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nice could be. "What I was, you mean," said granny. "I don't seem to
have the strength to scrub anything now-a-days."

"Oh, well, there's no need for 'ee to. You've got Mona to do that kind of
thing for 'ee."

Mona's heart sank even lower. "Then he really had no thought of having
her home again!"

"I've brought your clothes, Mona," he said, turning again to her.
"Lucy was troubled that they hadn't been sent before. She thought you
must be wanting them."

"Thank you," said Mona, dully, and could think of nothing more to say,
though she knew her father waited for an answer.

"I've brought 'ee some fish, mother," picking up the basket. "It come in
last night. I thought you might fancy a bit, and Lucy sent a bit of
bacon, her own curing, and a jelly, or something of that sort."
Granny's face brightened. Though she had not approved of Mona's being
given a stepmother, she appreciated Lucy's kindness, and when they
presently sat down to dinner and she had some of the jelly, she
appreciated it still more. Her appetite had needed coaxing, but there had
been nothing to coax it with. "It tempts anyone to eat," she remarked,
graciously. "When one is out of sorts, one fancies something out of the
common."

"Lucy'll be rare and pleased to think you could take a bit," said Peter,
delighted for Lucy's sake.

"Yes, thank you. She's made it very nice. A trifle sour, perhaps, but I
like things rather sharpish."

"Mother," said Peter suddenly, "I wish you'd come to Seacombe to live.
It'd be nice to have you near." His eyes had been constantly wandering to
his mother-in-law's face, and always with the same anxious look.
The change in her since last he had seen her troubled him greatly.
Her round cheeks had fallen in, her old rosiness had given place to a grey
pallor. She stooped very much and looked shrunken too.

"Oh, granny, do!" cried Mona, eagerly. It was almost the first time she
had spoken, but the mere suggestion filled her with overwhelming joy and
relief.

"Then I could look in pretty often to see how you was, and bring you in a
bit of fresh fish as often as you would care to have it. Lucy would take
a delight, too, in making 'ee that sort of thing," nodding towards the
jelly, "or anything else you fancied. We'd be at hand, too, to help 'ee
if you wasn't very well."

Granny Barnes was touched, and when she looked up there were tears in her
eyes. The prospect was tempting. She had felt very forlorn and old, and
helpless lately. She had often felt too that she would like:

"A little petting
At life's setting."

"It's good of you to think of it, Peter," she said, hesitatingly.
Then, fearing that he might have spoken on the impulse of the moment,
and that she was showing herself too anxious for his help and Lucy's,
she drew herself up. "But - well, this is _home_, and I don't fancy I
could settle down in a strange place, and amongst strangers, at my time of
life."

"You'd be with those that are all you've got belonging to you in this
world," said Peter. But granny's mood had changed. She would not listen
to any more coaxing, and her son-in-law, seeming to understand her,
changed the subject.

Poor Mona, who did not understand so well, felt only vexed and impatient
with the poor perverse old woman, for not falling in at once with a plan
so delightful to herself. Mona learned to understand as time went on,
but she was too young yet.

"But, granny, it would be ever so much nicer than this dull old place,
and - and you'd have mother as well as me to look after you. I like
Seacombe ever so much better than Hillside. Why won't you go, granny?"

Peter Carne groaned. Mona, by her tactlessness, was setting her
grandmother dead against such a plan, and undoing all the good he had
done. Granny Barnes would never be driven into taking a step, but she
would see things in her own time and in her own way, if she felt that no
one was trying to force her. He held up his hand for silence.

"Your grandmother knows best what'll suit her. It isn't what you like,
it's what's best for her that we've all got to think about."

But granny's anger had been roused. "It may be a dull old place, but it's
home," she said sharply. "You can't understand what that means.
You don't seem to have any particular feeling or you wouldn't be so ready
to leave first one and then the other, without even a heartache. I wonder
sometimes, Mona, if you've got any heart. Perhaps it's best that you
shouldn't have; you're saved a lot of pain." Granny began to whimper a
little, to her son-in-law's great distress. "Anyway, you were ready
enough to run to the 'dull old place' when you were in trouble," she added, reproachfully, and Mona had no answer.

She got up from the table, and, collecting the dishes together, carried
them to the scullery. "Oh, dear!" she sighed, irritably, "I seem to be
always hurting somebody - and somebody's always hurting me. I'd better go
about with my mouth fastened up - even then I s'pose I'd be always doing
something wrong. People are easily offended, it's something dreadful."

She felt very much aggrieved. So much aggrieved that she gave only sullen
words and looks, and never once enquired for Lucy, or sent her a message,
or even hinted at being sorry for what she had done.

"She didn't send any message to me," she muttered to herself, excusingly.
"She never sent her love, or - or anything, so why should I send a message
to her?" She worked herself up into such a fine state of righteous anger
that she almost persuaded herself that her behaviour had been all that it
should be, and that she was the most misunderstood and ill-treated person
in the whole wide world.

In spite, though, of her being so perfect, she felt miserably unhappy,
as she lay awake in the darkness, and thought over the day's happenings.
She saw again her father's look of distress as she snapped at her
grandmother, and answered him so sulkily. She pictured him, too, walking
away down the road towards home, without even a smile from her, and only a
curt, sullen, good-bye! Oh, how she wished now that she had run after him
and kissed him, and begged him to forgive her.

A big sob broke from her as she pictured him tramping those long lonely
miles, his kind face so grave and pained, his heart so full of
disappointment in her.

"Oh how hateful he will think me - and I am, I am, and I can't tell him I
don't really mean to be," and then her tears burst forth, and she cried,
and cried until all the bitterness and selfishness were washed from her
heart, and only gentler feelings were left.

As she lay tired out, thinking over the past, and the future, a curious,
long cry broke the stillness of the night.

"The owl," she said to herself. "I do wish he'd go away from here.
He always frightens me with his miserable noise." She snuggled more
closely into her pillow, and drew the bedclothes up over her ear.
"I'll try to go to sleep, then I shan't hear him."

But, in spite of her efforts, the cry reached her again and again.
"It can't be the owl," she said at last, sitting up in bed, the better to
listen. "It sounds more like a person! Who can it be?"

Again the cry came, "Mo - na! Mo - o - na!"

"Why, it's somebody calling me. It must be granny! Oh, dear!
Whatever can be the matter, to make her call like that."

Shaking all over with fear, she scrambled out of bed, and groped her way
to the door. As she opened it the cry reached her again.

"Mo - na!" This time there could be no doubt about it. It came from her
grandmother's room.

"I'm coming!" she called loudly. "All right, granny, I'm coming."
She ran across the landing, guided by the lights shining through the
chinks in her grandmother's door.

"What's the matter? - are you feeling bad, granny? Do you want something?"

"Yes, I'm feeling very bad. I'm ill, I'm very ill - oh, dear, oh dear,
what shall I do? Oh, I've no one to come and do anything for me.
Oh, dear, oh what can I do?" Granny's groans were dreadful. Mona felt
frightened and helpless. She had not the least idea what to do or say.
What did grown-ups do at times like this? she wondered. She did not know
where, or how, her grandmother suffered, and if she had she would not have
known how to act.

"Do you want me to fetch the doctor? I'll go and put on my clothes.
I won't be more than a minute or two, then I'll come back again - - "

"No - no, I can't be left alone all the time, I might die - here, alone;
oh dear, oh dear, what a plight to be left in! Not a living creature to
come to me - but a child! Oh, how bad I do feel!"

"But I must do something, or call somebody," cried Mona desperately.
She had never seen serious illness before, and she was frightened.
Poor old Mrs. Barnes had always been a bad patient, and difficult to
manage, even when her ailments were only trifling; now that she really
felt ill, she had lost all control.

"Granny," said Mona, growing desperate. "I must get someone to come and
help us, you must have the doctor, and I can't leave you alone, I am going
to ask Mrs. Lane to come, I can't help it - I can't do anything else.
I'll slip on my shoes and stockings, I won't be more than a minute."

Granny Barnes stopped moaning, and raised herself on her elbow.
"You'll do no such thing," she gasped.

"But granny, I must - you must have help, and you must have somebody to go
for the doctor, and - and, oh, granny, I'm afraid to be here alone,
I don't know what to do, and you're looking so bad."

"Am I?" nervously. "Well - if I've got to die alone and helpless, I will,
but I won't ask Mrs. Lane to come to me. Do you think I'd - ask a favour
of her, after all her unneighbourliness - not speaking to me for weeks and
weeks - - "

Mona burst into tears, confession had to come. "Granny," she said,
dropping on her knees beside the bed. "I - I've got to tell you
something - Mrs. Lane was right - - "

"What!" Granny's face grew whiter, but she said no more. If she had done
so, if she had but spoken kindly and helped her ever so little, it would
have made things much easier for poor Mona.

"I - I - it was me that pulled the faggots down that night, and not Mrs.
Lane's cats, and she won't look, or speak to me because I didn't tell,
and I let her cats bear the blame. I - I didn't mean to do any harm, I was
in such a hurry to light up the fire, and the old things all rolled down,
and I forgot to go out and pick them up again. I didn't think you'd be
going out there that night, but you went out, and - and fell over them.
If you hadn't gone out it would have been all right, I'd have seen them in
the morning and have picked them up."

But Granny Barnes was not prepared to listen to excuses, she was very,
very angry. "And fine and foolish you've made me look all this time,
Mona Carne, and risked my life too. For bad as I was a little while back,
I wouldn't bring myself to ask Mrs. Lane to come to me, nor Cap'en Lane to
go and fetch the doctor, and - and if I'd died, well, you know who would
have been to blame!"

Granny's cheeks were crimson now, and she was panting with exhaustion.
"Now what you've got to do is - to go in - and tell her the truth yourself."

"I'm going," said Mona, the tears streaming down her face. But as she
hurried to the door, the sight of her, looking so childlike and forlorn in
her nightgown, with her tumbled hair and tear-stained face, touched her
grandmother's heart, and softened her anger.

"Mona," she cried, "come back - never mind about it now, child - - "
But Mona was already in her own room tugging on her shoes and stockings.
Granny heard her come out and make her way stumbling down the stairs;
she tried to call again, but reaction had set in, and she lay panting,
exhausted, unable to do anything but listen. She heard Mona pulling back
the heavy wooden bolt of the front door, then she heard her footsteps
hurrying through the garden, growing more distant, then nearer as she went
up Mrs. Lane's path. Then came the noise of her knocking at Mrs. Lane's
door, first gently, then louder, and louder still - and then the exhausted,
over-excited old woman fainted, and knew no more.

Mona, standing in the dark at Mrs. Lane's door, was trembling all over.
Even her voice trembled. When Mrs. Lane at last opened her window and
called out "Who's there?" it shook so, she could not make herself heard
until she had spoken three times.

"It's me - Mona Carne. Oh, Mrs. Lane, I'm so frightened! Granny's very
ill, please will you - come in? - I - I don't know what to do for her."

"Mona Carne! Oh!" Mona heard the surprise in Mrs. Lane's voice,
and feared she was going to refuse her. Then "Wait a minute," she said,
"I'll come down."

Mona's tears stopped, but she still trembled. Help was coming to granny -
but she still had her confession to make, and it seemed such an awful
ordeal to face. All the time she stood waiting there under the stars,
with the scent of the flowers about her, she was wondering desperately how
she could begin, what she could say, and how excuse herself.

She was still absorbed, and still had not come to any decision, when the
door behind her opened, and a voice said kindly, "Come inside, Mona, and
tell me what is the matter," and Mona stepped from the starlit night into
the warm, dimly lighted kitchen, and found herself face to face with her
old kind friend.

"Now, tell me all about it," said Mrs. Lane again catching sight of Mona's
frightened, disfigured face. "Why, how you are trembling, child, have you
had a shock? Were you in bed?"

Mona nodded. "Yes, I'd been in bed a good while when I heard a cry,
such a funny kind of cry! At first I thought it must be the owl, but when
I heard it again and again I thought it must be granny, and I got up and
went to her. And, oh, I was frightened, she was lying all crumpled up in
the bed, and she was groaning something dreadful. She was very ill, she
said, and she must have the doctor - but she wouldn't let me go to fetch
him, 'cause she was afraid to be left alone. I was frightened to be there
by myself, and I didn't know what to do for her and I said I'd run in and
ask you to come - but she said she'd rather die - she said I mustn't
because - because - oh you know," gasped Mona, breathless after her
outpouring of words, "and - and then - I - told her - about - about that - that
'twas me pulled down the faggots, and you were right, and she looked - oh
she looked dreadful, she was so angry! And then I came in to tell you;
and, oh Mrs. Lane, I am so sorry I behaved so, I - I never meant to,
I never meant Tom and Daisy to have the blame. And, please Mrs. Lane,
will you forgive me, and speak to me again? I've been so - so mis'rubble,
and I didn't know how to set things right again." But here Mona's voice
failed her altogether, and, worn out with the day's events, and the
night's alarm, and all the agitation and trouble both had brought,
she broke down completely. Mrs. Lane was quite distressed by the violence
of her sobs.

"There, there, don't cry so, child, and don't worry any more," she said
gently, putting her arm affectionately round Mona's shaking shoulders,
"It's all over now! and we are all going to be as happy and friendly again
as ever we used to be. Mona, dear, I am so glad, so thankful that you
have spoken. It hurt me to think that I had been deceived in you,
but I know now that you were my own little Mona all the time. There,
dear, don't cry any more; we must think about poor granny. Come along,
we will see what we can do to help her."

They stepped out into the starlit night, hand in hand, and though her
grandmother's illness filled Mona with anxiety, she felt as though a heavy
care had been lifted from her heart, a meanness from her soul; and, as she
hurried through the scented gardens, she lifted up her face to the starry
sky, and her heart to the God who looked down on her through Heaven's
eyes.

In the house, when they reached it, all was as she had left it, except
that now a deep, deep silence reigned; a silence that, somehow, struck a
chill to both hearts.

"How quiet it is! She was making such a noise before," Mona whispered,
hesitating nervously at the foot of the stairs.

"I expect she has fallen asleep, I'll go up first and see; you light the
lamp in the kitchen, and bring me up a glass of cold water. Or would you
rather come with me?"

"I - I will come with you." She could not rid herself of the feeling that
her granny was dead - had died angry with her, at the last. She felt sure
of it, too, when she saw her lying so still and white on her pillow.

Mrs. Lane placed her hand over the tired, faintly-beating heart.
"She is only faint," she said assuringly, a note of intense relief in her
voice. "She is coming round. Run and fetch me some water, dear,
and open that window as you pass."

So granny, when she presently opened her eyes and looked about her,
found Mona on one side of her and her old friend on the other; and both
were looking at her with tender anxious eyes, and faces full of gladness
at her recovery.

The old feud was as dead as though it had never existed.

"It's like going to sleep in a world of worries and waking up in a new
one." The poor old soul sighed contentedly, as she lay with the stars
looking in on her, and the scent of the flowers wafting up to her through
the open window. "It was too bad, though, to be calling you up in the
night - out of your bed. I'm very much obliged to you, Mrs. Lane,
I - I'm very glad to see you."

"Not as glad as I am to come, I reckon," her neighbour smiled back at her,
"we are all going to start afresh again from to-day, ain't we? So it's as
well to begin the day early, and make it as long as we can!"



CHAPTER IX.


Granny was much better, and was downstairs again, but she was weak and
very helpless still. She was sad too, and depressed. The last few weeks
had shaken her confidence in herself, her spirit was strong enough still,
but more than once lately her body had failed her. When, in her old way,
she had said that she would do this, or that, or the other thing, she had
found out after all, that she could not. Her body had absolutely refused
to obey her.

"I ain't dependent on other folks yet!" she had said sharply, and had
afterwards found out that she was, and the discovery alarmed her.
It saddened her, and broke her spirit.

"I ought to be in a home. I'd rather be in one, or - or be dead, than be a
burden on other folks," she moaned.

Granny was very hard to live with in those days. Even a grown-up would
have found it difficult to know what to say in answer to her complainings.

"Granny, don't talk like that!" Mona would plead, and she would work
harder than ever that there might be nothing for granny to do, or to find
fault with. But however hard she worked, and however nice she kept
things, she always found that there were still some things left undone,
and that those were the very things that, in granny's opinion, mattered
most.

As for reading, or play-time, Mona never found any for either now, and oh,
how often and how longingly her thoughts turned to the Quay, and to the
rocks, and the games that were going on there evening after evening!
Sometimes it almost seemed that she could hear the laughter and the calls,
the voice of the sea, the rattle of the oars in the rowlocks, the cries of
the gulls, and then she would feel as though she could not bear to be away
from them all another moment. That she must race back to them then and
there; never, never to leave them any more!

The loneliness, and the hard work, and the confinement to the house told
on her. She became thin, the colour died out of her cheeks, and the
gladness from her eyes, and all the life and joyousness seemed to go out
of her. She grew, and grew rapidly, but she stooped so much she did not
look as tall as she really was.

Granny Barnes, looking at her sweeping out the path one day, had her eyes
suddenly opened, and the revelation startled her. She did not say
anything to Mona, she just watched her carefully, but she did not again
blame her for laziness; and while she watched her, her thoughts travelled
backwards. A year ago Mona had been noisy, lively, careless, but
cheerful, always full of some new idea. She had been round and rosy too,
and full of mischief. Now she was listless, quiet, and apparently
interested in nothing.

"Have you got a headache, Mona?"

"No," said Mona indifferently, "I don't think so."

"Is your back aching?"

"It always is."

"Then why didn't you say so, child?"

"What's the good? The work has to be done."

"If you're bad you must leave it undone. You can't go making yourself
ill."

"I ain't ill, and I'd sooner do the work. There's nothing else to do."

"Can't you read sometimes? You used to be so fond of reading."

"If I read I forget to do things, and then - - " She was going to say
"there's a row," but she stopped herself just in time. "I've read all my
books till I know them by heart nearly." Even while she spoke she was
getting out the ironing cloth, and spreading it on the table.
The irons were already hot on the stove.

Granny Barnes did not say any more, but sat for a long time gazing into
the fire, apparently deep in thought. Mona looking up presently,
attracted by the silence, was struck by her weary, drooping look, by the
sadness of the tired old eyes. But she did not say anything.
Presently granny roused herself and looked up. "Put away your ironing,
child," she said kindly, "and go out and have a game of play. The air
will do you good."

"I don't want to go out, granny. There's no one to play with - and I'm
afraid to leave you; what could you do if you were to faint again?"

Granny sighed. The child was right. "I - I could knock in to Mrs. Lane,
perhaps," she said, but there was doubt in her voice, and she did not
press Mona any further.

Mona went on with her ironing, and granny went on staring into the fire,
and neither spoke again for some time. Not until Mona, going over to take
up a fresh hot iron, saw something bright shining on her grandmother's
cheek, then fall on to her hand.

"Are you feeling bad again, granny?" she asked anxiously. The sight of
the tear touched her, and brought a note of sympathy into her voice, and
the sympathy in her voice in turn touched her granny, and drew both
together.

"No - I don't know that I'm feeling worse than usual, but - but, well I feel
that it'd be a good thing if my time was ended. I'm only a trouble and a
burden now - no more help for anybody."

"Granny! Granny! You mustn't say such things!" Mona dropped her iron
back on the stove again, and threw herself on the floor beside her
grandmother. "You mustn't talk like that! You're weak, that's all.
You want to rest for a bit and have some tonics. Mrs. Lane says so."

"Does she? I seem to want something," leaning her weary head against
Mona's, "but it's more than tonics - it's a new body that I'm needing,
I reckon. I daresay it's only foolishness, but sometimes I feel like a
little child, I want to be took care of, and someone to make much of me,
and say like mother used to, 'Now leave everything to me. I'll see to it
all!' It seems to me one wants a bit of petting when one comes to the end
of one's life, as much as one does at the beginning - I don't know but what
a little is good for one at any age."

Mona slipped down till she sat on the floor at her granny's feet, her head
resting against granny's knee. "I think so too," she said wistfully.
Silence fell between them, broken only by the crackling of the fire within
and the buzz of insects, and the calling of the birds, outside in the
garden.

"Mona, how would you like it if we went into Seacombe to live?"

Mona was up in a moment, her face alight with eagerness, but some instinct
stopped her from expressing too much delight. In the softened feeling
which had crept into her heart, she realised that to her grandmother the
move would mean a great wrench.

"She must love Hillside as much, or _nearly_ as much as I love Seacombe,"
she told herself. Aloud she said, "I'd like it, but you wouldn't, would
you, granny?"

"I think I would. I'd like to be nearer your father, and - and you would
be happy there, and perhaps you'd feel stronger. I'm getting to feel,"
she added after a little pause, "that one can be happy anywhere, if those
about one are happy. Or, to put it another way, one can't be happy
anywhere if those about one ain't happy."

Mona felt very guilty. "Granny," she said, but in rather a choky voice,
"I'll be happy here, if you'd rather stay here - I will really. I do love


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