The Baldwui Lbrary
C~YL ..'; --~
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Donald would listen to the sailor's tales for hours. 63
~;" :"' 9.
AUTHOR OF "DUST Hol"
N"TW "EDITIO N.
JOHN F. SHAW AND CO.,
48, PATERNOSTER ROW, E.C.
All lights restm'd4
III. FINDING HER LEVEL..
IV. A LETTER AND ITS CONSEQUENCES
V. THE LIFTING OF THE CLOUD ..
VI. GooD NEWS FROM A FAR COUNTRY
VII. SURPRISES ..
VIII. YACHTING ..
.. .. 5
.. .. .. 58
IgBIRDIE had had a
I baddream. Shehad
Been subject to them
.l ever since last autumn,
when she had brain
Sfever, and on the night
of which I am writing
she awoke to find her-
self in her little white
bed, her face buried
S in her pillow, sobbing
as if her heart would
Jennie had forgot-
ten to draw down the blind, and the moonlight
streamed in along the floor and over the counter-
pane, and presently Birdie raised her head and
The dream had been a very vivid one, so
much so that she felt as if it must have been
real. She thought that her mother had come in
and stood beside her bed looking down on her
with a look of great sadness in her face; and
then Jennie the maid had come in too, and
they had begun talking about Birdie's father,
Captain Fraser, who was very ill in India.
She heard her mother say that she was going
away to India to fetch him home, because the
doctors thought he would die, and that she
would have to leave Birdie behind. Then just
as Birdie opened her lips to shriek, "No, don't
leave me behind, mother darling!" her mother
and Jennie had gone away and shut the door,
and she awoke crying. She almost made up
her mind to call her mother, who slept in the
next room, and ask her to promise not to leave
her; but she remembered just in time, that
last week, when her mother had a headache,
Jennie had muttered something about "little
girls who kept their mother awake at night."
So she did not call out, but lay looking up at
the moon because it felt like company, and its
bright face comforted her lonely little heart;
and the next thing she knew was that it was
morning, and Jennie was pouring the hot water
into the basin.
Birdie got slowly out of bed with a queer
feeling of something unpleasant having happened,
and it was a very sober little face that went down
to the breakfast-room. Mrs. Fraser was already
there, and Birdie, with her dream fresh in her
mind, looked anxiously at her; but there was
just the same sweet look in her brown eyes,
and just the same smile on her lips that Birdie
had seen since she was a baby, so she decided
to forget everything that was miserable, and
enjoy her breakfast. They had hardly finished
when Mrs. Fraser, who sat facing the window,
saw the postman coming up the garden.
"Run, Birdie," she cried eagerly, "there is
the postman;" and Birdie was off like a flash,
returning breathless with a foreign letter in her
"From India!" she said triumphantly. "Now
we shall hear how father is."
Mrs. Fraser bent to kiss the bright little face.
"Go into the garden till I call you, dearie,"
was all she said, and Birdie, catching up her
doll, skipped away, nothing loth.
She was a very little girl, though she was
nine years old; her mother said it was because
she had been ill so often since she was a baby,
and it was for the same reason that her brown
hair was cut short, and tumbled in wavy curls
all over her head. Her eyes were brown too, and
her mouth was a merry laughing little mouth.
* Birdie loved soldiers. Her father was a soldier,
her doll was a soldier, dressed for her by Jennie,
whose sweetheart was what Birdie called a soldier-
sailor, and the only stories that she cared for
were those which told of the brave deeds, of
the terrible dangers, and of the great hardships
of a soldier's life.
It seemed to Birdie that she had walked up
and down the garden for a long while before her
mother's voice called her from the conservatory.
She ran in, and seating herself in her favourite
corner prepared to consult her mother on a
most important subject.
"Mother," she said, "what seeds would it be
nice to have in my garden ?"
Mrs. Fraser turned round, and Birdie saw her
face for the first time. It wore that look which
Birdie had seen last night in her dream.
"Mother!" she cried, springing up, "it isn't
true, is it ?"
Her mother gathered her up in her arms as if
she were a baby again. "It is quite true, darling.
Did Jennie tell you ?"
Birdie's eyes were big and staring.
"I dreamt it last night; I dreamt you told
Jennie you would leave me behind:" her voice '
ended in sobs.
Mrs. Fraser smoothed the curly head softly.
How could she bear to leave her only little
child to the care of other people ? Would they
be tender to her little Birdie if the bad dreams
came in the middle of the night?
"That was not a dream, Birdie," she said,
trying to speak brightly, "that was real. I came
in to see you the last thing, and Jennie came in
too, and I told her about father, but I did not
think we should wake the little girlie up."
Birdie nestled closer.
"You won't leave me behind, will you, mother?"
"My darling, you cannot go to India with me."
1O BIRDIE'S CHAMPION.
Her voice broke for a moment, but she steadied
it with a great effort. "I shall take you to
London. Aunt Gertie has asked you to stay
with her. Dear father is so ill that the doctors
are very anxious about him, and I must travel
very quickly to him. You must pray to God,
Birdie, and ask Him to make father better if it
is His will."
Birdie lay still listening. She could not
believe it yet.
"When are we going, mother?" she asked
"To-morrow," Mrs. Fraser whispered.
"To-morrow!" Birdie struggled out of her
mother's arms and stood before her. "Mother,
you must not leave me behind. I can't do without
you. I shall die if you leave me."
Mrs. Fraser's eyes were full of tears, and she
drew the sobbing child into her arms again.
"Don't make it too hard for me, Birdie," she
said softly, and though Birdie took no apparent
notice, she clung closer, and her sobs grew less
passionate. For a long time her tears fell very
fast, until at last, worn out by grief and excite-
ment, she fell asleep in her mother's arms.
T' HE long journey from
Sthe Highlands to Lon-
don was over. To Birdie
it was full of wonderful
interest, the flying trees
and houses, the beautiful
views her mother pointed
I out, the great bridges
Sill over rivers, the long dark
S I tunnels, when the bright
sunshine was turned into
night, all filled her with
delight. Not that she
ever forgot the parting which was before her.
They would only have one night together in
London, and Mrs. Fraser knew, by the wistful
look in Birdie's eyes, and the close pressure of
her little hand, that the thought was ever present
to the child. For herself she dared not look into
the future, it was bad enough to say good-bye to
Birdie; but she knew, though she did not put it
into words, that there was a possibility that when
she reached India, Birdie would be fatherless.
All through the hours of that journey one
long prayer went up to "Our Father" from
the depths of her heart, "Thy will be done, on
earth as it is in heaven."
It was two very weary travellers who des-
cended from a rattling four-wheeler and rang at
the bell of a handsome house in the West End
of London late in the evening. Birdie had been
asleep since it grew too dark to distinguish the
objects outside the train, and though she had
walked from the platform to the cab, she was
only half awake when the cabman rang, and the
front door flew open, revealing a flood of light
which nearly dazzled her.
Aunt Gertie was waiting to welcome them,
and Birdie found herself taken in two loving
arms, and then led away upstairs to a pretty
little sitting-room where supper was laid out.
How tired you must be, Pollie," Aunt Gertie
said, kissing her sister again and gently pushing
her into an armchair, "you will be glad of some-
thing to eat and go straight to bed. What do
you think, Birdie ?" she added, bending down to
look in her little niece's face. Don't you think
that will be the best thing for mother?" Birdie
nodded; she felt too bewildered to speak; so she
leant against her mother's chair, and listened
absently to her aunt's enquiries about the
journey, and her mother's answers.
Supper was soon ready, and after that three
of her cousins came in to be introduced. First
there was Dollie, who was sixteen, very pretty,
and to Birdie's unaccustomed eyes quite grown
up, except that her golden hair was tied back
"This is Donald," his mother said, laying her
hand on her boy's shoulder, and at the sound of
the familiar Scotch name Birdie glanced up in
his face with a little smile in her eyes.
Donald smiled too; for underneath a merry,
careless, happy-go-lucky exterior he hid a very
soft heart, and he felt sorry for this little new
cousin. Then came MIary, the same age as
Birdie, but as big for nine as Birdie was little,
and in appearance a smaller edition of Dollie.
14 BIRDIE'S CHAMPION.
They all looked curiously at Birdie for a few
moments, and then Mrs. Heriot hurried her
sister and Birdie off to bed.
The next day seemed to pass like a flash of
lightning, and all too soon the cab that was to
bear Mrs. Fraser away drove up. There was one
long clinging embrace, and then, blinded with
tears, Birdie stood at the window as long as she
could catch a glimpse of the back of the cab.
Her mother was gone! As the cab dis-
appeared round the corner of the square she
realized it in its full meaning, and flung herself
on to the sofa with such a burst of grief as
frightened her gentle aunt. Nothing comforted
or soothed her; she cried till she had no tears
left, and then, utterly exhausted, allowed nurse
to put her to bed in the little room her aunt had
arranged for her, opening out of the night
nursery. For the first time in her life she knelt
to say her prayers alone, and she sobbed so
much that nurse picked her up and tucked her
into bed with a kiss and a whispered, "Poor
dear little lamb, the Lord Jesus will comfort
you," and with these words ringing in her ears
Birdie fell asleep.
The next day was Sunday; the bright sun-
shine cheered Birdie up, and she joined the
party at the breakfast-table with a brighter face
than her cousins had seen at all.
"Hullo! where's mother ?" inquired Donald,
as Dollie took her place in front of the coffee-pot.
"Baby has been ill in the night, so she is not
coming down," explained his father. "How is
our little visitor this morning?"
He seated Birdie beside him, and devoted him-
self to entertaining her during the meal, succeed-
ing so well that she forgot to be shy, and told him
an amusing little story about Jennie's sweetheart.
Father," said Dollie suddenly, towards the
end of breakfast, I am sure I don't know what
we shall do."
"Do with what, my dear ?"
"Why "-she hesitated a little-" mother said
that the twins might go to church to-day if it
were fine, and if they do, you see there isn't
room for us all with Birdie. What can we do ?"
Mr. Heriot laughed a little. "What a great
difficulty! I must certainly see about some
more sittings; but you had better sit in the side
seats with Birdie for to-day."
"In the side seats! I, father?" exclaimed
Dollie, colouring up. "Oh, I couldn't! Besides,
I am to take care of the twins."
"I think I had better go there then," said her
father, with a twinkle.
"No, indeed," said Dollie vexedly, feeling she
was being laughed at. "I don't know what to
do, I'm sure."
"Let me sit there with Birdie, father," put
in Donald appealingly. "I promise you I won't
fidget a bit. You wouldn't mind sitting with
me, would you, Birdie?" he added, turning
eagerly to her.
"I should like to !" she answered gratefully;
for she had begun to feel almost as if she were
in the way.
"Very well, we will try that for to-day," her
uncle said, patting her head. "Mind you are
all ready in time!"
It was quite a party that set out a little later
on, Birdie in front, between Donald and her uncle,
Dollie and Mary behind, each with a twin.
To Birdie the service seemed very strange,
for plain and quiet as it was, it was very
different from that of the Scotch Church which
she had attended with her mother. Still she
enjoyed it, the hymn they sang was one she
knew, and the Lessons and the Lord's Prayer at
any rate, were familiar. She and Donald
occupied a side seat exactly opposite Mr.
Heriot's, as arranged, and glancing across during
the Psalms Birdie could see the twins standing
sedately on two footstools, with Mary and Dollie
on guard on either side.
Donald on his part was well content with his
18 BIRDIE'S CHAMPION.
charge, but he was a little bit surprised when
the sermon began, to find a tiny gloved hand
slipped confidingly into his.
Birdie had always held her father's or mother's
hand so, since she first went to church, and it
was a great mark of her trust in Donald, and he
instinctively felt and appreciated it.
The afternoon was spent by Birdie and Mary
in the nursery, where Mrs. Heriot came for a
little while to read to them. When she had
gone back to the baby, nurse came up and
produced a packet of Something for Sunday,"
and Mary, Birdie, and the twins made a happy
party round the table, pricking and painting
the outline texts, which were afterwards given
away to sick people in the hospital.
"I never did anything like this before," re-
marked Birdie, raising an absorbed face.
"Didn't you ?" said nurse, smiling. Our little
ones always do this on Sunday afternoons.
These pretty coloured texts give such pleasure
to the sick people, and often carry them a
message about our dear Lord Jesus which they
never forget. I was wondering if you would
like to send yours to your father, Miss Birdie."
FINDING HER LEVEL.
HO gave you lessons at home,
Birdie?" inquired Mary, as they
rose from the breakfast-table
the next morning. "We have a
governess, Miss Perks. She says she does not
like backward children, so I hope for your sake
Birdie shook her curly head. "I am," she
said. "I haven't done any lessons since I was
ill, and mother said I had forgotten everything
I did know except my music."
Mary looked dismayed, and Dollie slightly
scornful. "You had better fetch your music,
and practise before Miss Perks comes then,"
she said. "I shall not be using the schoolroom
piano this morning. Mary, you can show her,
can't you ?"
"All right! come along, Birdie. I have got
a horrid sum to finish. There," she added,
throwing open the schoolroom door, "this is
what Donald calls 'the treadmill.'"
Birdie looked round. The room was a fair-
sized one, looking out on the small but pretty
garden. It contained two large and well-filled
book-cases, a piano, a table in the centre of
the room, half a dozen leather-covered chairs
and a large arm-chair, while the space on each
side of the fireplace was occupied by an ample
"There is your music," Mary said, pointing
to a little pile. Now, don't you speak to me,
or I'll--" She discreetly left the sentence
unfinished, and Birdie, with a little laugh, turned
her attention to the piano.
Very soon a soft, plaintive melody floated
through the room, and Mary lifted her eyes
from her slate in mute astonishment. Surely
those almost baby fingers could not produce
those sounds! She vaguely remembered having
heard her father say that Jack Fraser was a
FINDING HER LEVEL.
splendid musician. Could Birdie have inherited
her father's talent ?
All unconscious of her cousin's thoughts,
Birdie played on: she had forgotten for the
moment that she was in London, far away from
the father and mother who had taught her
music from her earliest days. Once more she
was back in the little drawing-room in Scot-
land; soon her mother would be coming to give
her her lesson; she must practise that difficult
piece a little more. Mechanically she drew it
out, opened it, and played through the two first
pages before she woke from her dreamy reverie.
It was the sound of Mary's voice which brought
her back to the present.
"I say, Birdie," she said, a little anxiously,
"that is one of Dollie's pieces. She won't like it,
if she hears you. How beautifully you do play,
though; much better even than Dollie does!"
As she spoke the door opened, and Dollie and
Miss Perks entered. It was evident that Dollie
had heard the last remark and resented it.
"Why are you playing my music, Birdie?"
she asked sharply. "Come and be introduced
to Miss Perks."
22 BIRDIE'S CHAMPION.
Birdie's brown eyes were opened to their
widest extent. What harm had she done? she
wondered. Not knowing what to say, how-
ever, she slipped off the stool and held out her
little hand to Miss Perks. Miss Perks shook
hands somewhat stiffly. She was a stylishly-
dressed young lady, with fair hair, blue eyes,
and rosy cheeks. A very clever girl was Miss
Perks, with a number of certificates to help her
up the ladder of life; but, unfortunately, she
was a better student than teacher.
Having satisfactorily settled Dollie and Mary
to work, she turned her attention to a pre-
liminary examination of Birdie's capabilities.
"Did I understand Mrs. Heriot to say that
you were the same age as Mary?" she began.
"You are so small I think I must have made a
"I was nine in January," Birdie replied
nervously, remembering Mary's remarks about
Indeed! Well, here is Mary's Reader.
Begin at the first paragraph, please."
Poor Birdie! she looked hopelessly at the
book, and at Miss Perks, and then was silent.
In the Park.
"Well, go on!" said Miss Perks. "What is
the matter ?"
"I don't know the words," faltered Birdie.
"Perhaps you do not know them all, but
surely you can read the first word-T H E.
What is that ?"
It was evident to Birdie's acute senses that
both her cousins were listening with all their
ears. She grew more and more nervous, and
the colour flushed into her pale cheeks.
"I do not know the letters," she said very
low, while the hot tears sprang into her eyes.
"You do not know your letters!" Miss Perks
repeated slowly, and with emphasis.
"Miss Perks," Mary broke in impulsively, "I
do not believe it is Birdie's fault. She was ill,
and she forgot everything she had learned
before; and Aunt Pollie told mother she had
not been very well since, so she had not had
"Well!" was all Miss Perks said; but she
made no further attempts at examining her
Every one was glad when the clock struck
twelve, and Miss Perks bade them get ready for
FINDING HER LEVEL.
a walk. Birdie, quite unused to confinement of
any kind, felt, as she skipped upstairs to put on
her jacket and hat, as if she had been in the
schoolroom for a whole day at least.
The walk through the park was a great
pleasure to the little Northerner. The twins
accompanied them, and Birdie walked along
with Aileen and Dollie in a maze of wonder and
delight; while Miss Perks and Mary followed
behind, with Lily trotting beside them.
Dollie was of opinion that everything as-
tonished Birdie, and Miss Perks was actually
persuaded to wait a minute or two that she
might see a stalwart policeman feeding some
tame pigeons, the result being a determination
on Birdie's part to ask her aunt to allow her
to bring some bread next time they went that
The afternoon was spent in lessons, another
walk and tea, and then Miss Perks went home,
leaving the schoolroom to Donald and the
Dollie and Mary soon accomplished their tasks
and went away, Dollie to the drawing-room, and
Mary to a good-night romp with the twins in
26 BIRDIE'S ClHAMPION.
the nursery. Neither of them asked Birdie to
accompany her, and she and Donald were left
apparently deep in the books before them.
Presently Donald raised his head, and glanced
furtively across at the little figure opposite.
He noticed that the book on which the brown
eyes were so intently fixed was open at the
alphabet. He felt a little surprised, and as he
watched he saw a few tears brushed stealthily
away. Could she be finding a difficulty over
that? What a shame that the girls had left her
like this, he thought indignantly. He turned
his attention to his algebra again, but the little
face opposite had a fascination for him.
"I say, Birdie," he said at last, "can't you do
your lesson ?"
Birdie shook her head.
"I can't remember the names," she said rather
Here, come round to me, and we'll see if I
can help you," he said cheerfully, pushing away
his algebra. What have you to learn ?"
Birdie brought round her book to his side,
pointing out the lines.
Donald had a great knack of teaching, and
FINDING HER LEVEL.
in a very short time, to her great delight, Birdie
was able to repeat the whole lesson without a
"There !" he said triumphantly, closing the
book and throwing it across the table. "Now,
what would you like to do? You can go to
the nursery or drawing-room, whichever you
"Miss Perks said I was to practise a little
while. Will it bother you ?" she asked hesita-
tingly. I am ever so much obliged to you
for helping me."
"All right, I will see if I can manage,"
Donald said, remembering the days when Mary
was a beginner at the piano, and nearly drove
him distracted for half an hour every evening,
"if I can't get on I '11 tell Dollie to explain to
Birdie settled herself with her music, and
played through one piece.
"Does it bother you?" she asked, turning
round on the stool.
"No, indeed," Donald said heartily; "I think
it helps me rather than hinders. How awfully
well you play !"
28 BIRDIE'S CHAMPION.
"I love it," Birdie said simply, and then there
was no sound in the room but the soft, plaintive
music till Jane tapped at the door, with, "Nurse
would. like you to come to bed now, please,
Birdie had always been taught to obey as
implicitly as a soldier; so she stopped playing
at once, and slipping off the stool, went round
to say good-night to Donald.
"Good-night, little cousin," he said kindly.
"Mind, if ever you can't do your lessons you
come to me, and we will see if we cannot
manage it somehow together."
A LETTER AND ITS CONSEQUENCES.
S the days slipped by Birdie began
S to feel more at home in the large
London house, and to be more
:reconciled to her new way of life.
Had it not been for Donald she would have
run a great risk of being very lonely; but he
seemed to have taken her under his special
protection, and he had his reward in the affection
which she lavished upon him. Dollie appeared
to entirely ignore her little cousin's presence, or
if she were obliged to take notice of her she
spoke in a sharp tone, which made sensitive
Birdie shrink within herself. Mary, on the
contrary was always very kind, but she lived a
life apart, to which Birdie was by no means
necessary, and in which she did not invite her to
join. She was devoted to babies, and spent her
spare moments playing with the twins in the
nursery; and when she found that Birdie knew
her way about the house she went back to her
ordinary avocations, leaving the little newcomer
to her own devices.
Of her aunt she also saw very little at this
time, for baby had a bad attack of bronchitis,
and his mother and nurse were in attendance
upon him day and night, so it came to pass that
it was Donald who helped her with her lessons,
Donald who invented amusements for her, and
Donald who read her the precious letter which
reached her from her mother. How Birdie trea-
sured that letter! She kept it in her pocket by
day and under her pillow by night, till the
leaves threatened to come to pieces, and she
reluctantly consigned it to the inmost recesses
of a drawer.
"Birdie," cried Donald eagerly one Saturday
morning, the moment she opened the dining-
room door, "here is another letter for you."
"Where ?" she asked breathlessly. "Oh, how
good I Will you read it for me, Donald ?"
A LETTER AND ITS CONSEQUENCES. 31
Neither her uncle nor aunt were present; Mr.
Heriot being away on business; and Mrs. Heriot,
having had a bad night with baby, was trying
to get a little much-needed sleep. Dollie was
pouring out the coffee, but as Birdie sprang
forward to take her letter from the mantel-
piece she interfered, You must not have your
letter till you can see mother, Birdie," she said
Birdie stopped short. "Why not ?" she asked,
catching her breath.
Why ever not ?" demanded Donald. What
rubbish, Dollie! Why should she not have her
"Because I think it is more proper for her
to wait to open it till mother is down. There
may be enclosures, and last time Aunt Pollie
wrote, mother kept the letter till Birdie came
out of school."
That's entirely different," Donald said hotly.
"You are only trying on your authority, Dollie;
it's a great shame, that's all I can say."
"Your interference only makes it harder for
Birdie," Dollie replied coldly. "Sit down all of
you and let us begin."
32 BIRDIE'S CHAMPION.
Mary went slowly to her seat, but Birdie did
not stir. She had listened to the altercation
with her wide-opened eyes fixed on Dollie's
face, and the colour in her cheeks growing
deeper and deeper till it spread to her forehead
"I am going to have my letter," she said
calmly and distinctly, turning to the mantel-
But Dollie was before her. She caught up the
letter and slipped it into her pocket.
"Go and sit down at once," she repeated.
"You will not have this until mother can see
Birdie's eyes blazed; her passion was rising
higher and higher, till it burst its bounds.
Poor little Birdie!
"I won't sit down," she said. "Give me my
letter at once, Dollie, you have no right to take
it'from me, it is mine, my name is on it. Oh,"
she added desperately, "if father were only
here, he would punish you for being so cruel !"
"Would he indeed," said Dollie scornfully.
"It is much more likely he would punish you
for flying into such a temper. It would not be
A LETTER AND ITS CONSEQUENCES. 33
the first time either, I know," she added under
Low as the last words were, Birdie caught
them. If Dollie had struck her she would have
hurt her less; the very truth of them stung her
to her heart's core. Little did Dollie know how
Birdie loved her father, and what memories she
had stirred in the child's heart; memories not
of punishment, but of tender, loving words of
warning and advice.
"I hate you," she cried vehemently, and
then bursting into tears ran out of the room,
slamming the door behind her.
There was a moment's pause of consternation
when she had gone.
"Well!" was all Donald vouchsafed; but
Dollie knew that he referred to her and not
to Birdie. She made no answer, however, and
there was silence till the end of breakfast.
Donald waited about till his sister disappeared,
and then he hastily buttered a piece of toast,
poured out a cup of coffee, and carried it to
As he had imagined, Birdie had found refuge
there, and was standing moodily at the window.
34 BIRDIE'S CHAMPION
He set down the cup on the table, and put his
arm round her shoulder.
"I am awfully sorry about the letter," he said.
"I am afraid I made things worse, but you will
get it all right. Look here, I have brought you
some toast. If you will eat it up while I am
collecting my books, I will take the crockery
back again before I go."
"Thank you," was all Birdie could get out;
but she was really very grateful for his kind
thought, and she came over to the table and
began to eat at once.
Just before school Dollie went up to her
mother with the letter. "This has come for
Birdie," she said shortly, holding it out.
Mrs. Heriot looked a little surprised.
"How pleased she will be, poor child," she
observed. "I am afraid she misses her mother
"I will send her up after school for it," Dollie
answered, turning away. "I think I hear Miss
There was a dark cloud on Birdie's face all
school-time, and it did not lift when Dollie told
her to go up for her letter.
A LETTER AND ITS CONSEQUENCES. 35
She knocked at her aunt's dressing-room
door, and advanced slowly to her side.
"Here is your letter, dear," Mrs. Heriot said
brightly. "Would you like me to read it for
"No, thank you," Birdie replied, without
raising her eyes, Donald promised to."
Her aunt stroked her hair softly, but she said
no more, and Birdie turned away more utterly
miserable than before.
When she had gone, it was a minute or two
before her aunt went on with her work.
"I am afraid Dollie was not very kind about
that letter," was her mental conclusion. "I shall
be very glad when baby is better, and I can be
down among them all again."
THE LIFTING OF THE CLOUD.
...... UNDAY morning
brought no lifting
"iil of the dark cloud on
Birdie's face. Mr.
Heriot, who had re-
j I turned home, noticed
it, and asked Dollie
What was the matter;
but she only said
evasively that Birdie
b_ had been vexed yes-
terday, and she sup-
_posed she took a long
time to get over it, and there the subject
It had become the custom for Birdie to sit
with Donald in church, and to-day, whenever
THE LIFTING OF THE CLOUD. 37
he glanced at her during the service, he saw
that she looked unutterably sad, and though no
tears fell she sobbed convulsively two or three
times in the prayers. When the sermon came
she made no motion to take his hand as usual,
and Donald, astonished and a little hurt, con-
cluded that the only thing he could do was to
let her be.
It was just before teatime that, reading alone
in the dining-room, he heard the door softly
open, and turning his head saw Birdie come
slowly in, her eyes swollen with crying. She
did not appear to notice him, but threw her-
self on to the sofa sobbing out, "Oh, mother,
mother, I want you so!" Donald was at his
wits' end, he did not like to move, and wished
his mother would come down, or even his father;
but no one came, and at last he could bear it no
longer. Something must be done.
"Birdie," he said, going over to her and
speaking in a half-frightened whisper, "you
will make yourself sick if you cry so. Shall
I fetch mother?"
"No," sobbed Birdie.
"What is the matter ?" asked poor, perplexed
Donald. "Are you fretting about that letter
still ? Do tell me, Birdie."
"I can't remember what mother said. Oh, I
do want her so!"
The forlorn tone went to Donald's heart.
"I know," he said comfortingly. "I am
awfully sorry for you, Birdie."
"We had it in church this morning," Birdie
went on. "'Forgive us our trespasses, as we
forgive them that trespass against us.' Mother
told me what it meant once when--when I was
angry, and now I can't remember."
Her face was hidden again, and Donald was
silent. How was he to comfort the child?
That her trouble was very real he could see
plainly; but how could he talk on religious
subjects? He had never troubled himself to
think what those words or any other particular
words meant, and here was Birdie crying her-
self ill, and waiting for him to clear up her
"Trespasses are sins," he said at last, un-
comfortably. "I really don't know exactly
what you mean, Birdie. Look here, if you like
I will listen in church to-night and see if Mr.
THIE LIFTING OF THE CLOUD. 39
Crombie says anything about it. He is one of
our masters you know, and the one I like best.
Come along and let nurse wash your face
before the others ask any questions; it will all
come right, you '11 see."
In spite of his precautions, however, at tea
her aunt noticed the child's heavy eyes, and
when she confessed to a headache, took her
upstairs, and put her to bed with her own hands
so tenderly, that it only seemed to make Birdie
long for her own mother ten times more.
Monday morning found her still pale and
languid, and Aunt Gertie would not allow her
to get up, so that it was evening before she saw
He was alone, busily doing his lessons when
she peeped into the schoolroom.
"Did you hear anything?" she asked rather
Donald was hoping that she had forgotten all
about his promise, but finding there was no
help for it he laid down his pen, and threw
himself into the armchair. He had no intention
of telling his little cousin that he had listened
with great attention to Mr. Crombie's sermon,
and that it had had the effect of making him
wonder if he was "all right," as he expressed it.
"Ye would not come to Me that ye might have
life," Mr. Crombie had repeated over and over
again, as he drew the picture of the weeping
Christ going up to Jerusalem amid the rejoicing
crowd; weeping for sorrow over those who would
soon reject Him-the Giver of Life-and the
words sank down into Donald's heart with a
new power as they had never done before.
"There was nothing about what you wanted
in the sermon," he said, answering the anxious
look in Birdie's eyes; "but I was rather late
coming out, and I met Mr. Crombie, and I asked
He paused a moment. What an effort it had
cost him! Indeed, if Mr. Crombie had not
himself mentioned Birdie he was sure he could
not have got out the words.
"Well?" asked Birdie eagerly.
"Well, I told him about you, but I am afraid
I can't explain what he meant properly. He
said that God could not forgive you for being
naughty unless you forgave Dollie for vexing
THE LIFTING 01 THE CLOUD. 41
Birdie drew a long breath, but did not speak.
"Then he said," Donald went on, "that if we
would remember how often we did what made
God sorry and yet how He loves us, we should
find it easier to forgive anyone who vexed us
once or twice. He said it was absolutely neces-
sary for us to have our sins forgiven, and to
have our hearts cleansed by the blood of Jesus,
but we must forgive others first. I am afraid
I can't make you understand."
"It's all right," Birdie said very low; "it's
what mother said."
There was a long silence, Donald buried in
thoughts of what Mr. Crombie had said to
him personally, Birdie absorbed in a tremendous
struggle. Presently she rose, the dark cloud
entirely gone, and a soft bright light shining in
her eyes. "Where is Dollie ?" she asked.
"In the drawing-room, I expect," Donald
Without another word Birdie went upstairs.
"Dollie," she said, going up to her where she
sat at the piano idly playing, I am very sorry
I spoke so to you."
Dollie looked utterly astonished.
42 BIRDIE'S CHAMPION.
"Oh!" she said, "Well, I am glad you see
how naughty you were!"
Birdie.flushed crimson, but she did not falter;
she only turned away, and went up to her aunt's
"Aunt Gertie," she said softly, "I have brought
you mother's letter to read. I am sorry I did
not let you see it."
Her aunt folded her in her arms.
"My dear little Birdie," she said tenderly;
and then, happier than she had been since she
had come to London, she went up to nurse
again, and Donald saw her no more that
It was a very gentle little girl who came down
to breakfast the next morning, and Donald
noticed that she specially tried to please Dollie.
He had heard of what she had said the night
before from Mary and his mother, and the know-
ledge that he possessed of what had led her to
it, made a deep impression on his mind, and
helped him more than he knew to decide that
he too needed the cleansing of the precious
blood of Christ.
Birdie wished very much that she could do
THE LIFTING OF THE CLOUD. 43
something which would give pleasure to Aunt
Gertie, and that afternoon, when she was out
alone with Miss Perks, she found the opportunity.
Close by the pavement stood a ragged little boy
selling flowers, and the moment Birdie saw them
she remembered that Mrs. Heriot had said that
she loved flowers very much.
Miss Perks," she said, eagerly pulling out the
little purse her mother had given her, "please
wait a moment and let me get some flowers for
Miss Perks looked surprised, but she did not
object; and Birdie made her selection, and
carried home the sweet-smelling roses with great
delight; while Mrs. Heriot received them with
equal pleasure, feeling them to be a little token
that all was well again with Birdie.
GOOD NEWS FROM A FAR COUNTRY.
S' HE third letter which Birdie re-
Sceived from her mother brought
much better news. Captain Fraser
was getting stronger every day,
and they hoped to be able to start for England
very soon. Birdie was wild with delight at the
thought, for though very much happier than at
first, she declared to herself that no one could
be like one's own mother.
"She persuaded Donald to write a letter for
her one evening when he had very few lessons.
"MY DEAREST MOTHER," it ran, "I am very
glad you are coming home, and father too.
Donald is very kind to me. I was naughty to
Dollie the other day, and forgot what you said
about Jesus forgiving me, and Donald told me
GOOD NEWS FROM A FAR COUNTRY. 45
all about it. Miss Perks says I am getting on
with my lessons very nicely. Please give my
love to Father.-I remain, your very loving
daughter, BIRDIE FRASER."
She very much wished to enlarge upon the
subject of Donald; but he declared that if she
said another word about him he would not
write at all.
"There's one thing I wanted to tell you,"
he said, laying down his pen, and looking
straight out of window. "If you had not
asked me to tell you about that text --"
He hesitated. It was so difficult to speak
his inmost thoughts; but Birdie's earnest eyes
fixed on his face obliged him to go on.
"Don't you see, Birdie, if you had not, perhaps
I should never have listened so to Mr. Crombie,
and not known that my heart wanted washing
as much as yours did, and that only the blood
of Jesus could make me clean and give me life.
I have been so happy ever since then, and I
wanted you to know."
Birdie's smile was a very bright one, and she
carried her letter up to her aunt to be posted,
with the lightest heart in the world.
The good news from India seemed to give
Birdie new energy. She skipped about the
house, and laughed and frolicked till her
uncle told her he never saw such spirits
Out-of-doors things which Mary and Dollie
took as a matter of course, filled their little
cousin with delight and wonder. Indeed, when
they went among the shops the difficulty was to
get her away from them.
"Aunt Gertie," she said one day as they sat
at luncheon, "there is one thing I want to do
Mrs. Heriot laughed, this being by no means
the first time that she had wanted to do a
Well, what is it ?" she enquired.
"You know that drinking-fountain we pass
so often ?" Birdie replied eagerly. "Miss Perks
told me all about it, and I want to drink out of
it. I never saw one like it before."
There was a laugh all round the table.
"What queer things you do ask, Birdie," said
"Those iron cups are not at all nice to drink
lMMMM M gIili lE
"Well, what did the water taste like?" asked Mary.
. ......... ......1 111
out of, unless one were obliged," remarked
"No," said Mrs. Heriot, smiling. "But I
think, Birdie, I can fulfil that wish. I have
a little horn drinking-cup somewhere which I
will lend you, if Miss Perks does not mind
letting you stop one day."
"Will you, Miss Perks?" asked Birdie
In spite of her dislike of backward children,
Miss Perks was getting really fond of Birdie.
"Very well," she said indulgently, "though I
really can't see what pleasure it will be to you.
You will have to remind me about it."
There was no fear of Birdie forgetting.
Every day she asked if they were going that
way, and when at last the answer was in the
affirmative, she rushed up like a whirlwind to
fetch the horn cup from her aunt.
"Well, what does the water taste like?"
asked Mary, when Birdie had drunk a cupfull.
"May I have some, Miss Perks?"
"I don't see it is any different to what we
have at home," Birdie said rather doubtfully, at
which the others went into peals of laughter.
GOOD NEWS FROM A FAR COUNTRY. 49
"Of course it isn't," Dollie said scornfully.
Everyone in the house was beginning to love
Birdie except her eldest cousin. If anything,
Birdie's confession of wrong-doing had made
Dollie dislike her more. Ever since she had
overheard Mary's remark about Birdie's music,
strange as it may seem, she had been jealous
of her; and the feeling that she herself had
been wrong in the matter of the letter, made
Dollie have a constant rankling feeling against
her. Birdie felt it, and she really tried hard to
please her, but as yet it made no effect.
T was Saturday afternoon again,
and Donald and Birdie were
standing by Mrs. Heriot, eagerly
Begging her to grant a very special
request. It was nothing less than to allow
Birdie to go out with Donald and help him
sail a beautiful model yacht which he had been
Mrs: Heriot looked very doubtful; she
suggested that Donald might get so interested
in his ship that he would forget all about his
little cousin, and that Birdie might reach out to
the boat and slip into the water; but they both
promised so faithfully to be very very careful,
and looked so disappointed when they thought
she was going to say "no," that at last she said
"yes," and after a hug, which nearly strangled
her aunt, Birdie flew off to dress.
"I wish I could go too," Mary said wistfully,
as she watched Donald lift down the beautiful
ship, and explain to Birdie how this and that
Donald shook his head laughingly. "Mother
would never trust me with two of you," he
said, "it was as much as she would let me
take charge of one precious chicken, wasn't it,
Mrs. Heriot watched them start from the
drawing-room window, and they turned up
their bright faces and waved back to her.
What a dear fellow her Donald was, she fondly
thought, and her heart leapt up in thankfulness
that the Good Shepherd had led her boy to
Himself while he was young.
And Birdie, too. How pretty the child
looked. She wished her mother could have
seen her as she walked along, chattering away
to her tall companion, and looking up so
trustfully at him as if everything he said and
did was right.
I wonder when we shall hear that her father
and mother are coming," she said to herself as
she turned away from the window.
All her thoughts were, however, soon en-
grossed by a succession of callers, and Birdie
and all things connected with her faded from
her mind for the time being. She confessed
to herself that either she was unusually tired
that afternoon, or that her visitors were a set
who had unusually little to say that was worth
listening to, and she was heartily glad when
the last lady bowed herself out, and she was
left alone. She leaned back in her chair and
closed her eyes wearily; but her quiet moments
were short lived. There were steps on the
stairs again Jane's hand was on the door, her
voice announcing "Captain and Mrs. Fraser."
Mrs. Heriot started up in astonishment. It
could not be and yet it was her own sister who
advanced to meet her, and behind her came a
tall soldier-like man, thin and pale, but certainly
none other than Captain Fraser himself.
Mrs. Heriot's welcome was a very warm one.
"Birdie is out with Donald," she said regret-
fully, when the first greetings were over. "You
see, we had not the least idea we should have
such a pleasant surprise. "Jane," she added as
the maid answered her ring, "send Miss Dollie
and Miss Mary to me, and make some tea as
quickly as possible."
I cannot make it out," Mrs. Fraser said.
"Our letter must have miscarried. We wrote
to Birdie telling her when we hoped to land. It
should have arrived by now. It was very short
notice at the best, but it was all we could
She was interrupted by the entrance of the
two girls, who were quite unprepared for the
surprise which awaited them; but Dollie no
sooner recognized her aunt than she stopped
short, colouring to the roots of her hair.
"Oh, dear!" she exclaimed hurriedly. "Oh,
dear, I have never given Birdie that letter
which came yesterday! I am so sorry, Aunt
Pollie," she added, turning to her, her pretty
face all aglow. "The postman gave it to me
on the step, and mother was resting, so I waited
for her to give it to Birdie, and then I suppose
I changed my dress and left it in the pocket.
I am afraid you have had a horrid welcome
through my fault."
S4 3IRDIV'S CHAMPION.
"Never mind," Captain Fraser said. "All's
well that ends well. Here we are, and I doubt
if Birdie will mind about the letter now. What
time do you expect her home?"
Mrs. Heriot's face wore a rather disturbed
look. She wished she had known that the
travellers would arrive that afternoon. Very
much she wished that Dollie had let Birdie's
As for Dollie herself, she had never felt so
uncomfortable in her life. She had an uneasy
feeling that it was not quite honourable to have
kept Birdie's letter in her pocket, even though
she had utterly forgotten its existence after she
put it there, and she heartily wished that she
.had resisted the temptation to carry out her
theories as to the delivery of little girls' letters.
She remembered Birdie's gentle behaviour since
her outbreak of temper over the first letter, and
she felt thoroughly ashamed of herself for
having so needlessly provoked the child.
"Mother," she said gently, "could not Mary
and I find Birdie and bring her home? She
and Donald were going to the Serpentine, I
"There was quite a little fleet of boats on the water."
56 BIRDIE'S CHAMPION.
Her mother looked very pleased. "Oh, yes,"
she said heartily, "that would be very nice!"
And though Captain and Mrs. Fraser protested
that they could wait patiently a little longer,
Dollie carried her point, and she and Mary set
off in the direction of the Park.
There was quite a little fleet of boats on the
water, and the bright sunshine and the waving
trees and the white sails combined to make a
very pretty picture. Mary soon spied the
particular couple of whom they were in search,
but they themselves were unperceived until
they came close.
Very great was Donald's surprise at seeing
his sisters; he imagined that it was the charms
of the new yacht which had drawn them there,
but a few words from Dollie explained it all,
and it is due to her to say that she managed to
convey the good, news to excitable Birdie in a
very judicious way.
The child was all in a fever to be gone. She
could not even wait for Donald to bring in the
boat, so Mary was left, to her great delight, under
his care, while Dollie returned with Birdie.
They walked along in silence for some time,
Birdie too full of happiness to chatter, and her
cousin deep in her own thoughts.
They were not far from home when Dollie
spoke. "Birdie," she said, "it is all my fault
that you did not know about your father's
coming. There was a letter for you yesterday,
and I put it in my pocket for mother to give
you after school, and then I forgot all about
it. I am really very sorry, and besides that,
I know I've not been very kind to you since
you have been here. Will you forgive me,
Birdie?" Her tone was very low; it was a
tremendous effort to say the words-words
which she had not the least intention of saying
two hours before; but Birdie heard, and before
Dollie knew what she was going to do, she had
stopped in the middle of the pavement, and
flung her arms round her neck, whispering be-
tween her eager kisses, "Dear Dollie! never
mind; it does not matter a bit."
Then they turned the corner, and Birdie
caught sight of her father and mother watching
for her from the drawing-room window.
YA CH TING.
I Stil: IRDIE flew upstairs, and into her
: father's arms in an ecstasy of
.'. delight, turning the next moment
j. i to embrace her mother with equal
"Oh," she said, "I am so happy I don't know
what to do!"
After they had settled down a little bit, Mr.
Heriot and Donald and Mary arrived, and a
very happy party they made, Birdie sitting
between her father and mother, holding a hand
of each, the perfect picture of delight, while
Donald declared that they smiled every time
they looked at her.
"It's a good thing she did not slip into the
water by mistake this afternoon, mother," he
said mischievously, but his mother only shook
her head at him.
"Now you understand how precious she is,"
After dinner Birdie helped her father and
mother unpack, and bring down the pretty
Indian presents which they had brought for
everyone, even baby coming in for his share
in the shape of a curious rattle with bells
attached, which gave his infant lordship un-
During the next week many plans were dis-
cussed; the captain was still very far from
strong, and his doctor strongly advised his
spending some weeks on the sea. Indeed a
friend of his, a Mr. Alwyn, had already asked
him and Mrs. Fraser to join him in a trip which
he intended making in his own yacht, and it
was only a great dislike to parting with Birdie
again which made them hesitate to accept.
Mr. and Mrs. Heriot were very anxious for
them to go; they would gladly keep Birdie, they
said, and take her with them to Worthing in
August; but Birdie's eyes grew very wistful
60 BIRDIE'S CHAMPION.
whenever the subject was mentioned, and her
mother, remembering their last parting, dreaded
Before anything definite was settled, Mr. and
Mrs. Alwyn, who were spending a few days in
town, called upon them, and Mrs. Alwyn was
surprised and delighted to find in Mrs. Heriot
an old schoolfellow. Mrs. Heriot on her part
was very pleased to renew the girlish acquaint-
ance, and to introduce Donald and the girls to
Mr. Alwyn was very fond of children, and
Birdie, usually so shy with strangers, made
friends at once, and chattered away to him as
if she had known him all her life, and he went
away telling the Captain that he did not wonder
that he did not wish to part again with such a
little treasure. He had no children, he said
regretfully, and Birdie had crept into his heart.
They were all sitting together two evenings
later, when a letter was brought to the Captain,
which proved to be from Mr. Alwyn. Two of
the friends who were to make up his party were
unable to go with him, he wrote, and he and his
wife would be very pleased if Captain and Mrs.
Fraser would bring Birdie with them, and one
of her cousins to keep her company.
Birdie's face was a study when her father read
out the invitation. Surprise, delight, and per-
plexity struggled in it. Which of her cousins
would be chosen? She glanced at each in
turn. Mary was her own age. Would she be
considered the best companion ? Dollie was
the eldest, and, therefore, the most likely to
have such a treat; while Donald-Donald was
a boy, no one would think of his being company
for a little girl, and yet Birdie, looking back on
her life in London, knew that it was her boy
cousin, who had cared for her, and helped her,
and fought her battles for her all through. Her
eyes rested at last on her mother's face, but it
was evident that the subject was not to be
discussed then, for the letter had been put
away, and her mother was quietly talking with'
her Uncle George on the best method of rearing
Which cousin would be chosen ? Birdie could
think of nothing else for the rest of the evening,
and when she knelt to say her prayers the thought
obtruded itself again, and with that thought
62 BIRDIE'S CHAMPION.
came another. Why should she not ask God
to manage it for her ? "' Our Father, which art
in heaven,'" she said half aloud, "please tell
father to take Donald with us, for Jesus Christ's
sake. Amen." And then, as if a burden had
been lifted from her shoulders, she jumped into
bed and fell asleep.
It was not till they were left alone that the
elders discussed the same question. There was
little doubt in their minds as to what Birdie
would like. Her father and mother had not
listened to her merry chatter since their return
without discovering that all her stories began
and ended and circled around Donald. But
would Donald care to go? Would he feel
insulted at being considered company for
Birdie? They decided against Mary at once,
as two little girls would have been too great
a care for Mrs. Fraser, and it rested between
Dollie and Donald; and Mrs. Heriot, remem-
bering that Dollie had not seemed to get on
with Birdie, refused to help them in their decision,
though she did not forget that there had been
a gentle tone in Dollie's voice whenever she had
spoken to Birdie during the last week.
So the Captain and his wife were left to
decide by themselves, and when Birdie came
down the next morning her mother was
standing in the dining-room window talking
"You need not be afraid of my being
bothered with Birdie," she heard him say.
"She and I get on capitally together. She
is as sensible as if she was much older.
Besides, you know, auntie, you needn't thank
me for being kind to her; if she had never
come to London, perhaps I should not have
known that I needed the Lord Jesus as much
as she did."
And so Birdie knew it was settled, and she
did not forget to thank her Heavenly Father.
School broke up just in time, and a fortnight
later Donald found himself on board a snug
little yacht in company with a very merry
Neither he nor Birdie was ill, and a splendid
time they had. Everything was as new to him
as to her, and the sailors made great favourites
of them, and would tell them tales by the hour;
though it must be confessed that Birdie soon
got tired of them, and would jump up and go
for a scamper up and down the deck, leaving
Donald listening, with an engrossed face, and
eyes fixed intently on the rolling, dancing
So the days passed away, and Captain Fraser
grew brown and strong; and Mrs. Fraser lost
her weary look, and romped and played with
Birdie as much as the child desired; and then
they said good-bye to Mr. Alwyn, who wanted
to keep Birdie altogether, and the screaming
rattling train took them all-Birdie, her father
and mother, and Donald-back again to the
little rose-covered home in Scotland.
"It is better than it was before we went
away," Birdie said softly the first evening as
they sat in the twilight watching the crimson
clouds and the glowing sun going down in
splendour behind the distant mountains. It
is much better than it was before."
JOHN F. SHAW AND CO., PATERNOSTER ROW.