Citation
Our vow

Material Information

Title:
Our vow a story for children
Creator:
Haverfield, E. L ( Eleanor Luisa ), b. 1870
Petherick, C. Rosa ( Illustrator )
Thomas Nelson & Sons ( Publisher )
Place of Publication:
London ;
Edinburgh ;
New York ;
Publisher:
Thomas Nelson and Sons
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
256 p., 5 leaves of plates : ill. ; 19 cm.

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Vows -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Children -- Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Obedience -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Parent and child -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Brothers and sisters -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Cousins -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Fatherless families -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Sick -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Bldn -- 1899
Genre:
novel ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage:
England -- London
Scotland -- Edinburgh
United States -- New York -- New York
Target Audience:
juvenile ( marctarget )

Notes

General Note:
Illustrations by C. Rosa Petherick.
General Note:
Added title page, engraved.
Statement of Responsibility:
by E.L. Haverfield.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
This item is presumed to be in the public domain. The University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries respect the intellectual property rights of others and do not claim any copyright interest in this item. Users of this work have responsibility for determining copyright status prior to reusing, publishing or reproducing this item for purposes other than what is allowed by fair use or other copyright exemptions. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions may require permission of the copyright holder. The Smathers Libraries would like to learn more about this item and invite individuals or organizations to contact The Department of Special and Area Studies Collections (special@uflib.ufl.edu) with any additional information they can provide.
Resource Identifier:
026806140 ( ALEPH )
ALH1676 ( NOTIS )
05697098 ( OCLC )

Downloads

This item has the following downloads:


Full Text


Sa a aan a | :

| ELNAVERFIELD.

eo







The Baldwin Library

University
B of
TTL Florida





OUR Vow.

















































Ley

















“ We shook hands over the wheelbarrow and said, ‘I vow.”

Page 30





TNeLson & Sons
| ONDON, € DINBU RGH &
New ors



OwRr Vv © WwW

A Story for Children

BY

E. L. HAVERFIELD

Author of “On Trust,”
&e. &e.



THOMAS NELSON AND SONS
London, Edinburgh, and New York

1899



Il.

III.

IV.

VI

VII.

CONTE NS:



- OUR VOW IS MADE,

COUSIN EVELYN,

WAS JACK DESERTING ME?
EVELYN’S FRIEND, MISS LITTLE,
A TERRIBLE SCRAPE,

MISS LITTLE’S LETTER,

WHERE IS EVELYN?



Eto Of Leh sinha bEONS

BY

Cc. Rosa Petherick.



“Wh SHOOK HANDS OVER THE WHEELBARROW AND SAID,

CT AVOWS oe oa Bae ae Frontispiece,

“FIRST I PAINTED JACK, THEN HE DID ME, AND THE

EFFECT WAS GRAND,” oo cae ero)

“Csrp STILL!’ SHE SHOUTED, ‘I AM COMING TO YOU,’” 120

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING, ALISON?’ SAID COUSIN
EVELYN,” .... ane ee oe eel 7A

“JT WAS TOO STUPEFIED TO MOVE,” we ee 236



OO UR av OW:



CHAPTER I.

OUR VOW IS MADE.

“We should take care of the beginning of sin; nobody is exceedingly
wicked all at once.”—BisHop WILSON.

i E vow that we wont be maneged and ordured

about by Cusin Evelun. ‘If she cums to liv

with us we wont obay her nor be good til she gose

away agen. She shant enterfear with us nor spoil our

fun. We wil stand by eech other agenst her for ever.

“Sened JACK SEYMOUR.
“ ALISON SEYMOUR.”

That was our vow, written twice over on two not
very clean bits of paper, and carried about in our
pockets for many a long day, till those naughty
words, scrawled in a babyish hand by a little lad of
nine years old, worked so much mischief that, but for
a promise I gave some one long ago to write this story,
I could hardly bring myself to tell you about it.



10 OUR VOW IS MADE.

Perhaps you know some boys and girls like these
I write of, full of fun and nonsense, loving and lov-
able, but as careless and heedless as a pair of kittens
in a work-basket, who mix all the silks, cottons, tapes,
and wool together into a terrible tangle, roll the
buttons, thimble, and yard-measure out of sight, and
never remember till they prick their noses on the
point of the scissors, or. scratch their tiny paws with
the needles and pins, how much better it would be to
leave alone things which they do not understand.
Such a couple were we; but we had to get a very
deep scar before we learned our lesson. It all began
with our vow, and this is how we came to make it.
We lived all alone, just mother and Jack and I,
in a dear old house in the country. There was no
one to look after us, for mother thought we were too
old for nursery life, and yet too young for the school-
room. She was far too delicate herself to attend to
us. Betty, the sewing-maid, mended our clothes,
seeing also that we had our meals and went to bed
in proper time—when she could find us, that is to say ;
but a fine life we led her. But for the lesson hour
every day, which our kind old vicar spent in giving
us a Scripture lesson, and trying to teach us to read
and write, we ran wild from morning to night, doing
exactly what we liked, without rule or guidance.
There were one or two things we knew mother did
not like us to do, such as planting onions in the
hyacinth pots in the hothouse, taking out all the



OUR VOW IS MADE. 11

bulbs and putting them into the kitchen garden.
We did that one year as a surprise for Thomas the
gardener, getting up very early, before he was about,
to make the exchange, so that he knew nothing of it
until the plants began to show above the earth. I
can safely say he was very surprised indeed when
they grew up a little, and he discovered what it was
he had been treasuring so long in the greenhouse
among his pet flowers. But they were very fine
onions after all, though he did not seem much pleased
about it. Perhaps that was because the hyacinths,
when he found them, were sadly poor; and, as a rule,
he took two or three prizes at the flower show with
them.

We loved our mother dearly, and we would not
have vexed her for anything; but we were so sorry
for her lying, as she did, always on the sofa or in a
lounge-chair, that we quite began to think we must
know better than she what we ought or ought not
to do, and what was good or bad for us. So we
made our own laws. We had only two, and they were
very simple indeed: first, that if we made a noise,
it must be somewhere out of mother’s hearing ;
secondly, that if we were naughty, she must not be
distressed by knowing it. In the latter we were helped
by the doctor's strict orders that she must be worried
by nothing, and always kept as peaceful and quiet as
possible. So we got into all sorts of scrapes of which
she never heard; and the servants, all of whom were



12 OUR VOW IS MADE.

elderly, bore much in silence, or scolded us themselves
when we did something worse than usual. In this
way mother got the idea that we were quite model
children, especially as, when she had one of her bad
attacks, we did the only thing we could for her by
keeping out of the way, that we might not disturb
her with our games, and creeping into her room, when
we were allowed to see her, as quietly as mice.

We neither of us could recollect her as well and
strong like other people; she had never been so since
our father died, when I was but three years old and
Jack four. All he could remember of that sad time
was his pride in the black sailor suit with knicker-
bockers, and his joy when some one told him he
would never have to wear skirts again like a girl.
He thought he had cried a little when he could not
find father anywhere to show him all these lovely
new things; but the pockets in his little trousers,
into which he could stuff his baby hands and strut
about the house “like a man,” as he said, were very
comforting, and his tears were soon dried.

We had no playmates of our own age, as mother
could not pay. calls and make friends for us. But
we were perfectly happy without them, and grew
old-fashioned and independent in our lonely life, our
greatest excitement being a fishing expedition now
and then with the doctor, or going to help the vicar
with his gardening. As a rule, we played in our own
grounds, which were very big and beautiful. It



OUR VOW IS MADE. 13

geemed to us we should always go on in this easy,
happy way; we could remember nothing else, and we
wished for nothing different. But one day, when
Jack was nearly ten and I but one year younger, a
great change came into our lives which we deeply
resented.

The cause of it was the arrival in the village of an
uncle and aunt. They had always before lived in
Scotland ; but now, on account of our mother’s health,
they had decided to take a house near us, that Aunt
Margaret might look after her.

So they came, bringing four grown-up daughters,
who were the sort of people one can describe all at
once, as they were neither ugly nor pretty, but just
well-cared-for, well-brought-up girls, with different
shades of sandy hair, pale-blue eyes, very freckled
complexions, and an abrupt, short manner like their
mother’s.

It was this last fact that made us dislike our
cousins Janet, Ellen, Agnes, and Maggie from the very
first; for the only person in the world of whom we
were In awe was our aunt Margaret Drummond.
How she came to be our gentle mother’s sister we
always wondered, for she was as unlike her as she
could be in every way. She was big and strong, to
begin with, and her features were sharp; while mother
was fragile, tiny, and “beautiful as a fairy,” Jack
said, as positively as if he had known fairies and
talked to them many a time in his short life.



14 OUR VOW IS MADE.

Whenever Aunt Margaret had stayed with us we
had kept well out of the way, for we always felt
sure she did not approve of us at all. This, of course,
we only guessed from her manner to us; for she was
a stern woman, with very strict ideas on the up-
bringing of children. But when she came to live
near us, we soon heard for certain from the servants
what she thought of us. So we were very much
afraid of meeting her, and the most unhappy times in

our lives—the first we had ever known—were those



spent at the Grange, the Drummonds’ house. Also
through the servants we knew that none of our four
_ cousins were fond of children, and that they thought us
the most tiresome, rough little things they had ever
met. This did not add to our happiness. when we
were invited to tea with them, as we were always
dressed in our best clothes and bidden by Betty to
behave nicely and not shock the young ladies. Cer-
tainly we went very seldom, and we did not stay any
longer than we could help; for we felt they must be
wishing all the time that we would go away, and
Aunt Margaret’s disapproving looks when we took
too big a mouthful of cake or slopped the tea down
our clothes made us feel very uncomfortable. But
the real mischief began when we discovered that
the servants, instead of simply scolding us themselves
when we were naughty and saying no more about it,
were now adopting the plan of saying they would
tell our aunt if we ever did such things again. This



OUR VOW IS MADE. 15

was like the distant rumble of an approaching thunder-
storm, and we grumbled to each other over it each
time, though we made up our minds they would
never dare to carry out their threat.

“ Besides,” we said very often, “we don’t care if
they do tell tales; it isn’t Aunt Margaret’s business
what we do, and we won’t be kept in order by her.”

But it was a new and very disagreeable sensation
to us to be threatened, and one which roused every
naughty feeling in our hearts. And we broke out
into open rebellion at last when we found that it was
no idle threat after all; for our aunt was told of one
of our performances, and we were sent for by her to
be spoken to on the subject. We were in very great
disgrace both with Mrs. Bain our cook and Thomas
the gardener, and this is how it came about.

Some one told us one day for fun that rhodo-
dendron buds made very good jam. Now we had
one huge bush which was covered with the promise
of flower. But it struck us jam was a much more
sensible thing than bunches of blossom, so very early
in the morning we got up and picked off every bud
we could reach on the tree, filling a big basket full of
the sticky, fat things. Then we crept into the kit-
chen and took a big bag of sugar and one of the best
stew-pans, with which we marched into the garden.

Near one of the potting-sheds there stood the
ruins of an old stove; it was a rusty old iron thing
with no chimney, but we had often before made a



16 OUR VOW IS MADE.

fire in it to play houses, or to boil water in an old
kettle. To this we made our way, and soon had a
good blaze on which to do our cooking. Then we
put all the sugar into the stew-pan and melted it,
after which we dropped the buds in, having had them
carefully cut into slices meanwhile. We took it in
turns to stir this up with a silver spoon, while the
other kept up a good fire; and so we spent two
happy hours, for we felt it was great fun, though the
spoon got very hot and burnt our fingers, and our
faces were scorched with stooping over the fire.

The jam, however, was never made: the whole
result of our labours was a ruined stew-pan, a waste
of four pounds of sugar, and a spoiled shrub.

When Thomas came to his work at six o’clock, his
anger and dismay knew no bounds; he could hardly
speak when he found out what we were doing. I
believe the poor old man went about all day with
great tears of disappointment trickling down his fur-
rowed cheeks and over his nose, which he brushed
away now and then with his coat sleeve; for his
flowers were like children to him.

Mrs. Bain simply ordered us away from her sight,
in great indignation; for she always took great pride
in her pots and pans, and it was impossible to re-
move the burnt sugar.

“Mind, your aunt shall hear of it,” she said, as
hand in hand we turned away and with our heads

very high left the kitchen. “She shall hear all about
(969)



OUR VOW IS MADE. 17

it, for you are getting past all bearing. It is time
you had a firm hand over you, so it is.”

We thought no more of the threat till next day,
when a message was brought to us that we were to
go to tea at the Grange that afternoon. We looked
at each other wonderingly, for we had been there
only two days before, and we never went more than
twice in a month as a rule. But we suspected nothing,
until Betty very foolishly told us, while she was get-
ting us ready to go, that Mrs. Bain had been up to see
Aunt Margaret, and that we had been asked to go up
there that we might be well scolded. She told us this
to frighten us, for she sympathized with her fellow-
servants, and wished us to be punished.

We did not look at it from the same point of
view at all; and as soon as we were alone, and as
Betty believed on our way to the Drummonds, we
agreed we would rather not go to tea with them that
day, but would wait until Aunt Margaret had had
time to forget our naughtiness a little before we
favoured them with a visit. All our lives we had
been in the habit of doing only what pleased our-
selves, without consulting any one, and we now
decided that no tea and a game in the fields was
preferable to drawing-room tea and a scolding. So
we trudged along for a time, and then we turned into
a pleasant meadow not far from the Grange, meaning
to spend a quiet afternoon, for we were dressed in

our Sunday clothes.
(969) }



18 OUR VOW IS MADE.

We never could be still for very long, however,
and here in a short time we found something to
amuse us, in the shape of two washing-tubs, big, round
things, which were standing by the side of a pool; for
this field was used by our washerwoman as a drying-
green, and all her pegs and things were lying about
near us.

After sitting by the water demurely for a while,
making ducks and drakes on the pond from where
we sat with flat pebbles, we began to wonder what
we could do next. Suddenly Jack jumped up.

“T know,” he said. “Tl be a Conservative, and you
can be the villagers, and I'll give you a lecture about
politics, as they do at elections.

The tubs stood upside down very near the edge of
the water, both slanting towards us as they rested on
their little, short handles. On to one of these Jack
climbed and stood, hat in hand, his thick mass of
brown curls shining in the sun and tumbling all
over his little round head, his bonnie sunburnt face
full of excitement, and his eyes bubbling over with
mischief. He was so sturdy and strong—something
so very much to be proud of—that I could not help
thinking I loved him very much at that moment.
Perhaps his good looks struck me all the more just
then because he was so unusually clean in his nice
pure white sailor suit. He was very still for a few
seconds, for he was thinking hard. ‘To tell the truth,
he did not know anything about politics or elections,



OUR VOW IS MADE. 19

and he only thought it was the right thing for a
gentleman to be a Conservative because he knew
father had been one.

But his thinking came to nothing after all, and
impatient that no ideas would come, he gave a wriggle,
forgetting he was on an unsteady tub, and in another
moment he was falling head over heels backwards into
a slimy puddle at the water’s edge. I just saw two
little feet in the air, and the tub swing over, followed
by a heavy thud; and then I sprang to my feet, for
I was afraid Jack had hurt himself. But when he
ruefully picked himself up, and stood before me in a
thick coat of brown mud, I burst into peals of laughter.
This hurt his feelings dreadfully, and he drew himself
up to his full height and looked crossly at me.

“You little silly!” he said, and turned away with
scorn.

But his back was funnier than his front, and I
laughed louder and louder, till the tears ran down my
cheeks.

“You did look so queer rolling over,’ I tried to
explain in a choked voice; “and now you look just
like a rat,”

Then Jack stalked across the field without a word,
and I saw he was very angry, for the thing he could
bear least in the world was to be laughed at.

So, though it was very hard work, I stopped sud-
denly and ran after him, as I think he had expected
I would, for he was going very slowly.



20 OUR VOW IS MADE.

“Jack,” I panted, “don’t go home. I'll help you
to scrape off the mud if you will come back, and I
promise I won't laugh. Betty will be so cross if she
sees you like that, and I can clean you a little.”

He stood with his back to me, not speaking a word.

“Don’t be cross, Jack,” I pleaded. “I won’t laugh
any more; but you can’t think how funny you look.”

This was an unfortunate remark to make, for it set
me off again.

“Why, you are laughing now,” Jack said, with in-
dignation. “It is so like a ‘gurl’ to giggle at nothing.”

All my desire to laugh was gone ina moment. I
could not bear Jack to speak to me in that contempt-
uous way. My one great sorrow was the thought
that after all I was only a girl. But I did my best to
be like a boy, and Jack never reminded me that I
was not one, unless he was very angry with me. He
liked me to be a tomboy, for he had no one to share
his games but me. I had to be brother and sister as
well to him. So now I was humbled in a minute,
and I did not want to laugh any more.

“T’m so sorry, Jack,” I said coaxingly. “ But let me
get this nasty stuff off you with these drying-pins.”

Which I at once set to work to do, using the pegs
Mrs. Mason used to hang up the clean clothes to
scrape Jack’s back. I never noticed till he was
much cleaner that my own dainty pink liberty silk
dress was getting splashed and spotted all over with
the ugly brown stuff. Jack saw it first, and when



OUR VOW IS MADE. 21

he pointed it out to me, I knew my new Sunday
frock was spoiled for ever. We felt rather sorry
about this, but presently Jack said cheerfully,—

“Well, anyway, we can’t get any worse now, so I
votes we play something sensible.”

His ill-humour was all gone, and I was anxious to
please him, so I said,—

“T know. Put one tub on top of the other, and you
get inside and preach to me.”

Now Jack loved the sound of his own voice, so he
readily helped me to arrange the pulpit, the one tub
just fitting inside the top of the other; then as I
gravely took my seat on the ground below him, he
solemnly clambered into the upper one, standing like
Mr. Collins, our vicar, till the congregation had sat
down.

“My dear brotherin and sisterin,” he began im-
pressively.

But I waited for a long time, and no text came.
The sermon was not to be more successful than the
political meeting. Jack’s eyes wandered, and they
fell on the chimneys of the Grange, which he could
see appearing among the trees at the other side of
the road and across some fields.

“ Alison,” he said, with a nod to point out what he
was looking at, “I wonder what they are doing over
there ?”

“T expect they are wondering why we don’t come,”
I said.



22 OUR VOW IS MADE.

“So do I,” Jack replied. “I daresay that old cat
is in a rage.”

“Jack!” I cried, shocked at his words, for I knew
he must mean Aunt Margaret. Little as I liked her,
I would not have dared to speak of her like that.

“Well, she is an old cat,” he went on, his face
flushing angrily, “coming and interfering with us;
and I tell you what—we won’t be meddled with.”

I sat with open mouth, staring at him. We had
grumbled a good deal to each other, certainly, over
the servants’ threat, but I had never seen Jack so
fierce about anything before.

“She hasn’t meddled yet,” I ventured to say.

“No, she hasn't,” Jack replied; “but I know she
will if people go telling tales. It isn’t her business,
though, and I shan’t go to the Grange for her nasty
tea and scoldings; so there!”

The last words sounded obstinate. Standing erect
in his tub, his curly head thrown back, and his eyes
shining with excitement, I thought he looked noble
in spite of the mud all over him.

Now, when once I got an idea into my head I was
as determined as Jack, but I always took much longer
to think things out than he did, and by the time my
mind was made up he had often forgotten that he
had been so much in earnest over it, and would laugh
at me. There was just this difference between us,
that he was impulsive and very hot over things for
the time being, able to think and talk of nothing



OUR VOW IS MADE. 23

else, and then would suddenly change his mind, and
be just as eager over something else; while I was
slow to grasp a new subject, but once it was in my
head I never forgot or altered, sticking. to my notion
obstinately. But there was one great failing of mine
which always worried Jack very much, and that was
my love of arguing. Whenever he suggested some-
thing new, I felt at once inclined to question it, though
I always came round to his way of thinking in the
end.

“Perhaps she wouldn’t have scolded us, though,” I
said now.

“Silly!” retorted my brother, “you know she would ;
and if you are going to desert me and be put upon, I
don’t care. It is just like a gurl to be afraid.”

“Tm not afraid,’ I burst out angrily; “but I’m
sure mother wouldn’t like you to call Aunt Margaret
an old cat.”

“Because mother doesn’t know she is one,’ was the
scornful reply ; “and you are a silly and a gurl.”

With which words he jumped out of the tub, and
once more set off across the field as if to leave me.

Now I did not like the idea of facing Betty alone
in my spoiled dress, besides which I could not bear to
be in Jack’s black books for long. So I looked about
for something to bring him back, and a splendid idea
came to me.

“Jack,” I said eagerly, as I ran after him and
tugged at his arm to stop him, “do come back, I

7



24, OUR VOW IS MADE.

won't be silly any more, indeed I won’t; but I know
such a lovely game. Let’s pretend we are Scotch and
English, and have a battle on the sea. We can put
the tubs into the water and get into them to fight.”

He was my merry Jack in a moment.

“You are a brick, Allie,” he said.

And I was quite happy, for from Jack that was the
very highest form of praise in the world; it meant
everything that was the opposite of a “silly” and a
“ curl.”

It did not take us long to get our tubs afloat and
to climb into them. We knelt down, and each of us
had a long pole, generally used by Mrs. Mason to set
up her clothes-line upon. With these we punted
about, for the pool was very shallow, and splashed
like a pair of water-babies. It was great fun bobbing
up and down, spinning round and round, and pushing
each other from side to side, shouting all the time at
the top of our voices. Of course Jack was English,
and I had to be Scotch. Ever since the Drummonds
had come to live near us he had declared he hated
the Scotch.

“My father was English, and so am J,” he said.

“But mother is Scotch,” I said, arguing as usual.

“No she isn’t, now,” was his prompt answer. “She
was born Scotch, but she turned English when she
married father.”

I had no reply ready to meet this; for all that T
knew about it, when a woman married she did be



OUR VOW IS MADE. 25

come whatever her husband was. Jack had a way of
saying things which left no room for doubt; he was
so sure himself that he was always in the right.

So to-day, if I had not at once consented to be
Scotch, there would have been no game. As it was,
all went merrily for some time, and we were enjoying
ourselves to the top of our bent, when all of a sudden
Jack gave my tub a harder bump than ever, and
began flourishing his pole about so fiercely that I
‘was afraid he would put my eyes out. JI shouted to
him to tell him not to be so rough. But in vain; he
was so delighted to get a chance of pitching into the
Scotch, and so excited in the game, that he forgot I
was only a “pretence” Scot, and paid no attention to
my pleading for mercy. Then I got frightened, and
when his tub came spinning over the water towards
me, I jumped up in mine to tell him to be quiet, and
the next moment I was falling head over heels into
the pond.

Horribly frightened, and with my hair all washed
into my eyes, my mouth and ears full of water, and
my clothes drenched through and through, I stood up,
talking confusedly and gasping for breath.

Jack stared at me in dismay, then slipped from his
tub into the water too, and splashed his way over to
me. Hand in hand we made our way out, the slimy
mud nearly pulling our shoes off our feet at every
step. When we started, the water was up to our
necks, so that there was no danger of our being



26 OUR VOW IS MADE.

drowned; still we did not feel very happy in our
new bath, and felt greatly relieved to be once more
on land.

We must have looked a funny pair as we stood on
the bank opposite each other, our clothes clinging
close about us, and the water dripping from us on to
the green grass.

“Oh my!” said Jack, as he looked blankly at me,
“you have done it this time.”

That was one of Betty’s favourite expressions.

It seemed to me very unkind of him to say this;
for even if I did suggest the game, I never asked him
to try to drown me. I was cold and very uncom-
fortable, my feelings were hurt, and but for my great
fear of being called a “silly” and a “gurl,” I should
have begun to cry. As it was, however, I choked
down my tears, and said in a shaky voice,—

“ Let’s go home, Jack.”

So we ran across the field together, climbed over
the gate and dropped into the road, and were just
going to set off home, when whom should we see, so
near us that she could almost have touched us, but
Aunt Margaret. Here was a pretty state of things!
There was no escaping her now, for she was evidently
going to our house to find out why we had not ap-
peared for tea,

For one moment she did not recognize us in our
terrible condition, and the next she exclaimed,—

“Where have you been, you dreadful children ?”



OUR VOW IS MADE. 27

Now it is not pleasant to be called “dreadful chil-
dren,” and we felt offended and sulky in a moment.
We knew this was just what Aunt Margaret thought
of us, and we resented it; so we did not speak.

“Where have you been?” she repeated sharply.

“J tumbled in there,” I answered, jerking my
head towards the pond in the field we had just
quitted.

One of Mrs. Mason’s tubs still bobbed cheerfully up
and down; the other lay peacefully under the water
out of sight.

“You naughty little girl,” began our aunt; but
Jack broke in quickly,—

“No, she isn’t, Aunt Margaret. It wasn’t her fault ;
I pushed her in.”

This was just one of Jack’s ways; perhaps it was
the thing of all others that made me love him so
dearly, for he was such a manly little fellow he never
let me be blamed if he could help it. Sometimes he
would even share a scrape with me when he had
taken no part in the mischief at all himself, because
he felt it was his only means of protecting me. But
a few minuses ago he had said, “You have done it
this time,” quite crossly, but. he would allow no one
else to scold me. I felt at that moment as if I would
give him anything in the world, even to my baby doll
that he wanted to pull to pieces to see why the eyes
opened and shut.

Aunt Margaret, however, could not be expected to



28 OUR VOW IS MADE.

look upon him in the light of a hero just then. She
simply believed what he said.

“T wonder you are not ashamed of yourself then,”
was her severe comment. “ You are the eldest, and
a boy, and you ought to know better. Now come
home with me at once, for I must get you dried and
give you some hot drink, or you will catch your death
of cold.”

We were much nearer the Grange than home, so
that there was some sense in our going there. But
we looked at each other in despair: this was awful,
to have to go there after all, and in such a plight.
However, there was no help for it. Aunt Margaret
took my hand and started off, walking so fast that
we had to trot by her side to keep up with her, and
all the way she never said a word. I kept stealing
glances at her out of the corner of my eye, and to
my mind she looked hard and angry. My teeth
chattered, partly from the dampness of my clothes as
my dress went flop, flop against my knees and the
water oozed out of my shoes; but I shivered most
from fear—fear of I do not know what, but I felt
just like a child in one of our games being led by a
giant to his castle, where all sorts of horrible things
awaited us, amongst others a dark cell and dry bread
and water.

Jack ran along, with his hat on the back of his
head and his hands in his pockets, as if he did
not care a bit. But I knew he did, and that he



OUR VOW IS MADE. 29

was shaking too, only he never would have owned
to it.

When we got to the Grange, however, nothing
awful happened to us at all. Our cousins looked
very much disgusted at the condition we were in, but
they all set to work at once to do things for us—one
helping us off with our clothes, another taking them
away to be dried, while the third was heating blankets
to roll us in, and Maggie helped Aunt Margaret to
make some black-currant drink for us.

It would have been great fun if every one had not
been so solemn about it, just like some new game;
but we were not allowed to forget we were in dis-
grace, and though nothing was said, everything was
done in such a way that we could not but feel what
a lot of trouble we were giving. We did find after-
wards, when we came to compare notes, that we had
both been playing in our heads all the time that we
were shipwrecked in a foreign land; and this helped
to pass time as we sat rolled up in two easy-chairs
in our blankets, waiting for our things to dry.

“We want Evelyn here for this sort of thing,”
Maggie said to Ellen, when she brought in the black-
currant tea and poured out a glass for each of us.

Now Evelyn was a fifth cousin, whom we had
never seen; for she was a nurse in a hospital in Scot-
land, and had not yet been down to see her new
home. She did not work because she needed money,
for the Drummonds were quite well off; but she was



30 OUR VOW IS MADE.

one of the people who never can be idle, and there
was nothing for her to do at home. She was the
youngest but one, coming just before Maggie. The
two eldest girls did all the housekeeping, mending,
and so on. It seemed to us children as if they
thought of nothing but whether the curtains were
clean, the rooms dusted, and the ornaments in order.
Then Agnes did a great deal of parish work, teaching
in Sunday school, district visiting, and, when she was
indoors, making endless garments for the poor. Mag-
gie did all the artistic things, such as arranging the
flowers, embroidering pretty things for the house, and
painting door panels. So there really did seem little
or nothing left for Evelyn to do, though, according to
her mother and sisters, she could do all these things
a great deal better than they did, and was very much
missed by them all. We never felt much interest in
our unknown cousin, however. In fact, we got rather
tired of hearing so often about her, and we never
spoke of her to each other after Jack made the fol-
lowing wise remark,—

“T expect she is just like the rest; but people
always make a fuss about people who are away, and
say they are much better than other people who stay
at home.”

Two of our cousins stayed in the room with us
while our clothes were being dried, just as if we were
prisoners who had to have two jailers. I think they
really were afraid we should get into some mischief if



OUR VOW IS MADE. ol

we were left alone. We wished with all our hearts
that they would go, for we could not even talk with
them there. They took no notice of us, however,
just sitting and sewing and talking to each other as
if they had been alone together. We did not listen
much to what they said, but I gathered from one or
two of their remarks that they were expecting Evelyn
home soon; I thought for a short holiday probably.
I wondered rather what she would be like—whether she
would have a big nose like Agnes, or a little turned-
up one like Maggie; that she would have some shade
of red hair and pale-blue eyes I felt sure. But this
did not amuse me much. I should have never stopped
wondering about her could I but have got a peep into
the next few months, and learned something of what
our stranger cousin was to become to us. But we
cannot get these glimpses into the future, and it is
just as well.

I grew very tired of sitting still, and wished we
had managed to slip home unseen; for by now we
should have been out in the garden, playing again as
if nothing had happened, instead of having this dull
waiting for our things. I looked to Jack for sympathy,
and was surprised to see that: he was falling faster
and faster asleep every minute, so that his curly head
was nearly lost in the blanket. I suppose having
nothing to eat for so long, and then the hot stuff after
the shock of the cold water, had made him drowsy.
But I was wide awake, and I thought Jack very



32 OUR VOW IS MADE.

selfish to go to sleep. He did not take long to rouse,
however, when Maggie came into the room with an
armful of things to tell us our clothes were ready for
us at last. To his very great indignation, Jack was
picked up by our big cousin Janet just as if he had
been a baby, and carried into another room to dress.
I don’t suppose he was ever very fond of being carried
about, even as a little fellow just able to walk ; but at
his age to be carried, and by a girl, was a great insult,
and one which he could not get over for days.

When we were quite ready Ellen and Maggie took us
home. It seemed very funny to be taken anywhere, as
we always went about alone, and the feeling that we
were prisoners was uncomfortable indeed.. They left
us at our gate, however, telling us to go straight to
Betty, which, of course, we did not do. We played
about in the garden for some time, and she, hearing
our voices, must have known we were quite safe.
‘When we went in, our bread and milk was, as usual,
waiting for us in the room that used to be our
nursery, and where we had all our meals. We ate
this, and then crept away to bed, so that it was not
till next morning that Betty knew anything about
our clothes. Then she gave us a good scolding; but
we did not mind much, only it was a bother to hear
so much about it.

But later in the morning we did feel very sad
indeed, and it was mother who made us so.

Soon after she was up she sent for us to speak to



OUR VOW IS MADE. 33

her. We were afraid some one had been telling tales
of us to her, but we soon saw that she knew nothing
of our scrapes. She only wanted to tell us something
in which we were very much interested at first, for
we thought it was a story, and never guessed what
was to follow. She had been reading in the news-
paper an account of a very bad accident to two little
boys who were climbing a tree. Both of them got
on to the same branch, which gave way under them.
They fell a great distance to the ground, for they
were high up in an elm tree, and one of them was
killed, while the other was probably injured for life.
It was afterwards found that the bough was rotten,
or it would not have broken; for it was a thick one,
and looked strong enough.

“My darlings,” mother said, when she had finished
the sad tale, “I hope you do not climb trees; but
when I read of that accident I thought I would ask
you to make sure, and if you were in the habit of
doing so, tell you never to do it again. I should not
know a moment’s peace if I thought you were in such
danger when you were out of my sight.”

This was a complete surprise to us. I looked
quickly at Jack. His little brown face was flushed
with excitement, and he could hardly wait till
mother had done speaking before he burst out
eagerly,—

“Why, mumsie darling, we are just always in the

trees, Allie and I. We couldn’t live if we mightn't
(969) 3



34 OUR VOW IS MADE.

climb them ; indeed, indeed we couldn’t. It’s all our
play—isn’t it, Allie?”

Thus appealed to, and with tears in my eyes, I
said,—

“Why, yes, mother; we pretend everything in the
trees. They are our castles, and houses, and watch-
towers, and all. We couldn’t play on earth—could
we, Jack ?” ;

Mother spoke before Jack could reply.

“Tt is strange,” she said sadly, “that I never
thought of your doing it before. It shows how little
I see of you, you poor children. I am sorry to spoil
your games, dears, but it will only be for a short
time, for I am sure you will soon find something to
take the place of climbing which will be far safer
and better for you. But remember I trust you not
to do it again. I should be so terribly nervous after
this if I saw you in the trees. Now kiss me, darlings,
and run away to play ‘on earth, as you call it.”

Obediently we both bent over her sofa and kissed
the lovely white face, and then silently, hand in hand,
we left the room and made our way to the playroom,
a place in which we spent all our time in wet weather,
as it was far away from mother’s part of the house,
and out of reach of her hearing. It was here that
we came to-day, though the sun was shining brightly
and it was deliciously warm out of doors; but we felt
that, with this terrible command laid upon us, the
very sight of the trees would make us sad.



OUR VOW IS MADE. 35

Jack sat down gloomily on a stool, his elbows on
his knees, his chin resting onthe palms of his hands;
while I knelt down by my doll’s house and pushed
the furniture about, though I was not thinking one
bit of what I was doing. We were two very
miserable little children, with hearts too sore for
words, for it was quite true we were always in the
trees; like the birds, we almost lived in them. Jack
climbed beautifully, and I was afraid of nothing;
where he went I went as a matter of course. For a
long time we were quite silent. JI knew Jack was
thinking hard, for his face was all puckered with the
effort. To me it seemed that we must be having a
horrid dream.

“ Alison,” said my little brother at last, in a choky
voice, “I don’t think mother ever was quite like other
people—I mean well and strong, and all that; do you?”

I said “No,” but as yet I did not understand him.

“JT don’t think she ever climbed trees when she
was a little girl,” he went on.

I quite agreed with him, for I could not imagine
our gentle, quiet mother ever having been a tomboy
such as I was.

“Poor mother,” sighed Jack, “you see she can’t
really know how easy it is when she hasn’t ever done
it herself. Being ill has made her frightened about
the least little thing. But,” he added earnestly, “I
do wish those silly little boys hadn’t got on to a
rotten branch.”



36 OUR VOW IS MADE.

So did I, but I had a sort of feeling that one ought
not to call the poor little fellows “silly ” when one of
them was dead. I said nothing, however, and Jack
did not seem to expect an answer ; he just went on as
if he were talking more to himself than to me.

“Tt is all that stupid paper,” he continued angrily.
“Tt is always saying something we don’t want it to,
like when it says it is going to rain when we want it
to be fine. When I’m a man I shan’t have such a
silly thing in my house, ever.”

“We never do want it to rain,” I ventured to say.

“ Of course not; who does?” Jack replied grandly.
“But don’t interrupt; P’m talking about climbing.”

He was not, of course, just then, but I let that
pass; I was anxious to know what he was going to
say, for he evidently had something great on his
mind.

Presently he said shortly,—

“We didn’t promise.”

“No,” I repeated slowly after him, “we didn’t
promise.”

He went on thinking for a few minutes, and I
waited.

“We might give up the elms, you know,” was his
next remark; “but I’m sure none of owr trees are
rotten. Anyway, we could give up the elms, and
then I don’t think it would matter so long as mother
did not see us or know anything about us.”

So this was what he had been working out all the



OUR VOW IS MADE. 87

time in that little, active brain of his. At last I
understood: we were not going to obey mother, or as
Jack put it, we need not do what she told us, for we
were bound by no given promise. My spirits rose
high, and I would not let myself wonder whether we -
were doing what was right or not, the idea was so
lovely that after all Jack had decided we would not
give up our favourite pastime. I was sorry about
the elms, however, and said so, for they were our best
castles for giants.

“T can’t help it,” Jack said, and I really think he
felt that it was very good of him to be so determined
on this point. “We've got all the others; and I’m
quite certain sure if mother was well and strong she
would like us to climb, because she would know how
safe it is. But the best elms she can see out of her
windows. Now that’s all right.”

He jumped up, and in a minute his thinking mood
was quite gone.

That ended the matter, and strange as it may seem,
we really did think it was all right so long as we did
nothing to frighten mother ; we had got into the habit
of thinking always that this was the only thing that
mattered at all.

So that very afternoon we took our books and
went into that garden at the back of the house on to
which none of mother’s windows looked. Here there
were two lovely old cedar trees, spreading over a
close-cut lawn. Into one of these we scrambled, each



88 OUR VOW IS MADE.

with a book which we meant to sit quietly and read.
I don’t know why it should have been nicer to do this
perched high up in a tree than on the ground; at any
rate in those days we thought it was. And we also
imagined we were being very good to keep quite still
instead of having one of our usual monkey games
among the branches.

We had not been there very long before I was
rudely roused from my story by a nudge from Jack
which nearly upset me. But when I turned to scold
him for it, the expression of real distress upon his
face silenced me, and following the direction of his
eyes I looked down. The start I then gave would
have sent me flying off my branch had he not grasped
my arm and steadied me. We looked helplessly at
each other, and then through the boughs again, for
just below us stood our mother.

The worst of it was that there she evidently meant
to stay, for her maid Jenkyns followed her with her
chair, a rug, and some cushions, and having settled
her mistress comfortably, stood awaiting further
orders.

“Thank you,” said our mother, in her gentle, grate-
ful way; “I only want my book and a footstool now.
And would you tell Susan to bring Mrs. Drummond
out here when she comes, and another chair, please ?”

Jenkyns obeyed.

Jack and I stared at each other in mute dismay.
It is one thing to make up one’s mind to sit in a tree



OUR VOW IS MADE. 39

all afternoon and do nothing, but it is quite another
matter to find one has got to stay there whether he
likes it or not. And stay there we knew we must.
We could not break our rule never to make mother
nervous, even if she meant to stay there all afternoon.
But for the news that Aunt Margaret was coming we
might have had some hope of escape, for mother
would probably have dropped off to sleep presently,
and then we could have slipped down from our perch
very quietly and crept right away. As it was, how-
ever, mother was very wide awake, sitting reading,
and now and then looking about her quite brightly.
But for our position we should have been overjoyed
to see her there, for it was but seldom she was well
enough to be out at all, and we had never seen her in
this part of the garden before, or so far away from
the house.

Thus we all waited for Aunt Margaret—mother
with a sunny, happy look on her face, because she
was feeling so much better and stronger just then;
Jack and I in fear and trembling. At last she came,
crossing the lawn with long, quick strides so much
in keeping with her determined self.

We watched the meeting between the sisters, and
then the settling down for a chat, with some anxiety ;
for a cedar tree is an impossible place to hide in, the
branches are so wide apart. We had a sort of idea
that Aunt Margaret was like a spider which has eyes
all over its head, and that nothing could escape her



40 OUR VOW IS MADE.

notice. Indeed very little did, but we could only
hope that the fact of our being very far above and
exactly over them would save us from being dis-
covered.

We sat painfully still, so that everything they said
reached us. It did not occur to us that there was
anything underhand in listening, we were so fully
persuaded that there was no help for it.

After the usual questions as to health and remarks
upon the weather, our aunt began abruptly,—

“You got my note this morning ?”

“Yes, dear,” mother replied.

“Well?” said Aunt Margaret questioningly.

“T think you and Archie are too good to me,”
mother said softly ; “but I cannot let you make the
sacrifice. I have managed to struggle on so far
alone, and can quite well continue to do so.”

“Nonsense, Maisie,” our aunt returned sharply ;
“you know as well as I do that you ought to have
some one looking after you. And if you will not
consider yourself, you should at least think of those
children of yours. They are getting a great deal too
old to run wild. It is quite time they had a firm
hand over them.”

That was the second time in the last twenty-four
hours that we had heard we needed a “firm hand
over us,’ and we made a face at each other. Mother
leaned back in her chair with closed eyes to avoid a
flickering ray of sunlight, but she was silent. Aunt



OUR VOW IS MADE. Al

Margaret paused, and I sat nervously twisting and
twirling my pocket-handkerchief through my fingers,
listening with the deepest interest.

“Now,” continued our aunt, “Evelyn is the very
girl you want.”

Jack gave me a sudden nudge, and to save myself
from falling I clutched at a branch above me; but in
so doing dropped my handkerchief, and it fluttered
down, down, down, right on to Aunt Margaret’s bonnet !
There it sat in triumph on the top of a jet ornament
which but a moment back had been glistening in
the sun.

I grew sick and cold with horror as I glanced first
at our mother. Her eyes were closed as before, but
what would she think when she opened them to see
Aunt Margaret, one of the most fashionably dressed
you could imagine, seated before her with a dirty
little pink-bordered pocket-handkerchief on her head ?
She would be sure to look up at once, and if she saw
us so far above the ground, the shock would be enough
to make her as ill as ever again.

Then I looked at Jack, and he was so overcome by
Aunt Margaret’s comical appearance that he quite
forgot the serious side of the: accident, and was busy
trying to stuff the whole of his handkerchief into his
mouth to choke down the peals of laughter which
would otherwise have come. I could see nothing to
laugh at; I just sat wondering whether mother would
see it first, or if it would tumble off with one of those



42 OUR VOW IS MADE.

sudden shakes our aunt was in the habit of giving
her head when she was very much in earnest. But
however we were detected, I felt quite sure she
would think we had done it on purpose, out of sheer
impertinence, especially if she saw Jack before he had
recovered himself, for it seemed to me he would just
burst if he could not laugh out soon.

Now Jack’s nudge was intended to convey to me
his great surprise at Aunt Margaret’s suggestion.
My mind just now, however, was so much exercised
that I could pay but little attention to what they
were saying below. I had a confused idea that our
aunt was giving mother a great many reasons why it
would be such a good plan for Evelyn to come and
live with us, the chief being that we were very
unruly, untaught children, and that Evelyn was too
active-minded to stay idle at home.

“Since she must have occupation,” said Aunt
Margaret, with a nod which nearly dislodged her new
head-dress, “you can understand that Archie and I
would infinitely prefer that she came to you, where
she would be with some one we care for, and quite
near us. We can neither of us bear to think of her
going among strangers and far away from home, as
she might have to do.”

“T can quite understand that,” mother replied, not
very heartily it seemed to us. “But, on the other
hand, there is Evelyn’s opinion on the subject to be
taken into consideration. It would be a miserable



OUR VOW IS MADE. 43

life for a young girl to be condemned to, for I am
often no companion to any one, and the children are
hardly ever in; I like them to be free now till they
are old enough to begin work. You would have to
consult Evelyn’s wishes, and she might not like to
refuse if she thought it would be a charitable thing
to do.”

“But that is just the point,” Aunt Margaret said,
in a decided tone. “It was Evelyn herself who first
suggested it; she told us in a letter that it is the
thing above all others that she would like to do, only
she feared you might not like it. That is nonsense,
of course, for I am sure you would soon become very
fond of her; she is quite a sunbeam in a house.”

“Pretty sunbeam!” erowled Jack under his breath.
He was not inclined to laugh now; things were be-
ginning to look too serious.

Mother did not speak. Aunt Margaret went on.

“And this is the very life she is suited to; her
talents all tend in that direction. She loves attending
to the sick, looking after a house, a certain amount
of spare time for artistic pursuits, and managing
children. Miserable or dull she never could be; she
is far too clever and active for that.”

Still mother was silent, lying back with closed eyes.

“You can have no further objection to make,
surely ?” our aunt said sharply.

The remark was so evidently a question that
mother had to reply.



44, OUR VOW IS MADE.

“Well, yes,” she said hesitatingly, “there is one
stumbling-block.”

“Well?” Aunt Margaret inquired shortly.

“The children,” mother said simply, and she opened
her eyes, but instantly closed them, as the light was
too strong. I was much relieved, for my chief
anxiety was for the fate of my handkerchief. How-
ever, this time she had seen nothing, and continued :
“You see they have never been accustomed to any
one but me, and they might resent a stranger's inter-
ference.”

“You do not mean to tell me,” exclaimed Aunt
Marearet severely, “that you are so absurd as to be
ruled by the whims of those two naughty children ?
Why, one would imagine you were really afraid of
them! It is too ridiculous. Resent interference,
indeed! let them. And if they did, would it not
prove to you how much they need a strong hand
over them? Evelyn would stand no nonsense, I can
assure you.”

Jack looked at me, and we made a face. There
was something of the nature of a grim threat in
Aunt Margaret’s words, and we listened breathlessly
for our mother’s reply, leaning forward to catch every
word.

“JT think, Margaret,” she said, with quiet dignity,
“you misunderstand my meaning. It is not that I
am afraid of my children, but that I wish to do what
is best for them. I think if I took a grown-up girl



OUR VOW IS MADE. 45

into the house and established her as my elder
daughter it would not be good for Alison; she would
never take her proper position in her own home. And
I am sure it would be bad for Jack to feel that he
was being managed by his cousin; it would take away
from all his manliness, and he would no longer be the
self-reliant, trustworthy little fellow he now is.”

I looked at Jack; his:face in one moment was
crimson, and I knew he wished himself out of the
tree and far away, rather than overhearing this praise,
which he knew he did not deserve.

“You are inclined to exaggerate their faults, dear,”
she went on. “I own that they are high-spirited ; but
that will mend when they have to meet troubles and
trials in later life. And they are always affectionate
and considerate towards me, perfectly obedient to my
slightest wish, and the most truthful, honourable
children you could wish to know. What more could
you want? So, dear Margaret, thank you very much
for your kindness to and thought for me, but for the
sake of my boy and girl I must refuse the offer; I am
sure it is best to do so.”

I had not dared to glance at Jack during this
speech. I just longed to be able to cry out, “ Mother
darling, we are here, but we did not mean to be
naughty,” and I think he did too, but we could not
risk frightening her. And then an awful thing hap-
pened: she opened her eyes wide, and stood up as if
to end the subject. My heart sank miserably, and I



46 OUR VOW IS MADE.

awaited detection with a sickening sense of unworthi-
ness born of the loving trust just expressed in our
defence.

We could not now see mother’s face, but her
attitude was enough, and we could well imagine the
amazement in her eyes as they fell for the first time
on Aunt Margaret’s bonnet.

“My dear Margaret,” she began; but the rest of
her words were checked by a heavy thud as Jack’s
book fell at her feet. He had forgotten it in his
eagerness to hear how the discussion would end, and
down it went.

Both ladies looked up quickly, and we began a
rapid descent. When we reached the ground, mother
was lying back in her chair again with a very white
face, and Aunt Margaret was bending over her
anxiously.

“Go and call Jenkyns,” was all she said.

Glad of an excuse to get away, we obeyed. We
hovered about the lawn for some time after, however,
among the bushes, where we could not be seen, for we
were terribly frightened at what we had done. But
to our great relief mother was well enough presently
to walk into the house with help from Aunt Margaret
and Jenkyns. Then we ran off to our favourite
haunt in the garden—the banks of a small stream
which flowed through it—and there we threw our-
selves down on the grass, and were silent for I should
think about five whole minutes.



OUR VOW IS MADE. 47

“She will come,” was Jack’s first remark, given
with the air of a martyr.

“Oh no, she won't,” I asserted, taking the opposite
side, as usual, to begin with.

“But I tell you she will,” Jack said obstinately,
“after mother catching us up that tree. If you
hadn’t been such a silly and dropped your handker-
chief !”

“Tf you hadn’t been such a silly and dropped your
book!” I broke in indignantly. —

Jack glanced scornfully at me.

“That doesn’t matter,” he said, by way of reply.
“But I know Cousin Evelyn will come, for mother
will quite agree with Aunt Margaret that we are
very naughty now and need a ‘firm hand’ over us.”

He was quiet for a moment, thinking. Then he
burst out excitedly,—

“But I won’t be managed by a gurl. Mother said
herself it would be bad for me, and I know it would.
I won't, won't, won’t be good if she comes; so there!”

He ended with something like a choking sob, and
J thought he was going to cry with rage. But after
a pause he went on shakily and in a mournful voice,—

“ Alison, if she comes it will never be the same
again, never no more. We shall be shut up in the
house all day with lessons, and we shan’t ever be able
to play in our own way. She will go out for stuffy
walks with us, and make us play with bricks on the
floor and all that, and we shan’t ever climb—”



48 OUR VOW IS MADE.

He had to stop again, for the tears were very near
indeed. I waited in dumb despair; the picture was
very awful. This was just the way the Drummond
girls had been brought up, for Aunt Margaret had
often told us about it with great pride: she had
been very strict, and they had all grown up very
good,

I began tocry. Then Jack pulled himself together
in a moment.

“Don’t do that,” he said sharply. “It is silly, and
it is no good. It won’t stop Cousin Evelyn’s coming,
and we can’t; but we can make it so horrid when she
does come that she won’t stay. She will soon see we
won't have her firm hand over us if you will just do
as I tell you; and when she is gone we will just be
happy and free again, and mother will trust us, and
not have any one to take our place in the house.”

I stopped crying and listened.

“T’ve got a plan,” he went on, after a pause. “We'll
make a vow, as they did long ago, and we will write
it down on two pieces of paper; then we will each
keep one for ever in our pockets.”

“But they would wear out or get lost,” I objected.

Jack was offended.

“Then we will put them in a box,” he said huffily.
“And I'll tell you what: we will wear a piece of string
round our necks, and whenever we see each other
going to forget our vow, we'll put up our hands to
our collars and warn each other.”



OUR VOW IS MADE. 49

I could not but admire the invention of my little
brother’s ever-ready brain; he never seemed at a loss
in an emergency. And just now I did not give the
naughtiness of the plan a thought; I was so pleased
with the cleverness of it: for Jack’s doleful description
of what our life was likely to be with Cousin Evelyn
in the house had fairly frightened me, and I felt that
I would do anything to send her away.

After a hunt for some paper Jack produced a bit
from his pocket, which he tore into two. There was
a wheelbarrow standing close at hand, and this we
turned upside down for a table, in spite of the fact
that it was full of grass which Thomas would shortly
come to wheel away to the rubbish-heap. Then Jack
sat down, and with much care wrote out the two
copies of our vow.

It took some time to do, for he was a very bad
writer ; and he had to keep thinking about the spell-
ing, in which I could not help him much. He wanted
to put in a great many long words to make it grander ;
but these had to be given up, as we could not think
how to write them down. When it was quite done
we both signed our names on each, and we then tied
a bit of string, also from Jack’s pocket, round our
necks and hid it under our clothes.

“Now Ill read it aloud,” said Jack, very much
excited and quite pleased with himself, “and we
will shake hands and say, ‘I vow, quite seriously,

see ?”
(969) 4



50 ‘OUR VOW IS MADE.

I did see, and Jack read in a solemn tone of

voice,—

“We vow that we wont be maneged and ordured
about by Cusin Evelun. If she cums to liv with us
we wont obay her nor be good til she gose away
agen. She shant enterfear with us nor spoil our fun.
We wil ped by eech other agenst her for ever.

“Sined Jack SEYMOUR.
“ ALISON SEYMOUR.”

Then very gravely, and it felt ever such a funny
thing to do with Jack, we shook hands over the
wheelbarrow, and said, almost in one breath,—

“T vow.”

“Now,” cried Jack, “we won't have any of her
carroty-nosed, snub-haired girls here managing us; so
there !”

He did not notice what an odd mistake he had
made; I hardly did at the time, for he was so very
much in earnest—indeed I had never seen him so angry
before. But my habit of arguing made me say,—

“Perhaps Cousin Evelyn isn’t carroty-haired and
snub-nosed, though.”

Jack suddenly folded his arms in a way that I well
knew to mean great displeasure, and he looked me
straight in the face.

“Why, I believe,” he said scornfully, “that you
are going over to Aunt Margaret to be put upon.



OUR VOW IS MADE. | 51

All right; go. You can forsake me if you like.
Gurls are all the same—mean, frightened cats.”

Turning on his heel he left me too surprised to
speak or move. That Jack should speak so to me
was really dreadful—Jack, for whom I would have
done anything in the world; Jack, whose praise was
all I seemed to live for! And he could imagine I
would ever forsake him! I threw myself down upon
the ground in such a passion of weeping that he came
back of his own accord to comfort me.

“JT didn’t mean it, Allie,” he said earnestly,
frightened at my violence, for I so seldom let myself
cry before him lest he should call me those hated
names; “I know you won't forget our vow.”

“You will first,” I said grumpily.

He took no notice of this.

“Suppose we have a game,” he said.

And so we did, but not a very good one, for we
could think of nothing but the dreadful change that
was to take place in our home.

In the evening mother sent for us.

She was alone, and she looked terribly ill as she
lay on her sofa by the window. Silently and hand
in hand we stood as she spoke to us in a weary voice,
so sadly that but for the subject our hearts must
have been melted.

“After what has happened this afternoon,” she
said, “you will scarcely be surprised to hear that I
have invited your Cousin Evelyn to come and live



52 OUR VOW IS MADE.

with us. This will be her home in future, and I
shall look upon her as my daughter. I find that I
need her very much, for I am not strong enough to
look after my own children, who have disappointed
me more than I can ever say by their naughtiness.
I trusted you, Jack and Alison,” she went on, very
earnestly, “and I thought you good, upright, honour-
able children, such as your father would have had you
to be. I find instead that the very day I say I trust
you not to do a thing you do it slyly and deceitfully ;
and not only that—you sat meanly listening to what
you must have known was not meant for you, as I
never could have suspected you of doing.”

Jack hung his head and gulped down a great sob.
We neither of us could speak, for that we sat so still
there for her sake seemed such a poor little excuse to
make now.

“You heard what I then thought of you,” mother
went on, “and much ashamed I was of you not five
minutes later, for I found out then you were not
worthy of the praise I gave you. It was not a
pleasant thing for a mother to discover, was it?”

“No, mumsie darling,” Jack said, in a choked
voice, and big tears came into his eyes and rolled
down the little brown face.

Mother relented a little at this and spoke in a
kinder way.

“Your aunt was right, and I was not,” she said,
and at that name our hearts grew hard again. “You



OUR VOW IS MADE. 53

do need some one to look after you; you are too old
to run wild any more. And I shall be glad to have
some one with me whom I can rely upon in more ways
than one. You will be quite happy with Evelyn, for
I believe she is a dear girl. I hope you will remem-
ber that she has my leave to do what she likes with
you, and that you must obey her as you ought to do
me. She is fond of children, understands them well,
and I shall expect you to treat her as a sister.”

We did not speak.

“TI hope,” mother said, speaking very gently now,
“that my little girl will learn from her to be ladylike
and helpful, and that my boy will try with her help
to be more sensible and manly. Good-night, my dar-
lings; run away to bed now, for I am very tired.”

We felt very humble as we crept away, for we
could not but remember that it was our fault she was
again so ill; the shock had quite upset her, for her
heart was very weak.

But when we were seated over our bread and milk,
the naughty feeling came again into Jack’s heart.

“Tt is all that horrid old cat’s fault,’ he said
huskily. “We were quite good and happy till she
came and upset everything, and now we shall never
be happy any more. I hate, hate, hate her, and she
shan’t get the best of us with her nasty, interfering
girl.”

So he left his supper, and went to bed a very
miserable little boy.



54 OUR VOW IS MADE.

Somehow I had not yet got to think quite so
earnestly about it as he. I had not really had time
to think it out. I don’t know that I understood
very clearly what made Jack so angry about it. For
one thing, he was a very proud, sensitive child, and
the notion of being distrusted by mother, and being
in consequence put under the control of a girl, was
very bitter to him. It was not such a disgrace to
me, of course, in that way, being “only a girl” myself,
as he would have put it. And he was very inde-
pendent. But though I was rather puzzled by the
effect it had taken upon Jack, I felt sure he must be
in the right, and his words of the afternoon kept
coming into my head as I lay in my cosy bed looking
into the darkness. There was one speech in particular
which he had made while we were trying to play



after making our vow:

“T know Cousin Evelyn will be just like Aunt
Margaret—trying to make mischief with mother and
between us; but she shan’t, shall she, Allie 2?”

Ah! that was very sweet to me. No one should
come between me and my dear, clever Jack; we had
promised to stand by each other, he and I, and we
had a great secret together. Thinking of this I fell
asleep with my fingers tightly twisted in the bit of
string which was to prove the token of such an
unhappy chain of events.



CHAPTER IL

COUSIN EVELYN.

“‘ The discord is within which jars
So sadly in life’s song ;
*Tis we, not they, who are in fault
When others seem so wrong.”—I'ABER.

HREE whole weeks went by, and Jack and I did

not get into one serious piece of mischief. We
climbed no trees, made no jam, and fell into no ponds.
Mrs. Bain quite forgave us, and Betty was most kind ;
only poor old Thomas could neither forget nor forgive,
but watched us suspiciously and distrustfully as we
played about among his precious plants and shrubs.
Perhaps it was natural he should feel so strongly on
the subject; for while mother got Mrs. Bain a new
stew-pan and Betty some material for a pretty
Sunday frock for me, Thomas could never pass the
rhododendron bush without being reminded that it
was spoiled for that year, and no money could alter
the fact. Then, too, he was worse off in this new
phase of goodness of ours than any one else, for we
took up gardening as our craze in place of the forbid-
den amusements. Certainly the bit of ground we



56 COUSIN EVELYN.

worked upon was given to us to do as we liked with ;
but Thomas often spent half his day looking for his
tools, and we were always worrying him for seeds
and plants to put into our wonderful garden. It
really began to look very pretty at last, and we hardly
missed our climbing and all the games that seemed to
have gone with it, so interested were we in our dig-
ging, weeding, and watering.

But we were not happy. In spite of our goodness
and the new interest, we were really very mournful
children at times when we remembered that soon there
was a change coming into our home life, and one we
meant seriously to oppose, for we had by no means
forgotten our vow.

That Cousin Evelyn had arrived at the Grange we
knew, and she came down once with Aunt Margaret
to see mother; but when we saw the pony-carriage on
the road, Jack and I disappeared. We went for a
long walk by a back lane, where we were not likely
to be met by any one who would send us back. The
result of this expedition was a new idea for our
garden, prompted by a load of stones we met coming
away from a quarry which lay about a mile down the
lane. We at once made up our minds that we would
fetch some of these nice, rocky bits of granite, which
were only going to be broken up for mending the
roads, and make a rockery in our little corner. After
‘that we were very busy, for it took us quite a week to
bring enough stones from the quarry, going three and



COUSIN EVELYN. 57

four times a day, as often we could only manage one

-at a time, they were so large. We brought them in
our wheelbarrow; not a red and green toy, but a
good, sturdy little miniature of the one used by
Thomas, specially made for us by the village carpenter
at our instructions. Then the ferns had to be collected,
and we also brought loads of mould from the woods at
Betty’s suggestion, as she said the ferns would grow
better and feel more at home in the earth they were
used to. The servants were very much interested in
our work, and encouraged it by presents of cockle
shells and some chips of marble they got from a stone-
mason (he was Betty’s friend). Altogether we were
very kindly treated, and it was said of us in the ser-
vants’ hall that no one could think what had come
over us, we were so good all of a sudden.

When this was repeated to us by Betty, who
thought a little praise now and then was good for us,
a new idea sprang into our heads, and it was this that
helped us to behave well so long. We thought that
if mother saw how hard we were trying to please her
she would tell our cousin she would not need her after
all, and we should go on in the old, peaceful way,
without any one’s interference. We were not told
what day she was expected; perhaps mother guessed
we had run away the day the Drummonds called, and
kept it a secret on purpose; and this encouraged the
idea that it might have been but an idle threat made
to frighten us into behaving better. But all our hopes



58 COUSIN EVELYN.

were dashed to the ground one day at the end of these
three wonderful weeks. Then we learned that people
do not find it easy to trust again so soon when once
they have been deceived, and mother could not be sure
of us yet.

It was a perfect summer afternoon. We had been
working from early morning at our grotto, and Jack
knelt before it putting a few finishing touches with
the greatest pride. It really began to look like a
little fairyland, for the plants had all taken well; but
there was just one thing we longed for, and that was
a few pretty, sparkling stones, such as we saw in some
of the cottage gardens.

“Tt is a pity we can’t find any; I suppose they
don’t grow here,” Jack said, getting up and rubbing
his little earthy hands together to relieve them of the
mould.

His knees were brown with kneeling on the ground,
and he looked as untidy as possible; for I am sorry
to say we had not learned to be any cleaner or neater.
I, for once, was fairly presentable, as it was only an
hour after lunch, and I had done nothing but make
suggestions since we came out, as Jack would not let
me garden. He was like that sometimes, taking a
notion into his head that he must do everything him-
self.

“ Yes, it is a pity,” I echoed; “but let’s play hide-
and-seek,” I added, for I was dull, and tired of doing
nothing.



COUSIN EVELYN. 59

« All right,’ agreed my little brother; “only you
must let me hide first, because I know such a lovely
new place.”

This did not suit me, for I knew of some lovely
places too; besides which I wanted to be doing some-
thing at once, and Jack always took such a long time
hiding.

“No, I'll hide first,” I said. “You’ve been garden-
ing, and I thought of playing first.”

Now I don’t think Jack very much wanted to play ;
at any rate, he knelt down again before the rockery.

“Oh, then I shan’t play at all,” he retorted, in a
matter-of-fact tone.

I stood just behind him watching him.

“T think you are very selfish, Jack,” I said crossly.

“Then you are a silly little gurl,” he replied.

“T shall go away,” I went on, “and I won't play
ever when you want me to.”

“All right; go,” Jack said calmly. “I don’t want
you—I don’t care.”

Our voices must have grown very loud and angry,
so that they were heard some distance off; and we
did not notice footsteps behind us till suddenly we
gave a big jump and turned right round as a clear
voice said quite near us,—

“Suppose you both hide, and I will come and look
for you.”

We found ourselves face to face with the loveliest
girl we had ever either seen or dreamed of. She was



60 COUSIN EVELYN.

dressed all in white, with just a belt of pale mauve,
and a tie to match, fastened by a pearl pin. A white
- lace hat rested on her soft, curly hair, which was a
kind of brown with a gold light in it. Her eyes
were of a deep, rich grey, big, honest, and tender—of
that sort which seems to look you through and
through, expecting to find nothing in you but what is
good and true.

We stared in astonishment. Jack was, of course,
the first to recover himself.

“Oh, how d’you do?” he said, holding out one
hand, while with the other he raised his little blue
serge cap from where it always sat at the extreme
back of his curly head.

But the girl laughed merrily, and instead of shak-
ing hands put hers behind her, for her gloves were of
white kid.

“T don’t think your gloves would improve mine,
Cousin Jack,” she said, looking at his brown little
hands.

Then for the first time we knew to whom we were
speaking. This beautiful girl was none other than
our cousin, Evelyn Drummond.

In one moment J remembered our vow, and I looked
meaningly at Jack, but he had forgotten all about it;
and even when I coughed and put my hand up to my
neck, giving the sign he had himself invented, he took
no notice, but just stood looking at our new cousin in
astonishment. He had been very much puzzled as to



COUSIN EVELYN. GL

who she could be, but guessed she was some visitor of
mother’s who had been sent out to see the gardens,
which were quite show places in the neighbourhood.
His manners, when he chose, were very pretty, especi-
ally to complete strangers, and he was about to offer
to take this lady round the greenhouses, since mother
was not well enough to do the honours of the place
herself. But when he found himself talking to
Evelyn Drummond, he was too surprised to say any-
thing for a minute.

Afraid that she had offended him, Evelyn turned
to me.

“ Alison must shake hands for both,’ she said,
“since I have such stupid gloves on.”

But I imitated her exactly, and putting both my
hands behind me I said bluntly,—

“No, thank you; if Jack’s hands aren’t clean
enough, mine aren’t.”

Cousin Evelyn looked surprised.

“ Are you really Cousin Evelyn?” Jack exclaimed,
finding his tongue again.

“Yes, really and truly,” she said. “Didn’t you
know? I never thought of introducing myself.”

“Oh, it’s all right,’ Jack. said, just as if she had
made an apology which he was so kind as to accept,
“only I was rather surprised. You see you made me
jump.”

“JT am very sorry,” she said, gently and as if she
meant it, though her eyes were smiling, “but you



62 “ COUSIN EVELYN.

were so busy with your rockery you did not notice
my arrival on the scene. What a beauty it is, Jack!
you surely never made it yourselves ?”

“We did, though,” Jack replied, with great pride;
“we made it every bit, stones and all.”

“ How splendid!” said Evelyn heartily. “I believe
if you wanted some nice, bright, sparkling stones to
put here and there, I could easily get them for you.
But it is lovely ag it is,” she added, as if she were
afraid we might think she was running it down.

“Oh, thank you!” Jack cried excitedly ; “you are
ae,

“ Brick,” he was going to say, but he just stopped in
time, and said instead, “It is jolly of you. I do want
something shiny to put amongst the ferns, dreadfully.”

Meanwhile I stared, first at Jack, then at Evelyn,
with the greatest disapproval. This to my mind was
certainly not the way to begin keeping our vow.
Jack’s eyes were full of pleasure and eagerness; he
was talking to this girl, whom before he saw her he
had thought of as his bitterest enemy, as if he had
known and liked her all his life. He had even nearly
called her a brick, that name which hitherto he had
used for no one but me, and that he thought her one
I could see for myself. My heart seemed to swell
' within me, and I longed to have courage to remind
him of the vow which he was in such danger of break-
ing, but I did not dare.

Evelyn was undoubtedly taken with his bright,



COUSIN EVELYN. 68

handsome face and hearty, boyish manner. He was,
as usual, the spokesman; but to-day I somehow felt
shy and awkward, and as if I were quite in the back-
ground. It seemed to me they had quite forgotten
me, and a bitter, lonely feeling that I could not
understand crept into my heart. I told myself I was
ill-used and neglected, and I had plenty of time to
brood over Jack’s breaking faith with me over the
secret, which in the last three weeks had grown very
precious to me. I decided that I would take him to
task for it when we were alone again, and remind him
how very strongly he had felt on the subject. I said
further back that at the time of the making of our
vow I scarcely understood Jack’s earnestness about it;
to me it did not then mean very much, except that I
was glad of anything that was a bond between my
brother and myself.. I had thought then it would be
a difficult thing to keep, and often wondered how we
should do it. But now I felt as if it would be easy
enough, for I took a dislike to our cousin from the
very moment I discovered who she really was, and
saw that Jack was so won over by her that he forgot
all about me and the promises we had made to each
other so solemnly over the wheelbarrow only a few
weeks ago.

Yes: I could not then have given it a name, but I
was jealous, and with all my heart I wished Evelyn
back in Scotland, for I foresaw a trouble I had never
dreamed of before. Jack would find no difficulty in



64, COUSIN EVELYN.

obeying mother’s wish that we should treat Cousin
Evelyn as a sister, and then where would my place be,
since she was to be a daughter to mother and a sister
to Jack? It seemed to me I should be left out of it
altogether. I cannot say that I thought all this in
these very words, but it is what it all came to as I
stood watching Evelyn and Jack by our fairy grotto
that lovely day in the beginning of August.

“Then you must collect different kinds of ferns,”
our cousin said, “ and see how many varieties you can
get to grow here. I see you have just five now; but
I have a friend who is staying in the Highlands for
the summer, and I am sure she would be delighted to
send us a great bundle of ferns if I wrote and asked
her. Then we can have a Scotch corner.”

I glanced hopefully at Jack. Yesterday that word
“Scotch” would have put him into a regular rage, and
the bare idea of having anything Scotch in his garden
would not have been tolerated fora moment. But
now it had no effect ; it conveyed nothing to his mind.

“Jolly,” he said happily. “Will you write to-day?”

“Certainly,” said Cousin Evelyn, smiling at the
hurry he was in; “and you shall take my letter to the
post, to make sure it really goes.”

“Then you have come to stay now?” he asked
next, a new idea occurring to him.

“ Yes, dear,” was her gracious reply, spoken—oh so
gently. “If you will have me, I have come to stay.
Will you, Jack ?”



COUSIN EVELYN. 65

I tried to catch Jack’s eye, but he purposely would
not look at me. What answer would he make to
this, I asked myself, and I felt as if everything de-
pended on that for the moment; and would you
believe it, he said very calmly, and as if he were
doing Cousin Evelyn a great favour,—

«Why, yes, of course we will.”

I stared so hard and so fiercely at him then that he
had to look at me. He saw my hand at my neck and
the anger blazing in my eyes. Then he flushed hotly.

“Silly!” he muttered under his breath, but I
caught the well-known word.

Quick to notice the slightest thing, Evelyn saw
something was amiss between us; and thinking we
were still cross about our game of hide-and-seek, she
tried to change the subject.

“Won't you come in and see Aunt Margaret ?” she
asked.

Our reply must have been a shock to her, for we
both gasped out in one breath—

“Oh no! thank you, Cousin Evelyn.”

She looked surprised, but putting it down to shy-
ness, said,—

“Ah, I forgot; you wanted to play, didn’t you?
Shall we begin ?”

“No,” I said abruptly, speaking because she seemed
to be looking at me for an answer; “I don’t want to
play. Jack can if he likes.”

Jack looked at me, for I spoke crossly.
(969) 5 ,



66 COUSIN EVELYN.

“Nor do I, thank you, Cousin Evelyn,” he said
civilly, in defiance, as I thought, of my hints. “Tl
take you to see the grapes and things instead if you
like.”

This was a very kind offer of Jack’s, and he looked
quite conscious of it. Evelyn had taken off her gloves
by now, and she held out a very clean hand to him as
she said,—

“Do; I should like it immensely.”

Jack looked at his grubby paws and then at her
white fingers.

“My hands are rather muddy,” he said apologeti-
cally.

“ Oh, I don’t mind now,” said our cousin laughingly.
“My gloves would not have washed, but my hands
will.”

I made up my mind I would not go; but Evelyn
noticed that I did not move as she and Jack started,
hand in hand, towards the hothouses.

“You are coming too, are you not, Alison ?” she
asked.

“No, thank you; I’m tired,’ I replied, in a drawl-
ing tone.

“Oh, come along, Cousin Evelyn,” said Jack pointedly.
“We don’t want her if she is going to be grumpy.”

I stood quite still as they turned away. I suppose
Evelyn thought it wiser to do as he suggested, as she
did not understand my sullenness. The lonely, neg-
lected feeling in my heart grew bigger and bigger,



COUSIN EVELYN. 67

and as they disappeared out of sight round a corner, I
clinched my hands and stamped, tears rising to my
eyes and a choky feeling in my throat, as I said out
loud,—

“He doesn’t mean to keep our vow, and he likes
her awfully. Nothing will ever be the same any
more, and nobody loves me. Oh, I hate, hate, hate
Cousin Evelyn, and I won’t be good till she goes away ;
for she is a bad, cruel girl!”

Perhaps you think this very naughty, and so it was.
But you must remember it was the first time in my
life that Jack had ever forsaken me or been content to
do anything without me, and now he did not seem to
care one little bit. It was a new experience, and one
that I did not enjoy.

I roamed about the garden, avoiding them when-
ever I heard their voices; and they were always merry
and happy, while I felt more and more miserable. I
went in very late for tea, to find that Jack was having
his in the drawing-room with mother, Aunt Margaret,
and Evelyn. But though Betty told me I had been
sent for, I refused so obstinately to go down that she
had to give me tea upstairs as usual. She was very
much puzzled to see Jack and me apart for so long,
for such a thing had hitherto been unheard of; but
I would tell her nothing.

“Miss Drummond has been up herself asking for
you, Miss Alison,” she said, as she cut me a piece of
bread and jam. “She wanted you to come down to



68 COUSIN EVELYN.

tea too; and when she heard you was not in yet, she
seemed so sorry, as you had told her in the garden
you was feeling tired.”

Betty made this last announcement in a tone of
surprise, as well she might, for I don’t suppose she
had ever heard me own to such a thing as tiredness.
I did not speak.

“T think she is such a nice young lady,” Betty went
on, as I munched away at my bread. “And so does
Master Jack, ’m sure; for he brought her up here to
show her the way, talking to her all the time as nicely
as you please. You'd hardly have thought it was
Master Jack to hear him.”

I gulped down a mouthful of very hot tea. So
Betty had noticed it too, I thought.

“T wonder you don’t go down,” Betty said; “I
wouldn’t be so silly and shy if I was you.”

I got up from the table, forgetting to say my grace,
and said as I reached the door,—

“T don’t want to, and I won't. I’m not silly and
shy, and I don’t think Cousin Evelyn is a nice girl,
nor Jack a nice boy at all; so there!”

“ Highty-tighty, dearie me
as I slammed the door behind me.

I had scarcely touched my tea, for it suddenly came
into my head that Evelyn might come up again to
fetch me, and I did not want her to find me there.

My great wish now was to see Jack alone and
have it out with him. I felt I must have one last

(24

I heard Betty saying,



COUSIN EVELYN. 69

fight for our vow. But Cousin Evelyn kept him well
employed for the rest of the afternoon. He took the
precious letter to the post, for he was most anxious
about the ferns; and when he came back, he helped
her to begin unpacking some books she had brought
with her to put into the little sitting-room mother
had arranged she should have, leading out of her bed-
room,

But at supper-time I went upstairs, and found Jack
eating his bread and milk.

He looked questioningly at me, and when he saw
how gloomy I was he said,—

“ What is the matter, Alison? I never did see any-
body so stupid before. We have tried to find you
over and over again, Cousin Evelyn and I. Why did
you hide ?”

Iwas rather taken aback at this speech, for I was
counting upon his being a little ashamed of himself.

“You know why, Jack,’ I blurted out, “It’s all
your fault for forgetting our vow.”

Two ugly patches of red came into my cheeks, and
my eyes were full of burning-hot, angry tears.

“T didn’t forget our vow,” Jack exclaimed indig-
nantly; “but you are so silly. I only said Cousin
Evelyn shouldn’t come if she interfered with us and
spoiled our fun, and she hasn’t yet.”

“She began about the rockery at once,” I argued,
“just as if it wasn’t a bit pretty.”

“Oh,” cried Jack impatiently, “you are a baby.



70 COUSIN EVELYN.

Why, she wants to help us, and I shall let her if I
like. It’s my rockery as well as yours.”

“Tt isn’t mine ever any more,” I said, in a low,
husky voice, “if Cousin Evelyn is going to share it.”

“All right; I don’t care,” said Jack.

And the worst of it was that I really do not think
he did.

“ But are you going to keep our vow?” I persisted.

“Of course I am,” he replied, “if ever I’ve got to.
But Cousin Evelyn won’t try to manage us and order
us about, I know. She is a jolly girl, not a bit like
those others.”

“Those others,” of course, meant her sisters. I
heartily wished she had been like them, for I disliked
her more than I had ever done any one of them.

“But she is Scotch too,” I went on, hoping this
would make a difference.

“Yes, I know,” my brother said. “But she is nice
Scotch; there must be nice and nasty everythings.”

I had never heard this line of argument from him
before. Had I ventured to suggest such a thing that
very morning, he would have scorned the thought.

I considered for a moment. What could I say to
make Jack remember all he had felt so bitterly a few
weeks ago? It was just as if all the earnestness had
left him and taken possession of me. He had, as
usual, been impulsively eager about it at first, and so
excited as almost to frighten me. And when I had
had time to think it over—to understand what we had



COUSIN EVELYN. 71



done in taking such a vow—and was ready to follow
him to any length in the keeping of it, he suddenly
changed his mind, calling me a “silly” for disagreeing
with him.

“ Jack,” I cried with a sob, making one last effort
and appeal, “ you said she shouldn’t come between us.”

“Well, nor will she, stupid,” Jack said. “She wants
you to do everything the same as me. And oh, Allie,”
he cried, forgetting his ill-humour in the pleasure of
the remembrance, “she is going to teach me to play
golf on the common, and tennis, and cricket, and all
the things other boys do. She can do anything, Aunt
Margaret says, and she just loves games.”

This friendly reference to Aunt Margaret surprised
me more than anything; but Cousin Evelyn came into
the room at that moment, and I did not manage to get
out the speech that was at the tip of my tongue about
“not wanting to learn all those silly games.”

“ At supper, little people?” she said cheerily. “I
think I shall ask for bread and milk for supper some-
times, and come and have it with you, when Aunt
Maisie is not down for dinner.”

“Oh, would you?” Jack asked, quite pleased. And
then he went on, not waiting for an answer, “But I
say, Cousin Evelyn, we haven’t got anything to play
those things with here, you know. I quite forgot.”

“So I thought,” she said at once. “ But we can soon
mend all that. There is an extra tennis net up at the
Grange that they do not need, as they have only one



72 COUSIN EVELYN.

court there; also our old cricket set. We can easily
get some balls, as they are not very expensive, and
you can share my golf clubs with me to begin with.
I have a good many.”

“ And rackets?” demanded Jack, who was nothing
if not practical.

“We shall find some old rackets at home too,”
Evelyn replied smilingly. “And we will just go up
there and steal them in the face of every one.” Then
turning kindly to me she said, “You do look tired,
Alison dear; shall I help you to undress ?”

“No, thank you,” I said decidedly. “I am not very
tired now, and I hate being put to bed.”

Evelyn looked surprised, for I spoke rudely. She
must have thought me the very oddest child she had
ever met. Had I been alone with her, I should not
have dared to speak so; but I wanted to show off
before Jack, and prove to him that I at least meant
to remember and keep our vow.

I left the room without another word; but as I
went down the passage, I heard our cousin say
anxiously,—

“What is the matter with her, Jack? she cannot
be well.”

And then in his high treble, purposely raised so
that I should hear, came to my ears this never-to-be-
forgotten speech just as I reached my door—

“Qh, she is just horrid and cross; she is like that
sometimes.”



COUSIN EVELYN. 73

I waited to hear no more.

“O Jack, Jack,” I sobbed, with my face buried in
my pillow, “how can you be so unkind?” And then
I cried till I fell asleep.

There Betty found me, stretched at full length on
the bed with all my clothes on, when she came to call
me as usual at seven o'clock.

The next day was Sunday, and at breakfast
Cousin Evelyn said,—

“T suppose you are going to take me to church,
both of you?”

Now church was the one place in which we were
invariably good. On a very hot Sunday we some-
times fidgeted towards the end of the sermon, but
as a rule we were quiet—partly because we had early
been trained to do so, but chiefly, I am sorry to say,
our goodness was due to the fact that we found a
great deal to amuse us all through the service. We
were always watching that part of the congregation
which we could see without turning and twisting
about, and as we sat half-way down the church we
had a very good view.

The pew on the other side which interested us
more than all the rest put together was occupied by
some people of the name of Grant, who had but
recently come to live in the neighbourhood. They
lived in a great big house that, for as long as we
could remember, had stood forsaken and lonely in
its miles of lovely grounds. There was much ex-



74 COUSIN EVELYN.

citement in the village when the new-comers arrived ;
but we did not know them yet, owing to mother’s
being unable to go out anywhere. The Drummonds,
however, had called, and Jack and I were always in
hopes of at least forming a nodding acquaintance
through them, for they seemed a very attractive
family. Sir Richard was a handsome old man, and
Lady Grant looked kind and gentle; but Jack
longed most to know the two boys, who we were
sure must. be twins—they were so much of a height,
and were so like each other. But my great wish
was to speak to the lovely girl who always came
with her governess rather earlier than the rest,
though I knew she must be quite five years older
than I. It was no childish imagination that she
was so beautiful, for Elsie Grant was the talk of the
country side before they had been there long, with
her wealth of dark hair, soft brown eyes, and clear
olive complexion.

Just behind them sat the old squire and his. wife,
whose children were now all grown up and out in
the world. The vicar’s sister was the only occupant
of the next pew; for Mr. Collins was unmarried, and
she kept house for him. Then there was funny little
Mr. Brown of the village shop, on whose bald head
the flies insisted upon dancing, to our great delight,
in spite of all his efforts to keep them off with a
huge red cotton handkerchief. The last person of
interest on that side was good old Farmer Barns,



COUSIN EVELYN. 75

who would always go to sleep during the sermon,
and snore till his wife poked or pinched him to rouse
him. Once she did this so hard that he awoke
quite suddenly and said aloud, so that nearly every
one could hear him,—

“ All right, my dear; I’m coming in a minute.”

Then he saw he was in church, and the poor man
looked very confused and uncomfortable for the rest
of the service.

So we children had never any objection to going
to church. We were always hoping something like
that would occur again, but it never did. When
Cousin Evelyn asked if we would take her, Jack was
ereatly delighted; it sounded so much more manly
than to “be taken” by Betty, as we had always been
before.

Nothing unusual happened during the service,
except that Mr. Smith, the postmaster, took snuff at
a very inconvenient time, and began to sneeze so
loud just as Mr. Collins was giving out one of the
hymns that no one could hear the number, and that
caused a great deal of whispering at the back of the
church, till the vicar gave it out twice more, and we
could fairly start.

When we got home we found mother down to
welcome us, looking very bright. She had a little
walk with Evelyn round the garden, and it was not
difficult to see that the aunt and niece would soon
be the firmest friends from the way the elder woman



76 COUSIN EVELYN.

slipped her arm through that of the girl, and chatted
away to her as if she had known her for years.

It was then decided that, for the present at least,
Jack and I should have all our meals, except supper,
in the dining-room, not, as always before, alone
upstairs in the old day-nursery. I was not at all
pleased at the new arrangement, particularly as Jack
seemed so greatly taken with it.

“Just as if he found it dull with me!” I thought
bitterly.

“This is quite grown-up,” he said, with a sigh of
satisfaction, as he took his place opposite me at the
table.

I was silent; indeed I had said but little all day.
For one thing, Jack chattered so incessantly there
was little time for any one else to talk. But I had
no inclination to do so; I felt as if I had nothing to
say. When Cousin Evelyn spoke to me, I answered
her as briefly as I could, just as a shy, nervous child
might have done, though I was neither in reality.
She must have thought me most uninteresting, and
it was little wonder that she spoke principally to my
brother.

“J wonder whether any one has ever noticed a
likeness in Alison to you, Aunt Maisie?” Evelyn
remarked during lunch.

“JT expect so,” was mother’s reply, “for it is so
strong at times that I can see it myself.”

I felt pleased.



COUSIN EVELYN. 17

“She isn’t half so pretty,” broke in Jack; and then
he added, “There are ugly likenesses and pretty ones,
you know, Alison. I think Cousin Evelyn is much
more like mother, and she might be just as beautiful
if she only had real gold hair.”

Jack’s regret that Cousin Evelyn had not real gold
hair, as he called it, was so genuine, and he spoke in
such a matter-of-fact tone, that both mother and our
cousin laughed. I was not amused at all. JI did
not like to hear Cousin Evelyn praised by Jack and
compared with me in that rude way. Mother saw
the vexation in my face, and fearing an outburst of
tears or temper on my part, said teasingly to Jack,—

“Tf my little boy were only black, he might be
taken for a nigger with his curly hair. There is
another possible likeness for you, laddie.”

This had the desired effect, for it set Jack’s active
little brain off in another direction. I could see he
was thinking very deeply, for he left all the talk-
ing for the rest of lunch to mother and Cousin
Evelyn.

When we went into the garden, he was very
friendly with me, as if he had quite forgotten we
had scarcely spoken since our sad disagreement the
day before. Although he only took me as a com-
panion for want of a better, because Evelyn was
going to sit with mother, and I knew it, I was too
lonely not to swallow my pride for once and meet
his advances half-way. Besides, no one can guess



78 COUSIN EVELYN.

how terrible it was to me to be so long in my little
brother’s black books..

“Tve got such an.idea,' Allie,” he said excitedly, as
we walked off hand in hand. “Sunday is.so stupid
in the afternoon, because we don’t like to make a
noise; but Pve thought of a nice, quiet sort of re-
ligious game to play. We will black our faces and
pretend we're niggers. Then Ill be a ‘missionary,
and you shall be the heathen, and Tll- come and
preach to you, and tell you you mustn’t, eat people
or fight any more.”

Jack’s inspiration was as much due to the sermon
of the morning, which Mr. Collins had given us in
preparation for a collection for foreign missions, as
to mother’s remark at lunch.

“ Jolly,” I said.

I should have exclaimed the same if he had sug-
gested our going up to the moon, so anxious was I
to make it up with him. It was sucha relief to be
like oneself again.

“But the bother is,’ he went on, “I can’t think
what to paint ourselves with. Burnt cork is so
smudgy, and so is coal-dust. Boot blacking would
look fine, but we should have to brush our faces to
shine them.”

“TI know,” I cried: “let’s get mother’s patent shoe
gloss. It can’t hurt, because you put it on with a
little sponge.”

“Oh, splendid!” said Jack, as I ran off to fetch it.





“Hirst [ painted Jack, then he did me, and the effect was grand.”

Page 79.



COUSIN EVELYN. 79

I soon returned with a bottle, a small hand-glass,
and a paint-box, the last containing the red for our
lips.

We went into the summer-house and set to work
ab once.

First I painted Jack, then he did me, and to our
mind the effect was grand. We stood and looked at
each other when we were both ready, and laughed
till the tears ran down our cheeks at the sight of
the two little niggers with broad red lips, so unlike
our usual selves. We were painted down to our
collars, and I am afraid we had splashed the blacking
about a good deal in doing it, but we were so unused
to considering our clothes we did not notice it.

Jack did not feel quite in the mood for preaching
to the heathen after this, so we provided ourselves
with two combs and some thin paper, and through
these we proceeded to buzz every hymn tune we
could think of, going off into little fits of giggles
every few minutes whenever we caught sight of each
other. We were too noisy to hear a light step on
the gravel, and Cousin Evelyn was in the summer-
house before we knew of her approach.

“What a noise, my dear little cousins!” she began,
in an affectionate tone of remonstrance, and then she
stopped all of a sudden and stood staring at us.

I think she was as much startled by our appearance
as we were by her voice when she spoke; and no
wonder, when her eyes fell on two shiny black faces



80 COUSIN EVELYN.

instead of the pink-and-white children she had last
seen. Jack grinned from ear to ear, looking more
comical than ever. But I was very grave, for Cousin
Evelyn did not even smile.

“Jack dear,” she said gently, “it is Sunday.”

Jack’s grin vanished.

“T know, Cousin Evelyn,” he replied eagerly ; “ but
it’s quite a Sunday game. It is indeed, for I ama
missionary and Alison is a heathen, and I am teach-
ing her to sing hymns. Mr. Collins said there were
black missionaries, you know.”

Cousin Evelyn remembered the vicar’s simple,
story-like sermon of the morning, in which he had
so carefully explained to us about the African Mission,
for which he was specially preaching.

“T see,” she said; “but all the same I don’t think
it is quite a nice game. For one thing, it is so noisy ;
and then it seems almost like making fun of what
you have heard in church, which I am sure you
cannot have meant to do.”

Now was the time, thought I, for Jack to fire up
and remember our vow. But he did nothing of the
kind; he just looked very erestfallen, and said,—

“No, we didn’t mean to be funny; but it did make
us laugh, you know.”

I felt far too angry to speak; no one had ever
interrupted our games before and told us what we
ought or ought not to do on Sunday. We were
generally commended for our goodness on that day.



COUSIN EVELYN. 81

And then the meek way Jack took the reproof put
all the naughty feelings into my heart again, which
for the last hour or so I had quite forgotten.

Cousin Evelyn caught sight of mother’s shoe
polish on the table. Then she looked graver than
ever.

“You don’t mean to say you have used that patent
gloss for your faces?” she inquired, in a dismayed
tone.

“Why, yes,” I said, as if it were the most natural
thing in the world to have done; “it’s lovely stuff”

“Tam sure it is not,’ Evelyn replied; “it is any-
thing but lovely stuff to get off And you do not
know what it is made of; it might injure your skin
terribly.”

Then she noticed the paint-box and the one al-
most empty pan which had held the colour now on

our lips.
“Oh, how could you use vermilion for your lips!”
she cried anxiously. “Come with me quickly, and

let me try to get it off for you.”

She spoke principally to me, holding out her hand
to me, but I did not move.

“T won't,” I said stubbornly. “I don’t want it off;
I want to go on with our game.”

Jack’s look of vexation at this speech, and the
troubled expression in his eyes as he glanced at
Cousin Evelyn to see what effect it would have upon

her, did not help me into a better temper. My
(969) 6



82 COUSIN EVELYN.

thoughts at that moment were very bitter on the
subject of the broken vow.

“My dear Alison,” our cousin said quietly, but I
could see she was very much astonished, “ that is not
the way to speak. But there is no time to waste
either in remonstrating with you or scolding you.
Do as I tell you, and come with me at once. I will
wash as much of that, stuff off your face as I can.”

“T can wash my own face,” I said proudly; “Pm
not a baby. Jack can have his done if he likes; I
won't.”

I tried to put as much scorn into my reference to
Jack as I could, and my taunt struck home.

“No; I can wash my own face too,” he said
eagerly, with an imploring look at Evelyn, for he
could not bear it to be implied that he was ever
babyish.

“Very well, dear,” was Evelyn’s wise reply; “only
come and do it at once. I will show you a new way
and give you some stuff to put on, for I am afraid
it will be a little sore at first. We will do our best,
however, and you shall do it all yourself. I shall
make a first-rate doctor of you.—Come along, Alison.”

Jack put his hand confidingly into the one she
held out, quite pleased at the prospect of what
promised to be a new game; but I stood resolutely
still.

“T can do it all by myself, thank you,” I said
stiffly. Then seeing that Evelyn made a movement



COUSIN EVELYN. 83

as if she would take my hand by force, I sprang
aside, and turning round ran at full speed towards
the house.

I did not slacken my pace till I was in my room,
safely locked inside so that no one could come in.

Now Cousin Evelyn’s bedroom was between mine
and Jack’s, but part of it was partitioned off on my
side, forming her little boudoir, so that only the bit
of her other room which held the head of her bed
was the wall of my bedroom. But it was easy to
hear through to Jack’s, for all the walls in that part
of the house were thin, as if they had been built up
in a great hurry at the least possible expense.

Be that as it may, I heard the washing performance
and scraps of the conversation between my cousin
and brother—at least Jack’s part of it—and I
guessed the other. It went somehow like this :—

Splash, splash. “It’s no good, Cousin Evelyn”
—gurgle—“ once she gets cross”—gurgle, gurgle.
“What?” Pause. “No; I shouldn’t if I was you.
Eh? Oh, were you? No; I never learned grammar”
—splash, splash. “She'd think you a tell-tale ”—“I
say, is it coming off ?”—_“ My, it’s like ink in the water.
Couldn’t I use a nail-brush ?”—gureles and splash-
ings. “It is, rather. Ah, that is nice, cool stuff!
No; it’s no good, I’m sure, when she is in a temper.
Don’t go; what’s the good ?”—*Oh, goody, what a
fright! why, it’s all patchy.” Here I imagined he
must have seen himself in the glass. “Mayn’t I



84 COUSIN EVELYN.

wash any more?”—“ All right. But I can’t take
you to church again, can I, with my face like this?”

Then she had not got it all off, in spite of her
cleverness, I thought. Well, I would show them I
was not quite such a duffer; so I poured out some
cold water, and was just setting to work when
Evelyn’s voice at the door said,—

“Do let me in, Alison ; I have some hot water for
you, and the stuff I have put upon Jack’s face. He
is not clean yet, but ever so much better.”

I made no answer, but plunged my face into the
cool, refreshing water, purposely making a great
noise so that she should imagine I did not hear.
And though she knocked again and again, coaxing,
asking, and telling me to let her in, I took no notice
of her whatever.

At last I heard her say in a tired kind of tone,—

“Very well, Alison. I shall not ask you again ;
but I have left the can of hot water outside here,
and the bottle on it. So I will go away, and perhaps
you will have the sense to use them.”

This also I did not respond to, leaving the can and
the bottle on the mat, continuing my attempts to get
clean without them.

First, I used a great deal of soap; but this only
seemed to take a top layer off, for we had given our
complexions three coatings, to get it dark and shiny
enough. I scrubbed for a very long time with a
flannel; after which I took a careful survey in the



COUSIN EVELYN. 85

glass, to find there was still much to be done. I took
my nail-brush, using it first softly, and then, as I
grew impatient, harder and harder, till my face began
to feel very sore. I consulted the mirror again.
Where I was clean I was bright scarlet; but every
little wrinkle was full of the stuff, as well as great
patches of it round my nose, eyes, and mouth. It
looked a hopeless job; yet, cost me what it might,
I was determined to outdo my cousin and Jack.
Standing before the glass, I now took pumice stone,
and rubbed and scrubbed with it till I could bear the
pain no longer. The smarting was terrible, and I
was horrified at my appearance; for not only was I
now scarlet, but I had taken off great pieces of skin
every here and there, and I was all over sores and
blotches.

It just felt as if my face were on fire. This was
a reward for obstinacy; but I cannot honestly say I
was sorry I had denied Cousin Evelyn admittance.
I sat down in despair. Go downstairs to be laughed
at I could not; if any one had laughed at me when
I was in such pain, I do not know what I should
have done. Great tears welled up in my eyes and
began trickling down my cheeks; but this was un-
bearable, for their saltness added to the stinging pain.
So with all my might I tried to check them. I
began to wonder how much longer I could bear this
suffering, when I heard Jack running along the
passage towards my room. Then a loud thumping



86 COUSIN EVELYN.

came. JI did not move or speak during the pause
that followed.

“ Alison!” he shouted—* Alison, I say.”

No answer.

“ Alison, don’t be a silly! you’ve got to come
down and have some tea.”

Absolute silence.

“ Alison!” he cried impatiently, “mother says you
are to come down at once, and never mind about
your face.”

It was not an easy matter not to “mind about my
face.” But this command must, of course, be obeyed,
since it came from mother. Still I said nothing.

“ Alison,” Jack went on, “let me in; I want to tell
you something.”

I tried to sit still, but in vain. Jack knew that
curiosity was one of my failings, and he very often
took advantage of it. Slowly I got up, unlocked
the door, and then I rushed over to the window,
where I stood pretending to look out.

Jack came in.

“Well?” I demanded, with my back towards him.

“ How is your face ?” he asked.

“You didn’t come in to say that?” I asked crossly.

“Yes, I did,” Jack asserted.

“Then you told a story!” Iexclaimed. “That isn’t
telling me anything ; it’s me telling you.”

“Oh, well,” he said, “my face is much better, so
that is telling you something.”



COUSIN EVELYN. 87

“You could have said that outside,” I said; “and
I don’t care if it is, so there!”

My heart was very sore—full of the wounded
feelings I had been brooding over, and of the shame
I would not own to—or I never should have spoken
so to my Jack.

He came up to where I stood, and pushed himself
in front of me on to the broad window seat I leaned
against; then, with the full light upon my face, he
saw me.

“Oh my,” he cried, inelegantly, “you do look a
guy

I could not but be aware of the fact, but it was

|?

not pleasant to hear it said, especially as Jack could
well afford to speak; for though his face was red,
and all the black was not yet off it, it was nothing
to the sore, red, and raw condition mine was in.

“Why don’t you put some of Cousin Evelyn’s
stuff on?” he asked.

Now I had forgotten it in my misery, or I daresay
when I was alone I might have used it; but at Jack’s
suggestion—Jack whom I now began to suspect as
her ally—I would not do it.

“Because I don’t want to,” I replied shortly.

“Then you are a silly,” Jack retorted, with reason.

I did not speak.

“What is the matter, Alison?” he asked impa-
tiently.

“ Nothing,” I said.



88 COUSIN EVELYN.

“ Yes, there is,” he rejoined, in his direct way; “ you
are still grumping about our vow.”

“ Jack,” I cried, coming to the point, since he had
given me a chance to do so, “she did order us about,
and you never stood by me. You said I would
forsake you; but I never would, and you did it
to me.”

“TJ didn’t,” Jack said, with indignation ; “but you
were naughty and rude.”

“She meddled,” I said obstinately ; “and you never
used to think me naughty and rude till she came”
(I had got beyond giving Evelyn so much as a name).
“She is coming between us, and setting you against
me. You let her do just what she likes, wash your
face and all.”

“She didn’t wash my face,” Jack replied; “she let
me do it all myself”—this was added with much
dignity. “And I didn’t want the nasty stuff on my
face for ever, it prickled so. It was sensible to take
it off.”

The last words I felt sure were quoted from
Cousin Evelyn, and I resented the idea, for she must
have been comparing my conduct with his to let fall
such a remark. But I could say no more, for in the
open doorway stood mother waiting for me.

“ My darling!” she exclaimed, as she saw my plight ;
“how sore your poor face is! Come with me, and I
will put some cold cream on it.”

Obediently I went with her, thankful even to



COUSIN EVELYN. 89

think of anything likely to relieve the awful burning,
and also glad not to have to use Cousin Evelyn’s
lotion after all. Then to my joy, when we got
downstairs I discovered that one of the girls had
been down from the Grange and fetched her for tea,
and to go to church with them.

We had a very quiet evening, such as we had often
spent before with mother when she was fairly well—
Jack amusing himself by wandering round the
drawing-room to examine the many curiosities it
contained, asking their histories as he went, and I
sitting with a book of photographs. But to-night it
was all I could do to sit still, my face was stinging
so. And presently we went to bed—Jack full of
expectancy for what to-morrow would bring in the
way of tennis or golf, and I sick at heart and over-
tired with the scalding pain I was suffering.

I moaned myself into a restless sleep, in which I
knew all about my misery as clearly as when I was
awake. Then gradually a delicious coolness seemed
to steal over my face, and I thought I was in a shady
palace with a little black boy, very like Jack, who
stood before me waving a fan. In the far distance
I could hear some hundreds of bees, all busy at their
hive, keeping up a continual buzzing sound; and it is
curious, but it did not seem very odd to me, that they
should be humming a tune, “Now the day is over,”
all the time without a fault. I thought I must be a
princess, so that I just lay and enjoyed every breath



90 COUSIN EVELYN.

of the cool, scented air, and I knew that I should
have no more pain as long as the little boy went on
fanning me. I longed to beg him not to stop, but I
could not think what language he would speak; so I
had to give up the idea, and just lie very still and
quiet.

- Sure enough, when I awoke next morning, though
it was anything but well, my face was wonderfully
better. I was delighted, and it was not till I was
nearly dressed that I discovered on a table near my
bed a bottle, a saucer containing some watery-looking
stuff, and a handkerchief, which had evidently been
used to apply the lotion. Some one had come into
my room after I had fallen into that troubled sleep,
and had put this stuff on my burning skin. That
accounted for the dream of coolness and comfort, and
the sound slumber I had afterwards dropped into. I
suspected who it was at once, but with a hope that
I was wrong I examined the handkerchief. Yes,
there were the initials I had expected to find—E. D.—
clearly embroidered in the corner. So it was, as I
had thought, Cousin Evelyn,

But even when I knew that, I could not have
pictured what really took place there in the silence
of the night: how a patient figure had bent over me
hour after hour, bathing my face with a gentle, un-
tiring hand, till my piteous moaning ceased, and I
was soothed off into a dreamless sleep. Then on
and off she had slipped into my room to change the



COUSIN EVELYN. 91

cool, damp rags she laid upon my face to keep down
the inflammation, ungrudgingly denying herself her
proper rest for the sake of an ungrateful child. It
was not till long afterwards, when I had learned my
bitter lesson, that I knew of this. I very much doubt
whether it would have made much difference in my
conduct had I known it sooner, for I was in such a
naughty frame of mind that the bare idea of her
having done as much as I could guess for me angered
and distressed me. After all I had been forced to
take her help against my will; to myself I called it

2

“sneaking” and “mean” to come into my room as I
slept, when she knew I would not have let her in had
I been awake. I resented it all the more that when
I first awoke I had prided myself on being in the
right after all. “Of course,’ I thought, “it was
bound to hurt at first, but it will get well without
her interference.” And after all it was just “her

interference” that was curing it.



CHAPTER Iii.

WAS JACK DESERTING ME?

“* Not to be first—how hard to learn
8

That life-long lesson of the past !
Roserri.
ONDAY, to any one who has housekeeping to
attend to, is a busy morning.

In addition to this, Cousin Evelyn had to finish
her unpacking and arrange her rooms, so that she
had no time to spend with us.

When we met for prayers she asked me how my
face was. I replied, as ungraciously as I could, that
it was a little better; and I did not thank her for
her kindness, but behaved just as if I knew nothing
about it.

Prayers was a new institution. Of course there
had been no one to read them for us before. I am
afraid I thought them rather a bother, probably be-
cause it was Cousin Evelyn’s arrangement, and one of
the first signs of the law and order I felt she meant
to establish in our hitherto desultory home life.

Jack was quite satisfied.

“T's what every gentleman’s house should have,”



WAS JACK DESERTING ME? 93

he remarked solemnly; but I knew he was quoting
Mrs. Bain, who said exactly these words when the
announcement was made to her.

Mrs. Bain was what we called “religious,” which
meant that she wore black silk on Sunday, and
carried her Bible to church wrapped up in a hand-
kerchief. It was one of our weekly amusements to
watch her progress up the church, holding her pile
of books before her in both hands exactly as if she
were bringing in a pudding.

At breakfast Jack kept up such a string of ques-
tions as to tennis and golf that it was difficult to get
in a word about anything else. I was therefore very
much left to my own thoughts, except for an attempt
now and then on Evelyn’s part to draw me into the
conversation.

Jack was so fearfully disappointed that Evelyn
would not have time to go up to the Grange about
the things before lunch, that she offered to give him
a note to take to Maggie, in which she would ask her
to look out the net and rackets and send them down
by one of the gardeners. He did not seem to like
this proposal very much, however, greatly as he longed
for his game; we had a wholesome awe of the Grange
and its inhabitants.

“ All by myself?” he asked doubtfully.

“Why, yes, dear,’ Evelyn said. “They will be
delighted to see you if you go up there at about
eleven o'clock, I know.”



94 WAS JACK DESERTING ME?

“But my face?” he said inquiringly, for it still bore
traces of the blacking in many a wrinkle and corner.

“Oh, they will take no notice of that,’ Evelyn re-
plied, at once realizing that he dreaded the remarks
that might be made. “I told them about your game
yesterday, and they were all very sorry the blacking
was so hard to get off”

“Aunt Margaret and all?” asked Jack, not yet
satisfied.

“Aunt Margaret and all,” our cousin said, smiling.

So it was decided that at eleven o’clock Jack should
start.

He was very busy at the grotto till then, preparing
a nice place for the Scotch ferns when they should
arrive; but he was in one of his moods for wanting to
do all the work himself, so that, even had I wished
it, I should not have been allowed to help him. I
hovered around, watching the performance without
comment, he chattering all the time about the won-
derful things he meant to do when he knew how to
play every game that was ever invented. But pre-
sently the stable clock struck eleven, and he stopped
abruptly in his work, stood up, and said,—

“ Are you coming, Alison ?”

I think his heart was failing him a little at the
thought of going up to the Grange alone, and that he
really wanted me to go with him then. But I re-
plied shortly,—

“No; I’m tired.”



WAS JACK DESERTING ME? 95

“Tired!” exclaimed Jack, with much scorn ; “why,
it isn’t bed-time. You're afraid.”

This was too painfully true to be pleasant. My
face was much worse than his, for it was so sore, in
addition to which I could not but imagine that in
telling the story of yesterday’s game Evelyn must
have said how very naughty I had been; if that were
the case, I did not feel as if I should get a very warm
welcome from her mother and sisters.

“T’m not afraid,” I said, however, in a cross tone.
“T am tired, and I’ve got a headache,”

“Oh well, you needn’t come,” Jack said loftily, as
he walked off and left me; “I don’t want you.”

As soon as I was alone I began to wish I had not
been such a coward; but even then I could not over-
come the feeling, and I was too proud to run after
him, remembering his speech, even if I had found
courage to face the people at the Grange.

The garden seemed such a great, big, dull place
when he was gone. I had never found it so before ; it
was to my mind always the loveliest, most interesting
spot in the world. But now without Jack it might
have been a dreary desert for all the pleasure I could
take in it. It is strange that one little creature, a
mere scrap of a lad in sailor suits, should have made
all that difference, but so it was. I believe I should
have been content anywhere with Jack, undergone
any hardships cheerfully, borne any treatment, so
long as I had him with me to share it all. Such



96 WAS JACK DESERTING ME?

were my feelings for my impulsive little brother as I
now know them to have been. But what puzzled me
then is a riddle to me no longer, and that was why
it was that Jack did not feel the same for me I
could not think how it was he could enjoy himself or
be happy doing anything without me, since I could
not bear to be even a few minutes away from him.
I thought then that he did not love me, but I was
wrong; he was very fond of me in his own way, a
boy’s way, which is a very different thing from a girl’s.
I loved him passionately, above every one else in the
world, even counting mother; he was first in my
thoughts, and nothing would satisfy me but to be
first in his. JI never realized until Cousin Evelyn
came that I was not, and even then I could not
understand that mother, and she, and I, and every
one who was ever good and kind to Jack, found a
place in his warm little heart, all fitting into their
proper places without his troubling his head as to
how much or how little he liked them. The French
have a saying about two great friends that there are
“always one who loves and one who lets himself be
loved.” Jack was one of the people who, as a rule,
let himself be loved, with perhaps the feeling that
they ought to be rather grateful to him than other-
wise that he permitted it.

I went away up to my room, as the playroom even
seemed bare and empty. Sitting on the edge of my
bed—a thing which Betty strictly forbade, as she said



WAS JACK DESERTING ME? 97

it “messed up the counterpane ”—I thought over what
I considered “imy wrongs.”

“Tt is all Cousin Evelyn,” I said, speaking out
loud, as I had a habit of doing when alone; “she is
setting Jack against me.”

And this was really becoming my firm belief. I
put the sudden change in my brother down to her,
not knowing that her part in it was but small; she
had only roused in him what had always existed—
his real, boyish nature. When I said that day that
nothing would ever be the same, I made a true pro-
phecy without knowing it; for it was an era in Jack’s
life—the beginning of the turning-point from a
babyish child to a manly boy. So far we had been
very much on a level. He was very backward, I
was a tomboy of a girl, and he, having no boy friends,
was quite content to play, as we had both done ever
since we were tiny, toddling mites, games of pretence
and impossible adventure. We did not know what
other children did; we wanted nothing more. Buta
few words spoken by our gentle cousin acted like
magic, awoke that sleeping something in my little
brother, and I was all of a sudden conscious of a
division between us. She had simply said,—

“T will teach you the games other boys play, for
when you go among them you will feel dreadfully
out of it.”

And now he wanted to be as “other boys” are, to

do what “other boys” do, and enter that life into
(969) 7



98 WAS JACK DESERTING ME?

which a girl cannot follow; so our baby, hand-in-
hand dreamland was at an end.

I tell you all this because you might think, as I
did, that Jack was very unkind to me; and even
though it is so many years ago, I cannot bear any
one to think slightingly of him: bitter as my own
thoughts about it all were, I would not have allowed
any one else to say one word against my Jack. I
even put the blame on some one else, and said,—

“Tt is all Cousin Evelyn’s fault.”

How it happened I do not know ; I suppose I leaned
back on the pillows to think, and must gradually
have slipped into a comfortable lying position. Any-
how I fell asleep, and never awoke till long after
lunch-time, when I found Evelyn by my bed with
a tray in her hand. Indeed, I thought I must be
dreaming, till she spoke.

“You have had a nice, sound sleep, young lady,”
she said, with a smile. “I have been up several times,
and Jack and I had lunch more than an hour ago. So
now I have gone back to my duties as nurse, and
have brought you some nice, strong beef-tea. You
may like to go to sleep again after it.”

I sat up rubbing my eyes, and allowed her to prop
up my pillows and set the tray on my knees.

“Where is Jack?” was my first question.

“Tn the garden,” was the reply. “He is going to
have his first lesson in tennis now; unless you would
like me to come and read to you?”.



WAS JACK DESERTING ME? 99

“No,” I said: “I don’t like being read to when I’ve
got a headache; I want to go to sleep.”

Cousin Evelyn went away, and I thought I had
offended her. But in a few minutes she was back
with some smelling-salts, which she said would do my
head good; and when I had finished my beef-tea and
would have nothing more, she pulled down the blind
and quietly left the room.

The door was scarcely closed behind her before I
felt sure that lying down was the very worst thing
for my headache. I promptly sat up, pushed off the
shawl she had so thoughtfully put over me, and de-
cided that I would get up. Jack’s merry little voice
in the garden attracted me to the window to see what
they were doing, for I ‘could see from my room what
was now to be called the tennis-lawn. I drew aside
the blind and peeped out. Evelyn joined Jack in
another moment, and they were soon marking out the
court with whiting--Evelyn doing the real work ;
Jack, excited and happy all the time, very busy doing
nothing, but feeling most useful.

A lump rose in my throat as I watched.

“He doesn’t want me one bit,’ I muttered—*he
doesn’t even miss me; and she only made that fuss
over me and covered me up to keep me out of the
way, I know.”

Presently they finished the marking, which had
been begun soon after lunch, and mother came out
and sat down under the trees to watch the first re-



Full Text




Sa a aan a | :

| ELNAVERFIELD.

eo




The Baldwin Library

University
B of
TTL Florida


OUR Vow.














































Ley

















“ We shook hands over the wheelbarrow and said, ‘I vow.”

Page 30


TNeLson & Sons
| ONDON, € DINBU RGH &
New ors
OwRr Vv © WwW

A Story for Children

BY

E. L. HAVERFIELD

Author of “On Trust,”
&e. &e.



THOMAS NELSON AND SONS
London, Edinburgh, and New York

1899
Il.

III.

IV.

VI

VII.

CONTE NS:



- OUR VOW IS MADE,

COUSIN EVELYN,

WAS JACK DESERTING ME?
EVELYN’S FRIEND, MISS LITTLE,
A TERRIBLE SCRAPE,

MISS LITTLE’S LETTER,

WHERE IS EVELYN?
Eto Of Leh sinha bEONS

BY

Cc. Rosa Petherick.



“Wh SHOOK HANDS OVER THE WHEELBARROW AND SAID,

CT AVOWS oe oa Bae ae Frontispiece,

“FIRST I PAINTED JACK, THEN HE DID ME, AND THE

EFFECT WAS GRAND,” oo cae ero)

“Csrp STILL!’ SHE SHOUTED, ‘I AM COMING TO YOU,’” 120

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING, ALISON?’ SAID COUSIN
EVELYN,” .... ane ee oe eel 7A

“JT WAS TOO STUPEFIED TO MOVE,” we ee 236
OO UR av OW:



CHAPTER I.

OUR VOW IS MADE.

“We should take care of the beginning of sin; nobody is exceedingly
wicked all at once.”—BisHop WILSON.

i E vow that we wont be maneged and ordured

about by Cusin Evelun. ‘If she cums to liv

with us we wont obay her nor be good til she gose

away agen. She shant enterfear with us nor spoil our

fun. We wil stand by eech other agenst her for ever.

“Sened JACK SEYMOUR.
“ ALISON SEYMOUR.”

That was our vow, written twice over on two not
very clean bits of paper, and carried about in our
pockets for many a long day, till those naughty
words, scrawled in a babyish hand by a little lad of
nine years old, worked so much mischief that, but for
a promise I gave some one long ago to write this story,
I could hardly bring myself to tell you about it.
10 OUR VOW IS MADE.

Perhaps you know some boys and girls like these
I write of, full of fun and nonsense, loving and lov-
able, but as careless and heedless as a pair of kittens
in a work-basket, who mix all the silks, cottons, tapes,
and wool together into a terrible tangle, roll the
buttons, thimble, and yard-measure out of sight, and
never remember till they prick their noses on the
point of the scissors, or. scratch their tiny paws with
the needles and pins, how much better it would be to
leave alone things which they do not understand.
Such a couple were we; but we had to get a very
deep scar before we learned our lesson. It all began
with our vow, and this is how we came to make it.
We lived all alone, just mother and Jack and I,
in a dear old house in the country. There was no
one to look after us, for mother thought we were too
old for nursery life, and yet too young for the school-
room. She was far too delicate herself to attend to
us. Betty, the sewing-maid, mended our clothes,
seeing also that we had our meals and went to bed
in proper time—when she could find us, that is to say ;
but a fine life we led her. But for the lesson hour
every day, which our kind old vicar spent in giving
us a Scripture lesson, and trying to teach us to read
and write, we ran wild from morning to night, doing
exactly what we liked, without rule or guidance.
There were one or two things we knew mother did
not like us to do, such as planting onions in the
hyacinth pots in the hothouse, taking out all the
OUR VOW IS MADE. 11

bulbs and putting them into the kitchen garden.
We did that one year as a surprise for Thomas the
gardener, getting up very early, before he was about,
to make the exchange, so that he knew nothing of it
until the plants began to show above the earth. I
can safely say he was very surprised indeed when
they grew up a little, and he discovered what it was
he had been treasuring so long in the greenhouse
among his pet flowers. But they were very fine
onions after all, though he did not seem much pleased
about it. Perhaps that was because the hyacinths,
when he found them, were sadly poor; and, as a rule,
he took two or three prizes at the flower show with
them.

We loved our mother dearly, and we would not
have vexed her for anything; but we were so sorry
for her lying, as she did, always on the sofa or in a
lounge-chair, that we quite began to think we must
know better than she what we ought or ought not
to do, and what was good or bad for us. So we
made our own laws. We had only two, and they were
very simple indeed: first, that if we made a noise,
it must be somewhere out of mother’s hearing ;
secondly, that if we were naughty, she must not be
distressed by knowing it. In the latter we were helped
by the doctor's strict orders that she must be worried
by nothing, and always kept as peaceful and quiet as
possible. So we got into all sorts of scrapes of which
she never heard; and the servants, all of whom were
12 OUR VOW IS MADE.

elderly, bore much in silence, or scolded us themselves
when we did something worse than usual. In this
way mother got the idea that we were quite model
children, especially as, when she had one of her bad
attacks, we did the only thing we could for her by
keeping out of the way, that we might not disturb
her with our games, and creeping into her room, when
we were allowed to see her, as quietly as mice.

We neither of us could recollect her as well and
strong like other people; she had never been so since
our father died, when I was but three years old and
Jack four. All he could remember of that sad time
was his pride in the black sailor suit with knicker-
bockers, and his joy when some one told him he
would never have to wear skirts again like a girl.
He thought he had cried a little when he could not
find father anywhere to show him all these lovely
new things; but the pockets in his little trousers,
into which he could stuff his baby hands and strut
about the house “like a man,” as he said, were very
comforting, and his tears were soon dried.

We had no playmates of our own age, as mother
could not pay. calls and make friends for us. But
we were perfectly happy without them, and grew
old-fashioned and independent in our lonely life, our
greatest excitement being a fishing expedition now
and then with the doctor, or going to help the vicar
with his gardening. As a rule, we played in our own
grounds, which were very big and beautiful. It
OUR VOW IS MADE. 13

geemed to us we should always go on in this easy,
happy way; we could remember nothing else, and we
wished for nothing different. But one day, when
Jack was nearly ten and I but one year younger, a
great change came into our lives which we deeply
resented.

The cause of it was the arrival in the village of an
uncle and aunt. They had always before lived in
Scotland ; but now, on account of our mother’s health,
they had decided to take a house near us, that Aunt
Margaret might look after her.

So they came, bringing four grown-up daughters,
who were the sort of people one can describe all at
once, as they were neither ugly nor pretty, but just
well-cared-for, well-brought-up girls, with different
shades of sandy hair, pale-blue eyes, very freckled
complexions, and an abrupt, short manner like their
mother’s.

It was this last fact that made us dislike our
cousins Janet, Ellen, Agnes, and Maggie from the very
first; for the only person in the world of whom we
were In awe was our aunt Margaret Drummond.
How she came to be our gentle mother’s sister we
always wondered, for she was as unlike her as she
could be in every way. She was big and strong, to
begin with, and her features were sharp; while mother
was fragile, tiny, and “beautiful as a fairy,” Jack
said, as positively as if he had known fairies and
talked to them many a time in his short life.
14 OUR VOW IS MADE.

Whenever Aunt Margaret had stayed with us we
had kept well out of the way, for we always felt
sure she did not approve of us at all. This, of course,
we only guessed from her manner to us; for she was
a stern woman, with very strict ideas on the up-
bringing of children. But when she came to live
near us, we soon heard for certain from the servants
what she thought of us. So we were very much
afraid of meeting her, and the most unhappy times in

our lives—the first we had ever known—were those



spent at the Grange, the Drummonds’ house. Also
through the servants we knew that none of our four
_ cousins were fond of children, and that they thought us
the most tiresome, rough little things they had ever
met. This did not add to our happiness. when we
were invited to tea with them, as we were always
dressed in our best clothes and bidden by Betty to
behave nicely and not shock the young ladies. Cer-
tainly we went very seldom, and we did not stay any
longer than we could help; for we felt they must be
wishing all the time that we would go away, and
Aunt Margaret’s disapproving looks when we took
too big a mouthful of cake or slopped the tea down
our clothes made us feel very uncomfortable. But
the real mischief began when we discovered that
the servants, instead of simply scolding us themselves
when we were naughty and saying no more about it,
were now adopting the plan of saying they would
tell our aunt if we ever did such things again. This
OUR VOW IS MADE. 15

was like the distant rumble of an approaching thunder-
storm, and we grumbled to each other over it each
time, though we made up our minds they would
never dare to carry out their threat.

“ Besides,” we said very often, “we don’t care if
they do tell tales; it isn’t Aunt Margaret’s business
what we do, and we won’t be kept in order by her.”

But it was a new and very disagreeable sensation
to us to be threatened, and one which roused every
naughty feeling in our hearts. And we broke out
into open rebellion at last when we found that it was
no idle threat after all; for our aunt was told of one
of our performances, and we were sent for by her to
be spoken to on the subject. We were in very great
disgrace both with Mrs. Bain our cook and Thomas
the gardener, and this is how it came about.

Some one told us one day for fun that rhodo-
dendron buds made very good jam. Now we had
one huge bush which was covered with the promise
of flower. But it struck us jam was a much more
sensible thing than bunches of blossom, so very early
in the morning we got up and picked off every bud
we could reach on the tree, filling a big basket full of
the sticky, fat things. Then we crept into the kit-
chen and took a big bag of sugar and one of the best
stew-pans, with which we marched into the garden.

Near one of the potting-sheds there stood the
ruins of an old stove; it was a rusty old iron thing
with no chimney, but we had often before made a
16 OUR VOW IS MADE.

fire in it to play houses, or to boil water in an old
kettle. To this we made our way, and soon had a
good blaze on which to do our cooking. Then we
put all the sugar into the stew-pan and melted it,
after which we dropped the buds in, having had them
carefully cut into slices meanwhile. We took it in
turns to stir this up with a silver spoon, while the
other kept up a good fire; and so we spent two
happy hours, for we felt it was great fun, though the
spoon got very hot and burnt our fingers, and our
faces were scorched with stooping over the fire.

The jam, however, was never made: the whole
result of our labours was a ruined stew-pan, a waste
of four pounds of sugar, and a spoiled shrub.

When Thomas came to his work at six o’clock, his
anger and dismay knew no bounds; he could hardly
speak when he found out what we were doing. I
believe the poor old man went about all day with
great tears of disappointment trickling down his fur-
rowed cheeks and over his nose, which he brushed
away now and then with his coat sleeve; for his
flowers were like children to him.

Mrs. Bain simply ordered us away from her sight,
in great indignation; for she always took great pride
in her pots and pans, and it was impossible to re-
move the burnt sugar.

“Mind, your aunt shall hear of it,” she said, as
hand in hand we turned away and with our heads

very high left the kitchen. “She shall hear all about
(969)
OUR VOW IS MADE. 17

it, for you are getting past all bearing. It is time
you had a firm hand over you, so it is.”

We thought no more of the threat till next day,
when a message was brought to us that we were to
go to tea at the Grange that afternoon. We looked
at each other wonderingly, for we had been there
only two days before, and we never went more than
twice in a month as a rule. But we suspected nothing,
until Betty very foolishly told us, while she was get-
ting us ready to go, that Mrs. Bain had been up to see
Aunt Margaret, and that we had been asked to go up
there that we might be well scolded. She told us this
to frighten us, for she sympathized with her fellow-
servants, and wished us to be punished.

We did not look at it from the same point of
view at all; and as soon as we were alone, and as
Betty believed on our way to the Drummonds, we
agreed we would rather not go to tea with them that
day, but would wait until Aunt Margaret had had
time to forget our naughtiness a little before we
favoured them with a visit. All our lives we had
been in the habit of doing only what pleased our-
selves, without consulting any one, and we now
decided that no tea and a game in the fields was
preferable to drawing-room tea and a scolding. So
we trudged along for a time, and then we turned into
a pleasant meadow not far from the Grange, meaning
to spend a quiet afternoon, for we were dressed in

our Sunday clothes.
(969) }
18 OUR VOW IS MADE.

We never could be still for very long, however,
and here in a short time we found something to
amuse us, in the shape of two washing-tubs, big, round
things, which were standing by the side of a pool; for
this field was used by our washerwoman as a drying-
green, and all her pegs and things were lying about
near us.

After sitting by the water demurely for a while,
making ducks and drakes on the pond from where
we sat with flat pebbles, we began to wonder what
we could do next. Suddenly Jack jumped up.

“T know,” he said. “Tl be a Conservative, and you
can be the villagers, and I'll give you a lecture about
politics, as they do at elections.

The tubs stood upside down very near the edge of
the water, both slanting towards us as they rested on
their little, short handles. On to one of these Jack
climbed and stood, hat in hand, his thick mass of
brown curls shining in the sun and tumbling all
over his little round head, his bonnie sunburnt face
full of excitement, and his eyes bubbling over with
mischief. He was so sturdy and strong—something
so very much to be proud of—that I could not help
thinking I loved him very much at that moment.
Perhaps his good looks struck me all the more just
then because he was so unusually clean in his nice
pure white sailor suit. He was very still for a few
seconds, for he was thinking hard. ‘To tell the truth,
he did not know anything about politics or elections,
OUR VOW IS MADE. 19

and he only thought it was the right thing for a
gentleman to be a Conservative because he knew
father had been one.

But his thinking came to nothing after all, and
impatient that no ideas would come, he gave a wriggle,
forgetting he was on an unsteady tub, and in another
moment he was falling head over heels backwards into
a slimy puddle at the water’s edge. I just saw two
little feet in the air, and the tub swing over, followed
by a heavy thud; and then I sprang to my feet, for
I was afraid Jack had hurt himself. But when he
ruefully picked himself up, and stood before me in a
thick coat of brown mud, I burst into peals of laughter.
This hurt his feelings dreadfully, and he drew himself
up to his full height and looked crossly at me.

“You little silly!” he said, and turned away with
scorn.

But his back was funnier than his front, and I
laughed louder and louder, till the tears ran down my
cheeks.

“You did look so queer rolling over,’ I tried to
explain in a choked voice; “and now you look just
like a rat,”

Then Jack stalked across the field without a word,
and I saw he was very angry, for the thing he could
bear least in the world was to be laughed at.

So, though it was very hard work, I stopped sud-
denly and ran after him, as I think he had expected
I would, for he was going very slowly.
20 OUR VOW IS MADE.

“Jack,” I panted, “don’t go home. I'll help you
to scrape off the mud if you will come back, and I
promise I won't laugh. Betty will be so cross if she
sees you like that, and I can clean you a little.”

He stood with his back to me, not speaking a word.

“Don’t be cross, Jack,” I pleaded. “I won’t laugh
any more; but you can’t think how funny you look.”

This was an unfortunate remark to make, for it set
me off again.

“Why, you are laughing now,” Jack said, with in-
dignation. “It is so like a ‘gurl’ to giggle at nothing.”

All my desire to laugh was gone ina moment. I
could not bear Jack to speak to me in that contempt-
uous way. My one great sorrow was the thought
that after all I was only a girl. But I did my best to
be like a boy, and Jack never reminded me that I
was not one, unless he was very angry with me. He
liked me to be a tomboy, for he had no one to share
his games but me. I had to be brother and sister as
well to him. So now I was humbled in a minute,
and I did not want to laugh any more.

“T’m so sorry, Jack,” I said coaxingly. “ But let me
get this nasty stuff off you with these drying-pins.”

Which I at once set to work to do, using the pegs
Mrs. Mason used to hang up the clean clothes to
scrape Jack’s back. I never noticed till he was
much cleaner that my own dainty pink liberty silk
dress was getting splashed and spotted all over with
the ugly brown stuff. Jack saw it first, and when
OUR VOW IS MADE. 21

he pointed it out to me, I knew my new Sunday
frock was spoiled for ever. We felt rather sorry
about this, but presently Jack said cheerfully,—

“Well, anyway, we can’t get any worse now, so I
votes we play something sensible.”

His ill-humour was all gone, and I was anxious to
please him, so I said,—

“T know. Put one tub on top of the other, and you
get inside and preach to me.”

Now Jack loved the sound of his own voice, so he
readily helped me to arrange the pulpit, the one tub
just fitting inside the top of the other; then as I
gravely took my seat on the ground below him, he
solemnly clambered into the upper one, standing like
Mr. Collins, our vicar, till the congregation had sat
down.

“My dear brotherin and sisterin,” he began im-
pressively.

But I waited for a long time, and no text came.
The sermon was not to be more successful than the
political meeting. Jack’s eyes wandered, and they
fell on the chimneys of the Grange, which he could
see appearing among the trees at the other side of
the road and across some fields.

“ Alison,” he said, with a nod to point out what he
was looking at, “I wonder what they are doing over
there ?”

“T expect they are wondering why we don’t come,”
I said.
22 OUR VOW IS MADE.

“So do I,” Jack replied. “I daresay that old cat
is in a rage.”

“Jack!” I cried, shocked at his words, for I knew
he must mean Aunt Margaret. Little as I liked her,
I would not have dared to speak of her like that.

“Well, she is an old cat,” he went on, his face
flushing angrily, “coming and interfering with us;
and I tell you what—we won’t be meddled with.”

I sat with open mouth, staring at him. We had
grumbled a good deal to each other, certainly, over
the servants’ threat, but I had never seen Jack so
fierce about anything before.

“She hasn’t meddled yet,” I ventured to say.

“No, she hasn't,” Jack replied; “but I know she
will if people go telling tales. It isn’t her business,
though, and I shan’t go to the Grange for her nasty
tea and scoldings; so there!”

The last words sounded obstinate. Standing erect
in his tub, his curly head thrown back, and his eyes
shining with excitement, I thought he looked noble
in spite of the mud all over him.

Now, when once I got an idea into my head I was
as determined as Jack, but I always took much longer
to think things out than he did, and by the time my
mind was made up he had often forgotten that he
had been so much in earnest over it, and would laugh
at me. There was just this difference between us,
that he was impulsive and very hot over things for
the time being, able to think and talk of nothing
OUR VOW IS MADE. 23

else, and then would suddenly change his mind, and
be just as eager over something else; while I was
slow to grasp a new subject, but once it was in my
head I never forgot or altered, sticking. to my notion
obstinately. But there was one great failing of mine
which always worried Jack very much, and that was
my love of arguing. Whenever he suggested some-
thing new, I felt at once inclined to question it, though
I always came round to his way of thinking in the
end.

“Perhaps she wouldn’t have scolded us, though,” I
said now.

“Silly!” retorted my brother, “you know she would ;
and if you are going to desert me and be put upon, I
don’t care. It is just like a gurl to be afraid.”

“Tm not afraid,’ I burst out angrily; “but I’m
sure mother wouldn’t like you to call Aunt Margaret
an old cat.”

“Because mother doesn’t know she is one,’ was the
scornful reply ; “and you are a silly and a gurl.”

With which words he jumped out of the tub, and
once more set off across the field as if to leave me.

Now I did not like the idea of facing Betty alone
in my spoiled dress, besides which I could not bear to
be in Jack’s black books for long. So I looked about
for something to bring him back, and a splendid idea
came to me.

“Jack,” I said eagerly, as I ran after him and
tugged at his arm to stop him, “do come back, I

7
24, OUR VOW IS MADE.

won't be silly any more, indeed I won’t; but I know
such a lovely game. Let’s pretend we are Scotch and
English, and have a battle on the sea. We can put
the tubs into the water and get into them to fight.”

He was my merry Jack in a moment.

“You are a brick, Allie,” he said.

And I was quite happy, for from Jack that was the
very highest form of praise in the world; it meant
everything that was the opposite of a “silly” and a
“ curl.”

It did not take us long to get our tubs afloat and
to climb into them. We knelt down, and each of us
had a long pole, generally used by Mrs. Mason to set
up her clothes-line upon. With these we punted
about, for the pool was very shallow, and splashed
like a pair of water-babies. It was great fun bobbing
up and down, spinning round and round, and pushing
each other from side to side, shouting all the time at
the top of our voices. Of course Jack was English,
and I had to be Scotch. Ever since the Drummonds
had come to live near us he had declared he hated
the Scotch.

“My father was English, and so am J,” he said.

“But mother is Scotch,” I said, arguing as usual.

“No she isn’t, now,” was his prompt answer. “She
was born Scotch, but she turned English when she
married father.”

I had no reply ready to meet this; for all that T
knew about it, when a woman married she did be
OUR VOW IS MADE. 25

come whatever her husband was. Jack had a way of
saying things which left no room for doubt; he was
so sure himself that he was always in the right.

So to-day, if I had not at once consented to be
Scotch, there would have been no game. As it was,
all went merrily for some time, and we were enjoying
ourselves to the top of our bent, when all of a sudden
Jack gave my tub a harder bump than ever, and
began flourishing his pole about so fiercely that I
‘was afraid he would put my eyes out. JI shouted to
him to tell him not to be so rough. But in vain; he
was so delighted to get a chance of pitching into the
Scotch, and so excited in the game, that he forgot I
was only a “pretence” Scot, and paid no attention to
my pleading for mercy. Then I got frightened, and
when his tub came spinning over the water towards
me, I jumped up in mine to tell him to be quiet, and
the next moment I was falling head over heels into
the pond.

Horribly frightened, and with my hair all washed
into my eyes, my mouth and ears full of water, and
my clothes drenched through and through, I stood up,
talking confusedly and gasping for breath.

Jack stared at me in dismay, then slipped from his
tub into the water too, and splashed his way over to
me. Hand in hand we made our way out, the slimy
mud nearly pulling our shoes off our feet at every
step. When we started, the water was up to our
necks, so that there was no danger of our being
26 OUR VOW IS MADE.

drowned; still we did not feel very happy in our
new bath, and felt greatly relieved to be once more
on land.

We must have looked a funny pair as we stood on
the bank opposite each other, our clothes clinging
close about us, and the water dripping from us on to
the green grass.

“Oh my!” said Jack, as he looked blankly at me,
“you have done it this time.”

That was one of Betty’s favourite expressions.

It seemed to me very unkind of him to say this;
for even if I did suggest the game, I never asked him
to try to drown me. I was cold and very uncom-
fortable, my feelings were hurt, and but for my great
fear of being called a “silly” and a “gurl,” I should
have begun to cry. As it was, however, I choked
down my tears, and said in a shaky voice,—

“ Let’s go home, Jack.”

So we ran across the field together, climbed over
the gate and dropped into the road, and were just
going to set off home, when whom should we see, so
near us that she could almost have touched us, but
Aunt Margaret. Here was a pretty state of things!
There was no escaping her now, for she was evidently
going to our house to find out why we had not ap-
peared for tea,

For one moment she did not recognize us in our
terrible condition, and the next she exclaimed,—

“Where have you been, you dreadful children ?”
OUR VOW IS MADE. 27

Now it is not pleasant to be called “dreadful chil-
dren,” and we felt offended and sulky in a moment.
We knew this was just what Aunt Margaret thought
of us, and we resented it; so we did not speak.

“Where have you been?” she repeated sharply.

“J tumbled in there,” I answered, jerking my
head towards the pond in the field we had just
quitted.

One of Mrs. Mason’s tubs still bobbed cheerfully up
and down; the other lay peacefully under the water
out of sight.

“You naughty little girl,” began our aunt; but
Jack broke in quickly,—

“No, she isn’t, Aunt Margaret. It wasn’t her fault ;
I pushed her in.”

This was just one of Jack’s ways; perhaps it was
the thing of all others that made me love him so
dearly, for he was such a manly little fellow he never
let me be blamed if he could help it. Sometimes he
would even share a scrape with me when he had
taken no part in the mischief at all himself, because
he felt it was his only means of protecting me. But
a few minuses ago he had said, “You have done it
this time,” quite crossly, but. he would allow no one
else to scold me. I felt at that moment as if I would
give him anything in the world, even to my baby doll
that he wanted to pull to pieces to see why the eyes
opened and shut.

Aunt Margaret, however, could not be expected to
28 OUR VOW IS MADE.

look upon him in the light of a hero just then. She
simply believed what he said.

“T wonder you are not ashamed of yourself then,”
was her severe comment. “ You are the eldest, and
a boy, and you ought to know better. Now come
home with me at once, for I must get you dried and
give you some hot drink, or you will catch your death
of cold.”

We were much nearer the Grange than home, so
that there was some sense in our going there. But
we looked at each other in despair: this was awful,
to have to go there after all, and in such a plight.
However, there was no help for it. Aunt Margaret
took my hand and started off, walking so fast that
we had to trot by her side to keep up with her, and
all the way she never said a word. I kept stealing
glances at her out of the corner of my eye, and to
my mind she looked hard and angry. My teeth
chattered, partly from the dampness of my clothes as
my dress went flop, flop against my knees and the
water oozed out of my shoes; but I shivered most
from fear—fear of I do not know what, but I felt
just like a child in one of our games being led by a
giant to his castle, where all sorts of horrible things
awaited us, amongst others a dark cell and dry bread
and water.

Jack ran along, with his hat on the back of his
head and his hands in his pockets, as if he did
not care a bit. But I knew he did, and that he
OUR VOW IS MADE. 29

was shaking too, only he never would have owned
to it.

When we got to the Grange, however, nothing
awful happened to us at all. Our cousins looked
very much disgusted at the condition we were in, but
they all set to work at once to do things for us—one
helping us off with our clothes, another taking them
away to be dried, while the third was heating blankets
to roll us in, and Maggie helped Aunt Margaret to
make some black-currant drink for us.

It would have been great fun if every one had not
been so solemn about it, just like some new game;
but we were not allowed to forget we were in dis-
grace, and though nothing was said, everything was
done in such a way that we could not but feel what
a lot of trouble we were giving. We did find after-
wards, when we came to compare notes, that we had
both been playing in our heads all the time that we
were shipwrecked in a foreign land; and this helped
to pass time as we sat rolled up in two easy-chairs
in our blankets, waiting for our things to dry.

“We want Evelyn here for this sort of thing,”
Maggie said to Ellen, when she brought in the black-
currant tea and poured out a glass for each of us.

Now Evelyn was a fifth cousin, whom we had
never seen; for she was a nurse in a hospital in Scot-
land, and had not yet been down to see her new
home. She did not work because she needed money,
for the Drummonds were quite well off; but she was
30 OUR VOW IS MADE.

one of the people who never can be idle, and there
was nothing for her to do at home. She was the
youngest but one, coming just before Maggie. The
two eldest girls did all the housekeeping, mending,
and so on. It seemed to us children as if they
thought of nothing but whether the curtains were
clean, the rooms dusted, and the ornaments in order.
Then Agnes did a great deal of parish work, teaching
in Sunday school, district visiting, and, when she was
indoors, making endless garments for the poor. Mag-
gie did all the artistic things, such as arranging the
flowers, embroidering pretty things for the house, and
painting door panels. So there really did seem little
or nothing left for Evelyn to do, though, according to
her mother and sisters, she could do all these things
a great deal better than they did, and was very much
missed by them all. We never felt much interest in
our unknown cousin, however. In fact, we got rather
tired of hearing so often about her, and we never
spoke of her to each other after Jack made the fol-
lowing wise remark,—

“T expect she is just like the rest; but people
always make a fuss about people who are away, and
say they are much better than other people who stay
at home.”

Two of our cousins stayed in the room with us
while our clothes were being dried, just as if we were
prisoners who had to have two jailers. I think they
really were afraid we should get into some mischief if
OUR VOW IS MADE. ol

we were left alone. We wished with all our hearts
that they would go, for we could not even talk with
them there. They took no notice of us, however,
just sitting and sewing and talking to each other as
if they had been alone together. We did not listen
much to what they said, but I gathered from one or
two of their remarks that they were expecting Evelyn
home soon; I thought for a short holiday probably.
I wondered rather what she would be like—whether she
would have a big nose like Agnes, or a little turned-
up one like Maggie; that she would have some shade
of red hair and pale-blue eyes I felt sure. But this
did not amuse me much. I should have never stopped
wondering about her could I but have got a peep into
the next few months, and learned something of what
our stranger cousin was to become to us. But we
cannot get these glimpses into the future, and it is
just as well.

I grew very tired of sitting still, and wished we
had managed to slip home unseen; for by now we
should have been out in the garden, playing again as
if nothing had happened, instead of having this dull
waiting for our things. I looked to Jack for sympathy,
and was surprised to see that: he was falling faster
and faster asleep every minute, so that his curly head
was nearly lost in the blanket. I suppose having
nothing to eat for so long, and then the hot stuff after
the shock of the cold water, had made him drowsy.
But I was wide awake, and I thought Jack very
32 OUR VOW IS MADE.

selfish to go to sleep. He did not take long to rouse,
however, when Maggie came into the room with an
armful of things to tell us our clothes were ready for
us at last. To his very great indignation, Jack was
picked up by our big cousin Janet just as if he had
been a baby, and carried into another room to dress.
I don’t suppose he was ever very fond of being carried
about, even as a little fellow just able to walk ; but at
his age to be carried, and by a girl, was a great insult,
and one which he could not get over for days.

When we were quite ready Ellen and Maggie took us
home. It seemed very funny to be taken anywhere, as
we always went about alone, and the feeling that we
were prisoners was uncomfortable indeed.. They left
us at our gate, however, telling us to go straight to
Betty, which, of course, we did not do. We played
about in the garden for some time, and she, hearing
our voices, must have known we were quite safe.
‘When we went in, our bread and milk was, as usual,
waiting for us in the room that used to be our
nursery, and where we had all our meals. We ate
this, and then crept away to bed, so that it was not
till next morning that Betty knew anything about
our clothes. Then she gave us a good scolding; but
we did not mind much, only it was a bother to hear
so much about it.

But later in the morning we did feel very sad
indeed, and it was mother who made us so.

Soon after she was up she sent for us to speak to
OUR VOW IS MADE. 33

her. We were afraid some one had been telling tales
of us to her, but we soon saw that she knew nothing
of our scrapes. She only wanted to tell us something
in which we were very much interested at first, for
we thought it was a story, and never guessed what
was to follow. She had been reading in the news-
paper an account of a very bad accident to two little
boys who were climbing a tree. Both of them got
on to the same branch, which gave way under them.
They fell a great distance to the ground, for they
were high up in an elm tree, and one of them was
killed, while the other was probably injured for life.
It was afterwards found that the bough was rotten,
or it would not have broken; for it was a thick one,
and looked strong enough.

“My darlings,” mother said, when she had finished
the sad tale, “I hope you do not climb trees; but
when I read of that accident I thought I would ask
you to make sure, and if you were in the habit of
doing so, tell you never to do it again. I should not
know a moment’s peace if I thought you were in such
danger when you were out of my sight.”

This was a complete surprise to us. I looked
quickly at Jack. His little brown face was flushed
with excitement, and he could hardly wait till
mother had done speaking before he burst out
eagerly,—

“Why, mumsie darling, we are just always in the

trees, Allie and I. We couldn’t live if we mightn't
(969) 3
34 OUR VOW IS MADE.

climb them ; indeed, indeed we couldn’t. It’s all our
play—isn’t it, Allie?”

Thus appealed to, and with tears in my eyes, I
said,—

“Why, yes, mother; we pretend everything in the
trees. They are our castles, and houses, and watch-
towers, and all. We couldn’t play on earth—could
we, Jack ?” ;

Mother spoke before Jack could reply.

“Tt is strange,” she said sadly, “that I never
thought of your doing it before. It shows how little
I see of you, you poor children. I am sorry to spoil
your games, dears, but it will only be for a short
time, for I am sure you will soon find something to
take the place of climbing which will be far safer
and better for you. But remember I trust you not
to do it again. I should be so terribly nervous after
this if I saw you in the trees. Now kiss me, darlings,
and run away to play ‘on earth, as you call it.”

Obediently we both bent over her sofa and kissed
the lovely white face, and then silently, hand in hand,
we left the room and made our way to the playroom,
a place in which we spent all our time in wet weather,
as it was far away from mother’s part of the house,
and out of reach of her hearing. It was here that
we came to-day, though the sun was shining brightly
and it was deliciously warm out of doors; but we felt
that, with this terrible command laid upon us, the
very sight of the trees would make us sad.
OUR VOW IS MADE. 35

Jack sat down gloomily on a stool, his elbows on
his knees, his chin resting onthe palms of his hands;
while I knelt down by my doll’s house and pushed
the furniture about, though I was not thinking one
bit of what I was doing. We were two very
miserable little children, with hearts too sore for
words, for it was quite true we were always in the
trees; like the birds, we almost lived in them. Jack
climbed beautifully, and I was afraid of nothing;
where he went I went as a matter of course. For a
long time we were quite silent. JI knew Jack was
thinking hard, for his face was all puckered with the
effort. To me it seemed that we must be having a
horrid dream.

“ Alison,” said my little brother at last, in a choky
voice, “I don’t think mother ever was quite like other
people—I mean well and strong, and all that; do you?”

I said “No,” but as yet I did not understand him.

“JT don’t think she ever climbed trees when she
was a little girl,” he went on.

I quite agreed with him, for I could not imagine
our gentle, quiet mother ever having been a tomboy
such as I was.

“Poor mother,” sighed Jack, “you see she can’t
really know how easy it is when she hasn’t ever done
it herself. Being ill has made her frightened about
the least little thing. But,” he added earnestly, “I
do wish those silly little boys hadn’t got on to a
rotten branch.”
36 OUR VOW IS MADE.

So did I, but I had a sort of feeling that one ought
not to call the poor little fellows “silly ” when one of
them was dead. I said nothing, however, and Jack
did not seem to expect an answer ; he just went on as
if he were talking more to himself than to me.

“Tt is all that stupid paper,” he continued angrily.
“Tt is always saying something we don’t want it to,
like when it says it is going to rain when we want it
to be fine. When I’m a man I shan’t have such a
silly thing in my house, ever.”

“We never do want it to rain,” I ventured to say.

“ Of course not; who does?” Jack replied grandly.
“But don’t interrupt; P’m talking about climbing.”

He was not, of course, just then, but I let that
pass; I was anxious to know what he was going to
say, for he evidently had something great on his
mind.

Presently he said shortly,—

“We didn’t promise.”

“No,” I repeated slowly after him, “we didn’t
promise.”

He went on thinking for a few minutes, and I
waited.

“We might give up the elms, you know,” was his
next remark; “but I’m sure none of owr trees are
rotten. Anyway, we could give up the elms, and
then I don’t think it would matter so long as mother
did not see us or know anything about us.”

So this was what he had been working out all the
OUR VOW IS MADE. 87

time in that little, active brain of his. At last I
understood: we were not going to obey mother, or as
Jack put it, we need not do what she told us, for we
were bound by no given promise. My spirits rose
high, and I would not let myself wonder whether we -
were doing what was right or not, the idea was so
lovely that after all Jack had decided we would not
give up our favourite pastime. I was sorry about
the elms, however, and said so, for they were our best
castles for giants.

“T can’t help it,” Jack said, and I really think he
felt that it was very good of him to be so determined
on this point. “We've got all the others; and I’m
quite certain sure if mother was well and strong she
would like us to climb, because she would know how
safe it is. But the best elms she can see out of her
windows. Now that’s all right.”

He jumped up, and in a minute his thinking mood
was quite gone.

That ended the matter, and strange as it may seem,
we really did think it was all right so long as we did
nothing to frighten mother ; we had got into the habit
of thinking always that this was the only thing that
mattered at all.

So that very afternoon we took our books and
went into that garden at the back of the house on to
which none of mother’s windows looked. Here there
were two lovely old cedar trees, spreading over a
close-cut lawn. Into one of these we scrambled, each
88 OUR VOW IS MADE.

with a book which we meant to sit quietly and read.
I don’t know why it should have been nicer to do this
perched high up in a tree than on the ground; at any
rate in those days we thought it was. And we also
imagined we were being very good to keep quite still
instead of having one of our usual monkey games
among the branches.

We had not been there very long before I was
rudely roused from my story by a nudge from Jack
which nearly upset me. But when I turned to scold
him for it, the expression of real distress upon his
face silenced me, and following the direction of his
eyes I looked down. The start I then gave would
have sent me flying off my branch had he not grasped
my arm and steadied me. We looked helplessly at
each other, and then through the boughs again, for
just below us stood our mother.

The worst of it was that there she evidently meant
to stay, for her maid Jenkyns followed her with her
chair, a rug, and some cushions, and having settled
her mistress comfortably, stood awaiting further
orders.

“Thank you,” said our mother, in her gentle, grate-
ful way; “I only want my book and a footstool now.
And would you tell Susan to bring Mrs. Drummond
out here when she comes, and another chair, please ?”

Jenkyns obeyed.

Jack and I stared at each other in mute dismay.
It is one thing to make up one’s mind to sit in a tree
OUR VOW IS MADE. 39

all afternoon and do nothing, but it is quite another
matter to find one has got to stay there whether he
likes it or not. And stay there we knew we must.
We could not break our rule never to make mother
nervous, even if she meant to stay there all afternoon.
But for the news that Aunt Margaret was coming we
might have had some hope of escape, for mother
would probably have dropped off to sleep presently,
and then we could have slipped down from our perch
very quietly and crept right away. As it was, how-
ever, mother was very wide awake, sitting reading,
and now and then looking about her quite brightly.
But for our position we should have been overjoyed
to see her there, for it was but seldom she was well
enough to be out at all, and we had never seen her in
this part of the garden before, or so far away from
the house.

Thus we all waited for Aunt Margaret—mother
with a sunny, happy look on her face, because she
was feeling so much better and stronger just then;
Jack and I in fear and trembling. At last she came,
crossing the lawn with long, quick strides so much
in keeping with her determined self.

We watched the meeting between the sisters, and
then the settling down for a chat, with some anxiety ;
for a cedar tree is an impossible place to hide in, the
branches are so wide apart. We had a sort of idea
that Aunt Margaret was like a spider which has eyes
all over its head, and that nothing could escape her
40 OUR VOW IS MADE.

notice. Indeed very little did, but we could only
hope that the fact of our being very far above and
exactly over them would save us from being dis-
covered.

We sat painfully still, so that everything they said
reached us. It did not occur to us that there was
anything underhand in listening, we were so fully
persuaded that there was no help for it.

After the usual questions as to health and remarks
upon the weather, our aunt began abruptly,—

“You got my note this morning ?”

“Yes, dear,” mother replied.

“Well?” said Aunt Margaret questioningly.

“T think you and Archie are too good to me,”
mother said softly ; “but I cannot let you make the
sacrifice. I have managed to struggle on so far
alone, and can quite well continue to do so.”

“Nonsense, Maisie,” our aunt returned sharply ;
“you know as well as I do that you ought to have
some one looking after you. And if you will not
consider yourself, you should at least think of those
children of yours. They are getting a great deal too
old to run wild. It is quite time they had a firm
hand over them.”

That was the second time in the last twenty-four
hours that we had heard we needed a “firm hand
over us,’ and we made a face at each other. Mother
leaned back in her chair with closed eyes to avoid a
flickering ray of sunlight, but she was silent. Aunt
OUR VOW IS MADE. Al

Margaret paused, and I sat nervously twisting and
twirling my pocket-handkerchief through my fingers,
listening with the deepest interest.

“Now,” continued our aunt, “Evelyn is the very
girl you want.”

Jack gave me a sudden nudge, and to save myself
from falling I clutched at a branch above me; but in
so doing dropped my handkerchief, and it fluttered
down, down, down, right on to Aunt Margaret’s bonnet !
There it sat in triumph on the top of a jet ornament
which but a moment back had been glistening in
the sun.

I grew sick and cold with horror as I glanced first
at our mother. Her eyes were closed as before, but
what would she think when she opened them to see
Aunt Margaret, one of the most fashionably dressed
you could imagine, seated before her with a dirty
little pink-bordered pocket-handkerchief on her head ?
She would be sure to look up at once, and if she saw
us so far above the ground, the shock would be enough
to make her as ill as ever again.

Then I looked at Jack, and he was so overcome by
Aunt Margaret’s comical appearance that he quite
forgot the serious side of the: accident, and was busy
trying to stuff the whole of his handkerchief into his
mouth to choke down the peals of laughter which
would otherwise have come. I could see nothing to
laugh at; I just sat wondering whether mother would
see it first, or if it would tumble off with one of those
42 OUR VOW IS MADE.

sudden shakes our aunt was in the habit of giving
her head when she was very much in earnest. But
however we were detected, I felt quite sure she
would think we had done it on purpose, out of sheer
impertinence, especially if she saw Jack before he had
recovered himself, for it seemed to me he would just
burst if he could not laugh out soon.

Now Jack’s nudge was intended to convey to me
his great surprise at Aunt Margaret’s suggestion.
My mind just now, however, was so much exercised
that I could pay but little attention to what they
were saying below. I had a confused idea that our
aunt was giving mother a great many reasons why it
would be such a good plan for Evelyn to come and
live with us, the chief being that we were very
unruly, untaught children, and that Evelyn was too
active-minded to stay idle at home.

“Since she must have occupation,” said Aunt
Margaret, with a nod which nearly dislodged her new
head-dress, “you can understand that Archie and I
would infinitely prefer that she came to you, where
she would be with some one we care for, and quite
near us. We can neither of us bear to think of her
going among strangers and far away from home, as
she might have to do.”

“T can quite understand that,” mother replied, not
very heartily it seemed to us. “But, on the other
hand, there is Evelyn’s opinion on the subject to be
taken into consideration. It would be a miserable
OUR VOW IS MADE. 43

life for a young girl to be condemned to, for I am
often no companion to any one, and the children are
hardly ever in; I like them to be free now till they
are old enough to begin work. You would have to
consult Evelyn’s wishes, and she might not like to
refuse if she thought it would be a charitable thing
to do.”

“But that is just the point,” Aunt Margaret said,
in a decided tone. “It was Evelyn herself who first
suggested it; she told us in a letter that it is the
thing above all others that she would like to do, only
she feared you might not like it. That is nonsense,
of course, for I am sure you would soon become very
fond of her; she is quite a sunbeam in a house.”

“Pretty sunbeam!” erowled Jack under his breath.
He was not inclined to laugh now; things were be-
ginning to look too serious.

Mother did not speak. Aunt Margaret went on.

“And this is the very life she is suited to; her
talents all tend in that direction. She loves attending
to the sick, looking after a house, a certain amount
of spare time for artistic pursuits, and managing
children. Miserable or dull she never could be; she
is far too clever and active for that.”

Still mother was silent, lying back with closed eyes.

“You can have no further objection to make,
surely ?” our aunt said sharply.

The remark was so evidently a question that
mother had to reply.
44, OUR VOW IS MADE.

“Well, yes,” she said hesitatingly, “there is one
stumbling-block.”

“Well?” Aunt Margaret inquired shortly.

“The children,” mother said simply, and she opened
her eyes, but instantly closed them, as the light was
too strong. I was much relieved, for my chief
anxiety was for the fate of my handkerchief. How-
ever, this time she had seen nothing, and continued :
“You see they have never been accustomed to any
one but me, and they might resent a stranger's inter-
ference.”

“You do not mean to tell me,” exclaimed Aunt
Marearet severely, “that you are so absurd as to be
ruled by the whims of those two naughty children ?
Why, one would imagine you were really afraid of
them! It is too ridiculous. Resent interference,
indeed! let them. And if they did, would it not
prove to you how much they need a strong hand
over them? Evelyn would stand no nonsense, I can
assure you.”

Jack looked at me, and we made a face. There
was something of the nature of a grim threat in
Aunt Margaret’s words, and we listened breathlessly
for our mother’s reply, leaning forward to catch every
word.

“JT think, Margaret,” she said, with quiet dignity,
“you misunderstand my meaning. It is not that I
am afraid of my children, but that I wish to do what
is best for them. I think if I took a grown-up girl
OUR VOW IS MADE. 45

into the house and established her as my elder
daughter it would not be good for Alison; she would
never take her proper position in her own home. And
I am sure it would be bad for Jack to feel that he
was being managed by his cousin; it would take away
from all his manliness, and he would no longer be the
self-reliant, trustworthy little fellow he now is.”

I looked at Jack; his:face in one moment was
crimson, and I knew he wished himself out of the
tree and far away, rather than overhearing this praise,
which he knew he did not deserve.

“You are inclined to exaggerate their faults, dear,”
she went on. “I own that they are high-spirited ; but
that will mend when they have to meet troubles and
trials in later life. And they are always affectionate
and considerate towards me, perfectly obedient to my
slightest wish, and the most truthful, honourable
children you could wish to know. What more could
you want? So, dear Margaret, thank you very much
for your kindness to and thought for me, but for the
sake of my boy and girl I must refuse the offer; I am
sure it is best to do so.”

I had not dared to glance at Jack during this
speech. I just longed to be able to cry out, “ Mother
darling, we are here, but we did not mean to be
naughty,” and I think he did too, but we could not
risk frightening her. And then an awful thing hap-
pened: she opened her eyes wide, and stood up as if
to end the subject. My heart sank miserably, and I
46 OUR VOW IS MADE.

awaited detection with a sickening sense of unworthi-
ness born of the loving trust just expressed in our
defence.

We could not now see mother’s face, but her
attitude was enough, and we could well imagine the
amazement in her eyes as they fell for the first time
on Aunt Margaret’s bonnet.

“My dear Margaret,” she began; but the rest of
her words were checked by a heavy thud as Jack’s
book fell at her feet. He had forgotten it in his
eagerness to hear how the discussion would end, and
down it went.

Both ladies looked up quickly, and we began a
rapid descent. When we reached the ground, mother
was lying back in her chair again with a very white
face, and Aunt Margaret was bending over her
anxiously.

“Go and call Jenkyns,” was all she said.

Glad of an excuse to get away, we obeyed. We
hovered about the lawn for some time after, however,
among the bushes, where we could not be seen, for we
were terribly frightened at what we had done. But
to our great relief mother was well enough presently
to walk into the house with help from Aunt Margaret
and Jenkyns. Then we ran off to our favourite
haunt in the garden—the banks of a small stream
which flowed through it—and there we threw our-
selves down on the grass, and were silent for I should
think about five whole minutes.
OUR VOW IS MADE. 47

“She will come,” was Jack’s first remark, given
with the air of a martyr.

“Oh no, she won't,” I asserted, taking the opposite
side, as usual, to begin with.

“But I tell you she will,” Jack said obstinately,
“after mother catching us up that tree. If you
hadn’t been such a silly and dropped your handker-
chief !”

“Tf you hadn’t been such a silly and dropped your
book!” I broke in indignantly. —

Jack glanced scornfully at me.

“That doesn’t matter,” he said, by way of reply.
“But I know Cousin Evelyn will come, for mother
will quite agree with Aunt Margaret that we are
very naughty now and need a ‘firm hand’ over us.”

He was quiet for a moment, thinking. Then he
burst out excitedly,—

“But I won’t be managed by a gurl. Mother said
herself it would be bad for me, and I know it would.
I won't, won't, won’t be good if she comes; so there!”

He ended with something like a choking sob, and
J thought he was going to cry with rage. But after
a pause he went on shakily and in a mournful voice,—

“ Alison, if she comes it will never be the same
again, never no more. We shall be shut up in the
house all day with lessons, and we shan’t ever be able
to play in our own way. She will go out for stuffy
walks with us, and make us play with bricks on the
floor and all that, and we shan’t ever climb—”
48 OUR VOW IS MADE.

He had to stop again, for the tears were very near
indeed. I waited in dumb despair; the picture was
very awful. This was just the way the Drummond
girls had been brought up, for Aunt Margaret had
often told us about it with great pride: she had
been very strict, and they had all grown up very
good,

I began tocry. Then Jack pulled himself together
in a moment.

“Don’t do that,” he said sharply. “It is silly, and
it is no good. It won’t stop Cousin Evelyn’s coming,
and we can’t; but we can make it so horrid when she
does come that she won’t stay. She will soon see we
won't have her firm hand over us if you will just do
as I tell you; and when she is gone we will just be
happy and free again, and mother will trust us, and
not have any one to take our place in the house.”

I stopped crying and listened.

“T’ve got a plan,” he went on, after a pause. “We'll
make a vow, as they did long ago, and we will write
it down on two pieces of paper; then we will each
keep one for ever in our pockets.”

“But they would wear out or get lost,” I objected.

Jack was offended.

“Then we will put them in a box,” he said huffily.
“And I'll tell you what: we will wear a piece of string
round our necks, and whenever we see each other
going to forget our vow, we'll put up our hands to
our collars and warn each other.”
OUR VOW IS MADE. 49

I could not but admire the invention of my little
brother’s ever-ready brain; he never seemed at a loss
in an emergency. And just now I did not give the
naughtiness of the plan a thought; I was so pleased
with the cleverness of it: for Jack’s doleful description
of what our life was likely to be with Cousin Evelyn
in the house had fairly frightened me, and I felt that
I would do anything to send her away.

After a hunt for some paper Jack produced a bit
from his pocket, which he tore into two. There was
a wheelbarrow standing close at hand, and this we
turned upside down for a table, in spite of the fact
that it was full of grass which Thomas would shortly
come to wheel away to the rubbish-heap. Then Jack
sat down, and with much care wrote out the two
copies of our vow.

It took some time to do, for he was a very bad
writer ; and he had to keep thinking about the spell-
ing, in which I could not help him much. He wanted
to put in a great many long words to make it grander ;
but these had to be given up, as we could not think
how to write them down. When it was quite done
we both signed our names on each, and we then tied
a bit of string, also from Jack’s pocket, round our
necks and hid it under our clothes.

“Now Ill read it aloud,” said Jack, very much
excited and quite pleased with himself, “and we
will shake hands and say, ‘I vow, quite seriously,

see ?”
(969) 4
50 ‘OUR VOW IS MADE.

I did see, and Jack read in a solemn tone of

voice,—

“We vow that we wont be maneged and ordured
about by Cusin Evelun. If she cums to liv with us
we wont obay her nor be good til she gose away
agen. She shant enterfear with us nor spoil our fun.
We wil ped by eech other agenst her for ever.

“Sined Jack SEYMOUR.
“ ALISON SEYMOUR.”

Then very gravely, and it felt ever such a funny
thing to do with Jack, we shook hands over the
wheelbarrow, and said, almost in one breath,—

“T vow.”

“Now,” cried Jack, “we won't have any of her
carroty-nosed, snub-haired girls here managing us; so
there !”

He did not notice what an odd mistake he had
made; I hardly did at the time, for he was so very
much in earnest—indeed I had never seen him so angry
before. But my habit of arguing made me say,—

“Perhaps Cousin Evelyn isn’t carroty-haired and
snub-nosed, though.”

Jack suddenly folded his arms in a way that I well
knew to mean great displeasure, and he looked me
straight in the face.

“Why, I believe,” he said scornfully, “that you
are going over to Aunt Margaret to be put upon.
OUR VOW IS MADE. | 51

All right; go. You can forsake me if you like.
Gurls are all the same—mean, frightened cats.”

Turning on his heel he left me too surprised to
speak or move. That Jack should speak so to me
was really dreadful—Jack, for whom I would have
done anything in the world; Jack, whose praise was
all I seemed to live for! And he could imagine I
would ever forsake him! I threw myself down upon
the ground in such a passion of weeping that he came
back of his own accord to comfort me.

“JT didn’t mean it, Allie,” he said earnestly,
frightened at my violence, for I so seldom let myself
cry before him lest he should call me those hated
names; “I know you won't forget our vow.”

“You will first,” I said grumpily.

He took no notice of this.

“Suppose we have a game,” he said.

And so we did, but not a very good one, for we
could think of nothing but the dreadful change that
was to take place in our home.

In the evening mother sent for us.

She was alone, and she looked terribly ill as she
lay on her sofa by the window. Silently and hand
in hand we stood as she spoke to us in a weary voice,
so sadly that but for the subject our hearts must
have been melted.

“After what has happened this afternoon,” she
said, “you will scarcely be surprised to hear that I
have invited your Cousin Evelyn to come and live
52 OUR VOW IS MADE.

with us. This will be her home in future, and I
shall look upon her as my daughter. I find that I
need her very much, for I am not strong enough to
look after my own children, who have disappointed
me more than I can ever say by their naughtiness.
I trusted you, Jack and Alison,” she went on, very
earnestly, “and I thought you good, upright, honour-
able children, such as your father would have had you
to be. I find instead that the very day I say I trust
you not to do a thing you do it slyly and deceitfully ;
and not only that—you sat meanly listening to what
you must have known was not meant for you, as I
never could have suspected you of doing.”

Jack hung his head and gulped down a great sob.
We neither of us could speak, for that we sat so still
there for her sake seemed such a poor little excuse to
make now.

“You heard what I then thought of you,” mother
went on, “and much ashamed I was of you not five
minutes later, for I found out then you were not
worthy of the praise I gave you. It was not a
pleasant thing for a mother to discover, was it?”

“No, mumsie darling,” Jack said, in a choked
voice, and big tears came into his eyes and rolled
down the little brown face.

Mother relented a little at this and spoke in a
kinder way.

“Your aunt was right, and I was not,” she said,
and at that name our hearts grew hard again. “You
OUR VOW IS MADE. 53

do need some one to look after you; you are too old
to run wild any more. And I shall be glad to have
some one with me whom I can rely upon in more ways
than one. You will be quite happy with Evelyn, for
I believe she is a dear girl. I hope you will remem-
ber that she has my leave to do what she likes with
you, and that you must obey her as you ought to do
me. She is fond of children, understands them well,
and I shall expect you to treat her as a sister.”

We did not speak.

“TI hope,” mother said, speaking very gently now,
“that my little girl will learn from her to be ladylike
and helpful, and that my boy will try with her help
to be more sensible and manly. Good-night, my dar-
lings; run away to bed now, for I am very tired.”

We felt very humble as we crept away, for we
could not but remember that it was our fault she was
again so ill; the shock had quite upset her, for her
heart was very weak.

But when we were seated over our bread and milk,
the naughty feeling came again into Jack’s heart.

“Tt is all that horrid old cat’s fault,’ he said
huskily. “We were quite good and happy till she
came and upset everything, and now we shall never
be happy any more. I hate, hate, hate her, and she
shan’t get the best of us with her nasty, interfering
girl.”

So he left his supper, and went to bed a very
miserable little boy.
54 OUR VOW IS MADE.

Somehow I had not yet got to think quite so
earnestly about it as he. I had not really had time
to think it out. I don’t know that I understood
very clearly what made Jack so angry about it. For
one thing, he was a very proud, sensitive child, and
the notion of being distrusted by mother, and being
in consequence put under the control of a girl, was
very bitter to him. It was not such a disgrace to
me, of course, in that way, being “only a girl” myself,
as he would have put it. And he was very inde-
pendent. But though I was rather puzzled by the
effect it had taken upon Jack, I felt sure he must be
in the right, and his words of the afternoon kept
coming into my head as I lay in my cosy bed looking
into the darkness. There was one speech in particular
which he had made while we were trying to play



after making our vow:

“T know Cousin Evelyn will be just like Aunt
Margaret—trying to make mischief with mother and
between us; but she shan’t, shall she, Allie 2?”

Ah! that was very sweet to me. No one should
come between me and my dear, clever Jack; we had
promised to stand by each other, he and I, and we
had a great secret together. Thinking of this I fell
asleep with my fingers tightly twisted in the bit of
string which was to prove the token of such an
unhappy chain of events.
CHAPTER IL

COUSIN EVELYN.

“‘ The discord is within which jars
So sadly in life’s song ;
*Tis we, not they, who are in fault
When others seem so wrong.”—I'ABER.

HREE whole weeks went by, and Jack and I did

not get into one serious piece of mischief. We
climbed no trees, made no jam, and fell into no ponds.
Mrs. Bain quite forgave us, and Betty was most kind ;
only poor old Thomas could neither forget nor forgive,
but watched us suspiciously and distrustfully as we
played about among his precious plants and shrubs.
Perhaps it was natural he should feel so strongly on
the subject; for while mother got Mrs. Bain a new
stew-pan and Betty some material for a pretty
Sunday frock for me, Thomas could never pass the
rhododendron bush without being reminded that it
was spoiled for that year, and no money could alter
the fact. Then, too, he was worse off in this new
phase of goodness of ours than any one else, for we
took up gardening as our craze in place of the forbid-
den amusements. Certainly the bit of ground we
56 COUSIN EVELYN.

worked upon was given to us to do as we liked with ;
but Thomas often spent half his day looking for his
tools, and we were always worrying him for seeds
and plants to put into our wonderful garden. It
really began to look very pretty at last, and we hardly
missed our climbing and all the games that seemed to
have gone with it, so interested were we in our dig-
ging, weeding, and watering.

But we were not happy. In spite of our goodness
and the new interest, we were really very mournful
children at times when we remembered that soon there
was a change coming into our home life, and one we
meant seriously to oppose, for we had by no means
forgotten our vow.

That Cousin Evelyn had arrived at the Grange we
knew, and she came down once with Aunt Margaret
to see mother; but when we saw the pony-carriage on
the road, Jack and I disappeared. We went for a
long walk by a back lane, where we were not likely
to be met by any one who would send us back. The
result of this expedition was a new idea for our
garden, prompted by a load of stones we met coming
away from a quarry which lay about a mile down the
lane. We at once made up our minds that we would
fetch some of these nice, rocky bits of granite, which
were only going to be broken up for mending the
roads, and make a rockery in our little corner. After
‘that we were very busy, for it took us quite a week to
bring enough stones from the quarry, going three and
COUSIN EVELYN. 57

four times a day, as often we could only manage one

-at a time, they were so large. We brought them in
our wheelbarrow; not a red and green toy, but a
good, sturdy little miniature of the one used by
Thomas, specially made for us by the village carpenter
at our instructions. Then the ferns had to be collected,
and we also brought loads of mould from the woods at
Betty’s suggestion, as she said the ferns would grow
better and feel more at home in the earth they were
used to. The servants were very much interested in
our work, and encouraged it by presents of cockle
shells and some chips of marble they got from a stone-
mason (he was Betty’s friend). Altogether we were
very kindly treated, and it was said of us in the ser-
vants’ hall that no one could think what had come
over us, we were so good all of a sudden.

When this was repeated to us by Betty, who
thought a little praise now and then was good for us,
a new idea sprang into our heads, and it was this that
helped us to behave well so long. We thought that
if mother saw how hard we were trying to please her
she would tell our cousin she would not need her after
all, and we should go on in the old, peaceful way,
without any one’s interference. We were not told
what day she was expected; perhaps mother guessed
we had run away the day the Drummonds called, and
kept it a secret on purpose; and this encouraged the
idea that it might have been but an idle threat made
to frighten us into behaving better. But all our hopes
58 COUSIN EVELYN.

were dashed to the ground one day at the end of these
three wonderful weeks. Then we learned that people
do not find it easy to trust again so soon when once
they have been deceived, and mother could not be sure
of us yet.

It was a perfect summer afternoon. We had been
working from early morning at our grotto, and Jack
knelt before it putting a few finishing touches with
the greatest pride. It really began to look like a
little fairyland, for the plants had all taken well; but
there was just one thing we longed for, and that was
a few pretty, sparkling stones, such as we saw in some
of the cottage gardens.

“Tt is a pity we can’t find any; I suppose they
don’t grow here,” Jack said, getting up and rubbing
his little earthy hands together to relieve them of the
mould.

His knees were brown with kneeling on the ground,
and he looked as untidy as possible; for I am sorry
to say we had not learned to be any cleaner or neater.
I, for once, was fairly presentable, as it was only an
hour after lunch, and I had done nothing but make
suggestions since we came out, as Jack would not let
me garden. He was like that sometimes, taking a
notion into his head that he must do everything him-
self.

“ Yes, it is a pity,” I echoed; “but let’s play hide-
and-seek,” I added, for I was dull, and tired of doing
nothing.
COUSIN EVELYN. 59

« All right,’ agreed my little brother; “only you
must let me hide first, because I know such a lovely
new place.”

This did not suit me, for I knew of some lovely
places too; besides which I wanted to be doing some-
thing at once, and Jack always took such a long time
hiding.

“No, I'll hide first,” I said. “You’ve been garden-
ing, and I thought of playing first.”

Now I don’t think Jack very much wanted to play ;
at any rate, he knelt down again before the rockery.

“Oh, then I shan’t play at all,” he retorted, in a
matter-of-fact tone.

I stood just behind him watching him.

“T think you are very selfish, Jack,” I said crossly.

“Then you are a silly little gurl,” he replied.

“T shall go away,” I went on, “and I won't play
ever when you want me to.”

“All right; go,” Jack said calmly. “I don’t want
you—I don’t care.”

Our voices must have grown very loud and angry,
so that they were heard some distance off; and we
did not notice footsteps behind us till suddenly we
gave a big jump and turned right round as a clear
voice said quite near us,—

“Suppose you both hide, and I will come and look
for you.”

We found ourselves face to face with the loveliest
girl we had ever either seen or dreamed of. She was
60 COUSIN EVELYN.

dressed all in white, with just a belt of pale mauve,
and a tie to match, fastened by a pearl pin. A white
- lace hat rested on her soft, curly hair, which was a
kind of brown with a gold light in it. Her eyes
were of a deep, rich grey, big, honest, and tender—of
that sort which seems to look you through and
through, expecting to find nothing in you but what is
good and true.

We stared in astonishment. Jack was, of course,
the first to recover himself.

“Oh, how d’you do?” he said, holding out one
hand, while with the other he raised his little blue
serge cap from where it always sat at the extreme
back of his curly head.

But the girl laughed merrily, and instead of shak-
ing hands put hers behind her, for her gloves were of
white kid.

“T don’t think your gloves would improve mine,
Cousin Jack,” she said, looking at his brown little
hands.

Then for the first time we knew to whom we were
speaking. This beautiful girl was none other than
our cousin, Evelyn Drummond.

In one moment J remembered our vow, and I looked
meaningly at Jack, but he had forgotten all about it;
and even when I coughed and put my hand up to my
neck, giving the sign he had himself invented, he took
no notice, but just stood looking at our new cousin in
astonishment. He had been very much puzzled as to
COUSIN EVELYN. GL

who she could be, but guessed she was some visitor of
mother’s who had been sent out to see the gardens,
which were quite show places in the neighbourhood.
His manners, when he chose, were very pretty, especi-
ally to complete strangers, and he was about to offer
to take this lady round the greenhouses, since mother
was not well enough to do the honours of the place
herself. But when he found himself talking to
Evelyn Drummond, he was too surprised to say any-
thing for a minute.

Afraid that she had offended him, Evelyn turned
to me.

“ Alison must shake hands for both,’ she said,
“since I have such stupid gloves on.”

But I imitated her exactly, and putting both my
hands behind me I said bluntly,—

“No, thank you; if Jack’s hands aren’t clean
enough, mine aren’t.”

Cousin Evelyn looked surprised.

“ Are you really Cousin Evelyn?” Jack exclaimed,
finding his tongue again.

“Yes, really and truly,” she said. “Didn’t you
know? I never thought of introducing myself.”

“Oh, it’s all right,’ Jack. said, just as if she had
made an apology which he was so kind as to accept,
“only I was rather surprised. You see you made me
jump.”

“JT am very sorry,” she said, gently and as if she
meant it, though her eyes were smiling, “but you
62 “ COUSIN EVELYN.

were so busy with your rockery you did not notice
my arrival on the scene. What a beauty it is, Jack!
you surely never made it yourselves ?”

“We did, though,” Jack replied, with great pride;
“we made it every bit, stones and all.”

“ How splendid!” said Evelyn heartily. “I believe
if you wanted some nice, bright, sparkling stones to
put here and there, I could easily get them for you.
But it is lovely ag it is,” she added, as if she were
afraid we might think she was running it down.

“Oh, thank you!” Jack cried excitedly ; “you are
ae,

“ Brick,” he was going to say, but he just stopped in
time, and said instead, “It is jolly of you. I do want
something shiny to put amongst the ferns, dreadfully.”

Meanwhile I stared, first at Jack, then at Evelyn,
with the greatest disapproval. This to my mind was
certainly not the way to begin keeping our vow.
Jack’s eyes were full of pleasure and eagerness; he
was talking to this girl, whom before he saw her he
had thought of as his bitterest enemy, as if he had
known and liked her all his life. He had even nearly
called her a brick, that name which hitherto he had
used for no one but me, and that he thought her one
I could see for myself. My heart seemed to swell
' within me, and I longed to have courage to remind
him of the vow which he was in such danger of break-
ing, but I did not dare.

Evelyn was undoubtedly taken with his bright,
COUSIN EVELYN. 68

handsome face and hearty, boyish manner. He was,
as usual, the spokesman; but to-day I somehow felt
shy and awkward, and as if I were quite in the back-
ground. It seemed to me they had quite forgotten
me, and a bitter, lonely feeling that I could not
understand crept into my heart. I told myself I was
ill-used and neglected, and I had plenty of time to
brood over Jack’s breaking faith with me over the
secret, which in the last three weeks had grown very
precious to me. I decided that I would take him to
task for it when we were alone again, and remind him
how very strongly he had felt on the subject. I said
further back that at the time of the making of our
vow I scarcely understood Jack’s earnestness about it;
to me it did not then mean very much, except that I
was glad of anything that was a bond between my
brother and myself.. I had thought then it would be
a difficult thing to keep, and often wondered how we
should do it. But now I felt as if it would be easy
enough, for I took a dislike to our cousin from the
very moment I discovered who she really was, and
saw that Jack was so won over by her that he forgot
all about me and the promises we had made to each
other so solemnly over the wheelbarrow only a few
weeks ago.

Yes: I could not then have given it a name, but I
was jealous, and with all my heart I wished Evelyn
back in Scotland, for I foresaw a trouble I had never
dreamed of before. Jack would find no difficulty in
64, COUSIN EVELYN.

obeying mother’s wish that we should treat Cousin
Evelyn as a sister, and then where would my place be,
since she was to be a daughter to mother and a sister
to Jack? It seemed to me I should be left out of it
altogether. I cannot say that I thought all this in
these very words, but it is what it all came to as I
stood watching Evelyn and Jack by our fairy grotto
that lovely day in the beginning of August.

“Then you must collect different kinds of ferns,”
our cousin said, “ and see how many varieties you can
get to grow here. I see you have just five now; but
I have a friend who is staying in the Highlands for
the summer, and I am sure she would be delighted to
send us a great bundle of ferns if I wrote and asked
her. Then we can have a Scotch corner.”

I glanced hopefully at Jack. Yesterday that word
“Scotch” would have put him into a regular rage, and
the bare idea of having anything Scotch in his garden
would not have been tolerated fora moment. But
now it had no effect ; it conveyed nothing to his mind.

“Jolly,” he said happily. “Will you write to-day?”

“Certainly,” said Cousin Evelyn, smiling at the
hurry he was in; “and you shall take my letter to the
post, to make sure it really goes.”

“Then you have come to stay now?” he asked
next, a new idea occurring to him.

“ Yes, dear,” was her gracious reply, spoken—oh so
gently. “If you will have me, I have come to stay.
Will you, Jack ?”
COUSIN EVELYN. 65

I tried to catch Jack’s eye, but he purposely would
not look at me. What answer would he make to
this, I asked myself, and I felt as if everything de-
pended on that for the moment; and would you
believe it, he said very calmly, and as if he were
doing Cousin Evelyn a great favour,—

«Why, yes, of course we will.”

I stared so hard and so fiercely at him then that he
had to look at me. He saw my hand at my neck and
the anger blazing in my eyes. Then he flushed hotly.

“Silly!” he muttered under his breath, but I
caught the well-known word.

Quick to notice the slightest thing, Evelyn saw
something was amiss between us; and thinking we
were still cross about our game of hide-and-seek, she
tried to change the subject.

“Won't you come in and see Aunt Margaret ?” she
asked.

Our reply must have been a shock to her, for we
both gasped out in one breath—

“Oh no! thank you, Cousin Evelyn.”

She looked surprised, but putting it down to shy-
ness, said,—

“Ah, I forgot; you wanted to play, didn’t you?
Shall we begin ?”

“No,” I said abruptly, speaking because she seemed
to be looking at me for an answer; “I don’t want to
play. Jack can if he likes.”

Jack looked at me, for I spoke crossly.
(969) 5 ,
66 COUSIN EVELYN.

“Nor do I, thank you, Cousin Evelyn,” he said
civilly, in defiance, as I thought, of my hints. “Tl
take you to see the grapes and things instead if you
like.”

This was a very kind offer of Jack’s, and he looked
quite conscious of it. Evelyn had taken off her gloves
by now, and she held out a very clean hand to him as
she said,—

“Do; I should like it immensely.”

Jack looked at his grubby paws and then at her
white fingers.

“My hands are rather muddy,” he said apologeti-
cally.

“ Oh, I don’t mind now,” said our cousin laughingly.
“My gloves would not have washed, but my hands
will.”

I made up my mind I would not go; but Evelyn
noticed that I did not move as she and Jack started,
hand in hand, towards the hothouses.

“You are coming too, are you not, Alison ?” she
asked.

“No, thank you; I’m tired,’ I replied, in a drawl-
ing tone.

“Oh, come along, Cousin Evelyn,” said Jack pointedly.
“We don’t want her if she is going to be grumpy.”

I stood quite still as they turned away. I suppose
Evelyn thought it wiser to do as he suggested, as she
did not understand my sullenness. The lonely, neg-
lected feeling in my heart grew bigger and bigger,
COUSIN EVELYN. 67

and as they disappeared out of sight round a corner, I
clinched my hands and stamped, tears rising to my
eyes and a choky feeling in my throat, as I said out
loud,—

“He doesn’t mean to keep our vow, and he likes
her awfully. Nothing will ever be the same any
more, and nobody loves me. Oh, I hate, hate, hate
Cousin Evelyn, and I won’t be good till she goes away ;
for she is a bad, cruel girl!”

Perhaps you think this very naughty, and so it was.
But you must remember it was the first time in my
life that Jack had ever forsaken me or been content to
do anything without me, and now he did not seem to
care one little bit. It was a new experience, and one
that I did not enjoy.

I roamed about the garden, avoiding them when-
ever I heard their voices; and they were always merry
and happy, while I felt more and more miserable. I
went in very late for tea, to find that Jack was having
his in the drawing-room with mother, Aunt Margaret,
and Evelyn. But though Betty told me I had been
sent for, I refused so obstinately to go down that she
had to give me tea upstairs as usual. She was very
much puzzled to see Jack and me apart for so long,
for such a thing had hitherto been unheard of; but
I would tell her nothing.

“Miss Drummond has been up herself asking for
you, Miss Alison,” she said, as she cut me a piece of
bread and jam. “She wanted you to come down to
68 COUSIN EVELYN.

tea too; and when she heard you was not in yet, she
seemed so sorry, as you had told her in the garden
you was feeling tired.”

Betty made this last announcement in a tone of
surprise, as well she might, for I don’t suppose she
had ever heard me own to such a thing as tiredness.
I did not speak.

“T think she is such a nice young lady,” Betty went
on, as I munched away at my bread. “And so does
Master Jack, ’m sure; for he brought her up here to
show her the way, talking to her all the time as nicely
as you please. You'd hardly have thought it was
Master Jack to hear him.”

I gulped down a mouthful of very hot tea. So
Betty had noticed it too, I thought.

“T wonder you don’t go down,” Betty said; “I
wouldn’t be so silly and shy if I was you.”

I got up from the table, forgetting to say my grace,
and said as I reached the door,—

“T don’t want to, and I won't. I’m not silly and
shy, and I don’t think Cousin Evelyn is a nice girl,
nor Jack a nice boy at all; so there!”

“ Highty-tighty, dearie me
as I slammed the door behind me.

I had scarcely touched my tea, for it suddenly came
into my head that Evelyn might come up again to
fetch me, and I did not want her to find me there.

My great wish now was to see Jack alone and
have it out with him. I felt I must have one last

(24

I heard Betty saying,
COUSIN EVELYN. 69

fight for our vow. But Cousin Evelyn kept him well
employed for the rest of the afternoon. He took the
precious letter to the post, for he was most anxious
about the ferns; and when he came back, he helped
her to begin unpacking some books she had brought
with her to put into the little sitting-room mother
had arranged she should have, leading out of her bed-
room,

But at supper-time I went upstairs, and found Jack
eating his bread and milk.

He looked questioningly at me, and when he saw
how gloomy I was he said,—

“ What is the matter, Alison? I never did see any-
body so stupid before. We have tried to find you
over and over again, Cousin Evelyn and I. Why did
you hide ?”

Iwas rather taken aback at this speech, for I was
counting upon his being a little ashamed of himself.

“You know why, Jack,’ I blurted out, “It’s all
your fault for forgetting our vow.”

Two ugly patches of red came into my cheeks, and
my eyes were full of burning-hot, angry tears.

“T didn’t forget our vow,” Jack exclaimed indig-
nantly; “but you are so silly. I only said Cousin
Evelyn shouldn’t come if she interfered with us and
spoiled our fun, and she hasn’t yet.”

“She began about the rockery at once,” I argued,
“just as if it wasn’t a bit pretty.”

“Oh,” cried Jack impatiently, “you are a baby.
70 COUSIN EVELYN.

Why, she wants to help us, and I shall let her if I
like. It’s my rockery as well as yours.”

“Tt isn’t mine ever any more,” I said, in a low,
husky voice, “if Cousin Evelyn is going to share it.”

“All right; I don’t care,” said Jack.

And the worst of it was that I really do not think
he did.

“ But are you going to keep our vow?” I persisted.

“Of course I am,” he replied, “if ever I’ve got to.
But Cousin Evelyn won’t try to manage us and order
us about, I know. She is a jolly girl, not a bit like
those others.”

“Those others,” of course, meant her sisters. I
heartily wished she had been like them, for I disliked
her more than I had ever done any one of them.

“But she is Scotch too,” I went on, hoping this
would make a difference.

“Yes, I know,” my brother said. “But she is nice
Scotch; there must be nice and nasty everythings.”

I had never heard this line of argument from him
before. Had I ventured to suggest such a thing that
very morning, he would have scorned the thought.

I considered for a moment. What could I say to
make Jack remember all he had felt so bitterly a few
weeks ago? It was just as if all the earnestness had
left him and taken possession of me. He had, as
usual, been impulsively eager about it at first, and so
excited as almost to frighten me. And when I had
had time to think it over—to understand what we had
COUSIN EVELYN. 71



done in taking such a vow—and was ready to follow
him to any length in the keeping of it, he suddenly
changed his mind, calling me a “silly” for disagreeing
with him.

“ Jack,” I cried with a sob, making one last effort
and appeal, “ you said she shouldn’t come between us.”

“Well, nor will she, stupid,” Jack said. “She wants
you to do everything the same as me. And oh, Allie,”
he cried, forgetting his ill-humour in the pleasure of
the remembrance, “she is going to teach me to play
golf on the common, and tennis, and cricket, and all
the things other boys do. She can do anything, Aunt
Margaret says, and she just loves games.”

This friendly reference to Aunt Margaret surprised
me more than anything; but Cousin Evelyn came into
the room at that moment, and I did not manage to get
out the speech that was at the tip of my tongue about
“not wanting to learn all those silly games.”

“ At supper, little people?” she said cheerily. “I
think I shall ask for bread and milk for supper some-
times, and come and have it with you, when Aunt
Maisie is not down for dinner.”

“Oh, would you?” Jack asked, quite pleased. And
then he went on, not waiting for an answer, “But I
say, Cousin Evelyn, we haven’t got anything to play
those things with here, you know. I quite forgot.”

“So I thought,” she said at once. “ But we can soon
mend all that. There is an extra tennis net up at the
Grange that they do not need, as they have only one
72 COUSIN EVELYN.

court there; also our old cricket set. We can easily
get some balls, as they are not very expensive, and
you can share my golf clubs with me to begin with.
I have a good many.”

“ And rackets?” demanded Jack, who was nothing
if not practical.

“We shall find some old rackets at home too,”
Evelyn replied smilingly. “And we will just go up
there and steal them in the face of every one.” Then
turning kindly to me she said, “You do look tired,
Alison dear; shall I help you to undress ?”

“No, thank you,” I said decidedly. “I am not very
tired now, and I hate being put to bed.”

Evelyn looked surprised, for I spoke rudely. She
must have thought me the very oddest child she had
ever met. Had I been alone with her, I should not
have dared to speak so; but I wanted to show off
before Jack, and prove to him that I at least meant
to remember and keep our vow.

I left the room without another word; but as I
went down the passage, I heard our cousin say
anxiously,—

“What is the matter with her, Jack? she cannot
be well.”

And then in his high treble, purposely raised so
that I should hear, came to my ears this never-to-be-
forgotten speech just as I reached my door—

“Qh, she is just horrid and cross; she is like that
sometimes.”
COUSIN EVELYN. 73

I waited to hear no more.

“O Jack, Jack,” I sobbed, with my face buried in
my pillow, “how can you be so unkind?” And then
I cried till I fell asleep.

There Betty found me, stretched at full length on
the bed with all my clothes on, when she came to call
me as usual at seven o'clock.

The next day was Sunday, and at breakfast
Cousin Evelyn said,—

“T suppose you are going to take me to church,
both of you?”

Now church was the one place in which we were
invariably good. On a very hot Sunday we some-
times fidgeted towards the end of the sermon, but
as a rule we were quiet—partly because we had early
been trained to do so, but chiefly, I am sorry to say,
our goodness was due to the fact that we found a
great deal to amuse us all through the service. We
were always watching that part of the congregation
which we could see without turning and twisting
about, and as we sat half-way down the church we
had a very good view.

The pew on the other side which interested us
more than all the rest put together was occupied by
some people of the name of Grant, who had but
recently come to live in the neighbourhood. They
lived in a great big house that, for as long as we
could remember, had stood forsaken and lonely in
its miles of lovely grounds. There was much ex-
74 COUSIN EVELYN.

citement in the village when the new-comers arrived ;
but we did not know them yet, owing to mother’s
being unable to go out anywhere. The Drummonds,
however, had called, and Jack and I were always in
hopes of at least forming a nodding acquaintance
through them, for they seemed a very attractive
family. Sir Richard was a handsome old man, and
Lady Grant looked kind and gentle; but Jack
longed most to know the two boys, who we were
sure must. be twins—they were so much of a height,
and were so like each other. But my great wish
was to speak to the lovely girl who always came
with her governess rather earlier than the rest,
though I knew she must be quite five years older
than I. It was no childish imagination that she
was so beautiful, for Elsie Grant was the talk of the
country side before they had been there long, with
her wealth of dark hair, soft brown eyes, and clear
olive complexion.

Just behind them sat the old squire and his. wife,
whose children were now all grown up and out in
the world. The vicar’s sister was the only occupant
of the next pew; for Mr. Collins was unmarried, and
she kept house for him. Then there was funny little
Mr. Brown of the village shop, on whose bald head
the flies insisted upon dancing, to our great delight,
in spite of all his efforts to keep them off with a
huge red cotton handkerchief. The last person of
interest on that side was good old Farmer Barns,
COUSIN EVELYN. 75

who would always go to sleep during the sermon,
and snore till his wife poked or pinched him to rouse
him. Once she did this so hard that he awoke
quite suddenly and said aloud, so that nearly every
one could hear him,—

“ All right, my dear; I’m coming in a minute.”

Then he saw he was in church, and the poor man
looked very confused and uncomfortable for the rest
of the service.

So we children had never any objection to going
to church. We were always hoping something like
that would occur again, but it never did. When
Cousin Evelyn asked if we would take her, Jack was
ereatly delighted; it sounded so much more manly
than to “be taken” by Betty, as we had always been
before.

Nothing unusual happened during the service,
except that Mr. Smith, the postmaster, took snuff at
a very inconvenient time, and began to sneeze so
loud just as Mr. Collins was giving out one of the
hymns that no one could hear the number, and that
caused a great deal of whispering at the back of the
church, till the vicar gave it out twice more, and we
could fairly start.

When we got home we found mother down to
welcome us, looking very bright. She had a little
walk with Evelyn round the garden, and it was not
difficult to see that the aunt and niece would soon
be the firmest friends from the way the elder woman
76 COUSIN EVELYN.

slipped her arm through that of the girl, and chatted
away to her as if she had known her for years.

It was then decided that, for the present at least,
Jack and I should have all our meals, except supper,
in the dining-room, not, as always before, alone
upstairs in the old day-nursery. I was not at all
pleased at the new arrangement, particularly as Jack
seemed so greatly taken with it.

“Just as if he found it dull with me!” I thought
bitterly.

“This is quite grown-up,” he said, with a sigh of
satisfaction, as he took his place opposite me at the
table.

I was silent; indeed I had said but little all day.
For one thing, Jack chattered so incessantly there
was little time for any one else to talk. But I had
no inclination to do so; I felt as if I had nothing to
say. When Cousin Evelyn spoke to me, I answered
her as briefly as I could, just as a shy, nervous child
might have done, though I was neither in reality.
She must have thought me most uninteresting, and
it was little wonder that she spoke principally to my
brother.

“J wonder whether any one has ever noticed a
likeness in Alison to you, Aunt Maisie?” Evelyn
remarked during lunch.

“JT expect so,” was mother’s reply, “for it is so
strong at times that I can see it myself.”

I felt pleased.
COUSIN EVELYN. 17

“She isn’t half so pretty,” broke in Jack; and then
he added, “There are ugly likenesses and pretty ones,
you know, Alison. I think Cousin Evelyn is much
more like mother, and she might be just as beautiful
if she only had real gold hair.”

Jack’s regret that Cousin Evelyn had not real gold
hair, as he called it, was so genuine, and he spoke in
such a matter-of-fact tone, that both mother and our
cousin laughed. I was not amused at all. JI did
not like to hear Cousin Evelyn praised by Jack and
compared with me in that rude way. Mother saw
the vexation in my face, and fearing an outburst of
tears or temper on my part, said teasingly to Jack,—

“Tf my little boy were only black, he might be
taken for a nigger with his curly hair. There is
another possible likeness for you, laddie.”

This had the desired effect, for it set Jack’s active
little brain off in another direction. I could see he
was thinking very deeply, for he left all the talk-
ing for the rest of lunch to mother and Cousin
Evelyn.

When we went into the garden, he was very
friendly with me, as if he had quite forgotten we
had scarcely spoken since our sad disagreement the
day before. Although he only took me as a com-
panion for want of a better, because Evelyn was
going to sit with mother, and I knew it, I was too
lonely not to swallow my pride for once and meet
his advances half-way. Besides, no one can guess
78 COUSIN EVELYN.

how terrible it was to me to be so long in my little
brother’s black books..

“Tve got such an.idea,' Allie,” he said excitedly, as
we walked off hand in hand. “Sunday is.so stupid
in the afternoon, because we don’t like to make a
noise; but Pve thought of a nice, quiet sort of re-
ligious game to play. We will black our faces and
pretend we're niggers. Then Ill be a ‘missionary,
and you shall be the heathen, and Tll- come and
preach to you, and tell you you mustn’t, eat people
or fight any more.”

Jack’s inspiration was as much due to the sermon
of the morning, which Mr. Collins had given us in
preparation for a collection for foreign missions, as
to mother’s remark at lunch.

“ Jolly,” I said.

I should have exclaimed the same if he had sug-
gested our going up to the moon, so anxious was I
to make it up with him. It was sucha relief to be
like oneself again.

“But the bother is,’ he went on, “I can’t think
what to paint ourselves with. Burnt cork is so
smudgy, and so is coal-dust. Boot blacking would
look fine, but we should have to brush our faces to
shine them.”

“TI know,” I cried: “let’s get mother’s patent shoe
gloss. It can’t hurt, because you put it on with a
little sponge.”

“Oh, splendid!” said Jack, as I ran off to fetch it.


“Hirst [ painted Jack, then he did me, and the effect was grand.”

Page 79.
COUSIN EVELYN. 79

I soon returned with a bottle, a small hand-glass,
and a paint-box, the last containing the red for our
lips.

We went into the summer-house and set to work
ab once.

First I painted Jack, then he did me, and to our
mind the effect was grand. We stood and looked at
each other when we were both ready, and laughed
till the tears ran down our cheeks at the sight of
the two little niggers with broad red lips, so unlike
our usual selves. We were painted down to our
collars, and I am afraid we had splashed the blacking
about a good deal in doing it, but we were so unused
to considering our clothes we did not notice it.

Jack did not feel quite in the mood for preaching
to the heathen after this, so we provided ourselves
with two combs and some thin paper, and through
these we proceeded to buzz every hymn tune we
could think of, going off into little fits of giggles
every few minutes whenever we caught sight of each
other. We were too noisy to hear a light step on
the gravel, and Cousin Evelyn was in the summer-
house before we knew of her approach.

“What a noise, my dear little cousins!” she began,
in an affectionate tone of remonstrance, and then she
stopped all of a sudden and stood staring at us.

I think she was as much startled by our appearance
as we were by her voice when she spoke; and no
wonder, when her eyes fell on two shiny black faces
80 COUSIN EVELYN.

instead of the pink-and-white children she had last
seen. Jack grinned from ear to ear, looking more
comical than ever. But I was very grave, for Cousin
Evelyn did not even smile.

“Jack dear,” she said gently, “it is Sunday.”

Jack’s grin vanished.

“T know, Cousin Evelyn,” he replied eagerly ; “ but
it’s quite a Sunday game. It is indeed, for I ama
missionary and Alison is a heathen, and I am teach-
ing her to sing hymns. Mr. Collins said there were
black missionaries, you know.”

Cousin Evelyn remembered the vicar’s simple,
story-like sermon of the morning, in which he had
so carefully explained to us about the African Mission,
for which he was specially preaching.

“T see,” she said; “but all the same I don’t think
it is quite a nice game. For one thing, it is so noisy ;
and then it seems almost like making fun of what
you have heard in church, which I am sure you
cannot have meant to do.”

Now was the time, thought I, for Jack to fire up
and remember our vow. But he did nothing of the
kind; he just looked very erestfallen, and said,—

“No, we didn’t mean to be funny; but it did make
us laugh, you know.”

I felt far too angry to speak; no one had ever
interrupted our games before and told us what we
ought or ought not to do on Sunday. We were
generally commended for our goodness on that day.
COUSIN EVELYN. 81

And then the meek way Jack took the reproof put
all the naughty feelings into my heart again, which
for the last hour or so I had quite forgotten.

Cousin Evelyn caught sight of mother’s shoe
polish on the table. Then she looked graver than
ever.

“You don’t mean to say you have used that patent
gloss for your faces?” she inquired, in a dismayed
tone.

“Why, yes,” I said, as if it were the most natural
thing in the world to have done; “it’s lovely stuff”

“Tam sure it is not,’ Evelyn replied; “it is any-
thing but lovely stuff to get off And you do not
know what it is made of; it might injure your skin
terribly.”

Then she noticed the paint-box and the one al-
most empty pan which had held the colour now on

our lips.
“Oh, how could you use vermilion for your lips!”
she cried anxiously. “Come with me quickly, and

let me try to get it off for you.”

She spoke principally to me, holding out her hand
to me, but I did not move.

“T won't,” I said stubbornly. “I don’t want it off;
I want to go on with our game.”

Jack’s look of vexation at this speech, and the
troubled expression in his eyes as he glanced at
Cousin Evelyn to see what effect it would have upon

her, did not help me into a better temper. My
(969) 6
82 COUSIN EVELYN.

thoughts at that moment were very bitter on the
subject of the broken vow.

“My dear Alison,” our cousin said quietly, but I
could see she was very much astonished, “ that is not
the way to speak. But there is no time to waste
either in remonstrating with you or scolding you.
Do as I tell you, and come with me at once. I will
wash as much of that, stuff off your face as I can.”

“T can wash my own face,” I said proudly; “Pm
not a baby. Jack can have his done if he likes; I
won't.”

I tried to put as much scorn into my reference to
Jack as I could, and my taunt struck home.

“No; I can wash my own face too,” he said
eagerly, with an imploring look at Evelyn, for he
could not bear it to be implied that he was ever
babyish.

“Very well, dear,” was Evelyn’s wise reply; “only
come and do it at once. I will show you a new way
and give you some stuff to put on, for I am afraid
it will be a little sore at first. We will do our best,
however, and you shall do it all yourself. I shall
make a first-rate doctor of you.—Come along, Alison.”

Jack put his hand confidingly into the one she
held out, quite pleased at the prospect of what
promised to be a new game; but I stood resolutely
still.

“T can do it all by myself, thank you,” I said
stiffly. Then seeing that Evelyn made a movement
COUSIN EVELYN. 83

as if she would take my hand by force, I sprang
aside, and turning round ran at full speed towards
the house.

I did not slacken my pace till I was in my room,
safely locked inside so that no one could come in.

Now Cousin Evelyn’s bedroom was between mine
and Jack’s, but part of it was partitioned off on my
side, forming her little boudoir, so that only the bit
of her other room which held the head of her bed
was the wall of my bedroom. But it was easy to
hear through to Jack’s, for all the walls in that part
of the house were thin, as if they had been built up
in a great hurry at the least possible expense.

Be that as it may, I heard the washing performance
and scraps of the conversation between my cousin
and brother—at least Jack’s part of it—and I
guessed the other. It went somehow like this :—

Splash, splash. “It’s no good, Cousin Evelyn”
—gurgle—“ once she gets cross”—gurgle, gurgle.
“What?” Pause. “No; I shouldn’t if I was you.
Eh? Oh, were you? No; I never learned grammar”
—splash, splash. “She'd think you a tell-tale ”—“I
say, is it coming off ?”—_“ My, it’s like ink in the water.
Couldn’t I use a nail-brush ?”—gureles and splash-
ings. “It is, rather. Ah, that is nice, cool stuff!
No; it’s no good, I’m sure, when she is in a temper.
Don’t go; what’s the good ?”—*Oh, goody, what a
fright! why, it’s all patchy.” Here I imagined he
must have seen himself in the glass. “Mayn’t I
84 COUSIN EVELYN.

wash any more?”—“ All right. But I can’t take
you to church again, can I, with my face like this?”

Then she had not got it all off, in spite of her
cleverness, I thought. Well, I would show them I
was not quite such a duffer; so I poured out some
cold water, and was just setting to work when
Evelyn’s voice at the door said,—

“Do let me in, Alison ; I have some hot water for
you, and the stuff I have put upon Jack’s face. He
is not clean yet, but ever so much better.”

I made no answer, but plunged my face into the
cool, refreshing water, purposely making a great
noise so that she should imagine I did not hear.
And though she knocked again and again, coaxing,
asking, and telling me to let her in, I took no notice
of her whatever.

At last I heard her say in a tired kind of tone,—

“Very well, Alison. I shall not ask you again ;
but I have left the can of hot water outside here,
and the bottle on it. So I will go away, and perhaps
you will have the sense to use them.”

This also I did not respond to, leaving the can and
the bottle on the mat, continuing my attempts to get
clean without them.

First, I used a great deal of soap; but this only
seemed to take a top layer off, for we had given our
complexions three coatings, to get it dark and shiny
enough. I scrubbed for a very long time with a
flannel; after which I took a careful survey in the
COUSIN EVELYN. 85

glass, to find there was still much to be done. I took
my nail-brush, using it first softly, and then, as I
grew impatient, harder and harder, till my face began
to feel very sore. I consulted the mirror again.
Where I was clean I was bright scarlet; but every
little wrinkle was full of the stuff, as well as great
patches of it round my nose, eyes, and mouth. It
looked a hopeless job; yet, cost me what it might,
I was determined to outdo my cousin and Jack.
Standing before the glass, I now took pumice stone,
and rubbed and scrubbed with it till I could bear the
pain no longer. The smarting was terrible, and I
was horrified at my appearance; for not only was I
now scarlet, but I had taken off great pieces of skin
every here and there, and I was all over sores and
blotches.

It just felt as if my face were on fire. This was
a reward for obstinacy; but I cannot honestly say I
was sorry I had denied Cousin Evelyn admittance.
I sat down in despair. Go downstairs to be laughed
at I could not; if any one had laughed at me when
I was in such pain, I do not know what I should
have done. Great tears welled up in my eyes and
began trickling down my cheeks; but this was un-
bearable, for their saltness added to the stinging pain.
So with all my might I tried to check them. I
began to wonder how much longer I could bear this
suffering, when I heard Jack running along the
passage towards my room. Then a loud thumping
86 COUSIN EVELYN.

came. JI did not move or speak during the pause
that followed.

“ Alison!” he shouted—* Alison, I say.”

No answer.

“ Alison, don’t be a silly! you’ve got to come
down and have some tea.”

Absolute silence.

“ Alison!” he cried impatiently, “mother says you
are to come down at once, and never mind about
your face.”

It was not an easy matter not to “mind about my
face.” But this command must, of course, be obeyed,
since it came from mother. Still I said nothing.

“ Alison,” Jack went on, “let me in; I want to tell
you something.”

I tried to sit still, but in vain. Jack knew that
curiosity was one of my failings, and he very often
took advantage of it. Slowly I got up, unlocked
the door, and then I rushed over to the window,
where I stood pretending to look out.

Jack came in.

“Well?” I demanded, with my back towards him.

“ How is your face ?” he asked.

“You didn’t come in to say that?” I asked crossly.

“Yes, I did,” Jack asserted.

“Then you told a story!” Iexclaimed. “That isn’t
telling me anything ; it’s me telling you.”

“Oh, well,” he said, “my face is much better, so
that is telling you something.”
COUSIN EVELYN. 87

“You could have said that outside,” I said; “and
I don’t care if it is, so there!”

My heart was very sore—full of the wounded
feelings I had been brooding over, and of the shame
I would not own to—or I never should have spoken
so to my Jack.

He came up to where I stood, and pushed himself
in front of me on to the broad window seat I leaned
against; then, with the full light upon my face, he
saw me.

“Oh my,” he cried, inelegantly, “you do look a
guy

I could not but be aware of the fact, but it was

|?

not pleasant to hear it said, especially as Jack could
well afford to speak; for though his face was red,
and all the black was not yet off it, it was nothing
to the sore, red, and raw condition mine was in.

“Why don’t you put some of Cousin Evelyn’s
stuff on?” he asked.

Now I had forgotten it in my misery, or I daresay
when I was alone I might have used it; but at Jack’s
suggestion—Jack whom I now began to suspect as
her ally—I would not do it.

“Because I don’t want to,” I replied shortly.

“Then you are a silly,” Jack retorted, with reason.

I did not speak.

“What is the matter, Alison?” he asked impa-
tiently.

“ Nothing,” I said.
88 COUSIN EVELYN.

“ Yes, there is,” he rejoined, in his direct way; “ you
are still grumping about our vow.”

“ Jack,” I cried, coming to the point, since he had
given me a chance to do so, “she did order us about,
and you never stood by me. You said I would
forsake you; but I never would, and you did it
to me.”

“TJ didn’t,” Jack said, with indignation ; “but you
were naughty and rude.”

“She meddled,” I said obstinately ; “and you never
used to think me naughty and rude till she came”
(I had got beyond giving Evelyn so much as a name).
“She is coming between us, and setting you against
me. You let her do just what she likes, wash your
face and all.”

“She didn’t wash my face,” Jack replied; “she let
me do it all myself”—this was added with much
dignity. “And I didn’t want the nasty stuff on my
face for ever, it prickled so. It was sensible to take
it off.”

The last words I felt sure were quoted from
Cousin Evelyn, and I resented the idea, for she must
have been comparing my conduct with his to let fall
such a remark. But I could say no more, for in the
open doorway stood mother waiting for me.

“ My darling!” she exclaimed, as she saw my plight ;
“how sore your poor face is! Come with me, and I
will put some cold cream on it.”

Obediently I went with her, thankful even to
COUSIN EVELYN. 89

think of anything likely to relieve the awful burning,
and also glad not to have to use Cousin Evelyn’s
lotion after all. Then to my joy, when we got
downstairs I discovered that one of the girls had
been down from the Grange and fetched her for tea,
and to go to church with them.

We had a very quiet evening, such as we had often
spent before with mother when she was fairly well—
Jack amusing himself by wandering round the
drawing-room to examine the many curiosities it
contained, asking their histories as he went, and I
sitting with a book of photographs. But to-night it
was all I could do to sit still, my face was stinging
so. And presently we went to bed—Jack full of
expectancy for what to-morrow would bring in the
way of tennis or golf, and I sick at heart and over-
tired with the scalding pain I was suffering.

I moaned myself into a restless sleep, in which I
knew all about my misery as clearly as when I was
awake. Then gradually a delicious coolness seemed
to steal over my face, and I thought I was in a shady
palace with a little black boy, very like Jack, who
stood before me waving a fan. In the far distance
I could hear some hundreds of bees, all busy at their
hive, keeping up a continual buzzing sound; and it is
curious, but it did not seem very odd to me, that they
should be humming a tune, “Now the day is over,”
all the time without a fault. I thought I must be a
princess, so that I just lay and enjoyed every breath
90 COUSIN EVELYN.

of the cool, scented air, and I knew that I should
have no more pain as long as the little boy went on
fanning me. I longed to beg him not to stop, but I
could not think what language he would speak; so I
had to give up the idea, and just lie very still and
quiet.

- Sure enough, when I awoke next morning, though
it was anything but well, my face was wonderfully
better. I was delighted, and it was not till I was
nearly dressed that I discovered on a table near my
bed a bottle, a saucer containing some watery-looking
stuff, and a handkerchief, which had evidently been
used to apply the lotion. Some one had come into
my room after I had fallen into that troubled sleep,
and had put this stuff on my burning skin. That
accounted for the dream of coolness and comfort, and
the sound slumber I had afterwards dropped into. I
suspected who it was at once, but with a hope that
I was wrong I examined the handkerchief. Yes,
there were the initials I had expected to find—E. D.—
clearly embroidered in the corner. So it was, as I
had thought, Cousin Evelyn,

But even when I knew that, I could not have
pictured what really took place there in the silence
of the night: how a patient figure had bent over me
hour after hour, bathing my face with a gentle, un-
tiring hand, till my piteous moaning ceased, and I
was soothed off into a dreamless sleep. Then on
and off she had slipped into my room to change the
COUSIN EVELYN. 91

cool, damp rags she laid upon my face to keep down
the inflammation, ungrudgingly denying herself her
proper rest for the sake of an ungrateful child. It
was not till long afterwards, when I had learned my
bitter lesson, that I knew of this. I very much doubt
whether it would have made much difference in my
conduct had I known it sooner, for I was in such a
naughty frame of mind that the bare idea of her
having done as much as I could guess for me angered
and distressed me. After all I had been forced to
take her help against my will; to myself I called it

2

“sneaking” and “mean” to come into my room as I
slept, when she knew I would not have let her in had
I been awake. I resented it all the more that when
I first awoke I had prided myself on being in the
right after all. “Of course,’ I thought, “it was
bound to hurt at first, but it will get well without
her interference.” And after all it was just “her

interference” that was curing it.
CHAPTER Iii.

WAS JACK DESERTING ME?

“* Not to be first—how hard to learn
8

That life-long lesson of the past !
Roserri.
ONDAY, to any one who has housekeeping to
attend to, is a busy morning.

In addition to this, Cousin Evelyn had to finish
her unpacking and arrange her rooms, so that she
had no time to spend with us.

When we met for prayers she asked me how my
face was. I replied, as ungraciously as I could, that
it was a little better; and I did not thank her for
her kindness, but behaved just as if I knew nothing
about it.

Prayers was a new institution. Of course there
had been no one to read them for us before. I am
afraid I thought them rather a bother, probably be-
cause it was Cousin Evelyn’s arrangement, and one of
the first signs of the law and order I felt she meant
to establish in our hitherto desultory home life.

Jack was quite satisfied.

“T's what every gentleman’s house should have,”
WAS JACK DESERTING ME? 93

he remarked solemnly; but I knew he was quoting
Mrs. Bain, who said exactly these words when the
announcement was made to her.

Mrs. Bain was what we called “religious,” which
meant that she wore black silk on Sunday, and
carried her Bible to church wrapped up in a hand-
kerchief. It was one of our weekly amusements to
watch her progress up the church, holding her pile
of books before her in both hands exactly as if she
were bringing in a pudding.

At breakfast Jack kept up such a string of ques-
tions as to tennis and golf that it was difficult to get
in a word about anything else. I was therefore very
much left to my own thoughts, except for an attempt
now and then on Evelyn’s part to draw me into the
conversation.

Jack was so fearfully disappointed that Evelyn
would not have time to go up to the Grange about
the things before lunch, that she offered to give him
a note to take to Maggie, in which she would ask her
to look out the net and rackets and send them down
by one of the gardeners. He did not seem to like
this proposal very much, however, greatly as he longed
for his game; we had a wholesome awe of the Grange
and its inhabitants.

“ All by myself?” he asked doubtfully.

“Why, yes, dear,’ Evelyn said. “They will be
delighted to see you if you go up there at about
eleven o'clock, I know.”
94 WAS JACK DESERTING ME?

“But my face?” he said inquiringly, for it still bore
traces of the blacking in many a wrinkle and corner.

“Oh, they will take no notice of that,’ Evelyn re-
plied, at once realizing that he dreaded the remarks
that might be made. “I told them about your game
yesterday, and they were all very sorry the blacking
was so hard to get off”

“Aunt Margaret and all?” asked Jack, not yet
satisfied.

“Aunt Margaret and all,” our cousin said, smiling.

So it was decided that at eleven o’clock Jack should
start.

He was very busy at the grotto till then, preparing
a nice place for the Scotch ferns when they should
arrive; but he was in one of his moods for wanting to
do all the work himself, so that, even had I wished
it, I should not have been allowed to help him. I
hovered around, watching the performance without
comment, he chattering all the time about the won-
derful things he meant to do when he knew how to
play every game that was ever invented. But pre-
sently the stable clock struck eleven, and he stopped
abruptly in his work, stood up, and said,—

“ Are you coming, Alison ?”

I think his heart was failing him a little at the
thought of going up to the Grange alone, and that he
really wanted me to go with him then. But I re-
plied shortly,—

“No; I’m tired.”
WAS JACK DESERTING ME? 95

“Tired!” exclaimed Jack, with much scorn ; “why,
it isn’t bed-time. You're afraid.”

This was too painfully true to be pleasant. My
face was much worse than his, for it was so sore, in
addition to which I could not but imagine that in
telling the story of yesterday’s game Evelyn must
have said how very naughty I had been; if that were
the case, I did not feel as if I should get a very warm
welcome from her mother and sisters.

“T’m not afraid,” I said, however, in a cross tone.
“T am tired, and I’ve got a headache,”

“Oh well, you needn’t come,” Jack said loftily, as
he walked off and left me; “I don’t want you.”

As soon as I was alone I began to wish I had not
been such a coward; but even then I could not over-
come the feeling, and I was too proud to run after
him, remembering his speech, even if I had found
courage to face the people at the Grange.

The garden seemed such a great, big, dull place
when he was gone. I had never found it so before ; it
was to my mind always the loveliest, most interesting
spot in the world. But now without Jack it might
have been a dreary desert for all the pleasure I could
take in it. It is strange that one little creature, a
mere scrap of a lad in sailor suits, should have made
all that difference, but so it was. I believe I should
have been content anywhere with Jack, undergone
any hardships cheerfully, borne any treatment, so
long as I had him with me to share it all. Such
96 WAS JACK DESERTING ME?

were my feelings for my impulsive little brother as I
now know them to have been. But what puzzled me
then is a riddle to me no longer, and that was why
it was that Jack did not feel the same for me I
could not think how it was he could enjoy himself or
be happy doing anything without me, since I could
not bear to be even a few minutes away from him.
I thought then that he did not love me, but I was
wrong; he was very fond of me in his own way, a
boy’s way, which is a very different thing from a girl’s.
I loved him passionately, above every one else in the
world, even counting mother; he was first in my
thoughts, and nothing would satisfy me but to be
first in his. JI never realized until Cousin Evelyn
came that I was not, and even then I could not
understand that mother, and she, and I, and every
one who was ever good and kind to Jack, found a
place in his warm little heart, all fitting into their
proper places without his troubling his head as to
how much or how little he liked them. The French
have a saying about two great friends that there are
“always one who loves and one who lets himself be
loved.” Jack was one of the people who, as a rule,
let himself be loved, with perhaps the feeling that
they ought to be rather grateful to him than other-
wise that he permitted it.

I went away up to my room, as the playroom even
seemed bare and empty. Sitting on the edge of my
bed—a thing which Betty strictly forbade, as she said
WAS JACK DESERTING ME? 97

it “messed up the counterpane ”—I thought over what
I considered “imy wrongs.”

“Tt is all Cousin Evelyn,” I said, speaking out
loud, as I had a habit of doing when alone; “she is
setting Jack against me.”

And this was really becoming my firm belief. I
put the sudden change in my brother down to her,
not knowing that her part in it was but small; she
had only roused in him what had always existed—
his real, boyish nature. When I said that day that
nothing would ever be the same, I made a true pro-
phecy without knowing it; for it was an era in Jack’s
life—the beginning of the turning-point from a
babyish child to a manly boy. So far we had been
very much on a level. He was very backward, I
was a tomboy of a girl, and he, having no boy friends,
was quite content to play, as we had both done ever
since we were tiny, toddling mites, games of pretence
and impossible adventure. We did not know what
other children did; we wanted nothing more. Buta
few words spoken by our gentle cousin acted like
magic, awoke that sleeping something in my little
brother, and I was all of a sudden conscious of a
division between us. She had simply said,—

“T will teach you the games other boys play, for
when you go among them you will feel dreadfully
out of it.”

And now he wanted to be as “other boys” are, to

do what “other boys” do, and enter that life into
(969) 7
98 WAS JACK DESERTING ME?

which a girl cannot follow; so our baby, hand-in-
hand dreamland was at an end.

I tell you all this because you might think, as I
did, that Jack was very unkind to me; and even
though it is so many years ago, I cannot bear any
one to think slightingly of him: bitter as my own
thoughts about it all were, I would not have allowed
any one else to say one word against my Jack. I
even put the blame on some one else, and said,—

“Tt is all Cousin Evelyn’s fault.”

How it happened I do not know ; I suppose I leaned
back on the pillows to think, and must gradually
have slipped into a comfortable lying position. Any-
how I fell asleep, and never awoke till long after
lunch-time, when I found Evelyn by my bed with
a tray in her hand. Indeed, I thought I must be
dreaming, till she spoke.

“You have had a nice, sound sleep, young lady,”
she said, with a smile. “I have been up several times,
and Jack and I had lunch more than an hour ago. So
now I have gone back to my duties as nurse, and
have brought you some nice, strong beef-tea. You
may like to go to sleep again after it.”

I sat up rubbing my eyes, and allowed her to prop
up my pillows and set the tray on my knees.

“Where is Jack?” was my first question.

“Tn the garden,” was the reply. “He is going to
have his first lesson in tennis now; unless you would
like me to come and read to you?”.
WAS JACK DESERTING ME? 99

“No,” I said: “I don’t like being read to when I’ve
got a headache; I want to go to sleep.”

Cousin Evelyn went away, and I thought I had
offended her. But in a few minutes she was back
with some smelling-salts, which she said would do my
head good; and when I had finished my beef-tea and
would have nothing more, she pulled down the blind
and quietly left the room.

The door was scarcely closed behind her before I
felt sure that lying down was the very worst thing
for my headache. I promptly sat up, pushed off the
shawl she had so thoughtfully put over me, and de-
cided that I would get up. Jack’s merry little voice
in the garden attracted me to the window to see what
they were doing, for I ‘could see from my room what
was now to be called the tennis-lawn. I drew aside
the blind and peeped out. Evelyn joined Jack in
another moment, and they were soon marking out the
court with whiting--Evelyn doing the real work ;
Jack, excited and happy all the time, very busy doing
nothing, but feeling most useful.

A lump rose in my throat as I watched.

“He doesn’t want me one bit,’ I muttered—*he
doesn’t even miss me; and she only made that fuss
over me and covered me up to keep me out of the
way, I know.”

Presently they finished the marking, which had
been begun soon after lunch, and mother came out
and sat down under the trees to watch the first re-
100 WAS JACK DESERTING ME?

markable game. I could stand it no longer. All
were enjoying themselves except me; and quite for-
getting that it was my own doing that I was upstairs
instead of with them, I grumbled out,—

“T don’t care if they don’t want me; I will go
down.”

“ Holloa!” Jack cried, in what I chose to think was
a cross tone, “what have you got up for?”

Cousin Evelyn. looked equally surprised, but ex-
pressed it differently.

“Why, Alison dear,” she asked (and well she might,
as she had left me only ten minutes before in what
she imagined to be great pain), “has the headache
gone already ?”

“Stopping indoors doesn’t do any good,” I said, by
way of answer.

“You had better not run about though,” she said ;
“sit here by Aunt Maisie, and watch Jack’s first
efforts.”

Cousin Evelyn crossed the lawn and brought me
a chair.

“You ought to have done that, you know, Jack,”
she said, with a little laugh.

“What?” asked Jack abruptly.

“Why, brought Alison a chair,” was the reply.

“Goody!” exclaimed Jack; “me fetch chairs for
Alison! Why, she’s got legs too.”

Evelyn smiled, but said nothing, and went over to
the court with him to begin the game.
WAS JACK DESERTING ME? 101

As mother and I were some distance behind Jack,
it might have been supposed that we should be toler-
ably safe from his balls; but every time he tried to
send the ball over the net at first, it went over
his head towards us. This happened some six or
seven times, and all the while Evelyn waited pa-
tiently, standing quite still, until a change should
come in this wonderful play. Once or twice she
tried to explain to Jack how to avoid the accident ;
but he shouted out in great excitement,—

“No, don’t tell me, don’t tell me; I want to do it
all myself.”

So mother and I moved out of the way, and the
game went on.

Presently Jack stopped, and said plaintively,—

“What ever is the matter with the silly things,
Cousin Evelyn? Do you think the balls are quite
right ?”

“J think they are as right as most tennis balls,
Jack,” she replied; “but,” she went on, picking up
one from the ground, “if I were going to serve, and
wanted you to get the ball, I should hold my racket
like this, my ball like this, and send it over so.”
And suiting the action to the words, she sent the
ball over so that it dropped just at Jack’s feet.

“Oh, I can do that easily,” he cried, his face light-
ing up again.

But it appeared he had overrated his powers, for
the next ten balls went into the net. Then one
102 WAS JACK DESERTING ME?

went over, and his joy was complete for the mo-
ment.

“Now I can play, I can play!” he shouted, as he
rushed wildly at the returning ball.

He was disappointed many times after that, and
when he again sent a successful ball and saw it
coming back to him, he was so delighted that he
simply threw his racket at it with all his might.

He looked very solemn for the rest of the game,
as if life and death depended upon it, while Cousin
Evelyn kept up an amused commentary all the
time.

“This side of the net, please, Jack,” she would say;
or, “ Here I am, laddie, not up in the clouds.”

And mother sat smiling and pleased to see Jack so
happy with his cousin.

When Evelyn at last stopped, declaring that she
had never seen such play even in a tournament, Jack,
very hot, but quite self-satisfied, came up to us

* with her.

“Do you think I will ever play?” he asked
anxiously.

“Of course you will,” Evelyn replied heartily.
“Some day you will play so well that I shall feel it a
great honour to be asked to play on your side against
two other people.”

“Oh, but I will ask you,” Jack said kindly, “if
there isn’t another girl who plays any better there.”

Evelyn and mother seemed both amused.
WAS JACK DESERTING ME? 108

“T am going up to the Grange after tea,’ he
announced.

“To the Grange, Jack?” mother said. “Why, you
were only there this morning.”

“T know,” he said importantly; “but I promised
Cousin Maggie I would take back the balls, because
she only lent them to me. But when her new balls
come she is going to give us these for ever.”

I felt that Cousin Maggie must have been very
different from her usual self. But I was wrong, and
it really was that Jack had behaved so differently to
them all, just as if he knew them, instead of being
the shy, awkward child he had always appeared before.

Then we had tea, and after it, when Jack had
started, I went out into the garden, and climbed high
into the cedar in which we were discovered the day
we made our vow. It was the first tree I had
climbed since then, but I was in a naughty, “ don’t-
care” mood to-day. Jack had forsaken me again;
what did anything else matter to me?

I sat round the other side this time out of sight, in
case mother should come out again, which, sure enough,
she did a little later with Cousin Evelyn. They were
walking very slowly, and I could hear distinctly what
they said, especially as they came and stood below
me for a few seconds. As soon as I caught Jack’s
name and my own I listened on purpose, for I told
myself Cousin Evelyn had no business to be talking
about us behind our backs. This is what I heard :—
104 WAS JACK DESERTING MBE?

“Do you know, Aunt Maisie,” Evelyn was saying,
“T think Alison is not happy.”

“Not happy!” exclaimed mother, surprised.

“Yes,” Evelyn continued; “I am certain that is
what is the matter with her. She calls it tiredness
and headache, but I should say it was want of occupa-
tion. The child really does not know what to do
with herself all day.”

“Dear me,” said mother, “I should not be at all
surprised if you are right, although I never thought
of it before. I have been afraid the last two days
that she was going to be ill, but I daresay you have
given a better explanation of it.”

“She is restless and dissatisfied, I am sure,” Evelyn
said, as if she knew all about it; “not a bit like
Jack, who is the most easily amused creature I have
ever seen. But J really don’t know what Alison will
do when the little lad goes to school.”

“When the little lad goes to school!” Jack going
to school! The words repeated themselves over and
over again in my head, and I hardly took in what
mother was saying as they moved off; but this was
the last sentence that reached my ears,—

“T believe you are quite right, Evelyn, I am
most thankful that you have come to us, for I begin
to realize it was most harmful for the children to go
on running wild for so long. We must look out for
some nice gir]—”

And then I heard no more.
WAS JACK DESERTING ME? 105

“When Jack goes to school,” I said again to my-
self. “Ah! now he will believe me that Cousin
Evelyn is a mean spy, coming here and turning us
out of our own home. Perhaps he will remember our
vow when he hears this.”

I slipped down the tree and waited about for his
return. I was longing to tell him this wonderful
piece of news, and to see the effect it would have
upon him.

At last he came, but, to my horror, escorting Aunt
Margaret in the most friendly manner. I shrank
back into the shrubs as they passed, so that they
could not see me as they went up the drive. Jack
was saying in his most confidential way,—

“Yes, and she is going to teach me golf to-morrow.
I told Uncle Archie just now, and he said if I get
round the holes in less than three hundred strokes
he will give me a cleek all of my own. Isn't it jolly
of him ?”

“Do you think you are likely to win it?” Aunt
Margaret asked gravely.

“Why, yes, of course,” Jack replied. “He was
only laughing. I should think I could do it in
ten.”

“ Aones is supposed to be very good for a lady
golfer, I believe, and she has never managed to do
it in less than fifty-eight strokes, though she has
played golf almost ever since she could walk,” Aunt
Margaret said, still quite solemnly. “You must not
106 WAS JACK DESERTING ME?

be disappointed if you are not quite as good as that
to begin with.”

“ Ah, but she’s a. gurl,” Jack said, quite sure of his
own powers. “You can’t expect a gurl to hit as
hard as a boy, you know.”

Aunt Margaret seemed to find this argument un-
answerable. Perhaps in the silence that followed she
was comparing her tall, strong daughter with the
scrap of a lad at her side; but if she was amused, she
did not show it.

When they reached the front door, Jack politely
rang the bell, and just waited till Aunt Margaret was
inside, safe in Susan’s care; then he turned round and
shouted at the top of his voice,—

“ Alison! Alison! [ve got something to tell you.”

I knew what it was already. Whenever Jack had
anything nice, he at once wanted to tell every one he
had ever met about it; I was now to hear about the
cleek, and to sympathize with the joy of it. But I
was in no mood to be pleased over anything except
my bit of news, which I felt sure would prove to
Jack how unworthy his new friend was of his trust.

I listened to the story of the cleek, and then I said
impressively —

“Jack, P’'ve got something dreadful to tell you.”

I must have been looking very grave, and Jack’s
merry face grew sober in a moment.

“Ts mother ill?” he asked anxiously, for that was
always the most dreadful thing we could think of.
WAS JACK DESERTING ME? 107

“No,” I said, and my answer shows how custom
lessens the terror of things even to children; “ it’s
worse than that. It’s about you.”

“Me?” Jack exclaimed, in quite a squeaky tone,
he was so excited.

I led the way to the summer-house with a very
important and mysterious air. Not till we were
fairly inside would I say another word. Then look-
ing closely at Jack to see what impression it would
make, I said solemnly,—

“You wouldn’t believe me when I said Cousin
Evelyn was managing and ordering about. Now I
know she is, and you will too. Jack, you are going
to school, and it is all Cousin Evelyn's fault.”

I was certainly not prepared for the effect my
announcement would have upon Jack, though I felt
sure it would upset him very much.

“You silly, silly little gurl!” he cried, “that isn’t
what you were making such a fuss about?” and went
off into peals of laughter, with his head resting on his
arms at the table.

I stood, and stared in blank amazement. At first
I thought he was erying; but when I found that it
was mirth and not sorrow that made him behave in
such an odd manner, I felt puzzled indeed.

“Oh,” he said, when he could speak, “you are
funny! Why, I knew that long, long ago.”

I could not see that I was at all funny.

Talus you that’s funny,” I said crossly, “ know-
108 WAS JACK DESERTING ME 2

ing things for a long, long time and not telling
me.”

“ Well, I haven’t seen you since,” he said, “ not pro-
perly. Mother told me at lunch, and if you go to
bed wrong times you can’t hear everything. Of course
I’m going to school. Uncle Archie says I am quite
old enough, so I am going to the same place as the
Grants. It’s jolly, not anything to look so grumpy
about.”

This was something quite new to me. I could not
speak.

“They are going to have us all to tea one day,”
Jack went on, “for me to get to know the boys,
because we go in three weeks.”

“Three weeks!” I gasped ; “ you are going away in
three weeks ?”

“What is the matter, Alison?” he asked impa-
tiently. “I am very glad, and you look as if you
were going to cry like a baby.”

“OQ Jack,” was all I could say, “you are very
glad, and you are going away in three weeks? I
think it’s horrid.”

“Tt isn’t horrid,” Jack said. “All boys do; it’s
only gurls that stop at home for ever. I am going
to be like other boys now, and not do any more baby
things.”

“But what shall I do?” I asked piteously, for he
did not seem to take me into consideration at all.
“JT can’t live without you.”
WAS JACK DESERTING ME? 109

Jack looked grave.

“JT expect you will be dull,” he said, with assur-
ance. “You will miss me badly, poor Allie. But
there’s the holidays,” he went on, with a charming
disregard for grammar as usual: “I will teach you
cricket and things in the holidays, for me to practise.
And you're to have a governess in term-time, mother
said.”

I was crying miserably by now with sheer self-pity.

“T say,’ Jack said, putting his arm through mine
affectionately, “don’t cry, Allie ; you will spoil the rest
of the holidays if you do, and I want to teach you
tennis. Cousin Maggie gave me two balls for my
own.” :

So Jack felt himself a schoolboy already, and
spoke of “the rest of the holidays” as if he had been
used to doing so for years.

We played tennis, after a fashion, till bed-time,
and Jack expended a great deal of fine scorn upon
my feeble attempts to get the ball over to him, on the
strength of his having had his first lesson a few hours
earlier.

“This side of the net, please,” he kept saying.
“No; I’m not among the roses. Send it a little
higher, do. Goody, Alison, stand with your back to
me, and try to hit the house; p’raps I'll get it then.”

All of which faults he had made himself—indeed,
was still making; but on those occasions the sun was
in his eyes, or the racket too heavy, he said. But I
110 WAS JACK DESERTING ME?

bore his rebukes with meekness, even though I knew
them to be at second-hand from Cousin Evelyn.

“Only three weeks,” I kept thinking miserably,
and I would have taken in silence anything he chose
to say or do.

I wanted to hear more about these new plans, but
I could not make up my mind to ask Jack; he was
too heedlessly happy over it, and I was afraid I might
begin to cry again if he spoke so heartlessly about
leaving me. Next day, however, mother sent for me
before she was up, and bidding me sit down near her
on her bed, she said,—

“You know, darling, that Jack is going to school
very soon?”

“Yes, mother,’ I said, in a subdued voice, “I
know.”

“ After he has gone a young lady is coming here to
live with us, and she will give you lessons every day.
Also, she will teach you to sew, and to amuse your-
self as other little girls do.”

“Yes, mother,” was all the reply I made.

I was not as fired by the idea of doing “ what
other little girls do” as Jack had been when Cousin
Evelyn suggested he should try to be more boyish.
I would far rather have learned to be like a boy with
him, little girls’ ways seemed so very dull, judging by
all the stories Betty told about them.

Mother went on,—

“ Miss Little is a great friend of your cousin’s. We
WAS JACK DESERTING ME? lL

know that she can come to us, even before we receive
her answer, as Evelyn has just heard she is looking
out for work. This is very fortunate, as I hear she
is a charming girl, and you are sure to like her.”

I felt at once that I was quite certain not to like
her, but I said nothing.

“Of course you will miss Jack very much at first ;
but if you are busy, the term will not seem so long,”
mother said. “And I hope you will get to know
some of the little girls about here, and have companions
who will not allow you to be quite such a tomboy.”

The thought of such friends as these was not very
acceptable to me. There was only one girl I wanted
to know, and about her I had quite a romantic feeling.
This was Elsie Grant. I used to make up stories
about the first time I should speak to her—stories I
would never have breathed to Jack; he would have
called me “silly” indeed had I done so. For one
thing, I thought it would be nice if I could play the
harp; and one hot night, when she was fast asleep, I
would creep in by one of the windows, and sit at
the foot of her bed playing the most lovely music.
Presently she would wake slowly up and wonder
what this could be; but when she saw who it was, she
would be delighted and most gracious, asking me to
go on all night, which, of course, I should have been
only too ready to do. The difficulty of getting the
harp up the ladder, and the whole impossibility of the
thing, did not trouble me; it was a dream, only one
112 WAS JACK DESERTING ME?

among many of the same beautiful simplicity, in

which I was always the heroine, of course, doing.

something very wonderful, which would make a great
impression on the lovely girl I was so anxious to
know.

But of this mother knew nothing,

“For the present,” she said, “ Cousin Evelyn is very
kindly going to give you a few lessons every morning,
just to get you into the way of it.”

“Lessons with Cousin Evelyn!” I cried. “O
mother !”

“Ves, dear,” answered mother, in a surprised tone;
“why not?”

“© mother,” I said eagerly, “need I? Please,
please not.”

“What. nonsense, Alison!” mother said, almost
sharply ; “Evelyn won’t eat you.”

I thought for a moment; then I said,—

“Can't I wait till Jack goes? it is such a little
time till he goes.”

Mother looked as if she might give in; but I spoiled
it all by adding when I saw this, “And I’m sure I
should never learn a thing with Cousin Evelyn; it
would be horrid.”

“You are very naughty, Alison,” mother said, a
vexed look in her eyes. “There would be nothing
horrid about it. I think it is most good of your
cousin to wish to be bothered with you.”

“Did she want me to?” I asked, very quietly.
WAS JACK DESERTING ME? 113

“ Yes,” said mother, thinking I was repentant ; “she
suggested it herself, and asked me to send you to her
this morning as soon as I had told you about it. So
now kiss me, and be a good girl.”

I obeyed her as to kissing her, and then slipped off
the bed.

“Your cousin is waiting for you in the old day-
nursery. That is to be the schoolroom now.”

I left the room without a word.

Once outside I stood quite still, my head on one
side, listening.

Everything was quite quiet; no one was moving
about in the region of the new schoolroom. Evelyn
must be sitting there waiting for me. I crept along
the passage to my room, and took my hat from its
peg; then, as noiselessly, I went back past mother’s
door, down the stairs into the hall, and out into the
garden. Here I listened cautiously; but Jack did
not seem to be about. I stole down the drive, and
in three minutes was racing as hard as I could go
up the highroad in the opposite direction to the vil-
lage and the Grange.

I have never run so far or so fast in my life as I
did that day. Not till I was clear of all the houses
and cottages, and right out of sight of my own home,
did I slacken speed or turn to see if I were followed.
I was not; the road was clear behind me—a long,
empty track without a soul to be seen upon it.

I was hot, breathless, and tired, so that a cool green
(969) 8
114 WAS JACK DESERTING ME?

field on my right looked very attractive, especially as
there was a wood beyond it which would afford me
shelter for a time.

I climbed the gate, and crossing the. meadow,
reached the boundary of the copse. There seemed to
be no way in except by the bed of a stream which
flowed out of the field through a fairly large hole in
the lower part of the hedge. I accordingly took off
my shoes and stockings, stepped into the water, and
bending almost double, crept under the bushes and
brambles, my dress dragging in the brook after me.
I tore a big hole in my skirt, and scratched my face
and hands horribly; but in spite of all difficulties I
pressed on, so afraid was I of pursuit. After much
pushing, scrambling, breaking of branches to clear the
way, and the loss of my hat, I emerged on the other
side, and standing erect looked around me. It was
a pretty spot I had arrived at, and one that I did
not in the least know; so I got out on to the bank,
and sat down to consider what I would do next.
The ground was a soft green, from the carpet of moss
which covered it; the sunlight flecked the stems of the
trees here and there, and lay in broad, open paths of
brightness where the foliage above was thin. As I
sat with my feet in the stream, splashing the cool
water over them, and picking up the little white
pebbles with my pink toes, I thought this was a very
good exchange for the schoolroom and lessons. I
wondered if Evelyn were still sitting patiently wait-
WAS JACK DESERTING ME! 115

ing for me, or whether there was now a hue and cry
everywhere to find me.

As soon as I was rested I started off on my travels
again, deciding to paddle down the stream and dis-
cover where it went. I splashed along merrily for
a time, and presently I came toa path which ran by
the side of the stream for a while and then turned off
into the wood. I got out of the water, and drying
my feet on the grass, sat down to put on my stock-
ings; but I found that I had lost one somewhere on
my way. I had no intention of going back for it,
and I could not be bothered to wear only one; so I
threw the other away, contenting myself with putting
on my shoes, after which I started off down the path
to explore.

I wished Jack were with me to share the fun; but
when I remembered him, a bitter thought came into
my heart.

“He'd much rather be learning that nasty golf
with Cousin Evelyn,” I said. “He used to like going
out with me for adventures, but now he doesn’t want
me any more.”

That was the first cloud on the brightness of the
day. In my eagerness to get out of sight and away
I had forgotten my troubles for the time being. But
now there was more leisure for thinking, and my
careless enjoyment was gone.

I came by-and-by to a point where the path
branched off into three, and choosing that which
116 WAS JACK DESERTING ME?

plunged deeper into the wood I went on. Every
now and then after that I had such a choice to make;
and at last, having walked a good distance, I began
to wonder whether I should ever again find the way
to my starting-point, for I had crossed so many paths
and taken so many turnings. When I came to think
seriously about it, I felt sure I could not, and I stood
still with beating heart, and a strange sense of fear
creeping over me. J remembered the stream: if I
could only find that again, I should be all right; but
though I listened with all my might, there was not a
sound of running water near me.

Then I grew honestly frightened, and with a sort
of blind terror I tried to retrace my steps. I had
got to a very gloomy part of the wood, where the
trees were so thick overhead as to shut out most of
the daylight. All was still, silent, and mysterious ;
the very birds were not singing here, only a weird
“coo” now and then from a far-away wood-pigeon
added to the dreariness of it all by the sadness of its
note.

The idea of being lost in a wood was very awful :
it meant slow starvation, and that I should never see
mother and Jack again. How naughty I had been
I felt now, and my punishment threatened to be a
heavy one.

“T must, must, must get out!” I eried, and in my
panic I began running down the path without the
least notion where I was going. Half sobbing and
WAS JACK DESERTING ME? 117

breathless on I went; and I was getting desperate,
when suddenly a sound fell on my ear which brought
me to a standstill listening. Then I started off and
ran towards-it with all my strength—so fast that I
scarcely felt the ground under my feet. At last the
trees grew thinner and thinner, and in a few moments
I found myself on the banks of a little lake—the
running water I had heard being my stream once
more, which now emptied itself into the pool close to
where I stood. Here I flung myself down, and lay
quite still to recover both breath and courage, in the
relief of having at last found some clue to the way
home. I was too worn out by the panic I had got
into to move at present, however, and before I knew
what was happening I was fast asleep.

I think it must have been past eleven when I left
home. I had been walking several hours, so that, as
nearly as I can guess, it was about three o’clock when
I awoke, bewildered and astonished to find myself
on the banks of a sheet of water, basking peacefully
in the afternoon sun. The trees around it were re-
flected as clearly in its depths as if it had been a
huge mirror; but I was in no mood to admire its
beauties.

As everything came back to me I felt very far from
happy. First of all, I was sick with hunger, having
had nothing to eat since breakfast at eight o'clock ;
then I was tired; then I began to wonder how it
was I had found anything amusing in the expedition
118 WAS JACK DESERTING ME?

earlier in the day; and last, but not least, there was
the thought of going home.

“ After all,” I asked myself aloud, “what was the
good of running away? I’ve just got to go home again, —
and to-morrow will be the same day as ever was.
Oh dear! Jack will call me silly, and I shall be
scolded, and I shall have .to do lessons all the
same.”

It was certainly not a cheerful prospect. The
whole stupidity and uselessness of what I had done
came over me, and the thought of the welcome I
might receive made me disinclined to hurry back.
I told myself I must stay out until bed-time, and
then creep in unseen, and be asleep before they dis-
covered me. But it would not be pleasant out in
the wood till seven o'clock all by oneself, and with
nothing to eat.

I looked about for something to amuse me, and
noticed for the first time that there was an old punt
moored close at hand on the lake. It all looked so
calm and still that I thought I should like a little
boating for a change. I got in, untied the rope, and
set the punt adrift. I thought when I did this I
should still keep near the bank. What was my
surprise you can well imagine, however, when I
found that I was drifting rapidly towards the middle
of the lake. I looked about for oars or a paddle to
prevent this, but there were none in the boat. Only
once in my life had I been on the water before, and
WAS JACK DESERTING ME? 119

that was in Mrs. Mason’s wash-tub, so I do not sup-
pose oars would have been of much use to me.

I soon saw how it was that I was so quickly leav-
ing the banks: the force of the stream rushing into
the lake was pushing me farther and farther away.
Then I began to hope it would send me right over to
the other side; but about half-way across the punt
gradually slowed down, and at last lay perfectly
motionless.

Now I became terribly frightened, and gave myself
up for lost. I stood up, and screamed at the top of
my voice,—

“Jack! Jack! Jack!”

“Jack! Jack! Jack!” shouted an echo back to me,
and then all was still again.

I sat down, and burying my face in my hands,
rocked myself to and fro, howling dismally. This
was punishment indeed, a worse fate even than dying
in the wood; for there, at least, there was room to
rove about and look for berries and nuts, as long as
one had strength to do so. But here!—it was
awful,

Then in my agony of fear I moaned piteously,—

“Oh, I will be good, I will be good, if only some-
body will save me and take me home, I promise.”

To whom I imagined myself to be speaking I do not
know ; perhaps in a vague way I was praying. But I
meant those words, as I said them, with all my heart.

A long, low “coey” from the bank made me look
120 WAS JACK DESERTING ME?

up suddenly, to see, what I had not seen before, a
girl standing by a boat on the other side of the lake.

“Sit still!” she shouted, and her voice carried clear
and ringing over the water; “I am coming to you.”

Then she disappeared among the trees for a moment,
coming back with a pair of oars in her hands, and
getting into the boat she set off towards me. As I
saw nothing but her back until she came quite near,
I could not in the least tell what the girl was like.

Then I saw it was Elsie Grant.

So this was the end of all the dreams I had hace
now was the time to make a good impression on fhe
girl I admired so much and longed to know. She
came to me neat and fresh as ever in her serge skirt
and pretty pink blouse, to find me tumbled and torn,
dirty and scratched, with no hat and no stockings,
just like some beggar child. Indeed, that is what she -
took me for at first sight ; and as she had never noticed
me in church, on account of their seat being so far
forward, it was not until I spoke that she knew I was
a lady.

“How did you get here, you poor little thing?”
she asked, as she came alongside.

“T undid the rope,” I replied, flushing hotly, “and
the silly thing came by itself.”

“Oh, I see,” she said, looking at me curiously : Ten
my voice struck her as odd, coming from such an
untidy little creature ; it was not, as she had expected,
the rough dialect that the villagers spoke as a_rule.




" she shouted, ‘1 ant coming to you.”

Page 120.
WAS JACK DESERTING ME? 121

She made me get into her boat, attaching the punt
to it with the painter, and then she rowed steadily to .
shore. I did not know what to say, and she was too
busy pulling to speak, so that we went over in silence
to the place she had started from.

When we were on land and both the boats secured,
Elsie turned to me and said gently,—

“Did you lose yourself in the wood ?”

“Ves,” I said, in a subdued tone.

“Where do you come from?” was her next question.

But a scrambling and crashing in the bushes close
by prevented my answering, as first a round, boyish
face appeared, and then one of her brothers sprang
into the open space and fairly hurled himself upon
her, erying,—

“Found! found! [ve found her !”

So I had interrupted a game of hide-and-seek !

Then more scrambling sounded from the bushes,
and the other Grant boy jumped out of the shrubbery,
followed by Jack.

“Alison!” he fairly shouted, as his eyes fell
on me.

I shall never forget his look of dismay, or the hot
rush of blood that dyed: his cheeks, on seeing me in
this terrible condition. by the side of this pretty,
lady-like girl He was thoroughly ashamed of me.
Though he had seen me dozens of times as untidy
and unpresentable, ib had never before occurred to
him how unsuitable and ugly it was; but now, with
122 WAS JACK DESERTING ME ?

Elsie Grant beside me, it struck him with full force,
and Jack blushed to own me as his sister.

Elsie looked surprised at his recognizing me.

“Ts this your sister ?” she asked.

Jack did not answer her.

“You naughty little girl!” he said angrily to me,
“how did you get here?”

“How did you?” I retorted, for I was as vexed as
he was, and not in a good temper.

“Uncle Archie brought me,” Jack replied. “He
was coming to lunch on business, and he fetched me
because he thought the boys and I would like to
know each other. Haven’t you ever been home since
morning ?”

“No,” I said shortly.

“Well, you are very, very bad,’ Jack said
solemnly, “and you must come home with me right
away.”

His manner was commanding and very grown-up,
and I resented it in my heart, but I was too ashamed
to make a fuss before the Grants. It was bad enough
that Elsie should know how naughty I had been, and
from what Jack said she could easily guess I had run
away from home.

“Let me take her in and give her some tea first,”
she now said kindly, “she looks so tired.”

“Tt’s her own fault if she is,’ Jack said, in an
unrelenting tone. “She must come home at once,
because of mother.”
WAS JACK DESERTING ME? 128

“But I can send a message to Mrs. Seymour to say
that she is safe,’ Elsie pleaded.

“ Mother wouldn’t like it when she is like that,” Jack
replied firmly. “And she was frightened this morn-
ing. I expect she would rather Alison went home.”

He spoke in a stolid tone, and I, who knew Jack,
felt that nothing would move him; though, as I could
also see, he was longing to stay with his new friends,
and would have been glad of any excuse to do so
that he could feel was a right one.

“JT think Alison ought to have something to eat if
she has not been home since morning,” Elsie said ;
“she must be dreadfully hungry.”

“Serves her right,’ growled my brother. “And
she must come, because I promised Cousin Evelyn if
I saw her in the garden or anywhere I would take
her in.”

So it was Cousin Evelyn again !

All my hard, bitter thoughts came back to me with
a rush, chasing away the penitent feelings which had
come into my heart in my terror of a short time ago,
and the remembrance of the promise I had made so
solemnly on the lake went with them. I was saved,
and Jack was just going to take me home; but I had
no intention of being good now that I was out of
danger—indeed, I would not even have owned that I
was naughty.

“Well, if you think you ought to go, I suppose you
must,” Elsie said; “but I am very sorry.”
124, WAS JACK DESERTING ME?

She stooped and kissed me, shook hands with Jack,
and then stood watching us as we trudged away:
Jack with his hands in his pockets, a sturdy, resolute
air about him, which showed plainly how keen his
disappointment was in having to leave so early, and
how hard it had been not to give in to Elsie’s per-
suasions; and I with my head held well up, and a
defiant, “don’t-care” swing in my walk, for I was
being led away in silence and disgrace to Cousin
Evelyn.
CHAPTER IV.

EVELYN’S FRIEND, MISS LITTLE.

‘* When we ourselves less kindly are,
We deem the world unkind.”—F ser.
HE much-dreaded day had come and gone, and
what Jack had loved to speak of as his “ holi-
days” were over.

All too quickly those three weeks slipped away ;
but in spite of the haunting fear of Jack’s departure
and the continual fret of Cousin Evelyn’s presence,
there were many happy days in them on which I
love to look back. The mornings were always a trial
to me, for I had my two hours’ lessons with Evelyn
regularly.

Jack meanwhile went up to the Grange to Uncle
Archie, who was a very clever man and a great
student, having been a professor in one of the Scotch
universities before his health gave way.

Jack liked this, as Uncle Archie tried to give him
a little idea as to what school would be like, and
always ended lessons with a story of the new life
my little brother was longing to begin.
126 EVELYN’S FRIEND, MISS LITTLE.

Talking of lessons, you will wonder how I was
received the day I ran away and left Evelyn to wait
for me in the schoolroom, and you will be as surprised
as I was when I tell you that nothing happened to
me atall. Iwas not punished, nor was I even spoken
to on the subject. When Jack led me into the room
where Evelyn was sitting, she looked up quickly and
scanned me narrowly. Then she put down her
needlework, and rising came towards me.

“You are dreadfully tired, Alison,” she said gently.
“Have you had anything to eat all day ?”

“Nothing,” I said, a lump rising in my throat as
I thought how very tired and hungry I felt.

“Well, dear,” Evelyn said, “if you will go up to
your room and get into bed as fast as you can, I will
bring you something to eat, and then I think you
will go to sleep.”

It seemed to me at that moment as if I wanted
nothing so much as the cool sheets and soft pillows,
and to sink into them and forget all my troubles in
dreamland. y

And Evelyn was right. After I had taken the
food she brought me I went fast asleep, and never
got up till Betty called me next day. That was all
I ever heard of my strange piece of obstinacy.

That I had a great deal of happiness in the three
weeks before Jack left was owing to the Grants.
Hardly a day passed that we were not with them or
they with us. Two days after the introduction by
EVELYN’S FRIEND, MISS LITTLE. 127

the lake a letter came from Lady Grant to mother,
asking Jack and me up to tea at the Court, and say-
ing that, whenever mother felt well enough to receive
her, she would be glad to call and make her ac-
quaintance. So the friendship began, and it went
steadily on.

Elsie was all that I had thought her, and even
more. She was a revelation to me, and I was always
being further surprised by her as time went on. Her
gentleness and sweetness were invariable. With her
brothers she was merry and always ready to play,
to her mother she was helpful and most loving, and
with her governess sensible and happy; while her
father evidently thought there was no one to equal
his little daughter, and but for the real good in the
girl herself and her mother’s strong influence, he would
have spoiled her entirely.

Although she was so much older than J, she seemed
to have taken a great liking to me. Not that I
realized it then; indeed, I was constantly wondering
what I could do to win her good opinion, and always
afraid lest by some of my tomboy ways I might
forfeit it. There were one or two discoveries that
I made which at first made me almost pity Elsie—
for instance, she could neither whistle nor climb trees,
and she could not run as fast as her brothers; but
when I got to know her better, I learned to admire
rather than despise her for these peculiarities. It
never lessened the fun in her, or made her priggish
128 EVELYN’ FRIEND, MISS LITTLE.

or stuck-up, and I am sure she had not the least idea
how really beautiful she was.
To Jack and me this life was very delightful. It
seemed as if a new world had all of a sudden been
opened to us, the very customs of its inhabitants being
something to be studied as fresh and unknown. Such
games as we had too !—hide-and-seek, fox-and-hounds,
I spy, and paper chases without number; then lovely,
rambling walks all together, sometimes blackberrying,
sometimes taking out our tea with us for a picnic by
some stream. It was also something quite new to us
when we discovered that the Grants thought there
was nothing so delightful as when the “grown-ups”
consented to come too; and they got up several big
expeditions in which their father and mother, Elsie’s
governess, and all the Drummond girls, as well as
-ourselves, took part. With all this going on it is
not surprising that I had not much time to fret over
Jack’s going away. Then, except at meals and during
my two hours’ lessons, I was very little thrown into
Evelyn’s society, nor were she and Jack so constantly
together as I had feared at first they would be. He
was naturally too much taken up with his boy friends
to hang about her a great deal, though, when the
Grants were not available, Evelyn was ever ready to
play any of the games he liked best with him—“just
to practise,” as he said—and cricket was the favourite
pastime.
This friendship with the Grants was the second
EVELYN’S FRIEND, MISS LITTLE. 129

great change in our lives, and the third was when
Jack went to school. I shall never forget what a
miserable day that was for me.

He was in a great state of delight and excitement
over the packing of his things, for among his new
clothes was an Eton suit, just like what Vincent and
Harold. wore on Sundays, and he had not a single
sailor suit to take away. Those were all to be worn
out next holidays, but at school he must be dressed
like “ other boys.”

Then, too, the presents he had were something very
unusual—a cricket-ball from Evelyn and a bat from
the other cousins, a lovely clasp-knife from Aunt
Margaret and a sovereign from Uncle Archie. From
mother there was a great hamper with cakes, sweets,
and jams in it. It is small wonder that Jack, the
proud possessor of all this, should kiss us and say
good-bye without a tear, and in the highest of spirits,
anxious only to be off lest he should miss the train
by which the Grants were going.

I think it would have been easier to bear if he
had cared ever so little at having to part with me,
but this sorrow was something past crying for; I
could only sit huddled up on the window-seat in the
playroom, thinking miserably of my loneliness.

I had been there about an hour, looking out at the
sunshine and the flowers, the happy bees and the
careless butterflies, wondering in a vague sort of way

how everything down in the garden could go on just
(969) 9
130 EVELYN’S FRIEND, MISS LITTLE.

in the same way without Jack, when Evelyn dis-
covered me.

She came over to me, and sitting down put her
arm round me, gently trying to draw me to her. I
looked such a forlorn little figure in that big, empty
room, she longed to comfort me.

“Don’t fret so, little one,” she said; “you have no
idea how quickly the weeks will go.”

But I sprang to my feet and pushed the kind arms
away.

“Go away! go away!” I cried passionately, my
heart too sore now for fear of my cousin to seal my
lips. “It’s all your fault and Aunt Margaret’s. Jack
and I were happy till you came meddling and inter-
fering, and now I hate you.”

Evelyn rose, her face flushed and full of pained
surprise. Now for the first time she understood my
dislike of her; at last my conduct was explained.

“ Alison dear,” she began; but I turned and ran to
the door. There I fell into Betty’s arms: she had
come to tell me Miss Grant was in the drawing-room.

She and her governess came with a note from
Lady Grant, asking me to go to tea at the Court and
to stay the night, as a break for me, that I might not
feel Jack’s going so terribly.

_ It was a kind thought, and the plan succeeded.
It was such a new thing to do, and I could not well
fret and cry over Jack’s departure, especially as we
played games in the schoolroom before dinner, and
EVELYN’S FRIEND, MISS LITTLE. 181

then went down to dessert, going into the drawing-
room afterwards to play again, so*that there really
was no time for gloomy thoughts.

Then, too, I slept in Elsie’s room; and though I
was not able to play on a golden harp for her amuse-
ment, I was very happy, and fell asleep to have nice
dreams, instead of doing as I should have done at
home—sobbing myself into a troubled slumber.

I went home next day in time for lunch. Immedi-
ately after it I went into Miss Little’s bedroom and
looked round. It was clean, fresh, and pretty; but
all the vases were empty, and to my mind there
was a sort of lonely feeling about it. It struck me a
few flowers would make it nicer; so I ran off and
got a lovely bunch from the garden, with which I
crept in again and up the back stairs, lest I should
meet Cousin Evelyn and she should remark upon the
little act of thoughtfulness. I did not want her praise
or to please her. But something Miss Dawson, Elsie’s
governess, said the day before had roused a curious
sense of pity in my heart towards the girl who was
coming to us, and I wanted to welcome her, not to
gratify my cousin. At the Grants we were, of course,
speaking of Miss Little’s coming arrival.

“Tb is a very curious feeling,” Miss Dawson said,
“to come among strangers all alone, and to know
that there you have to make your home, for a certain
time at least. There is something lonely and dreary
about it.”
132 EVELYN’S FRIEND, MISS LITTLE.

“Did you feel that, Miss Dawson?” Elsie asked.

“Yes, dear,’ Miss Dawson said; “I did as I was
coming, and I spent much time wondering what my
little pupil would be like, and whether we should get
on together. I knew that everything depended upon
her. But her sweet welcome put all fear out of my
head at once, and I knew I should be happy in my
new home.”

So I pondered over this. Of course Miss Little
was a friend’of Evelyn’s, but to Miss Dawson it had
been the “ little pupil” that mattered. It was strange
to think that I could make all the difference to the
new-comer. The word “lonely” touched me deeply.
Was J not “lonely” now Jack was gone? I could
sympathize with any one who understood that feeling.
Well, if I could help it, Miss Little should not feel
lonely, and the welcome I prepared for her was a
perfect bower of flowers. In addition to filling the
vases, I put two lovely roses on her pin-cushion. Then
I thought she might not know what they were for,
so on a large sheet of paper I scrawled in a big,
round hand, “Plees ware thees,” and pinned it below
them. Then I surveyed my work with a satisfied
feeling that Miss Little would be pleased, and must
know from this that some one had been thinking of
her before she came.

_ After that I went into the garden to our grotto.
Solemnly before he went Jack had made me promise
I would keep the rockery well watered, and I went
EVELYN S FRIEND, MISS LITTLE. 183

now to see about it. The Scotch ferns, which had
arrived about ten days ago, were all doing well; and
though I disliked it very much, it was this corner
I took the greatest care to weed and water, because
I knew it would please Jack. I took a sort of melan-
choly pleasure in it, and while I worked I wondered
how my boy was getting on and what he was
doing.

As the pony-trap rumbled away down the drive
to fetch Miss Little from the station, my mind reverted
to her, and I tried to imagine what she would be like.
Somehow I took it into my head she would be tall
and slight, considerably older than Evelyn, with a
kind of “no-coloured” hair, and a very big pair of
spectacles which she would always wear. That was
something of the description of Miss Dawson, whom
I liked very much, though she usually looked very
grave, and had a stern expression when her face was
in repose.

Now that Jack was gone, I rather liked the idea
of Miss Little’s coming. For one thing, it would put
an end to lessons with Cousin Evelyn, and I should
not be so much with her; and for another, I began
to feel it would be very dull with nothing to do.

I was busy thinking when mother sent Susan the
parlour-maid for me. I went to her in the drawing-
room, where tea was already preparing. Evelyn had
gone to the station, and mother wished me to be with
her when Miss Little arrived.
134 EVELYN’S FRIEND, MISS LITTLE.

When the pony-trap drove up, I felt my heart
thumping very hard with excitement and intense
shyness; so that when mother rose as Evelyn opened
the door, I stood rather behind her, and peeped round
at my new governess as she came forward to shake
hands.

And this was how I first saw Miss Little :-—

She was just like her name—dquite little, much
shorter than Evelyn, with a small sweet face and
wavy dark-brown hair. She was dressed all in
shades of brown, which went with her big, dark eyes.
And there was only one thing I was right about: she
did wear glasses, not of the round, “gogely” shape
I had pictured, but just ordinary pince-nez, which
added to the clever, alert expression of her face.

“Here we are,” said Evelyn smilingly ; “and this
is May, auntie dear.”

I could: see she was proud of her friend, and small
wonder.

“Welcome, my dear, to Prior’s Leasoe,” said my
mother kindly, shaking hands with her as if she were
some old friend. “I am very glad to see you. Evelyn
and I think it is most kind of you to come to us so
readily, and we can only say by way of gratitude we
shall do our best to make you happy.”

“Thank you,’ Miss Little said, and her voice was
low and sweet and rather deep. “I am sure I cannot
fail to be that with such kind friends——And,”’ she
went on, looking at me, “is this my little Alison ?”
EVELYN’S FRIEND, MISS LITTLE. 135

“Yes,” mother said, drawing me forward, “ this is
Alison.”

“How do you do?” Miss Little said, taking both
my hands and stooping to kiss me. “I hope we
shall be very happy together. I think and believe
we shall get on well.”

I knew it—had known it from the moment I saw
her, for my whole child-heart went out to her in
that strange instinctive way which is the same in
young and old alike, but never so strong as in children.
What happened to me I cannot think to this day—
I suppose it was owing to my ever-increasing habit
of thinking aloud—but before I knew what I was
doing, I had flung my arms round her neck in a good,
big bear’s hug, and exclaimed,—

“T like you—I like you very much!”

Mother and Evelyn exchanged amused glances of
surprise; but Miss Little looked quite grave, and
replied, just as if I had done the most natural thing
in the world,—

“Thank you, Alison; that is the sweetest welcome
I have ever heard, and I shall never forget it.”

While we were all having tea I could hardly take
my eyes off her face. She was not pretty exactly—
I don’t think any one would ever have called her
that—but to my mind she was just lovely: there was
something so good and true, something so strong and
yet so gentle in her face, that I was fascinated by it.

She talked brightly to us about her journey and
136 EVELYN’S FRIEND, MISS LITTLE.

her. first impressions of the surrounding country, and
then Evelyn took her upstairs to her room.

When they came down again Miss Little was
wearing my two roses, and she came straight to me
and kissed me for them.

I am sorry to have to mar such a pretty, sunny
picture as this by anything; but if I let you imagine
it was cloudless, I should not be telling you the true
story, and that I have promised to do. I felt happy
and charmed, mother was delighted, Miss Little ob-
viously contented ; but there was one thing which
spoiled it all for me—Cousin Evelyn was pleased too!

By the time Miss Little had been with us three
weeks she was quite settled down and at home, and
was a general favourite in the house. I never re-
pented of my extraordinary speech to her, for I daily
grew to love her better.

It may seem curious to many of my little friends,
but I was really fond of lessons. I was naturally
rather quick at learning, but what made me willing
to work was Miss Little’s way of teaching. Of course
I was very backward for my age; but she never told
me so or let me feel it, and it often felt as if she were
a companion working with me rather than a teacher,
who had passed every examination she could, drum-
ming study into a little, ignorant girl, Sometimes
I felt disinclined to prepare my work, and came with
it but half learned ; but that was seldom after a reproof
she gave me on the subject. She never punished me,
EVELYN’S FRIEND, MISS LITTLE. 137

but on this particular occasion she looked at me quietly
with her great, grave eyes, and I could see a dis-
appointed look in them as she handed me back my
book.

“T can wait until you have learned it, Alison,’ she
said, without a trace of impatience in her tone; “ but
don’t try to say what you have not even attempted
to get into your head. That is pretence, and pretence
is dishonesty.”

It-was so gently said, yet so firmly, that I felt my
face flush hotly, and, sorry. and ashamed, I resolved
never to give cause for such a speech again.

I did not then know what it was that bound me
so closely to my governess, but so it was. Her will
soon became my law; to please her was my one great
object in life. Instead of her control of me being
irksome, I loved to think I was her special charge,
and that she was there on my account alone. Ina
word, I took possession of her. I felt she was some-
thing belonging to me—something I had a right to—
and unconsciously allowed myself to be led by her,
so that she was the first person ever to train my
hitherto unrestrained, passionate nature. I tell you
this that you may the better understand what followed,
and because I want you to know how strong Miss
Little’s influence became. So strong was it over me
that it exists still, and makes me feel, as I did then,
that I could not do a dishonest or mean thing, I could
not lie, or wilfully injure a fellow-creature, and look
138 EVELYN’S FRIEND, MISS LITTLE.

straight into those lovely brown eyes as steadily as
they did into mine. Not because I was afraid of her
did I obey her, but because I loved her so, and longed
for nothing so much as her praise. Because she trusted
me, I could not bear to deceive her, and never dis-
puted her authority; and I recognized in her a
stronger will than my own, to which I willingly
submitted. She thought me a good child when first
she came, and that more than anything in the world
helped me to be so; but by the time she discovered
I was not all she believed, I had become passionately
attached to her with all the devotion of which my
child-heart was capable, so that it was the greatest
pain to me that she should know any other side of
my character than the best. But for all that there
was one naughty feeling which I could not overcome,
and that was my dislike to Cousin Evelyn.

You will wonder that, with Jack far away and my
life so altered, I could still nurse this unreasonableness
in my heart; but sad to relate, there were now two
things that tended to increase it, and so far from
abating, it grew almost as fast as my love for Miss
Little. For one thing, though he never wrote to me,
Jack constantly sent Cousin Evelyn a few lines or
a message in his letters to mother, which came regu-
larly every week. It was a very natural thing to do,
really, for she had shown such interest in his games;
and if he wanted anything, she was the person to
apply to for it, as mother was never worried about
EVELYN’S FRIEND, MISS LITTLE. 139

household matters now, Evelyn having full command
in every way.

So the notes of which I was so envious ran almost
invariably as follows :—

“DEAR Cousin EveLyN,—We played Stoton on
Saterday, but got beaten. I hope you are quite well,
and mother is. Marshal has a rabit. If I had six-
pence he says he would give it me. It has pink eyes
and a twirly nose, and quite wite with black spots.
Could I have one shiling by return of post, and some
more jam? Strawberies is nicest.— Your loving
cousin, JACK.”

Of course the requests varied. Sometimes it was
what he began to write about as “erub;” sometimes
money, for Uncle Archie’s sovereign soon vanished in
subscriptions and treats for the other fellows, as we
afterwards discovered; and sometimes there were
messages from the matron as to his clothes, which
apparently had a hard time of it. But it mattered
little to me what he wrote about: the fact remained,
he did write pretty often to Cousin Evelyn and never
to me.

The other incentive to my naughty feelings was
the great friendship. between my cousin and Miss
Little. It was a new cause for jealousy, and one I
gave in to without a fight. Of course during lesson-
time we saw nothing of Evelyn, and she but seldom
140 EVELYN 'S FRIEND, MISS LITTLE,

came for walks with us. I think now that that
was due to her knowledge of my feeling towards her,
which she could not but see was just the same as the
day Jack went away. Of course I did not know
this then; I daresay I should have been glad of it if
I had. But at every sign of affection between them
I winced, and I just hated going to bed and leaving
them together to spend what I knew would be a
merry evening without me. It was ridiculous, of
course, but it was terribly real to me.

It speaks well for Evelyn that, until I proved it
myself, Miss Little knew nothing of the strained
relations between us. My cousin never complained
or showed by her manner that she felt it, but in
countless little ways I must have been a continual
trouble to her. She could not but see that I avoided
being alone with her, and that I was most unwilling
to do anything for her, even to the carrying of a
message for her, and in her great anxiety to make
no mischief between Miss Little and myself she kept
out of my way as much as possible, which was very
easy, as mother needed her so much during the day,
and felt the comfort of her presence more and more
as time went on. In every way that Evelyn could
avoid coming to open warfare with me she did, leaving
the management of me entirely to my governess. Of
course she took her meals with us—at least, all but
tea, which she always had in the drawing-room with
mother; but if I was quiet then, perhaps it seemed
EVELYN’S FRIEND, MISS LITTLE. 141

natural, as the two elder girls had a good deal to talk
about into which I could not enter. I must confess
I enjoyed tea best, and had plenty to say for myself
then.

In spite of it all, however, Cousin Evelyn never
altered her gentle manner to me, trying every means
she could think of to win my love; and had I not
been so determined to dislike her, I must have given
in. When she at length resorted to the plan of
keeping out of my way as much as I did out of hers,
I made up my mind she was beginning to dislike me,
and I felt triumphant and glad.

“Perhaps she will go soon,’ I thought, for that
was still my hope. Jack might forget the vow, but
I never would, I resolved. “She took away Jack
from me,” was the cry of my heart, “and I hate her.
She shan’t ever get the best of me.”

How she bore with me so long and so patiently
I cannot imagine. Perhaps the stern training she
had gone through as nurse, added to her own sweet
disposition, had taught her this infinite self-control,
this utter self-forgetfulness.

But there came a day when I behaved so badly
that even she could not well overlook it—when I
broke out into open rebellion, and Miss Little saw
me in my true colours at last.

Tt was a very cold afternoon when, as usual after
dinner, I went to put on my things for a walk. This
was really the first touch of winter weather we had
142 EVELYN’S FRIEND, MISS LITTLE.

had. Betty was nowhere about, so I dressed myself,
putting on nothing but my hat and gloves, as I had
done the day before. In the hall I met Cousin
Evelyn, also dressed for a walk. Miss Little was not
yet down.

I was standing on the stairs when Evelyn caught
sight of me.

“Why, Alison,” she exclaimed, “how could Betty
let you come down without a cloak and in that
summer hat? You will be perished; it is bitterly
cold to-day.”

“Tam quite warm, thank you,” I replied stiffly.

“Yes, now, because you are in the house,’ Cousin
Evelyn said; “but when you get outside you won't
be. Run upstairs and get your fur cape.”

I did not move, but answered sulkily,—

“Miss Little did not tell me to put on anything
different.”

“TI daresay,” was. the reply; “but Miss Little —
thought Betty would know.”

“ Betty was not there,” I said shortly.

“Oh, I see,” said my cousin. “Then perhaps you
could not find your cape. I will come and help you.”

Still I did not move.

“JT don’t want it, thank you. I do know where it
is,’ I said obstinately ; “but Miss Little did not tell
me to put it on, so I won't.”

At this Cousin Evelyn looked vexed, and spoke in a
very different tone from the one she had hitherto used.
EVELYN’S FRIEND, MISS LITTLE. 143

It reminded me of the day I would not let her take
the blacking off my face.

“That has nothing to do with it, Alison,” she said
firmly. “Miss Little would agree with me, I know.
Therefore, because I tell you to, go at once and put
on your warm cloak.”

I set my teeth and clinched my hands, but I
neither moved nor spoke. One full minute I stood
thus, and my cousin waited for me to obey.

“Well, Alison, are you going or not?” she asked
quietly.

Still dead silence, and I stared at her defiantly.

“ Alison!” said a voice close behind me.

It was Miss Little who spoke now. She was
standing there just above me on the stairs, and I had
not heard her coming.

I started guiltily, and felt myself flush crimson.
I dared not look at her, for from her tone I guessed
she had witnessed the whole scene. I could not but
know she must be surprised and shocked, for indeed I
do not think she could have known me to be capable
of such obstinacy ; she had never seen me so before.

As I did not answer, she said—

“How much longer are you going to keep your
cousin waiting ?”

I was determined not to give in in this way; I
had gone too far for that. And the very fact of
Miss Little’s coming upon me at such a moment added
to my intense desire to get the better of Evelyn:
144 EVELYN’S FRIEND, MISS LITTLE.

she should not triumph over me before my beloved
governess. So, keeping my eyes averted, I said to
Miss Little,—

“Tf you want me to get my cloak I will.”

I thought I should get over my difficulties in this
way; but Miss Little was too quick-sighted for me,
and answered,—

“Tt is not my business; it is your cousin who is
speaking to you, and not I.”

Cousin Evelyn had moved to the other end of the
hall, and stood with her back to us, looking at a
picture she must have scanned dozens of times before.

“Tf you tell me to obey her I will,” I said sullenly,
still trying to evade obeying Evelyn directly.

“T shall do no such thing!” Miss Little exclaimed,
more sharply than I thought she could have spoken ;
“you have to deal with Evelyn, not me.”

So saying she crossed the hall, and putting her arm
through my cousin’s, spoke to her in a low voice.

I did not hear her words, but Cousin Evelyn’s
answer reached me,—

“Oh no, don’t; it will only make her naughtier.”

“What will?” I wondered.

Whatever it was, Miss Little turned to me and
said,—

“Go to your room, and stay there until you are
inclined to beg your cousin’s pardon for this. You
will not go for a walk to-day.”

“Then she must have told Miss Little to punish
EVELYN’S FRIEND, MISS LITTLE. 145

me,” I thought as I walked upstairs, choking down
my tears as I went.

Once in my room I threw myself on my bed in
a passion, and dry, tearless sobs shook me from head
to foot.

“She is setting Miss Little against me now,” I
eried aloud, “and I won’t beg her pardon—I won't,
I won't!”

By-and-by my sobs calmed down, and with a
sickening feeling of shame I began to wonder what
Miss Little must be thinking of me, for I knew she
had had no idea before how naughty I could be. I
felt very unhappy, for I cared more for her good
opinion than for anything else in the world since
Jack was gone, and now I had forfeited it for ever,
as I thought.

The afternoon seemed very long; no one came near
me, and I had no toys in my bedroom. Several times
I thought of running away into the garden ; but when-
ever I did, I always seemed to see Miss Little’s honest
eyes looking into mine as if they were saying, “I
trust you, and you will do as I tell you.” Then for
the first time I felt her marvellous power over me, of
the influence of which I.told you. Whatever hap-
pened I would not disobey her, so I sat on my bed
until dusk. I knew when it was tea-time; but no
one called me, so I stayed where I was until it became
so dark I could not see. Then hungry and cold 1

undressed and crept into bed.
(969) 10
146 EVELYN’S FRIEND, MISS LITTLE.

I did not feel inclined to say my prayers, yet I
was sorry I could not; it always made me frightened
not to say them at night.

I lay very still; but I could not go to sleep, for my
head ached, and I felt sick for want of something to eat.

“But I won't beg her pardon because I’m hungry,”
I said. “Perhaps if I starve and die she will be
sorry she was so unkind to me.”

The thought of starving and dying was too much
for me, and set me off erying wildly; but at a gleam
of light in my room and the sound of some one at my
door, I checked my sobs and pretended to be asleep.

“ Alison, are you awake?” said my cousin.

Iwas so excited I did not think what I was saying,
and answered crossly,—

“No, I’m not.”

“ Alison,” said Evelyn, coming over to my bedside,
“have you nothing to say to me before you go to
sleep 2”

“No,” I answered, in a muffled tone, keeping the
bedclothes well over my head.

“Then good-night, childie,” she said gently, and left
the room.

When I was certain she was gone I put the clothes
down cautiously. To my surprise I found my candle
alight—I had undressed in the dark—and on the chair
at my bedside was a plate, on which were a piece of
bread and butter and a glass of milk.

I was surprised, and for one moment very glad, for
EVELYN’S FRIEND, MISS LITTLE. 147

I wanted the bread dreadfully. I took it up eagerly,
but stopped my hand when half-way to my mouth,
and fell to examining the bread carefully, as if it
were something new, the like of which I had never
seen before. I was thinking deeply, and with a strange
cunning some children have so strongly marked.

“T suppose she was afraid I would die,” I said, as
I put it back on the plate.

What could have put such a naughty thought into
my head I do not know, but it made me blow out the
candle, lie resolutely down, and turn my back on the
chair.

“T won’t eat it because she brought it,” I muttered.

Miss Little did not come to see me. I wished she
would, and bring me another bit of bread; even a dry
crust would have been acceptable. I could not go to
sleep for thinking of that food so near me; and at last
my longing for it grew so intense I got up, relit my
candle, and carefully lifted the plate from the chair,
carried it across the room, and opening my door de-
posited it on a table which stood outside in the pas-
sage. Then turning the key in the lock after closing
my door, I crept back to bed, and tried to forget the
temptation I had put away. But it was hard work,
and I did not go to sleep for a long time.

I awoke next morning just as the stable clock
struck five. I think it must have been hunger that
roused me, for I could not go to sleep again. I grew
tired of lying in bed, and after six had solemnly tolled
148 EVELYN’S FRIEND, MISS LITTLE.

out I got up and dressed myself. Then I knelt on
the window-seat, and looking into the garden I began
to think.

“T wonder what Jack would say if he were here.
I wonder if I shall have to stay here always if I
don’t bee Cousin Evelyn’s pardon. I don’t care about
her, but oh, I do care about Miss Little, and her
being cross with me is dreadful.”

It then came into my head that it all depended
upon myself what now happened, for I knew Miss
Little well enough to be sure she would not be the
one to give in.

Just at this point in my meditations I saw Betty
come into the garden and look up at my window,
just as if she had come out for that express purpose.
I wondered what it could mean. She went in again,
however, without taking any notice of me. I went
on thinking, but a great desire to go out to the grotto
made me spring up and unlock my door. Half-way
down the passage I stopped dead, remembering sud-
denly again that I was a prisoner still. Then I
slipped back, and sat staring with tired eyes down
at the sunshine and the flowers.

Very soon after this Betty appeared in my room,
carrying, to my great surprise, a large bowl of bread
and milk.

“There, missy,” she said, “eat that; you must be
hungry. And I was to say that when you'd eat it
you was to go to Miss Drummond in her room.”
EVELYN’S FRIEND, MISS LITTLE. 149

I frowned, was silent, and took the bowl. I ate
its contents as if I were starved, which indeed I felt
almost as if I were.

Betty stood by and watched me, evidently waiting
for an answer to her message. I gave her back the
bowl.

“What made you bring me that?” I asked.

“Miss Drummond thought she heard you moving
early,” was Betty’s answer, “and she told me to see
if your blind was up, and bring you some bread and
milk if it was.”

I felt unreasonably angry with Betty for obeying
my cousin’s orders, and very cross with myself for
having emptied the bowl when I knew by whom it
was sent. Had I not gone hungry rather than take
what she had brought me the night before? And now
T had eaten the bread and milk without even fighting
over it. She must have seen the plate and untouched
food outside my door when she came up to bed, and
thus she knew I had gone to sleep hungry sooner
than take it from her. Probably she told Betty not
to say from whom the bread and milk came until
I had eaten it. I was sharp enough to find this out.

“Well, miss,” Betty remarked sharply, “are you
going to Miss Drummond or not? I can’t wait here
all day to know.”

“No, I am not going to her,’ I answered sullenly,
and resumed my seat by the window.

Betty left the room.
150 EVELYN’S FRIEND, MISS LITTLE.

I felt more miserable than ever, and set to work
to puzzle out some roundahout way out of my scrape,
for I could not make up my mind to give in to
Evelyn.

No means could I think of except that which Miss
Little had proposed. I listened to the clocks chiming
eight, and presently the half-hour, and I knew break-
fast downstairs was over.

I longed to be out of prison. I began to wish to
see Miss Little too. I felt I could be happier if I
could tell her I was sorry I had vexed her; and this
thought suggested another. Why not stop vexing
her if I was sorry for it, and for her sake beg my
cousin’s pardon ?

Yes; here was my only way out of the difficulty.
No loneliness could force me into it, no hunger could
drive me to it; only the thought that I was hurting
one I loved, and the craving for her forgiveness, could
make me give in; that alone was strong enough to
bend my proud spirit, but not to break it.

As soon as the idea came into my head I deter-
mined to ach upon it without delay, for I was glad
of any real excuse to set me free.

Cousin Evelyn was in her room, I knew, for I
heard her moving about there; so I went to her door,
and stood with beating heart, wondering how I should
ask her pardon. I could honestly say I was sorry,
I reasoned, for so I was; not for disobeying her, but
because Miss Little was displeased. For the same
EVELYN’S FRIEND, MISS LITTLE. 151

reason I could promise not to do so again, so I
knocked, not timidly but doggedly, on the door.

“Come in,” said a voice from within.

I went in, shut the door behind me, and stood
against it holding the handle.

Cousin Evelyn had her back towards me when I
entered. She did not turn for a minute, and I felt
inclined to run away; but just as I was making up
my mind to do so she turned and saw me.

“QO Alison!” she exclaimed, “I did not know it was
you; I thought it was Betty coming to dust. I am
so glad you have come, dear,” she added, holding out
her hand to me.

But I stood still, looking steadily at her, and said
in a clear, sing-song voice, as if I were repeating a
lesson,—

“T have come to tell you I am sorry for being dis-
obedient, and I won’t do it again.”

With these words I opened the door, bolted out
into the passage, and rushed headlong downstairs
right into Susan, who was clearing away the break-
fast things. The tray slipped from her hands, there
was a terrible crash and clatter, and Susan sat down
with a thump on the floor.

Here was a pretty state of things! Two cups, two
saucers, the butter-dish, and slop-basin broken, also
a big dent in the silver teapot, and poor Susan crying
on the floor—all because I had been in such a hurry
lest Cousin Evelyn should kiss me or say anything
152 EVELYN 'S FRIEND, MISS LITTLE.

about my being “a good little girl” to say I was
sorry, when I felt I did not deserve it from her.

The other servants ran to pick Susan up as I
wended my way sadly upstairs again, this time to
mother’s room, to tell her of my last piece of mis-
chief.

She was very kind about it, and forgave me, as she
always did when we went to her at once and told the
truth.

I went down again, carefully enough this time, to
find Miss Little. She was in the schoolroom waiting
for me, and all my books were set out as usual, just
as if she quite expected me.

“Miss Little,” I said, in a tone very different from
that of my defiant confession to Evelyn, “I have told
Cousin Evelyn that I am sorry, and that I won’t do
it again.”

Miss Little was silent.

“And,” I added timidly, “please will you forgive
me?”

I did not run away from her, but rushed to her
and flung my arms round her neck, listening anxiously
for her answer.

“Yes, dear,” she said gently, “if you will really
never do it again, for it hurts me more to see you
unkind to Evelyn than it would if you were rude
to me.”

I was greatly surprised, but seated myself at the
table without asking the question “Why,” of which
EVELYN’S FRIEND, MISS LITTLE. 153

I was so fond as a rule; but it did seem odd to me
Miss Little should feel like that about it. However,
with my governess I never had the inclination to
argue which always mastered me with every one else ;
it was sufficient for me that she had said a thing, and
therefore it must be so.

Then lessons began, and I put my whole heart into
my work, earning the rare and very precious piece
of praise at the end by way of reward,—

“That is very good indeed, exceptionally good.
When you work like that I feel quite proud of my
pupil.”

Dinner was very quiet; I did not once look at my
cousin, and did not speak a word. But when I came
down dressed for my walk, I had on my warm cloak
and felt hat. I was not sent upstairs to change it,
though the day was sunny and warm, very different
from the afternoon before.

Cousin Evelyn was not going out, which pleased
me very much.

As soon as we were outside the gates I said,—

“ Are you very fond of Cousin Evelyn, Miss Little ?”

“Yes, very,” she replied at once.

“JT wonder why,” I said thoughtfully.

“Do you?” she said, in a pleased tone; “then I
will tell you. You know that we were at school
together in London. She was there before me, and
had already gained her position as head of the school
and general favourite. I was a nervous, shy girl, and
154 EVELYN’S FRIEND, MISS LITTLE.

not one who made friends readily ; but I was particu-
larly fond of study, and it was soon seen that the
place which Evelyn had hitherto held with such ease
was not so secure after my arrival upon the scene.
The girls there were all as good-hearted and kind as
you could wish; but it was natural they should resent
this rivalry, especially as I went there with the sole
purpose of working, and made no effort to gain their
favour. In fact, I even repelled them, for I was
very proud and very poor—so poor that I felt I must
keep in the background and join none of the things
that the others could go in for, because to belong to
the library, the dramatic society, or the tennis club
meant paying every term a subscription which I could
not afford. I could not well say why I stood aloof
from them—it would have seemed like bragging
about my distress—but the girls thought me a stupid
bookworm, and left me to myself.

“Evelyn, with her usual ‘thoughtfulness for others,
did her best to rouse me out of myself; but I would
not make any response to her efforts. She was
wealthy, a favourite, and the head of the school. I
was too sensitive to accept her kindness, and even
regarded it as patronizing condescension on her part—
a thing I resented with all my heart. Had I been
happier I should have had more sense than think
such a thing of her. It was not, however, until I
refused to join in a subscription got up for a birth-
day present for Miss Burford that the girls thought
EVELYN’S FRIEND, MISS LITTLE. 155

me mean and stingy. ‘If she had only given a
shilling? they said (which was the lowest any one
ever gave for such a purpose), ‘we should have said
nothing ;’ and of course this remark found its way to
me. I went further back into my shell and worked
the harder; but I did not give anything, for I had
only enough pocket-money a term to pay for my
weekly letter home and the paper on which it was
written. It was little wonder that I became more
and more unpopular; for children cannot be expected
to understand these things, and I made no confidants.
And when at the end of the term I came in second
to Evelyn, and sometimes above her, there was no
cheering and clapping for me as there ever was for
her, though she herself tried to lead it. Now there
was a scholarship at the end of each year which gave
the winner three years’ free education at that or any
other school or college she might choose out of cer-
tain given names. For this I determined to work, as
I had very great need of it, and I knew the struggle
lay between Evelyn and myself. She was the cleverer
of the two, though I was the better worker, so we
were pretty equally matched. As soon as she dis-
covered my intention she was put on her mettle,
however; and not knowing what the loss of it would
mean to me, she resolved to pass first, cost her
what it might.

“So we worked, and as time went on my heart sank
miserably, for we were so perilously close to each
156 EVELYN’S FRIEND, MISS LITTLE.

other in marks. With her sharp wits and her extra
stress of study she stood a good chance of beating me
hollow, and her friends soon ceased to tremble in
their shoes for her position. The popular belief was
that Evelyn would get the scholarship with ease. I
worked the harder, rising early, and never giving my-
self a moment’s rest that the school regulations did
not enforce; but it seemed to me I got to a certain
point, and no further. If I did well, Evelyn some-
how managed to do infinitely better, or was never
less than equal with me. The strain began to tell
upon me. I dreamed of it at night, sleeping rest-
lessly and fitfully. I shared a room with my rival
and two other girls, and Evelyn’s bed was close to
mine. To me it seemed as if they slept peacefully
all through the night, while I tossed restlessly to and
fro, still repeating to myself what I had been learning
during the day, still going over the same old ground,
that I should lose nothing by the compulsory idleness.
I was worst, of course, on the night before the ex-
aminations—that fatal day on which Evelyn and I
would have our final tussle, and all would be decided.
I got it into my head that I was going to be ill—I
felt so overdone when I went up to our room—and
that I must fail though I strained every nerve.
Through sheer weariness I fell asleep, but awoke to-
wards morning from troubled dreams, to find Evelyn
kneeling by my bed, stroking my hand gently, and
saying,—
EVELYN S FRIEND, MISS LITTLE. 157

««Tt’s all right, May dear; she won’t get it, I know.
Don’t ery, there’s a good child.’

“T looked at her in astonishment, as I did not know
what she was talking about. But she added,—

«« Ah! now you are awake. You have been talk-
ing in your sleep, so I think you must have been
having bad dreams. ‘Try to sleep quietly now, for
you will never get through at this rate. You are
far cleverer than I am, you know; and I often lose
in “exams” because my groundwork is so weak, and
that is just your strong point.’

“Tt was not true that she was likely to fail on
that account this time, but she had a poor opinion
of her own powers always.

“In spite of her advice I would not go to sleep,
but dressed and crept down to the empty classroom,
although it was but four o’clock, and began work
again in good earnest. JI was too much taken up
with my books to give another thought to what
Evelyn had said as I awoke. There I sat with an
aching head and a heavy heart till prayer-time; and
the more I thought the less I seemed to know on any
one of the given subjects.

“That morning Miss Burford was late for school—
a most unusual occurrence—and she came up with
Evelyn, who looked very grave. As she slipped into
her seat, which was near mine, she whispered,—

.“*T say, don’t be awfully nervous; I’m as shaky
as I can be, and I’m dead certain to fail in grammar
158 EVELYN’S FRIEND, MISS LITTLE.

and arithmetic. I feel as if I had not two ideas about
either the one or the other.’

“They were my best subjects; in them I always
stood the greatest chance of getting above my rival.
But even in these of late she had stood an easy first.
Still, if she was nervous too there was some hope for
me. Had she come into her place with an easy con-
fidence, such as I expected, I doubt if I should have
been able to collect my thoughts for a moment. It
seemed to me before she came as if I should be able
to do nothing for wondering how she was getting on.
But with this assurance ringing in my ears, with that
white, strained expression on Evelyn’s face, I took a-
little courage, though I wondered what had happened
all of a sudden to her. A pang of self-reproach came
into my heart: perhaps it did matter more to her
than I had thought; perhaps she cared very much
about the honour of it, though the monetary value
could, of course, be of but little consequence to
her. Still, I must get it if I could; I could not
afford to let the chance go by for a piece of senti-
mental generosity, and it was such a slender chance
too.

“Then the examiner came, and we began.

“Well, when I had done my papers I asked leave
to go away and lie down. I could neither think nor
speak, and I knew I had not done as well as I ought
to have done—even less than I had expected—because
I was so over-wrought, over-anxious, and tired out.
EVELYN’ FRIEND, MISS LITTLE. 159

It seemed so awful that everything was over now,
and that by six hours’ work the study of a whole
year was to be judged.

“School went on for another week, but I took no
part in it. I was only just well enough to crawl
downstairs on the day the result of the examination
was to be made known. I took my place without
any excitement, in a state of apathy and despair. I
knew Evelyn must have got it. Imagine my dismay,
my utter disbelief that I could have. heard aright,
when the examiner stood up and said,—

“*T have much pleasure in awarding the scholar-
ship to May Little, whose papers are almost above
commendation,’

“And still further did I think I must have lost
my reason when I heard a perfect storm of cheers
and clapping around me. Surely, surely that could
not be for me, I thought; I must have gone mad.
Then some one pushed me forward to receive the
little slip of paper that meant so much to me, for
it was the certificate which proved me to be the
winner. I hardly knew what I said or did, but
somehow I staggered back to my place. Miss Bur-
ford signed to the girls to be silent, and the examiner
proceeded. Breathlessly I listened for Evelyn’s name.
She was not even second or third, but came in a weak
fourth—a, position she had never been in since her
first term at school. Then I felt sure it must be a
dream, and springing to my feet to try and break the
160 EVELYN’S FRIEND, MISS LITTLE.

cruel, tantalizing vision, I fell across my desk in a:
dead faint.”

Miss Little paused a moment.

“Oh,” I cried, “go on, go on! Was it a dream?
was it really a dream, Miss Little ?”

“No, dear,” she said; “it was true. And when I
tell you that Evelyn lost the scholarship on purpose
that I might get it, after all her months of work and
trouble to gain it, I think you will understand why
I love her so.”

“But I thought she didn’t know you wanted it so
badly,” I said, with childish impatience.

“Nor did she,” Miss Little continued, “until that
night before the examinations. It appeared I had
been talking in my sleep for some time before Evelyn
roused me. She was herself sleeping lightly, because
she meant to get up early and work, so determined
was she to pass. The other two girls heard nothing
of it; but when I began raving, Evelyn grew fright-
ened, and got up to comfort me. Long afterwards
she told me I kept saying, ‘ Mother, forgive me, dar-
ling; I did work, indeed I did—Oh, how my head
aches !—The Stuart Period; no, J mean the least com-
mon multiple—Why, I can’t even say my tables—
How can I pass when I don’t know anything about
grammar?’ Then she interrupted me, and I was
quiet for a minute, only to break out afresh: ‘And
there is nothing for poor little Charlie’s supper, not
even a crust.—I did work, but I lost it—she is so
EVELYN'S FRIEND, MISS LITTLE. 161

clever, you know. But nobody will have me now. I
can’t teach if I can’t learn, Miss Burford says.’ Here
Evelyn stopped me again; but I began crying in my
sleep, and then awoke to find her there. She guessed
then what the loss of the scholarship would mean to
me, and next morning after breakfast she asked to see
Miss Burford. From her she learned my story in
full: how my mother almost starved herself to edu-
cate me, and that my one great object was to free
her of this expense, and when I was old enough
to earn a high salary, to repay her for all she had
done for me by keeping her and little Charlie, my
invalid brother, entirely. Then Evelyn came up to
the classroom, and she made such a muddle of her
papers in her anxiety not to be above me that she
was not only not second, but very low down in the
list. She was indeed so afraid that in my nervous-
ness I should do very badly, she tried her best to
do worse, and succeeded beyond her own expectations.
And after that she told my story to the whole school,
so that the dear, generous girls were honestly glad
I won the scholarship; not one of them grudged it
me. Evelyn had never had a special chum before,
she was just every one’s favourite, but it was not
surprising that we became the closest of friends after
that. And this, too, no one envied me; it was simply
an acknowledged fact.”

I was silent. There was much to think of in this

story. But as we neared home Miss Little said,—
(969) a
162 EVELYN’S FRIEND, MISS LITTLE.

“Can you wonder now that I am so fond of Evelyn ?
There is one more thing I must tell you about her.
We both left school the same term, and, as you know,
she took up nursing. My mother died, and I had
to take care of Charlie at home. But I was obliged
to be away from him all day teaching, poor boy, and
he must have been very. lonely. When Evelyn’s
training was over she came to stay with me, on pur-
pose to nurse Charlie. He only lived a year after
that, but I have always the comfort of knowing that
that year was a happy one to him. I think he
learned to love Evelyn even better than he did me;
and that, too, makes me care for her better, if pos-
sible, than I did before.”

I was too astonished to speak for a moment, this
was such a new idea to me.

“You liked her better for that!” I exclaimed.
“Well, if Jack ever liked any one better than he
likes me, I should just hate them.”

“That is because you do not love Jack,” Miss
Little said, very quietly.

“Not love Jack!” I cried indignantly; “why, I
love him better than any one in the world.”

“You think you do,” Miss Little said gravely ;
“but if you only knew it, you love Alison better.”

Seeing that I looked puzzled, she said gently —

“Tf we love any one very much, we also love every
one they love, and all that makes them happier is
dear to us. But if we grudge them friends because
EVELYN’S FRIEND, MISS LITTLE. 163

they are better loved than we are, or things which
please them because we did not give them, we may
be quite sure that it is ourselves we love, and not
our friend. You are too youne to understand it
quite yet, but not too childish to begin to learn that
love that is always thinking about itself is no love at
all; its real name is selfishness. Love that is worth
having never thinks of ‘I, but rejoices in all that
makes its friend’s life brighter and better.”

We had reached home, and were waiting for the
door to be opened.

“ Alison,” Miss Little said winningly, “I believe
you do care for me. I wish you would try to prove
it to be the true kind of love I spoke of. Would
you if I told you some way in which you could
do so?”

“Indeed, indeed I would,’ I cried, proud that she
should wish it; “I’d do anything for you.”

She smiled a little as she said,—

“Then listen to my wish. Try to see how good
Evelyn really is; also obey her for my sake—you
will soon learn to love her for her own.”

It was a harder task than I had expected she would
set me; but I had promised, so I said,—

“T will try, Miss Little,” putting up my face for
a kiss as Susan opened the door.
CHAPTER V.

A TERRIBLE SCRAPE. —

‘* No wonder that I sometimes sigh,
And dash the tear-drop from my eye,
To cast a look behind.”—Hoop.
ENTERED the house with a heart very full of
good resolutions, and my poor little head crowded
with perplexed thoughts.

I could not help admiring my cousin after Miss
Little’s story. On her kindness to me I had always
looked with determined suspicion; I felt so certain
she was only trying to get the mastery over me, and
this I would not allow. But in these instances of
real goodness towards another—and that “other” one
I loved very dearly—there was nothing to suspect,
nothing to find fault with.

It would have been a very easy matter to Evelyn
to win the scholarship, and no one could have blamed
her had she done so, or have wished her to do other-
wise, since it was a fair trial of strength. But with-
out a murmur she had purposely lost an honour which,
apart from its money value, would have been dear to
any one’s heart. It would have been far easier for
A TERRIBLE SCRAPE. 165

her, and a more gracious task to herself, had she won
the scholarship, received the congratulations of her
friends, and then have publicly and formally handed.
over the benefit of it to the girl who had come in
second. But such an idea had never occurred to
Evelyn; she was one who did nothing by halves.
The whole of the first class was working for the same
thing ; and even had she held aloof, May Little would
still have had them to fight against, and gaining it
still occupy the place that Evelyn herself had held so
long undisturbed, until Miss Little appeared at Miss
Burford’s, as head of the school. There could be no
degradation to the sensitive girl in that—nothing to
hurt her pride—and she would have the full glory
and joy of the reward for her honest work. With
the story fresh in my mind, I saw the full generosity
of Cousin Evelyn’s sacrifice.

Then, too, her kindness to poor Chazrlie.

There was no need for her to give up a year of her
life to caring for and nursing a little stranger; but
for her friend’s sake “self” had been forgotten in
both cases. Evelyn’s love had been the true kind.

All this softened my heart very much, so that I
longed to rush to her at once, and tell her all about
our vow, my own naughty feelings—in short, every-
thing—and then beg her forgiveness.

I went to look for her, but alas for my good
intentions, I could not find her anywhere, and dis-
covered, after a long hunt, that she had gone to tea
_ 166 A TERRIBLE SCRAPE.

at the Grange. If I had found her then, just when
I was eager to win her love and pardon, my story
would have ended here. But it was not to be.

Very disappointed, I went to the playroom, and sat
down to think of all Miss Little had said, and to
consider how I should best prove to her and to Cousin
Evelyn that I really meant to be good.

When I began to think it over a little, I decided
that I had better say nothing about the vow, for that
would be bringing in Jack’s name, and it seemed
hardly fair when he was so far away.

Next I wondered how I should say I was sorry: if
I could not tell about the vow, where was I to begin?
And all of a sudden it seemed a terribly difficult thing
to do. Before I began to reflect and turn things over
in my mind, I had seen no hindrance to making a full
confession; but now it seemed to me it was rather
a good thing I had not been able to carry out my
impulsive wish at once, for the longer I thought the
more my opinion on the subject altered.

To begin with, if I said I was sorry, I must explain
what I was sorry for; and this, when I put it into
quite simple words, sounded so bad I was disinclined
to believe it couid be the truth. Suppose Evelyn
were to say, “ Why have you behaved like this to me
ever since I came?” I should have.to say by way of
reply, “I made up my mind to hate you because Jack
likes you better than he does me.”

“This can’t be the truth,” I told myself—‘it isn’t
A TERRIBLE SCRAPE. 167

true; there must have been some other reason before
that. I hated her the moment I saw her that day by
the rockery. Miss Little has put this into my head,
and how can she know what is inside me? I am
sure there was something that made me hate her so,
but I forget.”

Thus I tried to explain away what, had I let myself
be honest, I must have felt heartily ashamed of; and
in excusing myself I little by little depreciated my
cousin, and lost the spell which the story I had so
recently heard had cast over me. The-very story
itself ceased to touch my heart in the same way, and
I said aloud,— :

“After all, Cousin Evelyn’s being kind to Miss
Little does not make any difference to how she treats
me. Besides, that was long ago, when she was quite
a child; she must have altered since then. Perhaps
she told Miss Little to tell me this story; she very
likely did, and it is another way of trying to get the
best of me. It was her fault I was punished yester-
day.”

Thus I argued, until I came to the conclusion that
I was very ill-treated, and that if any one ought: to
say they were sorry it was Evelyn, and not I. How-
ever, I made up my mind to forgive my cousin, for
I had promised Miss Little I would be good, and try
to be friends with her. I could at least be civil to
her, which hitherto I had certainly not been.

Miss Little’s curious ideas about liking people
168 A TERRIBLE SCRAPE.

puzzled me sorely: to love a person because they
were better liked. than oneself seemed to me strange
indeed, and had any one but Miss Little said it I
should have called it “silly.” Somehow in her I
admired it. Then, too, if any one but Miss Little had
told me that I loved myself better than I did Jack, I
should have been very angry with them. It is not
pleasant to be told one loves oneself better than any
one else, and I did not like it; so I comforted myself
by believing Miss Little to be mistaken, and made
sure she did not understand me. I satisfied myself
on all these points; and if there was a little voice
within telling me I was not quite at rest, only pre-
tending to be so in my naughty pride, I would not
listen to it, but tried to hush it in a game with my
dolls.

More than once the thought of the poor invalid
boy Charlie came to me, and I felt very sorry to think
of a little fellow of eight years old never being able
to do any of the things other children could do—run,
walk, climb, or play at anything. Miss Little had
often told me about him before—how all his little life
he had lain suffering but patient, unable to move hand
or foot.

Charlie’s story so affected me that I thought a great
deal about it, and it struck me suddenly this afternoon
that it would make a very good game if one of my dolls
could be ill and I could pretend to be Cousin Evelyn.

Now it just so happened that none of my dolls
A TERRIBLE SCRAPE. 169

were broken, for since Jack had gone to school their
lives had been spared ; and just before he went we had
a solemn procession, and buried all the old broken
ones. I did not feel as if I could be sympathetic
enough if I had to pretend the doll was injured or
sick when it had rosy cheeks and nothing definite the
matter with it; so, after deep reflection, 1 made up my
mind to destroy one for the occasion.

“Tt won't be waste,” I thought, “for I shall often
play it again; it will be a lovely game.”

Miss Little was busy writing in the schoolroom,
mother was resting, and I was sure of the playroom
all to myself.

I carefully arranged one corner as a bedroom first,
and then I put all my six dolls in a row, to choose
which should be the patient. Maisie mother gave
me, Sophie was not pretty enough, Elsie I was too
fond of, and Jack was the only boy I had—I wanted
him whole to ride on my horse. There were just two
left to choose from—Pegey, who was dressed as a
nursemaid, and Daisy. Cousin Evelyn gave me
Daisy ; she had made the clothes for her herself, and
the doll had among her things a night-gown. Her
eyes were large and brown, her hair soft and curly.
I was almost sorry, but I felt this was the only one
of the six I could bear to spoil on purpose. You see,
being Cousin Evelyn’s gift, I had not played with her
at all, and had therefore never got to care for her as
I did for all the others.
170 A TERRIBLE SCRAPE.

“T should love her ever so much if she were ill,” I
said to, myself.

That seemed one good reason, for. PF alenee e the
victim, but perhaps the strongest was. that. it had a
night-gown—a luxury Daisy alone.possessed. °

My mind fully made up, I’ got a pair of scissors,
water, and some soap, and seated myself upon’ the
floor with the poor doll. The other five, propped. up
against the wall, stared at me with: their wide-open
eyes. First I cut off all her lovely hair quite. short,
like a boy’s. Then with. sponge: and soap I pro-
ceeded to .wash, away. the vivid red from her face
and lips, which looked so aggressively healthy. She
was wax, and it did: not wash off at all well. I could
not get her.to:look white like mother, so I let it alone
for a time., Then I wondered what illness Daisy
could have, and a broken leg or arm seemed the easiest:
to manage. So taking a small hammer, I deliberately
broke off one of the. little feet. This I bandaged with
a torn handkerchief.. The hands I spared; but they.
seemed too pink for a sick person, and again my mind
reverted to the difficulty of taking off the colour both .
from them and the face... I was getting quite: excited
in my game, and wished Jack was with me to share
it; and thinking of him, I suddenly remembered a
doll he had left out in the sun all day.. It had lost
its colour with a vengeance, and looked sickly. enough
ever after. I did not want to go out of the playroom:
however, so I thought again. A piece of coal falling






















































































“What are you doing, Alison?’ said Cousin Evelyn.”
Page 171.
A TERRIBLE SCRAPE. 171

into the fender made me start guiltily. I must have
known I was doing wrong then, if I did not before.
But the sound acted upon me in another way; I took
no warning from it. It reminded me that there was a
fire in the room, and that this would do instead of the
sun; in fact, it would be better. I kissed Daisy and
hugged her in my excitement.

“Oh, you will be a lovely sick child,” I said, with
a little laugh. Then I held her head downwards
quite close to the bars, waiting patiently for a minute
or so. I decided I would not look until I thought it
was ready, for then it would be a pleasant surprise.
I was just going to remove her, when—

“ What are you doing, Alison ?” said Cousin Evelyn’s
voice behind me.

Shall I ever forget her face, when I turned with a
start which nearly upset me into the fire, it was so
violent? And will she ever forget the sight she saw
before her ?

There I stood, a little girl with a face crimson with
shame, holding by the legs, or rather the stumps of
the legs, the most terrible object that was ever called
a broken doll: for Daisy’s eyes had melted into her
head, her nose had vanished for ever, the pretty red
lips were gone, and the wax dropping from the head
carried with it the remainder of the hair, to join the
long silky curls lying on the floor, from amongst
which peeped the one little pink foot.

It was a surprise indeed! I had not meant it to
172 A TERRIBLE SCRAPE.

go so far; I only wanted the doll to look delicate,
and this was what had happened, the fire being
stronger than I had calculated on.

I stood speechless with dismay at the result of my
experiment and its effect upon my cousin.

She was silent too, but her face was flushed with
vexation, and her eyes were full of tears. Once she
seemed about to speak, but checked herself, and
turning, abruptly left the room.

I was horrified at what I had done, and stood
stupefied, gazing at the remains of Daisy.

“What will Miss Little think?” was the first
definite idea that came to rouse me. That was what
mattered most just then to me. I could not possibly
explain to her that I had been trying to make my
doll look like what I imagined her poor brother
Charlie must have been when he was ill) She would
think me heartless and wicked to wish to play at
what had been such grief and pain to her. It had
never struck me in that light before; Jack and I had
been so used to making games out of everything that
happened in the village. But when I came to think
of it, this seemed different. Wicked as it may seem
to older and wiser children, we were particularly fond
of playing at sick people, and even at funerals, but
we really never realized what they meant. But now,
when I remembered that Charlie was dead, it all of a
sudden occurred to me that such playing was not nice,
and I suppose this was due to the fact that the little
A TERRIBLE SCRAPE. 173

boy belonged to some one who was dear to me, and I
could enter better into her feelings on the subject.

The utter impossibility that I felt there would be
in explaining matters to her overwhelmed me. I
could not let her think me cruel and heedless of her
most sacred feelings; anything would be better than
that. And if I did not tell her the truth, what
conclusion would she most naturally jump to ?

Why, of course, that I had deliberately broken my
promise to her barely an hour after making it. It
almost seemed as if I had given it without the least
intention of keeping it, this piece of mischief appeared
so pointless and senseless.

It never occurred to me to simply say I had wanted
to play at being a nurse like Evelyn; to my child-
brain it must be the whole truth or none, for what is
called “tact” in grown-up people would have seemed
simply falsehood to me.

Utterly bewildered, I could only take refuge in
silence. I must let her think, as Evelyn did, that I
had done this out of sheer spite, just to annoy my
cousin afresh, and prove to her how little I valued her
gift; only to Miss Little it would mean ever so much
more, because she would never be able to trust me
again.

What else could Ido? I had no one to turn to in
my perplexity—no one who could advise and help me.
Mother I dared not trouble with such a thing. Jack
and I never worried her with our scrapes; we had
174 A TERRIBLE SCRAPE.

been taught we must not do so when we were quite
tiny things. To explain to Miss Little seemed out of
the question. And to Evelyn I would not go, though,
had I only known it, that would have been the
simplest way of all out of the difficulty.

I sat down on the floor, and began mechanically
undressing the awful object once known as the lovely
Daisy. I folded all the clothes into a neat pile, and
then sat staring at my late handiwork. Whenever I
heard footsteps outside the door my heart beat fast,
for I dreaded Miss Little’s coming; yet I dared not
leave the room, lest I should meet her on the way.

We always had tea at six o’clock in the schoolroom,
and I began to realize that those constant passings
to and fro must be caused by the setting of the table.

“Tea is ready, miss,” Susan said at last, putting her
head in at the door to tell me.

I was surprised.

Was my naughtiness to be overlooked? or how
was it that I was called as usual to tea? When I
heard the maid open the door, I had expected she was
coming with a message that I was to go to my bed-
room, not to the schoolroom.

“Where is Miss Evelyn?” I asked.

“In her own room, miss, I believe,” replied Susan,
surprised at my question.

I got up, and went slowly down the passage with
such dread and fear as I had never felt before.

What would Miss Little say to me ?
A TERRIBLE SCRAPE. 175

I stopped to think no more, but burst into the
room, longing to get the meeting over.

Here was another surprise. Miss Little looked up,
smiled as if nothing had happened, and said,—

“Well, little woman, what have you been doing
with yourself ?”

I could not answer for a moment; then I said
evasively,—

“Oh, nothing.”

It was not the truth, but it was a reply I so often
used unthinkingly when I had been doing something
I did not think would interest my listener, it came
quite naturally to my lips.

Miss Little merely laughed, and said,—

“That is a great deal. Is Evelyn in yet?”

In a moment it flashed into my mind that Miss
Little could know nothing of what I had done, since
she did not even know whether my cousin was at
home yet or not. She had not seen her, and that
was the reason all was going on just as usual.

She was busy pouring out tea and cutting up
bread and butter, so she noticed nothing unusual in
my manner as I again answered in one of my pet
meaningless phrases,—

“JT don’t know ”—correcting myself, and adding,
“ At least, I think so.”

I was hardly thinking of what I was saying either
time, and the words seemed to slip out of my mouth
without my being able to stop them. I was really
176 A TERRIBLE SCRAPE.

wondering whether it would not be better to tell Miss
Little at once what I had done, since she had not
heard it already. Perhaps she might forgive me if I
did, and it could be put more to my own advantage
if it were told by myself; Evelyn’s version of it could
scarcely be so lenient a one.

Then a sense of powerlessness came over me, my
breath came in quick, short gasps, and though I opened
my mouth to speak not a word would come.

“T’d better not say anything till after tea; it is so
hard to tell her when she is at one end of the table
and I at the other,” I thought, thankful for any ex-
cuse that meant a respite even of a few minutes. So
I added to my already involved reply the words,—

“Oh, Susan says she is upstairs in her room.”

Miss Little laughed, and said,—

“You funny child, where are your thoughts this
evening? That is the third answer you have given
me to one question.”

She did not expect me to say anything, so I held
my tongue.

I was still wondering how best to confess my
naughtiness to her, without saying anything about
Charlie, when she suddenly exclaimed



“My dear, you are eating nothing; are you not
well?”

It was so gently said I could not help thinking,
“What if she were never to speak kindly to me
again ? oh, what should I do?”
A TERRIBLE SCRAPE. 177

Aloud I said,—

“Quite well, thank you,” and I began to force the
bread and butter down my throat, though I felt as if
every mouthful must choke me.

“There is something the matter, Alison,” Miss Little
said, in her kind, tender way. “Tell me, dear, what
is it? perhaps I can help you.”

I felt I could not answer her yet, and the more I
thought of it the more difficult it appeared to me to
find words to express myself in.

“T will tell her when I say good-night; it will be
easier then, with her arm round me and my face
buried in her shoulder. Then I can tell her all,’ I
argued, putting it further and further off each moment.

“Really there is nothing the matter, Miss Little,” I
replied. “I am quite well; indeed I am.”

She asked me no more questions; and when tea
was over she told me to go down to mother as usual
before going to bed. She had some letters to finish,
so that she would stay upstairs.

Now there was always a great screen before the
drawing-room door in the evenings, put there to
shelter mother from the draught. Also round the
door we had india-rubber tubing, so that it opened very
silently. In this way any one might come into the
room unseen and unheard by those already init. I
suppose the shame that I felt, and the fear lest mother
should know about the doll, made me creep in even

more noiselessly than usual. I closed the door for a
(969) 12
178 A TERRIBLE SCRAPE.

moment, and stood to listen whether Evelyn was in
the room or not; and as I waited mother spoke, so
that I knew she was.

“ After this last piece of mischief,” she said, “I am
very much inclined to believe you are right; but I
could not have believed she would be so naughty. I
am glad you told me, Evelyn. I have been left too
much in the dark always, and my health has prevented
my noticing things as I ought to have done. But I
think, dear, it would be wise to say nothing to Miss
Little. She is so very fond of you it might make
her dislike the child; and once Alison discovered that,
she would lose all influence over her.”

I ought not, of course, to have been listening, but I
stood as if I were rooted to the spot. .

“Very well, auntie,’ Evelyn said; “she shall know
nothing about it. We will just pass it over, unless
you care to say something to Alison. Perhaps she
would listen to you.”

I waited to hear no more, but went out into the
hall as quietly as I had entered, and stood there be-
wildered, hardly realizing the relief I felt, yet know-
ing that a great weight had been taken off my mind.

Miss Little was not to know. Then I could bear
anything—a scolding from mother, or anything. I
would even beg Evelyn’s pardon if mother told me to
do so, for Miss Littl—my dear Miss Littl—would
never know anything about the broken doll. All my
difficulties were swept away in a moment just at the
A TERRIBLE SCRAPE. 179

knowledge of this. JI cared for nothing else in the
absolute joy of knowing that I need not confess after
all—“ must not confess,” I told myself. Mother had
said so, and she had also put into words the terrible
fear that had been haunting me—that had Miss Little
been told, she would have been made to dislike me.
I dared not think of such an awful possibility, so I
opened the drawing-room door again, this time rattling
the handle and making as much noise over it as I
could, so that by the time I got round the screen my
appearance on the scene was made known, and I was
expected. Evelyn rose at once and left the room
without so much as looking at me.

Then mother spoke to me. JI had never seen her
so vexed before; not even the day we were discovered
up the cedar tree was she half so angry as now with
me. She told me she would never have imagined I
could be so spiteful and unkind to any one, and that,
much as she loved and needed her now, if I did not
try to be better to her she would have to send Evelyn
home to her own people, for she could not keep her
here to be so unkindly treated.

And the effect all this had upon me was to make
me feel as if I were the ill-used person, and that I
did not deserve this scolding, for I had not done this
out of spite; it was just a bit of thoughtless mischief,
and I had not meant to hurt Cousin Evelyn’s feelings
at all. As I walked upstairs all my stubborn dislike
of my cousin came back in a torrent. °
180 A TERRIBLE SCRAPE.

“Tt was mean of her to tell tales to mother,” I
muttered; “I always knew she hated me, and I hate
her back. I don’t care a bit now Miss Little is not to
know—not one bit.”

Though I met Evelyn in one of the passages on my
way to the schoolroom, I did not apologize, passing
her in absolute silence, as if I did not even see her.

I went as usual to say good-night to Miss Little.
As I opened the door, I felt light-hearted and self-
confident as ever; but when I stood before her, and
she looked up from her writing to kiss me, somehow
all these comfortable feelings left me all at once, and
I felt humble and ashamed. She was smiling, and
her eyes were full of tenderness ; but after one glance
I could not meet their steady, searching gaze, nor
could I fling my arms round her neck and give her a
hug, as I loved to do. It was as if there were some-
thing between us, and I felt ill at ease and unnatural.

“ Good-night, my little girl,” Miss Little said, as I
bent down to kiss her. “You look very tired, and I
am sure you will be glad to go to bed.” Then she
evidently missed my usual impulsive leave-taking, for
she added,—

“ Are you sure, dear, you are quite well? Tell me
what is the matter. Are you unhappy about any-
thing? I might be able to help you if you would
tell me what is troubling you, for I can see you are
not yourself to-night.”

“Tell her, Alison—tell her everything yourself;
A TERRIBLE SCRAPE. 181

now is the easiest time, and you will never be happy
till you do,’ whispered a little voice in my heart.

“No, don’t,” said another, and that was a naughty,
hard little voice; “she will never love you again when
she knows how you broke your promise. How can
you tell her about poor Charlie? and she cannot under-
stand unless you do. Besides, your mother said she
must not be told; you heard that yourself.”

And I gave in to the second, saying, as I slowly
left the room, “I am quite well, thank you, Miss
Little, only sleepy.”

But Iwas glad to shut the door behind me and
steal away to my own little room.

I knew what lay between my governess and my-
self now—it was a big wall of deceit; for though I
tried to silence my conscience with the argument that
I should be disobeying mother if I confessed about
the doll, I knew very well deep down in my heart
that I was doing what was wrong in letting Miss
Little trust me, and believe I was trying to be good
when I was in reality very naughty. Once as I was
undressing I thought I would go back and tell her the
truth ; but when I got to my door, I remembered all the
falsehoods I had told in reply to her repeated questions
as to what was the matter with me, and I said,—

“Tt is too late; I can never tell her now.”

I had put it off too long; those stories would have
to be explained, and she would despise me for telling
them. She was so good and true herself she would
182 A TERRIBLE SCRAPE.

never be able to understand such weakness. I crept
into bed thoroughly miserable, vainly trying to still
the small voice that would keep saying,—

“Tt is not too late, Alison ; it is never too late to
do right.”

“T can’t, I can’t,” I said. “Besides, mother did say
she was not to know.”

Oh, what a poor excuse it was! child as I was, how
could I listen to it, I often ask myself now.

The next morning broke bright and cheery, and
my troubles looked less hard to meet by daylight. I
was inclined to think I had acted aright, and my un-
kind feelings towards Evelyn grew in proportion.

“She is setting mother against me now,” I thought
angrily as I dressed.

As soon as I was ready I went into the schoolroom,
and as I was early I began overlooking a, lesson.

When Miss Little appeared I sprang up with my
usual light-heartedness, and went forward to greet
her lovingly. But the expression of her face checked
me, and sent all the blood rushing to my cheeks in a
hot flush of shame, for in one instant I saw that she
knew all.

“Good-morning, Alison,” she said coldly ; and I did
not dare even to attempt to kiss her, her manner was
so distant and so changed.

“Sneak,” I thought—“ mean sneak and story-teller !
for she promised mother she wouldn’t, and she has
told Miss Little after all.”
A TERRIBLE SCRAPE. 183

It is needless to explain that these names were
applied to my cousin. Miss Little did not speak
again; I wished she would. If she had only scolded
me for the stories I had told, for seemingly breaking
my promise to her, or for anything that I might have
defended myself, it would not have been so terrible.
But she was silent, and I dared not say a word.

And that was my punishment. I was free to go
where I liked and to do what I chose from morning
to night; but except at lesson times, or when supply-
ing the barest necessities, neither mother, Evelyn, nor
Miss Little spoke a word to me for days. I had
all my meals with them as usual, and was not even
deprived of pudding; but they took no more notice
of me than if I had been a fly on the wall, and the
awfulness of that silence makes me shiver when I
think of it even now.

Out of school time I was too sick at heart to play,
and I did not know where to go or what to do with
myself. No prisoner in his cell could have felt more
bound than I did then, though I might be in the
house or out of it as I wished; no traveller lost in
the desert could have felt more lonely than I did,
though the house was full of people, all of whom I
knew well.

The first thing I did that morning was to go into
the playroom and stuff the remains of Daisy away
into the back of a very deep cupboard. I could not
bear to look at them, for there they lay just as I had
184 A TERRIBLE SCRAPE.

left them on the floor. Then I dismantled the bed-
room I had made ready in such glee the day before,
and resolved that never, never would I play at sick
dolls again as long as I lived, and I never have.

My thoughts were my only companions, and they
were not pleasant; and most of my time I spent with
my nose flattened against the playroom window-pane,
for I felt I should not be welcome anywhere.

“J was to tell you, miss, your ma don’t wish to see
you downstairs this evening,” was the message Susan
brought me the first day.

Betty never allowed me to sit in my bedroom
during the day, and I could not bear to sit in the
room with Miss Little, nor would I go anywhere that
I might meet Evelyn; so, big and bare as it was
without Jack, the playroom was my only refuge.

Four days came and went in dreary succession, and
still I was treated in this way. No one relented, and
the effect it had upon me was to harden my heart
more and more against Cousin Evelyn, for I chose to
think it was all her fault I was in this miserable state.

‘At last I was in despair; I did not know what to
do. Of course I fully understood what was expected
of me. To break this terrible silence I must be the
first to speak; but my words must be of apology to
my cousin, and I was determined I would not beg her
pardon now. I was so sure she had broken her word
to mother I could not forgive her, and I also re-
membered that mother had told me if I did not
A TERRIBLE SCRAPE. 185

behave better to her she would have to send Evelyn
away. Well, that was what I wanted most in the
world; we should never be happy till she went, I
thought.

But four days of this new kind of punishment
brought my spirits very low; it was getting almost
unbearable.

As I sat before my dressing-table, with Betty
brushing my hair for me before I went to bed, tears
of self-pity rose in my eyes, and in spite of all my
efforts to keep them back, rolled down my cheeks
one after the other. Betty saw them in the glass,
and she was touched.

“TI should go and say I was sorry if I was you,
Miss Alison,” she said kindly.

“How can I?” I exclaimed, almost crossly ; “they
never give me a chance.”

“Have you ever tried, missy ?” Betty said wisely.

To this I deigned’ no reply, but gave a, little
wriggle, which showed Betty I was not pleased, and
she said no more. I was unreasonably angry with her
for having seen that I was crying, and annoyed that
she had taken notice of it in any way. She left me
in silence.

Then I got into bed, and lay thinking, thinking far
into the night.

“What should I do?” I asked myself. “If I said
nothing this might go on for ever, for no one else
would give in. Oh, it was dreadful grown-up people
186 A TERRIBLE SCRAPE.

should be so strong! they could do anything they
liked, and one had always to obey them.”

There was Jack coming home soon too. What
would he say to it all? He would be sure to take
Cousin Evelyn’s part, and say I was silly; for he was a
boy, and could not understand. Somehow I must get
out of this scrape before. his return; and the more I
pondered over it the more firmly was I convinced
that there was only one way out of it—I must
apologize to Cousin Evelyn. Before I fell asleep that
night I had resolved that to-morrow I would swallow
my pride and go to her, telling her that I had not
broken Daisy on purpose to hurt her feelings, but for
the sake of a new game I was wanting to play.

“T will say I am sorry,” I said doggedly; “but I
shall hate, hate, hate her more than ever after. She
is teaching Miss Little not to love me; and she is not
a good girl, for she broke her promise to mother.”

It must have been about two hours later that I
was awakened by a great stir in the house. The
servants seemed to be running hither and thither, and
hushed voices outside my door roused my curiosity. I
got up and went out into the passage.

“Send James for Dr. Abbot at once, Miss Evelyn
says,” Betty whispered to Susan. They did not notice
me standing on the threshold of my room.

Cousin Evelyn’s door was open, so was Miss Little’s.

“Some one must be ill,” I thought; “it must be |
mother.”
A. TERRIBLE SCRAPE. 187

I ran to her door; it was ajar, and through the
chink I saw Cousin Evelyn, with a white, anxious face,
bending over her bed. Miss Little stood beside her
holding a glass; there was dead silence in the room.

I was too frightened to move, and stood shivering
at the door, starting with a low cry when Betty
touched me unexpectedly.

She said nothing, but with gentle firmness picked
me up in her arms and carried me back to my room.
There she sat down on the bed, still keeping me in
her arms, having hurriedly thrown a shawl round me.

“What is it?” I whispered tremblingly.

“Your mother was taken very ill all of a sudden,”
Betty replied; “but, please God, she will be better
soon when Dr. Abbot comes, and with Miss Drummond
to nurse her.”

I frowned even at that moment at this praise of
my cousin.

“She has been looking mortal bad these last few
days, poor dear,’ continued Betty, referring to my
mother, “and perhaps she will be better after this
turn ; people often are—they kind of get it out.”

I was cheered, and Betty stayed with me a little
while, and told me to try to go to sleep, leaving
me with my candle alight, “for company,” as she said.

But solitude often brings unwelcome thoughts. It
now occurred to me that mother must be dying. The
thought was so terrible that I began to sob unre-
strainedly until I could not stop myself.
188 A TERRIBLE SCRAPE.

“What if she should die and never speak to me
again!” I kept saying aloud; and thus Miss Little
discovered me.

In a short time, by her wonderful power over me,

she had quieted my sobs, and I fell asleep, thoroughly
wearied out, holding her hand.

Next day, and for about a week after, there was
a terrible stillness in the house; and though no one
told me so, I knew that mother’s life was in danger.

In such a time of anxiety my recent misconduct
was, of course, forgotten.

By degrees—very slow degrees—mother began to
mend; and when she was able to be about again, it
appeared as if no one remembered the sad end of
Daisy, and the construction that had been put upon it,
except myself. I was spoken to, and treated as usual.
i suppose that mother’s illness had really made them
forget all else for the time; and when she was better,
they felt they could not resume the punishment after
so long a lapse of time.

With the idea firmly in my head that no one re-
membered anything about it, I thought an apology to
Evelyn quite unnecessary, probably because I felt so
little inclined to make it.

Two days before Jack’s return mother went away
for change of air. Miss Little was to go for her holi-
day the very day on which my brother was to arrive,
and Cousin Evelyn would be left sole mistress of the
house for a fortnight or so.
A TERRIBLE SCRAPE. 189

Miss Little’s boxes were all packed, and she was
ready to start, but there was yet an hour before she
had to go to the station. She called me into the
schoolroom, and bidding me sit down, spoke gravely
to me.

“ Although we all seem to have forgotten your
misdeed of a few weeks ago, Alison,” she said, “I for
one have a very keen remembrance of it. To me it
meant even more than to your mother and cousin.”

I felt my face flush crimson all over, and I looked
down at my shoes. I was genuinely surprised to
hear her speak like this; I had made so sure it would
not be again referred to after so long.

“You must know I can never forget it or overlook
it, following as it did upon the promise you made
me only that afternoon. To my great sorrow you
deliberately broke your word, for until then I had
trusted you and loved you, especially for one thing—I
believed you to be honest and truthful.”

I felt inclined to exclaim, “I did not mean to
break my promise;” but I stopped myself, and sat
mutely watching a spider on the carpet, as if 1 were
deeply interested in it. Again the remembrance of
Charlie sealed my lips.

This apparent indifference seemed to annoy Miss
Little, for she went on, speaking in cold, decided
tones,—

“JT was bitterly disappointed in you. JI found the
child I had loved and relied on abused my trust, was
190 A TERRIBLE SCRAPE.

purposely very unkind to my friend, and added to
this untruthfulness and deceit in answer to repeated
questions.”

I flushed hotter than ever, but kept my face
turned away from her. The spider was walking up
the leo of the chair near me.

“T remind you of this,” she continued, “because
you seem to imagine I have forgotten it, and it is but
right you should know I have not; also because I
am going away for the holidays, and I wanted to tell
you that I hope you will try to behave better for
those few weeks, and not take advantage of Evelyn’s
being alone to torment her.”

The spider had reached the cushion of the chair. I
rose and went to it, keeping my back to Miss Little.

“Tam going to ask you for no promise,” she went
on, “for I have learned that I cannot trust you. I
do not now say ‘for my sake’ do it, for I now know
that you do not care enough for me to do as I ask
you. So Iam going to put it in a new light for you,
which will perhaps touch you, since nothing else can.
Some day, in your anxiety to vent your spite on others
whom you dislike, you will do something which will
hurt yourself far more than it does them. That is
what always happens to those who will not control
their tempers. Try, therefore, to remember this, and
strive to prevent yourself doing something which you
may regret all your life.”

She stopped. I was bending over the chair, chas-
A TERRIBLE SCRAPE. 191

ing the spider with one finger, to all appearance
quite unmoved. But my heart ached miserably, and
I longed to cry out and stay the hard words Miss
Little was saying; they seemed like so many blows
from the hand I loved so well. I did not deserve
them all, but part of them I did, and therefore I could
not explain myself. The two, the reality and the
imaginary, had got so mixed in my memory I did not
know how to divide them. Half-truths are always
much more difficult to contradict than whole stories.

“That is all I wish to say,’ Miss Little added, after
a pause in which she was waiting for some remark
from me. “I may as well tell you, though, while I
am about it, that I can never love and trust you
again until you prove yourself worthy of it. And
now, since you are so much more interested in what
that spider is doing than in what I am saying, I am
going, so good-bye.”

She did not kiss me or come near me, but simply
left the room with these words.

I listened to her footsteps as she went down the
passage, and never moved. Oh how I longed to run
after her and beg her to hear me explain everything !
Explain! ah, that was. the worst of it. I had got it
all so entangled I could never make her understand
now; I should only make matters worse. I might
say I was sorry, but she would hardly believe me if
I did, and it would still leave her with the wrong
impression about that fatal day.
192 A TERRIBLE SCRAPE.

As soon as I was sure she had reached the hall, I
crept out of the room and along the passage to the
head of the stairs. There I knelt down and pressed
my face against the banisters. I knew I should not
see her, but I longed to hear her speak again before
she went, that I might not have nothing but those
clear, cold words to think of all through the holidays.
Presently she and Cousin Evelyn came into the hall.

“Then you will send my letter on by the next
post, dear, if it comes,’ Miss Little was saying. “I
am afraid to think it, but sometimes I fancy I shall
never hear again. J am so anxious for news, and it
never comes.”

“You shall have it by the very next post, I
promise,” Cousin Evelyn replied. “And you, dear,
must promise me to keep up heart and not be
nervous.”

They said good-bye—a loving good-bye I knew it
was between these two great friends—and a jealous
pang shot through my heart.

The carriage drove round; there was a sound of
boxes being moved; a door was slammed, and good-
byes mingled with the grating of wheels on the
gravel drive; then the hall door was closed, and all



. was still.

I knelt with my head against the cold iron railing,
the rebellious tears trickling down my cheeks and
over my nose in a vain endeavour to reach my chin
all at the same moment.
A TERRIBLE SCRAPE. 193

How long I was there I do not know, but presently
I heard Evelyn calling me. Slowly I got up from
the ground, and walked off deliberately in the opposite
direction to that from which the voice proceeded.

I was miserable, very miserable, and I asked my-
self why. The answer came glibly enough—

“Tt was all through THAT Cousin Evelyn.”

I was not at all inclined to go to her at that
moment. She found me in the playroom, however,
later on, and said kindly,—

“Come, Alison, you must cheer up. Remember
Jack will be here to-night.”

She never tried caressing or petting me now—she
had given that up in despair long ago; she did not
even expect me to kiss her when we bade each other
good-night or good-morning, for she hated pretence of
any sort, and she knew my kisses could only be that
to her.

I said nothing, but her words had the desired
effect. I did cheer up, for in my sorrow I had for-
gotten the other important event of the day.

I spent the rest of the afternoon in preparations
for my little brother, such as watering the rockery
and putting his old toy-box in order, so the time
passed quickly enough. Cousin Evelyn and I saw but
little of each other until the carriage once more drove
up to the door that evening and brought us Jack.

(969) 13
CHAPTER VI.

MISS LITTLE'S LETTER.

One angry moment often does
What we repent for years ;
It works the wrong we ne’er make right
By sorrow or by tears.”—EL1za Cook.
HE holidays were nearly over. Mother had been
home awhile, and Miss Little was to return in
a few days.

The weeks had gone only too fast, most of our time
being spent with the Grants in skating, sledging, and
hockey for outdoor games, and in hide-and-seek and
all the delightful things one can play in a good,
rambling, old-fashioned house such as the Court.

During the first part of the holidays we had nearly
lived up there; and Cousin Evelyn spent most of her
time at the Grange, taking care always to be at home ~
to receive us when we came in from any of our ex-
peditions. Though they were not so much together
as when she first came, Jack and she were the very
greatest friends still. He was, perhaps, just a trifle
condescending to her in his manner, on the strength
of his being a man of great experience, since for the
MISS LITTLE’S LETTER. 195

past thirteen weeks he had been leading a life of
which she could know comparatively nothing. But
she took it all in amused silence, suggested rather
than commanded a few little alterations in his man-
ners, and entered heartily into all his interests. Un-
doubtedly Cousin Evelyn “managed” Jack; but he
never knew it. He was a reasonable child, and she
took the trouble to explain everything to him before
correcting him in any way, so that, as a rule, he had
no need to question the sense of what she wished
done or left undone. This feeling of being taken
into the confidence of some one so much older than
himself was the very thing for the proud, high-spirited
little fellow. He was never snubbed or sat upon,
never ordered about, never suspected of doing any-
thing from a senseless motive, but was allowed to ex-
plain himself as if he had been a grown-up person
with as much right to his own opinion as Evelyn had
herself.

Jack’s treatment of me also was lordly indeed; for
not only was I a “ gurl,” but I was also a “ little gurl,”
so that I came in for a good deal of ordering about,
which I took meekly, always remembering how short
the holidays were, and that I should see little enough
of my brother always in future. Besides this, I had
never got over Miss Little’s parting words to me;
they depressed and humbled me whenever I thought
of them. Between Evelyn and myself there was a
coolness we neither of us tried to alter. She was
196 MISS LITTLE'S LETTER.

patient and gentle to me as ever; and with that last
scene in Miss Little’s room haunting me, I was not
likely to give my cousin any further cause for annoy-
ance intentionally, unless provoked to it. I certainly
did not like her any the better, but the constant com-
panionship of the Grants prevented our seeing much
of each other, and we consequently did not come to
open warfare till very nearly the end of Jack’s holi-
days. The trouble I then got into made up for all
the peace of the foregoing weeks in its intensity; for:
I forgot myself, my governess, and her warning words,
and in a blind fit of rage fulfilled her prophecy, and
saw myself in my true colours at one and the same
time.

I was frequently annoyed by the perfect under-
standing and sympathy which existed between my
brother and cousin, but I took it all in silence; and
when I felt injured, usually went off by myself for an
hour or so to recover my temper, and was always
further angered by the very apparent fact that no one
had missed me, or even noticed my absence, until I
returned myself to tell them I had been away. It
was humiliating; but remembering Miss Little, my
ill-humour found no other vent than absolute silence.

On this particular day that I write of, however,
I had been more than usually upset in my mind by
a speech Jack made at breakfast.

Mother and Evelyn were talking about something
quite different, when suddenly he exclaimed,—
MISS LITTLE'S LETTER. 197

“T say, Cousin Evelyn, do you remember when you
came? Well, mother said then you were to be our
elder sister. Now I think it rot to call one’s sister
‘cousin ;’ don’t you?”

“Tt does seem rather stupid, Jack,” Evelyn replied.
“When you come to think of it, it is absurd.”

“Well,” Jack went on, “I should like to drop it,
and say plain ‘ Evelyn’ if youd let me, you know;
only you mightn’t, you see.”

“T do see,” our cousin said, with a little laugh.
“And you may certainly call me ‘plain Evelyn, or
even ‘ugly Evelyn, if you would like it better than
‘cousin,’ ”

“ Now you are laughing at me,” Jack said gravely,
“so I don’t know what to do. You know I don’t mean
that at all. But the fellows all laugh when I talk
* about ‘Cousin Evelyn’ at school, and I think they
think you are old and ugly, or something.”

“ You don’t need to talk very much about me to
‘the fellows’ though, Jack, do you?” Evelyn asked,
for she was in a teasing mood; and he was always
funny when he began talking about school, so that she
often led him on to give his experiences and air his
opinions.

“Well, of course not,” he replied. “We don’t
generally talk about girls; but, you see, you write so
queerly I can’t make out what you say, so I generally
get a chap to read your letters to me. I used to ask
Harper; but he would tell the whole school what you
198 MISS LITTLE'S LETTER.

said. And one day he asked me if I had had any
news from my ‘frumpy cousin ;’ so I gave him a black
eye, and told him to go and read his own letters with
that.”

“ Jack !” exclaimed mother, in a very shocked tone,
“have you been fighting ?”

“Why, yes, mumsie darling, lots of boys,” Jack
said, as if surprised at such an unnecessary question.
“We always do; it keeps them in order. And
Harper is a bigger fellow than me, so it was all right.”

“Did he fight you back?” I inquired breathlessly,
for this pugnacious Jack was a new person to me.

“Rather not,” Jack explained contemptuously. “Why,
he is too big for that. He just spanked me and told
me not to be cheeky again, and then he gave me some
toffee his aunt sent him, that had got rather squashed
and mixed up with string and stuff in his pocket,
because he had got a new box sent him that day.”

“ But, Jack,” mother said, “ Evelyn really writes a
very good hand, not a queer one at all. Can you
not read mine either ?”

“No,” he said, flushing a little. “And, mother,
would you mind awfully not calling me darling in the
middle of your letters till I can read them for myself ?
I don’t mind if you can’t help it; but they call me
‘mother’s pet lamb’ and things when you do.”

Poor Jack! he had evidently had a good deal of
bullying to bear, and he had manfully fought for his
rights; but he could not help making these modest
MISS LITTLE'S LETTER. 199

requests, the granting of which would add greatly to
his comfort among his schoolfellows.

Mother rose from the table, and kissing Jack said,—

“Very well, my little son, I won't. But I make
it a bargain that you hurry up and learn to read our
letters for yourself; for it is not easy to remember
when you are so far away that one is writing, not to
one little boy, but to the whole school.”

As we left the room Evelyn said,—

“T was only chafing you, Jack dear. I would
really much rather you called me simply by my
Christian name. I have wished it ever since I came,
but I did not want to make you do anything you did
not like.”

“Thank you—Evelyn,” Jack said, with a red face
over the first attempt; and we went out into the
garden. :

The little agreement Jack and Evelyn had just
come to displeased me very much indeed, and I was
inclined to go off in a huff, when Jack noticed my
glum looks, and said,—

“Why, kiddy, what is the matter ?”

Now if there was one thing more than another I
disliked in my brother’s present treatment of me, it
was the names he called me, and of them all I think
I detested this particular one most. “ Youngster”
and “child” were bad enough, but there was some-
thing about “kiddy” which was very objectionable
to me.
200 MISS LITTLE’S LETTER.

“Tm not a kid,’ I said, with much dignity, and
then added (remembering one of my lessons with
Miss Little), “If I am a kid, mother is a goat; and
that’s rude.”

“You are a little crosspatch,” exclaimed Jack hotly.
“JT declare I shall be quite glad when Friday comes,
and I go back to sensible boys again. You quite spoil
a fellow’s holidays.”

The thought of his holidays being spoiled by me
touched me. The mention of Friday reminded me
of how soon I was to lose him. My ill-humour was
gone in a moment, and I wondered what I could do
to make up for my crossness. He was strolling away
with his hands in his pockets, kicking a stone before
him in a way which betokened how much he was put
out. I knew he was feeling dull, for he had nothing
to do till after lunch, when he would go to the Grants
without me by special invitation. He was to meet
the boys at a certain pond to skate with them; but
Elsie had an engagement that afternoon, so that I
was not asked.

It struck me I had better invent something quick
for Jack to do, or he would be going off without me;
and the time that we should now be together was be-
coming so very short I grudged his being out of my sight.

“Do you want to play, Jack ?” I asked timidly.

“ Oh, I don’t mind,” he replied. But he stood still,
and waited till I spoke again, so that I was encouraged
to go on.
MISS LITTLE'S LETTER. 201

Now just opposite our gates a large house was
being built. We had watched its growth with some
interest; but the recent frost had stopped the builders
just when there was nothing more to be done but the
putting on of the roof. We had a very good view of
the proceedings from the dining-room and morning-
room windows, at which mother but seldom sat, and
on this particular morning I believed her to be in her
sitting-room with Cousin Evelyn, not having known
that Uncle Archie had called, and that he and mother
were in the dining-room.

A brilliant idea came into my head.

“Jack!” I cried excitedly, “I have a grand plan.
Let’s go over to the house opposite, and pretend we
are Alpine climbers, like the people in my reading-
book, you know.”

“Not half bad for you,” drawled Jack condescend-
ingly, for he felt it would not be dignified after his
scolding to be too interested in anything I might
suggest for a while.

But once in the thick of the game, and he forgot
to be grown up, and was my boy of the old times;
and I too forgot my woes, and became the happy,
careless little tomboy I always had been before we
ever heard of Cousin Evelyn.

The front of the house it was impossible to scale,
so we went to the back, where we found a ladder to
help us on to the scaffolding, after which we had
no difficulty in climbing up planks and poles, Jack
202 MISS LITTLE'S LETTER.

always leading the way. It was grand fun. There
was no one about, and we kept well to the back of the
house at first, for it was easier. But a spirit of reck-
legsness entered Jack at last, and nothing would con-
tent him but to climb up to the very top, and crawl
round on the edge of the wall which was only waiting
for the roof to be placed upon it. I of course agreed,
and up we scrambled, reaching the top in safety.
Then slowly and on all fours—Jack still going first
—we worked our way round to the other side. The
house was very high, the wall very narrow; one false
step, and on whichever side we fell we must have been
killed. But we did not think of that; we were too
much taken up with the game. We sat down at last,
just over the centre window, dangling our legs over
the edge to take a rest.

Suddenly we saw our uncle come striding out of the
house in great haste, and we wondered what could be
the matter.

A moment later out came mother, leaning on Evelyn’s
arm; and then we understood, and for the first time
it struck us that we ought not to be there. Mother
had seen us, and she was frightened. We had never
thought of the danger before; but all of a sudden,
when I thought of going down again, my head began
to swim, and I felt that I should not be able to stir.

“Get up!” said Jack hurriedly. “We must go
down, because if mother is frightened it will kill her.”

“T can’t, Jack,” I said piteously, “ I’m so giddy.”
MISS LITTLE'S LETTER. 203

“Q you stupid,” he exclaimed, in real distress for
mother’s sake, and he had a steadier head than I,
“you must!”

But at that moment Uncle Archie looked up and
shouted,—

“Sit still; don’t either of you dare to move until I
come to you.”

We obeyed in silence after Jack’s one exclamation,—

“We are in for it now, and no mistake.”

It seemed a long time before Uncle Archie reached
us, and I felt sick and unsteady as I realized more and
more how high up we were. It is so easy to climb
up and up one seldom thinks about the getting down
again.

At last, after what seemed a long, long time, Uncle
Archie reached us, and bidding Jack in a very stern
voice sit where he was, carried me slowly down; for
it was an even more difficult matter than I had thought
it, especially with a child in his arms. When I was
safely deposited on the ground, our uncle climbed up
again for Jack ; and I went to mother, who looked as
white as a sheet. «

“Come in, dear,” Evelyn was saying to her; “Jack
is quite safe now.”

“No,” said mother; “I must wait till he is really
out of danger.”

So we stood and watched. It looked a terrible
height from below, and there was good reason to be
nervous. ;
204. MISS LITTLE'S LETTER.

But soon Uncle Archie and Jack were safely on the
ground, and then a very odd thing happened—mother
fainted !

“The strain was too much for her,” our uncle said.
Then turning to Jack, he added severely,—

“ Go to your room, sir, and stay there until you are
told you may come out. I hope you are well ashamed
of yourself.”

Without a word Jack obeyed. I stayed by mother,
anxious to see her recover. There is something very
terrifying in seeing people faint, and a fear that she
might not come out of it chained me to the spot.
But Jenkyns soon appeared, and Evelyn with her
help brought mother round. I followed them into
the drawing-room, and stayed there awhile in the
background to make quite sure all was well. But
when mother was again talking like herself, I left the
room and rushed upstairs to Jack. Evelyn, guessing
my intention, ran up by a shorter way, and met me
at his door.

“ Where are you going, Alison?” she asked quietly.

“To Jack,” I said.

“Then you must not,” she replied, in the same even
tones. “Jack was sent to his room as a punishment,
and no one must go to him.”

“But I must!” I said decidedly, for that Jack
should be condemned to his room while I might go
_ where I chose was too unheard-of a thing altogether.
We had always in the old days been punished to-
MISS LITTLE'S LETTER. 205

gether, and I resolved to perpetuate the custom by
going in and sitting with him until he was released.

“But I say you must not,” said Evelyn, placing
herself before the door, for I had tried to enter in
spite of her words, “and therefore you will not.”

“ But I shall!” I repeated angrily, anid tried to force
my way past her.

“Qh, very well,” my cousin said, still in the same
quiet way, and turning her face to the door for one
instant first she moved out of my way.

Triumphant at having, as I fancied, got my own
way, I took hold of the handle and turned it; but
the door did not open. It was locked, and Cousin
Evelyn had taken the key away with her to her own
room.

I was too angry to move or to speak at first. Then
I found my voice, and from between my teeth I
hissed out the one word,—

“ SNEAK !”

Then I told Jack through the ete what had
happened, in response to which he made the flattering
remark,—

“ Well, you were a little donkey.”

I felt very crushed, and sat down penitently on the
mat at his door; penitent only for getting him locked
in, not for my behaviour to my cousin. I wished I
had been ruder to her.

I tried to make up for my folly by talking to
him through the keyhole; but he preserved a dogged
206 MISS LITTLE'S LETTER.

silence all through. Once he exclaimed gruffly, “ Oh,
do go away!” but I still persevered in my attempts
to prevent his feeling dull.

It is very difficult to keep up an interesting con-
versation all by oneself, and in despair I had presently
to give it up. I began to wonder in what other way
I could help him. I felt he must be very angry with
me when he would not speak a word. I thought hard.

Suddenly an idea came into my head. Perhaps he
meant to have escaped had I not been so stupid and
caused him to be locked in.

“That must be it,’ I told myself. Probably he
was afraid now he would not be allowed to go to the
Grants, and but for me he would have been able to
slip off after lunch. I felt sure he never meant to
stay ; for to have to explain to those two boys why
he did not turn up for skating, as he had promised
faithfully to do, would be very galling to the little
lad’s proud spirit.

Oh, I had been silly—he was quite right—and the
only thing left for‘me to do was to help him to escape
as fast as ever I could. So I set my active brain to
work. Here was a chance to distinguish myself, and
win back his respect for my bright ideas.

I thought of suggesting that he should tear up his
sheets and make a long rope of them by which ‘he
could let himself down out of the window; and I
pondered over how I could get a ladder and put it
against the wall. But just at that moment Cousin
MISS LITTLE'S LETTER. 207

Evelyn leaving her room jogged my memory. She
had no pocket in the dress she was wearing; I had
heard her say so only that morning. Her words came
back clearly to me-—

“T must rout out a bit of stuff,’ she had said at
breakfast to mother, “and make a pocket for this
dress of mine. This is the second time Miss Smith
has forgotten to put one in, and it is so tiresome. I
cannot even carry a handkerchief about with me.”

Then she could not carry the key; it must be some-
where in her bedroom. No sooner was this thought
of than I set off to look. Whatever happened, Jack
must be released, and with this object in view I would
have dared to do anything.

I boldly entered my cousin’s room as soon as the
sound of her footsteps had died away down the stairs,
and promptly began the search. I looked in all the
most difficult and impossible places in the room, but
in vain; the key was nowhere to be seen. I was
beginning to make up my mind that after all Evelyn
must have taken it downstairs with her, and that I
must. go back to Jack and think of some other plan
for his release as quickly as possible, when I heard
voices outside the door. -

“All right, Susan,” Cousin Evelyn was saying.
“ Just come up here, and I will give you the letter.
But tell James to be sure and post it as soon as he
gets into the town, for it is very important, and must
not be lost.”
208 MISS LITTLE'S LETTER.

I rushed into her sitting-room, forgetting that there
was no other way out of it but that by which I had
entered, just as she came into the bedroom. Even if
there had been -time there was no place to hide in,
and discovery was certain. So, with my face to the
door, I leaned against the wall, and stood awaiting
my fate.

“ Alison!” Evelyn exclaimed, coming to a standstill
on the threshold as she caught sight of me, “you
here !”

I did not speak. I did not know then what was
in her mind when next she spoke, but her voice
changed from astonishment to very gentle persuasion
as she said,—

“What is it, dear? what did you come to tell me?”

“ Nothing,” I replied shortly.

She must have hoped for a very different answer,
for she looked so disappointed as I snapped out that
one word.

“Then why are you here? What did you come
into my room for?” she asked.

“To get the key,” I replied, without a moment’s
hesitation ; for we were truthful children, and excuses
did not come readily to us.

“Then you may go away again,” my cousin said
quietly.

Her quietness when she was vexed always aggra-
vated me greatly. I wished she would lose her
temper, as most people do.


MISS LITTLE'S LETTER. 209

“T won't go away,” I answered hotly—* not until
you give me the key.”

“Then you will have to stay here all day, for I
have no intention of giving it to you,’ Evelyn said
steadily ; and she crossed to a table near me and lifted
the key, which was lying quite unhidden on some
books. I had never thought of looking anywhere
but in very difficult places, and this angered me still
further to think how stupid I had been.

“ But I won't!” I stormed. “And you must give
it me. It is not your business to punish Jack, and
you shan’t!”

“ Alison,” she said, in her éven tones, “ you quite
forget yourself. Leave my room at once.”

“ Let Jack out!” I said, determined to have my own
way, and too angry to see that it was hopeless work
to argue with Evelyn.

“Leave my room,” Evelyn repeated, “ or I shall be
obliged to fetch Aunt Maisie.”

“ Sneak and tell-tale,’ I muttered, as she went into
the other room as if to carry out her threat.

All my intense dislike to her welled up in my
heart, and the remembrance of everything she had
ever done at which I had taken offence came to me,
but especially the incident of the broken doll, when
she had, as I imagined, broken her word to mother,
and told tales of me to Miss Little. I felt she was
getting the mastery over me now, and in a blind

passion I sought for something that I could do to pay
(969) 14
210 MISS LITTLE'S LETTER.

her out before I left her room. My eyes travelled
quickly round, and fell at last upon a letter lying
sealed and addressed close to me on the writing-table.
It was the letter she was specially sending James into
the nearest town to post. Well, she could write an- .
other one, I thought, as I seized it and flung it right
into the hottest part. of the fire. It was the work
of but a moment. I hardly knew what I was doing
until I found myself standing by the fender, the fire
burning with unusual brightness, and the black, burnt
paper of the letter lying in its midst.

“Your letter, please, miss,” said Susan’s voice in
the outer room.

“Oh yes, here it is,” said Evelyn, coming back into
the sitting-room.

There was silence for a moment, broken only by
my cousin’s search through her papers as she looked
for the missing envelope.

(822

“How very strange!” she said at last, looking
round the room in a bewildered way; “I was so
certain I left it just on the top of my blotter. How
tiresome! for it will miss the post if I don’t find it
soon. J wonder where I can have put it?”

She stood quite still, trying to recollect what she
had done with it, and then her eyes fell on me.

Something in my face and attitude roused her sus-
picions.

“Do you know where it is, Alison?” she asked.

I made no answer, but stood looking stupidly into
MISS LITTLE'S LETTER. 211

the fire, twisting and twirling my pinafore through
my fingers.

“You do know!” my. cousin exclaimed with con-
viction, for my manner betrayed me. “Give it to
me at once, for I do not want it to miss this post.”

Still no answer; still I gazed into the fire, and
Cousin Evelyn’s eyes followed mine at last.

In a moment she realized it all: the paper, now
turned white in the heat, told its own tale.

“ Alison!” she eried, and the sound of her voice
rings in my head still when I go over that awful
scene again—“ Alison, what have you done?”

She laid her hand heavily upon my shoulder, and
I had no choice but to look up into her face. I shall
never forget the expression of misery and anguish
that I saw written there then. She was as white as
a sheet, and her eyes flashed with anger and dismay.

For one moment she held me thus, and I thought
she was going to strike me; but if she was inclined
to do so, she controlled herself, and pushed me away
from her so suddenly that I reeled back against the
opposite wall.

“What had I done indeed?” I asked myself, to
have such a terrible effect upon my usually gentle
cousin.

Susan ran towards Evelyn with a cry.

“QO miss,” she cried, “are you feeling faint ?”

Well might she ask, for the girl looked awful.

“No, no, Susan,” Cousin Evelyn said, in a queer,
212 MISS LITTLE'S LETTER.

strained voice, just as if she were forcing herself to
speak ; “thank you, I am quite well.” And she passed
her hand over her forehead as if she were dazed, then
added slowly, “You can go. James need not ride to
Norton for the early post; there are no letters to go.”

Susan went.

I stood still, uncertain what to do.

“ And you too, Alison,” Evelyn said. “Go!”

I went gladly, terrified now at what I had done,
though I could not understand why it was so awful.

As I left the room something fell from Evelyn’s
hand. I knew from the sound that it was the key of
Jack’s room.

Once outside in the passage and I felt less fright-
ened.

“ After all,” I thought, “what a fuss to make!
Why didn’t she write another one?”

And in spite of all this commotion, of which I was
the cause, I had done no good to Jack—he was still
a prisoner.

That he should be free was my one aim and object,
and to win a little praise from him I felt I could face
anything.

The key was on the floor in Evelyn’s sitting-room.
Perhaps I could get it now that her mind was so
much taken up with the burnt letter. It was at any
rate worth a trial, since I had braved so much already
for his sake. So I crept back through the bedroom
and peeped into the inner room.
MISS LITTLE'S LETTER. 213

There, with her back towards me, knelt Evelyn,
her face buried in her arms as they rested on the
writing-table. She was so absolutely still I felt
frightened again; whether she had fainted or was
crying I could not tell. But the key lay close to
me. I had only to kneel quietly down, and lying at
full length stretch out my hand, and it would be
mine. This I did, very cautiously indeed. Evelyn
never moved, and with my prize safely in my hand
I stood up again, turned, and went out into the pas-
sage. JI drew a long sigh of relief, for I was very
scared in the room with that silent, kneeling figure.
It was not so much the fear of being discovered—in
fact I should have been afraid no longer had she
turned and spoken to me—but the awful stillness was
very appalling to me, and I felt happier outside.

But all the uncomfortable feelings went when I
remembered that I had really got the key of Jack’s
room; and now that I had leisure to think, I began
to fancy I had done something very clever in getting
it. So I bore it off in triumph to the next door,
unlocked it, and flinging it wide open marched in
with a great air.

“Now,” I thought, “he won’t call me a little donkey,
and perhaps he will love me again.”

He was sitting on the edge of his bed chewing a
bit of string, which hung out of his mouth at both
sides.. I think he must have been sitting like that
ever since he was sent upstairs.
214 MISS LITTLE’S LETTER.

“ Well?” was his welcome to me.

It did not sound very inviting, or much as if he
wanted me; however, it seemed to be a question, so I
said cheerfully,—

“T’ve come to let you out.”

“Who told you to?” asked Jack grufily.

“No one,” I replied.

“Then you can go away again,” he said shortly,
and as if he meant it.

“O Jack!” I exclaimed, in genuine surprise, “and
I did take such a lot of trouble to get the key.”

Jack’s curiosity was aroused, and he asked,—

“What trouble did you take ?”

I was very ready to give a detailed account of my
adventures of the last few minutes, and proceeded to
do so with some pride.

Jack listened gravely.

“And when I went back,” I ended by saying,
imitating the attitude as I spoke, “Cousin Evelyn
was kneeling so, and I crept in and took the key
off the floor ; but she never moved.”

There was a pause of about three seconds, during
which I awaited Jack’s enthusiastic gratitude and
thanks; then he said, in a clear, decided tone,—

“Then I think you are the horridest, meanest little
sneak I ever heard of, and if you were a boy I would
fight you for it!”

I was dumb with surprise. Daring it might be,
naughty it certainly was, but “horrid” and “mean”
MISS LITTLE'S LETTER. 215

were such terrible words, and that Jack should think
this of me was really awful. It may seem strange,
but it had never occurred to me that I was doing a
dishonourable thing in trying to get the key, so fully
persuaded was I that Evelyn had no right to punish
Jack at all. I had not considered the deceit and
meanness of creeping into her room to steal the key ; .
I only felt I was doing something brave, because diffi-
cult, for Jack’s sake, just as in fairy tales handsome
princes and beautiful princesses were always rescued
by their friends when they were cruelly and unjustly
imprisoned.

And it was for this I had ventured so much! My
efforts, which had seemed until then crowned with
success, were met with scorn and hard words, which
put my proceedings into quite a different light, and
made me feel small and crushed. But I tried to
stand up for myself.

“O Jack!” I cried, “it is you that are horrid and
mean, I think, when I did it all for you.”

“For me?” Jack inquired; “whatever good did it
do to me?” :

“Why,” I said reproachfully, “I thought you were
cross with me for getting you locked in when you
wanted to escape and go to the Grants, so I wanted
to let you out.”

“Me escape!” Jack cried, with intense scorn. “ What
do you think I’m afraid of? I tell you what it is,
Alison,” he went on—“ it just isn’t that at all. It’s
216 MISS LITTLE'S LETTER.

just nothing but mean spite, because you don’t like |
Evelyn. Why do you hate her so?”

“ Because,” I cried passionately, glad of an excuse
to let out my pent-up feelings at last—* because she
hates me, and she sets every one against me—you,
and mother, and Miss Little, and all. That’s what she
came here for, and I hate her!”

Jack was silent. He seemed almost startled by
my outbreak, and he was thinking.

“What put that into your head?” he asked, after
a moment or two; “what first put that about her
coming here for that into your head ?”

Evidently he had something on his mind, for he
spoke eagerly; and when I did not answer he added,—

“ Alison, was it our vow ?”

I nodded assent, and then said in a low voice,—

“You said all those things, and you did promise ;
and when she came you wouldn't keep it, and that
made it worse.”

“And you never would have thought it without
me, honest Injun?” Jack inquired earnestly.

“No, Jack, never!” I replied. And it was the
truth: I never should have done so.

“Then it is all my fault,’ Jack cried, “every bit
my fault. Oh, I was a silly and a baby! What ever
will Evelyn think of me now ?”

And my brave little brother buried his face in the
pillows and began to cry in a broken-hearted way
which frightened me. I suppose he really had been
MISS LITTLE'S LETTER. 217

very much upset by mother’s fainting, in the first
place, and then the humiliation of being sent to his
room was very great, so that all these things com-
bined were too much for him, and he broke down
completely. It was such a rare thing, however, to
see Jack sobbing like this that I did not know what
to do, and I was positively relieved to see Evelyn
come into the room, and going over to the little pros-
trate figure put her arms about it, and draw the curly
head close to her so that it rested against her shoulder.

“What should I think of you, laddie,” she asked
gently, as she bent and kissed his forehead—“ what
should I think of you to make you so unhappy ?”

“OQ Evelyn,” Jack sobbed out, “it’s all my fault.
You mustn’t be cross with poor Alison, she was such
a little, little gurl, and she always did what I told
her before you came. And I said she was to be
naughty; and when you did come you were such a
nice gurl I couldn’t keep my vow. But Alison did
hers, because—because she never forgets things like
Ido. Im bigger, you see.”

Cousin Evelyn let him talk on, though she had not
the least idea what he meant; and it was only bit by
bit that she learned the story of our vow, and of our
resolution to send her away if ever she should come
to live with us.

It appeared from what Jack said that he had torn
up his copy of the vow before he went to school as
something too babyish to be taken into the new life,
218 MISS LITTLE'S LETTER.

and that he had long ago left off the bit of string he
wore to remind him of the compact. He hoped I
would forget all about it, but he had said nothing to
me for fear of a scene, in which I might make myself
very disagreeable.

I crept away, and left these two together, with that
bitter feeling in my heart again that I was not wanted
by any one; and as Jack went to the Grants after all
with Evelyn’s permission, | was left alone to think
over my grievances.

I wondered, amongst other things, how I should be
punished for destroying Evelyn’s letter; but with a
sore heart I tossed my head and said several times,
as if I wanted to impress it upon my own mind,—

“T don’t care—I don’t care one little bit.”

Was there ever a truer saying than “Don’t care
was made to care”? I think not, and it was strongly
proved to me later on in a lesson I am not likely to
forget.

Much as I longed for bed that night, when I got
there I could not go to sleep. I lay for a long time
in the dark, and then lighted my candle and tried to
read a story. I heard Evelyn come up to bed, and
along time afterwards there came a sound from her
room which disturbed me very much. Low and
stifled as it was, I recognized it as that of weeping,
for through the thin walls the slightest noise was
very distinctly heard.

I sat up in bed and listened, and I grew really
MISS LITTLE'S LETTER. 219

alarmed when it went on and on. Then I put my
head to the wall, and I could hear very clearly the
long, deep-drawn sobs, which could neither be con-
trolled nor quieted.

In reality I was a very tender-hearted child, and
to feel that I had caused any one such real sorrow as
this made me too miserable for words. I could not
stay still and listen to them, and I determined that,
little as I might be welcomed, I must go into Evelyn’s
room and try to comfort her in some way.

I opened my door softly and peered out into the
passage; but I got no further, for by the light of a
lamp which burned all night out there I saw another
little white-robed figure standing at Evelyn’s door,
and it was Jack.

He neither heard nor saw me, so busy was he
trying to poke something under the door into the
room ; a bit of paper I guessed, as I stepped back and
got deliberately into bed again. Then he too had
heard the sound, and in his queer little way he was
trying to comfort her.

My good feelings all went to the winds, and my
heart grew hard again as I thought how much Jack
cared about Evelyn’s being unhappy.

The sobs had ceased, so my heart was not touched
by that any more.

“What a baby she was to cry!” I argued to myself.
“Why, it was only a letter, and she could write lots
more if she wanted to.”
220 MISS LITTLE'S LETTER.

So my pity was gone, and with it my good in-
tentions.

Next morning as I went down to prayers I noticed
a little bit of paper, which I picked up and examined.
On it, in a clear round hand, I read—

“Oh please, Evelyn, don’t cry, there is a brick. I
am so awfuly sory, and I can’t bare it—BJack.”

So this was what my little brother was trying to
push under the door! But it had never been seen, and
Betty’s skirts must have brushed it out into the pas-
sage when she went in with the hot water.

I crumpled the note up tight in my hand and
threw it from me with all my might into a far corner.
Jack never wrote letters to me when I cried, I thought
bitterly, and went sullenly downstairs.

Mother was not down, as it was one of her bad
days, and Evelyn was very silent during breakfast.
Even Jack was subdued, for our cousin’s white, grave
face filled him with awe, and he did not know what
to talk about.

I was to have a lonely day again, as Jack was going
out with the Grants, and Elsie was going away for
the last week of her holidays to stay with some
friends.

As soon as breakfast was over I meant to disappear ;
but as I was leaving the room Evelyn laid a detaining
hand on my shoulder, and said,—

“T want to speak to you alone for a few minutes,
Alison ; come into the morning-room with me.”


MISS LITTLE’S LETTER. 221

Jack, who was marching out at the door, stood still,
and turning round looked solemnly at Evelyn.

“Tf you are going to scold Alison, mayn’t I come
too?” he asked. “You see it was me that made up
the silly vow, and she only did ag she was told
about it.”

It was so like the Jack of old days to stand by me
when I was in real trouble I could have hugged him ;
but I remembered in time that he would not like that
at all, and stood awaiting Evelyn’s reply.

“Tam not going to speak to Alison about the vow
at all, Jack dear,’ she said gently; and I know she
appreciated his bravery in wishing to protect me. “I
want to speak to her about something else, and I
would rather you went and played, if you don’t
mind.”

Jack hesitated; then he went up to Evelyn, and
standing on tip-toe he said, in what he imagined to
be a whisper,—

“Tf you will promise not to be very cross to her, I
won't come.”

Evelyn stooped, and kissed his eager little face.

“TI promise, Jack,” she said earnestly; and he ran
out of the room.

Now all this made me feel very frightened. It
seemed to me that something dreadful must be going
to happen, and I followed my cousin to the morning-
room, and with a sinking heart sat down, as she bade me.

“T have been thinking over your behaviour of
222 MISS LITTLE'S LETTER.

yesterday,” she began, “and I have decided to say
nothing about it to Aunt Maisie; she is too unwell
to be troubled just now. I shall tell no one but
Miss Little.”

“Miss Little!” I cried, springing to my feet in a
frenzy, for that was just the one thing of all others I
dreaded most; the thought of what Miss Little would
say had haunted me ever since the angry passion left
me, giving me time to think soberly over what I had
done. I had been longing for yet dreading her
return so terribly for the last week. But that was
when I had done nothing to merit her displeasure ;
and now I felt as if I could not meet her if she were
told this deliberate piece of mischief, for which I had
no excuse. In the night I had resolved that I would
beg Cousin Evelyn not to tell her, whoever else might
hear about it; I meant to set aside my pride and
dislike, and humbly pray her to keep it secret from
my governess. And now she told me that that was
the one and only person who was to be told!

“Yes, Miss Little,” Evelyn repeated.

“OQ Cousin Evelyn,” I cried, clasping my hands in
my distress and going down on my knees, “not Miss
Little; don’t tell Miss Little, please, please! I don’t
mind any one but her: if you tell her, she will never
love me any more nor trust me. I can’t bear it if
you do.”

And the scene on the day Miss Little left came
clearly into my mind.
MISS LITTLE'S LETTER. 228

“ Unfortunately,” my cousin said sadly, “ Miss Little
is just the one person in the world who must know,
for it was a letter to her that you destroyed.”

“Oh, then,” I said eagerly, jumping up and stand-
ing quite close to Evelyn, “write her another instead,
please do; you can if you will” Then as she shook
her head gravely, I burst out, “Oh, you are cruel, you
are cruel, or you would. It would do just as well as
that other, and she would never know. See,’ I went
on, in a frenzy of excitement, as I saw no signs of
relenting in Evelyn’s face, “I promise I won’t do ‘it
again. I will promise you anything in the world if
only you won’t tell her.”

“T am very, very sorry, Alison,” she replied, “but I
cannot do as you ask. Not even a hundred letters
from me could make up for the one you burned. I
wish they would, and I would spend all my time
writing them.”

I looked at Evelyn in dismay, for there was a
quiver in her voice and tears were in her eyes as she ©
spoke. Still I could not understand, and I made one
more attempt to alter her decision.

& Cousin Evelyn,” I said, in a low tone, but hardly
realizing in my distress what words I used, “you
hate me, and you want to set everybody against me.
You won't give me a chance to be good—never; and
I shall run away for ever, and not come back any
more, for I can’t—not if you tell Miss Little.”

The threat was a babyish one, the speech very
224, MISS LITTLE'S LETTER.

foolish, and any one but Evelyn would either have
laughed at me or scolded me well for it, and pun-
ished me.

Instead, she took my hands in hers, holding them
fast, so that I knew it was no good to struggle, and
looking gravely into my eyes said,—

“ Alison, you know. that what you have just said
is not true. I do not hate you, for I never hated
any one in my life. It is not likely I should begin
with my own little cousin. That you do not like me
I know only too well; and I cannot tell you how it
grieves me, for I don’t know what I have done to
cause your dislike, or how I can alter it. We will
not talk about that, however, for it will not mend
matters; but listen to me, and I will tell you why
Miss Little must know—then you will see and under-
stand for yourself.”

I stood quite still, looking into Evelyn’s eyes, and
she went on,

“Miss Little has a very great friend away in a far
country where a terrible war is going on, and he is
in the very midst of it all, for he is a soldier. It was
terrible to her to say good-bye to him and let him go;
but they promised to write often to each other, and
when first he left England it was easy enough. But
the country he has gone to is a very wild one, and it
was difficult to send letters from some parts of it; so
that Miss Little heard seldomer and seldomer, and
then for months she never heard from her friend at


MISS LITTLE’S LETTER. 225

all. She went on writing all the same, and waiting
patiently for an answer; but none came, and only
from the newspapers could she learn anything about
the fighting. Before she went away she made me
promise if a letter came I would send it on to her,
and at last, yesterday only, it came, and I told James
to ride into Norton to catch the early post. But I left
it on my table until it was time for him to start, lest
anything should happen to it. And that, Alison, was
the letter you burned in your passion; it was that
precious letter for which Miss Little has watched and
waited all these months. And now she can never know
what was in it; she might even never hear again, for
the fighting is still going on. If I could have helped
it, I would not have told. you all this sad story. Miss
Little has bravely kept it to herself all this time,
‘trying to be bright for the sake of other people; but
after what you did yesterday you must hear it, to
enable you to understand why I cannot do as you
ask me—why it is that I must tell Miss Little.”

I stood quite still. I could neither think nor move,
and Evelyn watched me with pity in her beautiful
eyes—yes, real pity for the naughty little girl who
had given her nothing but trouble ever since she
came.

Oh, how true, how terribly true, Miss Little’s pro-
pheey had come! Her parting words rang in my
head again as I stood, stunned and miserable, trying

to grasp the full meaning of my cousin’s story,—
(969) 15
226 MISS LITTLE'S LETTER.

“Some day, in your anxiety to vent your spite on
others whom you dislike, you will do something
which will hurt yourself far more than it does them.
That is what always happens to those who will not
control their tempers.”

To spite my cousin I had done this; but grieved as
she was by the pain caused to her friend, could her
suffering be one half as bad as mine, who had done
this awful thing to my own dear Miss Little ?

This was what my jealousy had led me to; this
was the end of all my notions about being misunder-
stood and ill-used! I saw myself in my true colours
at last ; I knew myself to be a naughty, spiteful child,
unworthy to be loved by any one, and I despised
myself.

Evelyn waited patiently for me to speak, still
holding my hands, and I made no attempt to free
myself. I wondered she could bear to touch me,
except to strike me; child as I was I could not but
wonder at her gentleness, even at that moment.

At last I said, in a low, shaking voice,—

“When does she come back ?”

“To-morrow,” Evelyn said; “Aunt Maisie heard
from her to-day.”

“Oh!” I gasped miserably, for this was terribly
soon. Then I added, “ Please can I go now?” for I
felt I could stand there no longer.

My cousin nodded and let me go; but when I got
to the door I turned and spoke again.


MISS LITTLE'S LETTER. 207

“Cousin Evelyn,” I said hesitatingly, “aren’t you
going to punish me?”

I must have looked a very forlorn little creature,
utterly crushed and frightened at that moment; and
in spite of her anger for the sake of her dear friend,
Evelyn was touched. She came quickly over to me,
and taking me in her arms she kissed me gently.

“No, Alison, my poor little girl,” she said; “you
are punished enough already. I only wish I could
help you to bear it, or save you all this pain.”

But I pushed her away from me roughly and left
the room. She must have thought it another proof
of my unkind dislike; but the truth was I could not
bear her goodness to me. I only craved to be alone,
to think about “ TO-MORROW.”
. CHAPTER VII.

“WHERE IS EVELYN?”

“*O my children,
Love is sunshine, hate is shadow.”
Lone¢FELLow.

T came all too soon for me. In spite of the fact

that I could settle to nothing, but simply roamed

aimlessly about the house all day, after Evelyn’s words

to me—in spite of the restless night that followed—

“to-morrow ” came, dawning bright and clear, quicker,

it seemed to me, than any one day had ever come
after another.

I kept well out of Evelyn’s way all morning, for
the pity in her eyes and her gentleness to me hurt
me, though why I could not have explained.

So the hours rushed on, and nothing came, as I
went on secretly hoping it would, to alter the usual
course of things. I felt as if I would welcome an
earthquake, if nothing else would serve; and I thought
it would be better to die than to have to face Miss
Little after what I had done.

“What will she say tome?” I kept asking myself
until my head ached; and over and over again I
‘““WHERE IS EVELYN 2” 229

prayed, with infinite belief that if only God would
hear me something might yet come to bring the
week to a close without this terrible Thursday even-
ing in it.

How little I guessed that my wish would be
granted, and that for me at least there would be no
meeting with my governess that day, nor for many a
one to come!

It was by the meal-times that I measured the pace
the hours were going, and when tea appeared on the
table I could not touch it, I was in such a state of
nervousness and misery; for that was five o'clock, and
Miss Little would be with us by seven.

Immediately after it I disappeared, resolved, since
not even a telegram had come to postpone the arrival,
to carry out a plan which had been growing in my
brain all day. I had set it aside over and over again;
but now that the time was so near, I felt I dared
not meet Miss Little: so I determined that I would
hide somewhere for the night, and starting early in
the morning, before any one was up, would run away
from home for ever. I had no plan as to where I
would go, beyond a vague idea of getting to the sea,
and when I was safely across it sending a penitent
letter home to mother to say why I had left them.
I would not leave before daylight, for I had a nerv-
ous horror of being out among the dark shadows of
the trees and bushes at night.

I chose as my hiding-place an old disused stable—
230 ‘(WHERE IS EVELYN?”

unused, I mean, as a stable for horses, but in winter
always stored with hay. There were two ways into
it—one from the yard, the other by means of a ladder
and trap-door at the end of the passage in which my
bedroom was, for it was built against the wall of the
house. I decided that I would go in from the yard,
and for this purpose, after dressing myself in my out-
door things, I crept out of the house unseen, and
reached my new bedroom in safety. I took nothing
with me but a box of matches and a candle-end, lest I
should be frightened in the dark; and it was very
gloomy, I found, when I closed the door behind me
and crept up the ladder into the loft. I had a great
dislike to spiders, so at first I sat down in the middle
of the hay, right away from the walls. But pre-
sently I began to find this stuffy, so I groped my
way back to the hole I had come up through, and
settlng down once more I began to think. They
were only the same old thoughts which haunted me
incessantly, but now very differently from any way
they had come to me before. It seemed to me every-
thing had got twisted round in a most perplexing
muddle; for, to begin with, I was looking upon my
behaviour of the last few months from quite another
side of the question. Until yesterday I had thought
of myself as an ill-used, misunderstood little girl;
and Evelyn appeared as a designing, interfering
person, who had no business to be in my home.
Suddenly the picture reversed itself: I saw myself
“WHERE IS EVELYN?” 231

as wicked, disobedient, and what Miss Little would
have called “dishonest.” My cousin, on the other
hand, seemed to have been the ill-treated and misunder-
stood one of the two, and I now sat wondering in
blank amazement how I could have dared to treat her
as I had done. JI remembered all the times she had
tried to win my love, all the little caresses I had tried
to evade, and every rude thing I had ever said to
her ; and against that I set her never-varying patience
with me, her never-failing care of me, even when I
was at my worst, and my pride was crushed, and
the naughty, self-satisfied spirit within me broken
for ever.

I tried hard to fight this down, and be my old,
confident self again, but in vain. I told myself Evelyn
was meddling, and Aunt Margaret’s spy, and I thought
of the story of the melted doll, and the promise to
mother which I believed Evelyn had broken; but it
made no difference. JI found no excuse for my own
part of the proceedings; I gleaned no comfort from
the remembrance. And in my desolation and loneli-
ness I craved the sympathy of my beautiful cousin
more than anything in the world—that pity which
I had seen shining in her eyes, but which I was too
ashamed of myself to accept. She was the only
person in the house to whom I could then have
turned; but the knowledge of how I had always met
her advances before had sealed her lips, lest I should
only rebuff her again, and add to my naughtiness
939 “WHERE IS EVELYN?”

thereby. So I hid away from the kindness which
I knew I did not deserve, as much as from my
governess.

I was thinking like this, when the sound of a
voice shouting, “ Alison! Alison!” reached me clearly
from the house. I knew they were calling for me in
the passage near my room. At the same time I heard
the carriage drive into the yard, so that I knew Miss
Little must have arrived, and they were looking for
me to come and speak to her.

I trembled from head to foot. “What if they
should find me?” I thought. If Jack had returned
from the Grants, where he had been all day, and
there were to be a hunt for me, he would be sure
to think of this place in time, because it used to be
a very favourite spot of ours for hide-and-seek. So I
crouched down, hiding myself as best I could, until
the voice died away in the distance, and all was quiet
again.

Then it was so dark and still that I grew frightened
of I don’t know what, and I remembered the candle-
end and matches in my pocket.

I carefully cleared away the hay from the edge of
the hole down into the stable, and here I set the
candle and lighted it. This spark of brightness in
the great gloom cheered me a little, and I lay back
in the bed I had made myself and watched the
flickering wick. I was very tired, for I do not

suppose I had been still for five minutes all day
“WHERE IS EVELYN?” 233

before coming into the loft, and in a short time I was

fast asleep.

It seemed only a few minutes later, but in reality
it must have been about two hours after I closed my
eyes, that I awoke with a most awful sensation of
being choked. When I opened my eyes I had to
close them at once, for something made them smart
dreadfully ; but I tried again, and made myself bear
the pain, as I felt I must find out what was the
matter. Then I looked round, and to my astonish-
ment I could see every corner of the loft, but through
a thick haze which I could in no way account for.

When I had fallen asleep all was pitch darkness,
but for the little circle of light my candle-end gave;
now there was a warm, red glow, “as bright,” I
thought, “as if the stable were on fire.”

And the next instant I knew it was; for straining
my eyes with all my might, I looked down through
the trap-door, and saw through the wreaths of blind-
ing smoke a perfect furnace of flames.

There was no need to wonder how this had come
about, for my candle was gone from its place; it had
slipped down into the stable, fallen upon some of the
old woodwork, and perhaps for the last hour the fire
had been gradually increasing from a little spark till
the whole stable was alight.

Through those flames I could not go, and I remem-
bered the door into the passage. Frantic with fear
I rushed to this, tripping in the hay and half stifled
234 “WHERE IS EVELYN?”

by the smoke; but at length I reached it, lifted the
latch, and pulled with all my strength, but in vain.
I had forgotten that the door was always kept bolted
on the other side.

I was horror-struck.

“J shall be burned alive,” I said aloud, “I shall be
burned alive! and it is all because I am such a bad,
wicked girl, and God is punishing me. Oh, I will be
good, I will be good! Evelyn, Evelyn!” I shrieked,
battering on the door wildly with both my fists,
though it did not yield an inch—“ Evelyn, Evelyn !
let me out, oh let me out!”

It is curious that in that moment of awful agony
I turned for help and protection to the girl I had so
grievously wronged, with perfect trust and confidence
that if any one could save me it would be she.

Louder and louder I thumped, and more and more
I screamed, as I realized how great my danger was
becoming. The flames were now darting up the
ladder from the stable; but as no one came to let me
out from the passage, I groped my way back to the
trap-door. Should I risk it, and jump down there
into that sea of fire? Possibly I might find my way
out of the door; it might be better than staying here
to fall with the floor, the beams of which were now
ablaze. But I dared not make the plunge. Choking
and nearly blind, I was beginning to feel powerless
either to move or scream. The smoke grew thicker
and thicker, and tears poured down from my smarting
“WHERE IS EVELYN?” 935

eyes; and as I made one more effort to get back to the
passage door, all my strength left me suddenly—I just
knelt down on the hay utterly helpless. Yes, I told
myself, I was to be burned: this was my punishment
for all my naughtiness; I should be burned to black
ashes like Miss Little’s letter. I was getting stupefied,
but I could still think, and in my mind went over
all the unkind thoughts, all the selfishness, and every
little act of spite I had done since Evelyn came to us.
Then when I remembered how wicked I had been I
roused myself once more.

“JT can’t die, oh I can’t!” I sobbed miserably ;
and making a mighty effort, I shrieked despairingly
for the last time,—

“Evelyn, Evelyn! save me, save me!”

It seemed to me then that I was dying. Would
Evelyn come to me if she knew I was there? I won-
dered ; and then I knew she would. But who was to
tell her? My last ery, hard as I had tried to shout
loudly, was hoarse and faint; it would carry no dis-
tance.

“QO Evelyn, Evelyn!” I moaned, “I am sorry, I am
sorry !”

Then far away in the distance, and as it appeared
to me long, long after I had given that call, but as if
in reply to it, I heard a voice say,—

“JT am coming, Alison darling, I am coming.”

I foreed my heavy eyelids open, and peered to-
wards the passage door. Yes, there stood Cousin
236 “WHERE IS EVELYN?”

Evelyn, like some angel, all dressed in white, come
straight from heaven ‘to’ save me. no

I was too stupefied to’ move; I eould only stretch
out my.arms towards her’ as ne sprang, down from
the threshold of the door on. seeing where I was. I
felt her raise me in her arms and hold: me closé, close
to her, so that even with the flames raging :round I
felt safe as she turned to retrace her steps... Then
there was a wild cry of “Help, help!” terrible to
hear, and we were falling, she and I, with the burn-
ing floor, right into the furnace beneath.

I clung to her frantically for one instant; then all
was dark as night to me, and I knew no more.

a: * * * *

“She is going on very well now; you really need
not be afraid, for she is fairly out of danger.”

These were the first words I’ heard spoken that I
was conscious of, and I knew the voice to be Dr.
Abbot's.

“Thank God,’ was the reply, and who said that I
could not think. I seemed to know it, and yet 1
could not tell who was speaking, familiar as the voice
was.

“Why was Dr. Abbot there ? who was ill?” I asked
myself, and thinking of mother I opened my eyes.

To my surprise. I was in a strange room; but I
could not see it well, for there were curtains on the
bed, and'the one at the foot. was drawn as if to shade
my eyes. I felt odd and dazed, and there was a queer


"7 was too stupefied to move.”

Page 236.
“WHERE IS EVELYN 2” 237

pain somewhere about me; I could not tell exactly
where at the moment. But where was I? what
had happened? I tried to think, and that hurt my
head, so I shut my eyes and lay very still. I felt too
drowsy to exert myself any more, and very disinclined
to think or move; so I gave in to my inclination, and
slept.

The next time I opened my eyes again I heard
voices once more, and the same that had puzzled me
before was saying,—

“ Poor little girl! her ravings have been very pain-
ful. She must have been most miserable for months,
and we none of us understood her at all or knew of
it. I wish we had, for then we might have helped
her, and none of this would have happened.”

The same thing that struck me before came to me
again as I listened; it was so familiar, yet so different :
there was now a tenderness and gentleness about it I
did not seem to recognize, yet somewhere, I was sure,
I had heard this person speak before.

I felt I must see who it was, and raising myself on
my elbow I tried to sit up. With a groan I fell back,
however, and lay exhausted on my pillow, for some-
thing hurt me dreadfully when I moved.

~“You had better go now,” said the voice; “she is
waking, and seeing you might excite her.”

There was the sound of a door opening and closing,
and then all was still.

I wondered whether I was alone now; the strange-
238 “WHERE IS EVELYN?”

ness of it all frightened me, and when I heard some one
approach my bedside I positively trembled.

The curtains were drawn aside, and—

“Aunt Margaret!” I exclaimed, in a queer, weak
little voice, very unlike my own.

Yes, it was Aunt Margaret bending over me; and
she looked quite beautiful at that moment, for her
face was full of nothing but love and pity.

“Do you want anything, dear?” she asked gently ;
and I knew that hers was the voice that had puzzled
me so much twice before.

“Where am I?” I said anxiously.

“ At the Grange, in the spare-room,” was the reply.

At the Grange! I thought; what could I be doing
there, and why was I in bed ?

“Why ?” I asked, after a pause.

“ Because part of Prior’s Leasoe was burned—your
room and several others,” Aunt Margaret said.

“ Burned !”

Ah! now everything came back to me like a flash
of lightning—the burning stable, the awful panic of
fear, Cousin Evelyn, and the fall from the loft;
after that the darkness, and I remembered no more.

I must have been rescued; but if so, where was
Evelyn ?

That was the question that began to puzzle me;
but I did not like to ask Aunt Margaret—I was too
ashamed of my naughtiness to speak about my cousin
to her mother.
“WHERE IS EVELYN ?” 939

I was very silent for a while; then I thought of a
roundabout way of discovering where Evelyn was.

“Whom did you send out of the room just now ?”
T asked.

“A very dear friend,” said Aunt Margaret, “who
wants to come and see you when you are strong
enough. She has been helping me to nurse you
when you knew nothing about it.”

“T am ill then?” I said curiously, that old sleepy
feeling stealing over me again.

“Yes,” was the answer; “you have been ill some
days, but you are better now.”

Before I gave way to this stupid sensation, I felt I
must know if it was Evelyn who had been sent out
of my room; it seemed a most natural thing that she
should have been helping to nurse me, with all her
training and experience.

“ Aunt Margaret,” I whispered, “ was it Evelyn that
was in the room just now ?”

To my surprise my aunt’s eyes filled with tears,
and she turned away to hide them as she said,—

“Hush, dear! no, it was not poor Evelyn. You
must keep quiet now, and ask no more questions;
when you are stronger, perhaps, but not just now,”
and with these words she left the room.

What could it mean? Where was Evelyn? and
why did she not come to me? “Poor Evelyn,” Aunt
Margaret had said; but why “poor Evelyn”? Why,
too, did she leave the room so quickly? She looked
240) “WHERE IS EVELYN ?”

as if she were going to cry; indeed, now I came to
think of it, she looked as if she had been crying a
great deal already.

All the terrible scene in the loft came vividly back
to me, and suddenly the awful thought came into my
head: “What if in that fall Evelyn was killed?”
Her cry for help rang in my ears again, and I felt
sure she could not have been saved.

All my sleepiness was gone now ; I waited anxiously
for Aunt Margaret’s return. And presently she came,
bringing a bowl and a spoon; and sitting down on the
edge of my bed, she began to feed me as if I had
been a baby. I longed to ask her if my terrible
suspicion was true; but somehow I durst not, for I

noticed now that she was dressed in deep mourning.

When I had taken all I could of the soup she had
brought, she put away the bowl, and taking my hand
in hers, still sat near me.

I lay, and stared at her in astonished silence. This
sort of Aunt Margaret was something quite new to
me. Could it be that I had ever thought her cross
and ugly? How was it possible ? for now she looked
at me with a kind though sad smile as she said,—

“ Alison, there is some one who wishes very much
to see you; but because the doctor says you must not
be excited, I have a message for you from her before
she will come.”

Perhaps, after all, I was mistaken; I would try

again.
“WHERE IS EVELYN ?” QA1

“Ts it Cousin Evelyn?” I asked falteringly.

“No,” said Aunt Margaret, with a pained look in
her eyes, “it is not Evelyn, but Miss Little.”

“Oh no, no!” I cried, in the wildest state of excite-
ment; “don’t let her come, Aunt Margaret, don’t let
her come!”

“Why not?” asked my aunt gently. “Tell me,
dear, is it because of the letter ?”

“Yes,” I said, in a low tone, “but mostly because
she was so vexed with me before she went away; and
I couldn’t explain to her about Charlie, nor anything.
And I love her so; but she said she couldn’t ever love
me or trust me any more.”

Aunt Margaret stroked my hand gently for a
moment, then—

“ Alison,” she said, “suppose you explain to me. It
does one good to talk to some one about one’s troubles.
You are not afraid of me now, are you?”

How could I ever have been afraid of her? Yet I
had been not longer than a few days ago.

“Tell me everything, little one,” she said ; “ perhaps
.I can help you. Why was Miss Little vexed with
you?”

And then, from the’ very beginning, I told Aunt
Margaret all about the melted Daisy.

She seemed to understand it every bit—how I had
wished to play at Cousin Evelyn and sick Charlie
with it, and how, until Evelyn came into the room

and discovered me, I had never thought of what she
(969) 16
249 “WHERE IS EVELYN ?”

and Miss Little would think. Also, she seemed to
sympathize with my difficulty in explaining my con-
duct to Miss Little; and with the fear that she would
think me heartless, and not believe me to be merely a
thoughtless little girl.

What with a word of help here and there, a seem-
ing deep interest, and.the constant tender caressing of
my hand at all the difficult places, Aunt Margaret
extracted from me a full confession.

I felt ever so much happier when it was made,
and I knew that the burden of it had had a great deal
to do with my after naughtiness.

“ And now,” said my aunt, “I must leave you, dear.
But first I must tell you not to be afraid of Miss
Little any more; she has quite forgiven you, and
understands everything as well as I do.”

I had never taken my eyes off Aunt Margaret’s
face while I was telling her the story of Daisy; but
as she said these words she looked suddenly across
the bed, and smiled. I looked also, and there stood
Miss Little.

I knew in a moment that I had no cause to fear
her; and Aunt Margaret left us. Worn out with
talking I soon fell asleep, holding my dear Miss
Little’s hand.

I saw no more of Aunt Margaret that day. My
governess never left me, and I spent my time partly
in sleeping and partly in lying quite still thinking.
I did not feel inclined to talk much, for I was very
“WHERE IS EVELYN ?” 243

weak, and in a good deal of pain from my right arm,
which was tightly bandaged, and could not be moved.
I think I must have been feverish and wandering in
the night again, for I do not remember what happened
or who was with me ai all.

But the following morning, when I had been settled
for the day, and Miss Little was sitting quite near me
with her work, I began to wish to hear something
about other people.

“Where ig mother?” was my first question.

“ At Prior’s Leasoe,” was the answer.

“ And Jack ?”

“ At home too,” Miss Little said.

“When does he go to school?” I went on.

“We do not know yet,’ Miss Little replied; “ per-
haps next week.”

“Oh, can’t I see him to-day?” I asked eagerly.

“Certainly, if you wish,” my governess said; “I
will send for him this afternoon.”

But the question I wanted to ask most of all—the
thing of all others I longed to hear—I durst not speak
of yet. I had treated Cousin Evelyn so badly I did
not feel as if I had a right to ask anything about
her, and the great dread which I could not get over
seemed to tie my tongue. I could not think how to
put it; and even had I found words, I do not think
I should have had the courage to ask the question
direct, “ Where is Evelyn ?”

I lay silent for a while.
244, “WHERE IS EVELYN?”

Miss Little’s knitting dropped into her lap, and
she sat looking at me intently for a minute or so.

“ Alison,” she said presently, “I want you to an-
swer me truthfully just one question. Why did you
dislike poor Evelyn so?”

It was the very question I had asked myself when
I believed I should be burned to death, and I an-
swered now, as I had done then,—

“ Because I was jealous of her.”

My heart beat hard, my breath came in little, quick
gasps, as I waited for Miss Little to speak again.
“ What was she going to tell me?” I wondered, “and
why was Evelyn again spoken of as ‘ poor’ ?”

“T thought so,” was her comment. “And why did
you not tell her you were sorry for breaking Daisy,
as you did not do it to vex her?”

“T didn’t think she would believe me if I did,” I
replied. “And then she broke her promise to mother,
and told you about it, and I was angry with her.
It made me hate her more.”

“You are quite mistaken in thinking that Evelyn
told me anything about it,” said Miss Little. “She
never told tales or said what was not true in her
life. I found out for myself by going into the play-
room after you had gone to bed, to see whether you
had left it tidy; for there on the floor lay the doll
and the broken bits, with a bowl of water and the
pretty hair. Evelyn was very vexed that I had seen
it, and she begged me not to be angry with you, just
“WHERE IS EVELYN?” 245

as she had done the day before when you were so
obstinate over your cloak. She wanted you to learn
to love her, and she was afraid if you were punished
on her account you would never do so. But I had to
refuse the poor child, for it meant more to me, this
apparent naughtiness, than she could know. How
little you understood her, Alison, you will perhaps
discover some day.”

“Poor” again—“ poor.” That was the third time
Cousin Evelyn had been called poor; what could it
mean? Surely only one thing—that which I dreaded
so unspeakably.

Oh, how foolish I had been! I understood it all
now. I longed to tell Cousin Evelyn how sorry I
was if she were still alive, and the wish became so
strong that I said,—

“Can’t I see her now, and tell her I am sorry ?”

Miss Little looked surprised at my request.

“She would not hear you, dear,” she said, with
tears in her eyes; “you cannot see her, Alison.”

Then it must be true—the fall must have killed
her. I turned away my head to hide my face, for
the tears would come; and my governess, thinking I
was going to sleep, worked on in silence.

My arm was very painful—it had been badly
burned and broken in two places in the fall; and
between this and my unhappy thoughts I cried my-
self into a kind of restless slumber.

When I awoke and had had some food I felt
246 “WHERE IS EVELYN?”

better, and with less pain in my arm I began to feel
more cheerful again. Perhaps, after all, I was wrong
about Evelyn, I told myself. I would ask Jack when
he came.

It was a very quiet, sober Jack who came to see
me; he had evidently been told he must make no
noise. When he came into the room he stared at
me in shy silence, for I was very white, and all my
curls were quite short. When Miss Little left us,
however, our tongues became unloosed. I asked how
mother and the Grants were, and how much of the
house was burned down.

“Oh, they’re all right,” answered Jack; “and the
house is burnt all along our passage, every room.”

“ All Cousin Evelyn’s pretty things ?” I asked sadly.

Jack said nothing, but his brown face flushed up
in a moment, and he fidgeted on his chair.

I watched him carefully, for I was determined to
find out about Evelyn this time.

“Cousin Evelyn saved my life, didn’t she?” I
asked, in a shaky voice.

“Don’t,” said Jack, getting up from his chair and
looking uneasily at the door.

“Jack!” I eried, sitting up in bed, “ tell me about
her; I must know.”

“T can’t,” said Jack; “they told me not to, and—
and-—”

He broke off suddenly, rushed to the door, and
before I could speak had disappeared.
“WHERE IS EVELYN?” AT

I fell back with a groan, for now I knew for
certain that what I had feared was only too true:
she died in saving my life.

I lay quite still, inclined neither to ery nor to move.
It seemed as if some one had struck me and I was
stunned by the blow. For some minutes I could not
even think.

“Cousin Evelyn is dead,” I kept saying over and
over again, scarcely knowing what the words meant.

My beautiful cousin, what had I ever done for her
that she should lose her life in saving mine? How
could I bear it? Never to see her face again, never
to tell her how sorry I was for it all! And it was all
my fault.

From the very beginning—the day we heard Aunt
Margaret talking to mother under the cedar tree—
down to the very end, her gentle words of encourage-
ment to me in the loft, and then her ery for help—
everything came back to me, and there was not a
grain of comfort in it all. Had I been good none of
this would have happened; Cousin Evelyn would not
have been killed. It was all my fault—J had done it.

My head grew tired with remembering all my
unkindness and naughtiness, and all the goodness
Evelyn had shown me in return. I appreciated her
kindness only now, when it was too late, and loved
her as she had always deserved I should. I wished I
had been killed instead. “No one would have missed
me,” I told myself; “why should they ?”
248 “WHERE IS EVELYN?”

How long I lay thus I do not know, but presently
Aunt Margaret came into the room. She looked
very white, and as if she had been recently crying,
but she bravely tried to smile at me.

“All alone, dear?” she said gently. “Why, I
thought Jack was with you?”

At this I broke into an uncontrollable fit of weep-
ing, and in a moment her arms were round me, my
head resting against her breast as I blurted out,—

“Q Aunt Margaret, everybody must hate me so
now I don’t know what to do. Poor, poor Evelyn!
I wish I had been killed. I—” here I choked, and
could not go on.

“ Who told you about her?” asked my aunt—in oh,
such a sad voice.

“TI guessed partly,” I answered, “and then—then
Jack—”

Again I could not finish my sentence.

“Come, come; this will never do,’ said Aunt
Margaret, with an attempt at cheering me. “If
Evelyn could see you, it would vex her terribly.
She was always so particular in her nursing that her
patients should be happy.”

“ Perhaps,” I said, in a low tone—“ perhaps she does
know I’m sorry. Do you think so, Aunt Margaret ?”

“J think she is sure to,” was the reply ; but Aunt
Margaret was crying now, though she tried to hide it.

I checked my sobs gradually, and we began to
talk about other things, until she thought she had
“WHERE IS EVELYN 2?” 249

taken my mind off the painful subject for a while.
But I could think of nothing else.

As Aunt Margaret said good-night to me she
whispered,—

“Alison, for all our sakes you must be bright and
cheerful, and get well very soon.”

From that night forward Evelyn’s name was never
mentioned, and the awful thought that it was all my
fault gave me neither rest nor peace. It was small
wonder that I did not get well very rapidly.

“She is mending far too slowly,” said Dr. Abbot
one day ; “suppose you get her up a little.”

So I was allowed to sit up in a chair for a few hours.

But a day or two later the doctor said—

“This won’t do at all; she is far too listless. . Can
you find nothing that will rouse or interest her ?
Has she never asked for anything? has she. no wish
to do anything? However impossible it may appear
to be, I should give in to any whim she might get into
her head ; any risk would be better than this apathy.”

Miss Little and he left the room together. Just
as the door was closing I heard her say,—

“She has only expressed one wish since she re-
covered consciousness that has not been granted her,
and that was to see her cousin before—”

The door shut, and I did not hear the end of the
sentence, but I could finish it for myself. “Before
she died,” it must have been.

Miss Little returned alone,
250 ‘WHERE IS EVELYN?”

“Do you think you could walk a little way?”
she asked.

“Oh yes,’ I answered, for I was much stronger
in my legs by this time from sitting up every day.

“Because if you can,” she went on, “the doctor
advises a change to another room for a while.”

“Yes?” I said questioningly. ~

I did not care—I cared about nothing now; I
thought I was going to die. And I am afraid I hoped
I should if life was always to be so sad and terrible
a thing tome. But I did as I was bid.

“Miss Little,” I said, as she was dressing me, “do
you remember what you said to me before you went
away about hurting yourself most when you were
spiteful to others ?”

“ Perfectly,” said Miss Little.

“Tt was quite, quite true,” I said solemnly, and
spoke no more until I was ready.

I did not know the rooms in the Grange at all;
Jack and I in our state visits had never dared to
explore the house: so when Miss Little led me first
through one passage and then down another, up some
steps and down two or three more, it began to feel
so mysterious that I felt as if I were in some fairy
tale, and this was an enchanted palace. At last she
opened a door, and said,—

“Go in there and wait for me; I shall be back in
a minute.”

I walked into the room, and she closed the door
“WHERE IS EVELYN?” et

behind me. It was a very big place, with dark, old-
fashioned furniture, and a four-post bed with curtains.

I was just a little frightened, for it was so huge
and empty, and still more like a fairy story.

“Ts that you, Alison?” said a voice, coming from I
could not think where; and I jumped with surprise,
for I had thought I was alone.

I looked at the bed—there was no one there;
I looked all round the room, and I saw no one. “I
must be dreaming,” I muttered; and I grew less
frightened, for I began to think something curious
was going to happen.

“T am here,” said the voice again, and this time I
discovered that it came from a big screen at the other
end of the room.

I hesitated but a moment, then walked boldly
forward, reached the screen, walked round it, and—
of course it was only a dream, for there on a couch
lay Cousin Evelyn!

Such a different Evelyn from the one I remem-
bered! All her mass of lovely golden-brown hair
was gone, and instead it curled all over her head,
just as Jack’s used to do before he had it cropped to
go to school; she was dressed all in white, with a
white shawl thrown over her, and her face was as
snowy as her pillow; her eyes looked larger than
ever, and the only thing about her that was quite
as it used to be was her smile—even that seemed
more beautiful.
252 “WHERE IS EVELYN?”

It was very strange, but everything always is un-
real in dreams.

“But this is a lovely one,’ I thought, “and oh, I
do hope I shan’t wake up before she speaks! I hope
Miss Little won’t come back and wake me. I wish
Dr. Abbot would be a long time going away, and
then she won’t.”

You see I was not a bit frightened, for I was sure |
this was only a vision. I had so often longed, as I
lay silent in my big room bearing the awful pain in
my arm, and the still worse suffering in my heart, as
well as I could, that Evelyn would come to me in a
dream just for one moment—just long enough for
me to tell her how sorry I was, and to hear her say
she would forgive me.

“Well, are you not going to kiss me?” said my
angel cousin gently; “we have not seen each other
for such a long time.”

I could not help thinking it wonderfully good of
her to ask me to kiss her, but I scarcely dared to
move, lest I should rouse myself and lose my dream
for ever; and just as I took one step forward Miss
Little appeared round the screen.

I stood still, fully expecting to see the vision fade
away, the room change, and to find myself seated in
the arm-chair in the spare-room, where the doctor and
my governess had left me.

It was too hard, and I cried in my vexa.
tion,—
‘WHERE IS EVELYN 2?” 253

“Oh, don’t wake me, Miss Little, please don’t wake
me yet!”

“Wake you, Alison! what do you mean?” asked
the astonished Miss Little.

“Yes, yes,’ I whispered. “She has come back, and
perhaps if I ask her she will forgive me; but if you
wake me, I can’t see her any more.”

“My dear child,” said Miss Little soothingly, “you
are ill; you ought to have been kept quiet a day
or two longer. This has been too much for you,”
and she took my hand to lead me away.

“No, don’t take me away,’ I whispered earnestly ;
“don’t you see it is an angel—Evelyn’s angel? I have
wanted to see it—her, I mean—so much ever since I
knew she was killed.”

Miss Little looked seriously frightened ; she thought
I was raving again, as I had done at first after my
rescue from the flames.

My angel then spoke.

“ Alison darling,” she said, holding out her hand
to me, “come to me and tell me what you mean.
Who said I was killed ?”

I stopped to consider ; then I said,—

“T found out: first, because Aunt Margaret couldn’t
talk about you without crying; then Miss Little told
me, when I wanted to see you to tell you I was sorry,
you wouldn’t hear me if I did; everybody called you
‘poor’ when they spoke of you; and Aunt Margaret
was in black; and Jack ran away when I asked him
254, “WHERE IS EVELYN?”

to tell me about you. And oh,” I added. passionately,
as 1 went over to her, “I am so miserable! It was
all my fault; and I love you so now—oh dear, oh
Here I began to ery violently, and Evelyn

1?

dear
drew me close to her in a very real embrace.

“My dear childie,” she said, as soon as she could
make herself heard, “what nonsense is this? J have
only been very ill, and for several days they thought
I should die. Then they feared I should never walk
again. But God has been very good to me, and those
dangers are over now. Why, if you do not take care,
L shall be well first !”

I gazed at her in astonishment, first disbelieving
my own senses, and still fancying it was a vision.
Then the truth dawned upon me—it was indeed my
cousin, and no dream-angel.

Had I been strong and well, no such fancy could
have taken possession of me; but I had been over-
wrought—first by the illness, and then by the awful
idea that I had caused her death. It had preyed upon
my mind, keeping me back from getting well. It was
small wonder, really, that I should have made such a
mistake, fully believing, as I did, that Evelyn was dead.

“Why didn’t they tell me?” I asked, as soon as I
realized I was talking to no spirit, “and why was
Aunt Margaret in mourning ?”

But before the answer to the last question came, I
remembered it was for Uncle Archie’s brother, who
had died some weeks before,
‘““WHERE IS EVELYN?” 255

“We never dreamed of your thinking such a
thing,” Miss Little said, “and we were anxious to
keep Evelyn’s illness from you for fear of exciting
you. Then from what you said to Mrs. Drummond
we fancied you knew all about it; but it seemed to
affect you, so we decided not to mention Evelyn again
until you were well—well enough to see her for
yourself, and learn from her own lips—”

“That she quite makes it up with you,” finished
Evelyn.

“OQ Evelyn,” I cried, “do you—do you really for-
give me?”

For answer she drew me down to her again and
kissed me lovingly.

“And now, Alison,” she asked laughingly, “are
you quite sure I am not an angel ?”

“No,” I replied, giving vent to an opinion I have never
since changed ; “I think you are one—only a live one.”

Evelyn was ill for a very long time, but I rapidly
recovered after the terrible burden was removed from
my mind. I spent all my time with my cousin, ever
watchful to see what I could do for her and in what
way I could serve her. Nothing seemed too great,
too good for her now; and all her loving patience was
rewarded at last, for my heart was won for ever.
I loved Aunt Margaret too, and I discovered that
what we had mistaken for sternness was in reality
anxious care for our mother, and that we should grow
up to be a comfort and help to her.
256 “WHERE IS EVELYN ?”

And Miss Little’s burnt letter ?

Well, she is not Miss Little any more, for the
writer of it came home safe and sound and took her
away from me. She is Mrs. Anderson now, and Jack
and I go sometimes to stay with her and her soldier
husband in their dear little home in Scotland; for
we have quite changed our minds. about that country
now, and Jack is very, very Scotch indeed, even in
the way he speaks after a visit to the north.

When he was a good deal younger than he is now
(soon after Miss Little was married, for that was
what put the notion into our heads), Jack used to
say,—

“If any one that isn’t a jolly nice fellow ever
wants to marry Evelyn, I shall stand up in church
and say loud out, ‘I forbid the banns.’” And I am sure
he would have loved to do it; for if there was one
thing my little brother liked better than another in
this world, next to fighting, ib was to make a sensation.

However, nothing of that sort has ever occurred as
yet, and our desire to keep our cousin with us is a
bond which never can come to such a disastrous
ending as did Our Vow.

THE END.
234493







xml record header identifier oai:www.uflib.ufl.edu.ufdc:UF0008893400001datestamp 2008-12-11setSpec [UFDC_OAI_SET]metadata oai_dc:dc xmlns:oai_dc http:www.openarchives.orgOAI2.0oai_dc xmlns:dc http:purl.orgdcelements1.1 xmlns:xsi http:www.w3.org2001XMLSchema-instance xsi:schemaLocation http:www.openarchives.orgOAI2.0oai_dc.xsd dc:title Our vow dc:creator Haverfield, E. L ( Eleanor Luisa ), b. 1870Petherick, C. Rosa ( Illustrator )dc:subject Vows -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )Children -- Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )Obedience -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )Parent and child -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )Brothers and sisters -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )Cousins -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )Fatherless families -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )Sick -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )dc:description b Statement of Responsibility by E.L. Haverfield.Illustrations by C. Rosa Petherick.Added title page, engraved.dc:publisher Thomas Nelson and Sonsdc:date 1899dc:type Bookdc:format 256 p., 5 leaves of plates : ill. ; 19 cm.dc:identifier http://www.uflib.ufl.edu/ufdc/?b=UF00088934&v=00001002231308 (aleph)05697098 (oclc)ALH1676 (notis)dc:source University of Floridadc:language Englishdc:coverage England -- LondonScotland -- EdinburghUnited States -- New York -- New York