Goods r ryer'< Pisk ony.
If not c'.. wi ;;n one. month
goodswill be sold to'defray expenses
The Baldwin Library
| .. UViarSf ||
[See page 10.
Author of Seven o'Clock," Worth Doing,"
"Right Side Up," &c.
WELLS GARDNER, DARTON & CO.,
3, PATERNOSTER BUILDINGS, E.C., AND
44, VICTORIA STREET, S.W.
JAMES POTT & CO.
BERT COMES TO US.
1I ATHER says I'm to tell him all about
it, because he has only heardFlittle bits
from Bert and from Eva, and wants to know
everything; and he says he'll come every
evening after dinner to the Blue Room, where
I am, and stay with me while nurse baths Eva,
and write it all down just as I say it, as near
as he possibly can, and put it right for me;
for he thinks some of the little boys and girls
he writes stories for might like to hear about
Father generally writes tales about naughty
boys and girls. We, Eva and I, always like
2 BERT COMES TO US.
them best, and think them the most interesting
by far; and Father says, so far as he knows
at present, none of the children he has ever
written about have been naughtier or got into
much worse trouble than Eva and Bert
Eva didn't get into so much trouble as I
did, and it wasn't her fault so much as mine,
because she's only four, and, as Nurse says,
couldn't be expected to know; and so, of course,
it wasn't my fault so much as Bert's, because
he's ten and I'm only seven, and he's ever so
much taller than me: but, no matter whose
the fault was, we all got into dreadful trouble
on Valentine's Day, and it was just the very
day we had been looking forward to for a
whole fortnight, two long weeks, and just
the day when we expected to have enjoyed
Bert isn't my brother; he's my cousin,
Herbert Danly, and he has been staying with
BERT COMES TO US. 3
us for the last fortnight. I hadn't seen him
for a whole year, not since I was six. He
came now because he had the measles at
Christmas, lots of measles, all over him, and
Mother said he was so ill that he hadn't been
able to have a bit of pudding, or one single
mince-pie, or even to look at his presents;
and Eva and I, between us, had sent him a
beautiful little engine that worked with real
steam. It was six shillings, and we gave
sixpence each, and Grandmother made up the
rest. Only fancy having a lovely present like
that, and lying still in a dark room, with the
blind down, instead of making it go puffl
puff! puff! like Father showed us I Wasn't
it dreadfully sad?
I was very glad when I heard Bert was
coming to stay with us while his mother went
to our aunt in Devonshire, so that she could
have a rest and change, and have her house
cleaned and fresh papered.
BERT COMES TO US.
I thought it would be very nice to have
him to play with, for Dick, my big brother,
is fifteen, and doesn't play with me much.
He's very good to me, but he's too big; and,
besides, I'm generally in bed before his lessons
are done, for he's going to be examined, he
Grandmother says some day I may be ex-
amined, too, if I am a good girl and take
pains with my lessons. I want to be good,
especially when I am sitting on her lap, but I
don't want to be examined.
Dick never has any dessert now-he says
he hasn't time for it ; and 1 would rather
stay with Father and Mother and have fruit
and nuts than walk about the smoking-room
with a book in my hand, talking very fast
and frowning and making faces like Dick
I remembered that Bert and I used to have
some nice plays last time he came, and I
BERT COMES TO US.
remembered how he served my dear dollies,
too-how he tied a string to Rosabella's neck,
and dangled her outside from the attic window
when it was raining hard, and locked the door
and put the key in his pocket so that I couldn't
possibly get to save her; and how he painted
Petsitilla black, and planted my dear little
Mabella, that I had off a Christmas-tree,
in a flower-pot full of what Briggs calls 'loom.'
It's only dirt, and my dear little baby's wax
arms and legs were quite spoiled.
Eva was only three then, and she thought
Mabella would grow into a big wax doll, or
perhaps, even a real baby, but I knew better.
I knew, because Father had' told me that
only things that have life in them can grow;
and when I was so angry vith Bert that I
could hardly speak to him at' all, and even
then not one-bit pleasantly, Father said that
the beautiful something called Love was kept
alive in our hearts by gentleness, patience,
6 BERT COMES TO US.
and by deeds of kindness, and the more we
tended and cultivated Love and took care of
it, like Briggs does the plants he looks after,
the more it would grow and grow, and make
us, and every one who came near us,
happier and happier, and better and better.
But he said, if we let Love be all choked
up and overgrown by a nasty weed called
Selfishness, or killed and withered up by a
bitter frost called Anger, we should be miser-
able ourselves, and like a dull, cold fog to
other people instead of bright love-sunshine,
and then Father made me learn 'Forbear-
ing one another in love.'
I did try to forbear Bert, and Nurse took
the key away from him and pulled Rosabella
in. My poor, poor Rosabella! All the
pretty pink was gone from her cheeks; her
nose was perpecktly flat, for the wind had
.anged and bumped her against the wall for
hours; her hair was so dripping wet that it
BERT COMES TO US.
all came unglued and left her quite bald,
poor darling! And her dress, a lovely bit
of blue cashmere, made from one of Eva's
when she was a baby, and trimmed with
tiny, narrow, real lace, was, as Bert's
mother says, 'simply ruined.'
Bert was to come on a Tuesday. On
Monday Nurse let me put Flora and Dora,
my two very best wax dolls, with real hair,
in her own box in her own room, and locked
it up so that they would be perpecktly safe;
and I only kept out Jimmy the sailor,
Susannah the baby-she'd lost one eye, but
her long clothes were very nice-and Lucilla,
to play with while he was with us. Lucilla
is a good big doll; she is all wood, and
very strong, and her hair is only black paint.
Eva didn't put any of her dolls away; she
said she couldn't part with them for a whole
month; and, besides, Bert couldn't do them
any harm even if he tried ever so hard, for
BERT COMES TO US.
they are as broken and shabby as they can
be; but Eva loves them all, every one of
them, and I truly believe loves Betsy, her
headless dolly, the best.
I watched out of the nursery window for
Bert so long that Nurse said my nose would
freeze to the glass if I didn't take care;
and presently, just as it was getting too dark
to see any longer, up drove a cab with a
little black portmanteau on the top, and
out jumped Bert.
Eva and I ran down to see him, for
Mother had said we might directly he came,
and by the time we reached the hall-there
he was, under the gas-lamp; kissing Grand-
mother with all' his might.
Oh, he did look so tall, and so full of
fun, and so pleased to see us all! Briggs
had been to the station to meet him,
and now he carried the portmanteau up to
Dick's room, for Bert was to sleep up there.
BERT COMES TO US. 9
Father took Bert's umbrella, and put it
in the stand, and hung up his overcoat for
him, and then Mother said, 'My dear boy,
where is your hat?'
Bert did look foolish when he explained;
very often I don't like explaining myself,
and do wish people wouldn't keep asking
Bert lives five stations up the line, and
he was so glad to be coming to see us that
he got out and danced on the platform at
every one of them. The train stops longer
at Binn Hill, because that's a junction,
and here an old gentleman, a very kind
old gentleman, who had only got in at
the station before this, when he saw
Bert go dancing away right out of sight,
for it is a very long platform there,
and Bert thought he should have time to
go to the very far end, this kind old gentle-
man thought that Bert meant to get out
Io BERT COMES TO US.
there for good, and thought what a pity that
Bert should have forgotten his umbrella; so
he picked it up, opened the carriage door,
and threw it out on the platform, lest he
should come back for it.
Bert was coming back, and he came back
all the quicker when he saw what the old
gentleman had done.
Bert calls him a 'duffer,' and I don't
think it is very nice of him to do so, for
Grandmother says we should always try to
appreciate what is kindly meant.
As Bert stooped to pick up his umbrella,
a gust of wind blew his hat off, and away
it rolled. Bert ran and men shouted, and
women screamed, for the hat had been
blown right on to the line in front of the
engine, and the train was just going to
start; but the guard put both arms round
Bert and jumped with him into the break-
van just in time.
BERT COMES TO US. rr
Bert says the language made use of by
that guard was 'anything but polite,' but he
didn't mind much, for he had often thought
what fun it must be to ride in the guard's
van, and had never had a chance before,
and by-and-bye the guard was quite friends
with him, only he would not let him put
on the break.
Father said Briggs had better go back to
Becton and telegraph that Bert was all
right, for his name was written in the
hat, and his mother might be dreadfully
frightened if she heard it was picked up
all crushed and battered, and didn't know
where Bert was.
But Briggs said he had done that
already; so Father gave him the shilling for
the telegram, and Grandmother half-a-crown
for his thoughtfulness; and we all went into
the dining-room to tea.
1H!! Bert did make us laugh, and I
S was so glad he had come! I wasn't
quite so glad the next day, for some of my
teeth are out in front, and though new ones
are coming, they don't grow fast, and Bert
would call me 'gummy,' and kept all on
calling me so; and when he was talking of
Eva and me to Dick he called us 'the kids,'
and 'the chicks,'-I didn't like it at all.
But even those names were better than
'Duffer-oo-oo-ooo,' said like Cock-a-doodle-
dooo,' and Bert called me that for two whole
days, because I was frightened when he
boo-hooed close in my ear when Eva and
HOLIDAY Y FUN. 13
I were going down the nursery stairs to
It was quite dark there, for Nurse's lamp
had gone out, and I screamed and. tried to
run to the lower hall where the gas was
burning; but I had on new shoes, with satin
bows on the toes, and the soles were as
slippy as ever they could be. I fell right
downstairs from the very top to the bottom,
and grazed my elbow dreadfully. I think
Bert was sorry for me, because he ran and
picked me up, and did it kindly too, and
said I was a brick not to cry; but he
looked at my shoes and said, 'Pride must
have a fall,' and then called me what I
Dick gave himself a holiday one evening
after Bert came, and Eva and I sat up till
half-past eight, while Brown minor-that's
one of the boys at Dick's school-helped
him to show us 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' in his
14 HOLIDAY Y FUN.
toy theatre. Dick painted all the scenery-
oh, it is so lovely!-before he got so busy
with his examination; and he painted Topsy,
and Eva, and George, and Miss Ophelia,
and Uncle Tom, and all the other figures;
and he spoke for Uncle Tom, and all the
men's parts himself, because he can do the
gruffest voice: and Brown minor did Miss
Ophelia, and Eva, and Topsy, and all the
It was beautiful, only Brown minor had
a dreadful cold, and so it seemed as if they
all had dreadful colds, too. Brown major,
laughed; but Father looked at him, and
then he was quiet, till the voice that was
doing Topsy sneezed four times right off,
and Miss Ophelia sneezed five before she
could answer. Then Brown major slipped
out of the door, and went away, and I heard
him laughing in Father's smoking-room as if
he really couldn't help it.
We did not laugh, Eva and I, no more
did Bert; he sat on Grandmother's low
footstool that our aunt in Devonshire worked
for her, in front of us, with his elbows on
his knees and his chin on his hands,
enjoying every bit of it, for he had been
reading Uncle Tom's Cabin through when
he had measles and was getting better, and
after that night we played 'Uncle Tom's
Cabin' over and over again.
Eva was always 'Eva,' she wouldn't be
anybody else, and she kept pretending to
sneeze, because she thought she had to. Bert
couldn't make her understand ; but he was
all sorts of people, and so was I. On the
fourteenth of February we were all going to
a party at Mrs. West's. Eva and I do always
love to go there, for she always has all sorts
of nice and pretty things, and Tommy West
is a very nice boy, too.
Mrs. West called this a 'Valentine Party,'
twenty boys, counting Tommy, and twenty
girls, and each boy was tu bring a little pre-
sent for a girl, and each girl a little present
for a boy-not to cost more than a shilling
each, she said, and to be neatly wrapped in,
paper with a name written on it.
I bought a nice little brown purse: Grand-
mother took me to Becton on purpose, and I
wrapped it up, and put '-Bert' on it, for
though I have to forbear him, I do like him
ever so much better than Tommy West, and
I wasn't sure I knew any of the other boys,
except my own brother Dick, and, of course,
I shouldn't give him a Valentine present,
because I have him always, and can give him
things whenever I like, and so can he me.
Bert wouldn't go to Becton.with us, he said
there was no need, and he wouldn't tell me
what he had, or who it was for, though I
tried to find out all I could. He had been into
Becton once with Briggs to buy a new hat;
HOLIDAY FUN. 17
he wore one of Dick's there; and he didn't
buy anything else that day, except some
London mixture for Eva and me, and knitting
silk for old Mrs. Briggs;. for I asked Briggs,
and he told me so.
Grandmother said I ought not to have asked.
She said it was most dishonourable to try
to find out secrets, or to ask questions about
things people would rather not have known.
I was very sorry, and promised I would never
do it again; and I hope other people will do
the same, and not ask me questions when I
would rather not tell.
Nurse said, 'Good gracious 1' when I told
Eva would have a box of chocolate creams,
and wouldn't have any name put on her pre-
sent. She does love chocolates, and I believe
thought that she might keep them herself,
but it didn't matter.
All the parcels were to be given to Mrs.
18 HOLIDAY Y FUN.
West, and every one was to have a present;
so if there were two or three all addressed to
one favourite boy or girl, Mrs. West said she
would open them, leave the one she thought
would be liked best, wrap the others up in
fresh paper, and write on them the names of
those, if any, who, not being favourites, had
not any addressed to them. This made sure
of everybody's getting something. Any one
who found a present had been changed was
to keep it quite a secret, and Mrs. West said
she. would :give;,-apresent herself, and call it
St. Valentine'. gift, to any boy and girl who
gave and got in return.
Father is laughing as he writes, but I mean
if Bert got my present and I got his, then we
should have a Valentine's gift as well; but
we couldn't be sure, because even if Bert's
present was for me, as well as mine for him,
he or I might still get a present instead from
HOLIDAY FUN. 19
Nurse said she was quite tired of our party;
she said we couldn't talk of anything else.
We did talk of a great many things besides,
only we kept on coming back to it.
When the afternoon did come at last, after
such a long, long, morning-I had to run to
the clock in the hall, ever so many times to
hear if it was ticking and make- sure it hadn't
stopped-Nurse sent Eva and me into the
garden with our dolls while she put some fresh
lace round the necks and sleeves of our party
Nurse told us to run away and not to get
into mess or mischief on any account, and
she would call us in an hour's time to be
Nurse always tells us not, and we truly
never mean to, but Briggs says, 'Mess and
.mischief are our speare.'
Father says he means 'sphere,' but he
always says the other.
Eva carried Betsey, and I had Jimmy and
Susannah and Lucilla in my perambulator.
Bert doubled himself up and rolled on the
floor laughing when he first saw my sailor-
doll balanced against Susannah, with his
legs sticking out straight; but I love Jimmy,
and I don't see why he shouldn't have a
ride if he is a sailor; and I thought Bert
wouldn't see Jimmy this time, because he
was at the pond with Briggs.
Father has a big pond, and all sorts of
ducks and geese, tame and wild, and the
wild are tame too; and there are two white
swans and a black one, Snowflake and
Foam and Black Prince, besides some dear
little teal, and two dear seagulls, who call
out, 'Te-hee-e-e I Te-hee-e-e I whenever they
see Father or Briggs coming.
Briggs always feeds them, and does a
great many other things besides. He is our
man; he isn't a slave like Uncle Tom,'
HOLIDAY FUN. 2t
but we've had him ever since he was a boy,
not bigger than Bert. I don't remember
him then, but Grandmother does, and she
always calls him 'James.'
Every one else says 'Briggs,' except cook,
and she says 'Mr. Briggs.' I said 'Mr.
Briggs' once, but he only laughed and said,
'What's up now, missy?' so I didn't do it
I can't bear to be laughed at, it makes
me feel dreadful, and as if I couldn't forbear
the people that do it.
Bert says our pond is as big as five or six
put together. It is full of little islands,
with houses on them for the birds, and in
some places it is divided by wire fences
coming up through the water to keep them
apart, lest they should quarrel with each
other; and there are little gates big
enough to let the punt through when Briggs
goes round to feed them all.
I do love to go with Briggs, specially
when there are young birds, dear, soft,
little downy things, paddling about
so prettily, and crying 'Cheep cheep !
It makes me long to catch and cuddle
them, and give them a ride in my perambu-
lator, or tuck them up all soft and warm in
my little doll's cradle, instead of that cold,
muddy, wet water; but Briggs said one day
he would never, never, never take me round
with him again if I tried any 'games like
He brought in a little dead chicken once,
and cook let me hold it in my warm hands
before the kitchen fire, and it got quite
better and began to run about.
Grandmother said it wasn't really dead, but
then she didn't see it till it was alive again.
And Eva took a big chicken off the kitchen
table and ran away with it up to the nur-
HOLIDAY Y'. 23
sery fire, to make that alive, too. But it
was no use; she held it ever so long, till
her face was quite red and hot, but it was
just as dead as ever.
I wasn't at all sorry, for the poor thing
had no feathers on, and it would not have
been at all nice to see it running about and
pecking all bare like that. Eva said she
would let it wear a shawl and one of
Cook looked everywhere for that chicken.
She was in the larder when Eva took it,
and when she found who had it she was at
first very cross, and then she laughed and
said, 'Bless her innocence, a pretty dear '
and took it away.
That's always the way with Eva, she
never gets into trouble whatever she does.
and I always do. Nurse says it's because
I'm the eldest, and ought to set a good
example. I'm sure I often wish I wasn't;
besides, I don't see that Eva ever follows
my example if I'm ever so good.
I hemmed a whole side of a duster, and
didn't get up once, but Eva didn't stand
still to have her hair brushed a bit the
Bert likes to go in the punt; he calls it
the 'dingey,' the 'line-of-battle ship,' the
'frigate,' and all sorts of names; and he
had told us he was going to help Briggs
all the afternoon, till it was time to dress
for the party; so Eva and I had the garden
all to ourselves, for you have to go right out
of the garden, and then through the orchard,
before you come to the bushes, and then the
U rIMMY hadn't fallen out of the perambu-
lator more than four times when little
Susie Briggs-she's one year younger than
me-and her cousin Tom, that lives with her
since his father went to sea and his mother
died he's nearly eight came running
through the side garden-gate as fast as they
As soon as she saw us:-'Oh, Miss Eva!
oh, Miss Louie!' said Susie, 'what do you
think? Mother's got a baby! a new baby!
a real, dear little boy baby!'
Eva opened her eyes and her mouth and
stood quite still, with her fat legs wide
'Oh, Susie!' I said, and I was so sur-
prised I turned the perambulator over and
broke Jimmy's hat clean off.
(I don't care, it was glued to his head
and wouldn't take off, and I never could
tuck him up in bed comfortably. It didn't
look right to see a hard black hat on a
'Where did she get it from?' asked Eva.
'From Heaven,' Susie said, ever so softly.
'Mother says God gave her this dear little
new baby that no one has ever had before.'
I almost laughed at this, because I don't
think Susie has ever had a new doll of her
own, except one that Grandmother gave her.
I give her some of my old ones sometimes;
and she seemed to think babies were the
same, but what rich mother would ever give
BLRT'S PROPOSITION. 27
away a dear little live baby because it was
rather chipped, or she was tired of it, or
had some newer ones?
Briggs has too much to do with his
money to spend it on dolls, Nurse says,
for he has to buy everything for Susie and
Mrs. Briggs, and Tommy Carroll, and a
good deal for old Mrs. Briggs, though not
quite everything for her, because she knits
for the shops.
Susie ran away to the orchard. 'Come,
Tommy, won't you ?' she cried: 'I'm going
to find Father, and tell him to come and
see that dear baby.'
But Tommy stayed; he was trying to
fasten Jimmy's hat on again. The top ol
Jimmy's head was quite bald, for I found
the pretty light curls had been only stuck
on below his hat; but it didn't matter.
'Aren't you glad, Tommy Carroll ?' I
He said, 'No;' actually 'No.' And when
I stared at him (I know it's dreadfully rude
to stare at anybody, but I really couldn't
help it), he looked straight at me, and said,
'Not a bit.'
'Not glad, Tommy Carroll, that there's
a dear little, real, long-clothes baby come
to live in the house with you.'
Tommy's lips got thick, like mine do
when I feel as if I must cry; but he didn't,
he only held down his face for a minute
while it got very red, and then he said, We
had a baby once, Mother and I, just after
Father went to sea, and that baby went and
God took it back to Heaven, Tommy,' I
'Yes,' he said, slowly, 'but I 'spect it
cried so they couldn't do nothing with it,
and so they was 'bliged to send for Mother;
nobody never could quiet that baby but
BERT'S PROPOSITION. 29
Mother. And after she went I came to live
with Uncle Briggs.'
'Poor Tommy,' I said; I was so sorry for
him; and Eva poked her headless doll right
up in his face, and said, Kiss Betsey,
'Your dear mother and the baby are only
waiting for you in the Happy Land. You'll
see them again when you go to Heaven,
Tommy,' I said, 'and won't you be glad
His face got happy all in a minute, like
Eva's does when she's been watching out
of the window for Mother, and sees her
coming at last.
I'll be main glad to see Mother,' he said,
'and I hope it'll be long before I've growed
out of knowledge. Do you think she would
know me, supposing I have to wait till I'm
a man, as big as Uncle Briggs, before I go,
Miss Louie ? '
30 BERT'S PROPOSITION.
'Yes, I'm sure she would,' I said; and I
gave poor Tommy the three gingernuts I
had saved from lunch to play shop with.
They were rather soft, but he didn't mind.
Tommy began to eat the gingerbreads;
he put one in his pocket, and I knew
that was for Susie, though he didn't say
so, and he seemed to like them soft, and
so do I.
But one afternoon when I was sent for
into the drawing-room to see our Vicar, and
I'd been standing between his knees, and
he had been talking to me, and stroking my
curls, and asking me, 'Was I a little home-
sunbeam?' I thought he was a very nice
man, and I put my hand in my frock pocket
and gave him a soft gingerbread.
Mother's face got quite red, and she said,
'Oh, Louie;' but the Vicar laughed and ate
it, and after he was gone Mother said I
must never do such a rude thing again, and
must never put sticky things into the pocket
of my best frock.
Father says I am 'terribly discursive;' it
isn't anything wicked, though it does sound
dreadful. It means that I wander about in
my story, instead of going straight to it, just
as if I were going to the big cherry-tree at
the bottom of the garden, and turned aside
up every path I came to, instead of going
I shouldn't really do that, of course,
especially if the cherries were ripe and I was
perfectly sure I might have some: but I don't
want to finish my story too quick. My arm
does ache so badly sometimes, and the days
seem so long, and very often I can't sleep
at night, though I do try to lie still, so as
not to disturb Mother; but Mother always
knows when I am hot and thirsty, and
always gets me something nice.
I can't go down to dessert now, but I
32 BERT'S PROPOSITION.
hear Father come home, and after dinner he
brings me some grapes or jelly, and writes
while I talk to him, and I love to have him,
and hope he will come ever so many even-
ings; and I know he doesn't mind coming,
though he laughs and says if my tale had
to be told at one sitting, and Eva had to
stay in the bath till it was finished, she'd
be there long enough to wash a black boy
Bert followed Briggs to the garden, and
Tommy Carroll took a little paper parcel out
of his knickerbocker pocket and gave it to
Bert, who put it into his without saying a
word. He winked, and that was all. How
I did wonder what was in it! But I remem-
bered what Grandmother said, and didn't ask
any questions; besides, the more you ask
Bert, the more he doesn't tell you anything.
Tommy and Susie ran away, lest they
should be late for school; and Bert said,
BERT'S PROPOSITION. 33
'Louie, I want you!' So Eva and I, with
all our dolls, followed him to the pond.
The punt was close to the bank, and floating
close beside it was a big round tub that
had been used once for mixing mortar-I saw
Briggs do it. Bert pointed to the dirty old
thing and said, 'Get in there.'
'Oh, Bert, I can't!'
'Louie, you must!'.
'I'm 'fraid! I'm dreadful 'fraid !'
'What of, little goose?'
'The water is so muddy, Bert, and so
Bert turned up his nose in disdain. I
always find it hard to forbear him when he
does that, and Nurse says he needn't ever do
it, because it turns up quite enough naturally
-she told him so one day.
That he can't help; and I like his nose,
it always looks so full of fun; but now he
turned it up more-ever so much more-and
34 BERT'S PROPOSITION.
looked straight over at the black swan's
home (he doesn't agree with the white ones,
and has to be kept separate), as if he had
never seen or dreamed of such a stupid little
silly as me in all his life.
'Suppose the water is cold,' he said, 'I
didn't ask you to take a bath, did I ? You've
had one to-day, haven't you? I have, and
a jolly splash too, and a pretty rowing I got
from Auntie for not turning the tap off.'
I couldn't forbear this. Mother never
scolds, Bert, you know she doesn't; she only
told you that the bath overflowed, and the
water ran under the door of Grandmother's
bedroom, and made the skirt of her dressing-
gown and her bedroom slippers all sopping
wet, and it ran down between the floor-boards
and marked the breakfast-room ceiling, and,
of course, it wasn't nice. When people do
such things as that, it is perfectly right they
should be told of them.'
" Bert.put both hands in his pockets and whistled."
Bert put both hands in his pockets, and
whistled. 'You can shut up, Louie, or go
on just as you like,' he said; 'I'm not
going to get waxy with you. You might
just as well talk to a falling star. Acci-
dents will happen.'
He said this last just like Nurse, and
looked so bright and funny, I couldn't help
'Let's go to the orchard bank and get
Grandmother and Mother some nice sweet
violets,' I begged. 'There are some, I know,
for I found three out yesterday.'
'And three to-day would be one and a
half each. I don't think they would care
'Oh, yes!' for I truly thought they would,
and I wanted to get away from that tub.
Bert turned right round to me, and took his
'Did you promise ?'
'Well, you did promise me,' said Bert.
'Ye-e-e-s.' I said this ever so slowly,
because the more I looked at that dirty
cementy old tub the more I didn't like it
'You promised me only this very morning,
before breakfast, when I was sharpening
pencils for Dick, that at the first opportunity
you'd play emigrant ship, and be wrecked
with all your children, and be saved by a
gallant Admiral and landed on a desert
island and nearly starved, and be rescued
again by a man-of-war and taken to
Kentucky and sold for a slave, and set free
by a Union Jack, and landed in New
Zealand as jolly as possible. Now didn't
you, Louie? You can't say you didn't.'
I couldn't, and Bert went on,
'Haven't I got everything ready? Isn't
this punt the gallant Admiral's ship ? and
BERT'S PROPOSITION. 39
the black swan's isle the desert island ?
Isn't it just exactly what we want? And
my coloured pocket-handkerchief, tied to this
broomstick, is the Union Jack, and that
mound for the geese is Kentucky, and the
sea-gull's islet is New Zealand.' And Bert
choked; he had been talking so very fast,
and was obliged to stop for breath. 'And
now there's your children, Susannah, the
baby, and Lucilla; she's dressed rather too
grand for an emigrant: but never mind that,
she has a nice old wooden head of her own,
and can stand hard knocks like a brick.
Uncle Richard (that's Father, he is my
Father and Beft's Uncle), says emigrants
have to; I heard him. And Jimmy the
sailor could go with me in the punt for the
crew-a gallant Admiral wants a crew. And
now you won't go!'
'The tub is so dirty, Bert,' I said, feeling
ready to cry.
'Emigrants mustn't be particular.'
'When you talked about it, I thought I
was going in the punt; I wouldn't mind
that a bit; I love going in the punt with
Briggs; I'm not afraid in there.'
Bert hunched his shoulders up to his ears
and looked right away over to Kentucky,
with such a face that if he had been any
boy but Bert I should have said he was sulky
and cross as ever he could be; but I'll
never say such a thing of my dear Bert
-he was only what Dick calls 'rather
Note by Father.-My little daughter is so
overcome by the painful recollection, that
I have told her to rest and refresh herself
with some jelly, while I write a little piece,
-as she says, 'all alone.'
Making due allowances, I think the little
maid promises to give a very fair account of
the accident which so nearly cost me
BERT'S PROPOSITION. 41
herself, and might have robbed me of both
my little girls.
The Grand Turk himself never had a more
faithful, admiring, obedient slave than has
my nephew Bert in his little Cousin Louie.
Although an only boy, indeed an only child,
I must say he is by no means 'a spoilt' one.
But though prone to 'lord it over' my little
daughters in their plays, and, boylike, to
agonize their tender hearts by irreverent
treatment of their dearly-loved dolls, they
have found him, on the whole, a pleasant
Before coming, Bert promised his mother
not to be unkind to his little Cousin Louie
on any account, not to hurt or tease her,
but to do all he could to make her happy,
and to play with her as he would like to
be played with himself if he were a little
girl and in her place.
Bert did honestly mean to keep his word,
but perhaps he found it difficult to imagine
himself 'such a muff' as my little maid,
to realize her terror of the water, or disgust
at the tub. Perhaps his head was too full
of gallant Admirals, Union Jacks, rescues,
wrecks, and desert islands, to remember his
promise. His father had been to see the
boy the day before the dangerous accident
happened, and, in honour of the event, Bert
had been allowed to remain with an extra
bunch of grapes to finish, while we smoked
our cigars. Our conversation chanced to run
on emigration, and I was amused to notice
the boy sitting with round eyes and open
ears, drinking in every word.
'Emigrant ship' would make a splendid
game, Bert thought, as our talk went on.
I regretted that so many emigrant ships
were still such wretched tubs. Then that
tub he had helped Briggs carry down to the
pond for some purpose connected with the
birds would just do! Nothing could be
better! We went on to talk of shipwrecks.
'Wrecked, of course!' and the boy's mind
wandered off to wrecks, rescues, and
Robinson Crusoe, till, having finished the
grapes at last, long golden straws came
floating from the wax candles just before
him, the candles themselves began to waver
and look strangely unsteady, just as if they
were dancing; our voices seemed to be a long,
long, long way off, and then there was a
sudden jerk, and Bert awoke in his father's
strong arms, just extended in time to catch
him as he sleepily fell from his seat. His
unsteady footsteps were guided upstairs; he
found himself in bed, he hardly knew how,
and a fervent' Good night God bless you,
my dear son!' was his last half-waking
recollection. (Louie is ready to continue).
WE GO ON THE WATER.
ERT wasn't cross long; his shoulders
came down, he looked up to the sky
'Look here, Louie,' he said, 'that tub
wouldn't do for the gallant Admiral's ship
at all. You see I couldn't steer hei; and it
wouldn't do for the "man-of-war" either,
for the same reason; but it would do for
the wreck of the emigrant ship, because
then it would only have to be pushed out
from the shore and sink.'
Oh! I was frightened! 'With me in it?'
'Muff! I'm going to rescue you!'
WE GO ON THE WATER. 45
All of a sudden I thought of something.
'Oh, Bert,' I said, very fast, 'you be the
emigrant, Bert, and I'll be the Admiral,
and rescue you !'
'Gallant Admiral !' said Bert, shaking his
head. 'No, Louie, you couldn't do that.
You may be an emigrant; girls and women
"often are, but they are never gallant
'But it's only in play,' I began.
Bert stopped me. You couldn't rescue
me. You couldn't manage the punt, aid
then when the ship sank I should be
really and truly drowned dead; and you
know you wouldn't like that, 'specially as
next Saturday week is my birthday, and
I was so ill at Christmas I couldn't
even look at my presents, and might not
have lived to have another birthday at
Big tears came into my eyes, and one
WE GO ON THE WATER.
fell right on the very top of poor Jimmy's
bald head. I wiped it off. 'I'll do it, Bert,
I'll go,' I said; 'but you won't let me get
wet, will you ?'
'All right,' answered Bert; and Eva
jumped about and said, 'Me too! me be a
wrecky emig'ant ship too! '
Eva had been eating raisins that cook
gave her all this time; she only had four,
and they were not large ones, but she
always shares everything with Betsy, and
as Betsy has no head, she holds things
ever so long to the place where the head
ought to be.
Bert caught hold of Jimmy and jumped
into the punt. 'There, Louie,' he said,
'Jimmy shall be the boatswain, and this is
the gallant Admiral's flag. It will be the
Union Jack by-and-bye, but we don't want
that till you are a slave, so now it is the
WE GO ON THE WATER. 47
'Have my white pocket-handkerchief for
that, Bert,' I said, and gave it to him.
'Hoo-ray! You're going to play like a
brick, Louie, I can see;' and he took the
coloured handkerchief off the broomstick, tied
mine on, and stuck it up in the punt.
'Now, Eva,' he lifted her into the tub, 'who
are you going to be ?'
'Dis is Topsey!' said Eva, holding up
her doll, and I'm Eva. Tiss-o-o-o!
We couldn't help laughing to hear Eva
pretend to sneeze, and she thought it was so
clever that she did it again and then again.
Bert helped me in. 'Now, Mrs. Emigrant,
here's your baby, and here's Lucilla.'
I took them and held them quietly. Eva
was laughing, and dancing her Betsy about,
but I didn't feel happy at all.
Bert threw in an old corn-bag for us to
sit on, and that made it rather better. My
48 WE GO ON THE WATER.
red stockings were getting all over grit and
cement dust, and so was Eva's frock.
Now your provisions !' he said, and
brought out from his pocket a large apple
with a big bite taken out of it, and a stale
'Must we eat them really?' I asked,
because I didn't think they looked nice at
all, but I s'pose Bert thought I wanted them,
because he said, very doubtful, 'I'd rather
finish the apple myself, Loo, but you may eat
the biscuit if you like.'
He gave the tub a big push as he said
this, and we floated right away on the
water. It really was almost as nice as the.
punt. The dear little teal came and swam
round us, Eva laughed and sneezed and
hugged Betsy, and I began to think 'emi-
grant ship' a much nicer game than I had
expected it was going to be.
Bert pushed off the punt and came to
WE GO ON THE WATER. 49
us. 'Well, Gummy!' he said, 'are you
sorry you made yourself disagreeable?'
'Yes, Bert, I like it very much. I think
it's a very nice game indeed.'
Bert brought his punt close alongside the
tub. 'I'm not the gallant Admiral yet,' he
said; 'I'm a ship in distress, driven out of my
course by stress of weather.'
'What sort of weather is that, Bert?'
'Storms, Gummy! dreadful storms! And
me and my mate, the boatswain yonder, have
come to beg for provisions, so you can hand over
the apple, and when I've eaten it you shall be
I gave him the apple. 'Put Jimmy's hat
straight, please,' I said, 'he looks so queer with
it over one eye like that; and if you bend his
arms a little he won't stick his legs out quite so
'That man's a stranger to you, Mrs. Emigrant,
you've never seen him before.'
WE GO ON THE WATER.
'Oh, I forgot,' I apologised; 'I thought he
was my child, Jimmy the sailor.'
Bert went on eating his apple, while Eva
threw the teal some crumbs of biscuit.
He saw her. 'Eva, you mustn't waste those
provisions; what'll you do when you get to the
desert island ? You'll starve too soon.'
Eva laughed, and said to the teal, 'Mustn't
have any more provisions, dear little teal I
thought it was only a biscuit.'
Bert threw the core of his apple away, and
they all swam after it. Such a race! 'Now
I'm ready,' he said, 'so you can be wrecked.'
'What are you doing, Bert? Oh, Bert,
you'll tip us over! You mustn't sink the
tub really !' He was leaning hard on it,
tipping us all on one side, and I was
'This tub has to go down, and just as it is
sinking the gallant Admiral will rescue you
WE GO ON THE WATER. 51.
'Bert! Bert! Leave off! You mustn't!
you mustn't!' I cried; and Eva screamed.
Bert gave another harder push that not only
nearly sent us over, but almost upset him out of
the punt as well, but not quite; so he recovered
himself, and said, 'I believe the only way to
sink that tub would be to keep dipping up water
and pouring it in.'
'Over our legs, Bert? We should get all
wet You mustn't you mustn't!'
'And so,' Bert went on, as if I had not said
one single word, 'you shan't be wrecked that
way; you are a water-logged derelict.'
I felt better, and wiped my eyes on Susannah's
long clothes. Bert had my pocket-handkerchief
for his flag. 'What's that, Bert ?'
Eva stamped her little fat feet, her face got
red, oh, ever so red; she was indignant, 'Me
s dear little Eva-! Me isn't a water-log
derelick! Eva won't be a derrelick !'
Bert laughed. 'I think a derelict is a ship
WE GO ON THE WATER.
deserted by her crew; and water-logged means
helpless, floating like a log on the water. You
poor emigrants have been deserted like that;
you can't steer yourselves to land, and so the
gallant Admiral rescues you.'
Bert stood up in the punt, just like a picture.
'Allow me, madam!' he said politely to Eva,
and assisted her into the punt; then he helped
me in with Susannah, and I put Jimmy's hat
straight, and gave him a kiss, while he was
getting Lucilla, and wasn't looking.
Bert poled us through the little gate and over
to the black swan's islet. He did it very well,
though he didn't go so fast as Briggs, nor yet
so straight. We went from side to side a great
deal, like the first strokes I did in my first copy.
book. I can't bear strokes; they are not a bit
like real writing, and nobody ever does them
when they grow up.
Our black swan, Black Prince, is a very old
bird, and Briggs says he is vicious when teased.
'And so the gallant Admiral rescues you."
WE GO ON THE WATER.
I have often and often been to his islet with
Briggs, and have never teased him, so I had
never seen him vicious, and wasn't afraid one
bit; no more was Bert. The islet is about as
big as our breakfast-room. It has some boards
on it, nailed together and covered with straw.
Black Prince stands on them sometimes, and
sleeps on them when it is very cold or the water
is frozen; but generally he stays in the water all
the time, and Briggs keeps another board float-
ing there and puts little heaps of corn on it to
feed him. I love to see the dear little sparrows
fly down on that board, so fat and happy,
pecking and pecking away; but Briggs doesn't.
Bert poled us right up to the island, and
landed Eva with the biscuit, and Betsy-Topsy
I mean. Then he handed me out, very polite.
'I am very sorry to be unable to provide you
with better accommodation, madam,' he said to
me, 'but Her Majesty's orders are imperative,
and my vessel must at once proceed to Gibraltar.
WE GO ON THE WATER.
But, madam, this island lies in the track of our
homeward-bound men-of-war, and I have no
doubt one of them will arrive to rescue you
before your provisions are exhausted.'
'Before tea, because we are going to a
party to-night,' said Eva, and sat down on
Bert frowned at her and bowed to me.
He took his hat off, and I bowed to him;
then he got into the punt and pushed off.
I stood on the island, it was very muddy
there; my feet sank right in, and I won-
dered what Nurse would say to my boots;
but I didn't mind very much, for I thought
Bert would soon come back to fetch us.
Black Prince came to see what we were
doing; he got right out of the water, flap-
ping his wings and waddling up the bank.
I was just thinking how much larger he
looked, and how funny it is that swans
should look so pretty in the water and so
WE GO ON THE WATER.
queer on land, when he stretched out his
long neck and pecked at the biscuit in
Eva's hand. She snatched it away.
'No, Black Prince !' she said, 'you mustn't
have that; that's our provisions.'
Black Prince hissed and raised the black
lump on his forehead. He looked very cross.
'Oh, Eva, Eva, let him have it I said;
'he'll be vicious if you don't 1 Bert, Bert!
come back, come back!'
Eva only laughed, and hid the biscuit
under her pinafore; she didn't know any
better, dear little thing. Black Prince
hissed again louder than ever.
Bert was trying hard to come back, but
he was a long way off, and the punt
wouldn't come quick; and I saw Briggs alhd
Nurse both running through the' orchard.
Nurse had come to call us in to be dressed,
and she met Briggs coming back to finish
his work, and they both saw us on the islet.
58 WE GO ON THE WATER.
Black Prince curled back his neck like an
angry black snake, and I saw he was going
to strike at Eva, and perhaps hurt her
dreadfully. I caught hold of her, tumbled
her off the boards, and she rolled-Eva
always rolls, she is so fat-right away on
the mud, out of his reach.
Then he was angrier than ever, and
turned on me. First he struck at my arm;
it made a queer cracking noise, and oh,
how dreadfully it hurt! I held out my
other arm .and cried to Nurse and Briggs,
and called Mother as loud as ever I could,
though I knew all the while she was in the
drawing-room and couldn't hear me; then
his hard bill struck me on my chest, and
I fell from the bank right into the cold,
cold water, and as it was closing over my
head I heard Bert scream, oh, such a
The water, filled my' ees, and ears, and
WE GO ON THE WATER.
mouth, and I seemed to go down, down,
down, as if I was never coming up any
more. I thought of Mother all in a minute,
and Grandmother, and what Father would
say when he. came home and found me
drowned; and Dick, and how sorry Bert
would be, and how I should never see
Briggs' new baby, or be able to ask Mrs.
Briggs to let me carry it all by myself;
and I did wish I had finished the three
inches of sewing Grandmother had set me.
There would have been plenty of time for
me to do it before Nurse sent me into the
garden if I had not run out of the nursery
so many times to listen to the hall-clock.
I never thought so quick before, and then
I came up to the top of the water and saw
Nurse on the bank, and Bert close beside me
with the punt, and Briggs in the water too, and
not far off, but Black Prince was the nearest.
I saw his 'black head above mine, and felt
60 WE GO ON THE WATER.
his beak strike down upon my forehead, and
then I didn't know any more about anything
Father won't let me tell any more just
yet. He says Bert is to write what he
knows, and then I may finish.
SAM Bert, and I can write for myself.
I am fifth in our class for writing at
school, so there's no need for Uncle Richard
to write for me; and I suppose he couldn't
do it anyway, for he's all of a tremble if he
only thinks of poor little Louie in the water
with that brute of a swan fighting and strik-
ing at her with his hard cruel beak, when
her pretty little fair head came up. I saw
him when he left her room last night; his
eyes looked very queer, and he went into the
smoking-room and stayed there a whole hour
with the door locked, and Auntie wouldn't
let Dick go in for his atlas, or let any one
else disturb him; and this morning he gave
me what he had written up in the Blue
Room with Louie, and told me to read it,
and then go on from the place where she
How I struggled with that punt. I felt as
if my chest would burst, and my arms would
break, and yet I couldn't get near Louie. It
seemed just like a dreadful dream. When
she first cried out to me and I saw the Black
Prince was getting waxy and meant mischief,
I was at the very far end of that division of
the pond, for I meant to go quite round it,
and then fetch the emigrants to Kentucky.
Eva picked herself up, her face and hands
all black with mud, and stood on the island
screaming with all her might. I saw her,
but I didn't see Briggs, because at first he
was behind me. I heard a splash, but couldn't
turn round, and the first thing I saw of him
was when he swam past me just in time to
catch hold of Louie as the swan struck at
BERT'S NARRATIVE. 63
her forehead. Even after Briggs had her that
brute of a bird followed up. 'Keep him off !'
Nurse cried; 'keep him off Oh, murder!
he'll kill them both I Keep him off!' And I
struck at him with the pole, turning his anger
on me, while Briggs swam and waded to the
shore with Louie. The tussle we had, that
bird and I, and how many times I nearly
went over, punt and all, is more than I can
Briggs laid Louie on the grass, came back
again, and climbed into the punt. Black
Prince was quiet as soon as he got in, though
he still looked very ruffled, and arched his
long neck about angrily; I expect he didn't
know Briggs in the water, looking so different
without his hat, and with his hair and beard
all dripping wet. It hardly took Briggs a
moment to pole up to the island, fetch Eva,
and land us. I snatched the headless doll
off the straw, for I saw Eva wouldn't be
64 BERT'S NARRATIVE.
content without that. Then Briggs bade
Nursetake Eva, and me to run as hard as
ever I could to send some one for the doctor,
and he picked up Louie to carry her himself.
I thought she was dead, quite, quite dead.
Water dripped from her clothes and hair, her
pretty blu,, eyes were shut, her forehead
bleeding, and as he lifted her from the ground
-oh, so limp and helpless !-one of her hands
dangled quite the wrong way, for her arm was
broken. I tore like mad through the orchard
and up the garden. I didn't cry; Nurse did,
but I couldn't. I felt as if my eyes were on
fire, and there was such a big lump in my
throat it almost choked me. I don't know
what I said, or how I made them understand,
but I did it, and saw Cook begin to draw hot
water for a bath; and some one had told
Auntie, for she went running upstairs to get
things ready, and said Briggs was to carry
Louie straight up. Fisher-that's the groom
BERT'S NARRATIVE. 65
-ruded Qut; to saddle a horse and ride off
for Doctor Brown. I knew where he-aiiyed
and I ran away, just as I was, along the road
to Becton. I felt as if I must fetch him, I
couldn't keep still, couldn't stay in the house
with that poor, poor little Louie; it was two
miles to Dr. Brown's, but I didn't. care, and
ran as fast as ever I could.
I had gone more than half-way before
Fisher passed me on Rory. That's the roan;
his proper name is 'Rory-o'-More,' but we
always call him Rory. I still ran on, though
not so fast. Dr. Brown might not be at home,
I thought, and if Fisher had to look for
another doctor I might help him, because,
even on Rory, he couldn't be in two places
at once. I was very nearly into Becton
when I saw Dr. Brown coming towards
me on Rory as fast as he could gallop.
Louie is an awful favourite of his, she does
chum with -most' people, and I suppose he
thought it would save time to ride- back
I turned aside to go home over the fields.
It was no use going on. The way is longer
by the fields than by the road, but I knew if
I kept to the road Fisher would be sure to
overtake me, and would want to know how
everything happened and all about it, and I
didn't feel like talking to anybody except
Mother. Oh, how I did want Mother.
I believe I would have gone to Becton
railway-station and have tried to get that
station-master to let me have a ticket home.
Most likely he would, for he knows Uncle
Richard, and then I would have gone right,
straight away home, if only Mother had been
there; but I knew she was ever so far away,
down in Devonshire, where I have another
aunt, and I knew that Father had gone .down
to her only that very day.
It was e'uite dark when I got back. Tea
BERT'S NARRATIVE. 67
was .ready in the nursery, and Cook was
pouring_ it out, for Nurse was far too busy,
and. the. housemaid was quite a new girl,
only just come, and Baby screamed every
time he looked at her. Eva had been
washed, and was quite ready for her tea.
She was so disappointed at not going to the
party. To keep her quiet, Cook had opened
the box of chocolate-creams she was to have
taken as her Valentine present, and had
given her some.
I found her eating them with her bread
and butter, and sharing them with Betsy
as happy as possible.
I was tired right out. I couldn't eat any.
thing, and when I tried to drink some tea,
the lump in my throat got worse than ever.
Cook was very kind. She offered to get
me some marmalade, cake, jam, a tart, or
anything I liked, but it was no use.
I heard the doctor go downstairs.
68 BERT'S NARRATIVE.
Soon after Nurse came in and said Louie's
arm was set. I felt so glad she wasn't
killed dead, but when I asked Nurse some
questions about her she said, 'Don't speak
to me, for I really can't talk to you, you
bad, cruel, wicked boy!' and wouldn't tell
me anything at all. I begged and begged
her to tell me if Louie was very, very ill-
if she would die; but the only answer I
got was, 'If she does, you'll know that you
have killed the poor dear lamb.'
Uncle Richard was upstairs with Auntie
and poor Louie; Dick I found in the
smoking-room doing his lessons; but when
I spoke to him he gathered up all his books
without saying a word, and went into the
dining-room and locked the door. I was so
miserable before, that even this didn't make
me feel much worse. I wasn't waxy with
him, only wretched, and I wandered about
the hall, and sat on the stairs listening
to the clock 'tick-tock! tick-tock!' till I
couldn't bear it another minute, and, Nurse
or not, was obliged to go back to the
I found she had gone to Louie again.
Eva was in bed. Baby wasn't; he had his
little night-gown on, but was fretting for
Nurse. Cook could do nothing with him.
He didn't turn away from me, but held out
both his little arms. He had a blanket
and a thick shawl round him, so I took
him on the hearthrug and played with
him till he fell fast asleep, when Cook put
him in his crib, and I thought I'd go to
I lay there such a long time, aching all
over with tiredness, that I thought it must
be nearly morning. Dick hadn't come to
bed, but then I thought perhaps he wouldn't
sleep in the same room with me any more.
My throat ached and ached, so did my
70 BERT'S NARRATIVE.
head, and my eyes were so dry and hot I
couldn't bear to shut them.
At last I heard wheels grating on the
drive outside, and knew it was Grandmother
come home. She had been to what she
called a valentine party' of her own.
Directly after lunch she had gone off in
the carriage with some splendid grapes,
some beautiful flowers, and nice books, to
see a poor sick lady, ten miles the other
side of Becton. I had helped pack the
I heard Grandmother go into the blue
spare-room where Louie was, and after a
long time she came out again with some
one else and stood talking very quietly just
at the foot of the stairs.
Presently I heard her say, 'Where's Bert?'
I hid my head under the bedclothes, and
when I came up again-it was so hot I had
to-Grandmother said, 'As quickly as you
BERT'S NARRATIVE. 71
can,' and went back to Loiuie's room, while
the other person went downstairs.
That person was Nurse, I knew, for she
has a loose heel to one of her indoor
slippers, and it goes 'klop klopl klop!' and
always lets' you know when she is coming.
I like to know, and I've often been glad
she wears those slippers.
Presently I heard her coming up again.
I knew it was her this time by a kind
of little snort she always gives when she
doesn't like something.
She went into Louie's room, and Grand-
mother came out and came upstairs. Grand-
mother is my grandmother as well as
Louie's, and I wish she lived with us all
the time like she does with Louie. But
our house is not such a nice one as this,
Sand there are so many stairs in .it that
Mother says Grandmother would not be so
comfortable ; but she comes to stay with
us sometimes, for Mother is her daughter
just the same as Louie's mother, and our
Aunt in Devonshire. Father is a clergyman,
a curate, and he hasn't so much money as
Louie's father, so that's why we haven't
such a nice house, and only one servant,
Dinah, to help Mother keep things nice.
But we are very happy all the same, and
Father says that although pounds and shillings
and pence are very good things, and ought
always to be wisely spent and made a good
use of, yet there are other things a great deal
better. Father is very clever, and I know he
is right, and love to hear him talk like he
does sometimes when it is getting dusk to
Mother and me. But still, all the same, I'd
like Mother to have lots of things, and I mean
to peg away at my lessons, and work hard
and get them for her as soon as I'm a man.
I had never in all my life seen Grandmother
angry with me, or with any one else, but then
BERT'S NARRATIVE. 73
I had never been so bad before, and no more
had any one that I knew.
Dick was very angry with me, and I thought
so were Uncle Richard and Auntie, although
I hadn't seen either of them since the
accident; and I thought if Grandmother was
angry with me I must die, for I couldn't bear
Grandmother came in, stepping softly, and
turned up the gas. One look at her face was
enough-4t was just the same; and in her
hand she held a plate with a glass of hot
milk and three beautiful sponge-cakes. She
bent over and kissed me, laying her hand on
my forehead, and said, 'My dear boy, how hot
your head is I' and I cried, and cried, and cried.
Grandmother didn't say a word; she put
down the plate and sat down beside me on
the bed. It was only a little iron bedstead,
but she managed to find room, and held me
close, just like Mother would have done.
74 BERT'S NARRATIVE.
I didn't tell Grandmother when the lump
in my throat was gone, but she seemed to
know, for she kissed me, wiped my eyes with
her own lovely handkerchief, all scented, and
let me keep it (mine was just like a soppy old
rag), and gave me my supper. While I was
eating it she told me that Louie was asleep,
that the blow on her forehead was not so
bad as they had feared at first, and that
though the poor little pet would have a great
deal of pain to bear before her arm was quite
well again, yet Dr. Brown hoped it would
be all right some day. And then Grandmother
went on to say how ,diry thankful she was
that little Eva had not been hurt, 'and you,
Bert, my dear boy;' after which she kissed
me again, took my empty plate and glass, and
Presently Uncle Richard came up, put his
head in the door, nodded at me, said 'Good
night, Bert,' and went down again.
BERT'S NARRATIVE. 75
And then Auntie came up. Oh, how pale
and tired she looked! Her pretty soft hair,
just like Louie's, was pushed right back from
her forehead, and her eyes were, oh, so sad!
I sat right up in bed, and held out my arms
to her. 'Oh, Auntie !' I said, 'dear, dear
Auntie I can you ever forgive me? I am so
sorry-so very, very sorry.'
Auntie's eyes were full of tears as she
stooped and kissed me, and I put my arm
right round her neck, and wiped them with
Grandmother's nice handkerchief. 'Do you
think you will be able to forgive me some
Auntie kissed me again and said, 'You
must not think me angry with you, dear
Bert. I am sorry, very sorry, to see you in
such trouble. I don't think, my dear, you
could have a harder punishment to bear for
what was thoughtlessness, simple thought-
lessness, and no intention to hurt your little
76 BERT'S NARRATIVE.
cousins. It is a hard punishment for you to
see the trouble it has brought upon us all, for
you love us, Bert, and we love you. We will
all try to help each other, especially dear
little Louie, bear the trouble well, and make
the very best of it that can be made. Don't
think I am angry with you for taking the
children in the punt; I had not forbidden you
to do so, and I knew you did not mean any
harm to them. Briggs is always so very
particular to chain and padlock the punt
whenever he is not using it that I did not
think it possible for any of you to get into
mischief that way. Poor Briggs severely
blames himself for his carelessness.'
And then Auntie went on to say some things
just quietly to me, that I can't write down
here. I don't think I could tell them even to
Mother, unless I was lying with my head in
her lap and no light in the room but the fire.
There are some good things that you feel
BERT'S NARRATIVE. 77
inside you, but don't feel like talking about.
Auntie said some of those things, and then she
said, 'Now good night, Bert, my dear! Thank
you for running for the doctor; I know all
about it, and how you helped by keeping off
the Black Prince while Briggs was saving
Louie. Don't get up early, when Dick does;
have a good long rest. Lie still, and I will
send you up some breakfast. Nurse and I
will have much to do, and I want you to help
me by getting up quite fresh and brisk
to-morrow, and looking after the little ones;
I shall trust them both to you; Baby is fond
of you, and so is Eva, and I shall trust you
to keep them quiet and amused and not let
them tire Grandmother.'
Now don't you call this forbearing?
To think that dear, good Auntie, should
not only so far 'forbear' me, as Louie calls it,
as to come right upstairs to say 'good-night'
to me, after all the trouble and worry I had
78 BERT'S NARRATIVE.
brought upon her-and Auntie is like Grand-
mother, and don't ever like going up and
down stairs much-but actually to say she
was ready to trust me again! I could only
thank her by giving her a tight hug, just as
if she had been Mother, and then I lay down
and fell fast asleep.
Dick was nearly dressed when I awoke in
the morning. I didn't know how he would
be, and was afraid to look, so I pretended to
be asleep for ever so long. I wasn't waxy
with him a bit; I didn't wonder that he felt
bad to me; I thought that if I had a dear
little sister, and some other fellow had behaved
to her, taking her into danger, as I had poor
Louie, I should have felt just the same as
he did. I couldn't have borne the sight of
Presently I heard Dick brushing his hair,
and knew he wasn't in much of a wax; you
should just hear how quick and hard he
BERT'S NARRATIVE. 79
brushes when he is; and I ventured to turn
over a little and bring one eye just above the
sheet. He had his back to me, but he saw
it in the glass; he was watching me that
way, though I didn't know it.
He turned round quick and said, 'Good
morning, Bert. Louie is going on all right;
I've been down to see.'
I said, 'Dick, you're a brick and hid my
head beneath the clothes again, for I wouldn't
have had him see my eyes just then for
anything; and it was Dick who brought me
up my breakfast.
41OUIE continues: Father hasn't read me.
S what Bert has written. I asked him
to, but he said, 'Never mind it now; if it
comes out, you shall read it for yourself.'
Father is so funny with his tales, he always
calls it coming out when they are in. Ever
since I learned to read-and I learned a very
long time ago, when I was five; Grandmother
taught me-whenever Father has written a
story he thought I would like, and some one
has put it in a nice book, he always gives me
the book to look at and says, 'Another story
of mine out, Loo I when it is in the book all
the time. I mean to write tales when I am
grown up, and I shall always say they are in,
and I hope this one of Father's will get in
some nice book, for I should love to read it.
I had all sorts of funny dreams after Black
Prince struck my head. After a long, long
while I woke up, and found I was in bed in
the blue room. My head was tied up in
something, and it felt, oh, so hot and funny!
and I was so thirsty, and I could only move
one arm, because the other was bound up
tight in sticks.
I didn't care; Mother was close beside
me, and she gave me something to drink,
kissed me ever so many times, and sprinkled
some Eau-de-Cologne on the sheet just where
I could smell it. Oh, lovely!
I thought it was grand to be in the blue
room, just as if I were a visitor, for Eva and
I are never allowed to play in there, we only
peep in at the door; and it is such a very,
very pretty room.
Mother sometimes lets us c ne in her bed-
82 LOUIE'S ACCOUNT.
room, only not with our dolls, because of the
sawdust, but Grandmother doesn't mind that.
She lets us come in, dolls and all, and
rummage in her drawers, as Nurse calls it,
except two that are locked, and climb up on
her bed, and dress up in her caps, and play
that we are all sorts of people.
After Dr. Brown had been, the next day
after Black Prince hurt me, Mother asked
would I like to sec Bert, and I said, 'Oh,
ever so much.'
I didn't know he was close beside me, for
there was only firelight in the room. Nurse
had gone. down to her tea, and Bert had
come in with Mother so quietly that I did
not hear him.
Directly I said what I did, Bert came to
me; he didn't say a word: he stooped down
and kissed me, and I put the arm I could
move up to his neck, and held him and
kissed him. Bert never likes being kissed
much, but he didn't wriggle away a bit now.
He kept quite still, and laid his cheek on
mine just for a minute, and then ran away
right out of the room; and though I did
not cry one tear, my cheek was quite wet.
After this Bert was very kind to me. He
came to see me whenever Mother said he
might, but that was not so very often just
at first, for Mother said I must keep very
quiet, and be very still and patient if I
wanted to get well quick, and sometimes my
arm ached so very badly that I didn't want
to do anything but lie in Mother's arms and
feel her close to me; or, when the pain was
a little better and I wasn't too hot, I would
very often go to sleep.
Bert read to me, and told me tales out of
his own head, and brought me something
to amuse or please me every time he came.
I liked to have Bert ever so much, but I
don't think Nurse did ; she never seemed
84 LOUIE'S ACCOUNT.
glad, and always poked the fire very hard,
and said it was all Bert's fault that I was
ill, and I'm sure some of the fault was
mine; and once she was quite angry with
him when she was giving me the sixpence out
of my tea, and turned him out of the room.
If you drop a lump of sugar in your tea
and don't stir it up, tiny, tiny bubbles come
to the top, and make a sixpence; and then
you take it carefully in your spoon, so as
not to break it, and drink it, and wish for
something very nice; and sometimes you get
it, and sometimes you don't. It all depends
-n what you wish for.
Till Bert told me it was the sugar, I
thought it was a fairy sixpence that the
fairies had put into my cup, and when I got
what I wished for, I thought that the fairy
sixpence had brought it for me: but Bert
said I could still wish all the same if I
LOUIE'S ACCOUNT. 85
I was wishing this time, when he made
such a funny face at me with Grandmother's
spectacles on, looking over the top of them,
that I laughed, and tilted the spoon, six-
pence and all, right over. Nurse doesn't
forbear Bert much.
I wondered a good deal what had become
of Susannah, and Lucilla, and Jimmy. I
knew Betsy was all right, because Eva had
brought her in to* see me, with a big orange
tied on where the head should have been.
Bert had put it there, and had cut three
places in the rind so that the underneath
white showed, two places for the eyes, and
one, a much bigger one, for the mouth-a
smiling mouth, ever so big, turned up at the
corners, and the teeth marked with ink: and
he had inked the eyes too, so that they
should be black in the middle properly, like
It did look so queer, this funny, round,
86 LOUIE'S ACCOUNT.
yellow face, with dreadful, squinting eyes,
and Jimmy's round black sailor hat, ever
so much too small, on the top of it. Eva
held it up proudly for me to see, and I lay
and laughed and laughed, till Mother had
to take her away, Betsy and all.
Poor Eva! she was quite indignant, but I
couldn't help it; she thought it was lovely,
and she ate that orange before she went to
bed, so I never saw it again. Bert brought
me my dear Jimmy the very first time I
was able to be partly dressed and lie on the
blue sofa, instead of in bed.
Poor Jimmy had been trodden on in the
punt while I was in the water, and Bert
was keeping off the Black Prince, and both
his legs were broken. Bert had got some
firewood .(wasn't it good of him?) and had
cut out splints, and had done up his legs.
like my arm, beautifully, and they stuck
out straighter than ever.
LOUIE'S ACCOUNT. 87
Eva had a lovely white fairy-doll, Blanche;
she had been queen-doll on Mrs. West's
Christmas-tree. Oh, she was lovely the
night of the party, high up at the very top
of the tree, with a silver wand in her hand,
and glittering with spangles! She didn't
keep lovely very long after she came to
Eva; and by the time Bert came to stay
with us you would never have thought that
dress had been white at all, or any colour
But some of the spangles were there still,
and Bert had taken one of them-Eva said he
might-and he had put it on a tiny little piece
of blue ribbon and fastened it to Jimmy's
breast, and Bert said that Jimmy, with his
bald head and broken legs, was a 'veteran;'
and I was so pleased, for, though I've had
all sorts of dolls, I've never had a veteran
before, and I always did love Jimmy from the
very first day Grandmother gave him to me.
88 LOUIE'S ACCOUNT.
I asked for Susannah, and Bert told me
that after we left him, Black Prince had
gone back to the islet, and had broken her
all to bits, so that she was quite killed.
Then I asked for Lucilla, and was told
Briggs had found her floating in the water
with Black Prince pecking at her, when
he went back to the pond to finish
feeding the birds after he had changed his
wet clothes. Briggs brought her indoors
next morning, Bert said, and I should
see her again some day. He winked when
he said this, and laughed, and rubbed
his hands, and looked so cunning, that I
wondered what he could possibly mean; but
I didn't ask any questions. As I have said
before, the more questions you ask Bert,
the more he doesn't tell you what you
want to know.
I had to wait two whole days after this,
Bert paints Lucilla.
LOUIE'S ACCOUNT. 91
and then one morning, directly after break-
fast, Bert brought her in with pride.
I didn't know it was Lucilla when I first
looked, for he had painted her face fresh,
so that she didn't look one bit like herself;
and she was most beautifully dressed. A
quite new pink cashmere frock, trimmed
with tiny bands of pink satin, and the
very tiniest silver buttons, and she had dear
little petticoats and everything to take on
and off. Bert had bought all the clothes
with the half-crown his father sent him for
a birthday present, and Grandmother had
got them for him in Becton, and had made
every one of them.
They were lovely, and I thanked Bert
over and over again, and he left Lucilla
propped up on a work box on a chair, so that
I could see her well, and went away-
Father says I had better say 'radiant.'
I mean just as pleased as ever he could be.
I lay and looked at Lucilla a long time,
and then I looked at Mother, then I looked
at Grandmother, and, like Mother, she looked
at me. We all three looked at each other
Grandmother took off her spectacles, wiped
her eyes, and said, 'As soon as Bert is
gone, Louie, I'll send Lucilla to Becton, to
the toy-shop where she came from, and
have her face painted again nicely for you.'
Oh, it was horrid! dreadfully ugly! fright-
ful! Her cheeks were as staring red as the
American apples the grocers in Becton sell
in tubs. Bert had tried to make her painted
black hair curl in a frizz on her forehead;
it looked like a lot of horrid little black
wriggles, not a bit like hair; and he had
painted her thick black eyebrows that made
her look as if she was frowning dreadfully
But it was, as Grandmother said, very kind
LOUIE'S ACCOUNT. 93
indeed of Bert to take so much trouble and
such pains to please me, and I think I would
have managed to forbear that ugly face, even
if dear Grandmother hadn't promised to have
it put right, though, all the same, I could never
have kissed and cuddled Lucilla like that.
Bert was to keep his birthday. It wasn't
the real day-that was over. It came when I
was very ill, and Bert had been too sorry to
keep it then, and you can keep your birthday
after the real day if you like. Grandmother
says the Queen generally does.
After dinner, when I was all ready, and
sitting up in the blue armchair, with my feet
on Grandmother's own hassock out of her
room, Bert came in, and I said, 'Many happy
returns of your birthday, Bert I' and gave him
the little purse he was to have had at Mrs.
West's party. He liked it very much, and
then he showed me his other presents.
Father had given him a pocket-knife with a
94 LOUIE'S ACCOUNT.
brown handle, three blades and a button-hook.
Such a beauty! And it had a funny thing
besides that I couldn't guess the use of. Bert
said it was for picking stones out of a horse's
shoe, if it went lame, and was a most useful
thing. I said he hadn't any horse, but Bert
said he meant to have one some day, and a
carriage for his mother, too. I'm going to do
a lot of nice things myself some day.
Grandmother had given a gold ten shillings
that went into the little purse beautifully.
Mother had given him a beautiful little Prayer-
book with hymns at the end. It had a case
to keep it in, and would fit in his coat-pocket
From Dick he had one of the funniest
things. I couldn't think what it was; it
looked like a toy umbrella, about as long as
baby's arm, in a black, shiny leather case. I
turned it over and over, and wondered what
it could possibly be. At last Bert opened it
by unscrewing the handle, and showed me
that it held slate and lead pencils, india-
rubber, ink-eraser, pens, a penknife and pen-
holder, a ruler that was a measure as well,
for it had inches and other marks on it,
besides compasses and all kinds of nice useful
things like that packed in as close as ever
they could be.
Eva had given him twelve chocolate creams
in a pretty little box, but as she wanted them
directly he began to taste them, he let her
have them back, and she ate them herself.
Bert's mother had sent him a pretty card
with a text on it, and had written him a long
letter, that he had read so often it was quite
cracked in the folds. Bert said he would have
gummed it on another piece of paper to
strengthen it, only then he could not have read
both sides. He read some of it to me. He
was to have two pretty white rabbits from
her, but had to wait for them till he went