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words were bubbling to her lips, and she would have flown after the
little party who were so utterly ignoring her, if David had not suddenly
slipped back and put his hand on her arm.

"I know the story," he said; "so I needn't stay to listen. She's adding
to it awfully. We didn't use any ropes, the window is only three feet
from the ground, and the awful howling and barking of the mastiff was
made by the shabbiest little cur. Flower is lovely, but she does dress
up her stories. I love Flower, but I'll walk with you now, if you'll let
me, Polly."

"You're very kind, David," said Polly. "But I don't know that I want any
one to walk with me, except Maggie. I think Flower was very rude just
now. Oh, you can stay if you like, David - I don't mind, one way or
another. Isn't this south moor lovely, Maggie? Aren't you glad I asked
you to come with us?"

"Well, yes, Miss, I be. It was good-natured of you, Miss Polly, only if
there's stories a-going, I'd like to be in at them. I does love
narrations of outlandish places, Miss. Oh, my word, and is that the
little foreign gentleman? It is a disappointment as I can't 'ear what
the young lady's a-telling of."

"Well, Maggie, you needn't be discontented. _I_ am not hearing this
wonderful story, either. David, what are you nudging me for?"

"Send her to walk with George," whispered David. "I want to say
something to you so badly, Polly."

Polly frowned. She did not feel particularly inclined to oblige any one
just now, but David had a pleading way of his own; he squeezed her arm
affectionately, and looked into her face with a world of beseeching in
his big black eyes. After all it was no very difficult matter to get at
Polly's warm heart. She looked over her shoulder.

"George, will you give Maggie a seat beside you," she said. "No, none of
the rest of us want to drive. Come on, David. Now, David, what is it?"

"It's about Flower," said David. "She - she - you don't none of you know
Flower yet."

"Oh, I am not sure of that," replied Polly, speaking on purpose in a
very careless tone. "I suppose she's much like other girls. She's rather
pretty, of course, and has nice ways with her. I made stories about you
both, but you're not a bit like anything I thought of. In some ways
you're nicer, in some not so nice. Why, what is the matter, David? What
are you staring at me so hard for?"

"Because you're all wrong," responded David. "You don't know Flower.
She's not like other girls; not a bit. There were girls at Ballarat, and
she wasn't like them. But no one wondered at that, for they were rough,
and not like real ladies. And there were girls on board the big ship we
came over in, and they weren't rough, but Flower wasn't a bit like them
either. And she's not like any of you, Polly, although I'm sure you are
nice, and Helen is sweet, and Fly is a little brick. Flower is not like
any other girl I have ever seen."

"She must be an oddity, then," said Polly. "I hate oddities. Do let's
walk a little faster, David."

"You are wrong again," persisted David, quickening his steps. "An oddity
is some one to laugh at, but no one has ever dreamed of laughing at
Flower. She is just herself, like no one else in the world. No, you
don't any of you know her yet. I suppose you are every one of you
thinking that she's the very nicest and cleverest and perfectest girl
you ever met?"

"I'm sure we are not," said Polly. "I think, for my part, there has been
a great deal too much fuss made about her. I'm getting tired of her
airs, and I think she was very rude just now."

"Oh, don't, Polly, you frighten me. I want to tell you something so
badly. Will you treat it as a great, enormous secret? will you never
reveal it, Polly?"

"What a queer boy you are," said Polly. "No, I won't tell. What's the
mystery?"

"It's this. Flower is sometimes - sometimes - oh, it's dreadful to have
to tell! - Flower is sometimes not nice."

Polly's eyes danced.

"You're a darling, David!" she said. "Of course, that sister of yours is
not perfect. I'd hate her if she was."

"But it isn't that," said David. "It's so difficult to tell. When Flower
isn't nice, it's not a small thing, it's - oh, she's awful! Polly, I
don't want any of you ever to see Flower in a passion; you'd be
frightened, oh, you would indeed. We were all dreadfully unhappy at
Ballarat when Flower was in a passion, and lately we tried not to get
her into one. That's what I want you to do, Polly; I want you to try; I
want you to see that she is not vexed."

"I like that," said Polly. "Am I to be on my 'P's and Q's' for this Miss
Flower of yours? Now, David, what do you mean by a great passion? I'm
rather hot myself. Come, you saw me very cross about the lemonade
yesterday; is Flower worse than that? What fun it must be to see her!"

"Don't!" said David, turning pale. "You wouldn't speak in that way,
Polly, if you knew. What you did yesterday like Flower? Why, I didn't
notice you at all. Flower's passions are - are - - But I can't speak
of them, Polly."

"Then why did you tell me?" said Polly. "I can't help her getting into
rages, if she's so silly."

"Oh, yes, you can, and that's why I spoke to you. She's a little vexed
now, about your having brought the - the kitchen-maid here. I know well
she's vexed, because she's extra polite with every one else. That's a
way she has at first. I don't suppose she'll speak to you, Polly; but
oh, Polly, I will love you so much, I'll do anything in all the world
for you, if only you'll send Maggie home!"

"What are you dreaming of?" said Polly. "Because Flower is an ill
tempered, proud, silly girl, am I to send poor little Maggie away? No,
David, if your sister has a bad temper, she must learn to control it.
She is living in England now, and she must put up with our English ways;
we are always kind to our servants."

"Then it can't be helped," said David. "You'll remember that I warned
you - you'll be sorry afterwards! Hullo, Flower - yes, Flower, I'm
coming."

He flew from Polly's side, going boldly over to what the little girl was
now pleased to call the ranks of the enemy. She felt sorry for a moment,
for Firefly had long since deserted her. Then she retraced her steps,
and walked by Maggie's side for the rest of the time.




CHAPTER III.

NOT LIKE OTHERS.


It was still early when the children reached Troublous Times Castle. Dr.
Maybright would not be likely to join them for nearly an hour. They had
walked fast, and Polly, at least, felt both tired and cross. When the
twins ran up to her and assured her with much enthusiasm that they had
never had a more delightful walk, she turned from them with a little
muttered "Pshaw!" Polly's attentions now to Maggie were most marked, and
if this young person were not quite one of the most obtuse in existence,
it is possible she might have felt slightly embarrassed.

"While we're waiting for father," exclaimed Polly, speaking aloud, and
in that aggressive tone which had not been heard from her lips since the
night of the supper in the attic - "while we're waiting for father we'll
get the banqueting-hall ready. Maggie and I will see to this, but any
one who likes to join us can. We don't require any assistance, but if it
gives pleasure to any of the others to see us unpack the baskets, now is
the time for them to say the word."

"But, of course, we're all going to get the dinner ready," exclaimed
Dolly and Katie, in voices of consternation. "What a ridiculous way you
are talking, Polly! This is all our affair; half the fun is getting the
dinner ready. Isn't it, Nell?"

"Yes, of course," said Helen, in her pleasant, bright voice. "We'll all
do as much as we can do to make the banqueting-hall ready for father.
Now, let's get George to take the hampers there at once; and, Flower, I
thought, perhaps, you would help me to touch up the creepers here and
there, they do look so lovely falling over that ruined west window.
Come, Flower, now let's all of us set to work without any more delay."

"Yes, Flower, and you know you have such a way of making things look
sweet," said David, taking his sister's hand and kissing it.

She put her arm carelessly round his neck, stooped down, and pressed her
lips to his brow, then said in that light, arch tone, which she had used
all day, "David is mistaken. I can't make things look sweet, and I'm not
coming to the banqueting-hall at present."

There was a pointed satire in the two last words. Flower's big blue eyes
rested carelessly on Maggie, then they traveled to where Polly stood,
and a fine scorn curled her short, sensitive upper lip. The words she
had used were nothing, but her expressive glance meant a good deal.
Polly refused to see the world of entreaty on David's face - she threw
down her challenge with equal scorn and a good deal of comic dignity.

"It's a very good thing, then, you're not coming to the banqueting-hall,
Flower," she said. "For we don't want people there who have no taste. I
suppose it's because you are an Australian, for in England even the
cottagers know a little about how to make picnics look pretty. Maggie is
a cottager at present, as she's out of a situation, so it's lucky we've
brought her. Now, as every one else wants to come, let them, and don't
let's waste any more time, or when father comes, we really will have
nothing ready for him to eat."

"Very well," said Flower. "Then I shall take a walk by myself. I wish to
be by myself. No, David you are not to come with me, I forbid it."

For a quarter of a second a queer steely light filled her blue eyes.
David shrank from her glance, and followed the rest of the party down a
flight of steps which led also into the old banqueting-hall.

"You've done it now," he whispered to Polly. "You'll be very, very sorry
by-and-by, and you'll remember then that I warned you."

"I really think you're the most tiresome boy," said Polly. "You want to
make mysteries out of nothing. I don't see that Flower is particularly
passionate; she's a little bit sarcastic, and she likes to say nasty,
scathing things, but you don't suppose I mind her! She'll soon come to
her senses when she sees that we are none of us petting her, or bowing
down to her. I expect that you and your father have spoiled that Flower
of yours over in Ballarat."

"You don't know Flower a bit," responded David. "I warned you. You'll
remember that presently. Flower not passionate! Why, she was white with
passion when she went away. Well, you wait and see."

"I wish you'd stop talking," responded Polly, crossly. "We'll never have
things ready if you chatter so, and try to perplex me. There's poor Fly
almost crying over that big hamper. Please, David, go and help her to
get the knives, and forks, and glasses out, and don't break any glasses,
for we're always fined if we break glasses at picnics."

David moved away slowly. He was an active little fellow as a rule, but
now there seemed to be a weight over him. The vivaciousness had left his
handsome dark little face; once he turned round and looked at Polly with
a volume of reproach in his eyes.

She would not meet his eyes, she was bending over her own hamper, and
was laughing and chatting gayly with every one who came within her
reach. The moment Flower's influence was removed Polly became once more
the ringleader of all the fun. Once more she was appealed to, her advice
asked, her directions followed. She could not help admitting to herself
that she liked the change, and for the first time a conscious feeling of
active dislike to Flower took possession of her. What right had this
strange girl to come and take the lead in everything? No, she was
neither very pretty nor very agreeable; she was a conceited,
ill-tempered, proud creature, and it was Polly's duty, of course it was
Polly's duty, to see that she was not humored. Was there anything so
unreasonable and monstrous as her dislike to poor little Maggie? Poor
little harmless Maggie, who had never done her an ill-turn in her life.
Really David had been too absurd when he proposed that Maggie should be
sent home. David was a nice boy enough, but he was not to suppose that
every one was to bow down to his Queen Flower. Ridiculous! let her go
into passions if she liked, she would soon be tamed and brought to her
senses when she had been long enough in England.

Polly worked herself up into quite a genuine little temper of her own,
as she thought, and she now resolved, simply and solely for the purpose
of teasing Flower, that Maggie should dine with them all, and have a
seat of honor near herself. When she had carelessly thought of her
coming to the picnic, she, of course, like all the others, had intended
that Maggie and George should eat their dinner together after the great
meal was over; and even Helen shook her head now when Polly proposed in
her bright audacious way that Maggie should sit near her, in one of the
best positions, where she could see the light flickering through the
ivy, which nearly covered the beautiful west window.

"As you like, of course, Polly," responded Helen. "But I do think it is
putting Maggie a little out of her place. Perhaps father won't like it,
and I'm sure Flower won't."

"I'll ask father myself, when he arrives," answered Polly, choosing to
ignore the latter part of Helen's speech.

The banqueting-hall, which was a perfect ruin at one end, was still
covered over at the other. And it was in this portion, full of
picturesque half-lights and fascinating dark corners, that the children
had laid out their repast. The west window was more than fifty feet
distant. It was nearly closed in with an exquisite tracery of ivy; but
as plenty of light poured into the ruin from the open sky overhead, this
mattered very little, and but added to the general effect. The whole
little party were very busy, and no one worked harder than Polly, and no
one's laugh was more merry. Now and then, it is true, an odd memory and
a queer sensation of failure came over her. Was she really - really
to-day, at least - trying to climb successfully the highest mountain?
She stifled the little voice speaking in her heart, delighted her
brothers and sisters, and even caused a smile to play round David's
grave lips as she made one witty remark after another. Firefly in
particular was in ecstasies with her beloved sister, and when the Doctor
at last appeared on the scene the fun was at its height.

The moment he entered the banqueting-hall Polly went up to him, put on
her archest and most pleading expression, and said in a tone of inquiry:

"It's all so delightful, and such a treat for her. And you don't mind,
do you father?"

"I don't know that I mind anything at this moment, Polly, for I am
hungry, and your viands look tempting of the tempting. Unless you bid me
not to come to the feast, I shall quarrel with no other suggestion."

"Oh! you darlingest of fathers; then you won't be angry if poor Maggie
sits next me; and has her dinner with us? She is a little afraid of the
moor, and I wanted to cure her, so I brought her to-day, and she will be
so happy if she can sit next me at dinner."

"Put her where you please, my dear; we are not sitting on forms or
standing on ceremony at present. And now to dinner, to dinner, children,
for I must be off again in an hour."

No one noticed, not even David, that while the Doctor was speaking a
shadow stole up and remained motionless by the crumbling stairs of the
old banqueting-hall; no one either saw when it glided away. Polly
laughed, and almost shouted; every one, Flower excepted, took their
places as best they could on the uneven floor of the hall; the white
tablecloth was spread neatly in the middle. Every one present was
exceedingly uncomfortable physically, and yet each person expressed him
or herself in tones of rapture, and said never was such food eaten, or
such a delightful dinner served.

For a long time Flower was not even missed; then David's grave face
attracted the Doctor's attention.

"What is the matter, my lad?" he said. "Have you a headache? Don't you
enjoy this _al fresco_ sort of entertainment? And, by the way, I don't
see your sister. Helen, my dear, do you know where Flower is? Did not
she come with you?"

"Of course she did, father; how stupid and careless of me never to have
missed her."

Helen jumped up from the tailor-like position she was occupying on the
floor.

"Flower said she would take a little walk," she continued. "And I must
say I forgot all about her. She ought to have been back ages ago."

"Flower went by herself for a walk on the moor!" echoed the Doctor. "But
that isn't safe; she may lose her way, or get frightened. Why did you
let her go, children?"

No one answered; a little cloud seemed to have fallen on the merry
party. Polly again had a pinprick of uneasiness in her heart, and a
vivid recollection of the highest mountain which she was certainly not
trying to climb.

The Doctor said he would go at once to look for Flower.




CHAPTER IV.

A YOUNG AUSTRALIAN.


David was quite right when he said his sister was not like other girls.
There was a certain element of wildness in her; she had sweet manners, a
gracious bearing, an attractive face; but in some particulars she was
untamed. Never had that terrible strong temper of hers been curbed. More
than one of the servants in the old home at Ballarat had learnt to dread
it. When Flower stormed, her father invariably left home, and David shut
himself up in his own room. Her mother, an affectionate but not
particularly strong-minded woman, alone possessed sufficient courage to
approach the storm-tossed little fury. Mrs. Dalrymple had a certain
power of soothing the little girl, but even she never attempted to teach
the child the smallest lessons of self-control.

This unchecked, unbridled temper grew and strengthened with Flower's
growth. When under its influence she was a transformed being, and David
had good reason to be afraid of her.

In addition to an ungovernable temper, Flower was proud; she possessed
the greatest pride of all, that of absolute ignorance. She believed
firmly in caste; had she lived in olden days in America, she would have
been a very cruel mistress of slaves. Yet with it all Flower had an
affectionate heart; she was generous, loyal, but she was so thoroughly a
spoiled and untrained creature that her good qualities were nearly lost
under the stronger sway of her bad ones.

After her mother's death Flower had fretted so much that she had grown
shadowy and ill. It was then her father conceived the idea of sending
her and David to an English family to train and educate. He could not
manage Flower, he could not educate David. The Maybrights were heard of
through a mutual friend, and Flower was reconciled to the thought of
leaving the land and home of her birth because she was told she was
going to another mother. She dried her eyes at this thought, and was
tolerably cheerful during the voyage over. On reaching England the news
of Mrs. Maybright's death was broken to her. Again Flower stormed and
raged; she gave poor little David a dreadful night, but in the morning
her tears were dried, her smile had returned, and she went down to
Sleepy Hollow with the Doctor in fairly good spirits.

The young Maybrights were all on their best behavior - Flower was on
hers, and until the day of the picnic all went well.

It did not take a great deal to rouse first the obstinate pride of this
young Australian, and then her unbridled passions. Associate with a
servant? No, that she would never, never do. Show Polly that she
approved of her conduct? Not while her own name was Flower Dalrymple.
She let all the other happy children go down to the banqueting-hall
without her, and strode away, miserable at heart, choking with rage and
fury.

The Dalrymples were very wealthy people, and Flower's home in Ballarat
was furnished with every luxury. Notwithstanding this, the little girl
had never been in a truly refined dwelling-house until she took up her
abode in old-fashioned Sleepy Hollow. Flower had taken a great fancy to
Helen, and she already warmly loved Dr. Maybright. She was wandering
over the moor now, a miserable, storm-tossed little personage, when she
saw his old-fashioned gig and white pony "Rowney" approaching. That old
gig and the person who sat in it - for Dr. Maybright drove
himself - began to act on the heart of the child with a curious magnetic
force. Step by step they caused her to turn, until she reached Troublous
Times Castle almost as soon as the Doctor. She did not know why she was
coming back, for she had not the remotest idea of yielding her will to
Polly's. Still she had a kind of instinct that the Doctor would set
things right. By this she meant that he would give her her own way and
banish Maggie from the scene of festivity.

The banqueting-hall at the old castle could be reached by two ways: you
might approach it quite easily over the green sward, or you might enter
a higher part of the castle, and come to it down broken steps.

The Doctor chose one way of approaching the scene of the feast, Flower
another. She was about to descend when she heard voices: Polly was
eagerly asking permission for Maggie to dine with them; the Doctor, in
his easy, genial tones, was giving it to her. That was enough. If Flower
had never known before what absolute hatred was like, she knew it now.
She hated Polly; ungovernable passion mounted to her brain, filled her
eyes, lent wings to her feet; she turned and fled.

Although the month was October, it was still very hot in the middle of
the day on the open moor. Flower, however, was accustomed to great heat
in her native home, and the full rays of the sun did not impede her
flight. She was so tall and slight and willowy that she was a splendid
runner, but the moor was broken and rough, interspersed here and there
with deep bracken, here and there with heather, here and there again
with rank clumps of undergrowth. The young girl, half blinded with rage
and passion, did not see the sharp points of the rocks or the brambles
in her path. Once or twice she fell. After her second fall she was so
much bruised and hurt, that she was absolutely forced to sit still in
the midst of the yellow-and-brown bracken. It was in a bristling,
withered state, but it still stood thick and high, and formed a kind of
screen all round Flower as she sat in it. She took off her cap, and idly
fanned her hot face with it; her yellow head could scarcely be
distinguished from the orange-and-gold tints of the bracken which
surrounded her.

In this way the Doctor, who was now anxiously looking for Flower, missed
her, for he drove slowly by, not a hundred yards from her hiding-place.

As Flower sat and tried to cool herself, she began to reflect. Her
passion was not in the least over; on the contrary, its most dangerous
stage had now begun. As she thought, there grew up stronger and stronger
in her heart a great hatred for Polly. From the first, Flower had not
taken so warmly to Polly as she had done to Helen. The fact was, these
girls were in many ways too much alike. Had it been Polly's fate to be
born and brought up in Ballarat, she might have been Flower over again.
She might have been even worse than Flower, for she was cleverer; on the
other hand, had Flower been trained by Polly's wise and loving mother,
she might have been a better girl than Polly.

As it was, however, these two must inevitably clash. They were like two
queen bees in the same hive; they each wanted the same place. It only
needed a trifle to bring Flower's uneasy, latent feeling against Polly
to perfection. The occasion arose, the match had fired the easily
ignited fuel, and Flower sat now and wondered how she could best revenge
herself on Polly.

After a time, stiff and limping, for she had hurt her ankle, she
recommenced her walk across the moor. She had not the least idea where
her steps were leading her. She was tired, her feet ached, and her great
rage had sufficiently cooled to make her remember distinctly that she
had eaten no dinner; still, she plodded on. From the time she had left
Troublous Times Castle she had not encountered an individual, but now,
as she stepped forward, a man suddenly arose from his lair in the grass
and confronted her. He was a black-eyed, unkempt, uncouth-looking
person, and any other girl would have been very much afraid of him. He
put his arms akimbo, a disagreeable smile crossed his face, and he
instantly placed himself in such a position as completely to bar the
girl's path.

An English girl would have turned pale at such an apparition in so
lonely a place, but Flower had seen bushmen in her day, and did not


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