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LITTLE EM AND SULIE FOUND ASLEEP IN THE BRICK-FIELD.
I. THE SISTERS. . . . 7
II. AN ADVENTURE, . . .. 17
III. ANOTHER ADVENTUREE. . . 29
IV. WAITING FOR TEA, . . .. 88
V. DREAMS, > .............45
VI. BAD NEWS, ............. 56
VII. REPENTANCE, .. . . .66
VIII. BETTER AT LAST, . .. . 72
IX. THE END OF IT ALL, . ... 78
IN EMMA'S CARE. . ..... 91
ANNIE S. FENN,
Author of "Olive Mount;" A Year with Nellie;" "Little Dolly Forbes;" &c.
BLACKIE '&SON, 49 & 50 OLD BAILEY, E.C.
GLASGOW, EDINBURGH, AND DUBLIN.
T was a little red house, one of a
number of little red houses just
outside London, and was just big
enough for the people who lived in it. There
were only four people, or five if you counted
Tiddles, which Em always did.
To begin with, there was Aunt Esther.
She was the sister of Ursula's father, and was
most often called Miss Norman, though Jane
always said "Miss Esther," when she spoke
to her, and "your haunt," when she spoke to
8 URSULA'S AUNT.
the children. Aunt Esther's hair was rather
gray and very very smooth, and there were
lines in her forehead that made Em think she
must be seventy at least.
Then there was Jane, whose hair was grayer
still. The kitchen belonged to her, and the
scullery and larder as well, with all the
brushes and dust-pans, gridirons, sauce-pans,
and everything there was to eat. If Sulie
were sent out on an errand to the shops in
the High Road, Jane would say, "Don't you
forget to order my butter;" or, "Tell the
man he must send my vegetables directly,"
from which the little girls used to fancy all
these things were for Jane, and to think it
very odd that it was always auntie who paid
Next came Sulie, whose name was really
Ursula, though nobody used it but her aunt,
and she herself when she wrote letters to her
mother in India. Then she used to write at
THE SISTERS. 9
the end, Your loving little daughter, Ursula
Norman." She was twelve years old, and
was a very curious child, so Aunt Esther
said; though Sulie believed that auntie
thought all children "curious," and she was
not so very far wrong. Sulie had a thin bony
figure, and a pale sharp face in which shone
two great dark eyes. She had also a nose and
mouth, but they were not in any way striking.
Em was her little sister, christened Em-
meline, a name that seemed much too long
for such a short person. She was four years
old, had blue eyes, and loved Sulie and Tid-
dles more than anyone else in the world.
And she did not like Jane at all, because she
was unkind to Tiddles.
As for Tiddles, she was the cat.
They were very happy together, these two
little girls, and never quarrelled, the reason
of which was that whatever Sulie said, Em
agreed to on the spot. And the two points
10 URSULA'S AUNT.
on which they agreed almost best of all were
these: first, that the most lovely, grand, beau-
tiful thing that could possibly happen would
be for father and mother to come home; and
second, that they never did, and never should,
like Aunt Esther.
The fact was, Sulie had taken a great dis-
like to Miss Norman on the very day on
which her mother had brought her and Em
there, two years ago, chiefly because she did
not want to be left behind, while Mrs. Nor-
man went back to India; and she always used
to think auntie disliked her, which was a
But there was no doubt about one thing:
Aunt Esther did not understand children, as
she had never had anything to do with them
before in her life, and had forgotten what she
was like when she was a child herself. She
treated them, and expected them to behave,
exactly as if they were grown-up people.
THE SISTERS. 11
Although the little girls had been in Eng-
land so long, they and their aunt were almost
as much strangers to each other as when they
first met. All that amused her, the stories
she had read, and what she thought of them,
Sulie used to tell to Em when they went out
hand-in-hand for their afternoon walks in the
fine weather, but neither of them thought of
telling anything to Aunt Esther.
These walks in the afternoon were the
greatest pleasure of the children's life. Then
they were free to go where they pleased and
to do what they chose, so long as they went
home to tea at the proper time. Aunt
Esther asked no questions as to where they
had been. After spending the whole morn-
ing in teaching them she seemed glad to have
a few hours to herself.
On one fine afternoon in January as soon
as dinner was over they fetched their hats
and cloaks and ran out into the open air,
12 URSULA'S AUNT.
that is, Em ran, and Sulie followed her more
"What's the matter, Sulie?" asked Em,
taking her hand and looking up into her face,
which was whiter than usual, while round
her eyes were two black rings.
"I have one of my bad headaches," she
said, almost crying.
"Did you tell auntie?"
Sulie shook her head. She had a kind of
feeling that Aunt Esther would say it was all
nonsense, and that she must run away and
not make a fuss about nothing.
"It will go soon, perhaps," she said, trying
to smile. "It came last night, I think. I
had been reading such a horrible story just
before we went to bed, and I could not help
dreaming about it, and then waking up and
dreaming it over again, although I knew I
was awake and in bed beside you. It won't
go. It will be there again to-night."
THE SISTERS. 13
Em's blue eyes grew rounder and rounder.
"Never mind," she said coaxingly. "Come
There was always something to be seen
near where they lived. Sometimes there
were the men at work building new houses;
at others different men were mending the
roads or digging drains. And now and then
the great steam-roller came puffing and snort-
ing past, crushing the rough corner stones
that had been put down and making the road
smooth and flat to walk upon. At such
times Sulie and Em would stand on the
pavement and watch it for an hour together.
But to-day Sulie could not-run nor play,
and she looked about for some place where
she could sit down and rest. After a little
while they came to a place where a number
of new drain-pipes were lying by the side of
the road ready for use. She perched herself
on one of these, and Em seated herself near
14 URSULA'S AUNT.
at hand. The sun was shining quite warmly
here where they were sheltered from the
wind, so that though it was January they
did not feel cold.
"Tell me about mama," said Em, slipping
her fingers under her sister's arm.
"But I have, dear, over and over again."
"Oh yes, but I forget, Sulie. Once more
-just once more--please. What is she
Sulie leaned her head on her hand, look-
ing dreamily at nothing.
"She has soft brown hair," she answered
slowly, "and soft cheeks, and she lets you
kiss her as often as you like. And she is
always in a good temper; never cross, even
when you are naughty-only very serious."
"And what colour are her eyes, Sulie?
Did you ever tell me?"
"But you've seen her, Em. You can't
have forgotten altogether."
THE SISTERS. 15
I have. I was quite little, you know,
Sulie, as little as this," and she held her hand
about as high as her own waist.
Well, her eyes are a sort of gray, at least
sometimes they look blue out-of-doors. And
when you are ill she reads to you, and takes
such care of you that you don't want to get
well. And she explains all the lessons you
can't understand, and in the evenings she
plays games with you, and when you are gone
to bed she comes in to your bed-room and
tucks you up and kisses you. I wonder
whether all mothers are as nice as ours."
Em thought for a little while, and did not
say a word. Then, as though thinking were
too hard work, she said suddenly:
"Oh, do come and play."
"Play without me, dear. I'll wait for you
here, only don't go too far away."
Em left her after a wistful look at her pale
face, and Sulie sat quite still, with her dream
16 URSULA'S AUNT.
coming back to her as fast as she drove it
away. She tried to think of pleasant things,
but it was of no use.
"Oh, I wish mother would come home!"
she sighed once or twice. "She said she
might come in about two years, and it is
more than that now since she went. I long
for her more and more every day."
T that same moment Aunt Esther,
in the dining-room at home, was
reading a letter-if Sulie had
only known-from the mother of whom she
and Em talked so very often.
In this letter was a piece of news that
would have made the two little girls dance
for joy. The words over which Miss Nor-
man's eyes were travelling were:-
"Do not tell my darlings that we are
coming back so soon. I know how nervous
and easily excited Sulie is. Unless she has
altered very much she would make herself
ill with thinking about us, if she knew we
+1 (S61) B
18 URSULA'S AUNT.
were on the way home. It will be best to
say nothing to her until a few days before
we can be with you. That will be quite
enough to prepare her. Let her write her
weekly letter as usual."
"Just as she likes," said Aunt Esther to
herself. "But I think it's a great mistake.
I would far rather have told them. I shall
feel as though I am deceiving the poor chil-
dren. Well, I am glad they are coming
back, for Sulie's sake; it is a great anxiety
to see her looking so far from strong, and
both she and Em are unhappy here. I have
not the power to make even these little ones
care for me."
As she sat gazing into the fire with the
letter in her hand, her eyes glittered and
shone as eyes only do when they are wet.
While she sat there, musing sadly, Sulie
and Em, perched on the great earthenware
pipes, were talking about her. Em was
AN ADVENTURE. 19
quite out of breath with trying to catch a
little black kitten which had been playing
near at hand. It had scrambled over a fence
into a garden and was now out of sight.
"Why don't you tell when you have a
headache, Sulie? Then, perhaps, the doctor
would be sent for."
"Auntie wouldn't send for him, I know.
She's such a cross old thing."
She isn't so very cross," said Em after a
minute's thought; "only sometimes."
"But you don't like her, Em?"
"Oh no!" said the little girl quite nerv-
ously, as though afraid her sister should even
for a moment fancy such a thing.
They sat there quietly for a little while
enjoying the sunshine, and then Em stole
away to find some fresh amusement.
Sulie rested her face in her hands, with
so many thoughts running through her mind
that she did not notice how the time passed.
20 URSULA'S AUNT.
After a while she raised her head and looked
up and down the road for her sister.
Em!" she said aloud, staring on all sides.
"Em, where are you?" As there was no
answer, she called, "Em! Em!"
A laugh from close behind her made her
start and turn round, upon which she saw
Em's feet and ankles sticking out of one of
the great pipes, which was just large enough
for her to be able to creep through.
"Oh, Em!" she cried, laughing, but feel-
ing that she ought to be rather angry than
amused, "come out this minute! You'll get
stuck, and then what will you do?"
The feet gave a kick as their owner wrig-
gled further in. Sulie looked in at the end,
out of which Em's head did not yet appear, *
and saw her red laughing face just inside.
Oh, Em, you shouldn't!" she said gravely.
But Em was quite unconcerned.
Why not? It's such fun," and she scram-
AN ADVENTURE. 21
bled out and stood laughing and shaking her
clothes straight. "You have a try, Sulie,
But Ursula was far too miserable to try
anything of the kind. She sat down, leaned
her head on her hand once more, and left
the little girl to do as she chose. Her
thoughts were again far away, when she was
startled by a plaintive cry of "Sulie! I can't
And sure enough poor Em was, indeed,
"stuck," as her sister had said. She had
gone much of the way through a pipe, and
then, finding it harder work than she ex-
pected, had tried to back out, with the result
that her clothes had become tightly wedged
round her, and she could not move in either
"Oh, I'll soon have you out!" said Sulie,
getting hold of her ankles and pulling. Em
gave a cry of pain.
22 URSULA'S AUNT.
You hurt me, Sulie. Not that way. Oh,
what shall we do'?"
Sulie had turned quite white, and was
trembling all over as she went to the other
end of the pipe and grasped her sister's
hands. Suppose Em could never be got out
It was of no use. All her strength was
gone with fear, and whether she dragged her
by her hands or by her feet, she was unable
to move the child an inch either way. To
make things worse, Em began to cry bitterly.
Sulie's first idea was that she must run
home and tell Aunt Esther. But she saw
directly that that would not do; she could
not go and leave Em in such a position.
"Oh! oh! Sulie!" sobbed the little girl.
"Can't you break it from outside? Shall I
have to stop in here always?"
For answer her sister seized both of her
hands, and pulled again.
AN ADVENTURE. 23
"Now, you try at the same time, Em,"
she said with a trembling voice. There was
a minute of silence, and then she gave up
with a sigh.
"Oh, dear! oh, dear! never mind, Em.
Don't you cry, dear. Here comes a police-
man. I'll ask him what we'd better do."
Em's sobs came to a full stop as she
listened eagerly to what followed. She
heard Sulie ask:
"Oh, please, my sister is stuck in that
thing! Do you think you could get her
Then she heard a heavy step coming
nearer, and a deep, gruff voice asked:
"Eh? What say?"
Sulie's voice seemed gone. She could only
point to the pipe. The policeman stared at
as much as he could see of Em, and then
burst into a fit of laughing.
"Ha! ha! ha!" he cried, stamping about
24 URSULA'S AUNT.
the road. Haw! haw! haw! Well, you've
got into a pretty fix!"
Sulie could see nothing to laugh at, but
began to cry instead. Em heard her, and
her own sobs began once more, which at first
made the policeman laugh more loudly still.
Then he stopped suddenly.
"Oh! come, come," he said. "It's all right.
If she would go in she'll come out again, de-
pend upon it."
And he got well hold of Em's arms and
drew her slowly out, her frock and jacket
tearing in the process, so that she looked very
ragged and miserable when he placed her on
her feet on the ground. A great slit in one
place, a jagged, three-cornered rent in another,
and a frill dangling down to her feet, showed
what a struggle she had had to get free; and
one of her plump little hands was scratched
"Oh, thank you," said Sulie gratefully to
AN ADVENTURE. 25
the policeman, who stood looking at them
both for a few minutes with a smile, and
then walked on.
What a kind man!" said Em, as soon as
he was gone. "But whatever was he laugh-
Now that Em was on firm ground, quite
safe and unhurt, except for the scratch on her
hand, Sulie was able to think again about
her own head, which ached far worse than
"Let's go home, Em," she said; and the
little girl, seeing that she felt almost too ill
to speak, took her hand and walked quietly
by her side.
When they reached the house Jane opened
the door and let them in. She only took
one look at Em and then turned angrily to
"Now, Miss Sulie, you just come straight
to your haunt and see what she says to you.
26 URSULA'S AUNT.
You've been a leading that poor, dear child
into mischief again! Just look at her dress,
all torn to rags, and her jacket with a hole
in it that will take hours to darn !"
"I did not-" Sulie began, but Jane
We don't want any excuses, Miss Sulie.
How can you expect your poor haunt to be
always a-mending your things? You do lead
her a life between you."
Sulie was losing her temper, because she
did not think she deserved scolding, and her
headache made her more ready to be angry.
However, she tried again to explain.
"But really, Jane, I-"
"Pretend to be fond of your haunt, and
then give her all this trouble!" said Jane,
"I don't pretend to be fond of Aunt
Esther," cried Sulie, bursting into tears. "I
AN ADVENTURE. 27
She rushed by Jane, meaning to go up to
her bed-room, and met Miss Norman coming
quickly down-stairs to see what Jane was so
cross about. Sulie looked up at her, and
knew that she must have heard every word
she had just said.
"Ursula," she said gravely, "what is the
Sulie could not speak. She slipped by
and up to her room, where she threw herself
on her bed and buried her face in the pillow.
Not long after she felt a gentle touch on
her shoulder. She did not move.
"My child," said Miss Norman's quiet
voice, "I should like to know why you are
But Sulie was really in too great pain to
be able to sit up, and she could not overcome
her dislike to saying so.
"Is it because Jane was angry with you
just now?" asked her aunt, as she did not
28 URSULA'S AUNT.
answer. "I have spoken to her about it, for it
is not right that she should scold you, though
I think she had some cause. Is that it?"
"No," said Sulie in a smothered voice.
"Then why are you unhappy? Tell me,
Sulie lay quite still, with her tears soaking-
"Are you ill?" asked her aunt, still very
patiently. It grieves me to see you crying
like this, and not to know the cause. Will
you not tell me what is wrong?"
There was a pause while Ursula's con-
science urged her to speak, to own that she
was sorry for what she had said to Jane, and
that she felt ashamed and ill and miserable.
But the words would not come, and while
she was still trying to make up her mind to.
say them, she heard Aunt Esther's step going
down-stairs, and knew that she had given her
up in despair.
I ';1 .-, f -. -\/M ,. ..'' -, '- ,' I
WO or three weeks passed by after
this without anything particular
happening to the little girls.
Aunt Esther had said nothing more to Sulie
about the torn clothes, but had asked Em
how they came to be in such a state, and
Em had told her as well as she could. But
Sulie thought her colder and graver in her
manner to her than before, and though she
would have liked to say she was sorry for
her rudeness, and to tell her aunt that it was
partly that troublesome head of hers which
had made her so sullen and unlike herself,
she felt that it was now too late.
30 URSULA'S AUNT.
"Let's go exploring," Em said one after-
noon when they set out for their walk. It
was fine and rather frosty, so Sulie agreed.
In this cold weather she could go a long
distance without getting tired, and what
Em called "exploring" meant leaving the
little red houses all far behind and wander-
ing out into the waste ground not yet built
upon. This they called the "wilderness,"
because it was desolate and rough and lonely.
There were fields here where in spring a few
wild-flowers might be found, and patches of
old orchard, in which a few worn-out pear
and apple trees were to be seen, and further
away there were the "brick-fields."
Sometimes three or four shabby old horses
were trotting about here, looking for any
tufts of grass that were fit to eat. Sulie
liked them, but Em was as much* afraid as
though, if there were not enough grass, they
would take to eating little girls.
ANOTHER ADVENTURE. 31
They had not gone very far before a fog
came creeping after them and shut out the
sunshine; but they were so enjoying them-
selves, running over the hard frosty ground,
trying all the tiny patches of ice they came
to, to see if they would bear, picking blades
of grass covered with white rime, and leaping
over ruts left by cart-wheels, and now frozen
hard, that they did not at first notice what
a change was taking place in the day.
There were several paths across this open
ground, leading in different directions. The
children kept to one as far as they could,
though they left it whenever there was any-
thing a little way off they wanted to see.
"We must go back," presently said Sulie,
whose eyes began to smart with the smoky
fog. But Em said coaxingly:
"Oh, not yet," and tripped along in front,
so that Sulie did not like to spoil her fun by
obliging her to come.
32 URSULA'S AUNT.
It doesn't freeze like this often," said Em,
"and it's too dirty here except when it
She danced on, laughing at Sulie's serious
face, for a little longer, and then, when she
saw that her sister really meant to go home,
she started off at a run. Sulie ran and
caught her after a good race, for Em had
been some way ahead when she set off.
Oh, Em! it's too bad of you," she cried,
half laughing, half angry. "We shall be
late for tea if we don't go home now, and
what will auntie say.?"
Oh well, I'll come. Don't be cross."
And they turned back and walked on
quietly, hand in hand.
"You know, Em, we were late yesterday,
and auntie said it was very tiresome. She
always is angry with me, whether I deserve
it or not. At least serious, I mean. That's
her way of being angry."
ANOTHER ADVENTURE. 33
Em was silent. She had run and danced
so much that her feet began to ache, and she
did not feel inclined for talking. They
marched steadily on for about a quarter of
It's getting very thick," said Sulie at last
looking round her and shivering, for the fog
seemed so damp and cold. "If we don't
make haste we sha'n't be able to find our
Em could hardly keep up with her, she
walked so fast.
"I'm so tired, Sulie," she said.
"Never mind, dear. So am I," said her
sister, taking hold of her hand. "But when
we get in there'll be the nice warm fire and
tea, and we shall enjoy it ever so much more
when we are tired and cold and hungry.
Come along. We can't be very far from the
end of our road."
They stumbled a little further over the
34 URSULA'S AUNT.
rough frozen ground, and then Em began to
"I don't think we are going the right
way," she said plaintively.
"Oh yes, we are," Sulie replied brightly,
trying to cheer her. "Don't you remember
as we went we walked along by this ditch
that runs by the side of the path? And
don't you know this hedge again--and-"
She stopped because they had come to a
place where the track they were following
brought them to the edge of the ditch, where
a plank was laid across for a, bridge. She
did not remember seeing the plank before,
and knew that they had never crossed the
little stream at all.
I'm afraid we must be wrong," Sulie said,
looking in a startled way at Em, who at once
looked more frightened still. "If we cross
this we may go ever so far out of our way."
"Oh dear! What are we to do then?"
ANOTHER ADVENTURE. 35
"We must go slowly back, and try and
find out where we left the other path. How
thick and yellow the fog is! I can hardly
see the hedge now, can you?"
"I can't see anything," said Em. "Couldn't
we stay here till it goes?"
Sulie took hold more tightly of her hand
and led her back over the ground they had
just been treading. For a little while neither
spoke, while it grew darker and yellower
every instant. Very soon they could not see
in the least which way they were going.
Em began to hang back, so that she had
to be almost dragged forward. Sulie stopped
at last and found that she was crying quietly.
"Are you so very tired, Em? Shall I
carry you a little way ?"
Em said neither "No" nor "Yes," but
gave a little gulp like a sob. Her sister
lifted her in her arms. She was heavy for
her age, and Sulie was so slight and weak
36 URSULA'S AUNT.
that she found it very hard work to get
along at all under her weight. But she per-
severed, stopping now and then to take
After each rest she walked more slowly,
and at last she let Em slip to the ground.
I can't carry you any further," she panted.
And Em said:
I'm not nearly so tired now."
A little further, and then they found them-
selves stopped by some great solid object,
which, when they were quite close to it, they
saw to be a huge heap of bricks, half as large
as a house.
"I know where we are now," said Sulie in
horrified tones-" in the brick-fields, a long,
long way from home. We have been walk-
ing quite in the wrong direction. Don't you
remember one day we came as far as this,
and lost our way going back? And that was
ANOTHER ADVENTURE. 37
Em never remembered anything. She
shook her head, and sat down where the heap
was only a few bricks high.
"Let's wait for the fog to go," she said.
"It's no good going on."
Sulie looked at her helplessly. She did
not know what to do, and felt extremely
miserable. Her own feet ached, and she was
quite glad to sit down by Em's side and rest.
"Very well," she answered. "We will
wait a little while, and perhaps someone will
WAITING FOR TEA.
ANE set the tea-things on the table
as usual at half-past five, made
the tea, and brought in some hot
toast. Then she looked at Miss Norman,
who was seated by a little table writing
"Please, miss," she said, "the children
haven't come in yet."
Aunt Esther looked up quickly.
Not come in yet Oh, how very naughty
of them! It has been dark an hour or more.
Well, put the cosy over the tea-pot, and the
plate of toast in the fender, Jane. They are
sure to come soon."
WAITING FOR TEA. 39
"Yes, miss," said Jane, doing as she was.
told. Then she went back to her kitchen,
and sat down to do some knitting, with only
a cricket and a black-beetle for companions.
After a quarter of an hour or so she went
and opened the dining-room door. Aunt
Esther looked up as before from her writing.
"Please, miss," said Jane, "they haven't
come in yet."
"Not yet? It is really very wrong, very
wrong indeed. Put the tea-pot in the fender
too, Jane, with the cosy over it-not near
enough to the fire to scorch."
Jane did so, and went back to her kitchen
and her knitting. She kept glancing at the
clock, as the hands travelled slowly on their
way. The crickets chirped merrily, and the
beetles walked about among the cinders on the
hearth, hunting for crumbs.
Five minutes, ten minutes, twenty minutes
slipped away. Then Jane laid down her
40 URSULA'S AUNT.
stocking and went again to the dining-room
"Please, miss, they haven't come in yet."
This time Aunt Esther looked up from
her writing with a start.
"Dear me, how the time flies!" she said.
"A quarter past six and no children! How
very strange! Put on your bonnet, Jane, and
go out and try whether you can see anything
"Yes, miss," said Jane, going. A few
minutes after, Miss Norman heard the front
door close, and knew that she was gone.
She tried to go on with her letters, but her
thoughts were with Sulie and Em, and she
could not write. Very soon she gave up,
shut her writing-desk, and fetched some
needle-work. She had hardly begun to sew,
when the key was turned in the front door.
Jane had come back.
"She must have found the children, or she
WAITING FOR TEA. 41
would not have come home so soon," thought
Aunt Esther, before Jane alone came to speak
"Please, Miss Esther," said she, "I'm
afraid they're lost. There's such a fog, you
can't see two yards before you. I only went
a little way up the road, and could hardly
find my way back. I had to keep hold of
the palings all the time."
Aunt Esther turned pale.
"Is it so bad as that, Jane? Well, you
must keep house, while I go and look for
them myself. They can't be so very far
Jane did not like this at all. She would
rather go again, she said. She was stronger,
and it wouldn't hurt her, and if they were
anywhere near she could find them. But
Miss Norman only smiled, and went and put
on her bonnet and cloak.
"You'd better have some tea first, Miss
42 URSULA'S AUNT.
Esther," said Jane, when she came down.
"You'll be starved." Aunt Esther shook her
"I shall come back soon," she said, "to
see if they are here yet." And then she, too,
went out into the fog.
It was, as Jane had said, so thick that she
had to feel her way. She had not gone far
when she met a policeman, whom she did
not see until they had walked up against
Miss Norman stopped him and asked him
if he had seen the children.
"No, miss," he said. I think I know them
two what you mean, but I haven't seen them,
nor nobody else neither, I should say. You
can't find 'em in this, miss. You're a deal
more likely to lose yourself."
Thank you, policeman," said Aunt Esther,
and went on groping her way along. She
began to feel very much frightened on ac-
WAITING FOR TEA. 43
count of her little nieces, and every minute
that passed made it seem less likely that
they were anywhere near.
It was about half-past eight when she
reached home. Jane opened the door, and
then she and her mistress both spoke at once.
Have they come in, Jane?"
"Have you found them, miss?"
"No, Jane," said Aunt Esther, rubbing her
feet on the mat. "They have lost their way,
that's quite'certain. I don't know whatever
to do. I lost my own way three times. I
never saw such a dense fog in my life."
"No more did I, miss."
"Well, what's to be done next, Jane?"
"You must have some tea, Miss Esther,
while I go and try again."
The time slipped by after Jane had gone,
and Aunt Esther grew so nervous she could
not sit still. She walked about, poked the
fire, looked out of the window, though she
44 URSULA'S AUNT.
could see nothing, and kneeled on the hearth-
rug to stroke Tiddles.
After a while she began to think Jane
might be lost. After a little longer she
thought she certainly must be lost. A little
later still, she was quite sure she was lost, and
felt extremely unhappy. She could not *go
out herself, because the children might come
home, and find no one to let them in. There
was nothing to be done but wait.
Half-past ten. Eleven. And still nobody
came. Poor Aunt Esther! It was many,
many years since she had passed such a
At last! The front door bell rang loudly,
and Aunt Esther ran to it, trembling with
eagerness. To her great joy there was Jane,
with little Em in her arms, and Sulie by her
H, my dears! my dears! Where
have you been? How you have
frightened me! Where were they,
Jane? Where did you find them?"
Miss Norman was quite flurried, and her
voice shook as she spoke. She took Sulie's
cold hand and led her into the dining-room,
listening at the same time to Jane, who was
talking as fast as she could.
I'd nearly give them up, miss, that I had;
couldn't find 'em anywhere, and was getting
that tired and cold with creeping along so
slow and minding as I didn't go wrong. I
didn't know whatever to do next, when I
46 URSULA'S AUNT.
met a man carrying Miss Em and helping
Miss Sulie along, and he said as he'd found
them ever so far out in the brick-fields, gone
to sleep on a heap of bricks, and he didn't
know what would have become of 'em if he
hadn't have come by that way; and he carried
Miss Ursula right up to the gate, and only
just set her down and went when I rang the
"There, wait a bit, Jane. Tell me the rest
afterwards. This child's shivering so, I'm
afraid she's caught a bad cold. How about
Jane set her burden down and Em walked
rather stiffly towards the fire and stretched
out her hands to the blaze.
"I'm so hungry," she said plaintively,
" and thirsty too."
Miss Norman made haste to prepare some
fresh tea, while Jane took off the children's
"When you are warm and rested you
must tell me how you came to be so late,
and to make me so anxious about you."
They sat down to the table, and Em was
soon drinking hot tea and eating bread and
butter. Sulie sat still and neither ate nor
drank nor spoke. Aunt Esther looked at her
once or twice and then said to Jane, who
had been bustling in and out of the room:
"Get a candle, Jane. I think it will be
the best thing for Ursula to go at once to bed."
Jane stared hard at Sulie and then at her
mistress. Her eyes turned next to Em, who
was feeding Tiddles with bits of bread.
Umph!" was all she said, but that seemed
to mean a great deal.
"Are you very tired, Ursula?" asked her
aunt when Jane was gone.
Sulie frowned a little and stared at her,
as though she could not quite understand.
After a minute or so she said:
48 URSULA'S AUNT.
Is anything the matter? Does your head
"Yes," said Sulie, after thinking for a
minute again. It seemed as though she were
ever so far away, and the words took some
time to reach her ears. She did not seem
surprised when Aunt Esther came to her side,
placed her arm round her, and half drew,
half lifted her from her chair.
The fact was, the little girl felt as though
she had gone to sleep sitting on the heap of
bricks by Em, and were not yet awake.
Her aunt, Em, and Jane she saw in a mist,
as though she were still looking through
the fog. They did not seem like real
She said nothing at all as Aunt Esther led
her up to her room, but tried to remember
what had happened lately, and how she had
come home. She had been carried, she knew,
but could not think who had carried her.
Everything seemed strange to-night.
It was like a dream, too, to Sulie, to find
that Aunt Esther was undressing her, while
Jane was lighting a fire here in her bed-room.
She had never seen a fire there before, and
the sight of it made everything seem more
unreal. Then her hands trembled so that she
could not untie the strings of her own petti-
coat, though she tried until her aunt stopped
her and did it herself. After that, in some
odd way, she forgot what was going on until
she found that she was in bed, and that Jane
was standing at the foot with a hearth-brush
and dust-pan in her hand, still staring at her
as though she were something very curi-
She heard Aunt Esther's voice from close
by her side say:
"Ask him to come as quickly as possible,
Jane. And if he is out go on to Dr. Howell's."
50 URSULA'S AUNT.
And then Jane disappeared, and Sulie
"Is she gone for the doctor, auntie?"
Have I got the measles?"
"No, dear; but I'm afraid you may have
a bad cold, if we don't take great care. Now,
lie still while I go and look after Emmeline."
Aunt Esther's figure glided through the
door, and Sulie lay quietly, trying not to
shiver, and gazing at the wall-paper she
knew so well. Why did it seem different?
There was the figure of the girl sleeping in
the hammock, with the wild roses bending
over her; there was the prince stepping,
lightly over brambles to wake her; there
were the old man asleep, the fairy godmother,
the dog, and the bird, just as usual, but the
firelight dancing on the wall made the figures
seem alive; the hammock swayed from side
to side; the sleeping old man seemed to nod,
and the branch on which the prince stood
seemed to give way under his feet.
She began to think and wonder. Why
had auntie gone to look at Em? Was she
ill? Perhaps it was for her the doctor was
to be fetched.
She made up her mind to go to Em's room
Slipping on to the floor, she was at the
door already, when she met Aunt Esther
"Oh, Ursula! How very wrong of you!"
said Miss Norman, lifting her up and putting
her back into bed.
Sulie wanted to ask after Em, but her
tongue would not say what she wished. She
"Is-Em- Is Em-"
"Is she what, Ursula?"
52 URSULA'S AUNT.
Sulie had forgotten what she meant to
ask, and lay very quietly trying to remem-
Emmeline is well enough. There is no-
thing the matter with her," said Aunt Esther.
After this all was very still. There was
no sound to be heard but the fluttering and
crackling noises made by the fire. Sulie
listened to them for a little while, and then
she thought that she too went to sleep.
And then she had, or thought she had, a
long strange dream. The odd part of it was
that all through it she could see the wall-
paper with the figures on it, sometimes red
with firelight, with long odd-shaped shadows
dancing on it, and stretching themselves
upwards till they met on the golden ceiling,
sometimes yellow with the bright rays of the
sun. Generally, too, she could see someone
who looked like Aunt Esther, sitting patiently
by her bed, and towards the latter part of
the time this person had very often her face
buried in her hands.
It was not long after she first went to
sleep that she heard a man's voice in the
room, talking very gravely to her aunt.
She tried to wake up and look to see who he
was, and what he was like, but she could
not. She wanted to ask him if Em was ill;
but though she spoke, she had no idea what
she said, and she never heard any answer.
Among other things, Sulie thought she
would find Em, and she went past the person
like Aunt Esther with her face in her hands,
through the door and along the passage.
But instead of Em's bed-room she found her-
self in a great dark empty place, so large
that she could not find the walls. She turned
to go back, but the doorway by which she
came in seemed to be gone, so she walked
straight forward, with her hands stretched
out, feeling her way.
54 URSULA'S AUNT.
After some time she found an opening,
but it only led through into another empty
place like the first. Through this and others
she ran, calling "Em!" "Em!" always run-
ning faster and faster; but there was no
answer, and she began to feel frightened and
lonely, for there was no one to be seen.
She came to a staircase, and went down it so
quickly that her feet scarcely seemed to
touch the steps. Then along a passage, and
down another flight of stairs, and still no
Em replied to her calls.
At last she felt so unhappy that she stood
still in the darkness, and began to cry and
sob. Then a voice like Aunt Esther's said
close to her ear:
"Don't cry, my darling. There, there!
"Who is it?" Sulie asked, for she saw no-
It's auntie," said the voice, and she felt
the touch of a cool hand on her forehead.
She felt for the hand, and held it tightly in
Don't go and leave me here alone," she
said, still half sobbing.
The next minute she started off again to
look for Em through long, long passages, but
without feeling so frightened as before, while
she held those cool fingers in hers. But after
a while she lost them, and wandered, wan-
dered here and there trying to find them, or
to get to where she could hear a soft voice
talking gently and soothingly.
She awoke at last, and turned her head
sideways. Was Aunt Esther crying? She
was just going to speak to her, when she was
asleep once again, wandering in the same
strange dream-land as before.
HETHER it was the next day, or
long long after, Sulie could not
guess, but at some time or other
she again heard a man's voice talking in low
"Certainly not. You must be very care-
ful to keep it from her, and caution your
servant to do the same. Is she to be trusted
to hold her tongue?"
"Jane? Oh, yes," said Aunt Esther's
voice, which sounded very quiet and sad.
I shall have you for a patient before long,
Miss Norman, unless you take more care of
BAD NEWS. 57
"There is nothing the matter with me,
doctor; it is only this news," Sulie heard her
aunt reply, and this time the words trembled
so, that she felt sure auntie was crying.
The doctor went away, and Sulie opened
her eyes as her aunt came and bent over her
bed. She wanted to ask what all this meant,
and what it was that she was not to know,
but it seemed to be too much trouble to
speak. She lay quite still, thinking, while
Aunt Esther's soft cool hand smoothed her
hair and straightened her pillow.
"Poor auntie," she thought; "how very
very tired she looks, and how very very un-
happy! I must have been a great deal of
trouble to her to make her look like that."
For she knew now that she had been ill,
though she had no idea for how long. And
while she was wondering she fell asleep.
It was about this time that Aunt Esther
left Jane to keep watch in the sick-room,
58 URSULA'S AUNT.
while she went down-stairs for the sake of
rest and change.
She sat down by the table in the dining-
room, and leaned her head upon her hand.
After a while Em came in with the cat in
her arms, for Tiddles was now her only play-
mate. She dropped down on the hearth-rug
and began to talk quietly.
"Dear old Tiddles! I must kiss you, you
are such a darling old cat. Don't you wish
Sulie would get well, Tiddles? I do. I'm
afraid she won't be well before mama comes
home. Oh dear me! It's no fun, now Sulie's
always in bed. Going to scratch me, are
you? No, it's only your fun, is it, Tiddles?
You wouldn't scratch your old mistress, would
She was silent for a little while, and the
only sound was a soft purring. Then she
began to whisper to her friend again.
"You know, puss, when the new baby
BAD NEWS. 59
comes I sha'n't care for you so much. You'll
have to play by yourself then. How will
you like that?"
"Emmeline,"said Aunt Esther,"come here."
Em put Tiddles gently down on the rug,
gave her a kiss on the middle of her back,
and went to her aunt, who took her upon
"My child," she said, stroking her curls
gently, "I have something to tell you."
She seemed to be thinking what to say
next, and Em looked up in her face with her
blue eyes opened wide.
"It is something very sad," Aunt Esther
went on, "but I hope my little girl will be
brave and good, and help us to bear it. My
pet, papa and mama are not coming home.
They will never come home now. They are
gone to heaven instead."
Em sat quite still for a minute or two,
and then asked in low tones:
60 URSULA'S AUNT.
"Shall we never see them any more?"
"Not here, Emmeline. Not until we go
Again the little girl sat thinking.
"Have they taken the new baby with
them, auntie?" she asked at last in a whisper.
The tears came into Em's eyes.
"What a pity!" she said, with her voice
beginning to tremble. Sulie will be so dis-
She was going to slip from her position
and go back to the rug, but Aunt Esther
held her closely and kissed her.
"You don't remember mama, do you, my
"Nor papa either?"
Poor little girl."
Her aunt let her go then, and she sat down
BAD NEWS. 61
before the fire and took Tiddles in her arms
again, but she did not talk to her now.
After some time, during which Miss Norman
had not spoken or moved, Em asked all at
"Auntie, does Sulie know?"
"Not yet, dear. She is not to be told
until she is much better."
Before long Aunt Esther thought she must
go and see how the invalid was. She looked
at her little niece, but her face was buried in
pussy's fur, so she said nothing, but went up-
After a while Jane came down and was
busy for a time in the kitchen, after which
she went to put some coals on the dining-
room fire. She found Em and Tiddles curled
up together, but Tiddles, as soon as she saw
Jane, wriggled out of her mistress's arms and
Not that Jane was really unkind, even to
62 URSULA'S AUNT.
the cat, but she was sometimes out of temper,
and then it was pussy who suffered. She
mended the fire, and then took Em suddenly
on her knee.
"You poor little dear!" she said, kissing
her. "Don't you cry. Your haunt's been
telling you about your poor ma and pa, hasn't
she? I thought so. There, now. That's
better." And Jane dried her eyes, and rocked
her backwards and forwards, as if she had
been a little baby.
I on't mind so much," Em sobbed, "but
I think Sulie will be so dreadf'ly disappointed
when she knows."
Jane kissed her again.
"Don't you think I might go and tell her,
"My dearie, she wouldn't know what you
meant. She doesn't understand what anyone
says to her."
"She'd understand me, Jane. Do let me go."
BAD NEWS. 6.
"Not yet, Miss Em, dear. Iot till your
haunt says you may."
But Jane had made a mistake when she
said that Sulie would not understand. The
very next time that she was up in the bed-
room, staying while Miss Norman had tea
with Em, the little invalid opened her eyes
and said, "Jane."
It was only a whisper, for her voice was
so weak that she could not speak aloud.
Jane was moving about straightening the
room, and the first time did not hear her
name spoken. Sulie spoke again, and then
Jane heard and turned round.
"Did you speak, Miss Sulie?" And she
went close and leaned over the bed.
"Yes," she whispered. "What is it I am
not to know?"
What do you mean, dear?"
"Somebody said, 'Keep it from her.' What
is it that's to be kept from me?"
64 URSULA'S AUNT.
You've been dreaming, Miss Sulie. Now,
go to sleep again, there's a dear."
Ursula closed her eyes, but her lip trembled,
and a tear squeezed its way through her eye-
lids and stood on her lashes. She was not
satisfied, but it was so hard to talk, and she
saw that Jane did not mean to tell her what
she wanted so much to hear.
She put the same question afterwards to
"My dear love," her aunt answered gravely,
" you must be quick and get well, and then
I'll answer everything you like to ask. Until
then you must believe that if I keep any-
thing from you it is because I think it
Sulie was silent. It seemed very hard,
and she used to lie there and wonder and
wonder, until at last she decided that the
worst possible news would be that papa and
mama were not coming to England for an-
BAD NEWS. 65
other year or two, and having made up her
mind that this was the secret, she cried a bit
under the bed-clothes, dried her eyes on the
sheet, and wondered no more.
!JMUJLUliUjUJ T hUL
RSULA was beginning to alter
some of her opinions, now that
she had so much time to think.
For one thing, she felt very penitent when-
ever she looked at Aunt Esther's gentle, sad
As day after day passed away, and she
gradually grew a little stronger, she noticed
what an untiring nurse her aunt seemed to
be. She remembered how she had sat up
with her night after night; how, whenever
she complained that she was thirsty or tired,
her aunt was always ready to bring her some
cooling drink, or to shake up her pillow and
change her position; how she was ever ready
to talk or read to her for hours at a time.
Getting well was such a slow, weary busi-
ness, that Sulie often lost her temper, and
spoke fretfully, repenting the next minute
when her aunt answered in the same sweet
kind tones as before. She often longed to
kiss the hand that smoothed her pillow, or
tenderly combed her tangled curls, but she
had grown to feel it so strange to offer to kiss
Miss Normanthat it seem edveryhard to begin.
Sometimes, as she lay listening to an in-
teresting book, her thoughts would wander
away, and she would recall how she had once
said, "I hate Aunt Esther." Did auntie
remember it too?
Mayn't Em come and see me yet, auntie?"
she asked one day in a pleading tone.
"Not yet, darling. Be patient a little
longer. We must wait till the doctor gives
68 URSULA'S AUNT.
Sulie began to cry.
"It wouldn't hurt her, and it would be so
nice. I think it's too bad! It's so dull and
miserable always lying here, and never seeing
anyone else but you and Jane and the doctor.
Oh, it's too bad! It's too bad!"
Her aunt looked at her, with anxious lines
showing in her forehead.
"Do you think I keep her away for my
own pleasure?" she asked.
"I don't think you mind in the least
whether she comes to me or not," said Sulie
in a more ill-used voice than before.
She buried her face in the pillow after
speaking, and listened for the answer that
did not come.
If Aunt Esther had been more used to
children she would have known that when
they are ill and out of temper they often say
more than they mean, and would not have
taken Sulie's hasty speeches to heart. As it
was she was looking very grave and melan-
choly when her little niece at last turned her
head to see why she was silent so long.
Sulie had expected her to be angry, and per-
haps to scold her; but her saying nothing at
all was a great deal worse.
She seemed for a little time to be lost in
sad thoughts, and then rose from her chair
with a sigh.
"It is time for your medicine, Ursula," she
said, and measured it into a glass, fetched the
box of sweets she kept ready to take away the
taste, and came to the bedside. The invalid
was still so weak that she had to be raised
on Aunt Esther's arm before she could drink,
and when it was over, and the dose taken,
she was glad to lie quietly awhile, with closed
eyes, and rest.
Could even mama have taken more care
of me than auntie does?" she said to her-
self. "I almost wish that, when I get
70 URSULA'S AUNT.
well, she would be ill, so that I could nurse
She heard Miss Norman moving towards
the door, and instantly opened her eyes.
"Are you going, auntie?" she asked wist-
Aunt Esther came back and looked at.her
in surprise, for her lashes were wet with tears.
"I shall send Jane. You will not be left
alone. Are you in pain, my child?"
Sulie shook her head.
"What is it, then? What do these mean?"
and Miss Norman gently wiped the wet drops
from the little girl's cheeks.
Auntie," Sulie said, suddenly twining her
arms round her neik, and pulling her head
down until she could put her lips close to
her ear, "will you try and forget all the
naughty things I've said to you?"
"I have forgotten them, my love," said
Aunt Esther, laying her cool cheek against
the hot face of the invalid, and softly kissing
Sulie gave a little sob. "Oh, auntie," she
whispered, "I will never hate anyone again."
q \j s G
BETTER AT LAST.
Na mild bright day in the middle
of March, Ursula Norman was
dressed and. seated in an easy-
chair by her bed-room window, from which
she could see the children come out of the
High School close by, and run merrily along
the road, playing, laughing, and shouting as
This was to be a day of events. This
morning the doctor had given permission for
Em to see her sister again, and also, as Sulie
guessed, for the piece of bad news so long
kept back to be told her at last. And if she
continued better in the afternoon Jane was
BETTER AT LAST. 73
to carry her down-stairs for the first time
since she was taken ill.
Miss Norman was sitting near her as usual
with some needle-work, with which, however,
she did not seem to get on very well, as her
hands were not so steady as they should
have been. Jane had gone to tell Em that
she might come, and Sulie had her eyes fixed
on the door while she listened eagerly. All
at once there came from below a sound of
running feet. There was Em climbing the
stairs as fast as she could. A minute, and,
panting and out of breath, she had reached
the door; then, remembering that she had
been told not to make any noise, she stopped
there a moment before walking quietly in.
Sulie sat upright, with the colour tinging
her pale cheeks, and in an instant Em was
hugging her, with her arms tightly clasped
round her neck.
"Oh, Sulie," said Em, when she had found
74 URSULA'S AUNT.
time to look at her sister, "you are so white
and thin. Isn't she, auntie? But never
mind; you'll soon get fat and rosy when we
go out together and play again. Oh, I am
glad. It has been such a long time without
And all through going to sleep out in the
fog," said Sulie, as she in her turn looked at
Em, and noticed for the first time the black
frock, trimmed with crape. A puzzled ex-
pression came over her face. Had she for-
gotten something? She turned towards her
aunt, who was watching her with pitying
Miss Norman had chosen this way of let-
ting Ursula know the truth, that she had no
longer a father or mother. Emmeline's
mourning frock would, she thought, let her
suspect by degrees how things were.
"Who has died, auntie?" Sulie asked in
a low nervous voice. "Is it the baby?"
BETTER AT LAST. 75
Miss Norman took her hand, and held it
in her own, but did not speak.
"Em, why are you in black?" said Sulie
"I think it's because papa and mama
and the baby are gone to heaven," the little
girl replied. She had already forgotten that
Sulie did not know this, and had herself
grown quite used to the thought.
Ursula gazed at her with a terrified look,
and then from her to her aunt.
"Emmeline," said Miss Norman very
quietly, "go away a little while. I'll call
you back soon."
Em kissed her sister, and went obediently,
though she could not understand why she
should be sent from the room. As soon as
they were alone, Aunt Esther knelt down by
Sulie's side and drew her head to her shoulder.
And then, as tenderly and kindly as she
could, she told her the whole story. That
76 URSULA'S AUNT.
Mrs. Norman had written to say that she and
her husband and baby were coming home at
once, and had asked Aunt Esther to tell
nothing to the children until the journey was
nearly over. And that while Sulie was ill,
the fearful news had come that their steamer
had been run into by another vessel, and- had
sunk with every one on board.
It was a long time before Em was called
back. She sat on. the lowest step of the
stairs, waiting and forgetting even to stroke
pussy, she was so anxiously listening for
auntie's voice. At last it came, scarcely
louder than a whisper.
She ran up and into the bed-room. Sulie
was lying down, with her eyes very red, and
looking paler than ever. Em went softly to
her, climbed on the bed, and lay down by her
side, with one arm under her neck, and the
other thrown over her. After this Sulie's
BETTER AT LAST. 77
sobs became less frequent, and Miss Norman
thought it best to go away and leave the
children to themselves. When she came back
after a time she found them both fast asleep.
.o. ,:^;'-t. N;'u y-
THE END OF IT ALL.
UNTIE," said Em, one day, "shall
we always live with you now ?"
She was sitting on Miss Nor-
man's knee, with her head leaning against
her shoulder. For now that Sulie owned
that she loved Aunt Esther very, very much,
Em was never tired of showing how much
she loved her too.
"Yes, my darling, I hope so. I should be
very lonely without you. Why? Do you
want to go away?"
"No," said Em, rubbing her cheek like a
kitten on her aunt's dress. "I would rather
THE END OF IT ALL. 79
be here with you than anywhere else in all
the world. Wouldn't you, Sulie?"
Sulie said Yes," but the tears came into
her eyes, and she turned her head away.
It was now three weeks since that day,
never to be forgotten, on which Sulie had
heard of her great loss, which was far worse
than anything she had been able to imagine.
Even now Em had not been told more than
what she had repeated to Sulie.
She is too young to hear anything so ter-
rible, if it can be avoided," said Aunt Esther.
"Wait until she is older."
On this afternoon the sisters dressed them-
selves in their black hats and jackets to go
for one of their old walks. How everything
had changed since they last went out toge-
ther! The spring had come, the sun shone
warmly, and all the sparrows were chirping
Em was as merry as the sparrows, and
80 URSULA'S AUNT.
laughed, danced, and chattered as happily as
ever, but Sulie was silent and full of sorrow.
She was old enough to feel grief very deeply,
and felt it all the more because her strength
was so slow in coming back, and she was
nearly always tired.
They went to Miss Norman to bid. her
good-bye, which they never used to do before
Sulie's illness; but they had found out now
that she liked it.
She held Sulie's hand for a minute in hers.
"Poor, pale little girl," she said. "Per-
haps the sun and wind will bring a little
colour into those cheeks. Don't go too far
and get worn out."
Ursula kissed her and then they set off,
Jane coming to shut the door after them and
telling them toniind and not lose themselves
in a fog this time.
They walked slowly along the sunny side
of the road, Em talking as fast as her
THE END OF IT ALL. 81
tongue would go, Sulie listening and saying
"Yes" now and then, which was all the
answer the little girl seemed to need.
"Look, Sulie," she said, "that is the black
kitten I ran after one day, don't you remem-
ber? She's almost a cat now. I wish we
grew up as quickly as that. But she's play-
ful still, only I don't like her so well as when
she was a tiny, wee, little kitten. And look
there! That's where all those round pipe
things were that I got stuck in. And here
comes the very same policeman that pulled
me out. He always laughs when he sees me,
and I laugh at him. Do look at him. He's
Sulie could not smile. The place that
made Em think of the kitten and the drain-
pipes brought back to her mind how she had
there told once more what she had often
told before, "What mama was like." Em
did not ask that question now, since she was
82 URSULA'S AUNT.
never to see mama on earth, and it seemed
as if she had quite forgotten how they used
to talk together of the beautiful time that
Poor little Em was so very young yet,
and to her her mother was no more a real
person than a figure in a dream or a charac-
ter in a story. She was happy enough while she
had Aunt Esther, Sulie, and Jane to love her.
But with Ursula it was quite different.
Even the baby boy she had never seen was
as real to her as if she had held him in her
arms. She had thought of him so con-
stantly, and dreamed of having him here in
England. And then there was her father, of
whom, when she had been with him, she had
felt a little afraid, because he was so quiet
and grave, though she knew how much she
had loved him now that he was gone never
to come back again.
Her eyes were full of tears, and she could
THE END OF IT ALL. 8.3
scarcely see where she was going, though
that did not matter, for Em was holding her
by the hand. Em tripped and danced along,
humming little bits of tunes, and fancying
that her sister was enjoying the walk as
much as she was herself. The young leaves
on the trees, the flowers coming up in the
gardens, the birds, the nursemaids wheeling
perambulators with babies in them, the dogs
they met, the boy driving a cow, the bakers'
and grocers' carts, all amused and interested
Em. She nodded and kissed her hand to
the babies, patted the dogs that looked good-
tempered, and never thought of turning back
until Sulie said she was tired and would like
to go home.
"Do talk, Sulie," said Em after a time.
Her sister tried, but it is not always
easy to talk, especially when you are un-
happy. She soon gave up, and was silent,
while Em chattered on as before.
84 URSULA'S AUNT.
"Only think," she said, we shall always
live here with auntie until we are quite grown
up. And then Tiddles will be very, very
old; and Jane-oh, dear! how old Jane will
be! And auntie will be-a hundred, I sup-
When they reached the one little. red
house that looked different to all the other
little red houses, because it was there they
lived, they found the front door wide open,
and Tiddles sitting on the step looking out
for them. As soon as she saw them she got
up and purred, and rubbed her head round
their legs. Em picked her up and hugged her,
and they all three went into the dining-room.
There were two strangers-a lady and a
gentleman-sitting with Aunt Esther. They
both looked up when the little girls came in,
and the lady sprang to meet them, and
dropping on her knees, stretched out her
arms to them, crying:
THE END OF IT ALL. 85
"Sulie! Em! my darlings!"
Ursula stood still for a moment and turned
as white as ashes. Then she threw herself
into the arms that were held out to her, and
It wasn't true! It wasn't true!"
Em stood still, looking very shy, until the
gentleman took her on his knee, and kissed
"So this is my little Em!" he said, strok-
ing her hair. Growing quite tall, too.
She has forgotten her father, I expect."
She said nothing, for she was altogether
puzzled, but looked at Sulie to see if that
would help her. Sulie was clinging to her
mother, and sobbing for joy. Then Em
looked at Aunt Esther, who seemed not to
be quite certain whether to laugh or to cry.
Lastly, she ventured on a timid glance up-
wards, where she saw a big brown beard
which was so close that it tickled her face.
86 URSULA'S AUNT.
She was held tightly for a minute, and then
set on her feet.
"Go to mother, my child. And Sulie,
come and let me have a look at you."
When they were all calmer, Mr. Norman
explained to the children how, when the
steamer had gone down, a few people *had
been able to get into the boats, and how he
and Mrs. Norman had been saved in that
way, as they had been picked up by a
steamer going in a different direction.
Then Em suddenly found her voice.
"But where's the new baby?" she asked.
"Haven't you brought him with you?"
Here he is," said Jane, coming in with
the little brother in her arms. "He was
starving, bless him, but he's all right now
he's had some bread and milk."
Then there was more kissing and rejoicing,
and the baby was nearly smothered, and
everybody talked at once, including the
THE END OF IT ALL. 87
baby, who had a language of his own. And
then, to everyone's surprise, Em was found
to be in tears.
"What's the matter, my sweet?" asked
I don't want to leave Aunt Esther," the
little girl sobbed.
No more do I," said Sulie, though she
kept close to her mother's side.
"There is no need," said Mr. Norman, who
had his arm round Aunt Esther's waist.
"She is going to live with us in future.
And Jane is coming too, to be head nurse."
And so it was settled, so that when they
left the little red house no one was left
behind, not even Tiddles,
IN EMMA'S CARE.
IN EMMA'S CARE.
OOD BYE, my darlings, once
"Good-bye, mama. Good-bye."
"You will be very good and obedient, and
do exactly as Emma tells you?"
Oh, yes, mama, of course we will."
"As obedient as you are with me?"
Yes, mama, quite."
"Be sure you take great care of them, and
don't spoil them; because I wish them to
92 IN EMMA'S CARE.
"And write to me every day, Emma,
because I shall be so anxious to hear how
they are, and whether the sea air seems to
be doing them good."
"Yes, m'm, I will," said the patient
Emma, who had promised this at least a
dozen times before.
And then the last kisses were given, the
train began to move, and the little party
were off to Eastcombe Bay-nurse Emma
and her three charges, Ida, Mabel, and Ted.
Ida was ten years old, and being the eldest
of seven children had quite an elder sister's
manner. Mabel was eight, and was more
merry and mischievous, not having on her
shoulders so much of the responsibility of
"setting a good example to the younger
ones," which was always laid upon Ida.
Ted was only five, and was a good deal like
most other little boys of his age in the
opinion of everyone except his mother. The
IN EMMA'S CARE. 93
most noticeable point of his character was,
that he never remained still for two seconds
together. Either his legs were swinging to
and fro, or his hands were drumming on
anything that was near, or his head was
shaking or nodding in a way that drove
Emma nearly distracted when she wanted to
keep his hair tidy.
All three were thorough London children.
There was plenty of fun under the surface
ready to come out on occasion, but to an
ordinary observer they were pale, quiet, and
demure little people, who walked through
the streets and squares steadily and gravely
like their elders, instead of dancing, skipping,
or running over the ground as healthy and
happy children generally do.
As their father could not leave his ousi-
ness, to take his family to the sea-side this
year, and as their mother would not leave
their father, it had been decided to let
94 IN EMMA'S CARE.
Emma take these three, who were the palest
of the seven, to Eastcombe for three weeks
or a month, to get back into their cheeks
the roses that would not bloom in the London
air. Emma was trusted, because she was
not very young, loved them as if they were
her own, and had been in the family ever
since their father and mother were married.
Such was the little party who travelled
down to the sea-side together, and wandered
about day after day on the beach, Emma
reading or working, the children digging,
collecting shells and sea-weeds, tiny crabs, or
sea anemones, or any of the "common
objects of the sea-shore," which were so un-
common and interesting to the little Lon-
There were other children too at East-
combe Bay. Ida, Mabel, and Ted took a
great interest in some of these, and from at
first watching them play, came to smiling
IN EMMA'S CARE. 95
when their eyes met, and then to nodding
to them, until Emma noticed, and spoke to
them on the subject.
"Don't you go making friends with
strangers," she said. "They may not be
children that your ma would like you to
And she looked so very severe about it
that the children saw she was quite in earnest,
and turned their heads the other way when
they met their little acquaintances and pre-
tended not to see them, though they could
not help blushing a deep red.
But they soon found fresh amusement in
observing the grown-up people whom they
saw day after day, and some of these used to
notice them in return. In particular there
was a gentleman in a light gray suit, who
used to spend his- time in hunting for shells,
which he put into little tin boxes that he
carried in his pocket.
96 IN EMMA S CARE.
One day the children, wandering rather far
from where Emma sat with her knitting,
came upon this gentleman seated on a rock,
looking with a pocket magnifying glass at
some sand spread out on the lid of one of his
boxes. They all three stood still and stared
as he separated the grains of sand one from
another with a penknife, then suddenly
threw them all away, shut up his knife with
a snap, and looked up.
"Hallo! you're there, are you?" he said
laughing. Well, what do you think of me?"
The two little girls coloured, and took
Ted's hands to lead him away, but the
stranger caught Ida by the frock and drew
her to him.
"What's your name, my dear?" he asked.
"Ida," she answered shyly.
"And who is this?" And he pointed to
"That is Mabel, and that's Ted."
IN EMMA'S CARE. 97
"Ah!" he said, looking at them all thought-
fully. So your name's Ted, my boy, is it?"
"Yeth," lisped the little fellow, who was
not so shy as his sisters. "What'th yourth'?"
"Mine," he answered, smiling again, "is
"Mithter Bruthe?" Ted asked.
"If you like; Bruce, or Mr. Bruce. It's
all the same in the end. Is that your nurse
"She's beckoning to you to go back."
Ida drew herself away at once, and all
three were starting to go when he again
"Do you always do what she tells you
"I think so," Ida answered.
That's good children. Good-bye. Give
me a kiss before you go."
Trembling lest Emma should be angry,
98 IN EM MA'S CARE.
Ida pressed her lips to the young man's sun-
burnt cheek. Mabel and Ted followed her
example, and then they all set off as fast as
Ted's short legs would allow to where Emma
was waiting, Mabel looking back once to see
their new friend sitting where they had left
him, following them with his eyes.
"It is dinner-time," said Emma. Come
along, dears." And without saying anything
more she led them home.
In the afternoon, they came back to the
beach, and this time Emma brought a book,
for she was very exact in her ideas, and al-
ways did needle-work or knitting in the
mornings, but allowed herself the pleasure of
reading after dinner was over.
"I shall sit here in the shadow of this
rock," she said, choosing a comfortable seat.
"And you three can go and play, but don't
go very far-not farther than where that post
sticks up out of the sand."