Page images
PDF
EPUB

a

manners.

66

" That is the very last thing I wish to do to you,” | delightfully cool there,” remarked Percy. “I say, laughed Mabel. “I want us to have all kinds of Mabel, let us get into one of those boats and row fun together first."

ourselves about. That would be splendid fun ; just Percy Wyndham was a fine manly boy, tall for the very thing for a hot afternoon like this." his age, with an open merry face, and frank easy “We mustn't,” replied the little girl. “ I've been

He made a favourable impression upon told never to get into either of the boats." his aunt, into whose presence Mabel led him first. Who told you?” Then the two retired to the schoolroom, where “ Aunt Alicia. She seems to think I should be their tongues went as fast as they could go, and certain to be drowned if I ever got into one." much had they both to tell one another.

“Oh, never mind Aunt Alicia !” exclaimed Very bright and radiant was little Queen Mab's Percy, not over respectfully. “She is full of face that evening in the drawing-room, and it did whims and fancies, and seems to think we are made not pass unnoticed by her uncle.

of glass and must necessarily be broken to bits if “Poor child !” he remarked to his sister, after she we go a step off the straight road. I don't know and Percy had left the room; “ I'm afraid she has how many places she told me last evening I was to often felt very dull with us two elderly people and be sure and not go into-or how many things I was no youngster of her own age for a companion. to be sure and not do. One can't attend to them all; Well, she will enjoy having her brother the more. in fact, I've forgotten one-half already; and I won't Fine games they will be having, I expect."

be turned into a milksop. So come along, Mabel.” “I hope and trust they won't be getting into By this time the boy had seated himself in the mischief," sighed Miss Alicia, "breaking their bones, boat. or falling into the lake, or something dreadful. I “ I can't,” returned the child in tones that showed am afraid they will be very wild now they are to- she was longing to follow her brother's example. gether."

“Why can't you?” he rejoined, imitating her

dolorous accents. “You have nothing to do but to CHAPTER X.--PERCY'S HOLIDAYS.

step in. Unless, indeed, you are like Aunt Alicia, HE next afternoon found the two children and are afraid of being drowned."

strolling about the grounds together, Mabel “Of course I'm not afraid,” said Mabel, rather

as happy as she could be now that she had | indignantly, for to be thought a coward was a little her brother beside her ; and many a merry peal of trying. “But as Aunt Alicia has plainly said I am laughter fell upon the still air. It was a delightful not to do it, I should be flatly disobeying her if I day: the sky was clear and cloudless, whilst the got into the boat. Let us do something else.” air, soft and cool, tempered the heat of the sun's “ Not l. If you are so mighty particular, and rays. The flowers were giving out their perfumes, don't choose to come, I shall go without you. and the birds their songs ; whilst the breeze made Come, make up your mind at once," said the boy music in the trees.

a little impatiently. “Get in without any more The children had wandered down towards the shilly-shallying, or I shall be off without you." lake, and now stood on its margin. There it lay “ You must go without me then, if you will go," stretched before them, clear as crystal, reflecting all returned Mabel firmly, to her brother's surprise. the lights and shadows cast upon it, a beautiful “But I think you might be good-natured, Percy, sheet of azure, broken up here and there by a tiny and find something we could do together.” island of emerald hue, and bordered by the grand “It's far too jolly in the boat for me to get out old mountains which rose up in some parts again in a hurry," he answered carelessly ; and abruptly from its brink, sharp and bold in out- pushing off from the shore he commenced rowing line, with jutting crags and rocky crests, showing so vigorously that he was soon some distance off. now and then great patches of purple heather, Mabel stood looking after him with wistful eyes. whilst in other parts the woods came right down to She longed to be with him ; it must be so delightthe water's edge, their varied tints of green con- ful, she thought, to be on the water ; and now she trasting with the blue depths of the lake, whilst didn't know what to do, as she had lost her comthey almost bid with their swelling foliage the panion, and, moreover, couldn't tell when he would contour of the hills they clothed. It was a lovely

come back. scene to gaze upon.

She sat down on an old log lying near, and The brother and sister were standing near the gazed disconsolately after the retreating boat. little landing-place belonging to Heylands, beside Obedience seemed very hard and difficult in this which two boats were moored.

instance. But still she did not waver, though she, “How jolly it looks on the lake! It would be knew that even now she had but to call out to

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Her meditations were interrupted at this point by

Percy to come back for her, and he would do so, “Oh, Uncle Gwynne, that would be delightful ! for he was not too far off for a shout to reach him, Do you really mean it?" and she was sure he would rather have her com- “ Yes, certainly I do. Such a disconsolate little pany than be alone. But she had recently suffered maiden, who moreover is disconsolate because she too much through disobedience and wilfulness to has been trying to do the right, deserves to find forget it easily. Besides, she had come to see how some one to take compassion on her. I tell you wrong it was, and had resolved not to transgress in what we will do, Mab; we will row right across the that way again, and so bring misery and unhappi- lake to a place opposite, where we can find some ness upon herself.

rare mosses and ferns. I am wanting some more So she remained sitting on her log, and refrained specimens to send away, and you might begin a from calling to her brother, but watched his boat little collection on your own account. You haven't gradually getting farther and farther away, until it learnt how to dry flowers yet, but I will show you. was almost out of sight. It was disappointing to It would be a nice occupation for you and Percy if lose Percy this very first afternoon, when she had any wet days come during the holidays." promised herself such a happy time with him. But “Oh, thank you, uncle; how kind you are !” said still there was the pleasant feeling of having done Mabel, with beaming looks, as she glanced up right. This disappointment was nothing like the gratefully into his face. Then, taking his hand, misery of those three days when she had hardened she went down with him to the boat and stepped in. herself in her pride and obstinacy, and had felt so How delightful it was to glide over the smooth wretched. Now, at least, no one would be dis- water, feeling the gentle breeze fanning her cheek, pleased with her ; she would not have to endure and gazing upon the beautiful mountains around, the mortification of feeling herself in disgrace and or looking over the side of the boat down into the ashamed to face every one; and Percy would come depths beneath. She thought she had never felt so back some time or other, when they could play | happy, and had but one regret, that Percy was not together.

with them.

Mr. Howard himself was also conscious of a an approaching footstep. Looking up she saw feeling of satisfaction as he glanced across at the that it was her uncle, who perceived her at the same radiant face of his little niece, and felt he had moment.

helped to bring the smiles back into it. He had Why, what a very disconsolate-looking little lived so long shut up to himself and his books, that Queen Mab!” he exclaimed. Sitting all alone it was like a new existence to have a fresh living on a log, as if deserted by everybody. What has interest, to find he could put brightness into a become of your brother ?”

young heart. “ He has gone off in one of the boats."

He felt himself in rather a novel position this “And wouldn't he take you?"

afternoon. He, the grey-haired student and recluse, “Oh, yes, if I would have gone. He wanted me vigorously rowing underneath the hot blazing sun, to go with him."

and all for the sake of gratifying a child. But he “Then why didn't you?”

by no means disliked his position. His little com“Because I've been told so often I mustn't. panion's delight and enthusiasm were helping to Aunt Alicia has forbidden my getting into any of make him feel young again. Miss Alicia would the boats, though I have often longed to do so before have been rather surprised could she have looked now, and this afternoon it was very hard not to be upon them—could she have seen the two, after able to go with Percy.”

they had landed on the opposite shore of the “ Perhaps your aunt would have allowed you if lake, eagerly searching for ferns and gathering you had asked her.”

spoil, both entirely happy, and wholly engrossed “No, I am sure it would have been no use. But with their present occupation, the uncle quite as I couldn't even ask her, as she is gone out much so as the niece. driving."

After placing all they had collected in the boat, “I suppose she only meant you weren't to go they had a delightful row back, encountering Percy, without some one to take care of you.”

who was coasting round the shore ; and he was “ Yes; some grown-up person, she said." much surprised to see them on the water.

“Do you think she would consider me grown-up “ Hullo ! you young sir ; what do you mean by enough?” asked Mr. Howard with a smile.

taking my boat in this cool manner, without asking “Yes, I think so," laughed Mabel.

permission ?" shouted Mr. Howard, as they drew “Then suppose you and I get into this other

“Is that the way gentlemen generally behave boat, and then we will have a row together.” to one another? Perhaps you'll explain matters."

[ocr errors]

near.

Percy laughed, but looked a little discomfited. " I thought you wouldn't mind, uncle.”

* Perhaps I mightn't have minded your taking the boat, but what I do mind is your having gone off and left your sister as you did. It was scarcely kind, was it, this first day of your being here, when she has been reckoning so on your coming, and on having you for a companion ?”

“I asked her to come with me, uncle. I wanted her to come, but she wouldn't."

“Because she felt it would be disobedience, that was why she refused. Under those circumstances, don't you think you would have acted a more unselfish part if you had remained with her, and given up your own fancy instead of only caring about gratifying it ?”

“I didn't think of it like that,” said Percy, a little abashed.

"Ah, my boy, that is what so often leads us into selfishness, want of thought. But come, we will land now, for it must be getting near your tea-time.”

“I hope it is, for I'm as hungry as a hunter,” rejoined Percy, as he fastened his boat to its moorings. “What a jolly place this is, Uncle Gwynne. It's very pretty, and there are such lots of things to do here. For one thing, I long to climb some of those old mountains and stand on the very top.”

“We must see if we can't make a few ascents to. gether whilst you are here,” said Mr. Howard.

It is some time now since I have climbed any of them, but I used to know them all well, and I think I am able to act as guide. I shall quite like revisiting the old haunts.”

“May I go too?" asked Mabel with a pleading face.

“ Certainly, my dear, if you can walk so far. We should like to have our little Queen Mab with us."

“ That will be delightful,” exclaimed the child, with a skip and a jump expressive of intense satis. faction. “I should enjoy a scramble up a mountain above all things. Do fix a day soon, uncle.”

With a smile at her eagerness and delight, Mr. Howard promised to consider the matter, and in glee at the prospect the children went in to tea.

Mr. Howard thought it but due to Mabel to tell her aunt how firmly she had resisted what had been a strong temptation to disobedience. Miss Alicia was so much pleased to hear that the child had shown herself so trustworthy, that she signified her approbation by a few words of praise to Mabel herself when she came into the drawing-room that evening. It was the first time the latter had received any such commendation, and very pleasant she felt it to be.

“ After all, it is much happier just to do the right thing; at any rate, it is happier afterwards, though it may be hard at the time,” she said to herself,

and then she sat down to have a game of draughts with Percy.

The evening went so fast that when bed-time came she was very unwilling to go, especially as Percy, being older, was to be allowed to remain for another hour at least.

Mayn't I stay a little bit longer, Aup! Alicia ? Just while Percy is at home?” she pleaded.

“No, my dear. I see no reason why the usual hours should be broken through. For it is not good for little girls to be kept up late. And you will have plenty of Percy's company during ail the long holidays. So say good-night and go."

A struggle took place in the child's mind. Again it seemed difficult to obey, and she felt inclined to resist her aunt's decree.

However, she remembered herself in time, before she had given way to any hasty words, and checking the rising wish to rebel, she prepared to say good-night all round. She was just about to leave the room, when Miss Alicia said, “ After all, I don't mind your staying another half-hour, Mabel ; especially as you have behaved so well about it. But I don't know that I can let it be so all the time Percy is here. We shall see. If you get to look pale we must go back to the old hour.”

“Oh, I won't look pale," promptly returned Mabel. “Thank you so much, Aunt Alicia. I did so want to finish this game. And we won't make a noise over it to disturb you.”

“What did Aunt Alicia want you for ?” asked Percy of his sister the next day, as she re-entered the schoolroom, where the two children had been engaged in looking over Mabel's treasures during the first hour after luncheon, when Miss Howard considered it too hot for them to be out of doors..

“ It was to tell me that Mademoiselle has asked us to come to tea with her this afternoon."

The boy made a sort of grimace, not altogether expressive of approval. “Won't that be rather slow ? " he remarked.

“Oh, no, it will be fun. Because, you know, she lives in the town, and it is always nice to go in there and see the shops. And she can tell us stories about French life. And then I have heard so much about the tle home she is hoping to make some day, and all the things she is getting together for it, I should like to ask her to show them to us."

“ Is she going to live in the little home'all by herself ?"

“No; she has one sister, a good many years younger than herself, and she is working and toiling to make a home for her, so that they might live together. The sister is French governess in some school now, and she is not at all comfortable.”

66

[ocr errors]

now ?"

some

“ You seem to know all their affairs."

“Not if I'm to be put in charge of Mrs. Cobbold. Oh, because Mademoiselle talks sometimes for I wonder what Aunt Alicia is thinking of! As if I the sake of making me speak French. Do you wasn't old enough to take care of myself! I shall go know, I have liked her better since I have found out off and remonstrate.” how fond she is of this sister, and how all her “Well, have you been successful ?” inquired thoughts are about helping her, and that her pinching Mabel on his return. and screwing and dressing so shabbily is because Yes, Aunt Alicia agrees to let us go without Mrs. she wants to save up every penny she can for her. Cobbold. She puts you in my charge—what do you I can understand her wishing to have her sister say to that ?--and gave me such a lot of injunctions with her, just

as to what we as I like hav.

are to do and ing you. But

what not to do, I don't fancy

that I shall be she cares much

clever if I reabout anybody

member them else."

all." “ Does she

Having arlive by herself

rived

at the

abode of Made. “Yes, in lodg

moiselle Chasings. But I

sereau without believe shegoes

any accident, and looks over

Mabel lost no nearly every

time in begging house that is

the former to built to see if it

show to them is likely to do

of the for her when

things she had she is ready to

been making set up in

for house of her

house. own. However,

“Certainly, if she doesn't ex

you like, my pect to be able

dear; I shall to do that for

be very happy 2 long time, so

to display them. she gets very

There is somemuch laughed

thing of all at about it. I

sorts, useful as hope she will

well as soon get her

mental.” wish, though,

And Made because she is

moiselle, who not young, and

ip. 290). dearly likesi if she doesn't

doing so, exmake haste they won't have so very long to be hibited her little possessions, in all of which Mabel together-at least, judging by her looks."

was much interested, whilst Percy meantime was “ What time are we to go ?”

engaged in munching some French chocolate. “We are to leave here at four o'clock, and nurse By this time tea was ready, and they sat down to is to come for us at seven."

the table. Percy's boyish appetite speedily made “Oh, come, I say, I'm not going to stand being considerable inroads into the provisions set before fetched by Mrs. Cobbold, as if I were an infant in them, so that Mabel was afraid the plates would leading-strings. I won't go if that is to be the soon be entirely cleared. However, Percy brought his condition.”

meal to a cor.clusion before everything placed before “Oh, Percy, you must come ; you must indeed." them had entirely vanished, much to Mabel's relief.

(To be continued.)

[graphic]

a

her

new

orna

HE WAS MUCH SURPRISED TO SEE THEM ON THE WATER

[graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Y

ES, here I come with a wondrous pack
Of little ones upon my

back.
Some are full grown, and some but half;
My family surely will make you laugh:
Croaker, Hopper, and little Wheezer
As like each other as two peas are.
On my back I have nursed them all
Such a number, great and small ;
First as eggs, as babies next.
Such trouble ! such trouble, I might be vexed
If I were a cruel parent and nurse;
But, dear little folk, I am quite the reverse :
Nurse more tender, mother kinder
Seek, I pray, until you find her.
Ah ! you are looking with great surprise
Upon my monstrous goggle eyes.
Fierce enough I look, but you see
That all my family are with me;
All my children, and for their sake
Every precaution I must take,

Lest they starve, or I should lose them ;
For, although you might not choose them,
They to me are very dear,
Very handsome. No, not queer ;
Queer to you, but in my sight
They are everything that's right.
Their wide mouths, so like my own,
Glittering eyes like diamond stone,
Shining skins, and croaking voices;
Ah ! a mother's heart rejoices
When she has a brood so fine,
Such a family as mine.
With my little ones around me
Those who've looked for ine have found me
By the marshes, by the river,
Where the glowing sun-rays quiver
'Neath a sky of warmer dyes
Than is seen by English eyes.
Yes, the mother proud I am
By Dutchmen found in Surinam.

« PreviousContinue »