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BUTLER & TANNER,
THE SELWOOD PRINTING WORKS,
FROME, AND LONDON.
THE OLD MANOR HOUSE
THEY were lying flat on an.old tiger skin before a blazing
fire. The large desolate-looking room had an eerie
appearance in the waning light; bare brown branches tapped
at the curtainless casement windows; and the wind howled
and whistled down the wide chimney; yet the children in the
firelight were too absorbed in their occupation to notice their
Guy, a dark-eyed resolute-looking little fellow, with puckered
brow and pursed-up lips, was engaged-pencil in hand-in
depicting various scenes which his sister's active imagination
was conjuring out of the fire.
His sketch book was composed of all sorts and sizes of
paper stitched together, and the pencil required a great deal
of moisture from the young artist's lips to leave any trace at
all on the soiled and crumpled material supplied for its use.
Beryl's tiny head was supported by two plump little hands,
and she was gazing eagerly into the glowing coals in front of
'Quick, Guy! Make a charger dashing through a cave of
fire; and a man pulling a woman across a precipice; and now
A Puzzling Pair
here's a bear coming down a hill! and a donkey's head coming
through a hole in the cave !'
Don't go so fast, Berry,' remonstrated the boy.
Beryl beat a tattoo on the floor impatiently with her toes.
'Father will be coming in directly, and then we shall be
sent away, and the kitchen fire is not half as good as this one
for making pictures.'
'If you keep quiet, father won't know we are here.'
'Hark here he comes !'
The door was hastily opened, and two men in shooting
'Come along, Alf! We shall feel better after some food.
A couple of hares and six brace of birds isn't a bad bag from
my barren preserves.'
He was a tall broad-shouldered man who spoke, a man
still in the prime of life; but his movements were slow and
heavy in comparison with the alert briskness of his companion,
and his face wore a dreamy pre-occupied air. As he sauntered
up to the fire, he saw the children lying there.
'Halloo, chicks, what are you doing? Where is Matty?
Guy, go and tell her we want some dinner sharp!'
The boy darted off, hastily stuffing papers and pencil into
his pocket, and Beryl followed him.
A few minutes later an elderly woman came in. As she
was laying the cloth on the round table in the centre of the
room, her master spoke :
'Matty, what have you got for us ? We are dead beat, and
'Hare stew, sir,' Matty replied, raising a bright face to the
'Your stews are excellent, but I shall not want many more
of them. Do you know that Mr. Ford has been tempting me
up to London again ? I am going to return with him in two
days' time, so I shall leave the house in your charge. I may
be away a couple of months.'
The Old Manor House
'And the children, sir? '
Oh, the children remain here with you, of course.'
Matty looked troubled and dissatisfied. But she said no
more, and when the hot dishes were placed on the table she
withdrew to the kitchen.
The manor kitchen was the most cheerful room in the old
house. Always spotlessly clean, the red tiled floor and the
cheery blaze in the old-fashioned hearth did much to con-
tribute towards the comfort of its inmates. All the crockery
of which the house could boast was arranged in shining rows
along the old oak dresser, from the beautiful remnants of an
old Sevres china tea set, to the coarse yellow delf that was in
daily use in the kitchen. The only two articles in the room
that looked more for adornment than use were an antique
carved spinning-wheel in one corner, and a glass aquarium
case of sea anemones in a forest of seaweed, rock, and coral
that stood in the window.
The children were standing close to this case, talking eagerly
to an old man, as Matty entered.
'Well, Tummas, the master is off agen An' us will be in
a worse plight than ever this winter, for all be a year older
since last he went, from the foundations o' the sea wall to the
shoes and stockin's of the children! An' how a body can
bring 'em up respectibble with ne'er a penny to lay out on
eddication, or garments, be more than my poor head can
puzzle out !'
'Ay, the master telled I this morning an' thinks I to mysel',
maybe he'll come back one day an' find us all starved out, an
the old house in ruins I did make free to tell him the wall
must be repaired right soon, an' he claps his hands in his
pockets, an' says he: "Ah, well, Tummas, I'm in a fair way
now to make money, an' I'll send ye a cheque to have the re-
pairs put in hand at once A very long at once," I fears !'
And the old man shook his head doubtfully from side to
side as he spoke.
A Puzzling Pair
But for once the faithful old servants were mistaken in their
master, and could they but have listened to the conversation
going on in the old dining-room, their hearts would have been
lightened and cheered.
'Your visit has been a godsend to me, Alf,' Mr. Forrester
was saying. 'I have been trying to shake off my sloth for the
past couple of years, as you see by my contributions towards
your paper; but literary spurts will not keep my household
going. And pride alone forbade me to close with Lord
Warren's proposal. I am glad I have overcome it. As his
agent I shall have a sure income, and if I can get taken on to
the staff of the C-- Review, I may be able to start repairing
this old place.'
It wants it,' was the terse comment.
'Of course it does; but once begin, and where is one to
stop ? Old Thomas tells me the sea wall is at last giving way,
and that, of course, must be put in hand at once. Come out
and look at the buildings presently, and tell me, not how
much, but how little I can do, to prevent the whole place
coming down about our ears one stormy night!'
Why on earth do you stay here ? '
'Because I have an affection for every stone in the place. I
was born and brought up in it; it was the only thing that
brought me home from the wilds of California after my father's
death. And it is my own, and it is unencumbered by mort-
gage or debt.'
'And it has sapped every bit of energy and spirits out of
your system,' put in Alf Ford briskly. Why, man alive, I feel
this soft Devon air and lonely isolation would send me to sleep
if I settled here for a month or two, and you have buried your-
self here for eight years '
A little later, and the speakers rambled out on the old
terraced garden in front of the house, and Mr. Forrester again
took a survey of his home.
An old manor house by the sea; grey and weather-beaten
The Old Manor House
by time and storm, yet still showing a brave front; and ivy
kindly covering over many a ragged crevice in the stout walls.
The garden was rich in shrubberies and trees; cedars and
elms were grouped about on the long stretch of mossy lawn,
which sloped -away down to a stone terrace overlooking the
ocean. A broad flight of stone steps led down to the beach,
but the moss and stone-crop were thickly spread over them;
and though the view by moonlight was picturesque enough
to satisfy any artistic soul, both men knew that house and
grounds would bear a very different aspect in the broad light
They came back after a smoke to the dining-room, and here
again they fell to criticising their surroundings. It was bare
enough to invite criticism; the boards were not even car-
peted; a few skins lay here and there-relics of a Californian
past; an oak sideboard and an old oak press formed the only
furniture besides the table and chairs, and the latter were in
the very last stage of shabbiness and decay. Newspapers,
riding boots, guns and fishing-rods lay scattered promiscuously
over the room, and as the owner looked he sighed.
'I've had strange thoughts lately,' he said, standing on the
hearth-rug and looking intently into the face of his friend, who
had now subsided into one of the ragged leather chairs by the
fireside; 'I have wondered whether, as I am going to reform,
I had not better have a woman to help me.'
'A woman !' was the astonished rejoinder; 'have you any
one in your mind, old fellow?'
For a moment there was no reply, then in a slow uncertain
'Why-yes, I have. Your friend Gray's sister. I have
stayed with them when in town, and she-she seemed to
know how to make him comfortable.'
There was silence for some minutes. Alf Ford looked
round the room and then at his friend. '
'And is this at the bottom of your desire to wake up ,
A Puzzling Pair
and join the rest of us poor mortals in earning an honest
'No; I have been getting tired of my life here; of hearing
perpetual complaints from my old servants of the children's
shortcomings and turbulent spirits; and of the discomfort
and dreariness of the place. I am not hard to please-I
have knocked about in too many quarters of the globe to
have fastidious tastes-but I own I have a wish to go my own
way, write as hard as I like, live in as many day-dreams as I
choose, and when I wake up, find cheerful comfort and order
'In fact, you want a capable cheery housekeeper, who
would bring you and your belongings into ship-shape, and
keep them so without allowing you to feel the process ?'
'And how would your old retainers take it ? Would Matty
feel injured at being so supplanted?'
'Matty is too sensible a woman to object. If she has one
failing, it is an undue affection for her master, and his wish is
Alfred Ford drew a long breath.
Good luck to you, then !' he said; only, my dear fellow, I
should let the young lady clearly understand what her position
will be. Don't let her think there is any love in the compact.'
Her position will be that of my wife,' was the rejoinder; and
the tone was so haughty that no more was said on the subject.
The following morning rose bright and clear, and, after a
late breakfast, the gentlemen walked round, inspecting the
building and grounds. Dilapidations stared them in the face
at every turn, and it was with a dejected mien that Mr.
Forrester at length returned to the house.
'It would swallow a fortune,' he said, 'and then be only
habitable. I think I had better let sleeping dogs lie. After
all, it may last out my time.'
And what about your son ?'
The Old Manor House
The son and heir alluded to now suddenly appeared, and
close behind him his sister.
'Father, are you going to London ?'
The question was breathlessly put, and as his father, placing
his hand on his shoulder, held him at arm's length to inspect,
'Matty says you are. Can I be master when you are
The little face, with the dark curly hair and soft dreamy,
brown eyes, and the resolute little mouth and chin, was now
full of determined resolve.
Instead of answering'his question, the father turned to his
'Are you good at reading faces, Alf? Don't you see in this
youngster's countenance that he has more grip and energy of
purpose in every fibre of his body than his father has, or ever
will have in the whole course of his life ? I think I can pro-
phesy he will be in no need of a ruined heritage to shield him
from want in hours of ease "Master," Guy? I think you
know how to be master of every situation in which you find
yourself! It is an idle question to ask of me.'
'I only want you to say so, father, because of Berry. She
says she shall be mistress. I say she sha'n't !'
The little maiden thrust herself forward : the same height
and build as her twin brother, and yet no two faces could
present a greater contrast. Her father often said of her, 'She
seems to see a perpetual secret joke in all that is being said
and done !'
Her little face was sunshine itself; her sparkling eyes, the
corners of her tiny mouth, the dimples in her cheeks, were all
twinkling with suppressed fun and mischief. If Matty or Thomas
scolded, their frowns would relax when they met the mirthful
gaze of the child. Nothing daunted her; life was at present
one long vista of sunshine and gladness; and if obstacles
came in the way, and clouds rolled across her small horizon,
A Puzzling Pair
what were, obstacles or clouds but fresh opportunities for
exercising ingenuity and.mischief combined in overcoming and
circumventing them ? Guy's earnestness of purpose and deter-
mined will often clashed with the quicksilvery little maiden's
moods; they fought and made peace, and fought again, and
yet through it all loved each other with a heart-deep sincerity.
Matty is not going to be mistress when you're away, father.
I've told her she isn't. And Guy and me will have our break-
fast and dinner and tea in the big dining-room by ourselves-
we're tired of the kitchen, and I shall teach Guy how to be-
have, and I shall be mistress '
'You sha'n't be mistress over me,' asserted the boy. 'If
there's a master in the house, no mistress is wanted.'
'Not so fast, my boy I think differently, and perhaps you
will think differently too in a few months' time.'
Then noting the puzzled gaze of his little son, Mr. Forrester
turned away and continued his conversation with his friend.
The children felt they were dismissed, but the important ques-
tion had not been settled; and tiring of the argument, they
bent their steps to the stables, and coaxed out their beautiful
little Welsh pony.
Ten minutes after, and two little figures-one behind the
other-were tearing along the breezy down outside the manor
grounds on horseback. The two always rode together, Guy in
front and his sister close behind him. Sometimes by dint of
much coaxing she was allowed to ride in the post of honour,
and have the reins in her tiny hand, but as a rule her place
was in the rear, and her hold was Guy's leather belt. They
had not gone far before they met two clergymen both on
stout rough ponies, and the elder of them pulled up for a
'Hi! you gipsies!' he shouted good-naturedly; 'where are
you going this morning?'
Guy drew up instantly, and Berry put her curly head over
The Old Manor House
'Will you race us, Mr. Thorpe ? You're always. saying you
When I take a holiday I will,' laughed the vicar. 'Is your
father in this morning ? I want to introduce my curate to him,
for I shall leave him in charge when I go away shortly.'
'What's a curate?' demanded Guy with knitted brows, as he
surveyed the young stranger with some curiosity.
'Father is going to London,' put in Berry eagerly; 'and I'm
going to be mistress when he's away.'
Guy gave a backward kick at her, which had not the effect
he desired, for instead of silencing her it startled the pony
into a mad gallop, and turning her saucy little face round
Berry called out, 'Good-bye, Mr. Thorpe; we sha'n't like Mr.
Curate like you-he looks afraid he'll fall off his horse !'
'Who are they?' asked the young man-the Rev. Arthur
Grant by name; 'they have not much reverence for the cloth !'
And he turned to watch them careering over the down as he
'No,' said his vicar, laughing; 'but we understand each
other. They come over to clean out my rabbit hutches very
often, and I hear them bits of the Catechism before they go.
They are sad little heathen in the way of education and
manners; but their father's old housekeeper, who looks after
them, gives them a good, though rather an unorthodox, re-
ligious training, and teaches them to speak the truth. I believe
that is a rare virtue amongst children. Their father is just
one of those delightful, easy-going, pleasant-tempered fellows,
who thinks he has a literary vocation, and writes articles and
stories for various periodicals without ever bringing much
grist to the mill. You will see the dilapidated state of the
house and grounds; but it is a sweet old place-a kind of
nook where one could dream away one's life, so we must not
IT '.as Sunday at the Manor House. The morning was
I right though cold, and Guy came into breakfast rosy
firo'm his morning bathe on the beach. Breakfast in the kitchen
was a great treat to-day. There were some special hot cakes,
which only Matty could bake to perfection, and a new-laid egg
for each of the children; Berry's thick curls had had an extra
brush, and her little shabby blue serge frock had a clean lace
tucker in neck and wrists. Guy wore a jacket and white collar
instead of the blue jersey he donned on week days; and though
the stockings on each small pair of legs were darned in very
ungainly fashion, they were clean and neat, and the shoes were
shining with an extra coat of blacking. Matty herself was in
her Sunday costume-a grey stuff gown with a violet woollen
crossover, and very stiff starched cap and apron. She wore
her 'Sunday face'-as the children called it-which meant
that her usually smiling countenance was lengthened consider-
ably, and spectacles were on her nose. Thomas was in a suit
of black broadcloth, but a vivid red-and-yellow silk handker-
chief round his throat relieved the sombreness of his attire.
'Berry and I are going to church this morning,' asserted
''Tis too far for you,' objected Matty.
'We go with father when he's home, and now he's away
we'll go just the same.'
''Tis too far for us old folks,' said Thomas reflectively; 'but
if they likes to try, why, let they, I say '
'But we'll have no Sabbath breaking,' put in Matty. 'Ye'll not
go to the parson's to dinner afterwards, and miss our service.'
Berry laughed gleefully.
'If Mr. Thorpe asks us, what shall we say? And he always
has apple-tart on Sunday!'
'I've cooked the sweetest little apple turnovers that ever
were seen for dinner to-day,' observed Matty with guile.
'Will you spread the dinner in the dining-room, and let Guy
and me sit in the big chairs, and you and Thomas wait on us ?
'Nay, that us will not do, you naughty child.'
'But you ought to, because we're master and mistress, and
you are our servants !'
This saucy speech brought a torrent of words from old
Thomas. "Tis strange times when babes begin to ride over
them that have nurtured 'em from their birth Where be the
teaching' ye've given to 'em, Matty, if ye haven't a taught 'em
to honour and respect' their elders and betters ? I've a seen
scores o' childer grow up to be fathers and mothers of
families, and never such a speech have I heard from the lips
of any of 'em 'Tis written-" For whosoever exalteth himself
shall be abased" An' 'twill be ill to spare the rod o' correc-
tion, an' let sich a sperrit take root in the evil heart of a giddy
young maid, an' spring up in after life to sow seeds of ever-
lastin' misery in the path she walks, an' bring her haughty
head to the ground with shame and confusion !'
Berry's eyes grew round as she listened to this speech; but,
nothing daunted, she folded her small arms and rested them
upon the table. Putting her head on one side, she looked up
into Thomas's face with an air of comical gravity,-
'If you aren't a servant, what are you ?' she asked. You
A Puzzling Pair
aren't a master, and when father is away I'm the mistress and
Guy is the master; we've settled that.'
Old Thomas rose and walked to a shelf, from which he took
down a large black Bible. Spreading it open on the table,
he said sternly, 'Now listen to the words of God Almighty, who
cannot lie! "Now I say, that the heir as long as he is a
child differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of
all." Do ye take it in ? Ye be nothing better than us-the
two o' ye, and nothing like so good, for ye be the idlest good-
for-nothingest young cretturs that ever my old eyes have seed '
|I|' 'Read it again and explain it,' said Berry, with a wrinkle
between her eyes. The verse was read in stern unfaltering
tones, and then Berry slipped down from her chair and danced
up and down in triumph.
It isn't for me I'm not an heir. Guy is the son and heir;
father always says so. I'm not a he; I'm a she, so you're
all wrong about me, Thomas. And I'm the mistress here!'
Then like a flash of light she darted out of the kitchen,
leaving Thomas decidedly worsted in the combat. The little
couple started soon after for church, Berry hugging a large
Church service and Guy a hymn book and Bible. Their
woollen tam-o'-shanters were not much smarter than their
clothes, and their cloth jackets were both patched at the
elbows. Happily they were not of the age to be sensitive
about their outward appearance, and made their way up the
church aisle to their own seat with a little bustle of importance.
Very quiet and reverent were they in their behaviour, and
very particular about following the service in their Prayer-
books throughout, though it involved a great deal of turning
over leaves and sundry whispered confabulations. But when
the hymns were given out their enjoyment was evident.
Mounted on two hassocks, they lifted up their voices and
sang with a fervour and will that put the rest of the congrega-
tion to shame; and though sadly lacking in tune and tone,
they certainly were not lacking in sound. It was a village
congregation, pure and simple, the service was hearty, and the
sermons were generally brief and bright; but this morning the
pulpit was occupied by the Rev. Arthur Grant, and his voice
rang out with a solemnity and force that had been seldom
heard there before.
'Therefore be ye also ready, for in such an hour as ye think
not the Son of Man cometh.'
Berry and Guy had been accustomed to find the text out in
their Bibles, and repeat it to their father on the way home from
church; but beyond this their attention had never been secured.
This morning it was different; the theme was a novel one;
the earnestness and the graphic descriptions of the fiery young
preacher held them spell-bound, and the simplicity of his style
found a ready entrance into their childish minds. After church
was over they did not linger, but trotted home in the face of a
keen east wind, talking as they went. It was a long walk-
nearly two miles. The road stretched away over a bleak bare
down, and the wind brought in its clutches salt spray from the
ocean. The children turned up their coat collars, drew their
caps well over their foreheads, and pressed steadily on.
'I never knew it might be any day,' said Berry earnestly.
'I wonder if he told the truth!'
Of course he did he told us out of the Bible.'
'But nobody is expecting it. Thomas doesn't!'
After a pause. 'Guy, how do you think Jesus will come?
Will He have wings?'
'I suppose He can come down without. He didn't have
them to go up to heaven.'
Berry knitted her brows. 'I expect the angels flew down
and pulled Him up.'
'Why, Berry, Jesus can do anything! He walked on the
water, so of course He can walk in the air !'
Guy, would you be frightened if you saw Him come ?'
Guy didn't answer. Berry went on,-' I'm afraid I should
awfully I think-I think I should run away from Him.'
9,-. ,* *. u .s*9,.. -i.
A Puzzling Pair
V"-h -m~hmA f,
'That wouldn't be any good,' said Guy in mournful tones.
'If He would come quite alone, I don't think I would be so
frightened; but it's all the crowds with Him, and they would
all stare so!' Poor Guy suffered much- from shyness, and
Berry, who was never more audacious than when with strangers,
could not understand his fears.
'You'll have to get behind me,' she said, and I shall stare
at them back.'
'You said you would run away a minute ago '
Well, I don't know what I'd do. I hope He won't come
this week, while father is away. Guy, will you make a picture
of it? It must be a very big one. I'll help you this afternoon
after the meeting is over.'
Guy's eyes sparkled. Yes, I'll do it; and it will be quite
Sunday drawing, won't it? Even Matty can't say drawing
Jesus is wicked; and I've found a lovely piece of paper in
father's waste-basket. It's clean both sides, and only has
writing on one line, which I can cut off.' This idea was very
cheering, and they arrived home in the best of spirits.
Dinner over, there was the usual Sunday bustle of tidying
the kitchen, and bringing in forms and extra chairs for the
meeting. At three o'clock the congregation had arrived,
and Guy and Berry were seated on either side of Matty,
looking as if restlessness and mischief were unknown to them.
Matty and Thomas were earnest if not very enlightened
Christians, and about two years before Thomas had received
permission from his master to hold a little service in the kitchen
on Sunday afternoons. His audience had grown from
himself and Matty, and an old couple from a lodge of Lord
Warren's, to about sixteen or eighteen every Sunday. Local
preachers from the neighboring town would sometimes come
out; but this was a rare event, and Thomas, aided by the
blacksmith, Dan Cobb, was generally the leader in the meeting.
There were many scattered fishers' cottages along the coast,
and no church or chapel within easy reach. The Manor
House kitchen had attractions of its own, and the service was
undoubtedly a popular one.
Thomas opened it with a hymn from Sankey's Songs and
Solos, and the children sang as lustily as they had done in
church that morning. A long prayer followed, interspersed
throughout by 'Amen,' 'Hallelujah,' and 'Praise the
Lord,' in which also Guy and Berry heartily joined. Another
hymn; a chapter read by Dan Cobb, who always chose one
of the longest in the Bible, stumbling slowly and painfully,
though entirely to his own satisfaction, through the names he
could not master; and then Thomas rose to his feet, and
with a stern severity gave out his text,-
Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire ? Who
among, us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?'
It was a searching question, and Thomas, in his rough
eloquence, and earnest desire to picture to the sinner the awful-
ness of his fate, perhaps drew more on his imagination than was
warranted by Scripture. Tears were in the eyes of some, and
often as Guy and Berry had listened to his stern denunciations
before, they had never felt so frightened and ill at ease as they
did now. Directly all was over they slipped out of the room,
and making their way over the fallen leaves on the old lawn,
they ran down the moss-covered steps at the end of the terrace
to the beach. The tide was out, and the wind had fallen, the
sand stretched away smooth and bare, save where long strands
of seaweed and jelly fish relieved the monotony of its surface.
'Let us come into our cave,' suggested Berry; and Guy
obediently followed her into a small shelter in the cliff, which
was their favourite haunt. They sat down in silence on a rocky
ledge, and then, after a few minutes, Berry drew a long sigh.
I'm afraid I shall have to be lost, Guy. I'm not good
enough for heaven.'
'I don't mean to be lost,' said Guy resolutely. God doesn't
want us to be, and I sha'n't.'
'But you won't be able to help it. Thomas says we're
" children of wrath '
A Puzzling Pair
We're children of nobody but father,' put in Guy, getting
up from his seat and striding up and down in perturbation.
'Thomas was speaking to the sinners this afternoon.'
'And aren't we sinners ? I'm sure Matty is always telling
us what sinners we are !' Guy did not answer; he looked at
his sister rather thoughtfully. Berry's dimples and smiles had
disappeared, her little mouth was pursed up, and knitted brows
entirely hid her laughing eyes.
'I've been afraid a long time,' she said, 'that I might be
going to hell, but I feel surer than ever this afternoon.'
'Oh, because I'm so wicked. When Thomas was saying
giddy silly children and people were flocking down the hill to
'struction, I was just wanting to tickle his heel. He never put
on his boots this afternoon, he had his carpet slippers, and I
saw a big hole in his stocking, and I wished old Ginger had
been sitting by me, he would have snapped at his heel, because
he kept kicking it out so! Wouldn't Thomas have screamed!'
And Berry's wrinkles disappeared, and her merry laugh rang
out. But Guy did not join her.
'I won't go to hell,' he repeated, looking gravely out towards
the blue ocean in front of him; 'I shall get saved like Joe
Tucker was last Sunday. I asked him how he did it, and he
said: "Oh, I felt frightened out o' my wits! I cried for
mercy all the night, and God saved me at six o'clock in the
'And are you going to cry for mercy all the night? I don't
believe you'll keep awake,' said Berry with a sceptical shake
of her curly head.
'I don't know. Thomas said God would wash our sin
away when we were really sorry. I shall try and make myself
cry over my sins, and then I shall be fit to be saved.'
'Well,' said Berry, 'I know I shall never be able to cry like that.
Oh, Guy, you've forgotten about your picture. Do make it now!'
Guy brightened up at once; he took his precious piece of
paper out of his pocket, spread it on a smooth stone, sharpened
his pencil, and set to work immediately, lying full length on
the sand, whilst Berry sat down by his side tucking her legs
well underneath her, and giving him directions as usual.
No subject was beyond Guy; he never would own that
anything was too difficult for him to portray; and if his
representations could only be understood by Berry and him-
self, that was sufficient proof of his talent. No other eye ever
fell on his productions.
'Have you made Jesus Christ-a big crown, and no wings,
and the sun coming out all round Him, and a beautiful lovely
face? Now make Noah with his ark, and Daniel and David
with their lions, and Moses and Aaron, and all the good
children of Israel who went to heaven when they died, and
Joseph and Jacob, and Elijah in his chariot and horses.'
'You're too fast,' objected Guy; 'I sha'n't have room for
all of them.'
'Then you must get a lot more paper and pin it together,
because you'll have a hundred million thousand to draw.
You mustn't miss one out, and you must draw the angels with
their harps and wings and-Guy-I think you must put in
mother. Make her like the picture in the drawing-room when
she's going out riding. And then when you've done them all,
you must make you and me standing ready to meet them.'
Guy's pencil stopped working. 'I can't make us if we
aren't ready; it wouldn't be true,' he said slowly.
A big bell rang out at this juncture, and the children started
to their feet.
'That's tea, Guy, and there's a lovely cake to-day, because
Matty's niece is staying to tea !'
Guy followed his sister's flying steps rather unwillingly.
Half-way up the old garden to the house he paused, and
taking off his cap, reverently looked up into fhe sky.
0 God, help me to cry for my sins, for I want to be saved.
And I've quite made up my mind that I won't go to hell.'
ONE morning some weeks later, as breakfast was going on
in the manor kitchen, the unusual sight of the old
postman coming up the drive sent the twins flying out to meet
him. They brought back a letter for Matty.
'It's from father; we know it is!' they cried, dancing
round the table. 'P'raps he is coming home !'
Matty looked at the letter, turned it over twice, then went
slowly to her work-box to fetch her spectacles. She was not
a quick reader at any time, but this letter seemed to require
all her concentration of mind; and after reading it twice
through, her hands began to shake, and her head nod up and
down, a sure sign that she was greatly excited.
Tummas !' she cried; 'come here, for I be afeered I shall
go crazy. Read the master's letter, and say if you can rightly
understand it. It be more nor I can do !'
Up came Thomas with a great deal of fuss, and read out in
a faltering voice the following,-
' To MARTHA CRASH,-
"I hope in about a month's time to bring home a wife. Will you have
everything ready for your new mistress ? I send sIo for any outlay re-
quired, and should like the drawing-room opened and aired.
'" WARWICK FORRESTER."'
The old servants gazed at each other in awed perplexity, the
children in eager curiosity.
And then Matty gave a little trembling laugh.
To think that the master should do so all on a sudden;
and what does he think io can get towards making' the old
house fit for a lady's use Do she know what she be coming'
to, I wonder?'
'Us must have a wiman up from the village to clean,' said
Thomas thoughtfully, 'and I will be havin' another try at
mendin' the front gate; but dearie me, 'tis an awful tale that
there letter have br6ughted.'
'Is a wife a new mother ? asked Guy quickly.
'Bless the children, it'll be a wonderful change for 'em! It
be a stepmother as is coming my dears; there be kind step-
mothers, and there be cruel stepmothers, and there be in-
different stepmothers. I doubt me if a London lady will be
the best mistress here; but time '11 show, and old Matty won't
be the one to speak black of her afore she comes!'
There was a tour of inspection through the house after that,
and the old couple shook their heads over the dining-room, as
well they might.
'Ten pounds wouldn't even buy windy curtains to keep
out the wind from all they windies, let alone a carpet and fresh
covering for the chairs,' said Matty mournfully, 'and I mind
when thick velvet covered our old stone stairs from their top
to bottom. 'Tis the barrenest house that ever bride was
The drawing-room was unlocked, and revealed faded
grandeur: the damask couches were moth-eaten and ragged;
the gilded wall-paper hung in strips from the damp and
mouldy walls; the threadbare carpet and tarnished cornices
and chandeliers all added to the picture of desolation and decay.
'We'll brush it and clean it, and take the dust and dirt
away; but ten pounds '11 do nothing here,' was Matty's com-
ment; and they proceeded to the library.
A Puzzling Pair
This had a more comfortable aspect, for it was where the
master of the house always sat, and the well-filled bookcases,
the oil paintings on the walls, and the large writing-table and
escritoire did much to give an air of respectability to the
'I think this may bide as it be; and now 'tis the morning-
room we must see to, for it were there the late missus allays
used to sit.'
Matty unlocked another room on the opposite side of the
hall, and the children pressed in eagerly, for they had only
once before been allowed inside.
It had the prettiest outlook of all the rooms on the ground
floor, for it opened upon the old lawn facing the sea, and the
large bow-window occupied the whole width of the room. A
round table, davenport, and carved cupboard, an old horse-
hair couch and three or four chairs were all the furniture in
it; but the carpet was the best in the house, and Matty looked
round with the first gleam of hope dawning in her honest grey
'Us must have this room papered, Tummas; there be
Bob Dawlish who'll come up and do it cheap, and a bit o'
paint and a cheap pair o' windy curtains '11 make a nice room
The billiard-room was not visited, nor yet the conservatory;
but the bedrooms were a sore puzzle to Matty; each one
seemed more bare than the last, and she gave it up in despair.
'Us must clean them up and leave them. I must buy the
childer a few things, and get some more crockery. The new
missus maybe is a moneyed woman, and can spend when
she gets here. 'Tis to be hoped so, for 'twill be a bad look-
out if she be penniless.'
'Guy,' said Berry a short time after, I'm afraid I sha'n't be
mistress ever now! And it's no use trying to be it; every-
body fights against me. You do, and Thomas does, and
Matty does, and now this lady. I wish I was grown-up and
a great big woman like the ogre's wife in our picture-bo6k,
and then you'd all be frightened of me, and I could do just as
I liked !'
'You'd never be my mistress,' said Guy, sticking his hands
in his pockets, and with legs astride gazing defiantly at her as
he spoke, 'and I shall be master here when I grow up; father
says I shall.'
'You are no better than a servant now,' retorted Berry;
'Thomas and the Bible says so !'
Guy's countenance fell, and Berry, feeling that she had got
the best of the argument, changed the subject.
'Do you like father bringing back this lady with him ?
Do you think she will be little and fat, like Jane Elstowe's
Jane Elstowe was a little niece of the vicar's who paid him
periodical visits, and was the only playmate the twins had.
'I don't know,' was Guy's response. 'She'll be a step-
mother, Matty says, and Cinderella's stepmother was horrid !'
'But she won't live with us, will she? She'll be with
father, and we shall be with Matty, like we always are!'
And with this view before them, the children were content.
A very enjoyable day was spent not long after in the
neighboring town. The twins drove in the trap with Matty
early in the morning, and though not of an age to care much
for fine clothes, a new suit for Guy and a frock for Berry
were such unusual outlays that they caused much interest.
Matty was persuaded to invest in some red serge for the
little girl, though not without some inward qualms of con-
science as to what 'Tummas' should say; for he was a great
authority on dress, and his judgment could not be despised.
But the twins soon got tired of shopping, and when Matty
was deep in the choice of various pots and pans in an iron-
monger's, they slipped out into the street, watching the people
go by with keen delight.
'Look, Berry, there's the woman in the yellow bonnet that
A Puzzling Pair
we see in church; she has been taking her fowls to market.
And here's Mr. Curate riding-he can manage his horse better
now, can't he ? I wish Mr. Thorpe hadn't gone away, I should
like to have told him about father's lady.'
We'll tell Mr. Curate instead. Look he sees us, and he's
getting off his horse.'
Mr. Grant had dismounted on the opposite side of the
street, but when he saw the children he crossed over to speak
When are you coming to see me? 'he asked with a smile;
'Mr. Thorpe has left me the care of his rabbits whilst he
is away, for I'm staying at the vicarage till he comes back.
He told me you often helped him to clean the hutches out.
Will you come over and help me one day this week?'
We'll come to-morrow,' said Berry with alacrity; 'shall we
come to dinner?'
For a moment the young man hesitated, then laughed.
' Yes, come over at ten o'clock to-morrow morning; I daresay
my larder will find enough for us all. I will tell old Mrs. Gates
you are coming, but ask your father's permission first.'
'Oh, father is away,' put in Guy, drawing his little head up
proudly; 'and Berry and I never ask any one if we may go
anywhere, we only say we're going.'
'Yes,' added Berry emphatically, 'and we're quite, quite
sure to come, and we'll come directly after breakfast.'
He laughed again and went his way, whilst Guy gazed after
him in a dreamy manner, and then with a little sigh said to
his sister, 'Berry, have you been thinking about Jesus coming
Berry nodded, 'Yes; in bed I do; I forget it in the day-
time. I think He'll come in the night, won't He? Mr.
Curate said so-"like a thief in the night," he said. He
hasn't come yet; I wonder if He has started How long will
it take Him to come?'
'I don't know,' was Guy's doubtful response; 'we'll ask Mr.
Curate to-morrow. I'm hoping He won't come till we're
I think I shall be ready,' the small maiden said, at least I
should be if He came to-day, I feel so very good-I've changed
my mind about it. You see, you have to be good and clean to
get to heaven, and I mean to be both. I haven't told Matty,
but I got out my best white frock, and I keep it in the drawer
nearest my bed, and directly I hear the trumpet blow I shall
jump out of bed and put it on, and then I shall be ready.
Don't you remember that story about the children going up to
the golden gate, that father told us, and only those who were
in clean white frocks were let inside?'
I don't believe the Bible says that,' said Guy bluntly, I
shall look and see. Boys can't wear white frocks !'
'Well, you must have a white sailor suit, like that strange
little boy who came to church one Sunday; and if you can't
wait to get it, you can put on a clean night-shirt when you
hear the trumpet '
Matty here appeared, and the subject was dropped; other
more enticing topics occupying the busy little brains. Both
children were given a sixpence to spend, and this was a very
serious undertaking. At last Guy announced his intention
of buying a drawing-book, and for this purpose a toy shop
was entered, but the little sketch books shown him disgusted
'I mean a large book like an artist's,' he said rather grandly;
and he was directed to a stationer's close by. The twins
afforded much amusement to the shop assistants; and Guy
was finally satisfied by a great roll of cartridge paper.
'Now, Berry,' he said, as they found themselves again in
the street, 'what are you going to buy ?'
'I want such hundreds and hundreds of things, that I don't
know which to choose,' she said reflectively. 'I want to buy
a boat, and a hoop, and some sweets, and some flags to put up
when father comes home; and I should like one of those ugly
A Puzzling Pair
masks in the toy shop, and a pistol; but I think what I should
like best of all would be some fireworks.'
Guy's dreamy eyes brightened, for he was a true boy at heart.
'Oh, buy some fireworks, Berry, and we'll let them off when
father comes home.'
So a small selection of squibs found their way into Berry's
pocket, and they returned home with Matty, well satisfied with
When Thomas saw the red serge, he lifted his hands in
"Tis the mark of the beast ye'll be putting' on her! 'Tis
the colour of the wiman and beast in the last days. Scarlet
is an abomination, and it ill becomes a Christian wiman to
deck a little maid in sich gaudiness!'
Matty seemed abashed at first, then she remonstrated with
"Tis only one of God's colours, after all. The poppies in
'Ay, ay, "Of the grass that perisheth"; but 'tis not the
colour for an immortal soul to be garbed with !'
The children did not quite understand the discussion.
'Soldiers have scarlet coats,' put in Guy.
'And so have huntsmen, and I shall have a scarlet jacket
when I'm grown up, and hunt the foxes all day long !' And
Berry danced up and down at this inspiriting prospect.
Both on 'em spending their time in slaughter,' snapped
Thomas; 'ay, they do well to be clothed in scarlet '
Berry was going to quote Red Riding Hood, but Matty
closed the discussion.
There, let it be, Tummas, and take the scarlet out o' your
Sunday neckcloth, and out o' your handkerchies afore ye
croak at my purchases !'
The next morning at breakfast Guy announced, with some
importance in his tone, 'We're going to have dinner with
our new clergyman to-day.'
Matty opened her eyes. 'And pray who invited you ? '
He did. He wants us to help him clean the rabbits. Mr.
Thorpe is away, and he has got to do it by himself.'
When did you see him ? I never knowed such childer for
pickin' up fresh acquaintances !'
We always like to know everybody,' said Berry, her pert
little nose rather high in the air; 'and everybody likes to
know us, don't they, Guy ?'
Guy nodded, adding truthfully, 'But I don't like crowds,
if I don't know them.' Then gazing dreamily out of the
window he said, 'I shall fill this house with all my friends
when I'm master here. I shan't have a single empty room-
I hate empty rooms !'
'And when I'm mistress,' put in Berry eagerly, I shall ask
strangers as well as friends to come and live with me, and I'll
have fires and candles in every room, and parties every night,
and we'll dance and sing like the fairies !'
Ye'll be idle graceless spendthrifts,' said Thomas severely;
ye have the making's of it now, and it'll be good for ye if the
new mistress will take ye in hand.'
She won't be our mistress,' laughed Berry saucily; 'only
Thomas rose to pour out the torrents of his wrath upon
such a speech; but the twins, having finished their breakfast,
ran away, and a short time after they were galloping over the
down on their pony towards the vicarage.
It looked, as it was, a bachelor's abode; but after the
barrenness and desolation of the manor, the tiny house seemed
a paradise of comfort and wealth to the children as they en-
tered it. They found Mr. Grant in his study, and Berry
looked with a little awe at the piles of books and papers round
'Are you writing your sermon?' she asked him; 'and is
it going to be more about Jesus coming down from heaven?'
Do you like to hear about that?' he asked, smiling, as he
A Puzzling Pair
stood up and stretched himself to his full height, looking down
upon the eager-faced little couple with some interest.
'Yes,' responded Guy; 'and it's dreadfully true, isn't it?
Berry and I have talked a lot about it.'
'Gloriously true !' said Mr. Grant, a glow of colour coming
into his thin cheeks, and a bright sparkle into his eyes. 'Don't
you think the children should rejoice when the father returns ?
Ought not the servants to be ready to welcome their master
'Yes, we're pretty glad when father comes back,' said Berry
thoughtfully; 'but Matty said this morning she wished he
would stay away a little longer, for she would never have
'And that is what we Christians are virtually saying when
we think of the wastes of uncultivated land, and the cry from
our brothers abroad in the midst of their bondage, ignorance,
and superstition We are not ready for the Master, His work
has been neglected; but instead of putting our hands at once
to the plough, we sleep away our time and take our ease.
And then-" In such an hour as ye think not the Son of Man
The children were silent as Mr. Grant's voice rang out in
triumph at these last words; then, as he met their puzzled
gaze, he smiled and recovered himself.
'I am talking above your heads,' he said; 'come and see
He led them out to a small enclosure in a paddock by the
house, where there were about a dozen rabbit hutches. His
vicar's great hobby was rearing rabbits. He had many
varieties, and sought to tame them; but, unlike Cowper with
his hares, Mr. Thorpe was unsuccessful, and only one or two
knew his voice and obeyed him.
Berry and Guy were in their element; they knew the names
and histories of them all, and enlightened Mr. Grant as to the
manners and customs of each. After a time he left them, and
1 '' y ''
went back to his study, and the twins worked away happily .
till one o'clock, when they came in, hot and dirty, to say that
every hutch was cleaned, and that now they were ready for
dinner. Mr. Grant put by his sermon then, and devoted.
himself to the entertainment of his little guests for the rest of i
the afternoon. Guy and Berry did full justice to the hot
mutton, rice pudding, and tart that were provided for them,
and chatted away unceasingly during dinner; but after the
meal was over, Berry said,- 'i
'Now you must do what Mr. Thorpe always does! Come
and lie down on the big sofa in the study, and smoke your
pipe, and Guy and I will sit on your legs and we will have a
But,' protested the bewildered young man, I never smoke, '
and as to talking, what have we been doing but talk ever since '
you came in from the rabbits' '
'That hasn't been proper talk,' said Guy in tones of scorn;
'that's just outside remarks we've been making !'
Mr. Grant meekly allowed himself to be led to the sofa, and
when all three were comfortably settled, he asked, 'Now what
do you generally talk about ?'
'Mr. Thorpe always says first, "Let's talk about life," and
then we begin,' announced Berry with decision.
'Well, tell me what things in life interest you '
'Lots of things,' Guy put in, his dreamy look coming over
him, 'I talk about the pictures I'm going to paint when I grow
up, and Mr. Thorpe tells us what he used to do and think
about when he was a little boy; but I think to-day we would
like you to tell us a little more about-'
'About Jesus coming back again,' interrupted Berry briskly,
'and about getting ready for Him, like we are getting ready
for father and his lady.'
'Are you ready ?' asked Mr. Grant, laying his hand gently
on the curly head so close to him.
Berry blinked her eyes and knitted her brows.
''A^_r:'lS ^ ^
A Puzzling Pair
'Sometimes I think I am, and sometimes I aren't !' she said.
'Berry changes her mind about everything every day,' said
Guy; then he added eagerly, 'What will be the first thing that
Jesus will do? Will He send all the wicked to hell directly?
I've tried to find it out in the Bible, but I don't know where to
look for it.'
He will gather His sheep together first, those that have
died will rise again, and all who love and serve Him here.
They will meet Him in the air, we are told. The dead in
Christ shall rise first; then we which are alive and remain
shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet
the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord."'
Mr. Grant's face shone as he repeated this verse, and his
upward look was radiant.
Berry looked at Guy.
We really must be caught up too,' she said enthusiastically;
'it will be lovely !'
Are you ready ?' again asked Mr. Grant; but this time his
question was directed to Guy.
The boy shook his head. 'No,' he said sorrowfully, 'I
s'pose if Jesus were to come to-night I should be left behind.'
'But why should you ? '
Guy did not answer; his soft brown eyes were gazing wistfully
into the glowing coals of the fire in front of them, but Berry
broke in impetuously,-
'He says he must get saved like Joe Tucker, and he can't
cry over his sins. I'm not going to cry. I haven't done a
proper sin since last Monday, when I ran away from Matty and
threw the basin of chicken corn in her face when she caught
me; so if Jesus comes before I've done another sin, I shall
be nearly ready, I think !'
'She says she has only to put on a clean frock, and she'll be
all right,' said Guy, raising an earnest, puzzled face to the young
clergyman. 'I wish you'd explain things to us, for I'm sure
'It says in the Bible everybody wears a white dress in
heaven, I know it does,' persisted Berry.
Yes, but how do they get them ? Mr. Grant asked with a
smile; 'it tells us the white robes were clean because they
had been washed in the blood of the Lamb; and don't you
see, little ones, that that is only a picture of our hearts ? It is
the inside of us wants washing, not the outside. Our sins all
come from our hearts, and it is our sins must be washed away.'
'That's what I think,' said Guy, drawing his knees up until
his chin rested on them, and looking intently at Mr. Grant;
' but God won't wash our sins away unless we're really sorry,
and I'm not sorry enough yet, so I shall have to wait.'
'I'm not going to get any more sins,' said Bery ; 'and I
expect God will forget mine last week. He is very busy, isn't
He, Mr. Grant ? '
Mr. Grant was about to speak, when the servant came into
the room saying,-
If you please, sir, Farmer Kelly has sent word he'd like to
see you, he's very bad to-day.'
This summons broke up the little party at once, and the
twins accompanied their new friend a part of the way on their
pony. As he parted with them he said,-
'We must have another talk about these things soon, chil-
dren, but don't forget that the Lord Jesus suffered punishment
for your sins when He died upon the cross. You. give Him
your hearts, and they will be washed whiter than snow. He
will make you ready to meet Him.'
With that he rode away, and the twins returned home more
thoughtful than usual.
i. 1. 'k /. ,
f^ ,.* .
IT was a dull grey afternoon in the beginning of December
when a fly from the neighboring town brought the bride
and bridegroom to the Manor House.
Though barely four o'clock, dusk had set in, and the grey
mist stealing up from the sea shrouded all outside, only a few
twinkling lights in the casement windows being discernible.
Inside, there had been great preparations for the new
mistress, and the scene when the front door swung open, re-
vealing the old square hall, remained long after imprinted on
the memory of the bride. A dim oil lamp hung in the centre,
but that was quite eclipsed by a roaring fire of wooden logs
burning merrily away in the old-fashioned hearth. On the
left of the fireplace stood Matty, arrayed in Sunday gown and
curtseying up and down in a great state of nervousness and
excitement; to the right stood Thomas, grim and self-pos-
sessed; and on the bottom step of the old stone staircase in
the midst of the hall, stood two little figures holding between
them a banner composed of all shades of coloured tissue paper,
and the words in crooked uneven letters: 'God bless Father
and Stepmother !'
Berry in her red serge dress, and Guy in his suit of dark
blue, with their rosy faces and curly heads certainly added to
the charm of the picture ; and the welcome in its quaintness
and originality touched the father's heart. He drew them to
him, and then placing their little hands in that of his wife's,
said with a slight laugh, to hide his emotion,--
Here, my dear, are two of the veriest pickles and scamps
I believe on the face of the earth I hope they will afford
you as much comfort and amusement as they do me.'
Mrs. Forrester stooped and kissed them; then turned to say
a kind word to the old servants, whilst the twins gazed at her
every movement with the greatest curiosity.
She was not a young girl: her face would not have been
pronounced beautiful, but it was fresh and sweet, and few who
caught the brightness of her smile and the sparkling animation
in her eyes would call her unattractive.
Though the bloom of her youth had passed, years could not
steal away from her that charm of quaint originality and strong
personality which she possessed; and the children felt in-
stinctively that they had gained a friend. They watched her
a moment after ascending the stairs-a tall slight figure in a
grey silk dress and fur cloak-and they heard the bright eager
tone of her voice as she turned to their father,-
'Tired? Not a bit of it. I feel in an enchanted castle!
What a dear old place it is !'
'I like her,' whispered Berry; she looked at me as if she
'We'll wait till they are sitting down to dinner,' responded
Guy, nodding his head up and down very mysteriously; 'and
then we will give them the other welcome !'
It was not long before Mr. Forrester brought his wife down-
stairs again to the dining-room. Feeling afresh the dreariness
and barrenness of the empty rooms, he told her that he would
take her through the house the next morning. The twins
followed them in rather shyly, and their quick eyes noted the
A Puzzling Pair
little shiver that Mrs. Forrester involuntarily gave as she
looked about her.
The round table, already spread for dinner, with two lighted
wax candles upon it, had a ghostly appearance in the dusk,
and Mr. Forrester stepped forward and stirred the fire into a
'I am afraid it does not look very homelike,' he said apolo-
getically; 'but we only use this room for meals. I am in my
study, or out of doors most of the day.'
Then he added suddenly: 'I believe you ladies generally
have a cup of tea in the afternoon, don't you? I should
think you would like one now. Berry, call Matty.'
Berry scampered off, and appeared instantly after with that
'I've taken the liberty, sir, to put a cup of tea in the
morning-room for the mistress. I thought it would be more
cheerful than this.'
For an instant a shadow crossed Mr. Forrester's face; then
he said brightly,-
Capital, Matty! We will all go there. Come along, chicks !'
Mrs. Forrester's future sitting-room was a picture of cosiness.
The curtains were drawn, a small tea-table was placed near the
fire, and if the fresh wall paper and bright chintz covers to the
chairs and couch were not in the best artistic taste, they pre-
sented a scene of home comfort that was lacking in every
'This is delightful!' exclaimed Mrs. Forrester, looking at
her husband with one of her radiant smiles. 'Now if I am
to have a cup of tea you must join me, for you say we do not
dine for another two hours, and it will be most refreshing to
both of us.'
They were a happy little party; the twins hovered round,
anxious to do the honours of the house, which much amused
their father; and Mrs. Forrester seemed thoroughly at home
in her new surroundings.
'Do I look a cruel stepmother ?' she asked presently, meet-
ing Guy's intent gaze, and drawing him to her. 'Tell me
what you and Berry think of my coming here.'
'We didn't know what you'd be like,' said Guy gravely.
'And what do you think of me now ? '
'I don't know,' was the dubious reply.
Berry moved nearer her stepmother at once.
'You don't look cross,' she said emphatically. 'Guy and I
shall run away from you directly you're cross; we always do
from Matty and Thomas. Have you come here to help father
.write his books ? '
Mr. Forrester laughed aloud.
'Yes, Berry, she has come to look after your idle old father,
and keep him up to his work.'
'That's what I shall do to Guy when he paints his pictures,'
said Berry with a nod; 'I always tell him what to draw.
Don't I, Guy?'
Guy bent his head in confusion. Any allusion to his talent
brought on a fit of shyness at once; but Berry went on,-
He has been doing such a lovely picture since father has
been away, and he's beginning it all over again on a fresh
sheet of paper we bought in the town. Would you like to
'I should, if Guy likes to show it to me,' said Mrs. Forrester,
caressing the boy's curly head with her hand. 'What is it
It's Jesus coming down from heaven with all the angels,'
said Berry, 'and it's nearly done, at least the people coming
down are done, but I want him to make the people going up,
and Matty and Thomas must be going and father too, of
The astonishment in the eyes of husband and wife did not
deter the little speaker, who went on with a wrinkle between
her eyes. 'I should like him to draw him and me going up
in the air, but we're afraid it mightn't be quite true. We
A Puzzling Pair
think we mightn't be there, for we're not ready yet, at least not
properly ready !'
May I see this picture, Guy ?' asked Mrs. Forrester gently.
Guy shuffled with his feet, and twisted his hands nervously
'No,' he muttered; and his stepmother quickly changed the
subject, saying in a whisper to him, 'Some day when you
know me better you will show it to me, I daresay.'
Time slipped away; the twins chattered to their hearts'
delight, and were never once rebuked by their father, who
leant back in an easy chair in placid content.
When dinner time came they were dismissed, and husband
and wife sat down in solemn state in the large dining-room.
Thomas waited upon them; both he and Matty were bent
upon impressing their new mistress with a sense of their own
ability to do things in correct style; and his face and form
were as rigid and solemn as any Belgravian footman.
But suddenly there was a tremendous conflagration seen
outside the windows, and as Mr. Forrester started from his
seat exclaiming, 'The stables must be on fire !' a squib
came dashing against the window-panes, followed by a noisy
cracker, and as Mrs. Forrester looked out, she saw dancing
round a large bonfire, in front of the house, the two little figures
of the twins.
"Tis only for a welcome,' said Thomas apologetically; but
Mr. Forrester opened the window sharply.
Come indoors at once,' he called out; 'you will be burn-
ing the house down! Thomas, go and put that fire out: if
any sparks fly on the roof it will burn like tinder. Tell them
to stop letting off those squibs immediately; those children
are really beyond all control !'
'Their motives are good,' said his wife; 'you must not be
hard on them the first night, Warwick, for my sake.'
Berry danced into the room a moment after.
Isn't it fun !' she exclaimed, quite regardless of her father's
frown. 'Did you see our crackers? Thomas is running after
Guy all round the garden with a stick, and Guy is letting off
squibs as he goes Why didn't you come out, father ? Guy
and I made the bonfire all ourselves, and there's such a jolly
'Go and tell your brother to come indoors immediately.
I am very angry with you both. Who gave you leave to make
a bonfire so near the house ?'
Berry opened her eyes. 'We did it for a welcome, father,
and I bought the fireworks with my own money. Thomas
knew we were going to do it, and Matty said she remembered
when you brought mother, that is dead, here. You had bells
ringing and they put up an evergreen arch '
'Go to bed both of you, and don't let us see you again to-
night !' Mr. Forrester spoke sharply, and Berry darted out of
the room like a flash of light, hearing her father add, I shall
be glad when you take them in hand, Gwen; they have had
so much freedom that they are quite unmanageable.'
It was nearly an hour later. The two children lay awake in
their small beds, and they were eagerly discussing the new
arrival and the events of the evening.
'Father said she must take us in her hand. What did that
mean, Guy? He spoke it so cross, too.'
'When Thomas takes me in his hand, he gives me a shak-
ing,' said Guy thoughtfully, or else he gives me a hit. You
should have seen him tearing after me. He said I'd given him
heart palitation, or some long name like that, and he took me
by the collar so tight that my shirt button came off !'
'And she's going to catch hold of us like that, do you
'Hush! Here is somebody coming!'
Somebody proved to be Mrs. Forrester, candle in hand;
and as she entered the large bare room and noticed the two
small beds standing in opposite corners, she again gave an
A Puzzling Pair
'Are you awake, little ones?' she asked.
'Wide awake,' responded Berry, sitting up in bed at once.
Mrs. Forrester came and sat down on the edge of the little
'You had better lie down and keep the clothes over you,
for it is very cold here. Do you and Guy sleep here all
course we do.'
'I have come to wish you both good night, and to thank
you for your loving welcome.'
'Did you like the bonfire?' was the quick response.
'Father and Thomas were cross, but Guy and I wouldn't
have burnt the house down-o' course we wouldn't! And
Guy and I have been thinking what welcome Jesus will get
when He comes. If only He would let us know, what a
grand day it would be! I'm sure everybody would like to
make bonfires and send up fireworks !'
And ring the church bells, and let off some big guns, and
have a lot of banners and flags flying '
This from Guy, who sat up in bed to give emphasis to his
'Who talks to you about these things?' asked Mrs.
'Mr. Curate told us all he thinks about Jesus coming
down from heaven. Matty and Thomas aren't expecting
Him, like Guy and me, but Thomas shakes his head and says
"very true" when we talk to him about it. I'm not quite
sure'-and here Berry rested her curly head against her step-
mother's shoulder, and stared at the flickering candle-' I'm
not quite sure whether I should like Him to come back to-
night; I'm not quite ready.'
How do you mean ?'
'Well, I don't feel ready. Mr. Curate says God will make
us ready if we ask Him, but I haven't properly asked Him.'
'I have,' put in Guy earnestly; 'but He is waiting.'
Mrs. Forrester crossed over to his bed. These children
interested her intensely.
'What is God waiting for ? she asked gently.
'Till I can have a good cry for my sins.'
'And then ?'
'Then God will save me like Joe Tucker.'
'Does the Bible tell you that?'
'No; but Thomas does. Berry and me don't read the
Bible much; it's too old for us. We know all the stories in
it. Matty has told them to us since we were little babies; but
Thomas always gets our scoldings out of it.'
Mrs. Forrester laughed, and asked,-
'Can you both read ?'
'Yes,' said Berry proudly; 'father taught us years ago;
and Guy can write, but I can't.'
'How would you both like to come into my sitting-room
.downstairs every morning after breakfast, and do a little
writing and a few sums ?'
'That's doing lessons,' said Guy rather suspiciously. Matty
is always saying we ought to do lessons.'
'Yes, lessons are very pleasant sometimes, if you don't have
too many of them.'
'Well, we'll come to-morrow, and see what they're like.'
And with this consent, Mrs. Forrester kissed them both and
left them; but her face had a thoughtful look upon it as she
joined her husband again downstairs.
Do you like her, Guy ?' Berry whispered, as the door shut
'Yes; I think I'll make a picture of her.'
And this showed that the young artist's heart was won.
A TALK ON THE BEACH
T HE next morning dawned brightly. As Mrs. Forrester
stood at the dining-room windows looking down the
green lawn amongst the old trees to the long blue line of
ocean in front, she was delighted with the scene; and if the
bright sunshine served to show up the dust and the damp in
the various rooms to which her husband led her on their tour
of inspection through the house, it also enabled her to take a
much cheerier view of it than she otherwise could have done.
'We will do little by little,' she said. 'Let us make the
few rooms we use comfortable first, and leave the rest as they
Mr. Forrester left her soon to ride over to the Hall for a
business interview with Lord Warren, and she then made her
way to the kitchen. Matty was only too willing to show her
the barrenness of the linen- and store-cupboards; and the
scarcity of the children's wardrobes quite shocked her.
Still, her hopeful buoyancy and bright tone did much to win
Matty's faithful heart; and the latter confided to Thomas
afterwards that the new mistress was 'the right sort, and
would be equal to bringing better times about.'
A Talk on the Beach
Having inquired for the children, and finding they were out
on the beach, Mrs. Forrester went into the old garden, rejoic-
ing in the fresh keen breeze from the sea, and was soon down
on the sand at the bottom of the stone steps. The tide was
out, and two little figures were busy on the rocks,-Berry with
her hands full of seaweed, Guy with pail and stick catching
'Hi called out Guy at the sight of her; 'come.cn, step-
mother. Do you like crabs for tea?'
'Come on,' echoed Berry; 'we'll show you how to catch
them without getting pinched !'
They were in their rough series, both very wet and rather
dirty, but the rosy glow on their cheeks and the sparkle
in their eyes told how much they were enjoying them-
'I thought you were coming to my room this morning?'
said their stepmother. 'I haven't seen you yet to wish you
'We only wish good-morning to people out of doors,' said
Guy, standing up with one leg in a pool, the other on a rock;
'besides,' he went on, staring at her gravely, 'we did go to
your room after our breakfast, and you weren't there. We
have breakfast at half-past seven, and Matty said you were
still in bed.'
'Yes, you broked your promise,' Berry said, with a little
decided nod; 'so we came out here, and we said we didn't
care nothing about you.'
I really am very sorry,' Mrs. Forrester said, an amused
smile in her eyes, as she felt she must pacify this injured
young couple; 'but this morning has been an exception to
the rule. I have been extra busy. I quite expected you to
breakfast with us. I have been talking to your father about
it, and as he and I are going to have it earlier in future, we
think we should like to have you both with us then.'
'In the dining-room ?' questioned Berry, dimpling with
A Puzzling Pair
smiles; 'and shall we have eggs and bacon like father does ?
And will you make Thomas stand behind our chairs and take
away our plates like he does father's? Because Thomas
won't let Guy and me be master and mistress over him in the
kitchen, and he is a servant, isn't he ?'
'I don't think you and Guy should want to be master and
mistress over an old man like that. Now don't you think you
could leave those poor little crabs alone, and come indoors
'Shall we, Guy? '
There was no thought of obedience, only whether it would
be pleasanter than the present employment, but Guy de-
Yes, we'll come. The first in gets the sofa, Berry !'
Away they darted, tearing along the beach and up the
garden with loud shrieks of delight; and Mrs. Forrester won-
dered, as she followed more leisurely, how long it would take
to tame these wild little beings.
She only kept them an hour, and perhaps the hardest work
of all was keeping the little tongues still. Berry settled down
to her writing with wonderful contentment, and Guy grappled
with figures on a slate with a determined front; but the con-
stant chatter was a detriment to much being accomplished,
and Mrs. Forrester was wise enough not to check it too much
on this first day.
'Do you like it, Guy?' asked Berry, when the hour came
to an end, and Mrs. Forrester said she would keep them no
'Yes,' was the reply; and Berry then turned to her step-
mother. 'We'll come another day-perhaps to-morrow-only
if you're cross we shall run away and hide from you; won't
And then the two departed, and Mrs. Forrester saw very
little of them for the rest of the day.
It was two or three days after this that, playing on the
A Talk on the Beach
beach, the twins saw Mr. Grant approaching. They ran to
meet him immediately.
'Are you coming to see us, Mr. Curate ? '
'I was not,' was the reply. 'I am taking a walk for the
good of my health.'
'Isn't your health good? Matty said she thought you had
a terrible cough; she said you reminded her of her sister's son,
who died of a cough, I think.' And Guy's eyes were full of
sympathy as he spoke.
Mr. Grant laughed. His thin cheeks and the hectic flush
that came and went in them so fitfully were the cause of much
pity amongst his parishioners, who were getting to take
more interest in him than they had ever done in their
vicar. Perhaps it was his earnest and tender sympathy with
all their troubles; perhaps the power of a holy life, for he
lived as he preached, and his sermons carried the conviction
to all his hearers that religion was a reality and a delight to
He sat down in the shelter of the twins' cave, for they bore
him thither at once, and prepared himself to listen to their
'Yes, we like our stepmother very much; she laughs and
sings and runs about the house, and she is knitting some
stockings for Guy and me.'
'And we have breakfast and dinner in the dining-room, and
only tea in the kitchen, and we call her motherkin."'
'Will you tell us more about Jesus coming back?' asked
'Do you think He will come back to-day?' Guy inquired
rather anxiously, throwing himself down on the sand and
looking up at Mr. Grant with solemn large eyes.
Berry broke in impetuously,-
'Guy asked old Sam, who was going out shrimping this
morning, if he thought Jesus would come back to-day, and
Sam said he didn't think He would, so Guy called out that was
A Puzzling Pair
just the reason, He would very likely come, for it says-" In
such an hour as ye think not the Son of Man cometh."'
Mr. Grant took out his pocket Bible, and opened it at the
twenty-fourth chapter of St. Matthew.
'I will read you what the Lord Himself said about it, and
that will be better than any words of mine.'
Very gravely and reverently he read the latter part of the
chapter, explaining as he went; and the twins' intelligent re-
marks proved that they were taking it in.
'Like lightning!' said Guy, after the twenty-seventh verse
had been read; He can't have started yet, Berry Why, as
soon as He starts He will be here !'
'He might be here before we finish the chapter,' observed
Berry, looking out upon the ocean in front of her.
Mr. Grant read on, and finished the chapter. The children
were silent for a minute, then Berry said doubtfully,-
'Are Guy and me God's servants? I don't want to be a
servant. Thomas says Guy is no better than one-the Bible
says so; but he can't find a text about me being a servant.'
'I should like to be God's servant,' Guy put in softly.
'What is a servant's chief duty ?' asked Mr. Grant.
'To do what they are told,' Guy said quickly. I'm always
telling Thomas and Matty that when I grow up I'll make them
do what I tell them. When I'm master I shall!'
'And do you do what God tells you?' asked Mr. Grant.
'No!' he said; 'but I don't think I'm old enough to be
one of God's servants.'
'You are quite old enough. No child is too young to obey.'
We don't obey any one but father,' put in Berry quickly;
'not unless we're quite obliged to.'
'If you don't obey God you must be disobeying Him,' Mr.
Grant went on quietly. I could read you another verse from
the Bible that says that Jesus Christ will come again, and
punish those who are disobedient to God.'
A Talk on the Beach
'I know,' nodded Berry, looking at Mr. Grant very solemnly;
'Thomas is always preaching about it on Sunday. I expect
He would cut me asunder, and send me away to weep and
gnash my teeth. If He came back to-day He would.'
Guy looked at his sister with awe, then with firmly closed
lips he muttered: 'I will be saved, I won't go to hell !'
Then Mr. Grant leant forward earnestly, and with glowing
eyes said: 'My dear children, God doesn't want you to go to
hell. Jesus died to save you from that. He left heaven and
came down here to do it. God knew you couldn't be perfectly
good and obedient children, so Jesus said He would come
and be good and obedient instead of you. He said He would
be punished for your sins. God won't punish you now. He
doesn't punish twice.'
Guy's earnest gaze never left Mr. Grant's face.
God doesn'tpunish twice,' he repeated with emphasis; 'then
why does Thomas tell me I'll go to hell if I don't repent?'
Mr. Grant hesitated.
'He means if you won't take Jesus as your Saviour, you
will be lost,' he said slowly. 'Some people won't have any-
thing to do with Jesus, they want to get to heaven without His
help, and some sin against Him wilfully, and do not feel sorry
for their sins. Suppose you were put in prison for being very
wicked, and you were told you would have to suffer death as a
punishment, and then one day I were to walk in and give you
a paper, which was the Queen's pardon, saying she had forgiven
you-wouldn't you be glad to take the paper ?'
'Yes,' said the boy, wrinkling his brows in effort to under-
You wouldn't tell me to take the pardon away, for you didn't
want it, that you were going to wait till you were more sorry-
till you could have a good cry for your sins?'
'No,' said Guy.
'Then God is doing that for you and Berry. He is holding
out a pardon to each of you. He says, "Here, deai" children,
, i !i
,llnf ,, I, iI,
A Puzzling Pair
My son Jesus offered Himself a sacrifice, and died to get this
for you; will you have it? Will you believe Me when I tell
you that I never punish twice-that your sins were laid on
Jesus, and He bore your punishment? I want you to be My
little servants. Take your pardon, and thank Me for it; and
then I will help you to serve Me faithfully."'
'And I shall be saved like that ?'
Christ died for our sins,' quoted Mr. Grant, looking at the
boy's flushed face. Would you not like to take your pardon
from God and thank Him for it ? '
For a moment Guy was silent, then he started to his feet,
and ran out of the cave as fast as his legs could carry him.
Mr. Grant felt astonished, but Berry looked up gravely.
He's gone to do it.'
'Where has he gone ?'
'Why, into the house, o' course, to his bed. Don't you speak
to God at your bed ? We always do, we can't say our prayers
nowhere else. Guy did tell me he spoke to God in the garden
the other day, but it wasn't proper, and I told him so.'
Mr. Grant could not help smiling at the self-assured tone of
the little maiden; then drawing her to him, he asked,-
And what is Berry going to do ?'
Berry looked down and fingered a big seal on Mr. Grant's
I don't understand like Guy,' she said, 'it's too differcult.
I want to be ready when Jesus comes back, but I'm dreffully
afraid I sha'n't be quick enough.'
'If you ask God now to give you your pardon, He will do it,
Berry, and that will blot out all your sins, and put your name
in the Book of Life.'
Berry blinked her eyes very fast. 'And if I'm wicked to-
morrow?' she asked.
Jesus will wash those sins away too, if you ask Him, and He
will help you not to be wicked if you are His little servant.'
Berry seemed wrapped in meditation.
A Talk on the Beach
'Jesus said, "Watch"; I can watch for Him coming back even
if I'm not ready,' she said; then with one of her quicksilvery
changes of mood she added, 'Oh, do come and see Ginger's
puppies in the stable, they're such darlings, they're all going to
be drowned, but I told Thomas I should save one, and he
said I shouldn't, so I took it this morning, and I hid it in an
old riding-boot of father's in his dressing-room.'
'But that is rather cruel; the poor puppy will starve.'
'Of course it will. It can't live without its mother.'
Oh, well, I'll ask motherkin to take care of it; she'll be a
stepmother to it, like she is to Guy and me. Do come, will
No, I want to go farther on while the tide is out. Say good-
bye to Guy for me, and remember, "In such an hour as ye
think not the Son of Man cometh."'
The young clergyman strode away, with a rapt glance to the
heavens above, and Berry, with her finger in her mouth, watched
him disappear round the corner of a cliff. Then with eyes
twinkling with mischief she ran towards the house, saying under
her breath, 'I'll take the puppy out of the boot, and I'll put it
in motherkin's work-bag under her knitting.'
FILLING UP THE PICTURE
JUST before dinner that evening Mrs. Forrester found the
twins lying flat' on the tiger skin, their favourite position,
before the dining-room fire.
Guy with knitted brow and pursed-up lips was intent on a
large sheet of cartridge paper, and Berry with big solemn eyes
was regarding him with perplexity.
'Couldn't you just make me, Guy ?'
'No,' was the gruff and decided reply, my picture is true.'
'But I shall be ready by then-I'm sure I shall.'
'Will you be ready to-night ?'
'I-I don't know.'
'What are you so busy about ?' asked Mrs. Forrester in her
bright tone, coming up to them.
Guy started violently, put his hand over his paper, then
thought better of it.
'You can see it if you won't laugh,' he said. 'I began to paint
some of the people in one corner, but they're rather mixed up.'
It certainly was a wonderful work of art. The ungainly
bodies seemed sprawling in all directions, and legs and arms
were hopelessly entangled. The top half of the sheet of paper
Filling up the Picture
was crowded with figures, but there were only two or three in
an empty space at the bottom.
'That's Thomas and Matty,' said Berry eagerly, putting her
finger on two indescribable kind of beings, 'Thomas has got
his big Bible, and'Matty her hymn-book.'
'Hasn't she-er-rather big eyes? 'questioned Mrs. Forrester
That's her spec'acles; Matty always wears them on Sunday,
and it's a kind of Sunday, you know,' the young artist explained
'And who are these three just below them ?'
'That's father, and you, and Guy,' put in Berry. 'He has
been making himself this afternoon; I think he might make me,
don't you think so ?'
Guy flushed up at once. I'm going to make Mr. Curate,' he
said, trying to change the subject.
'Why don't you draw Berry ? asked Mrs. Forrester. 'I'm
afraid I don't quite remember what the-picture is about.'
It is Jesus coming down from heaven and us going up to
meet Him,' said Guy in a hushed tone, gazing at his handiwork
with loving eyes.
'And he says I'm not ready!' pouted Berry.
'And are you ready, Guy?'
There was amusement about Mrs. Forrester's lips, and yet
a very softened, wistful look in her eyes; but the question
was too much for Guy's sensitive feelings. He seized hold of
his picture and ran out of the room, whilst Berry gazed after
He's so shy, poor boy,' she said in a little old-womanish
tone that she sometimes adopted; 'but he's very unkind to me
sometimes, because he wouldn't never draw so many fine
pictures if I didn't tell him how to make them !'
Then climbing into Mrs. Forrester's lap she said,-
'Which do you like the best-Guy or me ?'
'I like you both the same.'
A Puzzling Pair
'That's what everybody always says-at least Thomas
doesn't like us at all. I know he doesn't, and I don't think
he likes you much either, for he was telling Matty this morning
something in the Bible about you; it was something about dress
I didn't quite understand, and the way you do your hair.'
Mrs. Forester laughed, then said quietly, 'You need not
tell me what is said in the kitchen, Berry, any more than you
need tell in the kitchen what is said in the dining-room.'
Berry raised a puzzled face. I don't understand,' she said.
Mrs. Forrester did not explain, and Berry continued
'When I grow up I shall help Guy, like you help father;
Guy is very slow sometimes, and I make him be quick. Do
you think if I grow very much taller than Guy that I shall be
able to make him do what I tell him?'
'Are you born to conquer, Berry?' and Mrs. Forrester's
clear laugh rang out. 'It isn't height that wins the day, little
woman, and I think you will get through the world best if you
let men manage you.'
'I like to be mistress,' Berry responded emphatically, 'and
I shall be one day.'
'Well, you must run away now, for here comes dinner;' and
Berry instantly disappeared.
The independence of the twins was a great puzzle to their
stepmother; she felt they needed a tighter rein over them,
and yet dreaded a conflict with them. She came upon them
in their bedroom one afternoon, Berry standing by the win-
dow submitting herself entirely to the hands of her brother,
who, with a large pair of scissors, was chopping away at her
curls in a leisurely manner.
'Oh, children, what are you doing?' Mrs. Forrester exclaimed.
'He's only cutting my hair,' said Berry calmly, and then I'm
going to do his ; we always cut our hair when it tickles our eyes !
'But you are making yourselves such objects! I really
cannot allow it, and I think your hair would look much better
if we let it grow.'
Filling up the Picture
'It mustn't be longer than Guy's,' was the decided reply.
'We're twins, and I sha'n't have long hair if Guy doesn't. Go
on, Guy, you've only done one side.'
Mrs. Forrester quietly took the scissors into her own hand.
'I think I am a better hairdresser than Guy. Now stand
still, Berry, and let me see if I can't make you look more pre-
Berry was a little awed by her stepmother's tone; but
directly she was free she exclaimed: 'You sha'n't cut Guy's
hair; I'm going to do it !'
'Guy is not going to have his cut at all. I shall take him
into the town to have it done properly as soon as I can
Berry stamped her little foot. 'I skall cut his hair; I've
been good all this time waiting to do it. Go away, motherkin,
we don't want you!'
Berry, I cannot allow you to speak to me like this. I am
going to take Guy downstairs with me, and when you are
sorry for speaking so rudely you can join us.'
And, to Berry's great astonishment, Guy was led out of the
room, and she was left alone.
For a few minutes she stood looking out of the window, her
little breast heaving with angry emotions, which eventually found
their outlet in a flood of tears, and throwing herself on the floor,
Berry sobbed and kicked her temper away. No one came near
her, and half an hour's solitude was quite long enough to bring
the little maiden to her senses. With tear-stained cheeks she I
crept downstairs to the morning-room, where she found her -
stepmother busy writing, and Guy occupied with a fairy book.
Mrs. Forrester looked up a little anxiously; but Berry's
face was like a rainbow, her dimples and smiles shining
through her grief.
'I'm sorry,' she said, running towards her and holding her
face up to be kissed, 'and I want Guy to play hide-and-seek 1
A Puzzling Pair
Mrs. Forrester smiled as she kissed the child. 'That is
right, Berry; I know you did not mean to be naughty. Now
run along, both of you, and have a good romp before tea.'
'Guy,' said Berry later, when, tired out with play, they were
resting by the dining-room fire, 'do you like. motherkin?
Because she makes us obey her just like father does !'
'Yes, I know she does.'
'But I feel I shall be naughty very often if she won't let me
'I shall try and be good,' said Guy thoughtfully, 'because
God wants me to, and I'm one of His servants now.'
'I'm not,' and Berry's tone was sorrowful; 'if Jesus had
come this afternoon when I was kicking, He wouldn't have
found me ready.'
'It will be auful if you aren't ready,' Guy said emphatically.
'Well, but you see I know He won't come in the daytime,
because it says, "like a thief in the night," and I'm always
good when I'm in bed, so I think He will find me good.'
'That isn't being properly ready, though,' objected Guy, 'and
God remembers the bad things you've done in the daytime.'
Well,' argued Berry, I'm not so bad as that servant in the
chapter who was hitting everybody and getting drunk.'
Guy was silent for some minutes. He was standing with
his hands in his pockets gazing into the fire, and then he
suddenly turned his face towards his sister with eager resolve
in his bright brown eyes.
'Berry, do you know what I'm going to do? Guess.'
'Ask Matty to make us some cakes for tea ?'
'No. Listen. I'm going to put a lot more people in my
picture, going up, you know I shall put Joe Tucker in; but
I don't know if Sam and Bill Fawkes are ready, and old Mrs.
Truscombe, and Jack Rackes, and lots of the fishermen, and
I shall go and ask them about it, and then I shall put them
all in; and if I haven't room, I have another sheet of paper
we can stick together. I want my picture to be a very big one.'
Filling up the Picture
'I'll come with you, and we'll go to-morrow morning.'
And the next morning, after lessons were over, the twins set
out on their expedition.
The first person they met was Bill Fawkes, busy drying his fish-
ing nets.. He and his brother Sam occasionally came to Thomas's
meeting, and they were owners of a fine fishing smack, in which
more than once the children had been taken out to sea. Bill
looked up with a cheery smile as they approached him.
'Nice day, little master! Do you want a sail?'
'No,' said Guy; I want to talk to you.'
'It's business,' put in Berry eagerly, 'and it's about Guy's
'You see,' explained Guy, with a warning nudge to his sister,
'I'm drawing a very big picture, and it's going to be quite a
true one, so I don't want any mistakes. It's a very grave pic-
ture, Bill, a Sunday one; and I should like to put you in it.'
'Harken to 'un now!' and Bill stuck his hands in his
pockets, with a broad grin at the boy. 'And wu'll a' be havin'
my picture painted ?'
It's a picture of Jesus coming down from the sky.with all
His angels,' Berry said; 'and Guy wants to make all the
people who are ready going up to meet Him.'
Bill scratched his head, and looked fairly puzzled.
'You know,' went on Guy with animation, 'that He might
come any day now. He may be here to-night, and I'm
drawing it. May I put you in ? That's what I came to ask you.'
But that be a terrible day for the likes o' we,' said Bill de-
jectedly. 'Ay, little master, 'tis not a subjec'to be drawed about.
'Won't you like Him to come ?' inquired Guy. I shall!'
'Noa, a'm certain sure a'd rather He'd stop away alto-
gether,' was the decided response.
'Well, but you can't stop Him coming. He may be here
very soon. Aren't you ready ?'
'Noa, a can't say a'm that.'
Guy looked disappointed.
Sj A Puzzling Pair
'Then I can't make you going up in the sky to meet Him
in my picture. Is Sam ready?'
'You'm best arsk 'im, little master. Sam be in the hoose
Away ran Guy, but Berry lingered.
'Are you going to get ready for Jesus, Bill ?'
Bill looked uncomfortable. 'A'm thinking missy. Old Joe
Tucker be mighty brave on that subject and a've a heerd old
Tammas holding' forth, but Tammas be gran' on fire and wrath;
a've not heerd 'un praych on the coming' in the sky '
'I'm not quite ready myself,' Berry said, fingering Bill's
net with downcast eyes; 'but Guy has got ready; Mr. Curate
told him how to.'
''Tis easy for both o' ye, but a'm thinking' 'twill not be so
easy for a !'
'I 'spose you and I are like the wicked servant in the
chapter. There were two of them, and one was blessed, and
the other cut in sunder. Do you drink with the drunken,
Bill? That's what the wicked servant did. I can't under-
stand who I am, because I'm not quite as wicked as him, and
I'm not so good as the good one. Don't you think there may
be some half between ?'
Bill did not answer; he worked away with his net.
Presently he said reflectively,-
'A do spend a deal o' my time in the Red Rose yon, but
a do not drink like old Watty Pickers.'
Berry was intent upon picking out some brown seaweed
from the meshes of the net.
'Look, Bill, here's some lovely poppers! Hear me crack
them Wouldn't you like to be a fish sometimes ? I should;
I should like to go right to the bottom of the sea. Wouldn't
it be a deep hole if the sea was taken out? I wonder if God
dug it Himself before He put the water in ? '
Bill shook his head doubtfully. Berry continued in her
Filling up the Picture
'Do you know we've got a mistress at home? Father
brought her back one day, and she's our stepmother. She is
teaching me to write, and I do lessons. When I know how
to write properly, I shall write books like father, and Guy will
make the pictures.'
'Ay, ye be two clever little 'uns !'
'I shall write,' continued Berry, looking up at Bill's stolid
face with twinkling eyes, 'about a little crab in a pool, and
how he went for a ride on a starfish to the bottom of the sea,
and when he got there, he had jam tarts to eat, and then an
earthquake came along and shook him up to the top of the
sea again, and a big giant called Bill caught him in his net
and took him to the Red Rose, and dropped him in some
cider, and then he drank him down his throat, and he choked
and died dead right off, and that's the end of my story.'
Here Berry folded her hands primly in front of her, adding,
'And poor Bill was buried- '
'Ay, missy, put a clapper to ye tongue; 'tis fearsome to
hear ye !' And Bill looked fearfully round. ''Twas but last
night a dreamed o' the old boat turning' to a coffin, and a
quaked to my boots, and now ye'll both be tellin' a that a'm
not ready to die. And a'm a goin' to get ready some o' these
days, a surely be !'
Their conversation came to an end here, for Guy returned.
'I've seen Sam, and he says I mustn't put him in my
picture. Come on to Mrs. Blake, Berry; we'll ask her!'
An hour after the twins returned to the house rather crest-
fallen. They had been laughed at by some of the fisher folk;
some refused to answer their questions, and only one old
woman had told them to put her in the picture.
But Guy consoled himself by drawing her, and when Berry
criticised the size of her, he argued,-
I'm going to make them bigger going up, because there are
so few 6f them, and I must fill up my paper !'
MRS. FORRESTER certainly had the knack of making the
home comfortable. The children insensibly began to
feel the difference, and the bare dismantled rooms were im-
proved so much by curtains, thick rugs, and pretty knick-knacks,
that they seemed hardly the same places.
But outside the old Manor House the violent winds and
winter storms worked great havoc in the old walls. Mr. For-
rester was always talking of starting the masons at work, but
his wife could not get him to act in the matter.
And then one night a most awful storm swept along the
coast. All day the wind had shrieked through the old trees,
and the waves had dashed against the terrace wall with in-
creasing fury; but towards evening the gale became a perfect
hurricane. Guy and Berry lay wakeful in their beds; they
were too fond of wind and waves to be frightened; but
accustomed as they were to storms, this seemed a more severe
one than they had yet experienced.
'It's awful noisy, Guy,' said Berry, raising herself on her
elbow to listen; 'I think the house will shake down soon.
Matty says it will some day.'
'I'm thinking,' responded Guy, 'if Jesus comes to-night,
we sha'n't be able to hear His trumpet. It would be dreadful
not to hear it.'
'Yes; and-and-how wet all the angels and people will get
coming down in the rain Oh dear, I wish-I wish I was
'I expect,' Guy continued, 'that the wind and rain will
stop directly Jesus comes. The storm always stopped when
He was on the sea. He will say, "Peace, be still" again !
Oh, I wish He would come now.'
There was a sudden lull; and so much was Guy's mind on
the advent of the Lord, that he dashed out of his bed and
rushed to the window, quite expecting to see the glorious host
he had so often pictured in his mind.
Berry, in the stillness that followed, pulled the clothes over
her head, repeating to herself, I'm not ready-I'm not ready,
I shall be cut in sunder !'
And for some minutes nothing broke the silence, until, with
a louder shriek and a fresh onslaught, the wind and waves
commenced their mad orgie once more.
Then there was a gasping cry from Guy.
'He is coming, Berry;' and then, after some minutes, a
long-drawn sigh of disappointment,-
No, He isn't, it's all a mistake !'
Berry took courage to put her head above the clothes.
'Is it quite safe, Guy? You're sure He won't behere to-night?'
'I don't know,' Guy said, pattering across the floor to her
bed with his bare feet; 'but, Berry, there's fireworks on the
sea; I saw a shooting light, and I did think it was the sky open-
ing to let Jesus through. I opened the window, and I was just
getting ready to go up when it went out, and I heard the
sound of a booming gun, and then I saw it was fireworks.'
In an instant Berry was out of bed.
'Let me see It's a ship, Guy, it's a wreck, like the one
last winter !'
'Yes,' said Guy, his eyes lighting up at the thought; 'and
A Puzzling Pair
they're wanting to be helped, and Cap'n Pike and Joe Tucker
and all of them will be going out in the lifeboat, and I'm
going to run and tell father '
He darted out of the room, Berry following, and the little
white-robed figures flitted down the stone stairs, without a
thought of cold or darkness, into the morning-room, where their
father and stepmother now sat after dinner.
They found them by the fire, she in the undignified position
of sitting on the hearthrug, her head against her husband's knee.
Both started when the door opened, and the little people
'What is the matter, children? is the storm frightening
you ?' exclaimed Mrs. Forrester.
'It's a ship, father; they're letting off fireworks.'
Mr. Forrester had lived too long by the sea to be indifferent
to this statement. In an instant he was on his feet, peering
through the casement windows.
'Yes, I see it; and it is driving straight this way on to the rocks.
I must be off this instant. I expect the lifeboat will be needed.'
He dashed out of the room, whilst his wife gazed at him in
surprise. She did not know anything would so shake her hus-
band's usual equanimity, and hasten his leisurely movements.
A moment after, and Matty came hurriedly in.
"Tis a ship in distress, mum; will you'm be coming down
to the terrace to see it? Tummas have run down, and the
master be off to the lifeboat.'
. .' Oh, let us come!' entreated the twins; but Matty turned
'Lock 'em in, mum; that be the way I does. They ought
to be in they beds.'
'No, I won't lock them in,' said Mrs. Forrester smiling, 'for if
I told them to stay in bed, I should expect them to do so. I
don't think I will venture out in this storm, Matty; so don't wait
for me. Come, children, I will take you up to bed again; you
will catch cold like this. Does father go out in the lifeboat ?'
-^^^"S^^'^.a~t'^ jjy- -
Wrapping a shawl round Berry, Mrs. Forrester caught her
up in her arms, and carried her upstairs.
Guy had already disappeared, and they found him tugging on
his boots in a half-dressed state when they reached the bedroom.
'I'm going out after father,' he gasped.
'No, you are not,' was the quick decided reply from his
Guy looked up, rebellion dawning in his little resolute face.
'I shall go out; I'm a boy, and all the men and boys turn out
for a wreck.'
'And I'm going, too,' exclaimed Berry, wriggling out of bed,
where Mrs. Forrester had deposited her.
'Now look here, children,' and their stepmother spoke
more sternly than they had ever heard her speak before; I
shouldn't think of allowing you to put your little heads out-
side the door on such a night as this. You would get blown
away, perhaps blown over the terrace wall into the sea, and
then what would father say when he came back? I want to
go and see father very much, but I am choosing to stay in
the house with you. I shouldn't dream of going out and
leaving you here alone. Be good children and get into bed,
and then I will tell you what we will do.'
Berry hesitated, and looked across at Guy.
'Shall we do what she tells us ?' she asked.
Poor little Guy was having a hard battle with himself.
They had been so long uncontrolled that it seemed very hard
to them to be checked so often as they were now; and the
fact that Mrs. Forrester only ruled by moral force, and not,
like Thomas, with threats and sometimes blows, sorely tempted
them to persist in their rebellion.
'Father would let me come,' muttered Guy; and then he
threw himself on his bed, and burying his face in his pillow
to stifle his disappointment and his tears, he sobbed out, 'I
don't believe you would let me go to meet Jesus when He
comes, if it was a windy night!'
A Puzzling Pair
Mrs. Forrester appeared not to hear. Shewent on cheerfully,-
'I am going to light a fire here, and then I will wrap you
up warmly, and we will all come and sit by the window for a
short time and look out. We can see everything from here.'
In a very short time her intention was carried out, and the
twins, more than half comforted, climbed up to the low broad
window-seat, and, bundled up in cloaks and dressing-gowns,
kept an eager look-out.
'Does your father go in the lifeboat?' Mrs. Forrester
asked again anxiously.
'No, hardly ever; but he's a kind of head captain over
Cap'n Pike,' explained Guy.
Look at the lanterns on the beach; and look, motherkin,
there goes another firework! Oh, what a noise the wind is
'And here is some one running up the garden. It's Matty.
Doesn't she look funny? the wind is blowing her all on one side.'
'I must go and see what is wanted. Now, Guy, you are a
boy, so I want you to promise me you will stay here with
Berry, and neither of you leave the room. Take care of her,
and I will come back to you as soon as I can. Can I trust
'I promise,' said Guy solemnly; and then Mrs. Forrester left
'It's very nice having a fire, isn't it, Guy?' said Berry,
looking round the room and up at the ceiling, where the
flickering flames threw all kinds of queer shadows. 'Mother-
kin likes fires as much as we do; we've had one here twice now.'
Guy did not reply; he was flattening his nose against the
window-pane. 'Hurray I see the lifeboat; hark at the cheers 1'
And he and Berry shouted till their throats were hoarse.
'Oh, I do wish I was out; it is a shame !'
'Let's run downstairs quick,' suggested Berry; but Guy
shook his head.
'I promised, and I'll die before I break a promise !'
'Wouldn't you run away if this room caught fire, or the
ceiling tumbled down upon us?'
You're always 'sposing things that wouldn't happen.'
Guy's tone was slightly scornful, and Berry resented it at
once. 'You're very grand because motherkin told you to stay
and take care of me; but you never do take care of me. If
Jesus had come just now, you would have gone up in the air
and left me behind. You wouldn't have cared a bit!'
'Well, I couldn't have stopped behind. You've only got
to get ready, and then you would come with me. It would be
just like the chapter says, One shall be taken, and the other
left "; but it's all your own fault.'
Berry heaved a sigh, then she said, 'I said my prayers under
the clothes, and I asked Him not to come to-night, and you
see He hasn't.'
'And I was asking Him as hard as I could to come,' said
Guy, bringing his gaze back from out of the window to his
sister's face with a puzzled stare; 'it's a very wrong thing to
pray opposite, I'm sure.'
'Because-well, because it must make it differcult for God.'
'Nothing's differcult for God, you know it isn't, Matty is
always telling us so. And I 'spect God answers the one He
likes best, and He answered my prayer to-night-not yours.'
Guy was silent, then he said, after some deep thought,-
'What a very good thing He did answer you! Where
would you be now if Jesus had come ?'
Berry's eyes grew very round, and the corners of her lips
began to droop.
'I don't know how to get ready more than I'm doing; I'm
trying to be good, and I watch for Him coming quite as much
as you do.'
Tears began to gather in her brown eyes, and she went on,-
'I was dreffully frightened to-night, I really thought I was
going to be left behind, and my inside thumped up and down,
A Puzzling Pair
and my teeth were rattling. I do want to get ready, Guy; tell
me how you did it.'
Two small hands clutched hold of the shawl in which he
was bundled up, but Guy hung his head, and if there had been
more light in the room Berry would have seen his cheeks
become hot and red.
'I don't talk about it,' he said slowly; 'I think it's what
father calls "private business," and I can't tell you how I did
I don't believe you're more ready than me,' said Berry
with a sob in her voice.
'It's only-' stammered Guy, feeling he must comfort his
sister, 'to tell God about yourself, and ask Him to give yofi
your pardon that Jesus got for you. Mr. Curate told us. Don't
you remember ?'
'But how do you know God has given it to you ?'
'Mr. Curate said, "God never punishes twice." So I say
that over to myself when I'm not quite sure. For I'm quite
sure Jesus was punished. He came from heaven on purpose.'
There was silence. Berry appeared to be considering, but
her volatile little mind was distracted by the sight of another
rocket, and she turned to the window with fresh zest. And
then through the gloom they saw at length the lifeboat coming
back, and there seemed to be a great commotion on the beach.
A short time after a little group of people came up the garden,
and then ensued a great bustle in the house downstairs.
Finally, Mrs. Forrester opened the door.
'Good children,' she said with a bright smile; 'I have
brought you a basin of hot bread and milk between you, and
then you must scramble into bed and go to sleep. I cannot
stay a minute, but father is back, and all the crew have been
saved. We will hear all about it to-morrow.'
She kissed them, put down her basin, and disappeared; and
tired out by their excitement, the twins quickly demolished the
S contents, and were soon in the deep sweet sleep of childhood.
W HEN the children came down the next morning they
found Matty in a great state of excitement. She told
them that an old lady and her maid had been brought up to
the Manor House late the previous night; that several of the
passengers were put up in the village, and that one elderly
gentleman had been taken into Bill Fawkes' house and had
died a few hours after, from exhaustion and fright. Bill was
himself at the back door now, talking to Thomas about it.
Guy and Berry darted out to him.
Do tell us about the ship, Bill,' Guy cried; 'were you in
the lifeboat ? And how did the people get into it ? Do tell
'Ah little master, 'twas a fearful night A had a sign; a
telled the little maid, when hur were a-chatting to a t'other
morn. A didn't dream my boat were turned to a coffin for
no purpose, and 'tis a death to our hoose surely And such
a likely old gent too, but he were prepared for his end, he
folded his two hands together, and sez he, when we laid 'im
on the bed, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit," and never a word
or more after-he went wonderful easy.'
A Puzzling Pair
'Ah sighed Matty behind the children; 'twill be sad for
'Ay, there be a nevvy o' hisn, and he be seeing' about 'im,
but a knowed there would be something' awesome this week
-a were zent the sign. And how be thy old lady? she were
powerful active coming' off the boat.'
Matty nodded her head up and down. 'She do be won-
derful; her maid telled me just now she have slept like a child
the whole night through, and be wantin' a hearty breakfast
now. I mustn't bide here, for there be a lot to see after, and
'tis close on breakfast time.'
Is the old lady going to stay with us, Matty ?' asked Berry.
'May I go and see her ?'
'For certain not, and ye'll have to hush your voices a bit,
and not be flying' round and bangin' doors all the morn.'
'Come on into the dining-room, Guy, and we'll ask mother-
kin about her. Matty is in one of her fustles '
And Berry danced off, running into the arms of her father,
who was crossing the hall.
'What's the old lady called, father? May Guy and I go
and wish her good-morning ? Was she nearly drowned ?'
But Berry's curiosity was again quenched, and she was told
to come in to breakfast and be quiet.
Mrs. Forrester seemed a little disturbed at the advent of her
guest. I have made her as comfortable as I can,' she said to
her husband, but she is complaining a great deal of the cold
and draughtiness of her bedroom, and indeed I do not wonder.
I have told her she must rest here for a few days, and she
seems quite inclined to-says she couldn't possibly travel for
a week at least after such an experience, and has sent her maid
off now to find out how much of her luggage was saved.'
Mr. Forrester laughed. 'Well, I suppose a woman's luggage
is very dear to her heart, and I hope she may recover it. The
boat is on the rocks, and the captain hopes to save all the
salvage. I have promised to go down and give a helping
hand this morning. One thing we can be thankful for, and
that is that our guest is in such good health. I've heard this
morning that one passenger has died.'
Mrs. Forrester shivered. Yes; Matty was telling me-it is
a mercy all were saved as they were.'
But the old gentleman has gone to heaven, hasn't he ?' put in
Berry with large eyes. 'Bill Fawkes told us his prayer.'
Where do these small people get their religion from,
Warwick ?' asked Mrs. Forrester with a laughing shrug of her
shoulders. Heaven-and-well, the other place are continu-
ally upon their lips-it's not natural!'
Very natural to them; they pick up phrases here and there,
and invent the rest,' Mr. Forrester said carelessly. Then he
added with his dry humour, 'Attend a few of our kitchen
meetings on Sunday afternoons, my dear, and you will not
wonder, after such training, at their theology.'
'I have a great wish to attend,' Mrs. Forrester returned,
' but I'm afraid Thomas would so improve the occasion that
I should never dare to give him an order afterwards.' Then
meeting Guy's earnest gaze she added, 'But he is a good,
faithful servant and I respect him immensely. And perhaps
he may be more enlightened than I am on many points.'
A little sigh followed her words, and then she changed the
subject. Guy and Berry were very delighted when, early in the
afternoon, they were called to the spare bedroom door by a
'My mistress heard your voice, and would like to see you.
Berry pressed eagerly in, and Guy followed, his curiosity hav-
ing got the better of his shyness.
Sitting in an easy chair by the fire, enveloped in a crimson
silk dressing gown, was a most imposing-looking old lady.
Her white hair was rolled off her forehead under a wonderful
erection of lace and ribbon, her dark eyes looked as bright
and eager as a child's, whilst she sat as erect as if only twenty
instead of seventy-five years had been her portion in this life.
A Puzzling Pair
'Come here,' she said briskly; 'don't be afraid of an old woman
like me. In this desolate house it is refreshing to hear children's
voices. Now take a seat-both of you-and talk to me.'
Berry's eyes glistened at this request.
'We love to talk,' she said; 'but most of the grown-up
people we know tell us to be quiet because we talk too much.
Guy and me have been wanting to see you all day. Weren't
you very frightened last night ?'
'My dear little girl, my maid over there would tell you that
Miss Marchmount is afraid of nothing and nobody. If you
had travelled as much as I have, you would feel the same.
This is not the first gale that I have encountered.'
'Do you live on the sea like the sailors?' questioned Guy.
'I can't say I do, though when I was a little girl I always
said I would like to be a sailor. No; I live in a sleepy little
town with my brother, a clergyman, who thinks there is no
place like it, and when I have got weary of our quiet old
cloisters I pack my trunks, and cross the ocean with my maid,
to inhale fresh ideas, and keep myself from vegetating. There
now, have I satisfied your curiosity? I always heard that
children were the most curious set of creatures on the face
of the earth. Perhaps, instead of catechising me, you will give
me some information about yourselves. Have you spent all
your small lives in this tumble-down building ?'
'O' course we have,' Berry responded quickly; 'this is the
Manor House, and it's very big, and when Guy and I grow up.
we mean to have a lot of new things in it. You see, Guy is.
going to paint pictures, and I shall help him. And he is going.
to be master here one day, and I shall be mistress.'
Yes,' put in Guy earnestly, 'and I shall give my orders then
to Thomas and Matty, and they will have to do what I tell them.'
'Who are they ? inquired the old lady.
'Well,' said Berry dubiously, 'they're really servants, you
know, only they're very grand when they talk to us, and Thomas
doesn't think nothing of us all. He says we're wicked good
for-nothings, and children of wrath and disobedience, and he
calls us all kinds of names out of the Bible !'
'And Matty likes to lock us up to keep us out of mischief,'
added Guy. 'She wanted to last night, only motherkin
wouldn't let her.. Do you know her? She is father's new
wife, and hasn't been with us very long, but she's very kind to
Berry and me.'
So they chattered on, and Miss Marchmount was highly
diverted by their conversation, and gave them wonderful
accounts of the countries she had been to. She did not leave
her room for the next few days, and insisted that the children
should come to her every afternoon to amuse her ; and it was not
long before Guy's picture was brought out for her inspection.
I should like to put you in,' said Guy a little nervously.
'I think I could draw you.'
'There's nobody and nothing that Guy can't draw,' observed
Berry proudly. 'Father thought he couldn't draw the battle
of Waterloo, but he did, and father gave him sixpence for it.'
Why do you want to put me in?' asked Miss Marchmount.
'To fill up my paper,' was the quick reply; 'I'm only put-
ting the people that will be ready when Jesus comes, and
I haven't got many. You see there aren't a lot of people living
near us, and some of them say they don't want to be put in,
they don't feel ready enough.'
'Perhaps I don't feel ready enough,' said Miss Marchmount
with twinkling eyes. 'How must I feel? Tell me.'
Guy's grave eyes lifted to hers abashed her slightly.
You're an old-fashioned little couple,' she said, laughing.
'Take your picture away; it's a very grand one, and you've
got hold of a grand subject. But I think you can fill it in
without putting me into it.' Guy rolled up his picture carefully.
'Have you ever been taught drawing?' she asked. Guy
shook his head.
'Ah, well-perhaps it is as well; artists are generally ne'er-
do-weels-a dreamy idle set. If you were my boy, I would
A Puzzling Pair
take pencils and paper away from you, and turn you out of
doors to play.'
'But I can draw out of doors,' said Guy.
Yes, he can draw in a boat, or in our cave, or anywhere,'
put in Berry; 'and motherkin says we've played too much,
and ought to be learning lessons. Are you fond of playing? '
'Some kinds of play interest me,' Miss Marchmount re-
'Yes, that's just like Guy and me. We don't care for whip-
ping tops, and hoops, and hop-scotch, like the village children
play, but we love hide-and-seek, and building sand castles, and
being cast on a desert island, and there's a play of our own we'll
tell you if you promise never, never to tell it to any one !'
Miss Marchmount promised, but Guy seemed rather uneasy.
'You won't tell anybody, will you ?' he repeated, 'because no
one knows, it's quite our own secret.'
Again assured, Berry began eagerly. It's in the left wing,
down the staircase and turn to the right and up a narrow
passage-there's a room right at the end which father has
locked up, because Thomas says that side of the house will
tumble down one day, it's so old. And he lives in that room,
old Taffyraggy is his name. He was put in prison there years
ago, and we're the only people kind to him. We take him
bits of cake, and slices of apple, and talk to him through the
keyhole. He talks back in a kind of low roar, and sometimes
he asks for things we can't take him. He likes to read, and we
push bits of newspaper under the door. And sometimes he's
ill, and we make him some bread pills with pepper if we can
get it, and we tell him how to poultice himself. One day he
says he is coming out, when he gets a letter from the Queen.
If we don't go near him for a long time we get a letter from
him, and sometimes he is angry and won't answer us, and we
have to write him letters and ask him to forgive us. He always
writes letters to me, and Guy reads them for me. But of course
it's a great secret, and no one knows about him except us '
Miss Marchmount generally accepted all the children's state- /
ments with the greatest composure, but she looked perfectly / '
'Who is it?' she demanded, 'any one you know that comes
to play with you there?'
Guy stepped up closer to her with a knowing smile.
'I'll tell you if you let me whisper;' and into her ear he
continued. 'It's only a game, you see, and we make-believe
about him. I write the letters and talk in a roar, I have to do
both sides, but it's great fun sometimes.'
Yes,' said Berry; 'and Guy often draws Taffyraggy. We
think he has a big hat and feather, and a velvet cloak and a
white beard, and when father unlocks the door he will dis-
appear, because he won't be locked up any more, and we
sha'n't ever see him or hear of him again. Then we shall have
to get a new game.'
'Well,' said Miss Marchmount, 'I daresay your mother is
wise in making you work at your books, if you both have such
runaway imaginations. You were saying you would like to
draw me, Guy, just now. If you will keep me out of that
wonderful picture of yours, I will give you a commission for a
portrait of me. Would you like to do it? I want to be
very nicely drawn, so that every one who sees it may say,
"What a beautiful old lady "'
I will do my very best,' said Guy proudly, not seeing the
twinkle in Miss Marchmount's eyes.
He started the portrait then and there, and for three suc-
cessive afternoons came and sat on a low stool in front of the
old lady, and worked away with a will.
Berry had not the patience to stay still so long; she danced
in and out of the room, and generally left the two alone for
the latter part of the time, very grave discussions taking place
between the young artist and his sitter.
Must I put your wrinkles in?' asked Guy, the last after-
noon ; 'they're rather differcult to draw.'
A Puzzling Pair
'Oh, put them in most certainly, and have you noticed I
have lost two of my back teeth ?'
Miss Marchmount's dry jokes were entirely lost upon Guy,
but she enjoyed them herself.
Her remark started a new train of thought to the boy.
'Do people have wrinkles in heaven ? I haven't made any
in my picture. And ought I to draw Noah and Moses and all
the old men without any teeth ? You see, I want my picture
to be true.'
'I think if I remember rightly everybody and everything
will be made new.'
'Then you'll get your two back teeth again ? '
'If I am there.'
Guy did not reply-he was struggling to depict the different
rings on Miss Marchmount's fingers, and it wanted all his care
At length he heaved a sigh. I really think I have finished
you now. I could have done you better if I had been a man,
but I think it's like you.'
He brought his sketch up to Miss Marchmount, and she
surveyed it with great gravity.
'I'm afraid I'm not as good-looking as I thought I was,' she
said with a mock sigh.
I think you're very pretty,' said Guy, 'but not so pretty as
motherkin, your cheeks are not pink like hers.'
Very true, and that being the case, it is as well that I should
be sketched in black and white. Now, what do you charge?'
'How do you mean ?' asked bewildered Guy.
'Bless the boy! Don't you know if you take a person's
portrait, you must be paid for it?'
'Must I ? But I never thought of that. I'm afraid I don't
draw well enough to be paid.'
'Well, I daresay we shall come to terms then. Leave me
my portrait. When I wish to mortify the flesh I shall take it
out, and it will remind me of what I am in the sight of youth.'
'I should like to show it to Thomas and Matty, if you don't
mind,' said Guy a little shyly.
'And pray, why is my portrait to be handed round in the
Because they-well-they laughed when I told them I was
taking your portrait, they wouldn't believe it, and Thomas said
there's a better portrait of you in the Bible than ever I could
make-I didn't quite understand him-he said it was in the
third chapter of Romans. I hate to be laughed at!'
'Your old man here is the most insolent servant I ever came
The smile and sparkle had vanished from Miss Marchmount's
eyes, and an angry flush mounted in her thin old cheeks.
Guy looked at her a little frightened. She added,-
No, if you take payment for my portrait, it must be under
one condition, and that is, that it is my private property. It is
too precious to be vaunted before the public, and not quite
finished enough for the Academy.'
Then taking her purse out, she twisted some money up in a
piece of paper, and placed it in his hand.
You must give me a proper receipt for it,' she said.
Guy's eyes sparkled. 'Tell me how.'
Take a piece of paper and write: "Received the sum of
one guinea for portrait in pencil of Alicia Marchmount," put
the date, and sign your name.'
This took a long time, but it was done at last.
'Now make your bow and leave me.'
Let me kiss you instead.'
'Scandalous 1 You will make my cheeks as pink as your
mother's with such audacity !'
But the old lady received a hug with great equanimity, and
folded up the sketch of herself with a smile and sigh, whilst
Guy fled in trembling delight to find his sister, and show her in
proud exultation his first earnings.
THE CURATE'S ILLNESS
M ISS MARCHMOUNT and her maid left two days after,
and the twins and she parted from each other with
'I shall send you an invitation to come and see me soon in
my own house,' the old lady said; and Guy and Berry could
hardly believe their ears.
'Good-bye,' they shouted, as she rolled away from the door
in the fly, 'and when we grow up you shall come and stay with
'Where are you going to live'when you grow up?' asked
their stepmother, laughing. Will you turn father and me out
of the house?'
The children pondered. Don't you think you will be dead?'
asked Guy shyly; it will be so many, many years before we're
a man and a woman.'
'You heartless little creatures, are you looking forward to
that time ?'
'It's very -nice to be dead, motherkin, isn't it?' said Berry,
laying her curly head coaxingly against her stepmother's arm,
and speaking in comforting tones. 'You see, you'll be up in
The Curate's Illness
heaven, won't you ? And Guy and I will put flowers on your
grave every Sunday, like Thomas's little nieces did on their
mother when she died. Grown-up people can't live for ever,
Mrs. Forrester gave a little shiver. Oh, you children !' she
said, 'how dreadfully you talk! Death is not a subject for
you ; leave it alone.'
Of course,' Guy put in dreamily, as he looked up into the
sky, 'I'm hoping we'll all go up to heaven together. If Jesus
comes soon, we shall.'
'I think,' said Berry reflectively, 'we had better ask Him not
to come just yet, till we've been to visit Miss Marchmount.
And, besides, I'm not quite ready yet.'
Motherkin,' said Guy, turning to his stepmother with furrows
between his eyes, what does God do when two people pray
opposite things ? I'm praying that Jesus may come at once,
and Berry is praying Him not to.'
I think,' said Mrs. Forrester slowly, 'that God answers
prayer as He sees best.' And then dreading to be brought
further into a religious argument Mrs. Forrester moved away,
and the twins dropped the subject.
Guy's guinea was a great difficulty to him, and many were
the consultations the children had together of the most profit-
able way of spending it.
At last one morning after lessons they sallied towards the
village with very important faces. And an hour after Mr.
Grant met them returning, Guy grasping a small bag in his
hands, and appearing from his hot flushed face to find it very
What have you got there ?' asked the young curate.
It's Guy's money,' was Berry's proud reply.
Has he had a hundred pounds left him ?'
'No,' said Guy, 'but I've got two hundred and fifty-two
'He had a gold pound and a shilling, and we thought we
A Puzzling Pair
would like it in pennies best, so we've been to the shop to get
'You see,' said Guy, sitting down on an old milestone by
the road to rest himself, I was afraid of losing it. I was
playing with it in bed this morning, when it rolled along the
floor, and nearly went down a mouse hole.'
And where will you keep all these pennies ?'
'We're going to hide them somewhere. We sha'n't tell any
one, but it will be a kind of game, and then whenever we want
some money we shall dig it up.'
Mr. Grant smiled. 'Do some good with it, my boy,' he
said; 'if you belong to God, your money belongs to Him, and
He will expect you to make some one the better for it.'
And then he strode away, leaving Guy thoughtful and ill at
ease. He was very silent all that day. Even digging a hole
in the innermost part of the cave out of reach of the tide did
not brighten him up; and Berry more than once took him to
task for his low spirits.
'What's the matter with you? You look quite cross, just
'I'm thinking,' said Guy; and Berry could get nothing more
out of him.
Early the next morning Guy rose without disturbing his
sister, and crept out of the house down to the beach. He
made his way to the cave, dug up his bag of coppers, and
then turned into the stables, where he brought out his pony,
and riding bare-back, galloped off, money in hand, to the
'Is Mr. Curate at home ?' he asked the old servant breath-
lessly when he got there.
At home? Of course he is,' was the snappish response;
'and in bed with such a h'orful cold that I doubt him h'ever
getting out again. -He is a poor weakly young man with a
c.:'ug.h going night and day, and I said when I first set h'eyes
:.'! him, that he weren't long for this world.'
The Curate's Illness
'But won't he see me ? Do ask him, for it's very special,
indeed it is !
Ah, well, come in; you allays did get your way with the
vicar, and I won't be the one to shut you out.'
A few minutes after, Guy was standing by Mr. Grant's bed-
side, looking with wonder and pity in his brown eyes on the
thin feverish face of the young curate.
'Very glad to see you, my boy. Sit down ; what is it you
Mr. Grant spoke with difficulty, and Guy told him in hushed
tones the object of his visit.
I want to give my money to God, and I don't know how
to do it, so I thought I would bring it to you, and let you do
it for me.'
Mr. Grant smiled. Do you want to give it all to God?'
he asked; 'are you willing to do so ?'
'Yes; that's why I've come this morning. I made up my
mind last night after I went to bed.'
I wonder if you would like to send it to the heathen. Do
you see my missionary box over there ? I hoped once to go
abroad amongst them myself, but that was denied me.'
I don't think I care about the heathen,' said Guy in a dis-
'You want the Lord to come quickly, don't you ?'
'Oh yes, indeed I do.'
'I can't help thinking He might have been here long ago if
we had taken the Gospel to the heathen sooner. He is wait-
ing for souls to be gathered in amongst the heathen. Of that
I feel sure.'
'And will this money help to do that ?'
'Yes, indeed it will.'
'Then I give it all. Do you think He will come quicker
I hope so; I am longing for it.'
Mr. Grant gazed out of the window by him with a wistful
77 7,, I, ,. A rI
A Puzzling Pair
look in his sunken eyes. And Guy smiled contentedly as he
deposited his heavy bag at the bottom of the bed.
'And will you send it to the heathen to-morrow? How
will it help them to know about Jesus, Mr. Curate ?'
'It will help to send a missionary out to them.'
'I'm afraid Berry will be angry with me. I came off with-
out telling her. We were going to have such fun digging the
pennies up. I meant to take Matty down there and let her
find a penny. She would have been pleased; but I shall be
gladder if it may make Jesus come quicker!'
Mr. Grant here had a violent fit of coughing, and old Mrs.
Gates appearing dismissed.Guy at once.
He mounted his pony and rode home, but was reprimanded
severely by his father for coming in so late to breakfast.
'You deserve to have it in the kitchen again; we have just
finished. Where have you been?'
'To see Mr. Curate. He's very ill, father, and the doctor
came to see him twice yesterday.'
'Poor young fellow!' said Mrs. Forrester pityingly; 'he
looks wretchedly delicate. I think I shall go and see if he
has all he wants.'
Mr. Forrester laughed.
'I think you are never so happy as when you are looking
after people's needs. But go by all means, and take him a
little good nourishing food. He always looks half-starved.'
Berry was burning with curiosity to know what had been
her brother's errand; and she was quite as indignant and
aggrieved as Guy had expected.
'Those horrid old heathen, they won't know what to do with
the pennies when they get them. They'll eat them up, I
expect. Matty says they eat everything that comes near them,
even boys and girls '
'Well, I don't know how the money is going,' was Guy's
reply; but God will see about it, for I've given it all to Him,
and Mr. Curate says it may make Jesus come quicker !'
The Curate's Illness
Mrs. Forrester was as good as her word; she not only went
to see Mr. Grant, but took him beef tea and jelly made with
her own hands, and she generally came home in subdued
'I don't believe he will ever get over it,' she said to her
husband; 'he told me his lungs have been affected for some
time past, and I believe he is in a rapid decline. I have met
very few really good people in my life, but he seems to be
living on the threshold of heaven. Poor young fellow, he is
quite alone in the world-an orphan-with no relatives, and
he seems so very grateful for any attention.'
Berry and Guy were greatly concerned about their friend's
illness. They came home from church one Sunday almost
in tears, after trying in vain to understand the rather
lengthy sermon preached by a neighboring clergyman.
And going into the kitchen after their early dinner to help
to prepare for the meeting, they confided their woes to
'No one will be so nice as Mr. Curate; he always looks
into our pew at the end of the sermon, and says something
on purpose for us, and he always tells us something about
Jesus coming again-no one else does.'
'Ay,' said Thomas, shaking his head, 'I went once for to
hear him, but there warn't much depth. He be but a boy,
and how can he hold forth to edification to grey-haired saints
who be on the mountain top?'
'I like his sermons better than yours,' said Berry, a little
saucily; you never tell us about Jesus coming again.'
'And where would you be, you shameless young maid, that
makes a mock of all that be good, if the Lord appeared in
judgment and in wrath ? I tells ye all to repent of your
unrighteousness, and I warns ye to flee from the wrath to
come; but ye stiffen your necks and harden your hearts, and
give but a deaf ear to my exhortations.'
'We don't make our necks stiff,' was Berry's indignant pro-
A Puzzling Pair
test; 'you said you'had a stiff neck yourself this morning,
Thomas, so there now !'
Berry as usual had the last word, and Thomas turned away
with a sniff and a grunt, knowing it was perfectly useless to
pursue the subject further.
But the children's words had the effect of making him dwell
that afternoon for some considerable time on the Lord's
second coming, and his honest earnest pleading reduced one
poor fisherman's wife to tears.
'A'm not ready,' she sobbed when Dan Cobb, the black-
smith, went up to her afterwards. 'A hath been hearing' a
voice sin the little master yon cometh up to me t'other week,
and asketh a to be putted in his picture "Air ye ready?"
saith he to a, "for the Lord be coming' zurely," an' a had to
shake me head in sorrow, an' a told un a were far from the
kingdom. A hath heard a voice at nights latterly, Sal Blake,
be ye ready?" an' a be clean demented, for 'tis a zign zurely.'
There was soon a little praying circle round her, and Guy
and Berry looked on with great curiosity for some minutes,
then Guy drew his sister gently away out of the kitchen.
It's horrid to stare at her so, Berry; I should hate it. I
wonder she doesn't run away, and tell God about it by herself.
That's what I did; they would make me feel all in a muddle
crowding round me so.'
'Did you sob and cry when you were alone?' asked Berry
with round eyes.
'No; but it's all right, Mr. Curate said I needn't wait till I
'I think,' said Berry thoughtfully, that when I get ready
for Jesus' coming, I should like to be crying in the middle of
a lot of people. It's much grander than doing it alone, when
no one can't see you, and make a fuss over you. I like to be
made a fuss over; and p'raps Thomas would get out his hand-
kerchief, and jump round me, wiping his eyes, like he's doing
to Mrs. Blake.'
The Curate's Illness
Guy looked at his sister in wonder; the feminine weakness
of loving to make a sensation was incomprehensible to him.
And then he said pityingly, You don't understand a bit; why,
you forget every one else but God when you feel so-so bad;
I did. Here comes the people; let's get out of the way.'
But Berry would not. Mrs. Blake was hurrying out, her
handkerchief up to her eyes, when she felt a small hand take
hold of her shawl.
'Do you feel better, Mrs. Blake ?'
'Bless the little maid, a'm a shooken up to pieces, but a'm
'And are you quite ready now for Jesus to come again ?'
Mrs. Blake stood still, and lifted her tear-stained face up to
the twilight sky above. There was something in her shining
eyes that awed Berry.
'A'm trustin',' she repeated quietly; 'an' the good Lord
have promised, an' He won't deceive a.'
Berry slipped away without a word, and was wonderfully
silent for some time afterwards.
M R. GRANT made little real progress, but some days he
seemed to rally wonderfully, and it was on such occa-
sions that Guy would be allowed to go and see him. Very
serious talks were held by the sick bed, and Guy's quick
apprehension of all that he was told, and earnest determina-
tion to carry it out in his daily life, cheered and comforted the
young curate. There was no talk of death between them ; the
second coming was the subject that engrossed their minds and
'Jesus keeps us waiting a long time, doesn't He?' Guy
said one afternoon.
'The great thing is to work for Him; there's so much to do
yet before He comes. Of course, one never knows when it
will be finished. You have your work to do, my boy; see
that you do it. Don't let Him come and find you idle.'
I hardly know what my work is.'
'To be a faithful little servant, to be found doing your
work when He comes.'
'I wish'-Guy hesitated, then went on with a blush of
shame mounting in his cheeks-' I used to say I would never
be a servant. Berry and me like to be master and mistress
best; but I oughtn't to mind being God's servant, ought I?
I suppose it's just doing what God tells me, like a servant.
I'm trying hard; but do you think God would tell me I ought
to preach like Thomas, because I never, never could do that if
I was a hundred years old-I should be so frightened ?'
'I am quite sure God doesn't want you to preach now. I
am writing out, in a big round hand, some things God tells
His little servants to do. I am going to give you a slip of
paper for every day in the year, which I want you to keep in
a box, and take out every morning when you get up. Ask
God to help you to do it in the daytime.'
Guy looked keenly interested in this.
And when are you going to preach again?' he asked.
'God knows; I don't. Perhaps my preaching is done';
and a wistful look came into the young man's eyes as he spoke.
A week later, and Guy was in the sick room again. Mr.
Grant seemed very weak now, and could not talk much, so he
asked Guy to read him a chapter.
'Our chapter-may I?' said Guy eagerly. 'I can read it
quite nicely now. Motherkin says Berry and I are getting on
fast with our lessons.'
The twenty-fourth chapter of St. Matthew was read through,
and then Mr. Grant asked for the last chapter of Revelation.
I think,' he said feebly, 'that perhaps the Master is going
to call me home before He comes again to this earth.'
As the boy ceased reading, he leant forward eagerly, a
strange, bright light in his eyes, and a radiant smile upon his
lips. With uplifted hand he gasped,-
'He is coming! I see Him Even so come, Lord Jesus !'
With a crash the Bible slipped from Guy's hand upon the
floor, and Guy himself, starting to his feet, trembled with
excitement, as his gaze followed the curate's. He was per-
fectly convinced that the supreme moment had come, and
that now both he and Mr. Grant would be caught up to meet
A Puzzling Pair
the Lord. The last gleam of the setting sun stole in at the
- casement window, and lighted upon the dying man's face.
For a moment there was breathless silence, and then with a
slight gasping sigh the curate sank back on his pillow. Good
old Mrs. Gates coming in at that instant, was puzzled at the
child's rapt attitude, as he stood with upward wondering
glance, but her attention was claimed at once by.the still face
on the pillow.
'Master Guy, go out of the room. I saw the doctor riding
by. Call him in, though 'tis too late, I know.'
Guy came back to earth with a quick revulsion of feeling,
and there was bitter disappointment in his tone as he said,-
'It isn't Him, after all Is Mr. Grant worse ? He sat up
in bed and said he saw Jesus coming. I expect he's dreffully
disappointed at making such a mistake.'
Then Mrs. Gates put her apron to her eyes.
'Not he, little master. Of course he saw the Lord, for He
came to fetch him home.'
Awed, bewildered, and a little frightened, after one look at
that white still face, Guy fled from the room, and half an hour
after surprised his stepmother by rushing in upon her, as she
sat knitting some stockings for Berry by the fire in the morning-
room. Flinging himself upon her lap, he burst into tears; and
this was such an unusual occurrence that Mrs. Forrester,
putting her knitting down, gathered the little figure in her
arms and tried to soothe him with gentle words and caresses.
'I did think Jesus was really coming, motherkin. Mr.
Curate said he saw Him, and He did come, Mrs. Gates said,
only I didn't see Him. He came for Mr. Curate. How I
wish He had let me see Him Oh, I wish He would come
for me !' This was sobbed out presently, and Mrs. Forrester
asked at once,-
'Is Mr. Grant worse, Guy? What has happened?'
'I don't quite know, but I think he is dead. He fell back
in bed after he saw Jesus, and he didn't move or speak.'
'You poor little creature, who was there with you ?'
'Mrs. Gates came in.'
Guy sobbed on; his little frame was quite overwrought, and
Mrs. Forrester kept him in her arms till he was quieter.
An hour later, quite exhausted, he lay in a heavy slumber on
the couch, when his father entered the room. Mrs. Forrester
explained what had happened, adding,-
'I have been out into the kitchen, and Matty has already
heard that Mr. Grant is dead. It must have been a terrible
experience to poor little Guy. He was quite alone with him
when it took place. I had no idea the end was so near, or I
would not have allowed him to visit him.'
'He will have to meet death sooner or later,' said Mr.
Forrester thoughtfully, as he looked down upon his sleeping
boy. 'I never could understand the infatuation the children
had for that poor young fellow. He was quite an enthusiast.'
Mrs. Forrester did not answer her husband for a moment.
She, besides Guy, had been learning lessons at that sick bed.
'I think, dear, he knew he had not long to live, and that
made him more in earnest. He felt the reality of what he
preached, I know. And I think Guy will be the better for
having been so much with him.'
Guy stirred and woke, and for a moment seemed quite
Well, my boy,' said his father, sitting down and taking him
on his knee, you've been through rather a trying time to-day.
Now you must forget all about it. And don't fret about your
friend. If he could speak, he would tell you he is better off.'
Guy looked up at his father with grave, sorrowful eyes.
'I'm not sorry about Mr. Curate,' he said with a little shake
of his head; 'I'm only so fearfully sorry that Jesus was
actually in the room, and I-I never saw Him.'
There was a large gathering at the young curate's funeral.
Guy and Berry had begged so hard to attend that their step-
mother had taken them.
A Puzzling Pair
'We always go to all the funerals with Matty,' said Berry,
'and hold handkerchiefs over our eyes, and I'll promise to be
very good, and not look out at the corners of mine at all.'
Coming home from it, Guy said reflectively,-
'If Jesus doesn't come down in the sky very soon, do you
think I might ask Him to come and fetch me quietly, like He
did Mr. Curate?'
'That would be dying,' said Berry, looking at her brother
with big eyes. I don't like too many funerals, so don't die
yet, Guy. Besides, who would paint all the pictures you are
going to when you grow up? I couldn't '
'No,' said Mrs. Forrester smiling; we want you here, Guy.
I want you to take care of your father and me when we are
old, and work for us. You must try to live to be of some
use in the world.'
Guy straightened himself, and held his head erect.
'I will, motherkin. I will be a great man when I grow up,
and I'll be a "faithful and wise servant.'
'No, you'll be the master then,' corrected Berry.
'I shall always be God's servant,' was Guy's earnest reply.
'Mr. Curate told me the greatest king on earth ought to be a
servant of God; but p'raps Jesus will come down before I
grow up-I hope He will, and I think Mr. Curate will ask
Him to, because he knows how we're looking out for it.'
Some days after this, Mrs. Forrester told the children that
she had received a letter from Miss Marchmount asking her
to allow them to pay her a little visit. 'Your father and I
have been talking over it, and we think we will let you go, for
we hope to have workmen in the house soon, and the fewer
there are here the better.'
Mrs. Forrester did not add that her husband thought the
change of scene would be beneficial to Guy, who had been
unusually quiet since Mr. Grant's death.
'I do not want him to grow up a visionary enthusiast,' he
had said, 'he is too religious for a child, his thoughts always
seem occupied with heaven. Thomas informed me yesterday
that he had not been in any scrape for a week !'
Of course the twins were wild with delight at the prospect
in front of them. They could talk of nothing else, and as they
had never been beyond the town six miles off, or in a train at
all, it was indeed an event to them. Mrs. Forrester busied
herself in getting their clothes tidy, and Berry was delighted at
seeing a pretty pale blue evening frock being made for her by
her stepmother's skilful fingers.
There was much talk and advice in the kitchen, and the
evening before their departure Berry and Guy had a parting
meal with Thomas and Matty.
''Tis going out into the wicked world for ye,' said Matty,
shaking her head, 'and ye're too small to be sent visiting ; 'tis
a pity. Who there be to look after ye I dunna know! '
'Father is going to take us there, and we don't want any
one to look after us,' said Guy sturdily.
'An' to such a poor misguided leddy as Miss Marchmount !'
groaned Thomas. 'Why, 'twas she that telled her maid to
coom down and stop the "screechin' and hollerin"' in the
kitchen, and that our Sabbath singin'! Ye'll be led astray like
foolish sheep, an' our training' will be destroyed for evermore !'
'Yes,' said Berry, her eyes dancing with mischief, 'we're
going to be in the middle of the wicked world at last, and
Guy and I will eat jam tarts and plum cake all day, and drive
in a gold coach, and go to parties every night, and I'm going
to shops all day long. P'raps we shan't never come home
again. I will marry a fairy prince who will take me to his
castle, and Guy will paint pictures for the Queen, and will
always go about with a bag of money and a blue velvet cloak
and golden shoes.'
We're going to stay in the cloisters close to the Queen's
castle,' put in Guy breathlessly, 'and we shall see her in her
carriage. Miss Marchmount told me all about her.'
"Tis a popish house ye be a-goin' to, an' I've me very grave
A Puzzling Pair
doots as to what ye'll be wanted there for. 'Tis cloisters, an'
monks, an' convents for nuns that burnt our fathers at the
stake, an' maybe 'tis for making' ye into Jesuits that Miss
Marchmount be a-tryin' after.'
But none of Thomas's and Matty's doubts and fears could
damp the children's spirits. Now and then slight qualms of
shyness would come over Guy.
'I hope there won't be crowds of strange people at Miss
Marchmount's,' he confided to his sister on their way upstairs
to bed that night; 'it makes me feel so uncomfortable.'
'You can always hide behind me,' replied Berry as uncon-
cernedly as possible.
They were at the top of the stairs as they spoke, and Guy
suddenly turned to his sister with sparkling eyes,-
'Berry, we've forgotten to wish Taffyraggy good-bye !'
'We shall have to go now,' whispered Berry excitedly; 'he
will pine away and die if he thinks we've left off visiting him.
And we shan't have no time in the morning.'
'Come on, then, and we'll tell him we'll try and get his par-
don from the Queen, and bring it back with us. How pleased
he will be !'
Together they stole along the dimly-lighted passage that led
to the west wing of the house. The darkness and loneliness
only made it the more exciting, and when they care to the
door, and Guy in a muffled voice began carrying on a con-
versation through the keyhole with the imaginary tenant,
Berry more than half believed their play was real.
'Ask him if he is hungry !' she whispered.
'He says we haven't been near him sincelast week, and he
has had to eat the rats and mice.'
Berry shivered. 'How very nasty of him, and very cruel!
How did he catch them ? '
He says he hooked them out of their holes with his walk-
Berry was about to make a suggestion, when a slight scream
made them start, and turning hastily round they saw their
stepmother peering down the passage, candle in hand.
'Oh, children, how you frightened me !' she exclaimed. 'What
are you doing here ? I thought you were on your way to bed.'
Yes, so we are,' said Guy slowly; we were just wishing a
friend of ours good-bye, that's all.'
'A friend! What do you mean? I thought your father
did not like you to go near the west wing.'
He doesn't mind us being in the passage-it's only a make-
belief, motherkin,' and making a little spring up to her, Berry
added coaxingly, 'Just carry me to bed, do; you have such
Mrs. Forrester took her up at once. The twins occupied a
large place in her heart, though she was continually finding
out how little she knew or understood them.
'I don't know what I shall do without you both,' she said a
little time later, as she sat by their bedsides; but I hope you
will both try to be very good while you are away. I don't like
giving you a lot of advice, but you know when you ought to
say "Please" and "Thank you"; and be always ready to open
the door and shut it for grown-up people, wait on them, and
offer to run messages.'
'That's like servants,' put in Berry; 'I shall let Guy do
that, he's a kind of double servant now. Thoma found out a
verse in the Bible about him that said he was just the same as
a servant if he was a son and heir; and now he says he is one
of God's servants, so he must do all the messages for every-
body. And when he has done all the grown-up peoples'
messages he can do some for me !'
I'll never do your messages,' put in Guy hotly.
'Hush, hush! don't begin to quarrel. You must get to
sleep as fast as you can, for you willhave a tiring journey to-
And giving them a kiss each, Mrs. Forrester left them to
the sweet unbroken slumbers of childhood.
IN A STRANGE PLACE
SUCH an eventful day it was First the early breakfast in
the dim daylight; the impressive leave-takings of the old
servants; the long drive into the town with their father, and the
arrival at the big railway station The journey was certainly
the most exciting part of it all, and the twins' tongues never
ceased talking-there were so many questions to be asked, so
many exclamations of delight and bewilderment to be made.
But as the day wore on they grew quieter, and when they at
last reached their destination, it was a very sleepy little couple
that Mr. Forrester lifted out of the train and put into a cab
The children roused themselves during the short drive from
the station, and admired the twinkling lights high up on the
'Is this where the Queen lives, in the street opposite the
shops?' asked Berry, with disappointment in her face. I
thought a castle was on the top of a mountain generally; it is
in our picture-books.'
How jolly the shops look it must be lovely to live right
opposite them,' observed Guy, flattening his nose against the
In a Strange Place
When the fly turned through a stone archway, guarded by
soldiers, and finally came to a standstill before a dark entry in
what the twins thought was a church, they took hold of each
other's hands and stepped out in great awe and bewilder-
ment, and followed their father along the old cloisters almost
But when a few minutes after they were ushered in to all
the light and warmth of Miss Marchmount's home; when they
followed their father up a winding staircase into a softly-
carpeted, luxuriously-furnished drawing-room, filled with hot
house plants, their spirits rose, and they greeted the old lady
with effusive affection.
Their father did not stay very long; he was on his way to
London, and the twins were so tired that in spite of the
novelty and strangeness of their surroundings, they were quite
willing to go to bed after their tea.
Guy was delighted at having a tiny room all to himself, and
Berry, who slept with Miss Marchmount's maid, was in his room
in her little dressing-gown at seven o'clock the next morning.
'Guy, are you awake?'
'Of course I am,' said Guy, sitting up in bed; 'I've been
looking at my command for the day.'
He alluded to his packet of slips of paper that Mr. Grant
had given him just before he died. Each slip contained a
short text, and Guy kept them in a little wooden box, taking
one out each morning in the most methodical way.
What is it this morning ?' asked Berry.
"Praise Him, all ye servants of the Lord."'
'That means sing and be happy, doesn't it ?'
'Yes, I s'pose so. I've been singing already that hymn
Thomas is so fond of having-" I love Jesus, Hallelujah "'
'Oh, well-even if I'm not a servant I can sing and be
happy. So I'll help you with that text to-day. Fancy that
lazy old Beaton is fast asleep I told her just now I was sure
it was time to get up, and she said she had half an hour more,
A Puzzling Pair
and rolled herself up in the clothes, and is snoring as loud as
Thomas. You make haste and dress, Guy, and we'll go and
look into all the rooms. I didn't see half the house last night.
Didn't you like the dining-room ? It was like church with the
painted windows, and the floor is so jolly and slippery. We
can have some splendid slides before breakfast if you're quick!'
She left him, and astonished Beaton when that worthy
roused herself, by the expedition with which she had made her
Have I had my bath? 0' course I have, I always have a
cold bath, and no one never helps me. Why, before mother-
kin came, Guy and I always dressed ourselves. She some-
times calls me into her room and brushes my hair, but that's
only because she likes doing it. Do ypu dress Miss March-
'I always go to her at eight o'clock. Breakfast is not till
half-past nine, so mind you and your brother don't get into
mischief. We aren't accustomed to children here, and the
master is very fidgety.'
Very shortly after, the twins were creeping through the old-
fashioned house, putting their little heads into every door and
corner. They finally settled down in the dining-room and
watched the preparations for breakfast with great interest. It
was a beautiful old room, panelled in oak with a wonderful
carved chimney-piece, and stained-glass windows which greatly
took the children's fancy.
I shall have pictures in all my windows when I grow up,'
said Berry, 'and you will have to paint them, Guy.'
I'm going to draw a picture of the Queen in her castle,' put
in Guy dreamily; 'I shall do a lot of pictures while I am here,
and I must get some more people to put in my big picture.'
Yes, everybody here must be quite ready for Jesus to come
again; Beaton told me people always went to church twice a
day here, and this house is all a part of the church,' she said.
'I feel very good; don't you, Berry ?'
In a Strange Place
Berry drew her small foot across the beeswaxed floor.
'No,' she said; 'I'm going to have a good slide. Come
on, Guy !'
For a moment or two Guy resisted the temptation; but
when he saw his sister deliberately roll back the rug and spin
along the boards with delightful rapidity, he joined her, and
the sliding proved so exciting, that when the door quietly
opened, the sedate old butler carrying a tray of cups and
saucers was unnoticed, and Berry shot into his arms, causing
the downfall of herself and the tray, and a general destruction
of all the china.
The butler, Graves by name, muttered an imprecation, and
the twins came to a standstill, aghast at the accident.
This all comes of the mistress bringing children here; she
must be in her dotage !' grumbled the old servant, as down on
his knees he went to collect the fragments.
Berry was rubbing her elbows and knees dolefully, and Guy
eagerly picking up the broken china, when Canon Marchmount
entered the room. He was a small grey-haired man, with very
shaggy eyebrows and piercing dark eyes. The twins had not
seen him before, as he was dining out when they arrived.
Naturally he was very vexed; but Graves received the scolding,
and this Berry could not stand.
'It's my fault,' she said, looking up frankly into the canon's
face; 'I was sliding, and I tumbled against the tray and
knocked it down. Guy and me are very sorry; if the cups
don't cost a lot of money, we will buy you some others instead.
If we break anything at home, Matty always takes the first
pennies we get to pay for it I'
Canon Marchmount looked at the children rather grimly.
'If my sister asks you here, she ought to provide you a
nursery; take a seat against the wall there until she comes
down, and she will know how to manage you. Graves, where
is The Times?'
Berry and Guy clambered upon two very stately oak chairs
A Puzzling Pair
against the wall, and regarded the canon with perplexed and
curious eyes. He was soon engrossed with the paper, and it
was not till Miss Marchmount entered the room that the twins
found their voices again.
The canon's tone was somewhat querulous as he informed
his sister of what had happened, but she did not seem at all
disturbed about it.
'Never mind, Charles; we are getting into such a groove
here that they will wake us up. Come along to breakfast,
chicks, and keep your sliding for out of doors.'
Guy and Berry gladly obeyed; and being somewhat awed by
their new surroundings, were unusually silent during the meal.
After breakfast came prayers, and then Miss Marchmount
took the children off to her room. They were charmed with
everything they saw.
You've got your rooms so full of things,' quoth Guy; 'it
looks like a shop.'
But it's very comfable,' put in Berry.
'I am wondering now I have got you here how I can em-
ploy you,' said Miss Marchmount, a little frown between her
eyes. You see, I am a very busy person, and have a large
correspondence. I am generally writing letters all the morn-
ing, and I don't think I could stand you fidgeting round here.
In the afternoon I take a short walk, and you shall come with
me, and then while I rest afterwards you shall amuse me by
your talk, but for the rest of the day you must amuse your-
selves. Only I do implore you to keep out of mischief, and
don't annoy my brother. He doesn't understand children.'
'We know how to amuse ourselves,' Guy broke in eagerly;
'we always do at home, and I want to draw a lot of pictures.'
'Yes, and we'll go out for a walk now,' asserted Berry,
'there's lots to be seen, and I'm going to look into every shop
window in the town.'
'I'm going to look into every castle.window till I see the
Queen,' Guy said, 'and when I see her I'll draw her picture.'
In a Strange Place
'Well, go along, and don't be late for lunch. Half-past
one, sharp !'
Miss Marchmount turned to her writing-desk, and the twins
made themselves scarce till luncheon. A few misgivings
crossed her mind as to the prudence of sending two such
small children out in a strange town alone, but she knew
something of their independent life at home, and was too
easy-going to put herself out on their account. She was
pleased to see them come to the table with well-brushed heads
and clean hands and faces, but they were brimful of eager
interest and curiosity as to all they had seen, and could not
long be silent.
'Please may we talk, Mr. Canon ?' asked Berry breathlessly,
between mouthfuls of hot mutton.
'My name is Marchmount,' said that gentleman austerely;
'if you have any sensible remark to make, I shall be pleased
to hear it.'
We're so sorry for the poor Queen,' continued Berry, per-
fectly unabashed. Are the soldiers afraid she'll run away ?
They keep all the gates, and wouldn't let us in at one of them.
I asked one soldier who put him there, and he said he didn't
know unless it was his sergeant. The Queen is quite shut in,
and they wouldn't let us go near her. But I shall get in some-
how, I will run in very quick when they aren't looking, and I
know they won't be able to catch me !'
You will be shot dead if you do that,' Canon Marchmount
said solemnly, though with a twinkle in his eye. 'The
sentries are placed there to keep off all boys and girls from
the Queen, it is her command.'
Berry's eyes were round with wonder.
Doesn't she like boys and girls ? We wouldn't hurt her or
make a noise.'
Where else did you go this morning?' asked Miss March-
'We went to see the shops, and we got into a big park with
A Puzzling Pair
trees each side, and then we came back and tried to get into
the church next door, but a policeman told us service was
going on. Do you go to church every day, Miss March-
'When I'm well enough I do. My brother always does.'
'I should like to go to church to-day,' Guy observed medi-
tatively, 'because I'll be able to do what my text tells me.
It's rather difficult to do it all day long.'
'What is difficult?' asked Miss Marchmount, who was bent
upon drawing the children out for her brother's benefit.
It's Praise Him, 0 ye servants of the Lord," and as I'm
one of His servants I've got to do it.'
'You shall go to the five o'clock service this afternoon.
Charles, they can go with you if I feel unable for it.'
The canon did not look very pleased at this prospect, but
he said nothing.
'Guy says he will have to draw the Queen without seeing
her,' Berry went on. 'But I tell him he can put her in his
picture, for she's sure to be ready for Jesus when He comes.'
'What picture are you talking about ?' asked Canon March-
mount, a gleam of interest in his eyes.
It's Guy's picture of Jesus coming down from the sky, and
all the people who are ready, going up in the air to meet Him.
It's a beautiful picture, such a big one. If you ask Guy, he'll
show it to you.'
'A wonderful production,' murmured Miss Marchmount.
'You can bring it to my study and show it to me after
luncheon,' said the canon.
Berry looked delighted, but Guy slightly embarrassed. And
shortly after they were both unrolling a great piece of cartridge
paper with much pride and solemnity before the good canon's
puzzled eyes. It was some minutes before he could make
anything of it.
'It's terribly confused,' he said. 'Are those bodies or
flowers or plants ?'
In a Strange Place
'They're people, of course,' said Berry indignantly, 'and
they're all true people-not one make-believe! The ones
coming down are the dead ones, and the Bible ones, and the
ones going up are people still alive and people we know. I
expect your eyes are wrong, like Thomas's, and you want bigger
'I should like to draw you going up,' said Guy modestly,
'if you would let me. I want some more people at the bottom;
there aren't many at home who will let me put them in. They
aren't ready enough, they say, and Berry isn't ready yet-I've
left a place for her, but if she doesn't make haste I shall have
to fill it up, and then she'll be too late.'
Berry shook her head dolefully.
'I do forget it so,' she said, 'but I mean to be ready soon.
Do you think that Jesus will come while we're staying with
you, Mr.-Mr. Marchmount? I s'pose you know it may be
very soon ?'
Canon Marchmount looked at the eager-faced children with
real interest now.
Who has told you about these things ?' he asked.
'Mr. Curate did,' Guy replied gravely, 'he used to preach
sermons about it, and he expected Jesus to come every day.
He did come at last, but He came very quietly, and only Mr.
Curate saw Him. I was in the room myself, and I never saw
Him He just came for Mr. Curate, and He took him up to
heaven. I s'pose Jesus didn't want him to get tired of waiting.
I'm dreffully afraid sometimes I shall get tired. I did expect
He would have come by this time.'
Guy's soft brown eyes were almost tearful as he looked up
at the canon, and the old man took off his gold-rimmed
glasses, wiped them hastily and putting them on again, said
'"Though it tarry, wait for it, because it will surely
Is that a text ?' asked the boy.
A Puzzling Pair
'Yes, and I will give you another, "Blessed is he that
Guy smiled contentedly. 'Mr. Curate told me the servants
mustn't only watch, but wait, but I think waiting is the hardest.'
'Do you really think Jesus might be here to-morrow?'
Berry asked, with a little anxiety in her voice.
I dare not say He will not be,' was the canon's grave reply.
A silence fell on the little party, which Guy presently broke.
'And may I put you in my picture, please?'
'Yes, if you like, though I think your talent is scarcely
sufficiently developed to attempt such elaborate subjects.
Learn to draw a cottage, a fence, an orange, and such-like
objects correctly, and then you may attempt greater things
'But there's nothing Guy can't draw !' remonstrated Berry;
'he can draw everything in the world, can't you, Guy ? '
Guy blushed. 'I s'pose I only draw them in a sort of way,'
he said apologetically.
'Now I must request you to leave me,' said Canon March-
mount; and the twins went off to his sister's room, where, lying
flat on the floor, Guy spent the next two hours in trying to
depict both the Queen in her royal robes and Canon March-
mount in his surplice in his wonderful picture.
Berry gave him her advice, looked at picture-books and
chatted to Miss Marchmount, and so the time passed.