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In spite even of the blue jug, however, the room looked so rotten, and bare, and wretched, that Mrs. Lester fairly broke into tears here, and sitting on the little bed, kissed the poor lonely child, and said, 'God bless you, my pet; if he hurts you, come to me;' forgetting that as yet the little one could not understand her. She looked round her with a forlorn surprise ; she had never seen any place so poor, and bare, and ugly ; yet she did not cry nor complain when it was made clear to her that she was to stay there instead of going home to Mrs. Lester's daintily clean little parlour, with the geraniums in the window, and the sun shining (it seemed to shine always there) on Jacob and Rachel kissing each other in a beech-wood frame over the mantel-piece, and on the two worsted kettle-holders, the one worked with a blue kitten, the other with a red one, hung up on nails for ornaments on either side of the picture. Mrs. Lester found another old box in the child's new room besides that on which the jug and bason were standing, and in this she laid the small stock of clothes, neatly, with a handkerchief over the top of them. Then the two picked a way cautiously down-stairs again, and found Bill still chewing his neckerchief at the door. Mrs. Lester laid out on a plate a good slice of cake which she had brought with her, and poured out some nice milk from a bottle which she had also brought in the basket in which the child's clothes were laid, before she went home.
“Will you stay and have a drop o' tea, Mrs. Lester, Ma'am ?' said Bill. 'I'll find you some right good tea.'
No, thank you, Bill,' answered Mrs. Lester, shaking her little round head quite gravely, for she knew that no duty had been paid on that tea; and then she gave the child a last kiss, picked up her clothes gingerly, and trotted home to her cosy meal, which, however, she could not enjoy for thinking of the poor little foreigner left in the dreary cottage.
Bill stayed at home until eight o'clock that night, trying to amuse his little guest. He had a case of silk handkerchiefs from China, which had come to him in the same way as the contraband tea. These had little figures of men and women worked on them, and pagodas, and trees with great round leaves, and bridges in the air, and slaves carrying big parasols ; and Bill now opened these wonderful handkerchiefs and spread them out on his knee for the little girl to look at, like pictures. She had found a stool to sit on, and she came timidly when Bill called her, and placed herself by him, and looked at the silks as he spread them out, not quite understanding what she was to admire. Bill pointed with his great fore-finger at a little fat man walking in the clouds, and said, “Man ;Chinee,' very plain and loud, by way of teaching his visitor English. 'Sinee,' repeated the little girl, very prettily; and then Bill nodded and began the lesson again. But it was dull work after all; and at eight, when all the handkerchiefs had been looked at twice over, he got up and yawned and stretched himself, and looked at the little girl and said, 'Bedtime-bed ! pointing up the stairs. She understood that quickly enough, and so made him the prettiest curtsey, saying words he did not understand, and climbed up, the ladder again. Bill went out, and she was left all alone in the dismal cottage, sitting on her bed and eating her orange, until it was dark and she grew sleepy, and then she put on the clean white night-gown which Mrs. Lester had laid out for her, said her prayers in her sweet native tongue, put her head on the pillow and fell asleep.
No one awoke her next day; and when at last she had awakened through the sun shining into her face, and had dressed and come down into the kitchen, she found no one there, for Bill had gone out long before, but he had left a loaf and butter and bacon, and a jug of milk, for her on the table. By the time when she had eaten her breakfast, one of Mrs. Lester's pupils came to fetch her to school; and so she lived from day to day—at school until four o'clock, then sitting for another hour with the mistress, and then making her quiet way home to Bill's cottage, to amuse herself as she best could.
(To be continued.)
LENA'S SEVEN BIRTH-DAYS.
“There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
Wordsworth. I am fourteen years old to-day. Papa says I am growing quite old, and that I am nearly as tall as Mamma; but I don't want to grow old, and be always grave and busy, and never have any pleasure. Now, I have so much pleasure: I am out in the garden, and in the woods, and in the park, early in the morning, and quite late in the evening; and I love the birds, and the flowers, and the dogs; and I can sing, and jump, and gad about just as I like, when lessons are over, and Miss Blunt is too tired or too busy to come out with me. Nurse says she never saw a young lady of my age so much of a child; and so does Mary Trevor, for she told me the other day, that I was more like a baby than a growing-up girl. Well! I don't care, for I am downright happy, and my own dear and precious mother says she does not want me to be a young lady, she had rather have me a child.
This morning at breakfast time, Papa gave me this journal book in which I am now writing ; I was so pleased, for I had wanted one a long time, but when I said so, he only laughed, and told me I should never have anything to write that would be worth the trouble; so I did not expect he would give it me, but he has, and it is a real beauty, bound in red morocco, and with a gold lock and key. Dearest Mamma gave me à lovely thing, for it was a pearl and sapphire locket, with her own pretty soft brown hair in ; and it will be fastened round my neck by a fine many times twisted Indian gold chain, which I have always thought so beautiful; Mamma told me that she should one day, perhaps, give it me, and now it is mine. By-and-by, I shall bave some more presents to tell my journal-book about, but my brother and cousins are not come yet. I have but one brother, and his name is Herbert: he is at Eton, but he comes home to-day, because it is my birth-day, and he has no other sister but me; and Harry Leslie is coming with him, and Charley Grey, my favourite cousin, my grave Mentor, as he calls himself, is also coming; and his sister, my very dear dearest friend Edith, comes too.
And now I cannot write any more in my journal, but must go and gather some flowers for a garland, which Nurse says she must make herself for me—for she has made one for me ever since I was two years old, and it would break her heart if I did not let her do it ; and then I must put a clean pretty frock on, or Herbert will say, as he generally does, that I look such a figure, and so untidy; and I do believe I hear the sound of wheels.
I had no more time yesterday to write in my journal. I left off because I heard the sound of wheels, and it was the wheels of the carriage which brought my two cousins, Edith and Charley Grey; so we three went at once into the garden, and Miles, the gardener, gave us such lovely flowers, that when I took them up-stairs to Nurse, she said it was quite a shame to make them into a wreath; but nerertheless she did do it, and very cleverly too. I had but just time to wash my hands and brush my hair, and have my pretty blue muslin put on, before Herbert arrived : and he had not been in the house two minutes, before I heard him shouting out at the bottom of the stairs for me to come down. Now you must know, journal, that everybody in the house, from Papa to the page, obeys Herbert. He orders all of us about, and we submit: though sometimes he is downright tiresome. Darling Mamma says often, “ Herbert, be patient,' or, 'Herbert, don't be so unreasonable,' but she says it with such a sweet smile, that Herbert only kisses her, and gets his own way; but Papa never even says as much as this, but only,
Of course, Herbert my boy, it shall be as you like!' So every one has to give up to Herbert, except Charley, and he never does, and I think Herbert really cares more for what Charley says to him, than for what any one else says in all the world ; then, Charley is four years older than Herbert, and seven years older than I am; indeed, he is quite a grownup man, and so tall, and so wise, and so grave as well as merry. I liked his present to me yesterday-oh, so much! for it was a beautiful Church-service. I had not got one, and he told me that he had noticed what a very shabby Prayer-book I had been using in church, and that he did not like to see such a smart little girl as I am on Sunday, (these were his words, because I don't think myself smart,) with such a shabby Prayerbook, he said it looked as though I had not yet begun to think about
God's house, and God's service, and that everything about a church ought to be as beautiful as it can be; and so I am to use my new service-book every Sunday. Edith gave me a photograph book-80 pretty! and besides these, I had a great many other presents, one from dear old Nursie, which I value very much indeed, a smelling-bottle for my own table—toilette-table, she calls it, but I won't, because that sounds too much like a grown-up young lady; and one from Herbert, very nice too, an ormolu clock for my own room.
By half-past twelve all my guests had arrived, and we were able to have dinner at one, which was just what we wanted to do, that we might have a long long afternoon for our expedition to Cleveland Glen. We were fourteen at dinner—and so noisy, even Papa, and gentle Mamma, were in such good spirits. As soon as ever dinner was over, Papa drove us out of the dining-room, and bid us put our hats and cloaks on as fast as we could, for the carriages would be round in two minutes, and if there is one thing more than another that makes Papa in a fuss, it is to have the horses kept waiting, so we flew up-stairs, and made as much haste as we possibly could; still for all that, we were not in time, so Herbert came up in such a hurry to my room, where Edith and I were making all the haste we could, and said, 'Girls, if you don't come down this moment we shall go without you.' I thought this so unkind, and on my birth-day too! and I told him so when we were in the carriage. The great barouche was packed with five inside and one on the box, and it was driving away, when Edith and I came into the hall, all ready. Papa was just beginning to scold me for being late, when Mamma stopped him, and said, Dear Papa, don't say anything to the child, she really has been very quick, and besides, it is her birth-day;' and then she gave me one of her dear kisses, and told me to be very happy—and so I am. She was not coming, which was a great disappointment to me, but she had a head-ache, and I dare say the drive would have been too long for her; then Herbert began to call me impatiently, and Charley came and took my hand, and led me to the pony-carriage, in which I found Edith already seated, and Herbert too, with the reins in his hand. I jumped in by Edith's side, in the back seat, and Charley got up in front, by Herbert, and off we started; and Papa with three others came after us on horseback. We had six miles to drive, but we were so merry and so happy, that it did not seem to take us any time at all to get over the ground, and I was quite sorry when we saw the barouche stop just ahead of us, at the gate leading into the glen, where we were going to scramble about, and spend the afternoon, and have tea.
When we got out of the carriages, we had a good long walk before we came to the pretty part of the glen, but it was cool and shady, and so we did not mind, and when we reached the steep rocky banks of the swift dashing stream, we all sat down, and made ourselves a thick carpet of shawls, and cloaks, and plaids, and there we rested. And whilst we were resting, a gipsy woman came through the glen, and no sooner did she see us, than she came straight up to us, and as I was the first of the party she passed by, she stopped before me, and asked me if I would have my fortune told, and then she looked hard at me and said, 'No, no! pretty one, I won't draw back the veil yet from your future. Let it be-let it be! bright woof woven with a dark web. Let it be–let it be !' and she went on to someone else. I was glad when she went, and when her eye was off me: not that she was fierce looking, but she seemed to chill and sadden me, and she made me turn pale, for Charley came running up the glen to join our party, just at that moment, and he said to me, “Why are you so pale, and where is your brightness vanished to, Lena ? (My name is Aileen Mary Villiers, but I am always called Lena.) As he said this to me, the gipsy woman turned herself round, and she gave him such a look, and muttered half aloud, “Young hearts-young hearts! Ever the same tale. But the gift to read the days yet in the dim distance is mine—mine by inheritance; and I see deep gloom mingled with the bright sunshine of your two lives.“Hush, hush !' said Charley; "stop this nonsense, we don't believe in charms, and fates, and predictions. You have got no disciples here, my good woman, so you may as well go on your way.' * Rash youth-rash youth!' the woman answered ; 'your fate will meet you, say what you will; no one escapes from their doom. And then she. turned and went.
What can she mean, Charley ?' I asked. “Just nothing,' he answered. •What have we to do with doom, and fate, and such trash? we have brighter and better hopes, than she with her half heathen belief, can enter into;' then very gently he said to me, “ The Lord is my Shepherd, therefore can I lack nothing." Remember that, dear child; and ever lean on that. Now then,' he went on, suppose we were to sing some glees, and so chase these shadowy fears away.' To this we all consented, and sang very heartily for some time. When we had finished singing, as the sun was still hot, we proposed that everybody should tell a story, or something very pretty, equal to a story. Some said they could, and some said they couldn't; and those that could and would, did; and so we amused ourselves till Papa called to us to move, and begin our walk; and a very scrambling walk we had, right through the lonely wild glen, and when we arrived at the other end, we found that Herbert and Harry Leslie had lighted a fire and put a kettle on to boil, with water in it from one of the fresh springs in the glen; and they called to us girls to come and arrange the table-cloth, and the tea-cups, and the cakes, and bread and butter, and hard eggs; which were the only things we had brought with us, because Mamma said we should find a beautiful supper ready for us when we returned. We had great fun over our tea, and it really was delicious, and so refreshing—some of us had four and five cups. Then, before we left the glen, the sky was so magnificent, with such a grand sunset, that I don't think I ever saw anything so beautiful as it was; but it made Papa hurry us on, for he said such clouds predicted storms, and heavy ones too. We went home as we came, and only think! just as we