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PouTtI,"GI ELI,"FA SHM? r KL IT
A YEAR WITH NELLIE.
A. S. FENN,
Author of Olive Mount," Little Dolly Forbes," &c.
BLACKIE & SON, 49 & 50 OLD BAILEY, E.C.;
GLASGOW, EDINBURGH, AND DUBLIN.
I. Miss RAYNER'S CAT, . . 5
II. WINNING THE BOOK, . .. 10
III. AN ACCIDENT, . . .. .17
IV. THE CONSEQUENCES, . .. 27
V. A THUNDERSTORM,. . . 32
VI. POOR LITTLE HARRY . .. .... 39
VII. MORE TROUBLE, . . 47
VIII. WATCHING . ....... ... 52
IX. SUNSHINE AGAIN . .. .. .62
''. -..-' '
A YEAR WITH NELLIE.
MISS RAYNER'S CAT.
SCHOOL was just over. Mr. Farrow the
master stood thoughtfully rubbing his
rough gray chin, his lower lip projecting, his
shaggy brows drawn down over his eyes in a
frown. He was. not angry, but this was the
usual expression of his face, fixed on it by
thirty years of teaching in Milbury school.
The children meanwhile were putting away
books and slates, and chattering together as
they hurried here and there, making a deafen-
ing noise with their heavy country boots and
Suddenly the clatter ceased, and the mouths
A YEAR WITH NELLIE.
of the children remained open, while their eyes
turned towards the opening door.
On the threshold stood a young lady well
known to master and pupils, who smiled and
nodded in answer to the curtseys of the girls
and the lifting of hands to foreheads on the
part of the boys.
I am just in time," she said in a clear bright
tone. "Good afternoon, Mr. Farrow. I wanted
to tell all the children that I have lost my cat
-my beautiful white Angora cat. Most of you
must know her by sight. Has anyone here
There was a chorus of "No, miss."
Well, I will give a nice book to the boy or
girl who finds her and brings her back to me.
You will know her by her long fur. I am
afraid, Mr. Farrow," and she turned to the
schoolmaster, "that one of those keepers has
shot her, or caught her in a trap."
"Very likely, miss," he answered, scratching
his head thoughtfully. "You see the cats steal
the rabbits and things, that's how it is. How-
ever, you may depend upon it, some of these
youngsters will find her for you, either alive
or dead. There, be off, all of you."
MISS RAYNER'S CAT.
The children snatched up their hats and
jackets and scurried away, and after another
word or two with the master, Miss Rayner, too,
walked from the school-house, speaking to the
little ones who were left straggling behind the
rest and asking after this one's bed-ridden
grandmother, or tying the scarf of another
whose fingers were struggling with it in vain.
For some distance a large party of children
travelled together, but by degrees they became
scattered. Two or three vanished up one lane,
some more up another, a few went into the
cottages near, and others turned into the fields.
A little girl of twelve years old with rough
reddish golden hair, and a very small flaxen-
headed boy of six, climbed a stile and followed
a footpath through a desolate hop-garden.
These were Nellie and Harry Maine, the
youngest children of a farmer who was too
poor to have them taught at home, which was
the custom with most farmers in that neigh-
bourhood. Accordingly they went to the vil-
lage school, but made few friends among the
other scholars, whose rough ways and loud
voices frightened the quiet little Maines.
The two walked very lovingly together;
A YEAR WITH NELLIE.
Harry with his arm stretched round his sister's
waist, she with her hand laid on his shoulder.
"Nellie," the boy began suddenly, after turn-
ing something over in his mind, "why didn't
you tell her you know where her cat is?"
Nellie's cheeks grew rosier than usual.
"She didn't ask me," she answered.
I thought she meant us all," said the child.
"I was just going to tell when you stopped me."
"What is the use of telling her when it's
dead?" his sister asked.
"Why, I should think she'd like to know.
Shall we go and take it to her ? Then you'll
get the book."
Nellie shook her hand.
"Look here, Harry, I'll tell you why not, if
you won't say a word to anyone. Promise me
you'll keep it a secret."
"Yes, I will," said the little fellow readily.
"I promise I won't tell."
"Well, then, the wood where we saw the
dead cat is private, and when we came out I
saw a board that said, 'Trespassers will be pro-
secuted.' We might get into trouble or be sent
to prison if people knew we had been there.
Of course," Nellie went on, looking very pink
MISS RAYNER'S CAT.
again, "if Miss Rayner had asked me if I had
seen the cat I should have'had to tell her. But
as she didn't we can just keep it a secret."
Harry was silent and seemed a little puzzled,
but his sister was so much older than he, and
was always so kind to him, that he thought
everything she did must be right.
I saw that board when we went in," he said
at last, "but I couldn't read it. Don't let's go
there any more."
"Very well," she replied, and for the rest of
the way they busied themselves in gathering
late wild-flowers to take home to their mother.
But, though Nellie seemed to forget what
they had been talking about, she was really
wondering if there wa. no way in which she
could get the book Miss Rayner had promised.
It seemed such a pity not to have it, just be-
cause that particular wood where she and
Harry had been yesterday was kept private
by the owners.
.She was very silent for the rest of that day,
turning it over and over. All her little home
duties of helping her mother to get ready the
tea and supper she set about in a sleepy way,
thinking of something else all the time, until
A YEAR WITH NELLIE.
Mrs. Maine spoke quite sharply to her for her
carelessness. But even that she quickly forgot,
for she could not put the cat out of her mind.
WINNING THE BOOK.
MRS. MAINE rose at five on a Wednesday
morning, because that was her day for
churning the butter, and she would not have
been able to do it had she not risen early. She
usually let the children sleep for two hours
longer, for she said, "They'll have to work
when they come to my age. They may as well
enjoy themselves a bit now."
It was the day after that in which Miss
Rayner, the doctor's daughter, had paid a visit
to the school-house. Mrs. Maine crept quietly
, down-stairs, not wishing to wake anyone else,
yet not so quietly but that Nellie heard her,
and lifted her head from the pillow to listen.
At five at this time of year it was still dark,
but Nellie was too full of a plan of her own to
WINNING THE BOOK.
mind that. She slipped out of bed, and dressed
herself, moving about the room very gently so
as not to be heard by either her father in his
bed-room or her mother down below.
Having to be so cautious made her much
slower than she usually was, so that by the
time she was ready to go down, the daylight
was coming fast to say that the sun would soon
be in sight. Nellie looked from the window,
saw that the weather was fine, and put on her
hat and jacket ready for going out. Then she
drew from under the bed a big straw-basket
which she had put there the night before.
Her object was to get away from the house
without being seen. All the while she felt very
guilty and half ashamed of what she was going
to do, yet she never once even for a moment
thought of giving up her plan.
A thief on his way to steal something valu-
able could not have crept more silently down-
stairs than Nellie. She had to wait in the
passage leading to the kitchen until she heard
her mother humming to herself in the dairy,
and then she glided through, slipped out of the
back-door, and was gone.
"That was splendid," she thought as she
A YEAR WITH NELLIE.
tripped along the lane with her basket on her
arm, and saw the sun rise over the distant hills.
"But I might as well have told mother where
I was going. I should have said I was going
to look for Miss Rayner's cat, and if I didn't
go early some of the others might find it first."
After some time Nellie turned into a field,
and followed for a little way a path that ran
by the side of a hedge, until she came to a gate
that was securely fastened to its post and pad-
locked. Along the top a bush of prickly wood
was placed, to prevent anyone climbing over.
But the little. girl was thin enough to be
able to squeeze through between two bars,
though her hat came off in the process, and she
had hard work to reach it without creeping
She was now standing in the very prettiest
of woods, where it was still twilight, owing to
the thick leaves overhead, and the twining
branches of the young trees. Her way she
knew very well. Down this path until she
came to one that crossed it, a turn to the right,
before long another to the left, and she had
found what she wanted.
There it was before her-the beautiful white
WINNING THE BOOK.
cat, its stained fur showing that it had been
"Poor thing!" said Nellie to herself. "What
a shame to kill it!"
She picked it up, laid it in her basket, and
set off back as fast as she could. Another
squeeze through the gate, and then she was
once more on ground where she had a right to
be and need not fear being seen.
Her next act was to walk slowly along by
the outside of the wood for some distance
until she came to a place where the ditch
separating her from the hedge was deeper and
more overgrown than in other parts. Into
this ditch she dropped the cat, and leaving it
there she went back as far as the wood gate
with her empty basket.
All this trouble Nellie was taking so as to
win Miss Rayner's book without either getting
into trouble for trespassing or telling what she
considered "a story."
Again she turned back and went over the
same ground until a tip of white tail showed
her that she had reached the right spot.
Soon after she was on her way home with
a heavy burden, that tired her arm so much
A YEAR WITH NELLIE.
that she had to set it down now and then and
"Where have you been so early, child?"
asked her mother as she appeared at the kit-
"To look for the cat Miss Rayner had lost,
mother. She promised a book to the one that
"And you couldn't find it?" said Mrs. Maine
looking at her empty hands.
"Oh, yes, I could; but it's dead. I left it in
the stable until school-time, and then I'm
going to leave it at Miss Rayner's."
Nellie ran up to her room with her hat, to
avoid being asked any further questions. Much
to her relief, no more was said on the matter
before she and Harry started for school, a little
earlier than usual. She showed her brother
her prize, and he took one handle of the bas-
ket, and looked as delighted as though it were
he who would have the reward.
"You really won't say a word about where
we found it, will you, Harry?" she asked on
"Of course not," said the little fellow, half
offended at her want of trust.
WINNING THE BOOK.
"You really, really, really won't?"
"I promised I wouldn't."
Then I'll read the book aloud to you some
day," said Nellie.
When they reached the doctor's house she
took the basket into her own hands.
"There! you go on, and I'll come soon."
Harry looked surprised and disappointed,
but he was too fond of Nellie to complain or
find fault with anything she did. So he went
on by himself, and Nellie turned in at the
Miss Rayner herself came to the door, when
she heard on what errand the little girl had
come. She took the basket, and seemed almost
inclined to drop a tear on its occupant's fur.
"I did so much hope it would be found
alive," she said sadly. "Never mind, dear,
you shall have your reward all the same.
Where did you find poor Pussy?"
"She was lying-in the ditch-outside Croft
Wood," stammered Nellie, blushing deeply, and
looking down at her fingers.
"Just as I expected," said Miss Rayner, half
to herself. "Shot by one of Mr. Cooper's keepers
and then thrown over into the ditch, poor thing,
A YEAR WITH NELLIE.
as though she belonged to nobody. Come in-
side a minute, Nellie."
She left the little girl sitting on a chair in
the hall, and disappeared. Presently she came
back with the empty basket in one hand, and
in the other a book with green cover and gilt
edges. Nellie's eyes danced with pleasure.
"There, my dear, that's a very pretty story;
I've read it myself, and like it very much.
I am glad to give it to you, because I think
you will take care of it, and enjoy it more than
some of the other children. Now, run, or you'll
be late for school."
Nellie thanked her as well as she could, with
blushes that the doctor's daughter took for a
sign of modesty and shyness, and ran off. But
though she tried to feel happy and pleased, she
could not help wishing she had won her book
in some other way.
"But I did not tell one single story!" she
thought, "so it couldn't really matter after all."
T HAT was in October, when the trees were
bright with leaves of gold or red, or beauti-
ful shades of brown. November and Decem-
ber passed, and the same trees were leafless,
but their bare branches sparkled in coats of
hoar frost one fine Sunday morning in January.
Every little blade of grass was iced over, and
the lattice windows of Croft Farm were orna-
mented with delicate shapes like trees and ferns
that vanished when Harry Maine breathed
Mrs. Maine was pulling down Nellie's jacket,
straightening a stray lock or two of her hair,
and putting those little finishing touches that
careful mothers like to add after their children
have made themselves ready for church or
"Good-bye, darling," she said, kissing the
fresh face turned up to her. "Take 'care of
Harry. You are his little mother, you know,
and you mist teach him what I taught you-
A YEAR WITH NELLIE.
to be truthful and obedient-I have to leave
him so much to you now."
"Yes, mother. But look, Harry is at the
gate waiting for me. Good-bye."
She ran out, and Mrs. Maine watched her
two youngest children from the window, as
they climbed the hill in full view, then de-
scended on the further side and were lost to
sight. As she turned away she sighed, for it
was a great trouble to her that she had to let
these little ones "run wild" the while she,
who could have given them all the instruction
they needed for the present, was compelled by
increasing poverty to spend all her time in
managing her dairy, her poultry, and keeping
her house in order.
The children ran happily along the hard dry
road, and in nearly half an hour reached the
Miss Rayner was usually there on a Sunday
morning to take a class of girls and give them
a Bible lesson. Nellie Maine was always in
this class, and her attentive face and ready
answers had made her a favourite with the
young lady, who often gave her a special smile
or word of encouragement.
It was Miss Rayner's custom, if her usual
lesson was finished before it was quite time to
start for church, to talk to her young pupils on
what they had heard, and to show them how
to apply the lessons to their daily life.
On this particular morning she spoke to
them about sincerity.
"There is no need for me to remind you, girls,
how fearful a thing it is to tell a lie," she said,
"or that it is just as bad if you call it a 'story'
or a 'fib,' because that you all know as well as
I do. But I think, perhaps, some of you for-
get now and then that you may deceive people
by only telling them half the truth, or perhaps
even by saying nothing at all. It may be as
wrong not to speak as to say what is not
Her eyes wandered over the faces of the
girls, and rested, as they often did, on that of
Nellie Maine, which generally told by its ex-
pression whether she understood what had been
said. Rather to Miss Rayner's surprise, Nellie
became scarlet, and the tears sprang up ready
to fall. For present to the little girl's mind
was the memory of that day when she had
taken home the lost cat.
A YEAR WITH NELLIE.
"She knows about it, and she means it all
for me," thought Nellie. But the next minute
she winked away her tears as she remembered
that, besides herself, only Harry knew where
the cat had really been found, and Harry was
quite certain not to break his word.
"What is the matter, dear?" Miss Rayner
asked kindly, taking her by the hand and
drawing her forward. You are almost crying.
Are you not well?"
"I have a headache, miss," said Nellie, look-
ing down. It was a fact, for the stifling air of
the closed school-room had affected her head;
but even in saying it she was guilty again of
the very fault that had brought those tears of
shame to her eyes. She was causing someone
to believe what was not true.
"Poor child! So have I," said the young
lady. "Never mind. We shall be out in the
fresh air directly, and then you will be
Nellie was not the girl to cry for such a
small matter, and she felt rather ashamed to
have it thought that she was so babyish. If
she had been alone with Miss Rayner, she
thought she could have told her at once what
was really the matter, and then the whole
thing would have been off her mind. But
before all the school children! not for worlds!
"What was I saying?" Miss Rayner went
on. "Oh, I was telling you that you must not
let people make mistakes or deceive themselves,
when by speaking out you could set them right.
Do you understand me?"
"Yes, miss," said all but Nellie.
It is just time to go, so I'll tell you one or
two things to remember before we leave off.
Don't let people praise you when you don't
deserve it. Never tell half the truth or keep
silence because you are afraid you would not
be liked so well if you spoke out. And never,
never try to seem better than you are. Try
to be better than you seem."
The church bells were ringing, and the school
clock told that it was a quarter past ten, so the
classes were broken up, and a minute or so
later all the children were winding, two by two,
up the lane to the church. Miss Rayner still
held Nellie's hand, and asked her how she felt;
the girl scarcely making any reply, and wish-
ing she could summon up courage to say, "I
have let you think what is not true, miss."
A YEAR WITH NELLIE.
And there was that other time. Oh, if she
could only tell her about the cat! But that
was so long ago, and perhaps Miss Rayner had
quite forgotten the matter!
So in hesitating and shrinking the church
was reached, and the opportunity was gone.
And Nellie tried to satisfy her conscience by
praying that all her sins might be forgiven.
As she and Harry walked homewards she
was very quiet, thinking over the resolve she
had made, always to be perfectly sincere for
the future. She would be quite open, and-
"Sissy," said Harry, interrupting herthoughts
and pulling her sideways, "do let's just see if
the pond will bear."
She looked at the frozen sheet of water they
were passing, and stopped.
"No," she said slowly, "I think perhaps we
had better not."
Do, do, do let's," cried the little fellow, who
was quick enough to see that her "No" was a
very undecided one.
She shook her head slowly, but let herself
be drawn to the pond's edge. Harry picked
up a large stone and threw it, watching as it
skimmed over the surface to the farther side.
"Oh, I must have just one slide," cried he,
snatching his hand from her grasp.
"You had better not; it may not be safe,"
she said in the same tone as before, knowing
well that one firm "No, Harry, certainly not,"
would have settled the matter, and she could
have taken him away from the temptation.
Her brother set one foot on the ice, then, as
it seemed firm, the other. But still Nellie
objected in a mild way.
"Come back, dear. I wish you would.
We'll ask mother whether she thinks it has
been freezing long enough."
Perhaps the boy did not even hear what she
said. He stepped further and further out, then
looked back and laughed.
"You come too, Sissy. We can have such a
The next instant there came a warning,
"crick, crack." Nellie shrieked with horror,
for before she had time to know what was
coming, there was nothing visible of her
brother, and only a black jagged hole showed
where he had been standing.
SNellie was only twelve, or she might have
had more presence of mind. As it was, she
A YEAR WITH NELLIE.
stood as if fixed on that one spot, wringing
her hands and screaming, "Father! father!
mother! Oh, do come! mother! Oh! oh!"
Both Mr. and Mrs. Maine were half a mile
away, very far from guessing the peril of their
"baby," as they sometimes called little Harry.
There was only one person within hearing, and
that was Miss Rayner, who was on her way to
see a very old man who lived in a cottage near
the Croft Farm.
"Mother! mother!" reached her ears when
she was but the length of one field away.
Such an agonized tone could only come from
someone almost wild with terror or pain; the
cries turned Miss Rayner's face as white as her
lace collar. She flung down the umbrella and
books she was carrying, and ran, until, panting
for breath, she came upon her little pupil star-
ing with wide horrified eyes at a hole in the
ice that told its own tale.
"Harry!" was all the poor girl could say, as
she pointed to where he had fallen through.
Miss Rayner took her almost roughly by the
"Run for help, child, quick! To the farm
there!" And she waved her hand to where
some chimneys showed amidst a cluster of
Nellie dashed off as fast as her trembling
feet would take her.
The doctor's daughter knew very well nearly
every pond in Milbury, for her father was fond
of fishing, and she was his constant companion.
This was how she came to be aware that this
piece of water was in no part more than four
She stepped on to the ice, which bore her
weight, though she could hear it cracking all
round by the bank, and began to walk care-
fully towards the hole. She was very near,
when, with a sudden "crishing" sound, she
was plunged into the water, which was so cold
it made her gasp for breath.
By catching at the edges of the ice she could
just manage to keep upright and wade forward,
feeling about in all directions for poor Harry.
The thin ice as she held by it broke away
again and again, so that she moved by degrees
further out into the centre. At last her foot
touched something; she grasped at it quickly,
and drew to the surface the helpless form of
the little boy, who was quite insensible.
A YEAR WITH NELLIE.
"He is dead," she said with a kind of sob,
as she raised him so that his head should be
above water, holding him so as well as she
could with one arm, while with the other she
supported herself as she tried to make her way
towards the bank.
By this time, however, her limbs were get-
ting stiff with the cold, and, burdened as she
was, she could hardly move. The bank seemed
twice as far off as she had expected, and there
were no signs of Nellie coming with help. Her
lips formed a prayer, and then were firmly
closed as she summoned all her strength and
pushed forward, the water seeming to hold
her back always more and more.
How she came there she could never tell;
but certainly when aid arrived in the shape of
half a dozen farm labourers and Mr. Hargate,
the farmer himself, she was lying on the frost-
covered bank half insensible, and little Harry,
apparently dead, was by her side.
IT was the evening of the same day. There
was a cheerful fire burning in the low-
ceiled room at Croft Farm in which the family
generally gathered for meals, or for the hour
or two of talk before bed-time.
In a large arm-chair, propped up with pil-
lows and enveloped in a shawl, sat little Harry,
looking pale and hollow-eyed, but very con-
tented. By his side was his mother, holding
his hand tightly in her own, as though to
assure herself that she really had him safely
there. Near these two was Mr. Maine, a stout,
gray, rather anxious and stern-looking man,
whose eyes, however, had a smile in them
whenever they fell on his children. He was
sitting with his arm round Nellie, who half
sat on his knee, her eyes swollen with crying.*
This was the whole of the Maine family now
at home. The eldest daughter was in a situa-
tion as nursery governess, and of the two
grown-up sons one was at sea and the other
A YEAR WITH NELLIE.
acted as bailiff to a gentleman farmer in a
part of the county at a distance from Milbury.
I can't quite understand it even yet," said
Mrs. Maine slowly. "I thought Harry was so
obedient. You always say that you can do
anything with him, Nellie, and that he does
what you tell him directly. Why didn't you
stop him? You must have known you ought
not to go on the ice unless father had said it
Nellie said nothing, but hung her head, while
a few more tears fell. She knew quite well
that she alone was to blame.
"Don't be cross with Nellie," said Harry in
his small voice, that sounded weaker than
usual. "She did tell me not to go, over and
over, but I would. It was all my fault."
Mr. Maine pressed his little girl to him and
kissed her cheek.
"There, there! don't cry any more, old lady.
Quite right not to want to get your brother
into trouble; but I see how it was, and," he
whispered in her ear, "I shall give Master
Harry a good talking to when he's quite him-
Nellie opened her lips to say, "Oh, please
don't, father!" but stopped as she remembered
that neither Mr. nor Mrs. Maine ever said a
harsh word to the little boy, who took even
the mildest reproof very much to heart.
The next day but one was Wednesday, and
a half-holiday. During the afternoon her mo-
ther kept her busy and she saw nothing of her
brother, but when she ran up to brush her hair
for tea she heard a faint sound of sobbing in
She went in quickly, and found the little
fellow sitting on the floor with his face wet
with tears. Nellie threw her arms round him,
dried his eyes, and kissed him again and again.
"What's .the matter, darling ? Have you hurt
yourself ? Has somebody been unkind to you ?
Why didn't you come and tell sissy?"
Her caresses and consoling words soon made
Harry smile again, as he clung to her and laid
his rough flaxen head lovingly on her shoulder.
There! Now you'll tell me what it was-
won't you, dear?" she asked coaxingly.
At first he could not speak, but after a few
minutes the trouble came out.
"Father was so angry," he whispered with
a catch in his breath left by the sobs, "He
A YEAR WITH NELLIE.
whipped me-look! on my hands-for being
disobedient and going on the ice."
He held out his small palms, that were still
bright red from one or two sharp cuts with
a cane. Nellie looked quite horrified as she
Oh, I am sorry!" she said ih a low shocked
voice. "As though it wasn't bad enough to
be nearly drowned! I never thought father
would do that. Where is he? I'm going to
tell him that you didn't deserve it a bit, and
that I ought to be punished, not you, because
I didn't half try to stop you."
She started towards the door, for once quite
resolved to confess how much of the fault was
really hers. But Harry held her hand.
"No, don't, sissy. Father isn't cross now, you
know. He's quite forgiven me. And I don't
mind. It doesn't hurt any longer. Besides, I
was disobedient. I knew they wouldn't like
us to go on the pond without asking."
Nellie's desire to confess began to fade. It
couldn't do any good now. She stood looking
first at her brother and then at the door. At
last she came slowly back.
"Perhaps I'll tell him afterwards," she said.
THE CONSEQUENCES. 31
And then seeing how tear stained Harry's
bright face was, she bathed it for him, brushed
his hair, and put him on a clean collar, so that
he looked quite himself again.
A few minutes after they went down hand
in hand to tea.
Their father was rather silent and thought-
ful during the meal, and Mrs. Maine looked
very grave. Nellie wondered what it all meant,
until Mrs. Maine told her and Harry a piece
of news that made them both feel very guilty.
He had been down' to the village to thank
Miss Rayner for her brave conduct, for he
knew that it was to her he owed his little
son's life. But he had not seen her. She was
in bed dangerously ill with rheumatic fever.
Tears came again into Harry's eyes. He felt
quite crushed by his own wickedness.
On the Sunday following and for many
weeks after Miss Rayner was absent from
school and church. The two children called
often to ask how she was, always to be told,
"A little better." The first primroses came out
before they saw her again, and they spent all
one half-holiday in hunting for enough of these
early blossoms to make a bunch worth taking
A YEAR WITH NELLIE.
her. It was a great delight when the servant
who had taken up the flowers came back to
the door with a different message to that she
generally brought. This time it was: "Miss
Alice is a little better, and you are to go up
and see her."
She was lying on a sofa, looking very pale
and thin; but when she had kissed the brother
and sister, and talked to them for a while in
her old kind voice, they went away happier
than they had felt for weeks.
THE summer had come and gone without
anything particular coming to pass in
Milbury. Harry had passed his seventh birth-
day, and was beginning to think that he was
growing up at last and would soon be a man.
Nellie had hardly grown at all, but she was
thirteen, and could not understand why her
father and mother still looked upon her as a
child. That was the only thing that ever
made her unhappy now, for she had forgotten
all those little stings and pricks of conscience
she used to feel when she remembered Miss
Rayner's cat or the accident on the ice.
For a long time she had kept that beautiful
book out of sight, but time had made so much
difference in her feelings that she brought it
out one fine morning in the first week of
October, and asked Harry if he would like
her to read it to him.
It's Saturday and mother doesn't want me,
so we can go straight off somewhere and read."
The little boy was delighted with the idea,
and they set off in good time to find a "nice
"1 tell you what, Harry, we'll go into Croft
Wood," said Nellie suddenly. "It isn't very
far, and we sha'n't be disturbed."
"But we mayn't-may we?" asked the boy.
"Oh, yes, I should think so. They've taken
down all those bushes off the gate, and it isn't
padlocked any longer; so of course that must
mean people may go in. Besides, I saw ever
so many coming out the other day."
Harry was easily convinced and said no
34 A YEAR WITH NELLIE.
more. However, Nellie soon found a fresh
reason to support her wishes.
"You know the Croft belongs to Mr. Cooper;
and I'm sure if we asked him he'd let us go in
even if he does keep it private, because he is
"Of course," said the little boy contentedly.
They climbed the gate, which was just fas-
tened by a cord wound round the post, and
wandered about down the pretty green alleys
until a fallen tree offered such a good seat
that they stopped and sat down side by side.
"What a lovely place!" said Nellie as she
opened the book.
"Yes," said Harry, looking round. "Sissy,
we didn't come the same way, but I believe it
was close to here that we found the cat."
"Perhaps it was. Well, are you ready?"
And she began to read.
Harry was a good listener. His mouth and
eyes both well opened, he was soon a picture
of attention. Before many pages were finished
he was quite entranced, and never even knew
that a butterfly alighted for a second on his
knee, so that he could easily have caught it.
The pair were so quiet that a robin hopped
about round them, making a rustling noise in
the fallen leaves, and looking curiously at the
children, first with one eye and then with the
other. A little mouse, too, was very busy quite
near at hand, but they were too occupied to
see him. Then a rabbit frisked backwards and
forwards across the path, not at all alarmed by
the voice of the reader, as she never moved
except to turn over a page.
Harry sat with his hands clasped round his
knee listening eagerly for each word, and fol-
lowing the story with an interest that made
him unconscious of everything else. Nellie,
too, was just as much absorbed, and read on
and on in ignorance of the change that was
taking place in the weather.
The clouds that had been lying low down on
the horizon, only raising here and there what
are known as "thunder-heads," had one after
another climbed up the sky until not a bit of
blue was visible. At the same time, so low
and distant that the sound might have been
mistaken for the rumble of a waggon passing
in the road, there was the growl of thunder.
Still Nellie's monotonous voice went on,
Harry's eyes fixing themselves on her face as
A YEAR WITH NELLIE.
she read, as though he could tell from its ex-
pression what the words meant.
Suddenly, on the very middle of the page
open before her, plashh" fell a drop of water.
"It is beginning to rain," she said, starting
and wiping the leaf of her book with her
apron. We had better go in under the trees."
As she spoke a long low roll of thunder in
the sky made her look at her little brother in
dismay. They had just time to leave the path
and get under a thick canopy of leaves before
there came a rush, patter, and rustle, that told
them the rain was pouring down outside, though
at present they could not see a drop from
where they stood.
How dark it has grown!" Harry whispered,
almost afraid to trust his voice, for the wood
seemed so lonely and strange in the sudden
gloom. "Never mind getting wet, Sissy; let's
"It's such a pity, when we're so nice and
dry where we are," his sister answered. Harry
slipped his arm round her and clung tightly,
with cheeks quite pale from fear. They stood
so silently for a few minutes listening to the
patter on the leaves above.
Then the wood was lit up for a second by a
flash of lightning so bright and dazzling that
the place when it was gone seemed twice as
dark as before. Quickly after came a clap of
thunder that almost shook the earth, and went
rolling and echoing round the sky.
"Nell, didn't mother say we must not go
under trees in a thunderstorm?"
"Come along. Let's go, then," she said, tak-
ing his hand.
They left their shelter, and were quickly out
in the path, already soaked and slippery under
their feet. Another flash greeted their appear-
ance, and the thunder seemed to surround and
follow them as they dashed along the pathway,
scrambled over the wet gate, and fled like hares
up the road homewards.
The rain changed to hail that pelted down
on their straw hats, and rolled and danced on
the ground in little white balls. Then it was
rain again, a heavy straight down-pour that
soaked through their clothes and made Nellie's
frock a weight that hindered her, so that, in-
stead of half dragging Harry after her, she
.could hardly keep her place at his side.
A YEAR WITH NELLIE.
All this time the thunder never stopped but
rolled on incessantly, now deepening into a
roar, now dying into a distant muttering growl.
At last! there were the dear familiar chim-
neys behind the rising ground. Not much
farther now, though the hill had never seemed
so long or so hard to climb. The top was
reached, and then it took but a minute to de-
scend the other side, and dart in at the gate.
The front door was open, and in the porch
stood Mrs. Maine, who had been anxiously
looking out and listening for the return of her
children. She gave a sigh of relief when, hot,
panting, and dripping with water, they half
tumbled into the hall.
Then, for the first time, Nellie missed some-
"Oh," she said in a low tone full of dismay,
"we have gone and left my book behind!"
POOR LITTLE HARRY.
POOR LITTLE HARRY.
" OOK, mother! The storm is all over, and
the sun shining again," cried Nellie, an
hour later, as, clad in dry things and showing
no trace of the little adventure, she helped her
mother to spread the table for dinner.
"Yes, it is gone as quickly as it came," Mrs.
Maine answered after a glance from the window.
"I hope neither of you has taken a cold, that's
all. I was so glad to see you, dear, as you ran
down the path. I was beginning to be afraid
you had run into one of the woods for shelter;
it was better to get wet than to do that."
"Why? You don't think they would really
prosecute us if we ran in there out of the rain,
do you, mother?"
Mrs. Maine smiled. "No, dear, but I don't
think it's at all safe in those private woods at
this time of year when there's so much shoot-
ing. Don't ever go in them, even if it rains."
It was on Nellie's lips to say, "We were in
the Croft Wood this morning when the storm
came on," but as she reflected the next instant
A YEAR WITH NELLIE.
that her mother would be very angry if she
knew, she checked herself and said instead:
We won't go there, of course, mother; don't
I am not. I know I can trust my darlings
not to go anywhere mother wouldn't like."
And Mrs. Maine touched her cheek caressingly
as she passed her on her way to the kitchen.
Nellie felt greatly ashamed, but she could
not bring herself yet to tell that she did not
deserve so much love and trust. She liked so
well to have both given her, even if they were
not exactly her due.
Her father came in for his dinner, and she
was sent to call Harry to that meal. She went
first to the poultry yard, for the little boy and
the chickens were great friends. He knew
each separate one by sight, and they all knew
and followed him about, or flew to his shoulder
when he called.
But he was not there, and as there was no
answer to her call she ran indoors again, called
up the stairs, and looked into every room with-
out finding him. A glance at the umbrella-
stand showed that his cap was gone from its
peg. He must be out-of-doors after all.
POOR LITTLE HARRY.
She was running out again when her father
He must know it's dinner-time, Nell. You
come and sit down, and he'll turn up directly.
He'll be too hungry to stop out long."
But the meal was finished without any signs
of Harry. Mr. Maine went off to his work
again, and Mrs. Maine heaped on a plate meat
and vegetables enough to satisfy an enormous
appetite, turned down a basin over it, and put
it in the oven to keep hot.
Still he did not come. At last when it was
more than half-past three, Nellie asked if she
might go out and look for him.
'" I am going myself," said her mother, put-
ting on her bonnet. You must stay here and
take care of the house."
Nellie was silent and her face wore a down-
cast look. She was beginning to be afraid
something had happened to the poor child, and
it seemed so very hard to be obliged to wait
at home until her fears should be set at rest.
She stood for a while looking anxiously from
the window after Mrs. Maine had gone, and
then busied herself about the house, mending
the fire, putting the kettle on for tea, and
A YEAR WITH NELLIE.
doing all she could find to do, until at last
there was nothing left but to take her needle-
work and employ herself with that.
Her chair she placed near the window, so
that by lifting her head she could see along
the road. The needle went slowly in and out,
for her thoughts were busy.
First she imagined Harry lying drowned in
a pond somewhere close at hand, while her
mother had gone far away to seek him. Then
she pictured him carried off, screaming for help,
by gypsies who had come upon him wandering
along the lanes. Then, most dreadful thought
of all, for that would be her fault, she fancied
him lost in the wood, where he had perhaps
gone to fetch the book left behind in the
She could almost see him stumbling along
through the wild weeds and young growths of
all kinds, trying in vain to find the path, and
calling piteously now and then, "Sissy! Sissy!"
And at the same time there came to her mind
the recollection of him sitting in the arm-chair
by the fire last January after the ice accident.
The blame had been hers by right then, but
she had received only praise, and no one knew
POOR LITTLE HARRY. 43
but herself that she could have prevented the
accident had she chosen.
The minutes went so slowly as she sat there
waiting. The very pendulum of the clock
seemed to move. lazily from side to side as
though on the point of stopping altogether.
It was not often that Nellie Maine had much
time to think. When not out with Harry she
was generally busy, and was very seldom alone,
except in going to bed, when she was usually
too sleepy for anything except to say her prayers
and get undressed as quickly as possible. A
little solitude with no sound to interrupt the
workings of her mind but the purring of the
cat by the fire made her feel very far from
satisfied with herself.
Another look up the road. No one in sight
yet. If they would only come she would tell
mother everything, she thought-how she had
taken Harry into the woods again and again,
and how in many many ways she had accepted
praise she did not deserve.
She turned to the window once more. This
time there were a number of figures in sight.
As they came nearer she could distinguish her
father carrying something in his arms-ap-
A YEAR WITH NELLIE.
parently Harry, whose limbs hung down in a
strangely helpless way. Her mother was by
his side, her eyes fixed on the burden he carried.
Then came three gentlemen, of whom one was
evidently Mr. Cooper, to whom Croft Wood and
Farm belonged. And after them followed a
village lad or two,-a strange procession to see
Nellie's work fell on the floor, and all the
colour rushed from her face, leaving it ashy
pale. Something terrible had happened then!
She trembled all over, and could hardly walk
to open the front door.
Mr. Maine entered first and carried his little
son straight upstairs, his wife hurrying close
after. Then seeing Nellie take a step as if to fol-
low,she checked her. "No,staydown here,child,"
she said in a voice that did not sound like hers.
The three gentlemen turned into the little
sitting-room,Nellie cowering into a dark corner,
watching and listening to what they said. The
lads of the village lingered about outside the
house, peering curiously in at the open door.
"Better just wait and hear Rayner's opinion,"
said Mr. Cooper,walking up and down the room.
"He'll be here directly. I'm afraid, though,
POOR LITTLE HARRY.
that his services won't be wanted. It's an
One of his friends nodded. "Poor little
chap! Why on earth don't people look after
their children, I wonder? A private wood-
gates all secured notice-boards up what
more can you do? I don't see that we can
blame ourselves in the least."
No, there's no one to blame, that I can see,"
said the other. "A pure accident. Oh, by the
way," and he drew something from his coat-
pocket, "here's a book he had evidently dropped.
Ha! there's Rayner."
For there was the click of the gate latch,
and the doctor, Miss Rayner's father, came
quickly up the walk, entered and ran upstairs,
for Mrs. Maine had come partly down to meet
and call him.
He was a long time in the bed-room above;
Nellie meanwhile, sick and faint with terror,
shrinking closer into her corner unnoticed by
Mr. Cooper and his friends, who fidgeted un-
easily about the room, and continued to talk
about the sad accident.
At last Dr. Rayner came down and joined
them, his face telling nothing.
A YEAR WITH NELLIE.
"Well, Rayner?" said Mr. Cooper inquiringly,
hesitating to put into words the question,
"alive or dead?"
"He is living at present, and that's all I can
say," was his answer.
"Don't you think he'll pull through ?" asked
the gentleman who had brought the book.
The doctor shook his head.
"I'm afraid not. But there's no telling.
These little creatures do sometimes survive
what would kill a grown person outright."
A silence followed which Mr. Cooper broke.
Well, we're only in the way here. Perhaps
we had better go. I sincerely hope you'll bring
A few minutes and they were gone, and the
doctor had remounted'the stair; he also having
been too much engrossed to notice the little
girl with her white face and terrified eyes.
POOR little Nellie! She had often in her
short life been very unhappy, when her
father or mother had been angry with her for
some small fault, and had cried until her eyes
were all swollen and dim. But never yet had
she felt anything like the misery of this moment.
She came slowly towards the table, and
looked at the book that had been the chief
cause of the trouble. If only she had re-
membered to bring it away! It felt limp and
chilly with lying under the trees during the
rain, and the beauty of the cover was quite
gone. But what did that matter after all? If
she had not taken little Harry into the wood,
nothing dreadful would have happened. It
was all her fault from first to last!
After what seemed a long, long time, she
heard the doctor go away. Then shivering as
though she were very cold, she crept up the
stairs holding to the banisters, for she felt
giddy and ill.
A YEAR WITH NELLIE.
The door of Harry's bed-room was just ajar.
She pushed it very softly open and looked in.
Her father was sitting by the side of the
bed, his head resting on his hand. He looked
up at the slight creak made by the door, and
seeing Nellie, beckoned to her to come near.
"Father, is he-is he very bad?" she whis-
pered, as Mr. Maine put his arm round her,
drew her to him, and kissed her pale cheek.
Very," he replied in a low voice, and turned
his head towards the bed, at which Nellie had
been almost afraid to look. She ventured now
to move her eyes that way, and saw her brother
lying so still, with his face so marbly white, that
she began to shiver more than ever.
Go and ask God to let him live," her father
whispered in her ear.
She was moving away to obey when a
thought struck her.
"Where is mother?" she asked very softly.
"Lying down," Mr. Maine replied gently.
"The shock was too much for her. I am afraid
we shall have her to nurse, too, Nellie."
The child looked at him for a minute as
though she could hardly understand so much
trouble all at once; then she stole away and
went to her own bed-room to kneel down by
a chair and do as her father had told her.
She did not stay there long, but when she
came out again, a little colour had returned to
her lips, and the shivering fit was over. She
had left off thinking about herself, and was
wondering what she could do to be most useful.
"The first thing, I must see how mother
seems," she said to herself, and went into the
room adjoining that where Harry was. There
was Mrs. Maine, lying on the bed.
At first Nellie thought she was asleep, but
as she went nearer, her mother opened her
eyes and looked strangely at her. Then she
murmured something that seemed to have no
meaning. The little girl shrank away for a
second, frightened, but directly after she laid
her small cool hands on the sick woman's
The touch seemed to be refreshing, for Mrs.
Maine's eyes soon closed and she fell asleep.
Meanwhile the farmer, full of anxiety and
misgiving, sat watching the little figure of his
youngest child, hoping to see some sign of life.
He scarcely knew what to do, or where to turn,
for his wife's state alone was enough to make
A YEAR WITH NELLIE.
him very uneasy. She had never been strong,
and had lately suffered from too hard work, as
she had given up keeping the young village
girl who used to come and do the roughest
duties of the house.
And now this sudden fright had made her
helpless just when she was most needed. What
should he do? he asked himself; and though
he did not think of that, he was feeling all the
more cast down through want of food, as it
was long past the hour at which he usually
had his hearty tea.
While he was watching and thinking the
door creaked again, and Nellie entered, carrying
a tray on which was a steaming hot cup of tea, a
plate with some bread and meat and a knife and
fork. Her father's eyes opened wide with sur-
prise. Hehad always thought Nelliesuchachild.
You haven't had any tea, father," she whis-
pered, placing her tray on a chair by his side.
He patted her cheek only, and said nothing
for a minute; then he asked-
"Have you been to mother?"
"Yes. She is asleep."
Go down-stairs then and have some tea and
bread and butter yourself," he told her.
"But I'm not hungry," Nellie whispered
"Never mind. Do as I tell you, or you'll be
good for nothing soon."
Very reluctantly Nellie went down and ate
her solitary meal. However, she felt less sad
when she had mended the fire, drawn down
the blinds, and lighted the lamp, just as her
mother usually did at about this time.
She was still there when a knock at the
door sounded briskly through the silent house.
Nellie ran to open, and let in the doctor,
who went straight upstairs.
He was gone so long that she began to grow
frightened, and to fancy the worst things that
could have happened. But she was resolved
to wait there and let him out, so as to ask him
what he thought about her brother.
At last she heard his step and went to meet
"Oh, please, sir," she asked him timidly,
"how are they?"
He followed her into the kitchen, sat down,
and took her on his knee.
"How are they, little woman?" he said,
stroking her red hair in a fatherly way. "Well,
A YEAR WITH NELLIE.
I've given something to mother to make her
sleep, and she'll be all right in the morning."
"And how is Harry, please, sir ?"
Dr. Rayner shook his head gravely.
"Are you very fond of Harry?" he asked.
Nellie could only nod, while great tears
rolled down her cheeks.
Poor little girl!" said the doctor, still strok-
ing her hair.
"Don't you think he'll get better?" she
managed to say, after a minute.
The doctor hesitated, not liking to speak his
real thoughts. By and by he answered slowly,
"I can't.tell, my child."
And putting her down, he got up and went
towards the door, Nellie letting him out and
putting up the chain when he was gone.
IT was the middle of the night. Mrs. Maine
in her room was sleeping soundly and
peacefully, after having taken the draught the
doctor had given her, quite unconscious that
her youngest darling, whom she loved almost
more than she had ever loved any of her other
children, was lying as near death as he could
be and yet be living.
Her husband was sitting in his old place by
the bedside, his face turned to the bed, and his
eyes sometimes fixed on the little boy. But
he had been out in the open air all day, and
no matter what he did to keep himself awake,
his heavy eyelids would fall and close.
Every now and then he started, shook him-
self, and leaned anxiously towards the bed.
There was no change there. Then he would
try harder than before, getting up and walking
about the floor, the boards creaking under his
slippered feet. But there was no fear of rous-
ing the little patient, for the loudest sound
could not reach him in his present state.
Nellie, too, was keeping watch, for she had
begged so eagerly to be allowed to sit up, that
her father had said "Yes" at last, though his
first answer had been a shake of the head.
There was no look of sleepiness about her
round, wide, tired eyes. Her brain was too
busy. The doctor had answered her question
A YEAR WITH NELLIE.
with "I cannot tell," but his manner had
seemed to say, "There is no hope."
Several times through the night Mr. Maine
sent her away, when she sat on the stairs until
he called her back. The doctor had left exact
instructions as to what was to be done until
his next visit, and however much he might be
overcome by sleep, the father never dozed long
enough to leave any of his duties as "nurse"
The worst time of all for Nellie was that
when she was shut out, as too young to be of
use. She would steal for an instant to her
mother's side, make sure that she was still in
that sound slumber, and then go back to the
stairs until that closed door was unlatched,
then she would creep again to her chair by
Harry's side, and sit with head resting on her
hand, watching his pallid face.
As long as she lived that night often came
back to Nellie's mind, like a long terrible
dream, and she could see before her the little
boy, looking so innocent and pretty and help-
less, with his light yellow hair tangled into
knots and curls, and his cheek, usually so rosy,
almost the colour of the pillow on which it lay.
Sitting there so quietly, her mind would
keep bringing up before her memory all the
times she had led him into doing what he
ought not to have done, and had taught him
to conceal things, when if she had left him
alone he would have been frank and open.
"I have never been unkind to him," she
thought, sometimes, trying to look for a little
while on the other side. "He was always
very fond of me, and liked to be with me.
Ah! if he gets better, I will never, never lead
him into wrong again."
Mr. Maine at this point roused himself with
a start, bent for a minute over his boy, then
went on tiptoe to the other room to look at his
wife. When he came back he walked round
to where Nellie sat, and pressed his hand ap-
provingly on her shoulder.
Not a bit, father."
He went back to his own place, and began
once more to try and keep awake. But again
sleep was too much for him, and he nodded.
Everything was so quiet. Even a cricket
that had been chirping its lively song some-
where in the house seemed to have gone to
A YEAR WITH NELLIE.
rest. It seemed to the little watcher that she
was the only creature awake.
How solemn the night was! She grew so
nervous now and then; through the stillness,
that she was half inclined to creep round to
her father and slip her small hand into his, to
chase away her fears.
The morning came at last, and Mr. Maine
again shook off his drowsiness, and looked
anxiously at the patient who was still uncon-
scious. Nellie crept down to light the fire,
and get ready some breakfast. She was still
busy, when there was a gentle knock at the
door. To unbolt and open it did not take
long. Who should be there but Miss Rayner!
"Poor child! How wan you look!" she
said, bending to kiss her young pupil. "How
is the little brother?"
Just thesame," Nelliefaltered, as she shut the
door,Miss Rayner going with her into the kitchen.
I have come to see if I can be of any help
to you. Dr. Rayner told me all about it, and
I have been thinking of you ever since."
"I wish I was shot instead of Harry, miss!"
said Nellie, bursting into tears, and covering
her face with her hands.
"My dear child!" Miss Rayner looked sur-
prised at the outburst, and then took Nellie's
hand in hers. "I know you were very fond
of each other, and I don't wonder. But what
is the use of wishing that?"
Nellie only sobbed the more.
"It's all my fault," were the only words
Miss Rayner could catch, for though she was
trying to say something else Nellie's voice
was quite choked with sobs.
Come, Nellie, this won't do at all," said
the young lady firmly. "You shall tell me
what is the matter afterwards, and why it is
your fault, but just now there is something else
to think about. Is your mother still asleep?"
Nellie nodded, drying her eyes.
"And your father is with the little boy?"
"Well, dear, I want you to go up and tell
father I'm here, and ask if I may stay with
Harry while he has his breakfast."
Nellie obeyed, and returned in a minute.
"Will you please come up, miss?"
Mr. Maine rose on her entrance, and she
gave him her hand.
Papa is coming on very soon," she said,
A YEAR WITH NELLIE.
lowering her tones. "Will you let me be of
what help I can? I am used to nursing."
"Thank you, miss. I'm obliged to go out
and give some orders, or else everything would
come to a standstill. But I sha'n't be a moment
longer than I can help. The doctor said my
wife wasn't to be disturbed."
Miss Rayner had been gently smoothing the
boy's pillow, and straightening the bed-clothes
while he spoke. She now turned to him with
her eyes full of tears.
"You may trust him to me," she said
Mr. Maine was at most times a silent man.
At a moment like this he had not a word
ready. He gave another look at his child and
went with head bent out of the room.
Nellie ran down before him, and put out
some breakfast hastily, waiting on him and
watching him eat, without speaking, for she
knew that if she tried to talk she would not
be able to help crying.
He was gone in less than five minutes, having
hardly noticed his little girl, so full were his
thoughts of Harry. Then Nellie took a cup
of tea to Miss Rayner, who was moving noise-
lessly about the bed-room, each touch of her
hands adding to the look of comfort.
"What shall I do next?" Nellie asked, as
she took the empty cup from her friend.
"See if mother's asleep still; and if she is
go down and straighten up the kitchen and
parlour. Wash the tea-things and put every-
thing tidy, there's a good girl. And be as
quick as possible."
By the time all these duties were finished
the doctor had arrived. Nellie wanted to go
up with him, but he shook his head.
Directly after came a messenger from Mr.
Cooper to know how the little boy was.
"Very bad indeed," said Nellie in answer.
"Not out of danger?"
Oh, no," she told him, in a voice that would
hardly make itself heard.
She was alone again, waiting impatiently
for the doctor to come down. How long he
was! She went up to the door and listened,
but heard no sound. There was nothing left
but to come down once more, and busy her-
self as well as she could. The ducks and
fowls had to be fed, and some soft food taken
to the coops where the tiny chickens were.
A YEAR WITH NELLIE.
Then there was the cream to skim off the
milk that was standing in the dairy, a duty
she had seen her mother regularly perform.
Between each fresh piece of work she ran
to the front passage to see if the doctor's hat
was gone. But it was always there, and
everything as still as ever.
After skimming the milk she came back to
the kitchen to find Miss Rayner stirring the
fire under the kettle.
"Your mother's awake, Nellie, and I want
some tea quickly."
* Nellie assisted her, and she ran up with it.
In a few minutes she came back, and sat down
silently near the fire.
"Is he going to get better, miss?"
The little girl had asked very quietly, but
Miss Rayner started and looked round as though
she had forgotten her.
"We are afraid not," she said sadly. "But,
my dear, you must not give way. You must
think about poor mother."
Nellie had cried so much lately that she did
not seem to have a tear left. Her eyes were
quite dry, as she said in a low tone,
"It is all my doing."
"What do you mean, child?"
One minute of doubt, and then out came
the whole story, beginning with last October.
It was a full and complete confession that she
made. Every little thing she could remember,
that had come to her mind while sitting by
Harry during the night, she told, and then
sank down in a dejected heap on the floor and
dared not look up.
It is a terrible thing to think," Miss Rayner
said after a pause, that this would never have
happened if you had been honest and sincere."
At that moment the doctor's voice calletl
gently, "Alice." Miss Rayner ran to answer.
"It is to tell her he is dead," she thought.
"And it is my fault. Oh, what shall I do?"
She crouched lower and lower on the floor,
and then as though the thoughts were really
too dreadful to bear, they all faded from her
mind, and she sank back unconscious.
When she came to herself she was still lying
on the floor, and Miss Rayner was rubbing her
hands, and splashing cold water on her temples.
"What is the matter?" she asked, sitting up.
"I feel so funny. Oh, where's mother?"
"Drink some water. There! now you are
A YEAR WITH NELLIE.
better. Nellie, I have some good news for you.
There is a change at last, and we hope Harry
will get better."
TWELVE months after this Nellie and her
mother were sitting together one after-
noon sewing Though fourteen now, the girl
still appeared younger than her age, as far as
size went, but there was a thoughtful look that
was not at all childlike in her eyes.
"It is just a year since Harry's accident,
mother," said Nellie, dropping her work on her
knee; "nearly a year since I told you how it
was all through me. Are you beginning to
trust me again?"
"I have always trusted you, child. I think
you were punished enough. There was no
need for me to visit your fault on you."
"And do you think father will ever-forget
-" the tears came into Nellie's eyes, and she
"Give him time, dear."
Nellie sighed heavily.
I have tried so hard all this year to show
him that he may believe in me. I could never
be underhanded again."
Mrs. Maine leaned forward and kissed her.
"Patience, Nellie," she said encouragingly.
There was a clatter of feet on the gravel,
and Harry rushed in, his face glowing with
health. He hugged his mother, and then flung
an arm round his sister's neck.
"It's horrid, going to school without you,
Nellie's face, which had been clouded, cleared
up. The one who had suffered most through
those old faults loved her as well as ever.
She had to unclasp his arm, though, now, to
get ready the tea, for Mr. Maine would soon
be in, and Harry must be hungry. However,
as she bustled in and out of the room, the boy
told her the scraps of news he had heard in
the village. He had seen Miss Rayner, and she
sent her love to Nellie. Mr. Cooper, too, he
had met, with the same friends who had stayed
with him for some shooting last year, and they
had all stopped him to ask how he was, and
A YEAR WITH NELLIE.
had told him that they were going to send his
mother a brace of pheasants.
INr. Maine came in rather tired and silent.
He sat in his arm-chair, listening to the boy's
chatter and watching Nellie as she hurried to
and fro. The tea over, and cleared away, he
drew her to his knee.
"Mother," he said, "Dr. Rayner has been
asking me if I will let Nellie go and live as
companion to his daughter. She shall do as
she likes, but the house would be pretty dull
without her. What do you say, Nell? Would
you like to go?"
"Not if you want me at home," she said in
a low voice.
"If! Of course we want you, don't we,
Harry, my boy ? We couldn't do -without
Nellie. What are you crying for, my girl ?"
Because I am pleased," she answered, dash-
ing away the tears. "You needn't be afraid,
father. As long as you and mother want me,
I shall never wish to go away."
A SELECTION OF
BLACKIE & SON'S
BOOKS FOR YOUNG PEOPLE.
SUITABLE FOR GIFTS. FOR SCHOOL LIBRARIES.
BLACKIE'S HALF-CROWN SERIES.
Illustrated by eminent Artists. In crown 8vo, cloth elegant.
A Rough Road: Or, How the Boy made a Man of Himself. By
MRS. G. LINN.OS BANKS.
The Two Dorothys: A Tale for Girls. By Mrs. HERBERT MARTIN.
Penelope and the Others: A Story of five Country Children. By
Stimson's Reef: A Tale of Adventure. By C. J. HYNE.
Marian and Dorothy: or, The Abbey Grange. By ANNIE E.
Gladys Anstruther: or, The Young Stepmother. By LOUISA
The Secret of the Old House. By EVELYN EVERETT-GREEN.
Hal Hungerford: Or, The Strange Adventures of a Boy Emigrant.
By J. R. HUTCHINSON, B.A.
The Golden Weathereoek. By JULIA GODDARD.
The Hermit Hunter of the Wilds. By DR. GORDON STABLES.
Miriam's Ambition. By EVELYN EVERETT-GREEN.
White Lilac: Or, The Queen of the May. By AMY WALTON.
Little Lady Clare. By EVELYN EVERETT-GREEN.
The Saucy May. By HENRY FRITH.
The Brig "Audacious." By ALAN COLE.
Jasper's Conquest. By ELIZABETH J. LYSAGHT.
Sturdy and Strong: Or, How George Andrews made his Way.
By G. A. HENTY.
Gutta-Percha Willie: The Working Genius. By GEORGE MAC
2 BLACKIE AND SON'S BOOKS FOR YOUNG PEOPLE.
The War of the Axe: Or Adventures in South Africa. By
The Eversley Secrets. By EVELYN EVERETT-GREEN.
The Lads of Little Clayton. By R. STEAD.
Ten Boys who lived on the Road from Long Ago to Now. By JANE
ANDREWS. With 20 Illustrations.
Winnie's Secret: A Story of Faith and Patience. By KATE WOOD.
A Waif of the Sea: Or the Lost Found. By KATE WooD.
Miss Willowburn's Offer. By SARAH DOUDNEY.
A Garland for Girls. By LOUISA M. ALCOTT.
Hetty Gray: Or Nobody's Bairn. By RosA MULHOLLAND.
Brothers in Arms: A Story of the Crusades. By F. B. HARRISON.
The Ball of Fortune. By CHARLES PEARCE.
Miss Fenwiek's Failures. By EsaM STUART.
Gytha's Message: A Tale of Saxon England. By EaMA LESLIE.
My Mistress the Queen: A 17th Century Tale. By M. A. PAULL.
Jack o' Lanthorn: A Tale of Adventure. By HENRY FRITH.
The Family Failing. By DARLEY DALE.
The Stories of Wasa and Menzikoff: The Deliverer of Sweden,
and the Favourite of Czar Peter.
Stories of the Sea in Former Days.
Tales of Captivity and Exile.
Famous Discoveries by Sea and Land.
Stirring Events of History.
Adventures in Field, Flood, and Forest.
BLACKIE AND SON'S BOOKS FOR YOUNG PEOPLE. 3
BLACKIE'S TWO SHILLING SERIES.
In crown 8vo, with Illustrations, cloth elegant, 2s.
An Unexpected Hero: By ELIZABETH J. LYSAGHT.
The White Squall: A Story of the Sargasso Sea. By JOHN C.
HUTCHESON. New Edition.
The Wreck of the Nancy Bell: or, Cast away on Kerguelen
Land. By JOHN C. HUTCHESON. New Edition.
The Joyous Story of Toto. By LAURA E. RICHARDS. With 30
Illustrations. New Edition.
The Lonely Pyramid: A Tale of Adventures. By J. H. YOXALL.
Brave and True, and other two Stories. By GREGSON Gow.
Climbing the Hill, and other two Stories. By ANNIE S. SWAN.
The Light Princess, and other Fairy Stories. By GEORGE MAO
DONALD. New Edition.
Nutbrown Roger and I: A Romance of the Highway. By J. H.
A Rash Promise: Or, Meg's Secret. By CECILIA SELBY LOWNDES.
Sam Silvan's Sacrifice: The Story of Two Fatherless Boys. By
A Watrior King: A Boy's Adventures in South Africa. By J.
Susan. By AMY WALTON.
Linda and the Boys. By CECILIA SELBY LOWNDES.
Swiss Stories for Children and those who Love Children.
From the German of MADAM SPYRL By Lucy WIIEELOCK.
Aboard the "Atalanta." By HENRY FRITH.
The Penang Pirate. By JOHN C. HUTCHESON.
Teddy: The Story of a "Little Pickle." By JOHN C. HUTCHESON.
4 BLACKIE AND SON'S BOOKS FOR YOUNG PEOPLE.
TWO SHILLING SERIES-Continued.
Warner's Chase: Or the Gentle Heart. By ANNIE S. SWAN.
New Light through Old Windows. A Series of Stories illus-
trating Fables of Esop. By GREGSON Gow.
A Pair of Clogs: And other Stories. By AmY WALTON.
The Hawthorns. By AMY WALTON.
Dorothy's Dilemma: A Tale of the Time of Charles I. By CARO-
Marie's Home: Or, A Glimpse of the Past. By CAROLINE AUSTIN.
The Squire's Grandson: A Devonshire Story. By J. M. CALL-
Insect Ways on Summer Days in Garden, Forest, Field, and
Stream. By JENNETT HUMPHREYS. With 70 Illustrations.
Magna Charta Stories: Or Struggles for Freedom in the Olden
Time. Edited by ARTHUR GILMAN, A.M.
The Wings of Courage; AND THE CLOUD-SPINNER. Translated
from the French of GEORGE SAND, by Mrs. CORKRAN.
FOR THE YOUNGER CHILDREN.
Bab: or, The Triumph of Unselfishness. By IsMAY THORN.
Adventures of Mrs. Wishing-to-be. By ALICE CORIRAN.
Our Dolly: Her Words and Ways. By Mrs. R. H. READ.
Fairy Fancy: What she Heard and Saw. By Mrs. R. H. READ
Four Little Mischiefs. By RosA MULHOLLAND.
Little Tottie, and Two Other Stories. By THOMAS ARCHER.
Naughty Miss Bunny. By CLARA MULIIOLLAND.
Chirp and Chatter: Or, LESSONS FROM FIELD AND TREE. By
ALICE BANKS. With 54 Illustrations by GORDON BROWNE.
BLACKIE AND SON'S BOOKS FOR YOUNG PEOPLE. 5
BLACKIE'S EIGHTEENPENNY SERIES.
In Crown 8vo, cloth extra, each with Tinted or Coloured Illustrations.
Phil and his Father. By IsmAY
Littlebourne Lock. ByF.BAYFORD
Wild Meg and Wee Dickie. By
MARY E. ROPES.
Grannie: A Story by ELIZABETH J.
The Seed She Sowed. By EMMA
Unlucky: A Fragment of a Girl's Life.
By CAROLINE AUSTIN.
Everybody's Business: or a Friend
in Need. By ISMAY THORN.
Tales of Daring and Danger. By
G. A. HENTY.
The Seven Golden Keys. By JAMES
The Story of a Queen. By MARY
Joan's Adventures at the North
Pole. By ALICE CORKRAN.
Filled with Gold. By J. PERRETT.
Edwy: Or, yas he a Coward? By
The Battlefield Treasure. By F.
Yarns on the Beach. By G. A.
A Terrible Coward. By G. M. FENN.
The Late Miss Hollingford. By
Our Frank, and other Stories. By
The Pedlar and his Dog. By MARY
Into the Haven. By ANNIE S. SWAN.
Tom Fineh's Monkey. By J. C-
Our General: A Story for Girls. By
ELIZABETH J. LYSAGHT.
Aunt Hesba's Charge. By ELIZA-
BETH J. LYSAGHT.
By Order of Queen Maude. By
Miss Grantley's Girls, andtheStories
she told them. By THOS. ARCHER.
The Troubles of Little Tim. By
Down and Up Again. By GREGSON
The Happy Lad. By B. BJORNSON.
The Patriot Martyr, and other Nar-
ratives of Female Heroism.
Madge's Mistake. By ANNIE E.
Box of Stories. By H. HAPPYMAN.
When I was a Boy in China. By
YAN PHOU LEE.
6 BLACKIE AND SON'S BOOKS FOR YOUNG PEOPLE.
BLACKIE'S SHILLING SERIES.
Square 16mo, 128 pp., elegantly bound in cloth, with Frontispieces in
A Parliament of Pickles. By CORA
Sharp Tommy. By E. J. LYSAGHT.
The Strange Adventures of Nell,
Edie, and Toby. By G. MOCKLER.
Freda's Folly. By M. S. HAYCRAFT.
Philip Danford. By JULIA GODDARD.
The Youngest Princess. By JENNIE
Arthur's Temptation. By EMMA
A Change for the Worse. By M.
HARRIET M. CAPES.
,Our Two Starlings. By CHRISTIAN
Mr. Lipscombe's Apples. By JULIA
A Gipsy against Her Will. By
An Emigrant Boy's Story. By
AscoTr R. HOPE.
The Castle on the Shore. By
.John a' Dale. By MARY C. ROWSELL.
Jock and his Friend. By CORA
Gladys. By E. O'BYRNE.
In the Summer Holidays. By JEN-
NETT HUM PHREYS.
How the Strike Began. By EMMA
Tales from the Russian of Madame
Kubalensky. By G. JENNER.
Cinderella's Cousin. By PENELOPE.
Their New Home. By A. S. FENN.
Janie's Holiday. By C. REDFORD.
'The Children of Haycombe. By
ANNIE S. FENN.
The Cruise of the "Petrel."
The Wise Princess. By M. HARRIET
A Boy Musician: or, The Young Days
Hatto's Tower. By M. C. ROWSELL.
Fairy Lovebairn's Favourites.
Alf Jetsam. By Mrs. GEO. CUPPLES.
The Redfords. By Mrs. G. CUPPLES.
Missy. By F. BAYFonD HARRIsoN.
Hidden Seed. By EMMA LESLIE.
Jack's Two Sovereigns. By ANNIE
Ursula's Aunt. By ANNIE S. FENN.
A Little Adventurer.
Olive Mount. By ANNIE S. FENN.
Three Little Ones. By C. LANGTON.
Tom Watkin's Mistake. By EMMA
Two Little Brothers.
The New Boy at Merriton.
The Blind Boy of Dresden.
Jon of Iceland: A True Story.
Stories from Shakespeare.
Every Man in his Place.
Fireside Fairies and Flower
To the Sea in Ships.
Little Daniel: A Story of the Rhine.
Jack's Victory: Stories about Dogs.
Story of a King. By one of his
Prince Alexis: or, Old Russia.
Sasha the Serf: Stories of Russia.
True Stories of Foreign History.
BLACKIE AND SON'S BOOKS FOR CHILDREN.
THE NINEPENNY SERIES OF BOOKS FOR
Neatly bound in cloth extra. Each contains 96 pp., and a Coloured
Kitty Carroll. By L. E. TIDDEMAN.
A Joke for a Picnic. By W. L.
Cross Purposes, and The Sha-
dows. By GEORGE MAC DONALD.
Patty's Ideas. By L. TIDDEMAN.
Daphne: A Story of Self-conquest.
By E. O'BYRNE.
Lily and Rose in One. By CECILIA
Crowded Out. By M. B. MANWELL.
Tom in a Tangle. By T. SPARROW.
Things will Take a Turn. By
Max or Baby. By ISMAY THORN.
The Lost Thimble: and other Stories.
By Mrs. MUSGRAVE.
Jack-a-Dandy; or the Heir of Castle
Fergus. By E. J. LYSAGHT.
A Day of Adventures. By CHAR-
The Golden Plums: and other Stories.
By FRANCIS CLARE.
The Queen of Squats. By ISABEL
Shucks. By E31MA LESLIE.
Sylvia Brooke. By M. HARRIET If.
The Little Cousin. By A. S. FENN.
In Cloudland. By Mrs. MUSGRAVE.
Jack and the Gypsies. By KATE
Hans the Painter. By MARY C.
Little Troublesome. By ISABEL
My Lady May. By HARRIET BOULT-
A Little Hero. By Mrs. MUSGRAVE.
Prince Jon's Pilgrimage. By
Harold's Ambition. By JENNIE
Sepperl the Drummer Boy. By
MARY C. ROWSELL.
Aboard the Mersey. By Mrs.
A Blind Pupil. By ANNIE S. FENN.
Lost and Found. By Mrs. CARL
Fisherman Grim. By MARY C.
SOMETHING FOR THE VERY LITTLE ONES.
Fully Illustrated. 64 pp., cloth. Sixpence each.
Tales Easy and Small for the Young- Maud's Doll and Her Walk. In
est of All. In no word will you see words of not more than four let-
more letters than three. By J. ters. By J. HUMPHREYS.
HUMPHREYS. In Holiday Time. In words of not
more than five letters. By J.
Old Dick Grey and Aunt Kate's Way. HUMPHREYS.
Stories in words of not more than Whisk and Buzz. By Mrs. A. H.
four letters. By J. HUMPHREYS. GARLIOK.
8 BLACKIE AND SON'S BOOKS FOR CHILDREN.
THE SIXPENNY SERIES FOR CHILDREN.
Neatly bound in cloth extra. Each contains 64 pages and a Coloured Cut.
From over the Sea. By L. E. TIDDE-
The Kitchen Cat. By AY WALTON.
The Royal Eagle. ByLOUISATHoMP-
Two Little Mice. By Mrs. GARLICK.
A Little Man of War.
Lady Daisy. By CAROLINE STEWART.
Dew. By H. MARY WILSON.
Chris's Old Violin. ByJ. LOCKHART.
Mischievous Jack. ByA. CORKRAN.
The Twins. By L. E. TIDDEMAN.
Pet's Project. By CORA LANGTON.
The Chosen Treat. By C. WYATT.
Little Neighbours. By A. S. FENN.
Jim. By CHRISTIAN BURKE.
Little Curiosity: or, A German Christ-
mas. By J. M. CALLWELL.
Sara the Wool-gatherer. By W.
Fairy Stories: told by PENELOPE.
ANew Year's Tale. ByM. A.CUitItl
Little Mop. By Mrs. CHARLES BRAY.
The Tree Cake. By W. L. ROOPER.
Nurse Peggy, and Little Dog Trip.
Fanny's King. By DARLEY DALE.
Wild Marsh Marigolds. By D. DALE.
Cleared at Last.
Little Dolly Forbes. By ANNIE S.
A Year with Nellie. ByA. S. FENN.
The Little Brown Bird.
The Maid of Domremy.
Little Eric: a Story of Honesty.
Uncle Ben the Whaler.
The Palace of Luxury.
The Charcoal Burner.
Willy Black: A Story of Doing Right
The Horse and His Ways.
The Shoemaker's Present.
Lights to Walk by.
The Little Merchant.
Nicholina: A Story about an Iceberg.
A SERIES OF FOURPENNY REWARD BOOKS.
Each 64 pages, 18mo, Illustrated, in Plicture Boards.
A Start in Life. By J. LOCKHART. Phil Foster. ly J, LocliuiAR,
Happy Childhood. Papa's Birthday. ly W, V,0oo0rIt.
Dorothy's Clock. The Charm Fairy. By PrNUIoil', 1
Toddy. By L. E. TIDDEMAN. Little Talem for Little Children.
Stories about my Dolls. By Al A, tOt lg,
Stories about my Cat Timothy. Worthy of Trust.
Delia's Boots. By W. L. ROOPEt. Brave and True, by ( TORamIN (n.,
Lost on the Rocks. By R. ScoTTER, The Children and the Water-Lily,
A Kitten's Adventures. Poor Tonm Olliver.
Holidays at Sunnycroft. By ANNIE Maudle ,and BPrtie. 'atitiNN GOW,
S. SWAN. ,Irillillll'r illlir l I i7ril]tA r1 |lni(t lh
Climbing the Hill. By ANNI a. Fritz's Experiment,
SWAN. Lucy's Christmaf-Box,
*%* A Complete List of Books for the Young, prices from 4d, to is, 6d,
with Synopsis of their Contents, will be supplied on App/ttlicon,
BLACKIE & SON, LIMIITD: bONDOON, ILAt0OW. ANtI BlINpttiNit,