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"Give him the carrot!" cried Dan indignantly. "I should like to see
myself! After his behaviour, he'll never even have a sniff of it again,
if I can help it," and Dan sent the carrot flying over the hedge to show
that he meant what he said.

A good lunch, though, restored both his strength and his temper, and
after it was over they all managed to pack into the cart for the rest of
the short distance they had to go. Anna took the reins this time, and
whether it was that Mokus felt the firmness of her grip, or guessed that
rest and freedom for a few hours lay awaiting him at the end of another
mile, no one knew, but he started off down the next hill at quite a
quick trot, which he never once slackened until he was drawn up beside
the low stone hedge which in some long-past age had been erected around
the foot of the tors. Dan declared it was the weight of himself and
Betty on the tail-board which made him go, and having once been started
he could not stop if he wanted to. In any case Mokus was forgiven, and
it was with very kindly hands and many a pat that they unharnessed him
from the cart and tethered him by a long rope to the stump of a stunted
hawthorn bush, close to the remains of a little hut, which, with the old
wall, had often caused the children much speculation as to when and why
it was built there, and by whom.

Then, each carrying a basket, they started to climb to the top to find
first of all a cosy, sheltered spot for a dining-room. On the tors the
sun was shining and the wild thyme smelling as sweetly as though it were
April rather than January.

"Oh, look at the robins!" cried Tony delightedly. They were pausing in
their climb, and the little bright-eyed, warm-breasted creatures were
hopping about them quite boldly. "Kitty, do let me give them some
crumbs, they are such darlings, and I think they are quite glad to see
us. They aren't a bit afraid."

"'To see a robin in a cage
Puts all heaven in a rage,'"

quoted Kitty dreamily.

Anna looked quite shocked. "O Kitty," she said, "how can you? You are
quite profane."

Kitty laughed. "Am I?" she said. "What a dreadful word to use!
I didn't mean to be. I didn't make up those lines, you know. Oh, don't
you think," she went on eagerly, "it would be a nice game to try how
many different verses about robins we can remember?"

"Do you mean nursery verses and all?" asked Dan. Kitty nodded; her
brain was already busy.

"I think it will be lovely," said Betty. "I know quite a lot."

"Go ahead then," urged Dan, "and remember to give author and book."

"Nursery verses and nursery rhymes haven't got any author," said Betty
with a very superior air.

Dan was on the alert at once; he loved to torment Betty.

"No author! Oh! oh! what an appalling display of childish ignorance,"
he cried in pretended horror, "and after all the trouble I have taken
with you too. My dear child, don't you know that some one must have
composed them or they wouldn't be - but there, I suppose little children
can't be expected to understand these things."

"But I do," cried Betty indignantly. "You don't know all I know.
I know a great deal more than you think, though you may not think so."

"Dear me! Do you really now?" said Dan, pretending to be enormously
impressed. "What a genius we may have in the family without our ever
suspecting it. Tell us who wrote:

"'And when they were dead,
The robins so red
Took strawberry leaves and over them spread,'"

"What would be the good?" said Betty, with a sigh as if of hopeless
despair. "You wouldn't reckernize the name if I told you."

"No, I don't expect I should," laughed Dan derisively. "Not the way you
would pronounce it, at least."

"Stop teasing her, Dan," cried Kitty. "We all of us have to think.
Let us take it in turns. Now then, you begin."

For a moment Dan looked somewhat taken aback, then memory came suddenly
to him.

"'Who killed Cock Robin?
"I," said the Spar - '"

"That is not right," said Betty; "you are not beginning at the
beginning; you are missing out half."

"Of course, as if I didn't know that," retorted Dan, but he looked
rather foolish; "but we are only here for the day, after all, and I am
not going to spend it all in saying nursery rhymes. If we were going to
stay a week it would be different."

"That's all very well, but _I_ believe you don't know it," said Betty
softly but decisively.

Whereupon Dan in great wrath burst forth, -

"'It was on a merry time
When Jenny Wren was young,'" etc., etc.

When he had chanted three verses, they begged him to stop. When he had
reached the twelfth they all went on their knees to him and implored him
to stop; but no, on he went, and on and on to the very last line.
"Next time," he said, turning to Betty when he had reached the end,
"I hope you will believe me."

"If I don't I won't say so," remarked Betty softly, with a sigh of
relief; "but of course I can't make myself believe you if I don't."

"Oh, can't you?" said Dan. "You try once and see. Now then, Anna, your
turn."

"I don't know anything about robins," said Anna. "Mother thought
nursery rhymes were foolish. So do I."

"Oh no, you don't really," cried four voices in tones of mingled
amazement and disgust.

"Yes, I do. Why not?"

"What a pity," said Kitty softly. "I think they are beautiful. I am
glad my mother thought so too, But it need not be a nursery rhyme, Anna.
Don't you know,

"'Little bird with bosom red,
Welcome to my humble shed,'

"or any other?"

"Ye - es," said Anna doubtfully. "I had to learn that once at school,
but, somehow, I didn't think that it was about a robin."

"What did you think it was about?" asked Kitty.

"Oh, I don't know. I thought it was just poetry. I never think poetry
has any meaning in it. It seems to me such silly stuff, all about
nothing."

"I suppose even poetry must be about something," said Dan sarcastically.

"I don't think so," said Anna. She, the prize-winner of her class, was
not going to be snubbed by her cousins. "As long as the words rhyme, it
doesn't matter what the rest is like."

To Kitty that seemed neither the time nor the place to argue with Anna,
so she let the subject drop. "Now then, Betty."

"I know so many," said Betty very anxiously, "that they seem to be all
jumbled up in my head, and I can't get one quite right. Let me see
now - "

"Do let me say mine while you are finking. Shall I?" pleaded Tony
eagerly.

"Little Robin Redbreast
Perched upon a tree,
Up went Pussy Cat
And down went he.'"

By the time he reached the end of the second verse he was almost
breathless. "I was afraid you would say it before me," he gasped as he
concluded the last line; "that's why I hurried so."

"Oh, I was trying to think of something much more - more, well, not so
babyish; more like what Kitty said than what you and Dan said."

"Perhaps you had better compose something yourself," said Dan, "and we
will go on and light the fire and get the dinner ready while you are
about it."

"You needn't be in a bad temper," retorted Betty severely, "even if you
couldn't make the donkey go." And Dan thought perhaps it might be wiser
not to torment his younger sister any more.



CHAPTER XV.


MISSING!

They all struggled to their feet after that, collected their baskets,
and resumed their climb, over big boulders, through furze and bracken,
dead now and withered, but beautiful in the glow of the clear wintry
sunshine, until at last they came to an immense flat rock, with another
rising high behind it, sheltering them from the wind and catching every
gleam of sunshine that possibly could be caught.

Here they spread their cloth, laying large pebbles on the corners of it
to keep it down, and on it they spread their feast, and then at last
there was nothing left to do but sit down and enjoy it. The sun shone
quite warmly, a soft little breeze blew up from the valley, bringing
with it the mingled scents of peat smoke, crushed thyme, and wet moss.
From their high perch they looked down on long stretches of brown fields
ploughed in ridges, with here and there a big gray rock dropped into
the middle of it, and here and there a roughly-built cottage, not much
bigger, seemingly, than some of the rocks. In a distant field a man was
carrying mangolds to a flock of sheep. The bleating of the sheep
floated up to them through the still air, and, with the voices of the
birds, made the only sounds of life that reached them. The scene,
though lovely in the eyes of the children, was desolate to a degree.
Scarcely a tree marked the landscape, and those there were were bowed
and stunted, leaning landwards as though running before the cold winds
which blew with such force across the few miles of flat, bare country
which alone lay between them and the Atlantic Ocean.

To-day, though, it was hard to believe that that sunny spot was often so
bleak and storm-swept that man and beast avoided it. Anna gazed about
her wonderingly, but somewhat awed.

"It seems dreadfully wild and lonely," she said, with a shiver.
"And how flat and ugly it is, all but these tors. I wonder how they
came to be here like this. I should think the people who used to live
here must have piled up all these rocks to clear them out of the fields.
They left a good many behind, though."

"No one could have lifted rocks like these, and piled them up like
this," said Dan scornfully. "They were thrown up like this by an
earthquake, father says, and after the earthquake the sea - you know the
sea used to cover all the country as far as we can see - "

"Nonsense!" interrupted Anna. "Now you are trying to take me in; but
you won't make me believe such nonsense as that."

"Very well," crossly, "don't believe it then; only don't ask questions
another time if you mean to turn round and sneer when a fellow tries to
explain. I suppose you won't believe either that giants used to live
here?"

Anna laughed even more scornfully. "No, I will not," she said loftily.
"I am not quite stupid enough to believe all the nonsense you would like
to make me."

"If you could only realize it, it is you who are talking nonsense," said
Dan crushingly, and he turned away from her. He was not going to tell
any of his beloved legends and stories for Anna to sneer at. "It is
simply a sign of ignorance," he said, with his most superior air, "not
to believe in things because we haven't actually seen them with our very
own eyes. I suppose you will not believe that St. Michael's Mount used
to be surrounded with woods where there is sea now, until a huge wave
rushed in and swamped everything, right up to the foot of the Mount, and
never went back again?"

"No," said Anna obstinately, "of course I shouldn't believe it.
Such things couldn't happen. It is silly to tell such stories as you
Cornish people do, and expect other people to believe them."

Kitty looked at her in pained surprise. It seemed to her that Anna's
way of speaking was quite irreverent. She longed to know, yet shrank
from asking her, if she scorned, too, those other stories, so precious
and real to Kitty, the story of King Arthur in his hidden resting-place,
waiting to be roused from his long sleep; of Tristram and Iseult asleep
in the little chapel beneath the sea; of - oh, a hundred others of giants
and fairies, witches and spectres. But she held her peace rather than
hear them scoffed at and discredited.

The sunshine, chased by a cloud and a fresh little breeze, disappeared.
Anna shivered and looked about her.

"Oh, how gloomy and lonely it all looks directly the sun goes in!" she
cried. "I should hate to be here in the dark, or in a storm. Shouldn't
you, Kitty? I think I should die of fright; I know I should if I were
here alone."

"I'd love to be here in a storm," said Kitty firmly, "a real
thunderstorm. It would be grand to watch it all from the top of the
tors. I don't think I would very much mind being up here all night
either. You see, there is nothing that could possibly hurt one, no wild
beasts or robbers. Bad people would be afraid to come."

"I think it would be perfectly dreadful," shuddered Anna. "You would
never know who was coming round the rocks, or who was hiding; and
robbers could come behind you and catch you, and you wouldn't be able to
see or hear them until they were right on you; and you might scream and
scream with all your might and main and no one would hear you."

"If I sneered at giants, I wouldn't talk of robbers if I were you," said
Dan severely. "Imagine robbers coming to a place like this!
Why, there's nothing and nobody to rob."

"They would come here to hide, of course, not to rob," said Anna
crushingly, and Dan felt rather small.

Betty and Tony began to feel bored.

"I am going to get sticks for the fire," said Betty. "Come along, Tony.
You others can come, too, if you like."

"Betty is beginning to think of her tea already," laughed Dan, but they
all joined her in her search - not that there was any need to search, for
dry sticks and furze bushes lay all around them in profusion.

"Oh, here's the cromlech," cried Kitty, coming suddenly on the great
rock, which was poised so lightly on top of other great rocks that it
would sway under the lightest touch, yet had remained unmoved by all the
storms and hurricanes of the ages that had passed over it. She ran
lightly up and on to it, and stood there swaying gently, the breeze
fluttering out her skirts and flushing her cheeks.

"You must make a wish while you are standing on it, and then if you can
make the rock move you will get your wish," explained Betty to Anna.
"It isn't every one who can. I don't suppose you could, 'cause you
don't believe in things like we do."

Nevertheless Anna was bent on trying, and grew quite cross because the
rock would not move for her. "No, I don't believe it," she snapped.
"You Cornish people are so suppositios; and it is _dreadfully_ ignorant
to be so. Mother said so."

Dan fairly shrieked with delight; he always did when Anna or Betty used
a wrong word, particularly if it was a long one.

"Though it is so early, I am going to light the fire now," said Kitty,
anxious to make a diversion and prevent squabbles, "because I want to
smell the smell of the burning fuz."

Which she did then and there; and then, perhaps in absent-mindedness,
she put the kettle on, and it boiled before any one could believe the
water was even warm, and then, of course, there was nothing to be done
but make the tea and drink it. But the air up there was so wonderful
that no matter how quickly the meals came the appetites were ready.

"The smell of the smoke was feast enough in itself," Kitty said.

But she did not omit to take a liberal share of more solid food as well.
And oh! how good it all tasted - the tea, the bread and butter, the
saffron cake, all had a flavour such as they never had elsewhere, and
the air was growing fresh enough to make the hot tea very acceptable and
comfortable.

They did not sit long after they had done, for it really was beginning
to grow chilly.

"Now you had all better go and have a game of some kind or other," said
Kitty, "and I will pack the baskets ready to go into the cart, and then
I'll come and play too."

It took her longer, though, than she had counted on to pack all the
things so that they would travel safely, and she had put them in and
taken them out again so many times that when at last she had done, and
glanced up with a sigh of relief to look for the others, she saw with
dismay that the short winter's day was well-nigh over. The sun had
disappeared quite suddenly, leaving behind it a leaden, lowering sky,
while in the distance hung a thick mist, which told of heavy rain not
far off.

"I will call the others. I think we had better be starting soon; the
weather has changed," she murmured, and, springing to her feet, she
shouted, and shouted, and shouted again. No answer came.

Still calling, she went around the tors to another point, but she could
catch no glimpse of any living being, and in that great waste of rocks
and furze and underbrush it was not surprising. Kitty, though, was
surprised and a little bit alarmed, and she ran from point to point,
calling and calling again; but for a long time the only answer was the
long sighs the wind gave as it rushed over the level land, and lost
itself with a little wail of anger amongst the old tors. Then at last
came a long shout, and Dan appeared, and almost at the same moment a
drop fell smartly on Kitty's cheek, then another and another, and
suddenly a heavy downpour descended on them.

"I saw it coming," gasped Dan. "Look!" and Kitty looked across the land
stretching below, and saw rain in a dense column rushing towards them,
driven by a squall which dashed it into them pitilessly.

In little more than a moment the whole place had changed from a sunny,
idyllic little paradise to a bleak, howling wilderness, lonely, weird,
exposed to all the worst storms of heaven.

"Where are the others?" gasped Kitty, seizing some of the packages to
run with them to the cart.

"I told them not to climb up here again, but to start for home and we
would overtake them as quickly as we could. It wasn't raining then, or
I'd have told them to run to the little shanty; but I should think
they'd have the sense to do that," said Dan.

"Oh yes, I expect they are all right. Now then, run, but run
carefully," added Kitty. "All the cups are in that basket, and Aunt
Pike will be very angry if we break any."

But it was not easy to run at all, or even to hurry down that rugged
slope, while carrying five baskets and a rug or two, with a squall
catching them at every turn, and the short, dry grass becoming as
slippery as glass with the rain; but at long last they reached the foot
and the little hut, and there they found Betty struggling with all her
might to get Mokus between the shafts of the cart.

"He will have to be taken out again, I expect," said Dan in an aside to
Kitty. "She has probably done up every strap wrongly. It is good of
her, though, to try."

"I am glad she made Tony stand in under shelter," said Kitty thankfully,
as her eye fell on her little brother in the doorway of the hut.
"Where is Anna? I suppose she is inside."

"You bet," said Dan shortly. "Anna knows how to take care of herself."

But Anna was not in the shanty, or anywhere within reach of their
shouts.

"I expect she is ever so far towards home by now," said Betty absently,
quite absorbed in the interest of harnessing Mokus. "She started to
walk home as fast as ever she could. I called to her to wait, but she
wouldn't listen."

"Oh, well, it's all right; she can't miss the road, and we shall soon
overtake her," said Dan. "Now then, in you get."

It was great fun packing themselves into the cart. Betty and Tony, in
great spirits, sat in the bottom of it, with a rug drawn over them like
a tent, and two little peepholes to peer through, and were as happy and
warm as could be. Kitty and Dan sat upon the seat with the other rug
round their shoulders, and the moment they were ready and had gathered
up the reins, Mokus, who had been standing flapping his long ears
crossly when the rain struck him particularly smartly, started off at a
really quick trot, which covered the ground rapidly, but rattled and
jolted the cart to such an extent that it was all Dan and Kitty could do
to keep their seats, while as for the two in the bottom of the cart,
they were tossed about like parched peas in a frying-pan. And oh! how
they all laughed! It is not always the funniest or wittiest things that
cause the most laughter, and somehow to-day the sight of Mokus flying
along on his little hoofs, the dreary scene, the lashing rain,
themselves wrapped up like a lot of gipsies, with the risk of finding
themselves at any moment tossed out and left sitting in the mud, made
them laugh and laugh until they ached. And all the time Dan kept on
saying the silliest things, and waving his whip about his head as though
he were a Roman driving a chariot drawn by fiery horses, urging Mokus on
to a more and more reckless pace, until at last they had to beg him to
stop, they were aching so with laughter.

But except for some forlorn-looking geese on the common, who hissed at
them as they passed, they did not meet a living creature the whole of
the way they went.

"Cheer up, old ladies!" Dan shouted to the geese consolingly, "you've
nothing on to spoil. If I'd been made to stand a flood as you have, I
wouldn't make a fuss about a little summer shower like this."

"If you want your last glimpse of the tors," said Kitty, who knew every
inch of the way, "look back now." And they all looked, and all
shuddered as their eyes travelled over the spot where they had so lately
been basking in the sunshine. It looked gloomy and awe-inspiring now,
with black clouds lowering over it, a heavy mist wrapping it round,
while at the foot the little neglected shanty added the last desolate
touch to the wild scene. "Doesn't it seem impossible that we were
playing there only a little while ago," said Kitty, "and I was wishing I
could sleep there?" Then, with sudden recollection, "I wonder where
Anna is. She must have walked very fast."

"I only hope she isn't still up there," said Dan with a laugh, waving
his hand towards the tors. "Poor old Anna!"

"Oh!" squealed Betty, who loved horrors and excitements, "suppose she
is, and sees us going farther and farther away from her. If she called
and called, nobody would hear her, and oh, she'll be so frightened.
If she had to stay there all night, I am sure she would die of fright,"
and Betty looked utterly horrified. "What shall we do? Isn't it
egsciting!"

"No, not at all," said Dan impatiently; "don't be silly. Why should she
be there? I told you all to hurry homewards, and Anna did as she was
told. That is the difference between you and Anna, you see."

"Well," said Betty thoughtfully, "I didn't do as I was told, but I think
I've got the best of it - especially," she added, "if Anna _is_ left
behind."

Dan seemed to take it as a personal insult that she should dwell on such
a possibility. "If you say anything more about Anna being left behind,"
he said, "I'll put you out of the cart and send you back to look for
her."

"Then there would be two of us lost instead of one," said Betty
aggravatingly, "and oh, wouldn't you get into a row when you got home!"

"She must be on ahead," said Kitty, anxious to make peace.
"Only I didn't think she had had time to get so far."

"Perhaps some one has given her a lift," said Dan, with sudden hope.
"Anna is sharp enough to take or to ask for one if she had the chance.
She knows it is a tight pack for us all to get in this cart at once, and
she would think Mokus would behave as badly going home as he did on the
way out."

This all seemed to them so likely, that they drove on again gaily, their
minds quite easy about her; all except Betty, who persisted in gazing
back at the tors as long as they were in view, in the hope of seeing a
signal of distress. Mokus stepped out at a pace that the carrots had
never roused him to on the outward journey, yet darkness had come on
before they reached Gorlay.

"Isn't it like old times," sighed Betty happily, "driving through the
dark and the wet, and then reaching home, and changing and having a
jolly tea by the fire, and there will be no Aunt Pike, and we will be
able to stay up as late as we like - "

"But there will be Anna," said Tony. "It won't be _quite_ the same."

But, alas, there was no Anna, and her absence on this particular
occasion did much more to upset their evening than her presence would
have done. In answer to their inquiries as to when and how she got
back, they were told that she had not got back at all. No one had seen
her, and a dreadful conviction began to steal over them that she would
not come - that, in fact, she was lost, and probably, as Betty had
suggested, wandering about those dangerous tors, frightened nearly out
of her senses. What was to be done? At first they were for waiting;
but then, as the rain continued to stream down, and the wind to blow
gustily, they felt that it was no time for delay. Something must be
done, and done quickly.

"Oh, if only father were home!" cried Kitty despairingly.
But unfortunately Dr. Trenire was in Plymouth on business, and would
certainly not be home that night.

Dan sprang up, and began to put on his boots and leggings. "I am going


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