Charlotte Mary Yonge.

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title if he could help it, and, above all, not to seem to
mind anything.

Her own spirits were much exhilarated the next
morning by a note from Harry, the recipient of all
telegrams, with tidings that the doctors were quite
satisfied with Sir Jasper, and that Lady Merrifield had
reached Brindisi.

There was great excitement at sight of a wet morn-
ing, for it appeared that an omnibus came round on
such occasions to pick up the scholars ; and Valetta
thought this so delightful that she danced about ex-
claiming, 'What fun !' and only wishing for Mysie to
share it. She would have rushed down to the gate
umbrellaless if Aunt Jane had not caught and conducted
her, while Gillian followed with Fergus. Aunt Jane
looked down the vista of young faces — five girls and
three boys — nodding to them, and saying to the senior,
a tall damsel of fifteen —

1 Here are my children, Emma. You will take care
of them, please. You are keeping order here, I suppose V

There was a smile and bow in answer as the door
closed, and the omnibus jerked away its ponderous


' I'm sorry to see that Stebbing there/ observed the
aunt, as she went back ; ' but Emma Norton ought to
be able to keep him in order. It is well you have no
lessons out of the house to-day, Gillian.'

' Are you going out then ? '

' Oh yes !' said Miss Mohun, running upstairs, and
presently coming back with a school-bag and a crack-
ling waterproof cloak, but pausing as she saw Gillian
at the window, nursing the Sofy, and gazing at the gray
cloud over the gray sea. ' You are not at a loss for
something to do,' she said ; ' you said you meant to
write to your mother.'

' Oh yes !' said Gillian, suddenly fretted, and with
a sense of being hunted, ' I have plenty to do.'

' I see,' said Miss Mohun, turning over the books'
that lay on the little table that had been appropriated
to her niece, in a way that, unreasonably or not, un-
speakably worried the girl, ' Brachet's French Grammar
— that's right. Colenso's Algebra — I don't think they
use that at the High School. Julius Csesar — you should
read that up in Merivale.'

' I did,' said Gillian, in a voice that very nearly said,
' Do let them alone.'

' Well, you have materials for a very useful, sensible
morning's work, and when Ada comes down, very likely
she will like to be read to.'

Off went the aunt, leaving the niece stirred into an
absolute desire, instead of spending the sensible morn-,
ing, to take up Near Neighbours, and throw herself


into an easy-chair; and when she had conscientiously
resisted that temptation, her pen would hover over
Hilda's Experiences, even when she had actually
written ' Dearest Mamma.' She found she was in no
frame to write such a letter as would be a comfort to
her mother, so she gave that up, and made her sole
assertion of liberty the working out of a tough double
equation in Colenso, which actually came right, and
put her in such good-humour that she was no longer
afraid of drumming the poor piano to death and Aunt
Ada upstairs to distraction, but ventured on learning one
of the Lieder ohne Worte; and when her Aunt Ada came
down and complimented her on the sounds that had
ascended, she was complacent enough to write a very
cheerful letter, whilst her aunt was busied with her
own. She described the Sunday-school question that
had arisen, and felt sure that her father would pro-
nounce his Gill to be a sensible young woman. After-
wards Miss Adeline betook herself to a beautiful lily
of church embroidery, observing, as Gillian sat down
to read to her Alphonse Karr's Voyage autour cle mon
Jardin, that it was a real pleasure to listen to such
prettily-pronounced French. Kunz lay at her feet, the
Sofy nestled in Gillian's lap, and there was a general
sense of being rubbed down the right way.

By and by there loomed through the rain two

dripping shiny forms under umbrellas strongly inclined

to fly away from them — Miss Mohun and Mr. Grant,

the junior curate, whom she had brought home to

VOL. I e


luncheon. Both were full of the irregularities of the
two churches of Bellevue and St. Kenelm's on the
recent harvest-thanksgiving Sunday. It was hard to
tell which was most reprobated, what St. Kenelm's
did or what Bellevue did not do. If the one blew
trumpets in procession, the other collected the offer-
tory in a warming-pan. Gillian had already begun to
find that these misdoings supplied much conversation
at Beechcroft Cottage, and began to get half weary,
half curious to judge for herself of all these enormities ;
nor did she feel more interested in the discussion of who
had missed church or school, and who needed tickets
for meat, or to be stirred up to pay for their coal club.

At last she heard, ' Well, I think you might read
to her, Gillian ! Oh ! were not you listening ? A
very nice girl near here, a pupil teacher, who has de-
veloped hip complaint, poor child. She will enjoy
having visits from you, a young thing like herself.'

Gillian did not like it at all, but she knew that it
would be wrong to refuse, and answered, ' Very well,'
with no alacrity — hoping that it was not an immediate
matter, and that something might happen to prevent
it. But at that moment the sun came out, the rain
had ceased, and there were glistening drops all over
the garden ; the weather quarter was clear, and after
half an hour's rest after dinner Aunt Jane jumped up,
decreeing that it was time to go out, and that she
would introduce Gillian to Lilian Giles before going
on to the rest of her district.


She gathered a few delicate flowers in the little
conservatory, and put them in a basket with a peach
from the dessert, then took down a couple of books
from the shelf. Gillian could not but acquiesce,
though she was surprised to find that the one given to
her was a translation of Undine.

1 The child is not badly off,' explained Miss
Mohun. ' Her father is a superior workman. She
does not exactly want comforts, but she is sadly
depressed and disappointed at not being able to go
on with her work, and the great need is to keep
her from fretting over her troubles, and interested in

Gillian began to think of one of the graceful hectic
invalids of whom she had read, and to grow more
interested as she followed Aunt Jane past the old
church with the stout square steeple, constructed to
hold, on a small side turret window, a light for the
benefit of ships at sea. Then the street descended
towards the marble works. There was a great quarry,
all red and raw with recent blasting, and above, below,
and around, rows of new little stuccoed, slated houses,
for the work-people ; and a large range of workshops
and offices fronting the sea. This was Miss Mohun's
district, and at a better-looking house she stopped and
used the knocker.

That was no distinction ; all had doors with knockers
and sash windows, but this was a little larger, and the
tiny strip of garden was well kept, while a beautiful



myrtle and pelargonium peeped over the muslin blind ;
and it was a very nice-looking woman who opened
the door, though she might have been the better for
a cap. Aunt Jane shook hands with her, rather to
Gillian's surprise, and heard that Lily was much the

' It is her spirits are so bad, you see, Miss Mohun,'
she added, as she ushered them into a somewhat stuffy
little parlour, carpeted and bedecked with all manner
of knick-knacks, photographs, and framed certificates
of various societies of temperance and providence on
the gaily-papered walls. The girl lay on a couch near
the fire, a sallow creature, with a big overhanging brow,
made heavier by a dark fringe, and an expression that
Gillian not unjustly decided was fretful, though she
smiled, and lighted up a little when she saw Miss

There was a good deal said about her bad nights,
and her appetite, and how the doctor wanted her to
take as much as she could, and how everything went
against her — even lardy cake and roly-poly pudding
with bacon in it !

Miss Mohun put the flowers on the little table
near the girl, who smiled a little, and thanked her in
a languid dreary manner. Finding that she had
freshly been visited by the rector, Miss Mohun would
not stop for any serious reading, but would leave Miss
Merrifield to read a story to her.

'And you ought to get on together,' she said,


smiling. ' You are just about the same age, and your
names rhyme — Gillian and Lilian. And Gillian's
mother is a Lily too.'

This the young lady did not like, for she was
already feeling it a sort of presumption in the girl to
bear a name so nearly resembling her mother's. She
had seen a little cottage poverty, and had had a class
of little maidservants ; but this level of life which is
in no want, keeps a best parlour, and does not say
ma'am, was quite new to her, and she did not fancy
it. When the girls were left together, while Mrs.
Giles returned to her ironing, Gillian was the shyer
of the two, and began rather awkwardly and re-
luctantly —

* Miss Mohun thought you would like to hear this.
It is a sort of German fairy tale.'

Lilian said, s Yes, Miss Merrifleld,' in a short dry
tone, completing Gillian's distaste, and she began to
read, not quite at her best, and was heartily glad when
at the end of half an hour Mrs. Giles was heard in
parley with another visitor, so that she had an excuse
for going away without attempting conversation. She
was overtaken by the children on their way home
from their schools, where they had dined. They
rushed upon her, together with the two Varleys, who
wanted to take them home to tea ; and Gillian giving
her ready consent, Fergus dashed home to fetch his
beloved humming-top, which was to be introduced to
Clement Varley's pump, and in a few minutes they


were off, hardly vouchsafing an answer to such com-
paratively trifling inquiries as how they were placed
at their schools.

Gillian found, however, that neither of her aunts
was pleased at her having consented to the children's
going out without reference to their authority. How
did she suppose they were -to corne home ?

' I did not think; can't they be fetched ?' said Gillian,

' It is not far,' said Adeline, pitying her. ' One of
the maids '

'My dear Ada!' exclaimed Aunt Jane. 'You
know that Fanny cannot go out at night with her
throat, and I never will send out those young girls on
any account.'

' Can't I go ?' said Gillian desperately.

' Are not you a young girl ? I must go myself.'

And go she did at a quarter to eight, and brought
home the children, looking much injured. Gillian went
upstairs with them, and there was an outburst.

' It was horrid to be fetched home so soon, just as
there was a chance of something nice ; when all the
tiresome big ones had gone to dress, and we could have
had some real fun,' said Valetta.

' Eeal fun ! Eeal sense ! ' said Fergus.

' But what had you been about all this time ?'

' Why, their sisters and a man that was there would
come and drink tea in the nursery, where nobody
wanted them, and make us play their play.'


' Wasn't that nice ? You are always crying out for
Harry and me to come and play with you.'

1 Oh, it wasn't like that,' said Val ; ' you play with
us, and they only pretended, and played with each
other. It wasn't nice.'

1 Clem said it was — forking,' said Fergus.

' No, spooning,' said Val. ' The dish ran after the
spoon, you know.'

' Well, but you haven't told me about the schools,'
said Gillian, in elder sisterly propriety, thinking the
subject had better be abandoned.

'Jolly, jolly, scrumptious!' cried Fergus.

1 Oh ! Fergus, mamma doesn't like slang words.
Jasper doesn't say them.'

' Not at home, but men say what they like at school,
and the 'bus was scrumptious and splendiferous !'

' I'm sure it wasn't,' said Valetta ; ' I can't bear
being boxed up with horrid rude boys.'

' Because you are only a girl !'

' Now, Gill, they shot with '

' Val, if you tell '

' Telling Gill isn't telling. Is it, Gill V

She assented.

' They did, Gill. They shot at us with pea-shooters;
sighed the girl.

1 Oh ! it was jolly, jolly, jolly !' cried the boy.
' Stebbing hit the girl who made the sour face on her
cheeks, and they all squealed, and the cad looked in
and tried to jaw us.'


' But that dreadful boy shot right into his mouth,'
said Val, while Fergus went into an ecstasy of laughter.
1 Wasn't it a shame, Gill ?'

' Indeed it was,' said Gillian. ' Such ungentlemanly
boys ought not to be allowed in the omnibus.'

' Girls shouldn't be allowed in the 'bus, they are so
stupid,' said Fergus. ' That one — as cross as old
Halfpenny — who was she, Val?'

' Emma Norton ! Up in the highest form !'

' Well, she is a prig, and a tell-tale-tit besides ;
only Stebbing said if she did, her junior would catch

'What a dreadful bully he must be!' exclaimed

' I'll tell you what,' said Fergus, in a tone of pro-
found admiration, ' no one can hold a candle to him at
batting ! He snowballed all the Kennel choir into
fits, and he can brosier old Tilly's stall, and go on just
the same.'

'What a greedy boy !' exclaimed Val.

'Disgusting,' added Gillian.

'You're girls,' responded Fergus, lengthening the
syllable with infinite contempt ; but Valetta had spirit
enough to reply, ' Much better be a girl than rude and

' Exactly,' said Gillian ; ' it is only little silly boys
who think such things fine. Claude doesn't, nor Harry,
nor Japs.'

' You know nothing about it,' said Fergus.


' Well, but you've never told me about school — how
you are placed, and whom you are under.'

' Oh ! I'm in middle form, under Miss Edgar.
Disgusting ! It's only the third form that go up to
Smiler. She knows it is no use to try to take Stebbing
and Burfield.'

' And, Gill,' added Val, ' I'm in second class too, and
I took three places for knowing where Teheran was,
and got above Kitty .Varley and a girl there two years
older than I am, and her name is Maura.'

' Maura, how very odd ! I never heard of any one
called Maura but one of the Whites,' said Gillian.
' What was her surname ? '

This Valetta could not tell, and at the moment
Mrs. Mount came up with intent to brush Miss
Valetta's hair, and to expedite the going to bed.

Gillian, not very happy about the revelations she
had heard, went downstairs, and found her younger
aunt alone, Miss Mohun having been summoned to a
conference with one of her clients in the parish room.
In her absence Gillian always felt more free and com-
municative, and she had soon told whatever she did
not feel as a sort of confidence, including Valetta's
derivation of spooning, and when Miss Mohun returned
it was repeated to her.

1 Yes/ was her comment, ' children's play is a con-
venient cover to the present form of flirtation. No
doubt Bee Varley and Mr. Marlowe believe themselves
to have been most good-natured.'


'Who is. he, and will it come to anything?' asked
Annt Ada, taking her sister's information for granted.

' Oh no, it is nothing. A civil service man, second
cousin's brother-in-law's stepson. That's quite enough
in these days to justify fraternal romping.'

1 1 thought Beatrice Varley a nice girl.'

' So she is, my dear. It is only the spirit of the
age, and, after all, this deponent saith not which was
the dish and which was the spoon. Have the children
made any other acquaintances, I wonder ? And how
did George Stebbing comport himself in the omni-
bus ? I was sorry to see him there ; I don't trust
that boy.'

' 1 wonder they didn't send him in solitary grandeur
in the brougham,' said Miss Ada.

Gillian held the history of the pea-shooting as a
confidence, even though Aunt Jane seemed to have
been able to see through the omnibus, so she contented
herself with asking who George Stebbing was.

' The son of the manager of the marble works ;
partner, I believe.'

' Yes,' said Aunt Ada, ' the Co. means Stebbing

' Is he a gentleman ? '

' Well, as much as old Mr. White himself, I suppose.
He is come up here — more's the pity — to the aris-
tocratic quarter, if you please,' said Aunt Jane, smiling ;
' and if garden parties are not over, Mr. Stebbing may
show you what they can be.'


' That boy ought to be at a public school,' said her
sister. ' I hope he doesn't bully poor little Fergus.'

1 1 don't think he does,' said Gillian. ' Fergus
seemed rather to admire him.'

' I had rather hear of bullying than patronage in
that quarter,' said Miss Mohun. ' But, Gillian, we
must impress on the children that they are to go to
no one's house without express leave. That will avoid
offence, and I should prefer their enjoying the society
of even the Varleys in this house.'

Did Aunt Jane repent of her decision on the
Thursday half-holiday granted to Mrs. Edgar's pupils,
when, in the midst of the working party round the
dining-room table, in a pause of the reading, some one
said, ' What's that ? ' — and a humming, accompanied by
a drip, drop, drip, drop, became audible ?

Up jumped Miss Mohun, and so did Gillian, half
in consternation, half to shield the boy from her wrath.
In a few moments they beheld a puddle on the mat at
the bottom of the oak stairs, while a stream was de-
scending somewhat as the water comes down at Lodore,
while Fergus's voice could be heard above —

{ Don't, Varley ! You see how it will act. The
string of the humming-top moves the pump handle,
and that spins. Oh !'

' Master Fergus ! Oh — h, you bad boy ! '

The shriek was caused by the avenging furies who
had rushed up the back stairs just as Miss Mohun
had darted up the front, so as to behold, on the landing


between the two, the boys, one spinning the top, the
other working the pump which stood in its own trough
of water, receiving a reckless supply from the tap in
the passage. The maids' scream of ' What will your
aunt say ? ' was answered by her appearance, and rush
to turn the cock.

' Don't, don't, Aunt Jane,' shouted Fergus ; ' I've
almost done it ! Perpetual motion.' He seemed quite
unconscious that the motion was kept up by his own
hands, and even dismay could not turn him from being

' Oh ! Miss Jane,' cried Mrs. Mount, ' if I had
thought what they boys was after.'

' Mop it up, Alice,' said Aunt Jane to the younger
girl. ' No, don't come up, Ada ; it is too wet for you.
It is only a misdirected experiment in hydraulics.'

' I told him not,' said Clement Yarley, thinking
affairs serious.

'Fergus, I am shocked at you,' said Gillian
sternly. ' You are frightfully wet. You must be sent
to bed.'

' You must go and change,' said Aunt Jane, pre-
venting the howl about to break forth. ' My dear
boy, that tap must be let alone. We can't have
cataracts on the stairs.'

' I didn't mean it, Aunt Jane ; I thought it was
an invention,' said Fergus.

'I know; but another time come and ask me
where to try your experiments. Go and take off those


clothes ; and you, Clement, you are soaking too. Eun
home at once.'

Gillian, much scandalised, broke out —

1 It is very naughty. At home, he would be sent
to bed at once.'

'I am not Mrs. Halfpenny, Gillian,' said Aunt
Jane coldly.

1 Jane has a soft spot for inventions, for Maurice's
sake,' said her sister.

' I can't confound ingenuity and enterprise with
wanton mischief, or crush it out for want of sympathy/
said Miss Mohun. ' Come, we must return to our

If Aunt Jane had gone into the state of wrath to
be naturally expected, Gillian would have risen in
arms on her brother's behalf, and that would have
been much pleasanter than the leniency which made
her views of justice appear like unkindness.

This did not dispose her to be the better pleased
at an entreaty from the two children to be allowed to
join Mrs. Hablot's class on Sunday. It appeared
that they had asked Aunt Jane, and she had told
them that their sister knew what their mother would

1 But I am sure she would not mind/ said Valetta.
' Only think, she has got a portfolio with pictures of
everything all through the Bible !'

' Yes/ added Fergus, ' Clem told me. There are
the dogs eating Jezebel, and such a jolly picture of the


lion killing the prophet. I do want to see them !
Varley told me ! '

' And Kitty told me/ added Valetta. ' She is
reading such a book to them. It is called The
Beautiful Face, and is all about two children in a
wood, and a horrid old grandmother and a dear old
hermit, and a wicked baron in a castle ! Do let us go,

' Yes,' said Fergus ; ' it would be ever so much
better fun than poking here.'

' You don't want fun on Sunday.'

' Not fun exactly, but it is nicer.'

' To leave me, the last bit of home, and mamma's
own lessons.'

' They ain't mamma's,' protested Fergus ; but Valetta
was touched by the tears in Gillian's eyes, kissed her,
and declared, c Not that.'

Whether it were on purpose or not, the next Sunday
was eminently unsuccessful ; the Collects were im-
perfect ; the answers in the Catechism recurred to
disused babyish blunders ; Fergus twisted himself into
preternatural attitudes, and Valetta teased the Sofy to
scratching point; they yawned ferociously at The
Birthday, and would not be interested even in the
pony's death. Then when they went out walking,
they would not hear of the sober Eockstone lane, but
insisted on the esplanade, where they fell in with the
redoubtable Stebbing, who chose to patronise instead
of bullying ' little Merry ' — and took him off to the


tide mark — to the agony of his sisters, when they
heard the St. Andrew's bell.

At last, when the tempter had gone off to higher
game, Fergus's Sunday boots and stockings were such
a mass of black mud that Gillian had to drag him
home in disgrace, sending Valetta into church alone.
She would have put him to bed on her own responsi-
bility, but she could not master him ; he tumbled
about the room, declaring Aunt Jane would do no
such thing, rolled up his stockings in a ball, and threw
them in his sister's face.

Gillian retired in tears, which she let no one see,
not even Aunt Ada, and proceeded to record in her
letter to India that those dreadful boys were quite
ruining Fergus, and Aunt Jane was spoiling him.

However, Aunt Jane, having heard what had
become of the youth, met him in no spoiling mood ; and
though she never knew of his tussle with Gillian, she
spoke to him very seriously, shut him into his own
room, to learn thoroughly what he had neglected in
the morning, and allowed him no jam at tea. She
said nothing to Gillian, but there were inferences.

The lessons went no better on the following Sunday ;
Gillian could neither enforce her authority nor interest
the children. She avoided the esplanade, thinking she
had found a nice country walk to the common beyond
the marble works ; but, behold, there was an outbreak
of drums and trumpets and wild singing. The Salva-
tion Army was marching that way, and, what was worse,


yells and cat-calls behind showed that the Skeleton
Army was on its way to meet them. Gillian, frightened
almost out of her wits, managed to fly over an impractic-
able-looking gate into a field with her children, but
Fergus wanted to follow the drum. After that she
gave in. The children went to Mrs. Hablot, and
Gillian thought she saw ' I told you so ' in the corners
of Aunt Jane's eyes.

It was a further offence that her aunt strongly
recommended her going regularly to the High School
instead of only attending certain classes. It would
give her far more chance of success at the examination
to work with others ; and her presence would be good
for Valetta. But to reduce her to a schoolgirl was to
be resented on Miss Vincent's account as well as her



The High School was very large. It stood at present
at the end of a budding branch of Eockquay, where
the managers, assisted by the funds advanced by Lord
Eotherwood and that great invisible potentate, the head
of the marble works, had secured and adapted a suitable

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