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oTombridge and Sons
SUMMER DAYS AND WINTER NIGHTS.
MRS. RUSSELL GRAY
M. E. SHIPLEY
F. M. WILBRAHAM
F. H. WOOD
LADY CHARLES THYNNE
GROOMBRIDGE AND SONS,
5, PATERNOSTER ROW.
RIKNTED nBY SImmoNs & BOTTEN,
shoe Lane, E.C.
THE SEASIDE HOME. BY Mus. RUSSELL GEAY.
THE NORTHOROFT LILIES. By M. E. SIPLEY.
PERILS AMONG PIRATES. BT F. M. WILBRAHAM.
HEADLESS AND HANDLESS. BY F. H. Woon.
FRITZ. BN GDEraRnBu CiocoroRD.
THE WANDERER. By LADY CHAELES TnYiNB.
THE SEA-SIDE HOME.
HERE is a little village in Wiltshire, lying
beneath the shelter of- a steep hill, whose
chalky sides are visible to the traveller
long before he sees the high church tower
of Oakford. Not a quarter of a mile beyond this
village, the eye can rest with a kind of relief, after the
long stretch of open country, and white acclivities, on
a mass of forest trees, which form an avenue from the
lodge gates to the ancient residence of the Trevors,
the principal family in the parish for centuries past,
whose lands extend far around, and whose private
domains are divided from the village by the slightest
possible barriers-it having ever been considered by
their owners, that the best protection to property con-
sisted in the love and respect of their tenants and
The head of the house, at the time of which we
are writing, was an especially open-hearted, liberal
landlord and kind master, and Mrs. Trevor, by active
benevolence and ready sympathy, endeared herself to
all classes-above all, to the sick and suffering.
Sorrows of her own had rendered her peculiarly alive
to the distress of others, and she was constantly seek-
ing to alleviate the wants of the afflicted and needy.
Mr. and Mrs. Trevor had lost five children in
their infancy. One child alone had been spared to
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the oft-bereaved parents, whose great aim was to rear
this little daughter in goodness and simplicity, and to
impress on her mind that the wealth she would inherit
was but a precious loan to be paid back to the Great
Lender, through his members, the poor and sick
around her; and this precious child promised to
fulfil their fondest hopes. She had now passed her
fourteenth 1; i! ,1-.---... -, exceeding by many those
to which any of her brothers or sisters had attained-
and though slight and pale, and naturally delicate,
her health had o,. dtIliy improved, her constitution
become stronger, and the amendment in the state of
the young heiress was chiefly attributed, under God's
blessing, to the influence of sea-air and sea-bathing.
This remedy had not been tried for the other
children; most of those little ones had been snatched
away by sudden seizures, whilst for the beautiful twin
boys-the very light of their parents' eyes, for seven
years and a half, and who then had drooped and faded
away together, like roses blighted on the same stem-
a journey of any length had been prohibited; but
since that time the railway had brought a pleasant
little watering-place within easy reach of Oakford, and
to Seacombe, Gertrude Trevor was frequently sent
with her governess, to be under the superintending
care of one of the few persons to whom Mrs. Trevor
would have confided her treasure-a faithful servant
who had waited on her before her marriage; had con-
tinued with her after that event; had seen her a happy
young wife; beheld her joy on becoming a mother,
and her anguish on losing one child .-,i-,. another,
until Gertrude was the only remaining survivor. Then,
afterwards, Mary Gardiner had married a fellow-servant,
much esteemed by his master and mistress, and both
having saved money during their long servitude, they
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had taken a house at Seacombe, let it in lodgings, or
received boarders on a moderate scale-an arrange-
ment which brought many invalids, requiring as much
sea-air as possible, with as small an amount of trouble
and fatigue as could be helped, to the abode of Mrs.
Bonner; who, besides thoroughly understanding how
to make her inmates comfortable, as regarded rooms
and cooking, was always willing, in case of need, to
throw into the scale much sage advice and skilful
doctoring; so that many ladies had been heard to
declare, that it was rather a pleasure than otherwise
to have a slight fit of indisposition at Cliffe House, to
be laid up in its snug cheerful rooms, with so excellent
a nurse ever ready at hand, their minds unburdened
with home cares and duties, and with such reviving
breezes wafted to them from the briny channel.
On one point, however, Mrs. Bonner was found to
be most peremptory and inexorable. No one suspected
of the slightest taint of infection, either directly or
indirectly, was suffered to enter within her doors. The
utmost precaution and strictest investigation were
practised by her before admitting any uncertain case;
and had any party afterwards been convicted of de-
ceiving her in this respect, the three counties of
Wilts, Dorset, and Hants, would have risen up in
arms to resent the injury done to the well-known and
highly-esteemed mistress of Cliffe House, and ci-devant
head-nurse of Oakford.
And did it not behove Mrs. Bonner to be cautious,
when at any moment she might receive notice of her
beloved little lady coming to occupy her drawing-room
floor for a week or so ? In the spring, when the east
winds were blowing too keenly in the bleak region
round Oakford, for the, delicate floweret, when mid-
summer heat was causing the fragile blossom to droop
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and fade, and again, when autumn leaves were falling
in myriads, strewing the park and scenting the air
with damp variegated foliage, Gertrude Trevor was
sent to Seacombe, to be revived, or shielded from risk
by some whiffs of the pure sea-air, which had never
failed as a sovereign remedy or preventive, as the need
Once on her return home, when Mrs. Trevor was
filled with delight and thankfulness on witnessing the
improvement in her child, her rosy cheeks, elastic
tread, and joyous spirits, Gertrude had exclaimed
Oh, yes, dearest mamma, I am sure no one need
be ill when there is that darling Seacombe to go to.
I wish every one who was weak or ailing could be sent
to dear Bonny. I believe even Mrs. Gill's old wrinkled
yellow face might grow into a nice smooth red one
again, if she could sit in the sunny bow-window at
Cliffe House, and let the delicious spray salt her poor
old cheeks; and as for poor dear Nelly Peters, I am
certain all her ailments would vanish into empty air,
if she could have a salt bath every morning, and
spend hours, as I often do, on the beach every day."
Mrs. Trevor pondered on these words. There
were, indeed, many in Oakford to whom an occasional
sojourn by the sea-side might be as new life and hope;
some with exhausted frames, bowed down with long-
endured pain, children unable to shake off the remains
of a sharp attack of infantine sickness ; girls of the
same age, and as dearly prized in their humble dwell-
ings as her own daughter in her luxurious home,
delicate and weakly, and whose future health might,
like Gertrude's, materially depend on their constitu-
tions being strengthened in their early youth. And
Mrs. Trever determined that her child, at least, should
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not be the only one in their parish to profit by the
advantages Seacombe afforded, and the idea once
started, the opportunity soon arrived for acting upon
One morning she had walked out early to the
gardens to examine some young vines recently sent to
her from abroad, which she was particularly anxious
should flourish, as the grape was one peculiarly suited
to invalids, and it was Mrs. Trevor's object to have as
large a supply of this fruit as possible, to give away
amongst the sick poor. On entering the hot-house,
she called for the head-gardener of that department,
and was answered by a subordinate, that,
Mr. Wilson had made bold to walk into Lesbury,
to fetch the doctor to see his daughter."
What, is Martha worse ?" asked Mrs. Trevor.
Well, ma'am, I can't exactly say for certain about
that," the man replied; anywise, Mr. Wilson said
he must go, and he bid me, if I see'd you, ma'am,
to mention to you just what he had gone for."
Tell Mr. Wilson to come to me when he returns,"
said Mrs. Trevor. And then she went back to the
house, again thinking over her lately-formed project.
Yes, here was Martha Wilson, for instance, who had
been tortured for months with pains in her limbs,
which the doctor had not been able to cure, why should
she not try sea-air ?
Martha, like Gertrude, was an only daughter, and
had been one of the best girls in Mrs. Trevor's school;
helping the mistress with the smaller classes, teaching
the dull and slow ones with the most untiring patience
and good temper. One morning, the gentle young
teacher was missing, and it was soon buzzed through
the room that poor Martha was seriously ill with rheu-
matic fever, and though she was at length pronounced
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to be getting well, this improvement never had
advanced beyond the being able to sit up in bed to do
a little sewing, or occasionally to be laid on a couch
for an hour or two, and then put back to bed again.
Her limbs refused to do their work; she had no
power in them, a weakness had settled in her joints,
which only time, the doctor said, could cure. But
months had gone on, during which the Trevor family
had been for the greater part absent, and it was just
after her return to Oakford that Mrs. Trevor had learnt
from the under-gardener of Wilson's increased anxiety
about his daughter; and not even waiting to see him,
as she had intended, she ordered her pony-carriage,
and was driven by Gertrude through the park to the
abode of Martha and her parents.
THE SEA-SIDE HOME.
OiAKFOnD might have been ranked amongst the first
of the model villages, which now richly adorn our
country; and of all its conveniently-planned and
highly-finished dwellings, though smaller and less
imposing looking than many, none attracted more
admiration and notice than one cottage, standing in
a quiet nook at a little distance from the main street,
with a high chalk hill behind it, protecting it from
winter winds or from summer heat. It had a gable
end, a small oriel window, and was surrounded by
a well-sized plot of garden ground, not an inch of
which was wasted, but displayed a goodly array of
flowers, vegetables, and fruit-trees, whilst the cottage
walls were covered with a variety of trailing plants.
This was the abode of John Peters, the carpenter,
a man much esteemed by Mr. and Mrs. Trevor, and a
great favourite with all his friends and neighbours-
his quaint simplicity, and straightforward speaking,
blended with his good sense and right appreciation of
things in general, rendering him a most attractive
companion. He had been born and brought up at
Oakford, and had married the daughter of a small
farmer on the estate. His wedded life, though not
altogether unchequered by some of the disappoint-
ments, losses, and sorrows which must befall the most
favoured of mortals, had, nevertheless, until lately been
an unusually happy one. Lucy Peters, like her hus-
band, had been trained in principles of truth, and of
discerning between the right and the wrong, and was
thoroughly able to prize these qualities in her husband,
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to whom she looked up with entire confidence, pride
They had two children-both daughters : the elder,
Marian, at the time of our introducing them to our
readers, was sixteen, and as useful and sensible a girl
as could be met with anywhere-her mother's right
hand in all her household employment; since Martha
Wilson's illness, she had been chosen to take her
place in assisting to instruct the younger children in
Mrs. Trevor's school, and though at first the little
scholars believed, and openly expressed the opinion
that no one could "learn them their books" but
Martha, they soon began to love and respect their new
teacher. And if Marian Peters was beloved by her
parents, even dearer-to the father's heart, at least-was
Nelly, his younger daughter. She was born on the
same day as Gertrude Trevor, was Mrs. Trevor's god-
child, and named after her, the simple abbreviation of
"Nelly" being substituted for common use, for the
grandly-sounding "Eleanor." And the brightest of
little beings had Nelly been from her infancy; and whilst
forming a strong contrast in appearance to her con-
temporary, the young lady of the Hall, being short and
stout, with dark hair and eyes, and a ruddy complexion,
in John Peters' eyes she was equally lovely; whilst at
times the fond father, perhaps, felt a kind of exultation
in the superior strength and health, exhibited by his
little cottage maiden.
And Nelly, affectionate and loving to her mother
and sister, perfectly adored her father. She delighted
to be his companion, and took the keenest interest in
all he did. Her greatest pleasure was to spend hours
in his workshop behind the cottage, watching his
movements, marking his progress, helping him, and
in divers ways ministering to his wants and wishes,
THE SEA-SIDE HOME.
and cheering him on by her simple, merry talk. Or,
if his work took him for the day into Lesbury, long
before the time she would be yearning for his return;
sometimes she would walk out a mile to meet him, or,
if she could not do that, would manage to be the first
to welcome him back-to relieve him of his basket of
tools-and then she would sit down on her low stool at
his feet, close by his arm-chair, happy and satisfied
in seeing him at home again, listening to him, drinking
in every word he spoke, as he gave an account of his
proceedings, and relating, in her turn, all that had
passed in his absence, whilst Marian bustled about
preparing the pleasant evening meal for the happy
little family party about to gather round the homely,
neatly-spread table. Such was the fashion of Nelly's
life till about six months before the time of which we
are speaking; then a sad change came. A sudden
shock, caused by a fall when on a nutting expedition-
after the actual pain, occasioned by the accident, had
been subdued-had left a most trying nervous affection,
producing a degree of depression and irritability, com-
pletely contrary to the nature of the child. All was
gloom and discontent, where, hitherto, there had been
nought but light and gladness; fretfulness and morose-
ness had usurped the place of sweet compliance and
serenity, tears of smiles. It seemed, indeed, as though
the wicked fairies had been playing their pranks, and
had carried away the real Nelly, leaving a changeling
in her stead. And in such like maladies it is so diffi-
cult to make either the sufferer herself, or others,
believe or understand that mere physical causes can
actually produce such effects; seldom can any other
love, than the love of a parent, endure on, unalloyed,
unshaken-nay, even grow deeper, stronger-under such
contending circumstances; but we know that such love
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is alone surpassed by the tender forbearance of God
for his people. The words, Like as a father pitieth his
children," must have risen up to the minds of many
on beholding the devotion of John Peters towards his
now wayward, trouble-giving child-his patience and
. :.._ fii.. -- under every discouragement, his unfail-
ing endeavours to please and amuse her, his delight
when he succeeded in winning a smile or a few cheer-
ful words from her, or could perceive the slightest
symptoms of amendment in her. Each day he did his
best to bring back some bit of news that might rouse
her from her languor and apathetic indifference.
It was on the evening of the day succeeding that
on which Mr. Trevor had driven to the Wilsons', that
on returning from Lesbury, having first fondly kissed
Nelly, and then seated himself in his chair beside hers,
holding her hand in his, he began,
"Well, I have rare tidings for you to-day, Nelly."
Mrs. Peters and Marian were at once all eagerness
and curiosity, and even Nelly lifted up her eyes with
a look of inquiry.
As I was coming out of Lesbury," John went on
to say, "I met Mrs. Wilson, all in a flutter and hurry,
and I quite feared lest Martha might have been taken
worse. 'No, Mr. Peters," she said, when I made
inquiry, 'it's not that brought me here to-day. I
came in to do some shopping;' and she uncovered a
large parcel she was carrying under her shawl; only
think, our dear girl is going to the sea on Thursday,
and I came in to get her a few things she may require
whilst she is away.' And then she told me that our
good lady has settled for Martha to return to Seacombe
with Mrs. Bonner, who is just now at the Hall, and
stay at her house for several weeks, that she may have
sea-air and salt baths."
THE SEA-SIDE HOME.
Well, now," said kind Mrs. Peters, I really
never remember being more pleased at any news than
this you have brought us to-day, John. The sea, I
know, does wonders sometimes, and who can tell but
that i' I ,li may come back strong and well again;"
and she looked at Nelly, and sighed.
"But how terrible," whined Nelly, squeezing
tightly her father's hand, "for poor Martha to have to
leave her parents and home, and go to a strange place
among strangers. So terrible !" she repeated. I
am sure I couldn't bear it; nothing would make me
"Not if it was for your good, Nelly, and to make
others happy?" said her mother, gravely. "Think
what joy there will be if Martha returns stout and
active as she used to be."
Oh, but she is only just beginning to go away,"
replied Nelly, mournfully, and it will be such a long,
long time before she gets back; perhaps she will never
come back at all-perhaps she will die." And at
this miserable picture the weak-spirited girl had drawn
for herself of Martha's probable wretchedness and
possible death, she sobbed so violently, that in spite
of all her father's petting and coaxing to stay and
have a bit of supper with him, she had to be led up-
stairs by Marian, and left poor John greatly distressed
and dismayed to find that the tidings he had intended
to be so enlivening should have produced such an
The husband and wife were sorrowfully beginning
their solitary meal-ah! so sadly different from the
merry sociable repasts of yore--when a light step was
heard on the gravel-path, and Gertrude Trevor was
Oh, Nelly is not here !" she exclaimed, looking
round the kitchen as she entered; but perhaps it is
as well; for I am come, Mrs. Peters, to talk to you
about a little plan for her, of which we hope you will
all approve. You may have heard that mamma has
arranged, that Martha Wilson is to accompany Mrs.
Bonner to Seacombe on Thursday, to have some salt-
water baths. Now, we feel so sure that the sea would
be good for Nelly, that we want you to let her be of
the party also. Mrs. Bonner will take the utmost
care of her; she will be perfectly safe, I do assure
you," she added, turning to John, "and you know
Nelly and Martha have always been good friends."
Mrs. Peters' glance was fixed on her husband as
Miss Trevor spoke, her heart beating fast; her earnest
prayer for weeks, nay months, had been that Nelly
might have some change-change of air, of scene, and
change of companionship-for she could not help
seeing that the over-indulgence of the dating father
had become prejudicial to the girl in her present
morbid condition; but hitherto Peters had refused to
part with his little daughter. He would not, even let
her go for a day or two to her grandfather's farm, and
his wife trembled lest he should now refuse the young
lady's offer, and lose an opportunity which would
afford every advantage that could possibly be desired
for their child. But no; with his eyes full of tears,
and in faltering words, honest John Peters at once
acceded to the proposal.
Thank you kindly, Miss," he said, and thank
your good mamma too. I would do anything in the
whole world, to see my Nelly what she used to be once
more; for what is life without health-above all to the
It was, however, feared that Nelly would prove
refractory, but Gertrude begged to be allowed to go
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and talk to her about it alone; and though at first she
smothered her face in the bed-clothes to stifle her
sobs, and would give no answer for some time, so
forcible had been Miss Trevor's pleadings and per-
suasions, that, before she came downstairs, the poor
weak-spirited child had been induced to acquiesce in
the project. Nelly's intense love for her father, though
slumbering for the time being, was by no means ex-
tinguished; and when Gertrude had once succeeded in
inspiring her with the hope and expectation, of coming
back to be a help and comfort to him again, she had
consented; and though many times during the next
few days her courage gave way, and sad scenes took
place at the cottage, in which (low be it spoken) John
Peters displayed almost as small an amount of self-
control as his daughter, Mrs. Peters had at last the
satisfaction of seeing Nelly, in very tolerable spirits,
step into the wagonette which drew up before their
garden-gate, and was to convey the travellers to the
station, in which were already seated not only Martha
Wilson and Mrs. Bonner, but Miss Trevor, with her
governess and maid; for Gertrude had begged to be
allowed to accompany the girls, and witness their first
impressions of the sea.
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IT was in the cool of the evening of a delightful
summer's day, that the rustic maidens of Oakford
beheld the sea for the first time, with its placid surface
illumined by refulgent hues from the reflection of the
gorgeous setting sun. Nelly Peters was roused into
animation at the spectacle, but poor Martha Wilson was
too full of pain and weariness to appreciate the sight,
and on arriving at Cliffe House had to be lifted from the
fly by Mr. Bonner, and laid on the sofa beside the bow-
window of the parlour, from which she was only re-
moved to be placed in bed. Nelly, on the contrary,
was brisker than she had been for some time, and the
next day, after a good night's rest, Martha was also
pronounced to be none the worse for the journey. In
the forenoon the doctor who always attended Gertrude,
called, by appointment, to lay down some rules for
their separate treatment. For Martha, as had been
expected, he prescribed warm salt-baths, freedom from
over-exertion, and great precaution against exposure
to damp air or any sudden changes of temperature;
whilst for Nelly he recommended quite a different
system-as much air and exercise as possible, without
respect to weather, so that she were suitably clothed,
and bathing in the open sea, as soon as she could be
prevailed on to undergo such an ordeal; until which
time he felt sure good Mrs. Bonner would let her have
a bucket or two of sea-water every morning to dabble
about in;" then assuring them of their good fortune
in finding themselves at Seacombe under such pleasant
auspices, Mr. Forbes took his leave, promising to look
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in upon them again soon, to find out if his orders had
been strictly obeyed; and as he spoke these last words,
he fixed his eyes with scrutiny on Nelly, rightly
divining from. which quarter opposition might come.
But Nelly away from home spoiling, and under the
restraint which the presence of Gertrude and Miss
Birks imposed, was by no means difficult to manage;
and though fits of peevishness, depression, and apathy
would ever and anon return upon her, causing much
perplexity to Gertrude, and calling forth many grave
admonitions from Miss Birks, besides hearty scoldings
from Mrs. Bonner, who would tell her she had no
patience with any one who gave way as she was doing,
when she had everything about her to make her happy
and comfortable- it was downright wicked and un-
grateful! they became less and less i ..qN..,', whilst
the desire to "get well and be of use again to father,"
in like measure increased. Martha, though slowly, pro-
gressed surely, and Gertrude delighted to witness the
success of her scheme, and revelling, as she always did.
in the fresh sea breezes, declared she was never so
well or happy in her whole life before.
And it must have been very pleasant, the daily
routine of life led by the little party at Cliffe House.
Every morning there might have been seen upon
the shore of the then quiet, not much frequented
watering-place, a wheeled chair placed so close to the
edge of the sea, that the sparkling wavelets came
rippling up against it, in which was seated a girl with
a somewhat suffering, yet withal peaceful expression,
watching with pleased interest the various scenes
enacted on the beach; groups of children ; ._'._i"; in
the sand, or floating their tiny crafts on the clear blue
water; boys building castles or making mimic moats,
or perchance the fishermen sitting in their boats, mend-
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ing or getting ready their nets for a night's venture.
And beside the chair another girl would stand with
her whole attention bestowed on the bathers disporting
themselves so heroically and merrily, and performing,
what appeared to her, quite miraculous feats of agility
in the water; her gaze especially fixed on one slight,
graceful little figure in bright blue costume, and with
long fair dripping locks, who amazed and often
frightened her by her evolutions in dipping, diving,
and swimming, and still more terrified her sometimes,
by approaching the shore and holding out her arms, as
if inviting her to go in and join, in what it made her
shudder even to behold at a distance; on which occa-
sions this foolish maiden, never pausing to consider
the impossibility of the proposal being made in earnest,
would dart away and run off, just as the little Maltese
dog used to do, when Fanny the maid appeared with
her sleeves tucked up-the well-known signal for its
washing-time having come.
The deep, white, tile-lined bath, with the steaming
water, in which Martha was daily immersed, was suffi-
ciently awful to Nelly, let alone the sea, the sea, the
deep, deep sea;" so to make up for this disobedience
to Mr. Forbes' orders, and to give her some taste of
salt water, when Miss Trevor descended from the
machine, her usually pale cheeks as pink as the inside
of a conch shell, and with her limp tresses still floating
over her shoulders, she would leave Martha under
the care of Fanny, also an Oakford damsel, summon
Nelly for a turn along the sands, and take a mis-
chievous delight in punishing her for her cowardice,
by enticing her so close to the margin of the shore,
that a fast flowing wave would dash over her feet and
legs; and then Gertrude would laugh heartily at
Nelly's look of dismay, on getting a ducking after
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all. The walk over, and the sun having become too
scorching for the beach, Miss Birks, who had been
comfortably ensconced on the shingle with a book, her
eyes divided between the volume and her pupil, gave
the word of command, whereupon Willie Parkes,
Martha's charioteer, was hailed, and the little pro-
cession ascended the steep pebbly bank, which alone
separated the shore from the garden of Cliffe House.
Gertrude and her governess inhabited the drawing-
room suite of apartments, the pleasant bow-windowed
parlour and the bed-chamber behind it, which had
another smaller room beyond, in which Fanny slept,
being appropriated to the invalids; and Mr. and Mrs.
Bonner, by way of a sociable arrangement, used to take
their meals with the party in the parlour. The hottest
hours of the day were spent by the young people
within doors, the cottage girls occupying themselves
downstairs, whilst Miss Trevor pursued her studies
above; but lessons were a secondary consideration at
Seacombe, and after a very short hour of practising
or German construing, Gertrude would beg for Martha
to be brought up to sit in the large arm-chair beside
the window, which commanded a more extensive view
than the room below afforded, or for Nelly to come
and help her to sort the seaweeds, or wash and polish
the shells and pebbles picked up during the previous
evening's ramble and indulgent Miss Birks not only
would fall in with her pupil's propositions, but assist
in these occupations, endeavouring the while in as
easy language as she could use, to throw in as much
information as she could, on Conchology and Geology,
as well as regarding that particular class to which the
crimson sea anemone belongs, which Nelly thought so
like a lump of strawberry jam.
Mrs. Bonner, too, behaved with much forbearance.
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Few landladies would have endured, with equanimity,
having their best furnished room, continually littered
with shiny, strong-smelling weeds, or their balcony
disfigured by earthen pans, in which sprawled divers
" monsters," as the servant at Cliffe House called them,
intended to grace a visionary aquarium of Gertrude's,
but which generally managed to elope, not by a
ladder of rope," like the young lady in the song, but
by making a descent by the iron palisades, or expired
in their close quarters.
"But," argued Mrs. Bonner, "anything to please
my darling little lady; and isn't it a downright blessing
to see that poor moping Nelly Peters looking better
and brighter every day ?"
Seacombe, as I have said, was then in its infancy.
The handsome terraces, the esplanade, and the bijou
villas, which now give it an imposing aspect, had not
been erected. The most important looking dwelling-
house, next to the hotel, was Cliffe House. Every one
remarks how much the place has improved of late
years, and so I suppose it has; still, when I go there
now, I miss many cherished spots of former days,
which have entirely vanished, from the ground being
built over. Above all, I miss and regret the hilly piece
of gorse-covered common, with its deep sandy hollows,
from which rabbits would scud, startled by passers by,
and larks used to rise from their grassy nests, pouring
forth their jubilant, exultant notes.
One of these little dells was a favourite resort of
our young people on glowing summer afternoons; it
afforded shade, and if a breeze were to be obtained
anywhere, it was sure to be wafted into their "burrow,"
as Gertrude called it. At first it had been -ithf .:ilrt. for
Martha to get down into the hollow, but it was a
visible proof of the improvement she was making, that,
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at the end of a fortnight, she could without pain or
risk perform the exploit with the assistance of Miss
Birks' ever ready arm and not one of the trio so fully
appreciated and enjoyed the books which the good
governess read aloud in this quiet cosy retreat, as
But of all the pleasant hours of those happy days,
the most delightful of all, especially to Gertrude and
Nelly, were those devoted to their evening excursions,
when the heat and glare had subsided, and the cool
air came blowing from off the sea-those enchanting
rambles far along the beach, to the great cluster of
rocks amongst which they found all their "treasures
of the deep." What fun, what scrambling, what slips
and slides they then had, what soaked stockings, what
a destruction of boots took place, what a havoc of
clean frocks; but what could be said against it all,
when health was the grand dcsideratzum at Seacombe,
and most assuredly health was being attained, to judge
by the lithe activity of the young heiress, the sturdy
resolute movements of the before-drooping rustic lassie,
and the merry laughter and cheerful tones of both;
whilst Martha, in her quiet way-looking on at their
adventures, holding conversations with, and gaining
much nautical information from Willie Parkes, and
taking charge of the collected rarities in her chair-
enjoyed herself almost as much as the other two.
The weather was so serene during the first weeks
of their stay at Seacombe, that the unsophisticated
Oakford maidens could scarcely be made to believe
that the sea they had as yet only beheld like a placid
lake, could ever be transformed into ruffled, foaming
waters, such as Gertrude used to describe to them.
And do those gentle, beautiful waves ever really
grow rough, Miss Trevor, and come splashing over
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the stone wall before Cliffe House, as I have heard
say they do ? asked Nelly, one evening.
Oh, yes, Nelly, and higher than that, sometimes,"
replied Gertrude, "and it is so grand to see them rolling
along, one after the other, roaring so loud and frothing
so angrily, and dashing up close to the house. Once,
do you know-it was when I was here after I had the
measles-the sea actually rushed into the little garden,
and poured down into Bonny's kitchen. She even
was frightened, and Mr. Bonner was obliged to wade
up to his knees in water, to catch the piece of beef
that was going to be roasted for my dinner, for it had
been literally washed out of the larder."
"I should have been afraid of being drowned,"
said Nelly. Were you not terrified, Miss ?"
"No, I was not," replied Gertrude; and as soon
as the tide began to recede, the water of course stopped
pouring in. And it does not often happen, you know,
that the sea comes rushing into the house like that;
but it was in winter, and that winter was a very stormy
one; there were dreadful losses out at sea."
How sad !" said Martha.
Yes, Martha, and some of the fishermen were
ruined. The poor fellows used to keep their fishing-
boats on the beach, quite high above what is con-
sidered water-mark, and there they had been safe for
years and years; but in this extraordinary storm I have
been telling you of, more than half the fishing-boats
were washed out to sea, broken up, and carried away
by the waves."
"And how did the poor men live after that?"
"A subscription was raised in the town imme-
diately-partly for the support of the families who had
lost so much, and partly to purchase new boats for some
THE SEA-SIDE HOME.
of the most needy. Papa was very kind, and sent a
large sum in my name; but of course all that could be
done did not make up for the great damage that
fearful storm had caused."
In such-like talk, when returning from their
pleasant evening expeditions, beneath the roseate hues
of the setting sun, Miss Trevor would initiate her com-
panions into the hardships and perils of the sea; and
as Nelly listened, she would blush to think of her own
imaginary fears and fancies, her fretful complaining
and self-created grievances, when she had been safe
beneath her father's roof, and she would pray to be
strengthened in her good resolutions for the future.
THE SEA-SIDE HOME.
AND Nelly had an opportunity of beholding the sea
under its more severe and majestic aspect. One after-
noon the sky changed, its brightness became overcast,
the wind rose, the rippling wavelets turned into swell-
ing billows-in fact, a storm was brewing. And when
night came, a heavy gale was blowing, which rattled the
windows of Cliffe House, and seemed almost to rock the
furniture of its rooms. Martha and Nelly at the back
of the house were not so much disturbed; but Ger-
trude, in the best bed-room, above the drawing-room,
could only lie awake thinking of the travellers by
water," of the sailors and fishermen exposed to the
fury of the elements, and of the poor wives and chil-
dren who must be sleepless, like herself, and enduring
so much fear and anxiety on account of the peril of
their loved ones. Then, at last, when falling into a
kind of doze, in the midst of her melancholy musings,
she was startled by the sound of a gun, which she
knew was fired as a signal from some ship in distress,
and she thought of the dangerous ridge of rocks off
Seacombe, against which so many vessels had struck.
She got out of bed and went into the adjoiining
chamber, to impart her fears to Miss Birks, who arose
and accompanied her back to her room, where nothing
would satisfy Gertrude, but to open the window to peer
through the darkness over the raging billows, and
listen for another signal, which, however, not hearing
repeated, she was at last persuaded to hope for the
best, and go to bed and try to sleep. It was, how-
ever no surprise to her when she was informed in the
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morning, that a small collier brig had perished, and
great was her relief to hear that all her crew had been
saved, through the means of the life-boat, which had
put out to sea with the utmost promptitude to their
Oh, how I do thank papa," she exclaimed, for
having been the first person to propose and head the
subscription for the boat !"
Learning from Mr. Bonner that the vessel had come
ashore at only about half a mile's distance from Sea-
combe, she was all eagerness to walk to the spot to
ascertain particulars, and immediately after breakfast
started with Miss Birks and Nelly. Though the violence
of the storm had abated, the wind was still very strong,
and frothing foaming waves were leaping up on high,
throwing great bunches of sea-weed on to the sands, and
dashing showers of spray over the faces of the pedes-
trians, who breasted their way so valiantly along the
beach. Who would have supposed that the little body in
the grey tweed cloak, so sturdily resisting the sudden
gusts, which came ever and anon, stopping her breath
and driving her back, was the once listless, timorous
Nelly. Surely, good John Peters, even you would
scarcely have known your child !
Arrived at the appointed spot, they found the
shingle strewn with pieces of the wreck, and some
men engaged in breaking up that portion of the vessel
that still held together. From them Gertrude gathered,
that only the cargo of coals had been lost, the crew
escaping with a wetting; and on their way home, in
front of the coast-guard station, where it was har-
boured, on the beach with its keel uppermost, drying
in the sun, which was now shining resplendently, its
gaily-painted oars stretched beside it, lay the life-boat,
on which Nelly gazed with the kind of reverence with
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which she might have regarded a hero just returned
Miss Birks, perceiving the interest taken on the
subject, related to the girls the accounts of several
memorable shipwrecks-the loss of the "Kent"
steamer, the "Royal George," and the ill-fated
"President also some descriptions of the first light-
houses that were erected, especially that marvellous one,
the Eddystone, built on a rock in the sea, off the coast
of Devonshire, at about twelve miles from the shore;
whose light is visible for thirteen miles on every side,
and which has stood the tempest's fury for more than
a hundred years, though several buildings on the same
rock had been before attempted and speedily washed
away. Miss Birks also related the story of Grace
Darling, who, a girl, not so very much older than them-
selves, living with her father in the lone sea-girt tower
on the bleak northern coast, when the waves were
lashing furiously round the walls, rowed out to the
assistance of a distressed ship and saved the crew.
Martha's dark eyes kindled with enthusiasm at this
narration, whilst Nelly turned pale, and for a few days
after hearing it she was observed to be unusually
thoughtful and silent, till one afternoon she confidingly
told Miss Trevor that if she would be so kind as to
take her with her, she had made up her mind to go
into the sea." Accordingly, the next morning, there
might have been seen issuing from a machine, and
standing shrinking and shivering on the steps, a
small figure, most kindly and gently ministered to by
the mermaiden-looking Gertrude, who very judi-
ciously led her out first some distance, so as to
accustom her to the feeling of the water around her,
before urging her to take a dip overhead; and then at
length, by dint of encouragement, the ordeal was
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undergone; and though Nelly arose from her immer-
sion with mouth wide open, gasping for breath, and
with a very wry expression of countenance, she exem-
plified the truth of the French adage, ( I1 n'est que le
premier pas qui coite," or rather, she persevered in
the determination to exercise self control and fortitude,
to be less mindful of her own pleasure and comfort,
more earnest to submit to the will of others; and she
felt fully recompensed for her struggle by the warm
and garrulous encomiums of Mr. Forbes, the appro-
bation of Mrs. Bonner, and the constantly-expressed
satisfaction of Gertrude, at having a companion and
pupil in bathing; whilst her father wrote, very proud
of the exploit, and much pleased to think she was
profiting by every possible means, for getting well
and coming home to him.
It had been at first intended that Gertrude should
only remain about a fortnight at Seacombe, just to see
her young protgees comfortably settled, but a slight
case of scarlatina breaking out amongst the servants
at the Hall, it had not been deemed advisable for her to
return home, and week after week passed and found
her and Miss Birks still at Cliffe House but at length
it was announced that Mr. and Mrs. Trevor were them-
selves coming to the Bellevue Hotel for a few days,
and that their daughter would return with them to
It was always a great treat to Gertrude to have
her father and mother at Seacombe. She enjoyed
breakfasting and dining with them at the hotel; the
most charming trips by sea and by land were taken,
pic-nics to C-- Abbey, tea-drinkings in the little
picturesque cove of E--, and Mr. and Mrs. Trevor
seemed almost as much to relish their holiday as she
did. I_'.i.. Trevor had always been fond of the sea-
THE SEA-SIDE HOME.
side, and was ever glad of an opportunity for seeing
and having some snug chats with Mrs. Bonner; and
the Squire retained very pleasurable recollections ot
Seacombe from his early boyhood-when the whole
place could only boast of an inferior inn, two or three
mediocre lodging-houses, and a F,- J-i ..: r.u's cottages
-of one summer vacation in particular, which he had
spent there with his tutor, when his indulgent father
had provided for his recreation, not only a pony to ride,
but a small sailing-boat, which for six weeks and more
had proved the very joy of his existence.
And now, though his youth was over, and the power
to feel such keen, unalloyed gratification gone, and
many cares, responsibilities, and heavy sorrows had
passed over his head since then, Mr. Trevor still
enjoyed returning from time to time to revisit and
trace out those scenes of bygone happiness and adven-
tures. He also possessed a great taste for planning
improvements, both as regarded building, planting,
and laying out grounds-as his own property fully
showed. It interested him to walk about Seacombe
and watch the numerous erections in progress, some-
times entering into conversation with the workmen-
to whom he was generally known, at least by name-
and giving his opinion regarding some points of
arrangement. One house, half finished, just at this
time, particularly took his fancy, both on account of
its style of architecture and its situation, and he said
to Gertrude one day, "You and your mamma are so
devoted to Seacombe, that I think I had better buy
this pretty villa for you to come to, when you want sea-
Gertrude's eyes sparkled with delight, but she
only replied, But what would Bonny do without
me, papa ?"
THE SEA-SIDE HOME.
NELLY, having been pronounced by Mr. Forbes quite
out of his hands," when the Squire and his lady went
to Seacombe, was to have returned to Oakford with the
Hall party, M.T:, lti. remaining on some weeks longer
with Mrs. Bonner; and the carpenter's family were
looking forward with the utmost happiness to the
re-union. "Nelly coming back again, and like her
own old self, their blithe, little, loving Nelly." All
was joyful preparation at the cottage. John Peters,
forgetting that his bit lassie" no longer needed one,
had spent his leisure hours of late in making a most
comfortable easy-chair, which now stood ready for her
reception in the oriel of the latticed window, which
was then a perfect bower of clematis and Virginian
creeper. Marian had added many little comforts and
ornaments to the tiny sleeping chamber of her petted
sister, and Mrs. Peters had got in all the ingredients
for making a grand sugared cake, such as she knew
Nelly loved, to greet her at her first supper at home
But almost at the last moment the plans were
changed; Nelly did not return, and this was how it
came to pass. Delighted with the success of her
undertaking as regarded the two girls, Martha Wilson
and Nelly Peters, Mrs. Trevor was very desirous that
other ailing ones should have the same treatment and
advantages from which they had derived so much
benefit. One sickly, weakly child in particular she
longed to send to take Nelly's place; but M1 tlib.1,
though much more equal to exertion than when she
THE SEA-SIDE HOME.
first came, was not considered fit for the sole charge
of a helpless child; and Fanny, who had so kindly
aided Martha and Nelly when they had required help,
had of course to return to the Hall with her young
lady. The difficulty then arose as to who was to wait
on Esther Bankes, for Mrs. Bonner's servant would be
fully occupied with the lady who was to succeed
Miss Trevor on the drawing-room floor, a regular
autumnal lodger, who never brought a maid with her.
It was in this dilemma that Nelly came forward,
and modestly proffered her services. Might she stop
and mind little Essie ?"
"But was not she wanting to go home ?" asked
"Yes, she did long to see father and them all;
but"-and here Nelly's eyes were filled with tears,
and she bent them on the ground-" but she did not
want to be always thinking of herself, and she would
do anything in the world to show how grateful she
was to Mrs. and Miss Trevor; and she was sure father
and mother would not fancy she loved them a bit the
less, if she bided a while longer to do for Essie."
And thus it was settled; and so pleased were Mr.
and Mrs. Trevor with the feelings which had prompted
Nelly's proposal, that they arranged a most pleasant
surprise for her-none less than that John Peters
should be Esther's escort to Seacombe.
Joyful indeed was the meeting between the father
and daughter. Nelly was almost overwhelmed with
astonishment and joy when she heard the dear familiar
voice in the hall; and as for Peters, his ecstacy on
beholding his child, with her plump, ruddy cheeks,
come back again, the old brightness in her eyes,
her cheerful voice, her light-bounding tread, all pro-
claiming the return of health and the power of enjoy-
THE SEA-SIDE HOME.
ment, is beyond description. So constant and lavish
was he in his expressions of love and admiration, that
at last Mrs. Bonner began to scold him, and tell him
that if he went on at that rate, he would soon undo all
the good Nelly had got by being with her, and that
if he did not take care he should never have her at
home at all again.
Thoroughly did John enjoy his visit at Cliffe
House; the days passed by in unchequered felicity to
the simple, honest man; and on his return to Oakford
he had so much to narrate, that Mrs. Peters and
Marian thought father far more learned and enter-
taining than any book of travels they had ever read.
And conscientiously and well did Nelly fulfil the
trust she had undertaken. With steady patience and
gentle forbearance she tended the sickly child, un-
mindful of her own comfort or pleasure, till she gained
such a beneficial influence over Essie, that she would
even allow her to bathe the poor weakly limbs
every morning in the tub of salt water, provided by a
younger brother of Willie Parkes for the purpose.
Willie himself had left Seacombe by that time.
His heart had been on the blue, blue sea ever since he
was a tiny child of four, and now his dearest wishes
had been fulfilled-he had gone to be a sailor."
He was the son of Gertrude's favourite bathing-
woman, and his father was the fisherman who supplied
Cliffe House with the shrimps the girls so much
enjoyed for their tea; indeed, Joe Parkes had a story
he was very fond of relating, of little Miss Trevor
having, once upon a time, insisted upon accompanying
him into the sea, wading through the water with bare
feet and legs, carrying a small net, she had, unknown
to Mrs. Bonner, coaxed her nursery-maid to make for
her. This was, of course, long ago; so Gertrude had
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known Willie from his lLi..;u:, and seeing how averse
his parents were to his choosing a seafaring life, she
always tried to impress on his mind to the utmost, the
perils of a sailor's life.
What can you know about it, Willie ?" she would
say. How can you tell whether you would really
like it? Being a real sailor is very different from just
going out on a fine day for a pleasant cruise. A
sailor has very hard work indeed to do, especially if in
a large ship. In the first place, the vessel has to be
kept beautifully clean, and the deck scrubbed down
every day. Buckets and buckets of water are required
for this, far more and heavier a good deal than those
you carry up to Cliffe House for Mrs. Bonner's lodgers;
and then sailors are obliged to be out in all weathers-
in torrents of rain sometimes, and both by night and
day-for of course the ship's sails have always to be
attended to, and the harder the wind blows the more
difficult it is to pull them up or let them down, or
take in sail."
Yes; and father read us once about a poor lad,"
put in Martha, modestly, who was being drawn in her
chair along the sands, whilst Miss Trevor, walking
with Nelly beside her, held this conversation with
VWillie, ." who had to go aloft in a high wind to furl a
sail, and he was blown down into the sea; and, oh !
Miss Trevor, he was never seen again."
"And then," continued Gertrude, "sometimes the
men get so dreadfully wet with the rain beating on
them and the waves washing over them, that they go
shivering to their wretched beds, and lie down in their
wet clothes, being too tired to take them off, and they
fall asleep often only to wake up with dreadful
rheumatism in all their bones; and what is most
dreadful of all, sometimes just when they have got into
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a sound sleep, everybody is roused up out of their beds,
to go on deck and help turn round the ship, which
in the dark night had got close up to an iceberg; and
you know if the ship had touched it, most likely she
would have been sunk in a minute; only think," she
added, in a low voice, how terrible, Willie, that would
"Do people always see icebergs, please, Miss ?"
asked Willie, stopping to touch his hat, and turning
round as he spoke, his eyes beaming with exulta-
"Not always," answered Gertrude quickly, half
amused, half provoked, at how little of the desired
effect her words had produced; "it depends, I suppose,
on where the ship is going. I have read of a vessel
having seen icebergs almost every day for three weeks,
but then, you know, care was taken to keep away from
such dangerous neighbours. You may fancy, Willie,
how piercingly cold it must then have been, for the
poor fellows, some of them not much older or bigger
than you, who had to work in the open air; sometimes
their fingers get frost-bitten and useless for a long
time. It really makes me shudder to think of all the
dangers and hardships you are so anxious to rush into,
Willie paused before speaking again, for he was
fearful of making a remark that might in any way
sound disrespectful to the young lady, but at last he
said, "I don't suppose a real sailor minds it a bit; do
you think he'd go to sea again if he did, Miss ?"
"Why, it would seem cowardly to give it up when
he had once begun," returned Gertrude.
Yes, that's just it," said Nelly, who had been
taking a lively interest in the details Miss Trevor had
been giving; "if he sets out, he does not like after-
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wards to give it up, just because he has fallen into
dangers and difficulties, but when he has been told of
it beforehand and still persists in going, he really is
quite foolish like; is he not, Miss Trevor?"
There was, however, no change to be produced in
Willie's mind; on the contrary, his resolution strength-
ened every day. Every spare moment he spent in
making little boats and ships of all sizes and shapes;
some he only roughly cut and half finished as he sat
on the shingle waiting for ',! 1I1 ., i to be taken home
from her morning station by the sea-shore; others,
which he worked at when at home, were beautiful
little models completely rigged and furnished with
cordage and sails, so perfect, indeed, that one would
have guessed they had been made by a regular sea-
man. Nelly was in raptures with them, and often
wished her father could see them.
At length one day Willie went on an errand into
SI t.. ii, and on the wall outside the Town Hall was
a placard printed in large letters, stating that boys
were required to serve in the Navy, stating the age,
qualifications, etc., necessary, and naming the place
and time at which any candidates might apply. Willie
read the announcement, and turned almost giddy with
delight and excitement. Fain would he have at once,
on the spot, presented himself before the authorities,
but he remembered his parents, went home, obtained
their sanction, returned the next morning to Meriton,
was pronounced eligible, his employment as a carrier
of water ever since he could bear the weight of a
bucket, having proved a great advantage to him in
developing his chest to the breadth judged necessary
for a British sailor-a deficiency in which point would
have led to his rejection, as it did to many other lads
who applied at the same time-and walked proudly
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back to Seacombe, singing, as he went, his favourite
A life on the ocean wave,
A home on the rolling deep,
Where the scattered waters rave
And the winds their revels keep;
Like an eagle caged, I pine,
On this dull unchanging shore;
Oh give me the flashing brine,
The spray and the tempest's roar."
This happened just at the time when Mr. and Mirs
Trevor came to Seacombe, and Gortrude having given
them many particulars of Willie, they walked to the
Parkes's cottage, inspected his drawer full of boats,
bestowed great admiration on them, and then Mr.
Trevor told Mrs. Parkes, he was sure she could have
no time, whilst the bathing season was at its height,
for sewing, and he wished to present her son with his
outfit; and if anything could have consoled the good
I 11i.. and mother for the loss of their son, surely no
means could have been more effectual; for it was
such a real satisfaction to have him start in life so well
So as I have said, Willie Parkes had left Seacombe,
and his younger brother Tom carried up the salt water
for little Essie to be bathed in, yet Nelly saw Willie
again ere she quitted Cliffe House. Before he had
been a week out to sea, the ship in which he was
serving, was wrecked in a fearful storm off the Irish
coast. Many lives were lost, and Willie, after being
nearly dashed to pieces against some rocks, was washed
ashore more dead than alive. He was carried, however,
into the coast-guard station-house, carefully tended,
and revived; and as soon as ever he could be allowed
to attempt it, travelled home to his parents wan and
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wretched-looking, cold, half clad, and destitute-
nothing belonging to the crew having been saved.
Surely Willie's taste for the life of a sailor must
be over now," said Martha to Nelly, when, with tears,
they beheld his miserable plight.
But she was mistaken. He had not been at home
ten days when hearing that there was a vessel fitting
out at Plymouth in which he could get a berth, he was
all eagerness to be off again, and with a second new
kit, for which he could scarcely wait with patience,
was soon afloat once more, a steady breeze- blowing
this time, and speeding his way to fresh scenes and
adventures in other climes.
Thus he exemplified the saying, that a love for a
life at sea is inborn; and well is it for England that to
some the taste has been inherent, for what could she
have done without her brave sailors, her mighty naval
heroes, her Blake and her Nelson, to strike dismay
into the hearts of her foes, and wave her flag of victory
in the breeze ?
THE SEA-SIDE HOME.
TaE cottage garden was gay with chrysanthemums,
and the Virginian creeper in its last stage of flaming
red, when Nelly at length rejoined her parents, and
Esther Bankes was restored to her family, strong and
rosy again. Martha Wilson was still to remain at Sea-
combe, partly that she might be in a drier and less
exposed situation than Oakford at that time of year,
and partly to take charge of other invalids Mrs. Trevor
desired to send to Oliffe House. Even after coming
home for Christmas, she went back again with a young
ailing companion; and her father and mother, though
loath to part from her, spared her thankfully and
And Martha had gained a friend in the maiden
lady who inhabited the drawing-room floor. Miss
Wheeler was suffering from an affection of the eyes,.
which threatened serious consequences if she tried her-
sight by candle-light; and her evenings were tedious.
and depressing, until it occurred to Mrs. Bonner to-
advise that Martha should be asked to come up for an
hour or so to read to her, or put her knitting in order;
and so great was the comfort this arrangement afforded.
Miss Wheeler, so painfully did she miss Martha
during her temporary absence, that by the time she-
rturned, she had settled it in her own mind that, when
she took her intended trip to Coblentz in the spring,,
to consult the famous oculist, she would make Martha.
the offer of accompanying her, which she in fact did,.
and Martha continued with her afterwards as her
THE SEA-SIDE HOME.
Throughout that winter, Mrs. Bonner's lower set of
apartments were kept on at Mrs. Trevor's expense,
for the reception of the young invalids she sent from
time to time to Seacombe, and the kind, open-hearted
landlady was glad that her house should be available
for such a benevolent design, let alone that her lady's
pleasure was ever law to her; but it came at last to
Mrs. Trevor's ears, that the plan was beginning to
prove injurious to Mrs. Bonner's interests.
"I am afraid we must not send any more little
girls to Cliffe House," she -said, one day to Gertrude.
"It would never do for the report to be spread, that
Bonny's lodgings were always filled with sick chil-
But what a pity, mamma, for dear Bonny does
not mind having them, and Miss Wheeler has made
no objection; but, perhaps, the next lodgers might.
Oh, mamma, how I do wish we had a house of our
own to send our invalids to "
Gertrude, in these few words, had echoed her
mother's own sentiments. Since hearing that it had
been said that Cliffe House was being turned into
an hospital," she had been seized with an ardent desire
te establish, in reality, something of the kind at Sea-
combe; or, more properly speaking, a Convalescent
Home, to which little patients might be sent for a
short time, to recover their health, in cases where
medicine could do no more for them; and the words
her daughter had just spoken seemed like an en-
couragement of the idea.
Could not papa buy you a house, mamma?" con-
But Mrs. Trovor reminded Gertrude of the many
works of munificence her father had undertaken, of
his recent large donation for building the new wing of
THE SEA-SIDE HOME.
the infirmary at Losbnry, as well as of all his private
acts of benevolence and usefulness ; -;.-, also, that
though he was very rich, there was a limit to the
largest fortune, and that in the exercise of charity and
liberality, prudence, discrimination and justice had
to be considered as in any other matter. Still, she
did not altogether seek to ciscountenance the hope
that something might be managed, and in all their
walks and talks that spring, the mother and daughter
used to make plans, and projects, and build airy
castles, respecting the object of their fondest aspira-
tions-the ," ( .i !.. u's Home" at Seacombe.
It was on the morning of Midsummer day, Ger-
trude's fifteenth H'.i, I. ,-.-, that Mr. Trevor having
given his child his fervent blessing and congratula-
tions, told her that he had lately written to the house-
agent, respecting the sea-side villa he had so much
admired the autumn before, and he had almost decided
oni .i1,.1 ,.; it as a gift for her; and as ho spoke,
he handed to her across the table a largo envelope
enclosing a sketch of the house in its completed state.
It was a most tempting-looking abode, with its stone
terrace, large bay-windows, and pahrterro sloping down
to the sea nevertheless, as Gertrude's eyes bent down
upon the design, her cheeks coloured, her long eyelashes
quivered, and at last she said,
Would it cost a great deal, papa ? "
Well, certainly they ask rather a fancy price for
it," returned her father, smiling but it is not the
custom to inquire the price of presents. Don't you
know the old proverb, little lady, Never look a gift
horse in the mouth.' But what is it, my darling ?" con-
tinued Mr. Trevor, seeing Gertrude still colouring and
THE SEA-SIDE HOME.
hesitating to speak again, do not you like the looks
of the place ?"
"Oh, papa, dear papa!" exclaimed Gertrude,
jumping up, and throwing her arms round her father's
neck, it isn't that-the villa is quite lovely, too lovely
-but you haven't heard about mamma's great wish and
mine; and, oh, papa, if you didn't mind, would you
buy a commoner-looking, cheaper house, that would do
for our invalids, and give the rest of the money for
Mr. Trevor, who had not known of the plan,"
begged for an explanation, and on Mrs. Trevor's
enlightening him in a few words, he told Gertrude he
must have time to think the matter over ; then, after
breakfast, having had some further private conver-
sation with his wife, he sent for his little daughter
and told her, that being anxious to give her the birth-
day present she most wished for, he intended to take
her and her mamma to Seacombe to choose a suitable
habitation for their desired scheme. Accordingly, the
next day the Oakford party arrived at Cliffe House,
having quite frightened Mrs. Bonner by the short
notice she had received of their advent, and soon after,
they set out on their exploring expedition.
They found just what they wanted-a plain, un-
pretending, dwelling-house, in an airy, pleasant situa-
tion, in the outskirts of the place, with a good-sized
piece of ground round it, not yet appropriated for
building upon, which might be purchased with it;
moreover, the interior of the house was not completed,
so that any required alterations might be easily made.
Terms were soon made between the buyer and seller,
and Mr. Trevor was delighted to witness the happiness
it had been in his power to confer on his wife and
daughter, the only drawback to his satisfaction being
THE SEA-SIDE HOME.
the relinquishment of the villa ornde, quite a gem in
its way, which he still wished to buy for Gertrude;
but he refrained, because he fully agreed with the
right-judging mother, that self-denial and self-forget-
fulness were attributes which ought to be encouraged
in the character of his little heiress.
The house being chosen, the next step was to
organize the little establishment, make an estimate
of expenses, and appoint a matron. This responsible
post Mrs. Trevor would gladly have conferred on Mrs.
Bonner, but it did not suit either her husband or her,
to leave Cliffe House, though most happy would she
be to give her help and advice whenever it might be
required at the "other house;" so Mrs. Trevor was
making inquiries elsewhere, when one morning Mrs.
Peters came up to the Hall and ili i.. herself for the
But what is to be done with John and the girls ?"
asked Mrs. Trevor, quite taken by surprise.
Well, ma'am," returned Mrs. Peters, John is
quite agreeable to it. Nelly wishes it, and that goes
a long way with him, you know, ma'am; and, to tell
the truth, ma'am, since that trip of John's to Seacombe
last year, he has been somewhat unsettled like; you
know, ma'am, John is of an active, stirring mind. He
took a mighty fancy to the place, and has often since
been saying, that with such a power of building going
on, no one in his trade need ever be in want of work
there; so, though sore to quit Oakford and the dear
cottage, and for many reasons sorry to go, if it pleases
you and the Squire, we have been thinking it is a plan
to suit both you and us, ma'am."
And a capital arrangement it proved in every way.
There could not have been a more efficient, judicious
guardian of the young patients than Lucy Peters.
THE SEA-SIDE HOME.
Marian assisted with the cooking, and kept the accounts
with much exactitude, and in many other ways was a
most valuable assistant, whilst Nelly lent a helping
hand in every department, and was the guide, com-
forter, and support of each ailing one that became in
turn an inmate of the Home.
And John Peters was not disappointed in the
amount of employment he obtained on his own account,
though he always found, or rather made time, to do all
the carpenter's jobs required in the house, and also
kept the garden in such order and brightness, that it
was the admiration of all beholders.
The sick or the sorrowful, and all young crea-
tures, whether hearty and well, or in pain or trouble,
should always have a bit of something cheery to look
upon," said John one day to an acquaintance who was
praising his borders of dazzling hues ; out'ard .. .-. -
have a deal more to do with the in'ard feelings, I
reckon, than many give 'em credit for; and to my mind
there is nothing more gladdening or more soothing
like for the eyes to rest on, than flowers, bright, beau-
tiful -l..- .. i for they are a gift, as it were, that comes
straight down from heaven. Well, whether it be the
lively view, the sea-air blowing so bravely on them,
the wholesome, real good and well-cooked food they
get, or my gay posies, certain sure our little folks
thrive amazingly here, and lay by a power of health
THE SEA-SIDE HOME.
IT was on one of those lovely, balmy days of spring,
always peculiarly delicious by the sea-side, that a
little assemblage might have been seen on a some-
what retired spot of the Seacombe beach, which
could not have failed to attract interest and obser-
vation. Two or three small children in brown
holland blouses and sun-bonnets, were diligently
digging pools in the sand; another little one, very
pale and fragile looking, sat in a perambulator
beside them, watching their performances with great
admiration and increasing animation, whilst a girl
several years older, evidently their constituted
guardian, every now and then directed their atten-
tion to the sparkling blue sea, telling them to see
what a capital dip Susy was taking, or what a brave
good girl Polly was to let Nelly jump her off the step
of the machine how rosy they would look when they
came out, and how they would enjoy their biscuits for
And not far from this group, was another-a gen-
tleman in an invalid chair, stationed in a sheltered
nook, and a tall fair young lady leaning over the back
of the vehicle, whilst walking to and fro at a short
distance from them, -. il 'iD. earnestly to a young man,
was an older lady. The occupant of the chair was
Mr. Trevor, and, alas! his days were numbered. In
the villa which he had wished to give to his daughter
on her fifteenth birthday-now nearly four years ago
-and of which he had afterwards become the pur-
chaser, he had spent nearly the whole of the past
THE SEA-SIDE HOME.
winter, the climate of Seacombe having been recom-
mended as the best hope for prolonging his valuable
life : but nought had availed; and now his great
wish was to return to Oakford-to draw his last
breath in the old home of his ancestors; so on the
morrow he was to leave Seacombe, and he had come
out on this bright spring day to take his farewell of
scenes he had loved from boyhood, and to look at
" Gertrude's children," as lie used playfully to style
the inmates of the Home." As he beheld the little
creatures so ably handling their wooden spades, and
heard their shouts of glee as one big wave after
another flowed into the hole they prepared for it, he
said to his daughter, in his kind but now feeble voice,
"I feel so thankful, my darling, to think that I shall
leave you in such safe hands. I know that Conyers
will make you a good husband, and that he will enter
into all your schemes and works of benevolence; but
even if it were not so, I have made such arrangements
and provision for the Home, as can never be interfered
with. May it ever prosper and afford as much comfort
and relief as it has hitherto done. Since I have seen
how well it works, I have felt very anxious that an
establishment of the same kind, but on a far more
extensive scale, and for older patients, should be
provided; but," he added with a gentle sigh, "my
day is over now."
He bade Gertrude call the little children up to his
chair, spoke a few kindly words to them, and shook
hands with the older girl; then saying he would like
to return home by the Common and by Cliffe House,
,that he might wish Mr. and Mrs. Bonner good-bye, he
was wheeled off the beach on which he was never to
be seen again, his wife and daughter, and the young
Lord Conyers accompanying him back to the villa.
THE SEA-SIDE HOME.
The next day he was amongst the old familiar chalk
hills again, and beheld his far-stretching woods in all
their perfection of vernal beauty but he was content
to go-to leave them all-to give up his splendid
home below for that "house not made with hands,"
so far surpassing the fairest earthly habitation; his
affections were set on the better things prepared for
those that have loved and served their God faithfully
here. Oakford was to belong to Mrs. Trevor for her
life, and he knew how earnestly and well she would
follow out all his wishes and plans for the benefit of
the parish; whilst his daughter and heiress,as the wife
of Lord Conyers, would have a still more extended
sphere of usefulness.
A few more times Mr. Trevor was seen in the
village, stopping in his carriage at the door of some
of the cottages to inquire after an ailing neighbour;
then his drives had to be given up, his loving people
saw his kind face no more, and he only passed through
the great iron park-gates once more, when he was
borne on the shoulders of twelve faithful tenants to
the quiet church, and laid beside his forefathers in the
Sincere and l,: ,1 1.-l sorrow reigned in the county
of Wilts when the death of the good Squire was an-
nounced, and not in his own neighbourhood alone was
he regretted ; his loss was felt to be a general one:
all classes lamented him. Soon after the day of his
funeral, a meeting was held in Lesbury, at which the
principal nobleman of the county filled the chair, to
propose some mark of respect to a memory held so
dear by them all; and it having come to the know-
ledge of Lord B-- what their departed friend had
desired, and been, perhaps, contemplating to achieve-
namely, the establishment of a Convalescent Home for
THE SEA-SIDE HOME.
Adults at Seacombe-he -_ _-.- .I- 1 that a committee
should be formed and subscriptions raised for the
fulfilment of this purpose. The idea was received
with unanimous approbation, and very quickly did
large sums come pouring in to meet the estimated
expenses ; in fact, the amounts exceeded the require-
ment, so that an institution on a more extensive scale
than was at first meditated, was decided on. It was
intended for the benefit of those classes of invalids
who, when no longer requiring a doctor's aid, have
not recovered .,-1.. .1; health and strength to return
to their various duties and occupations, and for whom
sea-air, sea-bathing, and judicious treatment have
been recommended, as a probable means of hastening
and completing their restoration.
And right well has the Trevor Memorial" an-
swered its purpose. Ti.' ,.i1. less imposing in its
outward aspect, less ornamental in architectural style
than many of the institutions for the amelioration of
suffering that adorn our favoured land, scarcely any
other can confer a greater boon, or a, more lasting
benefit than that afforded by the Convalescent Home.
To quote the language of an eminent journal of the
day, it will shorten acute sickness, and often ii,. i..
lo change the whole course and complexion of a
disease in a delicate person. When doctors have ex-
hausted their means of giving tone and strength,
when meat, and wine, and quinine are scarcely seen
to further the patient's progress, a change of
air and sea-breezes, or sea-bathing, will frequently
prove the best tonic of them all. Fresh air and
freedom from anxiety are powerful agents for restor-
Before the Trevor Home" was ready for opening,
Mrs. Bonner, like her late mistress, had become a
THE SEA-SIDE HOME.
widow, and, at Mrs. Trevor's recommendation, was
,..1 the appointment of matron to the institution,
which she accepted, and, as might have been ex-
pected, her system of management proved most
In the meanwhile, the C'!l. .... :'i Home had not
diminished in favour and prosperity; it was, in fact, in
no way eclipsed by the larger luminary. Great as
was the interest Mrs. Trevor felt in the memorial
building, munificent as were Lord and Lady Conyers'
donations to it, the "little Home," with its youthful
patients, their own especial pet and property, and ever
associated with so many tender recollections, could
not fail to be dearest of all to their hearts.
John Peters was at first inclined to be just a wee
bit jealous of the great new bouse, and used to eye
the building when in progress with looks somewhat of
suspicion, but when it was completed, and he heard of
all the good it was doing, the relief and solace it was
constantly : l 1.. .iii he spoke of it as a grand deed
--a very grand deed," and said, for his part he was
right glad that old and young should get the chance
of coming to Seacombe; he should never forget what
it had done for his Nelly-bless her pretty heart, and
God bless them as sent her there And then he
always added-" But ours is the oldest house, you
know-that must never be forgotten. It was planned
and set up by our dear ladies some years before this
new one was ever thought of; the large one sprung
i.:i, ours, so it must always stand first and foremost;
in short, ours is the parent home."
And these few simple words of John's conveyed an
actual fact, for not only did the idea of the Trevor
Memorial originate from its little parent," but most
of the institutions of a similar nature, since established
THE SEA-SIDE HOME.
in other parts of the country, derive their source from
the Children's Home at Seacombe.
And does it not often prove the case that uj -i
beginnings produce great ends, it being the same for
good or for evil? Then ought we not before every
undertaking, whether slight or important, to ask our-
selves the question, Can I expect God's blessing
upon this?" If our hearts and consciences answer
"Yes !" then let us go on bravely and hopefully,
leaving the result to Him who ordereth all things
right and well.
^.-".- w -
THE NORTHCROFT LILIES.
"Give true hearts but earth and sky,
And some flowers to bloom and die,-
Homely scenes and simple views,
Lowly thoughts may best infuse."
UCH a horrid place to go to! I'm sure I
shall hate it !" said Gertrude Layton, when
her elder sister Efie told her that the
living of Northcroft had been given to
their papa, and they would leave London in February.
"It can't be worse than this. No one can call
Newington a very charming place."
Well, perhaps not; but then we know the people,
and there's poor Nancy Besides, Lincolnshire is all
fen. I should not mind so much if it were anywhere
How do you know it is all fen?"
"Why, the Geography says so: 'Lincolnshire is
in many parts a marshy and uninteresting county. A
great quantity of wild-fowl is sent from the fens to the
London markets,' and so it goes on. And then King
John lost his baggage in the fens, and it all sounds so
dreary-sedges-and wild geese-and a dead level-
and the Wash Oh, it's horrid I wish it had been
like Uncle Fred's in Devonshire."
THE NOITIICEOFT LILIES.
"Well, it is done, and we shall have to go; so it
is no use grumbling," said Effie. "'1l i. will be
heaps to do before we go, and it is the tenth of
December now. We shall at least have a garden, I
suppose, fen or no fen; and papa looks so ill and
worn out. I think we ought to be glad for his sake,
But Gertrude did not look glad, neither did she
feel so. Dearly as she loved her papa, this leaving
London was her first trial, and it was to her as if all
the sunshine had gone; and inside and out of the
house everything seemed to her mind wrapped in the
thick December gloom.
Now, if you had asked Effie Layton to describe
Gertrude, she would have most probably replied, Oh,
she is a dear child, but much too impulsive." But
Effie, with all her quiet self-complacency, and the
added wisdom of her greater age and experience, was
very dependent on her little sister's sunny spirits
(though she might not have cared to own it); and
when two days had passed, and Gertrude still moped
and refused to take comfort in anything, Effie bethought
herself of every imaginable thing to rouse her (for she
would not trouble her mamma about it), and then at
last went to the school-room, where Gertrude was
diligently doing penance by practising scales, though
it was Saturday morning, the children's holiday; and
Gertrude herself had often declared it was one thing
that always was, always had been, and always should
be, and nothing would make her work on a day whoso
whole and sole object was amusement.
But here she was this cold morning, with a dis-
contented look ill becoming her round rosy face, and
with little blue fingers working away resolutely when
Effio went up to her.
THE NORTHCROFT LILIES.
"What are you practising for,. Gertrude ? Why,
your fingers are as cold as ice! Come and warm
Effie was usually so calm and cool about things,
and so apt to laugh at any one who cared for such
trifles as cold fingers, that Gertrude's little sensitive
heart was touched by her kindness, and she threw
herself on the hearthrug by her sister's side, and
burst into a passion of tears.
Effie let her cry on. She felt sure she was acting
wisely, and wisdom for once, under the guise of
kindness, answered her purpose well. She thought
Gertrude childish, but she made allowance for her,
and from the heights of her superior calm felt herself
acting quite a motherly part by her little impulsive
sister; and it was very true that no plan could have
suggested itself more likely to turn Gertrude's thoughts
from herself than the one in her mind. Presently she
said, Gertrude, I have an idea in my head I think
you will like. Don't you think it would be nice to
have a Christmas-tree for the school children ?"
Why, Effie, there are three hundred boys and
two hundred and seventy girls! We should want a
dozen trees. Besides, they would not care for Christmas -
trees-it would be no good!"
Effie was slightly taken aback, but, skilful diplo-
matist as she was, she forbore to remark on her
sister's impetuosity. "I meant the infant-school
children, dear," she said.
"Ah well, that's something like! Let me see,
there are a hundred and twenty-nine of them, with
that poor little cripple, Harry White. It would want
an immense tree, though, Effie, and what should we
put on it ?"
Gertrude was thoroughly roused now, and Effie
THE NOETHCROrT LILIES.
felt she had gained her point. "Dolls to begin with,"
"But you hate dressing dolls, Effie !"
"Well, but you don't, and little Lottie would knit
some comforters, I am sure, and the boys might do
something in the holidays; and---
"Oh, I know," interrupted Gertrude. Nurse
said yesterday she dreaded turning out the play
cupboard in the nursery, and she made me so cross,
she told Betsy she should burn all the old pictures in
it. You know there are no end of them, and I was
cross, and told her she shouldn't (as if that would do
any good either !) But now that's capital! You love
messing about with paste, and we can get some un-
bleached calico and make some scrap-books, and I'll
paint some of the pictures. There's the Prince of
Wales's wedding for one, I know. Oh, that will be
first-rate Thank you, dear Effie, you are the very
dearest old girl! I'll run off this very minute, and
the tiresome old scales may take care of themselves,"
and giving her sister a warm hug, off she rushed.
To tell the truth, Effie did not much relish being
told she "loved messing about with paste," because
she knew she pasted, as she did everything else, very
neatly; but she was really glad to have brought a
smile into Gertrude's face again, and was quite de-
lighted with her conquest, for she knew very well if
her little impulsive sister did once undertake a thing
she would go through with it; and so, the first diffi-
culty being surmounted, she would not trouble about
Gertrude rushed upstairs, right to the top of the
house, into the nursery, which looked out over an old
smoke-dried elm-tree, in whose branches the little
dingy sparrows hopped and twittered, and beyond
THE NORTEHOCROT LILIES.
which nothing could be seen, at the best of times,
but roofs and spires, and to-day a dismal fog shut out
all but the tree. Gertrude went to the window for
one moment, and then rushed down again into the
kitchen. Oh, cook, I never fed the birds this
morning!" and snatching up some bread, she was
flying up again, when she met nurse.
"Now, Miss Gertrude," she said, "if you are
going upstairs, I'll thank you not to make a noise,
for baby's only just asleep, and Jane's with the rest,
and your mamma wants me."
"All right, nurse !"
Gertrude scattered the crumbs on the window-
ledge outside, and then, as quietly as she could,
opened the cupboard door, and began to turn over
How many dolls she found with only one leg
apiece, and guiltless of hair!--how many headless
horses, and loose bricks, and lotto cards, it would be
difficult to say; but out of the mass of rubbish, where
skipping-ropes twined affectionately round dilapidated
hoops and forlorn-looking shuttlecocks with only a
feather or two left, and where painted toys of various
descriptions had found a resting-place in an old broken
drum, she managed to pull out many an old picture
once admired, then thrown in carelessly as worthless,
and, all crumpled and untidy, looked very hopeless
"Here's glorious work for Effie!" she said to
herself; she dearly loves making things tidy, and I
am sure she has a famous opportunity now."
Treasure after treasure she pulled out; one after
another she threw aside the broken toys; and when
she heard the door open and a footstep behind her,
she said, gaily, There, nurse, you may clear out the
THE NORTHCROFT LILIES.
cupboard to your heart's content-make a bonfire if
you like; but, oh do just look at these pictures-
isn't it capital ?" and she held up her heap in triumph.
"Why, it's you, papa!" and she sprang up and
"Quietly, pussy, there's baby moving!" but the
young gentleman in the cradle thought better of his
intentions, and went to sleep again. And what are
you going to do with all these pictures?"
Oh, papa, I'll tell you. Effio thinks it would be-
nice to have a Christmas-tree for the infant-school
children, and I am going to dress some dolls, and
Lottie will help; and Effie is going to make these into
scrap-books. And, oh won't it be fun ?"
Capital! And stay, Gertrude, I will give you
something for the tree."
Oh, thank you, papa."
"It is only one thing, and very little; but if you
do not like it you can give it me back," and he put in
his little girl's hand a bright new sovereign.
Oh. you dear, good, darling papa Oh, that is
nice! We can get a splendid tree, and no end of
dolls. I'll ask Effie to go out with me this very after-
noon, and buy them."
Effie was quite willing, and from that day forward
it was wonderful how little the thought of "that
horrid Northeroft" troubled Gertrude. But when
('i In : ,, was over, and the tree, with all its delights.
had become a thing of the past, the dismantling and
packing began in good earnest, and once more the
little girl's heart ,,1. .1 her, and the spirit of discontent
kept her in chains again.
February came, and towards its close Gertrude-
Layton shed a good many tears, for she did not at all
like leaving her old friends; and when she went to,
THE NORTHOCOFT LILIES.
say Good-bye" to poor Nancy Joyce, in White Lion
Court, she was so grave that Nancy, spite of her own
grief, felt constrained to comfort her.
Poor Nancy! it was a sad loss to her, as she well
knew. She could count back a long time of kindness
from all the Layton family. Seven years ago she had
a fall whilst cleaning a window, and this had left her
nearly helpless; she could with difficulty raise herself
to a half-reclining position, and could only use her
hands a very little. The worst was, that there was no
hope that she would ever be better. It had been once
thought that she might be admitted into the Hospital
-for Incurables, but her mother had begged so hard to
keep her at home, the plan was given up. Nancy's
father was dead, and her mother was not very strong.
She went out washing and charming whenever she
could, and the two little boys, Tim and Joe, swept
crossings and sold watercresses-in fact, were glad
of any work that ..f'1. .They were very poor, but on
the whole, the little house was as clean as it could be
-it was too smoke-blackened ever to look clean, but
Mrs. Joyce did her best to keep it so. Mr. and Mi
Layton had been very kind to them, but they were
not rich, and the parish was a large, poor one. Twice
a week usually, either Effie or Gertrude, or perhaps
both, and sometimes little Lottie, would come to see
Nancy. The many-coloured patchwork quilt which
covered her bed was their work, so were the knitted
mittens which kept her poor hands warm; and the
gay pictures and prints from the Illustrated London
Aews, which decorated the walls, had all been hung
there by them or their brothers. No wonder that Nancy
felt sad when she thought how soon the bright faces
would cease to gladden her dingy little room. Truly,
she had more need of consolation than Gertrude, who
THE NORTHICIOFT LILIES.
had a long string of objections to all Nancy's efforts
to comfort her.
"It might be worse, miss. There's freedom and
the wide sky instead of chimneys, and I've heard
grandmother say that, when she lived down in Essex,
they found lovely forget-me-nots in the marshes;
besides, it'll do your papa good, Miss Gertrude, think
of that "
"Yes, Nancy, I know, but how would you like to
have nothing but fields before you, as flat as a pan-
cake, and no hills or anything nice ? Why, in Devon-
shire, the myrtles grow round the house, and the rocks
are so grand."
I should be glad to see green fields at all, Miss
Gertrude," said Nancy. "I don't think I should
mind their being flat. But it's God's will, and He
There was a look of mingled pain and submission
on Nancy's face, which touched Gertrude, and checked
her selfish grumblings, and she spoilt no more of her
farewell visit by them.
The next morning the whole family left King's
Cross. Mr. Layton had just returned from a stay of
three days at Northcroft, and as they went along he
assured Gertrude that Lincolnshire was by no means
all fen. But the little girl of twelve was not convinced,
and thought it was papa's habit of looking on the
bright side, which blinded his eyes. When the train
stopped at Peterborough, they had just time to look
into the cathedral and out again and walk round it.
The busy tongues grew more silent as the train
Look, Gertrude there are your sweet fens," said
Eflie, as they passed Deeping; "the Geography was
right after all."
THE NORTHCOOFT LILIES.
Oh, dear, yes, how horrid! and look at those
pollard willows," as they went swiftly by long rows
of dismal-looking stunted trees.
"This is nothing to what it was on Friday. It
poured with rain all the time, and looked dreary
"And yet you like it; oh, papa "
Not this, Gertrude, but wait till to-morrow.
Northcroft is not like Uncle Fred's, but it's very
"Ah, there is Boston Church," said Mrs. Layton,
as the beautiful tower rose before them.
"That is used as a beacon for ships at sea,"
quoted Gertrude from her beloved Geography.
Was used," interrupted an old gentleman, who
filled the only place in the carriage the Laytons did
not occupy. "The lantern is never used for that
purpose now, but the iron which held the lamp is
"It is a noble church," remarked Mr. Layton, for
Gertrude was slightly abashed.
"The queen of parish churches I call it, but the
southern part of this county abounds in fine churches;
it speaks well for the devotion of the people in old
times, for all the stone had to come from a great
"The sky looks lovely through the windows,"
"Yes," said the old gentleman, but three miles
off I have seen the sunset clouds through them, and
that was better still."
"That is Tattershall Castle," he said, as they
passed a massive red-brick, turreted building, with
a fair background of trees, and a church close by.
It is flat enough still," said Gertrude privately
THE NORTHOCOFT LILIES.
to her mamma, "and I don't think the Witham is
much of a river."
Presently Mr. Layton said, "Now, Gertrude, look
Oh, papa, how beautiful What is it ?"
What should it be but Lincoln and the cathe-
Oh, mamma--Effie-do look it's quite on a hill
oh, it is beautiful, and so high, too "
"Yes," said the old gentleman, "there is a tole-
rable view from that centre tower; I managed the
ascent once when I was young, but I shall not try
again, I think," and he laughed. "Lincoln is a.
quaint old city, full of old gates and other anti-
quities," he added.
Take me over the cathedral some day, papa."
"Very likely I shall, if I see you happy and
The view of the fine old cathedral, crowning so
grandly the hill which rises abruptly from the level
ground, rather moderated Gertrude's ideas about the.
county, and her frame of mind became more hopeful.
The old gentleman left them at Lincoln. The
Laytons were going about eighteen miles further, and
the short February day had merged into evening
before they reached Westcroft, which was a little
town distant from the village of Northcroft about
It was dark when they arrived at the Recory.
Some of the rooms were ready, for cook and Jane
had been very busy that day and the day before; but
there would be plenty to do to-morrow, as Mr. Layton
remarked, when he kissed his tired children and
wished them good night.
It poured with rain next morning when they
THE NORTHCROFT LILIES.
awoke, and the place looked dreary, certainly; but
the two girls set to work with willing hearts and
hands, and when evening closed in the house began
to wear a look of home. The rain lasted three days,
and Gertrude was inclined to ask if it always rained;
but papa spoke : .'.p.;.llI and Saturday morning
dawned fair and bright, and Mrs. Layton and the
.children went with Mr. Layton on a voyage of dis-
The Rectory was a good house, but quite new, and
therefore, to a certain extent, wanting in beauty, for
the walls were bare, and the shrubs in the garden were
mostly young. It faced south, and- looked over-not
quite a dead level-but something like it. There were
a few small trees scattered here and there in the
hedgerows, and quite in the distance, making a deter-
mined grey mark against the sky, were the towers of
There is Lincoln," said Mr. Layton.
Oh, papa '" said Effie. It is eighteen miles off.
How can we see it ? We are quite on level ground."
"But it is not; and have you forgotten, Effie,"
said her father reverently, a city that is set on a hill
cannot be hid."
Well, I don't mind the flat ground so much, if
we can only see it!" exclaimed Gertrude, "but I don't
think this is the best view," and she was right.
To the left of the house was a wood of larches and
oaks, which bent round so that it nearly enclosed the
back as well. This wood stretched six or seven miles
eastward, and was for the most part on slightly rising
ground. But quite in the north, and stretching far
out into the west, to Gertrude's unbounded delight
were hills-real, rough, i 1.,1 hills, with the sunlight
making broad patches of light and shade on them;
THE NOIRTHCROFT LILIES.
while here and there a few clustering trees, with a few
houses, marked the whereabouts of some village, and
two or three churches stood out like landmarks half
way up the hills, where two or three white roads looked
like winding ribbons against the grey background.
Are those the North Wolds ?"
"Yes; and brave old hills they are," said Mr.
Layton. "Look, there is Northcroft Hall-Sir Charles
Northcrofb's place-that white house with the trees
Nearer home the view was nothing remarkable-
grazing land, and fields with the corn just springing.
There were not many trees, but the church, with its
neat little spire, and quiet, well-kept graveyard, looked
fair and peaceful. Altogether it was better than Ger-
trude had anticipated.
It might be worse," she said, as she came in.
"Worse, indeed !" replied her father. Think of
those woods; James tells me they are full of lilies of
the valley in the spring."
"Lilies of the valley! oh, papa !" and thence-
forward Gertrude felt nearly contented. This was
delightful indeed !
The novelty was a great help to the children in
wearing off their grief at losing old friends, and, as
Nancy had said, the wide sky for chimneys was a
pleasant exchange. Then the rambles through the fir
woods between home and Westcroft, where they could
run and shout to their hearts' content, were much
pleasanter than the studied walks in London ; and even
Betsy, the nursemaid, ceased to regret her much ad-
mired Kennington Park. These woods were carpeted
with soft, dry fir-needles, and were always fit for
walking in, and Effie said the sound of the wind, as it
swayed the pine boughs, was like the distant sea.
THE NORTHCROFT LILIES.
There was a fund of amusement, too, in the village.
The old women-Gertrude declared-were delightful;
and their way of speaking so very odd, sometimes she
could scarcely understand what they said. They were
training the choir, too, and Mr. Layton was already
looking better, so that by the middle of March
Gertrude was nearly reconciled to Northcroft, though
she often wished she could see poor Nancy, and she
lamented that the poor girl could not use her hands to
write, and thus she had no news of her; but she tried
to make up by writing to her, and telling all she
thought likely to interest her, and the first violets the
children gathered found their way to Nancy.
Lessons, too, with Effie they did not mind. They
had had a daily governess in London, but Effie was
now nearly eighteen, and quite able to teach her
younger sisters. She was very methodical and par-
ticular, and Gertrude and Lottie were so very lively
and careless, her task was not always easy; but she
was patient, and mamma took care she was not over-
worked, and indeed herself superintended the studies.
Early in April, Mrs. Layton said, was the time for
primroses; and James, the old groom and gardener,
said there were no end in the wood at the side of the
house, but the keepers were strict, and Sir Charles
particular, and he shook his head when the little girls
said they thought they might go-they would not do
Gertrude beset her papa. I'm sure Sir Charles
would let us go; he is the dearest old gentleman. Do
ask him, papa."
But there seemed no opportunity; at least none
offered, till one afternoon, when Mr. Layton and Ger-
trude were walking on the Westeroft Road, up came
Sir Charles on horseback.
TnH NORTHCROFT LILIES.
Gertrude was in a twitter of delight ; and when
after all nothing had been said about the woods, and
the horse seemed impatient, she squeezed her papa's
hand, and he understood and said, My little girls
have heard of the primroses in the Northcroft woods,
and are all eagerness to go ; but there are dark hints
respecting the keepers, and we fear they might be
trespassing. Would you mind the young ones going
, Sir (' .. ?"
"Not at all! not at all! The keepers are parti-
cular, I know, but Bramford has orders to give any
one leave who asks: but your little girls are welcome
to go at any time, and the woods are full of lilies in
May. I hope you will let them go whenever they like,
Thank you very much."
You see," continued Sir Charles, it is the boys
that do the harm-the young rascals they Id -lI..;-
the young trees, and startle the game, and that doesn't
Certainly not. I think I can promise for my
children that they will be quiet and orderly eh,
Oh yes, papa 1" and Gertrude looked the picture
of shy happiness.
And must we keep to any particular part ?"
Go anywhere you please. And as for the lilies,"
he added, turning to Gertrude with a smile-which
confirmed her in her opinion that he was the dearest
old gentleman in the world -" you may clear the
woods if you like it is a pity they should bloom every
year, and give no one any pleasure."
'.!,. this, nearly every fine day, an hour or two
was spent in the woods, which were fast becoming very
lovely in their spring dress; and though in the search
THE NORTHICOFT LILIES.
for primroses they did not go very far, the girls were
delighted with all they saw. There were other trea-
sures besides primroses; the ground was spangled
with wood anemones and bluebells, and the tall spikes
of the purple orchis were plentiful. It was very plea-
sant, too, to hear the sound of the crackling leaves
under their feet, and to listen to the soft cooing of the
wood-pigeons in the distance.
But when May came, and the lilies were in bloom,
Northcroft was in perfection, and one bright morning
Mr. Layton and the three girls set off for the woods in
high spirits. The lilies did not grow quite at the
entrance of the wood, but after they had gone about
half a mile a few scattered broad smooth leaves
appeared, and a little [i, i, -, on they grew in abun-
dance. Mr. Layton sat down on the trunk of a tree
just felled, and watched the fair scene before him.
Broad grass-grown paths, bordered on either side
with pale brown-leaved oaks and delicate green
larches, while here and there a silver birch drooped
its. graceful boughs over the narrow ditches which
separated the paths from the wood. Three roads met
where he sat: the one to the right leading" down-
wards in the direction of the Rectory; that to the
-_. ent only a little distance, and then again branched
off in '.-i-I. i,., directions; but immediately before him
the green road descended less gradually, and then rose
again much steeper on a i.J1..l. crowned with larches,
till it nearly hid the wolds from view. Just where the
morning sun rested in golden glory on the trees near
the top of the opposite hill was a church tower, and
Mr. Layton was thinking how fair a scene it was, and
how peaceful after the turmoil of his London life,
when Gertrude burst upon him.
"Oh, papa, isn't that a lovely glads ? but oh, do
THE NORTHCROFT LTLIES.
look here !" and she threw an abundance of lilies out
of her frock and sat on the ground to arrange them.
"Papa, don't you think it would be nice if we
could send some lilies to Nancy?"
"Very; but it is vain to wish."
"Oh no, papa; I've arranged it all, if you and
mamma don't mind. I know she has a tin biscuit
canister she could spare, and I could fill it quite full,
and shut it up tight, so that they wouldn't fade; and
I am sure Miss Campion would take them to the poor
people, and I should like Mrs. Nelson to have some,
and poor old Mrs. Gray, and Nancy, and Miss Cam-
pion herself: I think it would be so nice."
"Yes, I think it would."
"That's right, papa; then I may send them?"
"Wait a little. WYho is to take the box to West-
croft ? it ought to go by the 5.30 train."
We could walk, papa; Effie and I."
"Five miles? No, indeed: but I think I could
"Oh, but I know he is busy."
"Never mind; it is a kind thought, and the lilies
will give the poor people pleasure: but there will be
the carriage to pay."
"Oh, well, papa, I've lots of money; I'll manage
everything if only I may," and Gertrude tied up her
So by that evening train the little tin box travelled
up to town, and in due time next day was received
safe and sound by Miss Campion, who was only too
glad to be able to assist in giving the pleasure
which must come, she thought, with such fair offer-
And she was right. Poor old Mrs. Gray's wrinkled
face grew very bright as the flowers were placed in her
THE NOITHOROFT LILIES.
hand; and Nancy's eyes had a glad look in them as
they rested on the sweet, delicate blossoms, and broad,
cool leaves which lay on the patchwork quilt; and she
was busy arranging them when Miss Brooke, the new
clergyman's only daughter, came in.
Oh, what lovely lilies !"
"Yes, ma'am, Miss Gertrude has just sent them,
they're very t-,. tit.i ; do please take some, ma'am,"
Oh, thank you; but I should rob you, Nancy."
But Nancy, with her long thin fingers, tied a few
drooping sprays together with some beautiful leaves,
and placed them in the lady's lap.
Oh, thank you, Nancy I shall prize them very
much, and they remind me of my old home;" and the
thought of happy days gone by in the woods near
Cheltenham gave a slight tone of sadness to her voice
which Nancy detected.
"Miss Gertrude says the Northcroft woods are full
of them; she wrote to me last week."
"Is she the tall, grave-looking Miss Layton?"
inquired Miss Brooke.
"No, ma'am, that's Miss Effie; she is very kind,
and good, and thoughtful, but I like Miss Gertrude
best. She is the middle one-the one with light hair
and dark blue eyes;" and Nancy did not feel she could
say any more about Miss Gertrude just then, so heavily
did the thought press upon her that her little friend
was miles and miles away.
"There is a little one, is there not?"
"Yes; Miss Lottie: she is seven; she was born
just when I had my accident; she is a very funny little
girl. And the young gentlemen are very nice-Master
John (he comes next to Miss Effie) and Master Frank-
they used to come in the holidays. I've a little basket
THE NORTHCEOrT LILIES.
Master Frank cut out of a cocoa-nut for me, it's on
Miss Brooke duly admired it. "And you have
been lying here seven years ?" she asked.
"It is a long time."
"It might be worse, ma'am; I can use my hands
a little, and I cheer mother up a bit when she's down."
"I suppose you cannot work much?"
"Not much, ma'am, my hands get tired so soon;
but I can do most of what there is," and, she might
have added, that was very little.
Can you do tatting ?"
"No, ma'am, what is it?"
"I will show you ;" and Miss Brooke took a little
bag out of her pocket and produced a small ivory
shuttle and a ball of cotton.
"I know a lady who likes tatting edging; she
always buys it; and I think I could get you an order if
you knew how to do it."
I ... followed a lesson on the first principles of
tatting, and Nancy learned the stitch very quickly.
"Now I will leave you this shuttle and cotton, and
then you can practise; and when you can manage it
fairly I will teach you a pattern, and you can do a
little at a time."
Nancy was very happy when Miss Brooke left
with her lilies and her work. Oh, if she could only
earn enough to help her mother a little, how thankful
she would be !"
And the clergyman's daughter walked home lighter
hearted than she had left it. She was young-only
eighteen-but she had her anxieties. Mr. Brooke was
a widower, and the care of four young brothers fell
very much to his daughter's share. Sometimes, too,
THE NORTHOROTT LILIES.
in other things she did not see her way clear, and was
apt to worry about probabilities, and anticipate troubles
a little. But the sweet, pure lilies of the valley had a
message for her; and that night, when the children
had gone to bed and all was quiet, she grouped her
treasures artistically on the table, and began to draw.
She could only finish the sketching that night; but as
Mr. Brooke looked over her shoulder, and saw the
dim outline of a cross resting on some lilies, he did
not wonder at the words his daughter had chosen for
the scroll entwining them. They were these, ._, I!
He not much more care for you ? "
Sweet, comforting words! and Mary mused on
them as she drew. Her mother had died two years
ago, when she was only sixteen, and none but those
whose sorrow it has been to be thus early left mother-
less can know how, or in what measure, the shadow
of bereavement darkened her young life. Being the
eldest of five children, and the only girl, she had been
her mother's companion, and her right hand with the
younger ones; and no wonder that, when weeks of
painful illness and wearying anxiety were ended by
that mother's death, Mary was changed from the light-
hearted girl, who had hitherto known neither joy nor
sorrow unshared all her life long. True, there was her
father left-her dear, good father-who was always
ready with affectionate counsel and kind approval, and
encouraged her to bring her difficulties to him that he
might help her. But there were many cares pressing
upon her which seemed too trivial to trouble him
with, and many a little disturbance with the boys and
annoyance from the servants she kept to herself;
while the difficulties of her position as head of the
motherless household bowed down her spirits, and gave
her an air of weariness which was not natural to her.
THE NORTH1OOFT LILIES.
At sixteen life looks very bright before us; we are
quick to see, and feel, and realize; and just in pro-
portion as we enjoy what is pleasant, so do we feel
what is painful. We feel it is hard to have the
brightness of life clouded; we question, Why is it so?
And unless, with childlike faith, we place trusting
hands in our heavenly Father's, and learn to love and
follow Him, and seek first his will before our own, we
are liable to faint and fall by the way, and either give
up effort and grow despondent, or else recklessly take
the reins of government into our own hands, and in
the end make ourselves and every one else miserable,
and miss the good which life always brings with it to
those who take it as a talent to be used and accounted
for, and not a light and vain thing for which we are
Then, leaving the dear old Gloucestershire village
to come to London had been a trial quite as great to
Miss Brooke as it had been to the Laytons to leave
London for Lincolnshire, and the many different kinds
and degrees of poverty struck her painfully with the
conviction of her own inability to relieve; the girls,
too, in her Sunday-school class were so wonderfully
sharp and quick, and so inclined to be self-opinionated,
that sometimes she felt her daily task exceedingly
heavy, and she had yet to learn the full meaning of
the words, Cast thy burden upon the Lord."
As ten o'clock struck that May evening, Mary put
away her pencils, replaced her precious lilies in water,
and took up her little lamp to look round the house,
and see all safe for the night. On her return with the
key-basket in her hand, she went into the study.
Mr. Brooke was there reading; he looked grave as
usual, but a kind arm encircled his daughter's waist
as she came and leant over his shoulder.
THE NORTHCROFT LILIES.
Good night, dear papa," she said.
Something in the tone struck her father.
Are you tired, my darling ?"
No, papa; at least, not very. I was thinking."
"Of what?" he asked.
Of all the burdens there are to bear in every
one's life, and it tires me to think of."
'Of all the burdens in every one's life!' that
may well tire you, Mary. No man can bear all the
burdens-that is God's work, dearest. But.what made
you think of them ? Not the words I saw you drawing
"No, and yet partly, I think; but I have been
wondering about it all day. First I went to see
Grace Brown, the eldest girl in my Sunday class you
know, papa. I wanted to tell her not to make the
others laugh, but she did not seem to mind at all, and
only said she couldn't answer for keeping quiet if
anything funny struck her at the time.' And then
her mother said it was hard she should be found fault
with; she couldn't help being sharper than the others;
and girls couldn't always look solemn.' She was
really impertinent, papa, and I have taken such pains
"Well, that was trying; but don't despair, you
may do a great deal yet. What next ?"
Then I went to see Nancy Joyce."
She was not impertinent ?"
Oh, dear, no she is quite different. But what
a burden her life must be! Her mother looks very
delicate, and yet she must work; and the two little
boys! I know Nancy troubles about them a good
deal, and she herself lying there so helpless. And it
is not really as if she were idle or lazy; one can
easily see she has plenty of energy, and that must be
THE NORTHICROFT LILIES.
dreadfully hard, to be 'i---1,1-g to work and yet so
"True, my child."
"And then I went to see old Mrs. Meredith, and
she told me a long story about her son, or rather the
son's wife. She has always treated her unkindly, and
now she is giving her husband no peace because he
will not send her to the workhouse; and the poor old
body cried so! And, do you know, I felt her sorrow
was worse than Nancy's, because Nancy does try to
be patient, and finds comfort in the Bible. But
Mrs. i...... does not see it; she thinks God deals
hardly with her."
"Poor woman! she misses the blessing which
keeps Nancy from sinking."
"And oh, papa, it is so hard! I can do nothing
to help-and there are ever so many others in the
parish-that Mrs. Jones, the washerwoman, with her
drunken husband; oh, why is it so?"
Mary, do you remember once when you were a
very little girl I would not let you go to the Nortons ?"
"Well, I can scarcely expect you should, you were
only three years old; but you were going to Mrs.
Norton's, and I knew the day before that scarlet fever
was raging close by there, and I would not let you go."
"And was I tiresome?"
"No; you shed a few tears, and then only said,
'Mary knows papa loves her:' that taught me a
Mary kissed her father, she could do nothing else
"We have not to do with the why, dearest; there
are many perplexities and mysteries even in the natural
world: how the flowers grow-how the sun shines-
TRE NDOTHC15OFT IIES.
how the rain falls. We may go into science, and learn
a great deal; but, with all the knowledge it gives us,
everything is a mystery still. Only this we do know,
our loving Father rules the world, and we know His
way is perfect:' '-He hath done all things well.'"
S...- knew her father had had much experience in
sorrow, and did not think lightly of the burdens she
spoke of. Presently she said, "But all one's life
seems a burden, papa; and just think what has to be
gone through before the end-the threescore years
and ten, if we should live so long! I think I should
be glad to get over it without going through it."
Mr. Brooke opened a Bible which lay before him,
and read, Take no thought for the morrow."
Yes, papa, I know it."
"But you don't practise it, Mary."
There was silence then for awhile. kMr. Brooke
laid his hand fondly on his daughter's bowed head,
and when he spoke again it was to read, Casting all
your care upon Him, for He careth for you."
But, papa, all one's care Is it right, can it be
reverent, to bring to God every little thing that trou-
bles one ? A great affliction I can understand praying
to be resigned under ; but all these little worries oh,
papa, why I would not even trouble you with them."
"And yet the little worries make up a considerable
sum; and how are we to meet great trials if we do not
turn the little ones to account?"
I was still unconvinced, and said so !.-. u,1---.
S1.-.Brooke quoted again, "In everything, by prayer
and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests
be made known unto God; and the peace of God, which
passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and
minds through Christ Jesus." You see, my child,
the peace comes after we cast off the burden: now we
THE NORTHOCOFT LILIES.
cannot 'rejoice always' if we carry every little fretting
care about with us."
"But the trials are so little, papa !"
Are they too little to disturb your quietude of
mind ? Are they too insignificant to make you cross?"
Mary did not answer at first; she did not like the
word-who does? especially at eighteen. When we
have lived longer, and know ourselves better, we find
that, harsh and disagreeable as the term crossness"
is, it is more true than all its counterfeits, of which
" vexation," "wounded feeling," and "nervousness,"
carry away the palm.
But if Mary was proud, she was also honest; and
by-and-by she lifted up her head. "Papa, the wor-
ries often do make me cross I know, and to be cross is
wrong; then what can I do ?"
"Do this, my child. If the worries, small though
they seem, have power to affect your temper, you must
turn them to good account and let them help you in
the cultivation of patience. He that ruleth his spirit
is greater than he that taketh a city,' and we cannot
rule the spirit in our own strength: to turn the care
into a blessing we must cast it on God. We talk of
bearing the cross; but if we do not bear it cheerfully,
accepting it humbly and in loving faith, we do not
take it up, we let it lie in our path; and thus what
might be our greatest blessing becomes a stumbling-
block. But it is late, my child. Good night."
"Good night, papa."
"God bless you, dearest! and think of the lilies:
'Shall He not much more care for you?'"
Mary did think of them. She had told her father
of only a few of her difficulties; to-night she told them
all to her heavenly Father, and as she remembered
how she had been helped before and guided in her
THE NORTHCROFT LILIES.
perplexities, she took courage, and her last thought
that night was one nearly new to her-" I will trust,
and not be afraid."
And downstairs in the study the hard-worked
clergyman was reproaching himself bitterly for so
often neglecting to practise the lesson he had been
endeavouring to teach his daughter. Truly, with such
a parish, added to the care of his motherless children,
his task was not an easy one. It did not affect him as
it did Mary, for outwardly he was patient and gentle
always; but he asked himself now, How much more
at leisure to help and comfort others his heart would be
if he trusted more in God's unfailing power and love,
and asked less frequently, in despondency of spirit,
"Who is sufficient for these things?"
There came to him presently-like the melody of
a song of which we cannot recollect the words-a
remembrance which could not satisfy him until he had
sought out verses whose beauty he knew, and when
he had found them he turned them into a prayer:-
O'Lord, how happy should we be We cannot trust Thee as we should;
If we could cast our care on Sochafesweaknsture'srestlessmood
Thee, To cast its peace away;
If we from self could rest; But birds and flowerets round us
And feel at heart that One above, preach,
In perfect wisdom, perfect love, All, all the present evil teach
Is working for the best. Sufficient for the day.
How far from this our daily life, Lord, make these faithless hearts
How oft disturbed by anxious of ours [flowers;
strife, Such lessons learn from birds and
By sudden wild alarms; Make them from self to cease;
Oh, could we but relinquish all Leave all things to a Father's will,
Our earthly props, and simply fall And taste, before Him lying still,
On thine Almighty arms! E'en in affliction peace.
And then an answer came into his mind-an inbreathing
of strength from the Great Comforter himself-" Our
sufficiency is of God."
THE NORTHCROFT LILIES.
Live for to-day! to-morrow's light
To-morrow's cares shall bring to sight;
Go sleep like closing flowers at night,
And heaven thy morn will bless."
IT was Monday morning at Northcroft-the Monday
following the week in which Gertrude had sent the
lilies to London-and the Layton family were at break-
fast. Gertrude was rather silent the first part of the
time, then she burst out, "Mamma! how much do
you think a bunch of those lilies would sell for in
"That depends on the size," said Mrs. Layton;
and Effie remarked, "Are you turning mercenary,
Gertrude ignored the question. "Well, but,
mamma, you know; a nice little bunch-not too
many-a leaf or two and a few flowers, like those on
your dressing table ?"
"I really don't know, Gertrude; I had too much
to do with my money in London to buy flowers."
Flora Keith had some once at a soirue at school,"
said Effie; hr brother got them for her in Covent
Garden; there was a moss-rose too: they were eighteen
"Well, then, without the rose, we'll say that's
Oh, mamma I've got such a plan in my head."
And then she stopped; she had been thinking about
it ever since yesterday afternoon, and now she had
THE NORTHOROFT LILIES.
the opportunity of unfolding it, she did not know how
Papa came to her aid, Let us hear it, Ger-
"Well, but-don't laugh, Effie. It's only this:
don't you think we could send a basket filled with
lilies to Nancy ?"
"Nancy could not sell them," said Effie.
"No, but the boys could; and a hamper would
They are in no special need that we know of just
"No, but they may be; and they could lay the
"There's forethought!" said Effie.
"How much is 'lots'?" said Mr. Layton.
"Why, papa, you know; heaps I mean:" and
poor Gertrude, rather at a loss to express herself,
grew very red.
"I don't think Tim and Joe could sell them for
ninepence a bunch, Gertrude," said her mother.
" Suppose you say threepence."
Oh, mamma, and those beautiful lilies !"
There would be more prospect of selling them if
you fixed a low price, than there would be with a high
one; that is what I mean, dearest." For Mrs. Lay-
ton was always ready to sympathize with her little
girl's kind intentions.
Well, then, I should think we could send enough
to make a hundred bunches. A hundred bunches at
threepence each-let me see: that would be-a hun-
dred pence are eight and fourpence; two hundred,
sixteen and eightpence; three hundred, twenty-five
-h;ii,,o--one pound five! Oh, that would be nice,
mamma, wouldn't it ? It would help poor Mrs. Joyce
THE NORTHCROFT LILIES.
so; and Miss Campion said Nancy was not very well,
the spring weather tried her."
Dear me, Gertrude you are very quick with your
figures this morning," said Effie, who knew quite well
that Gertrude very much disliked arithmetic.
Set the heart to guide the head, and there is no
knowing what may be done," said papa; and Gertrude
treasured up his words.
"And who is to gather these 'heaps' of lilies ?"
"Oh, papa, I will!" exclaimed Gertrude.
"And me too !" said Lottie.
Gertrude had not thought of this. She was apt to
be rather selfish, even in her generosity; and as she
had lain awake planning all about the lilies no one had
entered into her mind to help in the scheme but her-
self. But the selfish thought was gone in a moment,
and she answered, "Thank you, Lottie."
But Effie must be considered," said Mrs. Layton;
"I can't allow another holiday this week, and if you
spend a day in the woods you must have school on
"I should not mind, mamma."
"No, but Effie might."
Oh, she won't, I'm sure; will you, Effie ?"
Effie did not, as a rule, like to be put out of the
way when her plans for regular work were made; and
she had, in her own mind, fixed some employment for
the week's one free day. But with two such eager
faces before her she forgot her methodical exactness,
and said cheerfully, "I don't mind, mamma; one day
is as good as another."
Oh, thank you, Effie."
"Then we may go to-day?"
"Yes, as soon as you like; and I will give you a
hamper that will hold a great many lilies."
THE WORTHOROFT LILIES.
"Thank you, dear mamma."
And I will lend you James to take them to West-
There's a dear, good papa!!" and Lottie clapped
her little fat hands.
Stay it is no great goodness, Gertrude; James
was going with the cart to Westcroft, so it is just
"There will be the carriage to pay."
"Oh, yes, Effie, I know; but I've twelve and two-
pence halfpenny, I want to do it."
Then suppose you go at once," said Mrs. Layton;
" ask cook to find all the baskets she can, and I will
come to the woods too."
Presently Gertrude rushed into the room again.
" Mamma, oh, where's mamma ? Oh, there you are !"
as she ran out again. "Mamma, Jane says, if you
don't mind, she'll do Betsy's work, and then the little
ones and Betsy could go too with the perambulator;
and Betsy wants to help, because she has seen Nancy
Mamma had no objection, so the party set out,
with a warning hint from papa not to make too much
noise and frighten the game.
Gertrude and Lottie were at the entrance of the
wood long before Mi s. Layton and Effie came up, and
were consequently rather impatient; but, once within
the gate, off they ran, leaving the rest to follow; and
by the time the perambulator and Mrs. Layton reached
them they had already gathered a good many lilies.
Mrs. Layton was tired, and sat down by the baby,
and little Bertie ran after Betsy. It was a beautiful
day; the soft air was full of fragrance, and scarcely
stirred the birches' drooping leaves, and the sun shone
joyously on the bright green larches and their pink
TIHE NORTHCIOFT LILIES.
buds. N, i- and then a squirrel ran down a tree and
peeped about him; and the stock-dove's plaintive
cooing alternated with bursts of melody from the
thrushes and blackbirds. In and out between the
trees the children flitted, and now and then an immense
handful of lilies would be held up for mamma to see
before being deposited in the basket. Once a phea-
sant rose up with a great whirr" quite near them,
and she remembered Mr. Layton's caution; but the
children were unusually quiet, she thought, and she
forbore to remark on her alarm, and it was not
repeated. Hands moved by loving, willing hearts can
indeed do marvellous things; and when the party
brought their spoils to I -.. Layton she was quite
"I think you have done famously. These will
quite fill the hamper; and look I have not been idle,
I have gathered all this lovely feathery moss; it will
keep them damp and fresh."
Oh, thank you, mamlma!"
Have you plenty of leaves ?"
"Yes; Effie reminded us; she said we wanted a
leaf to every three 11 -: ."
"And did you count?"
"Mamma! how could we?" said little Lottie;
" but we have ever so many, and we are going to take
them home on the perambulator's apron."
Going out of the wood, Mr. Layton met them.
"Well done !" he called out, "there will be more than
a hundred threepences here, I think, Gertrude."
"Oh, do you think so? Well, the more the
The lilies were taken to the schoolroom, where the
hamper was ready-such a large one Little Bertie
could only just look into it as it stood on the floor.
THE NORTHCOOFT LILIES.
"Now for the moss, to begin with," said mamma;
and she laid some lightly at the bottom.
What a joyous packing that was First a layer of
leaves, and then one of lilies ; and Effie, with her neat
fingers, filled up the corners cleverly, and Gertrude
and Lottie brought the flowers; and not an impatient
word or sign marred the pleasure of their act of love.
At last it was finished all but the moss at the top, and
papa was called in to look and admire. Good girls I"
"Me too, papa !" said little Bertie, who had pulled
some tiny lily bells close off with his chubby little
fingers and thrown them in, and his loving sisters
would not disturb them.
"And you too, Master Bertie!" and the bright
little fellow sat on papa's knee while Gertrude wrote
her little note to Nancy. Then came the moss, and the
fastening up of the hamper, and happy indeed was
Gertrude when she directed it in her boldest round
NA Co JOYCE,
6, White Lion Court,
and put a great PAID and the date in the corner. From
first to last it had been a joyous task, and her momen-
tary selfishness concerning it had melted away in the
warmth of the willing love which all had shown in the
work, so that she did not even grumble when her
sisters begged they might share the carriage with her;
and Mr. Layton was glad to see this, for he knew that
Gertrude rather liked to be first and all-important.
At last the hamper was fairly off under James's
THE NORTIICROFT LILIES.
care, and when the children went to bed Gertrude
said she thought she had never spent such a happy
That same afternoon Nancy was lying back on her
pillows, wearied with the heat, and anxious. Her
mother was not very well, and, worse still, had nothing
to do. There was not a penny in the house, and the
boys would have nothing to buy watercresses with
to-morrow, and she always troubled so when they had
nothing to do; she could not help thinking of the
temptations to steal which fell in their way. Poor
Nancy! she knew herself it was hard to be hungry;
but oh! how much harder it must be for the boys, she
thought. Her lilies were drooping too, and she felt
sad as she looked at the brown cups which had been
so creamy white when Miss Campion brought them.
"It is the close room," she thought; and then came a
quiet sigh as she shut her eyes and longed for a breath
of fresh air.
She dozed off presently, and Miss Brooke, who
came in with a parcel in her hand, said she was afraid
she had disturbed her.
Oh, no, ma'am; I'm very glad to see you."
"The lilies are fading I see, Nancy."
"Yes, ma'am; pretty things don't last long :" and
Miss Brooke felt grieved as she noticed the girl's care-
I have brought you something that will last,"
she said, and unfolding her parcel, she placed before
Nancy a beautiful illumination in an Oxford frame.
"Oh, how beautiful! they look like real."
It was certainly comforting for weary eyes to gaze
upon-thab dark oak cross resting on the fair white
!i.. -, and their smooth, broad leaves; and the words
beneath-Nancy's eyes filled with tears as she read
THE NOTHOCROFT LILIES.
them-"Shall He not much more care for you?"
The tears flowed fast down her pale cheeks as Miss
Brooke put it down on the bed. "I can't help it,
ma'am," she said, "I am so happy and pleased; but it
makes me think how ungrateful I am and distrust-
Miss Brooke saw the tears were a relief, and she
did not check them. Presently she said, Shall I hang
"Oh, please, ma'am; but it's troubling you," she
said, and I don't know if we've any nails."
But the lady had brought one with her with a
brilliant brass head; and the painting was hung oppo-
site the head of the bed, just where Nancy's gaze
would most naturally fall, and then Miss Brooke sat
down. "How does the tatting go on?" she asked.
Nancy produced about half a yard.
That's very well done. Now I will show you a
nice easy pattern-there!" and she watched her
pupil's efforts with much satisfaction.
"Now, Nancy, if you can do six yards of that, I
can get you sixpence a yard for it; but don't hurry, it
will be no good if you tire yourself."
That night Nancy was almost happy. She was
hungry, certainly, and that made her feel weak and
languid; but Tim had earned a halfpenny by holding a
gentleman's horse, and had bought some bread with it,
and a neighbour had given Joe his tea, and she and
her mother could better endure to want if the children
were satisfied. She was so delighted with the thought
of being able to earn a little money, she felt impatient
for the morning light that she might begin. Mrs.
Joyce, poor woman! wearied with a day's fruitless
search for work, nearly tempted her.
"Oh, child," she said, the money's sure for that
THE NORTHROBOPT LILIES.
fine work; couldn't we get some bread and pay after-
No, mother, it isn't sure; I may not finish it,
perhaps I shan't be able; and oh, mother, let's keep
out of debt !"
"Poor child it's you as suffers most: but I'll say
no more. What did you say the lady had written
under the lilies ? it was dark when I came in."
"' Shall He not much more care for you? "'
There was confidence in Nancy's tone as she re-
peated the text slowly and reverently, and poor Mrs.
Joyce rested her wearied mind on the thought of God's
care for the flowers, and soon fell asleep: before long,
Nancy slumbered peacefully by her side.
The morning dawned bright and beautiful, and the
soft May sunshine stole even into White Lion Court,
but Tim grumbled: "If it would only rain !" he said.
"There ain't no need for crossings weather like this;"
and he and Joe went out breakfastless and cross, poor
boys to look out for what might happen.
"There isn't a farthing in the house, Nancy child;
and you'd no dinner yesterday."
Never mind, mother, I can't help feeling God
will send us help: we'll wait a little."
Mrs. Joyce had, alas no work from home, so she
took her kettle to a neighbour's to boil, and then began
to wash. Nancy took up her tatting and did a few
stitches, resting occasionally, for her arms were very
weak this morning.
It was eleven o'clock, and Mrs. Joyce was washing
in silence, for she was too hungry and sorrowful to
talk, when a man's voice was heard in the court-
"Nancy Joyce! any one tell me where Nancy Joyce
Oh, mother, he's calling for me."
"Here !" said Mrs. Joyce, going to the door, and
THE NTORTHCROFT LILIES.
wiping her hands on her apron, "she's my daughter;
what do you want with her ?"
Here's a hamper for her," said the man, and he
placed it inside the door.
"But I haven't had a hamper since my poor
husband died, and his sister used to send us one at
Christmas: it can't be for us!"
"It is, if her name's Nancy Joyce," said the
man; "and she'll have to sign this," and he laid a
large book with blue leaves before Nancy.
Mrs. Joyce brought the ink, and in scrambling
characters Nancy signed her name, and then the man
Oh, mother, what is it?"
Mrs. Joyce lifted the washing-tub down, and put
the hamper on the stool by Nancy.
With trembling hands she cut the string which
fastened down the lid, and a sweet woody smell came
out pleasantly into the close little room, as Mrs. Joyce
lifted up the moss.
There's a note from Miss Gertrude," and Nancy
NORTHCROPT RECTORY, May 11th.
"DEAR NANCo,-The woods here are full of lilies
of the valley, and we thought Tim and Joe might
sell some at threepence a bunch; so we have gathered
some and sent you. We think the bunches should be
about twelve or thirteen flowers and four leaves.
Little Bertie has helped. You will know his flowers
because they have no stalks. I hope the lilies will
sell well.-Your loving little friend,
Oh, mother, this is kind! Why, the lilies will
sell for ever so much !"
THE NORTHCROFT LILIES.
"I tell you what," said Mrs. Joyce, "I'll just
wring them clothes out, and take a few round; if I
could sell a few to-day, wouldd be a good thing."
Oh yes, mother; but here! give me a few out,
and I'11 tie them in bunches ready against you finish
hanging the clothes out."
So Mrs. Joyce lifted out tenderly the beautiful sweet
lilies, and placed them with some leaves on an old tea-
tray, and gave Nancy some grey worsted to tie them
with, and then went to her clothes.
Sweet thoughts came into the girl's mind as with
singular taste she bound flowers and leaves together,
and laid them in the soft moss which her mother had
put into Joe's watercress basket. Mother," she said,
as Mrs. Joyce came in and put on her bonnet and
shawl, "Mother, God has cared for us !" and Mrs.
Joyce could only answer, Ay, child, He has," for
her heart was very full.
Nancy was obliged to rest a little when her mother
was gone, for her hands were very tired; but as soon
as they were nearly rested she began again, and when
Tim came in half an hour later, looking white-faced and
tired, she had another twenty bunches ready.
"Looki here, Tim the young ladies have sent us
all these, and Miss Gertrude wrote. Look what a lot !"
And Tim examined the hamper, and exclaimed,
My but there is."
"Do you think you could sell some, Tim?"
"Me? yes! I'll take'em to the City; I've seen
the gents buy flowers when they comes out for their
dinners; that 'll be the best."
But shall you have time ?"
"Time? yes! It's only just twelve now; I can
do it in time," and he threw the string of his basket
round his neck, and trudged off.
THE NORTHCROFT LILIES.
How differently everything looked now to Nancy !
The bright May sunshine which so short a time ago
had seemed to mock her dulness as it showed more
clearly the wrinkles on her mother's face and the
poverty of the little room, smiled like a glad rejoicing
friend, as it glanced on the pure white lilies in the
tray before her. Nancy was a London girl, and knew
nothing of country pleasures, or perhaps the flowers
might have told her more than they did. She had no
idea of solemn forest shades where even in the hottest
summer noons the air is cold and fresh; her weary
feet had never climbed up some high down over
1. i ';-l- turf, with delicious wild thyme sending up a
fragrant greeting at every step; she could not imagine
how it would be to reach the top and breathe the in-
vigorating air; and let the eye roam over a boundless
view of sea and land, till mere existence seemed a
pleasure. It had never been her delight to see the
rich, newly-ploughed earth, or watch the progress of
the growing corn,-" first the blade, then the ear, till
the full corn in the ear," waved to and fro in the sun-
shine like a sea of gold. Breezy commons, where-
billowy fern and bright furze bushes make a shelter for-
the fragile harebell and tiny milkwort, were quite un-
known to her; nor had she ever sat by some quiet
stream, "clear and cool," and as it wended its way
through green pastures and valleys, watched its surface
gently stirred by the breath of the soft summer wind.
No of all these delights (far too little valued when
they can be had), Nancy in the close London court
was quite ignorant, so that to her the lilies said nothing
of their home in Northoroft woods, where the sunlight
streamed between oaks and larches, and shone on the
bright dog-violets by the sides of the wood-paths.
Yet they did speak, too, besides that God-sent message
THE NORTEHROFT LILIES.
which her trustful heart could not mistake-in a dim
consciousness which reached her soul, of possible
beauty, and rest and peace in some far-off place away
from all the toil and struggle for daily bread, and the
weariness and pain which all went to make up her
cross. Mingled too with these thoughts were plans
for her mother's and the boys' comfort, and a glad,
unselfish thankfulness that her dear Miss Gertrude
had such a pretty place to live in.
So pleasant was her task, and so bright and
satisfied her musings, that hunger and back-ache were
for the time forgotten, and another basket could have
been easily filled with the bunches on her tray.
Now, if Joe would but come !" thought his
sister, as she went on tying up lilies. But Joe did
not come; he was trying to forget his hunger in
playing marbles, and did not see any good in going
Mrs. Joyce called at the first large house she came
to, and sold two bunches there; threepence was not
much, and people were glad to give that for the
beautiful fresh flowers. She walked on some distance,
but her heart grew light as the pile of coppers rose
among the moss in the basket. When she came home
at half-past three she had sold every lily, and had in
her hand three shillings, as well as the loaf and candles,
and tea and sugar, she had brought from the shop at
the corner of the court.
Tim walked towards the City. He sold one or
two bunches before he came to the river, and so he
went over Blackfriars Bridge. He had only a few lilies
left when he came to the City, for many people-men
with lines of care on their faces, happy careless children,
and women with grave thoughtful looks, had been
beguiled by the sweet wild flowers he carried in his
THE NORTHCROFT LILIES.
basket. It was soon empty, and as he ran home he
:stopped at a cook-shop in the Walworth Road, where-
what he thought-very inviting joints of beef and
mutton were displayed in the windows. As he went
,down Eyre Street he spied Joe. Come on," he cried,
"I've got something to eat here. Some ladies sent
Nancy some flowers, and I've sold some of 'em; and
I've got some prime beef and a loaf here in the basket."
Oh, Tim, I'm so glad Im so hungry. Then
can we buy the cresses to-morrow ?"
Oh, yes," said Tim, "look at all these coppers,
and there's more for to-morrow. We'll drive a trade,
So that afternoon the poor people sat down to a
,comfortable meal, the first substantial one they had
had for many days. Afterwards Mrs. Joyce and the
boys sat round the hamper, and helped Nancy to tic
up the -~,.i:L.' lilies, for it was necessary they
should be sold next day; and occasionally Mrs. Joyce
would exclaim, "Well, the Lord did remember us;
,don't forget that, children He sent us these."
Like He sent the man food by the birds.
Teacher told us about that last Sunday. Well, it's
very good," said Tim. I felt strange and willing to
prig a loaf this morning, but I didn't; and now I
won't think of it."
"Oh, Tim, did you?" said his sister. "Oh, I'm
thankful you didn't; you see God didn't leave us too
long; and now, if we sell these, we can go on and lay
by a little maybe, and it'll be all right. Whatever you
do, Tim, don't go against God's laws; He never tries
,us too much."
The boys were up with the first streak of light
next morning to go for their water-cresses. About
mine they came back, and soon after went out again
THE NORTHCROFT LILIES.
with two baskets of lilies each; and Mrs. Joyce, too,
went in the direction of Kennington Park, and came
back in two hours to refill her basket.
Nancy had kept one beautiful bunch of lilies for
Miss Brooke and one for herself, but, excepting these,
all were sold by night; and after paying for coals and
other necessaries, there was one pound seven left, and
this was put in an old purse under Nancy's pillow.
The day aftewards Mrs. Joyce, under her daughter's
guidance, replied to Miss Gertrude's letter:-
RESPECTED Miss,-This comes to thank you for
the beautiful flowers. We have sold them all, and
they made going on for two pounds; and we are now
comfortable. Mother being out of work, we were
very poor before. I have kept a few lilies for Miss
Brooke. She brought me a picture; it is a cross and
lilies, and these words-' Shall He not much more care
for you?' Dear miss, we think He did care for us.
The picture came on Monday and the flowers on
Tuesday. You have made us very happy, and we
thank you respectfully with all our hearts, and pray
God to bless you; and we thank Him for putting the
good thought into your hearts. Dear miss, we send
our duty, and I put Master Bertie's lilies in my hymn-
book.-From your grateful, humble servant,
"I am learning some new work, and have got an
order for six yards. I should be so glad if I could see
If Gertrude had been happy on Monday, when she
sent off the hamper, what was she now? She had
really done good; and had God indeed put the thought
into her heart? It seemed almost too great a thing;
THE NORTHCROPT LILIES.
but as she pondered, the verse of a hymn she knew
came into her mind:-
"And every virtue we possess,
And every conquest won,
And every thought of holiness
Are His alone."
It was very delightful, she thought.
But there were other happy days still in store for
her at Northcroft; Effie began to teach her flower
painting, and many a little group of violets and moss
or frail cluster of delicate wood anemones, which the
little girl's loving hands had tried to transfer to paper,
came to gladden poor Nancy on her weary bed. Then
the haymaking season came, and Effie condescended
to go to the field with the others, and they all arrived
at the conclusion that making hay was more like play
than work, a sentiment which the people in the hay-
field would scarcely have echoed. As summer came
on and the pale green of the woods toned into a darker
colour, how sweet and cool was their shade from the
sun in the bright June days; and how pleasant it was
to watch the rabbits as they looked up with timid
eyes and popped back again into their holes; and how
soft and far-off sounded the cooing of the wood-pigeons
as they stood and listened at the Rectory door in the
soft pale twilight of the midsummer evenings And
was there anything so beautiful as the sky, with no
smoke to dim its clear blueness! Gertrude thought
not. And so the summer passed, and still the girls
had never been to Lincoln; and though Gertrude
was longing to see the Cathedral, she had faith in her
papa's word that he would take her if he saw her
happy and contented.
September came, when the morning breezes had a
crisp, delicious freshness, and the warm noon-day sun