PRICE ONE SHILLING.
A FLAT IRON FOR A FARTHING;
Or, momnic patqiagc in tc 'iifc of ani Only --on.
By JULIANA HORATIA EWING,
A.4t r oao/"' II ai.; toe ils"jr4l," '"S.r to Sirtae.," "'.11-. 0:v'rti- a a). '.2.-n rat..',," &\.. &c.
WITH TIf'LVI ILLL'STRA'TIOANS BY 'MIRS. ALL I.GHA .1
GEORGE BELL AND SONS, \ORK.dTREET, CONVENT GARDEN.
1^^^|s^ '*-^- yI
The Baldwin Library
9, &t~jk: L t
-uc P. 42.
THE TINSMITHS' SHOP.
A FLAT IRON FOR A FARTHING;
SOME PASSAGES IN THE LIFE OF
AN ONLY SON.
BY JULIANA HORATIA E.WING,
"WE AND THE WORLD," "SIX TO SIXTEEN," ETC. ETC.
WITH TWELVE ILLUSTRATIONS BY MRS. ALLINGHAM. .
GEORGE BELL AND SONS, YORK STREET, COVENT GARDEN
NEW YORK: 66, FIFTH AVENUE.
TO MY DEAR FATHER,
AND TO HIS SISTER, MY DEAR AUNT MARY
IN MEMORY OF
THEIR GOOD FRIEND AND NURSE,
OBIT. 3 MARCH, 1872, ET. 83.
J. H. E.
AN apology is a sorry Preface to any book, however insignificant, and yet I am
anxious to apologise for the title of this little tale. The story grew after the
title had been (hastily) given, and so many other incidents gathered round the incident
of the purchase of the flat iron as to make it no longer important enough to appear
upon the title page. It would, however, be dishonest to change the name of a tale
which is reprinted from a Magazine; and I can only apologise for an appearance of
affectation in it which was not intended.
As the Dedication may seem to suggest that the character of Mrs. Bundle is a
portrait, I may be allowed to say that, except in faithfulness, and tenderness, and high
principle, she bears no likeness to my father's dear old nurse.
It may interest some of my child readers to know that the steep street and the
farthing wares are real remembrances out of my own childhood. Though whether in
these days of" advanced prices," the flat irons, the gridirons with the three fish upon
them, and all those other valuable accessories to doll's housekeeping, which I once
delighted to purchase, can still be obtained for a farthing each, I have lived too long
out of the world of toys to be able to tell.
J. H. E.
I. Motherless .
II. "The look "-Rubens-Mrs. Bundle again 3
III. The Dark Lady-Trouble impending-Beautiful, golden Mamma 6
IV. Aunt Maria-The Enemy routed-London Town 1o
V. My Cousins-Miss Blomfield-The Boy in Black 6
VI. The Little Baronet-Dolls-Cinder Parcels-The Old Gentleman next Door-The
Zoological Garden 21
VII. Polly and I resolve to be "very religious "-Dr. Pepjohn-The Alms-box-The Blind
VIII. Visiting the Sick 31
IX. "Peace be to this House". 34
X. Convalescence-Matrimonial intentions-The Journey to Oakford-Our welcome 37
XI. The Tinsmith's-The Beaver Bonnets-A Flat Iron for a Farthing-I fail to secure a
Sister-Rubens and the Doll. 41
XII. The Little Ladies again-The Meads-The drowned Doll 44
XIII. Polly-The Pew and the Pulpit-The Fate of the Flat Iron 46
XIV. Rubens and I "drop in" at the Rectory-Gardens and Gardeners-My Father comes
for me .. .... 51
XV. Nurse Bundle is magnanimous-Mr. Gray-An explanation with my Father 56
XVI. The real Mr. Gray-Nurse Bundle regards him with disfavour. 60
XVII. I fail to teach Latin to Mrs. Bundle-The Rector teaches me .65
XVIII. The Asthmatic Old Gentleman and his Riddles-I play Truant again-In the big
XIX. The Tutor-The Parish-A new Contributor to the Alms-box 73
XX. The Tutor's Proposal-A Teachers' Meeting 70
XXI. Oakford once more-The Satin Chairs-The Housekeeper-The Little Ladies again-
Family Monuments .. .77
XXII. Nurse Bundle finds a Vocation-Ragged Robin's Wife-Mrs. Bundle's ideas on Hus-
bands and Public-houses 82
XXIII. I go to Eton-My Master-I serve him well 86
XXIV. Collections-Leo's Letter-Nurse Bundle and Sir Lionel 90
XXV. The Death of Rubens-Polly's News-Last Times 92
XXVI. I hear from Mr. Jonathan Andrewes-Yorkshire-Alathea alias Betty-We Bury our
Dead out of our Sight-Voices of the North 97
XXVII. The New Rector-Aunt Maria tries to find him a Wife-My Father has a similar care
for me .. .. 10
XXVIII. I believe myself to be broken-hearted-Maria in love-I make an offer of marriage,
which is neither accepted nor refused .. .. 04
XXIX. The future Lady Damer-Polly has a secret-Under the Mulberry-tree o8
XXX. I meet the Heiress-I find myself mistaken on many points-A new knot in the family
complications .. II
XXXI. My Lady Frances-The future Lady Damer-We understand each other at last 114
XXXII. We come home-Mrs. Bundle quits service II6
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
Under the Oak-tree . .
The Garden at The Bush"
Hide and Seek in the Square
Visiting the Sick
The Tinsmith's Shop. .
The Visit to the Rectory. .
"Mr. Gray". ...
In the big Garden
The Picture by the Soa .
A FLAT IRON FOR A FARTHING.
W HEN the children clamour for a
story, my wife says to me, "Tell
them how you bought a flat iron for a far-
thing." Which I very gladly do; for three
reasons. In the first place, it is about
myself, and so I take an interest in it.
Secondly, it is about some one very dear
to me, as will appear hereafter. Thirdly, it;
is the only original story in my somewhat
limited collection, and I am naturally
rather proud of the favour with which it
is invariably received. I think it was the
foolish fancy of my dear wife and children
combined that this most veracious history
should be committed to paper. It was
either because-being so unused to author-
ship-I had no notion of composition,
and was troubled by a tyro tendency to
stray from my subject; or because the
part played by the flat iron, though impor-
tant, was small; or because I and my
affairs were most chiefly interesting to my-
self as writer, and my family as readers; or
from a combination of all these reasons to-
gether, that my tale outgrew its first title
ind we had to add. a second, and call it
"Some Passages in the Life of an only
Yes, I was an only son. I was an only
child also, speaking as the world speaks,
and not as Wordsworth's "simple child"
spoke. But let me rather use the "little
maid's" reckoning, and say that I have,
rather than that I had, a sister. Her
grave is green, it may be seen." She
peeped into the world, and we called her
Alice; then she went away again and took
my mother with her. It was my first
great, bitter grief.
I remember well the day when I was
led with much mysterious solemnity to
see my new sister. She was then a week
"You must be quiet, sir," said Mrs.
Bundle, a new member of our establish-
ment, "and not on' no account make no
noise to disturb your dear, pretty mamma."
Repressed by this accumulation of nega-
tives, as well as by the size and dignity of
Mrs. Bundle's outward woman, I went a--
tiptoe under her large shadow to see my
Very young children are not always
pretty, but my sister was beautiful beyond
the wont of babies. It is an old simile,.
but she was like a beautiful painting of a
cherub. Her little face wore an expres-
sion seldom seen except on a few faces of
those who have but lately come into this
world, or those who are about to go from
A FLAT IRON FOR A FARTHING.
it. The hair that just gilded the pink head
I was allowed to kiss was one shade paler
than that which made a great aureole on
the pillow about the pale face ofmny dear,
Years afterwards-in Belgium-I bought
in old medieval painting of a Madonna.
That Madonna had a stiffness, a deadly
pallor, a thinness of face incompatible with
strict beauty. But on the thin lips there
was a smile for which no word is lovely
enough; and in the eyes was a pure and
far-seeing look, hardly to be imagined
except by one who painted (like Fra
Angelico) upon his knees. The back-
ground (like that of many religious paint-
ings of the date) was gilt. With such a
look and such a smile my mother's face
shone out of the mass of her golden hair
the day she died. For this I bought the
picture; for this I keep it still.
But to go back.
I liked Mrs. Bundle. I had taken to
her from the evening when she arrived in
a red shawl, with several bandboxes. My
affection for her was established next day,
when she washed my face before dinner.
My own nurse was bony, her hands were
all knuckles, and she washed my face as
she scrubbed the nursery floor on Satur-
days. Mrs. Bundle's plump palms were
like pincushions, and she washed my face
as if it had been a baby's.
On the evening of the day when I first
saw Sister Alice, I took tea in the house-
keeper's room. My nurse was out for the
evening, but Mrs. Cadman from the village
was of the party, and neither cakes nor
conversation flagged. Mrs. Cadman had
hollow eyes, and (on occasion) a hollow
.voice, which was very impressive. She
wore curl-papers continually, which once
caused me to ask my nurse if she ever
took them out.
On Sundays she do," said Nurse.
"She's very religious then, I suppose,"
said I; and I did really think it a great
compliment that she paid to the first day
I was only just four years old at this
time-an age when one is apt to ask in-
convenient questions and to.make strange
observations-when one is struggling to
understand life through the mist of no-
velties about one, and the additional con-
fusion of falsehood which it is so common
to speak or to insinuate without scruple to
very young children.
The housekeeper and Mrs. Cadman had
conversed for some time after tea without
diverting my attention from the new box of
bricks which Mrs. Bundle (commissioned
by my father) had brought from the town
for me; but when I had put all the round
arches on the pairs of pillars, and had
made a very successful "Tower of Babel"
with cross layers of the bricks tapering
towards the top, I had leisure to look
round and listen.
"I never know'd one'with that look as
lived," Mrs. Cadman was saying, in her
hollow tone. It took notice from the
first. Mark my words, ma'am, a sweeter
child I never saw, but it's too good and
too pretty to be long for this world."
It is difficult to say exactly how much
one understands at four years old, or
rather how far one quite comprehends the
things one perceives in part. I understood,
or felt, enough of what I heard, and of the
sympathetic sighs that followed Mrs. Cad-
man's speech, to make me stumble over
the Tower of Babel,-and present myself at
Mrs. Cadman's knee with the question-
Is mamma too pretty and good for
this world, Mrs. Cadman?"
I caught her elderly wink as quickly as
the housekeeper, to whom it was directed. I
was not completely deceived by her answer.
Why, bless his dear heart, Master
Reginald. Who did he think I was talking
MRS. JONES OF LONDON TOWN-SISTER ALICE.
My new baby sister," said I, without
"No such thing, lovey," saidthe auda-
cious Mrs. Cadman; housekeeper and me
was talking about Mrs. Jones's little boy."
"Where does Mrs. Jones' live?" I
In London town, my dear."
I sighed. I knew nothing of London
town, and could not prove that Mrs. Jones
had no existence. But I felt dimly dis-
satisfied, in spite of a slice of sponge-cake,
and being put to bed (for a treat) in papa's
dressing-room. My sleep was broken by
uneasy dreams, in which Mrs.- Jones
figured with the face of Mrs. Cadman and
her hollow voice. I had a sensation that
that night the house never went to rest.
People came in and out with a pretentious
purpose of not awaking me. My father
never came to bed. I felt convinced that
I heard the doctor's voice in the passage.
At last, while it was yet dark, and when I
seemed to have been sleeping and waking,'
waking and falling asleep again in my
crib for weeks, my father came in with a
strange look upon his face, and took me
up in his arms, and wrapped a blanket
round me, saying mamma wanted to kiss
me, but I must be very good and make
no noise. There was little fear of that I
gazed in utter silence at the sweet face
that was whiter than the sheet below it,
the hair that shone brighter than ever in
the candle-light. Only when I had kissed
her, and she had laid her wan hand on my
head, I whispered to my father, "Why is
mamma so cold? "
With a smothered groan he carried me
back to bed, and I cried myself to sleep.
It was too true, then. She was too good
and too pretty for this world, and before
sunrise she was gone.
Before the day was ended Sister Alice
left us also. She never knew a harder
resting-place than our mother's arms.
"THE LOOK "-RUBENS-MRS. BUNDLE AGAIN.
M Y widowed father and I were both ter-
ribly lonely. The depths of his loss'
in the lovely and lovable wife who had been
his constant companion for nearly six years
I could not fathom at the time. For my
own part, I was quite as miserable as I
have ever been since, and I doubt if I shall
ever feel such overwhelming desolation
again, unless the same sorrow befalls me
as then befell him.
I "fretted "-as the servants expressed
it-to such an extent as to affect my
health; and I fancy it was because my
father's attention was called to the fact
that I was fast fading after the mother
and sister whose death (and my own lone-
liness) I bewailed, that he roused himself
from his own grief to comfort mine. Once
more I was "dressed" after tea. Of late
my bony nurse had not thought it neces-
sary to go through this ceremony, and I
had crept about in the same crape-covered
frock from breakfast to bedtime.
Now I came down to dessert again, and
though I think the empty place at the end
of the table gave my father a fresh shock
when I took my old post by him, yet I
fancy the lonely evening was less lonely
for my presence.
From his intense indulgence I think I
A FLAT IRON FOR A FARTHING.
dimly gathered that he thought me ill. I,
combined this in my mind with a speech
of my nurse's that I had overheard, and
which gave me the horrors at-the time-
"He's got the look / It's his poor ma over
again !"-and I felt a sort of melancholy
self-importance not uncommon with chil-
dren who are out of health.
I may say here that my nurse had a
quality very common amongst uneducated
people. She was sensational;" and her
custom of going over all the circumstances
of my mother's death and funeral (down
to the price of the black paramatta of
which her own dress was composed) with
her friends, when she took me out walk-
ing, had not tended to make me happier
or more cheerful.
That night I ate more from my father's
plate than I had eaten for weeks; As I
lay after dinner with my head upon his
breast, he stroked my curls with a tender
touch that seemed to heal my griefs, and
said, almost in a tone of remorse,
"What can papa do for you, my poor
dear boy? "
I looked up quickly into his face.
What would Regy like ? he persisted.
I quite understood him now, and spoke
out boldly the desires of my heart.
"Please, papa, I should like Mrs.
Bundle for a nurse; and I do very much
"And who is Rubens?" asked my
Oh, please, it's a dog," I said. It
belongs to Mr. Mackenzie at the school.
And it's such a little dear, all red and
white; and it licked my face when nurse
and I were there yesterday, and I put my
hand in its mouth, and it rolled over on
its back, and it's got long ears, and it
followed me all the way home, and I gave it
a piece of bread, and it can sit up, and"--
But, my little man," interrupted my
father-and he had absolutely smiled at
my catalogue of marvels-" if Rubens
belongs to Mr. Mackenzie, and is such a
wonderful fellow, I'm afraid Mr. Mackenzie
won't part with him."
"He would," I said, "but- and I
paused, for I feared the barrier was, in-
But what ? said my father.
He wants ten shillings for him, Nurse
"If that's all, Regy," said my father,
"you and I will go and buy Rubens to-
Rubens was a little red and white
spaniel of much beatty and sagacity. He
was the prettiest, gentlest, most winning of
playfellows. With him by my side, I now
ran merrily about, instead of creeping
moodily at the heels of nurse and her
friends. Abundantly occupied in testing
the tricks he knew, and teaching him new
ones, I had the less leisure to listen open-
mouthed to cadaverous gossip of the Cad-
man class. Finally, when I had bidden
him good-night a hundred times, with
absolutelyfraternal embraces, I was soothed
by the light weight of his head resting on
my foot. He seemed to chase the hideous
fancies which had hitherto passed from
nurse's daytime conversation to trouble
my night visions, as he would chase a
water-fowl from a reedy marsh, and I slept
-as he did-peacefully.
Nor was this all. My other wish was
also to be fulfilled, but not without some
vexations beforehand. It was by a certain
air and tone which my. nurse suddenly
assumed towards me, and which it is
difficult to describe by any other word
than "heighty-teighty," and also by dark
hints of changes which she hoped (but
seemed far from believing) would be for
my good, and finally, by downright lamen-
tations and tragic inquiries as to what she
had done to be parted from her boy, and
"could her chickabiddy have the heart to
THE OLD NURSE-AND THE NEW.
drive away his loving and faithful nursey,"
that I learned that it was contemplated to
supersede her by some one else, and that
if she did not know that I was to blame in
the matter, she at any rate believed me to
have influence enough to obtain a reversal
of the decree. That Mrs. Bundle was to
be her successor I gathered from allusions
to "your great fat bouncing women that
would eat their heads off; but as to
cleaning out a nursery-let them see!"
But her most masterly stroke was a certain
conversation with Mrs. Cadman carried on
in my hearing.
Have you ever notice, Mrs. Cadman,"
inquired my bony nurse of her not less
bony visitor-" Have you ever notice how
them stout people as looks so good-natured
as if butter wouldn't melt in their mouths
is that wicked and cruel underneath?"
And then followed a series of nurse's most
ghastly anecdotes, relative to fat mothers
who had ill-treated their children, fat
nurses who had nearly been the death of
their unfortunate charges, fat female mur-
derers, and a fat acquaintance of her own,
who was taken in apoplexy after a fit of
rage with her husband.
"What a warning I what a moral!"
said Mrs. Cadman. She meant it for a
pious observation, but I felt that the
warning and the moral were for me. And
not even the presence of Rubens could
dispel the darkness of my dreams that
Alternately goaded and caressed by my
nurse, who now laid aside a habit she had
of beating a tattoo with her knuckles on
my head when I was naughty, to the
intense confusion and irritation of my
brain, I at last resolved to beg my father
to let her remain with us. I felt that it
was-as she had pointed out-intense in-
gratitude on my part to wish to part with
her, and I said as much when I went down
to dessert that evening. Moreover, I now
lived in vague fear of those terrible
qualities which lay hidden beneath Mrs.
Bundle's benevolent exterior.
"If nurse has been teasing you about
the matter," said my father, with a frown,
" that would decide me to get rid of her, if
I had not so decided before. As to your
not liking Mrs. Bundle now-My dear
little son, you must learn to know your
own mind. You told me you wanted Mrs.
Bundle-by very good luck I have been
able to get hold of her, and when she
comes you must make the best of her."
She came the next day, and my bony
nurse departed. She wept indignantly, I
wept remorsefully, and then waited in terror
for the manifestation of Mrs. Bundle's cruel
I waited in vain. The reign of Mrs.
Bundle was a reign of peace and plenty, of
loving-kindness and all good things. More-
over it was a reign of wholesomeness, both
for body and mind. She did not give me
cheese and beer from her own supper
when she was in a good temper, nor pound
my unfortunate head with her knuckles if
I displeased her. She was strict in the
maintenance of a certain old-fashioned
nursery etiquette, which obliged me to
put away my chair after meals, fold my
clothes at bedtime, put away my toys when
I had done with them, say "please,"
"thank you," grace before and after meals,
prayers night and morning, a hymn in bed,
and the Church Catechism on Sunday.
She snubbed the maids who alluded in.my
presence to things I could not or should
not understand, and she directed her own
conversation to me, on matters suitable to
my age, instead of talking over my childish
head to her gossips. The stories of horror
and crime, the fore-doomed babies, the
murders, the mysterious whispered com-
munications faded' from my untroubled
brain. Nurse Bundle's tales were of the
young masters and misses she had known.
A FLAT IRON FOR A FARTHING.
Her worst domestic tragedy was about the
boy who broke his leg over the chair he
had failed to put away after--breakfast.
Her romances were the good old Nursery
Legends of Dick Whittington, the Babes
in the Wood, and so forth. My dreams
became less like the columns of a provin-
cial newspaper. I imagined myself another
Marquis of Carabas, with Rubens in boots.
I made a desert island in the garden,
which only lacked the geography-book
peculiarity of "water all round" it. I
planted beans in the fond hope that they
would tower to the skies and take me with
them. I became-in fancy-Lord Mayor
of London, and Mrs. Bundle shared my
civic throne and dignities, and we gave
Rubens six beefeaters and a barge to wait
upon. his pleasure.
Life, in short, was utterly changed
for me. I grew strong, and stout, and
well, and happy. And I loved Nurse
THE DARK LADY-TROUBLE IMPENDING-BEAUTIFUL, GOLDEN MAMMA.
SO two years passed away. Nurse Bundle
was still with me. With her I did les-
sons" after a fashion. I learned to read,
I had many of the Psalms and a good deal
of poetry-sacred and secular-by heart.
In an old-fashioned, but slow and thorough
manner, I acquired the first outlines of
geography, arithmetic, &c., and what Mrs.
Bundle taught me I repeated to Rubens.
But I don't think he ever learned the
"capital towns of Europe," though we
studied them together under the same oak
We had a happy two years of it together
under the Bundle dynasty, and then trouble
I was never fond of demonstrative affec-
tion from strangers. The ladies who lavish
kisses and flattery upon one's youthful head
after eating papa's good dinner-keeping
a sharp protective eye on their own silk
dresses, and perchance pricking one with
a brooch or pushing a curl into one eye
with a kid-gloved finger-I held in un-
feigned abhorrence. But over and above
my natural instinct against the unloving
fondling of drawing-room visitors, I had a
special and peculiar antipathy to Miss Eliza
At first, I think I rather admired her.
Her rolling eyes, the black hair plastered
low upon her forehead,-the colour high,
but never changeable or delicate-the am-
plitude and rustle of her skirts, the im-
pressiveness of her manner, her very posi-
tive matureness, were just what the crude
taste of childhood is apt to be fascinated
by. She was the sister of my father's man
of business; and she and her brother
were visiting at my home. She really
looked well in the morning, "toned down"
by a fresh, summer muslin, and all womanly
anxiety to relieve my father of the trouble
of making the tea for breakfast.
"Dear Mr. Dacre, do let me relieve you
of that task," she cried, her ribbons flutter-
ing over the sugar-basin. "I never like
to see a gentleman sacrificing himself 'for
his guests at breakfast. You have enough
to do at dinner, carving large joints, and
jointing those terrible birds. At breakfast
a gentleman should have no trouble but
MISS BURTON IS UNSATISFII
the cracking of his own egg and the reading
of his own newspaper. Now do let me!"
Miss Burton's long fingers were almost
ED-I AM WELL SATISFIED. 7
I never trouble my lady visitors with
this," he said, quietly. "I am only too
well accustomed to it."
UNDER THE OAK TREE.
on the tea-caddy; but at that moment my
father quietly opened it, and began to
measure out the tea.
Child as I was, I felt well satisfied that
my father would let no one fill my mother's
place. For so it was, and all Miss Burton's
A FLAT IRON FOR A FARTHING.
efforts failed to put her, even for a moment,
at the head of his table.
I do not quite know how or when it was
that I began to realize that such was her
effort. I remember-once hearing a scrap
of conversation between our most respect-
able and respectful butler and the house-
keeper-" behind the scenes "-as the
former worthy came from the breakfast-
"And how's the new missis this morn-
ing, Mr. Smith?" asked the housekeeper,
with a bitterness not softened by the pros-
pect of possible dethronement.
Another try for the tea-tray, ma'am,"
replied Smith, "but it's no go."
"A brazen, black-haired old maid!"
cried the housekeeper. To think of her
taking the place of that sweet angel, Mrs.
Dacre (and she barely two years in her
grave), and pretending to act a mother's
part by the poor boy and all. I've no
On one excuse or another, the Burtons
contrived to extend their visit; and the
prospect of a marriage between my father
and Miss Burton was now discussed too
openly behind his back for me- to fail to
hear it. Then Nurse Bundle on this sub-
ject hardly exercised her usual discretion
in withholding me from servants' gossip,
and servants' gossip from me. Her own
indignation was strongly aroused, and I
had no difficulty in connecting her tearful
embraces, and her allusions to my dead
mother, with the misfortune we all believed
to be impending.
At first I had admired Miss Burton's
bouncing looks. Then my head had been
turned to some extent by her flattery, and
by the establishment of that most objec-
tionable of domestic jokes, the parody of
love affairs in connection with children.
Miss Burton called me her little sweet-
heart, and sent me messages, and vowed
that I was quite a little man of the world
and then was sure that I was a desperate
flirt. The lank lawyer wagged my hand
of a morning, and said, "And how is Miss
Eliza's little beau?" And I laughed, and
looked important, and talked rather louder,
and escaped as often as I could from the
nursery, and endeavoured to act up to the
character assigned me with about as much
grace as'.Esop's donkey trying to dance.
I must have become a perfect nuisance to
any sensible person at this period, and in-
deed my father had an interview with Nurse
Bundle on the subject.
"Master Reginald seems to me to be
more troublesome than he used to be,
nurse," said my father.
"Indeed you say true, sir," said Mrs.
Bundle, only too glad to reply; "but it's
the drawing-room and not the nursery as
does it. Miss Burton is always a begging
for him to be allowed to stay up at nights
and to lunch in the dining-room, and to
come down of a morning, and to have a
half-holiday in a afternoon; and, saving
your better knowledge, sir, it's a bad thing
to break into the regular ways of children.
It ain't for their happiness, nor for any one
"You are perfectly right, perfectly
right," said my father, "and it shall not
occur again. Ah my poor boy," he
added in an irrepressible outburst, you
suffer for lack of a mother's care. I do
what I can, but a man cannot supply a
woman's place to a child."
Mrs. Bundle's feelings at this soliloquy
may be imagined. "You might have
knocked me down with a feather, sir,"
she assured the butler (unlikely as it
seemed I) in describing the scene after-
wards. She found strength, however, to
reply to my father's remark.
Indeed, sir, a mother's place never
can be filled to a child by no one what-
ever. Least of all such a mother as he
had in your dear lady. But he's a boy,
MRS. BUNDLE'S FREEDOM OF SPEECH-MY FREEDOM OF SPEECH.
sir, and not a girl, and in all reason a
father is what he'll chiefly look to in a year
or two. And for the meanwhile, sir, I ask
you, could Master Reginald look better or
behave better than he did afore the com-
pany come? It's only natural as smart
ladies who knows nothing whatever of
children, and how they should be brought
up, and what's for their good, should think
it a kindness to spoil them. Any one may
see the lady has no notion of children, and
would be the ruin of Master Reginald if
she had much to do with him; but when
the company's gone, sir, and he's left quiet
with his papa, you'll find him as good as
any young gentleman needs to be, if you'll
excuse my freedom in speaking, sir."
Whatever my father thought of Mrs.
Bundle's freedom of speech, he only said,
"Master Reginald will be quite under
your orders for the future, Nurse," and so
And Mrs. Bundle having "said her say,"
withdrew to say it over again in confidence
to the housekeeper.
As for me, if my vanity was stronger
than my good taste for a while, the quick-
ness of childish instinct soon convinced
me that Miss Burton had no real. affection
for me. Then I was puzzled by her spas-
modic attentions when my father was in
the room, and her rough repulses when I
"bothered" her at less appropriate mo-
ments. I got tired of her, too, of the
sound of her voice, of her black hair and
unchanging red cheeks. And from the
day that I caught her beating Rubens for
lying on the edge of her dress, I lived in
terror of her. Those rolling black eyes
had not a pleasant look when the lady was
out of temper. And was she really to be
the new mistress of the' house? To;take
the place of my fair, gentle, beautiful
mother? That wave of household gossip
which for ever surges behind the master's
back was always breaking over me now, in
expressions of pity for the motherless child
of" the dear lady dead and gone."
"I don't like black hair," I announced
one day at luncheon; I like beautiful,
shining, golden hair, like poor mamma's."
Don't talk nonsense, Reginald," said
my father, angrily, and shortly afterwards
I was dismissed to the nursery.
If I had only had my childish memory
to trust to, I do not think that I could have
kept so clear a remembrance of my mother
as I had. But in my father's dressing-
room there hung a water-colour sketch of
his young wife, with me-her first baby-
on her lap. It was a very happy portrait.
The little one was nestled in her arms, and
she herself was just looking up with a,
bright smile of happiness and pride. That
look came full at the spectator, and per-
haps it was because it was so very lifelike
that I had (ever since I could remember)
indulged a curious freak of childish senti-
ment by nodding to the picture and saying,
"Good-morning, mamma," whenever I
came into the room. Such little supersti-
tions become part of one's life, and I freely
confess that I salute that portrait still! I
remember, too, that as time went on I lost
sight of the fact that it was I who lay on
my mother's lap, and always regarded the
two as Mamma and Sister Alice-that ever-
baby sister whom I had once kissed, and no
more. I generally saw them at least once a
day, for it was my privilege to play in my
father's dressing-room during part of his
toilet, and we had a stereotyped joke be-
tween us in reference to his shaving, which
always ended in my receiving a piece of
the creamy lather on the tip of my nose.
But it was one evening when the shadow
hanging over the household was deepest
upon me, that I slipped unobserved out of
the drawing-room where Miss Burton was
" performing" on my mother's piano, and
crept slowly and sadly upstairs. I went
slowly, partly out of my heavy grief, and
A FLAT IRON FOR A FARTHING.
partly because I carried Rubens in my
arms. Had not the lawyer kicked him
because he lay upon the pedal? I was
resolved that after such an insult he should
not so much as have the trouble of walk-
ing upstairs. So I carried him, and as I
went I condoled with him.
Did the nasty man kick him? My
poor Ru, my darling, dear Ru The pedal
is yours, and not his, and the whole house
is ours, and not his nor Miss Burton's;
and oh, I wish they would go !"
As I whined, Rubens whined; as I
kissed him he licked me, and the result
was unfavourable to balance, and I was
obliged to sit down on a step. And as I
sat I wept, and as I wept that overpower-
ing mother-need came over me, which
drives even the little ragamuffin of the
gutter to carry his complaints to "mother"
for comfort and redress. And I took up
Rubens in my arms again, sobbing, and
saying, "I shall go to Mamma !" and so
weeping and in the darkness we crept into
I could see nothing, but I knew well
where Mamma was, and standing under
the picture, I sobbed out my incoherent
"Good-evening, Mamma I Good-even-
ing, Sister Alice Please, Mamma, it's me
and Rubens." (Sobs on my part, and
frantic attempts by Rubens to lick every
inch of my face at once.) And please,
Mamma, we're very miser-r-r-r-rable. And
oh please, Mamma, don't let papa marry
Miss Burton. Please, please don't, dear,
beautiful, golden. Mamma! And oh! how
we wish you could come back! Rubens
My voice died away with a wail which
was dismally echoed by Rubens. Then,
suddenly, in the darkness came a sob that
was purely human, and I was clasped in a
woman's arms, and covered with tender
kisses and soothing caresses. For one
wild moment, in my excitement, and the
boundless faith of childhood, I thought
my mother had heard me, and come back.
But it was only Nurse Bundle. She
had been putting away some clothes in-
my father's bedroom, and had been drawn
to the dressing-room by hearing my voice.
I think this scene decided her to take
some active steps. I feel convinced that
in some way it was through her influence
that a letter of invitation was despatched
the following day to Aunt Maria.
AUNT MARIA-THE ENEMY ROUTED-LONDON TOWN.
AUNT MARIA was my father's sister.
She was married to a wealthy gentle-
man, and had a large family of children.
It was from her that we originally got
Nurse Bundle; and anecdotes of her and
of my cousins, and wonderful accounts of
London (where they lived), had long
figured conspicuously in Mrs. Bundle's
Aunt Maria came, and Uncle Ascott
came with her.
It is not altogether without a reason that
I speak of them in this order. Aunt Maria
was the active partner of their establish
ment. She was a clever, vigorous, well-
educated, inartistic, kindly, managing wo-
man. She was not exactly "meddling,"
but when she thought it her duty to inter-
AUNT MARIA'S COURSE OF ACTION-UNCLE ASCOTT-MY VERY OWN BOX. Iz
fere in a matter, no delicacy of scruples,
and no nervousness baulked the directness
of her proceedings. When she was most
sweeping or uncompromising, Uncle As-
cott would say, "My dear Maria!" But
it was generally from a spasm of nervous
cowardice, and not from any deliberate
wish to interrupt Aunt Maria's course of
action. He trusted her entirely.
Aunt Maria was very shrewd, and that
long interview with Nurse Bundle in her
own room was hardly needed to acquaint
her with the condition of domestic politics
in our establishment. She "took in the
Burtons with one glance. The ladies "fell
out" the following evening. The Burtons
left Dacrefield the next morning, and at
lunch Aunt Maria pulled them to pieces"
with as little remorse as a cook would pluck
a partridge. I never saw Miss Eliza Bur-
Aunt Maria did not fondle or.spoil me.
She might perhaps have shown more ten-
derness to her brother's only and mother-
less child; but, after Miss Burton, hers
was a fault on the right side. She had a
kindly interest in me, and she showed it
by asking me to pay her a visit in London.
It will do the child good, Regie," she
said to my father. "He will be with
othpr children, and all our London sights
will be new to him. I will take every care
of him, and you must come up,and fetch
him back. It will do you good too."
To be sure !" chimed in Uncle Ascott,
patting me good-naturedly on the head;
" Master Reginald will fancy himself in
Fairy Land. There are the Zoological
Gardens, and Madame Tussaud's Wax-
work Exhibition, and the Pantomime, and
no one knows what besides! We shall
make him quite at home He and Helen
are just the same age, I think, and Polly's
a year or so younger, eh, mamma?"
"Nineteen months," said Aunt Maria,
decisively; and she turned once more to
my father, upon whom she was urging cer-
It was with unfeigned joy that I heard
my father say,
"Well, thank you, Maria. I do think
it will do him good. And 1' certainly
come and look you and Robert up my-
'There was only one drawback to my
pleasure, when the much anticipated time
of my first visit to London came. Aunt
Maria did not like dogs; Uncle Ascott too
said that "they were very rural and nice
for the country, but that they didn't do in
a town house. Besides which, Regie," he
added, such a pretty dog as Rubens
would be sure to be stolen. And you
wouldn't like that."
I will take good care of Rubens, my
boy," added my father; and with this pro-
mise I was obliged to content myself.
The excitement and pleasure of the
various preparations for my visit were in
themselves a treat. There had been some
domestic discussion as to a suitable box
for my clothes, and the matter was not
quickly settled. There happened to be
no box of exactly the convenient size in
the house, and it was proposed to pack my
things with Nurse Bundle's in one of the
larger cases. This was a disappointment
to my dignity; and I ventured to hint that
I should like a trunk all to myself, like
a grown-up gentleman," without, however,
much hope that my wishes would be ful-
filled. The surprise was all the pleasanter
when, on the day before our departure,
there arrived by the carrier's cart from our
nearest town a small, daintily-finished
trunk, with a lock and key to it, and my
initials in brass nails upon the outside.
It was a parting gift from my father.
"I like young ladies and gentlemen to
have things nice about 'em," Nurse Bundle
observed, as we prepared to pack my trunk.
" Then they takes a. pride in their things,
A FLAT IRON FOR A FARTHING.
and so it stands to reason they takes more
care of 'em."
To this excellent sentiment I gave my
heartiest assent, and proceeded to illustrate
it by the fastidious care with which I. se-
lected and folded the clothes I wished to
take. As I examined my socks for signs
of wear and tear, and then folded them by
the ingenious process of grasping the heels
and turning them inside out, in imitation
of Nurse Bundle, an idea struck me, based
upon my late reading and approaching
prospects of travel.
"Nurse," said I, "I think I should like
to learn to darn socks, because, you know,
I might want to know how, if I was cast
away on a desert island."
If ever you find yourself on a desolate
island, Master Reginald," said Nurse
Bundle, "just you write straight off to me,
and I'll come and do them kind of things
"Well," said I, "only mind you bring
Rubens, if I haven't got him."
For I had dim ideas that some Robin-
son Crusoe adventures might befall me
before I returned home from this present
My father's place was about sixty miles
from London. Mr. and Mrs. Ascott had
come down in their own carriage, and
were to return the same way.
I was to go with them, ".nd Nurse
Bundle also. She was to sit in the rumble
of the carriage behind. Every particular
of each new arrangement afforded me great
amusement; and I could hardly control
my impatience for the eventful day to
It came at last. There was very early
breakfast for us all in the dining-room.
No appetite, however, had I; and very
cruel I thought Aunt Maria for insisting
that I should swallow a certain amount of
food, as a condition of being allowed to
go at all. My enforced breakfast over, I
went to look for Rubens. Ever since tfe
day when it was first settled that I should
go, the dear dog had kept close, very close
at my heels. That depressed and aimless
wandering about which always afflicts the
dogs of the household when any of the
family are going away from home was
strong upon him. After the new trunk
came into my room, Rubens took into his
head a fancy for lying upon it; and though
the brass nails must have been very un-
comfortable, and though my bed was
always free to him, on the box he was
determined to be, and on the box he lay
for hours together.
It was on the box that I found him, in
the portico, despite the cords which now
added a fresh discomfort to his self-chosen
resting-place. I called to him, but though
he wagged his tail he seemed disinclined
to move, and lay curled up with one eye
shut and one fixed on the carriage at the
"He's been trying to get into the
carriage, sir," said the butler.
You want to go too, poor Ruby, don't
you?" I said; and I went in search of
meats to console him.
He accepted a good breakfast from my
hands with gratitude, and then curled him-
self up with one eye watchful as before.
The reason of his proceedings was finally
made evident by his determined struggles
to accompany us at the last; and it was
not till he had been forcibly shut up in
the coach-house that we were able to
start. My grief at parting with him was
lessened by the distraction of another
Of all places about our equipage, I
should have preferred riding with the pos-
tilion. Short of that, I was most anxious
to sit behind in the rumble with my nurse.
This favour was at length conceded, and
after a long farewell from my father, gilded
with a sovereign in my pocket, I was, with
EARLY BIRDS-THE GATE INN-AN OLD GARDEN.
a mountain of wraps, consigned to the care
of Nurse Bundle in the back seat.
The dew was still on the ground, the
birds sang their loudest, the morning air
was fresh and delicious, and' before we
had driven five miles on our way I could
have eaten three such breakfasts as the
one I had rejected at six o'clock. In the
first two villages through which we drove
people seemed to be only just getting up
and beginning the day's business. In one
or two genteel houses the blinds were
still down; in reference to which I re-
solved that when I grew up I would not
waste the best part of the day in bed, with
the sun shining, the birds singing, the
flowers opening, and country people going
about their business, all beyond my closed
Nurse, please, I should like always to
have breakfast at six o'clock. Do you
hear, Nursey ?" I added, for Mrs. Bundle
feigned to be absorbed in contemplating a
flock of sheep which were being driven
Very well, my dear. We'll see."
That we'll see" of Nurse Bundle's was
a sort of moral soothing-syrup which she
kept to allay inconvenient curiosity and
over-pertinacious projects in the nursery.
I had soon reason to decide that if I
had breakfast at six, luncheon would not
be unacceptable at half-past ten, at about
which time I lost sight of the scenery and
confined my attention to a worsted work-
bag in which Nurse Bundle had a store of
most acceptable buns. Halting shortly
after this to water the horses, a glass of
milk was got for me from a wayside.inn,
over the door of which hung a small gate,
on whose bars the following legend was
This gate hangs well
And hinders none.
Refresh and pay,
And travel on."
Did you put that up?" I inquired of
the man who brought my milk.
"No, sir. It's been there long enough,"
was his reply.
"What does hinders none' mean?" I
The man looked back, and considered
"It means as it's not in the way of
nothing. It don't hinder nobody," he
replied at last.
It couldn't if it wanted to," said I;
"for it doesn't reach across the road. If
it did, I suppose it would be a tollbar."
"He's a rum little chap, that I" said
the waiter to Nurse Bundle, when he had
taken back my empty glass. And he un-
mistakably nodded at me.
What is a rum little chap, Nurse ? I
inquired when we had fairly started once
"It's very low language," said Mrs
Bundle, indignantly; and this fact de
pressed me for several miles.
At about half-past eleven we rattled into
Farnham, and stopped to lunch at "The
Bush." I was delighted to get down from
my perch, and to stretch my cramped legs
by running about in the charming garden
behind that celebrated inn. Dim bright
memories are with me still of the long-
windowed parlour opening into a garden
verdant with grass, and stately yew hedges,
and formal clipped trees; gay, too, with
bright flowers, and mysterious with a walk
winding under an arch of the yew hedge
to the more distant bowling-green. On
one side of this arch an admirably-carved
stone figure in broadcoat and ruffles played
perpetually upon a stone fiddle to an
equally spirited shepherdess in hoop and
high heels, who was for ever posed in
dancing posture upon her pedestal and
never danced away. As I wandered round
the garden whilst luncheon was being pre-
pared, I was greatly taken with these
A FLAT IRON FOR A FARTHING.
ugures, and wondered if it might be that
they were an enchanted prince and prin-
cess turned to stone by some wicked witch,
if I were consuming what was their pro-
perty, and pondered the supposition that
some day the spell might be broken, and
THE GARDEN AT "THE BUSH."
envious of their happiness in the peaceful
garden amid the green alleys and fragrant
powers. As I ate my luncheon I felt as
the stone-bound couple come down from
those high pedestals, and go dancing and
fiddling into the Farnham streets.
BAGSHOT HEATH-NURSE BUNDLE AND DICK TURPIN-LONDON TOWN. x1
They showed no symptoms of moving
whilst we remained, and, duly refreshed,
we now proceeded on our way. I rejected
the offer of a seat inside the carriage with
scorn, and Nurse and I clambered back to
our perch. No -easy matter for either of
us, by the way !-Nurse Bundle being so
much too large, and I so much too small,
to compass the feat with anything ap-
proaching to ease.
I was greatly pleased with the dreary
beauties of Bagshot Heath, and Nurse
Bundle (to whom the whole journey was
familiar) enlivened this part of our way by
such anecdotes of Dick Turpin, the cele-
brated highwayman, as she deemed suitable
for my amusement. With what interest I
gazed at the little house by the roadside
where Turpin was wont to lodge, and
where, arriving late one night, he de-
manded beef-steak for supper in terms so
peremptory that, there being none in the
house, the old woman who acted as his
housekeeper was obliged to walk, then and
there, to the nearest town to procure it !
This and various other incidents of the
robber's career I learned from Nurse
Bundle, who told me that traditions of his
exploits and character were still fresh in
the neighboring villages.
At Virginia Water we dined and changed
horses. We stayed here longer than was
necessary, that I might see the lake and
the ship; and Uncle Ascott gave sixpence
to an old man with a wooden leg who told
us all about it. And still I declined an-in-
side place, and went back with Nurse
Bundle to the rumble. Early rising and
the long drive began to make me sleepy.
The tame beauties of the valley of the
Thames drew little attention from my weary
eyes; and I do not remember much about
the place where we next halted, except
that the tea tasted of hay, and that the
bread and butter were good.
I gazed dreamily at Hounslow, despite
fresh tales of Dick Turpin; and all the
successive "jogs" by which Nurse called
my incapable attention.to the lamplighters,
the shops, the bottles in the chemists'
windows, and Hyde Park, failed to rouse
me to any intelligent appreciation of the
great city, now that I had reached it.
After a long weary dream of rattle and
bustle, and dim lamps, and houses stretch-
ing upwards like Jack's beanstalk through
the chilly and foggy darkness, the carriage
stopped with one final jolt in a quiet and
partially-lighted square; and I was lifted
down, and staggered into a house where
the light was as abundant and overpower-
ing as it was feeble and inefficient without,
and, cramped in my limbs, and smothered
with shawls, I could only beg in my utter
weariness to be put to bed.
Aunt Maria was always sensible, and
"Bring -him at once to his room, Mrs.
Bundle," she said, "and get his clothes
off, and I will bring him some hot wine
and water and a few rusks." As in a
dream, I was undressed, my face and hands
washed, my prayers said in a somewhat
perfunctory fashion, and my evening hymn
commuted in consideration of my fatigues
for the beautiful verse, "I will lay me down
in peace, and take my rest," &c.; and by
the time that I sank luxuriously between
the clean sheets, I was almost sufficiently
restored to appreciate the dainty appear-
ance of my room. Then Aunt Maria
brought me the hot wine and water
flavoured with sleep-giving cloves, and
Nurse folded my clothes, and tucked me
up, and left me, with the friendly reflec-
tion of the lamps without to keep me
I do not think I had really been to
sleep, but I believe I was dozing, when I
fancied that I heard the familiar sound of
Rubens lapping water from the toilette jug
in my room at home. Just conscious that
A FLAT IRON FOR A FARTHING.
I was not there, and that Rubens could not
be here, the sound began to trouble me.
At first I was too sleepy to care to look
round. Then as I became more awake and
the sound not less distinct, I felt fidgety
and frightened, and at last called faintly
for Nurse Bundle.
Then the sound stopped. I could hardly
breathe, and had just resolved upon making
a brave sally for assistance, when-plump!
something alighted on my bed, and, wildly
impossible as it seemed, Rubens himself
waggled up to my pillow, and began lick-
ing my face as if his life depended on lay-
ing my nose and all other projecting parts
of my countenance flat with my cheeks.
How he had got to London we never
knew. As he made an easy escape from
the coachhouse at Dacrefield, it was always
supposed that he simply followed the car-
riage, and had the wit to hide himself when
we stopped on the road. He was terribly
tired. He might well be thirsty !
I levied large contributions on the box
of rusks which Aunt Maria had left by
my bedside, for his benefit, and he supped
Then he curled himself up in his own
proper place at my feet. He was intensely
self-satisfied, and expressed his high idea
of his own exploit by self-gratulatory
" grumphs," as after describing many mys-
tic circles, and scraping up the fair Mar-
seilles quilt on some plan of his own, he
brought his nose and tail together in a
satisfactory position in his nest, and we
passed our first night in London in dream-
less and profound sleep.
MY COUSINS-MISS BLOMFIELD-THE BOY IN BLACK.
M Y first letter to my father was the
work of several days, and as my pen-
manship was not of a rapid order, it cost
me a good deal of trouble. When it was
finished it ran thus:
MY DEAR PAPA,
I hope you are quite well. i am
quite well. Rubens is here and he is quite
well. We don't no how he got here but i
am very glad. Ant Maria said well he
cant be sent back now so he sleeps on my
bed and i like London it is a kweer place
the houses are very big and i like my
cussens pretty well they are all gals their
nozes are very big i like Polly.
Nurse is quite well so good-bye.
i am your very loving son,
Though I cannot defend the spelling of
the above document, I must say that it
does not leave much to be added to the
portrait of my cousins. But it will be more
polite to introduce them separately, as
they were presented to me.
I heard them, by the bye, before I saw
them. It was whilst I was dressing, the
morning after my arrival, that I heard
sounds in the room below, which were in-
terpreted by Nurse as being Miss Maria
doing her music." The peculiarity of Miss
Maria's music was that after a scramble
over the notes, suggestive of some one
running to get impetus for a jump, and
when the ear waited impatiently for the
consummation, Miss Maria baulked her
leap, so to speak, and got no farther, and
began the scramble again, and stuck once
MISS BLOMFIELD AND THE GIRLS.
more, and so on. And as, whilst finding
the running passage quite too much for
one hand, she struggled on with a different
phrase in the other hand at the same time,
instead of practising the two hands sepa-
rately, her chances of final success seemed
remote .indeed. Then I heard the per-
formance in peculiar circumstances. Nurse
Bundle had opened my window, and about
two minutes after my cousin commenced
her practice, an organ-grinder in the street
below began his. The subject of poor
Maria's piece knew no completion, as she
stuck halfway; but the organ-grinder's
melodies only stopped for a touch to the
mechanism, and Black-Eyed Susan passed
into the Old Hundredth, awkwardly, but
with hardly a perceptible pause. The effect
of the joint performance was at first ludi-
crous, and by degrees maddening, espe-
cially when we had come to the Old Hun-
dredth, which was so familiar in connection
with the words of the Psalm.
"Three and four and-" began poor
Maria afresh, with desperate resolution;
and then off she went up the key-board ;
one and two and three and four and, one
and two and three and four and- "
joy His courts un to,"
ground the organ in the inevitable pause.
And then my cousin took courage and.
made another start-" Three and four and
one and two and," &c.; but at the old
place the nasal notes of the other instru-
ment evoked "al-ways," from my me-
mory; and Maria pausing in despair, the
Old Hundredth finished triumphantly,
At half-past eight Maria stopped abruptly
in the middle of her run, and Nurse took
me down to the schoolroom for breakfast.
The schoolroom was high and narrow,
with a very old carpet, and a very old
piano, some books, two globes, and a good
deal of feminine rubbish in the way of old
work-baskets,- unfinished sewing, &c.
There were two long windows, the lower
halves of which were covered with paint.
This mattered the less 'as the only view
from them was of backyards, roofs, and
chimneys. Living as I did, so much alone
with my father, I was at first oppressed by
the number of petticoats in the room-
five girls of ages ranging from twelve to six,
and a grown-up lady in a spare brown stuff
dress and spectacles.
As we entered she came quickly forward
and shook Nurse by the hand.
How do you do, Mrs. Bundle? Very
glad to see you again, Mrs. Bundle."
Nurse Bundle shook hands first, and
I'm very well, thank you, ma'am, and
hope you're the same. Master Reginald
Dacre, ma'am. This lady is Miss Blom-
field, Master Reginald; and I hope you'll
behave properly, and give the lady no
"I'm the governess, my dear," said Miss
Blomfield, emphatically. (She always
"made a point" of announcing her de-
pendent position to strangers.. It is best
to avoid any awkwardness," she was wont
to say; and I saw glances and smiles ex-
changed on this occasion between the
-girls.) Miss Blomfield was very kind to
me. Indeed she was kind to every one.
Her other peculiarities were conscientious-
ness and the fidgets, and tendencies to
-fine crochet, calomel, and Calvinism, and
an abiding quality of harassing and being
harassed, which I may here say is, I am
convinced, a common and most unfortu-
nate atmosphere of much of the process of
education for girls of the upper and middle
classes in England.
At this moment my aunt came in.
"Good morning, Miss Blomfield."
* "Good morning, Mrs. Ascott," the go-
verness hastily interposed. I hope you're
well this morning."
"Good morning, girls. Good morning,
A FLAT IRON FOR A FARTHING.
Nurse. How do you, Regie? All right
this morning? Bless me, there's that dog !
What an extraordinary affair it is Mr.
Ascott says he shall send it to the Gentle-
man's Magazine.' Well, he can't be sent
back now, so I suppose he'll have to stop.
And you must keep him out of mischief,
Regie. Remember, he's not to come into
the drawing-room. Mrs. Bundle, will you
see to that? Miss Blomfield, will you
kindly speak to Signor Rigi when he comes
Certainly, Mrs. Ascott," interposed the
about that piece of Maria's ? She
doesn't seem to get on with it a bit."
"No, Mrs. Ascott."
"And I'm sure she's been practising it
for a long time."
"Yes, Mrs. Ascott."
Mr. Ascott says it makes his hand quite
unsteady when he's shaving in the morning,
to hear her always break off at one place."
The lines of harass on Miss Blomfield's
countenance deepened visibly, and her
crochet-needle trembled in her hand,
whilst a despondent stolidity settled on
"Certainly, Mrs. Ascott. I'm very glad
you've spoken. Thank you for mentioning
it, Mrs. Ascott. It has distressed me very
greatly, and been a great trouble on my
mind for some time. I spoke very seriously
to Maria last Sabbath on the subject"
(symptoms of sniffling on poor Maria's
part). I believe she wishes to do her
duty, and I may say I am anxious to do
mine, in my position. Of course, Mrs.
Ascott, I know you've a right to expect an
improvement, and I shall be most happy
to rise half an hour earlier, so as to give
her a longer practice than the other young
ladies, and only consider it my duty as
your governess, Mrs. Ascott. I've felt it
a great trouble, for I cannot imagine how
it is that Maria does not improve in her
music as Jane does, and I give them equal
attention exactly; and what makes it more
singular still is that Maria is very good at
her sums-I have no fault to find whatever.
But I regret to say it is not the case with
Jane. I told her on Wednesday that I did
not wish to make any complaint; but I
feel it a duty, Mrs. Ascott, to let you know
that her marks for arithmetic are not what
you have a right to expect."
Here Miss Blomfield paused and wiped
her eyes. Not that she was weeping, but
over and above her short-sightedness she
was troubled with a dimness of vision,
which afflicted her more at some times
than others. As she was in the habit of
endeavouring to counteract the evils of a
too constantly laborious and sedentary
life, and of an anxious and desponding
temperament, by large doses of calomel,
her malady increased with painfully rapid.
-strides. On this particular morning she
had been busy since five o'clock, and
neither she nor the girls (who rose at six)
had had anything to eat, and they were
all somewhat faint for want of a breakfast
which was cooling on the table. Mean-
while a humming in the head," to which
she was subject, rendered Maria mercifully
indifferent to the proposal to add an extra
half-hour to her distasteful labours; and
Miss Blomfield corrugated her eyebrows,
and was conscientiously distressed and
really puzzled that Mother Nature should
give different gifts to her children, when
their mother and teachers according to the
flesh were so particular to afford them an
equality of "advantages."
"Signor Rigi told me that Maria has
not got so good an ear as Jane," said Mrs.
Ascott. "However, perhaps it will be
well to let Maria practise half an hour,
and Jane do half an hour at her arithmetic
on Saturday afternoons."
"Certainly, Mrs. Ascott."
And now," said my aunt, I must in-
RUBENS AND THE GIRLS.
troduce the girls to Reginald. This is
Maria, your eldest cousin, and nearly
double your age, for she is twelve. This
is Jane, two years younger. This is Helen;
she is nine, and as tall as Jane, you see.
This is Harriet, eight. And this is Mary
-Polly, as papa calls her-and she is
nineteen months younger than you, and a
terrible tomboy already; so don't make
her worse. This. is your cousin, girls,
Reginald Dacre. You must amuse him
among you, and don't tease him, for he is
not used to children."
' We "shook hands" all round, and I
liked Polly's hand the best. It was least
froggy, cold, and spiritless.
Then Mrs. Ascott departed, and Maria
(overpowered by the humming) flopped "
into her chair after a fashion that would
certainly have drawn a rebuke from Miss
Blomfield if an access of eye-dimness had
not carried her to her own seat with little
Uncle Ascott had a large nose, and my
cousins were the image of him and of
each other. They were plain, lady-like,
rather bouncing girls, with aquiline noses,
voices with a family twang that was slightly
nasal, long feet terribly given to chilblains,
and longfingers, with which they allby turns
practised the same exercises on the old
piano on successive mornings before break-
fast. When we became more intimate, I
used to keep watch on the clock for the
benefit of the one who was practising.
At half-past eight she was released, and
shutting up the book with a bang would
scamper off, in summer to stretch herself,
and in winter to warm her hands and toes.
I used to watch their fingers with childish
awe, wondering how such thin pieces of
flesh and bone hit such hard blows to the
notes without cracking, and being also
somewhat puzzled by the run of good luck
which seemed to direct their weak and
random-looking skips and jumps to the
keys at which they were aimed. I have
seen them in tears over their music," as
it was called, but they were generally per-
severing, and in winter (so I afterwards
discovered) invariably blue.
It was not till we had finished breakfast
that Miss Blomfieldbecamefairly conscious
of the presence of Rubens, and when she
did so her alarm was very great.
Considering what she suffered from her
own proper and peculiar worries, it seemed
melancholy to have to add to her burdens
the hourly expectation of an outbreak of
In vain I testified to the sweetness of
Rubens' temper. It is undeniable that
dogs do sometimes bite when you least
expect it, and that some bites end in
hydrophobia; and it was long before Miss
Blomfield became reconciled to this new
inmate of the school-room.
The girls, on the contrary, were delighted
with my dog; and it was on this ground
that we became friendly. My particular
affection for Polly was also probably due
to the discovery that with an incomparably
stolid expression of countenance she was
passing highly buttered pieces of bread
under the table to -Rubens at breakfast. -
Polly was my chief companion. The
other girls were good-natured, but they
were constantly occupied in the school-
room, and hours that were not nominally
"lesson time" were given to preparing
tasks for the next day. By a great .and
very unusual concession, Polly's lessens
were shortened that she might bear 'me
company.. For the day or two before this
was decided on I had been very lonely,
and Cousin Polly's holiday brought much
satisfaction both to me and to her; but it
filled poor Miss Blomfield's mind with
disquietude, scruples, and misgivings.
In the middle of the square where my
uncle and aunt lived there was a garden,
with trees, and grass, and gravel-walks;
A FLAT IRON FOR A FARTHING.
and here Polly and I played at hide and
seek, and ran races, and chased each
other and Rubens.
One day as I was strolling about, a little
boy whom I had not seen before came
down the walk and crossed the grass. He
HIDE AND SEEK IN THE SQUARE.
The garden was free to all dwellers in
the square, and several other children be-
sides ourselves were wont to play there.
seemed to be a year or two older than
myself, and caught my eye immediately by
his remarkable beauty, and by the depth
LITTLE SIR LIONEL.
of the mourning which he wore. His
features were exquisitely cut, and, in a
child, one was not disposed to complain
of their effeminacy. His long fair hair
was combed-in royal fashion-down his
back, a style at that time most unusual;
his tightly-fitting jacket and breeches were
black, bordered with deep crape; not even
a white collar relieved his sombre attire,
from which his fair face shone out doubly
fair by contrast.
"Polly Polly!" I cried, running to
find my companion and guide, "who is
that beautiful boy in black?"
"That's little Sir Lionel Darner," said
Polly. "Good-morning, Leo !" and she
nodded as he passed.
The boy just touched his hat, bent his
head with a melancholy and yet half-
comical dignity, and walked on.
"Who's he in mourning for?" I asked.
"His father and mother," said Polly.
"They were drowned together, and now
he is Sir Lionel."
I looked after him with sudden and in-
tense sympathy. His mother and his
father too! This indeed was sorrow
deeper than mine. Surely his mother,
like mine, must have been fair and beauti-
ful, so much beauty and fairness had de-
scended to him.
Has he any sisters, Polly?" I asked.
Polly shook her head. I don't think
he has anybody," said she.
Then he also was an only son !
THE LITTLE BARONET-DOLLS-CINDER PARCELS-THE OLD GENTLEMAN
NEXT DOOR-THE ZOOLOGICAL GARDENS.
THE next time I saw Sir Lionel was
about two days afterwards, in the
afternoon, when the elder girls had gone
for a drive in the carriage with Aunt
Maria, and the others, with myself, were
playing in the garden; Miss Blomfield
being seated on a camp-stool reading a
terrible article on Rabies in the Medical
Rubens and I had strolled away from
the rest, and I was exercising him in some
of his tricks when the little baronet passed
us with his accustomed air of mingled
melancholy dignity and self-conscious-
ness. I was a good deal fascinated by
him. Beauty has a strong attraction for
children, and the depth of his weeds in-
vested him with a melancholy interest,
which has also great charms for the young.
Then, to crown all, he mourned the loss
of a young mother-and so did I. I in-
voluntarily showed off Rubens as he ap-
proached, and he lingered and watched
us. By a sort of impulse I took off my
little hat, as I had been taught to do to
strangers. He lifted his with a dismal
grace, and moved on.
But as he walked about I could see that
he kept looking to where Rubens and I
played upon the grass, and at last he came
and sat down near us.
"Is that your dog ?" he asked.
"Yes, he's my dog," I answered.
"He seems very clever," said Sir Lionel.
"Did you teach him all those tricks your-
A FLAT IRON FOR A FARTHING.
"Very nearly all," said I. "Rubens,
shake hands with Sir Lionel."
"How do you know my name?" he
"Polly told me," said I.
Do you know Polly?" Sir Lionel in-
I stared, forgetting that of course he did
not know who I was, and answered-
"She's my cousin."
"What's your name ?" he asked.
I told him.
"Do you like Polly ?" he continued.
"Very much," I said, warmly.
It was with a ludicrous imitation of
some grown-up person's manner that he
added, in perfect gravity-
"I hope you are not in love with her?"
"Oh, dear no !" I cried, hastily, for I
had had enough of that joke with Miss
Then that is all right," said the little
baronet; "let us be friends." And friends
we became. Call me Leo, and I'll call
you Reginald," said the little gentleman;
and so it was.
I think it is not doing myself more than
justice ifI say that to this, my first friend-
ship, I was faithful and devoted. Leo, for
his part, was always affectionate, and he
had an admiration for Rubens which went
a long way with Rubens' master. But he
was a little spoiled and capricious, and,
like many people of rather small capacities
(whether young or old), he was often unin-
tentionally inconsiderate. In those days
my affection waited willingly upon his; but
I know now that in a quiet amiable way he
was selfish. I was blessed myself with an
easy temper, and at that time it had ample'
opportunities of accommodating itself to
the whims of my friend Leo and my cousin
Polly. Not that Polly was like Sir Lionel
in any way whatever. But she was quick-
tempered and resolute. She was much
more clever for her age than I was for
mine. She was very decided and rapid
in her views and proceedings, very gene-
rous and affectionate also, and not at all
selfish. But her qualities and those of
Leo came to the same thing as far as I
was concerned. I invariably yielded to
Between themselves, I may say, they
squabbled systematically, and were never
either friends or enemies for two days
Polly and I never quarrelled. I did her
behests manfully, as a general rule; and
if her sway became intolerable, I com-
plained and bewailed, on which she re-
lented, being as easily moved to pity as to
As the weather grew more chill, we
seldom went out except in the morning.
In the afternoon Polly and I (sometimes
accompanied by Leo) played in the nur-
sery at the top of the house.
Now and then the other girls would
come up, and "play at dolls" with Polly.
On these occasions the treatment I ex-
perienced was certainly hard. They were
soon absorbed in dressing and undressing,
sham meals, sham lessons, and all the do-
mestic romance of doll-life, in which, at-
cording to my poor abilities, I should have
been most happy to have taken a part.
But, on the unwarrantable assumption that
"boys could not play at dolls," the only
part assigned me in the puppet comedy
was to take the dolls' dirty clothes to and
from an imaginary wash in a miniature
wheelbarrow. I did for some time assume
the character of dolls' medical man with
considerable success; but having vacci-
nated the kid arm of one of my patients
too deeply on a certain occasion with a
big pin, she suffered so severely from loss
of bran that I was voted a practitioner of
the old school, and dismissed. I need
hardly say that this harsh decision proved
the ruin of my professional prospects, and
THE PARCEL POST.
I was sent back to my wheelbarrow. It was
when we were tired of our ordinary amuse-
ments, during a week of wet weather, that
Polly and I devised a new piece of fun to
enliven the monotony of the hours when
we were shut up in that town nursery at the
top of the house.
Outside the nursery-windows were iron
bars-a sensible precaution of Aunt Maria
against accidents to the little ones." One
day when the window was slightly open,
and Polly and I were hanging on the win-
dow-ledge, in attitudes that fully justified
the precautionary measure of a grating, a
bit of paper which was rolled up in Polly's
hand escaped from her grasp, and floated
down into the street. In a moment Polly
and I were standing on the window-
ledge, peering down--to the best of
our ability-into the square and into the
area depths below. Like a snow-flake in
summer, we saw our paper-twist lying on
the pavement; but our delight rose to
ecstasy when a portly passer-by stooped
and picked up the document, and carefully
Out of this incident arose a systematic
amusement, which, in advance of our age,
we called "the parcel post."
By shoving aside the fire-guard in the
absence of our nurses, we obtained some
cinders, with which we repaired to our
post at the window, thus illustrating that
natural proclivity of children to places of
danger which is the bane of parents and
guardians. Here we fastened up little
fragments of cinder in pieces of writing-
paper, and having secured them tidily with
string, we dropped these parcels through
the iron bars as into a post-office. It was
a breathless moment when they fell through
space like shooting stars. It was a triumph
if they cleared the area. But the aim and
end of our labours was to see one of our
missives attract the notice of a passer-by,
then excite his curiosity, and finally-if he
opened it-rouse his unspeakable disgust
Like other tricksters, our game lasted
long because of the ever-green credulity
of our public." In the ever-fresh stream
of human life which daily flowed beneath
our windows, there were sure to be one or
more pedestrians who, with varying ex-
pressions of conscientious responsibility,
unprincipled appropriation, or mere curio-
sity, would open our parcels, either to
ascertain what trinket should be restored
to its owner, or to keep what was to
be got, or to see what there was to be seen.
One day when we dropped one of our
parcels at the feet of a lady who was going
by, she nonplussed us very effectually by
ringing the bell and handing in to the
footman something which had been acci-
dentally dropped from one of the upper
windows." Fortunately for us the parcel
did not reach Aunt Maria; Polly inter-
As the passers-by never wearied of our
parcels, I do not know when we should
have got tired of our share of the fun, but
for an occurrence which brought the amuse-
ment suddenly to an end. One afternoon
we had made up the neatest of little white-
paper parcels, worthy of having come from
a jeweller's, and I clambered on to the win-
dow-seat that I might drop it successfully
(and quite clear of the area) into the street.
Just as I dropped it, there passed an elderly
gentleman very precisely dressed, with a
gold-headed cane, and a very well-brushed
hat. Pop I let the cinder parcel fall on
to his beaver, from which it rebounded to
his feet. The old gentleman looked quickly
up, our eyes met, and I felt convinced that
he saw that I had thrown it. I called Polly,
and as she reached my side the old gen-
tleman untied and examined the parcel.
When he came to the cinder, he looked
up once more, and.Polly jumped from the
window with a prolonged "Oh I"
A FLAT IRON FOR A FARTHING.
"What's the matter ?" I asked.
"Oh, dear cried Polly; it's the old
gentleman next door! "
For several days we lived in unenviable
suspense. Every morning did we expect
to be summoned from the schoolroom to
be scolded by Aunt Maria. Every after-
noon we dreaded the arrival of the old
gentleman next door to make his formal
complaint, and, whenever the front-door
bell rang, Polly and I literally shook in
But several days passed, and we heard
nothing of it. We had given up the prac-
tice in our fright, but had some thoughts
of beginning again, as no harm had come
One evening (by an odd coincidence,
my birthday was on the morrow) as Polly
and I were putting away our playthings
preparatory to being dressed to go down
to dessert, a large brown-paper parcel was
brought into the nursery addressed jointly
to me and my cousin.
"It's a birthday present for you, Regie !"
But there's your name on it, Polly,"
It must be a mistake," said Polly. But
she looked very much pleased, neverthe-
less; and so, I have no doubt, did I. We
cut the string, we tore off the first thick
covering. The present, whatever it might
be, was securely wrapped a second time in
finer brown paper and carefully tied.
It's very carefully done up," said I,
cutting the second string.
It must be something nice," said Polly,
decisively; that's why it's taken such care
If Polly's reasoning were just, it must
have been something very nice indeed, for
under the second wrapper was a third, and
under the third was a fourth, and under
the fourth was a fifth, and under the fifth
was a sixth, and under the sixth was a
seventh. We were just on the point of
giving it up in despair when we came to a
box. With some difficulty we got the lid
open, and took out one or two folds of
paper. Then there was a lot of soft shav-
ings, such as brittle toys and gimcracks
are often packed in, and among the shav-
ings was-a small neatly-folded white-
paper parcel. And inside the parcel was
We certainly looked very foolish as we
stood before our present. I do not think
any of the people we had taken in had
looked so thoroughly and completely so.
We were both on the eve of crying, and
both ended by laughing. Then Polly-
in those trenchant tones which recalled
Aunt Maria forcibly to one's mind-said,
"Well! we quite deserve it."
The "parcel-post was discontinued.
We had no doubt as to who had played
us this trick. It was the old gentleman
next door. He was a wealthy, benevolent,
and rather eccentric old bachelor. It was
his custom to take an early walk for the
good of his health in the garden of the
square, and he sometimes took an evening
stroll in the same place for pleasure. Some-
how or other he had made a speaking ac-
quaintance with Miss Blomfield, and we
afterwards discovered that he had made
all needful inquiries as to the names, &c.,
of Polly and myself from her-she, how-
ever, being quite innocent as to the drift
of his questions.
I should certainly not have selected the
old gentleman's hat to drop our best parcel
on to, if I had known who he was. I was
not likely to forget his face now.
I soon got to know all our neighbours
by sight. On one side of us was the old
gentleman, whose name was Bartram; on
the other side lived Sir Lionel Darer.
He was staying with his guardian, an old
Colonel Sinclair; and when my father
came up to town he and this Colonel Sin-
OLD FRIENDS AND NEW FRIENDS.
clair discovered that they were old school-
fellows, which Leo and I looked upon as
a good omen for our friendship.
Polly and I and Nurse Bundle became
as learned in gossip as any one else who
lives in a town, and is constantly looking
out of the window. We knew the (bird's-
eye) appearance of everybody on our side
of the square, their servants, their cats and
dogs, their carriages, and even their trades-
men. If one of the neighbours changed
his milkman, or there came so much as
a new muffin man to the square, we were
all agog. One day I saw Polly upon our
perch, struggling to get her face close to
the glass, and much hindered by the size
of her nose. I felt sure that there was
something down below-at least a new
butcher's boy. So I was not surprised
when she called me to "come and
"Who is it ?" said Polly.
"I don't know," said I.
And then we both stared on, as if by
downright hard looking we could discover
the name of the gentleman who had just
come down the steps from Colonel Sin-
clair's house. He was a short slight man,
young, and with sandy hair. Neither of us
had seen him before. Having the good
fortune to see him return to Colonel Sin-
clair's house, about two hours later, I
hurried with the news to Polly; and we
resolved to get to see Leo as soon as possi-
ble, and satisfy our curiosity respecting the
stranger. So in the afternoon we sent a
message to invite him to come and play
with us in the square, but received the
answer that Sir Lionel was engaged."
Later on he came into the square, and
the stranger with him. Polly and I and
Rubens were together on a seat; but
when Leo saw us he gave a scanty nod
and went off in the opposite direction,
leaning on the arm of the stranger and
apparently absorbed in talking to him. I
was rather hurt by his neglect of us. But
Polly said positively,
"That is Leo's way. He likes new
friends. But when he treats me like that, I
do not speak to him for a week afterwards."
That evening a cab carried off the
stranger, and next day Leo came to us
in the square, all smiles and friendliness.
"I've been so wanting to see you !" he
cried, in the most devoted tones. But
Polly only took up her doll, and with her
impressive nose in the air, walked off to
I could not quarrel with Leo myself,
and we were soon as friendly as ever.
"I want to tell you some news, Regie,"
he said. "Colonel Sinclair has decided
that I am to have a tutor."
Are you glad? I asked.
"Yes, very," said Sir Lionel. "You see
I like him very much-I mean the tutor.
He was here yesterday. You saw him
with me. He is going to be a clergyman.
He has been at Cambridge, and he plays
For a long time Leo enlarged to me
upon the merits of his tutor that was to
be; and when I went back to Polly the
news I had to impart served to atone for
my not having joined her in snubbing the
capricious Sir Lionel. As for him, he was
very restless under Polly's displeasure, and
finally apologized, on which Polly gave
him a sound scolding, which, to my sur-
prise, he took in the utmost good part,
and we were all once more the best possi-
That visit to London was an era in my
life. It certainly was most enjoyable, and
it did me a world of good, body and mind.
When my father came up, we enjoyed it
still more. He coaxed holidays for the
girls even out of Aunt Maria, and took us
(Leo and all) to places of amusement.
With him we went to the Zoological Gar-
dens. The monkeys attracted me inde-
A FLAT IRON FOR A FARTHING.
scribably, and I seriously proposed to my
father to adopt one or two of them as
brothers for me. I felt convinced that if
they were properly dressed and taught they
would be quite companionable, and I said
so, to my father's great amusement, and to
the scandal of Nurse Bundle, who was with
I fear you would never teach them to
talk, Regie," said my father; "and a
friend who could neither speak to you nor
understand you when you spoke to him
would be a very poor companion, even if
he could dance on the top of a barrel-
organ and crack hard nuts."
"But, papa, babies can't talk at first,"
said I; "they have to be taught."
Now by good luck for my argument
there stood near us a country woman with
a child in her arms to whom she was hold-
ing out a biscuit, repeating as she did so,
"Ta!" in that expectant tone which is
supposed to encourage childish efforts to
pronounce the abbreviated form of thanks.
"Now look, papa !" I cried, "that's
the way I should teach a monkey. If I
were to hold out a bit of cake to him, and
say, 'Ta,' "-(and as I spoke I did so to
a highly intelligent little gentleman who
sat close to the bars of the cage with his
eyes on my face, as if he were well aware
that a question of deep importance to him-
self was being discussed)-
He would probably snatch it out of
your hand without further ceremony," said
my father. And, dashing his skinny
fingers through the bars, this was, I regret
to say, precisely what the little gentleman
did. I was quite taken aback; but as we
turned round, to my infinite delight, the
undutiful baby snatched the biscuit from
its mother's hand after a fashion so re-
markably similar that we all burst out
laughing, and I shouted in triumph,
"Now, papa children do it too."
*" Well, Regie," he answered, I think
you have made out a good case. But the
question which now remains is, whether
Mrs. Bundle will have your young friends
in the nursery."
But Mrs. Bundle's horror at my remarks
was too great to admit of her even entering
into the joke.
The monkeys were somewhat driven from
my mind by the wit and wisdom of the
elephant, and the condescension displayed
by so large an animal in accepting the light
refreshment of penny buns. After he had
had several, Leo began to tease him, hold-
ing out a bun and snatching it away again.
As he was holding it out for the fourth or
fifth time, the elephant extended his trunk
as usual, but instead of directing it to-
wards the bun, he deliberately snatched
the black velvet cap from Leo's head and
swallowed it with a grunt of displeasure.
Leo was first frightened, and then a good
deal annoyed by the universal roar of
laughter which his misfortune occasioned.
But he was a good-tempered boy, and
soon joined in the laugh himself. Then,
as we could not buy him a new cap in the
Gardens, he.was obliged to walk about for
the rest of the time bare-headed; and
many were the people who turned round
to look a second time after the beautiful
boy with the long fair hair-a fact'of which
Master Lionel was not quite unconscious,
My aunt kindly pressed us to remain
with her over Christmas. I longed to see
the pantomime, having heard much from
my cousins and from Leo of its delights
-and of the harlequin, columbine, and
clown. But my father wanted to be at
home again, and he took me and Rubens
and Nurse Bundle with him at the end of
POLLY AND I RESOLVE TO BE "VERY RELIGIOUS "-DR. PEPJOHN-THE
ALMS-BOX-THE BLIND BEGGAR.
IMUST not forget to speak of an inci-
dent which had a considerable influence
on my character at this time. The church
which my uncle and his family attended,"
as it was called, was one of those most
dreary places of worship too common at that
time, in London and elsewhere. It was ugly
outside, but the outside ugliness was as
nothing compared with the ugliness within.
The windows were long and bluntly
rounded at the top, and the sunlight was.
modified by scanty calico blinds, which,
being yellow with age and smoke, toned
the light in rather an agreeable manner.
Mouldings of a pattern one sees about
common fireplaces ran everywhere with
praiseworthy impartiality. But the great
principle of the ornamental work through-
out was a principle only too prevalent at
the date when this particular church was
last "done up." It was imitations of
things not really there, and which would
have been quite out of place if they had
been there. For instance, pillars and
looped-up curtains painted on flat walls,
with pretentious shadows, having no refe-
rence to the real direction of the light.
At the east end some Hebrew letters, exe-
cuted as journeymen painters usually do
execute them, had a less cheerful look than
the highly-coloured lion and unicorn on
the gallery in front. The clerk's box, the
reading-desk, and the pulpit, piled one
above another, had a symmetrical effect,
to which the umbrella-shaped sounding-
board above gave a distant resemblance
to a Chinese pagoda. The only things
which gave warmth or colour to the inte-
rior as a whole were the cushions and pew
curtains. There were plenty of them, and
they were mostly red. These same cur-
tains added to the sense of isolation, which
was already sufficiently attained by the
height of the pew walls and their doors and
bolts. I think it was this-and the fact
that, as the congregation took no outward
part in the prayers except that of listening
to them, Polly and I had nothing to do-and
we could not even hear the old gentleman
who usually "read prayers "-which led us
into the very reprehensible habit of play-
ing at houses" in Uncle Ascott's gor-
geously furnished pew. Not that we left
our too tightly stuffed seats for one moment,
but as we sat or stood, unable to see any-
thing beyond the bombazine curtains
(which, intervening between us and the
distant parson, made our hearing what he
said next to impossible), we amused our-
selves by mentally "pretending" a good
deal of domestic drama, in which the pew
represented a house; and we related oui
respective "plays" to each other after-
wards when we went home.
Wrong as it was, we did not intend to
be irreverent, though I had the grace to
feel slightly shocked when after a cheer-
fully lighted evening service, at which the
claims of a missionary society had been
enforced, Polly confided to me, with some
triumph in her tone, "I pretended a
theatre, and when the man was going round
with the box upstairs, I pretended it was
oranges in the gallery."
I had more than once felt uneasy at our
proceedings, and I now told Polly that I
thoughtit was not right, and that we oughtto
"try to attend." I rather expected her to
A FLAT IRON FOR A FARTHING
resent my advice, but she said that she had
"sometimes thought it was wrong her-
self; and we resolved to behave better for
the future, and indeed really did give up
our unseasonable game.
Few religious experiences fill one with
more shame and self-reproach than the
large results from very small efforts in the
right direction. Polly and I prospered in
our efforts to "attend." I may say for
myself that, child as I was, I began to find
a satisfaction and pleasure in going to
church, though the place was hideous, the
ritual dreary, and the minister mumbling.
When by chance there was a nice hymn,
such as, "Glory to Thee," or "0 GoD,
our help in ages past," we were quite
happy. We also tried manfully to "at-
tend" to the sermons, which, considering
the length and abstruseness of them, was,
I think, creditable to us. I fear we felt it
to be so, and that about this time we be-
gan to be proud of the texts we knew, and
of our punctilious propriety in the family
pew, and of the resolve which we had
taken in accordance with my proposal to
Let us be very religious."
One Saturday Miss Blomfield was a good
deal excited about a certain clergyman
who was to preach in our church next
Sunday, and as the services were now a
matter of interest to us, Polly and I were
excited too. I had been troubled with
toothache all the week, but this was now
better, and I was quite able to go to church
with the rest of the family.
The general drift of the sermon, even
its text, have long since faded from my
mind; but I do remember that it con-
tained so highly coloured a peroration on
the Day of Judgment and the terrors of
Hell, that my horror and distress knew no
bounds; and when the sermon was ended,
and we began to sing, "From lowest depths
of woe," I burst into a passion of weeping.
The remarkable part of the incident was
that the rest of the party, having sat with
their noses in the air quite undistressed
by the terrible eloquence of the preacher,
Aunt Maria never for a moment guessed
at the real cause of my tears. But as soon
as we were all in the carriage (it was a
rainy evening, and we had driven to
church), she said-
"That poor child will never have a
minute's peace while that tooth's in his
head. Thomas! Drive to Dr. Pepjohn's."
Polly did say, "Is it very bad, Regie? "
But Aunt Maria answered for me-" Can't
you see it's bad, child? Leave him
I was ashamed to confess the real cause
of my outburst, and suffered for my disin-
genuousness in Dr. Pepjohn's consulting-
Show Dr. Pepjohn which it is, Regie,"
said my aunt; and, with tears that had
now become simply hysterical, I pointed
to the tooth that had ached.
"Just allow me to touch it," said Dr.
Pepjohn, inserting his fat finger and thumb
into my mouth. I won't hurt you, my
little man," he added, with the affable
mendaciousness of his craft. Fortunately
for me it was rather loose, and a couple of
hard wrenches from the doctor's expert
fingers brought it out.
You think me very cruel, now, don't
you, my little man?" said the jocose
gentleman, as we were taking leave.
I don't think you're cruel," I answered,
candidly; "but I think you tell fibs, for it
The doctor laughed long and loudly,
and said I was quite an original, which
puzzled me extremely. Then he gave me
sixpence, with which I was much pleased,
and we parted good friends.
My father was with us on the following
Sunday, and he'did not go to the church
Aunt Maria went to. I went to the one to
ALMSGIVING: LESSENS NO MAN'S LIVING.
which he went. This church was very well
built and appropriately decorated. The
music was good, the responses of the con-
gregation hearty, and the service altogether
was much better adapted to awaken and
sustain the interest of a child than those I
had hitherto been to in London.
"You know we couldn't play houses in
the church where Papa goes," I told Polly
on my return, and I was very anxious that
she should go with us to the evening ser-
vice. She did go, but I am bound to
confess that she decided on a loyal prefe-
rence for the service to which she had
been accustomed, and, like sensible people,
we agreed to differ in our tastes.
"There's no clerk at your church, you
know," said Polly, to whom a-gap in the
threefold ministry of clerk, reader, and
preacher, symbolized by the "three-
decker" pulpit, was ill atoned for by the
chanting of the choir.
In quite a different way, I was as much
impressed by the sermons at the new church
as I had been by that which cost me a tooth.
One sermon especially, upon the duties
of-visiting the sick and imprisoned, feed-
ing the hungry, and clothing the naked,
made an impression on me that years did
not efface. I made the most earnest reso-
lutions to be active in deeds of kindness
"when I was a man," and, not being
troubled by considerations of political
economy, I began my charitable career by
dividing what pocket money I had in hand
amongst the street-sweepers and mendi-
cants nearest to our square.
I soon converted Polly to my way of
thinking; and we put up a money-box in
the nursery, in imitation of the alms-box in
church. I am ashamed to confess that I
was guilty of the meanness of changing a
sixpence which I had dedicated to our
"charity-box" into twelve half-pence, that
I might have the satisfaction of making a
dozen distinct contributions to the fund.
But, despite all its follies, vanities, and
imperfections (and what human efforts for
good are not stained with folly, vanity, and
imperfection?), our benevolence was not
without sincerity or self-denial, and brought
its own invariable reward of increased wil-
lingness to do more; according to the deep
wisdom of the poet-
"In doing is this knowledge won:
To see what yet remains undone."
We really did forego many a toy and
treat to add to our charitable store; and I
began then a habit of taxing what money I
possessed, by taking off a fixed proportion
for charity," which I have never discon-
tinued, and to the advantages of which I
can most heartily testify. When a self-
indulgent civilization goads all classes to
live beyond their incomes, and tempts
them not to include the duty of almsgiving
in the expenditure of those incomes, it is
well to remove a due proportion of what
one has beyond the reach of the ever-
growing monster of extravagance; and,
being decided upon in an unbiassed and
calm moment, it is the less likely to be too
much for one's domestic claims, or too
little for one's religious duty. It frees one
for ever from that grudging and often
comical spasm of meanness which attacks
so many even wealthy people when they
are asked to give, because among all the
large expenses to which their goods are
willingly made liable the expense of giving
alms of those goods has never been fairly
counted as an item not less needful, not
less imperative, not less to be felt as a de-
duction from the remainder, not less life-
long and daily, than the expenses of rent,
and dress, and dinner-parties.
We had, as I say, no knowledge of
political economy, and it must be con,
fessed that the objects of our charity were
on more than one occasion most un-
A FLAT IRON FOR A FARTHING.
Oh, Regie, dear," Polly cried one day,
rushing up to me as she returned from a
walk (I had a cold, and was in the nursery),
"there is such a poor, poor man at the
corner of Street. I do think we
ought to give him all that's left in the box.
He's quite blind, and he reads out of a
book with such queer letters. It's one of
the Gospels, he says; so he must be very
good, for he reads it all day long. And he
can't have any home, for he sits in the
street. And he's got a ticket on his back
to say 'Blind,' and Taught at the Blind
School.' And as I passed he was reading
quite loud. And I heard him say, 'Now
Barabbas was a robber.' Oh, he is such a
poor man! And you know, Regie, he
must be good, for we don't sit reading our
Bibles all day long."
I at once gave my consent to the box
being emptied in favour of this very poor
and very pious man; and at the first
opportunity Polly took the money to her
"He was so much pleased!" she re-
ported on her return. He seemed quite
surprised to get so much. And he said,
' GOD bless you, miss !' I wish you'd been
there, Regie. I said, 'It's not all from
me.' He was so much pleased !"
How did he know you were a miss, I
wonder?" said I.
I suppose it was my voice," said Polly,
after a pause.
As soon as I could go out, I went to see
the blind man. As I drew near, he was-
as Polly told me-reading aloud. The
regularity and rapidity with which his
fingers ran over line after line, as if he were
rubbing out something on a slate, were
most striking; and as I stood beside him
I distinctly heard him read the verse,
"Now Barabbas was a robber." It was a
startling coincidence to find him still read-
ing the words which Polly overheard, es-
pecially as they were not in any way re-
markably adapted for the subject of a
Much living alone with grown-up people
had, I think, helped towards my acquiring
a habit I had of "brown studying," turn-
ing things over, brewing them, so to speak,
in my mind. I stood pondering the pecu-
liarities of the object of our charity for
some moments, during which he was elabo-
rately occupied in turning over a leaf of
his book. Presently I said-
What makes you say it out loud when
He turned his head towards me, blink-
ing and rolling his eyes, and replied in
It's the pleasure I takes in it, sir."
Now as he blinked I watched his eyes
with mingled terror, pity, and curiosity.
At this moment a stout and charitable-
looking old gentleman was passing, be-
tween whom and my blind friend I was
standing. And as he passed he threw the
blind man some coppers. But in the mo-
ment before he did so, and when there
seemed a possibility of his passing without
what I suspect was a customary dole, such
a sharp expression came into the scarcely
visible pupils of the blind man's half-shut
eyes that (never suspecting that his blind-
ness was feigned, but for the moment con-
vinced that he had seen the old gentleman)
I exclaimed, without thinking of the ab-
surdity of my inquiry-
"Was it at the Blind School you learnt
to see so well 'with your blind eyes ?"
The "very poor man" gave me a most
unpleasant glance out of his "sightless
orbs," and taking up his stool, and mutter-
ing something about its being time to go
home, he departed.
Some time afterwards I learnt what led
me to believe that he had the best possible
reason for being able to "see so well with
his blind eyes." He was not blind at all.
VISITING THE SICK.
I HAD been quite prepared to find
Polly a willing convert to my charit-
able schemes, but I had not expected to
find in Cousin Helen so strong an ally as
she proved. But our ideas were no novelty
to her, as we soon discovered. In truth,
at nine years old, she was a bit of an en-
thusiast. She read with avidity religious
biographies furnished by Miss Blomfield.
She was delicate in health, but reticent and
resolute in character. She was ready for
any amount of self-sacrifice. She contri-
buted liberally to our box; and I fancy
that she and Polly continued it after I had
gone back to Dacrefield.
My new ideas were not laid aside on
my return home. To the best of my
ability I had given Nurse Bundle an epi-
tome of the sermon on almsdeeds which
had so taken my fancy, and I have reason
to believe that she was very proud of my
precocious benevolence. Whilst the sub-
ject was under discussion betwixt us, she
related many anecdotes of the good deeds
of the young gentlemen and ladies in a
certain clergyman's family where she had
lived as nursemaid in her younger days;
and my imagination was fired by dreams
of soup-cans, coal-clubs, linsey petticoats
comforting the rheumatic limbs of aged
women, opportune blankets in winter, Sun-
day-school classes, &c. &c.
My dear !" said Nurse Bundle, almost
with tears in her eyes, you're for all the
world your dear mammna over again. Keep
them notions, my dear, when you're a grown
gentleman, and there'll be a blessing on all
you do. For in all reason it's you that'll
have to look to your pa's property and
tenants some time."
My father, though rot himself an adept
in the details of what is commonly called
"parish work," was both liberal and kind-
hearted. He liked my knowing the names
of his tenants, and taking an interest in
their families. He was well pleased to re-
spond by substantial help when Nurse
Bundle and I pleaded for this sick woman
or that unshod child, as my mother had
pleaded in old days. As for Nurse Bundle,
she had a code of virtues for young ladies
and gentlemen," as such, and charity to the
poor was among them. Though I con-
fess that I think she regarded it more
in the light of a grace adorning a certain
station, than as a duty incumbent upon
So I came to know most of the villagers;
and being a quaint child, with a lively and
amusing curiosity, which some little refine-
ment and good-breeding stayed from de-
generating into impertinence, I was, I be-
lieve, very popular.
One afternoon, during the spring that
followed our return from London, I had
strolled out with Rubens, and was bowling
my hoop towards one of the lodges when
a poor woman passed by on the drive
(which was a public road through the
park), her apron to her face, weeping bit-
terly. I stopped her, and asked-what was
the matter, and finally made out that she
had been to some sale at a farmhouse near,
where a certain large blanket had "gone
for five shillings. That she had scraped
five shillings together, and had intended
to bid for it, but had (with eminent stupi-
dity) managed just to be out of the way
when the blanket was sold; and that it had
gone for the very sum she could have
A FLAT IRON FOR A FARTHING.
afforded,-to another woman who would
only part with it for six and sixpence-
eighteenpence more than the price she
had paid for it.
The poor woman wept, and said she had
had hard work to "raise" the five shillings,
and could not possibly find one and six-
pence more. And yet she did want the
blanket badly, for she had a boy sick in
bed, and his throat was so bad-he suffered
a deal from the cold, and there wasn't a
decent "rag of a blanket" in her house.
I did not quite follow her long story, but
I gathered that one and sixpence would put
an end to her troubles, and at once offered
to fetch her the money.
"Where do you live ?" I asked.
"The white cottage just beyond the
gate, love," she answered.
"I will bring you the money," said I.
For to say the truth, I was rather pompous
and important about my charitable deeds,
and did not dislike playing the part of Sir
Bountiful in the cottages. In this case,
too, it was a kindness not to take the
woman back to the hall, for she had left
the sick child alone; and when I arrived
at the cottage with the money he com-
plained bitterly at the idea of her leaving
him again to get the blanket.
"Let me go a minute, love, and I'll
fetch Mrs. Taylor to sit with thee till I get
"I don't want a blanket," fretted the
child; I be too hot as 'tis. I don't want
to be 'lone."
"If you'll only be a minute,' I'll stop
with him," said I; and there was some
kindness in the offer, for I was really afraid
of the boy with his heavy angry eyes and
fever petulance. The woman gladly ac-
cepted it, and hurried off, despite the
child's fretful tears, and his refusing to see
in "the young gentleman's" condescen-
sion the honour which his mother pointed
out. No doubt she only meant to be "a
minute," and Mrs. Taylor's dwelling was,
to my knowledge, near; but I suppose she
had to tell, and her friends to hear, the
whole.history of the sale, her disappoint-
ment and subsequent relief, as a prelimi-
nary measure. After which it is probable
that Mrs. Taylor had to look at her pie in
the oven, or attend to some similar and
pressing domestic duty before she could
leave her house; and so it was nearly half
an hour before they came to my relief.
And all this time the sick boy tossed and
moaned, and cried for water. I gave him
some from a mug on the table, not so much.
from any precocious gift for sick nursing
(for I was simply "frightened out of my
wits "), but because the imperative tone of
his demand forced me involuntarily into
doing what he wanted. He grumbled,
when between us we spilt the water on
his clothes, and then, soothed for a few
seconds, he lay down, till the fever, like a
possessing demon, tossed him about once
more, and his throat became as parched as
ever, and again he moaned for "a drink,"
and we repeated the process. This time
the mug was emptied, and when he called
a third time I could only say, The mug's
"There's a pot behind the door," he
muttered, impatiently; "look sharp "
Now food, and drink, and all other
necessaries of life came to me without
effort or seeking, and I was as little accus-
tomed as any other rich. man's son to
forage for supplies; but on this occasion
circumstances forced out of me a helpful-
ness which necessity early teaches to the
poor. I became dimly cognizant of the
fact that water does not spring spon-
taneously in carafes, nor take a delicate
colour and flavour in toast-and-water jugs
of- itself. I found the water-pot, re-
plenished the mug, and went back to my
patient. By the time his mother returned
I had become quite clever in checking the
MRS. TAYLOR FAILS TO THINK.
spasmodic clutches which spilt the cold
water into his neck.
From what Mrs. Taylor said to her
strances, "I was that put out, I never
thought;" which I have no doubt was
VISITING THE SICK.
friend, it was evident that she disapproved
in some way of my presence, and the boy's
mother replied to her whispered remon-
As I afterwards learnt, she got the
blanket, and never ceased to laud my
34 A fPL.A I IUV F't
I was rather proud of it myself, and it
was not without complacency that I re-
counted to Nurse Bundle my first essay in
" visiting the sick."
But complacency was the last-feeling my
narrative awoke in Mrs. Bundle. She was
alarmed out of all presence of mind; and
her indignation with the woman who had
requited my kindness by allowing me to
go into a house infected with fever knew
no bounds. She had no pity to spare for
her when the news reached us that the
child was dead.
Nothing further came of it for some time.
Days passed, and it was almost forgotten,
only I became decidedly ill-tempered. A
captious irritability possessed me, alternat-
ing with fits of unaccountable fatigue. At
that time I was always either tired or cross,
and sometimes both. I must have made
Nurse Bundleveryuncomfortable. Iwas so
little happy, for my own share, that when
after a day's headache I was put to bed as
j nr m .NGT y 4' I7 A JTTT77r.
an invalid, it was a delicious relief to be
acknowledged to be ill, to throw off clothes
and occupation, and shut my eyes and be
This happiness lasted for about half an
hour. Then I began to shiver, and, through
no lack of blankets, my teeth were soon
chattering and the bed shaking under me,
as it had been with the village boy. But
when this was succeeded by burning heat,
and intolerable, consuming restlessness, I
would have been glad to shiver again.
And then my mind wandered with a rest-
lessness more intolerable than the tossing
of my body; and all boundaries oftime, and
place, and person became confused and in-
definitely extended, and hot hours were like
ages, and I thought I was that other boy,
and that myself would not wait upon him;
and the only sensible words I spoke were
cries for drink; and so the fever got me
fairly into its clutches.
"PEACE BE TO THIS HOUSE."
I CAN appreciate now what my father
and Nurse Bundle must have suffered
during my dangerous illness. It was not
a common tie that boundmy father's affec-
tions to my life. Not only was I his son,
I was his only son. Moreover, I was the
only living child of the beloved wife of his
youth-all that remained to him of my
fair mother. Then I was the heir to his
property, the hope of his family, and,
without undue egotism, I may say, from
what I have been told, that I was a quaint,
original, and (thanks to Mrs. Bundle) not
ill-behaved child, and that, for a while at
least, I should have been much missed in
the daily life of the household.
Mrs. Cadman told me, long afterwards,
exactly how many days and nights Nurse
Bundle passed in my sick chamber, "and
never had her clothes off;" and if the
wearing of clothes had been one of the
sharpest torments of the Inquisition, Mrs.
Cadman could not have spoken in a
hollowertone, or thrown more gloom round
That, humanly speaking, my good and
loving nurse saved my life, I must ever
remember with deep gratitude. There are
stages of fever, when, as they say, "a
nurse is everything;" and a very little
laziness, -selfishness, or inattention on
Nurse Bundle's part would probably have
been my death-warrant. But night and
day she never relaxed her vigilance for one
instant of the crisis of my malady. She
took nothing for granted, would trust no
one else, but herself saw every order of the
doctor carried out, and, at a certain stage,
fed me every ten minutes, against my will,
coaxing me to obedience, and never losing
heart or temper for one instant. And this
although my petulance and not infrequent
assurances that I wished and preferred to
die-" I was so tired "-within the sick
room, and my father's despair and bitter
groan that he would sacrifice every earthly
possession to keep me alive, outside it,
would have caused many people to lose
their heads. In such an hour many a
foolish, gossiping, half-educated woman, by
absolute faithfulness to the small details
of her trust, by the complete laying aside of
personal needs and personal feelings, rises
to the sublimity of duty, and, ministering
to the wants of another with an unselfish
vigilance almost perfect, earns that meed
of praise from men, which from time to
time persists, in grateful hyperbole, toliken
her sex to the angels.
My poor father, whose irrepressible dis-
tress led to his being forbidden to enter
my room, powerless to help, and there-
fore without alleviation for his anxiety,
simply hung upon Nurse Bundle's orders
and reports, and relied utterly on her.
Fortunately for his own health, she gained
sufficient influence to insist, almost as pe-
remptorily as in my case, upon his taking
food. Often afterwards did she describe
how he and Rubens sat outside the door
they were not allowed to enter; and she
used to declare that when she came out,
Rubens, as well as my father, turned an
anxious and expectant countenance to-
W,, ;,. ,,
' RECTOR. 35
wards her, and that both alike seemed to
await and to understand her report of my
Only once did Nurse Bundle's self-pos-
session threaten to fail her. It was on my
repeated and urgent request to have the
clergyman to pray with me."
Mrs. Bundle,. like most uneducated
people, rather regarded the visitation of
the sick by the parish clergyman as a sort
of extreme unction or last sacrament. And
to send for the parson seemed to her tan-
tamount to dismissing the doctor and ring-
ing the passing bell. My father was
equally averse from the idea on other
grounds. Moreover, our old rector had
gone, and the lately-appointed one was a
stranger, and rather an eccentric stranger,
by all accounts.
For my own part, I had a strong interest
in the new rector. His Christian name
was the same as my own, which I felt to
constitute a sort of connection; and the
tales I had heard in the village of his pe-
culiarities had woven a sort of ecclesiastical
romance about him in my mind. He had
come from some out-of-the-way parish in
the west of England, where his people,
being thoroughly used- to his ways, took
them as a matter of course. It was his
scrupulous custom to conform as minutely
as possible to the canons of the Church, as
well as to the rubrics of the Prayer Book,
and this to the point of wearing shoes in- -
stead of boots. He was a learned man,
a naturalist, and an antiquarian. His ap-
pearance was remarkable, his hair being
prematurely white, and yet thick, his eyes
grey and expressive, with thick dark eye-
brows, which actually met above them.
For the rest, he was tall, thin, and dressed
in obedience to the canons. I had been
much interested in all that I had heard of
him, and since my illness I had often
thought of the unqualified note of praise I
had heard sounded in his favour by more
A FLAT IRON FOR A FARTHING.
than one village matron, "He's beautiful in
a sick-room." It was on one occasion
when I heard this that I also heard that
he was accustomed on entering the house
to pronounce the appointed salutation, in
the words of the Prayer Book, "Peace be
to this house, and to all that dwell in it."
And so it came about that, when my im-
portunity and anxiety on the subject had
overcome the scruples of my father and
nurse, and they had decided to let me
have my way rather than increase my ma-
lady by fretting, the new rector came into
my room, and my first eager question was,
"Did you say that-about Peace, you
know-when you came in?"
"I did," said the rector; and as he
spoke one of his merits became obvious.
He had a most pleasing voice.
"Say it again !" I cried, petulantly.
Peace be to this house, and to all that
dwell in it," he repeated slowly, and with
slightly upraised hand.
"That's Rubens and all," was my com-
As I wished, the rector prayed by my
bedside; and I think he must have been
rather astonished by the fact that at points
which struck me I rather groaned than said,
" Amen." The truth is, I had once hap-
pened to go into a cottage where our old
rector was praying by the bed of a sick old
man-a Methodist-who groaned "Amen"
at certain points in a manner which greatly
impressed me, and I now did likewise, in
that imitativeness of childhood which had
helped to lead me to the fancy for sur-
rounding my own sick bed with all the cir-
cumstances I had seen and heard of in such
cases in the village. For this reason I had
(to her hardly concealed distress) given
Nurse Bundle, from time to time, directions
as to my wishes in the event of my death. I
remember especially, that I begged she
would not fail to cover up all the furniture
with white cloths, and to allow all my
friends to come and see me in my coffin.
Thus also I groaned and said Amen "-
"like a poor person "-at what I deemed
suitable points, as the rector prayed.
He was not less wise in a sick room than
Mrs. Bundle herself. He contrived to
quieten instead of exciting me, and to the
sound of his melodious voice reading in
soothing monotone from my favourite book
of the Bible-the Revelation of St. John
the Divine-I finally fell asleep.
When the inspired description of the
New Jerusalem ended, and my own dream
began, I never knew. As I dreamed, it
seemed a wonderful and beautiful vision,
though all that I could ever remember of
it in waking hours was the sheerest non-
And this was the beginning of my ac-
quaintance with the Rev. Reginald An-
CONVALESCENCE-MATRIMONIAL INTENTIONS-THE JOURNEY TO
ON the day when I first left my sick
room, and was moved to a sofa in
what had been.my poor mother's boudoir,
my father put fifty pounds into Nurse
Bundle's hand, and sent another fifty to
Mr. Andrewes for some communion ves-
sels for the church, on which the rector
had set his heart. They were both thank-
"I owe my son's recovery to GoD, and
to you, Mrs. Bundle," said my father, with
a certain elaborateness of speech to which
he was given on important occasions.
"No money could purchase such care as
you bestowed on him, and no money can
reward it; but it will be doing me a farther
favour to allow me to think that, should
sickness ever overtake yourself when we
are no longer together, this little sum, laid
by, may come in useful, and afford you a
That first evening of my convalescence
we were quite jubilant; but afterwards
there were many weary days of weakness,
irritability, and ennyi on my part, and
anxiety and disappointment on my father's.
Rubens was a great comfort at this period.
For his winning ways formed an interest,
and served a little to vary the monotony of
the hours when I was too weak to bear any
definite amusement or occupation. It
must have been about this time that a long
cogitation with myself led to the following
conversations with Nurse Bundle and my
How old are you, Nurse ? I inquired,
one forenoon, when she had neatly arranged
the tray containing my chop, wine, &c., by
"Five-and-fifty, love, come September,"
said Nurse Bundle.
"Do people ever marry when they are
five-and-fifty, papa?" I asked that even-
ing, as I lay languid and weary on the sofa.
"Yes, my dear boy, sometimes. But
why do you want to know? "
"I think I shall marry Nurse Bundle
when I am old enough," I said, with almost
melancholy gravity. "She's a good deal
older than I am; but I love her very
much. And she would make me very com-
fortable. She knows my ways."
My father has often told me that he
would have laughed aloud, but for the sad
air of utter weariness over my helpless
figure, the painful, unchildlike anxiousness
on my thin face, and in my old-fashioned
air and attitude. I have myself quite for-
gotten the occurence.
At last this most trying time was over;
buy the fever had left me taller, weaker,
and much in need of what doctors call
A FLAT IRON FOR A FARTHING.
" tone." All concerned in the care of me
were now unanimous in declaring that I
must have a change of air."
There was some little difficulty in de-
ciding where to go. Another visit to Aunt
Maria was out of the question. Even if
London had been a suitable place, the fear
of infection for my cousins made it not to
be thought of.
"Where would you like to go, Nurse?"
I inquired one evening, as we all sat in
the boudoir discussing the topic of the
"I should like to go wherever it's best
for your good health, Master Reginald,"
was Nurse Bundle's answer, which, though
admirable in its spirit, did not further the
settlement of the matter we found it so
difficult to decide.
But where would you like to go for
yourself?" I persisted. "Where would
you go if it was you going away, and no-
"Well, my dear, if it was me just going
away for myself, I think I should go to my
sister's at Oakford."
This reply drew from me a catechism of
questions about Oakford, and Nurse
Bundle's sister, and Nurse Bundle's sister's
husband, and their children; and when
my father came to sit with me I had a
long history of Oakford and Nurse Bundle's
relatives at my fingers' ends, and was full
of a new fancy, which was strong upon me,
to go and stay for awhile at Oakford with
Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Buckle.
"Nurse says they sometimes let lodg-
ings," I said; "and I should like Nurse to
see her sister; and," I candidly added, I
should like to see her myself."
My father's uppermost wish was to please
me; and as Oakford was known to be
healthy, and the doctor favoured the pro-
position, it was decided according to my
wishes. If we stayed long, my father was
to go backwards and forwards, and he
was to fetch us when we went away. His
anxiety was still so great, and led him to
watch me in a manner which fidgeted me
so much, that I think the doctor was only
too glad that the place should be suffi-
ciently near to induce him to leave me to
the care of Nurse Bundle.
We went by coach to Oakford. I was
not allowed to sit outside on this journey.
It was only a short one, however; and,
truth to say, I did not feel strong enough
for any feats of energy, and went meekly
enough into that stuffy hole, the inside!
Before following me, Nurse Bundle gave
some directions to the driver, of a kind
that could only be effectual in reference to
a small place where everybody was known.
Coachman! Oakford And drop us
at Mr. Buckle's, please, the saddler."
High Street, isn't it?" said the fat
coachman, looking down on Mrs. Bundle
exactly as a parrot looks down from his
"To be sure; only three doors below
With which Mrs. Bundle gathered up
her skirts, and her worsted workbag, and
clambered into the coach.
There were two other "insides." One
of these never spoke at all during the
journey. The other only spoke once,
and he seems to have been impelled
thereto by a three hours' contemplation
of the contrast between my slim, wasted
little figure, and Nurse Bundle's portly
person, as we sat opposite to him. He
was a Scotchman, and I fancy "in
"You're weel matched to sit on the one
side," was his remark.
Once, when I was feeling faint, he
opened the window without my having
spoken, and only acknowledged my thanks
by a silent nod. When the coach stopped
in the High Street of Oakford, and Nurse
Bundle had descended, he so far relaxed,
as he handed out me and the worsted
workbag, as to indulge his national thirst
for general information by the inquiring
"You'll be staying at the 'Crown' the
"No, sir. We stop here," said Nurse
I caught his keen blue eye at the win-
dow whilst the coach was delayed by the
getting out of our luggage. I do not think
he missed one feature of our welcome on
the threshold of the saddler's shop.
I feel sure that Scotchmen do greatly
profit by the habit they have of "absorb-
ing into their constitutions," so to speak,
all the facts of every kind that come within
their ken. They" go in for general informa-
tion," like the Tom Toddy in Mr. Kings-
ley's Water Babies;' but their hard heads
have, fortunately, no likeness to turnips.
This, however, is a digression.
Mr. Benjamin Buckle, Mrs. Benjamin
Buckle, Jemima Buckle, their daughter,
Mr. Buckle's apprentice, and the general
girl," or maid-of-all-work, were all in the
shop to receive us. I believe the cat was
the only living creature in the house who
was not there. But cats seldom exert
themselves unnecessarily on behalf of
other people, and she awaited our arrival
upstairs. I had a severe if not undignified
struggle with the string before I could get
my hat off. Then I advanced, and, hold-
ing out my hand to Mr. Buckle, said,
"Mr. Buckle, I believe?"
"The same to you, sir, and a many of
them," said Mr. Buckle, hastily; being, I
fancy, rather put out by the touch of my
frail hand, which was certainly very unlike
the leather he handled-daily. He saw his
mistake, and added quickly,
"Your servant, sir. I hope your health's
"Very well, thank you," said I (all chil-
dren make that answer, I think).
"What a little gentleman !" said Mrs.
Buckle, in an audible "aside" to my
nurse. She was as good-natured a woman
as Mrs. Bundle herself, but with less brains.
She lived in a chronic state of surprises and
"You are Nurse's sister, aren't you,
please?" I asked, going up to her, and
once more tendering my hand. I wanted
to see you very much."
Now just to think of that, Jemima did
you ever?" cried Mrs. Buckle.
"La !" said Jemima; in acknowledg-
ment of which striking remark, I bent my
head, and said,
"How do you do, Jemima?" adding,
almost without an instant's pause, Please
take me away, Nurse I am so very tired."
By one immediate and unbroken action,
Mrs. Bundle cut her way through our hos-
pitable friends and the scattered rolls of
leather and other trade accessories in the
shop, and conveyed me into an arm-chair
in the sitting-room upstairs, where I sat,
the tears running down my face for very
I had longed for the novelty of aresi-
dence above a saddler's shop; but now,
too weary for new experiences, I was only
conscious that the stairs were narrow, the
room dingy and vulgar after the rooms at
home, and as I wept I wished I had never
At this day, I am glad that I had the
courtesy to restrain my feelings, and not to
damp the delighted welcome of Nurse and
her friends by an insulting avowal of my
disappointment. I really was not a spoilt
child; and indeed, the insolent and undis-
ciplined egotism of many children "now-
a-days," was not often tolerated by the
past generation. As I sat silent and sad,
Nurse Bundle ransacked her bag, mutter-
ing, What a fool I be, to be sure !" and
anon produced a flask of wine, from which
she filled a wine-glass with a very big leg,
A FLAT IRON FOR A FARTING.
which was one of the chimney ornaments.
I emptied it in obedience to her orders,
and in a few minutes my tears ceased, and
I began to take a more cheerful view of
the wall-paper and the antimacassars.
"What a pretty cat!" I said, at last.
The said cat, a beauty, was lying on the
"Isn't it a beauty, love ?" said Nurse
Bundle; and look, my dear, at your own
little dog lying as good as gold in the rock-
ing-chair, and not so much as looking at
Rubens did not quite deserve this pane-
gyric. He lay in his chair without touch-
ing puss, it is true; but he kept his eye
firmly and constantly fixed upon'her, only
restrained from an attack by my known
objection to such proceedings, and by the
immovable composure of the good lady
herself. Half a movement of encourage-
ment on my part, half a movement of
flight on the cat's, and Rubens would have
been after her. All this was so plainly ex-
Dressed in his attitude, that I burst out
laughing. Rpbens chose to take this as a
sound to the chase, and only by the most
peremptory orders could I induce him to
keep quiet. As to the cat, I saw one con-
vulsive twitch of the very tip of her tail,
eloquent of wrath; otherwise she never
"Now, my dear," said Mrs. Bundle,
"suppose you come upstairs to bed, and
get a good night's rest. I can hear Jemima
a-shaking of the coals in the warming-pan
now, on the stairs."
Warming-pans were not much used at
home, and I was greatly interested in the
brazen implement which Jemima wielded
"It's like an ironing cloth," was my
comment when I got between the sheets.
I had often warmed my hands on the
table where Nurse ironed my collars at
Rubens duly came to bed; and I fell
asleep, well satisfied on the whole with
Oakford and the saddler's household.
THE TINSMITH'S-THE BEAVER BONNETS-A FLAT IRON FOR A FARTHING
-I FAIL TO SECURE A SISTER-RUBENS AND THE DOLL.
O AKFORD was not a large town. It
only boasted of one street, "to be
called a street," as Mr. B.ckle phrased it,
though two or three lanes, with more or
less pretentious rows of houses, and so
forth, ran at right angles to the High
Street. The High Street was a steep hill.
It was tolerably broad, very clean, pebbled
and picturesque. The "Crown Inn" was
an old house with an historical legend at-
tached to it. Several of the shops were
also in very old houses, with overhang-
ing upper stories and most comfortable
window seats. Mr. Buckle's was one of
The air of the place was keen, but very
healthy, and I seemed to gain strength
with every hour of my stay. With strength,
all my interest,in the novelty of the situa-
tion woke afresh, and I was delighted
with everything, but especially with the
On the subject of the saddlery business,
I must confess that a difference of opinion
existed between myself and my excellent
nurse. She jealously maintained my posi-
tion as a "young gentleman" and lod-
ger, against the familiarity into which the
Buckles and I fell by common consent.
She served my meals in'separate state, and
kept Jemima as well as herself in atten-
dance on my wants. She made my sitting-
room as comfortable as she could, and
here it was her wish that I should sit,
when in the house, "like a young gentle-
man." My wish, on the contrary, was to
Sbe in the shop, and as much as possible
like a grown-up saddler. It did seem so
delightful to be always working at that
nice-smelling leather, and to be able to
make for oneself unlimited straps, whips,
and other masculine appendages. I was
perfectly happy with spare fragments,
cutting out miniature saddles and straps,
stamping lines, punching holes, and mis-
laying the good saddler's tools in these
efforts; whilst my thoughts were occupied
with many a childish plan for inducing my
father to apprentice me to the worthy Mr.
I was a good deal taken with Mr. Buckle's
apprentice, a rosy-cheeked young man,
whose dress and manners I endeavoured
as much as possible to imitate. I strutted
in imitation of his style of walking down
the High Street, and about this time Nurse
Bundle was wont to say she "couldn't
think what had come to" my hat, that it
was "always stuck on one side." Ponder-
ing the history of Dick Whittington and
the fair Alice, I said one day to Jemima
I suppose you and Andrew will marry,
and when Mr. Buckle dies you will havc
"Me marry the 'prentice !" said Miss
Jemima. And I discovered how little I
knew of the shades of "caste" in Oak-
Jemima used often to take me out when
Nurse Bundle was otherwise engaged, and
we were always very good friends. One
42 A FLAT IRON f
day, I remember, she was going to a shop
about half way up the High Street, and I
obtained leave to go with her. Mrs. Bundle
was busy superintending the cooking of
some special delicacy for her "young
gentleman's" dinner, and Jemima and I
set forth on our errand. It was to a tin-
smith's shop, where a bath had been or-
dered for my accommodation.
Ah! through how many years that steep
street, with its clean, sunny stones, its ir-
regular line of quaint old buildings, and
the distant glimpse of big trees within
palings into which it passed at the top,
where the town touched the outskirts of
some gentleman's place, has remained on
my mind like a picture! Getting a little
vague after a few years, and then perhaps
a little altered, as fancy almost involun-
tarily supplied the defects of memory; but
still that steep street, that tinsmith's shop
-the features of Oakford !
I have since thought that Jemima must
have had some special attraction to the
tinsmith's, her errands there were so many,
and took so much time. This occasion
may be divided into three distinct periods.
During the first, I waited in that state of
vacant patience whereby one endures
other people's shopping. During the
second, I walked round all the cans, pans,
colanders, and graters, and took a fancy to
a tin mug. It was neither so valuable nor
so handsome as the silver mug with dragon
handles given me by my Indian godfather,
but it was a novelty. When I looked
closer, however, I found that it was marked,
in plain figures, fourpence, which at that
time was beyond my means; so I walked
to the door, that I might solace the third
period by looking out into the street. As
I looked, there came down the hill a fine,
large, sleek donkey, led by an old man-
servant, and having on its back what is
called a Spanish saddle, in which two
little girls sat side by side, the whole party
'OR A FARTHING.
jogging quietly along at a foot's pace in
the sunshine. I may say here that my ex-
perience of little girls had been almost
entirely confined to my cousins, and that
I was so overwhelmed and impressed by
the loveliness of these two children, and
by their quaint, queenly little ways, that
time has not dimmed one line in the pic-
ture that they then made upon my mind.
I can see them now as clearly as I saw
Them then, as I stood at the tinsmith's
door in the High Street of Oakford-let
me see, how many years ago? (" Never
mind," says my wife; "go on with the
story, my dear," and I go on.)
The child who looked the older, but
was, as I afterwards discovered, the younger
of the two, was also the less pretty. And
yet she had a sweet little face, hair like
spun gold, and blue-grey eyes with dark
lashes. She wore a grey frock of some
warm material, below which peeped her in-
doors dress of blue. The outer coat had a
quaint cape like a coachman's, which was
relieved by a broad white crimped frill
round her throat. Her legs were cased in
knitted gaiters of white wool, and her
hands in the most comical miniatures of
gloves. On her fairy head she wore a
large bonnet of grey beaver, with a frill in-
side. (My wife explains that it was a
"cap-front," adorned with little bunches
of ribbon, and having a cap attached to
it,. the whole being put on separately be-
fore the bonnet. Details which seem to
amuse my little daughters, and to have less
interest for my sons.) But it was her sister
who shone on my young eyes like a fairy
vision. She looked too delicate, too bril-
liant, too utterly lovely, for anywhere but
fairy-land. She ought to have been kept
in tissue-paper, like the loveliest of wax
dolls. Her hair was the true flaxen, the
Very fairest of the fair. The purity and
vividness of the tints of red and white in
her face I have never seen equalled. Her
SHOPPING WITH FAR THINGS.
.eyes were of speedwell blue, and looked as
if they were meant to be always more or
less brimming with tears. To say the truth,
her face had not half the character which
gave force to that of the other little damsel,
but a certain helplessness about it gave it
a peculiar charm. She was dressed exactly
like the other, with one exception; her
bonnet was of white beaver, and she became
it like a queen.
At the tinanith's door they stopped, and
the old man-servant, after unbuckling a
strap which seemed to support them in
their saddle, lifted each little miss in turn
to the ground. Once on the pavement,
the little lady of the grey beaver shook her-
self out, and proceeded to straighten the
disarranged overcoat of her companion,
and then, taking her by the hand, the two
clambered up the step into the shop. The
tinsmith's shop boasted of two seats, and
on to one of these she of the grey beaver
with some difficulty climbed. The eyes of
the other were fast filling with tears, when
from her lofty perch the sister caught sight
of the man-servant, who stood in the door-
way, and she beckoned him with a wave of
her tiny finger.
Lift her up, if you please," she said,
on his approach. And the other child was
placed on the other chair.
The shopman appeared to know them,
and though he smiled, he said very respect-
What article can I show you this morn-
The fairy-like creature in the white
beaver, who had been fumbling in her
miniature glove, now timidly laid a farthing
on the counter, and then turning her back
forvery shyness on the shopman, raised one
small shoulder, and inclining her head
towards it, gave an appealing glance at her
sister out of the pale-blue eyes. That
little lady, thus appealed to, firmly placed
another farthing on the board, and said in
the tiniest but most decided of voices,
"Two FLAT IRONS, IF YOU PLEASE."
Hereupon the shopman produced a
drawer from below the counter, and set it
before them. What it contained I was
not tall enough to see, but out of it he
took several tiny flat irons of triangular
shape, and apparently made of pewter, or
some alloy of tin. These the grey beaver
examined and tried upon a corner of her
cape with inimitable gravity and impor-
tance. At last she selected two, and keep-
ing one for herself, gave the other to her
"Is it a nice one?" the little white-
beavered lady inquired.
Kite as nice as yours ? she persisted.
"Just the same," said the other, firmly.
And having glanced at the counter to see
that the farthings were both duly deposited,
she rolled abruptly over on her seat, and.
scrambled off backwards, a manoeuvre
which the other child accomplished with
more difficulty. The coats and capes were
then put tidy as before, and the two went
out of the shop together hand in hand.
Then the old man-servant lifted them
into the Spanish saddle, and buckled the
strap, and away they went up the steep
street, and over the brow of the hill, where
trees and palings began to show, the beaver
bonnets nodding together in consultation
over the flat irons.
A FLAT IRON FOR A FARTHING.
THE LITTLE LADIES AGAIN-THE MEADS-THE DROWNED DOLL.
" \ R. BUCKLE, sir, can you oblige me
v with eight farthings for twopence ?"
I had closely copied this form of speech
from the apprentice, whose ways, as I have
said, I endeavoured in every way to imi-
tate. Thus, twopence being at that time
the extent of my resources, I went about
for some days after my adventure at the
tinsmith's with all my worldly wealth in
my pocket in farthings, pondering many
I began to have my doubts about
saddlery as a profession. Truth to say, a
want beyond the cutting and punching of
leather had begun to stir within me. I
wished for a sister. Somehow I had never
desired to adopt one of my cousins in this
relation, not even my dear friend Polly,
but since I had seen the little lady in the
white beaver, I felt how nice it would be to
have such a sister to play with, as I had
heard of other sisters and brothers playing
together. Then I fancied myself showing
her all my possessions at home, and beg-
ging the like for her from my indulgent
father. I pictured the new interest which
my old toys would derive from being ex-
hibited to her. I thought I would beg for
an exhibition of the magic lantern, for a
garden for her like my own, and for several
half-holidays. It delighted me to imagine
myself presenting her with whatever she
most admired, like some Eastern potentate
or fairy godmother. But I could not con-
nect her in my mind with the saddlery
business. I felt that to possess so dainty
and elegant a little lady as a sister was in-
compatible with an apprenticeship to .Mr.
Meanwhile I kept watch on the High
Street from Mr. Buckle's door. One
morning I saw the donkey, the man, the
Spanish saddle, and the beaver bonnets
come over the brow of the hill, and I forth-
with ran to Nurse Bundle, and begged
leave to go alone to the tinsmith's, and
invest one of my eight farthings in a flat
iron. It was only a few yards off, and she
consented; but, as I had to submit to be
dressed, by the time I got there the little
ladies were already in the shop, and seated
on the two chairs. My fairy beauty looked
round as I came in, and recognizing me,
gave a little low laugh, and put her head
on her own shoulder, and then peeped
again, smiling so sweetly that I fairly loved
her. The other was too deeply engaged
in poking and fumbling for farthings in
her glove to permit herself to be distracted
by anything or anybody. This process
was so slow that the shopman came up to
me and asked what I wanted. I took a
well-warmed farthing from the handful I
carried, and laid it on the counter, say-
A flat iron, if you please."
He put several before me, and after
making a show of testing them on the end
of my comforter, I selected one at random.
I know that I did not do it with half the
air which the little grey-beavered lady had
thrown over the proceeding, but I hardly
deserved the scornful tone in which she
addressed no one in particular with the
remark, "He has no business with flat
irons. He's only a boy."
She evidently expected no reply, for
without a pause she proceeded to count
out five farthings on to the counter, saying
as she did so, "A frying-pan, a gridiron, a
ONE BOY IS ONLY A BOY.
dish, and two plates, if you please." On
which, to my astonishment, miniature
specimens of these articles, made of the
same material as the flat irons, were pro-
duced from the box whence those had
come. I was so bewildered by the severity
of the little lady's remarks, and the won-
derful things which she obtained for her
farthings, that I dropped my remaining
seven on to the shop floor, and was still
grubbing for them in the dust, when the
children having finished their shopping,
came backwards off the seats as usual.
They passed me in the doorway, hand in
hand. The little lady with the white
beaver was next to me, and as she passed
she gave a shy glance, and her face dimpled
all over into smiles. Unspeakably pleased
by her recognition, I abandoned my far-
things to their fate, and jumping up, I
held out my dusty hand to the little
damsel, saying hastily but as civilly as I
could, How do you do ? I hope you're
pretty well. And oh, please, will you be
Having once begun, I felt quite equal
to a full explanation of my position and
the prospect of toys and treats before us
both. I was even prepared, in the gene-
rous excitement of the moment to endow
my new sister with a joint,partnership in
the possession of Rubens, and was about
to explain all the advantages the little lady
would derive from having me for a brother,
when I was stopped by the changed ex-
pression on her pretty face.
I suppose my sudden movement had
startled her, for her smiles vanished in a
look of terror, as she clung to her com-
panion, who opened wide her eyes, and
shaking her grey beaver vehemently, said.
"We don't know you, Boy !"
Then they fled to the side of the old
man-servant as fast as their white-gaitered
legs would carry them.
I watered 'the dusty floor of the shop
with 'tears of vexation as I resumed my
search for the farthings, and having found
them I went back to the saddler's, pound-
ing them in my hot hand, and bitterly dis-
I don't suppose that Rubens understood
the feelings which gave an extra warmth to
my caresses, as I hugged him in my arms,
You aren't afraid of me, you dear
But he responded sympathetically, both
with tongue and tail.
I had not frightened the little ladies
away from the High Street, it seemed. I
saw them again two days later. They had
been out as usual, and some trifling mis-
chance having happened to the Spanish
saddle, they called at Mr. Buckle's door
for repairs. I was in the shop, and could
see the two little maidens as they sat hang-
ing over their strap, with a doll dressed
very much like themselves between them.
I crept nearer to the door, where the quick
grey eyes of the younger one caught sight
of me, and I heard her say in her peculiarly
"Why, there's that Boy again "
I slipped a little to one side, and took
up a tool and a bit of leather with a pre-
tence of working, hoping to be out of sight,
and yet to be able to look at the little
white-beavered fairy, for whom my fancy
was in no way abated. But her keen-eyed
sister saw me still, and her next remark rang
out with uncompromising distinctness-
"He's in the shop still. He's working.
He must be a shop-boy !"
I dropped the tools, and rushed away to
my sitting-room. My mortification was
complete, and it was of a kind that Rubens
could not understand. Fortunately for me,
he simply went with my humour, without
being particular as to the reason of it, like
the tenderest of women.
A day or two afterwards I went out with
A FLAT IRON FOR A FARTHING.
Rubens and Jemima Buckle for a walk.
Our way home lay through some flat green
meads, crossed by a stream, which, in its
turn, was crossed by a little rustic bridge.
As we came into these fields we met a man
whose face seemed familiar, though I could
not at first recal where I had seen him.
Afterwards I remembered that he was the
tinsmith, and Jemima stayed to chat with
him for a few minutes, but Rubens and I
It seemed an odd coincidence that, a
few seconds after meeting the tinsmith, I
should meet the little white-beavered lady.
She was crossing the bridge. Her sister
was not with her, nor the donkey, nor the
man-servant. She was walkingwith a nurse,
and she carried a big doll in her arms.
The doll, as I have said before, was "got
up wonderfully like its mistress. It had
a miniature coat and cape and frills, it had
leggings, it had a white plush bonnet (so
my wife enables me to affirm), it had hair
just the colour of the little lady's locks.
As she crossed the bridge, she seemed
much pleased by the running of the water
beneath her feet, and saying, Please let
Dolly 'ook," in her pretty broken tones,
she pushed her doll through the rustic
work, holding it by its sash. But, alas!
the doll was heavy, and the sash insecurely
fastened. It gave way, and the doll plunged
into the stream.
Once more the sweet little face was con-
vulsed by a look of terror and distress. As
the doll floated out on the other side of
the bridge, she shrieked and wrung her
hands. As for me, I ran down to the edge
of the stream, calling Rubens after me, and
pointing to the doll. Only too glad of an
excuse for a plunge, in he dashed, and soon
brought the unfortunate miss to shore by
one of her gaitered legs. It was with some.
triumph that I carried the dripping doll to
its little mistress, and heard the nurse ad-
monish her to-
Thank the young gentleman, my dear."
I have often since heard of faces "like
an April sky," but I never saw one which
did so resemble it in being by turns bright
and overcast, with tears and smiles strug-
gling together, and fear and pleased re-
cognition, as the face of the little blonde
in the white beaver bonnet. It was she
who held out her hand this time, and as I
took it she said, 'ank you 'erry much."
"It was Rubens' doing, not mine," said
I. "Rubens shake hands, sir! "
But the little lady was frightened. She
shrank away from the warm greeting of
Rubens, and I was obliged to shake hands
with him myself to satisfy his feelings.
The nursemaid had been wringing out
the doll's clothes for the little lady, but
now they moved on together.
"Dood-bye !"said thelittle lady, smiling
and waving her hand. I waved mine, and
then Jemima, having parted with the tin-
smith, came up, and we went home..
I never saw the beaver bonnets again.
POLLY-THE PEW AND THE PULPIT-THE FATE OF THE FLAT IRON.
BY the time that my father came to fetch
us away, I was wonderfully improved
in health and strength. I even wanted to
go back outside the coach; but this was
I did not forget the little lady in the
white beaver, even after my return to Dacre-
ield. I was fond of drawing, and I made
what seemed to me a rather striking por-
trait of her (at least as to colouring), and
wore it tied by a bit of string round my
neck. It is unromantic to have to con-
fess that it fell at last into the washhand
basin, and was reduced to pulp.
I brought my farthing flat-iron home
with me, and it was for long a favourite
plaything. I used to sprinkle corners of
my pocket-handkerchief with water, as I
had seen Nurse Bundle "damp fine things"
before ironing them. But after all, "play"
of this kind is dull work played alone. I
was very glad when Polly came.
It was a few weeks after our return that
my father proposed to ask Cousin Polly to
pay us a visit. I think my aunt had said
something in a letter about her not being
well, and the visit was supposed to be for
the benefit of her health.
She was not ill for long at Dacrefield.
My "lessons were of a very slight de-
scription as yet, and we spent most of our
time out of doors. The fun of showing
Polly about the farm and grounds was
quite as satisfactory as any that my dream
.of the flaxen-haired sister had promised.
I was quite prepared to yield to Cousin
Polly in all things, as before; but she, no
doubt in deference to my position as host,
met me halfway with unusual affability and
graciousness. Country life exactly suited
her. I think she was profoundly happy
exploring the garden, making friends with
the cows and horses, feeding the rabbits
and chickens, and "playing at haunted
castles in the barn.
Her vigour and daring when we climbed
trees together were the objects of my con-
stant admiration. Tree-climbing was Polly's
favourite amusement, and the various fan-
cies she pretended" in connection with
it, did credit to her imaginative powers.
Sometimes she "pretended to be Jack in
the Beanstalk; sometimes she pretended
to be at the mast-head of a ship at sea;
sometimes to be in an upper story of a
fairy-house; sometimes to be escaping from
a bear; sometimes (with recollections of
London) to be the bear himself on a pole,
or a monkey in the Zoological Gardens;
or to be on the top of the Monument or
of St. Paul's. Our most common game,
however, was the time-honoured drama of
"houses." Each branch constituted a story,
and we used to emulate each other in our
exploits of high climbing, with a formula
that ran thus:-
"Now I'm in the area" (the lowest
branch). "Now I'm on the dining-room
floor" (the next), and so on, ending with,
"And nowl'm the very poor person in the
There were two trees which stood near
each other, of about equal difficulty.
We used each to climb one, and as we
started together, the one who first became
the "very poor person in the garret" was
held to be the winner of the game.
We were not allowed to climb trees on
Sunday, which was a severe exercise of
Polly's principles. One Sunday afternoon,
however, much to my amazement, she led
me away down the shrubbery, saying,
My dear Regie I've found two trees
which rm surewe may climb on Sundays."
Much puzzled, I nevertheless yielded to
her, being quite accustomed to trust all her
I was not enlightened by the appearance
of the trees, which were very much like
others as to their ladder-like peculiarities.
They were old Portugal laurels which had
been cut in a good deal at various times.
They-looked very easy to climb, and did
not seem to boast many "stories." I did
not see anything about them adapted for
Sunday amusement in particular.
But Polly soon explained herself.
"Look here, Regie," said she; "this
A FLAT IRON FOR A FARTHING.
tree has got three beautiful branches, one
for the clerk, one for the reading-desk,
and one for the pulpit. I'm going to
it's quite a Sunday game," added Polly,
mounting to fhe pulpit with her accus-
get into the top one and preach you a
sermon; and you're to sit in that other
tree-it makes a capital pew. I'm sure
I seated myself in the other tree; and
Polly, after consuming some time in "set-
tling herself," appeared to be ready; but
THE PULPIT AND THE PEW.
she still hesitated, and finally burst out
I beg your pardon," she added, rub-
bing her hands over her laughing mouth,
and composing herself. "Now I'm going
to begin." But she still giggled, which led
me to say-
Never mind the text, as you're laugh-
ing. Begin at once without."
"Very well," said Polly.
There was another break down, and then
she seemed fairly grave.
"My dear brethren," she began.
"There's only one of us," I ventured to
Now, Regie, you mustn't speak. The
congregation never speaks to the clergy-
man when he's preaching."
"It's such a small congregation," I
Well, then, I won't preach at all, if you
go on like that," said Polly.
But, as I saw that she was getting cross,
and as I had no intention of offending her,
I apologized, and begged her to proceed
with her sermon. So she began again
My dear brethren."
But here she paused; and after a few
moments of expectation on my part, and
silence on Polly's, she said-
Is your pew comfortable, Regie,
"Very," said I. How do you like the
"Very much indeed," said Polly; "but
I don't think I can preach without a
cushion. Suppose we talk."
Thus the sermon was abandoned; and
as Polly refused to let me try my luck in
the pulpit, she remained at a considerably
higher level than I was. At last I became
impatient of this fact, and began to climb
"Stop cried Polly; "you mustn't
leave your pew."
"I'm going into the gallery," a happy
thought enabled me to say.
Polly made no answer. She seemed to
be meditating some step; and presently I
saw her scramble down to the ground in
her own rapid fashion.
"Regie, dear, will you promise not to
get into my pulpit till I come back ?" she
I gave the promise; and, without
answering my questions as to what she
was going to do, she sped off towards the
house. In about five minutes she returned
with something held in the skirt of her
frock, which seemed greatly to incommode
her in climbing. At last she reached the
pulpit, but she did not stay there. Up
and on she went, much hindered by her
"Polly! Polly !" I cried. "You mustn't
go higher than the pulpit. You know it
isn't fair. The pulpit is the top one, and
you must stay there. The clergyman never
goes into the gallery:"
"I'm not going into the gallery," she
gasped; and on she went to the topmost
of the large branches. There she paused,
and from her lap she drew forth the dinner-
I'm in the belfry," she shouted in tones
of triumph, "and I'm going to ring the
bell for service."
Which she accordingly did, with such a
hearty goodwill that Nurse Bundle and
several others of the household came out
to see what was the matter. My father
laughed loudly, but Mrs. Bundle was
"Master Reginald would never have
thought of no such thing on a Sunday
afternoon but for you, Miss Polly," she
said, with a partiality for her own boy"
which offended my sense of justice.
"I climbed a tree too, Nurse," I said,
"And it was only a Sunday kind of
A FLAT IRON FOR A FARTHING.
climbing," Polly pleaded. But Nurse
Bundle refused to see the.force of Polly's
idea; we were ignominiously dismissed
to the nursery, and thenceforward were
obliged, as before, to confine our tree-
climbing exploits to the six working days
of the week.
And these Portugal laurels bore the
names of the Pulpit and the Pew ever
I showed my flat iron to Polly, and she
was so much pleased with it that I greatly
regretted that I had only brought away this
one from Oakford. I should have given
it to her, but for its connection with the
little white-beavered lady.
We both played with it; and at a sug-
gestion of Polly's, we gave quite a new
character to our "wash" (or rather "iron-
ing," for we omitted the earlier processes
of the laundry). We used to cut small
models of clothes out of white paper, and
then iron them with the farthing iron.
How nobly that domestic implement did
its duty till the luckless day when Polly
became uneasy because we did not "put
it down to the fire to get hot !"
"Nurse doesn't like us to play with fire,"
I conscientiously reminded her.
"It's not playing with fire; it's only
putting the iron on the hob," said Polly.
And to this unworthy evasion I yielded,
and-my arm being longer than Polly's-
put the flat iron on the top bar of the
nursery grate with my own hand. Whilst
the iron was heating we went back to our
scissors and paper.
"You cut out a few more white petti-
coats, Regie dear," said Polly, "and I will
make an iron-holder;" with which she
calmly cut several inches off the end of
her sash, and began to fold it for the pur-
Aunt Maria's nursery discipline was
firm, but her own nature was independent,
almost to aggressiveness; and Polly in-
herited enough of the latter to more than
counteract the repression of the former.
Thus all Cousin Polly's proceedings were
very direct, and, if necessary, daring.
When she cut her sash, I exclaimed-
"My dear Polly!" just as Uncle Ascott
was Wont at times to cry-" My dear
I'd nothing else to make it of," said
Polly, calmly. "It's better than cutting up
my pocket-handkerchief, for it only shor-
tens it a little, and Mamma often cuts the
ends a little when our sashes ravel. How
many petticoats have you done, dear?"
Four," said I.
"Well, we've three skirts. Those long
strips will do for Uncle Reginald's neck-
ties. You can cut that last sheet into two
pieces, and we'll pretend they're table-
cloths. And then I think you'd better
fetch the iron. Here's the holder."
"Oh Polly dear It is such fun !" I
cried; but as I drew near to the fireplace
the words died away on my lips. My flat
iron was gone.
At first I thought it had fallen on to the
hearth; but looking nearer I saw a blob
or button of lead upon the bar of the
grate. There was no resisting the convic-
tion which forced itself upon me: my flat
iron was melted.
Polly was much distressed. Doubly so
because she had been the cause of the mis-
fortune. As we were examining the shape-
less lump of metal, she said, "It's like a
little lump of silver that Miss Blomfield
has hanging to her watch chain;" which
determined me to have a hole made
through the remains of my flat iron, and
do the same.
Papa has promised me a watch next
birthday," I added.
Polly and I were very happy and merry
together; but her visit came to an end at
last. Aunt Maria came to fetch her. She
AUNT MARIA SPEAKS SERIOUSLY.
had brought her down when she came, but
had only stayed one night. On this occa-
sion she stayed from Saturday to Monday.
Aunt Maria never allowed any of the girls
to travel alone, and they were never al-
lowed to visit without her at any but rela-
tions' houses. One consequence of which
was, that when they grew up, and were
large young women with large noses, they
were the most helpless creatures at a
railway-station that I ever beheld.
Whilst Aunt Maria was with us, she
"spoke seriously," as it is called, to my
father about my education. I think she
was -shocked to discover how thoroughly
Polly and I had been "running wild"
during Polly's visit. Whether my father
had given any rash assent to proposals for
our studying together, which Aunt Maria
may have made at her last visit, or not, I
do not know. Anyway, my aunt seemed
to be shocked, and enlarged to my father
on the waste of time involved in allowing
me to run wild so long. My father was
apt to "take things easy," and I fancy he
made some vague promises as to my
education, which satisfied my aunt for the
time. Polly and I parted with much grief
on both sides. Aunt Maria took her back to
her lessons, and I was left to my loneliness.
I felt Polly's loss very much, especially
as my father happened to be a good deal
engaged just then, and Nurse Bundle busy
superintending some new arrangements in
our nursery premises. I think she missed
Polly herself; we had not been so quiet
for some weeks. We almost felt it dull.
"Of course a country place is very
quiet," Mrs. Bundle said one evening to
the housekeeper, with whom we were
having tea for a change. "Anybody feels
it that has ever lived in a town, where
people is always dropping in."
"What's 'dropping in,' Nurse?" Iasked.
"Well, my dear, just calling in at anybody's
house, and sitting down in a friendly way,
to exchange the weather and pass time
"That must be very nice," I said.
"Like as if we was in Oakford," Mrs.
Bundle continued, "and I could drop in,
as it might be this afternoon, and take a
seat in my sister's and ask after their good
I wish we could," said I.
The idea fermented in my brain, as ideas
were wont to do, in the large share of soli-
tary hours that fell to my lot. The result
of it was the following adventure.
RUBENS AND I "DROP IN" AT THE RECTORY--GARDENS AND GARDENERS
-MY FATHER COMES FOR ME.
ONE fine morning, when my father was
busy with the farm-bailiff, and Mrs.
Bundle was "sorting" some clothes, I
took my best hat from the wardrobe, deli-
berately, and with some difficulty put on
S:clean frill, fastened my boots, and calling
Rubens after me, set forth from the hall
unnoticed by any of the family.
Rubens jumped up at me in an inquir-
ing fashion as we went along. He could
not imagine where we were going. I knew
quite well. I was making for the Rectory,
A FLAT IRON FOR A FARTHING.
the road to which I knew. I had often
thought I should like to go and see Mr.
Andrewes, and Mrs Bundle's remarks to
the housekeeper had suggested to me the
idea of calling upon him. We were near
neighbours, though we did not live in a
town. I resolved to "drop in" at the
It was a lovely morning, and Rubens
and I quite enjoyed our walk. He became
so much excited that it was with difficulty
that I withheld him from chasing the ducks
on the pond in Mr. Andrewes' farm-yard,
as we went through it. (The parson had
a little farm attached to his Rectory.)
Then I with difficulty unlatched the heavy
gate leading into the drive, and fastened
it again with the scrupulous care of a
country squire's son. The grounds were
exquisitely kept. Mr. Andrewes was a
first-rate gardener and a fair farmer. That
neatness, without which the brightest
flowers will not "show themselves" (as
gardeners say), did full justice to every
luxuriant shrub, and set off the pale, deli-
cately-beautiful border of snowdrops and
crocuses which edged the road, and the
clumps of daffodil, polyanthus, and prim-
rose flowers dotted hither and thither. I
was not surprised to hear the chorus of
birds above my head, for it was one of the
parson's "oddities" that he would have
no birds shot on his premises.
When I came into the flower-garden,
there was more exquisite neatness, and
more bright spring flowers, thinly scattered
in comparison with summer blossoms, but
shining brightly against the rich dark
mould. And on the turf were lying gar-
dening-tools, and busy among the tools
and flowers-beds were two men-the Rev.
Reginald Andrewes and his gardener. It
took me several seconds to distinguish
master from man. They were both in
straw hats and shirt sleeves, but I recog-
nised the parson by his trousers. His hat
was the older of the two, and not by any
means canonical." Having found him,
I went up to the bed where he was busy,
and sat down on the grass near him, with-
out speaking. (I was accustomed to respect
my father's "busy" moments, and yet to
be with him.) Rubens followed my ex-
ample, and sat down in silence also. He
had smelt the parson before, and wagged
his tail faintly as he saw him. But he
reserved his opinion of the gardener, and
seemed rather disposed to growl when he
touched the wheelbarrow.
"Bless me !" said Mr. Andrewes, who
was startled, as he well might be, by my
appearance. "Why, my dear boy, how
Very well, thank you," said I, getting up
and offering my hand; "I've dropped in."
"Dear me!" said Mr. Andrewes; "I
mean, I'm very glad to see you Won't you
come in ? You mustn't sit on the grass."
"What a pretty garden you have !" I
said, as we walked slowly towards the
the house. Mr. Andrewes turned round.
"Well, pretty well. It amuses me, you
know," he said, with the mock humility of
a real horticulturist. And he looked round
his garden with an unmistakable glance of
pride and affection. Have you a garden,
Reginald?" he inquired.
Yes," I said. At least, I've two beds
and a border. The beds are shaped like
an R and a D. But I haven't touched
them since I was ill. The gardener tidied
them up when I was at Oakford, and I
think he has dug up all my plants. At
least I couldn't find the Bachelor's But-
tons, nor the London Pride, nor the
Pansies, and I saw the Lavender-bush on
So they do-so they always do !" said
the parson, excitedly. "The only way is
to keep in the garden with them, and let
nothing go into the wheelbarrow but what
you see.-Jones! you may go to your
A HORTICUL2 URIST.
dinner. I watch Jones like a dragon, but
he sweeps up a tap-root now and then, all
the same; and yet he's better than most
himself rather than to me by this 'time.
"'Fraxinellas, double-grey primroses, ay,
and the pink and white ones too. And
THE VISIT TO THE RECTORY.
THE VISIT TO THE RECTORY.
of them. Some flowers are especially apt
to take leave of one's beds and borders,"
Mr. Andrewes went on. He was talking to
hepaticas, red, blue, and white."
What are hepaticas like ? I asked.
Let me show you," said Mr. Andrewes,
A FLAT IRON FOR A FARTHING.
crossing the garden. "Look here there
are the pretty little things. I have seen
them growing wild in Canada-single
ones, that is. The leaves are of a dull
green, and when they fade, the whole plant
is hardly to be distinguished from Mother
Earth-at least, not by a gardener's eye.
If you will promise- me not to let the
gardener meddle with them, unless you
are there to look after him, I will give you
plants for your beds and borders, my boy."
"Oh, thank you," I said; "I like
gardening very much. I should like to
garden like you. I've got a spade, and a
hoe, and a fork, and I had a rake, but it's lost.
But I know papa will give me another;
and I can tidy my own beds, so the gar-
dener need not touch them; and if there
was a wheelbarrow small enough for meto
wheel, I could take my weeds away my-
self, you know."
And I chattered on about my garden,
for, like other children, I was apt to take
up" things very warmly, in imitation of
other people; and Mr. Andrewes had
already fired my imagination with dreams
of a little garden in perfect order and
beauty, and tended by my own hands
alone; and as I talked of my garden, the
parson talked of his, and so we wandered
from border to border, finding each other
very good company, Rubens walking de-
murely at our heels. A great many of Mr.
Andrewes' remarks, though I am sure they
were very instructive, were beyond my
power of understanding; but as he closed
each lecture on the various flowers by a
promise of a root, a cutting, a sucker, a
seedling, or a bulb, as the case might be,
I was an attentive and well-satisfied
listener. I much admired some daffodils,
and Mr. Andrewes at once began to pick
a bunch of them for me.
Isn't it a pity to pick them ? I said,
"My dear Regie," said Mr. Andrewes,
" if ever you see anybody with a gogd gar-
den full of flowers who grudges picking
them for his friends, you may be quite
sure he has not learnt half of what his
flowers can teach him. Flowers are gene-
rous enough. The more you take from
them the more they give. And yet I have
seen people with beds glowing with gera-
niums, and trees laden with roses, who
grudged to pluck them, not knowing that
they would bloom all the better and more
luxuriantly for being culled."
"Do daffodils flower better when the
flowers are picked off?" I asked, -having
my full share of the childish propensity
for asking awkward and candid questions.
Mr. Andrews laughed.
"Well, no. I must confess they are not
quite like geraniums in this respect. And
spring flowers are so few and so precious,
one may be excused for not quite cutting
them like summer flowers. But it wouldn't
do only to be generous when it costs one
nothing. Eh, Regie ?"
I laughed and said "No," which was
what I was expected to say, and thanked
the parson for the daffodils. He pulled
out his watch.
My dear boy, it's luncheon time. Will
you come in and have something to eat
I hesitated; Mrs. Bundle had not spoken
of any meal in connection with the cere-
mony of "dropping in," but, on the other
hand, I should certainly like to lunch at
the Rectory, I thought. And, indeed, I
"Oh, you must come," said Mr. An-
drewes, leading me away without waiting
for an answer. "I'm sure you must be
hungry, and the dog too. What's his
name, eh ?"
"Rubens," said I.
"Does he paint?" Mr. Andrewes in-
quired. But as I knew nothing of Painter
Peter Paul Rubens or his works, I was
THE TRUANT RECLAIMED.
only uzzled, and said he knew a good
many tricks which I had taught him.
We'll see if he can beg for chicken-
bones," said the parson, hospitably; and
in-doors we went. Mr. Andrewes said
grace, though not in the words to which I
was accustomed, and we sat down to-
gether, Rubens lying by my chair. I en-
deavoured to conduct myself with the
strictest propriety, and I believe succeeded,
except for the trifling mischance of spilling
some bread-sauce on to my jacket. Mr.
Andrewes saw this, however, and wanted
to fasten a table-napkinround me, to which
Too like a pinafore, eh? said he, with
a sly laugh.
I don't think I ought to wear pinafores
now," I said, in a grave and injured tone.
"Leo Darner doesn't, and he's not much
older than I am. But I think," I added,
candidly, "he rather does as he likes,
because he's got nobody to look after him."
The parson laughed, and then gave a
"I wish my mother could come back,
and tie a pinafore round my neck he ex-
claimed, abruptly. Then I believe he
suddenly remembered that I had lost my
mother and was vexed with himself for his
hasty speech. I saw nothing inconsiderate
in the remark, however, and only said,
"Is your mother dead ?"
"Yes, my boy. Many years ago," said
"Did your father marry anybody else? "
My father died before my mother."
"Dear me," said I; "how very sad!
Leo's father and, mother died together.
They were drowned in his father's yacht." I
was in the middle of a history of my friend
Leo, and of my visit to London, when a
bell pealed loudly through the house.
"Somebody's in a hurry," said Mr.
Andrewes; that's the front-door'bell."
In three minutes the dining-room door
was opened, and the servant announced
"Mr. Dacre." It would be untrue to say
that I did not feel a little guilty when my
father walked into the room. And yet I
had not really thought there was "any
harm" in my expedition. I think I was
chiefly annoyed by the ignominious end
of it. It was trying, after "dropping in" and
" taking luncheon like a grown-up gentle-
man, to be fetched home as a lost child.
"What could make you run away like
this, Regie?" said my poor bewildered
parent. Mrs. Bundle is nearly mad with
fright. It was very naughty of you.
What were you thinking of? "
"I thought I would drop in," I ex-
plained. And in the pause resulting from
my father's astonishment at my absurd
and old-fashioned demeanour, I proceeded
with Nurse Bundle's definition as well as
I could recollect it in my confusion, and
speak it for impending tears. So I came,
and Rubens came, and Mr. Andrewes was
in the garden, and we sat down, to change
the weather, and pass time like, and Mr.
Andrewes was in the garden, and he gave
me some flowers, and Mr. Andrewes asked
me in, and I came in, and he gave me some
luncheon, and he asked Rubens to have
some bones, and--"
"'-Change the weather and pass time
time like,' muttered my father. Ser-
vants' language oh, dear !"
In my vexation with things in general,
and with the strong feeling within me that
I was in the wrong, I seized upon the first
grievance that occurred to me as an excuse
for fretfulness, and once more quoted
It's so very quiet at home," I whim-
pered, with tears in my eyes, which had
really no sort of connection with the dul-
ness of the Hall, or with anything whatever
but offended pride and vexation on my
A FLAT IRON FOR A FARTHING.
Ah! How many a stab one gives in
childhood to one's parents' tenderest feel-
ings I did not mean to be ungrateful,
and I had no measure of the pain my
father felt at this hint of the insufficiency
of all he did for my comfort and pleasure
at home. Mr. Andrewes knew better, and
"Just the love of novelty, Mr. Dacre.
We have been children ourselves."
My father sighed, and sitting down,
drew me towards him with one hand,
stroking Rubens with the other, in acknow-
ledgment of his greeting and wagging tail.
Then I saw that he was hurt. Indeed, I
fancied tears were in his eyes as he said,
"So poor Papa and home are too dull-
too quiet, eh, Regie? And yet Papa does
all he can for his boy."
My fit of ill-temper was gone in a mo-
ment, and I flung my arms round my
father's neck-Rubens taking flying leaps
Sto join in the embrace, after a fashion
common with dogs, and decidedly dan-
gerous to eyes, nose, and ears. And as I
kissed my father, and was kissed by
Rubens, I gave a candid account of my
expedition. "No, dear papa. It wasn't
that. Only Nurse said country places
were quiet, and in towns people dropped
in, and passed time, and changed the wea-
ther, and if she was in Oakford she would
drop in and see her sister. And so I said
Sit would be very nice. And so I thought
this morning that Rubens and I would
drop in and see Mr. Andrewes. And so
we did; and we didn't tell because we
wanted to come alone, for fun."
With this explanation the fullest har-
mony was restored; and my father sat
down whilst Mr. Andrewes and I finished
our luncheon and Rubens had his. I gave
an account of the garden in terms glowing
enough to satisfy the pride of the warmest
horticulturist, and my father promised a new
rake, and drank a glass of sherry to the suc-
cess of my "gardening without a gardener."
But as we were going away I overheard
him saying to Mr. Andrewes,
"All the same, a boy can't be with a
a nurse for ever. She has every good
quality, except good English. And he is
not a baby now. One forgets how time
passes. I must see about a tutor."
NURSE BUNDLE IS MAGNANIMOUS-MR. GRAY-AN EXPLANATION WITH
NATURALLY enough, I did my best
to give Nurse Bundle a faithful
account of my attempt to realize her idea
of dropping in," with all that came of it.
My garden projects, thearrivalof my father,
and all that he said and did on the occa-
sion. From my childish and confused ac-
count, I fancy that Nurse Bundle made
out pretty correctly the state of the case.
Being a grown-up person," she probably
guessed, without difficulty, the meaning of
my father's concluding remarks. I think
a good, faithful, tender-hearted nurse, such
as she was, must suffer with some of a mo-
ther's feelings, when it is first decided that
"her boy" is beyond petticoat govern-
ment. Nurse Bundle cried so bitterly over
this matter, that my most chivalrous feel-
ings were roused, and I vowed that "Papa
shouldfi't say things to vex my dear
LISTENERS HEAR NO GOOD.
Nursey." But Mrs. Bundle was very
"My dear," said she, wiping her eyes
with her apron, "depend upon it, what-
ever your papa settles on is right. He
knows what's suitable for a young gentle-
man; and it's only likely as a young gen-
tleman born and bred should outgrow to
be beyond what an old woman like me
can do for him. Though there's no tutors
nor none of them will ever love you better
than poor Nurse Bundle, my deary. And
there's no one ever has loved you better,
my dear, nor ever will-always excepting
your dear mamma, dead and gone."
All this stirred my feelings to the utter-
most, and I wept too, and vowed unconquer-
able fidelity to Nurse Bundle, and (despite
her remonstrances) unconquerable aver-
sion from the tutor that was to be. I fur-
thermore renewed my proposals of mar-
riage to Mrs. Bundle,-the wedding to
take place when I should be old enough."
This set her off into fits of laughing;
and having regained her good spirits, she
declared that "she wouldn't have, no, not
a young squire himself, unless he were
eddicated accordingly;" and this, it was
evident, could only be brought about
through the good offices of a tutor. And
to the prospective tutor (though he was to
be her rival) she was magnanimously fa-
vourable, whilst I, for my part, warmly
opposed the very thought of him. But
neither her magnanimity nor my unreason-
able objections were put to the test just
Several days had passed since I and
Rubens "dropped in" at the Rectory,
and I was one morning labouring dili-
gently at my garden, when I saw Mr.
Andrewes, in his canonical coat and shoes,
coming along the drive, carrying some-
thing in his hand which puzzled me. As
he came nearer, however, I perceived that
it was a small wheelbarrow, gaily painted
red within and green without. At a re-
spectful distance behind him walked Jones,
carrying a garden-basket full of plants on
Both the wheelbarrow and the plants
were for me-a present from the good-
natured parson. He was helping me to
plant the flower-roots, and giving me a lec-
ture on the sparing use of the wheelbarrow,
when my father joined us, and I heard
him say to Mr. Andrewes, "I should like
a word with you, when you are at liberty."
I do not know what made me think that
they were talking about me. I did, how-
ever, and watched them anxiously, as they
passed up and down the drive in close con-
sultation. At last I heard Mr. Andrewes
"The afternoon would suit me best;
say an hour after luncheon."
This remark closed the conversation,
and they came back to me. But I had
overheard another sentence from Mr.
Andrewes' lips, which filled me with dis-
I know of one that will just suit you;
a capital little fellow."
So the tutor was actually decided upon.
"'A capital little fellow.' That means a
nasty fussy little man !" I cried to myself.
"I hate him!"
For the rest of that day, and all the
next, I worried myself with thoughts of
the new tutor. On the following morning,
I was standing near one of the lodges with
my father, looking at some silver phea-
sants, when Mr. Andrewes rode by, and
called to my father.
Now, living as I did, chiefly with ser-
vants, and spending much more of my
leisure than was at all desirable between
the stables and the housekeeper's room,
my sense of honour on certain subjects
was not quite so delicate as it ought to
have been. With all their many merits,
uneducated people and servants have not
A FLAT IRON FOR A FARTHING.
-as a class-strict ideas on absolute
truthfulness and honourable trustworthi-
ness in all matters. A large part of the
plans, hopes, fears, and quarrels of unedu-
cated people are founded on what has
been overheard by folk who were not in-
tended to hear it, and on what has been
told again by those to whom a matter Was
told in confidence. Nothing is a surer
mark of good breeding and careful up-
bringing (as the Scotch call it) than deli-
cacy on those little points which are
trusted to one's honour. But refinement
in such matters is easily' blunted if one
lives much with people who think any
little meanness fair that is not found out.
I really saw no harm in trying to overhear
all that I could of the conversation'be-
tween my father and Mr. Andrewes, though
I was aware, from their manner, that I
was not meant to hear it. I lingered near
my father, therefore, and pretended to be
watching the pheasants, for a certain in-
stinct made me feel that I should not like
my father to see me listening. He was one
of those highly, scrupulously honourable
gentlemen, before whose face it was impos-
sible to do or say anything unworthy or
He spoke in low tones, so that I lost
most of what he said; but the parson's
voice was a peculiarly clear one, and though
he lowered it, I heard a good deal.
"I saw him yesterday," was Mr. An-
drewes' first remark.
(" That's the tutor," thought I.)
My father's answer I lost; but I caught
fragments of Mr. Andrewes' next remarks,
which were full of information on this im-
Quite young, good-tempered-little
boy so fond of him, nothing would have
induced them to part with him; but they
were going abroad."
Which sounded well; but I suspected
the parson of a good deal of officious ad-
vice in a long sentence, of which I only
caught the words, Can't begin too early."
I felt convinced, too, that I heard some-
thing about the "use of the whip," which
put me into a fever of indignation. Just
as Mr: Andrewes was riding off, my father
asked some question, to which the reply
My head was so full of the tutor that I
could not enjoy the stroll with my father
as usual, and was not sorry to get back to
Nurse Bundle, to whom I confided all
that I had heard about my future teacher.
He's a nasty little man," said I, "not
a nice tall gentleman like Papa or Mr.
Andrewes. And Mr. Andrewes saw him
yesterday. And Mr. Andrewes says he's
young. And he says he's good-natured; but
then what makes him use whips? And
his name is Mr. Gray. And he says the
other little boy was very fond of him, but
I don't believe it," I continued, breaking
down at this point into tears, "and they've
gone abroad (sobs) and I wish-boohoo !
boohoo-they'd taken him !"
With some trouble Nurse Bundle found
out the meaning of my rather obscure
speech. Her wrath at the thought of a
whip in connection with her darling was
quite as great as my own. But she per-
sisted in taking a hopeful view of Mr.
Gray, and trusting loyally to my father's
judgment, and she succeeded in softening
my grief for the time.
When I came down to dessert that even-
ing I pretended to be quite happy and
comfortable, and to have nothing on my
mind. But happily few children are clever
at pretending what is not true, and as I
was constantly thinking about that dread-
ful tutor," and puzzling over the scraps of
conversation I had heard to see if any-
thing more could be made out of them,
my father soon found out that something
What is the matter, Regie?" he asked.
IN THE WRONG.
Nothing, Father," I replied, with avery
poor imitation of cheerfulness, and no ap-
proach to truth.
"My dear boy,' said my father, frown-
ing slightly (a thing I always dreaded),
"do not say what is untrue, for any reason.
If you do not want to tell me what troubles
you, say, 'I'd rather not tell you, please,'
like a man, and I will not persecute you
about it. 'But don't say there is nothing
the matter when your little head is quite
full of something that bothers you very
much. As I said, I will not press you,
but as I love you, and wish to help you in
every way I can, I think you had better
Now, though I had really not thought I
was doing wrong in listening to the con-
versation I was not meant to hear, a some-
thing which one calls conscience made me
feel ashamed of the whole matter. I had
a feeling of being in the wrong, which is
apt to make one vexed and fretful, and it
was this, quite as much as fear of my grave
father, which made the colour rush to my
face, and the tears into my eyes.
Come, Regie," he said, out with it.
Don't cry, whatever you do; that's like a
baby. Have you been doing something
wrong? Tell me all about it. Confession
is halfway to forgiveness. Don't be afraid
of me. For heaven's sake, don't be afraid
of me !" added my father, with impatient
sadness, and the frown deepening so
rapidly on his face that my tears flowed
(How sad are the helpless struggles of
a widowed father with young children, I
could not then appreciate. How seldom
successful is the .alternative of a second
marriage, has become proverbial in excess
of the truth.)
My father was more patient than many
men. He .did not dismiss me and my
tears to the nursery in despair. With the
insight and tenderness of a mother he re-
strained himself, and unknitting his brows,
held out both his hands and said very
"Come and tell poor Papa all about it,
On which I jumped from my chair, and
rushing up to him, threw my arms about
his neck and sobbed out, Oh, Papa!
Papa! I don't want him."
Don't want whom, my boy ?"
"M-m-m-m-r. Gray," I sobbed.
"And who on earth is Mr. Gray,
Regie? inquired my perplexed parent.
"The tutor-the new tutor," I explained.
"But whose new tutor? cried the dis-
tracted gentleman, whose confusion seemed
in no way lessened when I added,
'" Mine, Papa; the one you're going to
get for me." And as no gleam of intelli-
gence yet brightened his puzzled face,
I'added, doubtfully, "You are going to
get one, aren't you, Papa ? "
"What put this idea into your head,
Regie ? asked my father, after a pause.
And then I had to explain, feeling very
uncomfortable as I did so, how I had
overheard a few words at the Rectory, and
a few words more at the lodge, and how I
had patched my hearsays together and
made out that a certain little man was
coming to be my tutor, who had previously
been tutor somewhere else, and that his
name was Gray. And all this time my
father did not help me out a bit by word
or sign. By the time I had got to the end
of my story of what I had heard, and what
I had guessed, and what Nurse Bundle
and I had made out, I did not need any
one to tell me that to listen to what one
is not intended to hear is a thing to be
ashamed of. My cheeks and ears were
very red, and I felt very small indeed.
Now, Regie," said my father, I won't
say what I think about your listening to
Mr. Andrewes and me, in order to find
out what I did not choose to tell you. You
A FLAT IRON FOR A FARTHING.
shall tell me what you think, my boy. Do
you think it is a nice thing, a gentlemanly
thing, upright, and honest, and worthy of
Papa's only son, to sneak about listening
to what you were not meant to hear. Now
don't begin to cry, Reginald," he added,
rather sharply ; you have nothing to cry
for, and it's either silly or ill-tempered to
whimper because I show you that you've
done wrong. Anybody may do wrong;
and if you think that you have, why say
you're sorry, like a man, and don't do so
I made a strong effort to restrain my
tears of shame and vexation, and said very
I'm very sorry, Papa. I didn't think
of it's being wrong."
I quite believe that, my boy. But you
see that it's not right now, don't you?"
"Oh yes!" I exclaimed, "and I won't
listen any more, father." We made it up
lovingly, Rubens flying frantically at our
heads to join in the kisses and reconcilia-
tion. He had been anxiously watching us,
being well aware that something was amiss.
I don't mean to tell you what Mr.
Andrewes and I were talking about," said
my father, because I did not wish you to
hear. But I will tell you that you made
a very bad guess at the secret. We were
not talking of a tutor, or dreaming of one,
and you have vexed yourself for nothing.
However, I think it serves you right for
listening. But we won't talk of that any
I do not think Nurse Bundle was dis-
posed to blame me as much as I now
blamed myself; but she was invariably
loyal to my father's decisions, and never
magnified her own indulgence in the nur-
sery by pitying me if I got into scrapes in
My dear," said she, your Pa's a gen-
tleman, every inch of him. You listen to
him, and try and do as he does, and you'll
grow up just such another, and be a pride
and blessing to all about you."
But we both rejoiced that at any rate
our fears were unfounded in reference to
the much-dreaded Mr. Gray.
THE REAL MR. GRAY-NURSE BUNDLE REGARDS HIM WITH DISFAVOUR.
M Y feelings may therefore be "better
imagined than described" when, at
about ten o'clock the following morning,
my father called me downstairs, and said,
with an odd expression on his face,
"Regie, Mr. Gray has come."
Not for one instant did I in my mind
accuse my father of deceiving me. My
faith in him was as implicit as he well de-
served that it should be. Black might be
white, two and two might make five, im-
possible things might be possible, but my
father could not be in the wrong. It was
evident that I must have misunderstood
him last night. I looked very crestfallen
My father, however, seemed particularly
cheerful, even inclined to laugh, I thought.
He took my hand and we went to the front
door, my heart beating wildly, for I was a
delicate unrobust lad yet, far too easily up-
set and excited. More like a girl, in fact,
MY FIRST PONY.
if the comparison be not an insult to such
sturdy little maids as Cousin Polly.
Outside we found a man-servant on a
bay horse, holding a little white pony, on
which, I supposed, the little tutor had been
riding. But he himself was not to be seen.
I tried hard to be manly and calm, and
being much struck by the appearance of
the pony, who, when I came down the
steps, had turned towards me the gentlest
and most intelligent of faces, with a splen-
did long curly white forelock streaming
down between his kind dark eyes, I
"Is that Mr. Gray's pony, father?"
What do you think of it?" said my
"Oh, it's a little dear," was my empha-
tic answer, and as the pony unmistakably
turned his head to me, I met his friendly
advances by going up to him, and in an-
other moment my arms were round his
neck, and he was rubbing his soft, strong
nose against my shoulder, and we were
kissing and fondling each other in happy
forgetfulness of everything but our sudden
friendship, whilst the man-servant (appa-
rently an Irishman) was firing off ejacula-
tions like crackers on the fifth of No-
"Sure, now, did ever anyone see the
like-just to look at the baste-sure he
knows it's the young squire himself entirely.
Och, but the young gintleman's as well
acquainted with horses as myself-sure
he'd make friends with a unicorn, if their
was such an animal; and it's the unicorn
that would be proud to let him, too !"
"It has been used to boys, I think?"
said my father.
Ye may say that, yer honour. It likes
boys better than man, woman, or child, and
it's not every baste ye can say that for."
"A good many beasts have reason to
think very differently, I fear," said my
"And that's as true a word as your
honour ever spoke," assented the groom.
Meanwhile a possible ground of conso-
lation was beginning to suggest itself to my
"Will Mr. Gray keep his pony here ?"
The pony will live here," said my
"Oh, do you think," I asked, "do you
think, that if I am very good, and do my
lessons well, Mr. Gray will sometimes let
me ride him? He is such a darling !" By
which I meant the pony, and not Mr.
Gray. My father laughed, and put his
hand on my shoulders.
I have only been teasing you, Regie,"
he said. You know I told you there was
no tutor in the case. Mr. Andrewes and
I were talking about this pony, and when
Mr. Andrewes said grey, he spoke of the
colour of the pony, and not of anybody's
"Then is the pony yours?" I asked.
My father looked at my eager face with
a pleased smile.
No, my boy," he said, he is yours."
The wild delight with which I received
this announcement, the way I jumped and
danced, and that Rubens jumped and
danced with me, my gratitude and my
father's satisfaction, the renewed amenities
between myself and my pony, his obvious
knowledge of the fact that I was his master,
and the running commentary of the Irish-
man, I will not attempt to describe.
The purchase of this pony was indeed
one of my father's many kind thoughts for
my welfare and amusement. My odd pil-
grimage to the Rectory in search of change
and society, and the pettish complaints of
dulness and monotony at home which I had
urged to account for my freak, of drop-
ping in," had seemed to him not without
a certain serious foundation. Except for
walks about the farm with him, and stole-1
A FLAT IRON FOR A FARTHING.
snatches of intercourse with the grooms,
and dogs, and horses in the stables (which
both he and Nurse Bundle discouraged),
string, but now and then I was, to use an
expressive word, moped. My father had
taken counsel with Mr. Andrewes, and the
I had little or no amusement proper to a end of it all was that I found myself the
boy of my age. I was very well content master of the most charming of ponies,
to sit with Rubens at Mrs. Bundle's apron- with the exciting prospect before me of
HEN AND DUCKLING.
learning to ride. The very thought of it
invigorated me. Before the Irish groom
went away I had asked if my new steed
"could jump." I questioned my father's
men as to the earliest age at which young
gentlemen had ever been allowed to go out
hunting,'within their knowledge. I went
to bed to dream of rides as wild as
Mazeppa's, of hairbreadth escapes, and of
feats of horsemanship that would have
amazed Mr. Astley. And hopes and
schemes so wild that I dared not bring
them to the test of my father's ridicule, I
poured with pride into Nurse Bundle's
Dear, good, kind Nurse Bundle !- She
was indeed a mother to me, and a mother's
anxieties and disappointments were her
portion. The effect of her watchful con-
stant care of my early years for me, was
whatever good there was about me in
health or manners. The effect of it for
her was, I believe, that she was never tho-
roughly happy when I was out of her sight.
In these circumstances, it seemed hard
that when most of my infantile diseases
were over, when I was just becoming very
intelligent (the best company possible,
Mrs. Bundle declared), when I wore my
clothes out reasonably, and had exchanged
the cries which exercise one's lungs in in-
fancy for rational conversation by the nur-
sery fireside, I should be drawn away from
nurse and nursery almost entirely. It was
right and natural, but it was hard. Nurse
Bundle felt it so, but she never complained.
When she felt it most, she only said, It's
all just as it should be." And so it was.
Boys and ducklings must wander off some
time, be mothers and hens never so kind !
The world is wide,'and duck-ponds are
deep. The young ones must go alone,
and those who tremble most for their
safety cannot follow to take care of them.
I really shrink from realizing to myself
what Nurse Bundle must have suffered
whilst I was learning to ride. The novel
exercise, the stimulus of risk, that "put
new life into me," were to her so many
daily grounds for the sad probability of'
Every blessed afternoon do I look to.
see him brought home on a shutter, with
his precious neck broken, poor lamb !" she-
exclaimed one afternoon, overpowered by
the sight of me climbing on to the pony's.
back, which performance I had brought
her downstairs to witness, and endeavoured
to render more entertaining and credit-
able by secretly stimulating the pony to.
restlessness, and then hopping after him
with one foot in the stirrup, in what I.
fancied to be a very knowing manner.
"Why, my dear Mrs. Bundle," said my
father, smiling, you kill him at least
three hundred and sixty-four times oftener-
in the course of the year than you need.
If he does break his neck, he can only do.
it once, and you bewail his loss every-
"Now, Heaven bless the young gentle-.
man, sir, and meaning no disrespect, but.
don't ye go for to tempt Providence by
joking about it, and him perhaps brought:
a hopeless corpse to the side door this very-
evening," said Mrs. Bundle, her red cheeks,
absolutely blanched by the vision she had
conjured up. Why, I cannot say, but she-
had fully made up her mind that when I
was brought home dead, as she believed
that, sooner or later, I was pretty sure to.
be, I should be brought to the side-door.
Now the side-door," as it was called, was.
a little door leading into the garden, and
less used, perhaps, than any other door in
the house. Mrs. Bundle, I believe, had
decided that in that tragedy which she was.
constantly rehearsing, the men who should
find my body would avoid the front-door,
to spare my father the sudden shock of
meeting my corpse. The side-door, too,
was just below the nursery windows. Mrs.
A FLAT IRON FOR A FARTHING.
Bundle herself, would, probably, be the
first to hear any knocking at it, and she
naturally pictured herself as taking a pro-
minent part in the terrible scene she so
often fancied. It was perhaps a good
thing, on the whole, that she chose this
door in preference-to those in constant
use, otherwise every ring or knock at the
front or back door must have added greatly
to her anxieties.
I fear I did not do much to relieve
them. I rather aggravated them. Partly
I believe in the conceit of showing off my
own skill and daring, and partly by way of
"hardening" Mrs. Bundle's nerves. When
more knowledge, or longer custom, or
stronger health or nerves, have placed us
beyond certain terrors which afflict other
people, we are apt to fancy that, by insist-
ing upon their submitting to what we do
not mind, our nervous friends can or
ought to be forced into the unconcern
which we feel ourselves; which is, per-
haps, a little too like dosing the patient
with what happens to agree with the
Thus I fondled my pony's head and
dawdled ostentatiously at his heels when
Nurse Bundle was most full of fears of
his biting or kicking. But I feel sure that
this, and the tricks I played to show the
firmness of my seat," only made it seem
to her the more certain that, from my
recklessness, I must some day be bitten,
kicked, or thrown.
I had several falls, and one or two
narrow escapes from more serious acci-
dents, which, for the moment, made my
father as white as Mrs. Bundle. But he
was wise enough to know that the present
risks I ran from fearlessness were nothing
to the future risks against which complete
confidence on horseback would ensure
me. And so with 'the ordinary mishaps,
and with days and hours of unspeakable
and healthy happiness, I learnt to ride
well and to know horses. And poor Mrs.
Bundle, sitting safely at home in her rock-
ing-chair, endured all the fears from which
I was free.
"Now look, my deary," said she one
day; "don't you. go turning your sweet
face round to look up at the nursery win-
dows when you're a riding off. I can see
your curls, bless them and that's enough
for me. Keep yourself still, love, and
look where you're a going, for in all reason
you've plenty to do with that. And don't
you go a waving your precious hand, for
it gives me such a turn to think you've let
go, and have only got one hand to hold
on with, and just turning the corner too,
and the pony a shaking its tail, and shift-
ing about with its back legs, till how you
don't slip off on one side passes me alto-
"Why, you don't think I hold on by
my hands, do you ?" I cried.
"And what should you hold on with?"
said Mrs. Bundle. Many's the light cart
I've rode in, but never let go my hold,
unless with one hand, to save a bag or a
bandbox. And though it's jolting, I'm
sure a light cart's nothing to pony-back
for starts and unexpectedness."
I tried in vain to make Nurse Bundle
like my pony.
I've seen plenty of ponies !" she said,
severely; by which she meant not that she
had seen many, but that what she had
seen of them had been more than enough.
" My brother-in-law's first cousin had one
-a little red-haired beast-as vicious as
any wild cat. It won a many races, but it
was the death of him at last, according to
the expectations of everybody. He was
brought home on a shutter to his family,
and the pony grazing close by in the ditch
as if nothing had happened. Many's the
time I've seen him on it expecting death
as little as yourself, and he refused twenty
pound for it the Tuesday fortnight before
MRS. B. AMO TE.
he was killed. But I was with his wife
that's now his widow when the body was
By the time that I heard this anecdote
I was happily too good a rider to be
frightened by it; but I did wish that Mrs.
Bundle's relative had died any other death
than that which formed so melancholy a
precedent in her mind.
The strongest obstacle, however, to any
chance of my nurse's looking with favour
on my new pet was her profound ignorance
of horses and ponies in general. Except as
to colour or length of tail, she recognized
no difference between one and another.
As to any distinctions between play" and
" vice," a fidgety animal and a determined
kicker, a friendly nose-rub and a malicious
resolve to bite, they.were not discernible
by Mrs. Bundle's unaccustomed eyes.
I've seen plenty of ponies," she would
repeat; "I know what they are, my dear,"
and she invariably followed up this state-
ment by rehearsing the fate of her brother-
in-law's cousin, sometimes adding-
"He was very much giving to racing,
and being about horses. He was a little
man, and suffered a deal from the quinsies
in the autumn."
"What a pity he didn't die of a quinsy
instead of breaking his neck !" I felt com-
pelled to say one day.
"He might have lived to have done
that if it hadn't a been for the pony," said
Mrs. Bundle emphatically.
I FAIL TO TEACH LATIN TO MRS. BUNDLE-THE RECTOR TEACHES ME.
I WAS soon to discover the whole of my
father's plans with Mr. Andrewes for
my benefit. Not only had they decided
that I was to have a pony, and learn to
ride, but it was also settled that I was to
go daily to the Rectory to "do lessons"
with the Rector.
I was greatly pleased. I had already
begun Latin with my father, and had
vainly endeavoured to share my educa-
tional advantages with Mrs. Bundle, by
teaching her the first declension.
"Musa, arhuse," she repeated after me
on this occasion.
Musae, of a muse," I continued.
Of amuse! There's no sense in that,
my dearie," said Mrs. Bundle; and as my
ideas were not very well defined on the
subject of the muses, and as Mrs. Bundle's
were even less so as to genders, numbers,
and cases, I reluctantly gave in to her
decision that "Latin was very well for
young gentlemen, but good plain English
was best suited to the likes of her."
She was greatly delighted, however, with
a Latin valentine which I prepared for her
on the ensuing i4th of February, and
caused to be delivered by the housemaid,
in an envelope with an old stamp, and
postmarks made with a pen and a penny.
The design was very simple; a heart
traced in outline from a peppermint lozenge
of that shape, which came to me in an
ounce of "mixed sweets" from the village
shop. The said heart was painted red.
and below it I wrote in my largest and
clearest handwriting, Mrs. B. Anmo te.
When the Latin was translated for her, her
A FLAT IRON FOR A FARTHING.
gratification was great. At first she was
put out by there being only two Latin
words to three English ones, but she got
over the difficulty at last by always read-
ing it thus:-
"A mo te,
I love thee."
My Latin had not advanced much be-
yond this stage when I began to go to Mr.
Andrewes every day.
Thenceforward I progressed rapidly in
my learning. Mr. Andrewes was a good
scholar, and (quite another matter) a good
teacher; and I fancy that I was not want-
ing in quickness or in willingness to work.
But Latin, and arithmetic, and geography,
and the marvellous improvement he soon
made in my handwriting, were small parts
indeed of all that I owe to that good
friend of my childhood. I suppose that
-other things being equal-children learn
most from those who love them best, and
I soon found out that I was the object of
a strangely strong affection in my new
teacher. The chief cause of this I did
not then know, and only learnt when
death had put an end, for this life, to our
happy intercourse. But I had a child's
complacent appreciation of the fact that I
was a favourite, and on the strength of it I
haunted the Rectory at all hours, confi-
dent of a welcome. I turned over the
Rector's books, and culled his flowers, and
joined his rides, and made him tell me
stories, and tyrannized over him as over a
docile playfellow in a fashion that asto-
nished many grown-up people who were
awed and repelled by his reserve and eccen-
tricities, and who never knew his character
as I knew it till he could be known no
more. But I fancy that there are not a
few worthy men who, shy and reserved,
are only intimately known by the children
whom they love.
I may say that not only did I owe much
more than mere learning to Mr. Andrewes,
but that my regular lessons were a small
part even of his teaching.
It always seems to me," he said one
day, when my father and I were together
at the Rectory, "that there are two kinds
of learning more neglected than they should
be in the education of the young. Reli-
gious knowledge, which, after all, concerns
the worthiest part of every man, and the
longest share of his existence (to say no-
thing of what it has to do with matters
now); and the knowledge of what we call
Nature, and of all the laws which concern
our bodies, and rule the conditions of life
in this world. It's a hobby of mine, Mr.
Dacre, and I'm afraid I ride my hobbies
rather like a witch on a broomstick. But
a man must deal according to his lights
and his conscience; and if I am intrusted
with the lad's education for a while,. it will
be my duty and pleasure to instruct him
in religious lore and natural science, so far
as his age allows. To teach him to know
his Bible (and I wish all who have the
leisure were taught to read the Scriptures
in the original tongues). To teach him to
know his Prayer-book, and its history.
Something, too, of the history of his
Church, and of the faith in which better
men than us have been proud to live, and
for which some have even dared to die."
When the Rector became warm in con-
versation, his voice betrayed a rougher
accent than we commonly heard, and the
more excited he became the broader was
his speech. It had got very broad at this
point, when my father broke in. I trust
him entirely to you, sir," he said; "but,
pardon me, I confess I am not fond of
religious prodigies-children who quote
texts and teach their elders their duty;
and Reginald has quite sufficient tendency
towards over-excitement of brain on all
"I quite agree with you," said Mr.
Andrewes. "I think you may trust me.
THE BODY IS THE SOCKET OF THE SOUL.
'I know well that childhood, like all states
and times of ignorance, is so liable to con-
ceit and egotism, that to foster religious
self-importance is only too easy, and
modesty and moderation are more slowly
taught. But if youth is a time when one
is specially apt to be self-conceited, surely,
Mr. Dacre, it is also the first, the easiest,
the purest, and the most zealous in which
to learn what is so seldom learned in good
"I dare say you are right," said my
People talk with horror of attacks on
the faith as sadly characteristic of our age,"
said the Rector, walking up and down the
study, and seemingly forgetful of my pre-
sence, if not of my father's "(which, by-the-
bye, is said of every age in turn), but I
fear the real evil is that so few have any
fixed faith to be attacked. It is the old,
old story. From within, not from without.
The armour that was early put on, that
has grown with our growth, that has been
a strength in time of trial, and a support
in sorrow, and has given grace to joy, will
not quickly be discarded because the jour-
nals say it is old-fashioned and worn-out.
Life is too short for every man to prove
his faith theoretically, but it is given to all
to prove its practical value by experience,
and that method of proof cannot be begun
"Very true," said my father
"I don't know why a man's religious
belief (which is of course the ground of his
religious life) should be supposed to come
to him without the trouble of learning,
any more than any other body. of truths
and principles on which people act," Mr.
Andrewes went on. "And yet what re-
ligious instruction do young people of the
educated classes receive as a rule ?-espe-
cially the boys, for girls get hold of books,
and pick up a faith somehow, though often
only enough to make them miserable'and
'unsettled,' and no more. I often wonder,"
he.added, sitting down at the table with a
laugh, "whether the mass of educated
men know less of what concerns the wel-
fare of their souls, and all therewith con-
nected, or the mass of educated women of
what concerns their bodies, and all there-
with connected. I feel sure that both
ignorance produce untold and dire evil !"
"So theology and natural science are to
be Regie's first lessons ?" said my father,
drawing me to him.
"I've been talking on stilts, I know,"
said Mr. Andrewes, smiling. "We'll use
simpler terms,-duty to GOD, and duty to
Man. One can't do either without learn-
ing how, Mr. Dacre."
I repeat this conversation as I have
heard it from my father, since I grew up
and could understand it. Mr. Andrewes'
educational theories were duly put in prac-
tice for my benefit. In his efforts for my
religious education, Nurse Bundle proved
an unexpected ally. When I repeated to
her some solemn truth which in his reverent
and simple manner he had explained to
me; some tale he had told me of some
good man, whose example was to be fol-
lowed; some bit of quaint practical advice
he had given me, or perhaps some hymn
I had learned by his side, the delight of
the good old soul knew no bounds. She
said it was as good as a sermon; and as
she was particularly fond of sermons, this
was a compliment. She used to beg me
carefully to remember anything of the kind
that I heard, and when I repeated it, she
had generally her own word of advice to
add, and wonderful tales with which to
point the moral,-tales of happy and un-
.happy deathbeds, of warnings, judgments,
and answers to prayer. Tales, too, of the
charities of the poor, the happiness of the
afflicted, and the triumphs of the deeply
tempted, such as it is good for the wealthy,
and healthy, and well.cared-for, to listen
A FLAT IRON FOR A FARTHING.
to. Nurse Bundle's religious faith had a
tinge of superstition; that of Mr.- An-
drewes was more enlightened. But with
both it was a matter of every-day life, from
which no hope or fear, no sorrow or joy,
no plan, no word or deed, could be
And however imperfectly, so it became
with me. Like most children, I had my
own rather vivid idea of the day of judg-
ment. The thought of death was familiar
to me. (It is seldom, I think, a painful
one in childhood.) I fully realized the
couplet which concluded a certain quaint
old rhyme in honour of the four Evange-
lists which Nurse Bundle had taught me
to repeat in bed-
"If I die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take."
I used to recite a similar one when I was
dressed in the morning-
"If my soul depart to-day,
A place in Paradise I pray."
When I had had a particularly pleasant
ride, or enjoyed myself much during the
day, I thanked GOD specially in my even-
ing prayers. I remember that whatever I
wished for I prayed for, in the complete
belief that this was the readiest way to
obtain it. And it would be untruth to my
childish experience not to add that I never
remember to have prayed in vain. I also
picked up certain little quaint superstitions
from Nurse Bundle, some of which cling
to me still. Neither she nor I ever put
anything on the top of a Bible, and we
sometimes sat long in comical and uncom-
fortable silence because neither of us would
" scare the angel that was passing over the.
house." When the first notes of the organ
stirred the swallows in the church eaves to
chirp aloud, I believed with Mrs. Bundle
that they were joining in the Te Deum.
And when sunshine fell on me through the
church windows during service, I regarded
it as "a blessing."
The other half of Mr. Andrewes' plan
was not neglected. From him I learnt
(and it is lore to be thankful for) to use
my eyes. He was a good botanist, and
his knowledge of the medicinal uses of
wild herbs ranked next to his piety to
raise him in Mrs. Bundle's esteem. When
"lessons" were over, we often rode out
together. As we rode through the lanes,
he taught me to distinguish the notes of
the birds, to observe what crops grow on
certain soils, and at what seasons the dif-
ferent plants flower and bear fruit. He
made me see with my own eyes, and hear
with my own ears, for which I shall ever
be grateful to him. I fancy I can heat
his voice now, saying in his curt cutting
"How silly it sounds to hear anybody
with a head on his shoulders say, 'I never
noticed it !' What are eyes for?"
If I admired some creeper-covered cot-
tage, picturesquely old and tumble-down,
he would ask me how many rooms I
thought it contained-if I fancied the roof
would keep out rain or snow, and how far
I supposed it was convenient and comfort-
able for a man and his wife and six chil-
dren to live in. In some very practical
problems which he once set me, I had to
suppose myself a labourer, with nine shil-
lings a week, and having found out what
sum that would come to in half a year, to
write on my slate how I would spend the
money, to the best advantage, in clothing
and feeding two grown-up people and
seven children of various ages. As I knew
nothing of the cost of the necessaries of
life, I went, by Mr. Andrewes' advice, to
Nurse Bundle for help.
"What do beef and mutton cost ?" was
my first question, as I sat with an im-
portant air at the nursery table, slate in
Now bless the dear boy's innocence?"
cried Mrs. Bundle. "You may leave the
beef and mutton, love. It's not much
meat a family gets that's reared on nine
shillings a week."
After a series of calculations for oat-
meal-porridge, onion-potage, and other
modest dainties, during which Mrs. Bundle
constantly fell back on the "bits of things
in the garden," I said decidedly--
"They can't have any clothes, so it's
no good thinking about it."
Children can't be let go bare-backed,"
said Mrs. Bundle, with equal decision.
"She must take in washing. For in all
reason, boots can't be expected to come
out of nine shillings a week, and as many
mouths to feed."
"She must take in washing, sir," I an-
nounced with a resigned air, and the old-
fashioned gravity peculiar to me, when I
returned to the Rectory next day. Boots
can't come out of nine shillings a week."
The Rector smiled.
'"And suppose one of the boys catches a
fever, as you did; and they can't have
other people's clothes to the house, be-
cause of the infection. And then there will
be the doctor's bill to pay-what then ?"
By this time I had so thoroughly realized
the position of the needy family, that I
GS A WEEK. 69
had forgotten it was not a real case, or
rather, that no special one was meant.
And I begged, with tears in my eyes, that
I might apply the contents of my alms-
box to paying the doctor's bill.
Many a lesson like this, with oft-re-
peated practical remarks about healthy
situations, proper drainage, roomy cot-
tages, and the like, was engraven by con-
stant repetition on my mind, and bore
fruit in after years, when the welfare of
many labourers and their families was in
It is difficult to convey an idea of the
learning I gained from my good friend,
and-yet to show how free he was from
priggishness, or from .always playing the
schoolmaster. He was simply the most
charming of companions, who tried to
raise me to his level, and interest me in
what he knew and thought himself, in-
stead of coming down to me, and talking
the patronizing nonsense which is so often
supposed to be acceptable to children.
Across all the years that have parted us
in this life I fancy at times that I see his
grey eyes twinkling under their thick
brows once more, and hear his voice, with
its slightly rough accent, saying-
Think, my dear lad, think/ Pray
learn to think !"
THE ASTHMATIC OLD GENTLEMAN AND HIS RIDDLES-I PLAY TRUANT
AGAIN-IN THE BIG GARDEN.
IT was perhaps partly because, like most
only children, I was accustomed to
be with grown-up people, that I liked the
way in which Mr. Andrewes treated me,
and resented the very different style of
another friend of my father, who always ban-
tered me in a playful, nonsensical fashion,
which he deemed suitable to my years.
The friend in question was an old gen-
tleman, and a very benevolent one. I
A FLAT IRON FOR A FARTHING.
think he was fond of children, and I am
sure he was kind.
He never came without giving me half-
a-guinea before he left, generally slipping
it down the back of my neck, or hiding it
under my plate at ,dinner, or burying it in-
an orange. He had a whole store of
funny tricks, which would have amused
and pleased me if I might have enjoyed
them in peace. But he never ceased teas-
ing me, and playing practical jokes on
me. And the worst of it was, he teased
Mr. Andrewes often afterwards told of
the day when I walked into the Rectory
-my indignant air, he vowed, faithfully
copied by the dog at my heels-and with-
out preface began:
I know I ought to forgive them that
trespass against us, but I can't. He put
cayenne pepper on to Rubens' nose."
In justice to ourselves, I must say that
neither Rubens nor I bore malice on this
point, but it added to the anxiety which I
always felt to get out of the old gentle-
By him I was put through those riddles
which puzzle all childish brains in turn: If
a herring and a half cost threehalfpence,"
&c. And if I successfully accomplished
this calculation, I was tripped up by the
unfair problem, If your grate is of such
and such dimensions, what will the coals
come to?" I can hear his voice now
(hoarse from a combination of asthma and
snuff-taking) as he poked me jocosely but
unmercifully "under the fifth rib," as he
called it, crying-
"Ashes! my little man. D'ye see?
After which he took more snuff, and
nearly choked himself with laughing at
Greatly was Nurse Bundle puzzled that
night, when I stood, ready for bed, fum-
bling with both hands under my nightshirt,
and an expression of face becoming a sur-
geon conducting a capital operation.
Bless the dear boy!" she cried. What
are you doing to yourself, my dear? "
How does he know which is the fifth
rib ?" I almost -howled in my vexation.
"I don't believe it was the fifth rib! I
wish I hadn't a fifth rib I wish I might
hurt his fifth rib !"
I think the old gentleman would have
choked with laughter if he could have seen
and heard me.
One day, to my father's horror, I can-
"It always makes me think of the first
of April, sir, when you're here."
I did not mean to be rude. It was
simply true that the succession of sells"
and practical jokes of which Rubens and
I were the victims during his visits did re-
call the tricks supposed to be sacred to
the Festival of All Fools.
To do the old gentleman justice, he
heartily enjoyed the joke at his own ex-
pense; laughed and took snuff in extra
proportions, and gave me a whole guinea
instead of half a one, saying that I should
go to live with him in Fools' Paradise,
where little pigs ran about ready roasted
with knives and forks in their backs; add-
ing more banter and nonsense of the same
kind, to the utter bewilderment of my
He was the occasion of my playing
truant to the Rectory a second time.
Once, when'he was expected, I took my
nightshirt from my pillow, and followed
by Rubens, presented myself before the
Rector as he sat at breakfast, saying, "Mr.
Carpenter is coming, and we can't endure
it. We really can't endure it. And please,
sir, can you give us a bed for the night?
And I'm very sorry it isn't a clean one,
but Nurse keeps the nightgowns on the
top shelf, and I didn't want her to know
we were coming."
JOKES AND POKES.
Mr. Andrewes kept me with him for
some hours, but he persuaded me to re-
turn and meet the old gentleman, saying
and "put up with" things that were not
quite to my mind. So I went back, and
partly because of my efforts to be less
IN THE BIG GARDEN.
that it was only due to his real kindness
to bear with his little jokes; and that I
ought to try and learn to make allowances,
easily annoyed, and partly because I was
older than at his latest visit, and knew all
the riddles, and could see through his
A FLAT IRON FOR A FARTHING.
jokes more quickly, I got on very well
Very glad I was afterwards that I had
gone back, and spent a friendly evening
with the kind old man; for the following
spring his asthma became worse and worse,
and he died. That visit was his last to us.
He teased me and Rubens no more. But
when I heard of his death, I felt what I
said, that I was very sorry. He had been
very kind, and his pokes and jokes were
trifles to look back upon.
Mr. Andrewes kept up his interest in my
garden. Indeed, I soon got beyond the
childish way of gardening; I ceased to use
my watering-pot recklessly, and to take up
my plants to see how they were getting on.
I was promoted from my little beds to
some share in the large flower-garden.
My father was very fond of his flowers,
and greatly pleased to find me useful.
Some of the happiest hours I ever spent
were those in which I worked with him in
"the big' garden;" Rubens lying in the
sun, keeping imaginary guard over my
father's coat. We had a friendly rivalry
with the Rectory, in which I felt the
highest interest. Sometimes, however, I
helped Mr. Andrewes himself, when he
rewarded me with plants and good ad-
vice. The latter often in quaint rhymes,
"This rule in gardening never forget,
To sow dry, and to set wet."
But after a time, and to my deep regret,
Mr. Andrewes gave up the care of my
education. He said his duties in the parish
did not allow of his giving much time to
me; and though my father had no special
wish to press my studies, and was more
anxious for the benefit of the Rector's in-
fluence, Mr. Andrewes at last persuaded
him that he ought to get a resident tutor
and prepare me for a public school.
By this time I had almost forgotten my
foolish prejudice against the imaginary Mr.
Gray, and was only sorry that I could no
longer do lessons with the Rector.
I suppose it was in answer to some in-
quiries that he made that my father heard
of a gentleman who wanted such a situa-
tion as ours. He heard of him from Leo
Damer's guardian, and the gentleman
proved to be the very tutor whom I had
seen from the nursery windows of aunt
Maria's house. He had remained with
Leo ever since, but as Leo's guardian had
now sent him to school, the tutor was at
In these circumstances, I felt that he
was not quite a stranger, and was prepared
to receive him favourably.
Indeed, when his arrival was close at
hand, Nurse Bundle and I took an hospi-
table pleasure in looking over the arrange-
ments of his room, and planning little de-
tails forhis comfort.
He came at last, and my father was
able to announce to Aunt Maria (who had
never approved of what she called Mr.
Andrewes' desultory style of teaching")
that my education was now placed in the
hands of a resident tutor.
THE TUTOR-THE PARISH-A NEW CONTRIBUTOR TO THE ALMS-BOX.
MR. CLERKE was a small, slight, fair
man. He was short-sighted, which
caused him to carry a round piece of glass
about the size of a penny in his waistcoat
pocket, and from time to time to stick
this into his eye, where he held it in a very
ingenious, but, as it seemed to me, dan-
It took me quite a fortnight to get used
to that eye-glass. It was like a policeman's
bull's-eye lantern. I never knew when it
might be turned on me. Then the glass
had no rim, the edges looked quite sharp,
and the reckless way in which the tutor
held it squeezed between his cheek and
eyebrow was a thing to be at once feared
I was sitting over my Delectus one morn-
ing, unwillinglyworking at a page which had
been set as a punishment for some offence,
with my hands buried in my pockets, fum-
bling with halfpence and other treasures
there concealed,when, seeing my tutor stick
his glass into his eye as he went to the book-
case, I pulled out a.halfpenny to try if I
wouldd hold it between cheek and brow, as
ie held his glass. After many failures, I
nad just triumphantly succeeded when he
caught sight of my reflection in a mirror,
and seeing the halfpenny in my eye, my
chin in air, and my face puckered up with
what must have been a comical travesty of
his own appearance, he concluded that I was
mimicking him, and defying his authority,
and coming quickly up to me he gave me
a sharp box on the ear.
In the explanation which followed, he
was candid enough to apologize hand-
somely for having "lost his temper," as
he said; and having remitted my task as
an atonement, took me out fishing with
We got on very well together. At first
I think my old-fashioned ways puzzled
him, and he was also disconcerted by the
questions which I asked when we were
out together. Perhaps he understood me
better when he came to know Mr. An-
drewes, and learned how much I had been
He had a very high respect for the
Rector. The first walk we took together
was to call at the Rectory. We stayed
luncheon, and Mr. Andrewes had some
conversation with the tutor which I did
not hear. As we came home, I was anxious
to learn if Mr. Clerke did not think my
dear friend "very nice."
"Mr. Andrewes is a very remarkable
man," said the tutor. And he constantly
repeated this. "He is a very remarkable
After a while Mr. Clerke ceased to be
put out by my asking strange unchildish
questions which he was not always able to.
answer. He often said, "We will ask
Mr. Andrewes what he thinks;" and for
my own part, I respected him none the
less that he often honestly confessed that
he could not, off-hand, solve all the pro-
blems that exercised my brain. He was
not a good general naturalist, but he was
fond of geology, and was kind enough to
take me out with him on "chipping" ex-
peditions, and to start me with a "collec-
tion" of fossils. I had already a collec-
tion of flowers, a collection of shells, a
collection of wafers, and a collection of
seals. (People did not collect monograms
and old stamps in my young days.) These
A FLAT IRON FOR A FARTHING.
collections were a sore vexation to Nurse
Whatever a gentleman like the Rector
is thinking of, for to encourage you in
such rubbish, my dear," said she, "it
passes me It's vexing enough to see
dirt and bits about that shouldn't be, when
you can take the dust-pan and clear 'em
away. But to have dead leaves, and
weeds, and stones off the road brought in
day after day, and not be allowed so much
as to touch them, and a young gentleman
that has things worth golden guineas to
play with, storing up a lot of stuff you
could pick off any rubbish-heap in a field
before it's burned-if it was anybody but
you, my dear, I couldn't a-bear it. And
what's a tutor for, I should like to
(Mrs. Bundle, who at no time liked
blaming her darling, had now acquired a
habit of laying the blame of any misdoings
of mine on the tutor, on the ground that
he "ought to have seen to" my acting
If Mr. Clerke discovered that he could
confess to being puzzled by some of my
questions, without losing ground in his
pupil's respect, I soon found out that my
grown-up tutor had not altogether out-
lived boyish feelings. It dimly dawned
on me that he liked a holiday quite as
well, if not better than myself; and as we
grew more intimate we had many a race
and scramble and game together, when
bookwork was over for the day. He rode
badly, but with courage, and the mishaps
he managed to suffer when riding the
quietest and oldest of my father's horses
were food for fun with him as well as
He told me that he was going to be a
clergyman, and on Sunday afternoons we
commonly engaged in strong religious dis-
cussions. During the fruit season it was
also our custom on that day to visit the
kitchen-garden after luncheon, where we
ate gooseberries, and settled our theologi-
cal differences. There is a little low, hot
stone seat by one of the cucumber frames
on which I never can seat myself now
without recollections of the flavour of the
little round, hairy, red gooseberries, and
of a lengthy dispute which I held there
with Mr. Clerke, and which began by my
saying that I looked forward to meeting
Rubens in a better world." I distinctly
remember that I could bring forward so
little authority for my belief, and the tutor
so little against it, that we adjourned by
common consent to the Rectory to take
Mr. Andrewes' opinion, and taste his
I feel quite sure that Mr. Clerke, as well
as myself, strongly felt the Rector's in-
fluence. He often said in after-years how
much he owed to him for raising his'aims
and views about the sacred office which
he purposed to fill. He had looked for-
ward to being a clergyman as to a profes-
sion towards which his education and
college career had tended, and which, he
hoped, would at last secure him a com-
fortable livelihood through the interest of
some of his patrons. But intercourse
with the Rector gave a higher tone to his
ideas. He would have been a clergyman
of high character otherwise, but now he
aimed at holiness; he would never have
been an idle one, but now his wish was to
learn how much he could do, and how
well he could do that much for the people
who should be committed to his charge.
He was by no means a reticent man, he
liked sympathy, and soon got into the
habit of confiding in me for want of a
better friend. Thus as he began to take
a most earnest interest in parish work, and
in schemes for the benefit of the people,
our Sunday conversations became less
controversial, and we gossiped about
schools and school-treats, cricket-clubs,
drunken fathers, slattern mothers, and
spoiled children, and how the evening
hymn went" after the sermon on Sunday,
like district visitors at a parish tea-party.
What visions of improvement amongst our
fellow-creatures we saw as we wandered
about amongst the gooseberry-bushes,
Rubens following at my heels, and eating
a double share from the lower branches,
since his mouth had not to be emptied for
conversation We often got parted when
either of us wandered off towards special
and favourite trees. Those bearing long,
smooth green gooseberries like grapes, or
the. highly-ripened yellows, or the hairy
little reds. Then we shouted bits of [gos-
sip, or happy ideas that struck us, to each
other across the garden. And full of
youth and hopefulness, in the sunshine of
these summer Sundays, we gave ourselves
credit for clear-sightedness in all our
opinions, and promised ourselves success
for every plan, and gratitude'from all our
Mr. Andrewes had started a Sunday
School with great success (Sunday Schools
*r were novelties then), and Mr. Clerke was
a teacher. At last, to my great delight, I
was allowed to take the youngest class,
and to teach them their letters and some
of the Catechism.
About this time I firmly resolved to be
a parson when I grew up. My great
practical difficulty on this head was that I
must, of course, live at Dacrefield, and
yet I could not be the Rector. My final
decision I announced to Mr. Andrewes.
"Mr. Clerke and I will always be
.curates, and work under you."
On which the tutor would sigh, and say,
" I wish it could be so, Regie, for I do not
think I shall ever like any other place, or
church, or people so well again."
At this time my alms-box was well filled,
thanks to the liberality of Mr. Clerke.
He now taxed his small income as I taxed
my pocket-money (a verydifferent matter!),
and though I am sure he must sometimes
have been inconveniently poor, he never
failed to put 'by his share of our charitable
Some brooding over the matter led me
to say to' him one Sunday, "You and I,
sir, are like the widow and the other
people in the lesson to-day: I put into
the box out of my pocket-money, and you
out of your living."
The tutor blushed painfully; partly, I
think, at my accurate comprehension of
the difference between our worldly lots,
and partly in sheer modesty at my realiz-
ing the measure of his self-sacrifice.
When first he began to contribute, he
always kept back a certain sum, which he
as regularly sent away, to whom I never
knew. He briefly explained, "It is for a
good object." But at last a day came
when he announced, "I no longer have
that call upon me." And as at the same
time he put on a black tie, and looked
grave for several days, I judged that some
poor relation, who was now dead, had
been the object of his kindness. He spoke
once more on the subject, when he thanked
me for having led him to put by a fixed
sum for such purposes, and added, "The
person to whom I have been accustomed
to send that share of the money said that
it was worth double to have it regularly."
THE TUTOR'S PROPOSAL-A TEACHERS' MEETING.
I THINK it was Mr. Clerke who first
suggested that we should take the
Sunday scholars and teachers for a holi-
day trip. Such things are matters of
course now in every parish, but in my
childhood it was considered a most mar-
vellous idea by our rustic population.
The tutor had heard of some extraordi-
narily active parson who had done the
like by his schools, and partly from real
kindness, and partly in the spirit of emu-
lation which intrudes even upon schemes
of benevolence, he was most anxious that
we at Dacrefield should not "be behind-
hand" in good works. Competition is a
feeling with which children have great
sympathy, and I warmly echoed Mr.
Clerke's resolve that we would not "be
"Let us go to the Rectory at once,"
said I; "Mr. Andrewes said. we might
have some of those big yellow raspberries,
and we must ask him about it. It's a
splendid idea. But where shall we go?"
The matter resolved itself into this
question. The Rector was quite willing
for the treat. My father gave us a hand-
some subscription; the farmers followed
the Squire's lead. Mr. Andrewes was not
behindhand. The tutor and I considered
the object a suitable one for aid from our
alms-box. There was no difficulty what-
ever. Only-where were we to go?
Finally, we all decided that we would
go to Oakford.
It was not because Oakford had been
the end of our consultation long ago, after
my illness, nor because Nurse Bundle had
any voice in the matter, it was a certain
bullet-headed, slow-tongued old farmer,
one of our teachers, who voted for our
going to Oakford; and more by persis-
tently repeating his advice than by any
very strong reasons there seemed to be for
our following it, he carried the day.
I've know'd Oakford, man and boy, for
twenty year," he repeated, at intervals of
three minutes or so, during what would
now be called a "teachers' meeting" in
the schoolroom. In fact, Oakford was his
native place, though he was passing his
old age in Dacrefield, and he had a natu-
ral desire to see it again, and a natural
belief that the spot where he had been
young and strong, and lighthearted, had
especial merits of its own.
Even though we had nothing better to
propose, old Giles' love for home would
hardly have decided us, but he had some-
thing more to add. There was a "gentle-
man's place" on the outskirts of Oakford,
which sometimes, in the absence of the
family, was "shown" to the public: old
Giles had seen it as a boy, and the picture
he drew of its glories fairly carried us
away, the Rector and tutor excepted.
They shrugged their shoulders with faces
of comical despair as the old man, having
fairly taken the lead, babbled on about the
"picters," the "stattys," and the "yaller
satin cheers" in the grand drawing-room;
whilst the other teachers listened with
open mouths, and an evident and growing
desire to see Oakford Grange. I did not
half believe in old Giles' wonders, and yet
I wished to see the place myself, if only
to learn how much of all he described
to us was true. I supposed that "the
family" must have been at home when I
was at Oakford, or Mr. and Mrs. Buckle
OAKFORD ONCE MORE.
would surely have taken me to see the
The Rector suggested that the family
might be at home now, and we might have
our expedition for nothing; but it appeared
that old Giles' sister's grandson had been
over to see his great-uncle only a fortnight
ago, come Tuesday," and had distinctly
stated that the family was in furrin' parts,"
and would be so for months to come. More-
over, he had said that there was a rumour
that the place was to be sold, and nobody
knew if the next owner would allow it to
be "shown," even in his absence. Thus
it was evident that if we wanted to see the
Grange, it must be now or never."
On hearing this, our fattest and richest
farmer (he took an upper class in school
more in deference to his position than to
the rather scanty education which accom-
panied it) rose and addressed the Rector
"Reverend sir. I takes the liberty of
rising and addressin' of you, with my re-
spex to yourself and Mr. Clerke, and the
young gentleman as represents the Squire
I've a-been tenant to, man and boy, this
thirty year, and am proud to name it."
(Murmurs of applause from one or two
other farmers present, my father being
"Reverend sir. I began with bird-
scaring, and not a penny in my pocket,
that wouldn't have held coppers for holes,
if I had, and clothes that would have
scared of themselves, letting alone clap-
pers. The Squire knows how much of his
land I have under my hand now, and your
reverence is acquainted with the years I've
Reverend Sir. I am proud to have
rose by my own exertions. I never igger-
antly set myself against improvements and
opportoonities." (Gloom upon the face of
the teacher of the fourth class, who ob-
jected to machinery, and disbelieved in
artificial manures.) My mottor 'as allus
been, 'Never lose a chance;' and that's
what I ses on this occasion; 'never lose a
As our churchwarden backed his advice
by offering to lend waggons and horses to
take us to Oakford, if the other farmers
would do the same, his speech decided the
matter. We all wanted to go to Oakford,
and to Oakford it was decided that we
OAKFORD ONCE MORE-THE SATIN CHAIRS-TIIE HOUSEKEEPER-THE
LITTLE LADIES AGAIN-FAMILY MONUMENTS.
THE expedition, was very successful,
and we all returned in safety to
Dacrefield; rather, I think, to the as-
tonishment of some of the good-wives of
the village, who looked upon any one who
passed the parish bounds as a traveller,
and thought our jaunt to Oakford "ven-
turesome" almost to a "tempting of Pro-
It is a curious study to observe what
things strike different people on occasions
of this kind.
It was not the. house itself, though the
building was remarkably fine (a modern
A FLAT IRON FOR A FARTHING.
erection on the site of the old "Grange "),
nor the natural features of the place,
though they were especially beautiful, that
roused the admiration of our teachers and
their scholars. Somebody said that the
house was "a deal bigger than the Hall"
(at Dacrefield), and one or two criticisms
were passed upon the timber; but the
noble park, the grand slopes, the lovely
peeps of distance, the exquisite taste dis-
played in the grounds and gardens about
the house, drew little attention from our
party. Within, the succession of big rooms
became confusing. One or two bits in
certain pictures were pronounced by the
farmers as natteral as life ;" the "stattys"
rather scandalized them, and the historical
legends attached by the housekeeper to
various pieces of furniture fell upon ears
too little educated to be interested. But
when we got to the big drawing-room the
yellow satin chairs gave general and com-
plete satisfaction. When old Giles said,
"Here they be !" we felt that all he had
-told us before was justified, and that we
had not come to Oakford in vain. We
stroked them, some of the more adven-
turous sat upon them, and we echoed the
churchwarden's remark, "Yaller satin, sure
enough; and the backs gilded like a picter-
I cannot but think that the housekeeper
must have had friends visiting her that day,
which made our arrival inconvenient and
tried her temper-she was so very cross.
She ran through a hasty account of each
room in injured tones, but she resented
questions, refused explanations, and was
particularly irritable if anybody strayed
:rom the exact order in which she chose
to marshal us through the house. A vein
of sarcasm in her remarks quite over-
powered our farmers.
"Please to stand off the walls. There
ain't no need to crowd up against them in
spacyous rooms like these, and the paper
ain't one of your cheap ones with a spotty
pattern as can be patched or matched any-
where. Jt come direct from the Indies,
and the butterflies and the dragons is as
natural as life.. 'Whose picter's that in the
last room ?' You should have kept with
the party, young woman, and then you'd
'ave knowed. Parties who don't keep with
the party, and then wants the information
repeated, will be considered as another
party, and must pay accordingly. Next
room, through the white door to the left.
Now, sir, we're a-waiting for you I All
together, if you please "
But in spite of the good lady, I generally
managed to linger behind, or- run before,
and so to look at things in my own way.
Once, as she was rehearsing the history of
a certain picture, I made my way out of
the room, and catching sight of some
pretty things through an open door at the
end of the passage, I went in to see what
I could see. Some others were following
me when the housekeeper spied them, and
bustled up, angrily recalling us, for the
room, as we found, was a private boudoir,
and not one of those shown to the public.
In my brief glance, however, I had seen
something which made me try to get some
information out of the housekeeper, in
spite of her displeasure.
"Who are those little girls in the picture
by the sofa?" I asked. "Please tell me."
"I gives all information in reference to
the public rooms," replied the house-
keeper, loftily, "as in duty bound; but
the' private rooms is not in my instruc-
And nothing more could I get out of
her to explain the picture which had so
seized upon my fancy.
It was a very pretty painting-a modern
one. Just the heads and shoulders of two
little girls, one of them having her face
just below that of the other, whose little
arms were round her sister's neck. I knew
THE LITTLE LADIES AGAIN.
them in an instant. There was no mis-
taking that look of decision in the face of
the protecting little damsel, nor the wistful
were uncovered, I knew my little ladies of
the beaver bonnets again.
Having failed to learn anything about
THE PICTURE BY THE SOFA.
appealing glance in the eyes of the other.
The artist had caught both most happily;
and though the fair locks I had admired
them from the housekeeper, I went to old
Giles and asked him the name of the
gentleman to whom the place belonged.
A FLAT IlON FOR A FARTHING.
"St. John," he replied.
I suppose he has got children ? I con-
"Only one living," said old Giles.
"They do say he've buried six, most on
'em in galloping consumption. It do
stand to reason they've had all done for
'em that gold could buy, but afflictions,
sir, they be as heavy on the rich man as
the poor; and when a body's time be
come it ain't outlandish oils nor furrin
parts can cure 'em."
I wondered which of the quaint little
ladies had died, and whether they had
taken her to "furrin parts" before her
death; and I thought if it were the grey-
eyed little maid, how sad and helpless her
little sister must be.
"Only one left ? I said mechanically.
"Ay, ay," said old Giles; "and he be
pretty bad, I fancy. They've got him in
furrin parts where the sun shines all
along; but they do say he be wild to get
back home, but that'll not be, but in his
coffin, to be laid with the rest in the big
vault. Ay, ay, affliction spares none, sir,
nor yet death."
So this last of the St. John family was a
boy. If the little ladies were his sisters,
both must be dead; if not, I did not know
who they were. I felt very angry with the
housekeeper for her sulky reticence. I
was also not highly pleased by her manner
of treating me, for she evidently took me
for one of the Sunday-school boys. I fear
Sit was partly a shabby pride on this point
whichled me to "tip" her with half-a-crown
on my own account when we were taking
leave. In a moment she became civil
to slavishness, hoped I had enjoyed my-
self, and professed her willingness to show
me anything about the place any day when
there were not so many of them school
children crowging and putting a body out,
sir. There's such a many common people
comes, sir," she added, I'm quite wored
out, and having no need to be in service,
and all my friends a-begging of me to leave,
I only stays to oblige Mr. St. John."
It *as, I think, chiefly in the way I had
of thinking aloud that I said, more to
myself than to her, "I'm sure I don't
know what makes him keep you, you do
it so very badly. But perhaps you're
The half-crown had been unexpected,
and this blow fairly took away her breath.
Before her rage found words, we were
I did not fail to call on Mr. and Mrs.
Buckle. The shop looked just the same
as when I was there with Mrs. Bundle.
One would have said those were the very
rolls of leather that used to stand near the
door. The good people were delighted to
see me, and proud to be introduced to
Mr. Andrewes and my tutor. I had brought
some little presents with me, both from
myself and Nurse Bundle, which gave
"And where is Jemima ?" I asked, as
I sat nursing an imposing-looking parcel
addressed to her, which was a large toilette
pincushion made and ready furnished with
pins for her by Mrs. Bundle herself.
"Now, did you ever !" cried Mrs.
Buckle in her old style ; to think of the
young gentleman's remembering our Je-
mima, and she married to Jim Espin the
tinsmith this six months past."
So to the tinsmith's I went, and Jemima
was, as she expressed it, that pleased she
didn't know where to put herself," by my
visit. She presented me with a small tin
lantern on which I had made some remark,
and which pleased me well. I saw the
drawer of farthing wares also, and might
have had a flat iron had I been so minded;
but I was too old now to want it for a
plaything, and too young yet to take it as
a remembrance of the past.
I asked Mrs. Buckle about the two little
THE KNIGHT TEMPLAR AND THE CHURCHWARDENS.
beaver-bonneted ladies, but she did not
help me much. She did not remember
them. They might be Mr. St. John's little
girls; he had buried four. A many ladies
wore beaver bonnets then. This was all
she could say, so I gave up my inquiries.
It was as we were on our way from the
Buckles to join the rest of the party that
Mr. Clerke caught sight of the quaint
little village church, and as churches and
church services were matters of great inte-
rest to us just then, the two parsons, the
churchwarden, five elder scholars and
myself got the key from the sexton and
went to examine the interior.
It was am old and rather dilapidated
building. The glass in the east window
was in squares of the tint and consistency
of "bottle glass," except where one frag-
ment of what is technically known as
"ruby bore witness that there had once
been a stained window there. There were
dirty calico blinds to do duty for stained
glass in moderating the light; dirt, long
gathered, had blunted the sharpness of
the tracery on the old carved stalls in the
chancel, where the wood-worms of several
generations had eaten fresh patterns of
their own, and the squat, solemn little
carved figures seemed to moulder under
one's eyes. In the body of the church
were high pews painted white, and four or
five old tombs with- life-size recumbent
figures fitted in oddly with these, and a
skimpy looking prayer-desk, pulpit, and
font, which were squeezed together between
the half-rotten screen and a stone knight
"Pretty tidy," said our churchwarden,
tapping one of the pews with a patronising
finger; "but bless and save us, Mr. An-
drewes, sir, the walls be disgraceful dirty,
and ten shillings' worth of lime and labour
would make 'em as white as the driven
snow. The sexton says there be a rate,
and if so, why don't they whitewash and
paint a bit, and get rid of them rotten old
seats, and make things a bit decent ? You
don't find a many places to beat Dacre-
field, sir, go as far as you will," he added
complacently, and with an air of having
exhausted experience in the matter of
Them old figures," he went on, "they
puts me in mind of one my father used to
tell us about, that was in Dacrefield Church.
A man with a kind of cap on his face, and
his feet crossed, and very pointed toes,
and a sword by his side."
"At Dacrefield ? cried Mr. Andrewes;
"surely there isn'taTemplarat Dacrefield?"
"It were in the old church that came
down," continued the churchwarden, "in
the old Squire's time. There was a deal
of ancient rubbish cleared out then, sir,
I've heard, and laid in the stackyard at the
Hall. It were when my father were em-
ployed as mason under 'brick and mortar
Benson,' as they called him, for repairs of
a wall,- and they were short of stones, and
they chipped up the figure I be telling you
of. My father allus said said he knowed
the head was put in whole, and many's
the time I've looked for it when a boy."
I think Mr. Andrewes could endure the
churchwarden's tale of former destructive-
ness no longer, and he abruptly called us
to come away. I was just running to join
the rest at the door, when my eye fell upon
a modern tablet of marble above a large
cushioned pew. Like the other monu-
ments in the church, it was sacred to the
memory of members of the St. John family,
and, as I found, recorded the names of
the wife and six children of the present
owner of the estate. Very pathetic, after
the record of such desolation, were the
words of Job' (cut below the bas-relief at
the bottom, which, not very gracefully, re-
presented a broken flower): "The LORD
gave, and the LORD hath taken away:
blessed be the name of the LORD."
A FLAT IRON FOR A FARTHING.
Mr. Clerke was hurrying back up the
church to fetch me as I read the text. I
had just time to see that the last two names
were the names of girls, before I had to
Amy and Lucy! Were those indeed
the dainty little children who such a short
time ago were living, and busy like my-
self, happy with the tinsmith's toys, and
sad for a drenched doll? Wild specula-
tions floated through my head as I fol-
lowed the tutor, without hearing one word
of what he was saying about tea and
teachers, and reaching Dacrefield before
I had wished to be their brother. Sup-
posing it had been so, and that I were
now withering under the family doom,
homesick and sick unto death "in furrih
parts!" My last supposition I thought
"I suppose they know all the old
knights, and those people in ruffs, with
their sons and -daughters kneeling behind
them, now. That is, if they were good,
and went to heaven."
Who do you suppose know the people
in the ruffs?" asked the bewildered tutor.
Amy and Lucy St. John," said I; the
children who died last."
"Well, Regie, you certainly do say the
most singular things," said Mr. Clerke.
But that was a speech heooften made,
with the emphasis as it is given here.
NURSE BUNDLE FINDS A VOCATION-RAGGED ROBIN'S WIFE-MRS.
BUNDLE'S IDEAS ON HUSBANDS AND PUBLIC-HOUSES.
I WAS very happy under Mr. Clerke's
sway, and yet I was glad to go to
The tutor himself, who had been "on
the foundation" at Eton, had helped to
fill me with anticipations of public-school
life. It was decided that I also should
go to Eton, but as an oppidan, and be-
coming already a partisan of my own
part of the school, I often now disputed
conclusions or questioned facts in my
tutor's school anecdotes, which commonly
tended to the sole glorification of the
I must not omit to mention an inter-
view that about this period took place
between my father and Mrs. Bundle. It
was one morning just after the Eton matter
had been settled, that my nurse presented
herself in my father's library, her face
fatter and redder than usual from being
swollen and inflamed by weeping.
"Well?" said my father, looking up
pleasantly from his accounts. But he
added hastily, "Why, bless me, Mrs.
Bundle, what is the matter ?"
Asking your pardon for troubling you,
sir," Nurse Bundle began in a choky voice,
" but as you made no mention of it your-
self, sir, your kindness being what it is,
and the young gentleman as good as gone
to school, and me eating the bread of
idleness ever since that tutor come, I
wished to know, sir, when you thought of
giving me notice."
"Give you notice to do what ?" asked
"To leave your service, sir," said Mrs.
NURSE BUNDLE'S NEW VOCATION.
Bundle, steadily. "There's no nurse
wanted in this establishment now, sir."
My father laid one hand on Mrs.
Bundle's shoulder, and with the other he
drew forward a miniature of my mother
which always hung on a standing frame on
It is like yourself to be so scrupulous,"
he said; "but you will never again speak
of leaving us, Mrs. Bundle. Please, for
her sake," added my father, his own voice
faltering as he looked towards the minia-
ture. As for Nurse Bundle, her tears
utterly forbade her to get out a word.
"If you have too much to do," my
father went on, "let a young girl be got
to relieve you of any work that troubles
you; or, if you very much wish for a home
to yourself, I have no right to refuse that,
though I wish you could be happy under
my roof, and I will see about one of those
cottagesnear the gate. But you will not
desert me-and Reginald-after so many
"The day I do leave will be the break-
ing of my heart," sobbed Nurse Bundle,
"and if there was any ways in which I
could be useful-but take wages for
nothing, I could not, sir."
"Mrs. Bundle," said my father, "if
your wages were a matter of any impor-
tance to me, if I could not afford even to
pay you for your work, I should still ask
you to share my home, with such comforts
as I had to offer, and to help me so far as
you could, for the sake of the past. I
must always be uAder an obligation to you
which I can never repay," added my father,
in his rather elaborate style. And as to
being useful, well, ahem, if you will kindly
continue to superintend and repair my
linen and Master Reginald's--
"Why, bless your innocence, sir, and
meaning no disrespect," said Mrs. Bundle,
" but there ain't no mending in your linen.
There was some darning in the tutor's
socks, but you give away half a-dozen pair
last Monday, sir, as hadn't a darn in 'em
no bigger than a pea."
I think it was the allusion to "giving
away" that suggested an idea to my father
in his perplexity for employing Nurse
"'Stay," he exclaimed, "Mrs. Bundle,
there is a way in which you could be of
the greatest service to me. I often feel
that the loss of a lady at the head of my
household must be especially felt among
the poor people around us-additionally
so, as Mr. Andrewes is not married, and
there is no lady either at the Rectory or
here to visit the sick and encourage the
mothers and children. I fear that when I
do anything for them it is often in a wrong
way, or for wrong objects."
"Well, sir," said Mrs. Bundle, an old
grievance rushing to her mind, "I had
thought myself .of making so bold as to
speak to you about that there Tommy
Masden as you give half-crowns to, as
tells you one big lie on the top of another,
and his father drinks every penny he earns,
and his mother at the back-door all along
for scraps, and throwed the Christmas
soup to the pig, and said they wasn't
come to the works yet; and a coat as
good as new of yours, sir, hanging out of
the door of the pawnshop, and giving me
such a turn I thought my legs would never
have carried me home, till I found you'd
given it to that Tommy, who won't*do a
hand's turn for sixpence, but begs at every
decent house in the.parish every week as
comes round, and tells everybody, as he
tells yourself, sir, that he never gets no-
thing from nobody."
Well, well," said my father, laughing,
"you see how I want somebody to look
out the real cases of distress and deserv-
ing poverty. Of course, I must speak to
Mr. Andrewes first, Mrs. Bundle, but I
am sure he will be as glad as myself that
A FLAT IRON FOR A FARTHING.
you should do what we have neither of us
a wife to undertake."
I know Nurse Bundle was only too glad
to reconcile her honest conscience to
staying at Dacrefield; and I think the al-
lusion to the lack of a lady head to our
household decided her at all risks to re-
move that reason for a second Mrs. Dacre.
Moreover, the duties proposed for her
suited her tastes to a shade.
Mr. Andrewes was delighted. And thus
it came about that, though my father
would have been horrified at the idea of
employing a Sister of Mercy, and though
Bible-woman and district visitor were
names not familiar in our simple paro-
chial machinery, Mrs. Bundle did the work
of all three to the great benefit of our poor
Not, however, to the satisfaction of
those who had hitherto leant most upon
the charity of the Hall. A certain pic-
turesquely tattered man, living at some
distance from the village, who was in the
habit of waylaying my father at certain
points on the estate, with well-timed agri-
cultural remarks and a cunning affectation
of half-wittedness and good-humour, got
henceforward no half-crowns for his pains.
Mrs. Bundle has knocked off all my
pensioners," my father would laughingly
complain. But he was quite willing that
the half-crowns should now be taken direct
to the man's wife and children, instead of
passing from his hands to the public-
house. "Though really the good woman
-for I understand she is a most excellent
person-is singularly hard-favoured," my
father added, "and looks more as if she
thrashed old Ragged Robin than as if he
beat her, as I hear he does."
Nothing inside, and the poker out-
side, makes a many women as they've no
wish to sit for their picter," said Mrs.
Bundle, severely, in reply to some remark
.of mine, reflecting, like my father's, on the
said woman's appearance. "And when a
woman has children, and their father
brings home nothing but kicks and bad
language, in all reason if it isn't the death
or the ruin of her, it makes her as she
wasn'tt much time nor spirits to spare for
dropping curtseys and telling long tales
like some people as is always scrap-seek-
ing at gentry's back-doors. But I knows
a clean place when I takes it unawares,
and clothes with more patch than stuff,
and all the colour washed out of them,
and bruises hid, and a bad husband made
the best of, and children as knows how to
The warmth of Mrs. Bundle's feelings
only prompted me to tease her and it
was chiefly for "the fun of working her
up" that I said-
"Ah, but, Nurse, you know we heard
she went after him one night to the public-
house, and made a row before everybody.
I don't mean he ought to go to the public-
house, but still, I'm sure if I'd a wife who
came and hunted me up when she thought
I ought to be in-doors, I'd-well, I'd try
and teach her to stay at home. Besides,
women ought to be gentle, and perhaps if
she were sweeter-tempered with him, he'd
be kinder to her."
"Do you know what she went for,
Master Reginald?" said Nurse Bundle.
"Not a halfpenny does he give her to
feed the children with, and everything in
that house that's got she gets by washing.
And the rich folk she washed for kept her
waiting for her money-more shame to
'em; there was weeks run on, and she bor-
rowed a bit, and pawned a bit, and when
she went the day they said they'd pay her,
he'd been before and drawed the money,
and was drinking it up when she went to
see if she could get any, and then laughed
at her, and sent her back to the children
as was starving, and the neighbour she'd
borrowed of as called -her a thief and
DRUNKARDS AND DRUNKARDS WIVES.
threatened to have her up. Gentle why,
bless -your innocence, who ever knowed
gentleness do good to a drunkard? She
should have stood up to him sooner, and
he'd never have got so bad. She's kept
his brute ways to herself and made his
home comfortable with her own earnings,
till he thinks he may do anything and
never bring in nothing. She did lay out
some of his behaviour before him that
day, and he beat her for it afterwards.
But if it had been me, Master Reginald,
I'd have had money to feed them children,
or I'd have fought him while I'd a bit of
breath in my body."
And with all my respect for Nurse
Bundle, I am bound to say that I think
she would have been as good as her word.
Go to your tutor, my dear," she con-
tinued, "and talk Latin and Greek and
such like, as you knows about; but don't
talk rubbish about pretty looks and ways
for a woman as is tied to a drunkard, for
I can't abear it. I seed enough of hus-
bands and public-houses in my young
days to keep me a single woman and my
own missis. Not but what I've had my
feelings like other folk, and plenty of
offers, besides a young cabinet-maker as
had high wages and the beautifullest com-
plexion you ever saw. But he was over-
fond of company; so I went to service,
and cried myself to sleep every night for
three months; and when next I see him
he .was staggering along the street, and I
says,' I'm sorry to see you like this, Wil-
liam,' and he says, It's your doing,
Mary; your No's drove me to the glass.'
And I says, 'Then it's best as it is. If
one No drove you. to the glass, you and
married life wouldn't suit, for there's
plenty of Noes there.' So I left him
wiping his eyes, for he always cried when
he was in beer. 'And I says to myself,
' Fll go back to place, where I knows what
I'm working for, and can leave it if we
don't suit.' And it was always the same,
my dear. If it was a nice-looking foot-
man, he'd have his evening out and come
home fresh; and if it was an elderly
butler as had put a little by, he wanted to
set up in the public line. So I kept my-
self to myself, my dear, for I'm short-
tempered at the best, and could never put
up with the abuse of a man in liquor."
I was so thoroughly converted to the
side of Ragged Robin's wife, that I at
once pressed some of my charity money
on Mrs. Bundle for her benefit; but I
tried to dispute my nurse's unfavourable
view of husbands by instancing her worthy
brother-in-law at Oakford.
Ah, yes, Buckle," said Mrs. Bundle,
in a tone which seemed to do less justice
to the saddler's good qualities than they
deserved. "He's a good, soft, easy body,
Whence I concluded that Mrs. Bundle,
like some other ladies, was not altogether
easy to please.
I think it was during our last walk
through the village before Mr. Clerke left
us, that he and I called on Ragged Robin's
wife. She was thankful, but not commu-
nicative, and the eyes, deep set in her
bony and discoloured face, seemed to
have lost the power of lighting up with
My dear Regie," said Mr. Clerke, as
we turned homewards, "I never saw any-
thing more pitiable than the look in' that
woman's eyes; and the tone in which she
said, There be a better world afore us
all, sir-I'll be well off then,' when I said
I hoped she'd be better off and happier
now, quite went to my heart. I'm afraid
she never will have much comfort in this
world, unless she outlives her lord and
master. Do you know, Regie, she re-
minds me very much of an ill-treated
donkey; her bones look so battered; and
there's a sort of stubborn hopelessness
A FLAT IRON FOR A FAR7H1NG.
about her like some poor Neddy who is
thwacked and tugged this way and that,
work he never so hard. Poor thing, she
may well look forward to.Heaven," added
my tutor, whose kind' heart was very sore
on this subject, and it's a blessed thought
how it will make up, even for such a life
What will make it up to the donkeys?"
I asked, taking Mr. Clerke at a disad-
vantage on that standing subject of dis-
pute between us-a "better world" for
But my tutor only said, "My dear
Regie, you do say the most singular things!"
which, as I pointed out, was no argument,
one way or another.
Meanwhile, through Mrs. Bundle, we
did our best for Robin's wife and certaifi
other ill-treated women about the place.
Mrs. Bundle could be very severe on the
dirt and discomfort which drove some
men to the public as would stay at home
if there was a clean kitchen to stay in, and
less of that nagging at a man and scream-
ing after children as never made a decent
husband nor a well-behaved child yet."
But in certain cases of undeserved bru-
tality, like Robin's, I fear she sometimes
counselled resistance, on the principle that
it "couldn't make him do worse, and
might make him do better."
I am sure that my father had never
thought of Mrs. Bundle acting as sick
nurse in the village; but matters seemed
to develop of themselves. She was so
experienced and capable that she could
hardly fail to smooth the disordered bed-
clothes, open the window, clear the room
of the shiftless gossips who flocked like
ravens to predict death, and take the con-
trol of mismanaged sick-rooms. It came
to be a common thing that some wan child
should present itself at our door with the
message that "Missis Bundle she wants
her things, for as mother be so bad, she
says she'll see her over the night."
As for herself, I doubt if she had ever
been happier in her life. Her conscience
was at ease, for she certainly worked hard
enough for her wages, and it was good to
see the glow of pleasure that an oft-re-
peated remark of my father's never failed
to bring over her honest face,
Don't overwork yourself, Mrs. Bundle.
What should we do if you were laid up ? "
I GO TO ETON-MY MASTER-I SERVE HIM WELL.
I WENT joyfully to school the first time,
but each succeeding half with less and
less willingness. And yet my schooldays
were very happy ones, especially to look
"You will be in the same tutor's house
as Lionel Damer," said my father; and
I have written to ask him to befriend
"Just the sort of idiotic thing parents
do do," said Sir Lionel, on our first meet-
ing. "You may thank your stars I don't
pay you off for it."
Leo had grown much taller since we
met, but he had lost none of his beauty.
I was overpowered by his noble appearance
and the air of authority he wore, and then
and there gave him the hero-worship of
my heart. It was with a thrill of delight
that I heard him add, "However, I want
a fag, and I dare say I can take you. Any
sock with you?"
'" Oh, yes, Leo," said I, hastily ; "a big
hamper.. And there are two cakes, and a
pigeon pie, and lots of jam, and some
macaroons and turnovers, and two bottles
of raspberry vinegar."
My name's Damer," said Leo. "Can
"Not yet, Darer," said I, hoping that
my answer conveyed my willingness to
learn. For I was quite prepared for all
the duties of fag life from Mr. Clerke's
descriptions. And I was prepared to per-
form them, pending the time when I should
have a fag of my own.
I must do Leo justice. His tyranny
was merciful. I was soon expert in pre-
paring his breakfast. I used to fetch him
hot dishes from the shop. My own cooking
was not good, and I made, so he said, the
most execrable coffee, which led him to
fling the contents of the pot at me one
morning, ruining my shirt, trickling hot
and wet down my body under my clothes,
and giving me infinite trouble in cleaning
his carpet. (As to his coffee, and the
salad dressing he made, and his cooking
generally, when he chose to do it, I have
never met with anything like it since.
However, things taste well in one's school-
Leo Damer was one of those people who
seem able to do everything just a little
better than his neighbours, without attain-
ing overwhelming superiority in any one
line. The masters always complained that
he did not do as much in school as he might
have done, and yet he stood well with them.
His conduct was of the highest. I may
say here that, knowing him intimately in
boyhood and youth, I am able to assert
that his moral conduct was always "with-
out reproach." His own freedom from
vice, and the tight hand he kept over me,
who lived but to admire and imitate him,
were of such benefit to me in the manifold
temptations of school-life as I can never
forget. His self-respect amounted to self-
esteem, his love for other people's good
opinion to a failing, he was refined to
fastidiousness; but I think these charac-
teristics helped him towards the excep-
tional character he bore. A keen sensi-
tiveness to pain and discomfort, and
considerable natural indolence, further
tended to keep him out of scrapes into
which an adventurous spirit led many
more reckless boys. He had never been
flbgged, and he said he never would be.
" I would drown myself sooner," he said
to me. And if any dark touch were want-
ing to complete my hero's portrait, it was
given by this terrible threat, in which I put
He was a dandy, and his dressing-table
was the plague of my life. Well do I re-
member breaking some invaluable toilette
preparation on it, and the fit of rage in
which he flung the broken bottle at my
head. He was very sorry when his first
wrath was past, and he bound up my head,
ana gave me a pound of sausages, and a
superbly bound copy of Young's Night
Thoughts," which I still possess. I also
retain a white scar above one of my eyes,
in common with at least eight out of every
ten men I know.
"Do you ever hear from your cousin ?"
Sir Lionel asked one day in careless
"Polly writes to me sometimes," said I.
"You can show me the next letter you
get," said Sir Lionel condescendingly;
which I accordingly did, and thencefor-
ward he saw all my letters from her. I
was soon clever enough to discover that
Leo liked to be asked after by his old
friends, and to receivemessages from them,
which led me to write to Polly, begging
A FLAT IRON FOR A FARTHING.
her always to send "nice messages" to
Sir Lionel, as he would then treat me
well, and perhaps give me some of his
smoked bacon for breakfast. Her reply
was characteristic :-
"MY DEAR REGIE,-
"I shan't send nice messages to Leo.
I am sorry you showed him the letter where
I said he was handsome. Handsome is
that handsome does, and if he treats you
badly he is very ugly, and I hate him.
If he doesn't give you any bacon, he's
very mean. You may tell him what I
"I am your affectionate cousin,
I was obliged to hide this letter from
Leo; but when he asked me ifI had heard
from Polly I could not lie to him, and he
sent me to Coventry for withholding the
letter. I bore a day and a half of his
silence and neglect; then I could endure
it no longer, and showed him the letter.
He was less angry than I expected. He
coloured and laughed, and called me a
little fool for writing such stuff to Polly,
and said her answer was just like 4er.
Then he gave me some of the bacon, and
we were good friends again.
But the seal of our friendship was a cer-
tain occasion when I saved him from the
only flogging with which he was ever
He was unjustly believed to be con-
cerned in an insolent breach of certain
orders, and was sentenced to a flogging
which was really the due. of another lad
whom he was too proud to betray. He
would not even condescend to remonstrate
with the boy who was meanly allowing him
to suffer, and betrayed his anguish in the
matter so little that I doubt if the real
culprit (who never was a week unflogged
himself) had any idea what the punishment
was to poor Leo.
He hid himself from us all; but in the
evening I got into his room, where I found
him, pale and silent, putting some things
into a little bag.
"Little one !" he cried, "I know you
can keep a secret. I want you to help
me off. I'm going to run away."
"Oh, Damer!" I cried; "but suppos-
ing you're caught; it'll be much worse
"They won't catch me," he said, his lip
quivering. "I can disguise myself. And
I shall never come back till I'm a man.
My guardian would bring me here again.
He thinks a man can hardly be a gentle-
man unless he was well flogged in his
youth. Look here old fellow, I've left
everything here to you. Keep out of mis-
chief as I've shown you how, and-and-
you'll tell Polly I wasn't to blame."
I was now weeping bitterly. "Dear
Darner," said I, you can't disguise your-
self. Anybody would know you; you're
too good-looking. Damer," I added
abruptly, "did you ever pray for things ?
I used to at home, and do you know, they
always came true. Wait for me, I'll be
back soon," I concluded, and rushing to
my room, I flung myself on my knees, and
prayed with all my heart for the averting
of this, to my young mind, terrible tragedy.
I dared not stay long, not knowing what
Leo might do, and on the stairs I met the
real culprit, who was in our house. To
this day I remember with amusement the
flood of speech with which, in my excite-
ment, I overwhelmed him. I painted his
meanness in the darkest colours, and the
universal contempt of his friends. Imade
him a hero if he took his burden on his
own back. I dwelt forcibly on Leo's bitter
distress and superiorgenerosity. Ibribed
him to confess all with my many-weaponed
pocket-knife (the envy of the house). I
darkly hinted a threat of "blabbing" my-
self, as my meanness in telling tales would
LEO AND 1.
be as nothing to his in allowing Leo to
suffer for his fault. Which argument pre-
vailed I shall never know. I fancy Leo's
effort, and took his flogging with complete
Thenceforward Leo and I were as
distress and the knife did it between
them, for he was both good-natured and
greedy. He told the truth by a great
brothers. He taught me to sketch, we
kept divers pets together, and fused our
botanical collections. He cooked un-
A FLAT IRON FOR A FARTHING.
paralleled dishes for us, and read poetry
aloud to me with an exquisite justness and
delicacy of taste that I have never heard
His praise was nectar to me. When he
said, "I tell you what, Regie, you've an
uncommon lot of general information, I
can tell you," my head was quite turned.
Whatever he did seemed right to me.
When I first came to school, my hat was
duly peppered and pickled by the boys
and replaced by me with one of unexcep-
tionable shape. My shirts then gave
offence to my new master.
"I suppose," he said, surveying me de-
liberately, "a good many of your_ things
are made by Mrs. Baggage?"
"Nurse Bundle makes my shirts, Damer,"
It's all the same," said Damer. I knew
it was connected with a parcel somehow.
Well, the Package patterns are very pretty,
no doubt, but I think it's time you were
properly rigged out."
Which was duly done;, and when holi-
days came and the scandalized Mrs. Bun-
dle asked what I had done "with them
bran-new fine linen shirts," and where
"them rubbishing cotton rags had come
from that I brought in their place, I could
only inform her, with a feeble imitation of
Leo's lofty coolness, that I had used the
first to clean Damer's lamp, and that the
second were the correct thing."
One day I said to him, I don't know
why, Damer, but you always make me
think of a vision of one of the Greek
heroes when I see you walking in the
I believe my simply. spoken compliment
deeply gratified him; but be only said, like
Mr. Clerke, You do say the oddest things,
little 'un "
COLLECTIONS-LEO'S LETTER-NURSE BUNDLE AND. SIR LIONEL.
IF Nurse Bundle hoped that when I went
to school an end would be put to the
"collections" which troubled her tidy
mind, she was much deceived. Neither
Leo nor I were bookworms, and we were
not by any means so devoted as some boys
to games and athletics. But for collections
of all kinds we had a fancy that almost
amounted to mania.
Our natural history manias in their re-
spective directions came upon us like
fevers. We "sickened" at the sight of
somebody else's collection, or because we
had been reading about butterflies, or
birds' eggs, or water-plants, as the case
might be. When. "the complaint" was
"at its height," we lived only for speci-
mens; we gave up leisure, sleep, and
pocket-money to our collection; we made
notes and memoranda in our grammars
and lexicons that had no classical re-
ference. We sent letters to country news-
papers which never appeared, and asked
questions that met with no reply. We
were apt, also, to recover from these at-
tacks, leaving Nurse Bundle burdened
with boxes or folios of dry, dusty broken
fragments of plants and insects, which we
did not touch, but which she was strictly
forbidden to destroy. Wepursued our fancies
THE HOLIDAY YS. 91
during the holidays. I have now a letter Of course this ended in Leo's being in-
that I got from Darner after my fourth half: vited to Dacrefield. He came, and, won-
London. derful to relate, we got Polly too. My
" MY DEAR REGIE,- father invited her and my aunt to visit us,
"Eureka What do you think? My and they came. As Leo said, Aunt Maria
poor governor collected moths. I bullied "behaved better than we expected." In-
my guardian till he let me have the collec- deed, Leo had no reason to complain of
tion. Such specimens! No end of foreign her treatment of him as a rule, for he was
ones we know nothing about, and I am constantly at the Ascotts' house-during his
having a case made. I found a little book holidays.
with his notes in. We are quite at sea to And so we rambled and scrambled about
go flaring about with nets and bruising the together, Leo, and Polly, and I. And we
specimens. The way is to dig for chrysa- added largely to our collections, and made
lises. Mind you do ; and how I envy you! a fernery (the Rector helping us), and rode
For I have to be in this horrid town, when about the country, and were thoroughly
I long to be grubbing at the roots of trees. happy. We generally went to the nursery
Polly quite agrees with me. She hates for a short time before dressing for dinner,
London; and says the happiest time in where we teased and coaxed Mrs. Bundle,
her life was when she was at Dacrefield. and ate large slices of an excellent species
My only comfort is to go to the old book- of gingerbread called parliament," which
stalls and look for books about moths and she kept in a tin case in the cupboard. In
butterflies. Imagine! The other day when return for these we entertained her with
your aunt was out, I took Polly with me. marvellous tales out of school," rousing
She said she would give anything on earth her indignation by terrible narratives of
to go. So we went. We went into some tyrannous and cruel fagging, and taking
awful streets, and had some oysters at a away her breath by tales of reckless daring,
stall, and came back carrying no end of amusing impudence, or wanton destruc-
books; and just as we got in at the door tiveness common to boys. Some of these
there were your aunt and Lady Chelms- we afterwards confessed to be fables, told
field coming out. What a rage your aunt -as we politely put it-to "see how much
was in I tried to take all the blame, but she would swallow."
she shut Polly up for a fortnight. It's a After dinner we were expected to sit
beastly shame, but Polly says the expedi- with my father and Aunt Maria in the
tion was worth it; her spirit is splendid, drawing-room. Then, also, poor Polly was
I never wrote such a long letter in my life expected to "give us a little music," and
before, but I am in the blues, and have no dutifully went through some performances
one to talk to. I wish my poor governor which were certainly a remarkable example
had lived. I wish I were in the country. o how much can be acquired in the way
I wish your aunt was a moth. Wouldn't I o0 echanical musical skill where a real
pin her to a cork Mind you work up old feeling for the art is absent. After politely
Mother Hubbard to a sumptuous provision offering to turn over the leaves of her
of grub for next half, and don't forget the music, which Polly always declined (it was
other grubs. Would that I could dig with the key-note of her energetic character that
thee for them. Vale! she "liked to do everything herself"), my
"Thine ever, father generally fell asleep. I whiled away
LIONEL DAMER." the time by playing with Rubens under the