A BIT OF A PICKLE
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A BIT OF A PICKLE. By MARY H. JAY.
THE MINISTER. By L. T. MEADE. Illustrated by G.
ANDREW SERGEANT'S WEDDING. By L. T. MEADE.
Illustrated by G. DEMAIN HAMMOND.
HARD AS A NAIL. By REV. FREDERICK LANGBRIDGE.
Illustrated by THEOPHILA FRIEND.
CHORISTER JIM. By BINGLEY ROEL. Illustrated by
SOWING SUNSHINE. By GRACE STEBBING. Illustrated by
MORE THAN A BROTHER. By REV. JENKIN JONES, Author
of The Welsh Hermit," &c.
RIVETS OF GOLD. By MRS. JOHN BRADSHAW, Author of
"Roger North," "Merevale," &c.
AS GOLD IS TRIED. By HARRIETT BOULTWOOD. Author of
"Just Saved," &c.
KITTY AND HER QUEEN. By Miss ONLY.
FRED WILLIAMS. A Tale for Boys.
UNDER THE APPLE TREE: a Story of Unselfish Love. By
THE STORY OF THE TWO MARGARETS. By EMMA
MARSHALL, Author of Katie's Work," &c.
SCHOOL-BOY DAYS OF EUSTACE LAMBERT. By FRANK
MABEL'S SCHOOLDAYS. By Author of Breaking the Rules."
JOE JASPER'S TROUBLES, and other Stories. By REV. C.
COURTENAY. 12 Illustrations.
THE FLOWER SHOW OF FAIRLY COURT. BytheREV.
JAMES M. RUSSELL, Curate of Abbey Church, Hexham.
THE FALSE KEY, and other Stories. By J. W. KIRTON, LL.D.,
Author of" Buy Your Own Cherries." 12 Illustrations.
A SAILOR'S DARLINGS. By HARRIETT BOULTWOOD, Author
of Cecil Arlington's Quest," &c.
ROGER'S APPRENTICESHIP; or, Five Years of a Boy's Life.
By EMMA MARSHALL.
FAITHFUL IN LITTLE. By MR. F. E. HEAD. Coloured
TWILIGHT VERSES. By MRs. DANIEL TOMKINS, Author of
Hymns for Quiet Hours."
GOSPEL SERMONS FOR CHILDREN. By REV. R. BREWIN,
Author of "Sanctified Humour." Coloured Frontispiece.
THE 'SQUIRE'S HAT, and 6ther Stories. By REV, J. IM.
RUSSELL. 12 Illustrations.
FREE ENGLAND; or, Old Stories of the English Parliament.
By H. E. B.
London: JARROLD & SONS, o1 &' n, Warwick Lane.
A nd of all Booksellers.
To Dickie's delight the pretty creatures are quite tame.
A BIT OF A
MARY H. JAY
Author of The Three-Corner Plot,"
" Under Sunny Skies," "Scattered Memories of Foreign Travel,"
"Tales from the German," etc.
JARROLD & SONS, o1 & ii, WARWICK LANE, E.C.
[All rights reserved]
I. HOLIDAY PLANS 7
II. UNEXPECTED ARRIVALS 15
III. IN A NEW HOME 26
IV. SEASIDE ACQUAINTANCES 40
V. BONNIE TO THE RESCUE 51
VI. THE JOYS AND SORROWS OF A "'C'LECTION 64
VII. HOW DICKIE TRIES GARDENING 75
VIII. ONE LESS IN THE WIDE WORLD 86
IX. ONLY AN OLD CUP AND SAUCER 97
X. DICKIE TRIES THE FROG-STEP o
XI. THE VALUE OF A KITE'S TAIL 120
XII. A MEMORABLE PRESCRIPTION 131
XIII. CHANGES IN THE OLD HOME 143
A BIT OF A PICKLE.
1W, auntie dear, not another figure!
No, not one. It's nearly an hour since
you promised to stop in 'five minutes,'
and there you are still at those horrid accounts."
"My darling, I really must--" implores
"Well, then, I really must," mimics the young
voice. I really must sit down on the arm of your
chair until I have talked you out of this naughty
fit; you disobedient, obstinate old darling!" and
Brenda Carewe perches her slim figure upon auntie's
chair, takes auntie's face between her two hands,
and lays it lovingly upon her own soft shoulder.
" There, that's done. Now you are my prisoner
A BIT OF A PICKLE.
until you close that horrid account book, and
promise to come for a turn round the garden."
But, my child, listen to me for a moment. You
know I must get my accounts straight before we
can settle about your summer dresses, and our trip
to the sea. So do let me- here auntie
struggles, but in vain, to return to her writing.
" Do let me have five minutes more, and I promise
to stop then, whether I've finished or no. So,
bonnie one, leave me in peace, and then we will
take Bradshaw into the garden, and discuss where
we will go for a few weeks of sea-air and
"A few weeks!" repeats Brenda joyfully.
" How lovely! But won't it cost a great deal? "
"I think we can afford it this summer, dear.
We have lived so quietly and economically through-
out the year that we deserve a little change."
"I am sure you need it, Aunt Hester," replies
the young girl, somewhat sadly. "Your face is
much too thin and white. I can't bear to see it,
nor to think how different everything ought to
have been. You a county lady, one of the Drurys
of The Dale, to have to pinch and screw to make
two ends meet!"
"Hush, child! it grieves me when you talk thus.
Did we not agree long ago never to discuss the
HOLIDAY Y PLANS.
matter? Why worry over what is after all neither
a hard lot nor a disgraceful one, when--"
But grandpapa ought to have provided suitably
for you," bursts in Brenda in her warm-hearted,
impulsive fashion. Why didn't he leave you a
proper income, instead of letting everything go to
My dear, I have always been fully persuaded
in my own mind that he did leave me a suitable
income, only as the will was never found, I pre-
ferred living on what fortune was already mine,
rather than make any stir in the matter. And God
has been very good to me; I have had every
comfort and pleasure in my simple life at Forest
End. If I do ever feel a regret now and then, it
is not for myself."
You never do think of yourself," cries the girl.
But I must own," continues auntie, a little
wistfully, "I am sometimes afraid it will seem dull
and monotonous for you. A bright young creature
like you must long for a freer, broader life than I
can give you, my child."
"Why, auntie, I am as happy as the day is long,
except when I think how you have had to worry
and contrive ever since I came to you, a little
motherless, fatherless, troublesome brat only four
years old. And it's only during the last few months
A BIT OF A PICKLE.
that I have been able to help you in any
"And now you help me so much that I shouldn't
know how to get on without you! "
There is a slight pause, then Brenda glances at
the clock, and cries triumphantly,
Time's up, and you haven't done a thing except
talk to me. But that doesn't matter: a promise
is a promise. I'll finish the accounts for you
to-morrow; and now I am going for your hat and
shawl. We shall still be in time to see the sun-
set from the Broad Borders."
So Brenda releases her prisoner; and when the
ladies have gained their favourite seat in the shady
garden, Miss Drury imparts her plans for their
"And I really think we shall be able to stay
three weeks at the sea, for, of course, we shan't
want to be at a very fashionable place, nor in a
I should think not! No place where one needs
smart clothes and lavender kids! That would be
too horrid. No, auntie, let us go to some dear
little out-of-the-way place, with lodgings in a
cottage close to the beach and the cliffs, so that
we can hear the roar of the waves even when we
lie in our beds, and have our little rooms full of
HOLIDAY Y PLANS.
the smell of the sea all day long. Can't we find
a place like that somewhere, auntie? "
"Yes, dear, I think so; and, indeed, I wrote a
week ago to some people I knew very well in
olden days, to see if they could take us in this
"And can they? and ~ivhere is it?"
"They can, and 'it' is a picturesque little fish-
ing village in the Isle of Wight, called Fairview.
Unless it is very much changed indeed, we can be
as unfashionable as we like; you might even go
barefoot if you had a fancy that way, without
exciting any particular remark. So what do you
say? for, of course, I have settled nothing yet."
"Oh, auntie, it sounds charming! What a pity
it's past post-time to-night, but you'll write to-
morrow to secure the rooms ? "
"I am expecting to hear more about them to-
morrow, and then I will certainly write and say we
"Will Sarah go with us? "
Oh, no, nothing would take her to the sea.
Besides, she has an idea that Forest End would
run away if left to itself! So she is going to solace
herself for our absence by having a grand house-
"What a queer idea of a holiday!"
A BIT OF A PICKLE.
"Yes, and I am sorry she won't come with us,
for the change would have done her good, but
as she is quite determined not to go, I must say
it will be a great comfort to me to think she is
taking care of everything during our absence."
"In spite of all her oddities, she is a dear old
soul, and devoted to the family-meaning you,
Aunt Hester. I think she only puts up with me
because I am your niece. Well, I daresay I was
a great plague to her when I first came, and I
believe she still looks upon me as an over-grown
Though you are eighteen, and my right-hand."
"And a whole head taller than either of you,"
laughs Brenda. "Well, never mind, Sarah and I
get on very well; and as long as we can agree
to tyrannize over a certain little lady of our
acquaintance, we shall remain good friends. And
now, auntie, I am going to do a bit of gardening,
before the light quite fades."
The day had been oppressively hot, but sunset
was near at hand now, and a refreshing breeze
was blowing from the great moors which stretched
in soft purple lines around the grey stone cottage
and its gaily blooming flower-beds. "Forest
End" was indeed one of the prettiest, quaintest,
houses in the county. Originally built for a
HO-LIDA Y PLANS.
shooting-box, it had been the favourite home of
Hester Drury's mother, whose delicate lungs could
not stand the damp, cold air of the old family seat,
"The Dale." Thus it had come about that the
greater part of her married life had been spent
at Forest End, the house being, from time to time,
increased and improved to meet the wants of the
growing household. Here, too, Hester Drury had
been born, and into her baby hand had been laid
by her proud, exulting father, the title-deeds of
house and garden-a tiny patrimony enough, but
doubtless intended to be supplemented by-and-bye
with many a broad acre. Yet, strange to say,
when, many years after, gentle Mrs. Drury had
been laid to her last rest, when orphaned Brenda
had been placed under her Aunt Hester's care,
when the only son was serving with his regiment
in India, and the Squire was sleeping by his wife's
side in the moorland churchyard, then, I say, it
turned out that the old man had died intestate.
It is true both Sarah and the coachman asserted
that they had once, when the Squire had been
recovering from severe illness, been called in to
sign some paper, which they thought their master
had explained to them as being his will. But, if
these assertions were correct, where was the will?
Surely so important a document would have been
14 A BIT OF A PICKLE.
carefully preserved! However, no such paper
being found, the property of course passed to the
only son, Captain Norman Drury, and Hester
quietly settled down again at Forest End upon
the slender means which had been her mother's
private fortune, firmly declining that any addition
thereto should be obtained from her brother, who,
in the happy-go-lucky style which characterized
all his pecuniary transactions, had never troubled
to enquire into his sister's circumstances, but took
it for granted that "the good old girl" had been
amply provided for by "the governor's" will.
T is two days later, and nine o'clock on
a lovely August morning. The table
is laid for breakfast, and Sarah, a
withered-up, elderly woman, dressed with old-
fashioned primness, and exquisitely neat, has just
brought in the urn, when Miss Drury comes into
Good-morning, Sarah. Another lovely day.
Have you seen Miss Brenda about yet? "
"No, Miss Hester; and I expect she is still in
her bed, for never a sound have I heard since
I took up the hot water."
"Ah, very likely. The dear child is so excited
about our journey that I daresay she was late in
getting to sleep, and young girls want plenty of
"Then are you going to wait breakfast,
ma'am.?" says Sarah, with an air of decided
A BIT OF A PICKLE.
disapproval. "I'm sure it is not good for you to
be kept fasting."
Oh, it won't hurt me once in a way; and Miss
Brenda is generally so punctual that we must give
her a little freedom now and then."
"Then I'd better take the urn out again,"
grumbles Sarah. "But when I was young, girls who
couldn't be in time for breakfast went without."
"Never mind, Sarah; you spoil me. You must
let me spoil Miss Brenda sometimes. So just keep
breakfast hot for a bit. I'll go and meet the post-
man; then, by the time I return, Miss Brenda is
sure to be ready."
"Well, ma'am, we'll hope so, I'm sure! Not
that I believe in spoiling," she adds, as she pre-
pares to obey.
"What about spoiling?" cries a merry voice,
and a shower of heather bells falls upon Sarah's
cap, for Brenda is standing at the open window,
and, by the roguish look in her dark eyes, has
evidently heard some, if not all, of the conversa-
tion. "If you want somebody to spoil, do spoil
me; I am sure I deserve it. Look here, while
you and Aunt Hester have been calling me lazy
and what not, I've been up and doing all sorts of
amiable things for the last three hours!"
"I believe you've been after nothing better
than beauty dew for your complexion," retorts
"What a cruel insinuation! One would think
I was a mass of freckles. But, never mind, I have
been so good I can afford to forgive you. Look
here, I've picked this basket of strawberries for
breakfast, fed my pigeons, given Bonnie a run,
and brought up the letters from the post-office.
And, auntie dear, do open them quick, for one is
from Fairview, and another has an Indian stamp
and comes from-well, I can't quite make out
where-but it looks like Budgee Wudgee, some-
thing or other."
"Well, dear, you can open the Fairview letter,
while I see about the Indian one; perhaps it's
from your Uncle Norman-it's very like his hand-
There is a short silence, followed by a joyous
exclamation from Brenda.
They can take us in, auntie, as soon as-- "
then her tone changes. "Auntie, darling, what
is it? For Miss Drury is holding her letter with
trembling fingers, and there are tears in her soft
"Is it bad news? Uncle Norman ill perhaps?
Ah, auntie, tell me, that I may help you to bear
it," cries the girl in quick sympathy.
A BIT OF A PICKLE.
"No bad news at all, dear. But something so
sudden and unexpected that I am a little upset.
I am sorry if I frightened you, child, for indeed
there is no cause."
"But you are crying, auntie!"
"Am I, dear? Then surely it is for joy. For
only think, Brenda: this letter is indeed from
your uncle, my dear, dear brother, from whom I
hear so seldom, and whom I've never seen since
he went to India before your grandfather's death."
"I know-and I can't forgive Uncle Norman
for neglecting you so."
"Not neglect, at least, not intentional neglect;
perhaps he has been careless-he was rather care-
less as a boy-but always so affectionate. And
then men are different to women; and what with
moving about with the regiment, and getting
married, and all, he couldn't keep up a brisk
"Well, he might have written more frequently
than he has, at all events," persisted Brenda.
"But all men hate letter-writing, and he
especially detested it; and though, of course, I
should have dearly loved to have heard all about
his life out there, and about his poor young wife
and child, still I never thought he ceased writing
because he ceased caring."
"Well, what is he writing about at last? He
has certainly sent a letter long enough to make
up for some of his shortcomings in that line."
Nearly half of it is about money matters, but
I'll read you the beginning, at all events," and
Hester Drury began.
MY DEAR OLD GIRL,
"Soon after receiving this you may
expect to see a 'chip of the old block' in the
shape of my son and heir, Richard Norman Drury,
as he loves to call himself, but more generally
known at home as Dickie. He is a bit of a pickle,
and I can guarantee you plenty of excitement as
long as he is an inmate of your house, which I
hope will be for some time to come. His poor
mother died nearly two years ago, as I wrote to
you (at least, I meant to do so, but I'm a bad
hand at letters), and it is hard lines for a man
to bring up a little chap like that. Besides, he
is more than seven years old, and this beastly
climate is beginning to tell on him.
"I know you are fond of children, and Dick is
as good as gold with anyone who takes him the
right way. If not, look out for squalls! How-
ever, you'll manage him well enough, I am sure.
So I've put him in charge of one of my officers,
A BIT OF A PICKLE.
a Major Lyle, who is going to England on
business, and I shouldn't wonder if the two turn
up at Forest End very soon after you get this."
"There, that is all about the child," remarks
Miss Drury, as she puts her letter upon the
Brenda looks rather blank.
"What are you going to do, auntie? "
"Do, dear? Why, of course, take the darling
and try and make him happy. Poor little mother-
less child! and obliged to be parted from his
father too! How shall we ever console him, poor
wee Dickie?" Miss Drury lingered over the
name as if it were already growing dear.
"But, auntie, can you bear the noise and worry
of a boy all day long? You who get so weary
of an evening, even after one of our quiet days
together. I declare it is too bad of Uncle Norman
to saddle you with a small boy in this cool
"Too bad! My dear, I have been thinking
ever since I read the letter how much love and
confidence it shows, that he should trust his child
to me! My only fear is lest I should make terrible
blunders in bringing him up. Still, when a duty
is so clear before one, the only thing is to go on
doing one's best from day to day. The highest
help and strength is sure to be given. And now
let us have some breakfast, for there is a great
deal to be done."
Then, as they seated themselves at the table,
the elder lady's eye fell upon the Fairview epistle,
which, in the excitement of the moment, had been
quite forgotten by both of them.
Oh, what does Mrs. Jones say? "
That we can go whenever we like; the rooms
are quite ready. But," Brenda hesitated, "perhaps
we must give it all up now."
"Because of Dickie's coming? Oh, no, that
will not make any difference. Your uncle is pro-
viding funds for the child so long as he lives with
us. But we would have gone anyhow. You
should not have been disappointed, dear."
That point being settled, the next thing was to
hold a council as to how and where the new-
comer was to be domiciled, and after some dis-
cussion it was determined that Dickie should have
a cot bedstead in the tiny dressing-room leading
out of Miss Drury's bedroom.
As soon, therefore, as breakfast was over, Sarah
was summoned, and the important news of the
impending arrivals carefully broken to her. I say
carefully broken, for Sarah, though nominally a
A BIT OF A PICKLE.
servant, had been too long a faithful and valued
member of the little household not to be con-
sidered more as a friend, whose favourable verdict
it was highly desirable to secure, than as a servant
who had merely to receive and carry out orders.
It is true she watched over her mistress' health and
property with dragon-like fidelity, and wished for
nothing better than to spend and be spent in her
service; but, for all that, she could, and often
did, worry her in no slight degree by the defer-
ence which she expected should be paid to her
opinion, and by her resentful opposition to any-
thing in the form of change. No wonder, then,
thaf both Miss Drury and her niece put forth their
utmost powers of diplomacy when introducing
the subject of Dickie's arrival. But the queer-
tempered, warm-hearted old woman received the
news with the utmost graciousness. Colonel Nor-
man's son! why, what so fitting as that the only
child of the head of the family should come to
England, and be brought up amongst the hills
and dales which would one day be his own ?
So she enters eagerly into all the plans for the
child's comfort. By noon the sunny little dress-
ing-room is quite ready for its new occupant; and
while Miss Drury and Brenda nail up a few bright
pictures, and put a variety of finishing touches,
Sarah goes off to prepare the Red Room for the
Thus a flutter of excitement pervades the old
house, and when every possible preparation has
been completed, when every nook and corner has
been made festive with flowers, Brenda still flits
from room to room, and up and down the broad
oak staircase, "for fear anything should have been
forgotten," while Hester Drury, strangely moved
from her wonted calm, wanders into the garden,
and loses herself in a dream of "long, long ago."
She is still pacing up and down, absorbed in
thought, when she feels something gently pulling
her skirt, and hears a clear childish voice asking,
"Are you Aunt Hester? Please do answer
me; I want so much to know."
With a start Hester wakes from her reverie,
and, as she turns, the voice goes on,
Please, are you? Because I remember just
what papa told me. He said, 'Your Aunt Hester
is a good old girl, and you must love her very
much,' and so I will"-here a small brown hand
is held out-" if you are Hester!"
But he has hardly found time to finish the
sentence, for Hester Drury has dropped on her
knees, and is covering the pretty childish face with
A BIT OF A PICKLE.
"Darling," she says, "I am Aunt Hester, and
"I am Richard Norman Drury," says the little
fellow; "and I am to be a very good boy, papa
And this time, when Miss Drury takes him in
her arms, she feels his soft, warm lips meet her
own; for Dickie is very impressionable, and this
gentle, pretty-looking lady is very winning. He
is, moreover, perfectly self-possessed, so he now
takes Miss Drury's hand, and begins dragging her
towards the house.
"Our Major is there, seeing after the boxes
and things," he explains. "But when I saw you
in the garden, I ran through the house, and all
along the grass, and I've been watching you ever
so long. And perhaps we'd better go in now, or
he might be angry, you know," adds Dickie,
evidently a little uneasy.
Indeed we must," replies his aunt, feeling
dreadfully ashamed when she thinks of her strange
guest waiting, may be, still at the door.
But it is not quite so bad as that, for Brenda
had hurried downstairs in time to receive the
deserted Major, though she had not been quick
enough to intercept Dickie's flight.
"What can you think of me, Major Lyle," says
Miss Drury, as she and the child arrive in the
hall, "to let you wait here while Dickie and I
made friends ? "
Nay, I think it is I who ought to apologize,
coming upon you in this unceremonious way. Of
course I ought to have telegraphed directly we
landed, but there was so much to be done, and I
was very anxious to lose no time in placing my
little charge in your hands. You knew we were
coming by the Malay, did you not? "
"I only had my brother's letter to-day, so I am
afraid things are not in such order as I should
have liked. Still, your room is ready, and when
you are rested and refreshed I shall ask you for
some news of my brother."
"I have many messages from the Colonel, but
I must not trespass too much upon your hospi-
tality. I thought of going on by the evening
But Miss Drury will not hear of such a thing,
and gives orders that his portmanteau should be
fetched from the station, and herself instals her
visitor in the Red Room.
IN A NEW HOME.
EANWHILE Dickie has been making
acquaintance with Brenda, who is much
amused by his old-fashioned ways and
quaint remarks; and, as soon as Miss Drury re-
appears, he is taken to see his own little room.
Here they find Sarah busily unpacking a small
trunk. She stops as they all come in, and takes a
long look at the child, her wrinkled face soften-
ing more and more, till, when the bright, hand-
some boy comes up and says, "Are you my papa's
; Sarah? who made sails for his boats, and helped
him 'with his kites?" the old woman stoops to
kiss him, and says,
"It's Master Norman all over again! Just his
eyes and hair, and bold, free way."
"Yes, this is Sarah, Dickie," says Aunt Hester,
Sand you must be very good and obedient to her;
we all love her very much"
IN A NEW HOME.
Dickie looks steadily at the old servant, and
says in his quaint way,
Oh, I know all about Sarah. My papa often
talked to me about her." Then he turns to Sarah
"And will you help me to make a kite, like you
helped my papa? "
Will I, my lamb? of course I will."
"And run with me to fly it? "
"No, no," said Sarah, with a laugh, "that I
can't do. My old limbs are too stiff nowadays."
"Are they?" said Dickie pityingly, "I am so
sorry, but, never mind, perhaps we shall find some-
thing else we can play at together."
At this stage of the conversation Miss Drury
and her niece exchanged glances of satisfaction,
and feel quite sure that for the future Dickie and
Sarah will be firm allies.
That evening, long after Dickie's bright eyes
have been closed in sleep, the two ladies sit out *
in the soft twilight, and hear from Major Lyle
many details concerning the little child who has
so suddenly become an inmate of their quiet
"And do you really mean that it was only this
very morning that you heard he was coming?"
enquires the Major.
A BIT OF A PICKLE.
My brother is not a very good correspondent,
and perhaps some letters have been lost."
Oh, the Colonel is such an absent fellow. He
would be quite capable of writing a letter and
then forgetting to have it posted! Still, it was
rather too bad of him to give you no longer notice
than this about Master Dickie."
"He might be quite sure Forest End would
always be ready for his child," said Miss Drury
fondly. Dear Norman! how sad for him to lose
his wife so early. I never knew her myself, but
I have heard she was very beautiful."
"And as good as she was beautiful," returned
the young man. Poor Colonel Drury was awfully
cut up at her death; and every man in the regi-
ment felt it more or less."
"My poor Norman!" murmured his sister.
"And now to have to give up his boy! "
"Yes, he'll miss little Dickie a good deal; but
for the boy's own sake it was the wisest, indeed
the only thing to be done."
"The climate is so trying ?" enquired Miss Drury.
Yes, indeed, all but fatal to children. Dickie
was looking very pale and thin when we started,
but he picked up a good deal on the voyage."
"He looks rather delicate, I think," said Miss
IN A NE W HOME.
"Delicate! why, auntie dear," cried Brenda, "he
has a colour like a rose, and has been frisking
about ever since he came."
"I don't think you need have any fears about
him," said Major Lyle, in his bright, cheery manner.
" He certainly has his mother's clear complexion,
and is slight and tall for his age, but he has his
father's constitution, I should say, and he is as
hard as nails! Never knew the Colonel have a
day's illness in my life."
"Dickie is a dear little fellow," remarked
Brenda; "he has quite taken us by storm, Major
Lyle. Even our old servant, Sarah, who is not
very fond of children, succumbed to his fascina-
tions at once."
Oh, Sarah' has been a familiar name to .him
for a long time. The Colonel talked so much to
us both about Forest End and The Dale, that you
see even I have the names quite pat,"
Miss Drury flashed a triumphant glance at
"And does my brother ever talk about coming
to England, and settling down at The Dale? "
"Well, no," replied the Major; "I think he
has lived abroad so long now that English habits
would hardly-that is-I mean he has grown too
accustomed to Indian life to really settle down
A BIT OF A PICKLE.
anywhere else, at all events, for a great many
"And so The Dale will remain tenanted by
strangers. What a pity it seems! said Brenda.
"A great, great pity," sighed her aunt; then,
turning to her guest, she added, "I wish we could
have shown you the old place, but it is quite a
day's journey to drive there. So we must leave
it until you can pay us a longer visit."
"I should very much like to see the place, I
assure you; still, I can't fancy anything much
prettier than your own house, Miss Drury."
"I am so glad you like Forest End, Major
Lyle," cried Brenda, "for auntie and I think it is
the loveliest place in the county."
And I think most people would endorse their
verdict, especially if they could have seen Forest
End at this particular moment. The long, low,
grey stone house, with its heavily-mullioned
windows, its high-pitched roof broken into pictur-
esque gables, and its clusters of twisted chimneys,
was shewing to the greatest perfection against
its background of swelling moorland; while, in
the immediate foreground, was a wide stretch of
old-fashioned garden and smooth velvety lawn.
Then, if you looked through the open porch, and
beyond the wide, cool hall into which it led, you
IN A NE W HOME.
caught a glimpse of broad grass walks, bordered
on either side by brilliant masses of flowers,
backed up by luxuriant shrubs-the "Broad
Borders," as they were always called. It was this
vista of mingled greenery and colour which had
so fascinated little Dickie upon his arrival, and
which had therefore been the scene of his first
meeting with Aunt Hester.
The Major took a long look at the fair, peaceful,
home-like picture, then drew a deep breath.
"Ah! what would one not give for such air as
this in our stuffy Indian barracks? A few years
of these breezes will be the making of Master
I only hope he will be happy with us," replied
Miss Drury. "I must confess I am dreading your
departure for him."
"Well, of course, one must expect the child
to be cut up at parting with his old friend, and I
shouldn't like my little godson half so well if I
thought be could be indifferent about it. We
have been sworn friends ever since he was brought
in long clothes-a red-faced morsel of eight weeks
old-to call upon his godpapa." The Major's
eyes grow sad; he remembers the group so well,
and how the fair young mother and the tall, hand-
some father had rejoiced over their firstborn.
A BIT OF A PICKLE.
" And then when the rogue grew big enough to
trot about by himself, he had a great trick of
slipping away from' his Ayah, and coming over to
my quarters. If I was busy writing he knew he
had to be quiet, so he would coil himself upon a
rug, or in the corner of a settee, until I was ready
for a romp."
"But how did he amuse himself? Wasn't he
up to mischief? "
Sometimes," replied the Major, with a sus-
picious twinkle in his brown eyes, "I have known
such a thing happen as my evening boots being
filled with iced-water, or the spurs abstracted from
their place and stuffed into my trouser pockets,
with a variety of surprises of a similar nature. So
that after a time I found it much the wiser plan
to overhaul my entire kit after one of Dickie's
"We shall have to look out for our little posses-
sions now, auntie," cried Brenda. "If he gets
among your china, or my flowers, or last, but by
no means least, Sarah's Sunday caps and bonnets,
there will be a commotion, to say the least of it."
The three laughed merrily, and the Major re-
But, in spite of his tricks, he is so honest and
affectionate one can't be long angry with him;
IN A NE W HOME.
though, I must say, it is trying sometimes to have
to deal with such an ingenious little piece of mis-
chief. I never knew anyone-except an Oriental
-with such clever fingers. Fancy* his actually
picking a watch to pieces! "*
"A watch? "
"Yes, I should never have believed it possible,
if I had not seen it myself. But I assure you that,
coming home after parade one day, I found my
old repeater neatly resolved into its component
parts, lying upon my table; not a spring or wheel
missing, all were sorted into little heaps and tidily
arranged side by side, as if taken to pieces by a
practised hand! Indeed, the rogue had been so
careful over his work that the native jeweller I
called in was able to put the whole together again,
and the old watch goes as well as ever, and I am
wearing it at this moment. So things might have
"All the same, I hope Master Dickie will leave
your watch alone, auntie."
"Well, I fancy I gave him sufficient warning
about watches," laughed the Major. Still I would
not leave valuable things in his way."
"Like father, like son," said Miss Drury.
This was done by a child of six years old, known to
A BIT OF A PICKLE.
" When my brother was a boy, nothing was too
intricate for his clever -fingers, from the knot of
my knitting-ball to the most hopeless tangle of
"Well, we must hope that Dickie's genius will
find as safe an outlet. At all events, Miss Drury,
I have warned you. And 'fore-warned, fore-
armed,' all the world over."
The following day passed all too quickly for
Dickie, who was now beginning to realize he must
soon give up his friend, and who trotted about
all day by the Major's side, like a very shadow.
The parting hour drew near, and Dickie, coiled up
in his usual fashion upon a rug in the Red Room,
watched with swelling heart the final preparations.
He was not a child given to tears, so now he was
struggling manfully not to cry. Yet the lump in
his throat was growing bigger and bigger, his lips
were quivering sadly, and all the winking in the
world seemed useless, for splash! down comes one
great burning drop upon poor Dickie's cold little
hands, just as the Major, having buckled his last
strap, turns to the woeful little figure and lifts it
bodily into his arms.
Dickie, dear little chap, let's have one of our
old talks before I go."
"Oh, take me with you, take me with you, let
IN A NE W HOME.
me go back to papa," cries, the child with a sob.
" Please don't leave me behind-take me, oh, do
"Why, Dickie, my man, do you think I would
leave you at all if I didn't think you would be very
happy here? Not just at first, of course, because
you will miss me and papa; but after a bit you
will like being here, I am sure. You will soon
learn to love your kind aunt and your cousin."
But Dickie was past consolation, and was sob-
bing his heart out upon the Major's shoulder, so
the young man sat down and tried his best to
soothe the sorrowing child. Then he says very
Have you quite forgotten, Dickie, that you are
going to be a soldier?"
Dickie lifts a tear-stained face, and looks
wonderingly at his friend.
Soldiers, you know, before everything must
obey, even if the order seems like to break their
heart, still, it must be carried out. And now,
Dickie, you and I have our orders very clear-very
hard orders for us both; for, Dickie, I shall miss
you very much, my little godson, and you, I know,
will often think of and miss me. Still, we must
part for a time, tnd before I go there is one thing
more I want to say. Never forget that though
A BIT OF A PICKLE.
you are too young to be a soldier under an earthly
captain, you are already a soldier in a great and
mighty Army under an All-wise, All-loving
Captain. You know what I mean. We have
often sung 'Soldiers of Christ' together."
"I remember," says Dickie softly, drawing still
nearer to the Major.
"Well, now, think of all this, and try, so long
as you are in this pretty home, and with these
ladies, who mean to be so kind and loving to you,
to be dutiful and loving in return. And, above
all, Dickie, never, never be mean enough to tell a
lie. If you feel at any time you've done wrong,
and we all do wrong at times, then, Dickie, ask
God to make you truly brave, brave enough to go
at once and tell the truth. And may He bless
you now and evermore, my dear little laddie! "
By this time Dickie's tears have nearly ceased.
"And will you soon come here again? he asks.
"I hope so, for your aunt has asked me to come
as often as I can. So you must work hard in the
meantime to surprise and please me with all sorts
of new things when I do come."
"What sorts of things?"
"Well, reading, writing, and anything else you
get a chance of learning," says the Major, and
Dickie promises from the depths of his childish
IN A NE W HOME.
heart. Then the two go downstairs. There are
farewells in the drawing-room. Major Lyle is
driven away, and Dickie throws himself upon the
ground, and weeps bitterly for his friend.
He is not suffered to lie long thus, for Hester
Drury, knowing how it must be with him now the
Major has departed, is soon at his side; and after
a time the child allows her to lead him into the
house, and bathe his hot head and swollen eyes.
Then, to divert his mind a little, she proposes that
he should go and help Brenda to feed her pigeons,
"after which," adds auntie diplomatically, "we
must introduce you to Bonnie."
"Who is Bonnie ?" asks Dickie.
"A very important person indeed. But you
shall hear all about him and see him too, when
you and Brenda come back."
Dickie, stirred up by this spice of mystery, runs
after Brenda, and may soon be heard trying to
imitate the soft whistle with which she summons
To Dickie's delight, the pretty creatures are
quite tame, and hover close to him and his com-
panion; then, as both stand perfectly still, they
approach nearer and nearer, until one of them
actually pecks at a grain which has fallen on the
child's shoe. Forgetting all his promises to be
A BIT OF A PICKLE.
quiet, the boy utters a shout, and claps his hands.
There is a flutter of soft wings, and in less time
than it takes to tell, Brenda's blue-rocks, nuns,
and pouter-pigeons are soaring and circling over-
"I am so sorry, Cousin Brenda. Are they quite
gone? Will they never come back again? "
"They'll come back again, never fear. And
by-and-bye when they know you as well as they
know me, they'll come and feed out of your hand.
That is, of course, if you stand still. But we won't
wait for them to settle again. Just scatter a little
more grain, and we'll go to auntie, and you shall
By-the-by, where is Bonnie? demands Miss
Drury when they rejoin her in the porch.
"In his usual hiding-place, I expect."
Sulky, I suppose, because we've had a visitor.
Well, we must find him now. So give him a call,
Brenda, and let him know he is to come."
Brenda called three or four times, "Bonnie,
Bonnie, good old doggie," and so forth, till at last
there was a rustle in some distant bushes, and
then a noble Scotch collie came creeping out, with
drooping tail, and deprecating air, as if doubtful
of his reception.
Oh, Bonnie, Bonnie, foolish dog, come here!
IN A NEW HOME.
And, Dickie, do you see how he comes, the very
longest way he can? That is because he is
ashamed of his sulky fit."
But why is he sulky, Aunt Hester? "
Oh, he always is when we have visitors. So
now I shall have to make him understand you are
not a visitor, but someone I love very much. And
if I once put you under his care, he will soon grow
fond of you."
How will you do that, Aunt Hester? "
"I'll show you. Sit down by me; now, Bonnie,
come and lie down here, sir. This is your little
master, and you are to take great care of him."
Bonnie comes up and lays his head upon her
knee, then, obedient to her lifted finger, goes
slowly and lies down at Dickie's feet.
When the ladies return a few minutes later, the
child has slipped from his chair, and with his arm
round the collie's neck, is playing with its silky
ears; while Bonnie surveys his new acquaintance
with wistful amber eyes, and waves a feathery tail
in evident satisfaction.
HE Major being gone, and Dickie fully
established in his new home, and daily
growing more reconciled to the change,
the next thing was to take advantage of the fine
weather and be off to the sea. So, within a week
of the arrival of that eventful Indian letter, Forest
End was left to Sarah's care, while Hester Drury
established her little party in the tiny but ex-
quisitely clean rooms of Rock Cottage. True, it
was but a cottage; the bow-windowed room,
which was dining and drawing-room in one,' could
boast no fine or fashionable furniture; the chairs
and sofa were covered with washed-out chintz;
the one arm-chair could only be termed "easy"
by a great stretch of courtesy; while both carpet
and curtains had long since seen their best days.
But what mattered it when the room was full of
sunshine and pure sea-air, and the bow-window
commanded so glorious a view of sea, and shore,
and cliff? For a while the lodgers at Rock
Cottage seemed to have the little beach all to
themselves, but as the days rolled on another
family arrived in the village. This seemed to
consist, like their own, of a party of three: a tall
lady, a fair little girl, and a good-tempered-look-
ing servant who was generally in attendance, either
pushing a small basket-carriage, in which the child
reclined, or carrying wraps and cushions for her
greater comfort on the beach.
Both Brenda and her aunt, as was natural in a
place where incidents, like visitors, were few and
far between, were brimming over with curiosity
as to the new-comers, and, full of pity for the little
invalid and her anxious-looking mother, were
meditating how to strike up an acquaintance, when
Dickie, in a fashion of his own, cut the Gordian knot.
The boy was delighted with the sea. He never
tired of watching the water as it dashed foaming
against the cliffs, or in calmer mood rippled softly
over the sands. He would amuse himself by the
half-hour together in what he called "racing the.
sea, first chasing the retreating wave, then, as it
turned, letting it chase him.
It never catches me, Brenda," he would
A BIT OF A PICKLE.
exclaim, his eyes dancing with glee; it never
once catches me, though it comes ever so fast!"
Very true, Dickie, and if you would turn round
when the wave comes, as I do, you could run
faster still," cried Brenda, who, in spite of her
eighteen summers, enjoyed the sport almost as
much as Dickie did.
"Ah, but then I couldn't watch it, and it is
such fun to see the big green thing come rolling
and splashing, and seeming as if it wanted so hard
to catch me! I can't turn my back on it."
"All right, Dickie; but one of these fine days
you'll trip over a big stone, or a long bit of sea-
weed, and down you'll go, and the sea will swish
over you and win the race!"
Oh, how jolly that would be!"
"Aunt Hester wouldn't think it at all 'jolly;'
so you must not do it, Dick."
"I won't, a' purpose," said Dickie, somewhat
regretfully; "but if it would only be by accident
it would be just as nice, and Aunt Hester couldn't
be cross, could she? "
You dreadful boy! laughed Brenda. "Well,
only don't have an accident on purpose, if you
please; for that might stop your coming on the
beach except with auntie or me; whereas now, you
know, you often come by yourself."
Dickie promised, and quite meant to keep his
word; yet, for all that, Brenda's prediction came
true, at least, to a certain extent, one fine morning,
when the boy, being alone upon the beach, turned
to his favourite game. He had chased the sea
down to the very water's edge, then, as he saw
the return wave advancing, set off at full speed
in his usual backward fashion. He was just
waving his cap and shouting "Hurrah! when his
foot caught something long and loose, and down
he went! Then, as he turned over on his side
and struggled to rise, he found himself face to
face with a little girl. She had large blue eyes
and long golden curls, and was apparently not
much older than Dickie, whom she was surveying
with half-frightened, half-amused gravity.
"You very funny boy," she exclaimed. "Why
didn't you stop when I called to you? "
Never heard you," replied Dick, who had by
this time regained his legs, and was looking very
dismayed at the havoc he had wrought;. for he
had evidently fallen upon a magnificent sand-
castle, and had reduced it to a mass of ruins.
"I am very sorry to have spoilt your castle,"
he said humbly.
"But why did you run in such a funny way? "
persisted the little girl. "I saw you ever so long
A BIT OF A PICKLE.
before you came here, and asked you to stop
before you reached my castle. But you and the
sea were making such a noise, I expect you never
"Lucky I didn't fall on you, for I couldn't have
mended you, though I can build up your castle
for you again."
"You did fall on a bit of my leg," said the child
"You brave girl, not to cry!" cried Dickie,
shocked but admiring. "Did I hurt you very
"You didn't hurt me; I wish you could," was
the strange reply, while Dickie stares anew at a
child who wished she could be hurt.
Why didn't you get up and run away? Then
I couldn't have fallen over you at all? "
"I can't get up; I can't run, not ever again,"
the child begins bravely; then something in the
contrast between herself and the bright, active
little fellow beside her, touches a sore spot
generally patiently and cheerfully hidden, and
she sobs out, "Oh, if I only could! If I only
could do like other little girls and boys, and run,
and play, and jump, and dance! If I only
Oh, you poor, poor little girl," cries Dickie,
full of sympathy; "can't your mama do some-
thing for you? Can't the doctors cure you? "
"No--no-no," says the poor little one brokenly.
"It's no use-they can't do anything-no one can,
not even mama, nor-nobody- "
But how do you know? Are you quite sure? "
asks Dickie, his pity growing with every moment.
"I heard him tell mama. I didn't mean to
listen, but the door wasn't quite shut when they
were talking about me. I couldn't help hearing."
"And is that why you always go about in your
little carriage, or lie on your cushions on the
"That's why," she answers simply; then, grow-
ing calmer, she adds gratefully, You are a very
kind boy; I like to talk to you. My name is
Violet Murray. Please tell me yours."
"My name is Richard Norman Drury, and I
mean to ask Aunt Hester to let me come and
play with you very often."
Oh, how nice that will be," cries Violet, "for
I do get so tired sometimes, when mama has a
headache, and only Jane comes out with me."
"Is Jane your servant? "
"Yes, and I like her very much; she is so
very kind. But she says she has a bad ankle, and
must bathe it in sea-water, so when we come out
A BIT OF A PICKLE.
I am often left alone a long time. At least, it
seems a long time; but perhaps that is because I
am impatient, though I do try not to be."
"But why doesn't she bathe her foot here,
where you could see and talk to her?" asks
Dickie very naturally.
"I don't quite understand "it either. But Jane
says something about the sea-weeds that ought to
be in the water too, and that they only grow in
some rock-pools a long way beyond that big cliff."
Dickie's eyes follow her pointing hand, and
even as she speaks a female figure comes round the
headland, and, after a few minutes' uncertainty,
turns out to be Jane.
"I have been longer than I thought, Miss
Violet," she begins apologetically.
Oh, never mind, Jane; I have found a friend
on the beach to-day, so the time hasn't seemed
long at all."
I'm very glad, I'm sure, miss," says Jane, much
relieved. She really is very fond of her little
charge, though her ankle does require so much
of that particular and far-distant bathing! "But
I think it's nigh dinner-time, Miss Violet, so will
you let me take you home now ? "
"And may I walk by your side till we come to
our Cottage? asks Dick.
Violet gives a glad assent, and when she has
been lifted into Jane's strong arms, the boy loads
himself with various shawls, and the children con-
tinue their conversation.
"What a darling doggie you have; I've often
seen him on the beach with yoru."
"Yes; he generally comes when Brenda-that's
my cousin-is with me. But when I am alone,
Aunt Hester keeps Bonnie at home."
"Won't he follow you, then?"
"Yes, well enough. But he is a very clever
dog, and understands almost every word you say
to him. So when Aunt Hester wants me back
again, she just sends him to call me in. You
should see how he runs along the beach, ard how
he pulls at me to make me come, when I pretend
"What fun! oh, what fun! That's just what
our sheep-dogs do in Scotland, when they collect
the sheep off the mountains."
"Well, Bonnie is a sheep-dog-a real Scottish
collie. I suppose that's what makes him fetch me
home so cleverly."
"What a queer sheep he must think you! A
sheep in a sailor-suit, and with a red woollen cap
on his head," replies Violet, and this is. such a
brilliant joke that the children are still enjoying
A BIT OF A PICKLE.
it when they reach Rock Cottage, and Bonnie him-
self rushes out to meet them.
After this, acquaintance ripened quickly between
the two families. The seniors would sit together
on the sands, sewing, chatting, or reading; while
the children never wearied of the varied amuse-
ments spread around them. Violet's own powers
being so badly limited-indeed, the child had but
the use of one hand-she could do but little herself
towards the wonderful fabrics her active brain
devised. But Dickie had no greater delight than
in working under her direction, and marvellous
were the sand-castles, the sea-weed gardens, the
piers, and other charming things which this
division of labour effected.
"Do you think your little girl is the better for
her stay here?" asked Miss Drury one day, as the
three ladies sat together.
"Not really any better, I fear. Indeed, some-
times I think we made a mistake in coming south
at all. For we are all north country people, and
the Island is certainly relaxing. Still, Violet has
rather more restful nights, I fancy."
"And that may be the beginning of other
"I fear not," said the mother, lowering her voice,
for the children were, as usual, not far off.
"Indeed, there is no hope of real recovery for
my poor darling. Paralysis set in after the fever,
in which I nearly lost her, and the best London
doctors give me no hope that she will ever recover
the use of her limbs. My poor, poor little Violet,
only nine years old, and a cripple for life."
She does not seem unhappy though," replied
Miss Drury, longing to say something that was
comforting, "and your maid has told me the child
has no pain. That must be some consolation."
"Thank God for that. No, my poor child has
had no pain for months, and is generally wonder-
fully patient and bright, and now lately, since she
has found a playfellow in your little Dickie, she
has been quite merry."
"Dickie is devoted to her," remarked Brenda.
"All children are the better for companions nearly
of their own age."
"I hope you are making a long stay at Fair-
view," added Mrs. Murray, turning to Miss Drury.
"Unfortunately, no. And more than half our
time is over. We leave next week."
How we shall miss you! "
Come north when we do. You think this air
does not suit your child. Why not try a more
bracing place? "
"Oh, do come," said Brenda. "There are some
A BIT OF A PICKLE.
charming farmhouse lodgings to be had quite
near us; and the air from the moors would do
"It does sound very tempting," replied Mrs,
Murray. "If Dr. Silcote sanctions the plan, I
shall certainly try for the lodgings you speak of.
Meanwhile do let us make the most of our time
here. There is an old Roman villa not far from
Fairview which I much want to see. Will you
both join me in a drive there to-morrow? "
"Brenda, I am sure, will enjoy it immensely,
but I will stay at home with Dick."
"Why not come? I am going to leave Vi under
Jane's care; but if you don't like to leave him
behind, we can find room for him in the carriage."
But Miss Drury adhered to her resolution; a
hot drive, and then a long climb to the villa itself
would be quite beyond her strength, while Dickie
would, of course, prefer remaining with his play-
mate, and, in spite of many entreaties, it was so
settled at last.
BONNIE TO THE RESCUE.
HE following afternoon was one of the
most lovely of all the lovely summer
days they had enjoyed since their
arrival at Fairview; and when Mrs. Murray had
seen her child cosily established in her usual nook
by the cliffs, had supplied her with a charming
new story-book, and had laid all sorts of injunc-
tions upon Jane, she and Brenda started for their
drive, while Miss Drury and Dickie went out upon
a shopping expedition into the village. The truth
was that the kind aunt had set her heart upon
a picnic tea for the children, a banquet of which
Dickie was to be host, and Violet and herself the
select and favoured few in the way of visitors.
Imagine, if you can, Dickie turned into the village
shop, with two whole shillings to spend in cakes;
and with what importance he weighed the relative
merits of buns with plums, and buns with seeds,
A BIT OF A PICKLE.
of cakes with peel on the top, of gingerbread, of
biscuits with sugar, and biscuits without!
The shopwoman who served him was certainly
the most good-tempered of her kind, for Dickie,
though extremely polite, was hard to please;
perhaps, though, she had children of her own, and
so knew something of the ways and tastes of little
folks. However that might be, Dickie's two
shillings were expended at last, and Miss Drury,
having collected her purchases, followed the child
out of the shop, while Bonnie brought up the rear,
carrying a small, though seemingly heavy, basket
in his mouth.
You are laden, Dickie," exclaimed his aunt,
as they walked along the village street. Shall
we put some of your parcels into the basket? "
Oh, Auntie Hester, no; it would be too heavy
for him, poor doggie."
"Not a bit. He loves to carry things, and is
very strong. Still, if you'd rather carry them
yourself, do so."
"I'd much rather," said Dickie stoutly, though
in a somewhat muffled tone, for the top parcel of
his pile was held in place by his chin. Have you
bought all you wanted at that funny shop ?"
"Yes, everything except tea. But that I have
at home; and we shall have to go to the cottage
BONNIE TO THE RESCUE.
for it, and a bottle of water. The little kettle to
boil it in is in Bonnie's basket."
And shall we make tea on the beach? "
Of course we shall; that's the best part of the
fun. And you'll have to collect bits of wood and
dry sea-weed to make me a fire."
This was delightful. So delightful, indeed, that
Dickie in his joy was just going to clap his
hands when he remembered his parcels, and
Now, Dickie, here we are at home, and I see
it is only three o'clock-quite an hour too soon
to think of tea. So if you like, put down your
packages on the table, and run off to the sands
with Bonnie. You'll find Violet there, and you
two can amuse yourselves till I come. But not
a word about the picnic. That is our surprise!"
And now let us see what Violet had been about.
Snugly ensconced among her cushions, with a big
plaid wrapped round her helpless feet, and her
new book propped upon a convenient ledge in
the rock, she had passed the first half-hour of her
mother's absence in a luxury of enjoyment. At
length, however, a long-drawn sigh caused the
little reader to look up.
A BIT OF A PICKLE.
"Oh, Jane! what is the matter?"
"Nothing, miss, thank you," said Jane, in the
resigned tone which she had before found effectual
with her little mistress.
"Oh, but there is, I am sure. 'Is it your poor
ankle again? "
"No, miss, at least, it's no use minding it, miss,
"But I do mind-very much," cried the tender-
hearted child. "I am very sorry indeed if you
are in pain, Jane; and I am afraid it has been
dull for you while I have been reading to myself.
It is such a lovely story. Shall I read it to you
"You're very kind, Miss Violet," said Jane, still
in her plaintive manner; but the pain is that bad
I couldn't attend to no stories. No, not the most
beautiful as ever was."
"Poor Jane! Can't you do anything for it? "
"There's only one thing as is ever of the very
leastest use, miss, and that do draw the pain out
wonderful. But there-it's no good thinking of
it to-day! So never you mind, Miss Violet; just
go on with the book as you likes so much. What
can't be cured must be endured," wound up Jane
"I wish I were as brave as you," said Violet.
BONNIE TO THE RESCUE.
" But why shouldn't you bathe your foot as you've
so often done before? "
"Not often, miss; may be once in a way."
"Well, perhaps not often, but still do go now. I
shall be quite safe, and happy too, with my new book.
"Oh, no, miss. I couldn't nohow, seeing as
how I promised your mama faithful not to leave
you alone. Nothing could make me go back from
But it wouldn't be, Jane, if I asked you to go
-just to please me, you know. For I would tell
mama all about it: what pain you had, and how
I begged you to go. Besides, you wouldn't be
long, and Miss Drury said she would bring Dickie
to spend the afternoon here. So do go, dear Jane."
And Jane, after a little more feeble resistance,
and more than one twinge of conscience, hobbled
up from her seat upon the rocks.
"You're quite sure, Miss Violet dear, you don't
mind being left? "
"Of course I don't."
"Can't I do nothing more for you before I go?
Are your cushions easy? Can you reach all you
"Yes, yes, it's all right, except my shawl has
So Jane re-arranged the shawl, stooped to kiss
A BIT OF A PICKLE.
the lips raised so lovingly to meet her own, and
limped away. Violet watched her until she
vanished round the point which terminated Fair-
view Bay; then, at peace with herself and all her
little world, returned to her interrupted reading,
and was soon once more absorbed in her story-
book. Another half-hour passed away, and save
to turn a leaf, the child had not stirred; then a
tiny crab, bent upon investigation, comes sidling
along the rocky ledge, clambers up the edge of
the book, makes a false step, and lands him-
self upside down upon the very picture Violet is
Much amused, she replaces crabbie upon his
funny little legs, and finds a new interest in watch-
ing his awkward movements, but when he makes
decided efforts to return to a more congenial
sphere, she puts him back upon the rock, shuts
her book, and looks towards the cluster of cottages
which constitute the tiny village., Perhaps, she
thinks, she may see Miss Drury or Dickie coming
towards her resting-place. But no one is in sight,
and at this hour of the afternoon the beach is bare
even of fisher-folk. The men are out with their
boats; the women are working at home; the
children are at school. Violet has it all to her-
self, and she lies listening to the lap-lap-lap
BONNIE TO THE RESCUE. 57
of the tide; at first only with dreamy pleasure,
but by-and-bye with a slight uneasiness, for surely
that lap-lap is much, very much nearer than when
she first began to listen, and each time the ripples
gain more ground.
The tide must be coming in! Oh, if Jane would
only return, or Miss Drury, or someone, or any-
one come, thinks the child, all her sensitive nerves
quivering. The silver tide she has hitherto so
much admired, seems suddenly to have changed
into a cruel, relentless monster, advancing upon
her; very slowly, it is true, but very surely. For
look! the sand within a stone's throw of her feet
is covered by the water! The child can bear no
more. As she has been taught to do at her daily
prayers, she covers iher face reverently with the
only little hand she can move, and prays earnestly
for help in her need. Then she calls aloud, Jane,
Jane, oh, come to me, come to me! "
But the wind blows back the childish voice, and,
perceiving this, she turns her head towards the
village, with the faint hope that Miss Drury or
Dickie may be even now on their way. Again
she shouts, this time for "Dickie, Dickie!" then,
all her slight strength gone, lies back upon her
cushions, and perceives with horror-stricken eyes
that the water has gained her at last!
A BIT OF A PICKLE.
The helpless little creature's heart stands still,
and with a cry of despair she shuts her eyes,
resolved, at all events, not to see those cruel waters
closing in upon her. But the faithful childish
prayer had been heard by Him Who loves little
children, and even now help was on the way. Just
when Violet's last despairing cry had been uttered,
Dickie and Bonnie, in mad race towards the shore,
had come within a few yards of her, and though
Dickie had heard nothing beyond the roar of the
sea, Bonnie, faithful Bonnie was already flying
to the rescue.
"Bonnie, dear Bonnie! you could save me if
you only knew," cried the child, as the dog stooped
to lick her; then, as Dickie also came within
speaking distance, she added, Oh, Dickie, do
come and help me; the water isn't deep yet. But
I am so frightened."
Dickie, who hasn't an atom of fear in his com-
position, splashes boldly through the water to the
little girl's side; but, willing as he is, he is but
a child, and how to get his companion out of her
difficulty he knows not.
What can we do?" he cries, and would rush
off at once for his aunt; but Violet implores him
not to leave her; besides, her quicker wits have
devised a plan.
BONNIE TO THE RESCUE.
Can you tie a good hard knot, Dickie? "
"I should think so indeed."
"Then knot this plaid very tight round my
waist, and make Bonnie pull at the loose ends
under my head. I think then he could drag me
higher up the beach. I am not very heavy, mama
This is done accordingly, Bonnie pulling with
a will, and Dickie guiding him, and doing his best
to avoid the rough shingle which lies about the
upper portion of the shore.
Considering all things, he manages very well;
yet by the time they have all reached the banks
which border the road, and are beyond the highest
tide-mark, the little girl is sadly bruised and
scratched. Nothing of all this does she yet feel;
but when Dickie, throwing himself down beside
her, pants out triumphantly, Oh, Vi, what a good
thing we were in time! Bonnie, you dear, clever
doggie, it was you who saved her," the little girl
thanks good little Dickie over and over again, and
tenderly strokes the collie, but in her childish
heart she knows full well that to neither of these
does she owe her deliverance, but to that great and
holy One Whose loving ear is never closed to the
prayers of His children.
Something of this, in low and reverent tones,
A BIT OF A PICKLE.
as befit such a solemn subject, Violet tells her
friend, and for a time the two sit quietly together.
Then Violet begins to shake and tremble, and to
remember that she is well nigh soaked to the skin.
"I don't mind being left now. And please
would you get someone to carry me home? I am
so wet and cold."
Dickie leaves Bonnie on guard, and rushes back
to the cottage, to burst into his aunt's room with
"Please, Aunt Hessie, do come and fetch her.
She has been nearly drowned quite dead, only
Bonnie and I pulled her out. And she's all wet
"Who is nearly drowned?" cries Miss Drury,
dreadfully frightened; "not little Violet, surely ? "
She's all right now, aunt, only wet and cold."
Miss Drury is perfectly sick with fear, still she
has plenty of .self-command. She goes to the
landlady and orders a bath to be got ready, she
puts a little wine in a flask, then follows Dickie
to the beach, where she takes the shivering child
in her arms, forces some of the wine between her
chattering teeth, and starts homewards with her
Aided by the pitying landlady, Miss Drury soon
divested the child of her dripping garments,
administered a warm bath, and laid the tired,
BONNIE TO THE RESCUE.
patient little creature in her own bed. Here, in
spite of all Violet's asseverations that she was not
at all sleepy, she soon fell into a sound slumber,
from which she woke an hour later much refreshed,
and very pleased to be wrapped up in a warm
flannel dressing-gown of Miss Drury's, and in this
strange guise to be carried into the parlour.
"For we must have our picnic," said Hester,
anxious to divert the child's thoughts, "and as it
is too late to have it out of doors, it shall be a
So Violet was placed upon the chintz-covered
couch, tea was made, and Dickie handed his buns
and biscuits with renewed spirits, feeling it indeed
quite a personal compliment when both his aunt
and Violet declared them delicious.
The bow-window picnic was in full swing when
Mrs. Murray and Brenda returned from their ex-
pedition, and bitterly did the poor mother reproach
herself for having left her darling.
"But I had such confidence in Jane, and she
promised so faithfully not to leave her until you
came. Oh, it will be long indeed before I can
forgive her for this!"
It ws *
It was longer still before Jane forgave herself;
A BIT OF A PICKLE.
and never, though her life was destined to be both
long and useful, did she forget the horror and
remorse which had seized her when at last she had
returned to her post. The child gone, her book
jammed in a cleft of the rock, an air-cushion
floating upon the still advancing tide! All, all
seemed to point to one awful conclusion, and the
guilt of it would lie at her door. With frantic
eagerness the girl had searched every nook and
cranny of the cliffs, then pushed a light skiff out
into the bay (she was a fisherman's daughter), and
rowed backwards and forwards along the coast
until the night fell, and her last hope was gone.
Then she had pulled in to shore, and dragged
herself back to the house. Here, of course, her
anxiety had been at once set at rest-not so her
conscience; and it had been with such a drawn,
haggard face that the girl had appeared before
her mistress, that Mrs. Murray's gentle heart soft-
ened at once. Part of the story she had already
heard from Violet, the remainder was poured out
now between Jane's sobs and tears of mingled
thankfulness and shame.
"And oh, ma'am, I know I don't deserve as you
should keep me after this, for I deceived both you
and the dear little lady. I told her it was my
ankle I wanted to bathe, and please, ma'am, it was
BONNIE TO THE RESCUE. 63
Jim as I wanted to see before 'he sails for
'Mericky.' But indeed, ma'am, now I've told you
true; and if you'll only let me stay, I'll serve you
and dear little missie faithful-indeed I will."
And she kept her word; but Violet never knew
the whole story, nor rightly understood the rapid
cure of Jane's poor foot."
THE JOYS AND SORROWS OF A
H, Violet, how I wish I were as good
as you!" said Dickie one morning
as he and Violet were playing to-
gether. They had made a number of boats, and
were sailing them in a rock pool. "I wish I were
half as good!"
Violet looked up quickly.
"I'm sure you're quite as good as me, at any
"No, I am not; and I don't believe you even
think of the things I do."
Violet's hand stole into his.
"I don't believe you do very bad things: but
tell me all about it," for Dickie had got into the
habit, and a very comfortable one he found it, of
confiding all his small scrapes to his playfellow.
"Well, what first put it in my head was the
JOYS AND SORROWS OF A ELECTIONN.' 65
little crab who looked over your book, you know,
the day when--"
"Yes, yes," cried the child quickly, and shrink-
ing as she always did from any mention of that
"Well, do you know I think baby crabs are the
very funniest things in the world. I got one or
two the other day, and took them to bed with
me, and played with them early next morning.
Such jolly little things, all rough and cold! It
was such fun to be woke up by one of them tick-
ling my face," cried Dick.
"There was nothing wrong in that surely," said
"I thought not. But I suppose grown-ups are
different to us children. For I got five beauties
last night, and a teeny, weeny sea-enemy, and put
them all in Brenda's bed, just under her pillow,
you know, only to let her see what fun it was.
And she didn't like it one bit! She called it a
very nasty trick, and that the sea-enemy was
squeezed to death under her watch (I'm sure I
never thought she wore her watch in bed), and
that the crabbies were walking all over her bed
this morning, and that one of them had tumbled
into her slipper! "
"Poor little crabbie! "
A BIT OF A PICKLE.
"Yes, I was very sorry for the crabbie. But
it wasn't my fault he got trodden on, because, you
see, I didn't put him into the shoe. But Brenda
was so cross, you can't think."
"What did Miss Drury say?"
"Oh, Aunt Hester is never cross, not really
cross, you know; but she said, -as I was such a
thoughtless boy, I must not go in the way of the
crabs this morning. At first she even said I should
stay in till she could come with me."
"That would have been a pity though, on our
very last morning."
"Yes, o' course, so I begged and begged, and at
last Brenda begged too."
"That was very kind of her."
"Wasn't it? but she really is very kind
generally, though she can get so very cross some-
times. Now, Aunt Hessie-well, she is just what
my papa in India called her."
And what's that? asked Vi, much interested.
"A good old girl," quoted Dick solemnly. Then
seeing Violet look quite shocked, he added, "Well
that is what my papa said. He really and truly
did. And he's always right. But, I say, Vi, I
was so busy last night choosing a present for
Sarah, the servant at Forest End. I do feel so
sorry for her, not coming here with us; so I told
JOYS AND SORROWS OFA C'LECTION.' 67
Aunt Hester I wanted to buy her something to
make up a little. And Brenda went with me to
"And what did you get?"
"A splendid thing! A velvet-real velvet pin-
cushion with little shells all round it, and under
the cushion there's a box, and in the box I'm going
to put- Ah, wait till you come to Forest End,
and then you'll see! "
"Do tell me now, Dickie; perhaps we mayn't
come to Forest End at all."
Ah, yes, you will-you must-you must," cried
Dickie excitedly; then he turned to Mrs. Murray,
who was sitting near.
"You will come, won't you? Oh, do, do, do."
"Dear mama, do say 'yes,'" added Violet.
"We must ask Dr. Silcote first, my darling, but
if he agrees, we will certainly go there for the
Dickie cries "Hurrah! and tosses his cap into
the air with such vehemence that he fails to catch
it as it descends, and it tumbles into the pool, and
has to be fished out by the handle of Mrs,
Murray's sunshade. They are still wringing the
water from it and laughing over the catastrophe,
when Bonnie rushes into the midst of the party,
and as Miss Drury can be seen signalling from the
A BIT OF A PICKLE.
cottage door, Dickie knows he is wanted, and goes
back at a run.
By nightfall of the following day the Drury
party are once more at Forest End. And how
delightful it is after all to be at home again! How
bright and peaceful is the garden, how daintily
fresh and clean the house, and how delighted old
Sarah is to see them back! As to Dickie, his
first act had been such a vehement embrace as to
take the starch quite out of her snowy apron, and
to utterly ruin her best cap. But the loyal old
soul is far too happy herself to check his affection-
ate caresses; and her face fairly shines with satis-
faction as she sees "the family" once more sitting
round the board she has spread so sumptuously.
The travellers are hungry, and do full justice to
her dainties; then the moment the meal is over
Dickie jumps up.
Oh, auntie, please give me that, you know
what-that I bought for--" Here he nods
significantly at Sarah.
"Oh, Dickie, not to-night," says Brenda, glancing
at Miss Drury's tired face. "Do wait till morning."
But Dickie's crestfallen look is hard to resist,
and auntie rises for her keys; so Brenda good-
temperedly unpacks the trunk herself, and hands
over the important package to hel little cousin.
JOYS AND SORROWS OFA C'LECTION.' 69
"Here you are, you tiresome boy," she says, as
she stoops to kiss him. "But what have you got
in the parcel? Ugh, what a filthy smell! "
"That's my c'lection inside," says Dickie
proudly; "my c'lection what I got to make up
to poor Sarah for staying at home."
"Well, take it by all means, and the further off
Dickie dashes to the kitchen.
Sarah, Sarah! here's a present for you."
"T'o think of that now," murmurs the gratified
old servant. "Just like his father, bless him, so
open-handed and generous-like. Deary me, why
did you spend your money on an old woman like
"Undo it quick; there's lots of things inside."
So Sarah takes off various papers, and unties
various strings, until the velvet pin-cushion is
revealed in all its loveliness.
"You see," explains Dickie, "I chose a red one
to match the ribbon on your Sunday cap, and I
thought you wouldn't mind the words inside. It's
put there, 'A present for a good little Girl.' You
don't mind, do you, Sarah?"
Mind, my pretty? I should think not indeed."
"I thought you wouldn't, because, of course, you
were a little girl once."
A BIT OF A PICKLE.
"True enough, and long enough ago too,"
"And you do like it, Sarah? "
But Sarah's answer was such a hug as left no
doubt upon the point even in Dickie's mind.
"Well, now, Sarah, there's something else," and
he lifted out a rather damp and extremely evil-
smelling parcel. This, Sarah, is the c'lection I
made for you. Open it your own self, and I'll tell
you the names of the things."
So the parcel was opened. But alas! jelly-fish,
sea-anemones, small crabs, shrimps, and sand-
hoppers do not, like wine, improve with keeping,
and neither Sarah's wish to make the best of
things, nor Dickie's own enthusiasm, could dis-
guise the fact that the c'lection" was a failure.
"I'm afraid we can't keep them, they do smell
so, Master Dickie. I'm very sorry, for I'm sure
you've had lots of trouble to get them. But as
to the box-cushion, it is the greatest beauty I ever
did see, and I shall put it in a drawer with the
blue brooch your pa bought me at the fair, and
keep it safe, my dear."
The summer outing over, and everything un-
packed and put in place, the little party settled
back into their ordinary quiet home life, while
Miss Drury hunted up some early school books
JO YS AND SORROWS OF A 'C'LECTION,' 7
of her brother's, and taught Dickie diligently two
or three hours every morning. As a rule, the child
was very good at his lessons, and being naturally
intelligent as well as mindful of his promises to
the Major, he seldom gave his teacher any trouble;
but sometimes a regular naughty fit would come
on. Dickie would scribble all over his slate, dash
his book on the floor, or stare resolutely out of
the window humming a tune-in short, do every-
thing he could think of to exhaust his aunt's
patience. But gentle as Miss Drury was, she was
also very firm; the struggle might be long, but
at last Dickie would have to give in, and then his
penitence was as thorough as the forgiveness he
But upon one bright particular morning in early
autumn Dickie had been on his very best be-
haviour, and quite a long array of marks had been
put down in his mark book, greatly to the boy's
own satisfaction, it may be mentioned, as Dickie
now earned his own pocket-money at the rate of
a farthing for ten marks.
"Why, Dickie, if you go on at this rate, you'll
have quite a little fortune at the end of the week,"
said Miss Drury smiling; and as you have been
so good, you shall hear a charming piece of news
which came this morning."
A BIT OF A PICKLE.
"About Vi and her mama? "
"Yes; they are coming here after all, and will
arrive to-morrow evening."
Dickie's brown eyes sparkled.
"They are coming to this very house? "
"No, they are going to the old farm a little
further on the Moor."
"What that pretty farm where we go to buy
butter sometimes? "
"Yes, that's the place; and to-morrow if you
are as good as you've been to-day, you shall go
with me and take some fresh fruit from our garden."
"Violet is so fond of fruit."
"I know she is. Poor child, I daresay she is
feverish, and that makes her thirsty."
"And may I help to pick it?"
"Certainly, and then you shall pack it in a
basket, and we'll make Bonnie carry it for us."
"What fun! Violet is so fond of Bonnie."
"Well, now, take him for a run round the
garden, and get an appetite for dinner."
"Why, Aunt Hessie, I am always hungry
Well, never mind. Be off now, for I am going
to be very busy."
JO YS AND SORROWS OF A C'LECTION' 73
"I think this is even prettier than Fairview,"
said Violet next evening, as she lay in the
cushioned window seat of the farmhouse parlour.
"But isn't it a queer house-all black and white
stripes," replies Dickie.
"Yes; and when I first caught sight of it to-
day I said to mama it ought to be called 'Zebra
It would be much prettier than its real name.
Any farm might be called Field Head."
"Well, never mind the name, Dickie, for it is
a lovely place, and I'm so glad we came. Is it
far to Forest End?"
Oh dear no, not ten minutes' walk even for
Aunt Hester, and Brenda and I can run over in
half the time."
"Then you'll often come and see me?" cries
Violet joyfully. "How I wish I could come and
So you will, of course. There's a dear little
donkey at our house, and I've heard Aunt Hester
say how easily you could be put into the donkey-
cart and driven about. Taffy can go very quick,
and Brenda and me like the jolting, but you should
go as slow as you like."
"What are you two magpies chattering about?"
says Aunt Hester, coming over to the window;
A BIT OF A PICKLE.
she has been sitting on the other side of the room
with Mrs. Murray and Brenda.
Only about Taffy," explains Dickie.
"And would you like to go driving in the
donkey-cart, Violet? The Costermonger's Cart,
as we generally call it ? "
"Ah! what expeditions we've made in that
costermonger's cart!" chimes in Brenda. Some
of my merriest hours have been spent behind old
Taffy. Don't you be too proud to drive in a
donkey-cart, Vi, or you'll lose heaps of fun."
Oh, I should love to go in your donkey-cart if
I may, Miss Drury," cries Violet eagerly.
"And so you shall, dear," replies the old lady,
stooping to kiss her, and for some time she stays
beside the child, and, in her tender caressing way,
smoothes back the soft golden hair. But as she
does this she is struck by the exceeding delicacy
of the thin face. Surely the child did not look
so ill as this at Fairview? or is it that she is
wearied with travel and excitement?
Whatever it may be, it makes Aunt Hester's
heart ache. It is with some effort she forces a
smile, scolds her own thoughtlessness in keeping
the travellers from their rest; and then, sending
Brenda and Dickie on before her, follows them
HOW DICKIE TRIES GARDENING.
FTER this the costermonger's cart is in
daily requisition, for the seat being re-
moved and plenty of cushions laid in,
Violet can lie as comfortably as on her couch at
home. So Jane leads Taffy, Dickie walks by the
side, and in this fashion they spend many an hour
upon the moors; sometimes hunting for bil-
berries, sometimes gathering bunches of purple
heather, or stately fronds of bracken. Often, too,
the seniors join the expedition, and they picnic
by a clump of firs, or under the shade of a mighty
oak; and when Brenda and Dickie have made a
fire, arranged the tripod, and slung the kettle,
Violet comes in for her share in the performance,
and, as Jane calls it, keeps her eye on the kettle,"
and reports when it boils. Ah! how good every-
thing tastes, eaten thus in the open air, with the
sunlight flickering through the green leaves, the
A BIT OF A PICKLE.
grand breezy moors stretching all round, the clear
blue sky arching overhead, and the very air itself
musical with singing birds and childish laughter.
At such times even Violet's failing appetite
would be tempted by the simple banquet, and her
mother's eyes lose somewhat of their anxious look.
But alas, alas! only for a time; good Miss Drury's
forebodings have been only too true, for the
famous London doctors to whom the child had
lately been taken, not only gave no hope of re-
covery, but declared it barely possible she could
outlast the winter. They feared no return of acute
suffering, only increasing exhaustion and weari-
ness until the end.
This, and more than this, had Mrs. Murray
poured into Hester Drury's sympathizing ear; and
as a rule she had acknowledged the truth of the
doctors' verdict, nay, could but see for herself the
daily decline of the child's slight powers. But a
mother's hope is hard to kill, and any little amend-
ment in appetite or spirits she seized upon with
pathetic eagerness. One did hear of such mar-
vellous recoveries, especially in children. Ah! if
even now her darling might be spared!
It was about this time that Dickie developed a
great passion for gardening. It may be that he
often pulled up flowers mistaking them for weeds;
HOW DICKIE TRIES GARDENING. 77
he certainly watered his own legs a great deal
more than his flower-beds, still he got so much
pleasure out of his attempts that Miss Drury had
not the heart to interfere, though Sarah often
scolded him vigorously.
"I never see such a mess as you make of your-
self," she would say; while Dickie, grubbing on
stolidly, would answer, "What's the good of a
garden if you can't make a mess? Upon which
Sarah would walk off wrathfully, and leave Dickie
to his own devices.
It would, however, have been better for all
parties if Dickie could have confined his operations
to his own especial portion of the garden; but un-
happily one day he happened to overhear his aunt
say to Brenda that pansies (her favourite flowers)
would be perfect if they had a sweet smell; and
Dick's active little brain set to work at once to
remedy the defect.
"It must be a surprise, of course," he thought,
with all a child's love of mystery. For many days
he puzzled and planned; then various ideas sug-
gested themselves and were carried out, after
which Dickie lived in restless anticipation of the
moment which was to fill dear auntie with joy, and
cover him with glory!
Great then was his satisfaction when, one calm,
A BIT OF A PICKLE.
bright evening, he saw Miss Drury strolling gently
up and down the Broad Border, with Sarah at
hand gathering early apples for a tart. Now,
surely, the delightful moment was at hand, when
Aunt Hester would discover her fragrant pansies,
and Sarah's grumblings at his awkwardness in
gardening be for ever silenced! Dickie retired
behind the shelter of some friendly laurels, and
waited the result impatiently. It came at last.
Brenda! Brenda! cries Miss Drury, stopping
near her pansy-bed, do come here, child. What
can it be that smells so very good to-night? "
The musk perhaps, auntie," says Brenda from
the far end of the garden. "You know I planted
a lot this year, and it is always stronger after
No, child, it's not musk, I am quite sure. It's
more like roses than anything else, only there's
scarcely a rose left in the garden."
"How very mysterious," laughs Brenda, and
comes flying up to investigate. Then her dress
catches upon a sweet briar, and as she stoops to
release it, her eye falls upon the pansy-clump.
Oh, auntie," she cries in dismay, "what has
happened to your pansies? They are turning all
sorts of colours, and look quite scorched!"
"Blight, perhaps," says auntie. "How vexing!
HOW DICKIE TRIES GARDENING. 79
They were quite healthy the last time I looked
"It is a pity. Ah! I suppose it is blight after
all, for see here, some of them are quite sticky, and
-Auntie, they smell so strong-I do believe this
is what you've been smelling all the time. Only
I never heard of blight smelling like roses before."
Here Dickie makes a movement to leave his
hiding-place, but Sarah joins the group, and he
draws back again.
Shouldn't wonder if it isn't some of Master
Dickie's triEks. That's no blight, ma'am-anyone
can see that. It's Master Dickie you may be sure.
And downright mischievous of him too," says
Sarah crossly, for she has been proud of her
mistress' pansies, and indeed of the whole garden,
and has greatly resented Dickie's being allowed
so much liberty there. "I never knew such a
mischievous boy as him, never."
Dickie's good resolutions fade at the sound of
that cross voice. He had resolved, when he heard
of the failure of his brilliant schemes, to come
at once and tell Aunt Hester how it had all
happened, and how very, very sorry he was to have
spoilt her cherished flowers. But to be laughed
at by Sarah, to be called mischievous, as if he had
spoilt them on purpose! No, no, that he cannot
A BIT OF A PICKLE.
bear. He slips quietly into the house unseen, for
the shrubberies are thick; and when, just before
bedtime, his aunt finds and questions him, he
mumbles out a denial of the whole affair.
But he is naturally so candid and open that the
lie does not come easily, his stammering, hesita-
ting denial deceives no one, while the child himself
is simply wretched. He is longing to tell the
truth, to say how sorry he is, and to entreat
forgiveness; then he seems to hear Sarah's
grumbling voice, and his good resolutions die out
"Very well, Dickie," says Miss Drury gravely;
"then we'll say no more about it. And now, my
child, good-night-it is past your bedtime."
For one moment she takes his crimson face
between her hands, and looks into it silently, then
kisses his forehead and dismisses him. This is so
different to the usual fond embrace and many
kisses of other nights, that Dickie feels well-nigh
heart-broken, but he hardens himself afresh, and
goes off without a word.
He bears up until Sarah has left the room, and
the last sound of her footfall has died away, then
he buries his face in his pillow and bursts into an
agony of sobs.
How could I do it? I-ow could I do it?" he
HO W DICKIE TRIES GARDENING. 81
cries over and over again. "What would Papa
say if he knew? And my Major too! I promised
him to be brave, and always tell the truth! Oh,
what shall I do? If only Aunt Hester would
come, and I could tell her, and beg her to forgive
But no Aunt Hester came, and after a time
Dickie's tears exhausted themselves, and he fell
asleep; not his usual sound slumber, but a rest-
less doze, with now and then a heavy sigh or a
Nor was Miss Drury much happier than her
little nephew. She sat up late that night, anxiously
reviewing her own conduct towards the bright
winning child who had wound himself so closely
round her heart. How was it, she asked herself,
that she had failed to gain his confidence? Ought
she to have talked longer with him so as to make
the hard path of confession easier to the poor
Tears rose to her eyes as she remembered the
shame-tinged cheeks and down-cast look of the
face generally so frank and open; then, falling
on .her knees, she laid all her doubts and fears
before Him Whose ear is ever open to the prayer
of His servants. Rising with a lightened heart,
she was just preparing to go into the inner room
A BIT OF A PICKLE.
and take a last look at the little sleeper, when the
door was pushed open, and Dickie stood upon the
threshold. For a moment he hesitated, but one
look at the kind face and open arms dispelled all
doubt. With a cry he sprang to Aunt Hester's neck.
"I am so sorry, Aunt Hester, so very sorry, for
I did spoil your flowers, though I said I didn't."
"Never mind the flowers, Dickie; I've hardly
thought of them again,"
Not thought of your beautiful pansies ?"
No, my darling, because-because I was griev-
ing so bitterly over my little Dickie, my precious
child, whom I love better than a world of flowers."
You mean 'cause I told a lie," whispered
Dickie. "But, auntie, I am really and truly sorry
-I am indeed."
"I know you are," replied auntie; "but, my
child, have you asked God to forgive you? Re-
member it is He Whom you have offended, and
it is His forgiveness you must obtain before you
can be happy again. For you have been very
unhappy ever since, haven't you? "
"Oh, so miserruble! sighed Dickie, "for I
have been such a very bad boy. I promised my
Major the very last thing that I would always
speak the truth, and then-- But I couldn't bear
Sarah to laugh at me, and so--"
HOW DICKIE TRIES GARDENING. 83
"And so you forgot Who would have helped
you to be really brave. For one must be very
brave if one is always to be true, Dickie, and that
kind of bravery is grander far than the bravery
of a soldier on the battle-field."
"Why, that's what my Major says when he talks
about the Great Flag."
And he is quite right, my child; so right that
when you forgot it all you forgot to be true, not
only to your promise to him, but to One greater
than he. You know Whom I mean, don't you?"
Dickie answered "Yes" very soberly, and sat
silent for a while; then he lifted his head and
"Auntie, may I tell you how it all was? "
Tell me to-morrow, dear. It is late for little
folks to be out of their beds."
Oh, auntie, do let me tell you; I can't sleep
So Miss Drury, seeing how matters stood, fetched
a big shawl, and having wrapped Dickie well
within its ample folds, took him upon her lap
again, and prepared to hear the whole story.
"You see, auntie, I wanted to surprise you"
(" You certainly succeeded in that," said auntie to
herself), so I thought if the next time you picked
a bunch of your pansies they smelt very sweet,
A BIT OF A PICKLE.
you would be so pleased! So, auntie, I got your
rheumatic vinegar, and Brenda's Kolone, and some
delicious stuff out of your pretty gold and glass
bottle (" My choice Otto of Rose," thought auntie),
" and then I poured them all over your pansies. It
wasn't stealing, Aunt Hessie, was it? because I
didn't take a drop for myself; it all went to make
your beautiful flowers sweet. And all day long I
was thinking how very pleased you'd be with me
for having such a good plan, and that even Sarah
couldn't find fault and say I only spoilt things
when I gardened. Then, too, auntie, I saw you
go walking along the Broad Borders, and I hid
behind the bushes to see your face, and hear what
you said when you found it all out, and then,
auntie, oh, auntie--" Dickie nearly cried again
as he thought of the bitter, bitter disappointment,
and all that had followed it.
And then you found you had made a great
mistake! Poor little laddie, if you had only come
and told me I shouldn't have been angry, dear,
for, after all, you had been trying to give me
"I did mean to tell you, and I moved from the
shrubbery to come to you, and then-and then I
heard what Sarah said," and Dickie stopped.
"I understand it all," said Aunt Hester gently,
IHOW DICKIE TRIES GARDENING. 85
"and after to-night we will never talk of it again.
And as to Sarah, shall I tell you what she did
to-night? She came straight to me after putting
you to bed, and begged me to forgive you. She
could not bear to see you so unhappy."
"Why, I didn't cry when she was in the room,"
said Dickie wonderingly.
Perhaps not; but Sarah's eyes are very quick,
and besides, when we love people, Dickie-and
she is very fond of you-we long to see them good
"I will never call her cross again," said Dickie.
Indeed, you owe her a great deal of affection;
and if at times she speaks a little sharply, or
scolds you for being untidy, or unpunctual, or any-
thing else, you must remember that little folks
can't help giving a great deal of trouble to their
elders, and that, at all events, it is always the
duty of a child to be gentle and obedient. And
now, my darling, before you go back to your bed,
let us ask God to forgive all the sins and mistakes
of the day, and to take us into His holy keeping
to-night and evermore."
ONE LESS IN THE WIDE WORLD.
EARLY a week has elapsed since Dickie's
memorable attempt at scientific (?)
gardening, a week of such wild, stormy
weather that Miss Drury could not venture out,
nor did she think it prudent to let Dickie go
beyond the garden. But Brenda was different:
she had lived on the moors nearly all her young
life, so, rather glorying than not in a tussle with
wind and rain, she had daily equipped herself with
waterproof and umbrella, and had run over to
Field Head for news of the Murrays; while Bonnie
as regularly accompanied her, bearing some little
dainty for Violet. Both Sarah and her mistress
are well skilled in invalid cookery, and most
savoury and nourishing are their various broths
and beef-teas, but Brenda declares her special line
is jelly and sponge cake, and many a dainty speci-
men of her craft does she prepare, hoping to tempt
ONE LESS IN THE WIDE WORLD. 87
the little girl to eat. Thus there has been daily
news of Field Head; still Dickie has been very
disconsolate without his playfellow-at least, he
was until Brenda suggested that he should employ
his leisure in teaching Bonnie some new tricks for
Violet's pleasure when they next met.
Very delighted is he when the blue sky and
bright sun announce a change in the weather, and
Aunt Hester tells him to get ready for a walk.
To see Violet, auntie? "
"Yes, dear; you and I haven't been there for
several days, and I hear Violet is longing for you."
"And now I can show her Bonnie's new trick."
Of course; and Brenda .has been making
something for him to take her."
Dickie ran off eagerly to fetch it.
Oh, Brenda, you good, kind Brenda;" and
really her present is very pretty. A tiny mould
of golden jelly in the shape of a wheatsheaf, and
it just fits into the china bowl which goes in
Bonnie's basket. Dickie fairly dances with delight.
"It is so lovely-the very loveliest you've ever
made her. Vi must like to eat it."
"I am sure I hope she may, poor little thing,"
said Brenda, somewhat sadly. "It's very little she
Dickie, however, did not hear the conclusion
A BIT OF A PICKLE.
of the remark; he had flown off to strap the
basket round Bonnie's neck; then he joins his
aunt and sets off in high spirits.
As for Violet, she has been watching for them
ever since the weather cleared; so now the first
thing Dickie sees as they turn into the garden,
is her wistful face pressed against the latticed
There she is! he cries, "and here is Mrs.
Murray coming to meet us. Bonnie! be quiet, sir;
you'll smash the jelly."
Thus admonished, the collie who had prepared
to give Mrs. Murray a boisterous welcome, con-
tents himself with a great waving of his tail, then,
obedient to Dickie's sign, lies down demurely upon
Mrs. Murray notices these unusual ceremonies,
and enquires whether Bonnie is in disgrace that
he may not come into the sitting-room to-day.
It is only that he is to show off some fresh
accomplishment by-and-bye; and Dickie is master
of the ceremonies," Miss Drury explains.
But, when both she and Dickie, after their
several fashions, have made much of the little
invalid, Dickie runs to the door and calls the dog.
Bonnie appears upon the threshold, and looks
beseechingly towards his master.
ONE LESS IN THE WIDE WORLD. 89
Now, Bonnie, make your bow."
Bonnie moves his head up and down very slowly
Now again, Bonnie."
Bonnie repeats the process.
Good dog, polite dog! Bonnie, smile at the
Bonnie draws back his lips so as to show two
splendid rows of teeth, then bows again.
You dear, clever dog!" cries Violet. Dickie,
do let him come to me now; I want to pat him
for all this."
Bonnie, take your basket to Violet," and the
collie, perfectly understanding this order also, goes
quietly to the child's side, where he is patted and
praised to his heart's content. Then the basket
is unstrapped, and the pretty wheatsheaf duly
admired, after which Bonnie, feeling his responsi-
bilities at an end, plants his fringed paws upon
the side of the couch, and tries hard to lick Violet's
face. But, dearly as she loves him, she has no
fancy for this, and Bonnie has to content himself
with laying his soft, silky head upon her knee, in
which position he watches her with grave but
"It is so nice to have you here again," says
Violet, when the children are left by themselves
A BIT OF A PICKLE.
for a bit. "The days were so long when the rain
kept pouring and pouring. Poor mama had a cold
and could hardly speak, and though Jane was very,
very kind, still she couldn't be like mama or you,
I've been dull too," says Dickie, and I often
wondered what you were doing to amuse yourself."
"I read a good deal when I wasn't tired, but
I am so often tired now," says the child patiently;
"and then the book gets so heavy! But I don't
care a bit now, for you'll come again every day,
won't you? "
': I wanted to come in spite of the storms, only
Aunt Hester was afraid I should get ill."
Ill? cries Violet, looking a little wistfully at
the sturdy handsome boy. "Ill? why, I thought
you were ever so strong."
"And so I am," replies Dickie gaily; "but Aunt
Hester says she must be careful of me, and hopes
the winter won't be cold. But I hope it will, for
it is my first in England, and I do want to see
Your first winter in England ? why, I thought
you were an English boy."
So I am, of course; only I've lived in India
with my papa till now."
And had you to come away and. leave him?
ONE LESS IN THE WIDE WORLD. 9
Oh, Dickie, how sad! But your mama, isn't she
coming to live here too ?"
My mama is gone to Heaven," says Dickie
in the soft, reverent tone in which he always
mentions his dead mother. Violet's thin hand
slips into Dickie's plump brown one.
"I wonder if I shall see her there when I go,"
she says in the dreamy way which has grown
upon her lately.
"When you go!" echoes Dickie blankly. "Oh,
Violet, don't say that, don't, don't! You mustn't
go away. Oh, do try to eat lots and lots, and
then you'll get strong, I know you will."
"I shall never be strong again, never," says the
child; "and, Dickie dear, please don't talk so. It
makes it harder for me. Everyone is so kind,
kinder, and kinder every day, and it is hard to
leave them all. But mama and I talk about it
often now, and when she is holding me in her
arms, and telling me that the Good Shepherd loves
the weak, helpless lambs even more than the
others, and that when she has to give me up He
will carry me Himself! Oh, Dickie! then it
doesn't seem sad, at least, not for me, you know.
It's poor mama I think of. She cries so at night
when she thinks I am asleep. Poor mama, poor
A BIT OF A PICKLE.
The tears rose in her eyes, but she kept them
back, for Dickie was in terrible distress, and she
had to comfort him.
"Dickie, dear Dickie, don't cry. We mustn't
either of us cry, for mama will soon be back, and
it will grieve her so. Please cheer up for my sake.
Let us enjoy this time together."
But all Dickie's enjoyment was gone, though he
did his best to "cheer up," and so far succeeded
that, by the time the ladies returned, the two
children were talking away to all appearance as
But it was a very down-hearted, dejected Dickie
who started for home with Miss Drury; and Field
Head was barely out of sight before he burst out,
"Aunt Hessie, it isn't true what she told me, is
"About-about- Oh, auntie, it must be
her mistake, because she is weak and thin! But
she will get better, won't she? "
"Yes, my darling, we know that she will-so
much better as to lose all pain and weariness. But
not here, Dickie, not in this world, dear." Miss
Drury steadied her voice and went on. "And she,
dear little soul, knows it too, and is willing to go
when the Saviour calls."
ONE LESS IN THE WIDE WORLD. 93
There is a pause, then Dickie begins,
But, auntie, will nothing cure her? Can't the
doctors do something? "
They have done everything they could think
of, but it is of no use. All that any of us can do
now is to pray that it may please God to keep
her from suffering at the last, and to comfort her
parents when she is gone"
Dickie is too awe-struck to reply to this; his
childish heart feels like lead, he tightens his hold
of Aunt Hester's hand, and walks home in silence
by her side.
Some days of brilliantly fine weather succeeded,
during which the little invalid seemed to revive
wonderfully. She resumed her drives in the dear
old donkey-cart, and would come back with such a
pretty colour in her cheeks and with such a flow
of spirits, that Dickie in all his blissful childish
ignorance felt sure she would soon be "quite
better" again. Those who nursed her were not
so easily deceived; they could see but too clearly
how day by day the little frame grew weaker, the
little face more pinched and drawn, the fits of
exhaustion more frequent and more lasting. Yet
the child enjoyed the air so much, and each bright
A BIT OF A PICKLE.
day pleaded so hard for "one more drive, mama
dear-just one," that it was impossible to refuse.
So day by day Taffy drew his slight burden, day
by day he went a shorter distance, until there
came a morning when even the child herself
acknowledged she was too tired, she would rather
go to-morrow. But when to-morrow came, there
was no question of Taffy, though the October sky
was unflecked by cloud, and the robins were sing-
ing cheerily in the golden boughs. It is true the
child had rallied somewhat from the deadly faint-
ness which had sent faithful Jane scouring across
the moor at midnight for the doctor, had swallowed
a few drops of the cordial he administered, had
even opened her eyes and said a few words; but
over the little face was rapidly stealing the look
that comes but once, and Mrs. Murray's own face
was white to the lips as she stooped over her
darling, and with tender hands smoothed back the
damp hair, or moistened the parched lips.
The child is very peaceful, very happy, and
to her mother's question, says faintly,
"Mama dear, I thought I should be afraid, but
I am not. He loves little children, you've told me
often; but I should have liked to have seen papa.
Will he come soon?"
"I hope so, darling."
ONE LESS IN THE WIDE WORLD. 95
"I am so glad. You won't be lonely then."
There is a pause, the child's strength is going
fast, but Jane, ever on the watch, is ready with
the cordial, and Violet has just taken a spoonful
when the sound of a well-known footstep catches
her ear. The old bright smile comes over her
face as an eager voice is heard at the door.
"Please may I come in? I've something for
It is Dickie, who, quite unwitting of the sad
change, has come over as usual to bring fresh
flowers, and to ask when Taffy will be wanted.
So when Mrs. Murray's voice bids him enter, he
flies up to the bedside, and begins eagerly,
These violets are from your own bed in our
garden, Vi, and Aunt Hessie says-- but there
he stops, while a great dread seizes him, and his
violets fall unheeded to the floor.
"Is she worse? oh, what is it? what is it? he
Mrs. Murray controls her voice as best she may,
She has been wanting you, dear. You are just
in time to kiss her, and say good-bye."
"No, no, not good-bye!" cries Dickie, as he
covers the white face with kisses. Oh, darling
Vi, open your eyes-speak to me."
A BIT OF A PICKLE,
The child is past speech, but she opens her
eyes once more, and looks lovingly at poor Dickie.
"And now you must go, dear," says the mother's
voice; "you must indeed-she is too weak for
more. Go, dear, go."
Blinded by tears, Dickie gets out of the room,
and down the stairs somehow-how, he never
knew-then rushes into the old parlour, and, throw-
ing himself upon the cushioned window-seat, her
old place, gives himself up to a passion of grief.
He is still there when Mrs. Murray herself comes
downstairs, and drawing him into her arms, talks
to him, with a calmness more pathetic than tears,
of the darling child who has passed away.
ONLY AN OLD CUP AND SAUCER.
" AM really becoming a convert to small
boys," remarked Brenda one evening
some weeks after the events of the
"Dickie standing as a type of the genus!" re-
plied Miss Drury. "Ah, Brenda, in spite of your
frequent assertions that I spoil him, I think you
do nearly as much in that line yourself."
"It is quite possible," answered Brenda de-
murely; "you see, auntie dear, a bad example is
so very catching."
Miss Drury could not resist a smile, then she
went on more seriously,
Did you notice him to-day when the Indian
mail came in? "
You mean about Uncle Norman's letter? "
"Yes, I must say it was quite a relief to my
mind to see his intense joy at hearing from his
A BIT OF A PICKLE.
'own papa;' for, to tell the truth, I have often felt
grieved to think how little he ever talks about
him; it would be so sad if this enforced separa-
tion made him care less for his father."
"I don't think we need fear that, auntie. That
precious letter has been carried all over the house,
and shewn to everyone about the place, and to-
night he has gone to bed with it under his pillow,
where, as you know, he has regularly put little
Violet's photo ever since Mrs. Murray sent it to him."
Miss Drury's eyes grew very tender.
"How we shall miss him when he goes to
Surely we needn't think of that just yet."
"I am afraid he ought to have better teaching
than mine," said Miss Drury, with a bit of a sigh;
"indeed your uncle writes very anxiously about
the child's education-asks if we have a tutor for
him, or have found a school to suit. And as Dickie
is to go into the army by-and-bye, so his father
says, I must really think of something for him
when once the winter is over."
"Won't he be .up to some pretty tricks when
he gets among a number of other boys," remarked
Brenda; "though I must say since the episode of
,the pansies he has been wonderfully sober."
"I think the death of little Vi was a great shock
ONLY AN OLD CUP AND SAUCER. 99
to him. It is very touching to see the care he
takes of the bit of garden we used to call hers.
That is always beautifully kept, however weedy
Dickies own may be."
"Pobr little Dickie! said Brenda, "he is very
affectionate, though he is such a pickle."
"Yes," replied her aunt; "and the other day
when I had paid him for his marks he asked if he
might buy some more violet roots 'for both of our
gardens,' as he phrased it."
"He always talks of the child as if she were
"Well, I don't wonder at his devotion. There
was something very sweet and pure about her.
I never saw even a shadow of repining upon her
little face. By-the-by, I heard from poor Mrs.
Murray to-day, only your uncle's letter coming by
the same post made me forget to tell you."
"And how is she?"
She seems pretty well, and in rather better
Has Major Murray arrived ?"
Yes, and has been more than a week in Edin-
burgh. They are for the present staying with her
mother, you know. They think of going to Italy
for a month or two, before they return to the