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the room, as though he had managed it; and Mamma smiled too, though I know she is sometimes troubled about Herbert, and thinks he has his own way too much.
Willis was but just gone when the door-bell rang, and Charley and Edith were ushered into the breakfast-room; they were both of them greatly astonished to see us still at breakfast, but I told them we had had so many interruptions, and so much to do, that we could not get on with our breakfast. Charley asked me how I liked my pony, and I could not imagine how he came to know anything about it, for I had not told him; then I learnt that it was he who had chosen it, and who had had it broken so nicely for me, and that he had ridden it himself many times with a lady's skirt on before he had sent it home. Charley is much more thoughtsul both for Edith and for me than Herbert is, but then he is older. Papa had some business matters to talk over with Charley, and Edith wanted to get her things unpacked, so we two girls came up-stairs ; and whilst Edith has got Susan to help her in arranging and unpacking, I am writing in my book, which I suppose I must not call a journal; and now I see my new little watch tells me that it is high time for me to get ready for the carriage—it is a quarter to twelve, and we start at twelve punctually. Nursie came in and asked me whether I was too old to wear a wreath of her making this morning, and I told the dear old thing that I should be so disappointed if she did not make it for me, and that I was so glad she had not quite given me up for Baby's sake; whereat she kissed me, and said, 'Give you up, my blessed bairn! You who have been my charge these fifteen years, and never given me a moment's unhappiness. I shall never forget you, my darling, even for that beautiful baby.' The tears were in her eyes, and she held my hand so tight. She quite touched me, and on my table is a sweetly pretty new vase for flowers, filled with moss roses, her present. How kind people are to me!
It is night now; the pic-nic was very successful, but I am really too tired and sleepy to say anything about it. I must wait till to-morrow.
I suppose one pic-nic is very like another, and though I thought last night I had a great deal to say about ours of yesterday-to-day, and now that it is over, I don't think I have so much to say, or rather to write about. Eight different carriages met at the spot we bad fixed upon as the place of meeting, and six riders; so we made quite an imposing procession for three miles of road; then the first carriage stopped, and afterwards we al stopped and got out and walked on for a little while till we came to a most inviting shady place, carpeted with blue-bells and wood sorrel, and sweet with lilacs and May flowers, and the silvery Thames flowing grandly by. The scenery was half forest scenery, and the trees chiefly beeches; and Charley made me notice that they had all been pollarded or lost their heads; and when I asked him how this had come to pass, and whether one great storm had rushed by like a whirlwind and rent the entire forest asunder, he said, Yes, it was a great storm that had done it, but a storm of man's creation, not of Nature's, for
the storm of passion which caused the death of Charles the First, wrought such bitter woe in the heart of the then owner of those trees and of that land, that he, to show his sympathy with the royal martyr, and his hatred of the black deed done that day in England, cut the head off every one of his grand and noble beech trees.' 'Is this really true, Charley?' I asked. 'I have been told so, Lena, and I know it is the belief of many that this deed was done, and that thus these trees were pollarded ; and more than this I can't say,' was his answer; and then he continued, 'But is it not strange how differently men see things, how some folk deem white what others deem black, how some call a deed grand which others call wicked ? for an acquaintance of mine said to me not long ago as we passed by Whitehall Chapel together, “I always take off my hat as I pass this building in honour of the great deed done by the people of England here on this spot,” meaning, of course, the execution of Charles the First.' O Charley,' I exclaimed, “what a man! how could he say anything so dreadful? and besides, it was Cromwell that did it, it was not the people of England.' I was very much provoked that this interesting talk to me with Charley was put an end to here by Herbert, who came up and said, 'Lena, what are you disclaiming about with such grandiloquence? there(pointing to a rock)—there's your pulpit, take your stand and preach to
You will have quite a large congregation. What shall your text be? May I find it for you?''Herbert, be quiet!' 1 said, feeling so angry; for he really is very unbearable at times, and particularly so when a mocking mood comes over him; but Charley, who saw that I was angry, and so did not wish me to speak, took Herbert away on some pretence or other, and left me to get right and quiet again ; and so I did, and felt very thankful to Charley that he had prevented angry words, which sometimes are very ready to come, and then so hard to forget and forgive.
I was quite pleased when Papa set us all to work at unpacking the baskets, and laying the cloth, and making ready for our early dinner; and really Mamma had provided such an abundance of good things for us, that we were all surprised, and none of us quarreled with our champagne, not even Papa, who drank two glasses of it, one, as he said, to my good health, and another in honour of all our guests.
After dinner, which took us a long time, we roved about and chatted, and then someone proposed a row on the river if we could get some boats. Herbert said he knew a gentleman who lived close by, and who had some boats of his own, and he would go and ask him if he might have them for the afternoon; and away he went, and it was half an hour before he returned with leave from this gentleman. We were soon at the boat-house, and ten of us got into the boats, the others said they had rather not go. The row was delicious, and we were very merry. Those in the boat behind the one I was in began to sing glees, and we answered them, and the voices sounded most sweet on the water. On and on we went, till Charley suggested the necessity of returning; and this was not
so easy a matter, for now the rowers had to pull against a strong stream, which had carried us much further down the river than we had meant to go. It was getting late before we neared the spot where we left our friends, and I fully expected Papa would be fidgety and not pleased that we had been so long away; and so it was, and even Herbert had some difficulty in calming him down, and in making him understand why we were so late.
Three of the carriages had gone home, and the others were all ready to start; but, nevertheless, we who had been in the boats stayed behind, and had a cup of such delicious tea, which we found the kind gentleman who had lent us the boats had ordered to be ready for us at the boathouse when we returned from our row. It was eight o'clock before we were seated in the carriages, and then we had a two hours drive before
Mamma was so glad to welcome us back, and we were very tired, and so I could not wear Nursie's wreath, but I told her if she would put a few fresh flowers in I would wear it the next day in the evening—that is to-day-because there is going to be a dinner party. As we came home in the carriage, Charley said to me, “That he had a strange birthday present to give me, and a strange request to make to me, which was, that I would accept this present, and take care of it, and not be frightened even if it should give me some trouble. I could not imagine what was coming, and so I said, “What are you going to give me, Charley? is it a lion ?' 'No,' said he, “it is a lamb; for it is a little three year old girlie.' I looked so astonished, and he laughed out loud at my look, and exclaimed, “Why, Lena, you do seem surprised! And so I am, Charley; and who is this child ? and what am I to do with her ?' Then Charley told me she was a little orphan girl, the daughter of an old - servant of his mother's. That the children (for there are three of them) were absolutely destitute, and must be sent to the work house if some kind friends would not step forward and rescue them from such a sad fate. He told me that the father and mother of these children were most respectable people. She had been a housemaid, and he a gardener, but they had not prospered; the father died some two years ago, and the mother only a few weeks back, and there is no one to care about this little girl—little Kitty, as she is called. So Charley had spoken to Mamma and Papa before he said anything to me, and asked them if I might have the charge of this little child, and they had consented. “So now, Lena,' asked Charley, will you accept my present, or are you afraid to undertake this responsibility?' 'No,' I answered, 'I am not afraid whilst I have Mamma and you to help me, and to tell me what I ought to do.' "To-morrow we will have a great consultation on the subject,' Charley replied, looking so pleased that I had not rejected his present, and showing me that he was pleased by his eye and smile and
Then he took my hand, and drew off my glove, and he put such a lovely ring on my finger-a large opal set in massive gold; the stone with the hidden light, he called the opal. "That, Lena dear, is to remind you always of the duty and the charge you have this day undertaken. You will never regret it, though it may sometimes be a tax upon your time, and thoughts, and fingers, and purse.'
This morning Charley and I walked down to the lodge to see if Mrs. Allen (who lives at the lodge, and who has one little girl of her own) would undertake the charge of my orphan, and be a mother to her. Mrs. Allen is quite willing to do this, and as she is a very kind-hearted motherly woman, I hope the little orphan girl will be really happy with her. Mamma will pay Mrs. Allen so much a week for her keep, and I shall get all her clothes made for her. As we were walking to the lodge, I told Charley that I had had three little sisters, and that they had all died; and I said, 'How strange it was that children should be born only to die, or should live to be two and three and four years old and then die, and that I had heard of whole families of children being swept away by one disease or other. Then he said that he had felt himself that the death of sweet little children was indeed a strange thing, that he once lost a beautiful little sister, whom he loved exceedingly, and who looked after she was dead and as she lay on her bed strewed over with white flowers, just like an exquisite pure white statue, and that he had felt her death so very much, and missed her brightness and her innocence, and her laughing lovely look and voice and manner, for months and months after she had been in her grave. All that Charley said to me made me feel sad, for he talked more gravely to me than I had ever known him to do before, and he spoke of the battle of life. I hardly know what the battle of life' means yet, and I am afraid of it; but I am sure Charley knows, he looked so much in earnest whilst he was talking, and he muttered to himself more than to me, “No cross, no crown. I suppose this strange knowledge will come to me in time; there are moments now when I understand what it is to be old, moments that come and go, but I feel glad when they go, and this bright sunny day I am quite happy again.
After to-day I may not have time to write much for the present in this book of mine, because to-morrow morning Edith and I are going to set to work most diligently; we are to have lessons in music and drawing from very good masters, and we both expect to have our hands quite full.
Nevertheless, we have made a resolution to work one day in the week for our orphans, for Edith has had an orphan to look after and to clothe for some time; and Mamma promises to read to us if she possibly can on that afternoon some very interesting story. Charley joins his regiment in Ireland to-day, so we shall not see him again for a long time; but Harry Leslie is coming to read with Herbert and stay here all the summer, and I am glad of this, because Herbert won't want so much from us two girls as he would have done if he had had no companion and nothing to do.
(To be continued.)
LONG had raged the fight amain
grace; None in triumph, or in chase,
Word did say ;
Did their worst :
Of the First.
With a heart that would not quail,
Stood the King;
Broke their ring;
Vanished thence ;
But the monarch's eye grew bright,
'Gainst the foe;
At a blow.