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"A tall, handsome lady came in, and 
Shivers flew to her arms." 

A Christmas Fairy 




Other Stories 







. opyright. igcx), by HENRY ALTEAJUS COMPANY 

Ito^B. • 




Q? f T was getting very near to Christmas-time, and all 

the boys at Miss Ware's school were talking excitedly 

about going home for the holidays, of the fun they 

_ would have, the presents they would receive on 

Christmas morning, the tips from Grannies, Uncles, 

and Aunts, of the pantomimes, the parties, the never-ending 

joys and pleasures which would be theirs. 

"I shall go to Madame Tussaud's and to the Drury Lane 

pantomime," said young Fellowes, "and my mother will give 

a party, and Aunt Adelaide will give another, and Johnny 

Sanderson and Mary Greville, and ever so many others. I 

shall have a splendid time at home. Oh ! Jim, I wish it were 

all holidays like it is when one's grown up." 

"My Uncle Bob is going to give me a pair of skates — 

clippers," remarked Harry Wadham. 

"My father's going to give me a bike," put in George 




"Will you bring it back to school with you?" asked 

"Oh! yes, I should say so, if Miss Ware doesn't 
say no." 

"I say. Shivers," cried Fellowes, "where are you going to 
spend your holidays?" 

"I'm going to stop here," answered the boy called Shivers, 
in a very forlorn tone. 

"Here — with old Ware? — oh, my! Why can't vou go 

"I can't go home to India," ansvv'ered Shivers — his real 
name, by the bye, was Egerton, Tom Egerton. 

"No — who said you could ? But haven't you any relations 

Shivers shook his head. "Only in India," he said 

"Poor old chap; that's rough luck for you. Oh, I'll tell 
you what it is, you fellows, if I couldn't go home for the 
holidays — especially at Christmas — I think I'd just sit down 
and die." 

"Oh! no, you wouldn't," said Shivers; "you'd hate it, and 
you'd get ever so home-sick and miserable, but you wouldn't 
die over it. You'd just get through somehow, and hope some- 
thing would happen before next 3'ear, or that some kind fairy 
or other would " 

"Bosh ! there are no fairies nowadays," said Fellowes. 
"See here. Shivers, I'll write home and ask my mother if she 
won't invite you to come back with me for the holidays." 

"Will you really?" 

"Yes, I will : and if she says yes, we shall have such a 
splendid time, because, you know, we live in London, and go 
to everything, and have heaps of tips and parties and fun." 

"Perhaps she will say no," suggested poor little Shivers, 


who had steeled himself to the idea that there would be no 
Chi'istmas holidays for him, excepting that he would have no 
lessons for so man)' weeks. 

"My mother isn't at all the kind of woman wlfo says no," 
Fellowes declared loudly. 

in a few days' time, however, a letter arrived from his 
iiiother, which he opened eagerly. 

"ily own darling boy," it said, "I am so very sorry to 
have to tell you that dear little Aggie is down with scarlet 
fever, and so you cannot come home for your holidays, nor 
yet bring your young friend with you, as I would have loved 
you to do if all had been well here. Your Aunt Adelaide 
\\'ould have had you there, but her two girls have both got 
scarlatina — and I believe Aggie got hers there, though, of 
course, poor Aunt Adelaide could not help it. I did think 
about your going to Cousin Rachel's. She most kindly offered 
to invite you, but, dear boy, she is an old lady, and so partic- 
ular, and not used to boys, and she lives so far from anything 
which is going on that you would be able to go to nothing, 
so 3'our father and I came to the conclusion that the very 
best thing that you could do tinder the circumstances is for 
you to stay at Miss Ware's and for us to send your Christmas 
to you as Avell as Ave can. It won't be like being at home, 
darling boy, but you will try and be happy — -won't you, and 
make me feel that you are helping me in this dreadful tim.e. 
Dear little Aggie is very ill, very ill indeed. We have two 
nurses. Nora and Connie are shut aAvay in the morning-room 
and to the back stairs and their OAvn rooms with Miss Ellis, 
and have not seen us since the dear child was first taken ill. 
Tell your young friend that I am sending you a hamper from 
Buszard's, with double of everything, and I am writing to Miss 
Ware to ask her to take you both to anything that may be 


going on in Cross Hampton. And tell him that it makes me 
so much happier to think that you won't be alone. — 

,, "Your own Mother." 

"This letter will smell queer, darling ; it will be fumigated 
before posting." 

It must be owned that when Bertie Fellowes received this 
letter, which was neither more nor less than a shattering of 
all his Christmas hopes and joys, that he fairly broke down, 
and hiding his face upon his arms as they rested on his desk, 
sobbed aloud. The forlorn boy from India, who sat next to 
him, tried every boyish means of consolation that he could 
think of. He patted his shoulder, whispered many pitying 
words, and, at last, flung his arm across him and hugged him 
tightly, as, poor little chap, he himself many times since his 
arrival in England, had ivished someone would do to him. 

At last Bertie Fellowes thrust his mother's letter into his 
friend's hand. "Read it," he sobbed. 

So Shivers made himself master of Mrs. Fellowes' letter 
and understood the cause of the boy's outburst of grief. "Old 
fellow," he said at last, "don't fret over it. It might be 
worse. Why, j^ou might be like me. with your father and 
mother thousands of miles away. When -A-ggie is better, you'll 
be able to go home — and it'll help your mother if she thinks 
you are almost as happy as if you were at home. It must be 
worse for her — she has cried ever so over her letter — see, it's 
all tear-blots." 

The troubles and disappointments of youth are bitter while 
they last, but they soon pass, and the sun shines again. By the 
time Miss Ware, who was a kind-hearted, sensible, pleasant 
woman, came to tell Fellowes how sorry she was for him and 
his disappointment, the worst had gone by. and the boy was 
resigned to what could not be helped. 


"Well, after all, one man's meat is anoth^TMn's poison, 
she said, smiling down on the two boys; "poor Tom has 
been looking forward to spending his holidays all alone with 
us, and now he will have a friend with him. Try to look on 
the bright side, Bertie, and to remember how much worse it 
would have been if there had been no boy to stay with you." 

"I can't help being disappointed, Miss Ware," said Bertie, 
his eyes filling afresh and his lips quivering. 

"No, dear boy, you would be anything but a nice boy if 
you were not. But I want you to try and think of your poor 
mother, who is full of trouble and anxiety, and to write to her 
as brightly as you can, and tell her not to worry about ypu more 
than she can help." 

"Yes," said Bertie; but he turned his head away, and it 
was evident to the school-mistress that his heart was too full 
to let him say more. 

Still, he was a good boy, Bertie Fellowes, and when he 

2 — Christniar. Ftiiry. 


wrote home to his mother it was quite a bright every-day kind 
of letter, telling her how sorry he was about Aggie, and detail- 
ing a few qf the ways in which he and Shivers meant to spend 
their holidays. His letter ended thus : — • 

"Shivers got a letter from his mother yesterday with three 
pounds in it : if you happen to see Uncle Dick, will you tell 
him I want a 'Waterbury" dreadfully?" 

The last day of the term came, and one by one, or two by 
two, the various boys went awa}^ until at last only Bertie 
Fellowes and Shivers were left in the great house. It had 
never appeared so large to either of them before. The school- 
room seemed to have grown to about the size of a church, the 
dining-room, set now with only one table instead of three, was 
not like the same, while the dormitory, which had never before 
had any room to spare, was like a wilderness. To Bertie 
Fellowes it was all dreary and wretched — to the boy from 
India, who knew no other house in England, no other thought 
came than that it was a blessing that he had one companion 
left. "It is miserable," groaned poor Bertie as they strolled 
into the great echoing school-room after a lonely tea. set at one 
corner of the smallest of the three dining-tables ; "just think 
if we had been on our way home now — ho"\v dififerent !" 

"Just think if T had been left here by myself," said Shivers 
- — and he gave a shiver which fully justified his name. 

"Yes — but " began Bertie, then shamefacedly and with 

a blush, added, "you know, when one wants to go home ever 
so badly, one never thinks that some chaps haven't got a home 
to go to." 

The evening went by — discipline was relapsed entirely and 
the two boys went to bed in the top empty dormitory, and 
told stories to each other for a long time before they went 
to sleep. That night Bertie Fellowes dreamt of Madame 
Tussaud'? and the great pantomime at Drury Lane, and poor 



Shivers of a long creeper-covered bungalow far away in the 
shining East, and they both cried a little under the bed-clothes. 
Yet each put a brave face on their desolate circumstances to the 
other, and so another day began. 

This was the day before Christmas Eve, that delightful 
day of preparation for the greatest festival in all the year — 
the day when in most households there are many little mysteries 
afoot, when parcels come and go, and are smothered away so 


as to be ready when Santa Claus comes his rounds ; when some 
are busy decking the rooms with holly and mistletoe : when the 
cook is busiest of all, and savoury smells rise from the kitchen, 
telling of good things to be eaten on the morrow. 

There were some preparations on foot at Minchin House, 
though there was not the same bustle and noise as is to be 
found in a large faniil}'. And quite early in the morning came 
the great hamper of which Mrs. Fellowes had spoken in her 
letter to Bertie. Then just as the early dinner had come to 
an end, and Aliss Ware was telling the two boys that she would 
take them round the town to look at the shops, there was a 
tremendous peal at the bell of the front door, and a voice was 
heard asking for Master Egerton In a trice Shivers had 
sprung to his feet, his face quite white, his hands trembling, 
and the next moment the door was thrown open, and a tall 
handsome lady came in, to whom He flew with a sobbing cry 
of "Aunt Laura ! Aunt Laura !" 

Aunt Laura explained in less time than it takes me to write 
this, that her husband. Colonel Desmond, had had left to him 
a large fortune and that they had come as soon as possible 
to England, having, in fact, only arrived in London the 
previous day. "I was so afraid, Tom darling," she said in 
ending, "that we should not get here till Christmas Day was 
over, and I was so afraid you might be disappointed, that I 
would not let Mother tell you we were on our way home. 
I have brought a letter from Mother to Miss Ware — and you 
must get your things packed up at once and come back with 
me by the six o'clock train to town. Then Uncle Jack and 
I will take you everywhere, and give you a splendid time, you 
dear little chap, here all by yourself." 

For a minute or two Shivers' face was radiant; then he 
caught sight of Bertie's down-drooped mouth, and turned to 
his Aunt. 



"Dear Aunt Laura," he said, holding her hand very fast 
with his o^/n, "I'm awfully sorry, but I can't go." 

"Can't go? and why not?" 

"Because I can't go and leave Fellowes here all alone," he 
said stoutly, though he could scarcely keep a suspicious quaver 
out of his voice. "When I was going to be alone, Fellowes 

wrote and asked his mother to let me go liome with him, and 
she couldn't, because his sister has got scarlet fever, and they 
daren't have either of us ; and he's got to stay here — and he's 
never been away at Christmas before — and — and — I can't go 
away and leave him by himself, Aunt Laura — and — " 

For the space of a moment or so, Mrs. Desmond stared 



at the boy as if she could not believe her ears; then she caught 
hold of him and half smothered him with kisses. 

"Bless you, you dear little chap, you shall not leave him: 
you shall bring him along and we'll all enjoy ourselves 
together. \\' hat's his name ?— Bertie Fellowes ! Bertie, my 
man, you are not very old yet, so I'm going to teach you a 
lesson as well as ever I can — it is that kindness is never wasted 
in this world. I'll go out now and telegraph to your mother — 
I don't suppose she will refuse to let you come with us." 

A couple of hours later she returned in triumph, waving a 
telegram to the two excited boys. 

"God bless you, yes, until all our licarts," it ran ; "you have 
taken a load off our minds." 

And so Bertie Fellowes and Shivers found that there was 
such a thins: as a fairv after all. 




^ ELENA FRERE and her two younger brothers, 

Willie and Leigh, were on the whole very good 

children. They were obedient and affectionate and 

very truthful. Perhaps it was not very difficult for 

them to be good, for they had a happy home, wise 

and kind parents, and a quiet regular life. None of 

them had ever been at school, for Mrs. Frere liked home 

teaching best for girls, and the little boys were as yet too young 

for anything else. Willie was only seven and a half, and Leigh 

six. Helena was nearly ten. 

They lived in the country — quite in the country, and a 

rather lonely part too. So they had almost no companions 

of their own ag^e, and the few there were within reach they 

seldom saw. One family in the neighborhood, where there 

were children, alwa3'S spent seven months abroad; another 

home was saddened by the only son being a cripple and unable 



to walk or play; and the boys and girls of a third family were 
rather too old to be playfellows with our little people. 

"It really seems," said Helena sometimes, "it really seems 
as if I was never to have a proper friend of my own. It's much 
worse for me than for Willie and Leigh, for they've got each 
other," which was certainly true. 

Still, she was not at all an unhappy little girl, though 
she was very sorry for herself sometimes, and did not always 
quite agree with her Alother when she told her that it was 
better to have no companions than any whom she could not 
thoroughly like. 

"I don't know that. Mamma," Helena would reply. "It 
would be nice to have other little girls to play with, even if 
they weren't quite perfection." 

You can easily imagine therefore that there was great 
excitement and delight when these children heard, one day, 
that a new family was coming to live in the very next house 
to theirs — only about half a mile ofif, by a short cut across the 
Park — and that in this family there were children ! There 
were four — Nurse said three, and old Mrs. Betty at the lodge, 
who was Nurse's aunt, and rather a gossip, said four. But 
both were sure of one thing — that the newcomers — the children 
of the family, that is to say — were just about the right ages 
for "our young lady and gentlemen." 

And before long, Helena and her brothers were able to 
tell Nurse and Mrs. Betty more than they had told them. 
For Mrs. Frere called at Hailing ^'^^ood, which was the name 
of the neighboring house, and a few days afterwards, Mrs. 
Kingley returned her call, and fortunately found the children's 
Mother at home. So all sorts of questions were asked 
and answered, and when Helena and the boys came in 
from their walk, Mr:^ Frere had a whole budget of news 
for them. 



There were four Kingleys, but the eldest was a girl of 
sixteen, whom the children put aside at once as "no good," and 
listened impatiently to hear about the others. 

"Next to Sybil," said their Mother, "comes Hugh; 
he is four years younger — only twelve — and then Freda, nearly 
eleven, and lastly Maggie, a 'tom-boy,' her Mother calls her, 
of eight." 

"I shall like her awfully if she's a tom-boy," said Helena 

very decidedly, while Willie and I.eigh looked rather puzzled. 
They had never heard of a tom-boy before, and could not 
make out if it meant a boy or a girl, till afterwards, when 
Helena explained it to them, and then Willie said he 
had thought it must mean a girl, " 'cos of Maggie being a 
girl's name." 

"I hope 3'ou will like them all," said Mrs. Frere. "By 
their Mother's account they seem to be very hearty, sensible 

3 — Christinas Fairy. 


children; indeed, she says they are just a httle wild, for she 
and Mr. Kingley have been a great deal abroad, and the three 
younger children were for two years with a lady, who was 
rather too old to look after them properly." 

"How dreadfully unhappy they must have been," said 
Helena, in a tone of pity. 

"No," said her Mother, "I don't think they were unhappy. 
On the contrary, they were rather spoilt and allowed to run 
wild. Of course I am telling you this just as a very little 
warning, in case Hugh and his sisters ever propose to do 
anything you do not think I should like. Do not give in for 
fear of vexing them; they will like you all the better in the 
end if they see you try to be as good and obedient out of 
sight, as when your Father and I are with you. Do you 
understand, dears ?" 

"Yes," said Helena, "of course we won't do anything 
naughty, Mamma," though in her heart she thought that 
"running wild" sounded rather nice. 

"And you boys?" added their Mother, "do you under- 
stand, too?" 

"Yes, Mamma," they said, Willie adding, "If you're not 
there or Nurse, we'll do whatever Nelly says." 

"That's right," said Mrs. Frere. "Nelly, you hear? — 
the responsibility is on your shoulders, you see, dear, " 
but she smiled brightly. For she felt sure that Helena was to 
be trusted. 

It had been arranged by the two Mammas that the three 
Kingley children Avere to spend the next afternoon at Hailing 
Park, the Frere's home. They were to come early, between 
two and three, and their Mother and Sybil would drive ove\ 
to fetch them about five. Some other friends of Mrs. Frere's 
were expected too, Vv'hich would give Mrs. Kingley an oppor- 
tunity of meeting her new neighbors. 


"Must we have our best things on then, Mamma?" asked 
Helena, rather dolefuHy. 

Mrs. Frere glanced at her. It was full summer-time — 
late in June. The little girl looked very nice in a pretty pink- 
and white cotton, though it could not have passed muster as 
perfectly fresh and spotless. 

"No," she said, "a clean frock like the one you have on 
will do quite well — or stay, yes, a white frock would be nicer. 
And tell Nurse that the boys may wear their white serge suits 
— it is so nice and dry out-of-doors I don't think they could 
get dirty if they tried." 

And, as I have said already, the little Freres were not at all 
"wild" children. 

To-morrow afternoon came at last, and with it, to the 
delight of Helena and her brothers, the expected guests. They 
arrived in a pony-cart, driven by Hugh, who seemed quite 
in his element as a coachman, and they all three jumped 
out very cleverly without losing any time about it. Mrs. 
Frere and her three were waiting for them on the lawn, 
but anyone looking on would have thought that the King- 
leys were the "at home" ones of the party, for they shook 
hands in the heartiest way, and began talking at once, while 
the little Freres all seemed shy and timid, and almost 

Their Mother felt just a little vexed with them. Then 
she said to herself that she must remember how very seldom 
they had had any playfellows, and that it was to be 
expected that they would feel a little strange. 

"I daresay you will enjoy playing out of doors far more 
than in the house, as it is such a lovely day," she said. "Your 
Mamma and Sybil will be coming before very long, will they 
not?" she added, turning to Freda. 

"About four o'clock," Freda replied; "but I don't want 



four o'clock to come too soon ; we should like a good long 
time for playing first." 

Mrs. Frere smiled. 

"Well, it is scarcely half-past two yet," she said. "When 
four o'clock or half-past four comes, I daresay you will not 
feel sorry, for you will have had time to get hungry by then." 

"All right," said Freda ; "come along then, Nelly," for she 
had already caught up Helena's short name. "Hugh and 
Maggie and I have got heaps of fun in our heads." 

She caught hold of Helena's hand as she spoke and 
started off, the others following. Mrs. Frere stood looking 
after them with a smile, though there was a little anxiety in 
her face too. 

"I hope they will be careful," she thought; "I can 
trust Helena, but these children are rather overpowering. 
Still, it would scarcely have done to begin checking them the 
moment they arrived. 


'HE grounds of Hailing Park were very large, 

the lawns and flower-beds near the house were 

most carefully kept, and just now in their full 

summer beauty. The first thought of the little 

Freres was to show their new friends all over this 

ornamental part, for the Hailing roses were rather famed, 

and Helena knew the names of the finest and rarest 

among them. 

\But Freda Kingley flew past the rosebuds without 
stopping or letting Helena stop, and, excited by her 
example, the three boys and Maggie came rushing after them, 
till the run almost grew into a race, so that when at last the 
very active young lady condescended to pull up to take breath, 
Helena was redder and hotter than she had ever been before 
in her life. Indeed, for a moment or two, she was almost 
frightened — her heart beat so fast, and there was such a 
"choky" feeling in her throat. She could not speak, but 
stood there gasping. 

Freda burst out laughing. 

"I say," she exclaimed, "you're in very bad condition; 
isn't she, Hugh?" 



Helena stared, which made Freda laugh still more, Hugh 
joining her. 

"I don't understand what you mean," said the little girl at 
last, when she could speak. 

"Oh, it's nothing you need mind," said Hugh good- 
naturedly, "It only means you're not up to much running — ■ 
you've not been training yourself for it. Freda was nearly as 
bad once, before I went to school; she didn't understand, you 
see. But the first holidays I took her in hand, and she's not bad 
now — not for a girl. Fll take you in hand if you like." 

"Thank you," said Helena; "no, I don't think I want 
to be taken in hand. I don't care to run so fast. Won't you 
come back again to see the ilowers near the house? And the 
tennis-court is very nice for puss-in-the-corner or Tom 
Tiddler's ground." 

"We know a game or two worth scores of those old- 
fashioned things — don't we, Freda?" said Hugh. "But I 
daresay the tennis-ground's rather jolly, if it's a good big one; 
we can look it up later on. First of all I want to see the stream. 
We caught sight of it; it looks jolly enough." 

"And there's a bridge across it," said Maggie, speaking 
for the first time, "a ducky little bridge. It would be fun 
to stand on it and throw stones down to make the fishes 

Willie broke in at this. 

"The fish aren't so silly," he said. "The water-hens 
would scatter away, I daresay, if you threw stones. But 
Papa doesn't like us to startle them, so it would be no good 

"^^^ater-hens !" exclaimed the Kingley children all 
together. "What are they like? Do let's go and look at them. 
We've never seen any." 

"And most likely we won't see them now," said Helena. 

It was not so easy to get down by the bank." 


"They're very shy creatures. And we mustn't startle them, 
as Wilhe says." 

"Oh, bother !" said Freda ; it wouldn't hurt them for once. 
And who would know ? Anyway, let's go to the bridge." 

And off she set again, though not quite so fast. Indeed, 
it would have been impossible to race as she had done across 
the lawn, for the wa}' to the stream from where they were 
standing, lay across very high ground, though there was a 
proper path, or road, leading to the bridge if they had not 
come b)^ the "cross-country" route. 

It was very pretty when they got there, so wild and 
picturesque — you could have imagined yourself miles and 
miles away from any house, in some lonely stretch of 
country. Even the restless Kingley children were struck by 
it, and stood still in admiration for about a quarter 
of a minute. 

"I say, it's awfully jolly heie," said Hugh. "I wish 
we had a stream and a bridge like this in our grounds." 

But almost immediately he began fidgeting about again 
— leaning over, till Helena felt sure he would tumble in, and 
twisting himself about to see what there was to be seen below 

"I know what zvottld be fun," said Freda suddenly. 

"What?" exclaimed the others. 

"Wading," she replied. "If we clamber down the side of 
the bank — it isn't so very steep — we could get right under the 
bridge. There's a bit of dry ground at each side of the water, 
isn't there, Hugh ? We could make that our dressing-room, 
or our bathing-van, whichever you like to call it." 

"But," interrupted Helena, "you couldn't undress; we've 
no bathing-dresses, and " 

"How stupid 3^ou are!" interrupted Freda, in her turn. 
"We'd have to take off our shoes and stockings, of course, 


and we can't do that on the sloping bank; under the bridge 
is just the place. And we can pretend it's the sea, and that 
we're going to bathe properl}-, and shiver and shudder and 
push each other in. Oh! it'll be great fun — come along, 
all of you, do." 

And somehow she got them all to go — not that she 
had any' difficulty in persuading her own brother and sister ; 
they were, as they would themselves have expressed 
it, "up to anything" ; but the three Freres knew quite well 
that it was not the sort of play — especially for Helena — that 
their Mother would have approved of. It was very muddy 
down under the bridge, and the paddling about in cold 
fresh water, when one is already overheated, is not a very 
wholesome thing to do. Nor were they dressed for this sort 
of play. 

But Freda and Hugh had got the upper hand of them. 
Helena could not bear to be laughed at, and Willie was terribly 
afraid of being thought "soft" by a real schoolboy like Hugh. 

It was not so easy to get down by the bank without acci- 
dents, and before they reached the "dressing-room," frocks and 
knickerbockers already told a tale. 

"Never mind," said Freda, "it'll brush ofif when its dry, and 
even if it doesn't cfgite, you can't be expected never to get the 
least bit dirty. Now let's get off our shoes and stockings as 
quick as we can," and down she plumped and began unbutton- 
ing her own shoes without further ado. 

"I think I'd rather not wade," said Helena. 

"Oh. what rubbish !" cried Freda. "In I'll go first and 
show you how jolly it is," and in another moment, in she went, 
paddling about on the firmer ground in the middle of the 
stream, after some very muddy slips or slides to get there. 

"It's all right once you get out here," she called back. 
"Awfully jolly — as cold as ice; come along." 

— ^Christmas Fairy. 


And in a few minutes all six children were waddling about 
in the not very clear water, for the stirred-up mud at the edge 
had quite spoiled the look of things for the time being, and 
I am sure the waterfowl, and the fish, and even the water-rats 
were extraordinarily frightened at the strange things that were 
happening, poor dears! 

All went well, or fairly well, for some time, though little 
Leigh's face began to look very blue, and his teeth chattered, 
and but for his fear of being thought a baby, I rather think he 
would have begun to cry. 

Helena did not notice him for some time; she was feeling 
a little giddy and queer herself, and found it not too easy to 
keep her skirts, short as they were, out of the water, and her- 
self on her feet. There were some sharp pebbles among those 
that made the bed of the stream, and she had never before tried 
walking barefoot out of doors, even on a smooth surface, and 
therefore found it very difficult. 

But when at last she hapiJened to catch sight of her little 
brother, she started violently and nearly lost her balance. "Go 
back at once, Leigh," she cried. "Look at him, Freda — he's 
all white and blue." 

Freda was a kind-hearted girl, and she too was startled. 

"Fll take him to the bank — he'll be all right when Lve 
rubbed his feet," she exclaimed, and she hurried forward. But 
for all her good intentions she only made matters worse. 

Instead of taking hold of the child to help him, she man- 
aged to push him over — and in another second Leigh wac 
floundering in the mud at the edge of the little stream! 



OOR Leigh! What an object 
he was ! 

At first the three Kingleys burst 
out laughing. 
J*^ But when Helena and Willie 

turned upon them sharply, they quickly 
grew serious, for they were far from 
unkind children, and the sight of their 
little friend's real distress and fear made 
them anxious to help to put things to 


"He's as white as a sheet," said 
Helena, who was almost in tears. "And 
shivering so. Oh ! Leigh dear, do you 
feel very bad?" 

"N-no, don't cry, Nelly," said the 
little boy. "It's — it's my jacket and 
knickerbockers I mind about." 

Freda turned him round promptly. 

"It's only on one side," she said ; "and a lot of it will brush 
off the jacket, at least, and after all, the knickerbockers can 
be washed. What I mind about is you're shivering so. 
Sit down, young man — here's a nice dry place, and I'll give 
your feet a good rub." 



So she did, using for that purpose one of her brother 
Hugh's long rough stockings, quite lieedless of his grumbKng. 
She was certainly a very energetic girl. In a few minutes 
Leigh's feet were in a glow, and the color crept back to his face 
again, and he left off shivering. 

"There now," she said, "you are all right again, or at 
least you will be, when you've run home and got a clean 
jacket. After all, you're quite dry underneath — the mud is 
thick and hasn't soaked through. Now, what had we best 
do, Xelly?" 

"Get him home as quick as possible some back way, 
so that we won't meet anyone, I should saj^" said Hugh, 
as he drew on his stockings, ver}' glad to have recovered 
his property. 

But just as he spoke, there came a well-known sound — 
well known at least to the Frere children, for it was their 
Mother's voice calling them. 

"Nell-ly! Nell-ly! ^^^ill-ie! Will! where are you?" it 

They looked at each other. 

"It's Mamma," said Willie. 

"\\'hat can have made her come out so soon?" said Helena. 
"She was going to wait till the other ladies came to tea, and 
then she said she and Sybil would stroll out with them, and 
see what we were doing in the garden. But I never thought 
they'd come down here — we scarcely ever do, "cos Nurse thinks 
we'll fall into the water." 

Nurse's fears were not without reason, were they? 

"We mustn't be seen like this," said Freda, "that's certain. 
Let's crouch in here quite quietly for a minute or two, till 
they're out of the way — don't speak or anything. Hush ! per- 
haps we can hear their voices." 

Hiding from Mamma was a new experience to Helena and 



her brothers, and they did not Hke the feehng of it. But just 
now there was nothing else to do, and Freda had taken it all 
into her own hands. So they did as she said. 

No sound of voices reached them for some moments, 

but they heard footsteps overhead. Several people were 
crossing the bridge. "Goodness gracious," said Freda, in 
a whisper, "we've only just hidden ourselves in time. Do 
come closer, and don't speak, whatever you do," though no 
one had been speaking but herself. 


Then the steps stopped, and a faint murmur was heard, but 
not loud enough to distinguish the words; and then the new- 
comers' steps moved on again. 

The children began to breathe more freely. 

"Better stay quiet another minute or two," said Freda. 

But Helena was not happy in her mind about little Leigh. 

"It's so damp and chilly in here under the bridge," she 
said to Freda. "He's sure to catch cold unless he gets a 
run in the sunshine." 

"He must be awfully delicate then,", said Hugh, with 
some contempt in his voice. "You should see the wettings 
we get — even Maggie, and she's a girl." 

At this Leigh grew very red, and Helena found he was 
going to burst out cr3ang, which would not have been a very 
good way of showing he was a man, I consider. 

But Freda told Hugh not to talk nonsense, for she was 
sensible enough to know that what Helena said was true. 

"I'll peep out now," said she, "and if the coast is 
clear, I'll 'cooey' to you very softly, like we do at T spy,' 
and then you can all come out. I'll wait for you at the 
top of the bank. It's a bother to go up it and down and up 
again — it's such slippery work." 

She peeped out as she said — cautiously at first; then 
again encouraged, she made her way half way up the bank and 
glanced round her. 

It seemed safe enough. 

The group of ladies was to be seen at some little 
distance now; thev were returning towards the house by 
the proper road, which it would be easy for the children 
to avoid. 

And in her satisfaction, Freda gave a loud "cooey" — 
much louder than was needed, as her companions were close 



Out popped all the heads 
from below the bridge, but 
before their owners had tune 
to begin to climb the bank, 
they were stopped by a 
"Hush," and an energetic 
shake of the head from ■■ 
Freda, who next, greatly to 
their surprise, flopped 
straight down among the 
high grass at the top, and 
lay there motionless and 
quite flat. 

The reason for this was 
soon explained. Again came the crj' — "Nell-y! Will-ie! 
Nell-y !" from Mrs. Frere, and a whistle, which Hugh Kingley 
whispered to the others was his sister Sybil's. 

"They've heard Freda's cooey,' " he said. "What a goose 
she was to call so loud !" 

Again there was nothing for it but to stay cjuiet, which was 
becoming very tiresome. 

The Frere children began to think that their ideas of "great 
fun," and the Kingley's, did not at all agree. 

"Wasting all the afternoon in this nasty damp hole, and 
risking Leigh's getting really ill," thought Helena. 

And at last she sprang up and called out to Freda. 

"I won't stay here any longer," she cried. "Whether we 
are scolded or not, I won't. It isn't safe for Leigh." 

"How cross you are !" said Freda coolly. "I was just going 
to tell you to come out. I think it's all right now ; they've 
moved on. We can make a rush for the house across the grass, 
somehow, can't wc? There must be some back way in, where 
we shouldn't meet anyone. Then 3'ou and I can take Leigh up 


to the nursery and say he had an accident, which is quite true 
— and when he's clean again he can come out to us and your 
Mamma needn't know anything about it. The rest of us are 
all quite tidy — quite as tidy as can be expected after running 

Helena did not reply. She was feeling too annoyed and 
vexed, and she did not like Freda's wish to hide what had 
really caused their troubles. 

But she took Leigh by the hand — Freda, it must be allowed, 
taking him kindly by the other, and they all set off as fast as 
they could to the house. They could not go quite straight for 
fear of being seen; they had to "dodge" once or twice, but in 
the end they got safely there without meeting anyone more 
formidable than a tradesman's cart driving away from the 
stables, or an under-gardener laden with a basketful of 

Xurse looked grave, as she well might do, when she saw 
Leigh's plight. But Freda had a very pleasant bright manner, 
and Nurse was quite satisfied with her explanations. 

And as the run home had brought back the color to the 
little boy's cheeks, nothing much was said as to the fear of his 
having caught cold. 



^OME half an hour or so afterwards, all the party, 
the children included, assembled on the lawn for 

Nurse had seized the opportunity of Helena's run- 
ning in with Leigh, to "tidy her up a bit," and Freda 
"y too had not objected to a little setting to rights, so that 

* ^ both girls looked quite in order. 

^ And Willie and Hugh had also removed all traces 

of their adventures ; only Maggie was still rather rumpled and 
crumpled, but as she was counted a tom-boy at all times, it 
did not so much matter. 

"What became of j'-ou all, this afternoon?" asked Mrs. 

Frere. "We walked down to the bridge to look for you, as 

one of the men said he had seen you going that way. And I am 

sure I heard one of you 'cooeying' — did I not? Yet when 

il called, no one replied." 

5 — Chrisiiiias Fairy. g,*^ 


The children looked at each other. Mrs. Frere felt 

"What is the mystery?" she said, though with a smile. 

"Oh," began Freda, "there wasn't any mystery — we 

were only " She stopped, for she felt that Helena's eyes 

were fixed on her, and Freda was not by nature an 
untruthful child. It was through her heedlessness and 
wildness that she often got into what she would have 
called "scrapes," from which there seemed often no escape but 
by telling falsehoods, or at least allowing what was not the case 
to be believed. 

She grew red, and Mrs. Frere, feeling that it was not 
very kind to cross-question a guest, finished her sentence for 

"Hiding?" she said. "Were you hiding?" though she 
wondered why Freda should blush and hesitate about so 
simple a thing. 

"Yes," said Helena quickly, replying instead of Freda, 
"yes. Mamma, we ivcre hiding — under the bridge." 

At the moment she only felt glad to be able to say 
what /;; z^'ords was true. 

For hiding they certainly had been. And Mrs. Frere, 
thoroughly trusting Flelena, turned away and thought no more 
about it, only adding that it must have been rather dirty under 
the bridge ; another time she would advise them to find a 
cleaner place. 

"I suppose it was 'T spy' you were playing at," she said, and 
she did not notice that no one answered her. 

The rest of the afternoon passed quietly enough. 

Hugh and Freda were rather imusually quiet, at which 
their ^Mother and elder sister rejoiced. 

"I do hope," said Sybil, as she drove home Avith Mrs. 
Kingley, leaving the younger ones to follow as they had 



come, "I do hope those Frere children, though they are 
younger, wiU have a good influence upon Hugh and the girls, 
Freda especially. She has been getting wilder and wilder. 
And Helena is such a lady-like, well-bred little girl." 

"I hope so too," said her Mother. "I own I was a little 
afraid of our children startling the Freres, but they seem to 
have got on all right." 

"Good night, dears," said Mrs. Frere to her three 

children an hour or so later. "Vou were nappy with your 
new friends, I hope ? I think they seem nice children, and they 
were very quiet and well-behaved to-day. Leigh, my boy, you 
look half asleep — are yau very tired?" 

"My eyes are tired,' said Leigh, "and my head, rather." 
"Well, off with you to bed, then," she said cheerfully. She 
would not have felt or spoken so cheerfully if she could have 
seen into her little daughter's heart. 


Nurse too noticed that Leigh looked pale and heavy- 

She said she was afraid he had somehow caught cold. So 
she gave him something hot to drink after he was in bed, and 
soon he was fast asleep, breathing peacefully. 

"He can't be very bad," thought Helena, "if he sleeps so 

But though she tried not to be anxious about him, she her- 
self could not succeed in going to sleep. 

She tossed about, and dozed a little, and then woke 
up again — wider awake each time, it seemed to her. It 
was not all anxiety about Leigh ; the truth was, her con- 
science was not at peace ; she felt as if she deserved to be 
anxious about her little brother, for she saw clearly now, 
how she had been to blame — first, for giving in to the Kingleys 
in doing what she knew her ]\Iother would not have approved 
of, and besides, and even worse than that — in concealing the 
wrong-doing, and telling what was "not quite true" to her 
trusting Mother. 

The tears forced their way into Helena's eyes when 
she owned this to herself, and at last she felt that she 
could bear it no longer. 

She got softly out of bed without waking Nurse, and made 
her way to the little room where Willie slept alone. 

"Willie," she said at the door, almost in a whisper, 
but Willie Iieard her. He, too, for a wonder, was not 
able to sleep well to-niglnt, and he at once sat straight up in 

"Yes, Nelly," he said, in a low, though frightened voice, 
"what is it? Is Leigh ill?" 

"No," Helena replied : "at least, T hope not, though 
I'm awfully unhappy about him. It's partly that and 
partly — everything, Willie — all we did this afternoon. And 


worst of all," and here poor Nelly had hard work to choke 
down a lump that began to come in her throat, "I didn't tell 
Mamma the truth, when she asked what we were doing, you 
remember, Willie." 

"Yes," said Willie, "I remember. You said we were hiding, 
and so we were." 

"But it wasn't quite true the way I let her think it," 
persisted Helena. "Even if the words were true, the thinking 
wasn't. And it has made me so dreadfully unhappy. I didn't 
know how to wait till the morning to tell her — I know I 
shan't go to sleep all night," and she did indeed look very 
white and miserable. 

Willie considered ; he had good ideas sometimes, though 
Helena often called him slow and stupid. 

"I know what," he said. "You shall write a letter to 
Mamma — now, this minute. I've got paper and ink and pens 
and everything, in my new birthday writing-case, and 
I've got matches. Since my birthday. Papa said I might have 
them in my room." 

For Willie was a very careful little boy. If there was 
no likelihood of his "setting the Thames on fire," his 
Father had said once, "there was even less fear of his 
setting the house on fire," and though Willie did not quite 
understand about the "Thames" — how could a riz'er burn? 
— he saw that Papa meant something nice, so he felt quite 

And the next morning", the first thing Mrs. Frere saw on 
her toilet-table was a note addressed rather shakily in pencil, 
to "dear Mamma." 

It was only a few lines, but it made her hurry to throw on 
her dressing-gown and hasten to the nursery. 

"How is Leigh?" were her first words to Nurse. 

"He's got a little cold in his head, ma'am, but nothing 


much," was the cheerful reply, and Mamma saw by the child's 
face that there were no signs of anything worse. 

"But, Miss Helena," Nurse went on, "has had a bad night, 
and her head is aching, so I thought it better to keep her in bed 
to breakfast." 

Poor Nelly ! she had not much appetite for breakfast, and 
the first thing she did when Mamma's dear face appeared at the 
door was to burst into tears. 

But such tears do good, and still more relief was the 
telling the whole story, ending up with — 

"Oh, Mamma, dear Mamma, I couldn't bear to think I had 
told you what was not quite true. And Willie feels just 
the same." 

For Willie bad crept in too, looking very grave, and wink- 
ing his eyes hard to keep from crying. 

It was all put right, of course; there was really no 
need for their Mother to show them where they had been 
wrong. They knew it so well. And Leigh did not 
get ill, after all. 

Freda Kingley had had a lesson too, I am glad to say. 

That very afternoon she and Hugh walked over to 
Hailing Park, to "find out" if Leigh was all right. 

And this gave Mrs. Frere a good opportunity of showing 
the kind-hearted but thoughtless children the risk they 
had run of getting themselves and their little friends into real 
trouble — above all, by concealing their foolish plav, and caus- 
ing Nelly and her little brothers for the first time in their lives 
to act at all deceitfully. 

"You Avill be afraid to let them play with us any more," 
said Freda very sadly, "and Fm sure I don't wonder." 

"No dear," said her new friend. "On the contrarv, I shall 
now feel sure that I may trust you and Hugh and 

J ^"l/u 



Freda grew red with pleasure. 

"You may indeed," she said; "I promise you we won't 
lead them into mischief and — and if ever we do, we'll tell you 
all about it at once." 

Mrs. Frere laughed at this quaint way of putting it. 

"I don't think my children will be any the worse for a little 
more 'running wild' than they have had," she said. 

"And we won't be any the worse for having to think a little 
before we rush off on some fun," said Freda. "I really never 
did see before how A-ery easy it would be to get into telling 
regular stories, if you don't take care." 

'- y 

IT'S a welly aiixietious thing, yoasting chestnuts is," 
Rupert said, shaking his head seriously. 
Rupert is only four years old, but he is very 
fond of grand words. He speaks quite plainly and 
nicely. Nurse says (excepting the z''s and r'jr), only, of course, 
he cannot remember always just the shape of the big words; 
but he uses much grander ones than I do, though I am 
nearly six. 

But he is the nicest little boy in all the world, and we do 
love eacli other better than anybody else at all, after 
Mother and Father. 

We made what Rupert calls an "arranglement" about 
always being friends with each other; that was the night we 
roasted the chestnuts. 

6 — Cliiisti'ias Fairy. 




It v/as one of the most interesting things we had ever done 
— and then to be allowed to do it alone ! You see, this was 
the way. 

It was, the dreadfullest day we can remember in all our 

Because you know, first of all, Mother was so ill. And then 
there was abirthda)- party we were to have gone to. 

And Sarah, who is the housemaid, said she didn't see 
why we couldn't go just the same, and Nurse said very 
sharp! }• : 

"I'm not going to let them go, I can tell you, with things 
as they are." 

And then she said, in another kind of voice : 

" Rupert knelt down on the rug.' 


"Just sujapose they had to be sent for to go in to the 
mistress " 

And then she went away again into Mother's dressing- 

That was another horrid thing, that nobody seemed to be 
able to look after us at all ; we could have got into all sorts of 
mischief if we had wanted, but everything was so dreadful that 
it made us not want. 

There were two doctors, who went and came several 
times, and someone they called Nurse, but she wasn't our 

And our Nurse could not be in the nursery with us, but 
kept shutting herself up in Mother's dressing-room, and that 
made us be getting into everybody's way. 

So at last, when evening came. Nurse sent us down to the 
drawing-room, because somebody had let the nursery fire 
go almost out, and she told us to stay there and be good, 
and Father said he would perhaps come and sit with us 

But I don't know what we should have done there so 
long if Sarah had not brought us a plate of chestnuts, and 
shown us how to roast them. 

(We feel sure that Nurse would not have allowed it by 
ourselves, and would have called it "playing with fire," but 
Father looked in at us once, and did not stop us at all, but 
onlv said we were very good, and Cook and Sarah kept 
looking in too, and they were very kind, only rather quiet and 

So that was how it was that we came to be allowed to be 
roasting chestnuts in the drawing-room by ourselves, which 
does seem a little funny, if you did not know about that 
dreadful day. 

"There's onlv two left now," Rupert said. 


We hadn't eaten all the plateful, of course, because so many 
of them, when they popped, had popped quite into the fire, and 
we were not to try to get them out. 

We had roasted one each for Sarah, and for Cook, and 
for Nurse, and for Father, and of course the biggest of 
all for Mother. 

We thought she might enjoy it when she got better. And 
they were all done, and there were only two left besides what 
we had eaten and lost. 

So we put them together on the bar to roast, and 
Rupert said : 

"One for you, and one for me. Yours is the light one, and 
mine is the dark one." 

And I said : 

"Yes, and let us do them as Sarah did with two of them, 
and try if they will keep together till they are properly done, 
and then it will be as if we kept good friends and loved each 
other always." 

So that was what Rupert called the "anxietious" part, 
because, you know, one of them might have flown into the fire 
before the other was roasted, and we were so excited about it 
that T believe we should have cried. 

But they were the nicest chestnuts of all the plateful, and 
that was the nicest thing of all that long day that had so many 
nasty ones in it. 

For the dark chestnut and the light one kept together all 
the time, and split quite quietly and comfortably, and began 
to have a lovely smell, and then we thought it was fair to rake 
them off. 

"Those chestnuts were welly fond of each other," said 
Rupert, in his solemnest way, while they were cooling in the 
fender. "Like 3^ou and me, Nella." 

"And so we'll promise on our word-of-honors to be 


friends like them and love each other for always and always," 
I said. 

And we held each other's hands, and when the chestnuts 
were cooled and peeled, ate them up, and enjoyed them most 
of all the chestnuts. 

But after we had made that play last as long as we could, 
and it grew later and later, it began to seem miserabler than 

And nobody came to take us to bed, although it did 
feel so dreadfully like bedtime, and nobody brought us any 
bread-and-milk, and chestnuts do not really make a good sup- 
per, even if you have roasted them yourself. And I tried to 
tell Rupert "The Steadfast Tin Soldier," but he grew cross 
because I couldn't tell it as well as Mother. 

So I said : 

"Well, let us lie down here on the rug, and perhaps if we 
make believe, it will seem like going to bed." 

But Rupert said, how could he go to bed without saying 
his prayers, and he was so tired and cross that I said : 

"Well, you say yours, and I'll hear them." 

And so Rupert knelt down on the rug, and said his prayers, 
and I heard them ; at least, I mean, we tried : but I couldn't 
always remember what came next, and then lie remembered 
that he wanted ^Mother, and burst out crying. 

So I did not know what to do any more, and I could only 
huggle him, as he calls it, and wipe his eyes on my frock, and 
w'e sat there and huggled each other. 

And I think we fell asleep in the chimney corner after 

At least, the next thing we remember is being picked up by 
Father and Xurse, and Xurse carried Rupert upstairs, and 
Father carried me. 

And I said : 


"We've tried to be good, Father, but we were obliged to 
go to sleep on the floor — just there; we really and truly 
couldn't keep awake any longer." 

And Father did not think it naughty, I am sure, for he 
kissed us both ever so many times at the nursery door, with a 
great big hug, although he went away without speaking. 

And Nurse undressed us as quickly as she could, and as 
Rupert calls it, '"scused" our baths, for we were so dreadfully 
sleepy; and I did think once that Nurse seemed to be crying, 
but I was too tired to notice any more. 

And that was the end of the dreadfullest day we have ever 
known. • 

It began to be happier quite soon next day, for Granny 
came, and stayed with us, and had time to love us very much. 

We told her about the chestnuts, and she thought it 
ever so nice. 

And she told us something too, two things, and one was 
very beautiful, and one was very dreadful. 

And the beautiful thing was that God had sent us a baby 
sister on that dreadful evening. But then He saw that He 
could take better care of her than even Mother and Nurse, 
and He loved her so much that He sent an angel to fetch 
her away again. 

And though we were sorry not to have the little sister (and 
that was another reason to make Rupert and me love each 
other all the more, Granny said), yet she told us how beau- 
tiful it was to know that Baby Lucy would never do a 
naughty thing, or say a naughty word, but always be kept 
quite safe now. 

And the dreadful thing was — but I can only say it in 
a whisper — that God had almost taken Mother away, to be 
with Baby Lucy too. 

But He looked down at us, and at Father, Granny said, 
and was sorry for us ; and T think the time when He was sorry 



was when Rupert was crying, and I was tryiug to hear his 
prayers, because He must ha\-e seen that I could not be hkp- 
Mother to Rupert, not however much I tried. 

And so He was sorry for us, and Mother staj^ed.