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Hillside - it's only the sea I miss, and the fun, and - and the excitement
when the boats come in - but I shall forget all about it soon, and I'll be
happy here too, if you'd like to stay."

She did try to put aside her own feelings, and speak cheerfully, and she
succeeded - but, to her surprise, her grandmother did not jump at her
offer.

"No, child, I wouldn't rather stay. I'd like to go. I feel I want to be
near my own, and your father and you are all I've got. I think I'll ask
him if he can find a little house that'll suit us."

"Won't you live with us, granny? You can have my room."

But granny would not hear of that. "I've always had a home of my own, and
I couldn't live in anybody else's," she said decisively. "Your
stepmother's too much of an invalid herself too, to be able to look after
another."

"Then you'd want me to live with you?" asked Mona, with a little break in
her voice. She was disappointed, but she tried not to show it.

"Yes, dearie," her eyes scanning Mona's face wistfully, "wouldn't you like
that?"

Mona hesitated for only a second, then "Yes, granny, I should," she said,
and then as the idea became more familiar, she said more heartily,
"Yes, I'd love to, and oh, granny, if we could only get one of the little
houses down by the Quay it would be lovely! I'm sure you'd like it - - "

"I couldn't live down by the Quay," granny interrupted sharply,
"I wouldn't live there if a house was given me rent free. It is too
noisy, for one thing, and you feel every breath of wind that blows."

"But you're close, when the boats come in - - "

"Aye, and when they don't come in," said granny. "I ain't so fond of the
sea as you are, and I should never know any rest of mind down close by it.
Every time the wind blew I'd be terrified."

Mona looked vexed. "It isn't often that there's any place at all to let,"
she said crossly. "If we don't take what we can get, we shall never go at
all."

But Granny Barnes was not alarmed. "Don't you trouble yourself about
that. Your father'll find us something for certain. He'd got his eye on
a little place when he was here, he wanted me to take it then. I almost
wish I had, now. Never mind, I'll write to him to-night or to-morrow.
If I was well I would go in by John Darbie's van and have a look about for
myself."

All this sounded so much like business, that Mona sat up, all her glumness
falling from her. When Granny Barnes once made up her mind to do a thing,
she did not let the grass grow under her feet. There was, after all, much
of Mona's nature in her, and when once she had made up her mind to leave
her old home, it almost seemed as though she could not get away quickly
enough.

Perhaps it was that she felt her courage might fail her if she gave
herself much time to think about things. Perhaps she felt she could not
face the pain and the worry if she gave herself time to worry much.
Or, it may have been that she really did feel anxious about Mona's health
and her own, and wanted to be settled in Seacombe as soon as possible.

At any rate she so managed that within a fortnight all her belongings were
mounted on to two of Mr. Dodd's waggons and were carried off to the new
home, while she and Mona followed in John Darbie's van, seen off by Mrs.
Lane. Mrs. Lane was very tearful and sad at parting with them.

"I know it's for the best for both of you - but I feel as if I can't bear
the sight nor the thought of the empty home." Then she kissed them both,
and stood in the road in the sunshine, waving her hand to them till they
were out of sight.

"Wave your handkerchief to her, Mona; blow another kiss to her, child."
But granny kept her own head turned away, and her eyes fixed on the bit of
white dusty road which lay ahead of them. Neither could she bear the
sight of the empty house, nor of the neighbour she was leaving.

Mona's eyes were full of tears, but granny's were dry, though her sorrow
was much deeper than Mona's. John Darbie tactfully kept his tongue quiet,
and his eyes fixed on the scenery. He understood that his old friend was
suffering, and would want to be left alone for a while. So, for the first
part of the way, they jogged along in silence, except for the scrunching
of the gravel beneath the wheels, and the steady thud, thud of the old
horse's hoofs, Granny Barnes looking forward with sad stern eyes, and a
heart full of dread; Mona looking back through tears, but with hope in her
heart; the old driver staring thoughtfully before him at the familiar way,
along which he had driven so many, old and young; happy and sad, some
willing, some unwilling, some hopeful, others despondent. The old man
felt for each and all of them, and helped them on their way, as far as he
might travel it with them, and sent many a kind thought after them, which
they never knew of.

"I suppose," he said at last, speaking his thoughts aloud, "in every
change we can find some happiness. There's always something we can do for
somebody. So far as I can see, there's good to be got out of most
things."

Mrs. Barnes' gaze came back from the wide-stretching scene beside her, and
rested enquiringly on the old speaker. "Do 'ee think so?" she asked
eagerly. "'Tis dreadful to be filled with doubts about what you're
doing," she added pathetically.

"Don't 'ee doubt, ma'am. Once you've weighed the matter and looked at it
every way, and have at last made up your mind, don't you let yourself
harbour any doubts. Act as if you hadn't got any choice, and go straight
ahead."

"But how is anyone to know? It may be that one took the way 'cause it was
the easiest."

"Very often it's the easiest way 'cause it's the way the Lord has opened
for us," said the old man simply, and with perfect faith. "Then I count
it we're doubting Him if we go on questioning."

The look of strained anxiety in Granny Barnes' eyes had already given way
to one more peaceful and contented.

"I hadn't thought of that," she said softly, and presently she added, "It
takes a load off one's mind if one looks at it that way."

Mona, who had been listening too, found John Darbie's words repeating
themselves over and over again in her mind. "There's always something we
can do - there's good to be got out of most things." They set themselves
to the rhythm of the old horse's slow steps - "There is always something -
there is always something - we can do - we can do, there is always something
we can do."

Throughout that long, slow journey on that sunshiny day they rang in her
head, and her heart chanted them. And though in the years that followed
she often forgot her good resolutions, and many and many a time did wrong
and foolish things, knowing them to be wrong and foolish, though she let
herself be swayed by her moods, when she should have fought against them,
she never entirely forgot old John Darbie's simple, comforting words, nor
the lesson they had taught her that day, and unconsciously they helped her
on her life's road, just as he himself helped her along her road to her
new home.

There was indeed a great deal that she could do, as she discovered
presently, when the van deposited them and their parcels at the door of
their new home, for the furniture had arrived but a couple of hours
earlier, and though her father and the man had lifted most of the heavier
things into their places, and Lucy had done all that she could to make the
little house look habitable, there was much that Mona, knowing her
grandmother's ways as well as she did, could do better than anyone else.

As soon as the van drew near, Lucy was at the door to greet them, and in
the warmth and pleasure of her welcome, Mona entirely forgot the
circumstances under which they had last parted: and it never once occurred
to her to think how different their meeting might have been had Lucy not
been of the sweet-tempered forgiving nature that she was.

Lucy had forgotten too. She only remembered how glad she was to have them
there, and what a trying day it must have been for poor old Granny Barnes.
And when, instead of the stern, cold, complaining old woman that she had
expected, she saw a fragile, pale-faced little figure, standing looking
forlorn, weary, and half-frightened on the path outside her new home,
Lucy quite forgot her dread of her, and her whole heart went out in
sympathy.

Putting her arms round her, she kissed her as warmly as though it had been
her own mother, and led her tenderly into the house.

"Don't you trouble about a single thing more, granny, there are plenty of
us to see to everything. The fire is burning, and your own armchair is
put by it, and all you've got to do is to sit there till you're rested and
tell us others what you'd like done."

Granny Barnes did not speak, but Lucy understood. She took up the poker
and stirred the coals to a more cheerful blaze. "It's a fine little stove
to burn," she said cheerfully, "and it is as easy as possible to light."

Granny was interested at once, "Is it? How beautiful and bright it is.
Did you do that, Lucy?"

Lucy nodded. "I love polishing up a stove," she said with a smile,
"it repays you so for the trouble you take. Don't you think so?"

"Yes, I used to spend hours over mine, but I don't seem to have the
strength now. Mona does very well though. Where's Peter? Out fishing?"

"No, he's upstairs putting up your bed. He has nearly done. Mona's is up
already. You've got a sweet little room, Mona. You'll love it, I know."

Mona ran upstairs at once to inspect. She was bubbling over with
excitement and happiness. Her room was, she knew, at the back of the
house, so she went to it straight. It was in a great muddle, of course,
but the bed was in place, and the chest of drawers. The walls had been
newly papered, the paper had little bunches of field daisies all over it,
white and red-tipped, each bunch was tied with a blade of green grass.
Mona thought it perfectly exquisite, but it was the window which took her
fancy captive. It was a lattice window, cut deep in the wall, and before
it was a seat wide enough for Mona to sit in - and beyond the window was
the sea!

"I'll be able to sit there, and read, and sew, and watch the boats going
by," she thought delightedly, "and I'll have little muslin curtains tied
back with ribbons, and a flounce of muslin across the top. Oh, I shall
love it up here! I shall never want to go out. It's nicer even than my
room at father's, and ever so much nicer than the 'Hillside' one!"

A sound of hammering and banging came from the other side of the tiny
landing.

"That must be father, putting up granny's bed," she hurried out, and
across to him. He had just finished, and was pushing the bed into place.
Two great bundles tied up in sheets filled up most of the rest of the
floor. One held Granny Barnes' feather-tie, the other her pillow-cases,
sheets and blankets.

"I do hope your grandmother'll be well and comfortable here," he said
anxiously, "and happy. If it rests with us to make her so, she shall be.
Mona, you'd better make up her bed soon. Don't leave it for her to do
herself. She'll most likely be glad to go to bed early to-night, she must
be tired. There's no moving round the room, either, with those great
bundles there. I'll lift the feather-tie on to the bed for you."

"All right - in a minute, father."

Granny's bedroom window looked out on the hill. Further up the hill, on
the opposite side, was Cliff Cottage. It could be just seen from granny's
new home. How small and strange it all looked, thought Mona, and how
narrow the hill was, but how homelike and beautiful.

While she gazed out Millie Higgins and Philippa Luxmore appeared, they
were coming down the hill together. Millie had on a pink dress almost
exactly like Mona's.

"Why - why, she's copied me!" thought Mona indignantly, a wave of hot anger
surging up in her heart. "She's a regular copy-cat! She can't think of a
thing for herself, but directly anyone else has it, she must go and copy
them. I'd be ashamed if I was her. Now I shan't like my pink frock any
more!"

As though attracted by the gaze on her, Millie looked up at the window,
and straight into Mona's eyes, but instead of feeling any shame, she only
laughed. She may not have remembered her own frock, or Mona's, she was
probably not laughing at Mona's annoyance, it is very likely that she was
amused at something she and Philippa were talking about, but Mona thought
otherwise, and only glared back at her with angry, contemptuous eyes.
She saw Millie's face change, and saw her whisper in Philippa's ear,
then she heard them both laugh, and her heart was fuller than ever of
hatred, and mortification. Mortification with herself partly, for
allowing Millie to see that she was vexed.

Oh, how she wished now, that instead of letting Millie see how she had
annoyed her, she had acted as though she did not notice, or did not mind.

"Mona, give me a hand here a minute, will you?" Her father's voice broke
in on her musings, "that rope is caught round the bedpost."

Mona went over, and released the rope, but returned again to the window.

"If you don't bustle round, little maid, we shall never be done," said her
father. "I want to get it all as right as I can before I go, or your
grand-mother'll be doing it herself, and making herself ill again.
You can look out of window another day, there'll be plenty of time for
that."

"I'm tired," grumbled Mona sulkily, "I can't be always working."

Her father straightened his back, and looked at her. His eyes were
reproachful and grieved. Mona's own eyes fell before them. Already she
was sorry that she had spoken so. She did not feel in the least as she
had said she did. She was put out about Millie, and Millie's frock, that
was all.

"Mona, my girl," he said gravely, "you put me in mind of a weather-cock in
a shifty wind. Nobody can tell for half an hour together what quarter
it'll be pointing to. 'Tis the shifty wind that does the most mischief
and is hardest to bear with. When you came in just now, I'd have said you
were pointing straight south, but a few minutes later you've veered right
round to the north-east. What's the meaning of it, child? What's the
matter with 'ee. It doesn't give 'ee much pleasure to know you're
spoiling everybody else's, does it?"

Mona gulped down her tears. "No - o, I - I - it was Millie Higgins' fault.
She's been and got a dress - - " And then she suddenly felt ashamed of
herself, and ashamed to repeat anything so petty, and she gulped again,
and this time she swallowed her bad temper too. "No - I'm - I'm 'set fair'
now, father!" she added, and, though there was a choke in her voice,
as though her temper was rather hard to swallow, there was a smile in her
eyes, and in a very little while granny's feather-bed was shaken up as
soft and smooth as ever granny herself could have made it, and the bed was
made up. And then by degrees everything in the room was got into place
just as its mistress liked it, so that when granny came up later on and
saw her new room, she exclaimed aloud in pleased surprise:

"Why, it looks like home already," she cried, "and that's our Mona's
doing, I know!"



CHAPTER X.


Mona sat reading, curled upon the window seat in her bedroom. She spent a
great deal of her time there. Sometimes sewing, but more often either
reading, or looking out at the view. For a few days she had been busy
making curtains for her window, and a frill to go across the top, and,
as granny had firmly refused to buy wide pink ribbon to fasten back the
curtains, Mona had hemmed long strips of some of the print left over from
her own pink dress.

But all this was done now, and Mona was very proud of her handiwork.
The frill was a little deeper on one side than the other, but that was a
trifle. Mona thought that the whole effect was very smart; so smart,
indeed, that she sometimes wished that her window was in the front of the
house, so that people going up and down the hill might see it.
"But I s'pose one can't have everything," she concluded, with a sigh.

Granny's window, which did look out on the hill, was anything but smart,
for she had had neither time nor strength to make her curtains, and Mona
had not offered to make them for her.

Granny had gone up to Lucy's that very afternoon, and taken them with her,
hoping to work at them a little while she talked. She often went up to
sit with Lucy. Perhaps she found it dull at home, with Mona always shut
up in her own room. Lucy's garden delighted her too. She had none
herself that could compare with it. In the front there was a tiny patch
close under her window, and there was a long strip at the back, but only a
very few things had the courage to grow there, for the wind caught it, and
the salt sea-spray came up over it, and blighted every speck of green that
had the courage to put its head out. Lucy's garden and Lucy's kitchen
both delighted her. She said the kitchen was more cheerful than hers,
but it was really Lucy's presence that made it so. Lucy was always so
pleased to see her, so ready to listen to her stories, or to tell her own,
if granny was too tired to talk. She always listened to her advice, too,
which was quite a new experience to Mrs. Barnes.

This afternoon, while granny was talking, and taking a stitch
occasionally, Lucy picked up the other curtain and made it. It was not a
very big matter; all the windows in Seacombe houses were small. Then she
put on the kettle, and while it was boiling she took the other curtain
from granny's frail hand and worked away at that too. The weather was
hot, and the door stood wide open, letting in the mingled scents of the
many sweet flowers which filled every foot of the garden. A sweet-brier
bush stood near the window, great clumps of stocks, mignonette and
verbenas lined the path to the gate.

"I didn't mean to stay to tea," said granny, realizing at last that Lucy
was preparing some for her. "I was going to get home in time."

"Mona won't have got it, will she?"

"Oh, no, she won't think about it, I expect. She has got a book, and when
she's reading she's lost to everything. I never knew a child so fond of
reading."

"You spoil her, granny! You let her have her own way too much."

Then they both laughed, for each accused the other of 'spoiling' Mona.

"I don't like her to work too hard," said granny. "She'd got to look very
thin and delicate. I think she's looking better, though, don't you?"

"Yes, ever so much," Lucy reassured her, and granny's face brightened.

Mona, meanwhile, went on reading, lost, as granny said, to everything but
her book. She did not even look out to sea. She heard no sound either in
the house or out. Heart and mind she was with the people of the story.
She was living their life.

The baker came and knocked two or three times; then, opening the door,
put a loaf on the table, and went away. Then presently came more
knocking, and more, but none of it reached Mona's brain. She was flying
with the heroine, and enjoying hairbreadth escapes, while running away
from her wicked guardian, when her bedroom door was flung open, and Millie
Higgins - not the wicked guardian - appeared on the threshold.

Mona gave a little cry of alarm, then immediately grew angry with herself
for having let Millie see that she had startled her.

"What are you doing up here?" she demanded, bluntly. "Who told you to
come up? Granny isn't in, is she?"

Millie laughed. "If your grandmother had been in I should have been at
the other end of the street by this time. I've no fancy for facing
dragons in their caves."

"Don't be rude," retorted Mona, colouring with anger. Millie always
laughed at Mrs. Barnes, because she was old-fashioned in her dress and
ways. "How did you get in, and why did you come? If granny didn't send
you up, you'd no right to come. It's like your cheek, Millie Higgins, to
go forcing your way into other people's houses!"

"It's like your carelessness to shut yourself up with a story-book and
leave your front door open. I ain't the first that has been in!
Wouldn't your grandmother be pleased if she knew how trustworthy her dear,
good little Mona was."

Mona looked frightened, and Millie noticed it. "What do you mean,
Millie?"

Millie had seen the baker come, knock, open the door, and leave again
after depositing a loaf on the table. She had also seen Mrs. Barnes
comfortably settled in Lucy Carne's kitchen, and she determined to have
some fun. She loved teasing and annoying everyone she could.

"Come down and see what they've done. At any rate, you might be civil to
anyone who comes in to warn you before any more harm is done."

Mona, still looking alarmed, slipped from the window-seat and followed
Millie down the stairs.

While she stood at the foot of them, glancing about her anxiously, Millie
stepped over and shut the house door.

"Where? - What? - I don't see anything wrong," said Mona. Millie burst into
mocking laughter. "I don't suppose you do! Silly-billy, cock-a-dilly,
how's your mother, little Mona! Why, how stupid you are! Anyone can get a
rise out of you! I only wanted to frighten you and get you downstairs.
You're going to ask me to tea now, and give me a nice one, too, aren't
you?"

Mona was trembling with mortification and anger. "No, I am not," she
said, "and if you don't go out of here in a minute I'll - I'll - - "

"Oh, no - you won't, dear. You couldn't if you wanted to - but you don't
really want to, I know. Now poke up the fire and get me some tea.
I hope you have something nice to eat."

Mona stood by the dressers, her thoughts flying wildly through her brain.
What could she do? Millie was taller, older, and stronger than herself,
so she could not seize her, and put her out by force. Mona knew, too,
that she would not listen to pleading or to coaxing.

"Oh, if only someone would come!" She made a move towards the door, but
Millie was too quick for her, and got between her and it.

"Millie, you've got to go away. You'll get me into an awful row if you
are found here, and - and I can't think how you can push yourself in where
you ain't wanted."

"Oh, fie! Little girls shouldn't be rude - it shows they haven't been
properly brought up."

Mona did not answer. She was trying to think what she could do. If she
went out of the house would Millie follow?

Millie picked up a newspaper, and pretended to read it, but over the top
of it she was watching Mona all the time. She loved teasing, and she
thought she had power to make younger girls do just as she wished.
But Mona stood leaning against the dressers, showing no sign of giving in.

Millie grew impatient. "Wake up, can't you!" she cried, and, picking up a
cushion from an armchair beside her, she threw it across the room at Mona.
"I want my tea!"

The cushion flew past Mona without touching her, but it fell full crash
against the china on the dressers behind her. Mona screamed, and tried to
catch what she could of the falling things. Cups, plate, jugs came
rolling down on the top of those below. What could one pair of small
hands do to save them!

The set, a tea-set, and her grandmother's most treasured possession, had
been kept for a hundred years without a chip or a crack. It had been her
grandmother's and her great-grandmother's before that.

Mona, white to the lips, and trembling, stood like an image of despair.
Her hands were cut, but she did not notice that. Millie was pale, too,
and really frightened, though she tried to brazen it out. "Now there'll
be a fine old row, and you will be in it, Mona Carne. It was all your
fault, you know."

But Mona felt no fear for herself yet. She could think of nothing but her
grandmother's grief when she learned of the calamity which had befallen
her. Somebody had to break the news to her, too, and that somebody would
have to be herself. Mona leaned her elbows on the dressers amongst the
broken china and, burying her face in her hands, burst into a torrent of
tears.

Millie spoke to her once or twice, but Mona could not reply. "Well, if
she won't open her lips, I might as well go," thought Millie, and,
creeping out of the front door, she hurried away down the hill, only too
delighted to have got away so easily.

Mona heard her go, but made no effort to stop her. She felt too utterly
miserable even to reproach her.

Presently other footsteps came to the door, followed by a gentle knocking.
Mona, in consternation, straightened herself and wiped her eyes.
"Who can it be? I can't go to the door like this!" Her face was crimson,


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