111 fill t r;
Vill* 11 1 1
U^Ljm ^ ret'r'jJ
HER GREAT AMBITION.
"On dashed the children in spite of the rain."-Page 127.
WELLS GARDNER, DARTON, & CO.
I. THE MYSTERY I
II. DEAR TIM 17
III. "ONLY A GIRL 31
IV. A BEAUTIFUL PLAN 57
V. BUSY DAYS 72
VI. THE COFFEE-GRINDER 95
VII. A QUIET BIRTHDAY 12
VIII. ON THE MOOR 133
IX. WAITING 152
X. FULFILLED 184
XI. AFTERWARDS .205
HER GREAT AMBITION.
HERE had been for some weeks what the children
called "a mystery" in the nursery at Scraseden
S Manor. During one of their father's frequent
absences from home, the room (which, within the memory
of the oldest child, had never borne any other name
than that of "Anne's room," and which communi-
cated with the nurseries by a short passage), had been
papered and painted, and filled with very pretty new
There could be no possible doubt that somebody was
coming, but who that somebody was remained a profound
secret. Nurse had been hard-pressed by questions, but
as the children found that any reference to the subject
only seemed to remind her, either of some duty which at
once took all her thought and attention, or else to cause
her to make reference to the latest misbehaviour on the
part of her questioner, they ceased at last to trouble her
2 HER GREAT AMBITION.
with their curiosity, feeling sure that when their father
returned he would answer all their inquiries.
In the meantime it was as Hugh, the second boy,
declared, "very uncomfortable," not to have the least
idea who was coming. Reggie, his elder brother, inclined
to the belief that it was a horrid, ugly, cross governess,
who would keep them at lessons all day, and be always
thinking that they made too much noise.
The thought was a terrible one, and was like a night-
mare to the four eldest boys.
Bertie, a precocious child, loving the very smell of a
book, was the only one who at all liked the prospect; and
he thought it would be very nice to have a governess who
would know all about everything." Dear blind Arthur,
the youngest boy, was of so placid a disposition that
nothing ever seemed to affect his temper, or bring a cloud
over his sunny face; and, besides, his brothers were quite
agreed that neither he nor little three-year old May were
in the least likely to be under the dominion of the dreaded
teacher, and were therefore without cause for anxiety.
From constantly dwelling upon it, the idea of the new
governess took such firm root in the children's minds, that
when they came downstairs as usual the morning after
their father's return, to "keep him company," as they
expressed i4, at breakfast, Reggie's first question almost
was,-" 0 father when is she coming? "
To his surprise his father looked at him for a moment
in some vexation.
"Who told you about her?" he asked at length.
"Surely not nurse ?"
"Oh no! said Hugh; we guessed it-at least
"And I wish I hadn't," added Reggie, in a doleful
voice. "I've done nothing but think about it ever
It's dreadful horrid!" groaned Freddie and Willie,
"Very, very horrid !" echoed Hugh.
"I did not wish you to know anything at all about the
matter," said their father, until I felt perfectly certain
about it myself; and that is why I did pot tell you before.
But I can't imagine why you seem to dislike the idea so
very much. I thought you would like it."
"Like it! O father! how could you think so?"
"Fancy," continued Hugh, "liking an ugly, old,
I say," interrupted his father, it strikes me we are
talking about two different people. Tell me who you
thought was coming."
Why, a governess, of course I replied Hugh.
At which his father leant back in his chair and laughed
"(Father, if you will only say it isn't a governess, I
think," said Reggie, I shall be happy again."
"Then pray be so at once, my dear boy," replied his
father, "for I can assure you I have no intention of
engaging a governess."
On your word of honour ? "
On my word of honour."
How splendid !" exclaimed Reggie.
"But who is it, then ? asked Hugh. Some one is
coming: is it not so, father ? "
"Very possibly; but I cannot tell you just now who
It's a she, anyhow," said Hugh confidently.
HER GREAT AMBITION.
What makes you so sure of that? asked his father,
stroking the boy's hair from his forehead.
" It's a she, anyhow," said Hugh.
"Because, when Reggie said, 'When is she coming?'
you said, 'Who told you about her?' So I know by
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THE MYSTERY. 5
that it's a 'she.' And now don't you think, father, you
could tell us who it really is ?"
"No, not just now. Perhaps in a day or two I may
be able to do so. You must be patient until then; and
as you seem so clever in guessing, you had better see if
you can get a little nearer the truth."
Reggie and the other children shook their heads, and
seemed to think their guessing powers were exhausted-
all but Hugh, who after a short silence said, I know
who it is It's that sick niece of nurse's coming here to
end her days Nurse said she must give up her lace shop
and end her days in some quiet home."
The idea of the room in such close proximity to the
nursery and play-room being a quiet home," and of his
visitor arriving with no other view than that of ending
her days therein, appeared to cause his father so much
amusement that Hugh felt almost hurt; and nurse's
knock, the signal that it was time for the children's walk,
was no unwelcome interruption.
Sir James Neville was a widower. His wife had died
about two years before this story commences, when little
May was only six months old. The other children were
all boys; Reggie, the eldest, being only between six and
seven when his mother died. He was a bright, intelligent
little fellow, rather inclined to be doleful about trifles,
but brave and patient under a real trouble. He had a
mechanical turn, and was constantly making wonderful
machines, which generally came to grief," as he expressed
it, when they were within five minutes of being finished."
This, however, seldom seemed to trouble him much, for
new ideas trod very closely on the heels of the old ones.
Hugh, his next brother, and a year younger than him-
self, had no turn, according to his father, for anything
6 HER GREAT AMBITION.
but talking and mischief. Old nurse said his tongue
went upon wheels, she was sure; and when she was
wearied out with his chatter she used to tell him that he
ought to be in the House of Commons.
He greatly admired his brother's inventive talents, and
could not imagine how it was that he was generally the
chief agent in the destruction of the wonderful machines
which Reggie from time to time produced.
The twins, Freddie and Willie, came next. Their turn
was gardening, and they were perfectly absorbed in each
other; already, however, showing a strong desire to rule
the nursery world. Then came Bertie, who bid fair to
be the genius of the family. He had only been taught
his letters, and then had learnt to read-no one knew
exactly how. He was never to be seen without a book
in his hand; but his brothers' amusements and occupa-
tions had no charms for him, for one very remarkable
trait in his character was his excessive timidity. He was
quite clever in foreseeing possible dangers and in discover-
ing means for protecting his small person. Arthur, who
was quite blind, was nurse's acknowledged pet amongst
the boys; whilst little May, the pet and plaything of
her brothers, was, as Hugh had once said, "everybody's
Old nurse was devoted to her charges. She had been
their mother's nurse from babyhood; and if her notions
were somewhat old-fashioned, she had imbued all the little
Nevilles with the highest principles, and the deepest rever-
ence for everything that was noble and good.
To-day," said Sir James, as the children raced into the
breakfast-room two or three days after their conversation
about the expected governess, "To-day I can tell you all
about the mysterious person who is coming to live here."
THE MYSTERY. 7
"Is she going to liec here altogether, father? Tell us
that first, please! exclaimed Hugh.
"Altogether, I hope," answered his father.
"Then I hope," said Reggie, looking a little doleful,
" that it is somebody very nice."
"Is she nice, father?" inquired Hugh. "Do you like
I think I shall like her very much-I hope so," replied
Sir James; but I have not seen her yet."
"O father !" exclaimed Reggie; "fancy bringing any
one to live here whom you have never even seen! How
could you, father ? "
"Well, it did seem rather a risk, certainly," said his
father, very much amused at Reggie's dismay. "But if
all your Uncle Charles says about her is correct-and he
knows her very well, indeed-I don't think there is any
need for uneasiness."
"But who is she?" inquired Hugh anxiously.
"You have heard about your Uncle Reginald, have
"Oh yes! and about Aunt Dora, too !"
"And you know that they died of cholera abroad, in
Africa, within a few hours of each other? Well, they
left one little girl, whom your Uncle Charles took charge
of; and he brought her with him to England last year,
and since then she has been living partly with your
grandmother and partly with Mr. and Mrs. Carew (Mrs.
Carew is a half-sister of her mother). They have just
had great losses, and are obliged to sell their house, so
the little girl is coming to live with us. You will like
having her to play with better than Hugh's ugly old
bothering governess-eh? "
8 HER GREAT AMBITION.
"But why can't she live with grandmother?" asked
Reggie. "I think she had much better go to her."
Yes," said Hugh; I'm sure we don't want her here."
Your grandmother is too much out of health to have
her," replied Sir James. "What odd children you are!"
he continued. I should have thought that you would
have liked to have had another child to play with !"
Not a girl," said Reggie, shaking his head.
"Is she quite black ? inquired Freddie.
"Black !" exclaimed his father in surprise. No; why
should she be?"
"Because you said she came from Africa, and I thought
all Africans were black."
"0 Freddie!" said Bertie, proud of his knowledge;
"don't you know the geography says "-
"Stuff interrupted Hugh, who had no love for Bertie's
correction; adding quickly, "When is she coming, father,
if she must come? "
"This afternoon," rejoined Sir James.
"So soon? O father!" exclaimed Hugh.
She'll bring a doll, I know she will; and she'll always
be crying, like Frank Peyton's sister," groaned Reggie.
"Nonsense!" said his father; "how you do look ahead
for troubles! I dare say she will bring a doll; but she
isn't at all likely to want you to play with it, if she
What is she called, father ?" asked Arthur.
"Dolly," he replied.
"Dolly!" repeated two or three of the boys. And
"Oh dear! oh dear "
You will be good and kind to her, I hope," said their
father anxiously; "poor little thing!"
Oh yes, that we will!" replied Hugh, in his bright,
hearty way. "Of course it is not her fault that she is
"I shouldn't like her to be unhappy," said Reggie,
"but oh, I do wish she wasn't coming! A girl is no
good for anything."
I'm sorry you think so," remarked his father dryly,
and stroking his baby daughter's golden curls. "A bright
prospect, certainly, for our little May."
Oh, she is quite different, of course i" said Reggie and
Hugh in chorus.
Well, run away now; there is nurse come for you."
And the boys departed to talk the matter over with
Sir James, when he was left alone, began to pace the
room with folded arms and knitted brow. Apparently
his meditations were not very pleasant ones; but at last
he paused in his walk, and saying half aloud, I'm con-
vinced I'm doing right in taking the poor little homeless
thing," he turned into the library, where he was engaged
in business until the luncheon-bell rang. The fact was
no one beyond his own mother and brother, and Mrs.
Carew, with whom little Dolly Neville had spent a great
portion of the time she had been in England, approved
of Sir James's plan of giving her a home at Scraseden;
and he had been almost worried out of all patience by
the objections which had poured in on all sides from
friends as well as relations.
He was urged not to make so unwise an arrangement,
but as she would have to earn her own living to send her
to some school, cheap enough to be within the small
means left by her father. Even old nurse had ventured
with great respect to question the wisdom of bringing
10 HER GREAT AMBITION.
a strange child into the nursery amongst her flock, and
that, too, a child from heathen lands. She trusted master
might never have to repent it.
But the idea of letting his brother's orphan child be
brought up amongst strangers was most repugnant to Sir
James's feelings. He admitted that there were objections
to his plan; but as, in his opinion, school life must be a
great trial to so young a child, he adhered resolutely to
it, and had rejoiced in the thought that his boys, at least,
would be charmed to have a new play-fellow.
In this he had that morning been undeceived, yet he
did not waver in his conviction that the course he was
taking was the right one.
During his father's luncheon Hugh came downstairs
to prefer the request that he might drive with him to the
station to meet the unknown cousin, about whom the
children, in spite of their objections, were beginning to
feel very curious. But Sir James declined his company.
He had business to do in the town, he said; and there
would perhaps be so much luggage that there might not
be room for him. It would not be wise either to take
him out in such bitterly cold weather. Hugh's dread of
a cold wind rather consoled him for the disappointment,
for he was a chilly little mortal with rather a delicate
chest. His father said he overworked it by talking too
The 3.30 train was not far from Teignmouth when Sir
James drove up to the station to meet it. In a first-class
compartment sat a gentleman and a little girl about
seven years of age. The former was reading, but the
child suddenly claimed his attention by saying-
Oh look, uncle, at that funny-looking boat-just
like a swan! "
"Yes, that is always there," said her uncle kindly.
" I have heard that it is some one's yacht, though I can't
quite fancy there would be much pleasure in going to sea in
it-a barrel would do just as well, I should fancy. But
now, Dolly, we are getting very near your journey's end.
We shall go through some odd short tunnels after we leave
the next station, and then we shall be at Teignmouth."
Dolly's face had grown very grave at hearing that her
journey was drawing to an end.
"I wish-how I wish that you were coming with
me! she said.
And then, crossing the carriage to where her uncle sat,
Don't you really think you could take me with you
to live with grandmamma ?"
Quite impossible, my little Dolly !" answered the
young officer; "she is too ill, you know: it wouldn't do
And for a moment he gazed across the sea with an
absent expression, "as if," so Dolly told her cousins
later, "he was looking very hard at nothing; and I
should have thought, only I know men never cry, that he
had tears in his eyes."
Dolly was silent, and in her eyes were traces of tears,
as leaning on her uncle's knee, she looked earnestly up
into his face.
"Well, little Dolly ? he said at last, in a questioning
"I wish," was the reply, "that Uncle James hadn't
got such a lot of boys."
He has got a lot, certainly," replied her uncle,
amused. "And yet he doesn't seem to think he has one
too many. Very odd, isn't it ? "
12 HER GREAT AMBITION.
"I hope they'll love me," said Dolly, taking no notice
of the question.
"They will be hard-hearted little scamps if they
don't!" exclaimed her uncle, with a look in his eyes
which showed that Dolly had a very large share of his
"Hard-hearted little scamps." What could the words
mean ? Something very bad, Dolly was sure; and she
earnestly hoped that her boy-cousins were nothing of the
kind. Had she ever seen a scamp ? she wondered. And
she was so occupied with her own thoughts that she
scarcely paid any attention to the numerous short tunnels
through which they were passing. She had just decided
that she had better ask Uncle Charles what sort of a
thing a scamp was when he exclaimed-
"Here we are! "
And presently a gentleman, so like the beloved uncle
she was leaving that she could not feel afraid of him,
was lifting her out of the carriage, and kissing her so
fondly that all thought of the scamp difficulty vanished
from her mind.
"The luggage is behind, James," said the younger
man, "and her dog is in the van. I hope the separation
has not been as trying to him as it has been to Dolly.
He is an utter mongrel, but don't be prejudiced against
him. I can vouch for his being worthy of the child's
It was well that Sir James had been a little prepared
for Dolly's lively pet, which, catching sight of his mistress
as the train moved off, dragged the porter who was hold-
ing his chain at most unwilling speed towards her.
"There he is !" cried the child: "dear, dear Tim !"
And the delight of being reunited to her precious dog
rather softened the bitterness of parting with the uncle
who had been her almost constant companion since those
The Dog catching sight of his Mistress.
sad days, which seemed to her far back in the past, when
her parents had been so suddenly taken from her. She
looked with curious eyes at this new uncle, as he lifted
' .- -
HER GREAT AMBITION.
her up into the dog-cart and then mounted beside her,
and came to the conclusion that he looked very nice
indeed-almost as nice as Uncle Charles.
Dolly and her Uncle in the Dog-cart.
Please," she ventured to say, as Sir James took the
reins into his hands, "may dear Tim come up here? "
THE MYSTERY. 1
"If you wish it, my dear, certainly," he replied, mov-
ing the carriage rug to make room for the dog at the
child's feet; but on Dolly's invitation to jump up, the
animal placed itself on the seat, wedging itself between
them, its head peeping wisely out beside her own. And
so they started for Scraseden.
Sir James had had time to transact his business before
the train was due, and as Dolly owned to being both
tired and hungry, he was glad to be able to drive straight
home. At first the child seemed to have eyes for no one
but her dear Tim, from whom she had been so long
separated; but at last she commenced a conversation
with her uncle by saying, shyly-
You've got a lot of boys, haven't you, Uncle James ?"
And on his owning that such was the case she said
I'm very sorry if I oughtn't to say it, but I do wish
And such a pitiful little face looked up at him, that her
uncle hastened to assure her, that he hoped she would
soon be very fond of all the boys, and be very happy at
Scraseden; and Dolly replied earnestly, but with rather a
"And I hope so, too."
After which the conversation flagged, and Sir James
thought his little companion was getting sleepy; but she
quite woke up as they passed through the first gate, and
took great interest in the lake, in which she said dear
Tim would like to swim; and in the boat-house, which
she thought was quite pretty enough to live in. And
her face had regained its usual bright expression when
they drove over the curious old drawbridge and up to the
door of the manor, where Denham, the old butler, who
HER GREAT AMBITION.
remembered her father, lifted her to the ground with a
smile of welcome. Dolly, in her secret heart, had begun
to have greater hopes of being happy at Scraseden than
she had had since the memorable day on which she had
first been told that it would be her home in future, when
her heart had sunk far lower than even her Uncle
Charles, who understood her best, had supposed: every
one having congratulated themselves that the child
minded so little going among strangers.
IR JAMES had returned from Teignmouth so
much sooner than he was expected that the
children were disappointed in not being down-
stairs to receive Dolly, as they had intended to be. Instead
of this, they were all in the nursery (with the exception
of Reggie, who was hard at work in the morning-room),
when John surprised them by opening the door and
announcing Miss Dolly.
Nurse rose from her seat to give her new charge a
loving welcome; but as she did so, she was startled by
hearing a frightened "Oh! oh!" from Bertie, as he
jumped on a chair with great agility, and she then
became aware of the presence of Tim.
Oh, my dear! that nasty dog! I can't have him
here," she cried, that's certain "
Dolly turned very red, and stared at her as if she could
not believe her ears.
"Take the nasty creature away, John !" said nurse.
But this was too much for the child.
He's not a nasty creature he's my own, dear, beauti.
ful Tim !" And she dropped on her knees beside him,
and flung her arms round his neck,
18 HER GREAT AMBITION.
"0 John! John! I am so frightened! Please take
him away!" implored Bertie from his chair. "He's
going to bite me, I'm sure 1" his tone becoming a scream
as Tim turned his head towards him.
"Come, Tim! Tim, old fellow! come along!" said
John in a wheedling voice; to which, however, the dog
did not pay the slightest attention.
"Why don't you take him away, John ?" asked nurse
angrily. But there was a look in Tim's eye, as the foot-
man walked towards him, which made that individual
averse to meddle with him.
Perhaps he will come downstairs with Miss Dolly ?"
"She is not going downstairs again just yet, and the
creature must be put away at once," said nurse; adding,
Come, Miss Dolly, let go the dog, and let me take off
your warm things." And she put her hand on Dolly's
shoulder, but only to withdraw it hastily, as she, too, saw
that Tim had a temper which was not to be trifled with.
She was really frightened.
It's a nasty savage beast, I can see," she said, "and
I won't have it here a minute longer!" with an angry
gesture to the unfortunate John.
But Dolly, who since her first defence of her dearly
beloved dog had been rather enjoying Tim's passive
resistance to nurse's orders and John's evident disinclina-
tion to carry them out, was now again roused to anger
by nurse's remarks about her pet.
"How can you say so? You're a very naughty old
woman !" she exclaimed passionately, "and I almost
wish he would bite you. I could make him do it in a
minute," she added, rising quickly to her feet, and looking
as if the idea were rather a good one.
"I insist upon it you don't, you dreadful child said
nurse, catching May lup in her arms, and drawing the
little blind boy to her. Keep away, children, whatever
you do! "
"Say he's a beauty, then; say he shall stay here,
then !" cried Dolly, conscious of her advantage.
"Now do be a good child, Miss Dolly said Anne,
the nursery-maid. You see nurse can't bear dogs.
Let John take him away, won't you ? there's a dear "
she added kindly, more conscious than any one else of
the trying reception the poor child had met with.
Dolly's large blue eyes, dim with the coming tears,
turned towards the speaker with a grateful look for the
first kind work she had heard since she entered the room;
and she began-
"Well, I'll tell him to go, if"-
But here, unfortunately, Hugh, who had been making
faces at the dog from a distance, and who had been
perfectly silent hitherto, exclaimed-
"He's a regular brute, nurse! He ought to be
"That's the truest word you ever spoke, Master
Hugh," said nurse, as she tried to reach the door by a
shuffling movement round the room, Tim's eyes follow-
ing her in a most unpleasant manner.
Dolly's heart was not softened by Hugh's unfeeling
remark, and turning towards him, and surveying him
slowly from head to foot, she said at last, in a tone of
I think you must be a hardened little scamp !"
0 nurse! isn't she a bad little girl ?" cried Willie.
" She says such naughty, rude words."
But nurse had by this time gained the door, and telling
HER GREAT AMBITION.
Anne to take care of the other children, she escaped with
her own special charges. John, who had been a silent but
amused spectator of the whole scene, closed the door, say-
ing he supposed he could not do anything more for her.
"Anything more, indeed!" repeated the old nurse.
" Pray, what have you lone already, I should like to
know ? "
I did what I could, I'm sure, Mrs. Slade," replied
John, in an injured tone; "and I do not see how I could
make an animal move that had no mind to-a snappish
beast like that, too !"
"Well," said nurse, "just take yourself downstairs,
and ask Mr. Denham to step up to me: that will be
something useful, at any rate. He's very clever about
dogs, and I can trust him to help me." This sent John
downstairs in no amiable mood.
"Mrs. Slade wants you, sir," he said to Denham the
butler as he entered the pantry. She's terribly frightened
of the little girl's dog, and I don't think he likes her any
better than she likes him."
Nurse was still standing outside the nursery-door,
listening anxiously for any sounds of danger within, and
comforting herself that she could hear nothing worse than
Hugh and Dolly talking, when Denham appeared.
That child has brought such a savage beast with her,"
she began, "that I'm downright afraid; and the naughty
little thing has threatened to set him on me I wish
you'd go in and turn him out."
"Dear dear I shouldn't have thought it of the little
creature, she looked so sweet and gentle!" said the old
man, as he opened the door and entered the room, where
he found Dolly and Tim sitting on the floor near the
table, the former having divested herself of her wraps;
Bertie still on the chair, holding firmly by the back;
while Hugh and the twins sat in the window-seat, from
which the older boy was "holding forth" about the dog.
I II .
,.- ~-- _. 'I '".
; I eI
..A.., 1 1. .
Dolly and Tim in Trouble.
Dolly and Tim in Trouble.
"And so, Miss Dolly, they don't like Master Tim "
said the butler, laughing.
22 HER GREAT AMBITION.
No," replied Dolly, looking up into his kindly face;
" why is it ?"
"Why, you see, Mrs. Slade is not accustomed to have
dogs in the nursery, and "-
"Is that the naughty old woman that called Tim
names ? interrupted the child.
Hush hush my dear !" said Denham; that is not
the way to speak of her : it is Mrs. Slade, the nurse, who
will be very kind to you if you will be a good little lady."
"Well, I'm very sorry, indeed, if I did anything
wrong," said Dolly; "but she really did say that Tim
was nasty and savage. And that boy," pointing at the
"hardened little scamp," said he ought to be hung!"
I don't fancy they will think so long," remarked the
old servant, looking with kindly eyes at the dog. You
are very fond of him, are you not ? "
"Oh, very! very!" said Dolly, charmed that Tim
seemed to have found a friend. "And is he not a
beauty? she asked, gazing at the beauty in question
with rapt admiration.
"Well," replied Denham, "the best beauty is not all
outside. I am sure he is faithful and clever !"
"Oh !" said Dolly, you must shake hands with him.
Shake hands, dear Tim and- the dog obediently did so.
"He'll do everything I tell him," she continued.
Suppose, then, you tell him to go downstairs with me
for a bit ? suggested the butler.
Oh, I could not," said Dolly.
Here Hugh, who was tired of being only a listener,
began to enlarge on the dreadful consequences which had
resulted to a poacher who had set his dog on one of his
I didn't set him on," remarked Dolly promptly.
DEAR TIM. 23
"Well, but you wanted to," answered Hugh.
No," persisted Dolly. "I only thought for a very
little moment that I should like to."
"I daresay continued Hugh.
"Never mind that now, Master Hugh," said Denham.
" Now, Miss Dolly, tell Tim to come downstairs with me.
I'll take great care of him."
"I couldn't! I really couldn't !" said Dolly. "You
are so kind, I wish I could."
"Why cannot you let him go ? inquired the butler,
"Because he is so fond of me," replied Dolly. He
would be quite wretched if I sent him away. And just
think, he's been nearly all day in that dreadful van "
What's to be done, then," said Denham, if nurse
won't have him here ?"
I could make him a little kennel under the table.
Lie here, Tim dear !" And Tim placed himself at once
on the spot.
"No no! came from Bertie; he'll bite my toes at
Nonsense, Master Bertie !" said Denham; and Dolly
said in a voice, which was intended for a whisper-
Isn't that a very stupid little boy ? "
At which the twins giggled in a way that would have
wounded Bertie's feelings to the quick, had he not been
too frightened to have eyes or ears for anything but the
"Are you sure he'll be quite quiet there?" inquired
Denham, "because he must not frighten Mrs. Slade
"He won't move," replied Dolly, unless I tell him.
And, if you please, I'm sorry we frightened the nurse.
24 HER GREAT AMBITION.
Would she forgive us, do you think, and come back
again, if I told Tim to shake hands with her and give
her a kiss ? "
Nurse, who through the open door had heard all this,
declined; but softened by Dolly's good-natured speech,
and by seeing that "the creature" was well under the
child's control, came back into the room, and consented
to his remaining under the table "for the present."
Poor Denham at this point thought that Dolly should
kiss nurse instead of the dog; which she did, saying
heartily, at the same time, "We are so sorry! Please,
do like Tim!" that the old woman, at great cost to
her feelings, really did shake hands with him.
Seeing that nurse's fears were gone, Hugh and the
twins thought they too might safely shake hands with
the dog; and, to Bertie's distress, the animal was again
called from under the table to be introduced to them.
Reggie, who came in at the same moment, was so
delighted at a dog that would shake hands, that Dolly
"You are a nice boy! he shall kiss you! Kiss him,
The dog placed his forepaws on Reggie's shoulders,
who, in his kneeling position, lost his balance, and fell to
Nurse screamed and started to her feet, clasping the
two younger children in her arms, and in an instant the
room was again in an uproar. Hugh and the twins
rushed to the window-seat, while Bertie clung to Anne,
and fairly danced upon his chair in an agony of fear.
He'll eat him he'll eat him "
Dolly promptly called Tim to order, and helped Reggie
to rise, saying that she was so very, very sorry, and that
DEAR TIM. 25
Tim had not meant to do it, and so forth; but the "nice
boy's" feelings with regard to the dog had changed.
He shall not come near me again," he said. Send
him away, nurse, do."
"He shall not stay here long, you may rely upon it,"
answered nurse. "Put him in that corner, Miss Dolly,
and do not let him come out again."
Tim drew back the corners of his mouth, and began
"0 Tim! dear Tim!" said Dolly imploringly, "do,
do be good They are so stupid but you mustn't mind.
Come into this kennel with me," and Dolly pushed him
into the recess and squeezed herself in beside him.
Order being restored and the tea shortly appearing,
nurse ventured to seat herself at the table. Dolly, on
being told to take her place, came obediently, and Tim
followed her; but that was not what nurse wished.
"Go back, sir!" she said; but Tim paid no attention,
and it was only when Dolly said, in quite a tone of
apology, "I'm very sorry, dear Tim, but you must go
back," that he obeyed.
Dolly had a good deal to suffer during tea. Every one
except Anne foretold some evil which they were sure he
Bertie refused to approach the table, and would only
allow his chair to be drawn to the mantelpiece, and his
cup and plate laid there.
This hurt Dolly's feelings as much as anything. She
was painfully aware that Tim had upset the nursery party,
and felt very wretched; nor did Hugh's kindly remarks,
that he dare say the dog might be got rid of "nicely"
without hanging him, afford her much comfort.
After tea she asked if Tim might come out now, pledg-
26 HER GREAT AMBITION.
ing her word for his good behaviour; but nurse refused
decidedly, and the poor dog remained in the corner, much
to Dolly's distress, until the children went down to
Sir James was much amused as the child gravely asked
for "another chair for Tim ;" but he admired the dog's
tricks, and entered into Dolly's account of his cleverness
in a way that won her heart, and very much reconciled
his own children to the society of her pet.
Denham at last, with Dolly's consent, carried off Tim
to be fed; her uncle thinking, that after the late alarm
in the nursery, nurse would not be likely to give him any
supper; and while waiting his return to the dining-room,
Dolly herself told how, for a minute, she would have
liked to have made Tim bite nurse.
Sir James tried to conceal his amusement, and gravely
hoped that Tim was not in the habit of attacking people.
Dolly assured him he was not, and returned to the
nursery happy in her uncle's promise that, unless any
real reason arose to make him alter his mind, Tim should
do at Scraseden exactly as he had done at Winchfield.
Nurse looked grim when Dolly repeated this to her.
Well, to be sure! Then I hope you'll both be on
your good behaviour."
But when bed-time came she did object very strongly
to Tim sharing Dolly's little bed.
"He only lies outside, by my feet," said Dolly.
But nurse declared it was out of the question. She
couldn't think of such a thing; and it was best to begin
as they were to go on.
"But uncle said he might," pleaded Dolly; "at least,
he said he might do here just as he did at Uncle Frank's,
and there he always slept on my bed."
"Well, he can't do it here, that's certain," said nurse,
relieved to find that her master had given no special
orders on this particular point: "not for to-night, at
least," she added.
Shall we make him a bed here under the table, Miss
Dolly ?" said Anne.
"It's no good, thank you," said Dolly sadly; "he
would not be able to sleep there."
"I'll make him comfortable myself, my dear," said old
nurse, if you will only look a little happier."
"How can I be happy," asked Dolly, bursting into
tears, when I know Tim is going to be so miserable? "
"Nonsense!" said nurse, quite provoked; "you'll
both of you be asleep in five minutes. You're tired out
now, I'm sure, poor little thing and you shall have him
again directly you are dressed in the morning."
But that thought gave Dolly no comfort; she only
sobbed, as nurse, drawing her into the passage which led
to her room, and quickly shutting the door behind them,
separated Dolly and Tim for the night.
The dog in his new quarters only whined at first, but
after a time the whining became howling, and nurse, as
she undressed the sobbing child, felt, as she afterwards
informed Anne, worried past bearing."
Tell the creature to be quiet, Miss Dolly," she said
But Dolly did not utter a sound.
"Did you hear, Miss Dolly? you naughty child!"
asked nurse, who was unused to have her orders quite set
You tell him," said Dolly, a little sulkily.
Nurse went out into the passage and whispered sternly
at the nursery-door-
28 HER GREAT AMBITION.
Be quiet, sir, this moment !"
But Tim howled, if anything, a little louder than
"What are we to do?" exclaimed nurse. "He'll
wake Master Bertie, and then I shall have no peace all
"Is that the boy who was frightened?" inquired
Dolly, checking her sobs a little.
"Yes," answered nurse.
"And won't you be able to sleep all night? "
"Not a wink, I expect," replied nurse, as if the
prospect were not a pleasant one.
Then," said Dolly, drying her tears, I will tell lim
to be quiet ; for that would be a great pity."
Nurse carried her to the nursery-door, and she whis-
pered, Dear Tim, be quiet, and go to sleep if you can."
But the feeling that he was going to be miserable all
night caused her sobs to burst forth afresh, and she was
shedding passionate tears when Anne brought a message
that Sir James wished to speak to Mrs. Slade.
Shall I stay with you ?" asked nurse pityingly.
"Sir James won't mind waiting a few minutes, if you
would rather not be left alone; or Anne can stay with
you ? "
I don't want either It is Tim I want," was all the
answer she received. And nurse, after telling her to be
good and go to sleep, went down to Sir James.
He had sent for her, feeling that the dog might be a
trial to the old servant who had so long reigned in the
nursery; but he was glad to find her quite ready to
tolerate the dog, "if such were Sir James's wishes," only
she was sure he .had not intended the beast" to sleep
on Miss Dolly's bed.
DEAR TIM. 29
I did tell her," replied her master, "that they might
do here just as they did at Winchfield."
"Dear Tim, be quiet, and go to sleep a you can.
So she said, sir; but I couldn't allow that till I had
asked you again."
30 HER GREAT AMBITION.
And she went on to give an account of the child's
trouble and anger at being separated from the dog.
She'll be a handful, Sir James, I'm afraid," she con-
I hope not," said he. I think it would be well to
give way to her, if you find she does not sleep. I dare
say she feels lonely and strange to-night. She is not
a selfish child, or she would not have troubled herself
about your own and Bertie's night's rest. I think you
will find her a nice little thing."
Nurse hoped for the best, but in a tone which implied
that she was prepared for the worst, and bidding her
master good-night she went upstairs. On her way into
the nursery she peeped into Dolly's room, where all was
silent. Dolly was fast asleep, with the tears still wet
upon her cheek, and at her feet lay Tim. Nurse could
see his watchful eyes twinkling at her through his shaggy
eyebrows, as she stood for a moment by the bed. She
dared not kiss the child, even far less attempt to get rid
of the dog, and closing the door gently she left the two
to their slumbers.
S '. nn-,
ONLY A GIRL!"
T was never precisely known how Tim found his
way into his mistress's room. Dolly told them
at breakfast the next morning that directly
nurse had gone away and shut the door she felt a great
thump upon the bed, and before she had time to be
frightened, or to wonder what it was, dear Tim's cold
nose touched her cheek; and from that moment she felt
quite happy. And she thought she must have gone to
sleep, for she did not remember anything more until she
was roused by nurse coming into the room to call her.
Probably, Anne had left the nursery-door open when
she came to Dolly's room to give Sir James's message, and
Tim had quietly entered and hidden himself until nurse
was gone and the room was quiet.
Breakfast was a much happier meal than tea had been,
for Bertie ventured to come to the table on condition
that Tim did not do so; and in the society of the "strange
little girl he forgot much of his fears. Even nurse said
Dolly was quite interesting to talk to," for the child
remembered a good deal of her African life, and of her
voyage home. She had seen a shark, and had touched
HER GREAT AMBITION.
an albatross which the sailors had shot; and she could
tell them how funny the porpoises looked tumbling over
and over in the water, exactly like black pigs. Bertie
said it was better than reading a book, because he could
ask her questions when he didn't understand anything;
and he gave her instructions to talk to him every
day;" and by the time breakfast was over the children
had come to the conclusion that she was a very nice little
Nurse alone reserved her decision, remarking to Anne
that it was early days to judge yet, for "new brooms
generally swept clean."
Her feelings, however, with regard to Tim appeared,
like Bertie's, to be changing; for she actually asked
Dolly, as the children left the table, if she thought he
would like some milk; and when Dolly gratefully
accepted it and called him to her, he behaved so gently,
that nurse said it would be a shame to be unkind to the
poor thing," and suggested that Mr. Denham should be
asked to fetch it downstairs to have a good meal, to
which Dolly joyfully assented.
After the children had paid Sir James a much shorter
visit than usual at breakfast, Dolly and Tim had to visit
the gardens, the lake, the aviary, and be introduced to
every one, down to the gardener's boy, whom they
happened to meet in their walk through the grounds.
This task fell to the share of nurse, Hugh or Reggie say-
ing, whenever they saw any one coming, You tell who
she is, nurse," which nurse would good-naturedly do;
but the boys always added a few facts, such as, "She
has seen a shark !" or, Once she lived in a ship for
several weeks!" until, if Dolly had been at all self-
conscious, she would have felt quite uncomfortable. But,
"ONLY A GIRL" 33
happily, she had no weakness of that kind, and seldom
seemed to think of herself. Her thoughts were chiefly
given to her treasured Tim, whose tricks she would shyly
offer to exhibit, and for whom, as far as his tricks went,
she tried with doubtful success to obtain a vote of
admiration; and even if the others did not admire him
much, he was beautiful to her, and that was enough: she
was perfectly happy in the thought that nurse and Hugh,
the only persons who had ever called him names," were
beginning to see their mistake, and to like him very
Some of the children had gardens, and the twins were
very proud of theirs, and expressed their intention of
allowing their cousin to work in them. Accordingly,
after the nursery dinner, they carried her off, followed of
course by the faithful Tim, to enjoy herself," as they
said. For half an hour Dolly sowed seeds for them, at
the end of which time she announced that she had such
a bad ache in her back she must leave off and go back to
Hugh. But to this Willie objected, and Freddie sug-
gested that she should go on with the training of a bush,
on which they had been busy the previous day. That
would be upright work, he said, and good for her back-
ache. But poor Dolly only hammered her fingers, and
was so often told she was doing it all wrong, that at last
she threw down the hammer, and, without saying a word,
ran as fast as she could back into the house and up into
the nursery, leaving the twins very much astonished.
Hugh was not in the nursery, and nurse said he was
in the turning-room with Master Reggie, and must not
be disturbed. This was rather a disappointment to
Dolly, for ever since Hugh had told her in confidence after
breakfast that he liked Tim now, she had quite forgiven
HER GREAT AMBITION.
his offence, and had even begun to think that she liked
him the best of all her new cousins. Hugh, on his side,
had asked her how she could have called him that dread-
ful name; and she had explained how her Uncle Charles
had said that they would be "hardened little sca.mps" if
they did not love her; and how she had wondered what
sort of a thing a "scamp" could be, and had quite thought
when he was so unkind about Tim that he must be one.
But she hastened to assure him that she did not think
Hugh would willingly have had her company in the
turning-room, where he was making wheelspokes for
Reggie; but the latter had said "No! because she would
be no good, and only bother them; for after all," he
said, "she is only a girl, you know." To which remark
Hugh was obliged to assent, and listened in silence to
Reggie's urgent request to nurse, not to let her come to
them, because he was in such a great hurry to finish the
thing. "And you know, Hugh," continued Reggie on
their way to the turning-room, "you never care about
helping me very much, and you would do 'less than
nothing,' as nurse says, if Dolly was there too."
Hugh was too conscious of being more of a hindrance
than a help to his brother to make any defence, only he
did think that when, for once, he really was going to help
him, Reggie need not have reminded him of this; and
certainly should not talk as if he was bound to work for
him. He had half a mind to go back to the nursery and
not help him at all; but then he remembered that such
behaviour would be wrong and petty, so he manfully
mastered himself and made wheelspokes so well and so
quickly that Reggie became quite flattering, and chatted
"ONLY A GIRL!" 35
Meanwhile Dolly, disappointed of Hugh's company,
agreed to Bertie's proposal that she should come and sit
i! .ll Jlll l II
" She pointed out the places on the map."
between him and Arthur, and talk to them about all the
different places she had seen.
Very funny little descriptions she gave, as she pointed
HER GREAT AMBITION.
out the places on the map spread out before them ; but
neither of her listeners was disposed to be critical, and
Arthur confided to nurse that night when he was going
to bed, that he thought she was quite the very nicest
little girl he had ever known!
When the twins came in from the garden they ex-
pressed their displeasure with Dolly for leaving them so
unceremoniously, telling her plainly that they thought
her very unkind. She assured them that she had not
meant to be so.
I knew," she said, that if I told you I couldn't do
any more of that nailing up which hurt my fingers, you
would not be satisfied; so, as I was very tired of it all, I
thought Tim and I had better run away before you had
time to mind."
This was not at all satisfactory to the boys, and they
gave vent to their feelings so strongly that Dolly began
to think that she had done something very wrong indeed,
and wept penitent tears; the sight of which, without
a knowledge of the cause, awoke in nurse's breast fears as
to her proving "a handful" after all.
Dolly did at last receive a solemn pardon from the
twins; but though she dried her tears she still felt
uncomfortable, and was dull and silent, so that Reggie's
and Hugh's return to the room, full of fun and chatter,
was a welcome diversion.
By tea-time Dolly had quite recovered her spirits; and
on being asked how she became possessed of Tim, and
why she had given him such a very ugly name, she was
quite ready to relate his history,-How he had been a
poor blind sailor's dog and used to lead his master about,
until the old man became too ill to leave his lodgings,
where her Uncle Frank had visited him almost daily, and
ONLY A GIRL/" 37
had got to know the dog, and admire his clever ways;
and how his master, when dying, had given Tim to
" little Miss," making her give a solemn promise that she
would be kind to the dog and keep him as long as he
lived. "And I mean to !" concluded Dolly with decision.
"Then was he always called Tim ? asked Hugh.
Yes," answered Dolly, and she admitted that it was
not a pretty name; but it belongs to him, you see," she
said, "and I think he mightn't understand if I changed
Hugh was very much delighted that Tim had, as he
expressed it, a history," and the whole story was told
to Sir James that evening at dessert. Her uncle was
thankful to find Dolly already quite at home with the
boys, and when it was time to say good-night, and he
asked her if she thought she and Tim would be happy at
Scraseden, she answered demurely, I think we are going
to be very happy here : but there was a loving light in
her eyes that went straight to her uncle's heart, and he
said to himself as the children left the room, I believe
Charles was right when he said she would take a blessing
with her wherever she went."
It was with a happy smile that Dolly lay down that
night in her little bed, and saw Tim take up his position
at her feet, this time with no objection from nurse, who
even gave him a timid pat as she left the room.
Weeks passed on and Dolly had quite fitted into her
place with the other children, and could scarcely imagine
how she could have disliked the idea of coming to live
with the "lot of boys." They were so fond of her, that
Hugh one day remarked to nurse that it was quite a pity
she was only a cousin: but then of course, they could
treat her like a sister;" and nurse, into whose heart
38 HER GREAT AMBITION.
Dolly had at last crept, assured him that they couldn't be
too fond of her, she was a pattern to them all. Reggie
even allowed her to inspect the "thing," as he always
called his machine, although he told Hugh that, as she
was only a girl, she wouldn't be able to understand it.
Hugh was pleased enough, while Dolly was delighted, for
hitherto the turning-room had been forbidden ground to
her, and she had therefore felt the more curiosity about
it. Hugh threw open the door, as he had seen John do
when announcing company, and said in a voice, as like
John's as he could assume, "Miss Dolly Neville;" but
Reggie, who was in a serious mood and objected to
trifling, said, "Don't be stupid, Hugh!" and Dolly, who
had entered with a smile, at once tried to compose her
"This is it," said Reggie, pointing to some pieces of
wood and iron strewn about in great disorder on a table
before him. His thought that Dolly wouldn't understand
proved correct, and he looked rather pleased than other-
wise when, after looking at the fragments in silence for
some moments, she said brightly-
I don't understand about it at all, you know, but
perhaps I shall when it is put together." In her own
mind she thought it looked a great mess, but she felt at
the same time that such an idea was probably the result
of her own ignorance.
"I'll explain it to you," said Reggie: "something
about it, that is. Of course, as you're only a girl, you
can't understand it all."
Reggie proceeded to describe, in rather learned lan-
guage Dolly thought, how the pieces were intended to fit
together. Still she could not say that she took it all
in, but she listened very attentively, and when she
"ONLY A GIRL!" 39
thought he had come to an end of the explanation,
"It sounds very clever, indeed. And now, will you
please tell me what that is ? pointing to a wonderful-
looking machine which stood at one end of the long
"That is father's turning-lathe. I'll show you mine
when I've done telling you all about this." And Dolly,
finding that the explanation was not over as she supposed,
again brought her attention to the thing," which
Reggie now informed her was intended, when finished,
to be a coffee-grinder.
Is it really going to be a coffee-grinder? she asked
in surprise. Why, I ground some coffee once at
Winchfield, and Aunt Julia's wasn't a bit like this!
Perhaps, though," she added, fearful of hurting the feel-
ings of the inventor, yours is a different kind."
Quite different, I am sure," replied Reggie, in a tone
which showed no annoyance, but rather the reverse.
Mine cannot be a bit like anything you ever saw before.
It is quite my own invention, and when finished I am
sure you will think it very wonderful indeed."
I scarce know what father will say when he sees it,"
Does he know nothing about it yet?" inquired
"Of course he knows I am making something, and he
knows it is to be a very wonderful machine, because I
told him so, but he has not the least idea what it is."
I think it is very nice of you to tell me about it,"
said Dolly; a speech which so gratified Reggie that he
"I fancy, perhaps, you might be able to understand after
HER GREAT AMBITION.
all, if I told you, very easily. You see, when I was at
Seaford with Aunt Janet I saw lots of windmills," and
Reggie paused as if expecting some remark.
"Yes," said Dolly hastily, afraid Reggie should think
her attention was wandering.
Windmills, I said," repeated the boy.
Yes, dear Reggie, I heard," answered Dolly, in a
"Do you know what windmills are?" asked Reggie.
Oh yes, of course I do," replied his cousin, beginning
to think that Reggie had indeed a low opinion of her
"I didn't know if you had ever seen any. There are
none here, you know. Lane cannot understand at all
when I tell him about them. Well, my machine is to be
like a windmill in a cart, and these pieces of iron are to
be fixed inside, on a sort of barrel, which will go round
when the wheels move; and the sails will move too. You
see, there will be three things to go round at once; and I
intend to make these bits of iron sharp, like teeth, to
grind the coffee."
"I think it's very wonderful," said Dolly, with spark-
ling eyes. "I suppose I could not help you to make it?"
Oh no! I'm quite sure you could not. Hugh tried
to make some spokes for the cart-wheels, and he seemed
to have made them very well; but he broke them all him-
self, trying to fix them."
Yes," said Hugh, with a sigh, I know now it is no
good trying to help, but I like to watch Reggie and talk
to him while he is working."
"What do you talk about?" inquired Dolly.
Anything," replied Hugh. Sometimes we talk
" ONLY A GIRL I"
Do you ? said Dolly, opening her eyes very wide.
"Yes; we think it such a pity you are a girl. You
would be such a very nice boy!"
"I am so sorry; but I cannot help it, can I?" And
Dolly seemed quite resigned to her fate.
"No, you can't help it, of course. I am sure you
would if you could; but that does not make it any
better. Reggie and I say sometimes how horrid it must
feel to be a girl, and know you can never do any
"Never do any good?" repeated Dolly, quite per-
plexed. I don't understand."
"Well, I mean you can never do anything great!"
"Can't I?" said poor Dolly. "But why not, if [ try
very hard ? Of course I know," she added, humbly,
"that I could never make a coffee-grinder like Reggie."
"I wish you could," remarked that young gentleman
generously. "You cannot think how nice it is I "
I'm sure it must be," sighed Dolly; but I do not see
why I may not be able to do something. I suppose I
shall be a woman some day, and then I shall, perhaps;"
and she found a little comfort in dwelling with hope on
Presently Reggie said, solemnly, You may not live
to be a woman, you know; and I think women seldom
do much good! They can't be engineers, or soldiers, or
sailors, or anything of that kind."
It was a depressing thought, and one which had not
occurred to Dolly before. She stood silent for some
moments, while Reggie went on with his work, and Hugh
began to hum, a trick of his when he was troubled in
mind. But in a few minutes the tuneless composition,
which bore the name in the nursery of "The tune that
HER GREAT AMBITION.
the old cow died of," suddenly came to an end, and he
"You don't know how sorry we are for you, Dolly
dear ; but I suppose it can't be helped."
"Whatever was I made for, then ? she questioned.
Neither boy replied at first; but Hugh at length broke
the silence by saying, with the hope of giving her a ray
"I think we did not mean after all that you couldn't
do anything at all, and you know I think I shall never
do anything very great. I am afraid not, and it is a
great pity, because I am a boy."
It was unusual for Hugh to speak in a desponding
strain, but Dolly did not appear to notice it. -
"I'm so glad I can do something! she said. "I
thought I could. What do you think now that I could
"I must think," replied Hugh; and Dolly waited
anxiously. You can mend holes, you know, for one
thing," he said, at last; men never do that unless they
are tailors. And you can cook, and take care of babies.
That is what women are made for, I believe. Don't you
think so, Reggie ? "
Reggie nodded his head; but Dolly's eyes filled with
"Women do do those things, I know," she said; but
I should not like to do nothing but that for years and
"It would be horrid to be obliged to, certainly," re-
marked Hugh, in a tone of the deepest concern; but I
wish I had never said anything about it. Don't cry,
Dolly, please," as his cousin's eyes brimmed over: "I am
so sorry "
ONLY A GIRL I" 43
It is not your fault," sobbed Dolly. "I always want
to do so much for people I love, and fancy how dreadful
I did want to do something for somebody."
it would be never to be able to do anything but mend
holes; and I hate needlework! The needle never comes
out in the right place, and is always getting lost. Oh,
44 HER GREAT AMBITION.
dear! oh, dear! I did want to do something for somebody,
some time or other." And, overcome at the prospect of
endless needlework, the child sank down upon the floor
and wept the saddest tears she had shed since she was
told of her mother's death.
It was long before Reggie and Hugh's united efforts
were successful in consoling her; but at length her sobs
became less violent, and she succeeded in bringing out the
"Don't you think my mother and your mother-Aunt
Alice, I mean-ever did anything great ? "
It was a subject to which neither of the boys had given
a moment's thought; beyond Dolly herself and nurse, no
examples had occurred to them.
Their veneration for their mother's memory was so
intense, that although they had never heard of any great
things she had done, they felt that they could not admit
the fact even to Dolly, who sat on the floor gazing through
misty eyes, first at one and then at the other, as if her
hopes for the future depended upon the answer they
It was an awkward moment, and Hugh broke the
silence at last by saying-
"Perhaps we don't understand about it. We will ask
father to-night. He knows about everything, and perhaps
he will be able to tell you of something you can do, which
you will like; only, please, dear, dear Dolly don't cry
any more about it."
Dolly, with a very tearful smile, promised to "try;"
and when the dinner-bell rang and they all returned to
the nursery, they were talking as cheerfully as if no storm
had clouded their morning sky: but a weight still lay
heavily on Dolly's heart unknown to any one but herself.
" ONLY A GIRL !"
Nurse noticed her red eyes, but as the children seemed
happy together she said nothing to them; to Anne, how-
ever, she remarked, that she hoped those children were
not going to take to quarrelling, or, if they did, they
would make it up again without any trouble, as they
seemed to have done that morning.
The important question was never quite out of Dolly's
mind all day, and when they were going down to dessert
she drew Hugh back for a moment to whisper-
You won't forget, Hugh dear, will you ? "
Forget what? asked the boy in surprise.
0 Hugh! why, about what I could do, you know ? "
"Of course! how stupid of me! I should have for-
gotten it, though, if you hadn't reminded me; but I won't
now." And then, as Dolly murmured, Please don't for-
get," I promised Reggie he should have first talk because
he says he never can get in a word, even edgeways, when
I'm talking to father. I think he does, though, only he
forgets. If, when he has finished, I don't say anything
about it, just give me a pinch, will you ? and that will
The pinch was not needed, for directly Reggie's con-
versation with Sir James was ended, Hugh, who had been
quietly waiting for the happy moment when it would be
his turn to speak, said-
"Father, we want to know if there is anything Dolly
can do. We think women can do nothing great; and
she is so sorry about it, that we said we would ask
History would not bear you out in your opinion,
Hugh," answered his father, who at first had looked rather
surprised at being, as he imagined, asked to provide work
for Dolly. If you had thought a little while, I fancy
HER GREAT AMBITION.
even you could have remembered instances of women
doing great deeds."
"Oh yes! There was Lady Catharine Douglas! I
always like to think about her; but then she was herself,
you know. Common sort of people can't do those kind
of things; and Dolly isn't at all likely to have to hold a
door against wicked men."
I hope not," said Sir James. "But still I should be
very sorry to think that she will never do anything worthy
of being called great."
Dolly's face, which had'worn an anxious expression
when the first question had been asked, brightened at her
uncle's hopeful reply, and she drew nearer to him as he
"But people have very different ideas of greatness, you
Have they?" said Hugh. I thought no one could
make a mistake about that sort of thing. Everybody now
must call Napoleon great, though we did beat him in the
I don't for one, Hugh," replied his father. I admit
he was a great general; but, according to my opinion, he
was not a great man."
Why don't you think he was a great man ? inquired
Hugh, when he had recovered from the first surprise of
hearing that his father was not so ardent an admirer of
Napoleon as he had expected. If a man is a great
general I should have thought that he must be a great
"Not by any means. I should call a man great who
sets before himself an aim-and that a very high one-
apart from all motives of self-seeking and self-interest,
and who day by day lives with that purpose in view,
"ONLY A GIRL!" 47
rejecting all lower motives for the sake of the higher
"But how can Dolly be great, then? asked the boy.
"What aim can she set before her ? I told her she could
sew and cook, and do those kind of things; but she
doesn't like that; and certainly she couldn't get great
doing them, I should think."
"You forget," said his father, that many things which
the world would call great are as nothing in the sight of
God. Don't get a false idea of greatness, my boy. Dolly
could be as truly great in doing those simple things you
have mentioned as in performing the most heroic actions
-if she did them, that is, to the glory of God; for that
alone is the basis of true greatness."
"But, uncle," said Dolly, I didn't want to sew holes
and make clothes all my life: I wanted to do something
"What did you want to do, my child? inquired her
"Why," said Dolly, "I have thought for such a long
time that it would be so nice if I could save some-
body's life. If you could be drowning in the moat,
and Tim and I were to pull you out, wouldn't that be
Butyou might be drowned yourself," suggested Bertie;
" and that wouldn't be nice at all. I can't bear to think
Dolly thought for a moment and then said-" I don't
think that would matter so very much, if I had been
trying to be good. Everybody dies some time or other,
and I should like to die doing something that was not all
for myself. I think God would be pleased with me then.
I only hope I should not be too frightened to do it. If
48 HER GREAT AMBITION.
I could only practise But you see, uncle, people don't
fall into the moat, so I cannot."
I must say I am glad they do not," replied Sir James.
"But, Dolly, if you want to learn to do great actions, I
think you will be able to find plenty of practice, as you
call it, every day."
"Every day !" cried the child joyfully. Oh, how?"
"By learning to forget yourself," replied her uncle,
"Oh, but I couldn't! You see, I'm Dolly, and I
couldn't forget it: I couldn't forget I was myself."
"No; but you could learn to forget to think about
yourself, couldn't you? For instance," he continued,
as Dolly still looked puzzled, "if you tried always, for
the sake of pleasing God-for mind, He must come first
in your thoughts-to do things for other people, no
matter whether they were what you liked or not: in fact,
if you tried to do most gladly all those things-all those
little duties which were the most trying to you-you
would learn in time to forget yourself and your own
wishes, and would be fitting yourself to do some great
deed, if God should give you the opportunity. Do you
think you understand ? "
It was a very quiet little face which was raised to his
in reply, although the answer, I think I do," was low
"You see, Dolly," said her uncle, "people are so apt
to dream about being great in the future, and all the
while forget to do the very things which would make
them great in the present; and so they come short of
their ambition. I should not like that to be the case
with any of you."
"Then you think," said Hugh, "that people can be
" ONLY A GIRL/"
great in doing little things? That's very nice! And
they needn't wait till they are big, or for things to
Certainly not," replied his father. He that ruleth
his spirit,' the Bible says, 'is greater than he who taketh
a city.' And a little child as well as common sort of
people, as you call them, can do that-can't they ? "
"Yes," said Hugh. "But I think it is very hard work.
Not to be cross, you know, father, when you are cross
-it quite hurts one."
It hurts more if you fail to learn the lesson while you
are young," and Sir James sighed. But it is work that
never misses its reward. And then one thing, remember:
the greatest deeds very often in a man's or a woman's-
yes, even a child's life-are those of which the world
knows nothing, and of which they themselves think the
"I wouldn't mind what I did, or whether people knew
it or not," said Dolly, "if I could only be very good, and
do something for somebody-for everybody, if I could;
but, best of all, I should like to do something great for
you." And Dolly laid her head lovingly on her uncle's
shoulder. "Perhaps some day I shall be able to."
"There's no harm wanting to be great in what one
does-is there, father ?" asked Reggie; "because I should
like to be a great engineer."
"No harm at all, my boy," replied his father, "if only
you don't forget to strive after the truer greatness at the
same time, and if you bear in mind that neither the one
nor the other comes from ourselves, but is God's gift, and
therefore to be received with thankfulness. And now,
Hugh, you have been wonderfully silent-have you an
ambition, too? "
HER GREAT AMBITION.
Hugh's face was unusually grave. On him, as well as
on Dolly, this talk had made a great impression, and he
"I shall never be great, I believe; not a great engineer,
or anything of that sort, I mean. I might try for your
greatness, perhaps, though it is so hard I would rather.
not think much about it-not just now, at least. But do
you know, father, I've been thinking I should like to be
a servant !"
"0 Hugh!" exclaimed Reggie; "what a funny idea!"
"Well," replied his brother, "you see I like cleaning
things and waiting upon people."
"What a lot of glasses you would break!" remarked
Bertie, without thinking.
"Perhaps I should learn not to do so," answered Hugh,
"I think you might turn your attention to something
else, Hugh," said Sir James.
"Oh, I have thought of something besides, which I
should like nearly as much. I think it would be so nice
to be a schoolmaster, if I can't be a servant! "
I suppose you aspire to lectureship ?" said his father,
laughing. "Well, time will show what you are to be.
At present, I want to see you make the best of your
time for learning, so we need not think about teaching
"We think," put in Freddie, speaking for himself and
his twin, "that we must be gardeners. It's the nicest
sort of work Bertie hasn't thought yet what he would
like to be; and, of course, Arthur must have something
to do with music, as he's so fond of it. Nurse always
says he's a born musician!"
Here nurse herself appeared, saying that it was long
" ONLY A GIRL "
past the usual bedtime; and, rather unwillingly, the
children departed with her.
Dolly was very wide awake that night. The answer
to the important question went beyond her highest hopes.
Uncle James had actually said that he did not think it
impossible for her to do something great; and more: he
had told her how to begin practising for it at once.
It was a new and beautiful thought to her, that she, a
little child, could do something each day for the glory of
the good God Who had given her so much; and she
made up her mind, as she lay watching the stars, and
ever as she gazed seeing more and more in the blue vault
of heaven, that she would begin at once to do what her
uncle had advised, for Reggie had been quite correct in
saying that morning that she might not live to be a
The thought had no terror for her. God, to her, was
an All-loving, All-merciful Father; it only made her feel
that she must make haste, for hitherto she had done so
little. Her mind was naturally a practical one, and she
went on to think of what she could do in her daily life
to learn not to think of herself.
There was that dreadful gardening! Ever since her
first day at Scraseden, in spite of all asking on the part
of the twins, Dolly had firmly refused to have anything
to do with it; and now, how she wished she had not
thought of it She really could not garden. It was the
worst thing any one could do, and only made one dirty.
The twins liked it, certainly, and it was very nice for
them that they did ; but as she disliked it so much, and
they had given up asking for her help, there was surely
no need to offer it, and Dolly tried to turn her mind to
something else, but without success. No other idea
52 HER GREAT AMBITION.
would come. It seemed as if something kept on saying,
"You must do it!" until, at last, Dolly felt almost
It was so provoking that the first thing which had
occurred to her to do should be so very much what she
disliked. It was a hard battle that the little child fought
that night. Everything in her nature rebelled against
such tiresome work as gardening; but, stronger even
than her reluctance to give up her own will in the
matter, came the thought, that she must not refuse to do
the first thing which had presented itself as an oppor-
tunity for the "practising" she had so long desired.
The battle was won at last. Dolly would work for
the twins; she would begin the very next day; but with
a sigh, half of relief, half of regret, she decided that it
should be for a certain time only, "or they'll keep me at
it all day, or as long as nurse will let them be out of
doors ; and I never could do it all that time."
Now the matter was settled, she felt quite wearied out
by the mental strife in which she had been engaged.
The stars grew very hazy, and in a few moments she was
fast asleep; but always afterwards a starlight night re-
minded her, if she ever needed reminding, of her ambi-
tion in life, and of the way in which she must be ready
to fulfil it.
So Dolly's resolution was made, and she awoke the
next morning with her purpose as strong as it had been
the night before. Freddie and Willie were very much
surprised when, as they spoke at breakfast of their garden-
ing that day, Dolly offered to sow their mignonette for
them. She said, however, she could work for them only
half an hour, as it had given her such a bad pain in her
back when she had helped before.
ONLY A GIRL!"
"I dare say it won't ache at all to-day," said Willie;
"and if it does, we can think of something else for you
to do. If it does not ache, you'll stay longer, won't
This was just what Dolly had dreaded, yet she scarcely
knew how to say "No." Happily nurse, who was aware
that the twins were given to exacting too much from
those who helped them, relieved her by saying that Miss
Dolly was not to be gardening one minute longer than
Protected by this command, Dolly began her labours
directly lessons were over, and scarcely ever afterwards
failed to make helping the twins a part of her daily
Reggie was working very hard at the coffee-grinder,
and grudged the time that nurse insisted on his spending
out of doors every morning. He hoped to finish it very
soon, he said, and one day gladdened Dolly's heart by
telling her that he really believed she could help him with
it; but upon explaining, it turned out to be some needle-
work, and Dolly felt sorely tempted to suggest, as she
would have done in past days, that Anne should be pressed
into the service. She hated needlework almost as much
as gardening, and the doll which nurse had bought for
her had failed to make Dolly like the twenty minutes'
needlework every day any better.
She had not cared very much about the doll itself at
first, and had some fears that Tim might not like it at all;
but she had admitted latterly that she thought she liked it
better, now that she had nearly finished working for it.
Still "Mother Bunch," as the boys called it, was more at
their disposal for suspension over the banisters in front of
John's nose, when he came through the swing-door with
54 HER GREAT AMBITION.
his tray of glass, and for similar pastimes, than would
have been the case if the child's affection for it had been
Dolly cheerfully helps the Twins.
very deep Its wardrobe was much scantier than nurse
lhad pictured when it was first bought, for Dolly rebelled
Dollagainst making any cheerfully he most necessary articles of
very deep. Its wardrobe was much scantier than nurse
had pictured when it was first bought, for Dolly rebelled
against making any but the most necessary articles of
"ONLY A GIRL 1" 55
attire, and said that, as she never meant to take it out of
doors, a hood and cloak were wholly unneeded.
The needlework which Reggie now pressed her to do
was the shaping and making of the windmill sails, and
must be done when no one was about, because the machine
was a profound secret: so profound, that Hugh felt a
great respect for Reggie with regard to it. He said, with
truth, that he could never have worked such a long time
at anything without letting every one know all about it,
and he owned that sometimes he had held his mouth with
both hands, because he had been so dreadfully afraid of
Dolly shrank from the thought of needlework, and
could only say at first that she would think about it. It
was only after another fierce, if shorter struggle, that she
could bring herself to say "Yes;" but she did say it at
last, and Reggie was so grateful for her consent that she
felt quite ashamed of her hesitation. She need not hurry,
he said, for he had made a mistake, which would delay
the completion of the "thing," especially if the fine
weather lasted and he had to go out for such a long time
every day. In the meantime, she might come to the
turning-room to work when she liked; and this permis-
sion was in itself a great reward to Dolly, for hitherto she
had only visited it by special invitation.
Many talks were necessary before the trio in the turn-
ing-room could decide the shape of the sails, and when
they had done that they found a great many things were
needed before the machine could be finished. Some one
must go to Dawlish or Teignmouth shopping. Reggie
was no use, for he generally bought just what he didn't
want, and things always cost about double the sum he
HER GREAT AMBITION.
meant to spend; so for some time he had trusted his pur-
chases to Hugh, who delighted in shopping.
Sir James, who was going away from home for a few
weeks, gave ready permission for the necessary purchases,
and left orders that the first fine day that Lane went to
either Teignmouth or Dawlish, Master Hugh was to go
7.5; i ^^^
A BEAUTIFUL PLAN.
HE promised drive to Teignmouth with Lane
took place early on one fine October morning;
and at first Hugh, who was in the wildest spirits,
chattered incessantly, but as they were driving into the
town he became suddenly unusually silent, till Lane,
after touching upon a variety of interesting subjects with-
out obtaining any reply, began to fear that he was ill,
and watched him anxiously all the way home. The man
felt much relieved, however, at the brisk way in which
Hugh jumped to the ground as they drew up at the
hall-door, saying brightly, as he stood for a moment on
"Thank you, Lane; I'm very glad I've been to Teign-
"Indeed, sir, you've been so quiet, I began to be afraid
there was something the matter."
"Oh no, Lane; I was only thinking about something
very particular indeed."
"Hatching some mischief, I'll be bound," muttered
the old servant with a smile, as he drove down to the
HER GREAT AMBITION.
"Dolly! Dolly! where is Dolly?" shouted Hugh,
rushing into the nursery.
"Gently, Master Hugh! gently !" expostulated nurse.
"Miss Dolly is not here; she is gardening with Master
Freddy and Master Willie."
Banging the door, and blissfully unconscious of nurse's
commands to come back and shut it like a gentleman,"
Hugh dashed downstairs, and out into the garden, where
he found Dolly working hard under the direction of the
"I want you, Dolly," he shouted. "I've brought the
things-they are in the nursery-and I've got the most
beautiful plan in my head."
"0 Hugh!" exclaimed Willie, "she can't possibly
come now-we're very busy."
"I must tell her about this, though," said Hugh; and
then she shall come back again."
"But you said that yesterday, and then forgot all about
it," answered Freddy ruefully.
I won't forget to-day, I promise you," said Hugh.
" Come, Dolly!"
"Would you mind very much if I went?" asked
Dolly of the twins. "I should work quicker afterwards
if I had a little rest now."
"Fancy wanting to rest!" said Freddy reproachfully.
" Well, you may go, if you promise to come back in ten
"Yes, yes, I promise," said Hugh; and dragging her
off into the summer-house he proceeded to unfold his
" beautiful plan."
Somewhat at length he related, that on the way to
Teignmouth he had seen a pony which had very much
taken his fancy; that Lane had told him that it belonged
A BEAUTIFUL PLAN.
to Sims, the butcher, who had another quite as good,
which was for sale. "And now, Dolly," he concluded,
impressively, I mean to buy that pony "
"Oh, my dear Hugh, you can't!" objected Dolly, her
eyes opening wide at such an astonishing resolve.
"Why not, I should like to know ?" questioned Hugh,
a little testily.
"Why, you have only got one shilling and ninepence,
and I am sure a pony would cost a great, great deal
more than that," argued Dolly; "and you said you
meant to spend some of the ninepence to-day."
"But I didn't," said Hugh bluntly; "and I've got more
money than that really. Father has got ten shillings
keeping for me, which General Parker gave me. He's
my godfather, you know."
"Have you got all that?" exclaimed Dolly. "Ten
shillings! that is a lot!"
"Yes," said Hugh; "and now I want you to help me
to write a letter to Sims about it."
"Oh yes, Hugh; I'll help you," said Dolly heartily;
" only I'm afraid it will be rather a hard letter to
I know pretty well what I'm going to say," returned
Hugh; because, you see, I've been thinking about it
ever since I saw the pony. And you will really help me,
Dolly, won't you?"
"Yes, that I will. But don't you think it must be ten
minutes now? I suppose I ought to go back to the
others." And Dolly spoke with rather a regretful ring in
her voice, for working with, or rather for the twins, was
a serious matter, not a bit like playing. They required
so much work to be done in so short a time, and.gave
such contradictory directions, that poor Dolly, with the
HER GREAT AMBITION.
best intentions, seldom succeeded in pleasing them; and
when their orders clashed, they were apt to visit their
wrath upon their unoffending helper.
When the gardening did not go pleasantly with the
twins, one of their threats was that Dolly should never,
never work for them any more-a prospect which always
made her sorry, for she thought it must be somehow her
own fault that she was so perpetually falling short of their
expectations; whereupon her cousins would graciously for-
give her, on condition that she never did it again, neither
she nor they being very clear what the "it" was. And
then the work would go on as before; Dolly slaving with
grateful energy, while the twins planned and give orders.
"I'll tell you what," said Hugh, "I think you had
much better not go back at all: I'm sure you don't
"No, I don't," was Dolly's candid answer; "but then
we promised, you know."
"So we did," replied Hugh; "what a bother! Well,
I suppose you must go. But wait a minute first-mind,
this is to be quite a secret between you and me. And
when shall we write the letter? This afternoon? "
"Yes. Nurse is going to take some of them down to
the farm after dinner to see Mr. Preston; she said she
couldn't take all, so we two can stay at home. Reggie
will be at home too, but he will be busy working at his
machine, and we can write it in the study and be quite
by ourselves. It couldn't have happened better." And
Dolly bounded down the steps of the summer-house, and
ran back to her gardening, as happily as if working with
the twins was the greatest pleasure she had in life.
Under any other circumstances Hugh would decidedly
have objected to be left out of the party bound for the
A BEAUTIFUL PLAN. 61
farm, hut this morning it seemed to him, as to Dolly, the
happiest thing possible to be left at home. He sat on
and on, dreaming of the delights of owning a pony, until
the first dinner-bell rang, and Dolly and the twins raced
past on their way to the house. Roused thereby from his
thoughts, he followed, feeling so elated by his secret, that
even the rebuke for his bad manners and disregard of her
orders, with which nurse received him, failed to damp his
spirits, and he excused himself so brightly and pleasantly
that her wrath was quickly gone.
Dinner seemed to the two eager children as if it would
never come to an end; and when nurse hoped that
Master Reggie and Master Hugh would find some sensible
amusement while the others walked to the farm, Hugh
accepted his fate with such unusual resignation, that her
fears as to what he might consider sensible" recreation
were at once excited, and only quieted by Dolly's request
to stay with him, it being her opinion that Dolly acted
as a kind of moral drag on the proceedings of the elder
With many injunctions to all three not to go beyond
the house and flower-garden, to which they promised the
strictest obedience, nurse departed with Anne and the
walking party, and the children were free to follow their
own devices. Reggie had arrived at a critical point in the
construction of his machine, and hastened back to the
turning-room directly after dinner; and Hugh and Dolly
having made sure that nurse had not forgotten anything,
and therefore was not likely to come back to fetch it,
repaired without loss of time to the study, to compose and
write the important letter. They found pens, ink, and,
as Hugh joyfully remarked, plenty of paper; there was
now no hindrance to their plan-in these respects at least.
62 HER GREAT AMBITION.
"Are you going to write the letter, Hugh, or shall I? "
inquired Dolly; rather hoping the task might devolve
"You write the best, certainly," answered Hugh, fully
aware that writing was not his strong point; "but I sup-
pose, as I am going to buy the pony, I ought to. Don't
you think so? It mightn't be the same if you wrote."
Perhaps not," said Dolly-that view of the subject
not having struck her before. And she helped Hugh to
mount an erection he had made, which would place him
at a more convenient height with regard to the inkstand
and blotting-book than an ordinary chair would have
I shall take some of this crest paper with Scraseden
Manor already printed on it, Dolly," said Hugh; "it's
much nicer than the plain paper, and besides it will save
me the trouble of writing it, only I must put the day of
the month, of course; father told me when I was writing
to Aunt Mary always to do that. Do you know what it
is to-day, Dolly ? I don't."
"I have not the very least idea! What a pity it is!"
she answered quite distressed at not being able to give the
"If it hadn't been such a long time since May's'birth-
day," said Hugh regretfully, "I could have counted on
my fingers. What shall we do ? Shall I run and ask
John ? "
But Dolly thought John might be inclined to ask
awkward questions, and that Hugh might have to say
why he particularly wanted to know the day of the
"Indeed I shouldn't tell him, when it is such a secret,"
A BEAUTIFUL PLAN. 63
"I know!" exclaimed Dolly: "put Tuesday, that
can't be wrong."
-- I I II
I ... ,,,
"Do you know what it is to-day, Dolly? I don't."
"Yes, that will do," said Hugh; and as he slowly traced
the word he remarked, "I do think writing letters is very
nice work; but now, how am I to begin ? "
HER GREAT AMBITION.
"'Dear Sir,' I should think," suggested Dolly
"Oh no! that would never do. Father let me look
over him once, when he was writing a note, and I asked
him why he put 'Dear Sir,' and he said it was because
he didn't know the person he was writing to very well;
so I can't say that, because we see Sims so very often.
Do you know, I often wonder how we can possibly eat
all the meat he brings. Well, I had better put 'My
dear Sims,' I think."
But Dolly thought such a commencement did not
sound quite civil; nurse always called him Mr. Sims,
when she asked after Mrs. Sims's rheumatics: so the
letter began, "My dear Mister Sims."
Hugh had clear notions what he wanted to say in
his letter, but from various accidental causes a great
many partly written sheets of paper were put in the
waste-paper basket, and the time passed very slowly and
wearily to poor Dolly, whose advice was not needed
during the re-copyings which were so frequently necessary.
She proposed to fetch Tim and her doll, that she might
have some occupation while she was waiting; but Hugh,
who was getting very tired, very cold, and perhaps a little
cross, overruled this arrangement, and Dolly, as usual,
yielded the point.
At last Hugh said, with great satisfaction, "That is all
I had to say, I think. But how must I finish off?
'Yours affectionately,' do you think ? "
"Oh no!" replied Dolly; "you only say 'affection-
ately' to people you kiss, and you would never kiss
"I should think not!" said Hugh, as if the very idea
were most distasteful to him. "I say, 1 know," he
A BEAUTIFUL PLAN. 65
exclaimed, with an air of relief. I'll put, 'I remain,
Hugh Neville,' and leave out the rest of tfhe thing."
But this arrangement disagreed again with Dolly's
notions of propriety.
"Isn't there anybody you could send your love to? "
she suggested: "that would make it sound more polite."
"There's Mrs. Sims ; she is rather a nice old woman,
and gave us some bulls'-eyes once, when we had to wait
while father did some business talk with Sims. Now
then, Dolly, read it out loud, and see how it will do;"
and Hugh leant back in his chair, and listened with an
air of satisfaction, while Dolly read as follows:-
MY DEAR MISTER SIMs,-Lane says you want to sell
a pony, and I want to have one very much, so I will buy
it. I have got ten shillings-at least father is keeping it
for me-so it must not cost more than about that.
When he comes home he will give it to you. Please
send him early in the morning, for I want to ride him.
Please give my love to Mrs. Sims.
I'm glad it's done," sighed Hugh. After all, I don't
think writing letters is very nice."
But it was decided that this one was everything that
could be desired ; after several attempts the envelope was
at last properly directed, and now the question was, how
to get it posted ?
John always took the letter-bag to nurse to be locked,
when she was at home; to-day he would lock it himself,
and the children dreaded curious eyes : so they decided,
after a great deal of thought, that they would let the
bag go as usual, and then run to the end of the garden
HER GREAT AMBITION.
and give the letter to old Jerry the postman, as he passed.
He was not likely to ask any troublesome questions-
-' ...i.i_-/ :
Giving the Letter to Jerry the Postman.
nor did he; and when the letter was fairly gone, Dolly
and Hugh felt as if they were relieved of some great
anxiety, and were quite ready to welcome the others
A BEAUTIFUL PLAN.
when they returned from the farm ; nurse happily
making no inquiries as to how they had passed the
As soon as tea was over, and the children had been
dismissed to the play-room, Hugh, who had been unusually
quiet throughout the meal, called Dolly into the passage,
and, shutting the door carefully, said-
"Dolly, I do think I must tell nurse; we won't tell any
of the others, you know; but really I don't feel as if I
could keep it in altogether. It makes me feel quite queer
to have such a very big secret and not tell any one."
"Yes," said practical Dolly, perhaps it would be a
good thing to tell nurse, for if no one knew anything
about it they might think it was a mistake, and send it
back again, and that would be a great pity."
It would be horrid gasped Hugh. "Let us go and
tell her directly. You won't mind my telling her all my-
self, will you?" he turned to whisper as he opened the
Taking Dolly's consent for granted, he marched up to
nurse, who had just placed herself comfortably by the
fire to spend what she called her blindman's holiday "
in putting her knitting to rights, out of which May, in
an idle moment, had drawn all the pins.
"Nurse," he said, very slowly and distinctly, I have
bought a pony."
"Nine, twelve, fifteen .-. Oh, dear me What was
it you said, my dear ? "
Why, I've bought a pony, nurse "
Indeed have you ? Twenty-four, twenty-seven."
I say, wouldn't you like to see it ? inquired Hugh,
feeling rather aggrieved that the knitting should absorb
so much of nurse's attention.
68 HER GREAT AMBITION.
It's such a beauty put in Dolly, to excite nurse's
interest, which she, too, felt was inadequate to the
Oh, what a shame!" exclaimed Hugh; you said I
might tell her all myself! "
"No, indeed, I never said so," answered Dolly, adding
(penitent at once for having excited Hugh's displeasure),
"but I didn't mean to. I'm very sorry. I won't say
Now," argued Hugh, didn't I say to you as we were
coming in at the door "-
"My dears, my dears, what are you quarrelling about?"
interrupted nurse, who, having "set up" her knitting to
her satisfaction, was again alive to passing events.
We're not quarrelling, nursie dear," exclaimed Dolly;
"only Hugh didn't want me to tell you that he has
bought such a beau "-
"Dolly, how unkind you are!" burst in Hugh, on the
verge of tears.
0 Hugh, I forgot I really did !"
By this time nurse had dropped her knitting, and was
looking severely over her spectacles.
"What is it, Master Hugh ? What are you so cross
I'm not a bit cross, nurse; but I've kept on telling
you that I've bought a pony, and you won't listen."
Oh yes, I heard that," replied nurse, in a soothing
tone. Well, and how big is it ? Is it covered with real
hair, like the one you saw at Chesterton?"
O nurse of course it has got real hair, as it is alive;
but I don't know quite how big it is," continued Hugh.
" May I just run down to the stables and ask Lane ?"
"I don't understand," said nurse, with much more
A BEAUTIFUL PLAN.
interest than she had evinced before. "Did you say it
was alive, my dear ? Tell me what it all means."
Why, it means, nurse," replied Hugh, charmed that he
had at last succeeded in arousing nurse's curiosity, "that
I've bought a real, live pony, all myself;" and in his
excitement he began to vault over the smaller articles of
"My dear boy, don'tjump aboutlike that! "exclaimed
nurse, taking off her spectacles, as she always did when
she felt bewildered. Miss Dolly, dear, whatever does he
It's quite true, nursie; he really has bought a "-
but Dolly was not allowed to utter another word of ex-
planation, for in one moment Hugh's not over-gentle
hand was on her mouth, and he was slowly saying, in a
tone of the greatest indignation-
"Dolly, you really are too bad "
Master Hugh !" exclaimed nurse, grasping the boy by
the arm ; "tell me directly what all this means Strik-
ing Miss Dolly, too, like that! You naughty boy!"
And nurse, in her bewilderment, administered a slight
I wasn't striking her, and I am not a naughty boy,"
said Hugh, very much aggrieved at the turn affairs were
taking. "It's too bad You won't listen to me, and
Dolly will tell, when she knows I want to."
I'm so sorry," said penitent Dolly. Nurse, do listen
to him, please," she added, in an imploring tone.
I'm sure I am quite ready to listen," replied nurse, as
she resumed her spectacles, and seated herself bolt upright
to receive the communication ; that is, if he can tell me
sensibly. Now, sir, begin at the very beginning, if you
HER GREAT AMBITION.
Well, nurse," began Hugh, much relieved, in spite of
her displeasure, that he had at last a chance of telling the
whole story himself to an attentive listener; "you see, as
we were coming back from Teignmouth to-day we met
the butcher-boy driving at such a pace, and Lane said it
was a capital pony, and that Sims had got another one
just like it, or quite as good, I think he said, which he
wanted to sell. He said it would be just the sort of pony
for Reggie and me; and I asked him if we were big
enough to ride a pony, and he said, 'Yes;' and he
should think the sooner we began to learn the better;
and so this afternoon we wrote the letter, and bought it."
"Who is we? I should like to know," inquired nurse,
with anything but a pleased expression of countenance.
I helped him, nurse," said Dolly, becoming uncom-
fortably aware that the proceeding had not met with
Well really, Miss Dolly, I should have thought you
would have known better Such an audacious thing to
do! And who did you think was going to pay for the
pony, Master Hugh? It's very naughty of you to go
buying things like that without asking your father first."
Oh, I am going to pay for it !" replied Hugh, with
"You !" exclaimed nurse. "And where is the money
to come from ? Out of Sir James's pocket, I suppose."
"No, nurse; I said I had got ten shillings, and so it
must not cost more than that."
"Well, I never ejaculated nurse, as a grim smile
spread itself over her features.
"Nurse! dear nurse! you won't send it away when it
comes, will you ? implored Hugh, in the greatest anxiety.
Please, please don't !" pleaded Dolly.
A BEAUTIFUL PLAN. 71
But nurse only hinted vaguely at giving Sims "a piece
of her mind if he was idiot enough to send the pony,
"which she didn't think at all likely; and when pressed
as to the course she would pursue "if he did send it,"
positively refused to give an answer.
Keeping the secret was quite out of the question now,
for nurse was still talking openly about it when the other
children came back from the play-room.
Hugh's beautiful plan" seemed likely to turn out a
failure, and he had to go to bed in a state of most uncom-
fortable doubt as to whether he had bought the pony or
not. Under such anxious circumstances, he felt he must
confide the whole matter to Reggie, who proved a most
sympathetic listener; declared it would be splendid to
have a pony, and highly praised Hugh for the brilliant
idea of buying one, though he had some misgivings as to
ten shillings being quite a sufficient sum to offer for the
animal. He had some idea that a good pony cost a
pound, or even two.
0 Reggie! exclaimed Hugh in an agony; what
shall we do if Sims won't sell it? "
Or if nurse won't let us buy it," said Reggie, quite
ready to become a partner in the transaction. But
suppose we don't talk about that. Let us think of all
the fun we shall have if we really get it."
Thoughts of future enjoyment quieted, for the time,
present fears, and Hugh fell asleep to dream wonderful
dreams of nurse in her Sunday cap, adorned with cherry-
coloured ribbons, riding the pony across country, strewing
by the way gold pieces as large as half-crowns, which
seemed to be always rolling down-hill, and frustrating all
Sims' and Reggie's and Hugh's united endeavours to pick
HE opinion which nurse held of Mr. Sims must
have sustained a shock when, about eleven
o'clock the following morning, she received a
message from Lane requesting her presence in the
servants' hall, and upon her complying with the request,
she found there not only Lane but Sims; both were
evidently highly amused, so much so that the latter could
hardly command his voice sufficiently to be able to tell
her that Master Hugh had written to him to say that he
wanted to buy his pony, and that he had therefore
brought it in case Sir James might be willing to let the
young gentleman have it.
Lane was evidently in favour of the purchase of the
animal which Mrs. Slade was invited to inspect. He
suggested that, as Sir James was away from home, the
pony should remain at Scraseden until they could hear
from him, and in the meantime Master Hugh could have
a few riding lessons. Sims expressed his willingness to
lend the pony (of which Lane promised to take every
care), and remarked to the coachman in a confidential
tone that "no harm would be done" if Sir James did
not decide on buying it after all. What nurse may really
BUSY DAYS. 73
have thought on the subject of Mr. Sims' sanity did not
transpire, but "the piece of her mind" which she did
-_-2--- .-- --,-'-,-",,-,-T
--/ 11": ^i
Nurse gives them a piece of her mind."
unfold revealed a certain amount of vexation. She spoke
strongly of the dangers attending riding, and said, what-
ever Lane and Sims might wish, she had no desire of
HER GREAT AMBITION.
having her children "brought back with their necks
Lane laughed at the idea, and assured her that the
earlier the young gentlemen learned to ride, so much the
less likely were they, in his opinion, to meet with such a
Nurse shook her head, and persisted that accidents
always happened when they were least expected; and
that if Lane was set upon the children running such risks
he might write to master himself, for she would have
nothing to do with it. Mr. Sims again pressed her to
look at the pony, which he said was the prettiest little
thing she ever saw. To which nurse replied that, pretty
or not pretty, she would prefer keeping at a distance.
Looks were not everything, the world would be very
different if they were; and those pretty little creatures
that looked as meek as milk would up with their heels
and let fly at you before you could look round. She
knew their ways.
In vain Sims assured her such were not the ways of
his pony; and at last he said, with some annoyance-
"Do'ee think now, Mrs. Slade, that I 'ud sell a pony to
Sir James that I did think likely to do them precious
boys a harm ? You da knaw better than that !"
Old nurse acknowledged that she couldn't bring herself
to believe that he would do such a thing except by a
mistake. "'Twould be downright murder."
"Of course it would," said Lane. And Sims is not
a horse-dealer, ready to sell anything that have got four
legs and a tail, and call it a quiet horse. No, no, Mrs.
Slade, you can trust us both. Be sure of that."
Somewhat reassured in spite of herself, nurse con-
sented to look at the pony from the staircase-window.
BUSY DAYS. 75
No nearer, she said; for however people might deserve
to be trusted, it stood to reason that they couldn't look
into an animal's mind and know for certain what it was
going to do. The best of horses and ponies bit and
kicked sometimes-such was her belief, and she evidently
feared that this particular one might choose the identical
moment of her inspection for a display of his powers in
The pony was certainly a pretty one, even nurse could
see that; and it seemed quiet enough too, keeping its ears
wonderfully still, which was a great merit in her eyes.
"I always mind their ears," she had once said to Lane,
when discoursing on the dangers of riding and driving.
"They're as good as signals, and I can't be thankful
enough that one's got something to go by with such
chancy things as horses. When I see them prick them
up, then I know it's likely enough they'll be jumping
about in a minute as if they were on wires, and I says to
myself, 'Hold tight, Mary Slade, whatever you do;'
but when they lay them back, then I know they means
the worst of mischief, and you can't deny I'm right."
Although she watched long and anxiously, she was forced
to admit that she saw no signs of mischievous intentions
on the part of the pony, which followed Sims about like
a dog, and at last she consented to fetch Hugh to look
He'll never be satisfied with looking at it out of this
here window-not he," remarked Lane, who had ascended
the stairs to nurse's post of observation to continue his
persuasions. You won't tantalise the young gentleman
by keeping him up here, I do hope?"
"I wasn't going to tantalise nobody that I know of,"
replied nurse angrily. "And if I was asked, I should
HER GREAT AMBITION.
say that you were just a little free in your remarks, Mr.
"Come, come, now," said the old coachman, "you
and me are not going to quarrel over a word, Mrs.
"Not if you don't repeat it," replied nurse, who never
could keep anger with Lane long; "and if you'll take
good care of the boy I'll send him down to you. I never
had any thought of tantalising him, as you call it."
Hugh had been in the most anxious state of mind the
whole morning, and especially since he had heard of
Lane's message to nurse; it must have something to do
with the pony; perhaps good old Lane was going to try
to persuade her to keep it, only he suddenly remembered
that he had never told Lane that he had bought it, so it
could hardly be for that reason that he had sent for her.
It was puzzling as well as decidedly "uncomfortable,"
and poor Hugh wandered backwards and forwards be-
tween the nursery and the turning-room, and could not
settle to anything.
"What can she be doing? he asked Reggie at last, as
time went on and nurse did not return; and Reggie,
whose thoughts on minor points naturally took a depress-
ing turn, hinted that it was possible that Sims might
have brought the pony and she might be having some
trouble to make him take it away again.
Hugh was just saying, "Do you really think, Reggie,
she would be so very, very unkind?" when the door
opened and nurse put in her head to say, Master Hugh,
the pony's down in the yard, and you may go and look
at it if you like."
If he liked There could be no doubt of that, and yet
for very joy Hugh could not utter a word in answer; in
fact, as he told Reggie that night in the course of the
confidential conversation they were in the habit of hold-
ing after they were in bed, the knowledge that Sims had
really brought the pony made him feel quite sick!
Reggie was the first to speak. "That is splendid !" he
said, in a tone of ecstasy; and throwing down the tool
which he had in his hand, he rushed after nurse to ask if
he might go down to the yard with Hugh.
Nurse hesitated. "Two is not one," she answered;
"and Master Hugh won't be half so steady if he's got
you to back him up in his pranks. I should never forgive
myself if an accident happened; but there," she continued,
conquered by Reggie's pleading looks, the end of it is, I
must go and look after the both of you, I suppose."
"May Dolly come, too?" asked Hugh, who, almost
stupefied by his intense happiness, had followed Reggie
"Three of you! No,- no," replied nurse; "I can't
stand that. Miss Dolly can look out of the staircase-
window if she likes, but that's near enough to the pony's
heels for to-day." And with that distant view poor Dolly
was forced to be content, while nurse, setting aside her
own timidity, accompanied the boys to the yard, to keep
an eye on the pony's ears and a hand on the shoulder of
each child, ready to draw them within the shelter of the
back-door should the animal show any symptoms of
Happily for Hugh, it showed itself to be so gentle and
good-tempered, that nurse had no shadow of an excuse
for rejecting it as unfit for the children; and the result
was, it was settled that the pony should remain at
Scraseden until Lane should hear from his master.
Sir James was very much amused when he received
HER GREAT AMBITION.
the coachman's letter announcing Hugh's purchase, but
his answer was a favourable one. It was well, he thought,
that the boys should learn to ride, and if Lane considered
the pony to be quiet and steady, and worth the sum Sims
asked for. it, he was quite ready to buy it, and Master
Hugh was not to be undeceived for the present with
regard to his being the purchaser of it.
Great were the rejoicings in the nursery when the
children were told that their father had consented to
Hugh's keeping the pony. All of them, even Bertie, who
could not be induced to go near it, felt as if they had
risen in importance by being so nearly related to the
owner of it. And as for Hugh, nurse said his head was
turned; but he really bore his new honours very meekly,
considering what great ones they were.
The coffee-grinder was wholly neglected for a time, and
the two eldest boys spent two hours every day in taking
riding-lessons from Lane, who, during his master's absence,
had a good deal of spare time, which he willingly devoted
to the task of instructing them. They were so fearless,
and showed such aptitude, that he was delighted with his
pupils, and before very long he told them that he had
written to "Master" to say that they were fit to be
trusted anywhere alone, even to follow the hounds !
Nurse held up her hands in horror when the boys
with great pride related to her what Lane had said, and
at once wrote herself to Sir James to beg that he would
forbid hunting; if he did not do so, she assured him that
her hours of happiness were numbered.
In consideration for nurse, her master withheld his
consent to the boys following the hounds, although he
acceded to their request that they might ride alone beyond
the grounds. Even this was more than nurse wholly
BUSY DAYS. 79
approved, and she expressed a hope that Master might
never repent it; but after a time, as no accident happened
and her charges always returned punctually at the hour
at which she expected them, she became reconciled to it,
and even rejoiced in having no longer any difficulty in
rousing Reggie from his workshop to take necessary
exercise in the open air.
After the first novelty of riding had worn off he re-
turned to his machine, which was now so rapidly approach-
ing completion that Dolly was urged to make haste with
the sails in order that it might be ready for exhibition by
the time Sir James returned. The poor child had found
the days which the boys had spent in riding rather long
and dull, and was so charmed to have the turning-room
inhabited again, that she almost enjoyed the sail-making
at which she worked, diligently urged by Reggie's grati-
tude and the interest he took in her work, which he as-
sured her was "first-rate."
Dolly herself thought that her needle had been more
successful than usual, and it was a proud moment when
she spread out the completed sails before the two boys
the day before her uncle was to come home. But how
dreadfully dirty they did look The cotton she had used
might have been grey instead of white, and poor Dolly
stammered out, I didn't know till now how black they
were. I am so sorry, and I can't think how it is, but it
wouldn't take me very long to wash them, I think;" and
she cast shy glances first at Reggie and then at Hugh.
The former had been gazing at the work in silence-a
silence which Dolly felt, and "no wonder," she penitently
thought; "it's the dirtiest-looking needlework I ever
"How very odd !" said the boy at last. You think
HER GREAT AMBITION.
they're too dirty, but do you know I think that they're
a great deal too clean. I never saw any windmills in
Sussex with such white sails as those. Don't you think
you could dirty them a little more ? Just try."
Dolly who believed herself to have done her utmost in
that way, as far as ordinary means went, cast about in
her mind for some way of getting the required shade of
colour. Working in the garden with Freddie and Willie
always made her hands and pinafore dirty, so she sug-
gested at last that if they took the sails out into the garden
they might perhaps be able to do something with them
"I might make them very wet, and then rub some
earth on them," she said, by no means liking the idea of
Why don't you dip them in ink at once? said Hugh
with zest; "that would be quicker, wouldn't it? and
make them jolly black."
"The very thing !" exclaimed Reggie. I've seen the
sails quite black sometimes I perhaps they were made of
black stuff, but I never thought of that before: anyhow,
ink will make these black. That was a very sharp
thought of yours, Hugh. There's sure to be plenty
downstairs," and forthwith the three proceeded to the
study to dye the sails.
There doesn't seem to be much ink," said Hugh,
peering anxiously into the large ink bottle; "but I dare
say it will be enough."
"Yes," replied Reggie; ink goes rather a long way,
The material of which the sails were made was a sort
of canvas, chosen by Hugh on account of its strength,
and did not readily absorb the ink, nor was the mouth
BUSY DAVS. 8i
of the bottle large enough to admit even a single sail
I think," remarked Hugh, who was taking an active
part in the proceedings while the others looked on, "that
if I poke in one at a time with this paper-cutter (it is
black, luckily), and keep on stirring it about, and squeez-
ing it down, that it will get soaked in time."
"They won't take very long, will they?" inquired
Dolly, anxiously; "for it is nearly dinner-time now."
"Be quick, Hugh," said Reggie; and Hugh poked
and stirred with the heartiest good-will.
"It isn't all black yet, and I don't believe there's a
drop of ink left in the thing," he said at last.
"The big jar is by the side of uncle's writing-desk,"
suggested Dolly; and Reggie, fetching it, called upon
Hugh to remove the sail before he refilled the bottle.
"It won't come out!" exclaimed his brother, en-
deavouring to withdraw the sail, and only succeeding in
lifting the ink-bottle, which hung suspended from his
inky fingers by a corner of the yet imperfectly dyed
You hold the bottle, Dolly," he said; "then I shall
have something to pull against."
Dolly did as she was bidden. Hold tight, I'm going
to pull very hard," he continued; here goes and out
he jerked the sail, sending a shower of thick black liquid
over himself, his helper, and everything on the table.
For a moment he stood surprised at the result of his
hard pull, then he calmly said-
"There's plenty of blotting paper in the case; mop it
up, Dolly, as well as you can. I've heard father say he
never leaves anything out when he's away, that he cares
very much about. Now then, Reggie, fill up the thing
82 HER GREAT AMBITION.
and put in a good lot, or it will be dinner-time before we
Hugh's assistants were very obedient, but in a moment
Reggie, who was performing his part with anxious care,
exclaimed, "My arm is getting wet. Take the bottle,
Hugh; I do believe it's all gone up my sleeve."
I believe it has," replied Hugh calmly; "for there's
very little in the bottle, and there seemed to be a lot
coming out of the jar."
"I'm dripping with ink," said Reggie ruefully. "How
nasty it is! Thank you, Dolly dear," as she came to his
assistance armed with more blotting-paper. It's my
elbow that's so wet."
It's coming through outside," began his cousin ; but
her words were arrested by a sudden exclamation from
Hugh, who had continued Reggie's interrupted work.
He had not been so cautious as his brother, and the
consequence was that the inkstand was surrounded by a
pool of ink.
"Wipe it up with the sails," said Dolly; that will be
doing two things at once." But her advice was not as
prudent as it seemed, the area of the inky sea becoming
greater as Hugh dashed the sails into the middle of it.
His needs seemed so much more urgent than Reggie's,
that Dolly transferred her attentions to him, and provid-
ing themselves with the last remaining sheets of blotting-
paper, the two endeavoured to "mop up the mess," as
Hugh expressed it, but had not succeeded in doing so
entirely when the dreaded dinner-bell rang.
"What shall we do ? exclaimed Reggie; they always
ring that bell when we don't want it. O Dolly! what
a state you're in You've got ink on your hair, and even
on your stockings!"
BUSY DAYS. S3
"Yes," said Hugh. "You're spotted all over, face and
all! What will nurse say ? And look at my fingers!"
It isn't only your fingers, Hugh; but do make haste
cleaning this up. Nurse will come to fetch us in a
minute." And Dolly continued to "mop up" until the
blotting-paper would absorb no more, and was reduced to
"We can't let it run amongst all the things like this,"
said Hugh, becoming a little anxious about the damage
he had done; and before Reggie or Dolly could expostu-
late he had wiped the table dry with his handkerchief.
The sails were effectually dyed by this time, and had to
be squeezed over the inkstand before they could be carried
upstairs, a process which did not improve the appearance
of Hugh's hands. Half-way up the ascent they encoun-
tered nurse coming in search of them.
"Well, to be sure !" she exclaimed, as she caught sight
of the inky little figures. And what have you been
doing, I should like to know?"
We've- been-doing-something-with the ink,"
stammered Hugh, who happened to be in the front.
"Something with the ink! I can see that without
your telling me, you naughty boy! Why, you're as
black as coal!"
':He's been helping me, nurse, and so has Dolly," said
Reggie, feeling that he must take his share of the blame,
and with a vague idea that his share was the largest, as
the stains of his companions had been incurred in his
"It's something to do with your 'thing,' I dare say,"
replied nurse ironically. Pretty excuses, indeed Up-
stairs with you this moment !"
Reggie and Dolly passed on; but Hugh had no idea of
84 HER GREAT AMBITION.
his brother beingaccused of makingexcuses, of which he had
a horror, and stayed to argue out the point with nurse.
i i,, ,i' iiN 'l ;I
" Well, to be sure I" she exclaimed.
"It can't be making excuses to say what's true," he
remarked; and we really have been doing something for
BUSY DAYS. 85
There, get along with you !" replied nurse. "I never
saw such a boy in my life. You'd talk the four legs of a
dog off, I do believe. And there's dinner waiting all this
time, and three of you to clean first I'll teach you not
to go messing with ink again before I've done with you."
Whenever nurse made any allusion to giving personal
instruction in any matter besides Dolly's needlework, the
children always knew she was very angry; so Hugh
thought it better not to renew the argument as he pre-
ceded her to the nursery.
When there, nurse made further discoveries of the
damage done to their clothes, and she sat down to dinner
at last in a very wrathful frame of mind, hinting at an
earlier hour for going to bed, as a punishment for such
Such became the children's positive doom, when after
dinner, she discovered the state of the study.
Sir James was, as Hugh had said, in the habit of clear-
ing his writing-table of all papers of importance before he
left home for any length of time; but the ink had, as the
boy expressed it, when nurse marched them down to con-
template the result of their morning's labour, "squished
everywhere," over walls, books, and carpet.
Reggie was almost in tears at the sight; Dolly wept
penitently; but Hugh took the matter far more calmly.
Wasn't our fault, nurse," he said. I don't believe
you could have done it any better. It was the worst thing
I ever did; and you know," winding up in a tone of
exultation, you never told us not to do it."
It's just like your impudence, Master Hugh, to talk
as if I was to blame for not telling you not to do a thing
which you never let me know you'd got in your naughty
little heads," replied nurse, quite exasperated at Hugh's
86 HER GREAT AMBITION.
endeavour, as she thought, to turn the tables on her.
"Why, I don't know now what you've been after.
What was it, pray? Tell me at once, and then, perhaps,
I may be less severe with you another time; that is, if it's
possible to be with such children as you are. Well, what
was it ? "
Hugh looked inquiringly at Reggie, who shook his
head. I can't tell you, nurse, to-day," he replied; "to-
morrow I will. You see it's part of Reggie's secret."
Secret indeed !" said nurse. "A nice sort of a secret
when you've gone and published it on the very walls and
the carpet like this It's a printing-machine you've been
trying to make, Master Reggie, that's as plain as a pike-
staff, and I'll thank you to leave such attempts alone in
future. I wonder master lets you have your way about
the things as he has done; but this is the last you'll
make for some time to come, I promise you."
"It's not a printing-machine, nurse," answered the
inventor of the coffee-grinder; really and truly it isn't,"
as nurse looked rather doubtful of having jumped to a
wrong conclusion in the matter.
"Then if it isn't, you'd no business with the ink, that's
certain," she replied.
"Yes, nurse, indeed we had," said the irrepressible
Hugh. "Nothing but ink would have done it so well."
"Done what so well? questioned nurse.
"The-things-belonging to-the thing," said Hugh,
rather in a difficulty how to answer without betraying
"The things belonging to the thing !" repeated nurse.
"And you call that giving me an answer, do you, sir?
I'll teach you !"
But her promises of instruction in the matter of giving
plain replies were cut short by Anne, who came to tell
her that Mr. Preston had sent up from the farm to say
that his missus was took very bad, and he'd be obliged
if Mrs. Slade would step down at once."
In a moment the children's naughtiness faded from
nurse's mind. She hastened to fetch her bonnet and
shawl, and the three culprits, thus suddenly and unex-
pectedly delivered from a situation of great embarrass-
ment, lost no time in betaking themselves to the turning-
room, to put the finishing touches to the machine.
"Ah !" said Reggie, "it's very kind of Mrs. Preston to
be ill to-day. If Anne hadn't come in just then, I do,
believe we should have had to tell nurse all about the
"That would have been dreadful," said Dolly, who
could scarcely yet breathe freely, and dreaded that even
now nurse might appear to receive the answer to her
question before she went to the farm.
"Yes," said Hugh, "when we've kept the secret all
this long time. Here are the sails," he continued, as he
deposited a little black crumpled ball on the table.
" They are not quite dry yet."
"Never mind that," replied Reggie. "I must fix them
on this afternoon somehow, especially if nurse really
means to send us to bed earlier."
"They are wet, Hugh!" he exclaimed, as he en-
deavoured to smooth out the ball. "What a mess your
pocket must be in!"
I expect it is. The ink has all soaked into this bit
of apple which I saved last night. I meant to eat it to-
day, but I don't think I can now," remarked Hugh,
regretfully holding up a blackened quarter of apple.
Public opinion decided that it had better be thrown
88 HER GREAT AMBITION.
out of the window, a decision which Hugh accepted
when he found that peeling only diminished the blackness
by a few shades, but did not wholly remove it.
Reggie and Dolly (whose help was required in fixing
the sails) worked hard at the machine all the afternoon,
while Hugh sat on the end of the table and watched the
progress of the work. He was in a very silent mood, for
a wonder; and at last Reggie, who missed the accom-
paniment of his merry tongue, said-
"Why don't you say something, Hugh ? "
I was thinking," replied his brother in a very medita-
tive tone; and as he showed no intention of communicat-
ing the result of his meditations, Reggie asked, after an
interval of a few minutes-
"What are you thinking about? Are you bothering
about the ink ? "
"Not exactly," replied Hugh. "I'll tell you," he
added, more brightly, "what I was thinking about. I
can't see why we ought to go to bed earlier to-night.
We haven't done anything wrong; for nobody ever told
us not to touch the ink, and it wasn't our fault that it
squished over everything. I hate going to bed by day-
light, and I think, if we have to go, Anne ought to have
gone on Tuesday when she fell down-stairs with that
trayful of tea-things. Nurse said she had made a hole in
several pounds; but she never sent her to bed. I expect
she wanted her, and doesn't want us; but I don't think
it's quite fair."
"Anne hurt herself," suggested Reggie, who was too
busy with his work to trouble himself much at the
moment about the justice of nurse's sentence; "and
perhaps she thought that would do."
"And I lost my bit of apple," argued Hugh, in
such a dejected tone of voice that Dolly laughed out-
"But she didn't know that, did she? she remarked.
"No," answered Hugh; "and I'm sure I shan't tell
her, for she's sure to say, "Serve you right," if I do.
But I wish I knew why we ought to go to bed. I'm
very sorry we did any harm; but I'm sure we didn't do
anything wrong, did we? "
"Of course we didn't!" answered Reggie. "It is
rather puzzling, isn't it, Dolly ? "
"I think it's because we only thought about ourselves.
We forgot, you know, to think about whether nurse
would like it, or whether Uncle James would mind our
blacking the sails in the study."
I believe that's it," said Hugh. I'll remember that
another time; if I can, that is. But, Dolly, you never
made any mess; you only mopped up; so I'm sure you
oughtn't to go to bed, if we do."
"But I stood by," said conscientious Dolly; "and I
told you where the big jar of ink was."
"So you did," agreed Hugh. "I suppose it is fair
after all, but it's very, very uncomfortable, I'm sure."
In this sentiment Reggie and Dolly agreed; but they
had no time to spare in regrets, and worked away at the
machine, while Hugh indulged in a performance of the
Cow melody with an unusual amount of variations, Dolly
thought. It always made her feel inclined to run out of
the room when Hugh's excited feelings found vent in
"That'll do, Hugh," said Reggie at last. "There,
that's done! Now come and look at the coffee-grinder.
I am so glad it's finished before father comes home."
Hugh cast his grievance to the winds. "Hurrah!"
HER GREAT AMBITION.
he shouted. "Is it ready to work? Then let me run
and ask cook for some coffee-beans."
"We mustn't go into the kitchen without leave, you
know," replied Reggie; "and nurse isn't here to ask.
It's a great bother."
"I won't go into the kitchen, but I'll get some;" and
Hugh darted off before any further objections could be
made. At the top of the back-stairs he stopped and
called, "John! Tohn!" but the footman did not come
in answer to the summons, and Hugh sat down patiently
on the top step to wait until he or one of the other
servants should pass the foot of the stairs.
He seemed to have waited a long time, but no one
came, and he could hear the hum of the servants' voices
in the distance. If he might only go down those few
steps! but he resolutely resisted the temptation to do so;
and when he could wait no longer he ran back to the
nursery to ask Anne to take his message to cook.
There was no one there, however; and then he remem-
bered that Anne must have gone out walking with Bertie
and the two youngest children, and that if he waited for
her to return there would be no time to test the powers
of the coffee-grinder before tea, or indeed that day, if
they had to go to bed early, as nurse had said. He really
must ask her to forgive them this once; but supposing
she did not do so, it would certainly be as well to get
the coffee-beans without delay. Only he had no one to
send in quest of them, and very reluctantly he returned
to the turning-room to tell of his ill-success.
Reggie looked disconsolate, but Dolly said-
"Let us send Tim; he would go, I think."
"Tim couldn't speak if he did go to John," remarked
Reggie, a little impatiently; "so he is no good."
Dolly felt quite hurt for Tim. "He would carry a
message though, if we wrote it."
Oh, you dear Dolly, for thinking of it! Of course he
.; t i, ', : l i,. ,I'
Please give us some coffee-beans.
would!" exclaimed Hugh. "Let us writethe letteratonce."
But Dolly, remembering the length of time consumed
in the composition of the note to Sims, was averse to
92 HER GREAT AMBITION.
letter-writing on this occasion, "We had better write it just
as we should say it, or we shan't get it done before tea-time."
The boys thought Dolly's suggestion a wise one, and a
pencil message was suspended from Tim's neck, written
on a sufficiently large piece of paper to attract attention,
the message being as follows:-
"John,-Please ask cook for some coffee-beans for us."
The dog was then led to the back-stairs, down which
his mistress persuaded him to descend, while the three
perched themselves on the top-step, as Hugh had pre-
viously done, to await results. At first no results were
apparent. Once, indeed, Tim appeared ascending the
stairs; but, as the message still hung from his neck, he
was indignantly repulsed, and sent down again.
In a few moments John rushed upstairs, almost upset-
ting the children, who had only just time to rise and get
out of his way, as he and Tim arrived on the landing.
Oh, here you are !" he exclaimed. I saw Tim walk-
ing about with a paper, so I looked to see what it was.
What did you want the coffee-beans for, Master Reggie ?"
For my thing, John. It's a coffee-grinder, you know.
Please do get cook to let you have some."
"All right, sir," said good-natured John, plunging
downstairs, and quickly reappearing with some coffee-
beans.in a paper bag.
Oh, thank you, John 1" cried the children joyfully;
and Reggie added, You have been quick! Will you
come and look ? I've finished it now."
Not to-day, sir; another time, perhaps, when I'm
not so busy," answered the footman, hastening back to
his work, while Reggie and his two companions returned
to the machine.
The beans were put in through the roof of the wind-
mill, and then the cart was pushed forward, the revolu-