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V.-ENNG CONTINUATION. SCHOOLS.
for .'.ular. Attendance anb
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"Your father is up there, Duke."
BYTU l "' "Tll,'l: O1
OF T COVE YY
"PJEAS-i OSSOM, o.
'Straight is the line of duty,
Curved is the line of beauty;
Follow the one, and thou wilt see
The other ever follows thee.
WELLS GARDNER, DARTON, & CO.,
BY THE AUTHORS OF
"TWO BLACKBIIRDS," "ROBIN AND LINNET" &c.
Straight is the line of duty,
Curved is the line of beauty,
Follow the one, and thou wilt see
The other ever follows thee."
WELLS GARDNER, DARTON & CO.
2, PATERNOSTER BUILDINGS, E.C.
AND 44, VICTORIA STREET, S.W.
1. "WE ARE SEVEN" .
II. A MONKEY MATCHMAKER .
III. NOT A BRIGHT PROSPECT 14
IV. THE FOUR-LEAVED SHAMROCK 21
V. THE DAY AFTER THE WEDDING 27
VI. THE PLACE OF HONOUR 34
VII. TROUBLE AND COMFORT -. 39
VIII. HOW THE CHILDREN TOOK IT 47
IX. LEAVING THE OLD PATCH 55
X. OFF TO THE SEA 6
XI. PIG-MINDING 67
XIL DREAMING AND LADY JANE 72
XIII. SHRIMPING AND "THE SPIDER" 78
XIV. REFINED SOCIETY 86
XV. THE ROCKET PRACTICE 92
XVI. TEA AT THE "VICTORIA". 100
XVII. THE PICNIC 106
XVIII. SCARSBROOK CASTLE 113
XIX. MINOTTI'S CIRCUS 119
XX. PAT'S BLARNEY 126
BXI. BALLS' TEA-PARTY 135
XXII. WHERE IS PAT? a a 142
XXIII IS IT LIFE OR DEATH? 150
XXIV. "THINE IS THE POWER" 159
XXV. THE SMUGGLERS' CAVE 166
XXVI. LIFE IN A CARAVAN 74
XXVIL RULE BRITANNIA .IS
XXVIII. FOLLOWING THE SCENT. 188
XXIX. PRINCE BORIOBOOLOO 195
XXX. A CHANCE FOR BRIAN 203
XXXL A CHANCE FOR HONOR 212
XXXII. THINKING IT OVER 219
XXXIII. AUNT BELL TO THE RESCUE 226
XXXIV. BRIAN'S BIRTHDAY 232
XXXV. HOW HONOR AND BRIAN FOUND THE SHAM-
XXXVI, CONCLUSION 247
THE FOUR-LEA VED SHAMROCK.
"WE ARE SEVEN."
HE children of the Bright family always con-
sidered that Fate had been very unkind to
them in the matter of names. To begin
with, their family name was one which suggested a
joke to the very dullest mind. Even old Heavysides,
the master of the class at King's College which Pat
adorned, would look up over his spectacles from certain
blotted exercises and say, Well, sir, this is a Bright
specimen, I must say." And "Grumpy," the porter,
would revenge himself for some of Paddy's persecutions
by such irritating remarks as-" Bright by name don't
seem to be bright by nature, anyhow;" or," Look sharp
there, Master Rusty, or you'll want something to get
ip your polish, and, there's nothing like leather for
2 WE ARE SEVEN."
that." And as for the boys, there was no end to
their chaff, till Pat and Paddy were .fain to wish
that their name had been Smith, Brown, or Robinson,
or anything but such a whetstone for other people's wit.
Then they would go on to complain that they had not
a decent Christian name among them, and that their
godfathers and godmothers had given them outlandish
and ridiculous names; and Aunt Bell had to reprove
Molly severely one Saturday morning for the pettish
way in which she received the second question in the
Catechism, Who gave you this name ?"
First of all there was Brian. His name was not
quite so bad; but then his initials were "B. B.," and any
one who knows anything about lead pencils knows
that B. B." stands- for Very soft;" which is a nice
quality in a pencil, and especially when you want to
Sdraw negroes or black cats, but not thought so highly
of in a boy of sixteen.
Then came Honor; a fine old Irish name, of course,
every one will allow, but in the mouths of London
servants it soon became shorn of its A aspirate, and
" Honor Bright" was too tempting a nickname for the
children to resist; and even little Peter would put his
fat dimpled hand on her head, and say, "'Pon honour,"
in supposed imitation of the pompous manner of a
certain Captain Myrtle, who sometimes came to dine
with Mr. Bright.
Then came Pat and Paddy, or rather Patrick and
Philip. Pat felt that his own case was hopeless, and
that it was his sponsors' fault if he turned out a worth-
WE ARE SEVEN." 3
less character; for what could be expected from a
fellow with such a name ? But Philip was born under
a kinder star, and might have done better if he had not
at an early age, and before he could speak plain or had
arrived at years of discretion, always called himself
"Paddy." So Paddy he became, and Paddy he seemed
likely to remain to the end of his life, though he made
some efforts to throw off his nickname and appear in
the dignity of Philip. He even went so far as to
threaten to punch Pat's head, and to pinch the girls,
and to shut Peter up in the knife-house, if they breathed
the word "Paddy;" and he even bribed Sarah, the
housemaid, with a stick of liquorice and an apple, to
call him Master Philip" when she brought in his
supper at night. That honest girl, however, brought
back the apple with only one large bite out of it, and
the stick of liquorice minus half an inch, saying that
she couldn't go for to do it, though she tried her very
best, she did; "and the liquorish weren't nice, neither!"
Then there was Mary, who protested against her
name, and still more at its change into Molly, which
was only suitable," she said, "to a blowsy, red-faced
milk-maid, or to a dirty old woman smoking a stumpy
Next .came Nora, whose name was perverted into
Nolly; and then little Peter, whose name, they all
agreed, was the very ugliest possible, and, if there had
been any younger children, they must have had better
names, for they could not have had worse.
Of course it was constantly said that Pat and Paddy
4 WE ARE SEVEN."
were as alike as two p's, on account of their initials;
and Herr Kaspar, Molly's music-master, having come
down into the schoolroom one day to see the dormice,
and finding Pat, Paddy, and Peter playing at bears and
lions, observed that in music three p's meant pianis-
simo, but in the Bright establishment it seemed to
Perhaps you will be surprised at my saying that
Herr Kaspar went down into the schoolroom; but so
it was. Mr. Bright lived in a house in an old-
fashioned and rather dull square in London, and the
reason that decided him upon taking this house in
the first place was, that instead of a dingy court
behind, or a so-called garden with a few smutty lilac-
bushes, or a gaunt plane-tree, under whose shadow
eats give brilliant musical parties at night, there was
a large room with a skylight.
"The very place for the children !" said Mr. Bright.
It was on the basement, and was reached either by
a flight of steps from the ground-floor, or by a stone
passage from the kitchen premises; and neither steps
nor passage were covered, so that in wet weather you
must run to escape a wetting. But none of the
Brights were afraid of a drop of rain, nor ate their
bread and butter with any less appetite because it had
been sprinkled during its transit from the kitchen.
Mr. Bright was certainly right when he said that it
was just the place for the children; but he did not
fully know all its advantages when he said so. It
was very large, with cocoa-nut matting on the floor,
" WE ARE SEVEN."
and an ironing-board on two trestles to form the table,
and a large press at one end, consisting of drawers,
and open shelves, and lockers, and cupboards; but there
was not much furniture besides, and there was nothing
to break and nothing to spoil; and you could make the
most hideous noises without any one being the worse
or bothering-in short, it was the very place to play in.
But this was not half the number of its advantages:
there was room for all the many and various pets of
the Bright family. In one corner there was a regular
establishment of canaries; opposite to them a large
salting-pan containing a melancholy tench, and close
by, another full of efts and water-snails. On one of
the shelves was a large and flourishing family of
white mice; and in the next Molly's dormice, who
were not so thriving and had lost their tails, which
gave them a Manx-cat appearance; now and then there
were silkworms, and sometimes menageries of cock-
roaches, who abounded in the schoolroom, but were at
times elevated into short-lived honour as pets, by the
caprice of the children, and regaled with sugar and other
dainties. There was also a dog, called "Don," black
and white and curly, who held his own bravely as an
equal among the children, and bore teasing with great
patience up to a certain point, and then asserted his
dignity with a growl and a nip of his sharp, white teeth,
at the nearest leg or arm. Upon the flat roof of the
schoolroom there was the hutch, where the guinea-pigs
lived a rather feverish existence during the summer;
and there was also an aged green parrot, who walked
"WE ARE SEVEN."
about at its own sweet will on the leads and railings,
keeping a wicked and watchful eye on the children,
and annoying the neighbours by quacking like a hoarse
duck by the hour together.
Now, I put it to any intelligent reader whether this
large establishment would have got on so well in an
upstairs schoolroom, and whether Mr. Bright was not
quite right in his opinion, that it was the very place
for the children and their belongings ? Where else
could chemical experiments have been allowed that
generally ended in an explosion and a fearful smell?
Where else could Catherine wheels, Roman candles,
and Pharaoh's serpents have blazed, and hissed, and
spluttered, with so little peril ? Where could toffey,
and other cooking, have been less annoying to older
noses ? Where else could carpentering, and varnishing,
and glueing, and everything that came under ,nurse's
general term of "messing," have given so little dis-
comfort to other people ?
Sometimes, indeed, nurse would declare that "she
never did see such a mess in all her born days, and
that she would take and turn all them nasty, creepy
things out of the room: a regular pack of rubbidge as
ever was But the children knew,, from long experi-
ence, that this was mere talk; and even Peter did not
feel a spark of anxiety on behalf of the most precious
eft or white mouse, so far as nurse was concerned.
Sometimes Aunt Bell would make a raid, and declare
that some of the pets must be given up, and the
schoolroom kept in better order, or she would have to
"WE ARE SEVEN." 7
appeal to father. But it always ended in a grand
review of all the birds, beasts, and fishes, and in Aunt
Bell agreeing with the children that not one of all that
attractive crew could be dispensed with.
Honor constantly protested that the place was a
bear-garden, and unfit for human habitation; though
she had no wish to be the Hercules to cleanse this
Augean stable, but was quite content as long as she
could get away to her drawing-board in the red room,
and shut out the children's noise and everyday life,
and dream of a golden future, the key to which might
be the pencil in a girl's hand.
A MONKEY MATCHMAKER.
" OCCIDENTS will happen in the best-regulated
families." The young Brights knew this
by experience; and nurse, too, to her cost.
The white mice will sometimes gnaw their way out of
their cage, and into nurse's work-drawer; canaries
will get drowned in the big, nursery basin; Don will
snap, and the parrot will peck when pea-shooting is in
fashion: ten o'clock will sometimes strike before Molly
and Nora have got out their lesson-books, which causes
Aunt Bell to make large "oughts" against "punctu-
ality in the character books. But never did so serious
an accident occur as the one which brought Mr. John
Keith to the house, for it was John Keith who carried
off Aunt Bell!
Aunt Bell--no one in the world was like Aunt Bell, *
father's only sister, who had looked after the children
ever since Peter's birth, when mother died. She was
well worthy of her name, if you like, for Miss Bell
Bright was well, in short, she was what the girls
call a "duck," and the boys a "brick," just what an
aunt should be. She could sing jolly songs, and tell
A MONKEY MA 7TCHMAKER. 9
short stories, and dress dolls, and manage "the dad,"
and wheedle nurse, and twist cook round her little
"It happened," as Molly said, "in the Zoo, you know.
It was Nora's birthday, and Aunt Bell took us all there.
We were ever so long in the monkey-house, and we
were so busy giving buns and sweetstuff to that dear
little, soft-grey monkey with blue eyes in the corner,
that we never missed Peter till we heard him call out.
And there he was caught by the big, cross, old monkey
with the blue nose and no tail, because he'd been
teasing him with empty nutshells till he got in a
regular rage. He had hold of Peter's hair, and what
would have happened I don't know if a gentleman
hadn't got him away somehow. Aunt Bell was so
frightened, and Peter, too, that she said she must take
him home, and Mr. Keith-that was the gentleman
in the monkey-house, you know-got a cab for her.
Then it turned out that he knew father, and so he came
the next day to ask how Peter was. After that he
came to dinner, and then he got to come very often.
Peter used to call him 'the monkey gentleman,' and
we couldn't make out why Aunt Bell didn't like it.
Of course, we did not mean anything rude, for he was
awfully jolly always, you know. Brian took quite a
fancy to him. And then we always liked the nights
he came to dine because he brought us presents, and
drew pictures, and cut' Tom Hickses' out of firewood
for Peter. Honor didn't like it, though, for she said
it was awfully dull when we were gone to bed and
jo A MONKEY MATCHMAKER.
father was asleep, because Mr. Keith and Aunt Bell
would go on talk, talk, talk, in a sort of way all to
themselves; and Aunt Bell always forgot to make tea,
and put sugar into the wrong cups, when he was there."
This was Molly's account of the affair given to nurse
the evening after the blow fell; and she had another
version from Honor, as she brushed out the girl's long,
straight, yellow locks before the important dinner, when
John Keith was to appear for the first time in the
character of "Bogey," come ready to ring the Bell and
steal away the brightest Bright,. "which," as nurse
observed, "it's a wonder as it weren't done long afore,
bless her pretty face!"
The green eyes of Honor had seen what was coming
for some time, being one of those gifted and far-sighted
creatures who can see things in the distance, while they
are singularly blind to what lies quite close around
them. Honor was a genius, you must know, reader.
She7had a quaint, little, white face,-like a dainty piece
of old porcelain; .and clear, bright eyes, that wanted
looking into to discover their beauty; and a cleverlittle
head coiled round with smooth, silken, tawny hair. She
was certainly. clever, and in some ways her talents were
valuable. She could tell wonderful stories, and when
the whim seized her she could keep the whole family
amused, nurse included, by her romances, accompany-
ing them by scenes drawn on the various slates, which
were always gladly and anxiously washed with salt
and water when Honor vouchsafed to draw (Aunt Bell,
by the way, usually found them deep in grease when
A MONKEY MATCHMAKER. z
such inferior matters as rule-of-three or practice had to
be thought of); and under her hand they became such
scenes of queens and princes, fairies and ogres, witches
and giants, as no one couldn't have believed where the
child got them all from," nurse said.
Honor was a great reader, too, and would remain for
an hour together perched up on a stool or open drawer
before the great nursery press, lost to the surging tumult
of life below her, in some one of the queer old books
stowed away in its upper shelves. But as to common
pursuits, such as darning stockings, or helping nurse, or
minding the children, Honor was just nowhere. Indeed,
Pat and Paddy used to say she must have been born on
the 29th of February, for she was only a "now-and-
then" sort of girl, and didn't come in the natural course
of things, somehow.
Drawing, however, was Honor's special gift, and
though scribbling and dabbling often interfered sadly
with graver pursuits, Aunt Bell could not find it in her
heart to put a decided stop to it; for painting was a
legacy left behind by the dear, dead mother, whom she
had loved like her own sister. One day Aunt Bell
had picked up and shown to her brother a really pretty
little sketch of Peter lying asleep, with his curly head
on Don's fat back; and as Mr. Bright looked at the bold,
free strokes and clear outlines, a vision rose up before
him of a day, nearly seventeen years ago, when among
the green hills of Erin he had come for the first time
face-to-face with sweet Honor O'Brien, painting, beside
beautiful Killarney, with a true artist's hand the lovely
A MONKEY MATCHMAKER.
woods and rivers of her native land, and. he declared
the girl's talent ought to be cultivated.
Aunt Bell used sometimes to think that the mother
had left something to each of the children: to Pat and
Molly, the Irish blue eyes that laughed at you from
under curled black lashes; to Nora, the wealth of rich,
dark hair, and the sweet voice for singing; to nearly all,
the quick, happy, careless temper, which made the storm
and sunshine of their lives.
Honor's peculiar gift was shared, or, as Aunt Bell
sometimes suspected, surpassed by Brian; but steady,
plodding, old Brian would spare little time from his
Greek and Latin for such things, and it was only once
when all the children had measles, and she had left
him to amuse them for a whole' afternoon, that she
found it out.
"Why, it's Honor she said, picking up the sketch
of a child's head drawn on a scrap of paper; "Honor
in one of her 'studs.' You must let me have it, Brian,
to show to father."
"Indeed, you won't, Aunt Bell!" the boy exclaimed,
trying to snatch it away.
"Why not ? I think it is capital."
"Why, I.wouldn't for anything have the dad think
I'm scribbling and scratching just now, and the exam
just on and all I It's all very well for girls who have
not got to work. Look here, now, Aunt Bell; you can
have it for yourself if you choose, but if you tell the
dad I'll never forgive you."
"Very well; but I shall keep it for myself."
A MONKEY MATCHMAKER. 13
"You won't show it?"
No, if you are so fierce about it."
"Honour bright ?"
"Yes, honour bright. You can write the name under
it for me, and then I shall not forget."
So Brian wrote "Honour Bright" under the por-
trait, and Aunt Bell put it away, together with a
number 6f other relics of the children-Honor's first
little, soft, baby shoe, a glossy ring shorn from Pat's
head when his curls were cropped, a laboriously-
worked and much-fingered book-marker of Molly's,
and various other things that made her laugh and
cry as she turned them over.
"Honour Bright-that may be the artist's name
as well," Aunt Bell thought to herself as she shut the
NOT A BRIGHT PROSPECT.
TNT BELL'S wedding was so often put off
from one cause or another, that John Keith
used to complain, that it was such a very
movable feast, that he felt like poor Tantalus, doomed
to constant hunger and thirst, with sparkling water
and rich clusters of grapes just out of reach. The
children, too, after the anguish of the first days of
the engagement, during which Petei would hardly let
go of Aunt Bell's skirts even for a minute, and Molly
and Nora clung round her waist with fierce affection,
and Pat and Paddy scowled at Mr. Keith as if
they would have liked to choke him, grew to regard
the parting with Aunt Bell as merely a vague possi-
bility in the future, like "next never-come tide," or
"when two Sundays come in a week," or "when my
ship comes in," as nurse used to say, or "when I'm
a man," from Pat, or "some day," from Aunt Bell,
or "when I've time," from father..
First of all the measles came to the rescue and put
off the evil day; and then father had bronchitis; and
then Mr. Keith had to go to America for two whole
NOT A BRIGHT PROSPECT. 15
months over which the children rejoiced honestly, and
hoped that he would like America so much that he
would stop there and never come back.
"What would Aunt Bell say to that ? asked nurse.
"I do believe," says Paddy, who was a close observer
of human nature, that she would be very glad. She's
far away fonder of us than of him."
But one evening they were all sitting in the dusk in
the drawing-room with Aunt Bell, and the wind was
howling outside, and Pat was describing a shipwreck
he had been reading of, and ended up cheerfully with
the question, Oh, I say, Aunt Bell, wouldn't you dearly
like to be shipwrecked ? I would! It must be an
Aunt Bell was silent, but Nora added, "Perhaps
Mr. Keith may be -shipwrecked as he comes home, and
then he can tell us all about it."
"I expect he will," eagerly chimed in Paddy.
"What fun if he is on the sea now! Just listen to the
wind There must be jolly big waves at sea.",
And then they all joined in, even Honor taking her
share in the description, without a glance at Aunt Bell,
who sat silent with little Peter on.her lap, and every
time the wind came with a rush against the window,
her arms tightened round the child, and she did not
laugh or join in the children's nonsense.
Waves mountains high," said one.
"Wind blowing great guns," went on another.
Night as black as pitch."
Miles out of their course."
16 NOT A BRIGHT PROSPECT.
"Sprung a leak amidships."
"Boats stove in."
All hands to the pumps."
"Settling down fast."
"Captain in calm despair."
"Master Peter, please, it's your bedtime !"
- A burst of laughter followed this unexpected end to
the story, and the children thought no more of it; but
when little Peter's curly red head was on the pillow
he asked nurse a question-
"Do grown-up people ever cry, nursey ?"
"Cry? Ah I it's many a tear that grown folks shed.
It's not this side of the grave that tears is wiped away,
Peter asthore! God grant as them blue eyes of my
darlint mayn't have more than their share when he's
a man; for it's bitter they are, and it's myself as
"I don't know if they were bitter," said Peter," for
I didn't taste them; but when I was sitting on Aunt
Bell's lap, I felt two hot drops on my forehead."
"Maybe she was thinking of Mr. Keith, and him
away across the sea. Sure and they're not the only
two she have shed for him, bless her dear heart!"
It was only in the nursery that nurse let herself
indulge in the brogue; among the other servants she
kept a watch on her tongue, and was pretty successful
in her imitation of their cockney talk, which she called
NOT A BRIGHT PROSPECT. 17
"the English," for she knew by experience the con-
tempt with which "them Hirish "_are generally
treated below stairs.
But John Keith came back safely, without anything
but sea-sickness to disturb his composure during the
voyage, much to Pat and Paddy's disappointment.
SNot even a whale or an iceberg," they said con-
temptuously, "or a pirate or a mutiny, or anything
interesting; and who cares to hdar of sunsets on the
sea, and good dinners in the saloon, and dancing on the
poop ? One might just as well stop on land!" And
they were much inclined to set him down for good
and all as a duffer," for having come across no adven-
tures on his way.
Neither had he brought back a wife with him, as
the girls had hoped, and so solved the difficulty about
Aunt Bell. Even Honor had entered into this idea,
and had sketched a North-American woman on Molly's
slate with elaborate tattooings, beads, and feathers, and
even war-paint and a tomahawk; and Nora had
written Mrs. John Keith," underneath in careful
round hand; and then, as ill luck would have it,
Molly handed the slate up to Aunt Bell, with a practice
sum done wrong on the other side, and Aunt Bell, turn-
ing it over, found herself face to face with her supposed
The girls were covered with shame and repentance,
and Honor, when she came in from the School of Art,
and found what had happened, rushed off and locked
herself in the red room, and cried till her head ached
18 NOT A BRIGHT PROSPECT
and her eyes were just little dim slits, and would not
hear a word more from Molly and Nora, though they
spent nearly an hour kneeling at the red-room key-
hole, assuring her that Aunt Bell only laughed and
was not a bit vexed, but said she would keep it to
show to Mr. Keith, who was coming back the very
But when John Keith came home the wedding-day
was finally settled for the Igth of July. Perhaps the
tears that fell on Peter's head and the brother tears
that nurse guessed at, had softened Aunt Bell's heart;
or perhaps it was the joy of having him back, for joy
is almost stronger than tears to soften a heart: but
certain it is that she could not find any excuse for
putting off the wedding-day again. And then, too,
Mr. Bright added his persuasions to John Keith's, and
said that two. years were long enough for an engage-
ment, : sini-';rg sadly of his own three weeks' wooing
in Old Ireland, and that he would not have Aunt Bell
sacrifice her happiness any longer on account of him
and the chicks. "Honor is getting a big girl," he
added, "and when she is not in the clouds she has
plenty of-sense; and as for Brian, I never knew such
an old sobersides at sixteen in my life. He will take
care of.the whole lot of us. I told nurse to-day that
Master Brian had taken her place, for I found him
tying on the girls' pinafores. Then, with cook and
nurse, I don't think we can come to grief; and though,
of'course, there is not another Aunt Bell all the world
over, we can only be very grateful that we have had
NOT A BRIGHT PROSPECT. 19
her so long, and very glad to see her happy--eh,
It was not often that father said so much, for he
was a man of few words, and many might have said
far more; but I think Aunt Bell knew what he felt,
and even little Peter, reporting this conversation in
the schoolroom afterwards, finished up with, "And do
you know, Molly, I think father is nearly as fond of
Aunt Bell as we are, and as sorry to lose her ?" And I
think Peter was not far wrong.
The weeks that followed John Keith's return liter-
ally galloped away, the children said; and before you
could say Jack Robins'on," according, to Pat, the 13th
of July had come, and they were all sitting at tea in
the schoolroom, "just as if," Molly said, "nothing were
going to happen the day after to-morrow !"
Brian was pouring out tea, as usual, with Peter on
one side of him and Nora on the other, and a watchful
eye on Pat, Paddy, and Molly opposite, to see that
they did not upset their tea or otherwise misconduct
themselves. When Honor was twelve years old, now
two years ago, Aunt Bell said she was quite old enough'
to pour out tea in the schoolroom; and Brian being
fourteen, was advanced to the dignity of late dinner.
But tea-time became such a scene of wild confusion-
what with Honor's fits of abstraction, during which
shepoured the milk into the teapot or flooded the tea-
tray, and with the unchecked lawlessness of the boys,
who emptied the sugar-basin over their bread and
butter, and allowed Don to drink out the milk-jug--
20 NOT A BRIGHT PROSPECT.
that Honor gladly gave up her place to Brian; and
when Brian began grinding for the examination, he
begged to be allowed to escape the late dinner, which
he regarded as waste of time; and so he settled down
regularly again to tea in the schoolroom, and took
"the place of honour," as the children said, and here
Aunt Bell found him that evening when she came into
THE FOUtJ-LEAVED SIIAMROCK.
" HR I say, another present!" was the exclama-
tion that greeted Aunt Bell's appearance in
Sthe nursery with a parcel in her hand.
During the last fortnight the minds of the Bright
children had been kept on the stretch by the continual
arrival of boxes and parcels for Aunt Bell, varied by
important communications from the dressmaker, till it
became quite a matter for complaint if the door-bell
announced anything not connected with the wedding.
"Sixty-three?" Nora exclaimed triumphantly, as
Aunt Bell's nod answered the question.
Yes, Molly, it is sixty-three; for Honor and I
counted them all over this morning, when you were
not. there. There were fifty-nine when we made the
list yesterday; and since then there were Uncle Ben's
brooch and Miss Keith's screens, and Lucy's paper-
knife, and "-
"Yes," broke in Molly; but don't you remember we
counted the pink vase twice over ? Aunt Bell, do you
know there are three vases with snakes round, and two
paper-knives, and four inkstands.?"
22 THE FOUR-LEAVED SHAMROCK.
"I can't bear snakes," Honor said. "You'll have to
put them all out of sight, Aunt Bell, for I know you
don't like them either, because you never will wear
that snake bracelet of yours. They seem such unlucky
sorts of things."
"Well," Aunt Bell said, opening the little box in her
hand, "here's a charm to tame all the snakes round all
the vases in the world. Take care, Pat, you don't drop
it I wouldn't have dear old Mrs. O'Brien's gift injured
for all the world. Isn't it pretty ?"
"Yes, jolly!" Pat said, turning round an old-
fashioned gold clasp. "Emeralds, aren't they? Big
ones, too What's that meant for in the middle ?"
"Why, you are a duffer!" Paddy exclaimed. "Don't
you see it's the shamrock? Oh, I say, isn't she a
regular, jolly, old Irish girl ?"
"Yes," Aunt Bell said. But you have not taken it
all in yet. It's a four-leaved shamrock-leaf, and the dear
old lady says. There, Honor, you may read out her
note. It's the prettiest wedding letter I have had."
So Honor read,-
MY DEAR YOUNG FRIEND,-May the good God bless
your wedding-day, and make it the best and happiest
of your life. I'm an old woman now, but, thank God, I
know what it is, my dear, and I cannot wish you better
than happiness like mine has been. You will like a
little bit of Old Ireland for the sake of one who is gone;
and that you may find the four-leaved shamrock on
Thursday, is the hearty wish of your old friend,
THE FOUR-LEAVED SHAMROCK. 23
"What does it mean? asked Peter, who had been
listening with open mouth to the letter.
"Yes, what does she mean about finding the four-
leaved shamrock ? added Molly and Nora. "Shall
you find it, Aunt Bell ? Where is it? I thought it
was only a sort of fairy thing, made up in stories. You
used to have a song about it, I know; but it's only
pretence, of course. You won't really look for it-will
you, Aunt Bell? "
"Yes, I think I shall," Aunt Bell said, laughing, with
tears in her eyes. Why, you silly little Paddies you
ought to be ashamed that you do not know all about it."
"Well, then, you can just tell us!" exclaimed Pat.
"We were to have another story, you know, and it
shall be the four-leaved shamrock "
And before Aunt Bell was aware, she was dragged
down among the children, while Brian and Honor quietly
settled down to listen to Aunt Bell's last story.
S"It is only a very short one," she said; "you should
have given me more time to think about it; but you
must each finish it for yourselves. When green Erin
first rose up out of the sea, like an emerald set in silver
all its fields abounded with the little shamrock. Long
before St. Patrick came it preached in silence the great
mystery-just as the snow crystals are the first to bring
the story of the Cross at Christmas, and the skylark
carries it on his wings to Heaven at Easter. Such a
little leaf to teach so much And so it became the pride
of Ireland, because of the high meaning the Bishop
found in it. Bit it was not enough, as it ought to have
24 THE FOUR-LEAVED SHAMROCK.
been, and the Irish children began to dream of the
wonderful four-leaved shamrock, just as other children
dream of the Philosopher's Stone, and other spells, that
turn straw into gold, and brings endless good luck to
the happy finder. Lots of little, bare-footed boys and
girls-Connors, and Eileens, and Kathleens-went out
to look for it. Certainly it did not grow at home; so
they left their pigs and potato-patches, and the mud
hovels and blue peat smoke, and lost themselves among
the fairy dells of Killarney, or the dreary marshes of
St. Kevin. Surely the 'good people' knew all about
it! But the little folk were too busy dancing fairy
rings into the grass; and as for Will-o'-the-Wisp, he
was a bad guide in swampy ground, as the children
found to their cost. They forsook home, and school,
and everything, but yet they never found the four-
leaved shamrock. And so at last they all got tired,
and went back to their parents, saying there was no
such thing, or else the good people had taken it all
away to Paradise garden, lest it should get too common
here. And sure enough, when the angels came for
sweet Eileen of Glendalough, she did find the four-
leaved shamrock growing close by the gate of Paradise
garden, and Ae sent word to the children all about it.
'After all,' she told them, 'it's only our own shamrock
made "kind of complete."' And the shamrock, you
know, grows all round the little shanties and potato-
patches where the children pass every day. So it's no
use hunting for it in strange places. Pluck the common
flowers and leaves about your path, and maybe you'll
THE FOUR-LEAVED SHAMROCK.
find the little lucky leaves among them, for the seeds
that are blown by the strong wind over the walls of
Paradise garden rest soonest on the open fields and
paths. And if you don't chance upon it here-why, be
sure you'll find it there, and we all know that the
shortest way there is by the potato-patch."
"It's happiness, isn't it, Aunt Bell ?" asked Brian.
"I suppose that's what the old lady meant."
I thought it meant fame or success," Honor said.
"Honour bright," laughed Pat. "Well, we'll all
have a different version. What do you say, Peter ?"
"I say, it's Aunt Bell," Peter murmured drowsily.
Well," Aunt Bell said, "happiness seems to fit all
cases. I suppose we each have our own ideas of what
is best worth having, and the hunting of the sham-
rock is what we are all given to."
I wonder if they ever really found it ? Nora said.
"Yes, I believe it has been found, though it's not
common. It is only a field weed, after all, and that's
just, I think, what makes it so pretty of them to prize
it so much," Aunt Bell went on gravely.
"'The trivial round, the common task,'
And after all St. Patrick converted Ireland with the
common one, and the four-leaved shamrock has no
place in the Royal Arms of England."
Aunt Bell was talking mostly now to Brian and
Honor, and there was an anxious look in her soft eyes
as they went upstairs together, and she slipped her
hand under Honor's arm.
26 THE FOUR-LEAVED SHAMROCK.
You won't forget the potato-patch in the shamrock
quest, will you, dear, when there's no old Mother Biddy
to mind the pigs at home ?"
0 Aunt Bell! the potato-crop won't fail while there
are so many to see to it. And, besides, when we've
found the four-leaved shamrock we shan't need any
Aunt Bell sighed.
And who is to find it, Honor ?"
Oh, not me, I'm afraid. But, oh, dear! whatever
will become of my poor pictures when you are gone,
and Brian goes to Oxford ?"
Whatever will become of the potato-patch ? added
THE DAY AFTER THE WEDDING.
F I had the four-leaved shamrock," said Pat
"and could have just what I wished, Iwould
wish that there was a wedding every day
in the year-except, perhaps Christmas Day and one's
birthday, which are jolly enough without. 'Then, you
see, there would be no school; one would drive about
in a big carriage, with a jolly pair of greys; one would
have game pie and pink cream for dinner, instead of
boiled mutton and rice pudding; and have all sorts of
larks, throwing old shoes and rice; and then go to the
Crystal Palace in the afternoon, and come home to
another stunning blow-out at the late dinner, and
dancing in the evening; with the wedding-cake stand-
ing on the sideboard, so that one could have a tuck-in
whenever one likes !"
And be jolly sick afterwards," says Paddy, who
is cross, as is not uncommon on the day after the
For Aunt Bell's wedding is over, and the uncles and
aunts and cousins have taken their departure; and the
28 THE DAY AFTER THE WEDDING.
cracker papers and scraps of white satin ribbon are
being swept out of the corners of the dining-room;
and the rout-seats are standing piled up in the hall,
Ready to be carried away; and the pastry-cook's men
in the pantry are packing away glass dishes and wine-
glasses into green boxes; and three bridesmaids'
bouquets, which belong respectively to Honor, Molly,
and Nora, are put carefully in water, and are doing
their best to look fresh, though every blossom has been
wired at Covent Garden, and they have not one natural
stem among them. There is a man in the back
drawing-room packing the wedding presents to go
away to Aunt Bell's new home; and nurse is severely
reviewing three bridesmaids' dresses, during which
process Molly and Nora feel it safer to keep at a dis-
tance, with a consciousness of slits in muslin and
lace where no slits should be, and stains on delicate
pink ribbons which might lead to painful remarks
about the necessity of pinafores.
"And Miss Honor's every bit as bad, as ought to
know better, and takes no more care of her clothes
than a baby !"
Even the red room has been invaded, and Honor's
drawing-board is out of reach behind a pile of furni-
ture; so the whole family have assembled by degrees
in the schoolroom, all feeling more or less unsettled
and unfit for ordinary occupations. Even Don is
restless and snappish, and objects strongly to the
flies, and to Pat using his feathery tail for a fan. Per-
haps wedding-cake is not very digestible to dogs or
THE DAY AFTER THE WEDDING. 29,
humankind, and rice-pudding is more wholesome food
Sin the long run.
Molly agrees with Pat, that a wedding every day is
a thing much to be desired.
One would have a new dress every day, made just
like grown-up people's, only shorter, and ribbons, and
little, darling mob caps, and white kid gloves with two
buttons, and bouquets, and lovely little lockets with
Aunt Bell's hair inside!"
"Aunt Bell would have to get a wig," says Paddy,
"if she had to give a lock of her hair every day to fill
eight lockets !"
But Molly goes on :-" And have one's health drunk
at the breakfast, and pull crackers with lots of people,
and sit up till past eleven, and- Do you know,
Nora, I saw the little Stephensons looking out of
their dining-room windows as we went. to church, and
I wanted them to see our lockets, so I held mine up,
as if it had come open and I was fastening it."
"Oh, bosh! says Pat. "You girls think such a
lot about clothes. I dare say the Stephensons only
thought how ugly you looked, with your nose cocked
up in the air, and"-
,, Here the calm course of conversation was inter-
rupted by a large india-rubber ball in Molly's hand
taking flight in the direction of Pat's head, which
being ducked, the ball ended its flight with a splash
into the' pan containing the efts, and caused great
"I am sure," said Brian, "if I had the four-leaved
30 THE DAY AFTER THE WEDDING.
shamrock, I would wish there were no such things a
weddings in the world."
And I would wish that there was no such thing as
good advice," said Honor, with a wry face.
"What's that?" said Peter. "Something like
"Very like Gregory, only worse, and more of it at
"Nurse said we should all of us want Gregory after
the wedding-cake; and she says," went on Peter, "that
Gregory does us good.
"Perhaps it may," said Honor, with a little laugh,
"but I don't think advice does any one any good. I'm
sure it does me-harm."
I think," says Peter,." that if I had the four-leaved
shamrock I would wish there was no Gregory-or"-
after a moment's further thought, that Aunt Bell was
Peter's face began to crumple up ominously, and
Nora sniffed in a dismal manner, and affairs might
have taken a very gloomy turn if Pat had not come
to the rescue.
"Oh, I say," he said, perhaps feeling tears danger-
ously near his own eyes, "we're all in the dumps.
Come on! let's have a game of something -Duck,
or Tortures, or Tower of London, or something cheer-
Honor had had plenty of good advice the last two
days, and it did not seem to agree with her better
than wedding-cake with Don. Aunt Bell's teaching
THE DAY AFTER THE WEDDING. 31
had been so much more by example than precept that
the girl was apt to resent what she called "preach-
"And they all of them had a peck at me," she said
First of all there was Aunt Louisa, like a fussy old
hen. Her hobby was health, and she had been to
every doctor of note in London and elsewhere, and
her family had had every illness and ailment that
flesh is heir to, and had been doctored, and physicked,
and put in irons, and altogether tinkered to within
,an inch of their lives, till they had not got a sound
constitution among them. She attacked Honor on the
subject of her health; was quite sure she drew more
than was good for her, and that was why she was
beginning to poke so; and one shoulder was certainly
higher than the other, and she was growing all on one
side: till Honor fled to nurse and the looking-glass to
assure herself that she was not a regular humpbacked
dwarf. She also hinted dark suspicions about Nora
and Peter; but Mr. Bright was not to be alarmed
into thinking that he had a delicate family when he
paid such a butcher's bill every week, and saw such
plates of bread and butter pass in to the schoolroom
Then there was Aunt Rosa on dress and manners.
Ellen and Maud, her two daughters, were very little
older than' Honor, and yet were quite full-blown young
ladies, who wore rings, and did their hair in ingenious
and fashionable manners, and went to dances and
32 THE DAY AFTER THE WEDDING.
garden-parties, and could talk to gentlemen. Indeed,
Ellen felt herself rather aggrieved at being allotted to
Brian at the wedding-who was only a boy !"
"I think your Aunt Bell was to blame in keeping
you such a complete child."
And then the colour rushed into Honor's pale face,
and the light blazed in her eyes; and it was well that
father was close by, or Aunt Rosa's nerves might have
been upset by unladylike warmth of speech.
"The childrenthink Aunt Bell perfect," was father's
remark, with a soothing hand on Honor's shoulder.
Then there was Aunt Maria on housekeeping. She
poured into Honor's ears stores of wisdom about
management and economy that would have been in-
valuable if Honor had paid any attention: the price of
butchers' meat, the waste in the kitchen, the cheating
of the tradespeople, wages, beer, perquisites, kitchen
stuff, and so on. Honor's thoughts were miles away,
but the word "potatoes" brought back her mind to
Aunt Bell's story and the four-leaved shamrock. Ah!
it may grow in the potato-patch, with the blue sky
overhead, and .the fresh, sweet air blowing over open
fields and wide heaths; and the picturesque, tumble-
down cottage close by, with bright green moss and
yellow lichen growing on the ragged thatch and mud
walls, and the peat smoke curling out of a hole in
the roof, near a clump of houseleek, where the chimney
once stood. ("I will paint it some day for Aunt Bell,"
said Honor.) But who would look for it in the
kitchen, among such things as perquisites, kitchen
THE DAY AFTER THE WEDDING.
stuff, and butchers' meat? She quite laughed to
herself at the ideaof the fairy gift among such sur-
roundings, or of good, practical Aunt Maria finding
"She would think it was a pot-herb!" said Honor.
THE PLACE OF HONOUR.
T will be seen that Honor's genius did not take
a domestic turn, and when Aunt Maria left
the bereaved family, a fortnight after the
wedding, she expressed her opinion as forcibly as she
dared to her brother-in-law that he might think him-
self lucky in having such excellent servants. "Honor,
poor child!" she said, "was sadly backward; indeed,
it was a great pity Brian was not a girl-such a
particularly sensible, thoughtful fellow, very different
from the rest."
Brian had been so constantly called in to smooth the
ruffled tempers of Honor and her aunt, that he had
gradually got into a habit of doing so by the easy, if
not very wise, method of finding an excuse for send-
ing Honor off to her easel, while he set himself to meet
the full tide of Aunt Maria's wrath-a tide which, as
usually happens, finding no longer any rocks to fret
over in its path, soon calmed down into a placid flow
"My dear Brian," Aunt Maria would say, I really
do not know what to make of your sister; she does
THE PLACE OF HONOUR.
not seem able to give her mind to anything sensible,
and, as I was just telling her, in a large family like
yours, care and economy are especially needful."
"Well you see, aunt, Honor is very young still, and
I dare say she'll get into it all in time. I'll pitch into
her about it, if you like, and tell her she must turn to,
"Well, my dear, I wish you really would. I dare
say you can manage her better than I can, and I don't
like teasing your poor father about it. He has been
looking sadly worried of late, and I'm sure he has a
great deal on his mind just inow. No doubt your good
cook will do all that is wanted just at first; but she
tells me she is thinking of marrying before very long-
and a very steady, suitable young man he seems to be
-Jones's man, you know; rather young, to be sure,
for her; but still she will make an excellent wife.
But, as I was saying, when she does leave, of course
Honor will have to keep house in good earnest. For
one thing, she must keep the accounts (as I did at her
age, Brian). I got this new book for her to begin
with; but, really, you may as well talk to the wind!"
"Oh, I'll give her a helping hand !" Brian said, look-
ing hopefully at the little heap of tradesmen's books on
the table. "I'm rather a swell at figures, Aunt Maria,
-'bills of parcels,' and all that. I've often totted
them up- for Aunt Bell; only I never can see why that
duffer, the butcher, doesn't do it by fractions, as any
other fellow in his senses would. Now, just look here:
22 lbs. steak-isn't it?-at Ioid. Well, here you
36 THE PLACE OF HONOUR.
are: x = 261 = 2s.'21d. Not 2s. 2d.-any one
could see that! That's just the way Aunt Bell lets
the fellows cheat her !"
Brian's rapid calculations seemed to Aunt Maria to
produce such a satisfactory result that her respect for
his housekeeping powers rose rapidly, so that, before
she left, he was stored with much valuable domestic
information, which was all stowed carefully away in
his orderly young mind, together with Greek and
algebra, till there was no room left for those more
elegant studies which filled Honor's thoughts and time
Aunt Maria left on a Friday, and on Saturdaymorn-
ing Honor came to Brian with a long face, and the
keys of the linen cupboard jingling dolefully in her
"I say, Brian, do speak to nurse, and ask her either
to do the linen now, or else wait till after dinner. I
must get to my class at ten, and it's half-past nine
now; and that stupid child, Peter, has cut his elbow
against the corner of the press. I shall have to wait
half an hour while nurse is cosseting him."
"Oh, all right; tell her to hand him over to me,"
Brian answered, pushing aside some school papers, with
which he was making slow progress.
"But you are busy, are you not ?" Honor asked,
with a little remorse.
"Oh, it will do this evening; I can have a regular
peg in at it after tea. Here, you can give me the
keys; I suppose nurse knows all about it."
THE PLACE OF HONOUR. 37
So Honor ran away, with her portfolio, to the quiet
drawing-class, where her rapid progress made her a
favourite pupil, while Brian betook himself to the
"What's the row with Peter ?" he said, examining
a slightly-wounded but much-dimpled arm. Oh, all
right, old chap. Here's my pocket-handkerchief-you
just blow your nose, and we'll plaster it up presently.
Here, nurse, I'm going to see after the sheets and
things. Honor had to be off."
"And a good job, too!" nurse murmured, divided
between wrath at Honor's neglect and relief in Brian's
soothing presence. "There, I do wish you was Miss
Honor, that I do! Perhaps you'd give her mind to
things a bit," nurse went on, getting rather confused
as to identity. "But, there, it's no use a-wishin'!
Let's see, now : 'Seventeen chamber towels '-that's
right enough. 'Twenty-four dishing-up cloths, one
duster'- Bless the child! whatever was she think-
ing of when she wrote it down, I wonder "
"Perhaps there were a good many dish-cloths and
things, you know, last week," Brian suggested mildly.
"Aren't they the cloths you polish up the plates with ?
I suppose they want a lot more when there are
"I'd like to see Mrs. Cook use twenty-four dishing-
up cloths in a week, or several weeks either 1" nurse
observed scornfully. "There, Master Brian, you just
see what you can make out of the book. I can't make
head nor tail of Miss Honor's writing."
38 THE PLACE OF HONOUR.
"Here, let's see Oh, I can read it all right
enough Seven glass-cloths, four knife-cloths, six
rubbers,' (what on earth are those ?) 'one hearth-cloth,
sixteen tea-cloths'- Oh, I say, what a set of cloths
you do have, to be sure! Whatever do they want
such a lot for ?"
"That's just what I say, Master Brian; whatever
that there gal, Sarah, wants with 'all them cloths, I
can't think. As I often said to your aunt-three for
glass, and four for china, and one a-fortnight for the
polish, to save the dusters-that was the way.when I
was young, and kep' it all as clean as a new pin But
I don't say nothing nowadays: there's no servants
left fit to be called servants-and do flare up so if you
says half a word-as ought to mind what their elders
says! I'm sure I wonder how your aunt ever put up
with them gals' imperence as she did."
Brian listened with sympathy to nurse's severe
comments, swinging his long legs to and fro as he
sat perched up on a high box, with Peter on his knee,
staring with solemn grey eyes at the piles of clean
linen before him as if he were solving a profound
"It must be jolly puzzling to remember it all," he
concluded thoughtfully. I'm sure I can't tell t'other
from which. I'd sooner do fifty lines any day than
all this stuff. It's a good thing Honor has some brains
in her head, for I'm sure she wants it if she's going
in for all that. Aunt Bell was a clever woman, and
no mistake !"
TROUBLE AND COMFORT.
N those sultry dayd of early August the wheels
i,"'; of life did not run very easily in the Bright
L i family. The boys' holidays had begun and
were running away fast, as holidays will; but father
had said nothing about the change to the sea-side or
the country, which generally took up the whole of the
It was easy to see that Mr. Bright had a great deal
on his mind, as Aunt Maria said. He was off to the
City early, having his breakfast brought up to his
bedroom; and he would not come in to dinner, but
come home about nine, looking weary and worn out.
He would sit outside the breakfast-room window and
smoke a cigar, and sometimes Brian would read the
evening paper to him, and then he would go into the
dining-room and get out those dreary books and
papers, and sit over them far into the night.
You run off to bed, little girl," he would say to
Honor; and you, too, my boy," to Brian.
Isn't there anything I could do ?" the boy would
say wistfully, with a weight of young sleep on his
40 TROUBLE AND COMFORT.
eyelids, and yet unwilling to leave that tired face
bending overthe rows of figures all alone.
"No, nothing but to go to bed and to get 'healthy,
and wealthy,. and wise.' I shall not be late to-
"I wish Aunt Bell were here!" Honor said one
night, when she and Brian had just said "good-night."
"She would be able to help."
She had not meant father to hear her words, but he
did, and answered them quickly: "Thank God, she is
not at any rate, her happiness is secured."
Honor and all the children except Brian were dis-
posed to set down all the change in father to Aunt
Bell being gone. Honor felt that all the world was
out of joint, and that it must remain so as far as she
was concerned, as she had no ability to set it right,
though people might preach at her till they were tired.
They must muddle along as best they could.
S"I know every one thinks that it's my fault,". she
would complain to 'Brian. "There's nurse tosses her
head and sniffs if I meet her on the stairs, and
says something very loud to Sarah about 'times being
changed since poor, dear Miss Bell's days-Mrs. Keith,
begging her pardon!' And cook is as black as a
thunder-cloud, and she banged the door because I
could not put my hand on the butcher's book directly;
and I know she :puts it down to me that father does
not come home to dinner. I do think that old servants
ahe the most intolerable of nuisances."
." Well, you see," Brian would say soothingly, "cooks
TROUBLE AND COMFORT. 4t
always are peppery; and you know, it was rather
trying. your going out with the keys in your pocket
without telling her a word about dinner."
"Telling her about dinner, indeed!" said Honor
indignantly; "it's a great deal more a case of her
telling me. And as for the keys, she might just as-well
keep them herself, for I unlock the cupboard and she
just takes out what she wants while I stand by looking
like an idiot. And you know, Brian, that morning it
was driven out of my head by those horrid boys having
taken my drawing-board to stop the hole at the end
of the guinea-pig hutch. They really get perfectly
In that point cook would have agreed heartily with
Honor,, and nurse too; for the effect of holidays and
no occupation or control is certainly very bad. They
were the most owdacious young limbs," as cook said,
"that she ever knowed. She could not put a thing
out of her hand but it was gone. While she was after
Pat to recover dish-cloths and fish-napkins put to
unwonted purposes, Paddy was making a raid into the
kitchen to see what there was in the oven that smelt
so good: and woe to cook's cheese-cakes! And she
could not. speak a couple of words to her young man at
the area gate without some mischief following-Don
shut up in the big fish-kettle, or a mysterious dis-
appearance of a pot of gooseberry jam, just made, from
the larder. One of their pranks was their making
a rope-ladder with great ingenuity, and the total
destruction of every cord in the house, by which they
42 TROUBLE AND COMFORT.
climbed down from the schoolroom leads into the
garden of the next house, where an aged raven was
kept, which was an object of great interest to the
children. What purpose they had in view in this
adventure it would be hard to say, but it ended rather
ignominiously. A servant perceiving them from the
house naturally took them for burglars, being young
herself, and fear magnifying Pat and Paddy in her
eyes into gigantic ruffians. With great presence of
mind she threw open the window and screamed, and
Pat and Paddy trying to beat a hasty retreat together
up the ladder, the rope gave way, and they were left
to their fate, while the raven drew corks and chuckled
solemnly in derision. They had great difficulty in
pacifying the servant, and in assuring her that they
only came over the wall in fun, and that they were not
housebreakers, but only the Master Brights next door,
and that neither murder, thieves, or fire were to be
feared. Then she marched them solemnly round by
the front way, and delivered them over, rather crest-
fallen and ashamed, to Brian, giving her opinion "as
they ought to ketch it from their par, jest to teach
them never to do it no more."
After this Brian felt that it was no use trying to
settle down to his books, or hoping to get on with his
Greek, still less to do any drawing, which was, perhaps,
quite as fascinating an occupation to him as it was to
Honor, but that he must give up his whole, time to the
boys, and try to amuse them to keep them out of
mischief; "for it won't do if they get into any bad
TROUBLE AND COMFORT.
row and father gets worried: he has worry enough
For Brian guessed that it was something more than
Aunt's Bell's loss that was wearing and wearying
father now-some business trouble, and that a heavy
one,. that had been threatening for some time past, but
that he had staved off till Aunt Bell's wedding was
over, anxious that nothing should darken or sadden her
Every night as Mr Bright sat over his books, every
day at his office in the City, the trouble was growing
nearer and plainer, but none the pleasanter, till at last
there was nothing to be done but to look it in the face
as a man. The days of his prosperity were over, and
he must begin life over again-he, a man well on in
life, with seven children dependent on him! Unlucky
speculations, deceit and dishonesty where he had placed
confidence, and (as he always ended the dreary review
of the causes of his ruin) his idiotic trust and reliance
in other people's honour, had brought this about. The
house must be given up, servants discharged, furni-
ture sold; no Oxford for Brian, no art-education for
"Honor Bright," just what schooling they could get
for the rest of the children, and he himself working as
a clerk at a salary, like a lad of eighteen just beginning
In the night as he sat in the quiet dining-room, with
no sound but the ticking of the clock on the mantle-
piece, or the footstep of a passer-by on the pavement,
when the children were asleep .upstairs and he was'
44 TROUBLE AND COMFORT.
alone with his trouble, it seemed almost more than he
could bear, and he would lean his head down on his
folded arms, and hot tears would fall on those dry
ledgers and account-books, with bitter regrets for his
motherless children's ruined prospects in the future,
and weary longings for the bright days gone by, when
the children were not motherless and he was not
One night he had sat a long time like this, brooding
gloomily over what might have been. The clock from
the neighboring church had struck twelve some time,
and every one was in bed long ago and asleep except
him. But no: some one else was awake. Up in the
girls' room at the top of the house Molly's eyes were
wide open, looking out into the summer darkness, and
her ears were listening anxiously for the sound of her
father's step coming up to his room, which she had
not heard, though she had been listening ever since
Honor came to bed at half-past ten. She was asleep
then, but Brian and Honor talking outside the door
"I can't bear to leave him,' Brian said, with a
tremble in his voice; "he looks as wretched and down
as he can be. One can't bother him with questions,
and he seems so alone, Honor-doesn't he ?-so en-
tirely alone !"
Molly knew they were talking of father, and she
listened hard, but they passed on into Honor's little,
room and Molly could hear no more. "Alone!" Molly
knew how bad that was; for when she had been
TROUBLE AND COMFORT.
naughty sometimes Aunt Bell would shut her up in
her bedroom till she was sorry, and oh, how very glad
she used to be when Aunt Bell's voice came at the
door and she could sob out her sorrow with her face
hid in Aunt Bell's lap! And father was alone and
sorry, too, all by himself downstairs at night. The
idea took such hold of her that she could not sleep,
and she lay listening to the quarters striking, and to
the servants coming up to bed, and to the carriages
rolling by now and then, and to Nora's quiet breathing,
till she could bear it no longer, and she threw back the
clothes and got out of bed. From her bedroom to the
dining-room was a short journey in the light of day,
done in a few flying leaps down the staircase, but at
midnight it was different: The passage outside was
very dark, the door creaked as it never did by day, and
half-roused Nora to a sleepy grunt of What's the
matter?" The stairs seemed double their usual
number; she was sure the spare bedroom door moved
as she passed, and the statuettes of Schiller and Dante
in the staircase-window seemed to nod at the little,
white figure creeping by on bare feet. The drawing-
room doors were open, and the gas-lamp in the street
outside made all sorts of mysterious lights and ghostly
shadows; the gas in the hall was out, and the mats.
were very prickly and the oil-cloth very cold, but light
shone under the dining-room door, and she felt that
help was near, so she turned the handle and went in.
Father was alone; yes, very much alone, for despair
was very :ear him that night, and that is loneli-
46 TROUBLE AND COMFORT.
ness indeed. His head was bowed down on his arms,
but the opening door made him look up with his
hollow, tired eyes, and he stared at the child for a mo-
ment as if she might be a visitor from another world.
Her dark hair was rough and tumbled about her neck
and shoulders, and her blue eyes were wide open and
bright with excitement and fear, and there was a little
colour in her cheeks, and her breath came quickly, and
her little, bare feet shone white on the carpet, as she
stood a moment looking at her father; and then she
ran across the room and put both her arms round
father's neck and seated herself on his knee. He did
not say anything, or ask her why she came, or tell her
to run away, but he put one arm round her, and with
the other wrapped up her feet in his coat, and rested
his cheek on her head, and so they sat silent for ten
minutes, and then father got up and lighted his bed-
room candle and said, "Now we must go up to bed,
Molly;" and he carried her right up to the top of the
house-her, long-legged slip of a girl-as if she had
been a baby, and put her into bed, and covered her up
and kissed her, and as he went to his room he said, I
have got my children still, and there is no shame and
no dishonour; so, please God, I can bear it !"
It seemed next morning like a dream to Molly, and
she could not think how it was that she ventured to
go, but I think that God sent her.
HOW THE CHILDREN -TOOK IT.
i T is wonderful how trouble brings out the good
S in people; or, perhaps, it would be truer to
say, how well people can behave in troublous
times; for, after all, if a sudden blow sometimes
strikes the hidden seam of ore, it is the slow, regular
friction of every day that brings out the glory of the
Mr. Bright often said he never knew his children
until the trouble came to them. Nor his servants
either, for that matter,. for it was surprising to find
how faithful and attached they all became. Sarah,
being an impressionable young woman, collapsed into
tears on the spot when Mr. Bright told her, she must
seek another situation, and declared she should never
be so comfrable nowhere, as was partial to children,
though some didn't like 'em about-and such nice
young ladies and gents, too." And Bridget, the cross
little kitchen-maid, who was always grumbling and
giving warning, suddenly, and gruffly announced that
she'd "stop for her wittles, and glad to do it through
48 HOW THE CHILDREN TOOK IT.
Miss Bright being that kind to a horphin gal, and the
master, too, as wouldn't go for to leave now."
As for cook, there was a regular scene with her,
protesting that she wouldn't leave nohows, as sure as
her name was Marthar 'Iggs -not if master was. to
beg and pray on his bended knees-and didn't care
how she toiled and slaved!" Till Mr. Bright slyly
suggested that Mr. Jones's young man might have
different views on the subject; whereat cook- tossed
her head, and said she "'oped as parties knows their
place better than for to interfere with. her; a
prospect," Mr. Bright said afterwards, nt altogether
such as an expectant lover would appreciate, if he knew
the sentiments of his bride elect."
- Of course, no one would have insulted nurse by
hinting a change on her .part.. "You'll have to be
Jack-of-all-trades now, nurse," her master said; "at
least until the young ladies have learnt enough scrub-
bing and. cooking to manage for themselves." A sug-
gestion which caused nurse to register a secret vow
that, so long as she had breath in her body, "not one
of them shouldn't lay their finger to anything-bless
'em!" So that the first result of the diminished
establishment was that the girls did far less for them-
selves than before; indeed, it became a grave offence
to mend a hole or sew on a button.
Brian took the bad tidings as quietly as he did most
things, and almost disappointed his father by the ease
with which he seemed to relinquish the hope of an
Oxford career, and settle himself to wait for the first
HOW THE CHILDREN TOOK IT.
place in the City that turned up, where he might take
a small salary at once.
I'm very thankful you don't take it to heart, my
boy, as I feared you would do," his father said.
" Ambition is all very well in its way, and a little of
it helps a man on sometimes; but, after all, slow and
steady pay best in the end, depend upon it."
It was Honor that amazed her father more than
any; "little, quiet, white mouse," as he used to call
her. The girl's pale face flushed, and her eyes were
soft and liquid with a light shining through tears, as
she looked up into his face and slipped her hand
within his own.
0 father! we'll all be good, and help you as
much as ever we can. I'm sure I don't mind being
poor in the least-and we can all work and grow
Mr. Bright sighed as he thought how little the child
knew the meaning of her own words. What should
she know of the weariness of hard work-the daily
struggle-the constant disappointment-the longing
for rest and change, that must be set aside so stead-
fastly ? What should she know of being poor in its
reality-the ugly, dull, matter-of-fact details of poverty
that so few think of: its petty humiliations and small
inconveniences, which are so much harder to bear than
what seem like greater privations ?
How about the drawing-class ?" he said playfully.
"The shoe must pinch us all in turn, my dear."
Honor's eyes were brimming now.
50 HOW -THE CHILDREN TOOK IT.
"0 father I shan't mind. And besides, you know,
I can work on at home just as well, and, perhaps, some
You'll paint a grand picture, and make all our for-
tunes," Mr. Bright concluded, laughing.
It would have been better for Honor, perhaps, just
then, if Aunt Bell could have been there to remind her
of the old potato-patch and the pig-minding. But her
father's light words kindled again the fire that had
been smouldering in her imagination, and now the
four-leaved shamrock seemed to take a more tangible
shape than ever before. Had not her father thought
of it himself? "Not now for the sake of fame and
success," -Honor persuaded herself that such poor,
selfish ambition had been left behind,-" but for the
sake of home, and the father who had toiled for them
all so long." Surely, no duty could be so clear and
plain as to use her talent for such' an end! Surely,
this would be true honour, indeed !
She scarcely heard his last words: "So, now, my
little girl must be a woman, and learn to make two
ends meet, and be a comfort to her poor, old father:"
SShe stole away to her usual refuge in the red room,
and uncovered, the picture she was doing with an
almost reverent hand.
"It's all for father," she said softly to herself. "I
know it won't be for a long. time, but I will work, and
work, and work, until "-
And here Honor's castle-building assumed such vast
and elevated proportions that we had better leave.her
HOW THE CHILDREN TOOK IT.
in the clouds, and follow Brian down the stone steps
into the nursery, where the five juniors were all breath-
less to hear and to talk.
"Oh, I .:,, what a lark to be poor !" Pat exclaimed,
turning head over heels into the efts' water in his
excitement. Oh hooroo perhaps we'll begin to live
in the would country, and nivver come back to that
blatherin' old school at all, at all!"
"And Honor, and Molly, and I, will have to do all
the work," said Nora. "I'll be housemaid, I think,
and Honor cook"-
"Jolly nasty dinners we'dh..Lve. then!" Paddy ex-
claimed. "Perhaps we shall have to live on 'praties,'
with a 'drap o' the rather' to keep us going!"
"Do tell us what father said," Molly asked wist-
fully, perhaps remembering her midnight wanderings
too well for joking.
"Well, I11 tell you what it is," Brian began; "what
we've got to do is just to turn to and do what the
dad says, and not bother him about anything, nor
give trouble by getting into rows and kicking up a
shindy when he's got such an awful lot to think of,
youknow. He didn't tell me much, except that we
shall have to give up this house, and live somewhere
in the country, where it's cheaper, and we shan't cost
such a lot as we do now."
"I wish we could help- somehow," Molly said
thoughtfully. "I wonder if we shall have to sell the
white mice. They do eat a lot of oats, and then
there's the sop as well."
52 7HOW THE CHILDREN TOOK IT.
"And there are the canaries," Nora went on dole-
fully. "0 Brian! do you think we are as poor as
that ? I don't think they eat quite so much seed as
they did, especially since I put that stuff round the
cage to prevent them from spluttering it about so.
Just as Tafty was sitting, too !-and I'm -sure she
will hatch this time, for she has not been driven off
once, except when Paddy fell off the table yester-
The prospect was becoming very gloomy, and even
Peter clasped Don in his fat arms, and, regardless of
growls and struggles, wrapped him up tightly in his
pinafore, stoutly declaring that "They shan't sell Don,
that they shan't! and he shall have some of mine
dinner, out of mine own plate, that he shall!" till
Brian came to the rescue.
"Oh, I say, you girls mustn't begin kicking up a row
like that! You don't know anything yet, and I dare
say it will be rather jolly in the country. Perhaps we
shall be somewhere near Aunt Bell. I heard father
say something about it. And perhaps we shall have
a jolly little house, and a garden, and things."
This opened a new vista of delights, and the heart-
rending sacrifices of white mice and birds were soon
forgotten in dreams of fishing and fowls, picnics and
gardening, and other rural delights, till the children
began to return to Pat's original idea, that being poor
was, after all, rather a lark !"
Brian's notion of living near Aunt Bell was by no
means an imaginary one (Brian's notions seldom were),
HOW THE CHILDREN TOOK IT. 53
as that very morning father had received a letter from
John Keith, placing at his disposal a small house on
some land of his own, very near to their own pretty
home, which had been empty for some time.
It is not much of a place, I know," he wrote, and
will want a little setting to rights; but still, it is not
very much out of repair, and there is a good bit of
garden and a capital paddock-just the place for the
young folk to run wild in, for a year or two, till you
have had time to look about you. Bell and I will do
all we can to make it habitable, and it is very much at
your. service as long as you need it. It will do the
wife good to have the children near her again, for I
often say I have only got half of her after all."
So, after a little thought, Mr. Bright decided to
accept John Keith's offer; sending off nurse to inspect
the house with Aunt Bell, while the children were to
be packed off to the nearest sea-side place, so as to be
out of the way during the move.
"I wish I could spare nurse," Mr. Bright said; "but
we must have some one responsible here to see after
things. I suppose, if I take lodgings for you, I can
trust you children to keep out of mischief for a fort-
night, till nurse can come to you ? Mind, Brian, I
leave them to you and Honor, and if anything goes
wrong you must telegraph for me at once. I had
better send Peter to your aunt, I suppose."
But this met with such opposition from the whole
party, Brian .included, that Mr. Bright yielded-too
anxious and worried about other things to argue the
54 HOW THE CHILDREN TOOK IT.
point-and committed his youngest-born to Brian, with
something of Jacob's feeling, when he commended
Benjamin to Judah-" If mischief befall him, then
shall ye bring down my grey hairs with sorrow to the
LEAVING THE OLD PATCH.
3 HE last days in the old home were certainly
not sad ones, as far as the children were con-
cerned; and if Honor and Brian were old
enough to understand in some degree what they were
losing, they were also young enough to be distracted
from melancholy thoughts by the bustle of the present
and the novelty of the future.
Every one was very kind to them. Father was
more like himself, and dearer and kinder than ever.
He was more with them, too, and would come home
early from the City sometimes, and take them all out
for a walk in the Park; or, what they liked still better,
would let the boys come down and fetch him from his
office, and then he would take them exploring in odd
nooks and corners of the great City itself.
Nurse never found fault, whatever happened; cook
ran over with smiles and jam tarts, and made the
kitchen most alluring to the children, instead of the
forbidden ground it had once been,, when a severe
request, or rather command, of "Now. then, Master
Paddy, you be hoff! received the hapless intruder.
53 LEAVING THE OLD PATCH.
Then, too, all their friends were so kind. 'Mr. Bright
said he might have cut up each of his children into
four, and found a welcome for each of the twenty-eight
quarters. Invitations quite hailed upon them in the
first week or two, and though many of their friends
were out of town just then, the children might have
gone out to breakfast, dinner, and tea every day of the
week; and have gone to the Polytechnic, Madame
Tussaud's, and the Crystal Palace, to their heart's con-
tent, if father would have allowed them to accept the
invitations. But he always declined.
"You see, Nolly," he said once, when Nora had
been urging the delights of a certain invitation to Kew
Gardens, "when poor, little Pride has been very sick,
he can't bear the least taste of charity-cake just at
frst; it's too sweet for him."
Nora could not quite .see the connection between
kind, old Mrs. Watson and Kew Gardens, and sick Pride
and sweet cake.
"We have none of us been sick for a long time,"
she said to Molly; "not since Pat ate all those green
gooseberries that cook was just going to bottle; and
Mrs. Watson always gives us shrimps for tea, and not
cake at all." But she said no more to father about the
Perhaps they did not contribute much help to the
packing and arrangements; but they thought they did,
so it was all the same; and they all, down to Peter,
looked very important and business-like, and got very
dirty and tired before bedtime.
LEAVING THE OLD PATCH. 57
All sorts of cupboards and drawers had to be turned
out, whose contents had not been disturbed for years;
and in the process many lost treasures .came to light.
Dolls that Molly and Nora had loved and lost, mourned
and forgotten; marbles and tops of the boys, each
with its history attached; Peter's purse, containing
a lucky halfpenny and three buttons, over the loss of
which he had had a severe quarrel with nurse, having
accused her of stealing it; Aunt Bell's thimble; nurse's
scissors, the loss of which she had always connected
in a mysterious way with the guinea-pigs-though, as
Paddy truly remarked, 'It is only ostriches who go in
for that sort of grub.' Valuable bits of the microscope;
magic-lantern slides; the sponge out of the filter; one
of cook's patty-pans; father's smoking-cap; one of
Sarah's goloshes; and pencils by the dozen: these were
some of the items found in the schoolroom cupboard,
so that the children said it was quite exciting, turning
it out to see what they would find next.
Then there was the disposal of the live stock, which
was rather heart-rending; but father had condemned all
the creatures, and had appealed to the children to give
them up cheerfully for his sake; so they entered into
the matter of finding homes for them with less anguish
than they would have believed possible a month ago:
but then, as Molly said, It is for father's sake."
The only exception was in favour of Don, who was
also condemned at first; but Peter was so heart-broken,
and yet tried so manfully to reconcile himself to it, that
father relented, and agreed to Don accompanying the
58 LEAVING THE OLD PATCH.
children to Saltgate. Happily for the tench, it died a
natural death before the children could decide under
whose protection its melancholy .existence should be
prolonged; and one of the dormice also finished its
sleepy, tail-less career, and was buried in state in one
of the mignonette-boxes in the drawing-room balcony,
as there was no convenience for interments in the back
premises. The other dormouse was presented to Lucy
Stephenson, a friend of Molly's in the Square, and
accepted by her without confiding the fact to her family
or nurse, who were ignorant and prejudiced enough to
object to living creatures of all kinds, except the human
species. "However," as Lucy said, "I can keep it in the
nursery window-shutter without any one finding it out;
and I can buy it apples and nuts out of my weekly
allowance." Which arrangement augured ill, I fear,
for poor Brownie's future comfort.
The white mice were willingly accepted by Moss, a
school "chum" of Pat's, who .had a menagerie as
extensive as the Brights', but who, being of Jewish
extraction, drove a thriving trade in live stock among
his school-fellows, and had often made good bargains
with Pat, whose money burnt holes in his pockets.
The canaries were more easily disposed of among
various friends. Cook accepted one as a parting pre-
sent, and bought a brightly-coloured cage for it, and
promised, with tears in her eyes, to think of the dear
children whenever the pretty crittur sang "-Which, as
it was a hen, was not likely to occur often.
The guinea-pigs were bestowed on the nephew of
LEAVING THE OLD PATCH.
the washerwoman, who took them away one Monday
morning among the dirty clothes, after many kisses
bestowed on tortoiseshell, expie~.siuonles faces, and
twinkling pink noses.
As for the parrot, Aunt Bell begged that it might be
sent' to her, that after a long London life it might
spend its last days in the country, walking about on
green grass, or dozing in mossy apple-trees, or astonish-
ing the rustic minds of cocks and hens in the poultry-
yard by its conversational powers.
Then there only remained the efts and water-snails
to be settled in life, and, after much discussion, Brian
suggested the interesting idea of conveying them all up
to Hampstead, and letting them out into one of the
ponds on the Heath. There was something touching
and beautiful in the thought, the sort of thing that one
hears of in story-books, that the girls agreed: and
they debated whether it could not be carried out with
all the other possessions, and whether the canaries and
parrot might not be allowed to take flight and live in
happy freedom in the woods, and the guinea-pigs
wander at their will among fields and flowery banks;
but Brian expressed his opinion that, not being natives
of England, they might find it difficult to get suitable
food, though Molly said she was sure she had seen
canary-seed growing in Kent. However, the efts
should be set free; and one afternoon Brian undertook
to convoy all the family up to Hampstead for this
important purpose, all feeling that it was a solemn
occasion, only to be compared with the emancipation
60 LEAVING THE OLD PATCH.
of the slaves in the British dominions in America, or
of the serfs in Russia.
Honor did not wish to go, but all the rest did; so
Brian made his first experiment of managing the some-
what unruly team without the hand of either father,
Aunt Bell, or nurse on the reins. The first difficulty
was that Molly and Nora had firmly resolved to go
outside the omnibus, and it was as much as Brian
could do to stow them away inside with Peter; and
they felt that Brian had wasted father's money, and
deprived them of one of the advantages of poverty.
The next trouble was that Peter, who would carry one
of the pickle-bottles containing a particularly favourite
eft, called Spotted Dick," upset it in the middle of
the road when they got out of the omnibus, and, in his
fear lest Spotted Dick should be injured, nearly got
run over by a butcher's cart. But on the whole the
expedition was very successful, and they came back
much pleased, with a satisfactory memory of Spotted
Dick darting off in the water among the weeds, with a
waggle of his tail and a glimpse of the rich orange
underneath, followed one after another by his fellow
captives in the salting-pan.
Of course Pat fell into the water, and Paddy got
almost as wet helping him out; and, of course, Molly
and Nora's frocks would have called forth nurse's
wrath at any other time: but these things did not
spoil the children's pleasure, especially as in the pre-
sent state of nurse's temper they had nothing to fear.
OFF TO THE SEA.
HERE'S the sea Hurrah There he is,
S Peter! No, you're looking the wrong way !
Oh, I say, isn't it jolly? Three cheers for
I need scarcely explain that these exclamations
.proceeded from a third-class carriage overflowing with
young Brights, as the train puffed slowly into Saltgate.
Good-bye had been said to the old London home, every
room and cupboard had been visited for the last time
cook had wept over each of the children in turn, and
insisted on kissing them all, Brian included; nurse had
almost lost her temper again over the labours of pack_
ing; Bridget had been on a verge of a fit and grown
black in the face over the box cords; Sarah had nearly
made them all late for the train by a frantic rush after
the heavily-laden cabs with a parting gift of gingercakes
and toffy; Honor had nearly lost the tickets; and Pat
had come to words with the guard on the question of
having Don with them in the carriage; Peter had
pinched his finger in the door, and with few other
incidents of note the journey had progressed till they
62 OFF TO THE SEA.
were now nearing the happy haven of Saltgate in
Peter's accident had occasioned an acquaintance
with a motherly old housekeeper in the next compart-
ment, who took a great interest in the children, and as
she turned out to be own sister" to the woman who
kept the lodging-house to which the young Brights
were going, they got quite sociable before the journey
"And you couldn't have gone to no one better in all
Saltgate," she concluded, as have had babies of her
own and knows what children is, and that partic'ler
about airing the beds, as some parties don't see to as
Honor felt a little aggrieved at being treated as
under the care of even so excellent a person as Mrs.
Hopkins appeared to be, but Brian felt a secret relief
in the -prospect of being looked after; for in truth,
though he allowed no one to guess it, the care of his
charge weighed rather heavily on his young spirit at
"I'm glad she is used to children," he said; "it's
such a nuisance when they're not. I remember going
down to Rocksand years ago, with Aunt Bell after
Honor and I had had the measles, and you never heard
such a fuss as the old woman was in if we made a bit
of noise. There was always some bother about the
people in the dining-rooms, two nasty, cross, old maids;
who always looked as black as thunder when we met
them on the stairs."
OFF TO THE SEA. 63
"I wonder," Molly said, "whether father remembered
to say anything about Don. I know some people
don't like dogs; but then Don's such a good dog, I
shouldn't think any one would mind him. I'm sure
he only-bites sometimes, just now and then; and he
shall sleep up in our bedroom between Nora and
me. Shouldn't he,. then ?-a precious pet !-yes, he
Don was a somewhat fidgety travelling companion,
having a constant restless wish to stand up on the seat
and bark at the ,people in the next compartment, and
to growl at the porters when they came to the door of
the carriage. He served, however, to keep the children
occupied, and out of worse mischief.
The journey was not very long, and, at an incredibly
early period, the girls began sniffing and licking their
lips, and declaring they tasted salt; and the boys per-
formed feats of daring in hanging out of the window
to catch the first, faint, far-off gleam of the silver sea.
I0ow it was there in truth, laughing and dancing to
welcome them, within a quarter of a mile of the line.
Not to-day the grim, grey, old giant, who can make
the hearts of strong men fail, but like a happy child,
the children's friend and play-fellow, breaking into a
thousand sunny dimples and tiny, rippling, curling
waves,, with pleasure-boats rocking on its breast, and
great bars of green and purple stretching far away, like
soft shadows in its summer blue.
"And there are the bathing-machines!" exclaims
Nora. And, 0 Molly! there are some little girls rid.
64 OFF TO THE SEA.
ing on donkeys! 0 Brian! we must have donkeys,
It was a good thing that Brian had taken charge of
the tickets, for Honor was far away already from such
prosaic things as trains and porters, drinking in with
her eager, beauty-loving eyes, the loveliness of the
picture before her. Honor had heard from Aunt Bell
that very morning, and had started from home with
noble resolutions respecting the potato-patch; but,
somehow or other, that greatest of all "studies in
colour," with its misty lights and gleaming shadows,
had blotted out everything else, and Brian was as
usual left to do the pig-minding, and that was no joke
in a crowded station with five such very unruly pigs,
to say nothing of Don and the luggage.
Luckily for Brian, Mr. Bright had given directions
that they should be met at the station and convoyed
safely to No. 2 Seaview Terrace, or they might have
fared badly. As it was, Paddy was nearly carried on
in the train, having plunged head foremost through
the window at the last moment to rescue Pat's
fishing-rod and the family bundle of umbrellas, which
had been forgotten in the perils of getting out. It
was a great relief to him to find himself accosted by
a sunburnt boatman with a blue jacket and polite
"Beg pardon, sir-Mr. Bright's party, sir? For Mrs.
Hopkins, at No. 2 Seaview? I'm her brother, sir, as
the gentleman sent word for to-meet you. Perhaps
the young masters and misses wouldn't mind stepping
OFF TO TUE SEA. 65
into the 'bus while we looks after the boxes; they'll be
safe enough there, sir."
So, with the aid of this kindly sailor, the party
were safely rumbled off in the Pier Hotel omnibus
through the narrow streets of the old town, and past
the Esplanade and the shining sea, and the stretch of
wet sand and low, black rocks; past the bow-windows
and sun-blinds of Belvidere, and Marina, and Victoria
Parades, to the lesser pretensions of Seaview, which,
as the children all agreed, looked much more comfort-
able and homish, and was charmingly near the beach
and the bathing-machines and the desirable donkeys.
"And I hopes you'll be comfortable, Miss," smiling
Mrs. Hopkins the landlady observed, as Honor sur-
veyed with considerable satisfaction her new domain.
It had a bow-window with a good view of the sea, she
noticed, and a pretty little glimpse of the old town
and fish-market, with a steep bit of brown cliff rising
Brian took this in too, but not till he had satisfied
himself that there was not much in the room that
could be broken, and had resolved to ask Mrs. Hop-
kins to remove the wax flowers and spar vases from
the mantelpiece, and a handsome shell-box with a
view of Saltgate in the middle from the little table in
the window, before any catastrophe happened.
It was, perhaps, just as well that nurse was not
there to look suspiciously at the tea-caddy, and try
.the locking-up powers of the cupboard, and remark
that she supposed Mrs, Hopkins had noticed a crack
OFF TO THE SEA.
in the corner of the looking-glass (rather a pet thing
of Mrs. Hopkins's, by the way, with the-frame done
up in yellow muslin.) Mrs. Hopkins was an honest
soul, as lodging-house-keepers go, and kind-hearted
moreover; and Honor's dreamy, childish ways, and
Brian's anxious, young face, did more to ensure the
due appearance of mutton-bones and candle-ends than
all the sharpness in the world.
"And a nice-behaved set of children, too, seemingly,"
the good lady remarked to her husband; "and no fear
of catching nothing from them, I should say. They're
as healthyy as can be, and don't look a bit like London
children, unless it is the eldest young lady, as do seem
a bit delicate and quiet. But there! you might have
told they was London, too, to see them pegging in at
them shrimps and water-cresses, as does my heart
good to see'em."
HEN I was a child I used to be told, that if I
wished to be happy I must be good; but my
experience in life, as far as children are con-
cerned, has taught me, that if they are to be good they
must be happy: but whichever may b'e the cause, and
which the effect, certain it is that the young Brights
were perfectly happy in those sunny days at Saltgate,
and very tolerably good. Even Brian was able to
combine much enjoyment with pig-minding, and Honor
almost forgot there were any pigs to mind, everything
went so smoothly. There was so niuch room in that
great, new playground of theirs, that there was no fear
of treading on one another's toes, and their big play-
fellow, the sea, was quite impartial and untiring in
his attentions, and would run after Peter's pink,
dimpled feet on the sand, or fill the moat round
Paddy's great castle, or float Pat's fleet of little boats,
or bring treasures of shells and bright seaweeds to
fill Molly and Nora's buckets, treasures which made
a horrid mess in the sitting-room when they went
home. And all the time this very same playfellow
was sitting for his portrait to Honor, laughing
sparkling, and mocking at the colours in her box,
which made her very best attempts the merest
caricature of his mysterious beauty, and yet luring
her on to try again. He was always whispering, too,
in the girl's ear of pleasant things in a fair future, and
of finding the four-leaved shamrock, and prosperity
and happiness for every one along with it, but some-
how, the sea never said anything about the potato-
patch. And his story was very different from Aunt
Bell's. He had a good deal to say to Brian too, as he
lay at full length on the sand with his hat tilted over
his eyes, basking in the sun, with half an eye on
the bathing-machine horse and Peter. I think he
said a good deal that was comforting to him about
not going to Oxford, and changed prospects in general
But it was at night that he tried the allurement on
Brian that Honor found so fascinating. When the
children were in bed, and Peter's red, curly head was
burrowing into Brian's pillow, so that you could only
see the round, sunburnt cheek, flushed with sleep; then
Brian would lean out of the window and watch the
broad, shimmering, silver streak of moonlight on the
water, and listen to the murmur of the little waves
and the story of the sea: and he would have at last
to pull himself up with a jerk and come back with a
strong effort from moonlight on the sea and fancy to
candle-light on Peter's apple cheek and reality.
It was a good thing, indeed, that Mrs. Hopkins
was a motherly sort of person, or even with Brian's
best endeavours, the family might have fared badly
as to food. You see, in Aunt Bell's time they had
lived in the happy land of "Ready-made as most
children do, where dinner appears on the table at one
just as the sun rises in the morning; and tea-time,
with its bread and butter, is an event in the course
of nature like noon with its shadowless heat. The
very first morning they forgot all about dinner, and
were half-way down the Esplanade before they
remembered it. So Brian had to post back to Seaview
to mollify Mrs. Hopkins, while Honor went on after
the boys, who were off to the fish-market, for there
were a lot of fishing-boats coming in, and that is
certainly a sight worth seeing.
That was how it happened that the ordering fell
into Brian's hands, for as he began it that day Mrs.
Hopkins always applied to him in future, and spoke
of Honor as "little Missy," much to that young lady's
To be sure, it do seem funny to take orders from a
young gent; but it only shows what men-folk can do
if they put their minds to it."
So Brian won golden opinions from Mrs. Hopkins,
and made acquaintance with the butcher, baker, and
grocer, and learnt many important facts which are not
generally taught at our public schools; such as that
rice puddings cannot be made without milk, or roley-
jam puddings without suet, and that stale bread goes
farther than new, and that sea-air gives wonderful
appetites, before which joints of meat and loaves of
bread disappear like snow in the sunshine. He also
realized the general principle, that the very simplest
dinner requires some thought beforehand. He had,
however, a very easily-contented company to provide
for, and though Peter sometimes regretted that jam
pudding did not happen oftener, and that shrimps
were only rarely invested in, when that smiling woman
put the basket so close outside the window, still there
were few grumbles altogether.
Brian also had pangs now and then about the appear-
ance of the girls: as for the boys, they did not matter,
they lived half in and half out of the water all day, and
it did not signify how wet they got their serge suits;
they might even go in over their heads-which did
sometimes happen-without hurting anything, for Pat,
Paddy, and Peter were each provided with a red,
woollen night-cap, with a tassel at the peaked end,
which was not injured by salt water. Brian only
objected to their appearance in this costume, with bare
feet and trousers tucked up to their utmost, in the
town, as once happened when he was trying to be
dignified at the baker's, when the three boys appeared
suddenly in this attire to tell him that they could not
find Pat's shoes anywhere.
But what would Aunt Rosa have said to Molly and
Nora with their petticoats pinned up, with more regard
to comfort than elegance, climbing about barefooted on
the slippery green rocks, splashing into deep pools after
crabs and sea anemones, or standing perched on ledges
of rock with the tide creaming and curling about their
ankles, and their hair all tangled and wet flying in the
wind, mixed with the long ribbon sea-weeds which they
held in their hands, with their hats battered and stained,
and their faces and' necks sunburnt to the last degree ?
"I don't think," Brian used to say to himself
uneasily, "that you often see such big girls as Molly
and Nora up to all these larks. I wonder what Aunt
Bell would say? Honor doesn't notice it, she's alto-
gether different herself, and she always looks nice and
that kind of thing; but those little girls in Marina, who
go on the Pier in the afternoon, are always dressed up
no end, and they are not so big as Molly and Nora."
He took Peter down on the Pier one afternoon to
hear the band play, both of them got up in their best,
with gloves on; but they neither of them enjoyed it
very much, for it was hot and Peter got sleepy, and
took a great dislike to the man who played the drum,
who, he declared, made faces at him when no one was
looking. Brian trod on a lady's dress by chance,- and
was hot and crimson for hours after from the withering
glance he received.
He did not think, after all, that the little girls
dressed up like fashion-book plates, who minced about
on their high heels with all the airs and graces of their
elders, were what Aunt Bell would have wished Molly
and Nora to be like; and when he came back and met
the others returning from the rocks, after a most suc-
cessful collection of periwinkles for tea, all more wild
and untidy than ever, he said no more of appearances,
and snapped his mental fingers at Aunt Rosa's imagi-
DREAMING AND LADY JANE.
-NE day, when Aunt Bell had been hearing
S Honor read in the course of her lessons an
account of the sufferings of the early Chris-
tians, she remarked, perhaps with some special inten-
tion, that their fortitude ought to be an example to us
under the daily trials of life. Honor's back being just
then occupied by the well-known "black monkey,"
owing to a sharp skirmish with the juniors before
lessons, she expressed her opinion on the subject with
Martyrs, indeed! Well, Aunt Bell, I dare say they
were very good, but I don't believe the torture of
' horrid children' was invented then, or they would not
have been so patient."
Poor Honor! Selfish as the assertion was, there
was a grain of truth in it after all: for, as the stable
philosopher observed, "'It ain't the huntingg as 'urts the
'osses; it's the 'ammer, 'ammer, 'ammer on the 'ard
'igh road." Honor would have taken a fence, and been
in at the death nobly, but as yet she helped little in
drawing the family coach.
DREAMING AND LADY JANE. 73
One morning she had strayed away alone to a
favourite corner by the Pier; not the promenade, where
the band played and the rank and fashion spread their
plumes in the'sunshine, but down at the foot of the
slippery steps to the landing-stage, among damp green
timbers and beams fringed with brown sea-weed, where
the clear, green water lapped and splashed, lazily cool,
out of the noonday glare. Over her head tramped the
gay world to and fro, and the wash of the water at her
feet mingled pleasantly with the music of the band:
'between the piers she could see on one side the broad
sands and the children paddling and digging, and little
groups of nursemaids gossiping under sunshades; on
the other side the dazzling, dancing sea, with yachts
and fishing-boats and big vessels far away in the hazy
Honor was by no means worldly, but somehow to-day
as she sat with her book lying idle in her lap, and her
eyes gazing out into the horizon; it seemed as if the
gaiety and ease of that life above her was borne in on
her mind more strongly than ever before. She was leav-
ing childhood behind her, and a girl's eyes gazing from
outside into the world's charmed circle are apt to grow
I wonder," she mused, if I shall ever be like other
girls, having pretty dresses, and going out to parties,
and having good masters, and going abroad ? No, I
suppose not! I suppose I shall go. draggling on in a
shabby cotton frock and a tail of rough children behind
me to the end of the chapter-always shabby, always
74 DREAMING AND LADY JANE.
poor, always obliged to pinch and screw, and go without
what other girls have !"
Honor had lingered at the entrance to the Pier for a
few minutes watching the lively scene, and had retired
somewhat hastily, in consequence of becoming suddenly
aware that she was being watched rather curiously by
a graceful-looking young lady standing near her, beside
a tall, military-looking man.
"I wonder if that is his wife ?" Honor thought.
"She must be very young, I should think. How pretty
she is, to be sure and what a stylish dress She would
make a pretty picture."
At this time she had become aware of the earnest
gaze of the soft, brown eyes, and had shrunk back,
feeling shy and awkward, and thinking, "I suppose
they wonder what business I have here."
Down in her cool retreat, with her hat thrown back
and her hands clasped round her knees, Honor recalled
enviously the details of the simple but costly morning
dress, fitting so well the slender, girlish figure, and the
charm of the lovely, childish face, with its delicate
features and complexion, and beautiful, dark eyes.
And all the while the very subject of her thoughts
was looking down upon Honor with still greater
"Yes, Harry, she is the same girl we saw yesterday.
Is not she pretty ? I should like a picture of her just
Colonel Wilmott agreed that Honor was "an un-
commonly pretty little girl," as indeed he would have
DREAMING AND LADY JANE. 75
agreed to almost any opinion of his wife's: adding,
however, that "she wanted a little brushing up to
make her quite the thing."
0 Harry what an old dandy, to be sure I like
her just as she is, in that blue frock, with the straight,
yellow hair about her shoulders, and that quaint face
and great eyes. Do not the black beams and green
water make a perfect frame and background to the
Honor mused on, quite unconscious of the interest
she had awakened, till a wish seized her to try and
draw the pretty face that had charmed her so much,
and opening her sketch-book she was soon absorbed in
"May I. see what you are drawing ?"
Honor started at the sound of the soft voice at her
side, and turned round surprised and confused to find
herself face to face with her model.
"I saw you drawing yesterday," Lady Jane Wilmott
said, smiling, "and as I sometimes try a little in that
way myself, I am afraid it made me very inquisitive,
and I have been wondering what you can find to sketch
Oh, I wasn't sketching anything particular," Honor
stammered, feeling very uncomfortable; "at least, I
was only trying to draw some one."
"A portrait? oh, how nice! Are you staying in
Saltgate ? I wonder if you would mind making a
sketch of my little boy in his sailor suit. He would
make such a pretty picture I had thought of having
76 DREAMING AND LADY JANE.
him photographed, only he never seems to come out
Honor was flushed with pleasure now, and she
showed Lady Jane some of her attempts at Peter and
the other children.
"I have not done many heads," she said; "so, of
course I cannot do them very well yet. Those are only
things I just tried of my brothers and sisters."
What pretty children they must be! Do look,
Harry! isn't that a bonnie boy ? How old is he ? Six ?
Why, what a fine fellow! He looks nearly as old as
my boy, and he is more than eight !"
So Honor found herself gradually drawn into talk
with her fascinating new acquaintance, while Colonel
Wilmott strolled away to join some other gentlemen,
leaving his wife to amuse herself with her new fancy.
Honor was quite surprised to find how suddenly
attractive all the details of home and children, which
a few minutes ago had seemed -so dull and irksome,
became now in the interest of her listener. She did
not know how much of it was owing to her own quiet,
childish manner, and the shy gleam of pleasure that
flushed her face and brightened her eyes as she
"It must be very nice to have so many," Lady Jane
said with a sigh. My little boy is very lonely some-
times, all by himself. He is too delicate to go to school
yet, and, besides, I could not bear to part with him."
The soft eyes were full of tears now as she went on:
"I had a little girl once-little May; but oh it was
DREAMING AND LADY 7ANE. 77
so hard to lose her That is what makes me think so
much of my boy, I suppose."
"I should like to see him," Honor said.
"Oh, that you must! for you know I want you to
sketch him. I wish he would make some friends on
the beach: it would do him so much good to be with
other boys, if they were not too rough for him. We
are staying at the 'Victoria;' you must come and see
me-will you? "
When she had gone away, saying lightly that she
must go and talk to those dull people on the Pier, or
the Colonel would wonder what she was thinking of,
Honor sat still, thinking and wondering over it all.
It seemed to her like an angel's visit from a better and
happier world than her own; and yet this beautiful,
wealthy, brilliant creature, had in the midst of all her
good fortune found something to envy in the lot of a
poor, shabby, discontented child like herself !
SHRIMPING AND "THE SPIDER."
['i ONlOR was not the only one of the family who
S made a friend that afternoon, and she was
-"! l rather vexed when she came home full of
Lady Jane and her beauty and elegance, and the lovely
little boy she was to sketch .to find that no one paid
any attention to her descriptions, they being 'all so
taken up with talking of a boy they had fallen in with
on the beach, whom they called the Spider."
I am afraid Honor was a little cross, but can you
wonder at it when she had found her washing-basin
full of sea-anemones, and that there was treacle for tea,
with the usual effects on the faces, fingers, and pina-
fores of the family ? Oh, dear! Lady Jane could not
know what a large family really was, and especially a
family with a taste for treacle !
"I am sure, Brian," she said, rejecting with disgust
a sticky morsel pressed upon her by Molly, "that
father would not like the children making all sorts of
low friends on the beach. I saw Molly this morning
all among the donkey-boys, and as for the bathing-
machine boy "--
SHRIMPING AND THE SPIDER." 79
"Well, Honor," interrupted Molly in explanation,
"he's Mrs. Hopkins' nephew, and she says he's a very
good boy and goes to the Sunday-school, and never uses
bad words like some of the donkey-boys do; and I
only went this morning to see the new little donkey,
such a darling little thing, with such a rough head !"
"And oh, I say, Brian!" sang out Pat; "do you
know what Paddy did this morning when you were
gone to the butcher's? He got Joe, that's the bathing-
machine boy, you know, to let him have a ride on the
horse; and there were some ladies wanting to have
their machine drawn up, and he went right off into the
sea to them, and tried to catch hold of the ropes, and
nearly tumbled off! Oh, it was such a lark !"
I'd have done it as right as a trivet," said Paddy,
" only that great duffer of a Joe began screeching and
hallooing as if he was being murdered."
"He was in a rage, just about," went on Pat; and
he says he'll never let any of us ride the horse again."
"Well, he changed his mind soon enough," said
Paddy, regardless of. threatening looks from Molly and
Nora, "for he took Nora for a ride after dinner."
"What's that ?" asked Brian.
"Why, he took up Nora behind him, and she clung
on tight; and then he made that old horse go jolly
fast, galloping along like anything, past Belvidere and
Marina, nearly as far as the Pier. Oh, stunning! I
only wish it had been me!"
Honor looked at Brian, and he got up from his seat
by the tea-tray and went to the window with his
so SHRIMPING AND THE SPIDER."
hands deep in his pockets, and whistling softly to
himself, as he did when in a puzzle. Surely the potato-
patch was running wild, and the pigs were beyond his
power of minding !
"Brian asthore!" Two very treacley, sunburnt hands
are suddenly clasped round his neck, and Nora's face,
very sweet with the tears shining in the blue eyes,
in spite of the sticky smears round the mouth, is
reaching up to his. "Dear old B. B.! don't you look
like that, or it will just break my heart entirely. I'll
never ride that nasty old horse again, never or speak
to Joe or any of the donkey-boys. What will I do to
make you smile? "
Who could resist Nora when she tried her sweet
Irish coaxing ? She was a rare hand at the blarney,"
the boys said. So Brian laughed and thought no more
of it, but Honor could not forget it so easily.
But "the Spider" was no donkey-boy or low ac-
quaintance, though they would have liked him none
the less if he had been.
It was low tide that afternoon, and while Honor
sat on the Pier steps all the rest of the family, in-
cluding Don, had gone off some way along the beach,
to a large pool left among the rocks by the receding
tide, which was a first-rate place for trying the
shrimnping net which the boys had made, with the
help of Brian. Peter carried a large basket to bring
home the shrimps in, and he had told the shrimp-
woman when she came to the window that morning
that they should never want to buy any more shrimps,
SHRIMPING AND THE SPIDER."
as they were going to catch them for themselves, which
did not seem to please her.
Brian was as much interested as the others, and
stood on a rock directing operations, while Pat pushed
the net in front of him across the pool.
Peter altogether declined to believe that these hop-
ping, shadowy, transparent things, more like insects
than anything else, were those substantial brown
shrimps in the woman's basket, still less that they
might come out bright pink in boiling; and even
Molly and Nora were rather doubtful about it. As
for Don, he kept watch over the basket, pricking his
ears and starting when they hopped, and retiring with
a growl when one came right into his face.
While they were all thus absorbed, Pat said-
Hallo i what's the row ? What a hullaballoo !"
A little boy was coming along the shore by himself,
sobbing and crying. He had a beautiful model yacht
in his arms, and on the dainty sails and ropes and
masts his tears rolled down, and he looked a woe-
begone, little object altogether, in spite of his boat and
his pretty little sailor suit, which made a miniature
man-of-war's man of him.
Brian was so used to fly to the rescue when he
heard signals of distress from any of his crew, that
it came natural to him to cross the rocks with a few
strides of his long legs towards the little boy, saying,
"Hallo, old chap what's up?"
He was a boy of about Peter's size, but a great
contrast to that sturdy young ruffian. He had a
82 SHRIMPING AND "THE SPIDER."
delicate white face, now tear-stained and puckered
ap; and his light, almost flaxen hair, was cut across
his forehead and hung down in long silky curls behind,
"just like that large doll at the -Soho Bazaar," said
His crying stopped at Brian's words, but began
again when the other children came up, and Don gave a
short bark at the new-comer. Indeed, the boys looked
desperate characters in their red caps and tucked-up
trousers, and the girls not much less so.
Oh, I say," said Pat, "you mustn't make such a row
here, you'll frighten the tide out !"
Or scare the shrimps into fits suggested Paddy.
"What'a darling little ship !" said Molly; are you
coming to sail it in the pool ?"
"Come along! wipe up !" said Brian, offering a pocket-
handkerchief out of the shrimp-basket for that purpose.
" I don't believe that craft of yours has ever been in the
water. Let's see how it goes."'
The child's alarm began to subside under this
welcome, and Brian was able. to make out at last that
Sarah (supposed to be the nurse) had stopped to look
in at the bonnet-shops on the Esplanade, and that he
had got impatient and had run on to the beach, but she
had not overtaken him; and then he thought he saw
her a long way off along the sands, and had gone after
her, but could not find her, and had got frightened at
"0 Sarah! shell turn up all right," said Pat; "and
it don't much matter if she don't."
SHRIMPING AND THE SPIDER."
So the tears were wiped away, and Molly took one
'hand and Paddy the other, and Pat carried the boat
with great reverence, and they made off to the pool.
But here a difficulty presented itself.
You'll spoil that toggery of yours," said Brian; and
even as he spoke there was a slip, and, in spite of
Molly and Paddy's help, the little boy sat suddenly
down on a slimy, green rock, which left evident signs of
the event on his "white ducks," as Paddy called them;
and Pat only made matters worse by trying to rub off
the marks with the before-mentioned handkerchief, and
Molly expressed an opinion that they would wash all
"Isn't he a swell, just about?" said Pat. "Shan't
you get into a row at home if you get in a mess ?"
"Perhaps," said Brian, "you'd better not come on
the rocks; you don't seem rigged out for that kind of
thing. Here, Molly, take him back before he gets wet
But Pat could not bring himself to give up the boat
without a struggle.
Can't he take off his boots and turn up those white
ducks? and then he'll be all right. Oh, I say! there
goes his hat!" for a sudden gust of wind had whisked
off his broad-brimmed straw hat with a blue ribbon
round it, bearing the words, H.M.S. Dreadnought,"
and had carried it safely into the middle of the pool,
where it was floating and bobbing about as if it en-
joyed the joke.
No sign of Sarah being visible along the beach, and
84 SHRIMPING AND THE SPIDER."
the young Brights being all of them anxious to sail
the boat, and Brian himself rather wishing to see how
it would go, and the stranger himself favouring the
idea, Brian helped him off with his shoes and stockings
(for he was as helpless as a baby), and rolled up his
trousers, which were tight at the knee and very loose
at the ankle, and turned up his. sleeves above his
elbows; and Pat lent him his scarlet cap while the
straw hat was drying, tying the handkerchief round
his own head instead. The children all laughed at
the wonderful change produced in his appearance, and
the little boy himself seemed delighted, and danced
about, on the sands with such very white legs that
Brian was not surprised to hear that he had never
had his shoes and socks off out of doors before, or to
hear him say, Oh! it is nice 1"
"Perhaps your people at home wouldn't like it,"
Brian said doubtfully; but it was too late for such
"Oh, my eye! what thin legs!" cried Pat. "Peter's
would make half-a-dozen of yours. You're like a
"Not got much understanding," said Paddy. Come
The yacht went splendidly; there was just enough
wind to take it across the pool stunning," and there
were little natural harbours in the rock that seemed
made on purpose for their play, and there were sand-
banks and sunken rocks that gave variety to the
voyages, and there were crabs who, made first-rate
SHRIMPING AND THE SPIDER." 85
passengers and sailors. An hour slipped away like
five minutes, and the children were far too much
absorbed to notice a young woman coming along the
shore, looking in all directions for something she did
Have you seen a young gentleman in a sailor soot
pass by ?" she asked Brian. "I was told he come this
"Hallo, Spider you're wanted sang out Paddy.
And then a little, red-capped figure, in the middle
of the pool, with the water above his knees, turned
round a laughing, dirty face. The "sailor soot" was
wet through, and stained with green and brown slime;
there was a long, flapping piece of sea-weed tied round
his neck, and hanging down over the broad collar that
had been so spotless an hour before; and he was just
fastening his blue neck-ribbon to a stick to act as a
signal on a dangerous sand-bank that had wrecked the
boat more than once. Was it not enough to give any
respectable nurse "a turn," or "to strike her all of a
0 Master Duke 1 you naughty, naughty boy What-
ever will your ma say ?"
*1 j -HERE he is that's him 0 Honor! doesn't
he look a pretty little fellow ?"
Mrs. Hopkins' brother, the attractive boat-
man, had taken Brian and the boys off to see some
rocket practice on the cliff, while the two girls rather
unwillingly consented to remain at home with Honor,
and write to father and Aunt Bell an account of their
doings. They had both secured commanding situations
near the window, which,. though possibly a suggestive
spot, was not one favourable to rapid composition.
Molly had not got beyond, "My dear Aunt Bell, we
saw such a very large jelly-fish,"-- and Nora had
stuck fast over the spelling of "Seaview," when the
appearance of their new acquaintance on the Esplanade
brought them both to a standstill altogether.
Honor raised her eyes slowly from her book, to
inspect the miniature dandy passing sedately along the
Parade, under the care of a fashionably-attired maid.
"It is what I call downright vulgar," was her some-
what disappointing comment, "dressing up a child like
that! I expect he belongs to some tradesman in the
REFINED SOCIETY. 87
town, or some rich London shopkeeper; they always
bedizen them out so. Those sailor suits, like you saw
him in yesterday, are dreadfully snobbish."
Molly and Nora remained abashed, but still not
converted by the crushing opinion; still watching, with
eyes of secret admiration, the little fellow's carefully-
curled flaxen locks and dainty velvet dress, while Honor
continued her oration.
I do wish you would be more careful, Molly; it's
all very well for boys and babies to go playing about
with any one on the beach, but it is different with girls.
Perhaps, now, that child's mother might see you playing
with him, and come and call, or something, and what-
ever should we do then ? Of course, nice people would
never have anything to do with us," she concluded,
thinking dolefully of Lady Jane.
After this, finding the girls unusually tractable in
the absence of their aiders and abettors, Honor pro-
ceeded to relate what had taken place on the Pier the
day before. She was a good hand at description, and
her highly-coloured sketch of the lovely, fashionable
lady she had met, produced a deep impression on her
"0 Honor! how very interesting! I expect she is
somebody very, very grand. Suppose you were to see
her again, and she were to invite us all to dine at
the 'Victoria!' Pat says it's awfully grand inside.
He looked in through the glass-doors when Brian sent
him down about the omnibus yesterday. He could see
right in through the coffee-room, you know Such a
splendid place! and such lots of waiters! and such
jolly things to eat! just like what we had at the
'White Hart,' when father took us to Windsor with
Aunt Bell. Do you remember, Molly ?"
"Yes, I remember we were both awfully sick after
dinner. There were cutlets all done up in paper, and
horrid stuff called 'omelette,' and we were too.afraid of
the waiter to leave anything."
Nora had an awkward way of remembering facts too
distinctly to suit Molly's romantic Irish mind, to which
the glories of -an hotel were wholly unclouded by such
drawbacks. She went on, however, undisturbed in
her castle-building, in a strain which rather suited
"Do you think we should all go, Honor ? Perhaps
it would be too many. Perhaps it would only-be just
us three, and Peter to play with the little boy. I
wonder if he is as pretty as-our little boy ?"
"A great deal prettier than that little dressed-up
doll!" Honor said scornfully. "I am afraid Lady
Jane will never let him play with you while you are
so rough.and rude."
The conversation had had such a solemnising effect,
and led to such neat and proper epistles being written,
that Honor suggested a walk on the Esplanade before
the boys returned -and the reign of misrule began
Honor did not look half so picturesque in her best
frock and hat, sitting on a seat on the Parade, as she
had done in her blue cotton on the damp steps of the
REFINED SOCIETY. 89
Pier the day before. The case, too, was much the same
with Molly and Nora, who would have been far happier
on the beach with Joe, or on the rocks with the crabs
They were rewarded, however, and Honor experi-
enced a thrill of sudden pleasure, as a pretty little
chestnut hack was reined in close beside them, and
Lady Jane's voice exclaimed, in a tone of real plea-
Oh, there you are! I thought, perhaps, I should
see you. Those are the little sisters, I am sure; they
are just like the sketches."
Yes, there she was, looking sweeter and prettier than
ever in her dark riding-habit and dainty little hat; the
exercise flushing her cheeks and brightening her eyes,
so as to heighten her beauty still more.
"Are you walking up this way ?" she asked. "I am
just going in myself. Could you not come in and see
my boy ? I shall never be satisfied till I have a sketch
of him now; and you will be sure to see him, for he
always has his tea with me at five o'clock. Do come.
My husband is out this afternoon, so I am quite alone."
There was no resisting that soft, coaxing voice, even
if Honor had wished to do so, and in a few minutes
more the three girls found themselves inside the
wonderful glass-doors of the big hotel, and Lady Jane,
with her .habit thrown over her arm, running lightly
in front of them up the broad, shallow, softly-carpeted
staircase. Now they stood in the lofty, stately-looking
room, with its tall mirrors and velvet sofas, and wide