AND OTHER CHILD STORIES
MRS. BURNETT'S FAMOUS JUVENILE
In small medium 8vo, cloth gilt, price 3S. 6d. each
LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY LITTLE SAINT ELIZABETH
REGINALD B. BIRCH
The grace and tenderness of the sentiment,
the childlike natural ways of the small hero,
the happy alternation of the quaint laughable
incidents, with touches of real, though unobtru-
sive pathos, above all the pervadinig atmosphere
of unaffected goodness, combine to form-a whole
of which the fascination is felt by children of
an older growth as much as, if not more than,
by juveniles for whom it was. written. "-Pall
We have never read a prettier story.
Cedric's simple, truthful, earnest and loving
nature is what one would like all children to
be, for it. was just the same with or without
wealth, in the little house at New York as in
the great castle."-The Guardian
AND OTHER STORIES
R. B. BIRCH, ALICE HAVERS, &c., &c.
There is a tenderness and beauty in these
stories and a special charm about the characters
which the author has the happy faculty of
; '--Daily News
"These tales are as graceful in fancy, as
interesting in movement and as skilful in
construction as we naturally expect from the
author ofLittle Lord Fauntleroy."-TheWorld
"Little Saint Elizabeth is pictured with as
much power as its predecessor, a companion life
in fact, angelic in generosity, and clothed with
qualities which elevate her to the sublime.
Throughout all these stories there breathes a
rare subtlety of conception, noble in tone yet
faithful to youthhood of the gentlest type."-
AND EDITHA'S BURGLAR
REGINALD B. BIRCH
"As an idealized portrait of a child who makes a wretched life not only endurable, but
positively enjoyable, by living it in a world of pure imagination, Sara Crewe is perfect."-The
One of the most artistic and delightful stories we have read."-Morning Post
"'Rabbett,' he says, my mamma is very pretty, isn't she?' "--see page 8.
AND OTHER CHILD STORIES
FRANCES HODGSON BURNETT
AUTHOR OF "LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY," "THAT LASS 0' LOWRIE'S,"
"THE ONE I KNEW THE BEST OF ALL," ETC.
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7- -' ",,:-"'' .
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FREDERICK WARNED AND CO
BEDFORD STREET, STRAND
[All Rights Reserved.]
THE CAPTAIN'S YOUNGEST .
TWO DAYS IN THE LIFE OF PICCINO 35
HOW FAUNTLEROY. OCCURRED-
CHAP. I. HIS ENTRANCE INTO THE WORLD 109
SII. IN WHITE FROCK AND SASH I3I
,, III. IN BOYHOOD AND NOW 148
LITTLE BETTY'S KITTEN TELLS HER STORY .161
,. / .. .,
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
By REGINALD B. BIRCH.
THE CAPTAIN'S YOUNGEST-
"'Rabbett,' he says, 'my mamma is very pretty, isn't
"Miss Rose put her little hands on the shoulders of his
jacket, and kissed him" .Page II
'I am very fond of you, Rabbett'" ,, 32
TWO DAYS IN THE LIFE OF PICCINO-
"Many a day he had fallen asleep with his curly head on
its warm little fuzzy side" ront.
He went and showed them to the donkey" Page 45
He . ran to the donkey and clung to her front leg" ,, 48
No one is going to hurt you. You are only going to be
made clean'" ,, 77
"' I am hungry,' he said. 'I have had nothing to eat.
Give me some of your bread'" ,, 92
viii LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
HOW FAUNTLEROY OCCURRED-
Are you in Society, Mrs. Wilkins ?'" Front.
S' F'ow him in 'er fire!" Page II6
"'Lady,' he said, 'lady, f'ont door-want b'ead' ,, 28
I am very sorry for you, Mr. Wenham, about your wife
being dead'" ,, 138
"And how delightful it was to read the manuscript to
LITTLE BETTY'S KITTEN TELLS HER STORY-
Kitty, I am nearly five o'clock'' . Front.
"She was lying under the white rose-bush, still asleep Page 175
THE CAPTAIN'S YOUNGEST
THE CAPTAIN'S YOUNGEST.
HERE never were another like him,
that's certain. I've seen a good many
young gentlemen in my day, being in
the army, and under officers as was
', what you nay call swells, and had
.-- families of their own, some of them,
but I never saw a young gentleman
as could hold a candle to Master Lionel; no, nor as were fit
to black his boots, for the matter of that. And I knew him,
too, from the time he were a young gentleman in long
clothes, being carried about in his ayah's arms, and many's
the time I've carried him myself, and been proud to do it.
I had no children of my own, though I'd always been taken
with them. I wasn't a married man, and knew I never
should be, for that matter, after curly-headed little Maggie
Shea died of the fever that blazing hot year when the disease
was like a plague among us. She'd given me her promise
only a week before; and I never saw the woman I wanted
after her. Sometimes I've thought I was fonder of the
4 THE CAPTAIN'S YOUNGEST
children because of it. She had been fond of them, and like
a little mother she was to the seven that were sisters and
brothers to her. And there was a sort of reason Master
Lionel was more to me than the rest. I'd known his father,
Captain Dalgetty, in his best days, when he first came out to
India with his regiment at the time of the Mutiny, and won
such a name by his dare-devil bravery and determination.
That was before he offended his crusty old father by
marrying pretty Miss Rosie Terence, the drunken old Irish
major's daughter, who had nothing to her fortune but her
dimples and her big blue eyes and black lashes, except the
coaxing ways that drove the whole station wild with love for
her. It were said as Miss Rosie's mother sent her out to
her father to make a match, but if she did the old lady must
have been terribly disappointed, because no sooner did the
captain's father hear of the marriage than he sent for his
lawyer, and sat down then and there and made a will cutting
the poor fellow off with a shilling, and leaving all his money
to hospitals and churches.
So the captain and Miss Rosie began life on love and
short commons; and, neither of them understanding econ-
omy, made a good many mistakes, as might have been
expected. They didn't know how to contrive, and they got
into debt, and when the children came and expenses grew
heavier they lost spirit and.patience, like a good many more,
and let things go their own way. The captain lost his temper
and the mistress grew careless and fretted, and when the
THE CAPTAIN'S YOUNGEST 5
young master was born-the one as I'm telling about-
things were about as bad and as comfortless'as they could
be. Not wishing to say a disrespectful word, or a harmful
one, I must say as I'd even thought the captain were getting
tired of his love-match, for he was aging uncommon fast, and
his temper was getting uncommon sharp, and now and then
Mrs. Dalgetty and him would have words as would end in
him striding out of the bungalow, leaving her crying and
worriting among the children. I can't say even as he were
over fond of the children, or that they were over welcome
when they came-six, girls, one after another-though they
were pretty little things, all of them. But when Master
Lionel were born it struck me as he were rather better
pleased than he had been before, for he were the first
Well I remember the day the captain came out of his
quarters and told me about his having made his appearance
I had been so long with them, and there were so many
little things I could do as was a help, that I'd got into the
way of doing them; and I happened, this morning to be
polishing about, and sees the captain coming out, looking
half-way pleased with something or other; and when I drew
myself up and saluted as usual, says he:
Rabbett," says he, there's a change in the programme
I drops my swab in a minute and draws up and salutes again.
6 THE CAPTAIN'S YOU-YGGE. T
"What, sir ?" says I. Boy, sir ? "
"Yes," says he. Boy, and a fine little fellow too."
So in the course of the week I smartens myself up a bit
more than common, in honour of the oc-i:c.in, and goes into
the house and gets the ayah to let me have a look at the
young gentleman as he lay in his cradle in the nursery, next
to the mistress's room. They was rather fond of me in' that
nursery, I may say, and it wasn't the first time I'd been there
by many a one. But though I stepped light enough for fear
of wakening the little fellow, somehow or other he did waken
that very minute. As I bent over his cradle he opens his
eyes, and he actually stares at me as if he was asking me a
question or so. At least, it looked that way to me, and then,
as sure as I'm a living man, he does something with his face
as if he was doing his best to laugh ; and when I laughs back
and lifts his bit of a red hand, he opens it out and lets it lay
on mine, quite friendly and sociable.
I won't say as he knew what he were doing, but I will say
as he looked as if he did. And from that minute to the last
hour of his life Master Lionel and me was friends fast and
firm. Not being a family man, as I have said before, I took
to him all the more, and I'm happy to say he did the same
by me. When he got big enough to be carried out by his
ayah I used to meet the woman, and take him off her hands
whenever she would let me; which was often enough,
because she knew both the captain and Mrs. Dalgetty knew
I was safe to trust. I'd take him off into the shade and
THE CAPTAIN'S YOUNGEST.
walk about with him-him a-layin' his cheek against my red
coat, sometimes laughing at the jokes I'd make with him,
suiting them to his size, and sometimes a-staring up at me
serious, but both of us always understanding each other and
being cheerful, whatever was a-goin' on betwixt us. The
fact was that I got that there used to him, with nursing him
so much, that when he'd have a little choke or a disturbance
of any kind, I got to be as handy as a woman about settling
him and turning him over and patting his back, and though
it may sound like a exaggeration to outsiders, I must say
as I saw clear enough he had his own way of thanking me
and showing me his gratitude for any small favours of the
kind. Ay, and many an hour I've thought how it might
have been if little Maggie Shea had got through that blazing
summer-many and many an hour as I walked up and down,
him nestling up against me as my own flesh and blood might
have done, but never would.
So we began by being fond of one another, and we keeps
on a-bein' fond of one another, and what's more, we gets
fonder and fonder of each other as we grows older.
And such a boy as he were, and such ways as he had!
There weren't no end to him, he were that manly and hand-
some and well-grown and ready, by the time he were seven
or eight year old. People as never looked at a child looked
at him and was took by him, and the ladies at the station
run wild about his beauty. Tall he was and well set up, and
with a way of ciarri. in himself a brigadier-general might
THE CAPTAIN'S YOUNGEST
have been proud of. And a fine-cut face, and a big, brave
black eye as looked at a man as if he was equal to leading a
regiment; and yet was thoughtful and loving, and had a
softness, too, when he was talking to a friend. And that
quick he were to notice things as others of his age would
never have seen. Why, he was only six years when one
day, as he was standing by watching me at work, he looks
up at me all at once and says he :
Rabbett," he says, my mamma is very pretty, isn't she ? "
"Well," says I, Master Lionel, I should say she were !"
I thought so," he says; I thought everybody must
think she was pretty, just as I do, only I am very fond of
her, you see." And he rather puzzles me by looking at me
again in a wistful, questioning sort of way.
"Just so, Master Lionel," I answers, "just so, sir."
"Yes," he goes on, I am very fond of her, and-and I
suppose my papa is very fond of her too."
Being a trifle upset by this, I polished away at the
captain's sabre for a minute or so, and even then I could-
only say :
Yes, sir ; naturally, sir, of course." For the truth were
as things had been getting worse and worse, and the tiffs
had been growing into rows--rows as couldn't go on without
being heard in a bungalow, where walls was thin and rooms
not over far from each other. And what. he had heard the
Lord only knows, but it had been a-workin' in his innercent
mind and troubling him, and he was coming to me for
THE CAPTAIN'S YOUNGEST.
comfort, and that I saw in his fine, loving, wistful black eye,
and in his handsome little chin, as was not quite steady.
Yes, of course, he is very fond of her," he said, and
she is very fond of him.; because people who are married-
people who are married always are, aren't they, Rabbett ? "
"Ah, sir," says I, "that they are; there ain't nothing'
"No," he says, his little face trying to keep itself steady,
"and I'm very glad of-of that--I'm very glad of that."
And quite sudden he faces round and walks off, a-holding
his head up like a field officer. But well I knowed why he'd
gone. Something had hurt his little heart and set him to
thinking, so that he could not manage his looks even before
Rabbett. And, gentleman as he was, he was not willing to
let it be known what his child's trouble was.
When the family began to grow up the regiment was
ordered back to England; and I came back with them, you
see. The captain was not rich, and as the family expenses
got bigger, year by year, money got scarcer with him, and
they couldn't live as they did before; and so, somehow-I
think it was because I liked the children, and especially my
young master-I fell into a way of being part valet, part
waiter, part man-of-all-work for the captain and his.
This wasn't all. The captain's fine way-for he was
handsome still, and a gentleman born, and no mistake-
brought him fine friends; and his fine friends brought him
debt, because he was obliged to keep up with them. Every-
THE CAPTAIN'S YOUNGEST.
thing was badly managed, because Mrs.-Dalgetty, as I said,
knew nothing about managing; so the servants ran wild,
and were nothing but trouble and expense, and there were
nothing but struggling to keep up, and threatening to break
down, from day to day.
The captain is worse than ever," Mrs. Dalgetty would
say, sometimes, when things looked bad, and she had a
crying fit on. And Rose is so expensive, and the other
girls are growing up. I wish Lionel was older. He is
the only one who seems to feel for me at all."
The real truth were, as Lionel were that sweet-natured
he felt for them all; and I must say as they couldn't help
being as fond of him in their way as he was of them in his.
Rabbett," says he to me once, when they was all going
out-he was about nine years old then, or thereabout-
" Rabbett, if you would like to see Rose before she goes,
just stand in the passage when I go into the drawing-room
with her cloak and handkerchief. She has just sent me
Now my young master loved his mother dearly, but he
loved Rose even better; he was allers talking to me of her
So says I, I would like to see her." And he runs
upstairs, quite pleased, and is down again in a minute.
I'll leave the door open," he says. And in he goes,
with the cloak over his arm, and does leave it open, quite
wide enough for me to see through.
"Miss Rose put her little hands on the shoulders of his jacket, and kissed him."
THE CAPTAIN'S YOUNGEST .I
Miss Rose was standing by the fire, and beautiful she
looked, in her grand evening dress, and so like what her
mother had been that it gave me quite a start. There was
a gentleman at her side, a-laughing and talking to her, and
when Master Lionel goes in this party turns toward the
door, to look at him, and I sees his face, and I gives a start
again, for it were Captain Basil Roscoe.
Now I knew sum'at of Captain Basil Roscoe, you see,
and that's what made me give a start. If ever there.was a
villain, and he to be called a gentleman; Captain Basil
Roscoe were one. I knew things of him that he little
guessed; we servants get to know many queer things. I
felt, when I sees him, as if I saw a snake.
Here comes the wrap," says Captain Basil, and he held
out his hand, as if he meant to put it on for himself, but
Miss Rose laughs and stops him.
"No," says she. "Lionel wouldn't like that. Would
you, Lionel ? He always puts my cloak on for me."
The captain drew back a bit, and gave the boy a sharp
glance, but Miss Rose did not see it, for she was bending
down to have the cloak put over her white shoulders, and
Master Lionel was a-folding it around her, as' pleased as
could be, laughing, too, boy-like, but, for all that, doing it as
deft and graceful as if he'd been born to it.
And then, when it was done, Miss Rose put her little
hands on the shoulders of his jacket, and kissed him half-a-
dozen times, so coaxing and merry and happy that I could
THE CAPTAIN'S YOUNGEST.
not bear to think the time would ever come when life would
look harder to her than it did just then-going out to a
grand ball, in a pretty dress, and with her lover by her side.
Unless it is true that the devil shrinks from and hates
them as has no. sins of their own, I should like to know why
it was that Basil Roscoe were so ready in taking a dislike to
an innocent-faced boy, as never harmed or differed with him;
for nothing is more certain than that from the first he did
take a dislike to Master Lionel. It struck me, once or twice,
as he not only couldn't bear the sight of him, but that, if he
had had the chance, he would not have been sorry to do him
a harm. His sneering manner showed it, and his ill-looking,
handsome face showed it, apart from a hundred other bits of
things. Master Lionel himself found it out soon enough.
Rabbett," says he, private and confidential, he doesn't
like me and I don't like him, and I wish he wasn't so fond
of Rose. I never did him any harm, you know, Rabbett."
Natural enough, his spirit is hurt about it, and he takes
it a bit hard. But he never says much about it, until one
night he comes to me, and I sees he is wonderful quiet, and
after a while I made bold to ask what ails him. And the
minute I asks him I sees, by the look in his eyes, that what
ails him is something uncommon.
It's something about Rose," he says, and it's something
about Captain Roscoe "
SA slight huskiness comes in my throat, as makes it neces-
sary for me to clear it.
THE CAPTAIN'S YOUNGEST. 13
"Oh! I says. "-Indeed, sir ?"
"Yes," he answers. "As I was coming here I passed
him. standing at the corner of the street with a gentleman,
and they were both talking aloud, Rabbett, 'and laughing.
And they were talking about Rose."
Knowing the-man so well, and having heard so much
of his villany, my blood fairly boiled at the thought of what
he might have been saying; but I made up my mind to
Did you hear what they said, sir ?" I asked. Are
you sure it was her they were speaking of ? "
"Yes," says he, "sure, for I heard the gentleman say,
'What? Pretty Rose Dalgetty ?' And then Roscoe
answered, 'Even she might get tiresome.' And they both
laughed. Rabbett "-and he turned his troubled, questioning
boy's face to me, as if he was just awakening to some sort
of bewildered fear, and wanted help-"what did he mean
when he said she might get tiresome ? And what made
them laugh as they did ? They were laughing at her-my
No gentleman would have done it, sir," I answered, not
knowing what else to say.
"I know that," he says. "But what did they mean?
You are older than me, Rabbett, and perhaps you can under-
stand more than that it was not what a gentleman would
But of course I could not tell him that. If it meant
THE CAPTAIN'S YOUNGEST
nothing worse, it at least did mean as Miss Rose's lover had
so little respect for her that he could bandy her name
among his companions with something like a sneer; so I
tried my best to lead him away from the subject. If he'd
been an ordinary kind of young gentleman, and he so very
young yet, I might have managed it; but being the little
fellow he was, the suspicion that his sister had been some-
what slighted stuck to him, and settled itself deep in his
mind, and made him thoughtful beyond his years.
And this was far from being the end of it. Little by little
I began to hear a whisper here and there, even among the
men, about what people said of Captain Roscoe being so
friendly with the Dalgettys, and partic'ler with Miss Rosie.
There was not one of them but said that it would do the
pretty young creature no good, if it did her no harm, to be
so ready to let him be attentive. He had been such an
open rascal in his time, and his character was so well known,
that no careful mother would have let her daughter be seen
with him, and he was only tolerated in his own set, and
among those who were as bad as himself. But Mrs. Dal-
getty was too thoughtless and indifferent to see the wrong in
him, or to be troubled by what she heard, and the captain was
rarely at home; so Miss Rose was left to herself, and, of
course, did as any other innocent girl would have done, fell
in love with a handsome face, and believed in it.
But at last so much was said by outsiders that something
came to the captain's ears as must have roused him, for one
THE CAPTAIN'S YOUNGEST. 15
evening he comes up to the house in a towering rage, and
shuts himself up with Miss Rose and her mother in the
parlour, and has a tremendous row, and makes them both
cry, and ends up by forbidding them to speak to Roscoe
But though Mrs. Dalgetty gave in, as she always did
when the captain gave his orders, of course Miss Rose
would not believe anything against her lover. Things had
gone so far by that time that she would have stood out for
him against the whole world; and as she dared not openly
disobey her father, she fretted until she lost her pretty colour
and bright spirits, and went about the house looking ill and
But the matter was not put an end to, as you may
imagine. Once or twice, in going from the house to the
barracks, I found Captain Basil Roscoe loitering about not
far from the street's end, and more than once I could have
sworn that I passed him at dusk with a familiar little figure
clinging to his arm. And one night Miss Rosie calls her
brother to her, as he was going out on an errand, and, as
she bends over him in the doorway, slips a note into his
hand, crying pitifully.
"You will take that for me, won't you, dear ? she says.
" He is waiting in the square for it, and he does want it so-
so much." And she kisses him, and gives a little sob and
I don't think it could have been more than three minutes
THE CAPTAIN'S YOUNGEST.
after that when he comes to me, all pale and breathless with
running, and lays that there note on the table.
"She wants me to take it to him, Rabbett," he says,
"and she was crying when she asked me, and-what must
we do ? "
It is not to be expected as we two hadn't talked things
over, being the friends we were. I got up and took the note
from the table, making a resolution all of a sudden.
If you'll stay here, sir," I said, I'll take it myself."
And take it I did, and found the rascal waiting, as Miss
Rose had said he would be. He gave a black enough scowl
when he saw it were me, and it certainly didn't die out when
I spoke to him.
Sir," says I, I've come here on a poor errand, and I've
come unwilling enough, God knows. I've got a note in my
hand here-a pitiful little letter from a trusting, innocent girl
to a man who, if he does not mean her harm, surely cannot
mean her good, or he would not be leading her to meet him,
and write to him in underhand ways. And I've been making
up my mind, as I came along, to make a appeal to that man,
as surely he'll listen to if he has a man's heart in his breast.
She is scarcely more than a child, sir, and she knows nothing
of the world. Leave her alone, and she may be a happy
woman; go on as you've begun, and it will be death and
heartbreak to her, and her wrongs will lie at your door."
He stands there and looks at me, and by the light of the
lamp we was. standing under I sees his handsome, devilish
THE CAPTAIN'S YOUNGEST.
face, sneering and triumphing and scorning me, as if I was
a worm in the dirt under his feet.
"My good fellow," he says, you are a little too late.
Hand me that letter, and be off, before I find it necessary to
help you. How you got hold of the note I don't know, but
I do know it was never given to you to deliver, and that I
should be well warranted in kicking you back to your
quarters, for your deuced impudence and presumption."
But I held to the letter tight.
Very well, sir," I answers, respectful, but firm as a rock.
" This letter goes back to the house, and before night is over
the captain will have read it himself, and can judge for
himself what is best-"
I didn't finish, for the next thing I knew was that he
strode up to me and grasped hold of me by my collar, and
the minute I saw what he meant to do I felt I had made a
mistake in bringing the letter at all, and in fancying that any
appeal could touch or move him. There was a struggle
between us, but it did not last long; he being strong and
lithe, and so much the younger man, gave me no chance;
and it were scarcely three seconds before he threw me on
the pavement, and leaving me there, a trifle stunned, walked
off with the letter in his hand.
I knew things must be pretty bad then. He would never
have been so desperate and determined if he had not meant
to do his worst, and when I made my way back I felt sick
with fear. Master Lionel was sitting by the bit-of fire in the
THE CAPTAIN'S YOUNGEST
grate when I opened the door, and. he turns round and looks
at me, and changes colour.
Rabbett," he says, there is blood on your face."
Perhaps so, sir," I says. I've had a fall."
And then I sits down and tells him all about it; about
what I had meant to do, and what I had done, and I ends
up by asking him what he thinks we had better do, now,
that my plans had failed.
"Master Lionel," I says, "it would seem a dreadful hard
sort of thing to do, if we spoke to the captain."
He turns quite'pale at the thought of it.
Oh, no," he says, Rabbett, I wouldn't do it. He would
be so angry with Rose, and even with mamma. You
remember my telling you what he said before."
I remembered well enough, and a pretty hard thing it was
to say, even if it had been said in a passion, and not half
meant. He had threatened to turn Miss Rose out of doors
if she spoke to Roscoe again. He must have heard some-
thing bad enough, to have been so roused.
Well," I ventures, "what can we do, sir ?"
"Watch," says he. I can think of nothing else to do
just yet, Rabbett. I will watch Rose, and you shall watch
Roscoe; and if the worst comes, and we must tell papa, we
must. I suppose, Rabbett, that Roscoe will try to run away
with Rose, as Farquhar ran away with that pretty Miss
Lewis ? "
"Yes, sir," I answers, "I'm afraid he will. But. he is a
THE CAPTAIN'S YOUNGEST.
worse man than Farquhar; and if Miss Rose goes away
with him, I'm afraid he'll treat her hard enough when he
tires of her, as such men as him always tires of young
"It would be better, Rabbett," says he, fixing his dark
eyes solemnly on the fire, "it would be better that Rose
should die. I know that."
I am afeard, sir," says I, "that you are right."
God knows how he had learned to understand, but under-
stand he did, and he were that sad and wise about it that my
very heart ached. He had seen an old enough side of life,
had Master Lionel, living among the set he did, but he were
a young gentleman as nothing could spoil, his nature were
We kept our watch faithful all that week and part of the
next, but we found out very little, though we had our
suspicions, Master Lionel and me, as things was going on
pretty badly in a secret way. But at last the very worst
thing as could have happened burst upon us all at once.
I was up at the house one evening, doing something or
other for Mrs. Dalgetty, when of a sudden I heard a
tremendous loud ring at the door-bell; and, going in a hurry
to answer it, the captain himself strode past me into the
hall, all: in a flame with the wine he had been drinking and
the passion he were in. I had seen him in towering enough
tempers often before, but I had never seen him look as he
did then. It was my impression he were pretty near mad;
THE CAPTAIN'S YOUNGEST.
indeed, I thought so then, and have thought so since. How
could he have done what he did that night, unless he had
not been quite himself ?
Rabbett," says he, "where's Miss Rose ? "
In her own room, sir," says I, wishing with all my heart
that I could have told him she were not in.
Rabbett," says he, where's Mrs. Dalgetty ? "
In her own room," says I, "lying down, a-trying to get
rid of a headache."
"Then," says he, "go and tell Miss Rose to come down
to me at once."
I think I must have looked upset, myself, when I knocked
at Miss Rose's door to deliver the captain's message, for the
minute the words were out of my mouth she turned quite
pale and scared-looking, and began to tremble.
"Oh, Rabbett," she says, the tears coming into her great,
pretty dark eyes, "is anything the matter? does he look
"I must say, miss," I answers, "as he seems a bit more
pepperyer than common, but I hope it's nothing much."
Oh, Rabbett," she says, beginning to cry, and wringing
her poor little helpless hands, I know it is something
dreadful. I aren't go down. I am so frightened."
But she were obliged to go down, and go down she did,
a-trembling all over, and out-and-out faint with fear. She
had always been a timid little affectionate creature, and the
captain were pretty hard to face when his temper were up.
THE CAPTAIN'S YOUNGEST
I am not ashamed to confess as I stayed as near within
hearing distance as I could, without positively eavesdropping.
I own up as I had my fears as to what the end of it all
would be, knowing the captain were drove too wild to be
wise, or even reasonable, and I wanted to be near enough to
see Miss Rose when she came out of the room, and say a
comforting word to her, if she seemed to need one.
But she came out of the room in a different manner to
what even I had expected. The minute she went in I heard
the sound of Mrs. Dalgetty crying and the captain storm-
ing, and for a quarter of an hour after the storm fairly raged.
The captain stamped and swore, Mrs. Dalgetty sobbed, and
tried to put in a word now and then, but Miss Rose seemed
to be too much stunned to speak. I never heard her voice
after the first few moments, and at last the door opened
again, and she came running out, her beautiful dark eyes
wide open, her innocent face as white as death. She did not
see me, but ran past where I stood, up to her own bedroom,
and there was that in her look as brought my heart into my
mouth, and, queer as it may seem to you, the first thing I
thought of was Master Lionel.
"There's harm been done," says I to myself, "deadly
harm, and no one can undo it but one as loves her, and
that she's fond of herself in her girl's way; the one as she
needs now is that there fine little fellow as was almost like a
little lover to her."
And when she came down I feels surer of it than ever;
22 THE CAPTAIN'S YOUNGEST.
for in three minutes more she did come- down, with her hat
and jacket on, ready to go out. And her face was even
whiter than before; and when she sees me, she holds out
her hand, her eyes looking big and bright with a dangerous
sort of shine.
"Good-bye, Rabbett," she says. "I am going."
Miss Rose," says I, where are you going to ? "
Then she smiles sad and bitter, and a bit hard.
"Ask papa," she answers. "He ought to know. He sent
me away. I don't exactly know myself, unless-unless one
person in the world loves me well enough to take me."
Miss Rose," I breaks out, "for God's sake don't go to
Basil Roscoe! "
She dragged her hand away from mine, and her eyes
You all hate him !" she cried; "but I have chosen him
before all the world. Papa said I must choose, and I have
chosen. I am going to Basil Roscoe! "
And before I could speak another word she had darted
out of the door, all on fire, and desperate, as one might say,
and was gone.
I knew it would be of no use speaking to the captain.
Since he had as good as turned the poor innocent creature
out of house and home, he was not the one to go to for
help. When he was cooler he would see his mistake, and
repent it bitter enough ; but just now to go to him would
only make him madder than ever.
THE CAPTAIN'S YOUNGEST
Well, just at that very minute in come Master Lionel.
There might have been some sort of a fate in it. He
jumps up them stone steps two at a time, and bangs at
that open front door, clean out of breath, and looking
wonderful like his sister, in his excitement.
"Where's Rose gone to, Rabbett ?" he says. I have
just seen her walking fast-almost running-down the street,
and she would not stop for me. What has been the matter?"
I ups and tells him. I weren't afeard of doing it. I
knew him to be that there ready and brave and affectionate.
Rabbett," he said, in a jiffy, come along with me."
Master Lionel," I asks, where to ?" For the fact were
my head weren't as clear as his, and I were a bit bothered as
to what would be the best thing to be done first.
I am going to Captain Roscoe's lodgings," he answers,
as steady as you please.
And so, if you'll believe me, off we goes, out into the
street, him a-keeping step beautiful, as he always did, but
not saying a word until at last I speak to him.
"Master Lionel," I says, "what are you thinking about?"
I am thinking," he answers, his dark eyes shining,
"about what I am going to say to Roscoe."
But it weren't so easy to find Roscoe. We did not know
exactly where his lodgings were, and so we had to inquire in
first one place and then another. The people we fancied
could tell us knew nothing definite, when we went to them;
and when we got the name of the street it were hard to
THE CAPTAIN'S YOUNGEST.
find. But we did find it at last, after a great deal of
trouble and a great deal of delay, which was worse. The
delay was what upset us, for both of us felt pretty certain
that Captain Basil Roscoe would lose very little time in
getting Miss Rose away out of the reach of her friends,
if he once found her willing to go with him.
By the time we reached the end of the street where he
lived Master Lionel were that worked up and excited that
he was growing paler and paler, and his eyes were like
lanterns in his face, and he caught hold of my hand and
held it hard and fast.
Rabbett," he says, what if we should be too late ?"
"I can't think such bad luck could happen to us, sir," I
answers him back.
And then it were-just at that instant-as his sharp
young eyes spied something out ahead of us, for he drew
his hand away, and started running, just throwing back a
word or so to me.
"There's a carriage before the door," he said, "and
they are getting into it."
He were up that street like a deer, and in half a minute
I were with him; but when I comes up, all out of breath,
he were on the carriage-step, holding the door open; and,
what's more, holding at bay the black rascal who stood
near, sneering and raging at him by turns. Rabbett," he
cries out, "help me to hold the door open. No-go to
the horses' heads. Now, Rose, get out."
THE CAPTAIN'S YOUNGEST. 25
I went to the horses' heads, as I would have done if the
captain himself had given the order, instead of The Cap-
tain's Youngest." It made my heart ache, too, to hear the
ring in the little chap's voice, so like his father's, and then
to remember what the captain might have been-and what
he were. Even the driver were struck all of a heap by the
youngster's pluck, and were so busy looking at him that
he let me take my stand, without a word against it.
Look here, mate," he says to me, here's a rum go !"
It's bad enough," says I. Perhaps you'll oblige me
with them reins?"
If you don't come down from that step," says Roscoe,
saying every word slow, as if he was trying to hold him-
self back from striking the boy a blow as would kill him,
"you impudent young devil, I will take the whip from the
box there and cut you to pieces!"
Then Miss Rose bends forward. It is my impression
as the cruel, murderous sound in the fellow's voice was
something she had never heard before, and it frightened her.
Don't speak to him in that way, Basil," she says.
"Oh, Lionel, dear, you shouldn't have come. You must
go back. You must, indeed. I shall fever come home
again, Lionel." And she burst out crying.
"I shall go back, Rose," says the boy, "but you must
come with me. Rabbett and I came to fetch you, and
we shall not leave you." And then he looks at Roscoe
square. I am not afraid of your cutting me to pieces
26 THE CAPTAIN'S YOUNGEST
with your whip, sir," he says. Rabbett will see to that.
But," and the fire blazed up in his voice and his face and
his eyes, as grand as if he had been the captain himself,
" if I had come alone I would not have left this carriage
door unless Rose had come with me, You might have
used your whip, but you couldn't have made me do that."
Am I," says Roscoe, panting with the passion he dare
not let out, "am I to throw you into the street under the
horses' hoofs, you impudent young devil ? "
But Master Lionel's back was turned to him. He was
pleading with his sister.
Rose, dear," he says, come home with me. You will
come home with me, I know." And he caught hold of
God knows how it all happened-I don't. If I had
only been quick enough to see in time, the captain's
youngest might have been alive this day, a brave young
fellow, such as the captain had been in those first days
in India-a brave, handsome young soldier, as would
have been a honour to his country, and a stanch friend
yet to me.
But that weren't to be. Just as he stood there, his
foot on the carriage-step, a-holding his sister's hand, the
passion in the heart of the rascal watching him broke forth.
He caught him by the shoulder, there were a short struggle
as the boy tried to free himself, and before I could reach
them he had whirled him away from the door-with
THE CAPTAIN'S YOUNGEST.
greater force than he intended, I've tried to believe. The
frightened horses lashed out their hoofs and sprang forward,
struggling over the child's very body, as he lay stunned
under their feet.
Scoundrel as he was, I never could make it look square to-;
myself as the man meant the harm he did. His face was
out-and-out deathly, as he leaped forward to save him as
quick as I did myself. But we were both too late. We
could only drag at the reins, and stop the horses in time
to prevent the wheels passing over him-that were all.
We had him out in a minute, and Miss Rose was out
of the carriage, kneeling on the pavement by him, and the
driver was down off his box.
Great God! says Roscoe, I never meant to do him
such a harm. He's dead!" And he shuddered all over,
with fear, perhaps, as much as anything else.
But he weren't dead, and he hadn't even fainted, though
he were stunned at first. I had lifted him in my arms, and
he lay against me, panting a bit, and stone-white, all but
for a stain of blood on one temple. It weren't his head as
was so badly hurt, it were his side, where one of the horses
had lashed out and struck him. And as sure as I'm a
living man, in a few minutes he opens his eyes and lays
hold of his sister's hand.
Rose," he says, will you-go home-with me-now ?"
She knelt over him, wringing her hands, and sobbing
as if her heart would break. She would not let her lover
THE CAPTAIN'S YOUNGEST
come near her. When he tried to speak, she shrank away,
It's my belief as what she had seen in his face during
the last ten minutes would have broke her faith in
now she were that terrified that she were as helpless as
Is he much hurt ?" she kept saying. Rabbett, oh,
Rabbett let me take him home to mamma. Put him into
the carriage." And then she turned upon Roscoe, fierce
and wild. Go away," she cried out. "You have killed
him Go away, and never let me see you again !"
There were a dreadful house when we took him home.
Mrs. Dalgetty went out of one faint into another, as she
always did when she was frightened. The servants ran
backward and forward, doing nothing, the children crowded
round us, crying, and the captain looked on at all we did
like a man in a dream.
He were hurt and bruised and broken that bad-poor
little fellow!-that when the doctor came, and were be-
ginning to go to work on him, he looks up at me with his
bright, troubled eye, and says to me:
Rabbett, please take hold of my hand."
I were that near breaking down and sobbing out loud
that I were ashamed of myself. It were a comfort to me,
in many a day after, to think I had took hold of his hand,
and that he had asked me to do it.
THE CAPTAIN'S YOUNGEST.
And when the hard job was over, the doctor put his
hands into his coat-pockets, and stands looking at him for
a minute or so, and then he turns to me and beckons me
out of the room.
"Sir," I ventured to say, Master Lionel-will he-"
But I could not finish, somehow. I meant to say, "Will
he get over it ?"
No," says he. I am very sorry to say it; but he will
Will you believe me as the words struck me like a
slung-shot. Not having no family of my own, and never
having clung to nothing on earth as I had clung to that
there generous, neglected little fellow, just at that minute
I felt as if I'd got a blow as was too hard to stand up
against. I couldn't face it straight. When I had been
lonely in my way he had been lonely in his, and we had
been a help and a comfort to each other in ways as out-
siders never understood.
"Sir," I puts it to him, quite hoarse when I gets my
voice back, "when--" And I couldn't finish that ques-
"Well," he answers me back, "I am afraid before
I went back to the room and stayed there all
It seemed a strange sort of thing that at the very last
him and me was together alone, as we always had seemed
THE CAPTAIN'S YOUNGEST.
to be. He had coaxed Miss Rose to go to bed; he would
not rest until she went; and when she bent down to kiss
him he says to her, in a whisper, quite bright and cheer-
ful: Don't cry, Rose. It's all right."
And then the captain gets tired, and begins to doze,
and Mrs. Dalgetty falls asleep on the sofa; and so Master
Lionel and me was left together; me watching him, and
listening to the clock ticking; him lying quiet, with his
But toward daybreak he gets a bit restless, and stirs,
and the next thing I sees him looking at me, quite wide
"Rabbett," says he, in a bit of a hurry, "open the
And when I goes and does it, and comes back, he
puts out his hand.
Rabbett," he says, I'm very fond of you;" and some-
thing wistful comes into his eyes, and I sees a faint gray
shadow creeping up over his face. "I was always fond
of you, and I always shall be fond of you," says he.
" Don't let my hand go, Rabbett."
And the next minute,the gray.shadow has changed his
brave, handsome, childish face all at once and altogether.
He gives me a innercent, bright look-just one, as if he
were wondering why I shook so-and shuts his eyes., He
would never open them again on me, as was so fond and
proud of him in my poor.way. When they opened again
THE CAPTAIN'S YOUNGEST.
he would see something brighter than the morning sky,
as was just growing red and golden before the east
Of course they fretted over him for a while, finding
out most likely as he'd made himself dearer than they'd
thought before he were gone. They could not have helped
missing him if they had been more careless than they were.
Sometimes I fancied the captain was checked a bit and
sad, and blamed himself in secret, but his days of being
open and soft-hearted was over, and it were hard to tell.
I know it was a long time before he forgave Miss Rosie,
though for her sake the matter was hushed up, and no one
but themselves knew exactly how the accident happened.
Miss Rose could never bear the sound of Basil Roscoe's
name again, and she married a good man a few years after,
and made him a good wife. So the poor little fellow as
gave his life for her did not lose it for nothing, though, if
you were to ask me which of the two-but, there, it's not
for me to take on myself to argue out! But he were only
a boy to them-only a child. They didn't know him as
I did, and so after a while their grief died out, and in a
year or so -he was half forgotten.
.But it'weren't so easy for me. His handsome little face
and his pleasant ways is as clear to me to-day as they
ever was. When I sit lonely over my fire of a winter's
night--and I am a lonely man, things being as they are
32 THE CAPTAIN'S YOUNGEST.
and the years going on-I think of him for hours in a
way of my own, and make a sort of dream of him. I
think of him as he lay in his cradle and we made friends
when he wasn't but a week old. I think of him as he was,
with his little soldier ways about the quarters, carrying
himself as military as if he'd been twenty; a-helping me
in one way and another, and finding out he might be con-
fidential, though I wasn't nothing but a private and him a
officer's son. I think about him as he looked when he came
to me in his innercent trouble that night and told me about
his sister's lover. And then I see him lying there, with the
light from the east window falling on him, and I hear him
I am very fond of you, Rabbett. I always was fond
of you, and I always shall be fond of you. Don't let my
hand go, Rabbett."
Ay-and that ain't all. I make a picture of what might
have been. I sees him grown into a young man-a hand-
some, smart young officer--and make a picture of some
beautiful young girl, and tells myself what a pretty love
story they would have had betwixt them, and what a lover,
and what a young husband he would have been! Why,
there's been nights when I've even seen little children
like him, and thought they would have been fond of me,
as he was. It's made .me forget where I was, and
when I'd be roused up by something or other I've found
myself choke up with something as might almost have
"'I am very fond of you, Rabbett~.'"'-page 32.
THE CAPTAIN'S YOUNGEST.
been my heart in my throat, to think as it were only a
sort of dream after all. And the captain's youngest lies
out under the stars in the churchyard, the wind a-blowing
over the snow as lies on a grave as is only the grave
of a child.
.. --'/" '. ;hr ,w ~
TWO DAYS IN THE LIFE OF PICCINO
" Many a day he had fallen asleep with his curly head on its warm little fuzzy
side."-see page 45.
"~;: E:iS~j r
THE LIFE OF PICCINO.
S :, F he lived a hundred years-to be as old
'ir as Giuseppe, who was little Roberto's
S great-grandfather, and could only move
'"' "-.lI when he was helped, and. sat in the sun
L^-..' and played with bits of string-if he lived
l to be as old as that, he could never
forget them those two strange and
When sometimes he spoke of them to such of his play-
mates as were older than himself-especially to Carlo, who
tended sheep and was afraid of nothing, even making jokes
about the forestieri, they said they thought he had been
foolish-that as it seemed that the people had been ready to
give him anything, it could not have been so bad but one
could have tried to bear it, though they all agreed that it
was dreadful about the water.
TWO DAYS IN THE LIFE OF PICCINO.
It is true, too, that as he grew older himself, after his
mother died and his father married again the big Paula, who
flew into such rages and beat him-and when he had to tend
sheep and goats himself and stay out on the hills all day in such
ragged jackets and with so little food because Paula said he
had not' earned his salt, and she had her own children
to feed, then he longed for some of the food he would not
eat during those two days, and wondered if he would do
quite the same thing again under the same circumstances.
But this was only when he was very hungry and the mistral
was blowing, and the Mediterranean looked grey instead of
He was such a tiny fellow when it happened. He was
not yet six years old, and when a child is under six he
has not reached the age when- human creatures have begun
to face life for themselves altogether, and even a little
Italian peasant who tumbles about among sheep and
donkeys, which form part of his domestic circle, is still in
a measure a sort of baby whose mother or brother or sister
has to keep an occasional eye on him to see that he does
not kill himself. And then also Piccino had been regarded
by his family as a sort of capital, and had consequently had
more attention paid to him than he would have had under
It was like this. He was so pretty-so wonderfully
pretty. His brothers and sisters were not beauties, but he
was a beauty from his first day, and with every day
TWO DAYS IN THE LIFE OF PICCINO.
that passed he grew prettier. When he was so tiny that
he was packed about like a bundle wound up in un-
attractive looking bandages, he had already begun to show
what his eyes were going to be-his immense soft black
eyes with lashes which promised to be velvet fringes. And
as soon as his hair began to show itself it was lovely silk,
which lay in rings one over the other on his beautiful little
round head. Then his soft cheeks and chin were of exquisite
roundness, and in each he had a deep dimple which came and
went as he laughed.
He was always being looked at and praised. A "Gesu
Bambino the peasant women called him. That was what
they always said when a child had wonderful beauty-their
idea of supreme child loveliness being founded on the pictures
and waxen richly-dressed figures they saw in the churches.
But it was the forestieri who admired him most, and that
was why he was so valuable. His family lived near a strange
little old city in the hills which spread out behind one of the
fashionable seaside towns on the Italian Riviera. The
strange little old city, which was a relic of centuries gone by,
was one of the places the rich foreigners made excursions to
see, It was a two or three hours' drive from the fashionable
resort, and these gay rich people, who seemed to do nothing
but enjoy themselves, used to form parties and drive in
carriages up the road which wound its way up from the
shore through the olive vineyards and back into the hills.
Jt was their habit to bring servants with them and hampers
40 TWO DAYS IN THE LIFE OF PICCINO.
of wonderful things to eat, which would be unpacked by
the servants and spread on white cloths on the grass in
some spot shaded by the trees. Then they would eat,
and drink wine, and laugh, and afterwards wander about
and explore the old city of Ceriani, and seem to find
the queer houses and the inhabitants and everything about
To the children of Ceriani and its outskirts these
excursion parties were delightful festivities. When they
heard of the approach of one they gathered themselves
together and went forth to search for its encampment. When
they had found it they calmly seated themselves in rows
quite near and watched it as if it were a kind of theatrical
entertainment to which they had paid for admission. They
were all accomplished in the art of begging, and knew that
theforestieri always had plenty of small change, and would
give, either through good nature or to avoid being annoyed.
Then they knew from experience that the things that were
not eaten were never repacked into the hampers if there was
someone to ask for them. So they kept their places quite
cheerfully and looked on at the festivities, and talked to each
other and showed their white teeth in generous grins, quite
amiably sure of reaping a pleasant harvest before the
carriages drove back again down the winding road ending
at the sea and San Remo, and the white many-balconied
And it was through these excursion parties that Piccino's
TWO DAYS IN THE LIFE OF PICCINO. 41
market value was discovered. When he was a baby and his
sister Maria, who was his small nurse-being determined not
to be left behind by her comrades, toiled after the rest of the
children with her little burden in her arms or over her
shoulder-it was observed that theforestieri always saw the
pretty round black baby head and big soft dark eyes before
they saw anything else, and their attention once being
attracted by Piccino very pleasant things were often the
result. The whole party got more cakes and sandwiches and
legs of chickens and backs of little birds, and when bits of
silver were given to Maria for Piccino, Maria herself some-
times even had whole francs given to her because it was she
who was his sister and took care of him. And then having
begun giving, the good-natured ones among the party of
ladies and gentlemen did not like to quite neglect the other
children, and so scattered sold among them, so that some-
times they all returned to Ceriani feeling that they had done
a good day's work. Their' idea of a good day's work
was one when they had not run after carriages for nothing,
or had heads shaken at them when they held out their
hands and called imploringly, "Uno soldino, bella
Signora-bella Signora!" Piccino had been born one
of the class which in its childhood, and often even later,
never fails in the belief that the English and Americans
who come to the beautiful Riviera come there to be
begged from, or in some way beguiled out of their small
42 TWO DAYS IN THE LIFE OF PICCINO.
Maria was a sharp child. She had not lugged her little
brothers and sisters about all through the working time of her
twelve years without learning a few things. She very soon
found out what it was that brought in the sold and the nice
scraps from the hampers.
It is Piccino they give things to, Ecco," she said.
"They see his eyes and they want to look at him and touch
his cheeks. They like to see the dimples come when he
laughs. They would not look at me like that-or at you,
Carmela. They would not come near us."
This was quite true. The row of little spectators watching
the picnics might be picturesque, but it was exceedingly dirty,
and not made of the material it is quite safe to come near.
It was a belief current among the parties who drove up from
San Remo that soap had never been heard of in the vicinity
of Ceriani, and that water was avoided as a poisonous
element, and this belief was not founded upon mere
They are as dirty as they are cheerful and impudent,"
someone had said, and that is saying a great deal. I wonder
what would happen if one of them were caught and washed all
Nobody could have been dirtier than Piccino was. Pretty
as he looked, there were days when the most enthusiastic of
the ladies dare not have taken him in her arms. In fact
there were very few days when anyone would have liked
to go quite that far-or any farther indeed than looking at
TWO DAYS IN THE LIFE OF PICCINO. 43
his velvet eyes and throwing him sold and cakes. But his
eyes always won him the soldi and cakes, and the older he
grew the more he gained, so that not only Maria and her
companions but his mother herself began to look upon him as
a source of revenue.
If he can only sing when he grows a little older," his
mother said, "he can fill his pockets full by going and
singing before the hotels and in the gardens of the villas.
Everyone will give him something. They are a queer lot
these foreigners, who are willing to give good money to a
child because he has long eyelashes. His are long enough,
thanks to the Virgin. Sometimes I wonder they are'not in
His mother was the poorest of the poor. She had seven
children and a mere hovel to put them in, and nothing to
feed and clothe them with. Her husband was a good-for-
nothing who never worked if he could help it, and who, if he
earned a few sold, got rid of them at once before they could
be scolded out of him and spent on such extravagances as
food and fire. If Piccino had not been a little Italian peasant
he would no doubt have starved to death or died of cold long
before he had his adventure, but on the Riviera the sun
shines and the air is soft, and people seem born with a sort
of gay carelessness of most things that trouble the serious
As for Piccino he was as happy as a soft little rabbit or a
young bird, or a baby fawn. When he was old enough to run
44 TWO DAYS IN THE LIFE OF .PICCIN7O.
about he had the most beautiful days. They seemed to him
to be made up of warm sunshine and warm grass, flowers
looking at him as he toddled round, light filtering through
vines and the branches of olive trees, nice black bread and figs,
which he lay on his back and munched delightedly, and, days
when Maria dragged him along the road to some green place
where grand people sat and ate good things, and who after-
wards gave him cakes and delicious little bones and soldi,
saying over and over again to each other that he was the
prettiest little boy they had ever seen, and had the most
beautiful eyes and-oh his eyelashes !
"Look at his eyelashes! they would exclaim. They are
as thick as rushes round a pool, and they must be half an
Sometimes Piccino got rather tired of his eyelashes and
wore a resigned expression, but he was little Italian enough
to feel that they must be rather a good thing as they brought
such luck. Once, indeed, a man came all by himself to
Ceriani and persuaded his mother to make him sit on a stone
while he put him in a picture, and when it was over he gave
his mother several francs, and she was delighted, but Piccino
was not so pleased, because he had thought it rather tiresome
to sit so long on one stone.
This was the year before the dreadful two days came.
When they came he had been put into queer little trousers
which were much too big for him. One of his brothers had
outgrown them and given them good wear. They were, in
"He went and showed them to the donkey."-page 45.
TWO DAYS IN THE LIFE OF PICCINO. 45
fact, as ragged as they were big, and as dirty as they were
ragged, but Piccino was very proud of them. He went and
showed them to the donkey, whose tumble-down sleeping
apartment was next to his own, and who was his favourite
playmate and companion. It was such a little donkey, but
such a good one. It could carry a burden almost as big
as its stable, and it had soft furry ears and soft furry sides,
and eyes and eyelashes as pretty for a donkey as Piccino's
were for a boy. It was nearly always at-work, but when
it was at home Piccino was nearly always with it. On
wet and- cold days he stayed with it in its tiny broken
stable playing and talking to it, and many a day he had
fallen asleep with his curly head on its warm little fuzzy
side. When it was fine they strolled about together and
were companions, the donkey cropping the grass and Piccino
pretending it was a little flock of sheep, and that he was
big enough to be a shepherd. In the middle of the night
he used to like to waken and hear it move and make
little sounds. It was so close to him that he felt as if
they slept together.
So he went to show it his trousers, of course.
Now I am a man," he said, and he stood close by its
head, and the two pairs of lustrous eyes looked affection-
ately into each other.
After that they sauntered out together into the beautiful
early morning. When Piccino was with the donkey his
mother and Maria knew he was quite safe, and so was
46 TWO DA YS IN THE LIFE OF PICCINO.
the donkey, so they were allowed to ramble about. They
never went far, it is true. Piccino was too little, -and be-
sides there were such nice little rambles quite near. This
time was the loveliest of all the year. The sun was sweetly
warm, but not hot, and there were anemones and flaming
wild tulips in the grass.
Piccino did not know how long they were out together
before Maria came to find them. The donkey had a
beautiful breakfast, and Piccino ate his piece of black
bread without anything to add to its flavour, because his
mother was at the time in great trouble and very poor,
and there was scarcely the bread itself to eat. Piccino
toddled along quite peacefully, however, and when he
came upon a space where there were red and yellow
tulips swaying in the soft air he broke off a fine handful,
and when the donkey lay down he sat by it and began
to stick the beautiful flaring things round his hat as he
had seen Maria stick things round hers. It was a torn
soft felt hat, with a pointed crown and a broad rim, and
when he put it on again with its adornment of red
and yellow flowers sticking up and down and failing
on his soft, thick curls, he was a strangely beautiful little
thing to see, and so like a picture that he scarcely
seemed like a real child at all, but like a lovely fan-
astic little being some artist had arranged to put on
He was sitting in this way looking out to where he
TWO O DAYS IN THE LIFE OF PICCINO. 47
could see a bit of blue sea through a break in the hills,
when Maria came running towards him.
"The donkey! she cried, "the donkey !"
She had been crying, and looked excited, and took him by
the hand, dragging him towards home. His legs were so
short and he was so little that it always seemed as if she
dragged him. She was an excitable child, and always went
fast when she had an object in view. Piccino was used
to excitement. They all shouted and screamed and gesticu-
lated at each other when any trifling thing happened. His
mother and her neighbours were given to tears and cries
and loud ejaculations upon the slightest provocation, as
all Italian peasants are, so he saw nothing unusual in
Maria's coming upon him like a whirlwind and exclaiming
disjointedly with tears. He wondered, however, what the
donkey could have to do with it, and evidently the donkey
wondered too, for she got up and trotted after them down
But when they reached the house it was very plain that
the thing which had occurred was not a trifle or usual.
Piccino saw an old man standing before the door talking
to his mother. At least he was trying to get in a word
edgeways now and then, while the mother wept and
beat her breast and poured forth a torrent of bewailing,
mingled with an avalanche of scolding addressed to her
husband, who stood near her looking at once sheepish and
48 TWO DAYS IN THE LIFE OF PICCINO.
"Worthless brute and pig," she proclaimed; "idle, wicked
animal who will not work to help me to feed his children.
It is only I who work and the donkey who helps me. With-
out her we should starve-starve! And he sells her-
poor beast-sells her to get money for his wickedness
and gluttony! And I am to starve without her. A fine
thing-and he brings to my door the thief he has sold
Baby as he was, Piccino began to understand. His father
had sold the donkey and it would be taken away. He lifted
up his voice in a wail of bitter lamentation, and breaking
away from Maria, ran to the donkey and clung round
her front leg, rubbing his cheek wofully against her grey
For an hour or so they all wept and lamented, while their
mother alternately wept and raved. She abused her hus-
band, and the old man who had bought the donkey, by turns.
Stray neighbours dropped in and helped her. They all
agreed that old Beppo was a usurer and a thief, who had
somehow got the better of Annibale, who was also a drunken
shameless brute. Old Beppo was so overwhelmed by the
storm of hard words and bad names raging about him that
he actually was stunned into allowing that the donkey should
remain where she was for two days, that she might finish
some work her mistress had promised to do with her aid.
And he went away grumbling with his piece of rope over his
"He ran tothe donkey and clung to her front leg"--page 48.
TWO DA YS IN THE LIFE OF PICCINO. 49
There was nothing to eat in the house, and if there
had been the mother was too prostrate with grief and
rage to have prepared anything like a meal. And so
it seemed a great piece of good luck when dirty little
Filippo burst upon them with the news that three grand
carriages, full of illustrious-looking foreslieri and inviting
hampers, were unloading themselves at a certain turn of
the road where the grass was thick and the trees big and
"Come!" said Maria, catching at Piccino's hand. She
gave him a look over. His crying had left a flush in his
soft cheeks and a little pathetic curve on his baby mouth,
which was always like a tiny vermilion bow. His hat, with'
the tulips tumbling round it, was set on the back of his head,
and the red and yellow things made his eyes look bigger
and lovelier than ever by contrast. In these respects Maria
saw that he was good for more cakes and soldi than ever.
And it would never have occurred to her that tears and
rubbing against the donkey had left him dirtier than ever.
In Maria's world nobody troubled themselves about dirt.
Washing oneself amounted almost to a religious ceremony.
But ah that little love of a Piccino was dirty-as
dirty as he was soft and dimpled, and rich-coloured and:
Near the place where the pleasure-seekers had spread their
feast upon the gras. there was a low rough stone wall at the
side of the road.
50 TWO DAYS IN THE LIFE OF PICCINO.
When the servants had spread the bright rugs and
cushions upon the ground the party sat down in little groups.
No sooner had they done this than one of the ladies looked
up and broke into a little laugh.
Look there !" she said, nodding in the direction of the
low wall, which was only a few yards from them.
And those near her looked and saw a little boy peasant
sitting with his legs dangling and gazing at them with the
interest and satisfaction of a person who has had the good
fortune to secure the best seat at a theatre.
He is a sharp one," said the lady. He has got here
first. There will be others directly. They are like a swarm
of little vultures. The Bothwicks, who have the Villa des
Palmier, were here a week ago, and they said children seemed
to start up from the earth."
The servants moved about in dexterous silence unpacking
the hampers and spreading white cloths. The gentlemen
sat at the ladies' feet, and everybody laughed and talked
gaily. In a few minutes the lady looked up and laughed
Look," she said, now there are three !"
And there were six legs dangling, and the second and
third pair were little girls' legs, and their owners looked on
at the strangers with cheerful composure, as if their assistance
at the festive scene were the most proper and natural thing
in the world.
The lady who had seen them first was a tall and handsome
TWO DAYS IN THE LIFE OF PICCINO. 51
Englishwoman. She had big coils of reddish-brown hair
and large bright eyes, which looked restless and tired at the
same time. Everybody seemed to pay her a great deal of
attention. The party was hers, the carriages were hers, the
big footmen were hers. Her guests called her Lady
Aileen. She was a very rich young widow with no
children, and though she had everything that wealth and
rank could give she found it rather hard to amuse herself.
Perhaps this was because she had given everything to Lady
Aileen Chalmer that she could, and it had not yet occurred
to. her that anyone else in the world was any affair of
"The Bothwicks came home in raptures over a child
they had seen," she said. "They talked of him until it
was fatiguing. They said he was as dirty as a pig and
as beautiful as an angel. The rest of the children seemed
to use him as a bait. I wish they would bring him
to-day. I should like to see him. I must say I don't
believe he was as beautiful as they said. You know
Mary Bothwick is by way of being artistic and is given
"Are you fond of children, Lady Aileen ?" asked the
man nearest to her.
I don't know," she answered, "I never had one. But
I think they are amusing. And these little Italian beggars
are sometimes very handsome. Perhaps I should not be
so bored if I had a very good-looking child. I should
52 .TWO DAYS IN THE LIFE OF PICCINO.
want a boy. I believe I will buy one -from a peasant
some day. They will give you anything for money." She
turned her face a little and laughed as she had done
"There are quite twelve on the wall now," she said,
" perhaps more. I must count them." When they counted
them they found there were fourteen. All in a row-all
with dangling feet, all dirty, and all staring at what was
going on with a composure which had no shadow of
embarrassment touching it.
The row, having gained in numbers, was also beginning
to be a little more lively. The young spectators had
begun to exchange conversational and lively remarks upon
the party, the big footmen, and the inviting things being
handed about and eaten.
In ten minutes from that time Lady Aileen counted
again and found there were twenty-two lookers-on, and
when she reached the twenty first she gave a. slight
Dear me! she exclaimed, and laid down her fork.
"What is it, Lady Aileen?" asked a girl who sat at
I am perfectly certain the twenty-first one is the child
the Bothwicks were talking about. And he is a handsome
"Which one?" the girl exclaimed, leaning forward to
look. "The twenty-first. Oh, I am sure you mean the
TWO DAYS IN THE LIFE OF PICCINO.
one next to the end. What a beauty, Mr. Gordon, look
And Maria had the encouragement of seeing half a
dozen people turn to look at Piccino, sitting by her on
the wall, a marvel of soft-roundness and rich colour, his
velvet eyes dreamily wide open as he gazed fixedly at
the good things to eat, his crimson bow of a mouth with
parted lips, his flaming tulips nodding round his torn
Lady Aileen looked quite interested.
I never saw such a beautiful little animal," she said.
" I had no idea children were ever really like that. He
looks as if he had been deliberately made to order. But
I should never have had the imagination to order any-
thing so perfect."
In a very few minutes everybody was looking at him and
discussing him. Maria saw them, and all the other children
saw them, and the whole party began to congratulate itself
and feel its spirits exhilarated, because it knew how the
matter would end. The only one who was not exactly
exhilarated was, it must be confessed, Piccino himself. He
felt a certain shy awkwardness when he was looked at and
talked about so much. He was not much more than a baby
after all, and he liked the cakes and little birds' backs much
better than he liked being looked at by so many grand ladies
and gentlemen all at once. Perhaps too,, if the truth were
told, he was not as thrifty as Maria and her companions.
54 TWO DAYS IN THE LIFE OF PICCINO.
He liked the good things, but he did not like to ask for them,
whereas the others did not object to begging at all. It was
second nature to them.
On this occasion Maria, seeing what effect he had produced,
wanted to lift him down from the wall and put him on the
grass and make him go among the signori and hold out his
But he clung to her and shook his head, and stuck out his
vermilion under lip and would not go.
It was when he was doing this and Maria was whispering
to him and scolding and coaxing, that Lady Aileen called to
one of her footmen and told him to bring her a plateful of
cakes and some marronsglacdes.
Does your ladyship wish me to take them to the beggar
children ? asked Thomas, his distaste suppressed by re-
"No," Lady Aileen answered, rising to her feet. I am
going to take them myself."
Yes, my lady," said Thomas, and stepped back.
"It would have been safer to have let me do it,"
he remarked, in a discreet undertone when he returned
to his fellows ; "ladies' dresses are more liable to touch
them by accident. And one wouldn't want to touck
SLady Aileen carried her plate to the line of spectators on
the wall. Mr. Gordon and two or three others of the party
followed her. All along the row eyes began to glisten and
TWO DA YS IN THE LIFE OF PICCINO.
mouths to water, but Lady Aileen went straight to Piccino.
She spoke to him in Italian.
What is your name ?" she asked.
He hung back a little, keeping close to Maria. This was
just what he did not like at all-that they would come and
ask him his name and try to make him talk. He had nothing
to say to people like them. He could talk to the donkey, but
then the donkey was of his own world and they knew each
"Tell the Signora your name," whispered Maria, furtively
Piccino," he said at length-the word coming through a
little reluctant pout.
Lady Aileen laughed.
He says his name is Piccino," she said to her companions.
"That means 'little one,' so I suppose it is a sort of pet
name. How old is he ? she asked Maria.
Piccino was so tired of hearing that. They always asked
it. He never asked how old they were. He did not want
He will be six in three months," said Maria.
Will you have some cakes ? said Lady Aileen. Piccino
held out his horribly dirty dimpled hands, but Maria took
off his hat with the tulips round it and held it out for
If the Illustrissima will put them in here," she said, "he
can carry them better."
56 TWO DAYS IN THE LIFE OF PICCINO.
Lady Aileen gave a little shudder, but she emptied the
"What an awful hat!" she said to her friends. They
are quite like little pigs-but he looks almost prettier without
it. Look how wonderful his hair is! It has dark red lights
in it and is as thick as a mat. The curls are like the cherubs
of the Sistine Madonna. If it were not so dirty I should like
to put my hand on it."
She spoke in English, and Piccino wondered what she was
saying about him. He knew it was about him, and he looked
at her from under his veil of lashes.
It would please me to have a child as handsome as that
about me," she said.
Why don't you buy him ?" said Mr. Gordon. "You
spoke of buying one just now. It would be like buying a
So it would," said Lady Aileen. "That's an idea. I
think I will buy him. I believe he would amuse me."
For a while at least," said Mr. Gordon.
He would always be well taken care of," said her lady-
ship, with a practical air. He would be infinitely better off
than he is now."
She was a person who through all her life had cultivated
the habit of getting all she had a fancy for. If one cultivates
the habit, and has plenty of money, there are not many
things one cannot have. There are some, it is true, but not
TWO DA YS IN THE LIFE OF PICCINO. 57
many. Lady Aileen had not found many. Just now she
was rather more bored than usual. Before she had left
England something had occurred which had rather troubled
her. In fact she had come to the Riviera to forget it in
change of surroundings. She had been to Monte Carlo,
and had found it too excited and not new enough, as she
had been there often before. She had been to Nice, and
had said it was too much like a seaside Paris, and that
there were so many English people, that walking down the
Promenade des Anglais was like walking down Bond Street.
She had tried San Remo because it was quiet, and she had
a temporary fancy for being quiet, and then she had
chanced to meet some people she liked. So she had taken
a snow-white villa high above the sea, and with palms and
orange-trees, and slender yellow green bamboos in the
garden. And she had invited her new acquaintances 'to
dinner and afternoon tea, and had made up excursions.
Still she was often bored, and wanted some new trifle to
amuse her. And actually, when she saw Piccino and Mr.
Gordon suggested to her that she should buy him, it
occurred to her that she would try it. If she had chanced
to come upon a tiny, pretty, rare monkey, or toy terrier,
or an unheard-of kind of parrot or cockatoo, she would
have tried the experiment of buying it, and Piccino, with
his dirty, beautiful little face, and his half-inch eyelashes, did
not seem much more serious to her. He would cost more
money, of course, as she would have to provide for him in
TWO DAYS IN THE LIFE OF PICCINO.
some way after he had grown too big to amuse her, but she
had plenty of money, and she need not trouble herself
about him. She need not see him if she did not wish to,
after she had sent him to school-or to be trained into
some kind of superior servant. Lady Aileen was not a
person whose conscience disturbed her and caused her to feel
responsibilities. And so after the party had been to explore
Ceriani and the things that otherwise interested them,
she asked Mr. Gordon to go with her to the poor little
tumble-down house which Maria had pointed out to her
as the home of Piccino. Maria had in fact had a rich
harvest. Everybody had returned full of good things, and
Piecino's small pocket was rich with sold.
I am going to carry out your suggestion," Lady Aileen
said to Mr. Gordon as they walked down the road.
What was it ?" Mr. Gordon asked.
That I should buy the child."
Indeed," said Mr. Gordon. "You find you can always
buy what you have a fancy for ? "
"Nearly always," said Lady Aileen, knitting her hand-
some white forehead a little. I have no doubt I can buy
this thing I have a fancy for."
It chanced that she came exactly at the right moment.
As they approached the house they heard even louder cries
and lamentations and railings than Piccino had heard in the
It appeared that old Beppo had repented his leniency, and
TWO DAYS IN THE LIFE OF PECCINO. 59
had come back for 'the donkey. He would not let it stay
another night. He wanted to work it himself. He
had brought his piece of rope, and had fastened it to the
pretty grey head already-while Piccino's mother Rita
wept and gesticulated and poured forth maledictions. The
neighbours had come back to sympathize with her, and
find out what would happen, and the children had begun
to cry, and Annibale to swear, so that there was such
a noise filling the -air that if Lady Aileen had not
been a cool and determined person she might have been
But she was not. She did not wait for Mr. Gordon to
command order, but walked straight into the midst of the
"What is the matter ? she demanded in Italian. "What
is all this noise about ? "
Then, after their first start of surprise at seeing the grand
lady who was so plainly one of the rich forestieri-Rita and
all her neighbours began to explain their wrongs at once.
They praised the donkey, and reviled Annibale, and
proclaimed that old Beppo was a malefactor without a soul,
and a robber of the widow and the fatherless.
"Far better," cried Rita, "that my children should be
without a father-an idle ugly brute who takes their bread
out of their poor mouths. To sell their one friend who
keeps them-the donkey "
Old Beppo looked both sheepish and frightened when
60 TWO DAYS IN THE LIFE OF PICCINO.
Lady Aileen turned upon him. as he was beginning to
try to shuffle away with his property at the end of his rope
Stay where you are! she said.
Illustrissima," mumbled Beppo, "a thousand excuses.
But I have work to do, and the donkey is mine. I have
bought it. It is my donkey, Illustrissima."
Lady Aileen knew Italy very well. She drew out her
purse that he might see it in her hand before. she turned
away from him.
Stay where you are," she said, I shall have something
to say to you later."
Then she turned to Rita.
"Stop making a noise," she said, "I want to talk to
What could the Illustrious Signora have to say to a
wretched woman ? Rita wept. All her children must starve,
she must starve herself, death from cold and hunger lay
No such thing," said Lady Aileen. I will buy your
donkey back, and give you food and fuel for the winter
-for more than one winter-if you will let me have what
Rita and the neighbours exclaimed in chorus. If she
could have what she wanted, the Most Illustrious Signora!
What could she want that a hovel could hold, and what
could such poor creatures refuse her ?
TWO DAYS IN THE LIFE OF PICCINO.
Lady Aileen made a gesture towards Piccino, who had
gone to stand by the donkey, and had big tears on his
eyelashes as he fondled its nose.
I want you to lend me your little boy," she said; I
want to take him home with me and keep him. It will be
much better for him."
The neighbours all exclaimed in chorus. Rita for a
moment only stared.
"Piccino-!" she said at length, "you want to take him-
to make him your child!" And aside she exclaimed,
" Mother of God it is his eyelashes! "
Lady Aileen shrugged her shoulders slightly. I cannot
make him my child," she said, "but I will take care of
him. He shall live with me, and be fed and clothed, and
shall enjoy hirfiself."
Maria clutched at her mother's apron.
"Mother," she said, "he will be a Signorine. He will
ride in the carriage of the Illustrissima. It will be as if he
were a Prince!"
"As if he were a Prince !" the neighbours echoed. "As if
he were a King's son!" And they all looked at dirty little
Piccino with a growing awe.
Rita looked at him too. She had never been a very
motherly person, and these children, who had _,:., n her
such hard work and hard fare, had been a combined trial
and burden to her. She had never felt it fair that thl y
should have come upon her. Each one had seemed an
62 TWO DAYS IN THE LIFE OF PICCINO.
added calamity, and when Piccino had been born he had
seemed a heavier weight than all the rest. It was, indeed,
well for him that his eyelashes had begun to earn his
living so early. And now, if he could save their daily bread
and the donkey for them, it would be a sort of excuse for his
having intruded himself upon the world. But Rita was not
the woman to let him go for a nothing.
"He is as beautiful as an angel!" she said; "he has
brought in many a lire only because the forestieri admire
him so. His eyelashes are an inch long. When he is
old enough to sing- "
Lady Aileen spoke aside to Mr. Gordon.
"I told you that I believed I could buy this thing I
fancied," she said.
To Rita she said,-
Tell me what you want. I will give you a reason-
able sum. But you will be foolish if you try to be
extortionate. I want him-but not so much that I will be
"I should be a foolish woman if I tried to keep him,"
said Rita; "he will have nothing to eat to-night if he stays
here-nor to-morrow-nor the day after, unless a miracle
happens. The Illustrious Signora will give him a good
home, and will buy .back the donkey and save us from
starvation ? I can come sometimes to the villa of the
Signora and see him ? "
"Yes," said Lady Aileen practically, "and the servants
TWO DAYS IN THE LIFE OF PICCINO.
will always give you a good meal and something to carry
home with you. You can have him back at any time if
you want him."
She said this for two reasons.- One was because she
knew his mother was not likely to want him back, because
he would always be a source of small revenue. And then
she herself was not a person of the affections, and if the
woman made herself in the least tiresome she was not
likely to feel it a grief to part with the child. She only
wanted him to amuse her.
How it was all arranged Piccino did not in the least
know. As he stood by the donkey, his mother and the
neighbours, his father and Beppo, and the illustrious lady
all talked together. He knew they were talking of him
because he heard his own name, but he was too little to
listen or care.
Maria listened to good'purpose however. She was wildly
excited and exhilarated. Before the bargain was half
concluded- she slipped over to Piccino's side, and tried to
make him understand.
"The Signora is going to buy back the donkey," she said,
" and give us money besides; and you are going back in her
beautiful carriage to San Remo, to live in her magnificent
villa, and be a Signorine, and have everything you want.
You will be dressed like the King's son, and have servants.
You will be as rich as the forestieri."
Piccino gave her a rather timid look. He was not a
TWO DA YS IN THE LIFE OF PICCINO.
beloved nursery darling, he was only a pretty little animal
who was only noticed because he was another mouth to feed,
he was not of half as much consequence as the donkey. But
the dirty place where he ate and slept was his home, and it
gave him a queer feeling to think of tumbling about in a
But Maria was so delighted, and seemed to think he had
such luck, and everybody got up a sort of excitement about
him, and he did not want the donkey to be sold, and he was
too young to realize that he could not come back as often as
he liked. And in the end, when the matter was actually
settled, he found himself part of a sort of triumphal
procession, which escorted him back to the place where the
carriages were. His mother and Maria, and several of the
neighbours, walked quite proudly along the road with him,
and even old Beppo followed at a distance, and the
donkey having- been freed from the halter and taking an
interest in her friends, loitered along also, cropping grass
as she went.
Lady Aileen and Mr. Gordon had gone on before them.
When they reached the place where the rest of the party was
waiting Lady Aileen explained the rather remarkable thing
she had done, and did so with her usual direct coolness.
I have bought the child with the eyelashes," she said,
"and I am going to take him back to San Remo on the box
with the coachman. He is too dirty to come near us until
he is washed."
TWO DAYS, IN THE LIFE OF PICCINO.
She was a person whom nobody thought of questioning,
because she never questioned herself. She simply did what
it occurred to her to do, and felt her own wish quite enough
reason. She did not care in the least whether' people
thought her extraordinary or not. That was their affair and
You have bought Piccino!" one of her friends
exclaimed. Does that mean you are going to adopt
I have not thought of it as seriously as that," said Lady
Aileen. "I am going to take him home and have him
thoroughly washed, however. When he is clean I will
decide what I shall do next. The thing that interests me at
present is that I am curious to see what he will look like
when he has had a warm bath all over, and has been puffed
with violet powder and had his hair combed. I want to see
it done. I wonder what he will think is happening to him.
Nicholson will have to take care of him until I find him a
nurse. Look at his relatives and friends escorting him in
procession down the road. They have already begun to
regard him with veneration."
She beckoned to one of the men-servants.
Greggs," she said, you and Hepburn must put the child
between you on the box. He is going back to San Remo
with me. See that he does not fall off."
Greggs went to the coachman, with a queer expression of
TWO DAYS IN THE LIFE OF PICCINO.
We've got a nice bunch of narcissuses to carry back
between us. Her ladyship says the boy is to go with us on
A nice go that is for two men that's a bit particular them-
selves said the coachman. "Let's hope he won't give us
both typhus fever."
And under these auspices Piccino went forth to his strange
\ l E was too well accustomed to his dirt to
'' think of it as being objectionable, so the
way in which Greggs lifted him up on to
"i' i' the seat on the box did not at all explain
/ itself to him. He did not realize that in
/ exactly the same manner the excellent
Greggs would have handled an extremely
dirty little dog her ladyship. had chosen
to pick up by the wayside and order
him to take charge of.
/ But though he did not understand how
he was regarded by the illustrious signori
in livery who sat near him, he was conscious that he was
not comfortable, and felt that somehow they were not
exactly friendly. His place on the box seemed at an
enormous height from the ground, and as they went down
hill over the winding road he was rather frightened,
particularly when they rounded a sharp curve. It seemed
so probable that he might fall off, and he was afraid to
clutch at Greggs, who kept as far from him as possible
under the circumstances.
68 TWO DAYS IN THE LIFE OF PICCINO.
It was a long, long drive back to San Remo, and it
seemed longer to Piccino than it really was. San Remo to
him appeared a wonderful foreign country. He had never
been there, and only knew of it what Maria had told him.
Maria had once gone there in a small cart drawn by the
donkey, and she had never forgotten the exaltation of the
adventure. She was always willing to describe over again
the streets, the white villas, the shops, and the grand hotels.
Piccino was so tired that he fell asleep before the carriage
had left the curving road, but when it reached the city the
jolting of the wheels wakened him, and he opened his
beautiful drowsy eyes and found them dazzled by the lights.
They were not very bright or numerous lights, but they
seemed so very dazzling to him, that he felt bewildered by
them. If Maria had been with him he would have clung to
her and asked questions about everything ; but even if he
had not been too much a baby, and too shy, he could not
have asked questions of Greggs, who was sufficiently
English to feel his own language quite enough for a sensible
footman. If the Italians wished to speak Italian that was
their own taste, and they might bear the consequences of not
being able to make him understand them. English was
enough for Greggs.
So Piccino was borne through the amazing streets in
silence. The people in the carriage had al.;o become rather
silent, having been lulled, as it were, by the long drive
through the woods and olive groves. Lady Aileen, in fact,
TWO DAYS IN THE LIFE OF PICCINO. 69
had had time to begin to wonder if her new plan would
prove as satisfactory and amusing as she had fancied it
might. Mr. Gordon was quietly speculating about it him-
self; the other man in the carriage was thinking of the Battle
of Flowers at Nice, and inventing a new scheme of floral
decoration for a friend's victoria. The only person who was
really thinking of Piccino himself was the girl who sat by
Lady Aileen. She was a clever girl and kind, and she was
wondering how he would like the change in his life, and if
he had begun to feel homesick.
The carriage had to go uphill again before it reached Lady
Aileen's villa. It was a snowy-white villa on an eminence,
and it had a terraced garden and looked out over the sea.
When they drove through the stately gateway Piccino felt
his small heart begin to thump, though he did not know why
at all. There were shadows of trees, and scents of roses
and orange-blossom and heliotrope. And on the highest
terrace the white house stood, with a glow of light in its
portico, and gleams in its windows. Poor little dirty peasant
baby, how could it be otherwise than that all this grandeur
and whiteness should alarm him!
But there was just one thing that gave him a homely feel-
ing. And oh, he felt it so good that it was so! As they
turned in at the gate he heard a familiar sound. It was the
hysteric sniffing, and jumping, an! yelping whines, of wciconr,.
of a 'og -a poor exiled doggie whose kennel was kept
close by the gate-probably to guard it. He was fastened
70 TWO DAYS IN THE LIFE OF PICCINO.
by a chain, and evidently being a friendly, sociable creature,
did not like being kept in this lonely place, and not allowed
to roam with the world. He could not have friendly fights
and associates, and he could not rush about and jump on
ladies' dresses and gentlemen's clothes, and leave his dusty
or muddy affectionate paw-marks all over them. And so he
was not happy, and when he heard footsteps approaching
always strained at his chain and sniffed and whined. As
these returning carriages belonged to his own domestic circle
he almost went wild with joy, and leaped and yelped, and did
his best to make somebody speak to him. He was adoringly
fond of Lady Aileen, who scarcely ever noticed him at all,
but once or twice had said, Good fellow Nice dog! as
she went by, and once had come and looked at him and given
him two whole pats, while he had wriggled and fawned him-
self nearly into hysterics of dog delight.
And so it happened that as the carriage turned into the
beautiful gateway Piccino heard this sound he knew-that
loving, eager, pleading dog-voice which is as much Italian as
it is English, and as much peasant as it is noble. The dogs
in the hovels near Ceriani spoke just as Lady Aileen's dog
did, and asked for just the same thing-that human things
should love them a little and believe that they themselves
love a great deal. And Piccino, who was only a beautiful
little baby animal himself, understood it vaguely, and was
somehow reminded of his friend the donkey, and felt not
quite so many hundred miles from home and the tumble-
TWO DAYS IN THE LIFE OF PICCINO. 71
down stable and Maria. He involuntarily lifted his soft,
dirty, blooming face to Greggs in the dark.
A chi il cane? he said (Whose dog is that ?).
What's that he's saying ? said Greggs to the coachman.
Must be something about the dog," answered Hepburn.
"He said something or other about a carney, and carney
means dog. It's a deuce of a language to make out."
And so, not being answered, Piccino could only resign
himself, and, as the carriage rolled up the drive, listen to the
familiar homely dog-sound and wish he could get down and
go to the kennel. And then the carriage stopped before
the door, and the door was thrown open by a liveried servant
and showed the brilliantly lighted hall, where there were
beautiful pictures and ornaments and curious things hung on
the walls, and rich rugs on the floor, and quaint seats and
bits of furniture about, so that to Piccino it looked like a
Lady Aileen spoke to the footman at the door.
"Send Nicholson to me," she said. Bring the child into
the hall," she said to Greggs.
So Piccino was taken down in as gingerly a manner as he
had been put up, and Greggs set him discreetly on a bit of
the floor not covered by rugs.
He stood there without moving, his luminous eyes resting
on Lady Aileen.
Lady Aileen spoke to her companions, but he did not
know what she was saying, because she spoke English.
72 TWO DAYS IN THE LIFE OF PICCINO.
"He is exactly like some little animal," she said. He
does not-know what to make of it all. I am afraid he is
rather stupid-but what a beauty "
Poor little mite," said the girl, I daresay he is tired."
Nicholson appeared almost immediately. She was a neat,
tall, prim young woman, who wore black cashmere and collar
and apron of snow.
Lady Aileen made a gesture towards Piccino.
"I have brought this child from Ceriani," she said.
Take him upstairs and take his rags off and burn them.
Give him a bath-perhaps two or three will be necessary.
Get his hair in order. Modesta can change my dress for
me. I shall come into the bath-room myself presently."
Piccino was watching her fixedly. What was she saying ?
What were they going to do to him ?
She turned away and went into the salon with her guests,
and Nicholson came towards him. She gave him the same
uncomfortable feeling Greggs had given him. He felt that
she did not ike him-and she spoke in English.
Come upstairs with me. I am going to wash you," she
But Piccino did not understand and did not move. So she
had to take hold of his hand to lead him, which she objected
very much to doing. She took him up the staircase and
through landings and corridors, where he caught glimpses of
wonderful bedrooms that were of dainty colours, and had silk
and lace and frills and cushions in them, and made him feel
TWO DAYS IN THE LIFE OF PICCINO. 73
more strange than ever. And at last she opened a door and
took him into a place which was all blue and white porcelain
-walls and floors-and everything else-including a strange
large object in one corner, which had shining silver things at
one end. And she released his hand and went to the silver
things and twisted them round, and, as if by magic, two
streams of clear water gushed out and began to fill the blue
and white trough as the bed of a torrent is filled by the
Piccino's eyes grew bigger and more lustrous every second
as he stared. Was she doing this interesting but rather
alarming thing to amuse him ? Maria had never seen any-
thing like this in San Remo or she would certainly have told
him. He was seeing more than Maria. For a moment or
so he was not sorry he had come. If the rich foresiieri had
things like this to play with they must have other things
as amusing. And somehow the water was hot. He could
see the pretty white steam rise from it. He came a little
closer to look. Nicola," as he called her in his mind,
having heard Lady Aileen speak to her as Nicholson "-
Nicola moved to and fro and collected curious things together
-a white cake of something, a big light round thing made of
holes, large pieces of thick soft white cloth, with fringe at
the ends-something, these last, which must be like the things
Maria had heard of as being used in churches by the priests.
Che fai ? (What are you doing?) he said to Nicola.
But she did not understand him, and only said something
74 TWO DA YS IN THE LIFE OF PICCINO.
in English as she took off her white cuffs and rolled up her
By this time the two rushing streams had splashed and
danced into the bed of the torrent until it was nearly full.
Nicola twisted the silver things as before, and by magic
again the rushing ceased and the clear pool was still, the
light vapour rising from it.
Nicola came to him and began to take off his clothes
with the very tips of her fingers, speaking in English as she
did it. He did not know what she was saying.
"A pretty piece of work for a lady's maid to do! My
own clothes may go into the wash-tub and the rag-bag
after it. The filth of such people is past bearing. And
it's her ladyship all over to have such a freak. There's
no end to her whims. Burn them! she might well say burn
them. The sooner they are in the fire the better." She took
off the last rag and kicked it aside with her foot. Piccino
stood before her, a little soft brown cherub without wings.
"Upon my word," she said, "he is pretty! I suppose
that's the reason."
Piccino was beginning to feel very queer indeed. The
rushing water was amusing, but what was her intention in
taking off all his clothes ? That was not funny. Surely
the forestieri wore clothes when they were in San Remo.
And besides she had given his cherished trousers-the
beautiful trousers of Sandro which had been given him for
his own-a kick which had no respect in it, and which sent
TWO DAYS IN THE LIFE OF PICCINO. 75
them flying into a corner. His little red mouth began to
look unsteady at the corners.
Yes, that's the reason," she said. It's because he's so
pretty." And she picked him up in her arms and bore him
to the bath.
Piccino looked down into the blue and white pool which
seemed to him so big and deep. He felt himself being
lowered into it and uttered a wild shriek. They were going
to drown him-to drown him-to drown him !
He was in the water. He felt it all around him-nearly
up to his shoulders. He clung to Nicola and uttered shriek
after shriek, he kicked and splashed and beat with his feet,
the water leaped and foamed about him and flew into his eyes
and nose and mouth.
"Lasciatemi! Lasciatemi! (Let me go! Let me go!) he
Nicholson tried her best to hold him.
My goodness! she exclaimed, I can't manage him. He
is like a little wild cat. Keep quiet, you naughty boy! Be
still, you bad little pig, and let me wash you! Good gracious!
what am I to do ? "
But Piccino would not be drowned without a struggle.
To be held in water like that! to be suffocated by its
splashing in his nose and mouth, and blinded by its dashing
in his eyes. He fought with feet and teeth, used his
head like a battering ram, and shrieked and shrieked
76 TWO DAYS IN THE LIFE OF PICCINO.
Io non ho fatto niente! lo non ho fatto niente (I have
done nothing.) Maria! Maria!"
And'the noise was so appalling that almost immediately
footsteps were to be heard upon the stairs, swift movement in
the corridor, and the bath-room door opened.
It was Lady Aileen, who came in amazed, frowning and
rather alarmed. The girl-friend who had wondered if
Piccino would like his surroundings was with her.
Piccino threw' back his head at sight of them and battled
and shrieked still more wildly. He thought they must have
come to his aid.
"M'amazza! M'amazza! Aiuto !" he wailed.
"Bless me, what is the matter ? exclaimed Lady Aileen,
and came towards the bath.
He.doesn't like to be washed, my lady," panted Nichol-
son, struggling. He seems quite frightened."
Suddenly Lady Aileen began to laugh.
"Take him out for a moment, Nicholson," she said. Take
him out. Isobel," to the girl, her words broken with laughter,
" he thinks Nicholson is drowning him. Soap and water are
such unknown quantities to him that he thinks that in this
proportion they mean death."
Nicholson had lifted her charge out at once, only too glad
of the respite. Piccino stood wet and quaking and sobbing
by the bath-tub.
Lady Aileen began to take off her gloves and bracelets.
"Give me an apron," she said to Nicholson. And on
-.. I ... _
"'No one is going to rt you. You are only going to be made clean.'"--page 77.
TWO DA YS IN THE LIFE OF PICCINO. 77
having one handed to her she tied it over her dress and
knelt down before her new plaything.
Little imbecile! she said in Italian, taking hold of his
wet shoulders. No one is going to hurt you. You are
only going to be made clean. You are too dirty to be
touched, and the water will wash the dirt off."
Piccino only looked up at her, sobbing. At least she had
had him taken out of the great pool-but what did-she mean
by wanting his dirt removed by such appalling means ?
"I am going to wash you myself," said Lady Aileen,
lifting him in her strong, white arms. "Don't let me have
any nonsense. If you make a noise and fight I will drown
you." She was laughing, but Piccino was struck dumb with
fear. She looked so tall and powerful, and such a grand lady,
that he did not know what she might feel at liberty to do in
It is only a bath," said the girl Isobel in a kind voice;
" the water won't go over your head. Don't be frightened.
It won't hurt."
Lady Aileen calmly put him back in the tub.
Her white hands were so firm and steady that he felt the use-
lessness of the struggle. And if he fought she might drown him.
He looked up piteously at the Signorina with the encouraging
face and voice and stood in the water aghast, and with big
tears rolling down his cheeks, but passive in helpless despair.
But, ah!. what strange things were done to him!
The Illustrious Signora took the cake of white stuff and the
78 TWO DA YS IN THE LIFE OF PICCINO.
big porous thing and rubbed them together in the water and
made quantities of snow-white froth, then she rubbed him
over and over and over, then she splashed the water over
him until she washed the foam off his body, then she scrubbed
him with something, then she did strange things to his ears,
then she took a little brush and scrubbed his finger-nails-
covering them with the white froth and then washing it off-
then she did the same to his feet and rubbed them with a
piece of stone.
Then she began with his head. Poor neglected little mop
of matted silk-what did she not do to it ? She rubbed it
with the cake of white stuff till it was a soft slippery ball of
foam, then she scrubbed and scrubbed and thrust her hands
in it and shook it about and almost drowned him with the
water she poured on it. If he had not been so frightened he
would have yelled. But people who will do such things to
you, what will they not do if you make them angry! Under
this avalanche of snowy stuff, and this torrent of water, a
wild, despairing memory of Maria and the donkey came back
to him. Only last night he had fallen asleep in his corner
among all the familiar sights and sounds and smells, and
without water coming near him. And now he was nearly up
to his neck in it; it was streaming from his hair, his ears, his
body, he could hear and see and taste nothing else. Oh!
could it be possible that he had been all wrong in that first
imagining, that perhaps the rushing streams were to amuse
him ? Could it be that this was all to amuse the forestieri
TWO DAYS IN THE LIFE OF PICCINO.
themselves-that they had brought him to San Remo to
make him live in water like a fish-that they would never
let him out?
Suddenly the magnificent Signora lifted him out of the
pool. She set him streaming upon something soft, and
white, and dry, which Nicola had spread upon the blue and
white tiles of the floor.
'There she said, now I think he is clean for the first
time in his life. Nicholson, you may rub him dry."
She stood up laughing and rather flushed with exertion.
It has amused me," she said to Isobel; I would not
have believed it, but it has amused me. Almost anything
new will amuse one the first time one does it. When you
have brushed his hair, Nicholson, put him to bed."
She laid aside the apron and picked up her gloves.
She went out of the room smiling, and Piccino was left
to the big white cloths and Nicola.
What happened then was even more tiresome than the
bath, though it was not so alarming. He was rubbed as if
he were a little horse, and his hair received treatment which
seemed to him incredible. When it was dry, strange
instruments were used upon it. The knots and tangles were
struggled with and dragged out. Sometimes it seemed as if
his curls were being pulled out by the roots, sometimes as
if his head itself was to be taken off. It seemed to him
that he stood hours by Nicola's knee whimpering. If Maria
had been rash enough to attempt to subject him to such in-
TWO DA YS IN THE LIFE OF PICCINO.
dignities he would have kicked and screamed and fought, but
in this wonderful house, among these wonderful people, who
were all forestieri, he was terror-stricken by his sense of
strangeness. To be plunged into water-to be rubbed and
scrubbed-to have the hair dragged from one's head--who
would not be terrified ? Suddenly he buried his face in
Nicola's lap and broke into woful weeping. Voglio andare
a casa. Lasciammi andare a Maria e il ciuco (I want to go
home. Let me go home to Maria-and the donkey!) he cried.
"Well, well, it is nearly done now," said Nicholson.
"And a nice job it has been! And what I am to put you
to bed in I don't know, unless in one of her ladyship's own
Voglio andare a casa he wept. But Nicholson did not
understand him in the least. She went and found one of
the dressing jackets and brought it back to the bath-room.
It was covered with rich lace and tied with ribbons; it
was too big and he was lost in it; but when Nicholson
bundled him up in it, and he stood. with the lace frills
dangling over his hands, and his beautiful little face and
head rising above the great rich ruff they made, he was a
wonderful sight to see.
But he was not aware of it, and only felt as if he were
dressed in strange trickery, and when he was picked up and
carried out of the room-the beautiful trousers of Sandro
being left on the floor in the corner-he felt that the final
indignity had been offered.
TWO DA YS IN THE LIFE OF PICCINO.
She carried him into one of the wonderful rooms he had
caught a glimpse of. It was all blue, and was so amazing
with its frills and blue flowers and lace and ornaments that
he thought it must be a place where some other strange
thing was to be done to him. But Nicola only put him
down on a soft place covered with lace, and with a sort of
tent of lace and silk at the top of it.
She said something to him in English and went away
and left him.
He sat and stared about him. Was it a place where
people slept ? Did the forestieri lay their heads on those
white -things? Was this soft wonder he sat on a bed ?
He looked up above him at the beautiful tent and felt so lost
and strange that he could almost have shouted for Maria
again. If she had been there, or if he could have under-
stood what Nicola said it would not have been so awful.
But it was so grand and strange, and Ceriani and Maria
and the donkey seemed in another world thousands of miles
away. It was as if suddenly he had been taken to Paradise
and had found himself frightened and homesick because it
was so far from Ceriani and so different.
Nicola came back with a plate. There were things to eat
on it, and she offered them to him. And then he realized
that a strange thing had happened to him which had never
happened before in his life. There, before him, was a plate-
ful of good things-things such as the forestieri brought in
their hampers, and he did not want them! Something
82 TWO DAYS IN THE LIFE OF PICCINO.
seemed to have filled up his throat and he could not eat.
He-Piccino-actually could not eat. The tears came into
his eyes and he shook his head.
Non ho fame" (I am not hungry), he whimpered. And
he poked the plate away.
"I suppose he has been stuffed with cakes all day," said
Nicholson, "and he is too sleepy. Good gracious, how pretty
She turned down the frilled and embroidered sheets and
gave the pillows a little thump. Then she picked Piccino up
again, put him into the bed and covered him up. He lay
among the whiteness, a lovely picture put to bed, his eyes
wide open and shining with his awe.
Go to sleep! she said, and don't be a bad boy." And
then she turned out the light and walked out of the room,
leaving the door a little open.
Piccino lay among the softness, his eyes growing bigger
and bigger in the dark. He was so little, and everything
around him seemed so large and magnificent. This was the
way the King's son was put to bed-bundled up in a strange
garment, with lace frills tickling his ears and cheeks, and
with big sleeves which prevented his using his hands. And
he could not hear the donkey in her stable-the donkey
who must be there this very moment, because she had
not been taken away, but had been bought back from
Beppo. Oh, if he could hear her now-but perhaps-
perhaps he never could get to the stable again-the
TWO DAYS IN THE LIFE OF PICCINO.
forestieri-the strange rich lady would never let him go back
A little sob broke from him-under Lady Aileen's dressing
jacket his breast heaved piteously, he turned and buried his
face upon the pillow, and wept, and wept, and wept.
He cried so that he found he was beginning to make little
sounds in spite of himself, and he tried to smother them,
because he did not know what theforeslieri did to children
who made a noise-perhaps held them under the rushing
streams of water. But just at the moment when he was
trying to stifle his sobs and prevent their becoming wails a
strange thing happened. The door was pushed open, and
someone came into the room. At least he heard a sound of
feet on the floor, though he did not see anyone even when
he peeped. Feet ? They were not Nicola's feet, but softer
and more pattering. He held his breath to listen. They
came to his bed and stopped, And then he heard something
else-a soft familiar panting, almost as familiar as the
donkey's stirring in the stable. He sat up in bed.
E un cane (It is a dog), he cried.
And the answer was a leap, and a rough, dear hairy body
was beside him, while a warm, excitedly lapping, affectionate
tongue caressed his hand, his face, his neck.
For in some mysterious way the lonely dog at the
entrance gate had slipped his collar, and in rushing through
the house to find someone to love and rejoice over had
heard the little smothered sobs, and come in at once to
84 TWO DAYS IN THE LIFE OF PICCINO.
answer and comfort him, knowing in his dog heart that here
was one who was lonely and exiled too.
And Piccino fell upon him and caught him in his arms,
dragging him close to his side, rubbing his wet cheeks upon
the rough, hairy coat, and so holding him, nestled against
and pillowed his head upon him, rescued from his loneliness
and terror almost as he might have been if he had been the
*'-. i' ,
.-' _. ,-SS ,'
'I~' 1 T was a great comfort to go to sleep em-
.- .. bracing and embraced by a shaggy friend
-- of one's own world, but when the morn-
-: r ing came it seemed that somehow to the
f ) forestieri it appeared a different thing.
S When Nicola came in she uttered an
exclamation of horror.
"The dirty little thing she cried. Ah, my goodness,
he has been asleep all night with that dusty, muddy dog!
What will my lady say ? Look at his face and the sheets, and
her ladyship's jacket! "
Piccino sat up in his silk and lace tent, holding on to the
dog. Something was wrong, he saw, though he understood
nothing. What could it be ?
"Get out!" cried Nicholson, slapping the dog vigorously.
" Get out! How in the world did you get here ? And she
pushed the shaggy friend off the bed, and ran after him,
driving him out of the room.
Lady Aileen met her. on the threshold.
"What is that animal doing here?" she asked.