON-BOOKS. 15
hawthorns round it, and what a rush there used to be down
the lane at evening and in the early morning, when Farmer
Quiggins's horses were brought there to drink ? I have a
recollection of some of the carters waiting very patiently for
the impetuous young colts to stoop their pretty heads."
Miss Churchill was thinking of this conversation as she and
her pupils gathered round the big school-room table for the
reading of the daily Psalms and Second Lesson, with which it
was the custom to begin the morning. The Bibles and Prayer
Books were kept in a little hanging book-case by themselves;
but even had it not been so, Jess would have exempted them
from the general destruction. All the seven children were pre-
sent, Percy, who was a public schoolboy, and only at home now
owing to an outbreak of scarlet fever there, always joining the
others for this reading, before he went to study with the Rector's
"Verbena, it is your turn to put out the lesson-books," said
Miss Churchill, as Cicely, standing by the little shelf, took the
sacred volumes from the hands of her brothers and sisters, and
arranged them neatly in their places.
Yes, Miss Churchill," said Verbena, placidly; and Jess,
trembling with anxiety, felt hot and cold at once. No one,
however, noticed her. Everyone's attention was turned to
Beenie, who gave a little cry and a great start as she threw open
16 JESSAM3INE AND HER LESSON-BOOKS.
the glass doors, for, as we know, it was with her as with Old
When she got there
The cupboard was bare "
"The books are gone! Who can have taken them ? There
isn't one of them left," she said, amazed.
Perhaps the housemaids have been washing out the cup-
board, and have forgotten to replace them," said Miss Churchill.
" Cicely, ask Eliza if she knows anything about them. Or, wait
a moment, she may have put them in the drawers. Look,
Verbena; and if they are not there, get out the drawing-boards and
copy-books. There is no need for us to waste our precious time."
"But the drawers are empty, too said Beenie, wrathfully.
" This must be some silly, stupid joke. Bertie, was it y)ou "
"No, indeed," began Bertie, opening his blue eyes very wide
at such an accusation: and Miss Churchill held up her hand
with a warning gesture.
Go to Eliza, Cicely," she said, and meanwhile be silent,
children. It is not for you, Verbena, to investigate this matter."
The minutes seemed very long to everyone before her
messenger came back. Eliza and Annie know nothing what-
ever about the books," said Cicely. They were not in here at
all on Saturday afternoon, except Eliza to draw down the blinds
and lock the door at night."
JESSAMINE AND HER LESSON-BOOKS. 17
"Thank you," said Miss Churchill. "Then I must ques-
tion you in order. Cicely, have you the slightest knowledge of
what has become of the books ? "
"No, Miss Churchill."
Have you, Percy? I am sorry to include you, as you are
not my pupil, but you are old enough to see the necessity."
"Rather not !" said Percy.
This time there was a pause instead of the usual denial,
and after waiting for a little, Miss Churchill repeated the name
very gravely; "Jessamine "
"What ? said Jessie, unable to keep silence any longer,
and setting her face as firmly as she could.
I ask you, Jessamine, do you know anything of the lesson-
Yes, I do," said Jessamine, at bay; while a horror-struck
"Jessie escaped from the audience.
And where are they ? Where have you taken them ?"
"That I shan't tell you," said Jess, desperately; and Nellie,
feeling hopeful, put a query, Then must we have a holiday ?"
18 JESSAMINE AND HER LESSON-BOOKS.
No one answered her, and Miss Churchill, for the moment,
was absorbed in thought. In the stillness the sound of Mr.
Harbord's dog-cart, driven to the front door, seemed twice as
loud as usual, and hearing it, she took her resolution.
"Your father has not gone to town," she said. Cicely, please
go to him, and ask him to be so kind as to spare me a few
But Cicely, submissive and obedient as she was, for once
ventured an expostulation. Oh Miss Churchill, must I ? "
she entreated. Mother can't bear father to be troubled with
"Yet that is better than troubling her just now," said the
governess, kindly. I am sorry for you, Cicely. I dare say
Percy, if you like, will go instead."
Thank you. No," answered Cicely, bravely, though with
eyes that were brimful of tears. Father will think it more
natural to see me." And away she hurried, quickly returning
with him, a tall, bright, clever-looking man, very like his little
daughter, Jessamine. In a few words he was informed of the
Jessie acknowledges she had taken the books," he said,
quietly. Jessie, answer clearly, and without evasion, where have
you put them ? "
In the garden," said Jessie.
JESSAMINE AND HER LESSON-BOOKS. 19
What part of the garden ? Where are they now ?"
In the ground. I buried them," said Jess, stealing furtive
glances first at one and then another of her brothers and sisters,
in the hope of sympathy and approbation. But though Bertie
and Cicely looked kindly and pitifully at her, they were far from
approving, and their sorrowing anxious countenances broke down
the remnant of her courage more than even Beenie's despairing
Oh, Jessie, not my drawing My dear beautiful drawing
that I was taking such pains with for mother, and that even Miss
Churchill praised You haven't buried that ? Father, make her
say Jessie, you wouldn't be so naughty ? "
"Jessie, did you bury the drawing, too? asked her father.
Jessie nodded. Great big tears of mortification and rage were
welling up into her eyes, and seeing this, unselfish Cicely kept
back her wish to know whether her two well-bound prizes,
Tennyson's Poems and Motly's Du/ch Reepublic, had likewise
been entombed. Beenie said nothing : she felt quite stunned
by the certainty of this unexpected misfortune.
"And why have you done this? Why have you been so
naughty? Have you any excuse to offer for such conduct,
Jessamine ?" said Mr. Harbord, very sternly. Stand back,
Bertie !" for the boy was stealing softly to his little sister's side.
"Don't interfere with me and Jessie."
20 JESSAMINE AND HER LESSON-BOOKS.
Now Mr. Harbord was best known to his younger children as
a merry playmate and a bright kind friend. Their mother tried
to make them understand that though she was always ready to
listen to their childish griefs and confessions of naughtiness,
their father must be met with glad and smiling looks. He had
care and worry and trouble enough in his daily business, she
told them, and it was the duty of his children to be nothing
but a pleasure to him. Jess had never hitherto stood before
him as a culprit before a judge, and the sight of his displeasure
was very dreadful to her. She burst into tears, in which fright
mingled largely with the naughtiness, though she was deter-
mined still to brave out the position.
I did it because I hate lessons, and I hate Miss Churchill !"
she sobbed out, passionately. They are nasty, horrid, detest-
able things, the whole lot of them, and I wish books and
printing and pens and pencils had never been invented !"
Something very like a smile of amusement flickered about her
father's mouth at those last vehement words of hers, but he was
grave again directly. That will do. You have said enough.
Miss Churchill, don't you agree with me that the first thing
is to recover the lost possessions ? Get your hats and boots,
children. Yes, you too, Jessie. You will have to show the way.
When we come back to the house I will tell you what your punish-
ment will be. Miss Churchill, I should like your opinion."
JESSAMINE AND HER LESSON-BOOKS. 21
And poor Jess went off to find her boots in a frame of mind
by no means to be envied. Her only comfort was in Bertie's
sympathy and kisses, little as she would show that she cared
It was a strange little procession that went out to the shrub-
bery, Jessie leading the way, with her head held up defiantly,
Miss Churchill and her father following a few yards behind;
and after them were Cicely and Percy and Verbena and Bertie
bearing spades, and Nellie and Julius with empty baskets, with
which to carry back the books.
"Follow my leader isn't quite so easy for us now," said Mr.
Harbord to Miss Churchill, as Jess scrambled through the
bushes into the little wood, but at the expense of a few broken
branches they also entered, and the trodden earth showed
plainly where Jess had been at work.
Is everything here ? In this one place ?" her father asked
"Yes," she said.
"Then go back straight to the school-room, and wait until
we come to you."
Jess walked back to the house very soberly. In the suspense
of not knowing what her punishment would be, she would have
liked the distraction and excitement of seeing the books dug
up, and of finding out how much they were injured. Of course
22 JESSAMINE AND HER LESSON-BOOKS.
she hadn't expected to be allowed to help, but she did think
her father might have let her stay and watch. How would he
punish her? Would he make her do more lessons ? Would
he stop her Saturday half-holiday ? She could not tell. She
could only be sure that he was very angry.
Meanwhile, the delivers were working busily and carefully;
and soon Percy's spade struck something hard. This proved
to be Cicely's drawing-board, and next to it came Verbena's;
and to Beenie's joy she found that after all her sketch was none
the worse for its underground experience. For, happily, the
weather had been dry, and the soil was sandy; and the sketch,
protected on the top by Cicely's board, and underneath by a
layer of books, had only received a little sand upon it which
could easily be shaken off. But the books had fared less well.
The two ink-bottles were both broken by their fall, and the
contents had trickled down over half the volumes. And per-
haps the blackest and the reddest of them all was poor Cicely's
Dutch Republic !
Leaving the children at their labour, Mr. Harbord and Miss
Churchill returned to Jessamine, who was looking out of the
school-room window, and did not turn round until her father
"Come here, Jessie, and listen to your sentence, which you
will most likely think a strange one. You will be punished in
JESSAMINE AND HER LESSON-BOOKS. 23
two ways. First, your pocket-money will be stopped for the
present, to help to pay for the replacing of some of the things
which you have spoilt. Secondly, you said, if you remeniber,
that you wish books and printing and pens and pencils had never
been invented. They are invented, and thousands of people are
grateful for such blessings. But, as far as can be managed in
this nineteenth century, you shall live for a whole month as if
they did not exist. For four weeks from to-day Miss Churchill
will give you holidays, and you shall neither touch a lesson-book,
or, except in Church on Sunday mornings, a book of any kind.
Now what do you say to that?"
A month of holidays for a punishment Jessie could hardly
believe her ears. Her spirits rose immediately, and, looking at
her father, she said in frank, clear tones--
I'm sorry about the money, but I like the other punishment.
It will be very nice indeed."
I don't think you will find it as nice as you expect," said
her father. "We shall see. You don't know what it is to be
an idle child, more or less in disgrace, while your brothers and
sisters are all working. Miss Churchill cannot have you here in
lesson-hours, and I shall tell Nurse she is not to trouble herself
with you at unusual times. And, of course, you are not to
disturb your mother without express permission. Now, go away.
I hear Beenie and Bertie coming back."
24 JESSAMINE AND HER LESSON-BOOKS.
"May I go into the garden, then ?" said Jess.
"Yes, as soon as the others have come in, and you can join
them there as usual in their playtime. And, Jessamine, I hope
you will take an early opportunity of begging Miss Churchill's
pardon. For I am ashamed not only of your rudeness to her
this morning, and of your insolence in taking away her books,
but of your general behaviour since she came to teach you.
You know better than I do how much disobedience and rebellion
she has to overlook; and until you have won her forgiveness,
you must not expect me to forget your conduct. Good-bye for
the present, Miss Churchill. Pray accept my apology for this
disagreeable interruption to the studies until Jess finds penitence
and courage to make one for herself."
And in less than ten minutes the dog-cart had driven off with
him to Asseton, and five of Miss Churchill's six pupils were
again at work in the Ardleigh school-room.
F Mrs. Harbord were feeling pretty well towards evening,
it was her custom to assemble her five elder children
after school-room tea, and read aloud to them, Cicely
taking the book from her occasionally to rest her
mother's voice. Ivanhoe was the tale in hand at present, and
they had reached a most exciting part. As for nearly a week
past, the readings had been discontinued, it was a great pleasure
when, this Monday, a message came to the school-room that the
audience was expected in the morning-room at six o'clock.
Away ran the children at the appointed hour, and their mother
was waiting for them on her sofa, with the open volume on
"I'm glad you haven't a headache to-night, mother," said
Percy, whose own place was next to her, and the others took
up their usual stations.
26 JESSAMINE AND HER LESSON-BOOKS.
But Mrs. Harbord's smile of welcome changed to a distressed
look as she turned to Jessamine. Jessie, I am sorry, but you
must go away. Your father says you are not to come to the
readings for a month."
"Oh, poor Jessie !" said Verbena, forgetting her own wrongs in
sympathy, and she had been feeling very angry with her destructive
little sister ; but Jess herself tried to look as if she did not care.
Oh, no I forgot," she said, moving to the door, but her
manner didn't deceive Bertie, who asked promptly-
ay I go with her, please ?"
"No, dear. I like to have you with me at this hour; and
besides your father would not wish it. But you cam tell her as
much as you remember of the story, afterwards."
And then she began to read, and by all but herself, perhaps,
Jessamine was soon forgotten in the interest of the book.
That was the first trouble of the punishment, but others
followed quickly. The next day was wet, and she could not go
out, and the morning lesson hours seemed very long indeed,
far longer, oddly enough, than if she had been one of Miss
Churchill's pupils. A great cleaning was going on in the day-
nursery, and Nurse refused to have her as a helper, nor would
Cook as much as let her come inside the kitchen door. All
this was very different from stray holidays when she was not
well, when everyone was ready to pet her, and give her extra
JESSAMINE AND HER LESSON-BOOKS. 27
indulgences, and think of pleasant ways to while away the time.
She took her dolls to the bed-room where she slept, and amused
herself with them for a time, but Jess was much fonder of active
games than of doll-play, and active games as a rule require more
than one person.
On a later day, when she tried battledore and shuttlecock in
the hall, she was sharply scolded for having awoke her mother
with a start by the noise, just when, after a bad night, she had
fallen into nice refreshing sleep.
However, Jess thought the afternoons would be better than
the mornings, even in wet weather, for she could then have
Nellie and Julius as companions, and that day they did get on
quite happily. True, her attention wandered from their childish
play at the time of the beginning of the evening reading, but
perhaps Grandmamma and Aunt Verbena's coming would put
a stop to Ivanhoe until they went away. And how nice it would
be to see them at breakfast to-morrow morning They were
to arrive so late that only Cicely and Percy might stay up to
see them the first night.
Yes, there they were in the dining room when the children
trooped downstairs-Grandmamma, Mrs. Glyn, a very sweet
old lady, whom her daughter, Mrs. Harbord, much resembled,
and Aunt Verbena, who was quick and bright and energetic,
and agreed with Miss Churchill in thinking some of her nephews
28 JESSAMINE AND HER LESSON-BOOKS.
and nieces were rather spoilt. But they and she were very fond
of each other, nevertheless, and warm greetings passed between
them. She saw the children notice that there was a parcel by
"From your Aunt Eleanor," she observed, "to make up to
you for her not being able to come with us herself. You will
find a letter, too, with your book, Jessie, to answer all your
questions about the pets and chickens. She said she was sure
neither your Grandmamma nor I would remember half she
wished to tell you."
A letter was a greater rarity to Jess than a present, and she
pounced upon it eagerly, but before she could tear open the
envelope she was stopped by her father's voice.
"A book for Jessie did you say, Verbena ? Bring me the
book and letter, Jess. You shall have them in a month."
This was too much for Jessie's calmness. Father Give
it to me It's my letter she said, indignantly.
"But it couldn't have been your letter unless the arts of
reading and writing had been invented," said her father. It
wouldn't be in existence. I will send your aunt a message that
you cannot write to thank her for her kindness for some
Mrs. Glyn and Aunt Verbena felt there was a mystery, and
asked no questions; but they were very much surprised that
JESSAMINE AND HER LESSON-BOOKS. 29
Jessamine remained behind when the other children departed
with the governess.
Aren't you going with them, Jess ? her aunt inquired, or
have you a holiday ?"
"Yes," the little girl said, shyly, for she didn't like to think
that the visitors must hear what had happened; and her father
Not one holiday, but a whole month of holidays. Jessie
has a long period of idleness before her."
Ah that will be very nice for me, sweet Jessamine," said
her grandmother, looking at her rather anxiously. Girls of
your age do grow far too fast for their strength sometimes, and
you undoubtedly are very tall. You will be much better for a
rest from school-room work. Well, it is an ill wind that blows
nobody good, and now I am sure of a dear little companion
when everyone else is busy. You must read very nicely now,
and I am fond of being read to while I work. Some pretty
story-book I mean, dear. That won't tire the little brain too
much, will it, Percival ?"
"But, Granny, I'm not ill," began poor Jessie, in confusion.
"Perhaps I'll tell you about it afterwards." And MIr. Harbord
"The orders are that Jess is not to touch a book of any kind
at present. But I am sure Miss Churchill will be willing to spare
30 JESSAMINE AND HER LESSON-BOOKS.
one of her pupils at any time, at your special request. I only
hope we aren't going to have a spell of wet weather for your visit."
But the rain came down that June with relentless persistency,
as it does sometimes in summer after a lengthened period of dry
weather, and there was very little going out for Jessamine.
Perhaps otherwise her father's mode of punishment might not
have pressed heavily, and she would have grown accustomed to
playing about alone. But as it was, the days were insufferably
tedious. In the drawing-room, reading aloud was constantly
going on, Aunt Verbena having a clear, strong voice, and liking
to give enjoyment to her mother and sister, and almost every
evening before late dinner she got up paper games of one sort
or another-consequences, making riddles, bouts-rimi/s, word-
taking and word-making-from all of which Jessie was excluded.
It was very hard to hear the peals of merry laughter from the
players, Mr. Harbord, and even Miss Churchill, among them.
Jess used to hang about forlornly in the hall sometimes, feeling
very miserable; and there was not much comfort now with the
little ones in the nursery. For, of course, their ideas of amuse-
ment were more childish than Jessamine's, and though, at first,
they were very proud of having her as a playfellow, it was an
effort to them to be always doing as she told them instead of
what they wished themselves. Her plays were mostly taken out
of story-books which she had read and they didn't know, and
JESSA.MINE AND HER LESSON-BOOKS. 31
they couldn't always understand and follow her directions.
Then she grew impatient, and told them they were stupid,
and they retorted that they didn't call it play and fun to be
always scolded. And at last Nurse said her charges were
always good and happy and contented playing by themselves,
and she would not have Miss Jessie worrying them. There
was no peace in the nursery now, with her in it all day long,
and she would speak to her mamma, and see if she did not
agree with her that this was an excellent opportunity for Miss
Jessie to learn sewing. Her work was a disgrace for ten years
old, and if it did no other good, for some people's fingers were
all thumbs, and always would be, it would at least keep her
quiet, and out of mischief.
And, as Mrs. Harbord did agree, Jess, who disliked sewing
almost as much as Bu's French Course, was set down twice a
day by Nurse for a whole hour to the mysteries of hemming, and
seaming, and felling. How she longed instead to be reading
one of her favourite story-books !
Well, to cut a long story short, Jessie found these lonely
holidays so tedious and wearing, that, after only a week of
them, she wished heartily to be back again at lessons. But,
ashamed as she was fast becoming of her past behaviour, she
did not want to say so, or to own that from the first she had
not enjoyed her idle independence: and she tried to steer a
32 JESSAMINE AND HER LESSON-BOOKS.
middle course between defiance and submission. So when
her father, meeting her alone upon the stairs one afternoon,
said, teasingly, Tired of play yet, Jess ? she answered in an
Rather. If you like, father, I'll go back to lessons to-
No, Jessie. I don't like, for that is not the way to ask. You
can speak to me again about it when you are really sorry for
Jess was bitterly disappointed, but she held out for a few
days longer. Then, when she found that Cicely, and Percy, and
Verbena, and Bertie, were all to be taken to Asseton, to see
a famous actress play the part of Rosalind in Shakespeare's
As You Like It, while she was to be left behind, only because
of her naughtiness and silly speech, she gave up the folly of
pretending not to care. It was a very meek little Jess who
asked her father the second time if she could go back to
lessons; and she never quite forgot the grave and tender
way in which he talked to her about the privileges she was
For he spoke, of course, in language suited to her age, and
from that day began her understanding that education is a
drawing out of the great gifts of mind and soul and thought
and character with which the good God has endowed His
JESSAMINE AND HER LESSON-BOOKS. 33
children, and for the use of which He will require them to render
Him account. And if a child resists attempts to teach her, and
thinks lessons nothing but a hardship and a bore, and all
governesses horrid and unkind, how is she to learn to use her
gifts ? How is she to grow into a good, wise, cultivated woman,
a blessing and a help wherever she may be ? For these are not
days when ignorance and folly and frivolity are considered proper
attributes of womanhood; and it is difficult, if not impossible,
to make up in later years for the advantages and helps and
opportunities thrown away in careless youth.
Since then the round of seasons have gone by many times,
and Jessamine Harbord is nineteen; taller, but not otherwise
much altered from the slim impetuous child of earlier days.
Certainly there is no lessening in her striking likeness to her
father, as, in answer to a call from him, she flies down the broad
staircase at Ardleigh one summer afternoon. He has just
returned from Asseton, and The Times is in his hand.
The class lists are out, Jess. Don't you want to see them ?
What will Miss Churchill, your beloved coach and crammer,
say, I wonder ?"
Jess takes the paper eagerly. Very anxiously has she waited
to know the result of the last Oxford Examination for Women,
and now here, in the second class for honours, she finds the
names headed by her own.
34 JESSAMINE AND HER LESSON-BOOKS.
Oh, father!" she says, leaning her bright head towards him,
"I never hoped for this. I did not think it could be better
than a third."
"No ? It is pretty well, I own, for a little girl who wished
that books and printing hadn't been invented."
How could I be so silly, even then? But I don't regret
that foolish speech, for you made it a turning-point in my life,
father, by taking me in hand. I had been punished before, but
I was never made to think. I had a sort of notion that punish-
ment 'squared' the offence, as the boys say, and that there
was no harm in going on on the old lines."
And you don't know, Jess, what trouble I had with the other
elders and authorities in carrying out my plan of discipline.
Well for you that I would not let one of them say a single word
to you of comfort or of blame. Your mother thought me far
too strict in persevering with it until you really saw the utter
want of reason in your conduct, and your Aunt Verbena thought
me far too lenient. The cat-o'-nine-tails and the bread and water
of affliction were what she considered the deserts of your
audacity ; and I doubt if she has ever recovered from the shock
of my remission of your sentence, by taking you to see what
dramatic literature can be."
"But as it is," says Jessamine, I shall always love As You
Like It the best of Shakespeare's plays, not 'only for itself,
JESSAMINE AND HER LESSON-BOOKS. 35
but for the joy I felt that night in being restored to favour. It
was to please you, father, and mother too, that I first tried after
that to learn my lessons properly. Now, perhaps, the danger
is that one may grow to care too much for learning for its
Yet that need never be," says her father, fondly, "if while
putting away childish things,' you still remember where it is
that knowledge will be perfected."
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