L. T. Meade.

A young mutineer online

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|should", possible repeated instead of the first words |
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A Young Mutineer





October 23, 1893

























Sun and shower - sun and shower -
Now rough, now smooth, is the winding way;
Thorn and flower - thorn and flower -
Which will you gather? Who can say?
Wayward hearts, there's a world for your winning,
Sorrow and laughter, love or woe:
Who can tell in the day's beginning
The paths that your wandering feet shall go?


The village choir were practicing in the church - their voices, somewhat
harsh and uncultivated, were sending forth volumes of sound into the
summer air. The church doors were thrown open, and a young man dressed
in cricketing-flannels was leaning against the porch. He was tall, and
square-shouldered, with closely-cropped dark hair, and a keen,
intelligent face.

When the music became very loud and discordant he moved impatiently, but
as the human voices ceased and the sweet notes of the voluntary sounded
in full melody on the little organ, a look of relief swept like a
soothing hand over his forehead.

The gates of the Rectory were within a stone's throw of the church. Up
the avenue three people might have been seen advancing. Two were
children, one an adult. The grown member of this little group was tall
and slight; she wore spectacles, and although not specially gifted with
wisdom, possessed a particularly wise appearance. The two little girls,
who were her pupils, walked somewhat sedately by her side. As they
passed the church the governess looked neither to right nor left, but
the eldest girl fixed her keen and somewhat hungry eyes with a
questioning gaze on the young man who stood in the porch. He nodded back
to her a glance full of intelligence, which he further emphasized by a
quick and somewhat audacious wink from his left eye. The little girl
walked on loftily; she thought that Jasper Quentyns, who was more or
less a stranger in the neighborhood, had taken a distinct liberty.

"What's the matter, Judy?" asked the smallest of the girls.

"Nothing," replied Judy quickly. She turned to her governess as she
spoke. "Miss Mills, I was very good at my lessons to-day, wasn't I?"

"Yes, Judy."

"You are not going to forget what you promised me?"

"I am afraid I do forget; what was it?"

"You said if I were really good I might stop at the church on my way
back and go home with Hilda. I have been good, so I may go home with
Hilda, may I not?"

"Yes, child, of course, if I promised, but we are only just on our walk
now. It is a fine autumnal day, and I want to get to the woods to pick
some bracken and heather, for your Aunt Marjorie has asked me to fill
all the vases for dinner to-night. There are not half enough flowers in
the garden, so I must go to the woods, whatever happens. Your sister
will have left the church when we return, Judy."

"No, she won't," replied Judy. "The practice will be twice as long as
usual to-day because of the Harvest Festival on Sunday."

"Well, if she is there you can go in and wait for her, as you have been
a good girl. Now let us talk of something else."

"I have nothing else to talk about," answered Judy, somewhat sulkily.

The bright expression which gave her small eager face its charm, left
it; she fell back a pace or two, and Miss Mills walked on alone in

Judy was not popular with her governess. Miss Mills was tired of her
constant remarks about Hilda. She had a good deal to think of to-day,
and she was pleased to let her two pupils amuse themselves.

Judy's hungry and unsatisfied eyes softened and grew happy when their
gaze fell upon Babs. Babs was only six, and she had a power of
interesting everyone with whom she came in contact. Her wise, fat face,
somewhat solemn in expression, was the essence of good-humor. Her blue
eyes were as serene as an unruffled summer pool. She could say heaps of
old-fashioned, quaint things. She had strong likes and dislikes, but she
was never known to be cross. She adored Judy, but Judy only liked her,
for all Judy's passionate love was already disposed of. It centered
itself round her eldest sister, Hilda.

The day was a late one in September. The air was still very balmy and
even warm, and Miss Mills soon found herself sufficiently tired to be
glad to take advantage of a stile which led right through the field into
the woods to rest herself. She sat comfortably on the top of the stile,
and looking down the road saw that her little pupils were disporting
themselves happily; they were not in the slightest danger, and she was
in no hurry to call them to her side.

"Children are the most fagging creatures in Christendom," she said to
herself; "for my part I can't understand anyone going into raptures over
them. For one nice child there are twenty disagreeable ones. I have
nothing to say against Babs, of course; but Judy, she is about the most
spoilt creature I ever came across, and of course it is all Hilda's
fault. I must speak to Mr. Merton, I really must, if this goes on. Hilda
and Judy ought to be parted, but of course Hilda won't leave home
unless, unless - ah, I wonder if there is _any_ chance of that. Too good
news to be true. Too good luck for Mr. Quentyns anyhow. I shouldn't be
surprised if he is trying to get Hilda all this time, but - he is
scarcely likely to succeed. Poor Judy! what a blow anything of that kind
would be to her; but of course there is not the least chance of it."

Miss Mills took off her hat as she spoke, and allowed the summer air to
play with her somewhat thin fringe and to cool her heated cheeks.

"I hate children," she soliloquized. "I did hope that my time of
servitude was nearly over, but when men prove so unfaithful!" Here a
very angry gleam flashed out of her eyes; she put her hand into her
pocket, and taking out a letter, read it slowly and carefully. Her
expression was not pleasant while she perused the words on the closely
written page.

She had just returned the letter to its envelope when a gay voice
sounded in her ears. A girl was seen walking across the field and
approaching the stile. She was a fair-haired, pretty girl, dressed in
the height of the fashion. She had a merry laugh, and a merry voice, and
two very bright blue eyes.

"How do you do, Miss Mills?" she called to her. "I am going to see
Hilda. Can you tell me if she is at home?"

"How do you do, Miss Anstruther?" replied Miss Mills; "I did not know
you had returned."

"Yes, we all came home yesterday. I am longing to see Hilda, I have such
heaps of things to tell her. Is she at the Rectory?"

"At the present moment she is very busily employed trying to train the
most unmelodious choir in Great Britain," replied Miss Mills. "The
Harvest Festival takes place on Sunday, and in consequence she has more
than usual to do."

"Ah, you need not tell me; I am not going to venture within sound of
that choir. I shall go down to the Rectory and wait until her duties are
ended. There is not the least hurry. Good-by, Miss Mills. Are the
children well?"

"You can see for yourself," replied Miss Mills; "they are coming up the
road side by side."

"Old-fashioned little pair," replied Miss Anstruther, with a laugh.
"I'll just run down the road and give them a kiss each, and then go on
to the Rectory."

Miss Mills did not say anything further. Miss Anstruther mounted the
stile, called out to the children to announce her approach, kissed them
when they met, received an earnest gaze from Judy and an indifferent one
from Babs, and went on her way.

"Do you like her, Judy?" asked Babs, when the pretty girl had left them.

"Oh, yes!" replied Judy in a careless tone; "she is well enough. I don't
love her, if that's what you mean, Babs."

"Of course it isn't what I mean," replied Babs. "How many rooms have you
got in your heart, Judy?"

"One big room quite full," replied Judy with emphasis.

"I know - it's full of Hilda."

"It is."

"I have got a good many rooms in my heart," said Babs. "Mr. Love is in
some of them, and Mr. Like is in others. Have you no room in your heart
for Mr. Like, Judy?"


"Then poor Miss Mills does not live in your heart at all?"

"No. Oh, dear! what a long walk she's going to take us to-day. If I had
known that this morning, I wouldn't have taken so much pains over my
arithmetic. I shan't have a scrap of time with Hilda. It is too bad. I
am sure Miss Mills does it to worry me. She never can bear us to be

"Poor Judy!" replied Babs. "I shan't let Miss Mills live in my heart at
all if she vexes you; but oh, dear; oh, dear! Just look, do look! Do you
see that monstrous spider over there, the one with the sun shining on
his web?"


"Don't you love spiders?"

"Of course. I love all animals. I have a separate heart for animals."

Babs looked intensely interested.

"I love all animals too," she said, "every single one, all kinds - _even_
pigs. Don't you love pigs, Judy?"

"Of course I do."

"I wonder if Miss Mills does? There she is, reading her letter. She has
read it twenty times already to-day, so she must know it by heart now.
Let's run up and ask her if she loves pigs."

Judy quickened her steps, and the two little girls presently reached the

"Miss Mills," said Babs, in her clear voice, "we want to know something
very badly. Do you love pigs?"

"Do I love pigs?" asked Miss Mills with a start. "You ridiculous child,
what nonsense you are talking!"

"But do you?" repeated Babs. "It is most important for Judy and me to
know; for we love them, poor things - we think they're awfully nice."

Miss Mills laughed in the kind of manner which always irritated Judy.

"I am sorry not to be able to join your very peculiar hero-worship, my
dears," she said. "I can't say that I am attached to the pig."

"Then it is very wrong of you," said Judy, her eyes flashing, "when you
think of all the poor pig does for you."

"Of all the poor pig does for me! What next?"

"You wouldn't be the woman you are but for the pig," said Judy. "Don't
you eat him every day of your life for breakfast? You wouldn't be as
strong as you are but for the poor pig, and the least you can do is to
love him. I don't suppose he likes being killed to oblige you."

Judy's great eyes were flashing, and her little sensitive mouth was

Miss Mills gave her a non-comprehending glance. She could not in the
least fathom the child's queer passionate nature. Injustice of all sorts
preyed upon Judy; she could make herself morbid on almost any theme, and
a gloomy picture now filled her little soul. The animals were giving up
their lives for the human race, and the human race did not even give
them affection in return.

"Is that letter very funny?" asked Babs.

"It is not funny, but it is interesting to me."

"Do you love the person who wrote it to you?"

Miss Mills let the sheet of closely-written paper fall upon her lap; her
eyes gazed into the child's serene and wise little face. Something
impelled her to say words which she knew could not be understood.

"I hate the person who wrote that letter more than anyone else in all
the world," she exclaimed.

There was a passionate ring in her thin voice. The emotion which filled
her voice and shone out of her eyes gave pathos to her commonplace
face. Babs began to pull a flower to pieces. She had never conjugated
the verb to hate, and did not know in the least what it meant; but Judy
looked at her governess with new interest.

"Why do you get letters from the person you hate so much?" she asked.

"Don't ask any more questions," replied Miss Mills. She folded up the
sheet of paper, slipped it into its envelope, replaced the envelope in
her pocket, and started to her feet. "Let us continue our walk," she
said. "We shall reach the woods in five minutes if we are quick."

"But," said Judy, as they went down the path across the field, "I
_should_ like to know, Miss Mills, why you get letters from a person you

"When little girls ask troublesome questions they must not expect them
to be answered," responded Miss Mills.

Judy was silent. The faint, passing interest she had experienced died
out of her face, and the rather sulky, unsatisfied expression returned
to it.

Miss Mills, whose heart was very full of something, spoke again, more to
herself than to the children.

"If there is one bigger mistake than another," she said, "it is the
mistake of being fond of any one. Oh, how silly girls are when they get
engaged to be married!"

"What's that?" asked Babs.

"I know," said Judy, who was again all curiosity and interest. "I'll
tell you another time about it, Babs. Miss Hicks in the village was
engaged, and she had a wedding in the summer. I'll tell you all about
it, Babs, if you ask me when we are going to bed to-night. Please, Miss
Mills, why is it dreadful to be engaged to be married?"

"Your troubles begin then," said Miss Mills. "Oh, don't talk to me about
it, children. May you never understand what I am suffering! Oh, the
fickleness of some people! The promises that are made only to be broken!
You trust a person, and you are ever so happy; and then you find that
you have made a great, big mistake, and you are miserable."

"Is that you, Miss Mills? Are you the miserable person?" asked Judy.

"No, no, child! I didn't say it was me. I wasn't talking of anyone in
particular, and I shouldn't even have said what I did. Forget it,
Judy - forget it, Babs. Come, let us collect the ferns."

"Suppose we find some white heather," said Babs eagerly.

"And much that's worth, too," replied Miss Mills. "I found a piece last
summer. I gave - - " She sighed, and the corners of her mouth drooped.
She looked as if she were going to cry.



Thou wert mine - all mine!...
- Where has summer fled?
Sun forgets to shine,
Clouds are overhead;
Blows a chilling blast,
Tells my frightened heart
That the hour at last
Comes when we must part.
Hurrying moments, stay,
Leave us yet alone! -
All the world grows gray,
Love, when thou art flown.

Judy's soul swelled within her when she heard the music still sending
volumes of sound out of the little church. Miss Mills had not spoken all
the way home. Babs had chattered without a moment's intermission. Her
conversation had been entirely about birds and beasts and creeping
things. Judy had replied with rather less interest than usual. She was
so anxious to hurry home, so fearful of being too late. Now it was all
right. Hilda was still in the church, and, delightful - more than
delightful - the discordant notes of the choir had ceased, and only the
delicious sounds of the organ were borne on the breeze.

"Hilda is in the church," said Judy, pulling her governess by her
sleeve. "Good-by, Miss Mills; good-by, Babs."

She rushed away, scarcely heeding her governess's voice as it called
after her to be sure to be back at the Rectory in time for tea.

The church doors were still open, but the young man in the
cricketing-flannels, who had stood in the porch when Judy had started on
her walk, was no longer to be seen. The little girl stole into the quiet
church on tip-toe, crept up to her sister Hilda's side, and lying down
on the floor, laid her head on her sister's white dress.

Judy's lips kissed the hem of the dress two or three times; then she lay
quiet, a sweet expression round her lips, a tranquil, satisfied light in
her eyes. Here she was at rest, her eager, craving heart was full and

"You dear little monkey!" said Hilda, pausing for a moment in her really
magnificent rendering of one of Bach's most passionate fugues. She
touched the child's head lightly with her hand as she spoke.

"Oh, don't stop, Hilda; go on. I am so happy," whispered Judy back.

Hilda smiled, and immediately resumed the music which thrilled through
and through Judy's soul.

Hilda was eighteen, and the full glory and bloom of this perfect age
surrounded her; it shone in her dark red-brown hair, and gleamed in her
brown eyes, and smiled on her lips and even echoed from her sweet voice.
Hilda would always be lovely to look at, but she had the tender radiance
of early spring about her now. Judy was not the only person who thought
her the fairest creature in the world.

While she was playing, and the influence of the music was more and more
filling her face, there came a shadow across the church door. The shadow
lengthened and grew longer, and the young man, whose smile Judy had
ignored, came softly across the church and up to Hilda's side.

"Go on playing," he said, nodding to her. "I have been waiting and
listening. I can wait and listen a little longer if you will allow me to
sit in the church."

"I shall have done in a moment," said Hilda. "I just want to choose
something for the final voluntary." She took up a book of lighter music
as she spoke, and selecting some of Haydn's sweet and gracious melodies,
began to play.

Judy stirred restlessly. Jasper Quentyns came closer, so close that his
shadow fell partly over the child as she lay on the ground, and quite
shut away the evening sunlight as it streamed over Hilda's figure.
Jasper was a musician himself, and he made comments which were listened
to attentively.

Hilda played the notes as he directed her. She brought added volume into
certain passages, she rendered the light staccato notes with precision.

"Oh, you are spoiling the playing," said Judy suddenly. She started up,
knitting her black brows and glaring angrily at Jasper Quentyns.

"You don't mean to say you are here all the time, you little puss," he
exclaimed. "I thought you and Miss Mills and Babs were miles away by
now. Why, what's the matter, child? Why do you frown at me as if I were
an ogre?"

Hilda put her arm round Judy's waist. The contact of Hilda's arm was
like balm to the child; she smiled and held out her hand penitently.

"Of course I don't think you are an ogre," she said, "but I do wish you
would let Hilda play her music her own way."

"Oh, don't talk nonsense, Judy," said Hilda; "you quite forget that Mr.
Quentyns knows a great deal more about music than I do."

"He doesn't play half nor quarter as well as you, for all that," replied
Judy, with emphasis.

Hilda bent forward and kissed her little sister on her forehead.

"We won't have any more music at present," she said, "it is time for us
to return to the house. You are going to dine at the Rectory this
evening, are you not, Mr. Quentyns?"

"If you will have me."

"Of course we shall all be delighted to have you."

"Hilda," said Judy, "do you know that Mildred Anstruther is down at the
house waiting to see you?"

A faint shadow of disappointment flitted across Hilda Merton's face - an
additional wave of color mounted to Jasper Quentyns' brow. He looked at
Hilda to see if she had noticed it; Hilda turned from him and began to
arrange her music.

"Come," she said, "we mustn't keep Mildred waiting."

"What has she come for?" asked Jasper, as the three walked down the
shady avenue.

"You know you are glad to see her," replied Hilda suddenly.

Something in her tone caused Jasper to laugh and raise his brows in
mock surprise. Judy looked eagerly from one face to the other. Her heart
began to beat with fierce dislike to Jasper. What right had he to
interfere with Hilda's music, and above all things, what right, pray,
had he to bring that tone, into Hilda's beloved voice?

Judy clasped her sister's arm with a tight pressure. In a few minutes
they reached the old-fashioned and cozy Rectory.

The Rector was pacing about in the pleasant evening sunshine, and
Mildred Anstruther was walking by his side and chatting to him.

"Oh, here you are," said Mildred, running up to her friend and greeting
her with affection; "and you have come too, Mr. Quentyns? - this is a
delightful surprise."

"You had better run into the house now, Judy," said Hilda. "Yes,
darling, go at once."

"May I come down after dinner to-night, Hilda?"

"You look rather pale, Judy, and as we are having friends to dinner it
may be best for you to go to bed early," said another voice. It
proceeded from the comfortable, good-natured mouth of Aunt Marjorie.

"No, no, Aunt Maggie, you won't send me to bed. Hilda, you'll plead for
me, won't you?" gasped Judy.

"I think she may come down just for half an hour, auntie," said Hilda,

"Well, child, it must be as you please; of course we all know who spoils

"Of course we all know who loves Judy," said Hilda. "Now are you
satisfied, my sweet? Run away; be the best of good children. Eat a
hearty tea; don't think of any trouble. Oh, Judy! what a frown you have
between your brows; let me kiss it away. I'll find you in the drawing
room after dinner."

"And you'll come and talk to me if only for one minute. Promise,
promise, Hilda!"

"Of course I promise; now run off."

Judy went slowly away. She thought the grown people very unkind to
dismiss her. She was interested in all people who were grown up; she had
not a great deal of sympathy with children - she felt that she did not
quite belong to them. The depths of her thoughts, the intense pathos of
her unsatisfied affections were incomprehensible to most children. Hilda
understood her perfectly, and even Aunt Marjorie and her father were
more agreeable companions than Miss Mills and Babs.

There was no help for it, however. Judy was a schoolroom child, and
back to the schoolroom and to Miss Mills' dull society she must go.
Swinging her hat on her arm she walked slowly down the long, cool stone
passage which led from the principal hall to the schoolroom regions. A
maidservant of the name of Susan hurried past her with the tray which
contained the schoolroom tea in her hands.

"You must be quick, Miss Judy, I am bringing in the tea," she said.

Judy frowned. She did not think it at all necessary for Susan to remind
her of her rather disagreeable duties. Instead of hurrying to the
schoolroom she stood still and looked out of one of the windows. The
words Miss Mills had uttered as they walked across the fields to the
wood kept returning to her memory. In some curious, undefined,
uncomfortable way she connected them with her sister Hilda. What did
they mean? Why was it dreadful to be engaged to be married? Why were
some people so fickle, and why were promises broken? Judy had never seen

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