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somewhere, waiting for some spell to be removed. She was sure of it, as
sure as she was that King Arthur sat sleeping in his hidden cave,
spellbound until some one, brave and good and strong enough, should find
him and blow a huge blast on the horn which lay on the table before him,
and so waken him from his long magic sleep. In her heart of hearts she
had a secret conviction that some day she would find the magic cave, and
Dan it would be who would possess the power to blow the magic horn.

She pictured herself dressed in flowing robes of white and gold, with
her hair in long plaits reaching to her knees, riding away beside the
king through those very woods, with the sunlight gleaming through the
trees and flashing on the water, and on her other hand would ride Dan in
shining armour, a second Sir Galahad. She saw herself a woman, such a
beautiful, graceful woman, with earnest eyes and gentle face. She saw a
knight, oh! such a splendid, courtly knight, and he looked at her and
looked again, and -

A little way up the hill she sat alone, her chin on her hand, gazing
down at the sun-flecked river, the shining sand, the fairy-like trees,
and saw it all as plainly as though it were then happening. She saw the
graceful steeds, richly caparisoned, daintily picking their way through
underwood and rocks. A stick cracked somewhere near. Could they be
coming? She hardly dared look about her lest she should be
disappointed.



CHAPTER VI.


TEA AT THE FARM.

"Kitty, _are_ you coming, or _are_ you not? It is very mean of you to
keep us waiting all this time when you know how hungry we are!"

With a deep, regretful sigh and a little shake Kitty rose and made her
way to the large flat rock by the water's edge, on which the others had
grouped themselves in more or less easy attitudes, with the food as a
centrepiece. Betty had spread a sheet of white paper, and on it had
arranged the pasties according to their length.

"You need not have waited for me," said Kitty, annoyed at having her
dreams so broken in upon. "We have each got our own, and can eat them
when we like."

"But we never do begin until we all begin together," said Betty
reproachfully, "It would seem dreadfully mean; besides, we want you to
say which is my pasty and which Dan's. The letter has been broken on
one, and knocked right off another. I carried them ever and ever so
carefully, so it can't be my fault. Don't you think this is meant for a
'D,' and that one" - holding out the largest - "without any letter at all,
is mine?"

Dan felt so sure of getting his rights that he lay quite undisturbed,
throwing bits of moss into the water, and left the others to settle the
dispute.

"No, I don't," said Kitty, without the slightest hesitation.
"Dan always has the largest, whether there is a letter on it or not, and
you always have the smallest but one."

Betty accepted the decision without dispute. She had really not
expected any other, but she liked to assert herself now and then.

"I can't see," she said musingly, "why you should be expected to want
less to eat if you are only ten than if you are twelve. It seems to me
so silly. It isn't your age that makes you hungry."

As a rule the others left Betty to find the answer to her own arguments,
so she expected none from them. She got none now. They were all too
busy and too hungry to argue. Tony alone was not eating. He was
sitting with his pasty in one hand, while the other one was full of
anemones that he had gathered on his way, intending to take them home to
Fanny; but already the pretty delicate heads had begun to droop, and
Tony was gazing with troubled eyes at them. He loved flowers so much he
could never refrain from gathering them, but the clasp of his hot little
hand was almost always fatal, and then he was grieved and remorseful.

Kitty, watching him, knew well what was in his mind. He looked up
presently and caught her eye.

"I think I would put them in the river, if I were you, dear," she said.
"You see we shan't get home for hours yet, and they will be quite dead
long before that. If you put them in the river they will revive."

"Won't it be drowning them?" asked Tony anxiously.

"No; they will float."

"I know what I will do," he said, cheered by an idea that had come into
his head. He laid down his pasty and trotted down to the edge of the
river. In the wet sand he made little holes with his fingers, put the
stems in the holes, and covered them up as though they were growing;
then, greatly relieved, he returned and ate his pasty contentedly.

A pasty, even to a Cornish child, makes a satisfying meal, and when it
is flanked by sandwiches, and apples, and a good draught of river water,
there is no disinclination to remain still for a little while. The four
sat on quietly, and talked in a lazy, happy way of the present, the
future, and the past - of what each one hoped to be, and of Dan's career
in particular; whether he would go away to school, and where. Aunt Pike
came under discussion too, but not with that spirit of bitterness which
would have been displayed at home, or before a less satisfying repast.
Here, in the midst of this beauty and peace, everything seemed
different. Wrongs and worries appeared so much smaller and less
important - any grievance was bearable while there was this to come to.

They talked so long that a change came over the aspect of the woods.
The sun lost its first clear, penetrating brilliancy, and took on a
deeper glow. Dan noticed it first, and sprang to his feet.

"Let's move on," he cried, "or it will be tea-time before we have done
anything."

"If we are going to have ham and eggs for tea," said matter-of-fact
Betty, "I think one of us had better order them soon, or Mrs. Henderson
may say she can't cook them in time."

The appeal did not touch them so keenly as it would have done had their
last meal been a more distant memory. But, at the same time, the ham
and eggs and cream tea was to be a part of their day, and they were not
going to be deprived of it. So they clambered up through the woods
again till they reached the railway line, and strolled along it until
they came to the farm.

Kitty, being the eldest, was chosen to go in and order the tea, while
the others hung over the gate and sniffed in the mingled perfume of the
roses, the pinks, and all the other sweet-scented flowers with which the
little garden was stocked. Across the garden, in the hedge, was another
gate through which they could see a steep sunny field stretching away
down to the river bank, which was steeper here and higher, with old
gnarled trees growing out of it, their large roots so exposed that one
wondered how they managed to draw sustenance enough from the ground to
support the great trunks and spreading branches.

"I have ordered ham and eggs, and cream, and jam, and cake," said
Kitty, as she rejoined them, "and it will all be ready in an hour.
It is three o'clock now."

"Only three!" sighed Dan in mock despair. "One whole hour to wait!
Will it take all that time to get it ready?"

"I think it is a good thing," said Betty, "that we have to wait, for we
are not _very_ hungry now - at least I am not; and you see we've got to
pay the same however little we eat, and it does seem a pity to waste our
money."

"What a mind she has!" cried Dan, pretending to be lost in admiration.
But at that same moment there once more reached their ears sounds as of
an approaching earthquake.

"The train!" cried Betty, and seizing Tony's hand, drew him carefully
back close to the gate.

Dan cast a hasty look around him for handy missiles. Kitty saw it, and
knew what was in his mind.

"Don't throw things at them, Dan, please! Think of yesterday, and
Jabez, and Aunt Pike. _Don't_ throw anything to hurt them."

The "Rover" was lumbering nearer and nearer. The two men on it had
already caught sight of the quartette at the gate, and were grinning at
them derisively. It really was almost more than any human boy could be
expected to endure.

"Ha, ha!" jeered the men, as they lumbered by, "be yer boots dry yet,
sir? Wonderful cooling to the brain a wet 'at is - cooling to the feet,
too, sometimes!"

Dan's blood rose. He felt he simply had to throw something, or do
something desperate. Betty's basket, still well supplied, was hanging
on her arm close beside him. With one grab he seized the contents, and
first an apple went flying through the air, then a paper packet.
Tonkin, the fireman, caught the apple deftly; the packet hit Dumble on
the chest, and dropped to the floor. Dumble himself was too fat to
stoop, so Tonkin pounced on it. The engine was at a little distance
now, and aim was easier. Another apple, well directed, hit Tonkin fair
and square on the top of his head, while a third caught Dumble with no
mean force full on his very broad nose, making him dance and shout with
pain.

As the engine disappeared round the bend, with the two men grasping
their spoils and their bruises, Dan felt himself avenged, and the one
cloud on his day was lifted.

Kitty drew a deep sigh of relief that the episode was ended; Betty, one
of regret.

"There were six large sandwiches in that packet," she said
reproachfully, "and the apples were beauties. I wish now I had eaten
more. I am sure I could have if I had tried."

Though there was plenty to do in the woods, that hour to tea-time seemed
somehow a very long one, and quite ten minutes before it was up they
were back at the farm to inquire if it was four o'clock yet.
Mrs. Henderson smiled knowingly as she saw them gathered at the door,
but she noticed that the eager faces were flushed and weary-looking, and
she asked them in to sit down and rest, promising she would not keep
them long.

As they were to have "a savour to their tea" they were to have the meal
in the house, instead of in the garden, and glad enough they were to
sink into the slippery, springless easy-chairs, which seemed to them
then the most luxurious seats the world could produce - at least they did
to Kitty and Dan, who took the only two; Betty got on the window-seat
and stretched herself out; Tony, a very weary little man indeed,
scrambled on to Kitty's lap; and all of them, too tired to talk much,
gazed with interest about the long, low room.

It was not beautiful, and they knew it well, yet the fascination of it
never failed. On the walls were hung large framed historical and
scriptural scenes, worked in cross-stitch with wool's of the brightest
hues, varied by a coloured print of a bird's-eye view of the battle of
Tel-el-Kebir, an almanac for the current year, and a large oleograph of
a young lady und a dog wreathed in roses that put every flower in the
garden to shame for size and brilliancy. But none of these could give a
tithe of the pleasure the worked ones did; there was such fascination in
counting how many stitches went to the forming of a nose, how many red
and how many white to the colouring of a cheek, or the shaping of the
hands, and fingers, and toes.

"I didn't know that Robert Bruce had six toes!" said Betty, very solemn
with the importance of her discovery, her eyes fastened on a
representation of that hero asleep in a cave, while a spider as large as
his head wove a web of cables across the opening. "Did you, Dan?"

"Didn't you?" answered Dan gravely. "Don't you know that in Scotland
they have an extra toe in case one should get frost-bitten and drop
off?"

"Of course I know it is very cold up there," said Betty, who was never
willing to admit ignorance of anything; "but supposing two got
frost-bitten and dropped off, what would they do then?"

Dan, pretending not to hear her question, strolled over to the bookcase.

"Surely it must be tea-time!" he exclaimed.

Betty, seeing that no answer was forthcoming, slipped from her seat to
examine more closely some wax fruit which, under a glass case, adorned a
side-table.

"I do think it is wonderful how they make them," she said impressively;
"they are so exactly like real fruit."

Mrs. Henderson, coming into the room at that moment, heard the remark,
and her heart was won. She had more than once had a suspicion that some
of her visitors laughed at her treasured ornaments, and made jokes about
them, and the thought had hurt her, for her affections clung to them,
and particularly to the was fruit, which had been one of her most prized
wedding gifts, so Betty's remark went straight to her heart. She beamed
on Betty, and Betty beamed back on her.

"You have such a lot of beautiful things, Mrs. Henderson," she said in
her politest manner. "I can't help admiring them."

"It's very kind of you, I'm sure, miss. Of course we all get attached
to what's our own, specially when 'tis gived to us; and I'm very proud
of my fruit, same as I am of my worked pictures."

"I think they are wonderful," breathed Betty, turning from the wax fruit
to gaze at Eli and Samuel. "Did you" - in a voice full of awe -
"really work them yourself, Mrs. Henderson?"

"I did, missie, every stitch of them," said their owner proudly;
"and all while I was walking out with Henderson."

"While you were walking!" gasped Betty. "But how could you see where
you were going?"

Mrs. Henderson laughed. "No, missie; I mean the years we was courting."

"How interesting," said Betty solemnly. "I think I shall work some for
my house when I am married. Do you work them on canvas? Can I get it
in Gorlay?"

"Yes, miss; but you needn't hurry to begin to-night," said Mrs.
Henderson, laughing. "If you want any help, though, when you do begin,
or would like to copy mine, I'll be very glad to do what I can for you."

"Oh, thank you very much. I should like to do some exactly like yours,"
cried Betty excitedly. "Then, when I'm far away, they'll always remind
me of you and the farm, and - and I'd like to begin with Robert Bruce and
his six toes, and - "

"You would never have patience to do work like that," interrupted Dan
cruelly, "nor the money either; and I don't suppose you will ever go out
of Gorlay."

"You wait," said Betty, very much annoyed by his humiliating
outspokenness. "You wait" - with a toss of her head - "until I am grown
up, then I shall marry some one, and I shall travel, and - "

"All right," said Dan, "I will wait; and I hope I never have a headache
till it happens."



CHAPTER VII.


THE "ROVER" TAKES THEM HOME.

Tony was nearly asleep on Kitty's shoulder, and Kitty herself was
distinctly drowsy, but the arrival of the teapot and the ham and eggs
roused them effectually. Kitty took her place before the tea-tray, Dan
before the hot dish, Betty got as near the cream as she could, and Tony
drew a chair close to Kitty, and very soon their spirits began to rise
to their highest, and their tiredness vanished. The tea was refreshing,
the ham and home-made bread and everything on the table were perfectly
delicious, and they ate, and ate, and talked and laughed until Kitty
wondered how it was that Mrs. Henderson did not come in and ask them to
be quiet. They had all, at the same moment, reached that mood when
everything one says, or thinks, or does, sounds or seems amusing; and
they laughed and laughed without being able to check themselves, until
at last Kitty found herself with her head in the tea-tray, while Dan
hung limply over the back of his chair, and Betty and Tony laid their
heads on the table and held their aching sides.

"Oh dear!" cried Kitty, straightening herself and trying to compose her
face. "They say it is unlucky to laugh so much. I wonder if it is
true. It does seem hard, doesn't it?"

The thought sobered them a little, and they gave themselves up to their
tea.

"I never know," said Betty thoughtfully, after a somewhat long silence,
"whether it is better to begin with ham and end with cream and jam, or
to begin with cream and then have the ham, but it seems to me that it is
just the same whichever I do - I _can't_ eat much of both. I have tried
and tried."

"I call that a real affliction," said Dan soberly. "Of course there is
just a chance that you may grow out of it in time, but it is hard
lines."

"Yes," sighed Betty, "it really is," and lapsed into quietness.
"Another time," she said at last, very gravely, "I think I shall come
twice, and not have both at the same tea."

"Perhaps you would like Mrs. Henderson to save you some till to-morrow,"
suggested Dan ironically.

"No - o," said Betty seriously, "I don't think I will. I don't expect I
shall want any more as soon as to-morrow, but - "

"You aren't feeling ill, are you?" asked Kitty anxiously, as she studied
Betty's face.

"No - o," answered Betty slowly, "not ill; but it's funny that what is so
nice to think about before tea isn't half as nice after."

"If I were you," said Dan pointedly, "I would go and sit in the meadow
for a bit, and keep very still until it is time to go home."

"I think I will," said Betty gravely, and started; but they had all
finished their meal by this time, and following Dan's advice, strolled
out once more to the scented garden, and down through the sloping meadow
to the riverside. It was nearly time to wind their way homewards, but
they must have a little rest first, and one more look at the river and
the woods, so they perched themselves about on the old tree roots, which
formed most comfortable and convenient seats - all but Dan, who seemed to
prefer to perch on a rock which stood in the middle of the river, which
was shallower here and wider. To get to it he had to take off his shoes
and stockings and wade, which perhaps made up for the uncomfortableness
of the seat when he reached it, and soon sent him wading back through
the cool rippling water again.

The handkerchiefs of the family having been commandeered in place of a
towel, and Dan's feet clad once more, they all sat on in a state of
lazy, happy content, playing "Ducks and Drakes," or talking, until at
last Kitty, looking at the sky, saw with a shock that the sun was
already setting, and realizing that they still had the long walk home
before them, roused the party to sudden activity.

They were all on their feet in a moment. "I think we had better get out
on the road by this gate, instead of going back to the house again," she
said, hurrying towards one at the end of the field which brought them at
once out on to the road.

"But hadn't you better pay Mrs. Henderson?" questioned Betty, as she
panted after her hurrying sister.

"Oh!" Kitty stood still and gasped, "I had quite forgotten! How stupid
of me! I am glad you remembered, Betty," and they all streamed back to
the farm again and into the little garden, more heavily scented than
ever now as the flowers revived in the dew and cooler air.

Mrs. Henderson came out to them quite smilingly, and apparently not at
all concerned about their debt to her. In her hand she was holding a
flower-pot with a sturdy-looking little rose bush flowering in it.
The children eyed it admiringly. It had two delicate pink roses in full
bloom on it, and several little buds. "I was wondering, missie," she
said, turning to Betty, and holding out the rose to her, "if you would
be pleased to have this little plant; 'tis off my old monthly rose that
I've had for so many years. I planted this one last year and it has
come on nicely. Would you be pleased to accept it?"

Betty gasped. For a moment she was so surprised and overjoyed as to be
speechless. "Me! For me!" she cried at last. "Oh, how lovely!
Thank you _so_ much, Mrs. Henderson. I'll keep it always, and 'tend to
it myself every day. I have never had a plant of my own before, and I
shall love it," and Betty took her rose in her arms and hugged it in
pure joy.

"You have made Betty very happy now, Mrs. Henderson," said Kitty,
without a trace of envy in her heart. "Thank you for all you have done
for us. Good-night."

"Good-night, and thank you for our fine tea," said Dan, and one by one
they passed out of the scented garden, and on their homeward way.

A soft evening mist was creeping slowly up over the river and the
sloping meadow; the distant woods looked desolate, and almost awesome.
Kitty could nut picture them now peopled as they had been in the
morning, and her efforts to do so were soon interrupted by a little
piteous voice beside her.

"My feets do hurt me," said Tony plaintively. "I s'pose I mustn't take
off my boots?"

"Poor old Tony," cried Dan. "Here, let me carry you," and he hoisted
his tired little brother on to his shoulders. But Dan was tired too,
and the way was long, and they had either to walk in single file along
the tiny track worn beside the sleepers, or over the sleepers
themselves, and that meant progressing by a series of hops and jumps,
which might perhaps be amusing for a few minutes at the beginning of a
day's pleasuring, but is very far from amusing when one is tired and the
way is long. The summer evening was warm too.

"I wish the old 'Rover' would come along," panted Dan at the end of
about a quarter of an hour's march. "I'd get those fellows to give us a
lift for part of the way at any rate."

"Oh," sighed Betty, "how lovely that would be! But things don't happen
when you want them to, do they?"

Miss Betty's sad and cynical view of life was wrong though, for not so
very much later the familiar rumbling and shaking, and puffing and
rattling, reached their ears once more, and coming, too, from the
direction of Wenbridge.

In a state of anxious excitement they all stood to await it. "Hadn't we
better hold up a pocket-handkerchief for a white flag to show them we
are friendly?" asked Betty anxiously.

"They wouldn't understand if we did," said Dan impatiently.
"They'd only think we were trying to frighten them. Kitty, if you go
back towards them, holding up your hand, they will know it's all right.
They will trust you. It's only me they are down on, really."

Kitty went back at once, and fortunately, just as she was trying to
attract their attention and make them understand that she had only
friendly intentions, they brought the engine to a standstill for Tonkin
to get down and collect some faggots which lay beside the way.
The engine snorted, and spit, and panted, and Dumble watched Kitty's
approach with an eye which was not encouraging; but Kitty, though her
heart was quaking a little, advanced bravely.

"Dumble," she called to him, in a friendly, conciliating voice,
stretching up to him confidingly - "Dumble, we are _so_ tired. My little
brother Tony can hardly get on at all, his feet are hurting him so
badly, and he is too heavy for Dan to carry all the way; and Dan is
tired too, and - and we wondered if - if you would give us a lift, even
if it is only for a little way. Will you?"

Dumble, his face rather flushed, straightened himself. "Look at my
nose, miss," he said meaningly. "Look at my nose," pointing to that
poor feature, which certainly looked red and swollen. "That's your
brother's doings, heaving apples and not caring what he strikes with
'em, and yet after that you can come and ask me to take 'ee all aboard
of my train."

"I am very sorry, Dumble, that you got hit, I am really, but - well, you
did get the apples and some nice sandwiches too, you know; and when you
aim at Dan it is never with anything nicer than hot water, and you know
you did really scald him once but he never told how it was done."

Dumble looked rather foolish. "Didn't 'ee now?" he said, but his tone
was less indignant. "Yes, we had the apples, and fine ones they were
too. Well, come along. Tell 'em all to look sharp and hop up, for 'tis
'bout time we was to 'ome, and the 'Rover' put up for the night."

Gladly enough the others obeyed her eager signals. Joyfully they
scrambled up into the high carriage and dropped on the dusty, gritty
seats. Dan and his enemies exchanged broad, sheepish smiles, but they
were amiable smiles. Tonkin flung up the last of the faggots and
climbed up on the engine, and off they started. And _what_ a journey it
was! All about them stretched the country, vast and still and empty,
they themselves, seemingly, the only living creatures in it, the panting
and rumbling of the engine the only sound to be heard, for it drowned
all such gentle sounds as the "good-nights" of the birds, the distant
lowing of cows, the rippling of the brook beside the way.

Daylight was fading fast. Here and there the way was narrow, and the
hedges so high that the hawthorns almost met overhead; and here and
there, where tall fir trees lined the road on either side, it was very


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