HIS SIX LITTLE FRIENDS.
Front. Going to the Post.
HIS SIX LITTLE FRIENDS.
BY THE AUTHOR OF
'THE HEAVY SIXPENCE,' 'MY GREAT-AUNT'S CAT,' &c,
WITH ILLUSTRA TIONS.
FREDERICK WARNE AND CO.,
BEDFORD STREET, STRAND.
LAg AD ALO : RINI .
CLAY AND TAYLOR, PRINTERS.
Z. iO all English-speaking children of
- five and six years old-for whom,
I think, fewer story books are written
than for persons of any other age-this
little volume is dedicated. If it helps
them to pass pleasantly one rainy after-
noon; if it at all sweetens the trouble-
some task of learning to read; if, above
all, it leads one child to seek out some
of Willie Herbert's 'little friends,' and
so to share his happiness on Christmas
Day, it will not have been written in
WILLIE'S SECRET ... ...
THE COTTAGE IN THE FIELDS ...
MRS BAKER'S TROUBLE ... .
WILLIE'S COACH ... ...
A CHAPTER OF ACCIDENTS ..
FRIENDS IN NEED ...
CHRISTMAS DAY ...
... .. 28
. ... 50
... ... 67
... ... 79
. ... 94
... ... 03
HIS SIX LITTLE FRIENDS.
ILLIE HERBERT stood by the
drawing-room window, looking out
into the garden. It was a very
pretty garden in summer-time, with its gay
flowers and shady trees, and the smooth
green lawn, Iwhich John the gardener took
such good care of that it almost looked like
velvet; but just now it was winter-time,
and the flowers were all gone, and the leaves
were off the trees; and the grass had a dull,
faded look; and the sky was, oh! so black;
and the only cheerful thing to be seen was a
large holly bush, with glossy green leaves
nd bright red berries, right in front of the
window. Underneath the holly bush a little
robin, in its brown coat and scarlet waistcoat,
was hopping about, pecking at some berries
that had fallen. But in the middle of his
dinner he suddenly stopped short, jerked up
his tail, gave another hop ; and then, with a
sharp little cry, that sounded to Willie like
'tick! tick!' flew up into the holly tree.
The next minute there was a rustling in the
bushes near, and out sprang a cat, Willie's
pretty white cat with the blue ribbon round
her neck, who looked as if she were too
gentle to hurt a fly, but yet had such terribly
sharp claws and teeth, and was so fond of
catching and eating little birds. But the
robin was safe out of her reach by this time,
in one of the top branches of the holly bush,
which was far too close and prickly for puss
to think of climbing, and she could only sit
down below and wag her tail, as cats do
when they are annoyed.
AND HIS SIX LITTLE FRIENDS. I
She was still sitting there, watching the
little robin, and wishing, no doubt, with all
her heart, that he would come down and
finish his dinner, and give her an opportunity
of getting hers, when Willie noticed some-
thing soft and white come floating down past
the window. A year ago he might have
thought that some of the old goose's feathers
were flying about in the wind; but he was
older and wiser now, and knew that a snow-
storm was beginning. Puss knew it also, it
seemed; for she got up, gave a last look at
the robin, mewed sadly, shook herself, and
then trotted away into the house. What
became of the robin I cannot tell you; for
the snow was soon falling so thick and so
fast, that the holly bush was quite hidden
from sight; but I dare say he took good
care of himself.
It is a great pleasure to most little boys
to see the snow falling, and to think what
grand snowballing they will soon have, and
what fine snow-men they will build; but
Willie, as he watched the white flakes coming
thicker and thicker, did not look happy at
all. On the contrary, his little face grew
graver and graver; and by and by two great
tears gathered in his eyes, and rolled slowly
down his cheeks.
Willie's mother, who was sitting in her
arm-chair by the fire, knitting, happened to
turn her eyes towards the window just as
those tears were falling, and was sorry to see
her little boy looking so unhappy.
'Willie, darling,' she said, 'bring the foot-
stool, and come and sit by my side, and we
will have a nice little talk till Jane comes to
shut the shutters and light the candles.'
So Willie fetched the foot-stool, and put
it close to his mother's chair, in such a way
that he could lean his head against her knee
as he sat there; and Mrs Herbert stroked
his curly hair, and said,
'In ten more days Christmas will be here:
AND HIS SIX LITTLE FRIENDS. 13
I wonder what treat my little boy would like
to have this year ?'
You would have thought that at the men-
tion of Christmas, Willie's face would have
grown very bright, and that he would have
looked up with a happy smile. But instead
of that, he turned away his head, that his
mother might not see two more big tears
that would force their way out of his eyes,
and said sadly,
Mamma, I don't think I shall care about
Christmas at all this year.'
'And why not, my darling?'
'Because, mamma, last year dear papa
was at home, and I had six little friends to
spend the day with me: now papa is away
at sea, and all my little friends are gone.'
For a moment Mrs Herbert's face grew
quite as sad as her little boy's. More than
a fortnight had passed since Captain Her-
bert was to have come home to his family,
and they had heard no news of him; and
some people began to fear that the good
ship Albatross, of which he had the com-
mand, had gone down to the bottom of the
sea, and that he and his brave crew would
never come back again. But Mrs Herbert
knew that her husband was in God's hands,
wherever he might be; and day and night
she prayed, and had taught her little boy to
do the same, that it might please Him yet
to bring him home safe and sound. So she
smiled through her tears, as she answered,
'My darling, we don't know that dear
papa may not, after all, be with us before
Christmas Day really comes. But even if
he is not, it would make him sorry to think
that his little Willie had no Christmas hap-
piness on that account. We must try and
contrive some pleasure for you. What shall
it be? Do you remember what you did last
'Why, you know, mamma, in the first
place, my six little friends came to dinner.'
AND HIS SIX LITTLE FRIENDS. 15
'Six! was it as many as that? Do you
remember their names, dear ?'
'Yes, mamma, quite well. There were
the three Williamses Katie, and Laura,
'And now they have all gone away with
their papa and mamma to London: we cer-
tainly can't ask them this year,' said Mrs
Herbert. 'Who were the other three,
Willie ? '
'There was little Anna Wilson, Dr Wil-
son's grandchild. You know, mamma, she
was only staying with her grandpapa on a
visit; and she has never been here again.
And then there was Teddy Granton, who
broke his leg a little while ago; and the
doctor says if he doesn't keep quite, quite
quiet for ever so long, he will never be able
to walk again : so, of course, he can't come.'
'Poor Teddy!' replied Mrs Herbert.
'Well, Willie, that makes five: who was
the sixth ? '
'Mamma, don't you recollect ? It was
Maggie Lewis-such a little girl! But in
the summer she was very ill, and God took
her to heaven.'
Mrs Herbert had got her arm round
Willie now, and she pressed him still closer
to her side. After a little time she said,
My dear boy, I remember all your little
friends now. Can you tell me what you did
to amuse yourselves after dinner ?'
'We went into the nursery, mamma, and
played at games: Blind-man's-buff," and
" Puss-in-the-corner," and Post." I think
" Post" was the best, because we got papa
to come in and be postman-no one else
liked sitting still so long, you know-and he
made us all laugh by calling out the wrong
names. It was such fun !'
'And what did you do after the games,
Oh! then we went to tea, and after
tea there was the best thing of all. You
AND HIS SIX LITTLE FRIENDS. 17
remember, mamma, that Christmas tree-
wasn't it splendid? And there was a pre-
sent on it for everybody, even for nurse!
Oh it was such a happy day!'
'And I hope it will be a very happy day
this year, Willie dear.'
'I don't think it can be possibly, mamma.
I couldn't play at Post," or any of those
games, all by myself; and it would be no
fun having a Christmas tree if I had no
little friends here.'
'I don't think it would, dear; so it is
plain we can't have quite the same sort of
treat; but perhaps we can have something
else just as nice. I tell you what, Willie:
you and I must set to work in good earnest
to try and think of some plan. We will
both shut our eyes, and not say another
word for ten minutes; that will be till four
o'clock. And' then, when the clock strikes,
we will open them again, and tell each other
what we have thought of.'
So Willie screwed up his eyes and wrin-
kled his forehead, and any one coming into
the room would have guessed at once that
he was puzzling over some very difficult
question. And very difficult he did find it,
indeed ; for when the clock struck four, and
his mother said, quite cheerfully,
'Now, Willie, what are your thoughts
'It's no use, mamma; I can't think of
anything at all.'
'But I have thought of something,
'Have you really, mamma? Do tell me,
'You are very sorry, my dear boy, be-
cause you have lost the six little friends
you had last year. Well, I want you to
try and find out six new ones in their
'Six new little friends! I am afraid
AND HIS SIX LITTLE FRIENDS. 19
that would not be possible, mamma,' said
'And I think that it would be quite
possible, Willie, the sort of little friends I
mean. I want them to be rather different
from those you had last year. They were
all very happy, merry children; were they
not, dear ?'
'Yes, mamma, as happy as could be.'
'And this year, Willie, I want you to
choose for your own special little friends,
the six most unhappy boys and girls that
you can find.'
'Oh, mamma!' said Willie, drawing a
long breath; for he knew very well that
one sad or sulky child can quite spoil the
pleasure of a game; and he thought to
himself that a party composed entirely of
unhappy children would be a very dismal
'I think I know what my little boy is
thinking of,' said Mrs Herbert, kindly.
'But, dear Willie, I have only told you
one half of my plan. When you have
chosen your six unhappy little friends, the
next thing will be to see if you can't make
them all happy on Christmas Day.'
'How, mamma?' asked Willie, who only
half liked the idea now: 'shall we give them
a Christmas tree ? I'm afraid we couldn't
do it very well without papa.'
'No, dear, I don't think we will have a
Christmas tree this time. I think we shall
be able to find some other way to make
them happy. But the first thing to be done,
Willie, is to settle who the six little friends
are to be.'
'That is a difficulty, mamma,' replied
Willie; 'for I really don't know any unhappy
boys and girls except myself.'
'Are you quite sure, Willie ? Why, you
were speaking of one only a few minutes
ago: a little boy as fond of running about
as you are, but who is obliged to lie still
SAND HIS SIX LITTLE FRIENDS. 21
in bed all day and all night long. He won't
be able to have a merry game of play, or
make a snowball, or slide on the ice all this
winter, I am afraid. Don't you think he is
'Yes, mamma; I am sure he must be.
But I can't have Teddy Granton for one of
my friends this year, because they wouldn't
let him come here. He can't even walk
across the room, so nurse said.'
'He can't come to us, certainly; but
don't you think, dear, we could find some
way of giving him pleasure as he lies on his
bed at home ?'
'If I might go and see him. Oh, mamma!
I should like that !"' said Willie, eagerly.
'I am not quite sure that Dr Wilson
would allow it,' said Mrs Herbert; 'but
perhaps he would if you promised to be very
quiet. At any rate we will ask him. But,
Willie, even if you are not able to pay a visit
to your little friend, you might send him
something to make him happy. I wonder
what he would like! Is he fond of story
books, do you know?'
'He likes stories about adventures,
mamma, like "Masterman Ready," but I
don't think he cares much about other
'Well, we must try and find a very nice
book of adventures for him. One of these
days I will take you with me in the pony-
carriage to Arlford, and we will go to Mr
Peake's, the bookseller's, and you shall help
me choose one that you think Teddy will
like. And then, Willie, you shall give it
to your little friend as your own present;
because I shall buy it with some of the
.money that I should have spent in giving
you a treat at home.'
'Oh, mamma! what fun!' cried Willie.
Mrs Herbert was pleased to see her little
boy looking so bright and happy again.
Now, Willie,' she said, 'you have got to
AND HIS SIX LITTLE FRIENDS. 23
settle who your other little friends are to be.
We have only thought of one yet; there are
five more to choose.'
'Five, mamma! I am sure I can never
think of five more,' said Willie.
'Perhaps one is enough to think of to-
day,' said Mrs Herbert. 'To-morrow we
will take a walk into the village, and see if
we cannot find some more unhappy little
boys or girls whom you can make happy on
Christmas Day. By and by, when the can-
dles are lighted, I will give you a nice little
book, in which you can write down the names
of your friends as you decide on them, for
fear you should forget.'
Just at that moment the door opened,
and in came Jane, the housemaid, with the
candles; and Willie's white cat, with the
blue ribbon round her neck, followed close
behind. Puss seemed very much pleased to
see her young master. She ran up to him,
and rubbed herself against his legs, and
looked so pretty and loving, that no one
who had not seen her through the window
would have believed that she could have
been so cruel as to try to catch the poor little
While Willie was stroking the cat, his
mamma went to her desk, and soon came
back with a very pretty red pocket-book in
her hand. There was a nice little pencil
inside; but there was no writing on any of
This pocket-book is quite new, Willie,'
said his mother; 'and I will give it to you to
put down the names of your little friends
in, and anything else you want to remem-
Then she took out the pencil, and wrote
on the top of the first page, 'Willie's Six
'Now, Willie,' she said, 'you shall write
the names yourself.'
So Willie took out the pencil, and wrote
AND HIS SIX LITTLE FRIENDS. 25
in very large letters, for he was only just
learning to write, 'Teddy Granton.'
'That's all I know of at present, mamma,'
'Yes, dear,' said Mrs Herbert; but
when to-morrow evening comes we shall
have thought of some more, I hope. Now,
darling, shut up your little book, and put
it in your pocket, and go and get ready
for tea. Jane will be bringing in the urn
Willie did as he was bid; but when he
got to the door he turned back.
'Shall I tell nurse about my little friends,
'Yes, dear, you may if you like; but ask
her not to say anything about it to any one
else. We must keep it a grand secret till
the day comes.'
'I think I had better not tell her,
mamma,' said Willie, 'or it won't be a secret
When Willie got to the nursery, the first
thing he said was,
I've got a secret, nurse.'
'Have you, Master Willie? I hope you
will be able to keep it,' said nurse.
'Of course I shall,' replied Willie. 'You
forget, nurse, that I was five years old last
birthday. When people are five years old
they can keep secrets quite well.'
While nurse was brushing Willie's hair,
he pulled his pocket-book a little way out of
his pocket, so that she could see its bright
Is that your secret, Master Willie ?'
'Not exactly,' said Willie; but it's got
something to do with it.'
And then he ran down-stairs to tea, and
spent a very happy evening in the draw-
ing-room, with his mamma and the white
That night, when he was in bed, and
AND HIS SIX LITTLE FRIENDS. 27
nurse was tucking him up, Willie whispered
in her ear,
'Nurse, I want to know if you are ever
'Sometimes, Master Willie, when you
are a naughty boy,' answered nurse. 'When
you are good I am very happy indeed.'
'Ah but I forgot-you're not little at
all; so you wouldn't do, any way.'
And Willie laid his head down on the
pillow and fell asleep, and dreamt very funny
dreams about his six little friends.
THE COTTAGE IN THE FIELDS.
HEN Willie woke next morning, the
first thing he saw was his red
pocket-book lying on the table,
where nurse had put it when she turned out
his pockets the night before.
'Nurse,' he said, very solemnly, have
you been looking?'
'No, Master Willie, I wouldn't do any-
thing so dishonourable,' said nurse.
And Willie was satisfied, because he knew
that nurse never said anything that was not
quite the truth.
When he was dressed, he put the precious
book in his pocket, and went down-stairs;
AND HIS SIX LITTLE FRIENDS. 29
and as soon as he was alone with his mother,
he took it out, and said,
Mamma, have you forgotten our plan?'
'No, dear, I have not forgotten,' said
Mrs Herbert; 'and at twelve o'clock, when
all your lessons are done, I will take you
with me into the village, as I promised.'
After breakfast Willie amused himself
till ten o'clock, and then he got out his
books and began his lessons.
First his mother read a story out of the
Bible to him, after which he said a hymn.
Then he repeated the multiplication table
up to the fours quite perfectly. He made
a few mistakes when his mamma dodged
him, but not so many as usual, and each
time he was able to correct himself. After
that he read a page in his spelling-book;
and last of all he wrote four lines in his
'You have been a good boy about your
lessons to-day, Willie,' said Mrs Herbert,
kissing him. 'Now you may put away
your things, and go and get ready for your
walk. Ask nurse to give you your warmest
clothes, and your thickest boots, for it is
very cold, and the snow is on the ground.'
When Willie came down-stairs in his
gray knickerbockers and red stockings, and
the strong laced boots which the village
shoemaker had made for him, he found his
mamma ready dressed in the drawing-room.
'Have I been very long, mamma?' he
asked. I tried not to dawdle.'
I think you have been very quick, dear,'
said Mrs Herbert. I have only just come
down myself, although my boots had not to
be laced up as yours had.'
But then you hadn't nurse to help you,
mamma,' said Willie.
Puss was lying on the hearth-rug before
the fire, looking very comfortable; but when
Willie and his mother went out of the room,
she got up and followed them into the hall.
AND HIS SIX LITTLE FRIENDS. 31
When Mrs Herbert opened the front
door, Willie saw that John the gardener
had swept a clear path through the snow
down to the garden gate.
'What a pity, mamma!' he cried. 'It
would have been such fun walking through
But his mother told him that if the snow
had not been swept away, it would have
come up quite over his little boots.
'And then, Willie, your stockings would
have got wet, and you would have had those
tiresome chilblains again, as you had last
Willie did not like chilblains at all, so
he made no more complaints about the
Look, mamma,' he said; 'here is Pussy;
I do believe she is going out for a walk with
'Puss doesn't seem to like the snow
much,' said Mrs Herbert. 'See how she
shakes her paws. Cats can't bear getting
their feet wet.'
'I wonder if they are afraid of chilblains!'
By this time they had reached the gar-
den gate, and Puss, when she saw that
Willie and his mamma were going out into
the road, sat down and followed them no
farther. She knew that in the village there
were many rude dogs, who, if they caught
her, would treat her no better than she
wished to treat the poor little robin; and so,
like a wise cat, she determined to stay at
'Mamma,' said Willie, 'where are we
'Get up on this stile, Willie, and I will
Then Mrs Herbert pointed to a little
cottage that stood by itself in a field some
That is where we are going, my dear.'
AND HIS SIX LITTLE FRIENDS. 33
'Who lives there, mamma ?' asked Willie.
'A man named David Evans, who works
for Farmer Jones. His wife used to do our
washing; and once when you were very ill,
Willie, and nurse had gone home to see her
friends, she came and helped me to nurse
you. Doyou remember Mrs Evans ? She
was such a nice, kind person.'
I think I do, but I am not quite sure,'
said Willie. 'Mamma, I am. glad we are
going to see her to-day.'
'But, my darling, you won't see her.
Poor Mrs Evans died a little while ago, and
her two little children are left with no kind
mother to take care of them. The eldest
is a boy only a year or two older than you
are, Willie, and the other is almost a baby
-such a dear little fellow.'
I suppose they have a nurse to take care
of them, mamma ?'
'No, indeed, Willie. The elder brother,
whose name is Joey, has to do all the nurs-
ing, and, besides that, he has to cook his
father's dinner, and keep the house tidy.
Think of that !'
'He must be a very clever little boy,
mamma. I should like to see him.'
When they got near the house, Willie,
who had been staring at the roof very ear-
nestly for some minutes, said in a tone of
'Mamma, why isn't there any smoke
coming out of the chimney? I thought
chimneys were made on purpose for smoke.'
'So they are, my dear,' said Mrs Herbert,
'but there can't be any smoke unless there
is a fire; and I am afraid these poor children
are without one this cold day, or it may
be that they are not at home. We shall
Then Mrs Herbert walked through the
little garden, and knocked at the cottage door.
Come in,' said a voice from the inside;
so she lifted up the latch and went in.
AND HIS SIX LITTLE FRIENDS. 35
Willie, who had kept close to her side all
the time, gave a quick look round for Joey,
and saw a boy not much bigger than himself,
with a dirty face, and a jacket very much
out at elbows, kneeling on the floor, and
rocking a rough sort of cradle in which lay a
smaller boy. The room in which they were
was very dreary-looking, Willie thought.
There was not a bit of fire in the grate, and
the stone floor was in great need of washing.
In the middle of the room there was a small
round table, and on the table there was half
a loaf of dry bread and a mouldy rind of
'Good morning, Joey,' said Mrs Herbert,
as the boy got up from the floor and made
his bow. I hope Tommy isn't ill.'
'No, ma'am; I put him to bed to make
him warm,' said Joey: 'his jacket was broke,
so that he couldn't put it on, and he was
crying for the cold.'
'Poor little fellow!' said Mrs Herbert.
' How comes it that you have no fire to-day,
Joey Couldn't you manage to light it ?'
'We haven't got no coals, ma'am,' said
Joey. Father's been bad a fortnight, and
out of work, and he hadn't no money left to
I am very sorry to hear that,' said Mrs
Herbert. I hope your father is better again
'Yes, ma'am,' thank you. He's gone to
work again to-day. He'll be in just now to
'How will you manage to get his dinner
ready without a fire ?' asked Mrs Herbert.
'There ain't nothing to cook, ma'am,'
said Joey. 'It's only bread and cheese:
we've got nothing else in the house.'
Willie looked at the food on the round
table, and he squeezed his mother's hand
very tight, while his eyes filled with tears.
He knew that he was going home to a dinner
of hot meat and potatoes, and nice pudding;
AND HIS SIX LITTLE FRIENDS. 37
and it made him sad to think that these little
boys should have nothing to eat but dry
bread and mouldy cheese.
'Your father must have something more
than this if he wants to get strong again after
his illness,' said Mrs Herbert to Joey. 'I
know that my cook has been making some
nice soup to-day, and as soon as I get home,
I will send some one down with a large
jug-full for him, and you, and Tommy. It
will make your little brother quite warm, I
'Thank you kindly, ma'am,' said Joey,
with another bow; and Tommy's eyes spark-
led very brightly as he lay in his cradle.
'Now, Willie dear, we had better go,'
said Mrs Herbert.
So they said good-bye to Tommy and
Joey, and went out of the cottage. As soon
as they had got beyond the garden, Willie said,
'Mamma, why doesn't Joey wash his
'Perhaps it is because he has no kind
mother or nurse to remind him of it,' said
Mrs Herbert. 'And it may be that he
thinks that when his clothes are so ragged,
it does not matter whether he washes his
face or not ; but that is quite a mistake, for
he would look ever so much better if it were
'I am sure, mamma, that those little boys
are unhappy,' said Willie.
'Just what I was thinking, Willie,' said
his mother. 'Don't 'you think you had
better put down their names in your red.
'I should like to, mamma; only I don't
know what I can do to make them happy.
Joey wouldn't care for a book of adventures,
'I think you might find something that
would be much more useful to him. Use
your brains, Willie, and tell me what you
think he and his brother want most.'
AND HIS SIX LITTLE FRIENDS. 39
'They want a fire very badly,' replied
Willie. 'If I had enough money, I would
buy them a lot of coals to make one.'
'And is there nothing else you can make
fires of but coals ?'
'Oh yes, sticks, mamma! that's a capital
idea. There are lots in the garden and
plantation. I could get a barrow-full, I'm
'Well, Willie, suppose we make a bar-
gain. If you collect your barrow-full of
sticks, I will add a few coals, for sticks alone
burn so fast; and they shall have a splendid
fire on Christmas Day. But, my dear, we
must try and do something else for them.
If you were very hungry indeed, would you
be satisfied only to have a bright fire to
warm yourself by ?'
'Oh no, mamma; I should want some-
thing to eat,' said Willie. I wish we could
send them some dinner.'
I must speak to cook about it, and see
what she can manage,' said Mrs Herbert.
'And now, Willie, one thing more. Did
you notice how ragged those poor boys'
clothes were ?'
Yes, mamma. Joey's elbows were com-
ing through his sleeves, the holes were so big.'
'And poor Tommy was still worse off.
His brother said that his jacket was so badly
torn that he couldn't even put it on. I think,
Willie, that if nurse were to make a few
alterations in one of the jackets that you
have outgrown, it would do for little Tommy
'Oh yes, mamma; that would be nice!
But then nurse does not know about my
I think you had better tell her about it,
my dear. She will help you so much, and
I am sure she will keep your secret well if
you ask her.'
'Very well, mamma, I will do so,' said
AND HIS SIX LITTLE FRIENDS. 41
And no sooner did he get into the house,
than he ran up to the nursery, and showed
nurse his red pocket-book, and told her all
about the six little friends whom he wanted
to make happy on Christmas Day.
At least there are going to be six,' he
said. I have only got three yet.'
'I think it is a very nice plan indeed,
Master Willie,' said nurse; 'and if I can
help you in any way, I shall be most glad to
Then Willie gave nurse an account of his
visit to Tommy and Joey, and told her about
the bread and cheese, and how his mamma
was going to send them some soup. for
their dinner. And he went on to describe
their ragged clothes, and repeated what his
mamma had said about one of his old jackets
being made up for Tommy.
I will do that willingly,' said nurse, 'if
I only know what size to make it. How are
we to find that out, Master Willie ? I sup-
pose you don't want him to know anything
about it beforehand ?'
'Oh no,' said Willie, 'that would never do!'
'I'll tell you what I will do, then,' said
nurse; I will run down-stairs and see
whether your mamma has sent off the soup
yet, and if she has not, I will offer to take
it myself, and in that way I shall get a good
look at little Tommy.'
You'll be sure and not tell him my
secret, nurse ? said Willie.
'Certainly not, Master Willie. I shall
not tell any one.'
Then nurse went down-stairs, but very
soon she came up again to fetch her bonnet
'I was just in time, Master Willie,' she
said. 'Cook was on the point of pouring
out the soup, and your mamma had told
Jane to take it. But I have asked if I may
go instead, and Jane was glad, because she
has the cloth to lay for dinner.'
AND HIS SIX LITTLE FRIENDS. 43
'I wish I might go with you,' said
'I should be very glad to take you,
Master Willie,' said nurse; 'but, you see,
it would make you late for dinner, and your
mamma would not like that.'
'Won't you be back before dinner?'
Not before the first bell rings,' replied
nurse; 'and, you know, Master Willie, it
will take you some time to change all your
things. You must set to work as soon as
I am gone, like a good boy, and I hope I
shall find you almost ready when I come
When nurse had left the room, Willie
climbed up on to the wide window-seat and
watched till he saw her come out of the
house, with a big blue jug in her hand; but
when she had passed out of sight through
the yard gates, he got down again, and
seating himself on the floor, began to unlace
his boots. It was rather a long business,
for the lace had got wet in the snow and the
knot was difficult to untie; and by the time
he had got them both off, and put on his
thin indoor boots with elastic sides, the first
bell rang for dinner. There was still a good
deal to be done, but Willie made haste about
it, and he had changed his cloth clothes, and
washed his hands and his face, and was in
the act of brushing his curly hair, when the
door opened, and nurse came in.
'Why, nurse,' he said, 'how quick you
have been !'
'Time always seems to pass quickly
when people are busy,' said nurse, smiling.
I am glad to see you so far forward with
your dressing, Master Willie.'
'Have you seen Tommy ?' asked Willie.
'Yes,' said nurse, 'and I shall be able
to manage his jacket nicely. He wants it
badly, poor little fellow !'
'And what shall we do about Joey?'
AND HIS SIX LITTLE FRIENDS. 45
asked Willie. 'I don't think he could wear
one of my jackets very well.'
'No, indeed,' said nurse; 'it would be
a great deal too small for him. But I think
we shall be able to contrive something,
Master Willie. Some other time I will tell
you what I have thought of. You must not
stop now, for there is the second bell.'
'You will have to find some quiet occu-
pation for yourself this afternoon, my dear
Willie,' said Mrs Herbert, after dinner; 'for
I shall be busy till four o'clock, writing
letters and doing up accounts.'
'I think, mamma,' said Willie, 'I will go
up-stairs and have a talk with nurse. She
is going to tell me something about Joey.'
Willie found nurse busy unpicking one
of his jackets.
'You see, I have lost no time, Master
Willie,' she said.
'What are you pulling it all to pieces
for ?' asked Willie in a tone of wonder.
'Because it's too big for little Tommy as it
is,' said nurse. 'I must cut it all out fresh by
a smaller pattern, and then make it up again.'
'What a long time it will take!' said
Willie. 'Can't I help you, nurse ?'
'I'm afraid not, Master Willie, thank
you. Boys don't know anything about
needlework. If you had been a little girl,
now, you might have done a good deal, I
'Men do work sometimes,' said Willie,
gravely. 'The tailor does. He made all
'The tailor took a long time to learn his
business, I've no doubt,' said nurse; 'and
you've never put in a stitch in your life.
However, I really think you might help me
a little with the unpicking. Suppose you
undo the seam of this sleeve. Here is a pin
for you. If you had a pair of scissors, I'm
afraid you might cut the cloth.'
Willie took the sleeve and the pin, and
AND HIS SIX LITTLE FRIENDS. 47
set to work with a good will; but he soon
found that unpicking was not such an easy
matter as he had fancied from nurse's quick
way of doing it.
'Are you tired already, Master Willie?'
asked nurse presently, hearing some very
'Not very,' said Willie, with another
sigh; 'only the thread is so difficult to see.'
'You won't do for a tailor just yet,' said
nurse. 'Perhaps you had better let me
finish it for you.'
But Willie did not like to be beaten so
'I'd rather do it myself, thank you,' he
All this time Willie had been so interest-
ed in Tommy's jacket that he had quite for-
gotten about Joey till nurse said :
'I looked at that bigger boy's jacket,
when I was in the cottage this morning,
Master Willie, and really it is not a bad one
at all, if only it had a neat patch at the
elbows. If his poor mother had been living,
she would have mended it long ago.'
'And you could do it instead-that's
what you've been thinking of,' said Willie.
'But, nurse, how will you get the jacket ?'
It would be difficult for me to do it, cer-
tainly,' said nurse, 'if the boy is to know
nothing about it; but I thought I would
speak to Mrs Baker, the washerwoman, when
she comes for the clothes to-morrow. She is
a very kind-hearted woman, and would be
glad to help the poor boy, I know; and she
lives so much nearer to him than we do, that
it would be easy for her to mend his jacket
after he was gone to bed, so that he might
find it all right when he got up in the morn-
ing. What do you think of that plan, Mas-
'I think it will do famously,' said Willie.
'I'm very glad that I told you my secret,
AND HIS SIX LITTLE FRIENDS. 49
Willie finished his unpicking just as the
clock struck four, and then he went down-
stairs to his mamma in the drawing-room.
The last thing he did before he went to
bed that night was to write down in his red
pocket-book the names of his two new little
friends, Joey and Tommy Evans.
MRS BAKER'S TROUBLE.
7' N -' day was Saturday. After break-
(;. : t.i:t Willie did his lessons as usual;
but his mother told him that at
twelve o'clock, instead of going for a walk,
he might collect firewood for his little friends.
You had better go into the plantation,
dear,' she said: 'you will find a great many
more sticks there than in the garden, and
there is much less snow on the ground; ask
John to take the wheelbarrow there for you.'
Willie looked for the gardener in vain
for some time, but at last he found him in
the tool-shed, tearing up an old coat of Cap.
'Are you going to make it up again?'
AND HIS SIX LITTLE FRIENDS. 51
he asked, remembering how nurse had set to
work about Tommy's jacket.
'No, Master Willie, it is not worth it,'
said the gardener. 'See here,' and he showed
him some long strips that he had torn off.
'I am preparing shreds for nailing up the
fruit trees against the wall when the spring
If you please, John,' said Willie, sud-
denly remembering what he had come for,
'will you wheel the bairow to the plantation
for me ?'
'Are you thinking of wheeling away the
snow, Master Willie ?' asked the gardener.
'No,' said Willie, 'it's for something
else; but I can't tell you, because it's a
'Then I mustn't ask any more questions,'
said John; and without more ado he put
down the old coat, and wheeled the wheel-
barrow to the plantation door.
Willie waited till the gardener was out
of sight, and then he set to work, and
was so industrious, that by the time the
first dinner-bell rang the wheelbarrow was
nearly half full.
'I think, mamma,' he said, when he and
his mother were together in the drawing-
room after dinner, 'that if I work very
hard on Monday, I shall be able to finish
'That will be very nice,' said Mrs Her-
bert; 'and then it will be time to think of
some more little friends ; will it not, dear ?'
Just as she spoke, the door opened, and
Jane the housemaid came in.
'If you please, ma'am,' she said, 'Mrs
Baker, the washerwoman, is here. Do you
want to see her ? '
'I do,' cried Willie; and he jumped up
and ran up-stairs.
But when he got to the nursery door, he
stopped short with wonder, for in the rock-
ing-chair, close to the fire, sat Mrs Baker,
AND HIS SIX LITTLE FRIENDS. 53
crying and sobbing as though her heart
Come in, Master Willie,' said nurse,
when she saw him. 'I wish you would try
and comfort poor Mrs Baker. She is in
sad trouble about her little girl Rose.'
'What is the matter with Rose?' asked
'She is very ill indeed,' said nurse.
'They have sent her to the hospital- at
Arlford, in order that she may have better
doctoring, and I've no doubt that they take
good care of her; but she suffers a great
deal, poor little thing; and it is sad for her
and her mother to be parted at Christmas-
'I want to whisper to you, nurse,' said
Willie ; and nurse bent down her ear.
'Don't you think Rose would do for one of
my six little friends ?' he asked.
'Very well indeed, Master Willie,' she
So Willie went up to Mrs Baker, and
said very gently:
'Please don't cry any more. I will see if
I can make your little girl happy on Christ-
'It is very kind of you to say so, little
master,' said Mrs Baker, drying her eyes.;
'but I'm afraid that won't be an easy matter.
The hospital is a dull place for any one to
spend Christmas in; most of all for a little
child like Rose.'
Willie looked rather grave as she spoke.
'I must ask mamma,' he said; and he
went out of the room. Very soon he came
back, leading his mother by the hand.
'I am sorry to hear about your little
girl,' said Mrs Herbert to Mrs Baker; 'how
did she get ill ?'
'She caught a bad cold, ma'am,' said
Mrs Baker; 'and that turned to rheumatic
fever. The doctor, when he came to see
her, said she would never get well in such
a damp, draughty house as ours; so that
AND HIS SIX LITTLE FRIENDS. 55
when Mr Jones got an order for the hospital
for her, and promised that she should be
taken there in his own gig, wrapped in a
blanket, I was thankful enough to accept
his offer, though I do miss her terribly, dear
little thing '
'I am sure you must,' said Mrs Herbert,
kindly. 'But I hope that under the good
care and nursing she gets at the hospital,
she will soon be well enough to come back
to you. Have you been to see her yet since
she went to Arlford ?'
'Yes, ma'am, I saw her last Wednesday,'
said Mrs Baker. 'Wednesday and Saturday
are the two days that friends of the patients
are admitted, and I found Wednesday most
convenient this week. Next week I shall
try to go on Saturday, because of its being
Mrs Herbert said a few more cheering
words to Mrs Baker, and then she went
'I must wish you a good evening now,'
said Mrs Baker to nurse, 'and you, too,
And she took up her empty basket and
went out of the room.
'Oh, nurse !' cried Willie, 'we've for-
gotten all about Joey's jacket.'
'I did not forget, Master Willie,' said
nurse. 'I spoke to Mrs Baker about it
before you came into the room, and she
says she will be very glad to mend it for
him. And she is also going to try and
tidy up the house for them a bit against
'I am so glad !' said Willie.
Mamma,' said Willie, after tea, 'do you
think I could make that little girl happy in
the hospital ?'
'I think you might, my dear boy,' said
Mrs Herbert. 'You might, at any rate, help
her to forget her pain, and that would go a
great way towards making her happy.'
'But how could I do that, mamma ?'
AND HIS SIX LITTLE FRIENDS. 57
'What are you going to do for Teddy
Granton, Willie ?'
We are going to send him a story-book,
mamma. But Rose is such a little girl: I
don't think she can read.'
'I don't think she could read anything
that was not very easy,' said Mrs Herbert;
'she would like pictures better. Suppose
you were to make her a scrap-book, Willie,
like the one that Cousin Jane sent you last
Christmas. I have got plenty of pictures
that I can give you; and you shall paint
them and cut them out, and when we go to
Arlford I will buy some calico to make a
book to paste them in.'
Willie was delighted with the idea, and
was anxious to set to work at once.
'You know, mamma,' he said, 'there isn't
much time to lose : this day week is Christ-
'Quite true, my dear,' said Mrs Herbert;
and she went to her cupboard and brought
out one or two numbers of the 'Illustrated
Some of these pictures are a great deal
too large for your scrap-book, Willie,' she
said; 'but there are some smaller ones that
will do very nicely. Look at these ducks
and geese, and these rabbits with long ears.
They are just the sort of thing to please Rose.'
'Mamma, they are splendid,' said Willie.
' May I get my paint-box and paint them ?'
'Not to-night, my dear,' said Mrs Her-
bert; 'you would find it very difficult to do
by candle-light. We shall have enough to
do for the present in cutting out roughly
those pictures that we think will do for the
scrap-book. When that is done, we will put
them all together in a paper bag, that they
may not get lost. On Monday, if all is well,
you shall begin painting them; and when the
painting is done, we must cut them out
neatly, and paste them in the book I am
going to make.'
AND HIS SIX LITTLE FRIENDS. 59
Willie was as happy as a king for the rest
of the evening. If you had seen his bright
face as he looked over the pictures, and chose
out those that he thought Rose would like
best, you would hardly have believed he was
the same little boy who had said so sadly
two days before:
'Mamma, I don't think I shall care at all
about Christmas this year.'
Monday was a very busy day for Willie.
In the morning he finished getting his wheel-
barrow-full of sticks, and after dinner, as long
as the day-light lasted, he painted some of
the pictures for Rose's scrap-book. On
Tuesday morning Mrs Herbert said to him,
'I am going to take you out with me to-
day, Willie, dear; and as we shall have a
good deal to do, I mean to excuse you some
of your lessons, and let you leave off at
'Oh, thank you, mamma,' said Willie;
' where are we going ?'
'You will know when the time comes,'
answered his mother. 'Don't talk any more
now, but get out your books.'
'I believe we are going into the village
to look for some more little friends,' Willie
said to nurse, when he went up-stairs to put
on his outdoor things. But when he came
down again he changed his mind, for by the
hall door, which was open, stood Polly, the
pretty chestnut pony, with the little basket-
carriage; and there was also John, the gar-
dener, with his white driving-gloves on.
'Oh, mamma! we are going out for a
drive how jolly!' cried Willie.
'We are going to Arlford to get those
things we were speaking of,' said Mrs Her-
bert. 'Jump in, darling; there is no time to
lose. I want to call at Dr Wilson's on our
When they got to the doctor's house, they
saw his gig standing at the garden gate; and
the doctor himself, a stout, good-natured-
AND HIS SIX LITTLE FRIENDS. 61
looking gentleman, was hurrying down the
When he saw that the pony-carriage had
stopped, he came round to it, and shook
hands with Mrs Herbert.
'Nothing amiss at your house, I hope?'
he said : 'your little boy looks as blooming
as a full-blown rose.'
'No, there is nothing the matter, thank
you,' said Mrs Herbert. 'I came to ask
about Teddy Granton. I heard that the
poor little fellow had broken his leg: I hope
it is not a serious case.'
'It was rather a bad accident,' said the
doctor; 'but he is going on well, and I
have no fear but that he will be all right
again by and by, if he can only be kept
quiet. It is a difficult matter with an active
little monkey like that.'
Would there be any harm in my taking
Willie to see him ?' asked Mrs Herbert.
' He is very anxious to pay his little friend
a visit; but I would not do it without your
'No harm at all,' said Dr Wilson, 'if
he does not stay long, and is careful not to
excite him. I can quite trust to your dis-
cretion, Mrs Herbert; and my friend Willie
can, I know, be as quiet as a little mouse if
he pleases. And now I must wish you both
good morning, for one of my patients is ex-
As the doctor drove off, he said to his
'I am afraid there is no news of the
Captain yet. I did not like to ask Mrs
Herbert; but I feel sure she would have
told me if there had been.'
'Ah, sir!' said James, 'I'm afraid that
when news does come, it won't be anything
good. They say in the papers that a great
many vessels were wrecked during the stormy
weather last week; and who can tell whether
Captain Herbert's may not have been among
AND HIS SIX LITTLE FRIENDS. 63
them ? It's a sad pity, for he was a good,
kind gentleman; and there are many that
would be grieved if any harm has happened
to him, not to speak of that poor lady and
her little boy.'
In the mean time Willie and his mamma
were driving on to Arlford. When they got
to the shop of Mr Peake, the bookseller,
Mrs Herbert told John to stop, and she
and her little boy got out.
'Now, Willie,' she said, 'we must choose
Teddy's present. Will you show us some
books of adventures, please, Mr Peake, such
as boys like ?'
'I sent for a great many new ones the
other day; we sell so many at Christmas-
time,' said Mr Peake. And he fetched
from the shelves such a number of pretty-
looking books in bright blue and red covers,
that Willie was quite puzzled among them
all. Each one seemed to him more beau-
tiful than all the rest; and I think he would
not have made up his mind which to take
before night, if his mamma had not been at
hand to advise him.
Here is Robinson Crusoe," she said,
taking up one of the blue books. 'Teddy
is sure to have read that, so we may as well
put it aside at once; and most likely he
has seen The Swiss Family Robinson," so
that may go on the top of it. What is this
red book ? Stories of the Gorilla Country."
I think Teddy would like this, don't you,
Willie? Look what wonderful pictures it
'Mayn't I look at one or two more?'
asked Willie. And his mamma read out a
few more names, and showed Willie some
of the pictures; but after all he decided
that the Gorilla' book was the best; so
Mr Peake did it up in white paper tied with
pink string, and Willie had the pleasure of
carrying the parcel back with him to the
AND HIS SIX LITTLE FRIENDS. 65
They next went to Mr Thompson's, the
linen-draper; and here Mrs Herbert bought
four yards of glazed calico of four different
colours-red, blue, green, and yellow-for
Willie's scrap-book. When this was done,
'Now, John, drive straight home, if you
'It strikes me, Willie,' said Mrs Her-
bert, after dinner, 'that if that scrap-book
is to be finished by Christmas Day, we must
work very industriously at it. Run up to
my room, dear, and bring down that parcel
'Mamma,' said Willie, when he came
down again, 'when are we to take that
book to Teddy?'
'I think, dear, that we might go on
Christmas Eve ; that will be on Friday,'
replied his mother; 'and then he will be
able to enjoy his book on Christmas Day.'
Mrs Herbert now set to work to cut and
66 WILLIE HERBERT,
sew the calico into the shape of a scrap-book,
and a very pretty bright book it made.
Willie was anxious to begin pasting in the
pictures at once ; but his mother said,
'No, dear; pasting is such messy work,
that you will have to do it in the nursery.
You had much better leave that to the last,
and get on with the painting and cutting
out. I will bring another paint-brush, and
come and help you.'
AND HIS SIX LITTLE FRIENDS, 67
HEN Willie went up to the nursery
after lessons next morning, nurse
showed him the jacket that she had
been making for Tommy. It was quite
finished, and looked very nice indeed.
'I never thought you would get it done
so soon,' said Willie. 'It won't be wanted
for a great many days yet.'
'Ah! but, Master Willie,' said nurse,
'there are other things to be made. Your
mamma has given me leave to make up an
entire suit for him, under-things and all; so,
you see, I am none too soon.'
'What are these boots for ?' asked Willie,
taking up an old pair of his own that were
lying on the table.
'Those are what we thought would do
nicely for Tommy,' said nurse; 'don't you
think they would, Master Willie?'
'They've got such holes in them,' said
Willie. 'He would get chilblains, I'm sure.'
'The holes are only in the toes,' said
nurse; 'and the shoemaker will be able to
mend them so as to look almost as good as
new. I thought, Master Willie, we would
go there for part of our walk to-day; and I
want to get something at the shop also.'
'I like shopping,' said Willie; and he
made extra haste in putting on his boots.
They found the shoemaker in his work-
room, making a pair of boots.
'I hope you are not very busy,' said
nurse. 'We have brought a little piece of
work for you, which we shall be glad to have
done as soon as possible.'
Is it anything very particular ?' asked
the shoemaker. 'My hands are very full
this week. Next week I shall have more
AND HIS SIX LITTLE FRIENDS. 69
Willie's face clouded over, and nurse said,
It is only this little pair of boots to be
mended. I don't think it will take you long
to do them; and if you could let us have
them before Christmas Day, we should be
very much obliged to you. We have a par-
ticular reason for wanting to have them done
The shoemaker took the boots in his
hand, and looked down at Willie's feet.
'The young gentleman has outgrown
these boots,' he said. 'I don't see that it's
any use my mending them.'
'They are not for his own wear,' said
They are for--some one,' said Willie.
He had been on the point of saying 'Tommy
Evans,' when he remembered that he was
not to say anything about his little friends.
'All right, sir,' said the shoemaker, smil-
ing. 'I shall take care that "some one is
not kept waiting. I will send up the boots
on Friday evening: will that do?'
'Very well indeed, thank you,' said nurse.
'Now, Master Willie, we must be going.'
When they got to the shop they saw only
a little girl, sitting in a chair behind the
'Good morning, Mary,' said nurse. 'Is
your mother at home ?'
'Yes,' said the child. And she began
calling out 'Mother, mother!' as loud as she
could, which Willie thought was rather rude.
Nurse had often told him that if he wanted
to speak to his mother, he ought to go
and look for her, and not shout 'Mamma,
mamma!' all over the house; and he thought
that the little girl ought to have got down
from her chair, and gone to fetch her mother.
Soon a door opened, and a pleasant-look-
ing woman came in.
'Good morning, Mrs Williams,' said nurse.
'Will you please give me half an ounce of
black thread ?'
Mrs Williams put the scales on the coun-
AND HIS SIX LITTLE FRIENDS. 71
ter, and took some knots of black thread out
of a drawer. While she was weighing it,
'We seem likely to have a sharp Christ-
mas this year.'
We do, indeed,' said Mrs Williams; 'and
for my own part, I must say I like to have it
so; but for my Mary's sake I am sorry.
When the weather is warm and dry she can
sit out of doors; but when it's cold or damp
she has to stay in all day, now that she's
grown too big to be carried.'
'It's a pity you haven't got a little car-
riage in which her brother could wheel her
about,' said nurse.
'I wish we had, with all my heart,' said
Mrs Williams. 'Her father did hope he
might be able to get something of the kind
for her this winter; but business has been
so slack lately, that really we can't afford it
at present. It is a sad disappointment to us
all, for she had so set her heart on going to
72 WILLIE HERBERT,
church with us on Christmas Day. But it
can't be helped, I tell her; and we must be
thankful for those blessings that we have.'
All the time that this conversation was
going on, Willie was staring at Mary in
great surprise. He couldn't at all under-
stand why such a big girl could not walk to
church without wanting to be wheeled in a
carriage. He was still more surprised when
her face suddenly turned very red, and she
began to cry.
But by this time the thread was weighed
and wrapped in paper, and nurse, having said
good-bye to Mary and her mother, led Willie
out of the shop.
'Did you notice that poor little girl, Mas-
ter Willie ?' she asked, before Willie had
time to say anything.
'What was the matter with her ?' asked
Willie. 'Why did her mother say she
couldn't go out ? She didn't look ill at all.'
'No, she's not ill exactly,' said nurse;
AND HIIS SIX LITTLE FRIENDS. 73
'but there's something wrong with the poor
child's feet, and she is not able to walk. If
she wants to go from one room to another,
she has to be carried just like a baby.'
'Did she break her leg?' asked Willie,
thinking of Teddy Granton.
'No, Master Willie; it wasn't an acci-
dent of any sort. I don't rightly understand
how it is-a weakness in the bones, maybe
-but she never has been able to walk, and
the doctors say she never will, not even if
she lives to be an old woman.'
'Poor little girl!' said Willie. 'Nurse,
I should like very much to have her for one
of my little friends. I have only got four
yet; but, you see, I couldn't help her to
walk, and I'm sure she couldn't be happy
'I'm not quite so sure of that, Master
Willie,' said nurse. 'I don't think it takes
very much to make her happy. She has a
bright contented little face in general. I
74 WILLIE HERBERT,
shouldn't wonder if you were to find some
way of giving her a great deal of pleasure.'
By this time they had reached the garden
'It is too soon to go in yet,' said nurse.
' We will stay in the garden till the dinner-
'I wish I could find puss,' said Willie,
'and I would give her a drive in my coach.'
'I think I can tell you where you are
likely to find her, Master Willie, and that is
under the holly tree on the lawn. I have
often seen her there lately, though what she
finds to interest her I can't imagine.'
'I know!' said Willie: 'she goes after
that poor little robin. I hope she won't
catch it. She tried to the other day, but
the robin flew up into the tree.'
They went round to the lawn, and there,
true enough, under the holly tree was seated
Miss Puss, looking as innocent as possible,
with her soft white face and pretty blue
AND HIS SIX LITTLE FRIENDS. 75
ribbon. When she saw her little master,
she got up and came to meet him with her
tail in the air.
'Now, my dear, you must be very good,
and you shall have a nice drive,' said Willie,
taking her up in his arms.
'I don't think puss cares much about
drives,' said nurse.
'She ought to,' said Willie, I make her
very comfortable, I am sure.'
Willie's 'coach' was the perambulator
which he had been wheeled about in as a
baby, and which-as it was now no longer
wanted, and was, moreover, old and shabby,
for it had belonged to a large family of his
cousins before it came to him-he was
allowed to use as a plaything. It was kept
in the tool-shed, which Willie called his
'coach-house;' and he liked nothing better
than wheeling it about the garden walks,
especially when he could get the cat to sit
I am afraid that puss herself did not
enjoy the treat quite so much, for as soon
as they got to the door of the shed she tried
hard to escape from Willie's arms, and did
not seem at all willing to be put into the
'Please hold her in, nurse, while I draw
out the coach,' said Willie.
'Indeed, Master Willie, I think it is
cruel. I am sure she does not like it.'
'She will, nurse, when once we begin to
go,' said Willie: 'she won't jump out then,
you will see.'
Then Willie set off running at full speed
along the gravel walk, with his 'coach' be-
hind him; and puss did really stay quite
still, though it must be owned that she
looked more frightened than happy, for she
put out her sharp claws and clung to the
cushion with all her might; and no sooner
did they come to a turn in the walk, where
Willie paused to take breath, than out she
sprang, and the next minute had disappeared
AND HIS SIX LITTLE FRIENDS. 77
from sight among the laurustinus bushes.
'It is very unkind of her,' said Willie,
half crying, as nurse came up to him.
'Perhaps puss thinks that you are un-
kind, Master Willie,' said nurse. 'It is a
pleasure to children to be driven about, but
it doesn't come natural to cats. If little
Mary Williams, now, had a chance of a drive
in that carriage, she'd be most thankful, I
'She can't have it, because it's mine,'
said Willie, quickly; and he ran away with his
coach as fast as he could, as though he were
afraid that nurse meant to take it from him.
Mrs Herbert noticed that Willie was
very silent at dinner that day, and that he
hardly spoke a word while he was busied
with his painting in the afternoon. When
it grew too dark for him to see to go on,
and he came to the fire-side and took his
favourite seat on the foot-stool, leaning his
head against her knee, she said, as she
stroked his hair.
'I wonder what my darling is thinking
of. Why does he look so grave ?'
'Mamma,' said Willie slowly, 'I have
chosen another little friend.'
'And who is that, dear ?' she asked.
'A poor girl at the shop, mamma, who
can't walk. Her name is Mary Williams.'
I am very glad you have chosen her,'
said Mrs Herbert. 'Have you thought of
anything you can do for her, dear ?'
S'Yes, mamma,' said Willie, drawing a
deep breath : 'if you will let me, I am going
to give her my coach.'
Mrs Herbert knew how much Willie
prized his perambulator, and that it must
have cost him a hard struggle to make up
his mind to give it up.
'That was a very kind thought of my
little boy's,' she said, as she bent down and
kissed him fondly; 'and I don't think any-
thing would give greater pleasure either to
poor Mary or her mother.'
AND HIS SIX LITTLE FRIENDS. 79
A CHAPTER OF ACCIDENTS.
EXT day it snowed so heavily all
the morning that Willie was un-
able to go out; but he was not
sorry for this, as he was able to get on all
the better with his scrap-book. His mamma
and nurse both helped him with it, and they
got a great deal done before the dinner-bell
In the afternoon the snow stopped and
the sky grew brighter, and Mrs Herbert
said to Willie,
'If you like to put on your great coat
and thick boots, you may run out into the
garden and see how John is getting on with
the carriage for Mary.'
The perambulator had been found to
want mending in several places; but John,
the gardener, who was clever in all sorts of
handiwork, had promised to put it quite to
rights before Christmas Day; and he was
now busy about it in the tool-shed.
When Willie had admired his 'coach,'
which was already wonderfully improved in
appearance, he said,
'I hope it's going to be a fine day to-
morrow, John; because mamma and I are
going to drive to Kimberton to see a little
friend of mine.'
But the gardener looked grave, and said,
I am afraid, Master Willie, you won't
be able to do that. I was taking Polly out
for a little exercise to-day, and it seemed to
me that she went rather lame. If she is not
better to-morrow it won't be right for her to
go so far.'
It was a great trouble to poor Willie to
hear this : he had so reckoned on that visit
AND HIS SIX LITTLE FRIENDS. 81
to Teddy. He ran in at once to tell the
bad news to his mother.
'I think I had better speak to John my-
self,' she said, and she put on her goloshes
and warm shawl, and went back to the shed
'I am sorry to hear that the pony is a
little lame,' she said to the gardener. 'I
hope there is not much the matter.'
'I think it is only a little sprain, ma'am,'
said John; 'and I'm in hopes she maybe
nearly well again to-morrow; but if she is
not quite right, a long drive would be a
very bad thing for her.'
'Of course it would,' said Mrs Herbert.
'I should not think of going to Kimberton
in that case; so, Willie, dear, we must be
prepared for the disappointment.'
Willie made no answer. He was trying
hard to keep back his tears, for he was
ashamed that John, the gardener, should
see them ; but no sooner was he safe in the
nursery than he threw himself down on the
rug, and cried and sobbed in a way that
quite frightened nurse, who could not think
what was the matter.
After a little time he became quieter, and
was able to tell her the cause of his trouble,
but it was in vain that she tried to comfort
'You will have all the more time to finish
your scrap-book for little Rose,' she said.
But Willie answered crossly,
'I don't care about Rose or about the
scrap-book. All I want is to go to Kim-
berton, and they won't let me.'
Nurse saw that Willie was out of temper,
so she said nothing more to him, but went
on stitching at Tommy's clothes till the tea-
bell rang, and he had to wash his hands and
face and go down-stairs.
Dear Willie, I have been expecting you
for ever so long. What have you been doing
all the afternoon ?' asked Mrs Herbert.
AND HIS SIX LITTLE FRIENDS. 83
'Nothing particular,' answered Willie.
But his mamma saw from the look of his
eyes that he had been crying.
'I shall be so sorry for you, my darling,
if we are not able to go to Kimberton to-
morrow,' she said; 'but it's one of those
things that can't be helped, and we must try
and make the best of it.'
Willie's tears began to flow afresh; but
he turned away from his mother and said
If dear papa were here to-night, I am
afraid he would not think that his Willie
was acting like a brave boy,' said Mrs Her-
At the mention of his father's name
Willie's heart softened; and hiding his face
in his mother's lap, he said, sobbing,
'Mamma, it isn't wrong to wish to go
and see Teddy, is it?'
'No, dear, it is a quite right and natural
wish ; but it is wrong to be fretful and crcss
because you can't go just at the time you
want. You know, my darling, this disap-
pointment could never have come if God
had not allowed it.'
But why did He allow it, do you think,
'Do you remember, dear, that some time
ago you had got into a habit of always asking
"Why?" when you were told to do anything?
And one day papa said to you, "Mamma is
much wiser than you are, Willie; and you
may be quite sure that there is some good
reason for all she tells you, even though you
can't understand it." Now, this is still more
true with regard to God. I might make a
mistake, but He never can. He is wiser
than the wisest person in the world; and we
must learn to trust Him, Willie, and to
believe that all He sends us is really for
our good, even though it may come in the
shape of a trouble. Now wipe your eyes
and draw in your chair to the table, and
AND HIS SIX LITTLE FRIENDS. 85
I shall know that you are trying to be a
Before he went to bed, Willie whispered
to his mother,
Mamma, would it be wrong to ask God
in my prayers to-night to make Polly well ?'
'No, my dear child,' answered his mother.
'But ask Him also, if He does not see fit
to make the pony well, to help you to bear
the disappointment cheerfully.'
Next morning at breakfast Mrs Herbert
'John tells me that the pony is a little
better to-day, Willie, but not quite well; so
we must make ourselves as happy as we can
Two or three rebellious tears started to
Willie's eyes as she spoke, but he managed
to keep them back; and it was with some-
thing very like a smile that he said,
'I shall be able to get on famously with
'I have been thinking about Teddy's
book,' said Mrs Herbert. 'Don't you think
it would be a good plan to send it by post
to-day? and then he will get it on Christmas
Willie was delighted with the idea, and
for fear it should be forgotten, Mrs Herbert
said that she would do it up, ready to go,
the first thing after breakfast.
'What shall I put inside, Willie? Shall
I write 'Teddy Granton, from his affectionate
friend, Willie Herbert,' or shall we put
nothing, and leave him to guess who it comes
'I think that would be best, mamma. I
wonder if he will find out!'
So the book was done up and put in the
post-bag, and then Mrs Herbert said,
I advise you to go to the nursery at once,
Willie, and get on with your scrap-book. I
don't mean to give you any lessons to-day.
By and by I hope I shall be able to come
AND HIS SIX LITTLE FRIENDS. 87
and help you; but just now I am too busy.'
When Willie went up-stairs he found nurse
putting the last stitch to Tommy's clothes.
He quite jumped with delight when he saw
what a pretty little suit she had made for
'I wish Joey's jacket was as nice,' he
'Oh, you may trust Mrs Baker for seeing
to that,' said nurse. 'She is a very tidy
Willie had pasted a good many pictures
into his scrap-book; but the precious long-
eared rabbits were not even painted yet.
They were to be his first work this morning.
Aren't they beauties, nurse ?' he asked,
holding them up.
'They are very fine animals, certainly,
Master Willie,' said nurse.
'I want to know what colour to paint
them,' said Willie.
A kind of gray, I should say,' said nurse.
But I haven't got any gray in my paint-
box,' said Willie.
'Well, then, try brown,' said nurse. 'You
have got that, I suppose ?'
'Oh, yes,' answered Willie. I've got
three different kinds of brown: sepia, and
Vandyke brown, and burnt sienna; which
shall I take ?'
'I should rub them all down, and take
the one I liked best,' said nurse.
Willie did what nurse advised him, and
then he said,
'I like burnt sienna best; the others are
'It's a nice bright colour, at any rate,'
'I've done them all now except the eyes,'
said Willie after a little time. 'What colour
are rabbits' eyes, nurse?'
Nurse looked puzzled.
Indeed, Master Willie, I hardly know:
sometimes they are pink, I believe.'
AND HIS SIX LITTLE FRIENDS. 89
'Pink will do very well,' said Willie;
'I've got some on my plate all ready.'
But he was not altogether pleased with
the pink eyes when they were finished.
'They look just as if they had been cry-
ing,' he said.
'If you don't like it, you had better put
some other colour over that,' said nurse.
'I don't know what colour to put,' said
Willie. 'Oh! I know. I will paint them
the same colour as pussy's.'
The white cat happened to be sitting on
the nursery rug; and the next minute Willie
was on his knees beside her, trying to ex-
amine her eyes. But this was no easy matter,
for puss was either sleepy or obstinate, or
perhaps both, and she kept them tight shut.
'There is really no need for you to look,
Master Willie,' said nurse. 'Don't you know
that a cat's eyes are always green ?'
'Of course!' cried Willie; 'how stupid
I was !'
'He took the cake of emerald green from
his paint-box, and having rubbed some down
on his plate, he laid it carefully over the
pink of the rabbits' eyes.
'How does that do, Master Willie?'
'They look rather like cats,' said Willie;
'but that does not matter much. Now I
must cut them out.'
Mrs Herbert had given Willie a pair of
scissors with rounded points, for fear of
accidents; but he had not been long busied
about the rabbits when he set up a sudden
howl that made nurse fear that, in spite of
this care, he had contrived to cut his finger.
She jumped up and ran to him, and at the
same moment the door opened, and Mrs
Herbert came in.
My dear Willie, what is the matter ? you
have not hurt yourself, I hope ?' she said.
'Oh, mamma! it's a great deal worse.
My poor rabbits!' he cried; and Mrs Her-
AND HIS SIX LITTLE FRIENDS. 91
jert, coming to the table, saw that, in trying
to cut round one of the long ears, Willie
had accidentally snipped off the poor crea-
'This is a sad misfortune, my dear boy,'
said she; 'but crying won't make things
any better. Let me see what I can do. I am
a capital doctor, you know; better than Dr
Wilson, some of the village people say. Give
me your scissors, please, Willie, and then
fetch me down the paste from the shelf.'
Mrs Herbert very carefully finished cut-
ting out the headless rabbit and its com-
'Now tell me, Willie, where they are to
go in the scrap-book,' she said.
'It looks very horrid, mamma, without a
head,' said Willie, dolefully, as she pasted
them in at the spot he had pointed out.
Have a little patience, Willie,' she an-
swered ; and then she took up the head that
had been cut off, and pasted it in close to
the body, so that no one who did not look
very carefully indeed could have told that
it was not really joined on.
Willie was enchanted to see his pet look-
ing so well again.
'You are wonderfully clever, mamma,'
'I see you have Miss Puss up here,' said
Mrs Herbert. 'How should you like to
have a picture of her to put in your book ?'
'Very much indeed, mamma,' said Willie;
and Rose would be extremely pleased, I am
sure; for she said one day when she came
here with her mother that she thought she
was the prettiest cat in the world.'
Mrs Herbert had brought a pencil and
some paper with her, and very soon she
had made a pretty drawing of puss, who
was as good as possible as far as sitting
still went, though she vexed Willie by per-
sisting in keeping her eyes shut.
Now, Willie, rub me a little blue, please,
AND HIS SIX LITTLE FRIENDS. 93
and I will paint the ribbon round her neck.'
You will want some white too, mamma.'
'No, my dear,' said Mrs Herbert, 'that
would only be a waste of time and paint;
the white paper will look just as well.'
Then she took her scissors and cut out
the cat, and pasted her right in the middle
of the last page of all, which was of a bright
red colour, and showed her off nicely.
'How do you think that will do, Willie ?'
'She looks quite beautiful, mamma,' said
FRIENDS IN NEED.
' F-7) WONDER, Willie,' said Mrs Her-
bert, after dinner, whether you
could manage to take the letter-
bag to the post for me this afternoon. John
is so busy with the perambulator that I
don't like to call him off, and I think you
are quite old enough to be trusted to go
that little way by yourself.'
'Oh, yes, mamma! do let me, I should
like it so much,' said Willie.
You will have to make haste, then, dear
child,' said his mother. 'Run up-stairs at
once, and get your things on.'
'Nurse,' said Willie, 'may I have my
AND HIS SIX LITTLE FRIENDS. 95
boots quickly, please ? I am going to take
the letters to the post.'
'All by yourself, Master Willie?' asked
'Yes,' said Willie. 'Mamma gave me
'Well,' said nurse, 'I dare say it is time
you learned to take care of yourself a little;
but I do beg, Master Willie, that you will
walk in the middle of the road, and not
tramp along in the deepest snow you can
find. It is easier to get into a drift than
out again sometimes, I can tell you.'
When Willie went down-stairs, his mamma
hung the letter-bag round his neck, and let
him out at the front door.
'Be careful, dear,' she said, 'the ground
seems very slippery.'
In spite of this warning Willie did not
reach the village without one or two tumbles;
but he jumped up quickly each time without
being much the worse, and the post-bag was
fortunately locked, so that none of the letters
could fall out.
When he got to the post-office, he saw
a little girl standing by the stile, crying
'What is the matter ?' asked Willie.
But she only cried the more, and gave
him no answer.
'Are you ill?' asked Willie again.
The little girl shook her head.
'Are any of your friends ill ?'
Once more she shook her head, but said
'If you would tell me what is the matter,
perhaps I might be able to help you,' said
Willie; 'but of course I can't if I don't
know what it is.'
And he got over the stile and walked into
'Ah! here comes little Master Herbert
with the Captain's letter-bag,' said Mrs
Jenkins, the postmistress. 'You are just
AND HIS SIX LITTLE FRIENDS. 97
in time, my dear: it is five minutes past
three, and the postman was getting impatient
to be off.'
Willie waited till the postman had shoul-
dered the letter-bags and gone out at the
door, and then he said,
'Mrs Jenkins, who is that little girl out-
side, and what is she crying for?'
'She is my niece Sally,' replied Mrs
Jenkins, 'and she is crying because I tell
her I can't possibly spare her to go to school
to-morrow morning, because she'll have
the "letters to take round just the same as
'What letters? asked Willie.
'Why, the letters that come by the post,
sir. The postman brings them, and I sort
them, and then Sally has to take them
'Is she very fond of going to school?'
'Well, yes, Master Willie, I think she is.