v .vi, X
The Baldwin Library
NINE YEiARS OLD.
~c-t c, ~i'
Please', Cousin Alice, will you try to remember some nice stories.
By the Author of When I was a Little Girl,"
St, Olaves," etc.
"Come then, my child; let us wander through the world as
best we may."
ILLUSTRATED BY L. FROLIC.
ILonton antt J+ett Por ~
The Right of Translation and Reproduction is reserved.
gl bhear little frinbs,
HRdlie, (Elma, ans 6ahLj.
LITTLE POTATOES. .
. 0 0 0 S a 0
0 0 0 0 a
THE ONLY PLUM .
e 0* 0 0 0 0 0 0 B
THE IMAGE MAN .
. S 0 0 0 .
S S 5 5 a
THE JELLY MOULD .
. 5 0 5 0 0 0
THE MARIONETTES . . . .
0 0 0 0 0 0 0
0 0 0 e 0
0 0 0 6 5
OUR LITTLE DOG. . .
0 0 0 .
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 *' 176
WHAT BECAME OF TRICKS . .
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
"PLEASE, COUSIN ALICE, WILL YOU TRY TO REMEMBER SOME
MORE STORIES ?" . . .Front.
WATSON DIGGING UP THE EARLY POTATOES .
"AT LAST TWELVE O'CLOCK CAME, AND THEN DIDN'T WE
SET TO WORK!"
. 0 0 .* 29
"WHILST WE WERE LOOKING AT THE IMAGES, HE TOLD US
WHO THEY ALL WERE "
0. . 60
"AUNT MARY MADE A CUP OF COFFEE FOR HIM "
"MONTEM TAUGHT HIM TO HOLD A LUMP OF SUGAR IN HIS
0. .0 0 0 . . 149
" OH, HOW VEXED POOR SKINNY DID LOOK !"
"WE ATE AS MANY AS EVER WE WANTED, AND THEN
BEGAN TO FILL OUR LITTLE PAILS
0 0 190
~ r n p
NINE YEARS OLD.
" PLEASE, Cousin Alice, will you try to remember
some more stories about the time when you were a
This is what the children said to me one winter
afternoon, as I sat in my easy chair beside the par-
lour fire, before the lamps were lighted. The room
was half dark, so that I could neither read, nor knit,
nor sew, nor write; I could only lean back and be
quiet: and when the children find me in that way,
they think they have a right to climb on my knee
and ask me for stories. They forget how much
thinking I have to do, as I sit in the warm fire
twilight with my eyes shut and my hands folded.
I could not refuse them, though; they asked so
nicely. I wonder if little girls know how many more
2 NINE YEARS OLD. [CHAP.
So one perched
herself on the
arm of my
chair, and another squeezed in
third brought a stool and sat in
said, if they would be
still for a while I would
to remember something else, but I
whether anything would come, be
is such a long time
was not quite sure
cause you know it
gave over being a
A great deal did come, though, when once I began
First of all I remembered that I had never
anything about the things which
happened in the summer when I was nine years old.
Somehow or other they seemed to
of sight, and yet I am sure a great
happen then, which were very important.
back to that old summer, so long,
So I went
picked up all the stories which
before; and as I
picked them up
I kept finding
others and others, until I had remembered enough to
make into a book, as large
that which I made for you last year, and which some
of you said you liked very much.
You know, I did
not tell them all at once.
If I had,
I.] LITTLE POTA TOES. 3
would have been very sleepy and hungry too, long
before I came to the end; but I told them just one
every afternoon, before the nurse fetched them to
bed; and if the story was not finished when she
knocked at the door, I asked her to come in and wait
a little while. It is not nice to have to go to bed
when a story is half done; it is as bad as being
fetched away in the midst of hearing very pleasant
music, and I'm sure nobody likes that. But when
the story was done, I expected them to go off
directly, with a hop and a skip and a jump, like good
children: no black looks, nor whimpering faces, nor
anything of that sort, or else there was to be no story
Perhaps you will like to hear these stories too, as
they are about the same little girl you remember
before, and the same Papa and Mamma, and the same
Aunt Mary. Shall I tell you what they reminded
me of when they came back to me, as I sat still in
my easy chair with the children all round about
me,-these stories which had been forgotten for such
a long, long time ?
When I was a little girl-I must begin with the
old words again, they seem so pleasant and familiar
4 NINE YEARS OLD. [CHAP.
-when I was a little girl, one
ments, in early summer-time,
of my greatest amuse-
used to be to watch
our gardener, Watson, dig up the early potatoes
rheumatism was so
bad that he could scarcely 'stoop at all, I picked
he dug them up.
for him, and put them in the basket
I was not so particular about
hands then as I am now, and it was fine fun to poke
about in the warm dry earth, or run up and down
the trenches and try how many I could jump over at
When Watson had filled his basket he hobbled
back to the kitchen with it, and then the best part of
began, for I used to get my wooden spade
and dig over the places that Watson
had left., and
turn up lots of pretty little yellow potatoes about as
as marbles, which
had kept themselves quietly
out of sight
whilst he was at work.
like to have a little more time
to grow, or perhaps they knew that if they let Watson
put them into
his basket amongst the big ones, our
fat cook would have made a face at them and thrown
them on one side; and little potatoes don't like being
thrown on one side, any more than little people, to
make room for others bigger than themselves.
T T r / -I- r T/-% 7Vfy e -%rt
.] L11 LL U LF Ai UAJES. 5
I didn't behave to them in that way, though;
nothing of the sort; and most likely that was why
they let me find them so easily. I used to gather
them together in my pinafore, and wash them myself
in a pail which Aunt Mary had brought me all the
way from Switzerland, and tie them up in a pretty
little net, and then, if there happened to be a fire in
the nursery as late as June or July, my nursemaid,
Skinny, would let me boil them there in a tiny tin
pan of my own, and whilst they boiled I kept looking
at them and sticking pins into them to see if they
were soft, and now and then I took one out to taste.
It was so good, a great deal better, I should think,
than any of the grown-up potatoes which Papa and
Mamma had in the dining-room.
Well, these stories are very much like the little
potatoes. They kept themselves out of sight whilst
I was making the other book. They wanted more
time to grow; or perhaps they thought if they allowed
themselves to be put into the basket then, people
would only laugh at them or throw them on one side.
So they stayed there under the earth all the time.
However, I have dug them up now, and gathered
them together, and put them into a net for you. I
NINE YEARS OLD.
have prepared them very carefully and
look as pretty as I could; and if you only like them
well as I
potatoes which I used to dig out of the trenches when
Watson had cleared the
n zn p ~ ~ M
ones away, I
shall be quite, quite content.
I TOLD you in my other book of st-ries about old
Mrs. Walters, Lucy's grandmamma, who used to be
so kind to me when I went there to tea on Wednes-
day afternoons, or when I ran across in a morning
with messages from Mamma. I dare say you re-
member about the red and white counters which were
given us for remembering our Bible questions, and
the Indian cabinet full of curious foreign things
which we were allowed to open after we had an-
swered ten questions quite correctly. And perhaps
you remember too about the sugar biscuits which
Mrs. Walters used to give me before I went away.
[ cannot help telling you just once more how very,
very good those sugar biscuits tasted, and how glad
I used to be when dear old Mrs. Walters said, Stay
one. minute," and felt in her pocket for the keys,
and reached out for the tall silver-headed stick which
8 NINE YEARS OLD. [CHIAP.
always was set up against her chair, and then walked
very slowly to the cupboard on one side the fire-
place, and took out the two little biscuits, and put
them on a, white china plate, and gave them to me.
But though I told you a great deal about Lucy's
grandmamma, Mrs. Walters, I never told you any-
thing .about my own grandmamma, Mrs. Gower.
Grandmamma Gower, as I always called her, to dis-
tinguish her from another grandmamma that I had,
called Grandmamma Mayo, was Papa's mamma.
How funny it did seem to me that my tall, quiet,
grown-up Papa should ever have been a little boy,
and should have wanted a mamma to take care of
him and see that his harfds and face were washed
and his hair brushed, just as my Mamma took care
of me now: I don't think I could have believed it
if he had not told me so himself; but as he never told
me anything which was not true, of course it must
have been quite right. Grandmamma Gower had
had one other little boy, but he was grown up too,
and we called him Uncle Edward. He was an officer
in some regiment which was always moving about,
so that I very seldom saw him; but when he did come
home we had fine fun, for he used to take me to see
II.] GRAND MAMMA GOWER. 9
such lots of things. He was to come home this year
in August, and go with me to the Abbotsbury ribbon
fair. I shall tell you about that fair by and by, and
the marionettes. There were two fairs every year at
Abbotsbury-the place where my home was-one at
Easter, which I didn't care for a bit, because only
horses and cows and cheese came to it, and another in
August, called the ribbon fair, when there were wild-
beast shows and waxworks, and merry-go-rounds, and
swing-boats, and stalls full of dolls and toys and
gingerbread and good-stuff. That fair was held in
the market-place, and the market-place was very
near to the High Street, where Grandmamma Gower
lived. We used to sit in the big bow-window of her
upper room and see the shows, and hear the bands of
music, and watch the little boys and girls coming
home from the fair with their rattles and penny
trumpets and painted drums; and sometimes, when
the music gave over playing, we could hear the lions
and tigers roaring, or the monkeys screaming.
Lucy's grandmamma and my grandmamma were
as different as could be. Mrs. Walters was grave and
gentle and quiet, and so very beautiful; I used to
sit on my little stool by her side and look up into
IO NINE YEARS OLD. [CHAP.
her dear face,
that the angels in heaven
be just like her.
Bennet, the nursemaid
thinking so, and she said
there would be no old
sure she was
for everybody would
Walters would look
each side of her, and a yellow
when I see Mrs.
up in heaven she will look
just the same as she used
to be here-I know she will-and she will have the
same dear quiet face which always made me feel
if I had been saying
to see her at all if she was going
to be different.
Only, you know, she was so very grave and
never dare climb on her knee,
or pull her face
to kiss it, or anything of that sort; and as for making
or playing tricks with her, I don't believe
in the world would ever
have thought of doing anything so wicked.
have been as bad
as laughing out loud
when the people were kneeling,
and the low, sweet,
chanted music was floating about all round you.
I I. J GRANDMAIMMA GO WER. I
Grandmamma Gower was quite different. She
liked me to play tricks with her, and she didn't
mind playing them herself, either. She was the
brightest, merriest, funniest old lady you ever saw.
And so little too, not more than three-quarters as
big as Mamma or Aunt Mary. She had very bright
blue eyes, and she wore three little grey curls on
each side of her face, and they shook about like
silvery wings whenever she laughed or turned her
head; and although she was nearly seventy years
old, she could run about the room as fast as I could,
and her voice was like a bell, so bright and merry
and musical. She didn't make me feel like saying
my prayers a bit. Indeed, sometimes when I was
saying them at Aunt Mary's knee, I used to think
about some funny little trick which Grandmamma
Gower had been playing me, and it made me burst
out laughing, and I had to begin my prayers all
over again from the beginning. I always had to begin
them over again from the beginning if .I laughed in
She came to see me very often, because the High
Street was not very far from our old house, and you
know she had no little boys and girls to keep her at
12 NINE YEARS OLD. [CHAP.
If it was in the summer-time, when the doors
were open, I could hear her merry laughing voice as
soon as ever she came in, even when I was playing in
the nursery with my little sister Callie.
"how are you
to-day, and how is
I couldn't think at first who dear old Fritz
but I found out by and by
It seems Fritz was his name
when he was a little
boy, but I didn't know that for a long time,
never called him
anything but Papa, and the visitors
who came to the house called him
course he must have had a name of
like every one else.
his own, though,
And then she used to say, "And
the time she had
got that said, down I came as fast as my shoes and
socks would carry me, for I had heard her voice and
her laugh, and I couldn't keep away any longer.
fun it was to climb on her knee, and pull
little grey curls, and kiss her all over her
was never vexed at all.
weather, she always wore a large muff,
--- ----7 ~-- ~ "v"'''6
in the cold
almost as big
I never see ladies with such large muffs
".] GRANDMAXMMA GOWER. 3
now. It would hold no end of things, besides her
two little hands, which must have been almost lost
in it. Sometimes, when she had been talking to
Mamma for a long time, and I began to think she
was quite forgetting me, she would feel in this
great muff, and say, as if she was very much
"Dear me dear me whatever has somebody put
into my muff ? Alice, come and see if you can find
out what it is."
When I put my hands in and felt, it was a great
piece of sugar-candy, wrapped in paper, or a packet
of the almond toffee that I liked so much, and
Grandmamma would say she was sure she didn't
want sugar-candy or almond toffee, and I might have
it for myself, if I liked. Of course I did like. Then,
again, sometimes she would say-
"I'm sure somebody has put something into my
pocket. I can feel it bumping about. Is there a
little girl anywhere that can take it out? because
both my hands are fast in my muff."
Of course my fingers were in Grandmamma's pocket
very soon after that, and the something" was sure
to be a big round rosy apple, or ever such a beautiful
14 NINE YEARS OLD. [CHAP.
orange, or a paper full of almonds and raisins.
after she had gone away, particularly if
sitting on her knee for a long time, I used
to find a
corner of my
or three lozenges stuck inside;
into a knot,
Skinny unfastened my sash at night,
paper of c<
into the bow.
there was a
when I was a little girl.
you have a grand-
mamma who is as full of tricks, too.
She lived, as I told you before,
in the High
in a very old-
There was a
behind it, reaching down to the river.
off the gravel
water, if very tall
to keep you from
had not been put up
anything so foolish.
to the house, at the back, were three old elm-trees,
and in these trees were three nests, to which three
of rooks used to come every spring
eggs, and bring up three separate families
0 3S ~~\VL LNn~r3VL V 3~ ~I \~IC 1 13~
One of these nests was so near
to the window of Grandmamma Gower's lumber attic,
that I could look
into it and see the young
birds tumbling about over each other, and stretching
GRA NDAMI4MAIA GO WEER.
out their long necks to reach the caterpillars and
things which their papa and mamma brought for
them. A bright idea came into my head whilst I
was watching them one day. I thought I would
feed them myself, and save the gr
trouble of flying so many times to ai
where they found the grubs and g
breakfast, dinner, and tea. So
mamma's servant for a little bit
little bit of meat, and I fastened t
end of Uncle Edward's fishing-line,
Id from the
:rains of co
and let it
very carefully into the nest. The old birds looked
very black at me at first. Perhaps they thought I
was fishing for their little boys and girls; but when
they found that I did not want to do any harm, they
used to sit quietly enough on the branches whilst I
let my line down into the nest; and sometimes,
when they saw that their young rooks had had
enough, they would fly down and help themselves.
I asked Grandmamma if I might come and feed them
every morning, and she said yes; so, for a whole
fortnight, I boarded my four little people for nothing,
and never missed a single morning. By the end of
that time they were big enough to scramble out and
_ 111~--1-_1_--___ __
16 NINE YEARS OLD. [CHAP.
sit on the edge of the nest; and oh what a cawing
they did set up, to be sure, when they saw the
fishing-line coming down with the food at the end
of it! They were almost as greedy as some real
little boys and girls that I have known.
But one day-how sorry I am to make such a sad
end to the rook story !-one day, when I went skip-
ping into Grandmamma's parlour for the fishing-rod,
which was always kept in a corner behind the side-
board, I saw that something very terrible was the
matter. Grandmamma's curls did not frisk about as
usual, and she scarcely smiled at all when I climbed
on her knee to give her my morning kiss. There
had been a great storm of wind in the night, and I
daresay you can guess what had happened. The nest
nearest the lumber attic window had been blown
down, and all the four little nigger-birds-my dear
little nigger-birds that for a whole fortnight I had fed
and watched and taken such care of-lay cold and
dead upon the gravel walk, under the elm-tree. Not
one of them was left; and there lay the nest too, all
broken and spoilt. The poor old papa and mamma
were .flying round and round the tree and making the
most dismal noises, but they could not bring their
II.] GRANDMAMM/'A GOWER. 17
little children back to life again; they had nobody
to love and care for now but each other.
I cried very much, and I picked the little birds up
and kissed them, and put them all in an empty toy-
box, and dug a grave for them at the bottom of the
garden, close to the river; and there I buried them
and set up the lid of the box for a gravestone, with
the names which I had given to the poor little rooks
printed upon it.
Grandmamma was very sorry for me; I think she
almost cried herself, for she was so tender-hearted.
She tried to comfort me when I went to her after
having buried my pets, and she said I ought to be
very thankful that my papa and mamma did not live
in a nest of that sort, or Callie and I might have been
tumbled out some stormy night just as tfhe rooks Lad
been. And then she told me a story of two baby
children who lived with their mamma in a tiny
cottage, which was built like a nest, on the side
of a great mountain in Switzerland. And one night,
when they were all fast asleep in bed, an avalanche-
(that means an enormous mass of snow, almost as big
as a mountain itself)-broke loose, and came rolling
down from the top of the mountain, and smashed the
NINE YEARS OLD.
and the little
killed, and so was the mamma, because she had
like the old rooks, to fly away when her nest
And then Grandmamma said it
their nests too
if these poor rooks
little lower down, as the other two pairs
done, it would have been quite safe, for the wind had
not hurt the other nests at all.
And she said that
little boys and girls
their nests too
that means, they were stuck up
and then a great storm of temptation,
would never have hurt them if they had kept at the
bottom of the tree, came and blew them down, and
swept all their pride and conceit away, and left them
on the ground as helpless as the
I kept on
crying all the
I could not
over, though I am sure I tried very much.
Grandmamma sent me home; but she
ask Mamma to let me come to tea in
and. she would tell me something that would
me feel happier again.
I.] GRANDIMAMMA GOWER. 19
So at four o'clock I came to have my tea, and
Skinny was to call for me at six to take me home. I
expected Grandmamma would begin to tell me a story
directly, but instead of that she saidI I must go up-
stairs and amuse myself in the lumber attic until
tea-time, because she wanted to go to sleep.
I was very much disappointed, and a little bit
sulky. It was all very well to be sent into the
lumber attic when I invited myself to tea; but when
Grandmamma gave me a regular invitation, and I had
been properly dressed, and had gone through the
trouble of an extra bath in the nursery, and all the
disagreeableness of having my best frock put on, I
did think it was rather too bad to be packed off up-
stairs without even a piece of cake to comfort me.
And besides, Grandmamma might have known that
the lumber attic would be a very dismal place for me
this afternoon, because I should be reminded of the
poor little dead birds that I had fed so often from the
However, I dare not say anything, but I went quietly
upstairs and began to poke about in the drawers and
cupboards. Grandmamma always let me poke about
as much as ever I liked in the drawers and cupboards
20 NINE YEARS OLD. [CHAP.
of the lumber attic, and generally if I found anything
there that was useful to me, she said I might keep it.
Sometimes she played me tricks there, too. There
was one very deep drawer where she kept all the
bundles of patches,
and Grandmamma knew that I
always went to that drawer first to look for
make dolls' clothes of. Once,
about amongst the bundles,
" Alice" written on the outside.
when I was busy pawing
I found a parcel with
I opened it,
there was another parcel inside with Alice written
on it, too; and another inside that, and then another,
than my thumb.
Last of all,
I found a little box lined with blue
silk, and a silver
Another time I was scratching
about in the rag-baag which
and I found a bundle
with a paper
on, addressed to
When I opened
it, it was
print just big
enough to make dolls' aprons of, and a
one of the
it nice to have a grandmamma
played you tricks like that ?
to play me one
this time, so I went and looked
in the drawer, but
I.] GRANDMAMM/ A GOWER. 2
there was nothing there: and then I emptied out the
rag-bag, but there was nothing there either; and I
looked all over the room, but there was nothing at all
like a trick anywhere; and then I went to the win-
dow and watched the poor rooks flying round and
round. I felt so dreary; I did wish tea-time would
come. And it was rather cold, too, and my best
frock had short sleeves. At last I could bear it no
longer. I thought I would come downstairs very
quietly-very quietly indeed, and peep in at the
parlour door. If Grandmamma was awake, it would
be all right; if not, I would go into the front kitchen
and ask Simpson, the housemaid, to let me stay and
talk to her a little while. So I turned away from
the window, and I had got nearly as far as the door
on my way out, when I saw something that looked
like clean, new wood, sticking out under a great
fleecy hearth-rug, which was generally kept up there
in the fine-weather time. I lifted the rug a little
way to peep, and I found it was a long wooden box,
with my own name, Alice," printed in rather rough,
black letters outside. I tried to open it, but it was
quite fast; there didn't seem to be a lock and key
anywhere, and yet I was sure it must be for me,
NINE YEARS OLD.
because it had my name outside.
and Grandmamma asleep, too?
took off my shoes, and doubled
round me, for it was starched
What was I to do,
my frock tight
stiff, and I was
afraid it would make a noise as it scraped against the
bannisters, and then I crept down stairs as softly as
a mouse, and put my head
Grandmamma was sitting
the parlour door.
knitting, as wide awake as could be.
she had been to sleep at all, at all.
" Oh. Grandmamma !"
the room then, "what do you think ?"
funny at me from behind her spectacles.
know, I'm sure.
Have you been setting
the river on fire and burning all the little fishes ?"
No, Grandmamma," I said ;" I'm sure I wouldn't
do such a naughty thing as that.
think I have found ?"
"I think you
found your way down
Grandmamma was teasing me, wasn't she ?
I jumped on her knee and pulled her spectacles
II.] GRANDMAMMA GOWER. 23
off, and stuffed her knitting out of the way some-
where, and then I told her I had found a box in the
lumber attic, with my name on it, and I had tried to
open it, but I could not; and I asked her if Simpson
might go upstairs with me and help me to bring it
Grandmamma said she might, but she didn't say
that she knew what there was in the box, and I
was very much puzzled indeed. Simpson helped
me down with it; it was very much heavier at one
end than the other. What could there be in it, I
We set it down just in front of Grandmamma's
arm-chair. Then she told Simpson to fetch a hammer
and chisel and take the lid off. When the lid was
off, I saw a little ticket with this written on it:-
"To Alice, with Grandmamma's love."
But I could not see what was in the box, for the
top was covered over with white paper shavings. I
jumped on her knee and kissed her ever so many
times, though I did not know yet what I was kissing
her for. Then I was going to pull the shavings out,
but Grandmamma said, No, I must not do that; I must
24 NVIE YEARS OLD. [CHAP.
fetch a newspaper first, and spread it on the floor to
put the shavings in, or we should have such a litter.
So I fetched a paper and spread it out very nice and
straight by the side of the box, and then I cleared
out the shavings into it, and what do you think I
found under them ?
I know what you will guess: a doll. Because,
sometimes, when you open a long box with paper
shavings padded in at the top, you do find a doll
under them. No; it was not a doll. It was some-
thing a great deal better than a doll; better at least
for me, because I had already as large a family of
dolls as I could feed and take care of, to say nothing
of clothing them respectably upon twopence a week.
The first thing I saw, then, when the shavings were
taken out, was a washing tub-a real little washing
tub that would hold water without letting it run
through at all; just exactly like what our servant
washed the clothes in, only a great deal smaller. It
was big enough to hold all my dolls' clothes though,
and there was a little shelf in one corner to put the
soap on, so that it might not be wasted, you know,
with lying about in the water. Wasn't that delight-
ful ? It was the very thing I had been wanting ever
In.] GRANDMAMMA GOWER. 25
so long, for I had had to wash all my children's
things in' a basin in the nursery, the same basin
that I washed my hands in, and it didn't seem
real at all. Now I should do them like quite a
I set the dear little wash-tub down on the floor
and danced round it, and then I got hold of both
Grandmamma's hands and tried to make her dance
too, but she said she was rather too old, I must do
the dancing by myself. She told me, though, that
I hadn't emptied the box yet, by a long way; and
indeed I had not, though I am sure the tub was
happiness enough for one afternoon. What do you
think I found when I had taken out some more
shavings and laid them on the newspaper ? I found
a holland apron to tie all round my frock, with a bib
in front, and my name worked in scarlet wool in one
corner. And then,-oh, joy! joy! joy !-I found six
little pats of real soap, and a little jar of starch,
and then a blue-bag-not a lawyer's blue-bag, if you
please, stuffed full of stupid old papers and things-
but a washerwoman's blue-bag, which is ever so much
nicer-a dear, pretty little flannel bag, with a bit of
powder blue tied up in it, to make the clothes a proper
26 NINE YEARS OLD. [CHAP.
colour; and then a bowl of brown glazed earthen-
ware, to mix the starch in. Oh! how I jumped and
danced again when I saw that. And then three yards
of clothes' line, and a holland pocket full of the most
delightful little wooden pegs to fasten the clothes on
with; and then-" Why," I think I hear you say,
"what else could there be?" Didn't I tell you one
end was a great deal heavier than the other ? There
were three little irons at one end, and a stand for
them; and then, quite at the bottom of the box,
folded up very smooth and straight, was an ironing
blanket with a sheet inside it, and three tiny iron
holders made of pink flannel.
Oh! how I wish it could make you as happy to
hear about the things as it made me to take them
out, one by one, and look at them. How I did dance,
and jump, and sing, and laugh, and clap my hands,
as I emptied that box! I was reminded of it not
long ago, in London, when I went to the opera to see
Faust. I don't suppose you know anything about, it
yet, but it is very pretty indeed. In one part of it
a German peasant maiden, about as grown-up as my
nurse Skinny, comes upon the stage. Her name is
Marguerite, and she is very neatly dressed, but you
II. J (KAZVJIVAVlYIA GO CVIWA. 2 7
can see that she is rather poor, and can't afford to
buy pretty things for herself. Well, she finds a box
which some one who loves her very much has sent
her for a present; and when she opens it, there, are
such beautiful, beautiful ornaments inside. And
Marguerite kneels down in front of it, just as I
knelt down in front of my box, and she takes out
first a necklace and puts it on, and then some ear-
rings, and then a bracelet, and then ever so many
more pretty things, and as she holds them up and
sees them sparkle, she laughs and sings and dances,
and springs about, and claps her hands, and seems
almost as happy as I was when I opened Grand-
mamma's box. Not quite-because, you know, ear-
rings and necklaces and all those sorts of things,
although very nice in their way, are not half nor a
quarter so good as a real washing tub that will hold
water without letting it run through, and six little
pats of soap, and a blue-bag, and an apron, and a
starch bowl, and an ironing blanket, and three irons
with holders for them. Why, Marguerite could only
put her jewels on, and walk about in them, and hope
that somebody else was looking at her; but I could
stand in front of my tub and have a real, grown-up
/" 73 ,f71 TTN 7 X fM I. 711* 4z-1 % r r 7 7-
28 7NE YEARS OLD. [CHAP.
wash every day of my
like our great
fat cook in the back kitchen;
and wasn't that grand ?
I should rather think it was.
Simpson brought the tea in, when I had got all my
spread out on the floor, but I was so happy I
did not want any tea.
single little bit
I could only just eat one
butter, with some of
marmalade on the top of
kept looking at my box all the time, and wishing
to-morrow morning would come, so that I might
to have a
At six o'clock
took both me and the
box safely home.
Indeed, I could not have gone by myself, for
so delighted that I forgot where any of the streets led
I had only just time to show Mamma and Aunt
Mary the tub and the rest of the things, before I was
to go to bed; but you may be sure I woke
early enough next morning and asked
Skinny to be
very quick and dress me; and then, before I had had
and milk, or anything
but prayers and
Mamma, I ran across the
through the hole in the hedge to Lucy Walters,
lived next door, you remember, and told her
glorious news about
the tub, and that she was to
" A. ^
At last twelve o'clock came, and didn't we set to work
-W~ -, r
IT.] GRANDMA MMMAGOWER. 29
collect all the dolls' things, and we would have a
regular washing day.
There were the morning lessons, to be sure. Tire-
some old morning lessons! But Aunt Mary, who
always made the best of everything, made the best
of them, too; for she said that real people, when.they
had a wash, were obliged to put their things in to
steep the night before, and she said we might have a
quarter of an hour's grace to put ours in to steep too,
and then we could pretend that lesson time was
night, and when twelve o'clock came it should be
morning, and we would set to work. So Lucy and I
filled the tub with water, and then soaped our little
frocks and aprons and petticoats and put them in,
and came to lessons until twelve o'clock. I couldn't
help wishing very often that they were over; and
now and then, when Aunt Mary wasn't looking, I
just took up the corner of my pinafore and began
rubbing it between my hands, to let Lucy see what
I was thinking about. She laughed and nodded, foi
she understood quite well.
At last twelve o'clock came, and then didn't we
set to work ? We go(t ever so much dirt off the
things, and we put son e blue into fresh water and
30 NINE YEARS OLD. [CHAP.
washed them again. I think we put rather too much
blue in, for Aunt Mary laughed and said our clothes
would look as if they had been washed in blue ink.
Then we made some starch, but it didn't turn out
very well, because the water wasn't hot enough to
make it properly stiff, and then we pegged our things
on the line, which was stretched between two chairs
on the grass plot, and sat down to watch them dry.
We had made ourselves quite tired, and the skin on
our finger ends was all coggled up into wrinkles,
just as cook's fingers used to be when she had had a
hard day's wash. That pleased us very much, and
we were almost sorry when the wrinkles went away.
I do think that wash was the best fun I ever had in
my life. I only wished it could have been washing
day every day. I remember very well that night, we
had a game in the parlour before I went to bed.
We all had to choose what we should best like to be.
Mamma said she would be a farmer's wife, and Aunt
Mary said she would be a countess, and Papa said he
would be a hermit, because then he could sit still
whenever he liked, and Montem said he would be a
Prince of Wales, and Lucy Walters said she would be
the Princess Royal, and I said I should like to be a
II.] GRANDMAMMA COWER. 31
washerwoman, because then I could stand behind
tub all day. They laughed at me very much,
I'm sure it was quite true.
I meant to have gone on and told you about
ironing next morning, but this tale is a long
already, so I must give over. In the next chapt4
shall tell you about another nest that got bl(
THE ONLY PLUM.
AT the bottom of our garden, close to the enclosure
where I used to go and dig up the little potatoes, was
a very old plum-tree. It was trained up against a
south wall, so that the plums got a great deal of sun-
shine, and the more they got the richer and riper and
sweeter they grew. Little girls ought to be like
plums, and grow sweeter for the sunshine; but some
that I know grow sourer, instead. The more other
people do for them, the more selfish they become.
Don't you be like that, for it isn't pretty at all.
This was the only fruit-tree in the garden. The
apples, pears, cherries, nuts, and damsons grew in the
orchard on the other side of the wall, and the peaches,
apricots, and nectarines were trained round the en-
closure. I was never allowed to pluck them; indeed,
when they were ripe, the gate of the enclosure was
CHAP. III.] THE ONL Y PLUM. 33
always kept shut, and I only used to go in with
Papa and Mamma or Aunt Mary. But this plum-
tree was public property. We might any of us go
and gather the plums. We did not even have to
wait for them to fall off; we could go and pluck
them for ourselves whenever we liked, after they
were ripe. They were such beautiful plums, too;
yellow, soft, juicy, and almost as large a aa hen's egg.
You may be sure we were very glad when the old
tree had a great many on.
The spring that I was nine years old, our plum-
tree was full, quite full, of blossom. When the
blossoms began to fall, you might have thought
there had been a fall of snow at that end of the
garden, for the ground was white over with tiny
little leaves. By and by, where the blossoms had
dropped off, there came little green balls, no bigger
at first than a pin's head, and then they got bigger
and bigger until they were nearly as large as the
sweet-pea seeds which I had just sown in my own
garden. I did think we should have such a lot
of plums. I tried sometimes to count them, but I
was rather stupid at counting; and when I had gone
as far as fifty, I always got into a muddle and had to
34 NINE YEARS OLD. [CHAP.
I am sure I should
times over, before
I had nearly
come to the end of all those little green plums.
"There will be baskets and baskets and baskets
full," I said to Watson, one fine spring morning, as
he was cutting off some dead daffodils in front of
the plum-tree. "Ever so many baskets full. Won't
it be splendid ? I shan't want any of your apricots
and peaches this year, old Mr. Watson."
"Shan't you, Miss Alice ?" and Watson twisted
up his funny, wrinkled face until it looked like an
old brown air-ball that had gone squash. "Things
isn't always as little girls expects 'em to be. It
won't take a very big basket to carry the plums to
market this year, I reckon, for as many as there
looks to be of 'em."
And with that, Watson crossed over to the plum-
tree and began tapping the little green balls with his
finger; and as he tapped, off they fell, one by one,
one by one, until more, a great many more than I
could count, were lying on the ground.
"Oh, Watson!" I said; "you tiresome old
Watson,"-for, you know, I thought he was doing
it on purpose to vex me. How can you waste the
- -----------------------`---------- _______
I I.] THE ONLY PL UM 35
plums in that way ? There won't be any left if you
go on so, and Papa will be vexed, I'm sure he will."
Watson shrugged his shoulders and went on
"Your Pa knows all about it, Miss Alice. Them
there would ha' dropped off anyways, if I'd let 'em
alone ever so. Plums isn't good for much if they
can't stand a bit of a tap."
He might be right. I have found out since that
he was. Both plums and grown-up people, and little
boys and girls too, for that matter, are not good for
much if they can't stand a bit of a tap," if the green
fruit or the good resolutions drop off with a single
touch. Watson tapped away until I don't believe
there were five-and-twenty plums left on the tree,
and he said half of those would come to nothing.
Then he went on cutting off the dead daffodil flowers
as coolly as ever.
A week after that there came a frost, and next
morning fifteen out of the five-and-twenty plums
were lying on the ground, shrivelled and dead. Then
there were ten left. Not many days later, a hail-
storm beat off five of the ten. Montem was throwing
stones one day and hit two of the five. Then there
36, NINE YEARS OLD. [CHAP.
were only three. Coon, our little terrier, jumped up
at a fly on one of the others and knocked it down.
I trundled my hoop by accident against another; so
that at last, like the ten little niggers of whom the
British public has heard so much lately, "baskets,
and baskets, and baskets full," had dwindled down to
one single, solitary plum.
But oh, what a plum it was, to be sure And so
indeed it ought to have been, for the old tree had
nothing to do from morning to night, all through the
long beautiful summer time, but suck in air and
light and moisture, to feed that one plum. It grew
and grew and grew, and swelled and swelled and
swelled, until it was larger than the largest hen's egg
I have ever seen; and then it began to turn yellow,
and you could see the clear golden juice inside it,
and Papa said that he thought in about a week it
would be quite ripe.
Before that week was over, my little sister Callie
became very poorly. She was not ill enough to lie
in her crib all day, and have the doctor come to see
her; but she grew peevish and fretful, and always
wanted some one to amuse her, and was different as
could be to the dear, bright, blossom-like little crea-
III.] THE ONLY PLUM. 37
ture who used to be laughing and crowing from
morning to night in the nursery, or in the garden
amongst the birds and flowers .and butterflies.
Mamma said her teeth were troubling her. She had
several already. I am sure it was a pity such delicate,
pearly little things should ever give any trouble; but
I suppose they must have hurt her, for she was
always putting things in her mouth. If she could
not get anything else, she would put her fingers in, or
even her toes. Papa said, as Callie was so poorly we
would keep the yellow plum for her, because it was
going to be ripe before any of the apricots and
peaches in the enclosure, and it would be so nice
and cool for her poor little hot mouth. So he told
me I was not to meddle with the plum. He wanted
it to be kept for Callie.
I was rather vexed with Papa for telling me that.
Just as if I should ever have thought of taking the
plum when I knew it was wanted for Callie-my dear
little sister Callie. Why, if there had been fifty
plums on the tree, I would not have touched one of
them, to have kept it away from Callie. And did
Papa really think that I could be such a greedy
wretch as to steal that, the only one, and let my
38 NINE YEARS OLD. [CHAP.
sister go without? I tossed my head back, and shut
my lips very fast, and walked away feeling like a
little heroine. I touch Callie's plum? I meddle
with what did not belong to me ? Never, never,
never You see, I was building my nest at the top of
the tree, as Grandmamma Gower said; beginning to
be rather stuck up and conceited, and to think that
it was impossible for such a good little girl as
myself to do anything naughty.
Next day, after morning lessons, I went to trundle
my hoop in the garden. There was a large oval grass
plot at one end, with a smooth gravel walk outside it,
round which I used to run. One part of this gravel
walk came very close to the wall where the old plum-
tree grew, so that every time I trundled my hoop
past, I could stop for a moment to look at Callie's
yellow plum, as it hung like a golden egg amongst
the green leaves.
It looked very beautiful, very beautiful indeed. It
was quite impossible for any little girl to help want-
ing to taste it. Indeed, it almost seemed to be asking
you to put your teeth into it, it was so ripe and soft
and juicy. But then, you know, it was Callie's plum.
Papa had said it was to be kept for her, and I could
III.] TIHE ONLY PLUM 39
not think of such a wicked thing as putting my teeth
into anything that did not belong to me. At least I
thought I could not think of such a wicked thing.
So for the first two or three times, as I trundled my
hoop round, I only loitered just for half a minute to
look at it. Then I thought I would stay a little
longer and go quite close up to it, and see if those
tiny cracks were beginning to come round the stalk,
which Papa said would be there when it was quite,
quite ripe. There was just one, a very little one, on
the side nearest the sun. So then it was ready to
I trundled my hoop round once more, and stopped
again in front of the old tree. I was obliged to stop
every time now, for the plum really did look so very
nice. This time I thought I would go and touch it,
and try if it felt soft. Papa said when it was quite
ripe it would feel about as soft as an orange feels
when you have taken all the peel off. So I gave it a
very gentle little squeeze, and it did feel just like
that. I hoped Callie would not want to eat it all.
I hoped, when she had had a little of it, say perhaps
a quarter, she would shake her curly head and push
out her hand, as much as to say, "I'm tired, I don't
40 NINE YEARS OLD. [CHAP.
want any more," and then Mamma would give the
rest to me. And I wondered if I should be a very,
very naughty little girl, if, as the yellow plum hung
there amongst its green leaves, I just stuck my finger
nail into it, far enough to reach some of the juice
and find out how it tasted.
Oh dear! oh dear! The wind was beginning to
rise over my nest at the top of the tree. The plum
was in danger, and so were my good resolutions, were
they not? They were sadly. too much like those
tender green balls, which, in the early spring-time,
Watson had touched one after another, to see if they
could "stand a bit of a tap." They were having a
bit of a tap just now, and what a terrible thing it
would be if they were to break! I ought to have
gone away and trundled my hoop in another part of
the garden, where I could not see the plum-tree.
That would have been by far the safest plan, but I
did not mean to do anything wrong. I only wanted
to look, and surely there was no harm in looking.
Papa had never told me not to do that.
Well, I took another turn with my hoop, and again
I stopped in front of the old plum-tree. The sun
was shining right down on the yellow plum, making
III.] THE ONLY PL UM. 41
it look brighter and more beautiful. than ever. I
thought I would go and touch it again. Then I saw
that I had left some footmarks on the mould, just
under the tree, and I smoothed them over as well as
I could with my hands and the stick of my hoop. I
might have known by that that I was doing wrong;
because, if there was no harm in going close up to the
plum, why need I have been afraid for my footsteps
to be seen there ? But I said to myself, I would just
touch it once more, and look at the juicy crack round
the stalk, and then go away to the nursery to Skinny,
and ask her to tell me a story.
I set my foot down in the midst of a great bed of
violet leaves this time, so that there might be no
mark left behind, and I reached over and touched the
plum again. And then I thought I would try if it
had a sweet smell, like the apricots and peaches in
the enclosure. And then I thought I would just put
my teeth very gently into it, to try if a little juice
would come out, and, you know, I had to hold it in
my hand to keep it steady whilst I did that; and
then, and then-I didn't mean to do it, I am quite
sure I didn't mean to do it-but a terrible storm of
wind arose, and it -roared round the top of the tree
42 NINE YEARS OLD. [CHAP.
where my nest was, and down came the nest and all
Sthe poor little rooks in it-I mean my good resolu-
tions-and I forgot all about Papa and Callie, and I
clutched the yellow plum fast with my hands, and
pulled it off, and down went my teeth as far as ever
they could go, into the rich, ripe, golden heart.
But what do you think there was inside the
A stone, of course, you will say. Well, most likely
there was; but, if so, I never came to it. That is
not what I mean. There was a wasp, a great, fierce,
black and yellow wasp, and when my teeth went into
the plum, its sting went into my lip; went in ever,
ever so far, like a sharp, cruel needle.
With a shriek I flung the plum away, and rushed
into the parlour to Mamma, in such a passion of pain
and anger, my face burning, the tears flowing down
my cheeks, the sting rankling in my lip, which was
already beginning to swell and throb, as if all the
needles in the world were running about in it.
"My little girl! my poor little girl! what is the
matter ?" said Mamma, as she laid her work down
and put her arms round me, and looked at my big
swollen lip. "What have you been doing ?
I.] THE ONLY PLUM. 43
"Oh, Mamma!" I screamed, "a wasp has stung
me, and I can't bear it; it hurts me so."
"Poor little girl! I am sure it must hurt very
much," Mamma said, as she looked at my face. But,
my child, whatever could you be doing for a wasp to
sting you inside your lip ?
Ah! what could I have been doing, indeed ?
Stealing the yellow plum away from Callie, from my
poor, suffering little sister Callie, and then throwing
it down and bruising and breaking it all to pieces.
But I couldn't tell Mamma that; I could only begin
to scream louder than ever; and I believe I lay down
on the floor and rolled about, for my lip did hurt so
Mamma went into the kitchen for some starch to
lay upon it, and she gave me,something to drink, to
make me cooler, and then she kissed me very kindly,
and told me to go and lie down upon my little bed
until afternoon, when perhaps the pain would have
gone away. And she said, if I lay very still and went
to sleep, she would tell me a pretty story when I
came downstairs again.
So I went away; but do you think I could go to
sleep? Do you think I could even lie still, thinking
44 NINE YEARS OLD. [CHAP.
about the pretty story which Mamma was to tell me ?
No, indeed. The pain did begin to go away a little
by and by, but when it had gone I remembered what
I had done, and a sting far, far worse than the sting
of the great black and yellow wasp, the sting of con-
science, pierced through and through me. I had been
a thief. I had disobeyed Papa. I could not look
Mamma in the face any more. I heard Callie crying
in the nursery, and I remembered there would be no
sweet yellow plum now to cool her poor hot little
mouth, and I began to cry afresh, and the crying
made my lip hurt worse than ever. Oh, dear me!
How well I remember it now! I wonder if in all
the world there was a more wretched, miserable, un-
happy little girl than I was, an hour after I had
plucked the yellow plum.
And to think that I might have been all right
and comfortable if I had only trundled my hoop
in another part of the garden, quite away from the
south wall where the old tree grew. Or if I had kept
running round and round the grass plot, without
ever stopping to look at the plum and wonder how
it would taste. Or if, as soon as that black thought
about touching it came into my heart, I had run
III.] THE ONLY PLUM. 45
away as fast as ever I could, and tried to amuse
myself with something else. Or if a little, a very
little, of the terrible pain I was suffering as I lay
upon my bed, could have come to me before I
touched the plum, instead of after.
Yes, that would have made all the difference. If
we could have the punishment first, and then do the
wrong, I don't think we should often want to do any
wrong. If the misery, the pain, the suffering, lay on
this side the golden ripe fruit of temptation, would
we bear them for the sake of plucking and tasting it,
even were it sweeter than all the yellow plums in
the world ? I think not. But, you see, the pleasant
mouthful of fruit comes first, and the bitter sting
afterwards; and because we don't see the sting, we
get into sad, sad trouble. We can't take our remorse
and our shame and our penitence, and put them
between us and the sin which looks so pleasant. If
we could-I don't mean little children only, but
grown-up people too-what a different world it would
be, arid how few ripe yellow plums would lie
crushed and bruised and broken on the ground where
our angry hands had thrown them !
Do you understand about this ? Perhaps you
46 NINE YEARS OLD. [CHAP.
don't. Most likely your papas and mammas and
Aunt Marys do, though. But I must go on with
I stayed upstairs all the afternoon, feeling very
miserable with the pain in my lip and the pain in
my heart put together; and when Mamma came up
from time to time to kiss me or give me something
pleasant to drink, I felt worse than ever. Sometimes
I thought I would tell her all about it next time she
came, tell her what a naughty wicked little girl it
was that she was nursing and taking such care of.
But I could not. Something seemed to tie my tongue
fast up in my mouth whenever I wanted to say what
I had done. Then another naughty thought came
into my heart. Who would know that I had taken
the plum? Why should not Papa and Mamma
think that it had fallen of its own accord, and got
bruised on the ground where I had thrown it in my
.passionate pain ?
It was in the pleasant August time, and the doors
of the house stood open all through that sunny, but
to me so miserable afternoon. I could hear poor little
Callie fretting and wailing, and I could hear Skinny
try to comfort her by telling her what a beautiful
II.] THE ONLY PLUM. 47
yellow plum she should have by and by. I could hear
Mamma's step as she kept going to the window to look
for Papa, who always came home about four o'clock
in the afternoon ; and at last I heard his step too. Oh !
how I trembled, for I knew what must happen soon!
First of all he came up to me, for I suppose
Mamma had told him about the wasp stinging
me. I pretended to be asleep-I could not bear
to look at him then. He stood by me for a little
while, and then stooped down and kissed me very
quietly on the forehead. Oh! how the big hot tears
came pouring down my face again when he went
away! Then I heard him go into the nursery and
talk to Callie, and-oh, fearful words !-tell her that
lie would gather the yellow plum for her directly.
He went downstairs and out into the garden. I
could hear every step as plainly as could be, and it
seemed as if some one was striking me all the time.
And then there was a silence, and then Papa came
back, and he said, in such a different voice-
"Jessie, my dear." He always called my Mamma
Jessie. "Jessie, my dear, what does this mean?"
I knew then that he had found the plum which I
threw down when the wasp stung me. I could bear
48 NINE YEARS OLD. [CHAP.
it no longer. I flung myself from my little bed and
rushed into the parlour, where he was standing with
the plum in his hand.
"Oh, Papa! I did it. I didn't mean-I'm sure I
didn't mean-but something made me do it."
And I could not say another word. Perhaps my
swollen purple lip told all the rest, and the two
teeth marks in the bruised plum, and the little hole
which the wasp had eaten.
I won't tell you any more, I'm so tired. And I
don't like to think about it either. Papa and
Mamma were both very sorry.
Next day was Saturday, when I had my twopence
to spend just as I liked. Mamma called me to her
little work-table by the parlour window, where she
was braiding a frock for Callie, and she took the two
pennies out of a drawer, and put them into my hand,
"Now, what does my little girl think she ought to
do with these pennies ? "
What do you think I ought to have done ?
Not very long ago, I was telling a little girl
this very same story; and when I came to this part
_ __ C
I I.] 7HE ONLY PL UM. 49
of it, I asked her what she thought I ought to have
done with the pennies. She lifted up her rosy face
to me, and said directly, as if she was quite sure she
had guessed right this time-
Buy a nice yellow plum for yourself, and eat it
Do you think so ? Do you think I ought to have
bought anything for myself, to eat it compertably,"
just then ? No, I'm sure you don't.
I stood still for a while, fumbling my fingers about.
I knew what Mamma meant. She meant that I
ought to buy a plum for Callie, in place of the one
that I had taken. But I did not like that at all,
because I wanted to buy a gingerbread horse with a
halfpenny of my twopence, and with the rest I was
going to buy a piece of stuff to make a frock for my
doll that was called Aunt Mary. The large yellow
plums on the stall in the market-place were twopence
each, and if I bought one of them there would not be
anything left for myself. I should have to wait a
whole week before I could get either the frock or the
horse, and that did seem such a very long time.
I looked at Mamma, and Mamma looked at me,
and I looked at Mamma again, and I doubled my
50 NINE YEARS OLD. [CHAP.
pinafore up in my fingers until it was all in a
crumple, and I felt very red and uncomfortable; and
still Mamma kept looking at me. Her calm, clear,
grey eyes were going right down into my heart. I
could not stir away, and yet, and yet-it did seem
At last I said, almost in a whisper-
And then I went quietly out of the room; I could
not skip at all, as I generally used to do when I had
got my twopence.
Skinny was ready to go for a walk with me. She
always went for a walk with me on Saturday after-
noons, and we set off as soon as she had dressed me.
I had the twopence in my hand. I did feel so sorry
as we passed the shop where the gingerbread horses
were sold. They were just like real horses, with
white comfits for eyes, and a bit of gilt paper for a
saddle, and pink cotton for a bridle, and they only
cost a halfpenny each. But I felt worse still when
we went past the draper's shop and saw the green
and blue and scarlet and yellow and purple prints in
the window. I could have bought a quarter of a
yard of any of them for three-halfpence, and that
II.] THE ONLY PL UM. 51
would have made such a lovely frock for my Aunt
At last we came to the market-place and the plum
stall, and oh! my heart did feel very heavy. I went
up to the man who was standing behind the stall; I
knew him very well, for we often went there to buy
things, and I whispered-
"Please, sir, I want a very nice yellow plum."
"All right, little Miss," said the man, just as
cheerily as if he didn't know that it would take all
my money to pay for it. Here's a real beauty now,
as soft and round as your own cheeks, if it isn't such
a pretty colour."
And he picked me out a beautiful one, quite
as large and soft and juicy as the one which I had
squashed and broken the day before. Then I whis-
"Please, how much does it cost ?"
SI did- so hope that perhaps it might only cost a
penny or three-halfpence, and then I should have
something left for a gingerbread horse at any rate.
But no, I must pay for my naughtiness quite on to
the bitter end, as people call it,
Twopence, Miss," the man said. "Plums is dear
52 NINE YEARS OLD. [CHAP.
this season. The frost cut 'em all off, you see, just
when they was beginning to set. But it's a beauty,
is this here. You won't match it for the money, if
you tramp Abbotsbury market from morning to
night, I be bound."
Very well," I said, and I gave him my twopence,
all the money I had in the world; and he wrapped
the plum up in soft white paper and laid it carefully
in my hand, and we set off home again, going by
a different road, that we might not have to pass the
gingerbread horses and the pretty coloured prints.
But what do you think ? I'm sure I don't know
how it happened, because all the time until then I
had felt so very, very sorry; but as soon as the two-
pence was safely out of my hand, and the yellow
plum safely in it, I began to be as happy as-as-
well, I really don't know how happy I felt: and I
skipped all the way home, just as if my shoes had
had India-rubber heels to them, and I jumped up-
stairs, two steps at a time, into the nursery, and
tossed the plum into Callie's lap; and she laughed
and clapped her hands, and so did I, and then I
jumped downstairs again, three steps at once this
time, and out into the merry summer sunshine, and
iII.] TTE ONLYPLUAL 53
kissed Papa and Mamma, and looked right straight
into their faces, for I was not afraid of anything or
anybody now; and my lip gave over hurting me;
and I felt as if I was friends with all the world, and
all the world was friends with me.
Why was it so, do you think ?
Oh but I really am tired now. I can't go on any
longer. You must ask some one else to tell you
what made the little girl so happy. Don't build your
nest at the top of the tree, though, as I did; and
then, if the wind happens to blow hard, it won't come
down smash, and you will not be obliged to pay your
only twopence, all the money you have in the world,
to build it up again lower. That is the end of the
THE IMAGE MAN.
You remember Aunt Mary's little room, that dear,
pleasant little room with the green carpet and cur-
tains, and the tiny table, just big enough for two
people to sit at, and the lattice window looking out
over the old fountain pond, in the middle of which
three very fat little stone boys were holding up an
urn on their shoulders. I still used to have tea
very often with Aunt Mary in that room; only, after
I was nine years old, I gave over dressing myself
with things out of Mamma's wardrobe, and pre-
tending to be a grown-up person, because it did not
seem real to me any more, and it is no use pretend-
ing when things don't seem real.
Well, it was rather a long time after that terrible
affair about the plum; indeed, the ribbon fair, which
never came until nearly the end of August, was close
at hand, and I was having tea with Aunt Mary in
CHAP. IV.] THE IMAGE MAN. 55
the little room. Callie was with us, because Skinny
had gone out for a holiday; and Lucy Walters had
been invited too; so it was almost like a party, ex-
cept that we hadn't our best things on. We enjoyed
ourselves very much. Aunt Mary let us wash the
cups and saucers when tea was over, in the white
pail which came all the way from Switzerland, and
we dried them with a soft towel and put them away
in the corner cupboard, and then we rubbed the tea-
pot and the spoons and the cream jug with a leather
just as real housemaids do, and took them downstairs
and put them in the plate drawer, as tidily as could
be. I think the washing up was almost as much fun
as the tea itself, and besides, it was a sort of fun that
we could not have had if we had been grown up,
could we ? Just fancy Mamma's visitors amusing
themselves by washing the tea-things when they
came to one of her parties-wouldn't it have seemed
odd ? I do think, after all, it is very nice to be a
little girl, even though you do have to be fetched
away sometimes to morning lessons in the middle of
a splendid wash, or though Nurse comes swooping
down upon you at the very best part of a story to
tumble you into your bath, and make you say your
56 NINE YEARS OLD. [CHAP.
prayers and go to bed, just as if nothing were the
When the tea-things were put away, Aunt Mary
said she would tell us a story; so Lucy Walters and I
brought our stools and sat down, one on each side of
her, and Callie, after sucking her thumbs for a while,
laid her curly head on Aunt Mary's shoulder and
went fast asleep,-the best thing she could do, for
she was too small to understand stories then.
It was the story of Cinderella. We had both of
us heard it about a hundred times before, but that
did not make a bit of difference, except that it was
nicer every time. When it was done, we began to
talk about it. I remember telling Aunt Mary I did
not think there was anything so very terrible in
Cinderella having to stay at home and take care of
the house whilst her sisters put their fine clothes on
and went to parties. Because I am sure, so far as
my experience of parties went, I would ten times
rather have stood behind my dear little wash-tub,
with a holland apron pinned well over the rest of my
things, or have put on a big pair of gloves and
cleaned up the hearth with a real brush and duster,
as Skinny used to do in the nursery, than have been
Iv.] THE IMAGE MAN. 57
dressed in a white muslin frock and shoes with
rosettes to them, and gone to the grandest possible
party, where perhaps nobody, not even the little girls
I loved. best, would have taken any notice of me.
And then those glass slippers. I never could under-
stand about those glass slippers, though no doubt
they were a great' deal prettier than leather ones.
Because, when you come to think about it, how
could Cinderella have danced in glass slippers ? Why,
they would have broken to pieces as soon as ever she
began to point her toes," and people always do have
to point their toes when they dance; at least my
dancing master made me do so. And then the glass
would have run into her feet, wouldn't it? I never
could understand that at all, and I was just going to
ask Aunt Mary about it, when Lucy Walters called
out to me to come over to her side of the window,
and I should see something very wonderful walking
along towards us on the top of the hedge.
I jumped up directly, and certainly it was very
wonderful. About twenty beautiful white statues,
some nearly as big as grown-up people, some like little
boys and girls, and some just heads and shoulders
with no bodies to them, all crowded close together,
58 NINE YEARS OLD. [CHAP.
were walking along by themselves on the top of
the garden hedge. At least they seemed as if they
were walking along by themselves, and that was
what had made Lucy call out so; but when they
came a little nearer, and we could see more distinctly,
we found they were all set together on a board, with
a wire netting round it, and a man was carrying them
on his head. Of course that made it not quite so
wonderful, but still the statues were very beautiful,
and the evening sun shone down upon them, making
them look as if they were carved out of the whitest
ivory or marble.
I think the man saw us, for the window was wide
open. I daresay he heard us too, for both Lucy and
I shouted aloud, we were so surprised; and Callie
awoke and shook her golden curls, and clapped her
hands and shouted as loud as either of us. When he
came in front of the window-it was a long way off
still, though, for. our garden was very wide-he
stopped and smiled, and said something which we
could not understand, and he seemed to be looking
about for a place to come in at, but there was no gate
there. We asked Aunt Mary if he might come
and let us see the pretty things quite close, so she
IV. THE .1M4GE MAN.. 59
pointed to the side for him to understand that there
was a gate that way, and presently our great dog,
Lion, began to bark, and then, a minute or two after-
wards, the man came close up to the window, and
we could see everything.
But oh! he was such a funny-looking man. He
had a hump on his back, and another hump in front
of him, and very short legs and long arms, and his
mouth was bigger than anybody's mouth that I had
ever seen before. Lucy Walters and I both said at
"Oh, Aunt Mary! what a queer, queer man! Did
you ever see such a queer man, Aunt Mary ?"
And then we felt as if we wanted to laugh very
much. But Aunt Mary stopped us directly. She
said the poor man was what is called deformed, and
he could not help being like that, and it was quite
bad enough for him to be so different from other
people; without being laughed at by little girls like
Lucy and me. She said he might be a very good and
tender and honest man, although he looked so funny
We were very much ashamed then that we had
even wanted to laugh. But still, you know, we had
____ I_ I _ __
60 NINE YEARS OLD. [CHAP.
seen any one like
think it would hurt
that before, and we did
him for us to be amused.
was dressed so curiously too, and he
had a bright
scarlet handkerchief round his neck, and his face was
a sort of yellow colour, and his eyes were so wonder-
fully large and brown.
He had a little
five years old, but
we did not take much notice of
first, because we were so busy with
He came quite close up and set his
board down on the window-sill, so that we could
touch them if we liked.
such a great weight off
I believe he was glad to
his head, for he seemed very
he had set the board down, he put
his hand to his side, as if
something hurt him
told him he had
the little garden chairs up and rest himself on it.
Whilst we were
who they all were.
images, he told us
There was a tall gentleman in a
long coat, with one
resting on his
hip, and the
other pointing away somewhere.
That was the Duke
of him was
There was another smaller gentleman, with
b ~Z~CC ~=2~==_~5=:
r -~_~;sf'3-9 -S~~
Whilst we were looking at the images, he told us who they all were.
,-C;4 ~--CC~-2 ---ZC __-c=_---~--L----
---L----- _Ir --.- .-~-L-C
--1 i I-L _I Il
v. ] THE IMAGE MAN. 61
Napoleon. Then there
dressed in nothing but a
roses. The man told us
I forget whose, for I 1
before: and there was a
man, with clothes on v
was the President of the
was a very pretty lady,
bath-towel and a wreath of
she was somebody's nymph,
had never heard the name
plain, quiet-looking gentle-
ery much like Papa's. He
United States. Those were
all the grown-up people on the board. Next to the
plain gentleman was the dearest little boy you ever
saw, kneeling on one knee and saying his prayers, I
should think, for his hands were clasped. The man
said he was the infant Samuel, and only cost six-
pence. The rest were nearly all heads and shoulders,
without any bodies to them. The man told us who
they were. One very, very pretty one, that I thought
looked just like Aunt Mary, only her hair was done
differently, was called Psyche. Another, just the
same size, but not so pretty, was Cupid; and another,
who had his hair tied in a bow on the top of his head.
I wanted to know how much Psyche cost, but I
could not remember the name of her, so I was obliged
to call her the pretty lady who was just like Aunt
62 NINE YEARS OLD. [CICAP.
Mary. The man knew who I meant directly, for he
smiled all over his face, and so did Aunt Mary,
and he told me she was only fourpence. I had just
fourpence in my money-box, but then, you know, I
was saving it up for the ribbon fair, which was to be
in a day or two, and if I bought the lady I should
have nothing to spend at the fair. However, Aunt
Mary settled it by saying that she would buy Psyche
herself, and put it on one of the brackets in the little
room, and then I could look at it whenever I liked,
which would be as good as having it for my own.
Then Aunt Mary asked Lucy which of them all
she would like to have, and Lucy said she liked
the little Samuel best, but she was saving up her
money for the fair too, and had got fivepence-half-
penny. Aunt Mary said she would give her three-
pence towards it, and then, if she put threepence
of her own to it, she would still have twopence-
halfpenny left for the fair. So little Samuel was
bought, and we put him on the chimney-piece until
it was time for Lucy to go home.
Whilst Lucy and I had been looking at the images,
Aunt Mary had been talking to the man, whose name
we found out afterwards was Antonio. They only
Iv.] THE IMA GE MA4N. 63
stopped talking now and then, when we wanted to
know who the people were and how much they cost.
I did not think Antonio was so very ugly when he
began to talk. When he looked up into Aunt Mary's
face, he almost seemed as if he were saying his
prayers to her; and, you know, people never look
ugly when they are saying their prayers. I mean if
they are saying them really. His face was very thin,
and his cheeks were so hollow; I think they were
even more hollow than Skinny's were when first she
came to live with us: but the look of his great brown
eyes was very kind and tender; and when once he
smiled, I felt as if I should never be afraid of him
any more. Wasn't it a pity that he should not be
shaped like other people ? Instead of wanting to
laugh at him now, I could almost have cried, he
made me feel so sorry for him. Aunt Mary looked
very sorry, too. I don't know what he said to her,
because he talked in such a curious way, not a bit
like Papa and Mamma, but I am sure he must have
been telling her something very sad, for the tears
were in his eyes. Perhaps he was saying that he did
not get enough to eat. I'm sure I don't think he did
or he would not have looked so thin.
64 NINE YEARS OLD. [CHAP.
I told you that he had a little girl with him. She
darted away as soon as ever she came near enough
to the window to see us, and hid herself behind the
old fountain-urn, where she began to amuse herself
by picking the ivy leaves which had grown over the
legs of the three little stone boys. She was a very
funny-looking little girl, almost as funny-looking as
Antonio himself, but Lucy and I did not like to
laugh at her, for fear it might be as wrong as laugh-
ing at Antonio. Her face was lean, and her cheeks
were hollow, and her arms were like small sticks,
and her eyes were round and black and shining.
She wasn't a bit like Lucy or Callie or me.
Whilst Aunt Mary and Antonio were talking, he.
seemed all at once to remember about the little girl,
for he turned round quite suddenly, as if looking for
her, and said-
Piccola! Piccola! La mia Piccola! "
I suppose that was her name. Wasn't it a queer
name for a little girl ? And then he said something
to her which we couldn't understand at all. Piccola
shook her head, just as Callie used to do when we
wanted her to do something which she didn't like,
and her black eyes. flashed angrily, and she curled
Iv.] THE IMAGE MAN. 65
heiselfup farther than ever behind the old fountain-
urn. Lucy and I both thought she was rather a bad-
tempered little girl.
After that, though, we noticed that she peeped out
at us a great deal oftener than before; and by and
by, when we were busy looking at the images, she
came quietly out of her hiding-place, on to the grass-
plot, and began to dance. It seems that was what
her papa had asked her to do before, only she didn't
want to do it then. Oh! how beautifully she did
dance, to be sure! Lucy Walters and I could not
dance half so well, though we had lessons three times
a week; and she could not have done it so well
either, if she had had glass slippers on, like Cin-
derella's. After a while she kicked her shoes off,
for they were very old and clumsy, and went on
dancing on the smooth grass without them. Then
she began to sing in a low, sweet little voice, and
moved-her head and her arms about in time to the
singing. It was very wonderful. She seemed quite
to forget that any one was looking at her, and her
eyes shone and her cheeks grew scarlet, and her
feet seemed to flash and twinkle, she moved them
so quickly. But all at once, as she saw us looking
66 NINE YEARS OLD. [CHAP.
at her, she stopped and shook her head and frowned,
and, without even waiting to pick up her shoes, she
bounded off behind the old fountain-urn again, and
curled herself up there, and just peeped at us now
and then through the ivy leaves. Was she not a
funny little girl ?
Aunt Mary said we might fetch her a piece of
cake; so I ran off to look, and got a beautiful large
piece, and came back and held it out to her; but
she would not come to me for it, and Antonio asked
her to dance again, but she would not do that either.
I think she was one of those little girls who do not
like to do as they are bid. So we laid the piece of
cake on the window-sill, and went on looking at the
images, just as if we had forgotten all about Piccola,
and after a while she stole shyly out from behind the
ivy, and came up with little stealthy steps to the
window, and seized the piece of cake, and at almost
a single bound darted back with it to her hidinc-
The poor man was rested now, so he put his
images straight upon the board, and made a very low
bow to each of us, and went away with the little girl
by his side. Only when they had got round the
Iv.] THE IAL4 GE MA N 67
corner of the house, quite out of sight, she came back
and did some of her very prettiest steps just in front
of the window, and kissed her hands to us; and then,
even before we could say thank you" to her, she
bounded on to the grass-plot and picked up her old
shoes, and was off again. Lucy and I had never seen
such a queer little girl in our lives before.
When they had gone away, Aunt Mary told us
that Antonio was an Italian, and that poor little
Piccola's mother was dead; she had no one to take
care of her now, except her papa, and he was very
poorly, and would not be able to work for her much
longer. And then she said he was a very good,
honest man; and that if Papa would allow us, we
would go and see him next day, and he would show
us how he made images. Of course we were very
glad, and I ran away directly to ask Papa if we
might go. In the next chapter I will tell you
about our visit.
PAPA was quite willing for us to go. He said he had
heard about Antonio, who was a very worthy, honest
man, and he should like to do something to help
him. But Abbot's Court, the place where he lived,
was in one of the lowest parts of the town, and there
might be rough people about, so Papa said he would
go with us himself the first time, and then, if it was
all right, we could go by ourselves afterwards.
I asked him if he would tell me a little bit about
how the images were made. I do think my Papa
was very clever. He seemed to know all about
everything. When I came to the end of my own
knowledge-and being only nine years old, you may
be sure I very soon did come to the end of it-I had
nothing to do but go to Papa, and he made every-
thing as plain as could be. It was very nice. I
daresay your papas do just the same for you.
CHAP. v.] ABBOT'S COURT. 69
He was able to tell me all about the images. He
had never seen Antonio make any, but he had seen
other people make them; and once, a long time
before, he had made some for his own amusement.
He said you must have a mould first, with the shape
of the image you want to make, inside it, just as the
shape of a jelly or a sponge-cake, or a plum-pudding
is cut out inside the mould that these things are
made in. And then you must mix plaster of Paris,
which is like very fine whiting, with water, to about
the thickness of cream, and pour it into the mould,
and shake it about until it begins to dry; and then
set it away to harden, and by and by take the mould
off, and there your image will be, all right. He said
images were not a bit harder to make than moulds of
jelly or blancmange, he should think; only you must
take care to oil the mould well before you poured
the plaster in, or it would stick.
That was plain enough. I had seen Mamma or
our cook make jelly and blancmange over and over
again, in a mould with a lion at the top of it, or
another like a little castle with battlements and
towers; and I remembered that sometimes the tail
of the lion was left behind in the mould, or one of
'70 NINE YEARS OLD. [CHAP.
the little battlements came off when the stuff was
turned out, if the inside had not been properly oiled;
that is, if you did oil jelly moulds before you poured
the jelly in. I was not quite sure about that. I
thought I could almost have made an image myself
after Papa had told. me so much about it, and I
determined to ask cook to lend me the jelly mould,
and get Watson to buy me some plaster of Paris,
and fetch Lucy Walters across to help me, and make
an image right away. It would be a change from
always playing with the wash-tub and clothes'-pegs,
and perhaps would make Montem respect me a little
Montem, you remember, was my big cousin, who
lived with us and went to the grammar school. Since
Grandmamma gave me the wash-tub and starch-
bowl and ironing blanket, and all the rest of the
things, he had been very fond of teasing both me
and Lucy Walters, and calling us Bettys. I think
he called us so because the name of the old woman
who washed for us when we went to stay in the
country was Betty. She was a funny old woman,
with a very thick waist, and large cap-borders that
flapped up and down when she walked about, and I
-II- ,--PC---II------- _
v.] ABBOT'S COURT. 71
am sure Lucy and I were not a bit like her. Some-
times, too, after school was over, Montem Would
come into the nursery, where I was busy with a large
dolls' wash, and make fun of my holland apron with
the bib, and tell me I looked as important as a
pennyworth of soap after a hard day's scrubbing.
And he used to draw pictures of us-I mean of Lucy
and me-making us just like clothes'-pegs, with a
blue-bag on the top for a head; and he said he was
very thankful he was not a woman to have to dabble
about in soap-suds all day, and he wondered we did
not make-believe to be men sometimes, and try to be
of a little more importance in the world.
Montem did not mean to vex us ; it was only his
fun. It amused him, and if we had been sensible
little girls, it would have done us no harm; we should
have gone on with our innocent nursery play and
been quite content with it, seeing we got so much
enjoyment out of it. But, instead of being sensible
little girls, we were foolish enough to be very much
hurt at Montem's nonsense, and at last we became so
ashamed of my pretty little wash-tub and the starch-
bowl, and the rest of the things, that we never
played with them at all when Montem was likely
_ I__ __~I~
NINE YEARS OLD.
to see us. We stuffed them into a corner as soon as
we heard.him coming; and if we happened to be
keeping house, or making puddings, or anything of
that sort, when he -got home from the grammar
school, we swept everything out of the way and
pretended to be doing something else, quite dif-
ferent. I can't help laughing now to think what
foolish little girls we were, but we did not know
any better then.
We wanted to please Montem if we could, for
when he was in a good temper he was very kind to
us, and would be our master sometimes, and eat a
little of our pudding, when we made it carefully and
he knew what we had put in it. Now and then
he would give us a halfpenny too, and let us go
out with him on Saturday afternoons, to take care of
his fishing-basket, whilst he went a little way into
the woods to hunt butterflies. Perhaps, as he did so
much for us, he thought he had a right to tease us
when he wanted to amuse himself for half an hour;
or perhaps we were rather stupid to be always wash-
ing and keeping house in the oriel window, and both
Lucy. and I had said it would be very nice if we
to make ourselves
v.] ABBOT'S COURT. 73
men, because then Montem would not laugh at us
But the worst of it was, we did not know what to
do. Playing at bricklayers and whitewashers was
the only thing I could think of, because we had just
been having a lot of them at work in the back yard;
and we tried it once, but we didn't enjoy it a bit;
we had to make-believe so very much about the
bricks and the mortar, and Aunt Mary didn't like
me to keep going into her dressing-room to get
camphorated chalk to make our whitewash of, even
if Skinny would have allowed us to practise on the
nursery walls, which she would not. Lucy thought
of church, and we played at that two or three times,
with Callie for a congregation ; but we didn't get on
with it a bit better than with the whitewashing,
because the congregation fidgeted about so, and
wanted to preach to us itself, instead of listening.
There was nothing to show for it either, when we
But all our difficulties vanished when that bright
idea of making an image came into my head. Papa
had explained it to me so clearly that I was quite
sure Lucy and I could make one as easily as possible,
74 NINE YEARS OLD. [CH AP.
when once I had seen Antonio do it. Montein would
not be able to call us Bettys any more if we made a
real proper image in Mamma's jelly mould with the
lion at the top. He would see then that we were
not quite such little stupids after all-that we could
do something besides washing and housekeeping and
pudding-making; and perhaps, instead of laughing
at us, he would let us go out with him nearly every
Saturday afternoon, and give us halfpennies when-
ever we had not any money of our own; and though
of course he would never taste our puddings again,
-because when we knew how to make images we
should not waste our time over cooking any more,--
still he would be our master when we kept house,
and he would ring the bell for us to come and wait
upon him, which always made us feel exactly like
I told Lucy about it, and she was delighted. She
said she would come the next afternoon and help me
to make it, and we would spare a halfpenny each,
out of our money that we were saving up for the
ribbon fair, to buy plaster of Paris. She said, too,
that her grandmamma's cook had some very pretty
jelly moulds-one with a goose on the top; and if I
-~a-.-- __-- -
ABB OUT'S C
liked, we could make our image in that; but I
thought the lion would be best, if only we could
make his long tail come out nicely, without breaking
off, as the jelly sometimes did.
So the very next morning, which was a half-
holiday, Papa and Aunt Mary and I went to
Abbot's Court, to see Antonio. Lucy Walters was
to have gone with us, but there had been a letter
from her aunt, who was coming over to Abbotsbury
for the day, and wanted to see Lucy, so she was
obliged to stay at home. However, I said I would
tell her all about it when I came back, and then we
could make the image together.
We had a great deal of trouble to find Antonio's
house. I don't think, unless Papa had been with us,
we ever should have found it at all. We had to go
down a very narrow little street, full of such funny
shops, where they sold carrots and cabbages and
periwinkles and dirty clothes and old umbrellas,
and then up a passage which led into a square
court, with houses all round it; and then we went
into another passage, and up a winding stair with
several doors opening into rooms where other people
After knocking at most of these doors, and
NINE YEARS OLD.
told to "go up a bit higher," we came
to the very top door of all, which was Antonio's.
It opened into a large, low garret, with windows in
the roof instead of
at the sides, so that you could see
nothing but the sky through them.
We had three or
four rooms like that just under the roof of our house,
but then we did
the owls who bu
not live in them;
tilt their nests in ti
we left them
should think in winter this room of
have been terribly cold,
because there were cracks in
the walls where the wind could come in, and in
too, big enough for me to put my fingers
It was hot enough now, though,
hot, for the sun was shining
and it felt like an oven.
was in an oven myself,
think it would
something like that.
his work here,
and at the
a small inner room where he
He heard our voices, and came out to us from this
how very ill
He made a low bow to Aunt
and another to Papa,
and thin he
We did not see anything of Piccola.
v.] ABBOT'S COUR7. 77
but after a minute or two she peeped at us, and then
banged the door to with a very great noise. I
thought it was rather naughty of her to make such
a noise. I know Mamma would have been dis-
pleased with me if I had banged the doors in that
way, but Antonio only shrugged his shoulders and
put up his hands to his ears and said-
"Oh, Piccola! La mia Piccola !"
I was rather disappointed at first. I thought the
whole room would have been full of beautiful white
images, like those which I had seen on the board
the day before. Instead of that, there were scarcely
any at all, only the moulds in which they were
made, and these moulds were very ugly indeed, ugly
and dirty, and no sort of shape at all. You would
not guess a bit what there was going to be inside
them. Our jelly and blancmange moulds at home
looked a great deal prettier, for they were always
clean and shining, and you could see a little of the
shape outside as well. There were a few figures,
however, that I had not seen before. There was
Garibaldi with that funny loose shirt on. I wondered
if it was his only one, he never seemed to have any
other to put on. And there was an English General,,
78 NINE YEARS OLD. [CHAP.
the most splendid gentleman I had ever seen, all
over lace and embroidery and braiding, and his
cocked .hat under his arm, with braiding all over
that too, and his sash and epaulettes, and spurs and
gloves, and no end of buttons as large as five-shilling
pieces, with crowns carved upon them. He really
was very grand. Next to him was a German soldier,
with not half so much ornament about him, but he
looked very fierce, as if he could kill a great many
The English General cost seven-and-sixpence. It
was rather a great price for a General, Antonio said;
but then his gold lace and embroidery made the
mould so very expensive. You know, everything,
even to the pattern upon his buttons, had to be
carved out inside, just the same as the lion's mane
and tail, and all the rest of him, had to be carved in
our jelly moulds; and the more gold lace and
embroidery there was, the more money the image
cost. The German soldier was only five shillings,
but then he did not look nearly so handsome.
Garibaldi was half-a-crown, because he had no
ornaments at all.
Antonio asked us if we would like to see him
V.] ABBOT'S COURT. 79
make a General. A lady had ordered one the day
before, and he could make him from beginning to
end in about an hour. Aunt Mary said we should
like it very much; so he began at once. Perhaps
you will be glad for me to tell you how it was
done, though of course I can't make you under-
stand so well as if you had seen everything
The moulds were made, as Papa had explained to
me before, of a very coarse, strong plaster. The
General's mould was of several pieces tied together
with matting. Antonio loosed these bands. Outside
they were quite rough and shapeless, but inside they
were as smooth as satin, and you could see every
little mark upon them that there was on the real
General. Then Antonio got some oil and a brush,
and oiled the inside of the mould very carefully
indeed. He took a great deal of pains with it,
because he said if he missed a single button the
plaster would stick and his General would be spoiled.
That was why English Generals were so expensive;
they had so many buttons; but then he got a better
price for them, so it came to the same thing in the
end. I am sure Papa was thinking something funny
80 NINE YEARS OLD. [CHAP.
whilst Antonio said this, for his eyes twinkled so;
but I don't know what it was.
I looked at everything very attentively, because,
you know, I was going to make an image myself,
in our jelly mould at home. When all the pieces
were oiled, Antonio tied them together again, and
the thing looked just as
turned it feet uppermost,
of plaster of Paris which
poured it into the mould
round, so that the plast(
little holes and corners.
quite out of breath. He
much shaking; the plaster
a German soldier in half tl
it did before. Then he
and stirred up a pail full
was standing ready, and
,and shook it round and
,r might get into all the
Poor man! it put him
said Generals wanted so
would have gone all over
he time. Then he set the
mould carefully down in one corner of the room, and
told us that in about an hour the image would be
quite ready. I did not know before that they could
make soldiers in that way, but then I was only a
little girl, and had many things to learn.
Whilst Antonio had been doing all this, I had
heard from time to time a sound of footsteps in the
inner room, and presently some one began to sing. It
was Piccola. How very beautifully she did sing, too!
V.] ABBOT'S COURT
Papa stood quite still to listen. He could scarcely
believe that a little girl only five years old could sing
so prettily. I was nine, and I could only hum three
tunes and a half. He thought he would like to hear
more, so he went and opened the door very gently,
very gently indeed, and there was Piccola, without her
shoes, dancing in the middle of the room, and singing
as she danced, and moving her head and arms in
time to the music. She had an old red scarf, too,
that she waved about, and twined round her, as I
had seen little girls do sometimes in front of the
shows at the ribbon fair.
She did not see us at first, for her face was towards
the other end of the room; but after a while she
made a wonderful pirouette, which brought her close
up to the door where we were standing. Oh! how
angry she did look then! I don't think I ever saw a
little girl's face change so quickly. All the laugh
went out of it in a minute. She stopped singing,
her arms fell down by her side like bits of lead, she
bit her lips and bent her brows down over her great
black eyes; and then, with a hop and a skip and a
bound, she disappeared amongst a heap of old curtains
behind a broken mould of the Duke of Wellington.
NINE YE4A RS OLD.
Antonio asked her to come out, but
I don't think she was a very obedient
as soon as we turned away, she gave the door such a
bang. She must have been in a bad temper to give
it such a bang as that. She quite frightened me, for
I had never seen little girls do so before.
Papa and Aunt Mary and Antonio sat down and
began to talk then, and as I could not understand
what they were saying, I thought I would walk
round the room and try if I could find anything to
amuse me. I should like to have gone and played
with Piccola, but I was afraid she would bang the
door in my face if I opened it again. Generally I
was very fond of little girls, and made friends with
them directly-that is, after we had stared at each
other a little while; but Piecola was so different,
she did not seem as if she wanted to be friends at all.
She would not even come to me for a gingerbread
nut that I held out to her. So I was obliged to
At last I found something which pleased me very
much. It was lying on the floor amongst a lot of
broken pieces of images, so I felt sure I might pick
it up and look at it.
_ III _I I
~_ __i ___________I1LI__IY
v.j ABBOT'S COURT. 83
It was a little church, about half as long as my
arm, made of plaster of Paris, like all the rest of the
things. It reminded me of Linwick church- Linwick,
you remember, was the place we stayed at the summer
before, where bad-tempered Mrs. Tubbs lived; it had
a low, square tower at one end, nearly covered with
ivy, and a porch at the side; and there was coloured
glass fastened into the windows, red and blue and
green and orange; and over one of the arches in the
tower was a clock, with figures all round, and two
hands, and a cross at the top of everything. Oh I
was so pleased. I thought if it was so pretty outside
what must the inside be, which, you know, ought
always to be the best part of a church; and as I
could not see through the coloured glass windows in
the front, I turned it round, thinking there might be
a door on the other side, and expecting to find arches
and clustered columns, and beautiful legends painted
on the walls, and figures of angels with palm branches
in their hands and crowns upon their heads, just like
the angels over the altar in our own church, that I
used to look at every Sunday morning whilst the
clergyman was busy preaching.
But how disappointed I was, when I turned it