" IT Jok lrhnds over ike ozekeelarrow anod said, 'I vow.''
A Story for Children
E. L. HAVERFIELD
Author of On Trust,"
THOMAS NELSON AND SONS
London, Edinburglh, and Vew York
OUR VOW IS MADE, ....
WAS JACK DESERTING ME 2 ....
EVELYN'S FRIEND, MISS LITTLE,
A TERRIBLE SCRAPE, ....
MISS LITTLE'S LETTER, ....
WHERE IS EVELYN ....
.... .... 92
.... .... 125
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
a. 1Rosa lOetberich.
"WE SHOOK HANDS OVER TIHE WHEELBARROW AND SAID,
I VOW,' .... .... .... .... Frontispiece.
"FIRST I PAINTED JACK, THEN IIE DID ME, AND THE
EFFECT WAS GRAND," .... .. .... 70
"' SIT STILL!' SHE SHOUTED, 'I AM COMING TO YOU,'" 120
"' WHAT ARE YOU DOING, ALISON SAID COUSIN
EVELYN ... .... ..... .... .... 171
"I WAS TOO STUPEFIED TO MOVE, .... .... 236
OUR VOW IS MADE.
"We should take care of the beginning of sin; nobody is exceedingly
wicked all at once."-BIsHOP WILSON.
" T E vow that we wont be maneged and ordered
S about by Cusin Evelun. If she cums to liv
with us we wont obay her nor be good til she gose
away agen. She shant enterfear with us nor spoil our
fun. We wil stand by eech other agenst her for ever.
"Sined JACK SEYMOUR.
That was our vow, written twice over on two not
very clean bits of paper, and carried about in our
pockets for many a long day, till those naughty
words, scrawled in a babyish hand by a little lad of
nine years old, worked so much mischief that, but for
a promise I gave some one long ago to write this story,
I could hardly bring myself to tell you about it.
OUR VOW IS MADE.
Perhaps you know some boys and girls like these
I write of, full of fun and' nonsense, loving and lov-
able, but as careless and heedless as a pair of kittens
in a work-basket, who mix all the silks, cottons, tapes,
and wool together into a terrible tangle, roll the
buttons, thimble, and yard-measure out of sight, and
never remember till they prick their noses on the
point of the scissors, or. scratch their tiny paws with
the needles and pins, how much better it would be to
leave alone things which they do not understand.
Such a couple were we; but we had to get a very
deep scar before we learned our lesson. It all began
with our vow, and this is how we came to make it.
We lived all alone, just mother and Jack and I,
in a dear old house in the country. There was no
one to look after us, for mother thought we were too
old for nursery life, and yet too young for the school-
room. She was far too delicate herself to attend to
us. Betty, the sewing-maid, mended our clothes,
seeing also that we had our meals and went to bed
in proper time-when she could find us, that is to say;
but a fine life we led her. But for the lesson hour
every day, which our kind old vicar spent in giving
us a Scripture lesson, and trying to teach us to read
and write, we ran wild from morning to night, doing
exactly what we liked, without rule or guidance.
There were one or two things we knew mother did
not like us to do, such as planting onions in the
hyacinth pots in the hothouse, taking out all the
OUR VOW IS MADE.
bulbs and putting them into the kitchen garden.
We did that one year as a surprise for Thomas the
gardener, getting up very early, before he was about,
to make the exchange, so that he knew nothing of it
until the plants began to show above the earth. I
can safely say he was very surprised indeed when
they grew up a little, and he discovered what it was
he had been treasuring so long in the greenhouse
among his pet flowers. But they were very fine
onions after all, though he did not seem much pleased
about it. Perhaps that was because the hyacinths,
when he found them, were sadly poor; and, as a rule,
he took two or three prizes at the flower show with
We loved our mother dearly, and we would not
have vexed her for anything; but we were so sorry
for her lying, as she did, always on the sofa or in a
lounge-chair, that we quite began to think we must
know better than she what we ought or ought not
to do, and what was good or bad for us. So we
made our own laws. We had only two, and they were
very simple indeed: first, that if we made a noise,
it must be somewhere out of mother's hearing;
secondly, that if we were naughty, she must not be
distressed by knowing it. In the latter we were helped
by the doctor's strict orders that she must be worried
by nothing, and always kept as peaceful and quiet as
possible. So we got into all sorts of scrapes of which
she never heard; and the servants, all of whom were
OUR VOW IS MADE.
elderly, bore much in silence, or scolded us themselves
when we did something worse than usual. In this
way mother got the idea that we were quite model
children, especially as, when she had one of her bad
attacks, we did the only thing we could for her by
keeping out of the way, that we might not disturb
her with our games, and creeping into her room, when
we were allowed to see her, as quietly as mice.
We neither of us could recollect her as well and
strong like other people; she had never been so since
our father died, when I was but three years old and
Jack four. All he could remember of that sad time
was his pride in the black sailor suit with knicker-
bockers, and his joy when some one told him he
would never have to wear skirts again like a girl.
He thought he had cried a little when he could not
find father anywhere to show him all these lovely
new things; but the pockets in his little trousers,
into which he could stuff his baby hands and strut
about the house "like a man," as he said, were very
comforting, and his tears were soon dried.
We had no playmates of our own age, as mother
could not pay calls and make friends for us. But
we were perfectly happy without them, and grew
old-fashioned and independent in our lonely life, our
greatest excitement being a fishing expedition now
and then with the doctor, or going to help the vicar
with his gardening. As a rule, we played in our own
grounds, which were very big and beautiful. It
OUR VOW IS MADE.
seemed to us we should always go on in this easy,
happy way; we could remember nothing else, and we
wished for nothing different. But one day, when
Jack was nearly ten and I but one year younger, a
great change came into our lives which we deeply
The cause of it was the arrival in the village of an
uncle and aunt. They had always before lived in
Scotland; but now, on account of our mother's health,
they had decided to take a house near us, that Aunt
Margaret might look after her.
So they came, bringing four grown-up daughters,
who were the sort of people one can describe all at
once, as they were neither ugly nor pretty, but just
well-cared-for, well-brought-up girls, with different
shades of sandy hair, pale-blue eyes, very freckled
complexions, and an abrupt, short manner like their
It was this last fact that made us dislike our
cousins Janet, Ellen, Agnes, and Maggie from the very
first; for the only person in the world of whom we
were in awe was our aunt Margaret Drummond.
How she came to be our gentle mother's sister we
always wondered, for she was as unlike her as she
could be in every way. She was big and strong, to
begin with, and her features were sharp; while mother
was fragile, tiny, and "beautiful as a fairy," Jack
said, as positively as if he had known fairies and
talked to them many a time in his short life.
OUR VOW IS MADE.
Whenever Aunt Margaret had stayed with us we
had kept well out of the way, for we always felt
sure she did not approve of us at all. This, of course,
we only guessed from her manner to us; for she was
a stern woman, with very strict ideas on the up-
bringing of children. But when she came to live
near us, we soon heard for certain from the servants
what she thought of us. So we were very much
afraid of meeting her, and the most unhappy times in
our lives--the first we had ever known-were those
spent at the Grange, the Drummonds' house. Also
through the servants we knew that none of our four
cousins were fond of children, and that they thought us
the most tiresome, rough little things they had ever
met. This did not add to our happiness, when we
were invited to tea with them, as we were always
dressed in our best clothes and bidden by Betty to
behave nicely and not shock the young ladies. Cer-
tainly we went very seldom, and we did not stay any
longer than we could help; for we felt they must be
wishing all the time that we would go away, and
Aunt Margaret's disapproving looks when we took
too big a mouthful of cake or slopped the tea down
our clothes made us feel very uncomfortable. But
the real mischief began when we discovered that
the servants, instead of simply scolding us themselves
when we were naughty and saying no more about it,
were now adopting the plan of saying they would
tell our aunt if we ever did such things again. This
OUR VOW IS MADE.
was like the distant rumble of an approaching thunder-
storm, and we grumbled to each other over it each
time, though we made up our minds they would
never dare to carry out their threat.
"Besides," we said very often, "we don't care if
they do tell tales; it isn't Aunt Margaret's business
what we do, and we won't be kept in order by her."
But it was a new and very disagreeable sensation
to us to be threatened, and one which roused every
naughty feeling in our hearts. And we broke out
into open rebellion at last when we found that it was
no idle threat after all; for our aunt was told of one
of our performances, and we were sent for by her to
be spoken to on the subject. We were in very great
disgrace both with Mrs. Bain our cook and Thomas
the gardener, and this is how it came about.
Some one told us one day for fun that rhodo-
dendron buds made very good jam. Now we had
one huge bush which was covered with the promise
of flower. But it struck us jam was a much more
sensible thing than bunches of blossom, so very early
in the morning we got up and picked off every bud
we could reach on the tree, filling a big basket full of
the sticky, fat things. Then we crept into the kit-
chen and took a big bag of sugar and one of the best
stew-pans, with which we marched into the garden.
Near one of the potting-sheds there stood the
ruins of an old stove; it was a rusty old iron thing
with no chimney, but we had often before made a
OUR VOW IS MADE.
fire in it to play houses, or to boil water in an old
kettle. To this we made our way, and soon had a
good blaze on which to do our cooking. Then we
put all the sugar into the stew-pan and melted it,
after which we dropped the buds in, having had them
carefully cut into slices meanwhile. We took it in
turns to stir this up with a silver spoon, while the
other kept up a good fire; and so we spent two
happy hours, for we felt it was great fun, though the
spoon got very hot and burnt our fingers, and our
faces were scorched with stooping over the fire.
The jam, however, was never made: the whole
result of our labours was a ruined stew-pan, a waste
of four pounds of sugar, and a spoiled shrub.
When Thomas came to his work at six o'clock, his
anger and dismay knew no bounds; he could hardly
speak when he found out what we were doing. I
believe the poor old man went about all day with
great tears of disappointment trickling down his fur-
rowed cheeks and over his nose, which he brushed
away now and then with his coat sleeve; for his
flowers were like children to him.
Mrs. Bain simply ordered us away from her sight,
in great indignation; for she always took great pride
in her pots and pans, and it was impossible to re-
move the burnt sugar.
"Mind, your aunt shall hear of it," she said, as
hand in hand we turned away and with our heads
very high left the kitchen. She shall hear all about
OUR VOW IS MADE.
it, for you are getting past all bearing. It is time
you had a firm hand over you, so it is."
We thought no more of the threat till next day,
when a message was brought to us that we were to
go to tea at the Grange that afternoon. We looked
at each other wonderingly, for we had been there
only two days before, and we never went more than
twice in a month as a rule. But we suspected nothing,
until Betty very foolishly told us, while she was get-
ting us ready to go, that Mrs. Bain had been up to see
Aunt Margaret, and that we had been asked to go up
there that we might be well scolded. She told us this
to frighten us, for she sympathized with her fellow-
servants, and wished us to be punished.
We did not look at it from the same point of
view at all; and as soon as we were alone, and as
Betty believed on our way to the Drummonds, we
agreed we would rather not go to tea with them that
day, but would wait until Aunt Margaret had had
time to forget our naughtiness a little before we
favoured them with a visit. All our lives we had
been in the habit of doing only what pleased our-
selves, without consulting any one, and we now
decided that no tea and a game in the fields was
preferable to drawing-room tea and a scolding. So
we trudged along for a time, and then we turned into
a pleasant meadow not far from the Grange, meaning
to spend a quiet afternoon, for we were dressed in
our Sunday clothes.
OUR VOW IS MADE.
We never could be still for very long, however,
and here in a short time we found something to
amuse us, in the shape of two washing-tubs, big, round
things, which were standing by the side of a pool; for
this field was used by our washerwoman as a drying-
green, and all her pegs and things were lying about
After sitting by the water demurely for a while,
making ducks and drakes on the pond from where
we sat with flat pebbles, we began to wonder what
we could do next. Suddenly Jack jumped up.
I know," he said. I'll be a Conservative, and you
can be the villagers, and I'll give you a lecture about
politics, as they do at elections.
The tubs stood upside down very near the edge of
the water, both slanting towards us as they rested on
their little, short handles. On to one of these Jack
climbed and stood, hat in hand, his thick mass of
brown curls shining in the sun and tumbling all
over his little round head, his bonnie sunburnt face
full of excitement, and his eyes bubbling over with
mischief. He was so sturdy and strong-something
so very much to be proud of-that I could not help
thinking I loved him very much at that moment.
Perhaps his good looks struck me all the more just
then because he was so unusually clean in his nice
pure white sailor suit. He was very still for a few
seconds, for he was thinking hard. To tell the truth,
he did not know anything about politics or elections,
OUR VOW IS MADE.
and he only thought it was the right thing for a
gentleman to be a Conservative because he knew
father had been one.
But his thinking came to nothing after all, and
impatient that no ideas would come, he gave a wriggle,
forgetting he was on an unsteady tub, and in another
moment he was falling head over heels backwards into
a slimy puddle at the water's edge. I just saw two
little feet in the air, and the tub swing over, followed
by a heavy thud; and then I sprang to my feet, for
I was afraid Jack had hurt himself. But when he
ruefully picked himself up, and stood before me in a
thick coat of brown mud, I burst into peals of laughter.
This hurt his feelings dreadfully, and he drew himself
up to his full height and looked crossly at me.
"You little silly !" he said, and turned away with
But his back was funnier than his front, and I
laughed louder and louder, till the tears ran down my
"You did look so queer rolling over," I tried to
explain in a choked voice; "and now you look just
like a rat."
Then Jack stalked across the field without a word,
and I saw he was very angry, for the thing he could
bear least in the world was to be laughed at.
So, though it was very hard work, I stopped sud-
denly and ran after him, as I think he had expected
I would, for he was going very slowly.
OUR VOW IS MADE.
Jack," I panted, don't go home. I'll help you
to scrape off the mud if you will come back, and I
promise I won't laugh. Betty will be so cross if she
sees you like that, and I can clean you a little."
He stood with his back to me, not speaking a word.
"Don't be cross, Jack," I pleaded. "I won't laugh
any more; but you can't think how funny you look."
This was an unfortunate remark to make, for it set
me off again.
"Why, you are laughing now," Jack said, with in-
dignation. "It is so like a' gurl' to giggle at nothing."
All my desire to laugh was gone in a moment. I
could not bear Jack to speak to me in that contempt-
uous way. My one great sorrow was the thought
that after all I was only a girl. But I did my best to
be like a boy, and Jack never reminded me that I
was not one, unless he was very angry with me. He
liked me to be a tomboy, for he had no one to share
his games but me. I had to be brother and sister as
well to him. So now I was humbled in a minute,
and I did not want to laugh any more.
I'm so sorry, Jack," I said coaxingly. But let me
get this nasty stuff off you with these drying-pins."
Which I at once set to work to do, using the pegs
Mrs. Mason used to hang up the clean clothes to
scrape Jack's back. I never noticed till he was
much cleaner that my own dainty pink liberty silk
dress was getting splashed and spotted all over with
the ugly brown stuff. Jack saw it first, and when
OUR VOW IS MADE.
he pointed it out to me, I knew my new Sunday
frock was spoiled for ever. We felt rather sorry
about this, but presently Jack said cheerfully,-
Well, anyway, we can't get any worse now, so I
votes we play something sensible."
His ill-humour was all gone, and I was anxious to
please him, so I said,-
I know. Put one tub on top of the other, and you
get inside and preach to me."
Now Jack loved the sound of his own voice, so he
readily helped me to arrange the pulpit, the one tub
just fitting inside the top of the other; then as I
gravely took my seat on the ground below him, he
solemnly clambered into the upper one, standing like
Mr. Collins, our vicar, till the congregation had sat
"My dear brotherin and sisterin," he began im-
But I waited for a long time, and no text came.
The sermon was not to be more successful than the
political meeting. Jack's eyes wandered, and they
fell on the chimneys of the Grange, which he could
see appearing among the trees at the other side of
the road and across some fields.
"Alison," he said, with a nod to point out what he
was looking at, "I wonder what they are doing over
"I expect they are wondering why we don't come,"
OUR VOW IS MADE.
"So do I," Jack replied. "I daresay that old cat
is in a rage."
"Jack !" I cried, shocked at his words, for I knew
he must mean Aunt Margaret. Little as I liked her,
I would not have dared to speak of her like that.
"Well, she is an old cat," he went on, his face
flushing angrily, "coming and interfering with us;
and I tell you what-we won't be meddled with."
I sat with open mouth, staring at him. We had
grumbled a good deal to each other, certainly, over
the servants' threat, but I had never seen Jack so
fierce about anything before.
"She hasn't meddled yet," I ventured to say.
"No, she hasn't," Jack replied; "but I know she
will if people go telling tales. It isn't her business,
though, and I shan't go to the Grange for her nasty
tea and scoldings; so there!"
The last words sounded obstinate. Standing erect
in his tub, his curly head thrown back, and his eyes
shining with excitement, I thought he looked noble
in spite of the mud all over him.
Now, when once I got an idea into my head I was
as determined as Jack, but I always took much longer
to think things out than he did, and by the time my
mind was made up he had often forgotten that he
had been so much in earnest over it, and would laugh
at me. There was just this difference between us,
that he was impulsive and very hot over things for
the time being, able to think and talk of nothing
OUR VOW IS MADE.
else, and then would suddenly change his mind, and
be just as eager over something else; while I was
slow to grasp a new subject, but once it was in my
head I never forgot or altered, sticking. to my notion
obstinately. But there was one great failing of mine
which always worried Jack very much, and that was
my love of arguing. Whenever he suggested some-
thing new, I felt at once inclined to question it, though
I always came round to his way of thinking in the
"Perhaps she wouldn't have scolded us, though," I
Silly!" retorted my brother, you know she would;
and if you are going to desert me and be put upon, I
don't care. It is just like a gurl to be afraid."
"I'm not afraid," I burst out angrily; "but I'm
sure mother wouldn't like you to call Aunt Margaret
an old cat."
"Because mother doesn't know she is one," was the
scornful reply; "and you are a silly and a gurl."
With which words he jumped out of the tub, and
once more set off across the field as if to leave me.
Now I did not like the idea of facing Betty alone
in my spoiled dress, besides which I could not bear to
be in Jack's black books for long. So I looked about
for something to bring him back, and a splendid idea
came to me.
"Jack," I said eagerly, as I ran after him and
tugged at his arm to stop him, "do come back, I
OUR VOW IS MADE.
won't be silly any more, indeed I won't; but I know
such a lovely game. Let's pretend we are Scotch and
English, and have a battle on the sea. We can put
the tubs into the water and get into them to fight."
He was my merry Jack in a moment.
You are a brick, Allie," he said.
And I was quite happy, for from Jack that was the
very highest form of praise in the world; it meant
everything that was the opposite of a "silly" and a
It did not take us long to get our tubs afloat and
to climb into them. We knelt down, and each of us
had a long pole, generally used by Mrs. Mason to set
up her clothes-line upon. With these we punted
about, for the pool was very shallow, and splashed
like a pair of water-babies. It was great fun bobbing
up and down, spinning round and round, and pushing
each other from side to side, shouting all the time at
the top of our voices. Of course Jack was English,
and I had to be Scotch. Ever since the Drummonds
had come to live near us he had declared he hated
"My father was English, and so am I," he said.
"But mother is Scotch," I said, arguing as usual.
No she isn't, now," was his prompt answer. She
was born Scotch, but she turned English when she
I had no reply ready to meet this; for all that I
knew about it, when a woman married she did be
OUR VOW IS MADE.
come whatever her husband was. Jack had a way of
saying things which left no room for doubt; he was
so sure himself that he was always in the right.
So to-day, if I had not at once consented to be
Scotch, there would have been no game. As it was,
all went merrily for some time, and we were enjoying
ourselves to the top of our bent, when all of a sudden
Jack gave my tub a harder bump than ever, and
began flourishing his pole about so fiercely that I
*was afraid he would put my eyes out. I shouted to
him to tell him not to be so rough. But in vain; he
was so delighted to get a chance of pitching into the
Scotch, and so excited in the game, that he forgot I
was only a "pretence" Scot, and paid no attention to
my pleading for mercy. Then I got frightened, and
when his tub came spinning over the water towards
me, I jumped up in mine to tell him to be quiet, and
the next moment I was falling head over heels into
Horribly frightened, and with my hair all washed
into my eyes, my mouth and ears full of water, and
my clothes drenched through and through, I stood up,
talking confusedly and gasping for breath.
Jack stared at me in dismay, then slipped from his
tub into the water too, and splashed his way over to
me. Hand in hand we made our way out, the slimy
mud nearly pulling our shoes off our feet at every
step. When we started, the water was up to our
necks, so that there was no danger of our being
OUR VOW IS MADE.
drowned; still we did not feel very happy in our
new bath, and felt greatly relieved to be once more
We must have looked a funny pair as we stood on
the bank opposite each other, our clothes clinging
close about us, and the water dripping from us on to
the green grass.
"Oh my !" said Jack, as he looked blankly at me,
"you have done it this time."
That was one of Betty's favourite expressions.
It seemed to me very unkind of him to say this;
for even if I did suggest the game, I never asked him
to try to drown me. I was cold and very uncom-
fortable, my feelings were hurt, and but for my great
fear of being called a "silly" and a "gurl," I should
have begun to cry. As it was, however, I choked
down my tears, and said in a shaky voice,-
"Let's go home, Jack."
So we ran across the field together, climbed over
the gate and dropped into the road, and were just
going to set off home, when whom should we see, so
near us that she could almost have touched us, but
Aunt Margaret. Here was a pretty state of things!
There was no escaping her now, for she was evidently
going to our house to find out why we had not ap-
peared for tea.
For one moment she did not recognize us in our
terrible condition, and the next she exclaimed,-
"Where have you been, you dreadful children ?"
OUR VOW IS MADE.
Now it is not pleasant to be called "dreadful chil-
dren," and we felt offended and sulky in a moment.
We knew this was just what Aunt Margaret thought
of us, and we resented it; so we did not speak.
Where have you been ?" she repeated sharply.
"I tumbled in there," I answered, jerking my
head towards the pond in the field we had just
One of Mrs. Mason's tubs still bobbed cheerfully up
and down; the other lay peacefully under the water
out of sight.
"You naughty little girl," began our aunt; but
Jack broke in quickly,-
No, she isn't, Aunt Margaret. It wasn't her fault;
I pushed her in."
This was just one of Jack's ways; perhaps it was
the thing of all others that made me love him so
dearly, for he was such a manly little fellow he never
let me be blamed if he could help it. Sometimes he
would even share a scrape with me when he had
taken no part in the mischief at all himself, because
he felt it was his only means of protecting me. But
a few minaues ago he had said, "You have done it
this time," quite crossly, but he would allow no one
else to scold me. I felt at that moment as if I would
give him anything in the world, even to my baby doll
that he wanted to pull to pieces to see why the eyes
opened and shut.
Aunt Margaret, however, could not be expected to
OUR VOW IS MADE.
look upon him in the light of a hero just then. She
simply believed what he said.
"I wonder you are not ashamed of yourself then,"
was her severe comment. "You are the eldest, and
a boy, and you ought to know better. Now come
home with me at once, for I must get you dried and
give you some hot drink, or you will catch your death
We were much nearer the Grange than home, so
that there was some sense in our going there. But
we looked at each other in despair: this was awful,
to have to go there after all, and in such a plight.
However, there was no help for it. Aunt Margaret
took my hand and started off, walking so fast that
we had to trot by her side to keep up with her, and
all the way she never said a word. I kept stealing
glances at her out of the corner of my eye, and to
my mind she looked hard and angry. My teeth
chattered, partly from the dampness of my clothes as
my dress went flop, flop against my knees and the
water oozed out of my shoes; but I shivered most
from fear-fear of I do not know what, but I felt
just like a child in one of our games being led by a
giant to his castle, where all sorts of horrible things
awaited us, amongst others a dark cell and dry bread
Jack ran along, with his hat on the back of his
head and his hands in his pockets, as if he did
not care a bit. But I knew he did, and that he
OUR VOW IS MADE.
was shaking too, only he never would have owned
When we got to the Grange, however, nothing
awful happened to us at all. Our cousins looked
very much disgusted at the condition we were in, but
they all set to work at once to do things for us-one
helping us off with our clothes, another taking them
away to be dried, while the third was heating blankets
to roll us in, and Maggie helped Aunt Margaret to
make some black-currant drink for us.
It would have been great fun if every one had not
been so solemn about it, just like some new game;
but we were not allowed to forget we were in dis-
grace, and though nothing was said, everything was
done in such a way that we could not but feel what
a lot of trouble we were giving. We did find after-
wards, when we came to compare notes, that we had
both been playing in our heads all the time that we
were shipwrecked in a foreign land; and this helped
to pass time as we sat rolled up in two easy-chairs
in our blankets, waiting for our things to dry.
"We want Evelyn here for this sort of thing,"
Maggie said to Ellen, when she brought in the black-
currant tea and poured out a glass for each of us.
Now Evelyn was a fifth cousin, whom we had
never seen; for she was a nurse in a hospital in Scot-
land, and had not yet been down to see her new
home. She did not work because she needed money,
for the Drummonds were quite well off; but she was
OUR VOW IS MADE.
one of the people who never can be idle, and there
was nothing for her to do at home. She was the
youngest but one, coming just before Maggie. The
two eldest girls did all the housekeeping, mending,
and so on. It seemed to us children as if they
thought of nothing but whether the curtains were
clean, the rooms dusted, and the ornaments in order.
Then Agnes did a great deal of parish work, teaching
in Sunday school, district visiting, and, when she was
indoors, making endless garments for the poor. Mag-
gie did all the artistic things, such as arranging the
flowers, embroidering pretty things for the house, and
painting door panels. So there really did seem little
or nothing left for Evelyn to do, though, according to
her mother and sisters, she could do all these things
a great deal better than they did, and was very much
missed by them all. We never felt much interest in
our unknown cousin, however. In fact, we got rather
tired of hearing so often about her, and we never
spoke of her to each other after Jack made the fol-
lowing wise remark,-
"I expect she is just like the rest; but people
always make a fuss about people who are away, and
say they are much better than other people who stay
Two of our cousins stayed in the room with us
while our clothes were being dried, just as if we were
prisoners who had to have two jailers. I think they
really were afraid we should get into some mischief if
OUR VOW IS MADE.
we were left alone. We wished with all our hearts
that they would go, for we could not even talk with
them there. They took no notice of us, however,
just sitting and sewing and talking to each other as
if they had been alone together. We did not listen
much to what they said, but I gathered from one or
two of their remarks that they were expecting Evelyn
home soon; I thought for a short holiday probably.
I wondered rather what she would be like-whether she
would have a big nose like Agnes, or a little turned-
up one like Maggie; that she would have some shade
of red hair and pale-blue eyes I felt sure. But this
did not amuse me much. I should have never stopped
wondering about her could I but have got a peep into
the next few months, and learned something of what
our stranger cousin was to become to us. But we
cannot get these glimpses into the future, and it is
just as well.
I grew very tired of sitting still, and wished we
had managed to slip home unseen; for by now we
should have been out in the garden, playing again as
if nothing had happened, instead of having this dull
waiting for our things. I looked to Jack for sympathy,
and was surprised to see that he was falling faster
and faster asleep every minute, so that his curly head
was nearly lost in the blanket. I suppose having
nothing to eat for so long, and then the hot stuff after
the shock of the cold water, had made him drowsy.
But I was wide awake, and I thought Jack very
OUR VOW IS MADE.
selfish to go to sleep. He did not take long to rouse,
however, when Maggie came into the room with an
armful of things to tell us our clothes were ready for
us at last. To his very great indignation, Jack was
picked up by our big cousin Janet just as if he had
been a baby, and carried into another room to dress.
I don't suppose he was ever very fond of being carried
about, even as a little fellow just able to walk; but at
his age to be carried, and by a girl, was a great insult,
and one which he could not get over for days.
When we were quite ready Ellen and Maggie took us
home. It seemed very funny to be taken anywhere, as
we always went about alone, and the feeling that we
were prisoners was uncomfortable indeed. They left
us at our gate, however, telling us to go straight to
Betty, which, of course, we did not do. We played
about in the garden for some time, and she, hearing
our voices, must have known we were quite safe.
When we went in, our bread and milk was, as usual,
waiting for us in the room that used to be our
nursery, and where we had all our meals. We ate
this, and then crept away to bed, so that it was not
till next morning that Betty knew anything about
our clothes. Then she gave us a good scolding; but
we did not mind much, only it was a bother to hear
so much about it.
But later in the morning we did feel very sad
indeed, and it was mother who made us so.
Soon after she was up she sent for us to speak to
OUR VOW IS MADE.
her. We were afraid some one had been telling tales
of us to her, but we soon saw that she knew nothing
of our scrapes. She only wanted to tell us something
in which we were very much interested at first, for
we thought it was a story, and never guessed what
was to follow. She had been reading in the news-
paper an account of a very bad accident to two little
boys who were climbing a tree. Both of them got
on to the same branch, which gave way under them.
They fell a great distance to the ground, for they
were high up in an elm tree, and one of them was
killed, while the other was probably injured for life.
It was afterwards found that the bough was rotten,
or it would not have broken; for it was a thick one,
and looked strong enough.
"My darlings," mother said, when she had finished
the sad tale, I hope you do not climb trees; but
when I read of that accident I thought I would ask
you to make sure, and if you were in the habit of
doing so, tell you never to do it again. I should not
know a moment's peace if I thought you were in such
danger when you were out of my sight."
This was a complete surprise to us. I looked
quickly at Jack. His little brown face was flushed
with excitement, and he could hardly wait till
mother had done speaking before he burst out
"Why, mumsie darling, we are just always in the
trees, Allie and I. We couldn't live if we mightn't
OUR VOW IS MADE.
climb them; indeed, indeed we couldn't. It's all our
play-isn't it, Allie ?"
Thus appealed to, and with tears in my eyes, I
"Why, yes, mother; we pretend everything in the
trees. They are our castles, and houses, and watch-
towers, and all. We couldn't play on earth-could
we, Jack ?"
Mother spoke before Jack could reply.
"It is strange," she said sadly, "that I never
thought of your doing it before. It shows how little
I see of you, you poor children. I am sorry to spoil
your games, dears, but it will only be for a short
time, for I am sure you will soon find something to
take the place of climbing which will be far safer
and better for you. But remember I trust you not
to do it again. I should be so terribly nervous after
this if I saw you in the trees. Now kiss me, darlings,
and run away to play 'on earth,' as you call it."
Obediently we both bent over her sofa and kissed
the lovely white face, and then silently, hand in hand,
we left the room and made our way to the playroom,
a place in which we spent all our time in wet weather,
as it was far away from mother's part of the house,
and out of reach of her hearing. It was here that
we came to-day, though the sun was shining brightly
and it was deliciously warm out of doors; but we felt
that, with this terrible command laid upon us, the
very sight of the trees would make us sad.
OUR VOW IS MADE.
Jack sat down gloomily on a stool, his elbows on
his knees, his chin resting on.the palms of his hands;
while I knelt down by my doll's house and pushed
the furniture about, though I was not thinking one
bit of what I was doing. We were two very
miserable little children, with hearts too sore for
words, for it was quite true we were always in the
trees; like the birds, we almost lived in them. Jack
climbed beautifully, and I was afraid of nothing;
where he went I went as a matter of course. For a
long time we were quite silent. I knew Jack was
thinking hard, for his face was all puckered with the
effort. To me it seemed that we must be having a
"Alison," said my little brother at last, in a choky
voice, I don't think mother ever was quite like other
people-I mean well and strong, and all that; do you?"
I said "No," but as yet I did not understand him.
"I don't think she ever climbed trees when she
was a little girl," he went on.
I quite agreed with him, for I could not imagine
our gentle, quiet mother ever having been a tomboy
such as I was.
"Poor mother," sighed Jack, "you see she can't
really know how easy it is when she hasn't ever done
it herself. Being ill has made her frightened about
the least little thing. But," he added earnestly, "I
do wish those silly little boys hadn't got on to a
OUR VOW IS MADE.
So did I, but I had a sort of feeling that one ought
not to call the poor little fellows "silly" when one of
them was dead. I said nothing, however, and Jack
did not seem to expect an answer; he just went on as
if he were talking more to himself than to me.
"It is all that stupid paper," he continued angrily.
"It is always saying something we don't want it to,
like when it says it is going to rain when we want it
to be fine. When I'm a man I shan't have such a
silly thing in my house, ever."
"We never do want it to rain," I ventured to say.
Of course not; who does ?" Jack replied grandly.
"But don't interrupt; I'm talking about climbing."
He was not, of course, just then, but I let that
pass; I was anxious to know what he was going to
say, for he evidently had something great on his
Presently he said shortly,-
We didn't promise."
"No," I repeated slowly after him, "we didn't
He went on thinking for a few minutes, and I
"We might give up the elms, you know," was his
next remark; "but I'm sure none of our trees are
rotten. Anyway, we could give up the elms, and
then I don't think it would matter so long as mother
did not see us or know anything about us."
So this was what he had been working out all the
OUR VOW IS MADE.
time in that little, active brain of his. At last I
understood: we were not going to obey mother, or as
Jack put it, we need not do what she told us, for we
were bound by no given promise. My spirits rose
high, and I would not let myself wonder whether we
were doing what was right or not, the idea was so
lovely that after all Jack had decided we would not
give up our favourite pastime. I was sorry about
the elms, however, and said so, for they were our best
castles for giants.
"I can't help it," Jack said, and I really think he
felt that it was very good of him to be so determined
on this point. "We've got all the others; and I'm
quite certain sure if mother was well and strong she
would like us to climb, because she would know how
safe it is. But the best elms she can see out of her
windows. Now that's all right."
He jumped up, and in a minute his thinking mood
was quite gone.
That ended the matter, and strange as it may seem,
we really did think it was all right so long as we did
nothing to frighten mother; we had got into the habit
of thinking always that this was the only thing that
mattered at all.
So that very afternoon we took our books and
went into that garden at the back of the house on to
which none of mother's windows looked. Here there
were two lovely old cedar trees, spreading over a
close-cut lawn. Into one of these we scrambled, each
OUR VOW IS MADE.
with a book which we meant to sit quietly and read.
I don't know why it should have been nicer to do this
perched high up in a tree than on the ground; at any
rate in those days we thought it was. And we also
imagined we were being very good to keep quite still
instead of having one of our usual monkey games
among the branches.
We had not been there very long before I was
rudely roused from my story by a nudge from Jack
which nearly upset me. But when I turned to scold
him for it, the expression of real distress upon his
face silenced me, and following the direction of his
eyes I looked down. The start I then gave would
have sent me flying off my branch had he not grasped
my arm and steadied me. We looked helplessly at
each other, and then through the boughs again, for
just below us stood our mother.
The worst of it was that there she evidently meant
to stay, for her maid Jenkyns followed her with her
chair, a rug, and some cushions, and having settled
her mistress comfortably, stood awaiting further
"Thank you," said our mother, in her gentle, grate-
ful way; I only want my book and a footstool now.
And would you tell Susan to bring Mrs. Drummond
out here when she comes, and another chair, please ?"
Jack and I stared at each other in mute dismay.
It is one thing to make up one's mind to sit in a tree
OUR VOW IS MADE.
all afternoon and do nothing, but it is quite another
matter to find one has got to stay there whether he
likes it or not. And stay there we knew we must.
We could not break our rule never to make mother
nervous, even if she meant to stay there all afternoon.
But for the news that Aunt Margaret was coming we
might have had some hope of escape, for mother
would probably have dropped off to sleep presently,
and then we could have slipped down from our perch
very quietly and crept right away. As it was, how-
ever, mother was very wide awake, sitting reading,
and now and then looking about her quite brightly.
But for our position we should have been overjoyed
to see her there, for it was but seldom she was well
enough to be out at all, and we had never seen her in
this part of the garden before, or so far away from
Thus we all waited for Aunt Margaret-mother
with a sunny, happy look on her face, because she
was feeling so much better and stronger just then;
Jack and I in fear and trembling. At last she came,
crossing the lawn with long, quick strides so much
in keeping with her determined self.
We watched the meeting between the sisters, and
then the settling down for a chat, with some anxiety;
for a cedar tree is an impossible place to hide in, the
branches are so wide apart. We had a sort of idea
that Aunt Margaret was like a spider which has eyes
all over its head, and that nothing could escape her
OUR VOW IS MADE.
notice. Indeed very little did, but we could only
hope that the fact of our being very far above and
exactly over them would save us from being dis-
We sat painfully still, so that everything they said
reached us. It did not occur to us that there was
anything underhand in listening, we were so fully
persuaded that there was no help for it.
After the usual questions as to health and remarks
upon the weather, our aunt began abruptly,-
"You got my note this morning ?"
"Yes, dear," mother replied.
"Well ?" said Aunt Margaret questioningly.
"I think you and Archie are too good to me,"
mother said softly; "but I cannot let you make the
sacrifice. I have managed to struggle on so far
alone, and can quite well continue to do so."
"Nonsense, Maisie," our aunt returned sharply;
"you know as well as I do that you ought to have
some one looking after you. And if you will not
consider yourself, you should at least think of those
children of yours. They are getting a great deal too
old to run wild. It is quite time they had a firm
hand over them."
That was the second time in the last twenty-four
hours that we had heard we needed a "firm hand
over us," and we made a face at each other. Mother
leaned back in her chair with closed eyes to avoid a
flickering ray of sunlight, but she was silent. Aunt
OUR VOW IS MADE.
Margaret paused, and I sat nervously twisting and
twirling my pocket-handkerchief through my fingers,
listening with the deepest interest.
Now," continued our aunt, Evelyn is the very
girl you want."
Jack gave me a sudden nudge, and to save myself
from falling I clutched at a branch above me; but in
so doing dropped my handkerchief, and it fluttered
down, down, down, right on to Aunt Margaret's bonnet!
There it sat in triumph on the top of a jet ornament
which but a moment back had been glistening in
I grew sick and cold with horror as I glanced first
at our mother. Her eyes were closed as before, but
what would she think when she opened them to see
Aunt Margaret, one of the most fashionably dressed
you could imagine, seated before her with a dirty
little pink-bordered pocket-handkerchief on her head ?
She would be sure to look up at once, and if she saw
us so far above the ground, the shock would be enough
to make her as ill as ever again.
Then I looked at Jack, and he was so overcome by
Aunt Margaret's comical appearance that he quite
forgot the serious side of the accident, and was busy
trying to stuff the whole of his handkerchief into his
mouth to choke down the peals of laughter which
would otherwise have come. I could see nothing to
laugh at; I just sat wondering whether mother would
see it first, or if it would tumble off with one of those
OUR VOW IS MADE.
sudden shakes our aunt was in the habit of giving
her head when she was very much in earnest. But
however we were detected, I felt quite sure she
would think we had done it on purpose, out of sheer
impertinence, especially if she saw Jack before he had
recovered himself, for it seemed to me he would just
burst if he could not laugh out soon.
Now Jack's nudge was intended to convey to me
his great surprise at Aunt Margaret's suggestion.
My mind just now, however, was so much exercised
that I could pay but little attention to what they
were saying below. I had a confused idea that our
aunt was giving mother a great many reasons why it
would be such a good plan for Evelyn to come and
live with us, the chief being that we were very
unruly, untaught children, and that Evelyn was too
active-minded to stay idle at home.
"Since she must have occupation," said Aunt
Margaret, with a nod which nearly dislodged her new
head-dress, "you can understand that Archie and I
would infinitely prefer that she came to you, where
she would be with some one we care for, and quite
near us. We can neither of us bear to think of her
going among strangers and far away from home, as
she might have to do."
"I can quite understand that," mother replied, not
very heartily it seemed to us. "But, on the other
hand, there is Evelyn's opinion on the subject to be
taken into consideration. It would be a miserable
OUR VOW IS MADE.
life for a young girl to be condemned to, for I am
often no companion to any one, and the children are
hardly ever in; I like them to be free now till they
are old enough to begin work. You would have to
consult Evelyn's wishes, and she might not like to
refuse if she thought it would be a charitable thing
"But that is just the point," Aunt Margaret said,
in a decided tone. It was Evelyn herself who first
suggested it; she told us in a letter that it is the
thing above all others that she would like to do, only
she feared you might not like it. That is nonsense,
of course, for I am sure you would soon become very
fond of her; she is quite a sunbeam in a house."
Pretty sunbeam growled Jack under his breath.
He was not inclined to laugh now; things were be-
ginning to look too serious.
Mother did not speak. Aunt Margaret went on.
"And this is the very life she is suited to; her
talents all tend in that direction. She loves attending
to the sick, looking after a house, a certain amount
of spare time for artistic pursuits, and managing
children. Miserable or dull she never could be; she
is far too clever and active for that."
Still mother was silent, lying back with closed eyes.
"You can have no further objection to make,
surely ?" our aunt said sharply.
The remark was so evidently a question that
mother had to reply.
OUR VOW IS MADE.
"Well, yes," she said hesitatingly, "there is one
"Well ?" Aunt Margaret inquired shortly.
The children," mother said simply, and she opened
her eyes, but instantly closed them, as the light was
too strong. I was much relieved, for my chief
anxiety was for the fate of my handkerchief. How-
ever, this time she had seen nothing, and continued:
"You see they have never been accustomed to any
one but me, and they might resent a stranger's inter-
"You do not mean to tell me," exclaimed Aunt
Margaret severely, "that you are so absurd as to be
ruled by the whims of those two naughty children ?
Why, one would imagine you were really afraid of
them It is too ridiculous. Resent interference,
indeed! let them. And if they did, would it not
prove to you how much they need a strong hand
over them? Evelyn would stand no nonsense, I can
Jack looked at me, and we made a face. There
was something of the nature of a grim threat in
Aunt Margaret's words, and we listened breathlessly
for our mother's reply, leaning forward to catch every
"I think, Margaret," she said, with quiet dignity,
"you misunderstand my meaning. It is not that I
am afraid of my children, but that I wish to do what
is best for them. I think if I took a grown-up girl
OUR VOW IS MADE.
into the house and established her as my elder
daughter it would not be good for Alison; she would
never take her proper position in her own home. And
I am sure it would be bad for Jack to feel that he
was being managed by his cousin; it would take away
from all his manliness, and he would no longer be the
self-reliant, trustworthy little fellow he now is."
I looked at Jack; his:face in one moment was
crimson, and I knew he wished himself out of the
tree and far away, rather than overhearing this praise,
which he knew he did not deserve.
You are inclined to exaggerate their faults, dear,"
she went on. I own that they are high-spirited; but
that will mend when they have to meet troubles and
trials in later life. And they are always affectionate
and considerate towards me, perfectly obedient to my
slightest wish, and the most truthful, honourable
children you could wish to know. What more could
you want ? So, dear Margaret, thank you very much
for your kindness to and thought for me, but for the
sake of my boy and girl I must refuse the offer; I am
sure it is best to do so."
I had not dared to glance at Jack during this
speech. I just longed to be able to cry out, "Mother
darling, we are here, but we did not mean to be
naughty," and I think he did too, but- we could not
risk frightening her. And then an awful thing hap-
pened: she opened her eyes wide, and stood up as if
to end the subject. My heart sank miserably, and I
OUR VOW IS MADE.
awaited detection with a sickening sense of unworthi-
ness born of the loving trust just expressed in our
We could not now see mother's face, but her
attitude was enough, and we could well imagine the
amazement in her eyes as they fell for the first time
on Aunt Margaret's bonnet.
"My dear Margaret," she began; but the rest of
her words were checked by a heavy thud as Jack's
book fell at her feet. He had forgotten it in his
eagerness to hear how the discussion would end, and
down it went.
Both ladies looked up quickly, and we began a
rapid descent. When we reached the ground, mother
was lying back in her chair again with a very white
face, and Aunt Margaret was bending over her
Go and call Jenkyns," was all she said.
Glad of an excuse to get away, we obeyed. We
hovered about the lawn for some time after, however,
among the bushes, where we could not be seen, for we
were terribly frightened at what we had done. But
to our great relief mother was well enough presently
to walk into the house with help from Aunt Margaret
and Jenkyns. Then we ran off to our favourite
haunt in the garden-the banks of a small stream
which flowed through it-and there we threw our-
selves down on the grass, and were silent for I should
think about five whole minutes.
OUR VOW IS MADE.
"She will come," was Jack's first remark, given
with the air of a martyr.
Oh no, she won't," I asserted, taking the opposite
side, as usual, to begin with.
"But I tell you she will," Jack said obstinately,
"after mother catching us up that tree. If you
hadn't been such a silly and dropped your handker-
"If you hadn't been such a silly and dropped your
book !" I broke in indignantly.
Jack glanced scornfully at me.
That doesn't matter," he said, by way of reply.
"But I know Cousin Evelyn will come, for mother
will quite agree with Aunt Margaret that we are
very naughty now and need a 'firm hand' over us."
He was quiet for a moment, thinking. Then he
burst out excitedly,-
"But I won't be managed by a gurl. Mother said
herself it would be bad for me, and I know it would.
I won't, won't, won't be good if she comes; so there !"
He ended with something like a choking sob, and
I thought he was going to cry with rage. But after
a pause he went on shakily and in a mournful voice,-
"Alison, if she comes it will never be the same
again, never no more. We shall be shut up in the
house all day with lessons, and we shan't ever be able
to play in our own way. She will go out for stuffy
walks with us, and make us play with bricks on the
floor and all that, and we shan't ever climb-"
OUR VOW IS MADE.
He had to stop again, for the tears were very near
indeed. I waited in dumb despair; the picture was
very awful. This was just the way the Drummond
girls had been brought up, for Aunt Margaret had
often told us about it with great pride: she had
been very strict, and they had all grown up very
I began to cry. Then Jack pulled himself together
in a moment.
"Don't do that," he said sharply. "It is silly, and
it is no good. It won't stop Cousin Evelyn's coming,
and we can't; but we can make it so horrid when she
does come that she won't stay. She will soon see we
won't have her firm hand over us if you will just do
as I tell you; and when she is gone we will just be
happy and free again, and mother will trust us, and
not have any one to take our place in the house."
I stopped crying and listened.
I've got a plan," he went on, after a pause. We'll
make a vow, as they did long ago, and we will write
it down on two pieces of paper; then we will each
keep one for ever in our pockets."
But they would wear out or get lost," I objected.
Jack was offended.
"Then we will put them in a box," he said huffily.
"And I'll tell you what: we will wear a piece of string
round our necks, and whenever we see each other
going to forget our vow, we'll put up our hands to
our collars and warn each other."
OUR VOW IS MADE.
I could not but admire the invention of my little
brother's ever-ready brain; he never seemed at a loss
in an emergency. And just now I did not give the
naughtiness of the plan a thought; I was so pleased
with the cleverness of it: for Jack's doleful description
of what our life was likely to be with Cousin Evelyn
in the house had fairly frightened me, and I felt that
I would do anything to send her away.
After a hunt for some paper Jack produced a bit
from his pocket, which he tore into two. There was
a wheelbarrow standing close at hand, and this we
turned upside down for a table, in spite of the fact
that it was full of grass which Thomas would shortly
come to wheel away to the rubbish-heap. Then Jack
sat down, and with much care wrote out the two
copies of our vow.
It took some time to do, for he was a very bad
writer; and he had to keep thinking about the spell-
ing, in which I could not help him much. He wanted
to put in a great many long words to make it grander;
but these had to be given up, as we could not think
how to write them down. When it was quite done
we both signed our names on each, and we then tied
a bit of string, also from Jack's pocket, round our
necks and hid it under our clothes.
"Now I'll read it aloud," said Jack, very much
excited and quite pleased with himself, and we
will shake hands and say, 'I vow,' quite seriously,
OUR VOW IS MADE.
I did see, and Jack read in a solemn tone of
"We vow that we wont be maneged and ordered
about by Cusin Evelun. If she cums to liv with us
we wont obay her nor be good til she gose away
agen. She shant enterfear with us nor spoil our fun.
We wil stand by eech other agent her for ever.
"Sined JACK SEYMOUR.
Then very gravely, and it felt ever such a funny
thing to do with Jack, we shook hands over the
wheelbarrow, and said, almost in one breath,-
"Now," cried Jack, "we won't have any of her
carroty-nosed, snub-haired girls here managing us; so
He did not notice what an odd mistake he had
made; I hardly did at the time, for he was so very
much in earnest-indeed I had never seen him so angry
before. But my habit of arguing made me say,-
"Perhaps Cousin Evelyn isn't carroty-haired and
Jack suddenly folded his arms in a way that I well
knew to mean great displeasure, and he looked me
straight in the face.
"Why, I believe," he said scornfully, "that you
are going over to Aunt Margaret to be put upon.
OUR VOW IS MADE.
All right; go. You can forsake me if you like.
Gurls are all the same-mean, frightened cats."
Turning on his heel he left me too surprised to
speak or move. That Jack should speak so to me
was really dreadful-Jack, for whom I would have
done anything in the world; Jack, whose praise was
all I seemed to live for! And he could imagine I
would ever forsake him! I threw myself down upon
the ground in such a passion of weeping that he came
back of his own accord to comfort me.
I didn't mean it, Allie," he said earnestly,
frightened at my violence, for I so seldom let myself
cry before him lest he should call me those hated
names; "I know you won't forget our vow."
"You will first," I said grumpily.
He took no notice of this.
Suppose we have a game," he said.
And so we did, but not a very good one, for we
could think of nothing but the dreadful change that
was to take place in our home.
In the evening mother sent for us.
She was alone, and she looked terribly ill as she
lay on her sofa by the window. Silently and hand
in hand we stood as she spoke to us in a weary voice,
so sadly that but for the subject our hearts must
have been melted.
"After what has happened this afternoon," she
said, "you will scarcely be surprised to hear that I
have invited your Cousin Evelyn to come and live
OUR VOW IS MADE.
with us. This will be her home in future, and I
shall look upon her as my daughter. I find that I
need her very much, for I am not strong enough to
look after my own children, who have disappointed
me more than I can ever say by their naughtiness.
I trusted you, Jack and Alison," she went on, very
earnestly, "and I thought you good, upright, honour-
able children, such as your father would have had you
to be. I find instead that the very day I say I trust
you not to do a thing you do it slyly and deceitfully;
and not only that-you sat meanly listening to what
you must have known was not meant for you, as I
never could have suspected you of doing."
Jack hung his head and gulped down a great sob.
We neither of us could speak, for that we sat so still
there for her sake seemed such a poor little excuse to
"You heard what I then thought of you," mother
went on, "and much ashamed I was of you not five
minutes later, for I found out then you were not
worthy of the praise I gave you. It was not a
pleasant thing for a mother to discover, was it ?"
"No, mumsie darling," Jack said, in a choked
voice, and big tears came into his eyes and rolled
down the little brown face.
Mother relented a little at this and spoke in a
"Your aunt was right, and I was not," she said,
and at that name our hearts grew hard again. "You
OUR VOW IS MADE.
do need some one to look after you; you are too old
to run wild any more. And I shall be glad to have
some one with me whom I can rely upon in more ways
than one. You will be quite happy with Evelyn, for
I believe she is a dear girl. I hope you will remem-
ber that she has my leave to do what she likes with
you, and that you must obey her as you ought to do
me. She is fond of children, understands them well,
and I shall expect you to treat her as a sister."
We did not speak.
"I hope," mother said, speaking very gently now,
"that my little girl will learn from her to be ladylike
and helpful, and that my boy will try with her help
to be more sensible and manly. Good-night, my dar-
lings; run away to bed now, for I am very tired."
We felt very humble as we crept away, for we
could not but remember that it was our fault she was
again so ill; the shock had quite upset her, for her
heart was very weak.
But when we were seated over our bread and milk,
the naughty feeling came again into Jack's heart.
"It is all that horrid old cat's fault," he said
huskily. "We were quite good and happy till she
came and upset everything, and now we shall never
be happy any more. I hate, hate, hate her, and she
shan't get the best of us with her nasty, interfering
So he left his supper, and went to bed a very
miserable little boy.
OUR VOW IS MADE.
Somehow I had not yet got to think quite so
earnestly about it as he. I had not really had time
to think it out. I don't know that I understood
very clearly what made Jack so angry about it. For
one thing, he was a very proud, sensitive child, and
the notion of being distrusted by mother, and being
in consequence put under the control of a girl, was
very bitter to him. It was not such a disgrace to
me, of course, in that way, being only a girl" myself,
as he would have put it. And he was very inde-
pendent. But though I was rather puzzled by the
effect it had taken upon Jack, I felt sure he must be
in the right, and his words of the afternoon kept
coming into my head as I lay in my cosy bed looking
into the darkness. There was one speech in particular
which he had made while we were trying to play
after making our vow :-
"I know Cousin Evelyn will be just like Aunt
Margaret-trying to make mischief with mother and
between us; but she shan't, shall she, Allie ?"
Ah! that was very sweet to me. No one should
come between me and my dear, clever Jack; we had
promised to stand by each other, he and I, and we
had a great secret together. Thinking of this I fell
asleep with my fingers tightly twisted in the bit of
string which was to prove the token of such an
unhappy chain of events.
"The discord is within which jars
So sadly in life's song;
'Tis we, not they, who are in fault
When others seem so wrong."-FABER.
T HREE whole weeks went by, and Jack and I did
not get into one serious piece of mischief. We
climbed no trees, made no jam, and fell into no ponds.
Mrs. Bain quite forgave us, and Betty was most kind;
only poor old Thomas could neither forget nor forgive,
but watched us suspiciously and distrustfully as we
played about among his precious plants and shrubs.
Perhaps it was natural he should feel so strongly on
the subject; for while mother got Mrs. Bain a new
stew-pan and Betty some material for a pretty
Sunday frock for me, Thomas could never pass the
rhododendron bush without being reminded that it
was spoiled for that year, and no money could alter
the fact. Then, too, he was worse off in this new
phase of goodness of ours than any one else, for we
took up gardening as our craze in place of the forbid-
den amusements. Certainly the bit of ground we
worked upon was given to us to do as we liked with;
but Thomas often spent half his day looking for his
tools, and we were always worrying him for seeds
and plants to put into our wonderful garden. It
really began to look very pretty at last, and we hardly
missed our climbing and all the games that seemed to
have gone with it, so interested were we in our dig-
ging, weeding, and watering.
But we were not happy. In spite of our goodness
and the new interest, we were really very mournful
children at times when we remembered that soon there
was a change coming into our home life, and one we
meant seriously to oppose, for we had by no means
forgotten our vow.
That Cousin Evelyn had arrived at the Grange we
knew, and she came down once with Aunt Margaret
to see mother; but when we saw the pony-carriage on
the road, Jack and I disappeared. We went for a
long walk by a back lane, where we were not likely
to be met by any one who would send us back. The
result of this expedition was a new idea for our
garden, prompted by a load of stones we met coming
away from a quarry which lay about a mile down the
lane. We at once made up our minds that we would
fetch some of these nice, rocky bits of granite, which
were only going to be broken up for mending the
roads, and make a rockery in our little corner. After
that we were very busy, for it took us quite a week to
bring enough stones from the quarry, going three and
four times a day, as often we could only manage one
at a time, they were so large. We brought them in
our wheelbarrow; not a red and green toy, but a
good, sturdy little miniature of the one used by
Thomas, specially made for us by the village carpenter
at our instructions. Then the ferns had to be collected,
and we also brought loads of mould from the woods at
Betty's suggestion, as she said the ferns would grow
better and feel more at home in the earth they were
used to. The servants were very much interested in
our work, and encouraged it by presents of cockle
shells and some chips of marble they got from a stone-
mason (he was Betty's friend). Altogether we were
very kindly treated, and it was said of us in the ser-
vants' hall that no one could think what had come
over us, we were so good all of a sudden.
When this was repeated to us by Betty, who
thought a little praise now and then was good for us,
a new idea sprang into our heads, and it was this that
helped us to behave well so long. We thought that
if mother saw how hard we were trying to please her
she would tell our cousin she would not need her after
all, and we should go on in the old, peaceful way,
without any one's interference. We were not told
what day she was expected; perhaps mother guessed
we had run away the day the Drummonds called, and
kept it a secret on purpose; and this encouraged the
idea that it might have been but an idle threat made
to frighten us into behaving better. But all our hopes
were dashed to the ground one day at the end of these
three wonderful weeks. Then we learned that people
do not find it easy to trust again so soon when once
they have been deceived, and mother could not be sure
of us yet.
It was a perfect summer afternoon. We had been
working from early morning at our grotto, and Jack
knelt before it putting a few finishing touches with
the greatest pride. It really began to look like a
little fairyland, for the plants had all taken well; but
there was just one thing we longed for, and that was
a few pretty, sparkling stones, such as we saw in some
of the cottage gardens.
It is a pity we can't find any; I suppose they
don't grow here," Jack said, getting up and rubbing
his little earthy hands together to relieve them of the
His knees were brown with kneeling on the ground,
and he looked as untidy as possible; for I am sorry
to say we had not learned to be any cleaner or neater.
I, for once, was fairly presentable, as it was only an
hour after lunch, and I had done nothing but make
suggestions since we came out, as Jack would not let
me garden. He was like that sometimes, taking a
notion into his head that he must do everything him-
Yes, it is a pity," I echoed; "but let's play hide-
and-seek," I added, for I was dull, and tired of doing
"All right," agreed my little brother; "only you
must let me hide first, because I know such a lovely
This did not suit me, for I knew of some lovely
places too; besides which I wanted to be doing some-
thing at once, and Jack always took such a long time
No, I'll hide first," I said. "You've been garden-
ing, and I thought of playing first."
Now I don't think Jack very much wanted to play;
at any rate, he knelt down again before the rockery.
Oh, then I shan't play at all," he retorted, in a
I stood just behind him watching him.
I think you are very selfish, Jack," I said crossly.
"Then you are a silly little gurl," he replied.
"I shall go away," I went on, "and I won't play
ever when you want me to."
"All right; go," Jack said calmly. "I don't want
you-I don't care."
Our voices must have grown very loud and angry,
so that they were heard some distance off; and we
did not notice footsteps behind us till suddenly we
gave a big jump and turned right round as a clear
voice said quite near us,-
"Suppose you both hide, and I will come and look
We found ourselves face to face with the loveliest
girl we had ever either seen or dreamed of. She was
dressed all in white, with just a belt of pale mauve,
and a tie to match, fastened by a pearl pin. A white
lace hat rested on her soft, curly hair, which was a
kind of brown with a gold light in it. Her eyes
were of a deep, rich grey, big, honest, and tender-of
that sort which seems to look you through and
through, expecting to find nothing in you but what is
good and true.
We stared in astonishment. Jack was, of course,
the first to recover himself.
"Oh, how d'you do ?" he said, holding out one
hand, while with the other he raised his little blue
serge cap from where it always sat at the extreme
back of his curly head.
But the girl laughed merrily, and instead of shak-
ing hands put hers behind her, for her gloves were of
"I don't think your gloves would improve mine,
Cousin Jack," she said, looking at his brown little
Then for the first time we knew to whom we were
speaking. This beautiful girl was none other than
our cousin, Evelyn Drummond.
In one moment I remembered our vow, and I looked
meaningly at Jack, but he had forgotten all about it;
and even when I coughed and put my hand up to my
neck, giving the sign he had himself invented, he took
no notice, but just stood looking at our new cousin in
astonishment. He had been very much puzzled as to
who she could be, but guessed she was some visitor of
mother's who had been sent out to see the gardens,
which were quite show places in the neighbourhood.
His manners, when he chose, were very pretty, especi-
ally to complete strangers, and he was about to offer
to take this lady round the greenhouses, since mother
was not well enough to do the honours of the place
herself. But when he found himself talking to
Evelyn Drummond, he was too surprised to say any-
thing for a minute.
Afraid that she had offended him, Evelyn turned
"Alison must shake hands for both," she said,
" since I have such stupid gloves on."
But I imitated her exactly, and putting both my
hands behind me I said bluntly,-
"No, thank you; if Jack's hands aren't clean
enough, mine aren't."
Cousin Evelyn looked surprised.
"Are you really Cousin Evelyn? Jack exclaimed,
finding his tongue again.
"Yes, really and truly," she said. "Didn't you
know ? I never thought of introducing myself."
"Oh, it's all right," Jack said, just as if she had
made an apology which he was so kind as to accept,
" only I was rather surprised. You see you made me
I am very sorry," she said, gently and as if she
meant it, though her eyes were smiling, "but you
were so busy with your rockery you did not notice
my arrival on the scene. What a beauty it is, Jack!
you surely never made it yourselves ?"
"We did, though," Jack replied, with great pride;
"we made it every bit, stones and all."
How splendid !" said Evelyn heartily. "I believe
if you wanted some nice, bright, sparkling stones to
put here and there, I could easily get them for you.
But it is lovely as it is," she added, as if she were
afraid we might think she was running it down.
"Oh, thank you Jack cried excitedly; "you are
Brick," he was going to say, but he just stopped in
time, and said instead, It is jolly of you. I do want
something shiny to put amongst the ferns, dreadfully."
Meanwhile I stared, first at Jack, then at Evelyn,
with the greatest disapproval. This to my mind was
certainly not the way to begin keeping our vow.
Jack's eyes were full of pleasure and eagerness; he
was talking to this girl, whom before he saw her he
had thought of as his bitterest enemy, as if he had
known and liked her all his life. He had even nearly
called her a brick, that name which hitherto he had
used for no one but me, and that he thought her one
I could see for myself. My heart seemed to swell
within me, and I longed to have courage to remind
him of the vow which he was in such danger of break-
ing, but I did not dare.
Evelyn was undoubtedly taken with his bright,
handsome face and hearty, boyish manner. He was,
as usual, the spokesman; but to-day I somehow felt
shy and awkward, and as if I were quite in the back-
ground. It seemed to me they had quite forgotten
me, and a bitter, lonely feeling that I could not
understand crept into my heart. I told myself I was
ill-used and neglected, and I had plenty of time to
brood over Jack's breaking faith with me over the
secret, which in the last three weeks had grown very
precious to me. I decided that I would take him to
task for it when we were alone again, and remind him
how very strongly he had felt on the subject. I said
further back that at the time of the making of our
vow I scarcely understood Jack's earnestness about it;
to me it did not then mean very much, except that I
was glad of anything that was a bond between my
brother and myself.. I had thought then it would be
a difficult thing to keep, and often wondered how we
should do it. But now I felt as if it would be easy
enough, for I took a dislike to our cousin from the
very moment I discovered who she really was, and
saw that Jack was so won over by her that he forgot
all about me and the promises we had made to each
other so solemnly over the wheelbarrow only a few
Yes: I could not then have given it a name, but I
was jealous, and with all my heart I wished Evelyn
back in Scotland, for I foresaw a trouble I had never
dreamed of before. Jack would find no difficulty in
obeying mother's wish that we should treat Cousin
Evelyn as a sister, and then where would my place be,
since she was to be a daughter to mother and a sister
to Jack ? It seemed to me I should be left out of it
altogether. I cannot say that I thought all this in
these very words, but it is what it all came to as I
stood watching Evelyn and Jack by our fairy grotto
that lovely day in the beginning of August.
"Then you must collect different kinds of ferns,"
our cousin said, and see how many varieties you can
get to grow here. I see you have just five now; but
I have a friend who is staying in the Highlands for
the summer, and I am sure she would be delighted to
send us a great bundle of ferns if I wrote and asked
her. Then we can have a Scotch corner."
I glanced hopefully at Jack. Yesterday that word
"Scotch would have put him into a regular rage, and
the bare idea of having anything Scotch in his garden
would not have been tolerated for a moment. But
now it had no effect; it conveyed nothing to his mind.
"Jolly," he said happily. "Will you write to-day?"
"Certainly," said Cousin Evelyn, smiling at the
hurry he was in; "and you shall take my letter to the
post, to make sure it really goes."
"Then you have come to stay now ?" he asked
next, a new idea occurring to him.
Yes, dear," was her gracious reply, spoken--oh so
gently. "If you will have me, I have come to stay.
Will you, Jack ? "
I tried to catch Jack's eye, but he purposely would
not look at me. What answer would he make to
this, I asked myself, and I felt as if everything de-
pended on that for the moment; and would you
believe it, he said very calmly, and as if he were
doing Cousin Evelyn a great favour,-
Why, yes, of course we will."
I stared so hard and so fiercely at him then that he
had to look at me. He saw my hand at my neck and
the anger blazing in my eyes. Then he flushed hotly.
"Silly!" he muttered under his breath, but I
caught the well-known word.
Quick to notice the slightest thing, Evelyn saw
something was amiss between us; and thinking we
were still cross about our game of hide-and-seek, she
tried to change the subject.
Won't you come in and see Aunt Margaret ?" she
Our reply must have been a shock to her, for we
both gasped out in one breath,-
"Oh no thank you, Cousin Evelyn."
She looked surprised, but putting it down to shy-
"Ah, I forgot; you wanted to play, didn't you ?
Shall we begin ?"
"No," I said abruptly, speaking because she seemed
to be looking at me for an answer; I don't want to
play. Jack can if he likes."
Jack looked at me, for I spoke crossly.
"Nor do I, thank you, Cousin Evelyn," he said
civilly, in defiance, as I thought, of my hints. "I'll
take you to see the grapes and things instead if you
This was a very kind offer of Jack's, and he looked
quite conscious of it. Evelyn had taken off her gloves
by now, and she held out a very clean hand to him as
"Do; I should like it immensely."
Jack looked at his grubby paws and then at her
My hands are rather muddy," he said apologeti-
Oh, I don't mind now," said our cousin laughingly.
" My gloves would not have washed, but my hands
I made up my mind I would not go; but Evelyn
noticed that I did not move as she and Jack started,
hand in hand, towards the hothouses.
"You are coming too, are you not, Alison ?" she
No, thank you; I'm tired," I replied, in a drawl-
"Oh, come along, Cousin Evelyn," said Jack pointedly.
"We don't want her if she is going to be grumpy."
I stood quite still as they turned away. I suppose
Evelyn thought it wiser to do as he suggested, as she
did not understand my sullenness. The lonely, neg-
lected feeling in my heart grew bigger and bigger,
and as they disappeared out of sight round a corner, I
clinched my hands and stamped, tears rising to my
eyes and a choky feeling in my throat, as I said out
"He doesn't mean to keep our vow, and he likes
her awfully. Nothing will ever be the same any
more, and nobody loves me. Oh, I hate, hate, hate
Cousin Evelyn, and I won't be good till she goes away;
for she is a bad, cruel girl!"
Perhaps you think this very naughty, and so it was.
But you must remember it was the first time in my
life that Jack had ever forsaken me or been content to
do anything without me, and now he did not seem to
care one little bit. It was a new experience, and one
that I did not enjoy.
I roamed about the garden, avoiding them when-
ever I heard their voices; and they were always merry
and happy, while I felt more and more miserable. I
went in very late for tea, to find that Jack was having
his in the drawing-room with mother, Aunt Margaret,
and Evelyn. But though Betty told me I had been
sent for, I refused so obstinately to go down that she
had to give me tea upstairs as usual. She was very
much puzzled to see Jack and me apart for so long,
for such a thing had hitherto been unheard of; but
I would tell her nothing.
"Miss Drummond has been up herself asking for
you, Miss Alison," she said, as she cut me a piece of
bread and jam. "She wanted you to come down to
tea too; and when she heard you was not in yet, she
seemed so sorry, as you had told her in the garden
you was feeling tired."
Betty made this last announcement in a tone of
surprise, as well she might, for I don't suppose she
had ever heard me own to such a thing as tiredness.
I did not speak.
"I think she is such a nice young lady," Betty went
on, as I munched away at my bread. "And so does
Master Jack, I'm sure; for he brought her up here to
show her the way, talking to her all the time as nicely
as you please. You'd hardly have thought it was
Master Jack to hear him."
I gulped down a mouthful of very hot tea. So
Betty had noticed it too, I thought.
"I wonder you don't go down," Betty said; "I
wouldn't be so silly and shy if I was you."
I got up from the table, forgetting to say my grace,
and said as I reached the door,-
"I don't want to, and I won't. I'm not silly and
shy, and I don't think Cousin Evelyn is a nice girl,
nor Jack a nice boy at all; so there !"
"Highty-tighty, dearie me !" I heard Betty saying,
as I slammed the door behind me.
I had scarcely touched my tea, for it suddenly came
into my head that Evelyn might come up again to
fetch me, and I did not want her to find me there.
My great wish now was to see Jack alone and
have it out with him. I felt I must have one last
fight for our vow. But Cousin Evelyn kept him well
employed for the rest of the afternoon. He took the
precious letter to the post, for he was most anxious
about the ferns; and when he came back, he helped
her to begin unpacking some books she had brought
with her to put into the little sitting-room mother
had arranged she should have, leading out of her bed-
But at supper-time I went upstairs, and found Jack
eating his bread and milk.
He looked questioningly at me, and when he saw
how gloomy I was he said,-
What is the matter, Alison ? I never did see any-
body so stupid before. We have tried to find you
over and over again, Cousin Evelyn and I. Why did
you hide ?"
I was rather taken aback at this speech, for I was
counting upon his being a little ashamed of himself.
"You know why, Jack," I blurted out. "It's all
your fault for forgetting our vow."
Two ugly patches of red came into my cheeks, and
my eyes were full of burning-hot, angry tears.
"I didn't forget our vow," Jack exclaimed indig-
nantly; "but you are so silly. I only said Cousin
Evelyn shouldn't come if she interfered with us and
spoiled our fun, and she hasn't yet."
She began about the rockery at once," I argued,
"just as if it wasn't a bit pretty."
"Oh," cried Jack impatiently, "you are a baby.
Why, she wants to help us, and I shall let her if I
like. It's my rockery as well as yours."
"It isn't mine ever any more," I said, in a low,
husky voice, "if Cousin Evelyn is going to share it."
"All right; I don't care," said Jack.
And the worst of it was that I really do not think
But are you going to keep our vow ?" I persisted.
"Of course I am," he replied, "if ever I've got to.
But Cousin Evelyn won't try to manage us and order
us about, I know. She is a jolly girl, not a bit like
Those others," of course, meant her sisters. I
heartily wished she had been like them, for I disliked
her more than I had ever done any one of them.
But she is Scotch too," I went on, hoping this
would make a difference.
"Yes, I know," my brother said. "But she is nice
Scotch; there must be nice and nasty everythings"
I had never heard this line of argument from him
before. Had I ventured to suggest such a thing that
very morning, he would have scorned the thought.
I considered for a moment. What could I say to
make Jack remember all he had felt so bitterly a few
weeks ago ? It was just as if all the earnestness had
left him and taken possession of me. He had, as
usual, been impulsively eager about it at first, and so
excited as almost to frighten me. And when I had
had time to think it over-to understand what we had
done in taking such a vow-and was ready to follow
him to any length in the keeping of it, he suddenly
changed his mind, calling me a "silly" for disagreeing
"Jack," I cried with a sob, making one last effort
and appeal, you said she shouldn't come between us."
Well, nor will she, stupid," Jack said. She wants
you to do everything the same as me. And oh, Allie,"
he cried, forgetting his ill-humour in the pleasure of
the remembrance, "she is going to teach me to play
golf on the common, and tennis, and cricket, and all
the things other boys do. She can do anything, Aunt
Margaret says, and she just loves games."
This friendly reference to Aunt Margaret surprised
me more than anything; but Cousin Evelyn came into
the room at that moment, and I did not manage to get
out the speech that was at the tip of my tongue about
"not wanting to learn all those silly games."
"At supper, little people ?" she said cheerily. I
think I shall ask for bread and milk for supper some-
times, and come and have it with you, when Aunt
Maisie is not down for dinner."
Oh, would you ? Jack asked, quite pleased. And
then he went on, not waiting for an answer, "But I
say, Cousin Evelyn, we haven't got anything to play
those things with here, you know. I quite forgot."
So I thought," she said at once. But we can soon
mend all that. There is an extra tennis net up at the
Grange that they do not need, as they have only one
court there; also our old cricket set. We can easily
get some balls, as they are not very expensive, and
you can share my golf clubs with me to begin with.
I have a good many."
"And rackets ?" demanded Jack, who was nothing
if not practical.
"We shall find some old rackets at home too,"
Evelyn replied smilingly. And we will just go up
there and steal them in the face of every one." Then
turning kindly to me she said, "You do look tired,
Alison dear; shall I help you to undress?"
No, thank you," I said decidedly. I am not very
tired now, and I hate being put to bed."
Evelyn looked surprised, for I spoke rudely. She
must have thought me the very oddest child she had
ever met. Had I been alone with her, I should not
have dared to speak so; but I wanted to show off
before Jack, and prove to him that I at least meant
to remember and keep our vow.
I left the room without another word; but as I
went down the passage, I heard our cousin say
"What is the matter with her, Jack ? she cannot
And then in his high treble, purposely raised so
that I should hear, came to my ears this never-to-be-
forgotten speech just as I reached my door,-
"Oh, she is just horrid and cross; she is like that
I waited to hear no more.
0 Jack, Jack," I sobbed, with my face buried in
my pillow, "how can you be so unkind ?" And then
I cried till I fell asleep.
There Betty found me, stretched at full length on
the bed with all my clothes on, when she came to call
me as usual at seven o'clock.
The next day was Sunday, and at breakfast
Cousin Evelyn said,-
"I suppose you are going to take me to church,
both of you ?"
Now church was the one place in which we were
invariably good. On a very hot Sunday we some-
times fidgeted towards the end of the sermon, but
as a rule we were quiet-partly because we had early
been trained to do so, but chiefly, I am sorry to say,
our goodness was due to the fact that we found a
great deal to amuse us all through the service. We
were always watching that part of the congregation
which we could see without turning and twisting
about, and as we sat half-way down the church we
had a very good view.
The pew on the other side which interested us
more than all the rest put together was occupied by
some people of the name of Grant, who had but
recently come to live in the neighbourhood. They
lived in a great big house that, for as long as we
could remember, had stood forsaken and lonely in
its miles of lovely grounds. There was much ex-
citement in the village when the new-comers arrived;
but we did not know them yet, owing to mother's
being unable to go out anywhere. The Drummonds,
however, had called, and Jack and I were always in
hopes of at least forming a nodding acquaintance
through them, for they seemed a very attractive
family. Sir Richard was a handsome old man, and
Lady Grant looked kind and gentle; but Jack
longed most to know the two boys, who we were
sure must. be twins-they were so much of a height,
and were so like each other. But my great wish
was to speak to the lovely girl who always came
with her governess rather earlier than the rest,
though I knew she must be quite five years older
than I. It was no childish imagination that she
was so beautiful, for Elsie Grant was the talk of the
country side before they had been there long, with
her wealth of dark hair, soft brown eyes, and clear
Just behind them sat the old squire and his wife,
whose children were now all grown up and out in
the world. The vicar's sister was the only occupant
of the next pew; for Mr. Collins was unmarried, and
she kept house for him. Then there was funny little
Mr. Brown of the village shop, on whose bald head
the flies insisted upon dancing, to our great delight,
in spite of all his efforts to keep them off with a
huge red cotton handkerchief. The last person of
interest on that side was good old Farmer Barns,
who would always go to sleep during the sermon,
and snore till his wife poked or pinched him to rouse
him. Once she did this so hard that he awoke
quite suddenly and said aloud, so that nearly every
one could hear him,-
"All right, my dear; I'm coming in a minute."
Then he saw he was in church, and the poor man
looked very confused and uncomfortable for the rest
of the service.
So we children had never any objection to going
to church. We were always hoping something like
that would occur again, but it never did. When
Cousin Evelyn asked if we would take her, Jack was
greatly delighted; it sounded so much more manly
than to "be taken" by Betty, as we had always been
Nothing unusual happened during the service,
except that Mr. Smith, the postmaster, took snuff at
a very inconvenient time, and began to sneeze so
loud just as Mr. Collins was giving out one of the
hymns that no one could hear the number, and that
caused a great deal of whispering at the back of the
church, till the vicar gave it out twice more, and we
could fairly start.
When we got home we found mother down to
welcome us, looking very bright. She had a little
walk with Evelyn round the garden, and it was not
difficult to see that the aunt and niece would soon
be the firmest friends from the way the elder woman
slipped her arm through that of the girl, and chatted
away to her as if she had known her for years.
It was then decided that, for the present at least,
Jack and I should have all our meals, except supper,
in the dining-room, not, as always before, alone
upstairs in the old day-nursery. I was not at all
pleased at the new arrangement, particularly as Jack
seemed so greatly taken with it.
"Just as if he found it dull with me !" I thought
"This is quite grown-up," he said, with a sigh of
satisfaction, as he took his place opposite me at the
I was silent; indeed I had said but little all day.
For one thing, Jack chattered so incessantly there
was little time for any one else to talk. But I had
no inclination to do so; I felt as if I had nothing to
say. When Cousin Evelyn spoke to me, I answered
her as briefly as I could, just as a shy, nervous child
might have done, though I was neither in reality.
She must have thought me most uninteresting, and
it was little wonder that she spoke principally to my
"I wonder whether any one has ever noticed a
likeness in Alison to you, Aunt Maisie ?" Evelyn
remarked during lunch.
"I expect so," was mother's reply, "for it is so
strong at times that I can see it myself."
I felt pleased.
"She isn't half so pretty," broke in Jack; and then
he added, "There are ugly likenesses and pretty ones,
you know, Alison. I think Cousin Evelyn is much
more like mother, and she might be just as beautiful
if she only had real gold hair."
Jack's regret that Cousin Evelyn had not real gold
hair, as he called it, was so genuine, and he spoke in
such a matter-of-fact tone, that both mother and our
cousin laughed. I was not amused at all. I did
not like to hear Cousin Evelyn praised by Jack and
compared with me in that rude way. Mother saw
the vexation in my face, and fearing an outburst of
tears or temper on my part, said teasingly to Jack,-
"If my little boy were only black, he might be
taken for a nigger with his curly hair. There is
another possible likeness for you, laddie."
This had the desired effect, for it set Jack's active
little brain off in another direction. I could see he
was thinking very deeply, for he left all the talk-
ing for the rest of lunch to mother and Cousin
When we went into the garden, he was very
friendly with me, as if he had quite forgotten we
had scarcely spoken since our sad disagreement the
day before. Although he only took me as a com-
panion for want of a better, because Evelyn was
going to sit with mother, and I knew it, I was too
lonely not to swallow my pride for once and meet
his advances half-way. Besides, no one can guess
how terrible it was to me to be so long in my little
brother's black books.
"I've got such an idea, Allie," he said excitedly, as
we walked off hand in hand. "Sunday is so stupid
in the afternoon, because we don't like to make a
noise; but I've thought of a nice, quiet sort of re-
ligious game to play. We will black our faces and
pretend we're niggers. Then I'll be a missionary,
and you shall be the heathen, and I'll come and
preach to you, and tell you you mustn't eat people
or fight any more."
Jack's inspiration was as much due to the sermon
of the morning, which Mr. Collins had given us in
preparation for a collection for foreign missions, as
to mother's remark at lunch.
"Jolly," I said.
I should have exclaimed the same if he had sug-
gested our going up to the moon, so anxious was I
to make it up with him. It was such a relief to be
like oneself again.
"But the bother is," he went on, "I can't think
what to paint ourselves with. Burnt cork is so
smudgy, and so is coal-dust. Boot blacking would
look fine, but we should have to brush our faces to
"I know," I cried: "let's get mother's patent shoe
gloss. It can't hurt, because you put it on with a
"Oh, splendid!" said Jack, as I ran off to fetch it.
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I soon returned with a bottle, a small hand-glass,
and a paint-box, the last containing the red for our
We went into the summer-house and set to work
First I painted Jack, then he did me, and to our
mind the effect was grand. We stood and looked at
each other when we were both ready, and laughed
till the tears ran down our cheeks at the sight of
the two little niggers with broad red lips, so unlike
our usual selves. We were painted down to our
collars, and I am afraid we had splashed the blacking
about a good deal in doing it, but we were so unused
to considering our clothes we did not notice it.
Jack did not feel quite in the mood for preaching
to the heathen after this, so we provided ourselves
with two combs and some thin paper, and through
these we proceeded to buzz every hymn tune we
could think of, going off into little fits of giggles
every few minutes whenever we caught sight of each
other. We were too noisy to hear a light step on
the gravel, and Cousin Evelyn was in the summer-
house before we knew of her approach.
"What a noise, my dear little cousins !" she began,
in an affectionate tone of remonstrance, and then she
stopped all of a sudden and stood staring at us.
I think she was as much startled by our appearance
as we were by her voice when she spoke; and no
wonder, when her eyes fell on two shiny black faces
instead of the pink-and-white children she had last
seen. Jack grinned from ear to ear, looking more
comical than ever. But I was very grave, for Cousin
Evelyn did not even smile.
"Jack dear," she said gently, "it is Sunday."
Jack's grin vanished.
"I know, Cousin Evelyn," he replied eagerly; "but
it's quite a Sunday game. It is indeed, for I am a
missionary and Alison is a heathen, and I am teach-
ing her to sing hymns. Mr. Collins said there were
black missionaries, you know."
Cousin Evelyn remembered the vicar's simple,
story-like sermon of the morning, in which he had
so carefully explained to us about the African Mission,
for which he was specially preaching.
"I see," she said; "but all the same I don't think
it is quite a nice game. For one thing, it is so noisy;
and then it seems almost like making fun of what
you have heard in church, which I am sure you
cannot have meant to do."
Now was the time, thought I, for Jack to fire up
and remember our vow. But he did nothing of the
kind; he just looked very crestfallen, and said,-
"No, we didn't mean to be funny; but it did make
us laugh, you know."
I felt far too angry to speak; no one had ever
interrupted our games before and told us what we
ought or ought not to do on Sunday. We were
generally commended for our goodness on that day.
And then the meek way Jack took the reproof put
all the naughty feelings into my heart again, which
for the last hour or so I had quite forgotten.
Cousin Evelyn caught sight of mother's shoe
polish on the table. Then she looked graver than
"You don't mean to say you have used that patent
gloss for your faces ?" she inquired, in a dismayed
"Why, yes," I said, as if it were the most natural
thing in the world to have done; "it's lovely stuff."
"I am sure it is not," Evelyn replied; "it is any-
thing but lovely stuff to get off. And you do not
know what it is made of; it might injure your skin
Then she noticed the paint-box and the one al-
most empty pan which had held the colour now on
Oh, how could you use vermilion for your lips!"
she cried anxiously. "Come with me quickly, and
let me try to get it off for you."
She spoke principally to me, holding out her hand
to me, but I did not move.
"I won't," I said stubbornly. "I don't want it off;
I want to go on with our game."
Jack's look of vexation at this speech, and the
troubled expression in his eyes as he glanced at
Cousin Evelyn to see what effect it would have upon
her, did not help me into a better temper. My
thoughts at that moment were very bitter on the
subject of the broken vow.
"My dear Alison," our cousin said quietly, but I
could see she was very much astonished, "that is not
the way to speak. But there is no time to waste
either in remonstrating with you or scolding you.
Do as I tell you, and come with me at once. I will
wash as much of that stuff off your face as I can."
"I can wash my own face," I said proudly; "I'm
not a baby. Jack can have his done if he likes; I
I tried to put as much scorn into my reference to
Jack as I could, and my taunt struck home.
"No; I can wash my own face too," he said
eagerly, with an imploring look at Evelyn, for he
could not bear it to be implied that he was ever
"Very well, dear," was Evelyn's wise reply; "only
come and do it at once. I will show you a new way
and give you some stuff to put on, for I am afraid
it will be a little sore at first. We will do our best,
however, and you shall do it all yourself. I shall
make a first-rate doctor of you.-Come along, Alison."
Jack put his hand confidingly into the one she
held out, quite pleased at the prospect of what
promised to be a new game; but I stood resolutely
"I can do it all by myself, thank you," I said
stiffly. Then seeing that Evelyn made a movement
as if she would take my hand by force, I sprang
aside, and turning round ran at full speed towards
I did not slacken my pace till I was in my room,
safely locked inside so that no one could come in.
Now Cousin Evelyn's bedroom was between mine
and Jack's, but part of it was partitioned off on my
side, forming her little boudoir, so that only the bit
of her other room which held the head of her bed
was the wall of my bedroom. But it was easy to
hear through to Jack's, for all the walls in that part
of the house were thin, as if they had been built up
in a great hurry at the least possible expense.
Be that as it may, I heard the washing performance
and scraps of the conversation between my cousin
and brother-at least Jack's part of it-and I
guessed the other. It went somehow like this:-
Splash, splash. "It's no good, Cousin Evelyn"
-gurgle-" once she gets cross "-gurgle, gurgle.
"What?" Pause. "No; I shouldn't if I was you.
Eh ? Oh, were you ? No; I never learned grammar "
-splash, splash. She'd think you a tell-tale "-" I
say, is it coming off ? "-" My, it's like ink in the water.
Couldn't I use a nail-brush ? "-gurgles and splash-
ings. "It is, rather. Ah, that is nice, cool stuff!
No; it's no good, I'm sure, when she is in a temper.
Don't go; what's the good? "-" Oh, goody, what a
fright! why, it's all patchy." Here I imagined he
must have seen himself in the glass. "Mayn't I
wash any more ?"-" All right. But I can't take
you to church again, can I, with my face like this ?"
Then she had not got it all off, in spite of her
cleverness, I. thought. Well, I would show them I
was not quite such a duffer; so I poured out some
cold water, and was just setting to work when
Evelyn's voice at the door said,-
Do let me in, Alison; I have some hot water for
you, and the stuff I have put upon Jack's face. He
is not clean yet, but ever so much better."
I made no answer, but plunged my face into the
cool, refreshing water, purposely making a great
noise so that she should imagine I did not hear.
And though she knocked again and again, coaxing,
asking, and telling me to let her in, I took no notice
of her whatever.
At last I heard her say in a tired kind of tone,-
"Very well, Alison. I shall not ask you again;
but I have left the can of hot water outside here,
and the bottle on it. So I will go away, and perhaps
you will have the sense to use them."
This also I did not respond to, leaving the can and
the bottle on the mat, continuing my attempts to get
clean without them.
First, I used a great deal of soap; but this only
seemed to take a top layer off, for we had given our
complexions three coatings, to get it dark and shiny
enough. I scrubbed for a very long time with a
flannel; after which I took a careful survey in the
glass, to find there was still much to be done. I took
my nail-brush, using it first softly, and then, as I
grew impatient, harder and harder, till my face began
to feel very sore. I consulted the mirror again.
Where I was clean I was bright scarlet; but every
little wrinkle was full of the stuff, as well as great
patches of it round my nose, eyes, and mouth. It
looked a hopeless job; yet, cost me what it might,
I was determined to outdo my cousin and Jack.
Standing before the glass, I now took pumice stone,
and rubbed and scrubbed with it till I could bear the
pain no longer. The smarting was terrible, and I
was horrified at my appearance; for not only was I
now scarlet, but I had taken off great pieces of skin
every here and there, and I was all over sores and
It just felt as if my face were on fire. This was
a reward for obstinacy; but I cannot honestly say I
was sorry I had denied Cousin Evelyn admittance.
I sat down in despair. Go downstairs to be laughed
at I could not; if any one had laughed at me when
I was in such pain, I do not know what I should
have done. Great tears welled up in my eyes and
began trickling down my cheeks; but this was un-
bearable, for their saltness added to the stinging pain.
So with all my might I tried to check them. I
began to wonder how much longer I could bear this
suffering, when I heard Jack running along the
passage towards my room. Then a loud thumping
came. I did not move or speak during the pause
"Alison!" he shouted-" Alison, I say."
"Alison, don't be a silly! you've got to come
down and have some tea."
"Alison he cried impatiently, "mother says you
are to come down at once, and never mind about
It was not an easy matter not to "mind about my
face." But this command must, of course, be obeyed,
since it came from mother. Still I said nothing.
"Alison," Jack went on, "let me in; I want to tell
I tried to sit still, but in vain. Jack knew that
curiosity was one of my failings, and he very often
took advantage of it. Slowly I got up, unlocked
the door, and then I rushed over to the window,
where I stood pretending to look out.
Jack came in.
"Well ?" I demanded, with my back towards him.
How is your face ? he asked.
You didn't come in to say that ?" I asked crossly.
"Yes,, I did," Jack asserted.
Then you told a story !" I exclaimed. "That isn't
telling me anything; it's me telling you."
"Oh, well," he said, "my face is much better, so
that is telling you something."
"You could have said that outside," I said; "and
I don't care if it is, so there!"
My heart was very sore-full of the wounded
feelings I had been brooding over, and of the shame
I would not own to-or I never should have spoken
so to my Jack.
He came up to where I stood, and pushed himself
in front of me on to the broad window seat I leaned
against; then, with the full light upon my face, he
"Oh my," he cried, inelegantly, "you do look a
I could not but be aware of the fact, but it was
not pleasant to hear it said, especially as Jack could
well afford to speak; for though his face was red,
and all the black was not yet off it, it was nothing
to the sore, red, and raw condition mine was in.
"Why don't you put some of Cousin Evelyn's
stuff on ?" he asked.
Now I had forgotten it in my misery, or I daresay
when I was alone I might have used it; but at Jack's
suggestion-Jack whom I now began to suspect as
her ally-I would not do it.
"Because I don't want to," I replied shortly.
"Then you are a silly," Jack retorted, with reason.
I did not speak.
"What is the matter, Alison?" he asked impa-
Nothing," I said.
Yes, there is," he rejoined, in his direct way; you
are still grumping about our vow."
"Jack," I cried, coming to the point, since he had
given me a chance to do so, "she did order us about,
and you never stood by me. You said I would
forsake you; but I never would, and you did it
"I didn't," Jack said, with indignation; "but you
were naughty and rude."
She meddled," I said obstinately; "and you never
used to think me naughty and rude till she came"
(I had got beyond giving Evelyn so much as a name).
" She is coming between us, and setting you against
me. You let her do just what she likes, wash your
face and all."
"She didn't wash my face," Jack replied; "she let
me do it all myself "-this was added with much
dignity. "And I didn't want the nasty stuff on my
face for ever, it prickled so. It was sensible to take
The last words I felt sure were quoted from
Cousin Evelyn, and I resented the idea, for she must
have been comparing my conduct with his to let fall
such a remark. But I could say no more, for in the
open doorway stood mother waiting for me.
My darling !" she exclaimed, as she saw my plight;
"how sore your poor face is! Come with me, and I
will put some cold cream on it."
Obediently I went with her, thankful even to
think of anything likely to relieve the awful burning,
and also glad not to have to use Cousin Evelyn's
lotion after all. Then to my joy, when we got
downstairs I discovered that one of the girls had
been down from the Grange and fetched her for tea,
and to go to church with them.
We had a very quiet evening, such as we had often
spent before with mother when she was fairly well-
Jack amusing himself by wandering round the
drawing-room to examine the many curiosities it
contained, asking their histories as he went, and I
sitting with a book of photographs. But to-night it
was all I could do to sit still, my face was stinging
so. And presently we went to bed-Jack full of
expectancy for what to-morrow would bring in the
way of tennis or golf, and I sick at heart and over-
tired with the scalding pain I was suffering.
I moaned myself into a restless sleep, in which I
knew all about my misery as clearly as when I was
awake. Then gradually a delicious coolness seemed
to steal over my face, and I thought I was in a shady
palace with a little black boy, very like Jack, who
stood before me waving a fan. In the far distance
I could hear some hundreds of bees, all busy at their
hive, keeping up a continual buzzing sound; and it is
curious, but it did not seem very odd to me, that they
should be humming a tune, "Now the day is over,"
all the time without a fault. I thought I must be a
princess, so that I just lay and enjoyed every breath
of the cool, scented air, and I knew that I should
have no more pain as long as the little boy went on
fanning me. I longed to beg him not to stop, but I
could not think what language he would speak; so I
had to give up the idea, and just lie very still and
* Sure enough, when I awoke next morning, though
it was anything but well, my face was wonderfully
better. I was delighted, and it was not till I was
nearly dressed that I discovered on a table near my
bed a bottle, a saucer containing some watery-looking
stuff, and a handkerchief, which had evidently been
used to apply the lotion. Some one had come into
my room after I had fallen into that troubled sleep,
and had put this stuff on my burning skin. That
accounted for the dream of coolness and comfort, and
the sound slumber I had afterwards dropped into. I
suspected who it was at once, but with a hope that
I was wrong I examined the handkerchief. Yes,
there were the initials I had expected to find-E. D.-
clearly embroidered in the corner. So it was, as I
had thought, Cousin Evelyn.
But even when I knew that, I could not have
pictured what really took place there in the silence
of the night: how a patient figure had bent over me
hour after hour, bathing my face with a gentle, un-
tiring hand, till my piteous moaning ceased, and I
was soothed off into a dreamless sleep. Then on
and off she had slipped into my room to change the
cool, damp rags she laid upon my face to keep down
the inflammation, ungrudgingly denying herself her
proper rest for the sake of an ungrateful child. It
was not till long afterwards, when I had learned my
bitter lesson, that I knew of this. I very much doubt
whether it would have made much difference in my
conduct had I known it sooner, for I was in such a
naughty frame of mind that the bare idea of her
having done as much as I could guess for me angered
and distressed me. After all I had been forced to
take her help against my will; to myself I called it
"sneaking and "mean" to come into my room as I
slept, when she knew I would not have let her in had
I been awake. I resented it all the more that when
I first awoke I had prided myself on being in the
right after all. "Of course," I thought, "it was
bound to hurt at first, but it will get well without
her interference." And after all it was just "her
interference" that was curing it.
WAS JACK DESERTING ME ?
Not to be first-how hard to learn
That life-long lesson of the past "
M ONDAY, to any one who has housekeeping to
attend to, is a busy morning.
In addition to this, Cousin Evelyn had to finish
her unpacking and arrange her rooms, so that she
had no time to spend with us.
When we met for prayers she asked me how my
face was. I replied, as ungraciously as I could, that
it was a little better; and I did not thank her for
her kindness, but behaved just as if I knew nothing
Prayers was a new institution. Of course there
had been no one to read them for us before. I am
afraid I thought them rather a bother, probably be-
cause it was Cousin Evelyn's arrangement, and one of
the first signs of the law and order I felt she meant
to establish in our hitherto desultory home life.
Jack was quite satisfied.
"It's what every gentleman's house should have,"
WAS JACK DESERTING ME ?
he remarked solemnly; but I knew he was quoting
Mrs. Bain, who said exactly these words when the
announcement was made to her.
Mrs. Bain was what we called "religious," which
meant that she wore black silk on Sunday, and
carried her Bible to church wrapped up in a hand-
kerchief. It was one of our weekly amusements to
watch her progress up the church, holding her pile
of books before her in both hands exactly as if she
were bringing in a pudding.
At breakfast Jack kept up such a string of ques-
tions as to tennis and golf that it was difficult to get
in a word about anything else. I was therefore very
much left to my own thoughts, except for an attempt
now and then on Evelyn's part to draw me into the
Jack was so fearfully disappointed that Evelyn
would not have time to go up to the Grange about
the things before lunch, that she offered to give him
a note to take to Maggie, in which she would ask her
to look out the net and rackets and send them down
by one of the gardeners. He did not seem to like
this proposal very much, however, greatly as he longed
for his game; we had a wholesome awe of the Grange
and its inhabitants.
"All by myself ?" he asked doubtfully.
"Why, yes, dear," Evelyn said. They will be
delighted to see you if you go up there at about
eleven o'clock, I know."
94 WAS JACK DESERTING ME ?
But my face ?" he said inquiringly, for it still bore
traces of the blacking in many a wrinkle and corner.
Oh, they will take no notice of that," Evelyn re-
plied, at once realizing that he dreaded the remarks
that might be made. "I told them about your game
yesterday, and they were all very sorry the blacking
was so hard to get off."
"Aunt Margaret and all ?" asked Jack, not yet
"Aunt Margaret and all," our cousin said, smiling.
So it was decided that at eleven o'clock Jack should
He was very busy at the grotto till then, preparing
a nice place for the Scotch ferns when they should
arrive; but he was in one of his moods for wanting to
do all the work himself, so that, even had I wished
it, I should not have been allowed to help him. I
hovered around, watching the performance without
comment, he chattering all the time about the won-
derful things he meant to do when he knew how to
play every game that was ever invented. But pre-
sently the stable clock struck eleven, and he stopped
abruptly in his work, stood up, and said,-
"Are you coming, Alison ?"
I think his heart was failing him a little at the
thought of going up to the Grange alone, and that he
really wanted me to go with him then. But I re-
"No; I'm tired."
WAS JACK DESERTING ME?
"Tired !" exclaimed Jack, with much scorn; "why,
it isn't bed-time. You're afraid."
This was too painfully true to be pleasant. My
face was much worse than his, for it was so sore, in
addition to which I could not but imagine that in
telling the story of yesterday's game Evelyn must
have said how very naughty I had been; if that were
the case, I did not feel as if I should get a very warm
welcome from her mother and sisters.
"I'm not afraid," I said, however, in a cross tone.
"I am tired, and I've got a headache."
Oh well, you needn't come," Jack said loftily, as
he walked off and left me; I don't want you."
As soon as I was alone I began to wish I had not
been such a coward; but even then I could not over-
come the feeling, and I was too proud to run after
him, remembering his speech, even if I had found
courage to face the people at the Grange.
The garden seemed such a great, big, dull place
when he was gone. I had never found it so before; it
was to my mind always the loveliest, most interesting
spot in the world. But now without Jack it might
have been a dreary desert for all the pleasure I could
take in it. It is strange that one little creature, a
mere scrap of a lad in sailor suits, should have made
all that difference, but so it was. I believe I should
have been content anywhere with Jack, undergone
any hardships cheerfully, borne any treatment, so
long as I had him with me to share it all. Such
96 WAS JACK DESERTING ME ?
were my feelings for my impulsive little brother as I
now know them to have been. But what puzzled me
then is a riddle to me no longer, and that was why
it was that Jack did not feel the same for me. I
could not think how it was he could enjoy himself or
be happy doing anything without me, since I could
not bear to be even a few minutes away from him.
I thought then that he did not love me, but I was
wrong; he was very fond of me in his own way, a
boy's way, which is a very different thing from a girl's.
I loved him passionately, above every one else in the
world, even counting mother; he was first in my
thoughts, and nothing would satisfy me but to be
first in his. I never realized until Cousin Evelyn
came that I was not, and even then I could not
understand that mother, and she, and I, and every
one who was ever good and kind to Jack, found a
place in his warm little heart, all fitting into their
proper places without his troubling his head as to
how much or how little he liked them. The French
have a saying about two great friends that there are
"always one who loves and one who lets himself be
loved." Jack was one of the people who, as a rule,
let himself be loved, with perhaps the feeling that
they ought to be rather grateful to him than other-
wise that he permitted it.
I went away up to my room, as the playroom even
seemed bare and empty. Sitting on the edge of my
bed-a thing which Betty strictly forbade, as she said
WAS JACK DESERTING ME ?
it messed up the counterpane "-I thought over what
I considered "mny wrongs."
"It is all Cousin Evelyn," I said, speaking out
loud, as I had a habit of doing when alone; "she is
setting Jack against me."
And this was really becoming my firm belief. I
put the sudden change in my brother down to her,
not knowing that her part in it was but small; she
had only roused in him what had always existed-
his real, boyish nature. When I said that day that
nothing would ever be the same, I made a true pro-
phecy without knowing it;. for it was an era in Jack's
life-the beginning of the turning-point from a
babyish child to a manly boy. So far we had been
very much on a level. He was very backward, I
was a tomboy of a girl, and he, having no boy friends,
was quite content to play, as we had both done ever
since we were tiny, toddling mites, games of pretence
and impossible adventure. We did not know what
other children did; we wanted nothing more. But a
few words spoken by our gentle cousin acted like
magic, awoke that sleeping something in my little
brother, and I was all of a sudden conscious of a
division between us. She had simply said,-
"I will teach you the games other boys play, for
when you go among them you will feel dreadfully
out of it."
And now he wanted to be as "other boys" are, to
do what "other boys" do, and enter that life into
98 WAS JACK DESERTING ME?
which a girl cannot follow; so our baby, hand-in-
hand dreamland was at an end.
I tell you all this because you might think, as I
did, that Jack was very unkind to me; and even
though it is so many years ago, I cannot bear any
one to think slightingly of him: bitter as my own
thoughts about it all were, I would not have allowed
any one else to say one word against my Jack. I
even put the blame on some one else, and said,-
It is all Cousin Evelyn's fault."
How it happened I do not know; I suppose I leaned
back on the pillows to think, and must gradually
have slipped into a comfortable lying position. Any-
how I fell asleep, and never awoke till long after
lunch-time, when I found Evelyn by my bed with
a tray in her hand. Indeed, I thought I must be
dreaming, till she spoke.
"You have had a nice, sound sleep, young lady,"
she said, with a smile. I have been up several times,
and Jack and I had lunch more than an hour ago. So
now I have gone back to my duties as nurse, and
have brought you some nice, strong beef-tea. You
may like to go to sleep again after it."
I sat up rubbing my eyes, and allowed her to prop
up my pillows and set the tray on my knees.
"Where is Jack?" was my first question.
"In the garden," was the reply. "He is going to
have his first lesson in tennis now; unless you would
like me to come and read to you ?"
WAS JACK DESERTING ME?
No," I said: I don't like being read to when I've
got a headache; I want to go to sleep."
Cousin Evelyn went away, and I thought I had
offended her. But in a few minutes she was back
with some smelling-salts, which she said would do my
head good; and when I had finished my beef-tea and
would have nothing more, she pulled down the blind
and quietly left the room.
The door was scarcely closed behind her before I
felt sure that lying down was the very worst thing
for my headache. I promptly sat up, pushed off the
shawl she had so thoughtfully put over me, and de-
cided that I would get up. Jack's merry little voice
in the garden attracted me to the window to see what
they were doing, for I 'could see from my room what
was now to be called the tennis-lawn. I drew aside
the blind and peeped out. Evelyn joined Jack in
another moment, and they were soon marking out the
court with whiting--Evelyn doing the real work;
Jack, excited and happy all the time, very busy doing
nothing, but feeling most useful.
A lump rose in my throat as I watched.
"He doesn't want me one bit," I muttered-" he
doesn't even miss me; and she only made that fuss
over me and covered me up to keep me out of the
way, I know."
Presently they finished the marking; which had
been begun soon after lunch, and mother came out
and sat down under the trees to watch the first re-