ELSIE INTERCEDES FOR HER BROTHER HORACE.
A. S. FENN,
Author of Little Dolly Forbes," A Year with Nellie.' &c.
BLACKIE & SON, LIMITED, 49 OLD BAILEY, E.C.
GLASGOW, EDINBURGH, AND DUBLIN.
I. A SCRIMMAGE,"
II. MAKING ACQUAINTANCE,
III. THE FIRST MORNING,
IV. COMING HOME,
VII. PUNISHMENT, .
VIII. SAD HOURS,
IX. UNDER THE CLOUD,
A OUGH WALK, .
THE END OF IT ALL,
'.J Ah, it's all very well for you to sit
up there and say 'Bother,' Master
Orrus, but I've come to tell you that if I have
any more of it I shall just write and tell the
young master; so now then!"
"No, you won't, old stupid. You couldn't
write a line to save your life."
The speaker, a lad of fifteen, was sitting in
the fork of a large oak-tree, where he was well
shaded and partly hidden by the thick leafage.
In his hand he held an illustrated paper, from
which he did not even raise his eyes when he
made the above remark.
On the grass below, with his lined rugged
face deeply red with anger and work, stood
Burton, the old gardener of Olive Mount. He
wore an expression anything but friendly to the
owner of the legs swinging so carelessly in the
tree, and crunched up his cap in his hard hands
so that the veins stood out distinctly under his
"You'll see whether I can write or not afore
long, Master Orrus. I've put up with more than
any other man would, I know; but when it
comes to tramplin' purposely on all them young
cabbages as I've took the trouble to plant out,
it's goin' a little too far. Now mind you, this
is the last time I shall let it go without speaking.
I've put up with you and the young ladies
knocking all the fruit buds orf the trees, and
eating all the strawberries before they had a
chance to get ripe, and I haven't said nothing to
you for gobbling green plums and making your-
selves ill, nor for stilting about on the lawn.
But if I have any more on it, I shall tell the
young master I may as well go. Where's the good
of him paying me to grow things, when there's
five of you won't let them grow."
He stopped, and stared upwards at the boy,
who started with a pretence of surprise, looked
over his paper at the indignant gardener, and
"Hallo! you there still, Burton? Have you
been talking to me?"
Burton remained fixed in that position for a
minute, for his mind was slow to grasp what the
boy meant to imply, namely, that he had not
heard a word. Then he turned, put his cap on,
and walked heavily away through the scorching
sun, where a sharp attack on the plentiful weeds
in the kitchen-garden seemed to smooth in some
measure his ruffled feelings.
Horace Kingsford, from his position in the
oak, watched the poor old man as he moved
away, and laughed softly.
"The old muff!" he said, half aloud; "who
wants him to plant cabbages? I'm sure I don't.
What a rage he was in! Write to Brian, will
he? A lot of use that will be! It would take
more than a dozen Brians to make me do any-
thing I don't wish to do, or not do anything
when I've made up my mind."
He went on reading for a little while, then
folded up his paper and put it in his pocket,
after which he slipped down the tree trunk and
sauntered towards the house.
The garden through which he passed was a
strange, wild, picturesque piece of ground. There
were about five acres altogether, of which two-
thirds was devoted to vegetables, and the rest
to flowers, which grew up by themselves where
they could, mingled with weeds of all kinds. It
was no longer possible to tell where the lawn
ended and the flower-beds began, for the grass
had spread far beyond its bounds, and the
bedding plants beyond theirs.
Then the paths which had once been gravel
were green with different growths, and the wild
convolvulus twined itself round the rose bushes,
hanging its fragile white bells in all directions,
with no interference from Burton, who gave all
his time to growing potatoes and other vegetables,
as well as fruit for the table.
The front door was standing wide open, for
the August afternoon was so hot that it seemed
impossible to obtain enough air in the house.
Horace entered, and strolled leisurely upstairs,
to the apartment known as the school-room,
where he knew he should find some other mem-
bers of the family.
As the door was not closely shut he kicked it
open and looked in. There were four occupants:
a little boy of seven, who was walking back-
wards and forwards on the table, with the red
table-cloth held round him and trailing behind;
an auburn-haired girl of ten sitting in a corner
nursing three kittens, with their mother looking
on delighted; her sister, aged twelve, who was
occupied in fishing, with a paper-knife, for some-
thing that had fallen between two boards of the
floor; and lastly, there was a girl of fourteen,
lounging in a rocking-chair, and gently swaying
to and fro as her eyes wandered down the pages
of a novel.
There was a strong family resemblance be-
tween all the children mentioned, as far as fea-
tures were concerned; but the likeness was made
more striking by the fact that they all, from
Horace downwards, wore precisely the same ex-
pression. Each face had a dissatisfied, weary,
gloomy look, as though its owner had ceased to
find pleasure in anything, and was tired and out
of humour with the whole world; a look that is
very sad to see in children, who have no cares
and no anxieties, and who ought to be always
"Well," said Horace, thrusting his hands into
his pockets and regarding the little party without
a smile; "where is she?"
Elsie looked up, showing a pair of bright
brown eyes, and an intelligent face disfigured by
a pout of resentment at being interrupted in her
reading. She shook back the masses of brown
curling hair which had fallen forward over her
cheeks, and asked:
"Where is who?"
"Why, the new governess, to be sure."
"How should I know? Don't bother." And
Elsie's eyes were dropped again on her book.
"Hasn't she come yet?"
"Of course she hasn't. You stupid boy, to-
day's Tuesday. You know very well that she
was to come on Wednesday."
The other children had paused in their various
occupations to listen with a faint interest. Horace
came further into the room and kicked out of
his way some toys that were lying on the floor.
"I'm sure Brian said Tuesday in his letter,"
he said positively. "Look at it and you'll see."
Elsie went on rocking without speaking.
"Look at it," Horace repeated.
"Well, go and fetch it."
Elsie continued her reading, and calmly turned
over a leaf. Horace came forward and laid his
hand on her book.
Are you going?"
"No, of course I'm not. I told you Brian said
Wednesday, and if you don't choose to believe
me, there's an end of it."
"Oh, do go now, there's a good girl. You may
have forgotten, you know."
"So may you."
"Very well," said her brother, as she showed
no disposition to move, and he tried to drag the
novel away; "then you sha'n't read."
This was the signal for what Horace called
Elsie made a dash for the door, but Horace
was too quick for her and shut it with a bang.
She then darted across the room, and he followed.
They rushed round and round the table, tumb-
ling over the younger children, treading on-the
tail of the poor cat and making her squeal, kick-
ing up and tripping over the carpet, knocking
over the fire-irons with a crash, and, on the
whole, upsetting everything and everybody.
The place was soon filled with quite a mist of
dust. Horace and Elsie grew redder and hotter
every moment, and what was begun half in rough
play, was growing into a serious quarrel, that
threatened to become something very like a
Now and then Horace succeeded in catching
his sister's dress, and tried to wrest the book
from her grasp, but she struggled away, tearing
her dress in the process, and dashed round the
room again, sometimes putting a chair in the
way of her pursuer, or throwing the heavy win-
dow-curtains across his face.
Meanwhile, Arthur, or "Babs," as he was
generally called, the chubby, rosy-cheeked little
boy on the table, stood still in this elevated
position watching the chase, and getting quite
excited over it, his red cloth train lying in a
heap by his side. Winnie, of the auburn curls,
shrank closer into her corner, with her legs
drawn up under her to be out of the way, and
the kittens tightly rolled up in her pinafore for
safety. Her blue eyes were dancing with amuse-
ment, which was not at all shared by the cat,
who flew here and there in a vain attempt to
find a quiet spot where she might lick her in-
jured tail into shape again. Malvina, the little
girl who was trying to get back a penny from
the dark mysterious regions under the floor, let
the paper-knife slip from her fingers through
the crack between the boards, and sat still look-
ing very unhappy and rather frightened, for she
was of a quiet disposition and loved peace. For
though she could be obstinate on occasion, had
learned from Elsie always to have her own way
when she could get it, and looked as discontented
with things in general as the others, she was by
nature gentle and affectionate, and this boisterous
play was not at all to her taste.
Crash! A little green vase containing a few
flowers was knocked off the chimney-piece into
the fender, and the water spilt, but no one took
any notice of that.
At last Elsie was getting too hot and out of
breath to be able to resist much longer. She
saw Horace close upon her, and dived under the
table. The boy made an attempt to spring over
that article of furniture, and to catch her on the
other side, but he had reckoned without Arthur's
table-cloth train. He caught his foot in it, over-
turned poor Babs, and the two boys and the
cloth came down like an avalanche on Elsie, who
was just creeping out. There was a chorus of
shrieks and groans that quite drowned a horrified
exclamation from a new-comer, who had been
standing for some seconds in the doorway, a
spectator of the scene.
-- -- I
.'%~)f 2" L ; *) J
SHIS was Miss Madeline Orpen, the new
governess, a young lady of four- or
five-and-twenty, tall and slim, with
clear, steady, gray-blue eyes, and
softly waving hair. She presented a strange
contrast in her cool-looking summer dress, and
with her fresh, quiet face, to the hot, torn, dusty
Running forward, she hastened to extricate
Arthur from the heap on the floor, sitting down
with him on her knee, from which position he
wriggled away as soon he had collected his
scattered senses enough to know where he was,
retreating to some distance, and staring stupidly
at the stranger.
The other two picked themselves up slowly,
Elsie putting back the wild locks from her
flushed face, and Horace proceeding to examine
the novel, which had come completely out of its
"I suppose you know I am your new gover-
ness, my dears," said Miss Orpen, glancing round
the room, which had anything but an encourag-
ing and welcoming appearance after the scrim-
mage. "I have been here half-an-hour, but I
thought I would take off my things and get
rested before making your acquaintance. You
seem to have had a very energetic game for such
hot weather. You know my name, I expect.
Now, you must tell me all of yours."
All stared at her awkwardly for a few minutes,
Babs with his thumb in his mouth, and his
brother with his hands in his pockets. Then
Horace came forward, and held out a hand that
was not so clean as it might have been. Miss
Orpen's cool white fingers clasped and shook it.
S"How do you do?" said the boy, not very
graciously. "Elsie," he said in triumph to his
sister, "I was right. It was to-day that Brian
said. Miss Orpen, I'm Horace."
"So I suppose from what your brother told
me. Now, introduce the others to me as well."
"That's Elsie; she comes next to me. That's
Malvina; there's Winnie in the corner; and this
is Babs-I mean Arthur. Don't suck your
thumb, Babs. There aren't any more except old
Brian. Oli, I say! I don't believe you'll stay as
long as Miss Brown did."
"Why not?" she asked, with an amused look.
"Oh, because-well, you'll see," said Horace
Miss Orpen was silent, but her lips twitched
at the corners, as though she were inclined to
"We have all this afternoon, or rather what is
left of it, and the evening, to learn to know one
another in," she said, looking observantly at each
one in turn as if she would read them through.
"And then to-morrow we will set to work."
"We are not going to begin lessons until next
week," Elsie said, in a matter-of-fact tone, treat-
ing this like a settled thing. She fixed her eyes
on Horace, but felt Miss Orpen look at her.
"Oh, yes, we are!" was the quiet answer.
"But never mind about the lessons for the pres-
ent. Arthur, come here and tell me how old you
Babs writhed, and hid himself behind Elsie,
who answered for him:
"And you, Malvina?"
"I forget," she said discontentedly. "We
never have any birthday parties or anything to
make us remember."
No, we never have any fun like other people,"
Miss Orpen could get very little more from
any of them than this, though she tried her best
to set them all at their ease. It seemed to her
that they were inclined to regard her as a deadly
enemy, they looked at her in such a hostile way.
I'll go and unpack my box," she said, after a
while; "and when I come down again, perhaps
some of you will show me the garden."
"I will," Horace answered readily, and she
smiled a "Thank you" as she glided from the
When she was out of hearing the boy gave a
long low whistle and looked at his sister, who
shrugged her shoulders and raised her eyebrows.
"I don't care," she said, "I shall not do any
lessons this week. I said I wouldn't, and I won't.
Don't you either, Malvie!"
Malvina shook her head. Certainly Winnie
and I sha'n't, if you don't; shall we, Winnie?"
Of course not," Winnie answered, tucking the
kittens round her neck, where they looked like a
boa of cat-skin.
"And you won't, Babs, will you?"
"Perhaps she'll make me," said the little boy
"Don't let her, you little goosie; promise!"
"All right!" said Babs. "Oh, won't she be
"I'm sure I sha'n't like her a bit. Come along:
let's all go out to the poultry-yard and feed the
chickens. She can find us if she wants us."
Accordingly when Miss Orpen came down the
school-room was deserted. She sat down for a
minute and looked disconsolately round at the
state of wild disorder in which everything was
left. Then shaking off the feeling of languor and
depression, turned up her sleeves and set to work
to make the place look habitable.
She had just finished, and was surveying the
result with satisfaction, when a jingling sound
on the stairs was followed by the appearance of
a maid with a tray and tea-things. She set it
on the table and stared blankly at the orderly
"You'll soon get tired of doing that, miss," she
said in a gloomy way. "It will be as bad again
when they've been in it five minutes. Them
children's enough to wear one's life out."
"Poor things! They seem very much left to
themselves," Miss Orpen answered gently.
The maid set the plates round the table, seem-
ing to derive a kind of satisfaction from bringing
each one down with a bang.
"I never saw such a place in my life," she
grumbled. "Nothing but clean, clean, and clear
up rubbish, from morning till night. I may
slave to death for them, and never get so much
as thank you. They treat you like dirt under
"Poor children! They have no mother to
teach them better. I should not wonder at
anything. Where are they all gone?"
"To torment the chicken, miss," said Mary,
and departed for the tea-pot.
Miss Orpen became thoughtful, and leaned her
head rather sadly on her hand. The next minute
she rose and went off into the garden, with the
intention of finding her pupils and telling them
that tea was ready.
She took the first path that came, and strolled
along, unable to help feeling depressed by the
desolate, uncared-for, weedy appearance of all
she saw. Turning a corner she came suddenly
upon an old man busy with a hoe.
"Good afternoon!" she said, stopping to look
at him. "It is very hot weather for that kind
"Hot enough, ma'am," said Burton sulkily and
without pausing. "But it makes you a deal
'otter when there's a lot of young rips undoing
every blessed thing you do, and always a-hiding
your tools or breaking 'em."
Miss Orpen opened her lips, then changed her
mind and closed them again without speaking.
She stood still a minute watching the great weeds
as they were chopped down and torn up by the
"How they must have been left to run wild!"
she said thoughtfully, thinking of the children.
"That's true, ma'am," said Burton, thinking of
the weeds; and it's more than one pair of hands
can manage to get 'em into order again."
"We never know what we can do till we try,"
said Miss Orpen, turning away.
"Ah!" growled the gardener, following her
with his eyes after she was out of hearing, "a
nice life you'll have of it! If you think you
can manage them young rips, you're very much
Miss Orpen was unconscious of Burton's ob-
servation as she strolled on in the direction from
which voices proceeded.
"I have my work cut out," she said to herself,
glancing first on one side then on the other at
the laden fruit-trees and overgrown paths. But
I am glad I came."
THE FIRST MORNING.
REAKFAST the next morning passed
off so pleasantly that Miss Orpen felt
sure Elsie must have forgotten her
decision on the subject of lessons when
she had mentioned the night before that they
would begin work at once, as they had lost so
much time of late.
Her pupils and Horace, who was not of the
number of those who were to receive her instruc-
tions, were not so shy as on the previous even-
ing. They told her all about the place;--how
Dr. West had hardly anything to do, as the
people of this neighbourhood were all so well;
how the vicar was nearly eighty, and had the
gout; how old Brian thought Olive Mount a dull
hole, and so did they all. Also, they told that
Brian's age was twenty-four, that he was a dear
old fellow, and that it was a horrid shame that
he couldn't come and live with them altogether
instead of having business in London, and paying
them a visit once a month.
What struck Miss Orpen again this morning
was the ill-used and complaining tone in which
they spoke. Everything seemed to be wrong in
the world in which they lived.
"We're all pretty good when Brian's here,"
said Horace. "He doesn't know how we go on
at other times. Mrs. Harrison tells tales now
and then, but he doesn't believe them a bit.
And Mary always grumbles to him every time
he comes down; but then she's always grumbling,
it's her nature. As for old Burton, he's so fond
of Brian, that though he's always threatening to
talk to him about us, he never does, because he
doesn't want to vex him. He's a regular old
stupid, is Burton. Then Brian thinks it was all
Miss Brown's fault that Elsie and Malvie didn't
get on with their lessons. But it wasn't, you
know. They worried her out of her life, I ex-
pect, though I was at school then, so I don't
know much about it."
"I suppose we did," said Elsie languidly.
"She used to look very miserable, I know. We
never could get on together a bit. Well, she
was glad enough to get away from this horrid
place. You needn't look so surprised, Miss
Orpen; if you were here as much as we are you
THE FIRST MORNING.
would hate Olive Mount and everything belong-
ing to it. We get so tired of the garden and
house and the country round about that we
don't know what to do sometimes."
"It's bad enough to be here for two or three
months every year," said Horace.
Miss Orpen listened and answered, rather en-
joying the childish frankness of her charges.
When the meal was over she looked at her
"It is half-past eight, my dears," she said,
looking round at each in turn. "I have some
books upstairs that I want to unpack. They
will take me about half an hour. At nine I
shall expect you all to be here, ready to begin
There was no reply, and no word was spoken
by the children until she was gone. However,
in spite of this, she hoped she should not have so
much trouble as she had at first imagined, and
sang some lively little air as she took out of her
box such books as she was likely to want, and
arranged others on some empty shelves hanging
on her bed-room wall.
At five minutes to nine she went downstairs.
The breakfast things had been cleared away,
and the morning-room was deserted. She went
on to the school-room expecting to find her pupils
there waiting for her, but was disappointed; no
one was visible.
However, it was not quite nine, so she sat
down and turned over the leaves of a grammar,
thinking how she should begin, and wondering
which child would prove the most intelligent
and teachable. One thought led to another, and
she very soon fell into a brown study. It was
with quite a start that she roused herself after a
while and looked at the clock.
A quarter past nine, and no signs of the
At half-past she rang the bell, and bade Mary
tell them she was waiting.
They're all gone out, Miss," said Mary shortly;
"Master Orrus and all."
"Yes, Miss; and they don't mean to come
home to dinner. Miss Elsie told cook last night'
that she was to make a lot of sandwiches early
this morning, and they've taken them in a basket,
and some biscuits and cold pudding as well."
Miss Orpen tried to conceal her feelings from
the servant, and answered quietly, "Thank you,
Mary. That will do." But as soon as she was
alone she bit her lips with vexation, and the
colour rushed to her face. She was beaten, for
even if she could trace the truants, there was no
THE FIRST MORNING.
telling whether she could compel them, when
found, to come home.
The fact was that as soon as she quitted
the morning-room, after breakfast, the three
girls ran for their hats, then fetched the basket
of provisions, and were joined by Horace and
Babs outside the back-door. They all stole
through the kitchen-garden and orchard as
secretly and silently as burglars, stopping once
or twice to crouch behind bushes and listen,
holding their breath, for Burton's footsteps.
Winnie had to place her pinafore over her mouth
to stifle her laughter, and Babs once gave vent
to a chuckle that nearly betrayed them, as the
gardener walked past with a truck basket of
But Burton was too much wrapped in his own
thoughts to notice the unusual sound, and went
on his way; and the runaways glided in and out
among the orchard trees, avoiding the paths
where they might have been seen from the house,
until they reached a little moss-grown gate in
the thick hawthorn hedge that bounded this
portion of the garden.
This gate let them into a dense wood where
the footpath was hardly distinguishable among
the nettles, hogweed, and wild parsley. The
ground sloped steeply downwards, so that they
had to hold on by the young saplings to keep
their footing as they descended.
This kind of progress was very delightful to
all but poor little Arthur, who, as he was short,
was not out of reach of the nettles, which
touched him now and then on the hands, and
even on the face. He would not cry, but his
cheeks grew redder and redder until the bottom
of the slope was reached, and they all stood by
a tiny trickling stream that threaded its way in
and out amongst brambles and all kinds of wild
growths, over bright pebbles and yellow sand.
"Why, what's the matter, Babs?"
The exclamation was from Elsie, who had
caught sight of his scarlet face as she turned to
see if all were there. The little boy dared not
venture to speak, for his tears were so near the
surface that if he had not kept his teeth clenched
they would have flowed over. He mutely held
out his red wrists, on which the nettles had raised
"Poor little fellow!" cried the pitying Elsie.
"I'll rub them with dock leaves and then they'll
soon be well. Do help me to find a dock, all of
We'll look as we go on," said Horace. We're
just as likely to find some that way as by
hunting about here."
THE FIRST MORNING.
Accordingly they stumbled on by the side of
the stream, soon forgetting the nettle-stings, in
the sight of fresh objects of interest. Indeed,
after a while, when they came upon the remains
of a dead wood-pigeon, Babs himself forgot his
troubles in the interesting occupation of poking
the dead bird with a stick, to try and find out
which was its head.
Horace had been leading the way a few yards
in advance of the others. All at once he turned
round and came back, treading softly and on
"Hush! Come quietly! Here's such a great
adder coiled up by the root of a tree. Wait a
minute. I must get a stick to kill him with."
A short search showed a good stout branch
blown down by some high wind. Horace armed
himself with this, and then cautiously led the
way forward. There lay the viper, with its
curiously marked body beginning to undulate in
waves, and slowly to uncoil, as though disturbed
by the sound of their footsteps, soft though they
The little party approached as near as they
dared, and stretched forward their heads to stare
at the reptile.
"Ugh! look how it puts its tongue out," cried
Winnie with a shudder, half real, half put on for
the occasion. Horace grasped his stick firmly
and prepared for a blow.
"Poor thing!" said Malvie, who did not like
to see even a wasp killed. Do let it live.
Ss-ss-ss!" and she threw a little handful of
earth to frighten it. The adder lifted up its
head and hissed angrily before it began to glide
"Crash!" Down came Horace's stick on its
lithe body. Again and again, and Malvie shut
her eyes and turned away her head shuddering.
The girls both backed to a little distance, but
Babs stood eagerly watching while the battle
went on, the snake wriggling and darting out
its forked tongue, and Horace aiming furious
blows at its head. At last the poor creature lay
almost still, a little movement in its body, but not
power enough to crawl from the spot.
Then the girls came near again, and looked.
"You horrid, cruel boy! You've quite spoilt
its head," Malvie said, with the tears coming into
her eyes. "You like nothing so well as killing
"I know I don't," said Horace calmly. Men
always like it. When I'm a man I shall go to
India and kill tigers. There would be some fun
in that. Now for a stick, to carry home the
THE FIRST MORNING.
He found a suitable branch of a tree, split the
end, and picked up the adder's body with this
"Now let me see. We shall come back this
way, so I can leave it here, ready to take with
He deposited the poor creature, which still
moved, at the foot of a tree, and cut off with his
penknife enough of the bark from the tree-trunk
to leave a white mark. Then calling to the
others to come along, he led on.
"Look here," he said, pausing and turning
round, we've been over this old path a hundred
times. Let's go somewhere quite fresh. You
follow me, and I'll take you to a jolly place
where we'll have something to eat so that the
basket won't be so heavy to carry. Oh, I never
thought of that! I might put the adder into the
"What! with our sandwiches and things! No,
thank you!" cried Elsie, who carried the pro-
visions. "No; go on and we'll follow. Come,
Accordingly, Horace left the beaten track and
turned sharply to the right, leading the way
through brambles that flew back after he had
pressed by, and struck the next comers in the
face. However, he was too much occupied in
trying to find the way to an open glade, where
he had once been, to pay much attention to those
who were following.
Calling to them every now and then to make
haste, he stumbled on, sometimes having to spring
over a little stream, and never waiting to see
how the others succeeded in crossing, for he was
beginning to be afraid he could not find his way.
The brambles became more and more close and
thick, and the undergrowth more difficult to walk
through. However, he persevered, refusing to
be kept back by obstacles, and forgetting for a
time that what he could overcome might be in-
superable to little Babs and Winnie.
At last he turned and looked back. He could
see no one; but a rustling sound told him one of
the others, at least, was not far off. He waited,
and in about a minute Malvie appeared, very hot
and red in the face, with a great scratch across
one cheek, and her pinafore torn.
"Where are the rest?" Horace asked, looking
past her, but seeing nothing.
"Coming, I think," Malvie answered vaguely.
"It was hard enough work following you myself.
I had no time to look after them."
Horace shouted, "Elsie! Winnie! Babs!" and
an answer came directly, together with more
rustling of leaves and snapping of twigs. Then
THE FIRST MORNING.
Elsie appeared, and the next minute Winnie also,
both hot and out of breath.
What a race you have been leading us," cried
Elsie, in an ill-used tone; "and what dreadful
places we have had to come through! I wish
we had kept to the path. It looks worse than
ever on in front."
Oh, I'll soon bring you out into a nice part,
if you trust to me!" Horace replied confidently.
"Why, where's Babs?"
"Babs! Isn't he with you? I thought you
two boys came on first!" Elsie said, peering
about on every side and looking rather blank.
"I haven't seen him since I killed the snake."
No more have I," said Malvie.
-+ -- ".... -.
HE four children stared at each other
"He came some of the way after
we left the path," said Winnie, "but
I don't know how far. Let's go back and look
This was more easily said than done, for they
had followed no track, and after turning round
office or twice they could not tell in the least
which way they had come. In all directions it
looked equally bad walking.
"Babs! Babs! Hallo-o-o!"
There was an echo in the wood, which an-
swered faintly to their cries; but it was quite
evident that Arthur was nowhere within hearing.
Let's try and find our way back to the path,"
Everyone agreeing to this, they began to re-
trace their steps, still calling "Arthur! Arthur!"
at intervals, but receiving no reply.
In a little while they came out on an open
space, with smooth grass under big trees, and no
"This is the place I was looking for all the
time," said Horace; "and we're not going back
the same way we came. Whatever shall we do?
We must have been getting further and further
away from poor Babs, and I haven't the remotest
idea now which way to go to look for him."
"Let's all call him together as loud as we can,"
Elsie suggested. He can't be very far off, can
Accordingly they all shouted till they were
hoarse; but there came no answer out of the
silent woods. Babs was lost!
Well," said Horace, after they had quite tired
themselves with calling, "I am hungry, and I
vote we have our lunch, keep some for him, and
then go all together and hunt for him every-
Malvie began to cry.
"I don't want any sandwiches," she said in a
melancholy tone. "I want Babs. Perhaps we
shall never find him again."
"Don't be a goose, Malvie. If you're going to
cry that will spoil all the fun. We are just as
likely to find him by stopping here as by walking
about, for he may come to us."
And with that Horace opened the basket and
took out the various eatables, of which the four
partook in a serious, business-like way, as though
the eating of the good things were an unpleasant
duty that had to be performed. They were all
more occupied in listening for some sound that
should tell of the approach of Babs, than in
thinking of the delights of making a picnic meal
in the open air. But there was no sound save the
twittering of the birds in the branches overhead.
Arthur's lunch was put back in the basket, and
they all set out again to look for the lost one.
The high spirits with which they had started
were now all gone. Even Winnie walked without
her usual dancing step, and Elsie had quite an
anxious, worried expression, as she turned first
to one side, then to the other, gazing into the dim
arcades of the wood, and imagining that each
dark bough or tree-trunk was the little boy.
Listen!" she cried, two or three times, holding
up her hand, and they all came to a standstill
and strained their ears, to find that what Elsie
had heard was the mournful coo of some wood-
On they went, fighting their way through the
brambles in some places, in others threading
their way easily among large trees where there
was no undergrowth to impede their progress.
At intervals the birds above were startled by
shouts of "Babs! Babs! Arthur!" that echoed
through the glades, and then the voices would
die away as the children became too weary and
dispirited even to speak to each other.
After a while they came again to the little
stream they had crossed before. They scrambled
over it, but it was wider here than in the place
they had chosen before, and Winnie slipped and
fell short in taking the leap, so that she grazed
her knee and soaked her stockings with water.
"Never mind, it doesn't matter," she said
dejectedly, as Malvie helped her up and ex-
amined the wound. Nothing matters except
finding Babs. We can't go home and leave him
here all night."
The time glided on, and they began to feel as
though they must have threaded the wood in
every direction. Winnie suddenly sat down on
I am too tired," she said; if I go any further
I sha'n't be able to walk home."
So am I," said Malvie, dropping down by her
side. "My feet ache. I ache all over."
Elsie leaned against a tree and looked at them,
and Horace stopped, thrust his hands in his
pockets, and whistled.
"I tell you what," he began, after a minute.
"We can't find him, that's very plain, and I
believe it's nearly tea-time. We shall have to
go home and tell about it, and old Burton, and
George, and I, shall have to come back and hunt
for him till we do find him. What do you say
"Very well," said the others, who were too
exhausted to object to anything. They were now
once more on the path, so that it was easy to
find the way back.
A very melancholy procession they looked as,
scratched, untidy, and with torn clothing, they
passed through the little gate into the orchard,
and on into the kitchen-garden. Here they came
upon Burton digging up new potatoes. He
leaned on his spade and looked them over.
"Allers up to some mischief or other!" he
muttered. "The young lady '11 have a lot o'
training and pruning to do if she wants to make
good trees out o' you."
The truants paid no heed to him, for Horace
had come to a standstill with an exclamation of
"Why, we've forgotten the snake after all!"
"A good thing too!" said Elsie snappishly.
" What did you want it for, pray?"
Why, to show, of course. It's no good killing
a great adder if you don't let anybody see."
"It's a great deal to be proud of, I must say!"
Horace was too tired to answer her as he
would have done at another time. He had been
the leader when they started, full of good spirits
and looking forward to any quantity of fun.
Returning, Winnie headed the tired party, and
stepped in through the open garden door.
The first object that met her eyes was Babs,
looking as fresh and bright as possible, with hair
neatly brushed, and face and hands shining from
a recent wash.
"Oh!" said Winnie, staring at him, as the
others filed in and joined her.
"You little darling!" cried Malvie in great
delight. "Here you are all the time. Oh, we
have been so frightened about you!"
"Why, where did you spring from?" cried
Elsie; while Horace took the child by the shoulder
and gave him a little shake.
"Well," said Babs in his thick, hoarse little
voice, "when you all began to go through the
prickly parts, where it's all nettles and thorns, I
"What a comfort!" said Elsie. "We thought
you were lost!" But a cloud gathered over
You young monkey, I've a great mind to give
it to you for playing us such a mean trick. You
just spoilt everything. There have we been
hunting for you m all directions, till we're so
tired we can hardly stand, and all the time you've
been comfortably at home."
As he spoke his anger grew, and he finished
off with a sounding slap on the fat rosy cheek
of the little boy, who burst into a loud howl
of astonishment and pain.
At the cry there was a quick step, the rustle
of a dress, and Miss Orpen stood amongst them,
looking from one to the other. She rested her
hand lightly on the shoulder of Arthur. who
stopped crying on the instant, but kept his mouth
open from surprise at her sudden appearance.
"You have come back, then," she said gravely.
"Have you enjoyed yourselves?"
Elsie and Winnie were silent, but Malvie said
in a plaintive voice:
"No, we haven't-not a bit."
"I think you would have felt much happier
now, if you had come to the school-room this
morning as I wished, and worked hard at your
lessons. Don't you?"
There was no reply, but the children slipped
away, one after another, to prepare for tea,
leaving Miss Orpen and Horace alone.
"I am afraid," said the governess, "that it is
you who are the origin of all this. You are the
eldest, and they follow where you lead. Don't
let us begin by fighting against one another, each
pulling them a different way. Let us be friends
and work together."
We can't," said Horace coolly. "You want
them to do bothering old lessons, and I think it's
a shame. What's the good? There's not a bit
of use in knowing things unless you've got to
earn your living, which the girls haven't."
"What do you want them to do the whole day,
Oh, play, and enjoy themselves."
Miss Orpen smiled half sadly.
"You must learn to work before you can
enjoy play," she said. "Some day you will
understand that too."
, -9.T last Miss Orpen had all her pupils
assembled, and had appointed their
Horace was there, much to her
annoyance, though she could not get rid of him,
as he obstinately refused to go. The boy's pre-
sence at home was in every way a difficulty and
hindrance to her obtaining any influence with
the others. He had been at school until the end
of July, and these were his holidays, which was
one reason why he resented the others having
lessons. But the girls and Babs had had a long
period of idleness, owing to Brian, their elder
brother, not easily finding a governess who met
his ideas of suitability.
It was again a scorching day, and the windows
of the school-room were opened wide. By one of
them sat Horace, pretending to read, but listen-
ing to all that was said, and every now and then
making remarks that set his sisters giggling.
Miss Orpen looked hot and worried, but her
voice lost none of its sweetness and gentleness,
nor was it ever raised above its usual pitch.
All the same, she was far from contented.
She was inclined to like the children, who had
nice bright open faces, and she felt sure that the
faults she saw in them were chiefly on the sur-
face. Yet it seemed as though they were de-
termined to look upon her as an enemy.
She had arrived on the Tuesday. On the
following day the whole party had been off to
the woods. On the Thursday she had succeeded
in capturing Malvie and Babs, and had made
them do some pretence of work with great diffi-
culty. To-day was the first on which all had
come, and now she had one too many.
"Elsie," she said firmly, "go on with your
exercise. Whenever I look your way you are
staring out of the window."
"It's too hard; I can't do it," said Elsie in the
manner of a spoilt child of six or seven, biting
the end of her pen and looking sulkily down
"Bring it to me, then, and tell me what it is
you don't understand."
Elsie scrooped the legs of her chair on the
floor by pushing it slowly backwards while sit-
ting on it; then picking up her French grammar
she carried it round the table to the governess.
"Well," said Miss Orpen as the book was held
before her, "which sentence is it?
"All of it," was the sullen answer.
Miss Orpen took the book, and very patiently
went over the exercise that was to be translated
into French sentence by sentence, Elsie standing
by her side and making signs with her eyebrows
and lips to Horace, and only listening when called
upon for a reply The governess began to think
Elsie had never learned any French at all, she
was so perfectly helpless, requiring to be told
almost every word.
There," she said at last, "now I am sure you
can do it. You see it is all on that rule which
I have been explaining. Go and try again."
"Which rule?" Elsie asked with a stupefied
"What have I been telling you just this
Oh, I can't remember all that!" Elsie grumbled
as she went back to her place. "Miss Brown
didn't teach us like that. She used to give us
easy things to do."
Miss Orpen said nothing, but turned her at-
tention to Malvie, while Elsie sat down and wrote
her exercise all wrong from beginning to end,
without making the very slightest use of her
own brains, or of what she had just been told.
Malvina had been very quiet for some time,
and was supposed to be learning a lesson. Miss
Orpen had hopes that she would prove more
docile than the others, so that it was a disap-
pointment when she saw what the little girl was
doing. Malvie had a fairy tale opened inside
the lesson-book, and hidden at first by its larger
covers, but she had become so completely ab-
sorbed that she had forgotten everything else,
and was holding the outer book so low that the
inner one was plainly visible.
"Malvie!" said Miss Orpen.
Malvie started and turned red, but, like her
sister, she had an excuse ready.
"I know my lesson," she said.
Then learn the other I gave you. And give
me that story."
It was handed over with a pout, that gave
place to a chuckle as Horace muttered some
remark. Malvie held up her other lesson before
her face, pretending to be intently studying it,
yet holding it upside down to make the others
Miss Orpen looked next at Winnie and Arthur.
A small tail appearing over the edge of the table
showed that Winnie was nursing one or more of
the kittens; while Babs, far from attempting to
do the sum that had been set for him, was play-
ing a game of noughts and crosses with an ima-
The kittens were dismissed, and Winnie was
left to do her copy, while Babs Miss Orpen called
to her side to read aloud.
However, it was one thing to put a book before
the little boy, and quite another to make him
read it. Babs knew perfectly that all the others
were listening to hear what he would do, and he
ruled his conduct accordingly. He put on the
most stolid unmeaning expression, and began in a
very thick hoarse voice, spelling every word that
contained more than two letters, and wilfully
misunderstanding what Miss Orpen said. The
result was sometime like this:-
T-h-e," began Babs very slowly, staring at
the book as though he hardly knew his letters.
The," said Miss Orpen.
"The c-a-t," said Babs, with a glance at Elsie
who was laughing silently.
Surely you know what c-a-t spells."
Cap," suggested Babs.
"Cat," said the governess, and Arthur went
Cat is a d-o-m-e-s-t-i-c."
"Domestic," Miss Orpen told him,
"Drumstick a-n-i-m--," Babs was going on,
when a perfect shriek of laughter from Winnie,
and a "Ha-ha-ha!" from Horace drowned his
voice altogether. Miss Orpen waited until the
noise subsided, before correcting her refractory
little pupil, but said nothing to the others, as she
saw it would be mere waste of words to reprove
them while in their present humour.
When Arthur's reading was at an end, after
being all conducted on the same plan, to the
great enjoyment of the others, and without a
smile on his part, Winnie had to repeat her
multiplication table. Babs having so successfully
pretended to be stupid, she felt it quite necessary
to outshine him, and brought all her wits to bear
on the matter.
The result was perfect. She could not appa-
rently recollect anything about multiplication at
,all, and had to have it explained to her from the
very beginning. Miss Orpen saw through all
this to some extent, though it was difficult to
guess how much the children might really have
forgotten. However, her plan was to go on pa-
tiently, in the hope that after a time they would
feel ashamed of themselves and be more reason-
When at last the ordeal was over for the
morning, and it was time for the early dinner,
she told them that she intended to give each a
music lesson that afternoon, for their brother
Brian was anxious that the piano should receive
a plentiful share of attention, believing that the
three girls had taste for music.
Elsie made a face at Horace and shook her
head, as much as to say, "I won't have any
music to-day;" and Horace nodded back to her
as much as to answer, "You'll have to, whether
you like it or not."
Lessons went on again in the same style from
two to four, and then Miss Orpen said:
Now, Elsie, come to the piano for half an
"I'm afraid I can't play this afternoon, Miss
Orpen. I have cut my finger."
The governess, not quite believing this, said:
"Let me look."
Elsie unwound a long strip of rag from the
middle finger of her left hand, showing a cut on
the tip, near the nail, that began to bleed on
"I am sorry for that," said the governess.
"Well, I must begin to-day with Malvie."
"But I have cut myself too," said Malvina,
showing a similar wound on one of her fingers.
There was a chuckle from Horace, which Miss
Orpen affected not to hear.
"Well, Winnie," she asked gravely, "have you
met with a similar accident?"
"No," said Winnie, "I wish I had."
Then you must have the first lesson. Where
is your music?"
"Go and fetch it, and let me see what you can
Winnie tripped up to her bed-room, put on a
hat, provided herself with a book, and darted
down the back staircase and into the garden.
Miss Orpen waited for her in vain.
After sitting alone for long enough to convince
herself that Winnie did not mean to come, she
strolled out of the front door and on to the soft
velvety lawn. Here she found Babs watching
the proceedings of a humble-bee which was dis-
appearing into a hole in the ground.
Come, Arthur," she said cheerfully, and as
though she had forgotten his conduct of the
morning. "Will not you show me round the
garden, and tell me where the chickens and the
cows live, and everything else about it?"
Babs jumped up willingly, his usual discon-
tented look vanishing at the prospect of some-
thing to do. He took Miss Orpen's hand, and
led her all over the place, chattering away happily
50 OLIVE MOUNT.
"Thank you, Babs," said his companion when
the tour of inspection was finished. She bent
down to kiss him, and Arthur was lifting up
his rosy face for the salute when a sudden
recollection came across him, and he drew back
hastily, and darted away as fast as his short legs
-- "- -- -
T was Saturday afternoon, and lessons
were over for this week. Miss Orpen
had gained her point, and had made
a beginning, instead of waiting till
Monday as Elsie had intended. She had now
gone out, taking Babs, who was proud to be able
to show her the way to the village, where she
had some purchases to make.
The three girls were sitting in the school-room
learning their lessons ready for Monday, or at
all events making a pretence of doing so, when
Horace put his head in at the door with:
Hi! you three! come out. There's a nest of
some kind in the tallest fir-tree, and I'm going up
to get it. Who's coming to see?"
"All of us, of course," cried Elsie, throwing
down her book, an example which the others
were willing enough to follow. "How I do hate
that Miss Orpen! Let's write and tell Brian we
can't bear her. She wants us to slave, slave,
work, work, from morning till night."
"What do you do it for, then? I'm sure I
wouldn't," Horace returned as he led the way
out into that portion of the garden where a
cluster of fir-trees stood, their tops dark against
the clear blue sky.
As they went they met Burton, who stopped
and followed them with his eyes.
"What are they after now? More mischief,
I know. They never go off together like that,
but there's something spoilt in my garden."
He continued his way, muttering to himself
and shaking his head, though he might have
spared himself any anxiety on this occasion, as
it was the firs and not the fruit-trees for which
they were bound.
High up in the tallest of these was a little
bunch of something that an experienced eye
knew to be a bird's nest. The children all stared
up at it earnestly, and then Malvina said in a
tone of conviction:
"You can't get it. It's too high up."
"Oh, can't I though! You'll see."
Malvie was something of a coward, and had
no sympathy with feats of daring She held
him by the arm, and began persuasively:
No, don't go, dear. I'm sure it isn't safe.
Suppose you were to fall and break your arms or
Horace shook her off. Little goosie! I sha'n't
fall, never fear. Now, then, here goes!"
The girls watched with breathless interest as
he scrambled up to the first branch, and then
began to slowly mount higher and higher. Elsie
lay on her back on the ground so that she could
see better, for her neck was beginning to ache
from holding her head thrown back. Malvie
stood with her red lips parted, and her clear
gray eyes widely opened and full of anxiety.
Winnie, whose feet were never still, danced round
the tree, now on this side, now on that, some-
times walking backwards to a short distance,
then coming close up, and looking straight up
the tree trunk.
Higher and higher he went, stopping to rest
once or twice, and to swing his legs about, so as
to horrify his sisters, and show off his own in-
difference to danger.
"Go on," Elsie called out to him. "You're
Oh, am I?" And he made a pretence of
slipping that caused Malvie to gasp out a fright-
ened Oh!" while Winnie burst out laughing.
He's all right," she cried, skipping round to
Malvie's side. "Don't you see the fir-trees seem
made on purpose to climb? Look how convenient
the branches are-like steps almost. Look! he
has almost got it."
Another breathless pause and then came a
"hurrah!" from Horace. He had grasped the
nest, which he tossed down the next minute, so
that it fell at Winnie's feet.
"I've done it!" the boy cried. "Hurrah! I
say, shall I go a bit higher?"
"No! no!" shouted both Malvina and Elsie in
an instant. Horace hesitated, and then began
slowly to come down. Once his foot really
slipped, but he recovered himself quickly, and
looked down and laughed.
At last he was safe on the ground again, and
Malvie could breathe freely.
"I say," he began, brushing the green dust
from his clothes, "it's a ticklish place up there
where the nest was."
Elsie got up and shook herself to get rid of
the fir needles
"I am going to see whether Miss Orpen has
come in," she said; "she will be as cross as pos-
sible if she finds us out here." And she saun-
tered slowly away, to be out of hearing of
Horace's self-satisfied remarks, which made her
feel angry and long to snub him.
The other two remained with their brother, to
examine the nest and wonder to what bird it had
There's such a splendid view from up at the
top," said the boy after a while. "It's worth
risking one's neck for. I've a great mind to do
"You didn't risk your neck," said Winnie
with a little laugh of disbelief. "It is a very
easy tree to climb."
"No, it isn't, you little monkey. It's a very
hard and a very dangerous tree; and I might
have killed myself if I had tumbled. There!"
Winnie made a grimace and laughed again.
"You wouldn't have gone up if you'd thought
there was any fear of killing yourself, I know."
"That's exactly why I did it!" cried Horace,
getting red. I wouldn't have taken the trouble
to climb it if there had been no danger. That's
what makes a thing worth doing, in my opinion."
Malvie looked admiring, but Winnie was still
"Why, I could go up myself as high as you
did," she said, gazing up among the branches
with her blue eyes reflecting the sky and looking
bluer than ever.
No you couldn't."
"I'm sure I could."
"She couldn't; could she, Malvie?"
"No," Malvie replied nervously. Of course
not. Girls can't climb."
"I can," said Winnie. "I'll show you, if you
She skipped nearer to the trunk with her
favourite dancing step, and stood as if ready to
begin the feat.
"You aren'tt" Horace cried scornfully. "I
know what cowards girls are. Look at Malvie,
now, as white as milk at the mere idea. In
about half a minute you'd be calling me to help
The little girl looked from him to her sister,
and then up the tree.
"I hope Elsie and Miss Orpen won't come and
see me. They would be shocked. Now, then,
here we go."
She grasped the rugged trunk. Malvic sprang
forward to stop her, but Horace flung his arms
round her and held her tightly.
"Let Winnie alone. We shall see whether
she's as clever as she thinks. Now, Win, we're
Malvina struggled and called to her sister to
stop; then finding that she could not get away,
and that Winnie took no notice of her appeals,
she began to cry.
"Conceited little thing!" muttered Horace,
following Winnie with his eyes as she scrambled
nimbly up to the first branch. "She thinks she
can do everything. Let her find out that she
"I hope you remember how far you went up,
because I don't want the trouble of going any
higher than that," Winnie cried; and then her
small figure went further up, till it was so far
from the ground that Malvie shivered and looked
paler than ever.
"You cruel, unfeeling boy," she said, turning
on Horace, as he set her free, with a passionate
tone that surprised him, used as he was to
seeing her always quiet and gentle of manner.
"You say it is dangerous, and you have made
her go up. If she is killed it will be all your
Horace was silent, and stared rather uneasily
up at Winnie, forgetting his first uncomfortable
feeling the next minute in admiration.
Well done, little one!" he shouted. Hooray!
go on! you are nearly there. I say, she climbs
every bit as well as a boy."
Malvina turned her head away. She could not
bear to look, but her ears were doing double
"Do tell her to come down," she said implor-
"What, when she has almost done it? Not
exactly! No-not that! Yes. The next one,"
he shouted, in answer to the question Winnie
was asking by pointing to first one and then
another of the boughs above her.
A dead silence, and then there was a wild
shriek-Winnie had slipped! Another, and an-
other, as she fell from one branch to that below
it, and then crash all the rest of the way to the
ground. There she lay in a heap without stir-
ring, or uttering another sound.
"Fetch some one," gasped Horace to Malvie.
They were both perfectly white with horror,
and looked at each other for a minute as if they
had lost their wits. Then Malvie fled towards
the house, trying to call for help, but with her
voice choked from fright, so that she could hardly
utter a cry.
Horace kneeled down by poor Winnie, but as
soon as he touched her she gave such a piteous
moan that he did not venture to do it again.
He spoke to her, but there was no answer. Hei
position was so unnatural that he could not bear
to see it, yet he could do nothing but kneel there
and shiver as if with the ague.
It was in reality only a minute, though it
seemed an age to him, before Mrs. Harrison and
Miss Orpen came running to the spot, the gov-
erness first, the old housekeeper panting breath-
Madeline Orpen took in the scene with one
"The doctor!" she said hurriedly to Horace.
"Go yourself, and don't lose a second."
He staggered to his feet, and dashed off to
obey her bidding. Dr. West, who was the
nearest medical man, lived half a mile away, a
distance that Horace traversed in a shorter time
than ever before.
Happily the doctor was in, and returned with
him there and then, asking questions all the way
that nearly scattered the boy's few remaining
"Was she alone, then? Did no one see her
risking her little neck?"
"I was there-and Malvie." he stammered in
And why didn't you stop her?"
"How high was she when she fell, eh?"
"A good height," said Horace vaguely.
"What do you call a good height?"
"Well, Dr. West, you see the fir-trees from
here, don't you?"
"Do you see that very straight bough that
stands out by itself, with a broken piece hanging
from the end?"
"Yes," said the doctor, who had not slackened
his pace to look, but was striding along the dusty
"She was as high as that."
"Good heavens!" exclaimed the doctor, and
said not another word.
As they entered the house Madeline Orpen,
ashy white in the face, came to meet them.
Horace," she said quickly, "run back to the
post-office and telegraph to your brother that
Winnie has met with an accident, and ask him
to come down directly."
He nodded and hastened away, while Miss
Orpen led the doctor upstairs.
%?" "" *'f'~
-' 1- y "-1 '^-" ',- *
T five o'clock on the same afternoon
Brian arrived, having come by the
very first train after receiving the
telegram. He was met in the hall by
Mrs. Harrison, who told him in a few hurried
words what had happened.
"The doctor went an hour ago," she said in
conclusion, "and Miss Orpen's sitting with the
Brian Kingsford was a tall young man, rather
slightly made, with an earnest thoughtful face,
and closely cut dark hair. He looked harassed
and ill in consequence of the anxiety he had felt
during the journey from town, and as he listened
to the housekeeper's tale his worried air became
more and more marked.
He was very fond of these young sisters and
brothers, though he kept the fact very much
out of sight. And of them all, little Winnie,
with her bright merry ways, was the dearest.
It seemed too dreadful to think of the lively,
happy little thing suffering pain, and it was
with a certain feeling of shrinking that he
mounted the stairs and entered the room where
Miss Orpen moved away from the side of the
bed to let him come. The ordinary greetings
were forgotten, and the first words Brian spoke
"What did West say?"
"He thinks it is very serious," Miss Orpen
He says not necessarily. But-" she hesi-
tated, and Brian turned towards her with a
sharp inquiring look.
"But what, Miss Orpen? let me hear the
He says she will always be a cripple. There
is no help for it-no remedy. If she ever walks
again, it can be only with crutches."
A low exclamation of horror escaped the young
man as he stared incredulously at the speaker.
A cripple! Those dancing feet never to dance
again! The little figure that could not move
sedately and quietly, so full of life was it, to be
able no longer to run and skip by his side, or to
leave Horace and Elsie behind in a race! He
could not believe it.
Malvina stole unnoticed into the room,-a
red-eyed, woebegone little object, with signs
of having cried till there were no more tears
Brian stood for some minutes looking silently
at Winnie's pallid face, so perfectly colourless
that her bright hair looked redder than ever as
it lay in limp damp curls round her brow. His
expression grew more and more stern, and deep
lines came about his mouth and forehead.
He stooped and touched her cheek with his
lips, then laid his hand on the shoulder of Malvie,
who was standing quietly by his side.
Come with me, dear," he said in a whisper,
and led the way with a noiseless tread down to
his den," as he called the room where he smoked
or read, and where all his fishing-tackle, his
guns, and books were kept.
Malvie trembled visibly as her brother sat
down and drew her forward so that she stood
between his knees, with his eyes fixed upon
"Don't be frightened, Malvie, child," he said,
taking her two little brown dimpled hands into
his left one, and stroking them gently with his
right. "If I am angry, it is not with you. I
want you to tell me exactly how it all happened,
from the beginning."
The little girl obeyed, faltering at first, but
gathering courage as she went on, and, describing
the whole occurrence so simply and vividly,
that when she came to the fall, and told how
Winnie lay all in a heap without moving, the
young man shuddered and gave a faint excla-
"That will do, child," he said hastily; "run
away now. That is all I wanted."
Malvie hesitated. She longed to slip her arms
round his neck and kiss him, and if she had seen
even the glimmer of a smile she would have
ventured; but the stern absent look repelled her,
and she turned and went sadly away.
Brian sat for a few minutes where she had left
him, quite unconscious that he had checked an
affectionate impulse on the part of his little
sister. His eyebrows drawn together, his teeth
set on his under-lip, he certainly looked grim
enough to keep anyone at a distance. The
thoughts that were passing through his head
were of no soft and gentle kind. They hardened
his face more and more until at last a look of
settled resolve came over it, and he rose.
His first proceeding was to unlock a cupboard.
At the back, after some searching among old
fishing-rods, he came upon a long elastic cane,
which he brought out and laid on the table.
A minute later he quitted the room, leaving
the door ajar. He had scarcely been gone a
moment when Elsie, white as a sheet, glided in,
and looked about her in an eager, inquisitive
way, until her eyes lighted on the cane. She
gave a gasp of horror.
"So that is what he is going to do!" she thought.
"And he is gone to fetch poor Horace. I knew
he would be terribly angry. How can I stop it?
If he sees me he will lock me out. I must stay
She listened for a minute, but could not hear
Brian returning. A glance round showed her
only one hiding-place-the heavy window cur-
tains. She crept behind the one that was most
in shadow, and waited, with her heart beating
so fast that she felt almost suffocated.
Brian found Horace, whom, from Malvie's
account, he judged to be solely to blame for
what had occurred, half lying, half sitting on
two chairs in the school-room, with a book in his
hands. The fact was, he had been sitting de-
jectedly with his head on the table, and a miser-
able, restless, remorseful feeling tugging at his
heart, when he heard and recognized his brother's
To conceal his low spirits was his first impulse;
Brian need not know how wretched he felt-
almost ready to cry if the truth were known.
He snatched up the nearest book-the very novel
that had occasioned the scuffle on the day of
Miss Orpen's arrival-and disposed himself care-
lessly on the chairs.
Now, if he had only not been so ashamed of
his own feelings, if he had not taken the
trouble to show indifference on Winnie's account,
Brian would have felt less harshly disposed
towards him. But in the young man's present
state of mind the picture prepared for his
entrance was not likely to exercise a softening
He entered, and looked the boy over keenly.
Horace turned over a page and affected -to be
Brian strode forward, took the book, glanced
at its title, and threw it on the floor.
"Is that all you care?" he asked in a low deep
The boy returned his gaze coolly, and began
"Come with me to my room," Brian said in
the same tone as before.
"No, thank you, Brian. I'm very comfortable
where I am."
"I don't want to have to use force," Brian told
"You'll have to, though, if you want me, you
great bully," was the insolent answer.
In an instant Brian had picked him up, stood
him on his feet, and was marshalling him to-
wards the door. Horace was as helpless as a
baby in his grasp, and knowing it well enough,
made no resistance.
The pair entered the "den," and the young
man closed and locked the door.
"Now, Horace," he said, taking up the cane,
"you see why I wanted you. I mean to make
you remember this business."
The boy paled a little.
Don't do that," he said in a low voice. You
have no right."
"I stand in the place of a father to you
all," Brian answered. "And I am sure I am
acting as my father would have done in such a
Horace set his teeth, and a dark stubborn ex-
pression came over his features. He was power-
less, and there was no help for it but he must
bear what was in store. Yet the anger and
mortification in his heart almost choked him,
and it was helpless rage, not fear, that took the
colour from his very lips.
Brian had him by the collar, and the cane had
whistled through the air once only when the
upraised arm was caught in a frantic grasp, and
Elsie panted out:
"0, don't! don't! Oh, Brian! Horace, run,
"Run!" said the boy proudly; "not I! Let
him do what he likes."
"Elsie! how did you come here?" and the
young man tried to disengage himself, without
success, for his sister's clasp was so desperate
that he could not have shaken her off without
rougher usage than he would employ towards a
"Oh, Brian," she began again, bursting into
tears, and sobbing, do say you won't flog him!
I am sure mamma would not have liked you to
do it. Do forgive him, and make it up."
"I don't want him to forgive me," said Horace
sullenly. Brian gave him a quick look, and then
laid his hand on Elsie's shoulder.
Come," he said gravely, "you must leave me
to do what I think best. Dry your eyes, and
don't sob like that. Go away now, and-"
"You won't use that cane?" Elsie interrupted,
gazing eagerly up into his face. "Promise, and
then I will go directly. Horace is quite unhappy
enough without that. Oh Brian, dear Brian, do
promise! I can't bear to think of Horace being
The young man said nothing, but led her
towards the door, which he unlocked and opened.
Elsie gave him another imploring look, then
stepped out and sat down on the mat.
I shall stay here and listen," she said brokenly,
"since you won't promise."
Still Brian was silent. He relocked the door
and stood once more alone with Horace. Elsie's
words, "I am sure mamma would not have liked
you to do it," were still ringing in his ears, and
bringing back the farewell plea of that mother
whom he had loved so dearly.
Be good to the children, Brian, darling. They
will have no one but you to teach them what is
right. You must be father and mother both."
It was six years since those words were spoken,
but he remembered, as if it had been only yester-
day, his earnest answer, "Trust me, mother, I
will do my best."
And now! there stood one young brother, care-
less, hard and sullen, holding aloof from him as
if he were a stranger. As he paused by the door
his own anger melted away. What right had he
to punish the boy, when, if he had indeed done
his best as he had vowed, the- punishment might
not have been needed? He had never tried to
win love and confidence. How could he be sur-
prised that they were not given?
"Be good to the children." He had meant to
be good to them. He had brought them presents
whenever his business allowed him to run down
from town to see how they were. He had pro-
vided them with governesses, and had seen that
they were always well furnished with clothes,
and he had played and romped with them in a
good-natured way when he was there, so that
they looked upon his visits as a pleasure. And
that was all.
He took the cane and put it back in the cup-
board, then turned to his brother:
"You may go, Horace. We will talk of this
-some other time."
Brian's voice was not quite steady. He sat
down so that his back was towards the door,
leaning his elbow on the table and his head on
his hand. The door was opened and closed, and
all was still.
The train of thought Elsie had started ran on
in the young man's mind. He remembered how,
when he was the age Horace was now, he used
to bring his difficulties, troubles, and faults to
his mother, and how she had helped, consoled,
and reproved. And he remembered, too, how
at the same time he used to receive from his
father not only a few sharp words when he
deserved them, but liberal encouragement and
praise for all that he did well. Horace had none
of these advantages. Poor boy! what wonder
was it that he was growing up so independent,
insolent, and intractable?
He started from his reverie and raised his
head. There was the subject of his thoughts on
the other side of the table, his face red with some
"I-I wanted-to tell you," stammered the
boy, that I am awfully sorry-" here he stopped
and swallowed something-" and if I could be
in Winnie's shoes, I would, in a minute. That's
He was about to go, but Brian leaned forward
and stretched his hand across the table. Horace
clasped it, and turned his head aside with another
"Would you really, Horace?" asked the elder
brother, watching him keenly. "Would you
change with her and be a cripple all your life?"
The boy stared incredulously.
"You don't mean that! She won't, will she?"
Brian nodded. "Dr. West says so," he answered
Horace turned as white as ashes.
"I thought you knew," said Brian in a low
voice. "Poor little lassie! It is heart-breaking."
His brother snatched away his right hand to
aid the other in covering his face. He dropped
into a chair, and bowing his head on the back,
cried bitterly, shaking with sobs, and forgetting
all shame for his tears, for the first time since he
was a little fellow in frocks.
It was strange that Brian, who but a very short
time ago was bent on making the boy feel what
he had done by means of the cane, now at the
sight of his grief longed to give him a little com-
fort. But he checked himself and said nothing,
for, he thought, the sharpness of this lesson may
do him lasting good.
At last, however, when the sobs were growing
less frequent, he went to the boy's side.
"Come, come, old fellow," he said, touching
him on the arm.
Horace only replied by two half-choked words
"And me," said Brian. Come, boy, show
your sorrow by acts, not by crying. Do better
in the future."
"It's no good," said Horace brokenly. "I
often make up my mind, but in half an hour I've
gone wrong again."
The young man was touched and surprised.
Here was a phase of the other's character at
which he had not even guessed.
In future," he said kindly, I will help you-
if you will let me."
Horace looked up with wonder in his eyes.
Could this be Brian? He accepted the offer
with an outward movement of his hand, which
was grasped and shaken,
R. WEST, a fair, slight, quiet little man,
came again at about eight, saw and
examined Winnie, and before he went
was shut for a long time in the library
with Brian. After he had gone, and while the
young man was still alone, there came a tap on
the door, and Mary appeared in answer to his
" Come in."
She set on the table a prettily arranged basket
of cherries and white currants lying in a nest of
"Please, sir, Burton sent these in for Miss
Winnie. How is she now, sir?"
Brian looked absently at the fruit. "She is
very seriously hurt, Mary," he said. It is a bad
The ill-humoured looking girl wiped away a
tear with the corner of her apron.
"The house don't seem like the same without
her running about, sir," she said. "She was
always so full of her fun."
As "the young master" was very silent, she
backed out. Brian took up the basket of fruit
and turned it round.
So that is from Burton, who wrote to me the
other day that the whole five worried him to
death, and that Horace and Winnie were the
worst! Either old Burton is a humbug, or he is
much more forgiving than I should be."
He rose, and taking the gardener's offering in
his hand, slowly and softly mounted the stairs
to the bed-room where Winnie lay.
The child was conscious again, and greeted his
entrance with a smile. He went and sat down
on the edge of the bed.
"Well, little one, how goes it?"
I don't know," she answered, wistfully looking
up at him. I feel all right as long as I lie still;
but I can't move. What have you got there,
"A present from Burton for you," he said,
placing the basket where she could see it.
"From Burton!" Winnie echoed; and added in
her old-fashioned way, he must think I am very
ill indeed, or else he wouldn't sent me his best
The truth of this remark struck Brian so
strongly that he could not keep his face from
changing in expression. He looked up and met
an inquiring glance fixed on him by Miss Orpen,
who was sitting near with some knitting, and
who had not heard the opinion the doctor had
formed after his second visit.
Well," he said, "I hope you will never get
climbing trees again, but will leave that to boys."
"No, I will never climb any more," said Winnie
in a pathetic little voice that almost brought tears
to her brother's eyes. "I knew it was wrong,
and when I was up there I turned giddy. Brian,
when are you going back to London?"
"On Monday morning, dear. But you will
have me all to-morrow, and I shall come on
Monday evening. I would not go at all if I were
Winnie's face brightened. "Then," she said
quickly, "you will stay with me all night, won't
you, and read to me or tell me tales? I don't
want to go to sleep, because as soon as I shut my
eyes I feel myself falling all over again."
Brian nodded, but the governess objected to
"You will be fit for nothing to-morrow," she
said. "No, you shall sit up till three or so, and
then I will take your place and you can sleep for
the rest of the time."
So it was settled, and Brian was soon left to
play the part of sick nurse, a part that was quite
new to him. Babs came in to say good-night at
about half-past nine, he having taken advantage
of the general confusion reigning in the house to
sit up far beyond his usual bed-time. Brian
held him up to kiss his sister, and then told him
to run away. But Babs stood thoughtfully by
the side of the bed, and after a minute of deep
consideration said in a most doleful tone of
"It is a pity!"
"What is?" Winnie asked.
"Why, that we can't have any more fun
"Nonsense, Babs!" said Brian rather sharply;
"you and Winnie will have lots more fun to-
gether yet, if you leave her alone and don't tease
her until she's well."
"We can't," Babs said, beginning to cry. "If
Winnie can't walk ever any more, it won't be
fun at all."
He finished his sentence outside the door, for
Brian had hurriedly led him away, trying to stop
him from saying more. When he went back,
Winnie had turned her face in the other direc-
Go on with the tale, please," she said quietly,
and Brian had to collect his scattered ideas and
begin again, to be quickly interrupted by Malvie,
who was also on her way to bed. Winnie ac-
cepted her kiss, and looked hard at the red eyes
and nose that told how much the tender-hearted
little girl had been crying.
"Never mind, Malvie," she said cheerfully, "I
shall soon be well again. Sha'n't I, Brian?"
"I hope so, my darling," he replied.
Malvie only said Good night!" and stole away.
After a while Elsie came and leaned on the foot
of the bed.
"It is so dull down-stairs," she told them.
"Miss Orpen has gone to her room, and Horace
to his, and Malvie and Babs are fast asleep. I
suppose I had better follow their example, but I
don't feel at all sleepy."
"You look tired," said Winnie. "Your eyes
are heavy, and you look so white. Why do you
all look so serious? I have often tumbled down
before, only this is a little worse tumble than the
others. Dr. West says he'll soon put me right
Elsie looked at Brian, and coloured. "I think
I had better go to bed," she said, "if I am as
white as Winnie says." And she kissed them
both and quitted the room.
After an hour or more of story-telling Brian
found his inventive powers rather exhausted, and
took up a child's book, from which he read aloud,
in a musical voice, that was intentionally sub-
dued, so as not to prevent the little invalid from
going to sleep.
She lay perfectly still, the back of her head
towards him, for so long that he made sure at
last that she was dozing. He paused in his
reading, but she did not stir; so he rose softly
and bent over to look at her face. Her eyes
were wide open and brimming over with tears.
"Hallo! Why, Winnie, what's the matter?
Are you in pain, my pet?"
"No," she said, almost inaudibly.
"Then what is it?" Brian asked, drying her
wet eyes, and putting back the loose curls that
were tumbling over her cheeks.
For some time the child was quite unable to
tell him; but by degrees his efforts at consoling
her had their effect, and she contrived to answer
"I was thinking about what Babs said. He
said I should never be able to walk any more.
Sha'n't I, really, Brian?"
"I hope so," he responded. "The doctor will
do his best for you, I am sure."
"Because, Brian, you know," she went on ex-
citedly, "there is an old woman lives down here
who has been in bed for fifty years. I am afraid
I shall be like that."
"Oh no, no! nonsense!" the young man an-
swered; but he found it difficult to meet her
bright eager eyes.
"And then I don't think Elsie and Malvie
would look so unhappy if I were going to get
better quickly. They wouldn't mind much.
Brian, do tell me, quite truly, what you think."
"I think you will not get well so soon if you
worry yourself about it," he answered evasively.
"Let us hope for the best, and enjoy ourselves as
much as we can at the present time."
The tears came back into Winnie's eyes.
"We were all going to have a picnic next
week," she said with a trembling voice; "Miss
Orpen, and Horace, and all."
Brian said nothing. It seemed to him so sad
to hear the little thing talking like this, and not
to be able to tell her that she would soon run
about again, that he could not have answered
her without betraying how deeply he felt grieved,
for Winnie was a quick observer, and noticed all
differences of tone or manner.
"How do you get on with Miss Orpen?" he
asked, after a pause, to change the current of her
"We don't get on at all. Horace can't bear
her, and Elsie says she hates her, and they have
made Malvie promise not to be friends with her."
"And what about you and Babs?"
Oh! I think Babs likes her, only he is afraid
to say so. Brian, do you think it is right? she
wants us always to be busy. When we quarrel
she says it's'because we were doing nothing, and
if Malvie cries about anything she makes her
help to clear up the school-room, or do a little
sewing. She thinks everything that goes wrong
is through our being idle. I know she thinks I
should not have fallen out of the tree if- "
She stopped, for it struck her that if she had
been learning the lessons Miss Orpen had given
her, no accident would have happened. And if
Horace had had some work to do he would never
have fetched his sisters away from theirs. It
did really seem as though idleness were at the
root of all the trouble.
.. Thinking of this, she lay so still that her eye-
lids became heavy, drooped over her eyes, and
remained so. In a few minutes she was fast
Brian, when he saw this, sank back in his
chair with a sigh of relief. There was no doctor
like sleep, he thought, and rest would do wonders.
In the meantime he might forego that cheerful
expression he had been obliged to wear, and in-
dulge in gloomy reflections in the silence of the
Many troubles that seem quite crushing when
they come upon us, are borne almost easily after
the first shock, because we can look out into the
future and see the bright end to them that is to
arrive in due time. The hardest to bear are
those that have no end while we live. Never
to be better! That is the saddest thought-the
thought that made Brian Kingsford knit his
brows, and look pale and wan with misery.
Little Winnie, only ten years of age, were she to
live to seventy, must always be crippled and
helpless. Her whole life, were it to be long or
short, half spoiled by one short minute's work.
"If I had been different, if I had found more
time to be with the children and teach them
obedience, and to know right from wrong, this
would not have happened. I am the culprit.
My negligence has ruined Winnie's little life at
its very beginning"
Such were Brian's remorseful meditations
He felt that he was indirectly to blame for all
that was not well with these fatherless and
motherless children, and in those still hours he
made certain resolves for the future that influ-
enced all his after conduct.
But though Brian reproached himself, no one
else even dreamed of doing so. Miss Orpen had
shed some secret tears because she felt that she
ought not to have gone out and left her charges
to their own devices.
Elsie's conscience, too, was pricking her, and
she said again and again to herself that night,
"I might have known that if I left those two
with Horace they would be sure to get into
As for Horace himself, he could not sleep, but
lay uneasily tossing from side to side in a curious
half-dozing state, knowing all the time where he
was, and yet conscious, too, of seeing Winnie
falling, falling, from branch to branch of a tree
of unimaginable height, or of hearing her moan
as she lay stunned on the ground.
It was a dreadful night for him, one that he
would never forget. Winnie might have been
killed, and then he could never have been happy
again. As it was, he felt as though the sight of
her would all his life long cause him bitter pangs
of self-reproach. He felt sure that the others
would all hate him; that Winnie herself would
shrink from him as the cause of all her sufferings;
which last conviction had kept him from entering
her room before he went to bed.
Malvie and Arthur alone had no regrets of this
kind to disturb their slumbers. Their pillows
might be wet and their eyelashes still glistening,
but they were both wrapped in a dreamless sleep,
from which they would awake in the morning
ready to see all things in a more cheerful light.
'^'-- ," .^ ^ ,>(**
', I ". -- - ,
UNDER THE CLOUD.
AP, rap, rap!
SThe sound was produced by Elsie's
', 'jL knuckles on Brian's bed-room door.
Brian, who had only thrown himself
down in his clothes on his bed, after being re-
lieved by Miss Orpen, raised himself on his
elbow, and called out:
"Yes. What time is it?"
Seven o'clock. Brian, do come to Horace!
He seems so funny."
"All right; I'll be there directly!" he answered,
still only half awake, and not fully understand-
ing the meaning of her words. In a very few
minutes he entered the room that Horace shared
with his little brother. Babs, already dressed,
was standing with a very frightened face looking
at Horace, whose flushed cheeks and glittering
eyes gave Brian quite a start.
Surely not another invalid!" he cried. Why,
Horace, old man, what's the matter? You're
not going to be ill, are you?"
"No," said the boy, without looking at him;
"I am going to-to-that's the branch, Winnie!
It isn't safe! She'll fall! Oh, is it you, Brian?
I was dreaming, I think."
"You mustn't dream any more, then," said the
young man, touching his forehead, which was
burning; "if you do, I shall have Dr. West to
"You won't do that. I'm all right. I'm going
to get up directly, but it's only seven, and break-
fast is never before eight. And Winnie isn't
ready. I wish she would come down. She'll
fall directly and break her neck, and then they'll
all say it was my fault for letting her go. Every-
thing's my fault-it always is, Miss Orpen says."
Brian listened to him with a troubled expres-
sion. The boy was light-headed and very fever-
ish. Here was a new misfortune.
Go and get some tea made, and bring him a
cup," he said to Elsie. West promised to be
here by half-past seven, and he shall have a look
at him. I don't think there's anything much the
matter. Have you seen Winnie this morning?"
"Yes; she seems much the same," said Elsie
dejectedly. "How dreadful it all is!"
UNDER THE CLOUD.
"Well, don't idle about, thinking how dreadful
it is, but set to work and make yourself useful,"
Brian told her almost sharply. Don't wait to
be asked, but find out what wants doing, and do
"Very well, Brian," she answered meekly, and
with her eyes looking rather watery. And with-
out more words she hurried downstairs.
The doctor's morning verdict was, that Winnie
was a little better, and that Horace would be all
right after a dose of medicine and a good sleep.
Winnie was to be kept perfectly still, and fed
with all kinds of strengthening things.
Brian sat with his little sister while Miss
Orpen went down to have her breakfast, and
refresh herself with a stroll round the dewy
garden in the cool morning air. Winnie held
tightly to his hand, and did not say much, for
her tears were very near the surface to-day.
"Must you really go up to London to-morrow,
"And leave me with Miss Orpen?"
"Isn't Miss Orpen kind to you?"
"Yes," said Winnie grudgingly; "but I'd
rather have you."
"Poor child!" and he kissed the little hand
that was clinging to his. "But business is busi-
ness, you know, Winnie. I shall get back as
soon as I possibly can; and, you know, I could
not do you any good by staying here. You
must be patient and lie very still, and we will
make the most of to-day."
That Sunday passed in a dreamy unreal way
for them all. The windows were kept open, and
the blinds half down to shut out the fierce sun-
shine. The sound of the bells ringing for church
floated in, but no one from Olive Mount even
thought of going.
Brian was chief nurse the whole day, "For,"
he told Miss Orpen, "you will have enough of it
next week." And the governess, seeing that
Winnie was happier with her brother, kept order
downstairs, and tried to get on better terms with
the others, who still held aloof, and wandered
up and down the house in a miserable, unsettled
Horace slept till the afternoon, and then came
down, with his feverishness all gone, but suffer-
ing from a wretched headache. His appearance
moved Miss Orpen to fetch him eac-de-colognze
and smelling-salts, but he accorded her the most
grudging thanks for her kindness.
On the whole it was a melancholy Sabbath
day for all concerned. Winnie was the least
unhappy of the party, for Brian gave his mind
UNDER THE CLOUD.
to the task of amusing her, with the result that
the doctor when he came in the evening was
quite astounded by her good spirits.
The next morning Horace was still far from
well, and Brian felt somewhat uneasy on his
account. The boy was not naturally very strong,
and it seemed as though his share in the catas-
trophe of Saturday was weighing on his mind.
"He is in low spirits, that is all," Dr. West
said. "Let him alone and he will soon come
Yet the elder brother was not content. In
the morning he felt extremely unwilling to
leave, for the whole five seemed to turn to him
for comfort and help. Winnie wept when he
said good-bye, and her sad little face at parting
haunted him all day long. Miss Orpen was
almost a stranger to him, and he began to have
misgivings lest there were really some cause for
the prejudice against her. Suppose she should
leave the poor child to the tender mercies of Mrs.
Harrison, who, though a kind old body, knew
much more about cows and poultry than about
children! Or she might leave her to Elsie's care,
and Elsie, though fourteen, had had no experience
whatever of illness.
He worried himself quite needlessly. Miss
Orpen hardly left the little invalid for a minute.
Now, Winnie," she said, after Brian had gone,
"as it seems you will have to lie there for a week
or two at least, we may as well make the room
a little more interesting. Don't you think so?
In the first place, here are these flowers which
Burton gave me when I went into the garden;
smell them. I must put them in water, and they
shall stand on this table by your side."
And so, chatting and keeping the child amused
by watching her actions, she moved about the
room, looping up the window curtains freshly
with bright ribbon, hanging up in Winnie's view
some little pictures of her own, and asking her
opinion as to where each one should be placed.
"Wouldn't you like Tot's cage to stand on the
Oh, may it?" said Winnie with a delighted
look, for Tot was her pet canary. Miss Orpen
went herself and fetched the cage upstairs.
"And now," said the governess, when the
little bed-room was made quite bright and cheer-
ful, and Winnie's toilet had been attended to-
her auburn curls brushed and spread out on the
pillow like a halo round her pale face-" and
now, I must think about the others. They must
not be idle all day, or they will be miserable.
We ought to have some lessons here."
At that moment Babs looked in, and stared
UNDER THE CLOUD.
about him at the transformation that had taken
place. Then, after the first surprise, his face
went back into its old discontented expression.
"I don't know what to do," he said in a
"Poor child!" said Miss Orpen; "fetch your
book and come and read to me. And tell Elsie
and Malvie I want to speak to them."
Arthur disappeared, and for some time the
governess and Winnie were left to themselves.
"Couldn't you teach me something while I am
lying here, Miss Orpen?" Winnie asked.
"Of course I could." And Miss Orpen bent
down and kissed her. "I can teach you any-
thing you like, except handwriting."
The little girl received the kiss in an unre-
sponsive way. She was quite determined not to
be won over, though it was hard work to resist.
However, when the governess made her mention
the kings of England in order, with their wives,
and the dates of their coming to the throne, and
told her an amusing anecdote of each one, she
forgot her dislike, and became quite bright and
But Arthur never returned with his book, nor
did Elsie put in an appearance.
After about an hour Malvie came slowly in.
"Did you want me, Miss Orpen?"
She was set a lesson at once, which made her
sigh, although she had expected it, while her face
wore its gloomiest air. When she had gone
down again the governess found that all Winnie's
interest was gone.
Malvie had given her sister a quick look that
"Don't do any lessons."
Winnie had answered by a little shake of her
head, and in that second Miss Orpen had lost
almost all the influence she had gained that
S-- -,~il 7^ ''-!'-1-
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S _. _. -_. *-- ., .I -> .
I' EANWHILE Arthur was resolved that
Nothing but force should make him
./ read to Miss Orpen, although he was
tired of his own society, and could
find no more pleasure in any of his toys or
He went first to the morning room, and gave
his sisters the message with which he was charged,
to which they replied, "Oh, bother!" while
Horace said, "Don't you go. Who cares for
Babs continued his way down to the kitchen.
Now, Master Arthur, what do you want
here?" asked cook indignantly, as he sidled
round the door.
"Isn't there anything that wants eating,
cook?" he inquired, for he had fresh in his
memory some scraps of cold pancake and other
delicacies bestowed not long ago for a "feast"
which took place in a secluded corner of the
"Now, then, you're rubbin' yourself all hover
the flour-bag!" cried cook irritably, for she was
annoyed at having so much extra beef-tea and
jelly to make. Babs started, and in trying to
look at his own back, contrived to overturn a
basin of eggs that stood at the corner of the
Cook gave an angry exclamation and shook
the rolling-pin at him. Babs dashed out of the
back door and into the garden, kicking a chicken
that was lurking about outside, on the look-out
for scraps, to such an extent that it walked lame
for the rest of its life.
Out on this side of the house was a little piece
of uncultivated ground where the small chickens
were allowed to run, and beyond it was the field
where the two cows and the calf spent most of
Babs opened the field gate and walked boldly
in, for Daisy, the least friendly of the cows, was
far away by the opposite hedge, and Dolly, the
gentle old mother of the calf, was lying down,
with her lively child frisking about near her.
By crossing the meadow in a slanting direc-
tion he could get into the kitchen-garden
through another gate, and this was his present
object. He had passed Dolly and the calf, and
was just stooping to pick up a mushroom he saw
in the grass, when some sound made him turn
round and look back. There were Dolly and
her baby vanishing through the gate by which
he had entered, which he had forgotten to shut.
He was staring at them open mouthed, and
wondering whatever Burton would say, when a
kind of snort made him glance in the other
direction. Daisy was coming steadily towards
him, shaking her horns threateningly, and wearing
her most disagreeable expression.
Babs gave a shriek, and dashed towards the
gate that led into the garden, Daisy following in
a steady trot. The next minute he was through,
and running as fast as his short fat legs would
allow straight ahead, without taking into con-
sideration which were paths and which were
beds. He plunged through the feathery aspara-
gus without even looking back, and did not feel
safe till he was close to Burton, who was cutting
off runners from the strawberry bed.
"Now, look here, Harthur," said the old
gardener, "you've scattered that trug of runners
all over the place, so you'll just please to pick
em up again."
"I sha'n't," said Babs, who imitated Horace in
everything, even to his manner of speaking to
96 OLIVE MOUNT.
the servants. "What are you here for, I should
like to know?"
"You're allers in mischief," Burton grumbled,
straightening his back, and looking sourly at his
young tormentor; "can't you find anywhere
else to stand but right atop of one of they best
"Well, it isn't your plant, is it?" returned
Babs. "It's Brian's, and I shall stand on every
one of them if I like."
Burton stooped and snipped away for a time
with his garden scissors, while Arthur walked
about deliberately wherever he could tread on
something that was growing. All at once the
gardener raised himself and stared over the
"Why, if there ain't Daisy eatin' off all my
winter cabbages!" he cried, and hurried off to
drive the cow back to the meadow. But Daisy
was enjoying the change, and she gave Burton
so much trouble before he succeeded in shutting
her out of the garden that the poor old man
was completely exhausted, and more out of
temper than before. It did not tend to soothe
his feelings when he came back at last to his
strawberry runners to find that Babs had been
snipping off the leaves of several of the best
plants, and had gone away with the scissors.
I am afraid those children are either quarrel-
ling or in mischief," thought Miss Orpen as she
sat in Winnie's room; and when at mid-day the
little invalid went to sleep, and Mrs. Harrison
offered to sit with her for half an hour, she
accepted the offer, and went downstairs.
In the school-room she found Malvie, not en-
gaged upon the sums she had been told to do,
but reading some amusing book. Her fingers
and pinafore were blotched with ink, and by
her side lay also in a very inky condition a doll,
on whose face she had been attempting to make
new eyebrows with a pen, its old ones being
"Malvie," said Miss Orpen, noticing that the
child had been crying, and taking the stained
fingers in hers, "what is the matter?"
"I've spoilt my doll," she answered sullenly.
"Have you done your sums?"
"Finish them, and then bring your doll to me
in Winnie's room. I can soon put her right
again; and if you are good this afternoon I will
help you to make her a new frock."
Malvie's face cleared, and she picked up her
slate and pencil, and set to work.
Miss Orpen left her and went to look for
the others. As she was crossing the hall, Babs
came in at the front door, very white, and
with a pocket handkerchief wound round his
"I've cut myself," he said rather faintly, and
held his hand towards her. Miss Orpen took
him to her room, bound up the wound with soft
linen, and placed a glove finger over all, to
Arthur's delight. By a great deal of question-
ing she contrived to get from him some account
of how he had spent the morning. Her next
proceeding was to go with him to find Bur-
ton's scissors, and to take them back to the old
man. The gardener saw the finger-stall, and
Cut yourself! I'm glad on it. Now, p'r'aps
you'll let my scissors alone."
Babs was about to make some sharp answer,
but Miss Orpen touched him on the lips, and led
"Poor old Burton," she said gently, "I am
sorry for him."
Arthur glanced up at her curiously, just as
they met cook, running, with bare arms and cap
flying off, and calling, "Burton! Mr. Burton!"
"What's the matter, cook?"
Here's the butcher just come, Miss, and he
says he see our Dolly and the calf ever so far
down the road. She isn't in the field, so it must
be her. I've sent George off, and Burton, he
must go and help to get her back."
She ran on, and the governess looked at Babs,
whose skin was of a deep scarlet.
"You let her out," she said.
"I am very sorry," Babs stammered; "I didn't
They went in silently, Miss Orpen still holding
the little boy by the hand. A sound of loud
voices greeted them as they entered.
"It's Elsie and Horace in the dining-room,"
said Babs. "They've been quarrelling ever
It was quite true. They found Elsie with
her eyes red and her face flushed, and Horace
white with anger, while the words they heard
on entering were:
"It was all your conceit. You were so proud
of climbing, you wanted to make Winnie see
that she couldn't do what you could. You didn't
mind what danger she went into if it would
prove how clever you were!"
"Hush, Elsie! What are you saying?" Miss
Orpen exclaimed, interrupting Horace, who was
about to make an angry reply. "It is not for
you to call your brother to account. You know
yourself when you are cool that he was only
thoughtless, and is as fond of his little sister as