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University of Wisconsin
From the collection
of the late
Chester H. Thordarson
BY THE SAME AUTHOR
THE MAGIC NUTS
With Illustrations by ROSIE M. M. PITMAN. Crown 8vo.
Cloth Elegant. 4s. 6d.
Illustrated by LESLIE BROOKE, Globe Svo. as, 6d, each.
Miss Mouse and Her Boys. Mary.
The Oriel Window. My New Home.
Sheila's Mystery. Nurse Heatherdale's Story.
The Carved Lions. The Girls and I.
Illustrated by WALTER CRANE. Globe 8w. m. 6d each.
A Christmas Posy.
'Carrots,' Just a Little Boy.
A Christmas Child.
The Cuckoo Clock.
Four Winds Farm.
Little Miss Peggy.
The Rectory Children.
The Tapestry Room.
Two Little Waifs.
' Us ' : an Old-fashioned Story.
Children of the Castle.
Tell Me a Story.
MACMILLAN & CO., Ltd., LONDON
THIS AND THAT
THIS AND THAT
A TALE OF TWO TINIES
AITTHOR OF ' CARROTS,' ' CUCKOO CLOCK,' KTC
ILLUSTRATED BY HUGH THOMSON
MACMILLAN AND CO., Limited
NEW YORK : THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
AH rights reserved
MY MARY AND MAY
155 Sloane Street,
21s£ May 1899.
I. Down in the Dbawing-room
II. Up in the Nursery
III. CONSITLTING THE OlDIES
IV. *The Beaoon on the Hill
VI. A Flitting .
VII. The Library Bookcase
VIII. The Wise Princess
IX. A Sad Trouble
X. Clearing up
XI. Sad and Glad
XII. The Golden Steps .
* (Nurse's Story)
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
The Good-mosniko Kiss . . . Frombispiece
Auntie looked at the Hospital . To face page 8
One on each side of Nubse . . ,, 16
To see if thebe were ant Birds' Nests
oettinq beady . . . . „ 46
'And whebe's the Cards?' asked Thissie . ,, 119
This and That at Mbs. Lubin's . „ 126
A Peep at the dear Oldies . . „ 164
On the Hillside . . . . ,, 198
THIS AND THAT
'> A TALE OF TWO TINIES
DOWN IN THE DRA.WING-ROOM
For our world is our ovm world,
And nobody knows it as we do. — Anon.
' What are those two children saying ? ' asked Auntie
Auntie Winifred had only just come to Ever-
greens, and she had never before seen her little
nephew and niece, whose names were Sandford and
Cecilia, so of course she had to find out everything
about them. Sandford was six and Cecilia was five,
and though they talked plainly and distinctly on
the whole, they had words and ways of their own of
speaking which required explaining to a stranger,
2 THIS AND THAT chap.
especially if they were not talking to the stranger
but to each other.
That was what they were doing just now, when
Auntie Win turned to their mamma to ask the
meaning of something she had heard them say. She
and their mamma were sitting at one end of the
drawing-room, at tea, and the two children, who
always came downstairs very nicely dressed, to stay
with mamma for an hour or so after they had had
tea in the nursery, were playing with their toys at
the other end of the room. They had downstairs'
toys, as they called them, which were kept in one of
mamma's pretty cupboards, on purpose for playing
with in the drawing-room. These were the children's
best and newest toys, and they were generally very
careful with them ; but if, as will happen sometimes,
s even when children are very careful, any of them got
badly broken so that they could not be well mended,
they were sent upstairs to the nursery to be played
with as second-best or even third-best.
And though the children thought a great deal of
their beautiful downstairs' toys, I am not sure but
that, in the very bottom of their hearts, they loved,
some of the old half-broken ones most of all. That
is the way with many children, and I think it is a
I DOWN IN THE DRAWING-ROOM 3
very nice way. It shows that little people have
often faithful as well as loving hearts, and that they
feel that old friends deserve to be cared for and
kindly treated even when they are no longer pretty
or even useful. And living friends as well as toys
must come to be like that when they grow really old.
We all must, if. we live to be old, and it will make
old age for ourselves much sweeter and happier if we
can feel that when we were young and strong and
merry, we were gentle and loving to the old and
tired ones of that time.
Still, to tell you the truth, there were some very
aged toys in the nursery that really seemed asking to
be peacefully thrown away. There was a doll — no,
I am afraid I cannot honestly call the poor thing a
doll ; it was just the last remains of what had once
been a doll — which, as Nurse said, was now ugly
enough to ' frighten the French,' and I suppose Nurse
thought the French are not very easily frightened.
Cecilia had had this dolly since she was two, and
she had slept in the little girl's arms till only a short
time ago, when mamma said she really must not be
taken with them on a visit they were going to pay.
For there was nothing left of her but half a leg, and
two quarter arms, and the lack of her head, still
4 THIS AND THAT chap.
covered with short flaxen curls. Face she had none,
but Cecilia used to wrap her in a handkerchief and
pretend she had a very bad cold and must be covered
up from the air. And even now — though this was a
secret — MissDoUy-that-had-beenwas still reposing on
a certain shelf, where she was not likely to be found
by any one but the children themselves, in company
with the head and body of an old horse of Sandford's,
a china pig without any legs, and a few other aged
treasures, which you will hear more about soon.
But I am forgetting that you will be wanting to
hear the reason of Auntie Win's question and the
answer to it.
' What are the children saying ? ' she repeated, for
mamma did not at once reply. She was listening.
' No, That. This doesn't like a 'ouse builded that
way. It's far too high, and it'll tumble down and
hort the poor ladies and gemplemen. That, you
mustn't not do it that way. This likes it all along
ways, low down.'
*Then, This, you're very silly,' was the reply.
' It's no fun all along the ground. If it's high up, us
can purtend there's a fire or a' earthquake and shout
for the people to come out quick. And if some of
them tumble down and get horted, they can be took
I DOWN IN THE DRAWING-ROOM 5
to the hospillan. See, This, I can make a hospillan
over here to be all ready.'
There was a little silence. Then came Cecilia's
'I don't mind having a hospillan. But, That,
you must let This help to builden it.'
*A11 right, This,' and then the children left off
speaking for a minute or two.
Auntie Win stared at her sister. Her sister was
the children's mamma.
' I never heard such a mixture of '
• Mamma began to laugh.
'Of pronouns, you mean, I suppose,' she inter-
rupted. ' Yes, I should have explained. We are so
used to it that we don't notice. But to strangers it
must sound very funny. And now that the children
are getting older and beginning to say " I " and
" you," it sounds still funnier, no doubt. You don't
understand, Winnie — how could you ? " This " and
"That" are their pet names for each other. And
indeed we all use them. Even the servants often
speak of '' Master That " and " Miss This." '
* How very queer ! ' said Auntie Win. ' How did
it ever come about ? '
*It was natural enough,' said mamma. 'It was
6 THIS AND THAT chap.
Sandford who began it. You see, he called her " Sis,"
or meant to do so, but he had a lisp and could not
say " S " at the beginning of a word ; so it got into
" This." And then, as his name began with an " S "
too, it got into " Than," and one day their father was
laughing at them and called them "This" and
" That," and we all took it up.'
' Yes,* said Auntie Win, ' I quite see. But it is a
funny idea all the same.'
Then she got up and crossed the room to where
the children were playing.
* How is the hospital getting on ? ' she asked
gravely. ' I hope you haven't had a fire or an
earthquake before it was ready ? '
That looked up in her face without speaking, and
when This saw his look, she shut up her little mouth
quite tight and did not speak either. She generally
copied whatever That did, so by rights I think they
should have been called * That and This,' not ' This
and That,' only it does not sound so well. This was
very fond of talking, and she liked Auntie Win's
face, so that she really had to keep her mouth very
tight shut not to answer.
But she would never have thought of doing any-
thing dififerent from her brother.
I DOTFN IN THE DRAWING-ROOM 7
The truth was, that for all her looking so grave,
Sandford was not quite sure if their aunt was
laughing at them or not. And he did not at all like
being laughed at. Luckily Auntie Win was one of
those people who are very quick at finding out,
without being told, what other people are thinking.
And she was most of all quick at finding out what
children tliink. So she still looked grave and asked
again about the hospital and the expected fire or
earthquake, which made That feel that she under-
stood about playing, and that pretended things
should not be laughed at, or treated, while you are
playing at them, as if they were not real.
For, of course, that would take away all the sense
of pretending or " making up " play.
This time Auntie Win got an answer.
'The hospillan*s all ready essept the roof,* said
That, quite as gravely as his aunt. 'P'raps you*d
like to put it on for us, while This and me make a
smooth road for the poor burnt peoples to be carried
along. None of the bricks is long enough for the
roof, but p'raps you can find something.'
Auntie Win moved a little way across the floor to
where the hospital was waiting to be finished. But
for h6r, it would most likely never have been finished
8 THIS AND THAT chap.
at all, and the earthquake of Nurse's knocking at the
door to take Master Sandford and Miss Cecilia to bed,
and all the houses being tumbled down and put to
their bed in the big brick box would have happened
before That had discovered a roof for it ! As it was,
however, things turned out better. Auntie looked at
the hospital with her head a little on one side, which
was a way of hers, and made That say to This after-
wards that he thought she was rather like * a very
kind bird/ Then she put her hand in her pocket and
drew out a little green leather case, from which she
took a card — one of her own ladies' cards,' as the
children called them — it had * Mrs. Eochfort ' printed
on it, for that was Auntie Win's ' long name.* No,
she took out two cards and laid them very neatly on
the top bricks of the hospital, edging them round
with a row of very tiny ones, to keep them steady,
and placing a longer one upright in the middle as a
This stood close beside, watching her aunt with
her mouth open in great admiration, and gradually
That, who had at first appeared too busy working at
the house to pay attention to the hospital, edged
round too, and knelt at auntie's other side.
' You're a s^eZendid builder,' he burst out at last.
I DOWN IN THE DRAWING-ROOM 9
'Yes/ This agreed. *I never sawed such a' —
with a great effort — 'spuU-endid builder. Thattie,
don't you think muzzy would give us some of her
ladies' cards to keep in our brick box for woofs ? '
* I dunno/ said That. ' We can ask her.'
' Well,' said auntie, * to begin with, I'll leave you
these two of mine. But plain cards would do quite
as well, or better. Calling-cards are too thin and
fine to be much good.'
* Calling-cards,' repeated the children, adding, with
a little pity for auntie's not knowing better ; ' oh, you
mean ladies' cards. Yes, it would be nice to have
razer thicker ones.'
' Ladies' fings are always fine and thin,' observed
This, — 'like ladies' bread-and-butter. I do love
ladies' bread-and-butter,' with a sigh.
Auntie smiled — quite a nice smile, not at all a
'Well,' said she again, 'when you and Thattie
come to stay with me you shall have ladies' bread-
and-butter. I am glad to know of something you
like, and you must tell me more things to have for
The children's faces grew rosy. Going to stay
with this new auntie! It was a wonderful idea.
10 THIS AND THAT chap.
They had never been to stay with any one, except
once for a week with a grandmamma. And they did
not like it much, for it was in London, and there
were other people staying there, and grandmamma
had parties and was very busy, and their room was
at the top of the house, up "lotses and lotses" of stairs.
But that was a long time ago. Cecilia could scarcely
remember it, except for her brother telling her about
it. It was more than a whole year ago, he said.
Auntie Winifred looked at the two faces ; she was
not quite sure what the rosiness meant
' Wouldn't you like to come and stay with me ? '
This put out her hand and stroked auntie^s feather
' pussy ' that she wore round her neck, and looked at
'Where's your house?' he asked. 'Is it in
streets ? '
Auntie shook her head.
' No,' she answered. ' It's in a garden, and at the
back of the garden there's a wall, and in the wall
there's a door. And when you open the door there's
a hill — a real high, big hill, all covered with short
grass, and wee flowers here and there that you have
to look closely to see : white eyebright and scarlet
I DOJFN IN THE DRAWING-ROOM 11
pimpernel, besides yellow crow's-foot, and in some
places heather, that you see more quickly than the
tiny low-growing ones/
' Yes,' said This, ' more stickin' out ones. But I'd
like the littlest ones best — they'd be nice for dollies'
nosegays. Tell us more pelease, auntie.'
'More about the hill,' said That. 'Does it go
awfiy high up, nearly to the sky? Has you ever
been to the very top, auntie ? '
*0h dear, yes, often and often,' was auntie's
answer. ' But I'm afraid you don't seem any nearer
the sky when you do get there, even though it is a
good bit of a climb,' and auntie gave a very little
sigh, though she smiled too.
* That's a pity,' said That. ' When I'm a man I
mean to climb up the very awfliest high mountings
there are in the world, and then I'd have to get near
the sky. Jack, in "Jack and the Beanstalk," got
right through, you know — right through to the other
side of the blue, and into the Giant's Castle.'
* Oh,' said auntie, * that's what you want to get up
to the sky for, is it ? But I don't think there are
any giants' castles up in the skies now.'
'Aren't there?' said That. 'Well, I don't mind.
There are other things I want to find out about that
12 THIS AND THAT chap.
are there, for we can see them. The moon and the
stars. Not the sun — it'd be too awfly hot.'
' / want to see the angels/ said This, in a very low,
Auntie patted her hand.
* That is a very nice " want," ' she replied. * I
should like to see the angels too, but I don't think
climbing up hills would help us to do so.'
This opened her blue eyes very wide and gazed at
auntie in disappointment.
' WouldnH it ? ' she said slowly. ' I thought they'd
be sure to be up there, if we could get high enough.'
'I've told youyou couldn't get high enough — ever so
often — not up to heaven^ said That, in a very superior
tone. ' But sometimes angels come down here, don't
they, auntie ? I told you that, too, Thissie, but you
forget so. Thissie hasn't a very good memory,' he
added, turning to his aunt.
' I didrCt forget,' said his sister ; ' and I knowed it
as well as you do. That, 'cos it's in the BibelL But
there's never any angels comes to see us, so I don't
fink it's much good espectin' them.'
' They may be there though we don't see them,'
said auntie softly, but just then mamma called
from her end of the room to know if auntie wasn't
I DOWN IN THE DRAWING-ROOM 13
coming to speak to her a little more, as the time
would so soon pass. Auntie had to drive back to the
station in an hour or so ; she was staying for two
days with some friends near, so this wasn't a proper
visit to Evergreens, you see. ,
The children went on with their play a little
longer ; there was time for one fire, not a very bad
one — only two dollies got hurt, and they soon got
better in the hospital — before Nurse came to fetch
This and That. And then they had a grand idea.
There was a big, over all earthquake, in which nobody
was hurt, but all the houses, the hospital too, came
tumbling down with a great bang. The bang was really
caused byThat'sthrowing the lid of the brick box down,
and it did beautifully for a finish up. Then Nurse
helped them to put away the bricks neatly as usual,
and on the top of the box the two cards that auntie
had given them for a roof They were so thin and
flat that they did not prevent the lid sliding on quite
easily, and then, as This said, they would know where
to find them the next time they played at building.
Cecilia was a very neat and careful little girl.
Then they both ran across the room to say good-
night to mamma and auntie — to auntie, indeed, it
was * good-bye * as well as good-night.
14 THIS AND THAT chap.
* Good-bye, darlings/ she said as she kissed them,
* and some day you will come to see auntie and her
* I'd like to climb the hill,' said That, which was
not very polite, I'm afraid. At least, it would have
been more polite if he had put auntie before her hill.
But she did not seem to mind.
'Well/ she said, *I hope you will, before very
' And This will gazer the little tiny flowers while
you and Thattie climb up to the top, won't she ? ' said
the little girl, who still sometimes spoke of herself by
her name, as all very young children do, before they
learn the use of ' I ' and ' me.'
' Yes, darling, you shall,' said auntie.
Mamma turned to her with a smile.
' My dear Winnie,' she said, ' you don't know what
you have brought upon poor me ! It will be " Do tell
us about auntie's house and the hill behind it/' from
morning to night now.'
*No, no, it won't/ said auntie. 'This and That
would not like to tease poor mamma, would you,
dears ? I'll tell you what — ^you must make a game
of auntie's hill, and think of stories about it, just as
you do about the houses you build, and the fires, and
I DOJVN IN THE DRAWING-ROOM 15
earthquakes, and hospital. Only up on my hill every-
thing is pretty and nice — there are no earthquakes.'
' Aren't there no ogres or giants ? ' asked That, his
eyes sparkling. ' We like giants and ogres/
' Ah well, tastes differ. If you like those gentle-
men, have a few, by all means. I don't mind. Only
I hope you will remember some of the stories you
make up, so as to tell them to me when you come to
see the real hill. Nurse will help you to remember
some of them, I daresay ? '
And auntie looked at Nurse, for she had noticed
that her face was bright and pleasant, seeming as if
she understood little people's ways and fancies.
Thissie caught hold of Nurse's hand.
' Oh yes,' she said, ' Nursie makes beautiful stories
her own self, sometimes. Does you know any about
hills, Nurse ? It must be one just like auntie's.'
Nurse got rather red.
' Perhaps I can remember some,' she said ; * for
when I was a little girl I once lived at a very hilly
' And was the hills very high, very high ? ' asked
' And wif lotses of very tiny little flowers among
the grass ? ' added This.
16 THIS AND THAT chap.
Nurse nodded her head.
* Yes, I think so/ she said ; * and sometimes — some
parts of the year — there were berries — bilberries or
cloudberries, I think they called them — growing
down quite on the ground ; we used to think it great
fun looking for them and gathering them.'
* Is there berries on your hill, auntie ? ' asked the
* Yes ; I should have told you so/ she said. ' I see
Nurse knows all about hills, so I shall expect you to
have some lovely stories to tell me when you come/
' But, dears, you really must run off to bed/ said
mamma. ' It is getting quite late. Another kiss to
auntie. That's right. Mummy will peep in and kiss
you when you are in bed — asleep perhaps.'
They trotted off; one on each side of Nurse,
chattering all the way upstairs. They had such a
lot of things to think about to-night — the house-
building that auntie had helped them with ; auntie
herself; and best of all, the thought of going to see
her some day, and of the wonderful hill they were to
make stories about already !
It was a good thing Nurse did understand her
little people's ways and fancies, otherwise her
patience would have been rather tried while she
I DOJFN IN THE DRAWING-ROOM 17
was undressing them. But at last she had to
remind them that it was not a good thing to talk
too much at bedtime ; it might prevent their getting
' And I'm in a hurry to get to sleep to-night/ said
Thattie. * I want to have nice dreams about auntie's
hill — to help me to make stories and games about it.'
UP IN THE NURSERY
Jack and Jill went up the hill.
I DO not know if That's dreams were very interesting
that night after all. I should think not, as he never
said anything about them. Very likely he slept so
soundly that he never dreamt at alL
But when he and This found themselves very wide
awake, up and dressed, and sitting at breakfast with
Nurse, they soon began talking again of their new
auntie and all she had told them.
' I wonder how soon we shall go to stay with her
and climb up the 'nill,' said That. * How soon do you
think, Nurse ? '
' I can't say, I'm sure, Master That,' Nurse replied.
' No doubt your mamma will tell us in plenty of time,
when it is all settled about/
CHAP. II UP IN THE NURSERY 19
* Yes/ said This ; ' for there'll be lotses of packing
to do, won't there, Nursie ? '
And This gave a sigh and looked quite careworn
about it. She was rather an anxious-minded little
girl, and seemed to think all the business of the
world was on her tiny shoulders.
' I do hope mummy won't forget to tell us a good
while before,' she said. 'It'll take ever so long to
pack the dollies' things, and then there's all ours too.'
* Now, Miss Thissie,' said Nurse, * don't you begin
to worry your little head about it. It'll take away
all the pleasure of looking forward. I daresay it
won't be for a good while yet, that there will be any-
thing settled. It's not likely you would go till the fine
warm weather comes, and we are only in March now.'
She spoke quite kindly but a very little sharply,
which was sometimes a good thing for Cecilia. For
though she was really a very sweet and gentle child,
she was rather given to ' worrying ' when there was
no need whatever to do so, and this tired her and
made her peevish and fretfuL
Then Nurse, turning to Sandford, went on speaking.
'And there's something I want to say to you,
Master That,' she said. ' Your mamma's told me to
correct you for dropping your " H's," and '
20 THIS AND THAT chap.
* Dropping what ? ' asked Thattie, sitting bolt up-
right on his chair and looking very puzzled. He had
never heard of ' dropping ffs' before.
'Yes — don't you understand? You'd say you
were "'ot," when you should say "Aot," and that's
not the way a young gentleman should speak. I never
noticed it so much as yesterday when your auntie, Mrs.
Eochfort, was here, and then I did feel ashamed to
hear you speak of the " 'nill," Why, that's worse than
dropping the " H," ' Nurse went on, as she thought it
over. ' It's putting another letter in its place.'
* Poor letter H,' said Thissie with a twinkle in her
eyes — Thissie had plenty of fun in -her too. But
Thattie looked grave. You will remember that he
couldn't bear being laughed at, and he was ready to feel
very hurt indeed if his dear Thissie laughed at him.
Nurse was too much in earnest to notice That's
'Now, listen, Master Sandford,' she said, 'say
* Jack and Jill went up the hill,
To fetch a pail of water.*
' Jack fell down, and broke his crown,
And Jill came tumbling after,'
said That, very solemnly.
n UP IN THE NURSERY 21
'No, no/ said Nurse, shaking her head. *Say
" Jack and Jill went up the hilL" '
'"Jack and Jill went up the 'nill,"' said That.
' Tx)u did say " after me," Nurse, and the pail of water
comes next after what you said.'
* Never mind. It's the Jirst line I want you to say,
but not the 'nill — ^the h-AilL Now try again : " Jack
and Jill went up the h-Aill." '
'"Jack and Jill went up the — h-h-Ae-i//," ' said
That, with a great effort.
* Yes, that's better. But you needn't make quite
such a breathing about it. It's quite easy '
' Say it like me, Thattie,' said This. ' Kite kietly —
" Jack and Jill went up ze hill." '
' Not " ze," ' That corrected. ' The, Thissie,' and
rather comforted by having something to teach his
sister, he set to work again, and this time Jack and
Jill got up the hill without any mistakes.
' That's^right,' said Nurse ; ' nothing like " Try, try,
try again " for little gentlemen and ladies who want
to succeed at last — and for big people too,' she added
with a smile.
Then Cecilia said grace. She and Sandford said it
turn about, and to-day was her turn. And while
Nurse was clearing away the breakfast things, they
22 THIS AND THAT chap.
went to their toy cupboard, for once a week they had
a spring cleaning of it and the dolls* house, and This
was very particular — 'very pertickler indeed^ she
used to say — never to miss the right morning for
doing it on.
That sighed a little as he set to work under his
sister's orders. First of all, everything had to be
cleared out, and That had to carry the carpets of the
dolls* house, and the furry animals, and what This
called * stuffy things ' that needed brushing or beat-
ing, to a tiny little balcony, on to which opened one
window of the nursery. There he set them down,
and then Thissie came and 'stood over him,' to
see that the beating and brushing were properly
done. Sometimes they pretended that That was the
gardener or ' odd man * and Thissie the lady of the
house, and sometimes they were both servants, pre-
paring for *the family's* return home. That liked
this last plan best, for then he did not need to touch
his pretence cap and keep saying, ' Yes, mum,* or ' No,
mum,' which was another thing Cecilia was very
strict about, but spoke to her as he had often heard
old Larkins at the Lodge speak to Mrs. Larkins.
*01d woman' or 'Missus,* or 'Sally there' were
Larkins's usual names for his wife, or even ' Old girL*
II UP IN THE NURSERY 23
Thattie had once ventured to call This ' Old girl,' but
he never did it again, for the look she gave him was
too frightening. You wouldn't have believed how
Cecilia cotdd look if she was really shocked.
In his heart, I am afraid, Sandford disliked the
spring-cleaning days very much, but there was no
getting out of them. Sometimes he used to ask This
what she would do when he was a big boy and went
away to school, but he never got a very clear answer
from her as to this. And once or twice she began to
cry when he spoke of it, so, as he was really a very
kind brother, he said no more. For after all, he
would have spring-cleaned every day instead of once
a week rather than make his dear Thissie cry.
Still Fridays — Friday was the day — often made
him rather cross, though he did not like to hurt This
by putting it all down to the cleanings.
This morning he sighed a good deal in his journeys
across the nursery, so that Cecilia at last felt obliged
to ask him what was the matter.
* What is you sighin' so about, Thattie ? ' she said.
That replied that he wasn't ' sighin', only gruntin'
'What for?' asked This, who liked to get an
24 THIS AND THAT chap.
' Somethin' I was thinkin' about/ said That.
This left ofif work for a moment and looked at her
brother rather severely.
* I b'lieve I know what it is, That/ she said. ' It's
not thinkings at all. It's that you're getting too fat.'
That was very much offended.
' It is thinkin's/ he said indignantly, * and I'll tell
you what the thinkin's is. It's that I don't want to
go to that auntie's where the 'nill is.'
' That ! What are you saying ? ' said This reproach-
fully. 'The 'Tit///
'Well, the h-hill/ said That. 'What does it
matter ? You knowed what I meant.'
* But saying " 'nill " isn't talking like a gempleman.
Nurse said so.'
' Well, I've said " he-ill " now,' said That. ' But I
don't want to go there. I don't think I want to go
climbing and bothering, and I daresay she'd laugh at
This turned away and went on collecting the
kitchen pots and pans which needed to be rubbed up.
' It's just laziness,' she said, * and it is that you're
getting too fat. It'd be very good for you to have a
lot of climbing up and down.'
But seeing that That's face was looking very
II UP IN THE NURSERY 25
gloomy — that there was indeed rather a ' black-dog-
on-his-shoulders ' expression (I fancy all children
know what that means) coming over him — her tender
heart felt sorry, and she tried to think of something
else to talk about which would send the cross feeling
And while she is hunting in her mind for the
something else, let me say how much I wish that
children would more often try to help each other in
this way. Even good, kind children are often quite
content if they can feel that they themselves have
not been cross, or lost their temper, which, of course,
is all right as far as it goes. But if it could go a little
further ! If they would help others not to be cross !
It would make child-world a much happier place than
it often is, and once they had got the habit of it, it
would last on and grow as they grow, till they are
men and women, and make the big people's world a
better and happier place too.
After a moment. This looked up brightly.
' Thattie,' she said, * IVe got a plan ' — she called it
'puU-an ' — * in my head, for when we go to that new
auntie's. It's about our dear " oldies " ' — and Cecilia
nodded her head mysteriously towards the opposite
comer of the room, where there was another cup-
26 THIS AND THAT. chap.
board. ' You see, Thattie, I*m always afraid, dedfully
afraid, of them getting throwed away some time.'
That forgot all about the little black dog, he was
so interested in what This was saying. His eyes
grew very round and bright.
* Yes,' he replied ; ' specially when we are away,
and Nurse is away, and these other servints are
cleaning. Nurse knows about the oldies, but the
servints calls them rubbidge. And even mummy
said one time that they must be throwed away, or
they'd get those little flies that eat up things — what
is it they're called ? '
*Mofifs,' said This, very gravely. 'Yes, I know
her said that. It made me very unhappy, That, and
I've thoughtened about it lotses.'
' But what can we do ? ' said That. ' You wouldn't
like to throw them in the pond, Thissie ? That would
be nearly as bad as throwing them away, for most
likely if they were throwed away they'd be burnt.'
Cecilia gave a shudder of horror.
* You see,' Sandford went on, ' they're too old to
send to the children's hospillan. I wouldn't mind
that so much.'
* I would,' said This. ' The children wouldn't be
kind to them — ^they'd call them nugly, I'm sure. I
II UP IN THE NURSERY 27
wouldn't mind some of the new old toys going to the
hospillan, for the children would like them, I daresay.'
' Well, anyway, the oldies aren't going there/ said
That. * But what's your plan, Thissie ? '
Cecilia looked well round her to be sure that no
one was within hearing, but Nurse had not come up-
stairs again, and all was quite safe.
' It's this,' she said, speaking in a whisper, even
though she and Sandford were quite close. "Ap-
posin' we took them all wif us to auntie's house, and
then we'd look for a nice, cosy place on the hill —
among those dear little flowers and soft grass — and
put them there as if they was going to bed, you know
— ^we could tuck them in wif grass and leaves like
the babies in the wood. And I daresay the birds
would be kind and sing to them sometimes, when
they saw how old and tired they were. And they
might stay there for always, you see, Thattie. No-
body'd know, 'cept us, and it'd be nice to be sure
they'd never be throwed away or burnt or anything
deflful like that.'
Thissie stopped, almost out of breath.
That was thinking deeply.
' Yes,' he said at last. ' I think it's a very good
plan, if thei/d like it.'
28 THIS AND THAT chap.
*We must ask them/ said Thissie in a solemn
whisper. 'Not to-day, I don't fink, for it's nearly
time to go downstairs, and p'raps we shan't be alone
again here all day. And nobody mustn't see us
going to the oldies' cupboard, Thattie — not Nurse or
mummy or nobody. They'd say, "What is you
children doin' in that cupboard ? " — for the cupboard
in the opposite comer was not supposed to be the
children's. It held brushes and dust-pans and such
things, and This and That had had some difficulty to
get leave to keep their aged friends there for a time.
' I don't fink,' Cecilia went on, * that I ever felt as if I
didn't kite love mummy, 'cept that day that she said
Bluebell was really too hijeous to keep. Fancy,
Thattie, her calling Bluebell " hijeous." '
*Yes,' said That, 'it was a shame. It isn't her
fault that she's got no eyes or face. And it isn't any
of their faults that they're old and nugly. Eacer
was a spelendid horse when he had legs — nobody can
run without legs, and I'm sure Ae didn't want them
to be all broken ofif the day the rocking-horse went
' I've never recdly liked the rocking-horse since
then,* said Cecilia.
' I wouldn't mind so much if we might make a
II UP IN THE NURSERY 29
— oh, I don't know how to say it — hang medals round
his neck and things like they do to brave soldiers
that get wounded and their legs cut ofif/ said Sandford.
'Only/ This objected, *you see Eacer didn't get
wounded in a battle. Falling under the rocking-
horse isn't like fighting/
' No/ said That, * but Eacer was very brave. He
didn't call out or anything, and all his legs were
' Oh,' said This, * I know he was very good, and so
are all the oldies. That's why I can't bear for them
to be throwed away. Well, then, we'll fix to ask
them if they'd like to be took to the hill and settled
in a nice warm grass place where they'd never be
throwed away. And if they say they would, we'll
pull-an it, won't we ? There'll be a lot to settle.'
'All the packin' them Up, and they'll make a big
parcel, and then the plannin' for nobody to see them,'
said That, looking very grave and important. ' We'll
both have to think lots. I don't see that we'll have
any time to make stories about the — h-hill/
* It'd do for a story itself — the taking the oldies
there/ said This. ' But, That, there's Nurse coming,
and we must go downstairs and oh dear we haven't
30 THIS AND THAT chap.
They both looked rather in despair at the toys
strewed about, and the cupboard not yet dusted.
For they had been so busy talking that Cecilia had
stood with her duster in her hand, like a very idle
little housemaid indeed, and Sandford had forgotten
all about the rugs and carpets waiting to be shaken
and brushed on the balcony.
Nurse, however, was very kind. She promised to
leave the contents of the cupboard just as they were
till the children came upstairs again, and if in her
own mind she thought that it would be a good chance
of giving the cupboard itself a better cleaning than it
got from Thissie, she.did not say so, as she knew what
an easjer little housemaid Miss Cecilia was.
Papa and mamma had nearly finished breakfast
when This and That came in.
*How now, old woman? ' said papa, as Cecilia ran
up to him for her good-morning kiss. * You are very
lazy to-day ? Poor father thought he would have to
start for the station without seeing his little girl at
all. What have you been about ? '
'Is you going away again to-day?' said This.
' Poor papa — I wish you hadn't such a lot of bizi-
nesses to do.'
'It isn't very hard business this time,' said her
II VP IN THE NURSERY 31
father. ' I'm only going to see a new horse I want
to buy. But all the same, I must catch my train.
Here's the top of my^egg, my sweet. You see, father
kept it for you, though you were so late.'
This set to work on the top of the egg with great
satisfaction. Papa kept it for her every morning.
That generally sat beside mamma at the breakfast
table, and his particular tit-bit was a small piece of
toast with marmalade. This did not care for marma-
* What made you both so late ? ' asked mamma in
her turn; Cecilia had not yet answered papa's
' We was talkin' such a lot,' said That, when the
first bite of toast and marmalade had disappeared,
* that we forgottened.'
* It's the day for cleaning the toy cupboard,' said
Cecilia, * and we mustn't stay down very long, 'cos all
the toys is scattled about the floor.'
' Oh, that reminds me,' began mamma, ' I must look
over the old '
This's heart beat so fast that she felt as if she
could scarcely breathe, and even That grew pale,
though he was much less easily startled than his
sister. But by great good hick, papa, though he was
32 THIS AND THAT chap.
much too polite to interrupt any one, had not heard
mamma begin to speak, and just then he turned
again to This.
* What were you talking about ? * he asked.
Papa was rather fond of asking questions of the
children, particularly of Cecilia, for her answers often
seemed to amuse him very much. And This did not
mind being laughed at half as much as That —
especially not by papa !
This looked very grave. She did not want to talk
of her plan for the oldies, and yet that was really the
thing they had been so interested about in their
Tm afraid,' she said at last, *Thissie*s afraid,
papa, that she can't tell you.'
Papa wasn't going to let her off so easily. She
was a great pet of his, and she sometimes put on baby
ways with him, though with most people she liked to
be counted quite a big girl. And though she was
such a pet of his, papa was rather fond of teasing.
I think papas often are.
* Dear me,' he said, looking very solemn, ' you don't
mean to say it's a secret? Do you and old That over
there have secrets from poor papa and mamma ? '
Poor This's face grew longer and longer, and the
11 UP IN THE NURSERY 33
corners of her mouth began to go down. Was papa
only teasing or was he in earnest ? She could not
tell, but she felt very unhappy.
* It is quite a good secret, papa dear,' she said, her
little face quivering. * It's a hind secret — a puU-an
of Thattie's and mine/
And mauuna, catching sight of the troubled face
from her end of the table, saw that the tears were not
very far off.
* Arthur, Arthur,' she exclaimed — papa's name was
Arthur — ' don't tease poor Thissie. Of course, darling,
I am sure your secret is no harm. Thattie knows
about it, doesn't he?' and she turned to Sandford.
Thattie was nearly crying himself. But he choked
it down manfully.
' Yes, mamma,' he said. ' We've made it togevver.'
* Then you shall certainly keep it,' said mamma.
'I give you leave, and so does papa. Arthur,' she
went on, * do you hear? This and That have got our
leave to have their secret, and nobody's to tease
them about it. Does Nurse know about it, children ?
Would you like me to say anything to her ? '
* No, thank you, mummy,' exclaimed both, looking
radiant. And Thissie left her place to run round and
kiss mamma and call her a ' dear, dear.' ' We don't
34 THIS AND THAT chap, n
need to tell Nurse — at least I don't Jink so ; and it
wouldn't be such a nice secret if her knowed/
' Only/ said cautious That, ' if her was vexed — no,
not vexed, for it's a very good secret — ^but if her found
out a little bit, then, Thissie, we might say mummy
had gave us leave/
' All right/ said mamma. ' 111 speak to Nurse if
you ask me to do so/
And two very happy and contented little faces
thanked her with a smile.
CONSULTING THE OLDIES
WeVe been such friends together, night and day,
That to let them take you, would take half of us away.
Old Doll Song.
* Isn't it a good thing/ said Cecilia, as she made her
way, one foot at a time, upstairs, — * isn't it spull-endid,
Thattie, to have got leave for the secret, and still to
have it, you know ? For we don't want Nursie to
hear about it, do we ? '
' Of course not,' Sandford replied. It was really
much more This's good management than his that
had got them leave for their secret, but he was
very careful always to keep himself ' eldest ' — ^he did
not like when mamma told him he was only * elder*
as there were but two of them, for it did not sound
so important. 'Of course not. It'd scarcely be a
secret then. You don't understand, Thissie. It's
only that if Nurse saw us at the oldies' cupboard and
36 THIS AND THAT chap.
began saying we wasn't to, then we could say mummy
had gave us leave/
' Yes/ said This, very meekly, ' I do understand.
But don't you think, Thattie, it'd be better not to
leave them there any more ? We could find some
comfable place for them to live in till we pack
them to take to the hill, and then it'd be far easier
to get them out than if they was still in the cupboard
in the nursery/
'P'raps,' said That. He would not answer at
once, as he liked to think things over, and This
never interrupted him when he was thinking things
* The first thing to do,' he said, when they were up
in the nursery, ' is to ask the oldies what they think.'
' Yes ? ' said This, looking very interested. ' How
will you do it, Thattie ? '
'We'll write them a letter, and let them think
about it all night. I've read stories about toys
getting like fairies in the night — p'raps the oldies
are like that, and can talk and walk about when
we're asleep. Any way, we'll write them the letter
and . slip it into the cupboard, and ask them to
answer it. Let's write it now before Miss Wren
Ill CONSULTING THE OLDIES 37
Miss Wren was their daily governess.
*0h, bat/ Cecilia exclaimed dolefully, as her
glance fell on the toys on the floor, 'you forget,
Thattie. We mvst finish the cleaning and putting
away all these/
And she sat down on the floor, looking rather
Kurse just then came in from the next room.
* Come now/ Miss Thissie, she said good-naturedly ;
* what are you looking so unhappy about ? I'd have
put away the toys for you and welcome, but you
wanted me to leave them out as they were. It won't
take you and Master That five minutes to put them
* But there's the shelfs to clean,' sighed Cecilia, *and
the carpets and rugs must be shook out and brushed.'
She looked at her brother. He was standing with
bis hands in his pockets, not looking very energetic.
To tell the truth, he was planning the letter to the
oldies, which his head was full of.
* Oh, well,' said Kurse, * as for that, I've cleaned the
cupboard out nicely, and — I've shaken and brushed the
dollies' carpets and all. I did not mean to tell you,
for fear you would not like it. But it's just as well I
did it, for now we'll have the toys back in no time.'
38 THIS AND THAT chap.
* Oh, thank you, thank you, dear Nursie,' said This.
And even Sandford condescended to murmur ' Thank
you. Nurse.' * You won't need me, then, Thissie,' he
added, 'p'raps 111 have time to — ^you know what,
before Miss Wren comes,' and he stalked ofif to the
other end of the room where stood the side-table at
which lessons took place, and got out his slate and a
sheet of ruled paper, on which the letter itself was
to be written after he had made a first draft of it on
This did not mind. Nurse was a much better
helper in putting back the toys neatly, especially the
contents of the doll house, than Thattie, who had ideas
of his own — such as turning the dining-room into the
drawing-room, or the kitchen into the day-nursery,
which did not at all suit Thissie's neat little mind.
So by the time Miss Wren's pleasant face appeared
at the door, aU was in order again, and Cecilia was
able to jump up and run to meet her with a bright
smile and an easy mind.
Sandford was not feeling so pleased, however, for
he was vexed at not having been able to compose his
letter before lessons began, in consequence of which
lessons went rather badly with him this morning.
*What is the matter with you, my dear boy?'
Ill CONSULTING THE OLDIES 39
asked Miss Wren more than once, while Cecilia
looked at him anxiously. She was never happy if
her dear Thattie was in trouble. ' You are not giving
your attention this morning.'
* Nufl&n's the matter/ said he, rather sulkily, as he
went on writing in his copy-book.
But matters grew worse when the writing lesson
was over and Miss Wren told him to get out his
slate for sums. The slate was all covered, and That
looked as if he were on the point of tears at the idea
of having to wash it clean.
Thissie was really a kind little girl. She was not
only almost always gentle and good-tempered herself,
but she did her best to help those about her to be so
also. And there are not many children who think
of this, or who understand how a word or even a look
may smooth away unhappy feelings and prevent
others from losing their tempers or getting still more
out of sorts. For preventing wrong things is as much
a duty— almost perhaps a higher and more beautiful
one, because it so often is not noticed or admired — as
doing good ones, and it needs a loving heart to be on
the ' lookout ' for this sort of help to others.
* Miss Wren, pull-ease,' she said in her coaxingest
voice, ' would you mind — might Thattie do his sums
40 THIS AND THAT chap.
this morning on the old slate, without a' edge to it ?
There's somesing wrote on his proper slate — somesing
we're making up togevver/
'Very well/ said Miss Wren, whose quick eyes
had noticed that Sandford's face brightened at what
his sister said, — * very well. I don't mind for once,
That. But another time, remember, dear, to use the
old slate for plays or games, and keep the good one
clean and ready for lessons.'
* Thank you,' said Sandford, as he went to the
book cupboard to fetch the old slate. And his tone
was much pleasanter now.
After this lessons went better, and Miss Wren
was able to put a 'good,' and even one or two 'very
goods,' in the book of marks which was shown to
mamma every afternoon.
And when their governess had left, and This and
That went out to the garden to play till their dinner-
time, Nurse let them take the slate with them, on
condition that, before they sat down and began to
write or talk quietly, they would first take a good run
all round, ' to freshen them up a little.'
It was only early spring as yet— quite early
spring — about the middle of March. But where
Sandford and Cecilia lived the winters were never
Ill CONSULTING THE OLDIES 41
very severe, and the spring often came quickly. To-
day it was really mild, and the sunshine, though
rather * thin,' was clear and bright.
* Isn't it nice that it's getting to be summer soon ? '
said This, as the two children sauntered down the
paths, on their v/ay to the *long lawn,' which the
short grass and good stretch of ground without any
flower-beds in the way, made their favourite racing
place. *See, Thattie, there's lots of little greenies
coming out on the trees and bushes, and soon the old
wall at the end will be kite all over with those bluey
flowers. I don't 'amember the name — Nursie said it
was the same as some tiny fishes.'
' Penny winkles,' said That. ' It's quite easy to
remember if you think of pennies and winkin'.'
* Let's start off running now,' said This, 'and see
which gets first to the old wall, if you let me start
in front, like you often do.'
' All right,' said That, and off they set. The first
race was gained by him, which pleased him so much
that he gave Cecilia a longer start the next time, and,
thanks to this, she was first in the second. Then
they were both so nearly equal that they couldn't
quite settle which was the winner. And then — and
then — I'm afraid I don't remember how things went.
42 THIS AND THAT chap.
But there was no quarrelling ; all was quite happy,
and when they had run as much as would have
pleased Nurse, they settled themselves down for a
little in their favourite arbour, where That had
already deposited the slate.
' Now,' he began, * listen, Thissie, to my letter.'
' My dear Oldies '
' No,' This interrupted, ' not " My," Thattie, " Our,"
They's as much mine as yourn.'
'Wubbish,' said That — there were some 'K'
words which he still wobbled over, though he was
*six past' — 'wubbish. Nobody begins letters like
that ^'Our dear" — ^you can hear how silly it is.'
Thissie had been a very good little girl that
morning. Not only patient and gentle — it was never
very difficult for her to be patient and gentle — but
bright and cheerful, which ivas more difficult. She had
gone out of her way to please her brother and to keep
him from getting into trouble, and now it really did
seem rather hard that he should be so sharp and
contemptuous to her. Not that she used that
long word ; she would not even have understood
what it meant ; she only said to herself that
Thattie was *razer unkind' and turned away her
little head for him not to see the tears, in case
Ill CONSULTING THE OLDIES 43
she could not wink them away, however hard she
But That's heart was tender too, above all for This.
So he gave her a little pull.
* I didn't mean to say wubbish,' he said, rather
gruffly. 'I only meant it wasn't like big people
write, to put "Our." But I will, if you want it,
Cecilia's face brightened.
* Zank you,Thattie,' she said ; 'but I've thoughtened
of somesing better. 'Apposin' we put just 'Dear
Oldies,' and not mine or ourn or any of them words.'
'To be sure,' replied Thattie. 'That's the best
way of all,' and he set to work on his slate again.
While he is busy composing the letter, I think it
would be a good time to give you a list of the oldies,
as this little story has to do with them.
First of all, I think, I nmst name Bluebell, though,
as I told you before, she had neither face nor eyes,
only a leg and a half, and very stumpy bits of arms.
But then she had been a beauty, and as her head was
always tied up in a handkerchief, you covld fancy that
her face was still there, and lovely. Then came
Eacer, or what remained of him. He made up for
Bluebell in one way, for his head and mane and even
44 THIS AND THAT chap.
body were still quite complete and considered very-
handsome, though, as he had no legs at all, his name
no longer suited him very well. He and Bluebell
were great friends, and the children counted them the
chief persons of the party.
Then there was a goat that once used to bleat, but
all the voice had gone, as well as his horns and ears
and nose and one leg. He had still a rather clever
expression about him, however, and always seemed
to look down on a fat china pig who had no legs at
all, though his troubles had not made him grow any
thinner. And there were two small black dolls, with
still gleaming eyes and teeth, who, between them, had
a couple of legs and arms.
These were all the old friends who represented
living beings. But the children's affection did not
stop at these. There was a wheelbarrow — now,
alas ! only a queerly-shaped box with one handle to
it ; a bucket for seaside business, with no bottom ;
the stick of one spade and the digging part of
another, and two baskets without handles. All of
these seemed to This and That almost as much friends
as the dolls and the animals. For there were stories
and ' rememberings ' about them all — some had been
birthday and Christmas presents, some had been
m CONSULTING THE OLDIES 45
bought witli their own carefully saved-up pennies.
I daresay there were more " oldies," but I am afraid
I cannot recollect any others. For it is getting to be
a good while since This and That were little, and I
do not see either of them as often as I should like.
It took some time and patience to finish the letter
— that is to say, to have it neatly copied out on the
ruled paper, folded, and addressed, and ready to be
slipped into the corner cupboard late that evening.
I will copy it out for you to see.
' Dear Oldies,' it began, ' we has been unhapy
about you, for fear you mite be throwed away or
brunt. We will take you to auntie's hill and highd
you in a nice corner, 'mong the flours, if you would
like to so. If you woodent like, then you must tear
up this letter and frow it out of the cubberd. , But if
you wood like, then you must fold it up again neetly,
and us will know. — Your luwing
' This and That.'
'Yes,' said Cecilia, 'it's very nice. I wonder if
they'll want to come. I'm sure / would.'
' I'm sure they will,' said Sandford.
This was before he had copied out the letteh He
had read it off the slate to Thissie. In ' true reality '
46 THIS AND THAT chap.
both the children knew that the poor oldies, even if
they had still been young and new, could not read or
unfold the letter. The whole was one of their 'pre-
tend * plays, you see, and of course the only pleasure
of such plays is to pretend you are in earnest.
Then they took another good run, and went off to
the side of the house where there were most trees and
shrubs, to see if there were any birds' nests getting
ready yet. And they stepped very softly, as Thissie
was always very afraid of startling the little feathered
creatures^ so tenderly preparing cosy homes for the
wee fledglings. But though they heard some tweet-
ing and chirping among the branches, they did not
see any building going on.
'P'raps it's too soon yet,' said Thattie. 'Papa
says lotses has to fly a long, long way to get back
here. Did you know, Thissie ? Some of them comes
right over the sea.'
' In boats ? ' asked Thissie.
' Of course not,' That replied in his lordly tone.
' You are silly sometimes. This, What'd be the good
of having wings if they went in boats ? '
' Well, then, I think God might have gave us wings
too,' said Thissie.
* This,' replied That, very solemnly, ' I don't think
in CONSULTING THE OLDIES 47
it's right to say that. God must know what's best for
us to have. 'Asides ' he stopped and hesitated.
' Go on/ said Thissie.
* I'm not sure' he said, lowering his voice, * but I
f-^Aink we'll iave wings some day — when we are kite
good, you know, Thissie, and go to live in the sky.'
Cecilia did not at once answer. She sat quite
still — for by this time they were taking another little
rest — her blue eyes gazing up into the sky, where
here and there behind the busy white clouds, scudding
along in the wind, patches of lovely colour, very like
those pretty eyes, were to be seen. And something
in her face made That silent too. At last —
' Thissie likes to think of that,' she said softly. ' I
hope our wings will be white ones,' she went on, ' and
razer big— much bigger than birdses' ones.'
' Of course,' said That. * They'll be very big, but
quite flufiy and light too, so as we'll never get tired.
Papa says birds do get tired sometimes, comin' all
over the sea.'
* What do they go for, then ? ' asked Cecilia. ' It's
very silly. They might stay here quite comfably.'
' It's for the warm, papa says,' Thattie explained.
* You see, birds can't have fires in the winter like we
have. And there's no doors or windows you can shut
48 THIS AND THAT chap.
up in their nests. It*s all open. And then there's
very little to eat. The ground's so hard they can't
peck at it for worms, and — I don't know for sure —
but p'raps the worms goes dead in the winter.'
'Poor little birds,' said Thissie, * I am glad they go
away to warm countries. But,' for a sudden thought
struck her, * they doesn't all go away, Thattie. There's
lotses stays. And we put out crumbs for them.
Why don't they all go ? ' And now she was quite as
ready to call the birds * silly' for staying, as she had
been a minute before for * going.'
'I don't know,' he replied. 'I 'appose there's
different kinds. Some has thicker feathers p'raps,
and some doesn't mind being cold so niuch. Any
way it's a good thing some stays ; it'd be dreffly dull
* Yes,' This agreed. * It'd be dreffvl wifout robins.
Eobins couldn't go away, I don't think, 'cos they knows
how much we love them. Thattie, be sure next winter
never to let us forget to put out crumbs for them. I'll
try to 'amember,' with a little sigh ; ' but next winter's
such a long while off, and you're older than me.'
'All right,' said That. He was always pleased
when his sister treated him as older.
Ill CONSULTING THE OLDIES 49
' We'd better go in now/ he said. * Nurse doesn't
like us to go in just the very last tick of a minute, for
then there's scarcely no time to wash our hands before
He was not usually so anxious to be punctual, and
Thissie guessed that the reason was certainly ^ar%
that he was in a hurry to copy- out the letter, though
after all he only managed to get it begun.
It rained that afternoon — that is to say, it was
very showery, making the ground too wet for a walk.
* April must be in a hurry to come this year,' said
Nurse. It was too soon for showers, before poor
March had got time to *go out like a lamb.' The
children had never heard the old saying about March,
and it amused them very much.
* Tell us some more funny things like that,' said the
two, for by this time Thattie had got his letter folded
and addressed, and it was only about three o'clock,
an hour and a half till tea ! ' Tell us a story' added
Thissie. ' You always say you keep stories for rainy
days, and this is a rainy day.'
' I think we might call Nurse's stories '* umberella
stories,"' said That, *'cos she only takes them out
when it rains,' and both Nurse and This thought his
speech was very witty.
50 THIS AND THAT chap.
* And/ added Cecilia, * they're like umberellas in
another way. They keep off being dull from us — like
umberellas keep off getting wet. And rain is a sort
of being dull, isn't it ? It comes from dull things —
clouds and dark.'
That, in his turn, thought this speech very clever.
' Now, Nursie,' he said, ' you really must tell us a
* Yes,' added This, ' do, dear Nursie.'
'You little coaxers,' said Nurse, but there was
yielding in her tone. * I am not clever like ladies —
like your mamma,' Nurse went on, * like your auntie,
I daresay. I can't make stories — I can only try to
remember something I have been told myself, or
something about when I was a little girl. And I
don't fancy my stories are very amusing.'
* Yes, they are,' said That. ' You forget. Nurse.
You have told us several, so we know. There was that
one about the butter and the butter-cups — the little
boy who didn't understand. It made us laugh
Nurse smiled herself at the recollection.
* I don't think I know any other as funny as that
one,' she said.
'Never mind — it needn't be funny if it's just
Ill CONSULTING THE OLDIES 51
int ' Thissie hesitated, * intristing/ she got out at
* But it must be about a hill/ said That. * You're
forgetting, Thissie; all our stories are to be about
hills, till we go to auntie. She said we were to have
lots to tell her. We're to make some ourselves,
p'raps, but if Nurse tells us any, we could tell them
again to auntie, you see. That would do just as well,
I should think ; don't you think so, too, Nurse ? '
But Nurse had scarcely heard his question. Her
mind had been busily considering what story she
could find to telL Suddenly, she looked up with a
' Well, now. Master That,' she exclaimed. ' It is
odd you should want a story about a hill, for the one
I've just remembered is about a hill. It's a little
adventure that happened to — to two children I used
to know long ago. Perhaps it will amuse you. I
hope it will.'
' What's it called ? ' asked This and That.
Nurse considered again for a moment.
' It's called,' she said, ' The
— THE BEACON ON THE HILL' (NURSE's STORY)
Yet, courage, brothers .! we trust the wave,
V With God above us, our guiding chart ;
So, whether to harbour or ocean-grave,
Be it still with a cheery heart !
' Wait just one minute, Nurse,' said That, seeing that
Nurse's lips were opening to begin, ' Tell us first about
the children— were they boys or girls, and are they
still children, or are they growed up big people ? '
! One was a boy and one was a girl,' Nurse replied ;
' and it was a good while ago — nearly twenty years
*So they must both be big now — quite big,' said
Nurse did not answer at once.
'Nursie,' he repeated, 'don't you hear? They're
quite big now, aren't they ? '
CHAP. IV THE BEACON ON THE HILL 53
'One is/ she said. 'The little girl is quite big-
grown-up — able to take care of children as little as
she was then.' -
'And the other — the boy? Isn't he big too?'
Nurse's face was turned away for a moment.
* I don't know, dear,' she said, with a little catch
in her voice. 'We can't tell — not exactly — how
things are where that dear little boy is now. He
did not stay here long enough to grow big in our way.
But he was a very dear boy — a very brave and loving
boy, as the story will show you. So we may be sure
he is happy now '
The children understood.
' Yes,' Thissie said after a little silence, ' it's only
kite orally good peoples that's kite really happy.'
'Happy-to-stay happy,' added That. 'I've some-
times been very happy when I wasn't good — when I
was really rather naughty — playin' in the brook once
when I'd promised mummy I wouldn't. But it soon
wented away — the being happy. And after, it was
awffle — when I was in bed and it got dark. Oh, my !
It was awffle. I had to get up and go and tell
And That gave a little wriggle ; it wasn't pleasant
64 THIS AND THAT chap.
even to remember, though it had happened stich a
long time ago, nearly a year ago !
Thissie patted his hand consolingly.
'Never mind, now, Thattie dear,' she said. 'I
dessay you'll never be kite as naughty as that again.
Now pull-ease, Nurse, will you begin ? '
' Yes, please, do,' said That.
Nurse gave a tiny cough — just to clear her throat,
or perhaps she was feeling a very little bit shy about
telling a story ! But she was really very kind.
' There was once,' she said, * a village, a good way
off in the country. It was even a good way from a
railway station. It wasn't a very pretty village
though, for there were two or three big, big houses,
with high chimneys, out of which for many hours of
the day smoke came pouring. I don't think you,
Master That and Miss This, have ever seen houses and
chimneys like those, for there aren't any in this part of
the country. They were ironworks — places where iron
is melted down, and for this, very, very, tremendously
big hot fires — ^furnaces, they are called — are needed.'
' Like Gibbs's fire at the smithy ? ' asked That.
'Yes, only much, much bigger of course,' said
' Oh,' exclaimed Thattie, ' I did see awffly big fires
IV THE BEACON ON THE HILL 65
once. It was in the railway — comin' from Northsea
with papa and mummy. Thissie was too little to
remember, and she was asleep, I think. Don't you
remember. Nurse, or was it before you comed ? It
was getting dark at night, and they flamed and they
flamed like ' — he looked about him for something to
compare the fires with, and his eyes feH on a picture
book lying on the side-table — ' like Mount Vuz '
* I know,' said Thissie's clear little voice, ' and I
b'lieve I do 'amember that time in the railway. It
was when old Nurse was wif us. And that burning
hill is called Mount Vuvius/
She looked round in triumph.
' Join the two bits together, and then you'll have
got it right,' said Nurse. For Nurse was fond of
reading and had a good memory for what she read.
* Mount Vesuvius,' she repeated, and both the children
said it after her. ' But I must get on with my story,
or it will be tea-time before you have heard it. You
see it isn't only flames that come from those great
furnaces, but smoke which rises up through the
chimneys, and though they are so high, still it
blackens the air, and even the trees and the grass in
those places look dull and dirty — smoke-begrimed,
they call it.
56 THIS AND THAT chap.
' And in the village I am thinking of, it was rather
extra bad, because it lay low — in a valley, so to say.
On one side, or on two sides, you might say, there
were high hills — one hill in particular, which was
called West Peak, and on the very top point of that
hill there was a mound of stones, and on the top of
the mound a big wooden pole, firmly fixed among the
stones, which was called the " Beacon." It had been
there, I can't tell you how many years, and it could
be seen from so far round that it was counted a sort
of old friend in many a farmhouse and village besides
the one I was telling you of. And up there where
the Beacon was, there was a fine view — not only of
the other hills arid valleys between, and trees and
fields and villages and churches dotted about, but of
something much more wonderful, 'specially for those
who've never seen it — a view of the sea.*
' Fve seen the sea,' interrupted Sandford.
* And so've I,' echoed Cecilia.
* I know you have,' she said ; * don't you remember
you were staying at the seaside when I first came to
you ? Getting on for two years now. But the boy
and girl who lived in the Valley village had never
seen the sea. Their cottage was at the end of the
IV THE BEACON ON THE HILL 57
village, and its windows looked towards the West
Peak Hill, and ever since they were old enough to
notice anything, the Beacon on the top was the first
thing they looked at when the sun rose in the
morning, and the last thing they said good-night to
when he went to bed behind the hills in the evening.
They got to think there was something wonderful
about that beacon. Most children, it seems to me,
have fancies of their own, though they forget them
when they grow up to be men and women, and have
other things to think of, 'specially if they have to
work hard. For l*m thinking of poor children too,
not only of little gentlemen and ladies, who have
pretty stories about fairies to read, and pretty verses
to learn, which might help on the fancies. But many
a child you wouldn't think it of has fancies too.
The^e children — we will call them Bob and Mattie —
had, I know, though they had scarcely any story-books,
and their mother was mostly too busy to tell them
tales of any kind.
'But she was a good mother, and very under-
standing with children. And she was always kind
about answering their questions.
' " Why is that sticking-up pole on the top of the
hill called a ' beacon ' ? " little Mattie asked one day,
58 THIS AND THAT chap.
when she was still quite a tot of a girl, *' What does
' beacon ' mean, mammy ? "
' " It's a word that means some kind of a mark or a
signal, I take it," her mother answered. And then
she was in for explaining what ' signal ' meant I In
the end Mattie and Bob too, for he was listening, got
to understand pretty well Their mother told them
that she had been told by her grandfather, for the
children's people had lived many, many years in that
village, — long before the tall chimneys had come to
spoil it, — that in his childhood there used now and
then to be great fires lighted up there, in war time
when a battle had been gained, or for some reason like
* " Such big bonfires," said the mother, " that they
could be seen flaming away by ships quite out at
' " Ships — ships on the sea," cried Bob. He was
always a boy for the sea. And this notion of seeing
it,' she went on, Hook a great hold of Bob and
Mattie. When their mother told them how clearly
the great ocean could be seen from the Beacon,
and how, sometimes in stormy weather, the waves
would rise to such a height and the foam look
like piles of snow, and how, in fine weather, the
IV THE BEACON ON THE HILL 59
water looked all blue and sparkling in the sun, they
felt as if they could make pictures of it in their own
minds, and from this time they were never tired of
talking of it to each other. You can't call "sea,"
" land*' ' Nurse smiled as she said this ; ' otherwise
I would say the sea became a sort of fairy -land
to the two children. And as they grew bigger and
thought more, the feelings and fancies about it grew
' " If only we could see it," Mattie would sigh.
And sometimes Bob would grow a bit cross with
' '* If only you were a boy," he'd say, " a big strong
boy like me, we could climb up the hill and see it for
ourselves. It's not more'n four miles to the Beacon,
father says, but a good stiff pull most of the way,"
and Bob straightened himself, as if he thought he
could quite manage it.
' " But you'd never go without me. Bob," Mattie said.
" Promise me you won't, and I'll grow as fast as I can
to be a big strong girl — there's girls nearly as strong
as boys, mammy says."
' Bob promised ; he was very good to his little
sister. But as time went on, the idea of climbing the
West Peak Hill took more and more hold on them
60 THIS AND THAT chap.
both. Somehow they never spoke of it except to
each other ; it would have been better if they bad.
And it wasn't that they meant to be deceiving or
secret abont it exactly. Children often get into
trouble without at all meaning to be naughty. It
was partly, I daresay, that they thought their father
and mother might make fun of their thinking they
could walk so far, and partly that they felt rather shy
of speaking of their fancies — and partly, a good deal
partly, I expect, that they were afraid of being
stopped going altogether. Any way, they never did
talk about, the plan that was growing up in their
minds except to each other, though Bob, who was
rather a considering sort of boy, took care to ask
all the questions he could about the way up to the
Beacon, and how long it would take to get there and
back, and just how much you could see when you
* One thing he grew to be pretty sure of : it would
be no good going — only trouble for nothing — if the
weather wasn't clear. So for several months — it was
late one autumn when they first began to think of it
seriously — they waited and waited. For it was l3ut
seldom in the winter of course that there was a clear
bright day, unless in a sharp frost, and even such
IV < THE BEACON ON THE HILL 61
young children as they were had sense to know you
couldn't start off to climb up a mountain in such
weather as that — to say nothing of the short time of
daylight there would be.
'But by degrees the days grew longer and the
weather milder. March was over and April had
begun ; there were primroses peeping out in the
lanes near about the Valley village, for the smoke of
the tall chimneys had not yet got bad enough to
frighten them away. And one day Bob said to
Mattie, " I really think we might begin to plan about
going up to the Beacon to see the sea."
* " Oh, Bob ! " exclaimed Mattie. She felt as if her
breath was going away, and she couldn't say any-
* " Saturday'd be the best day," Bob went on, " 'cos
it's a whole holiday to start with, and no lessons
next day, and if we get rather tired we shan't need
to get up so soon."
* " Must we tell mammy ? " asked Mattie in a sort
of a whisper.
' " If she asks us where we're going we can't tell a
story," said Bob. " We'll have to tell her. But if
she doesn't say nothing, I don't see as we need to say
nothing either. We'll ask her to give us our dinner
62 THIS AND THAT chap.
to take with us, like she did sometimes last summer,
'cos we're going a good long walk. Like as not she'll
say nothing, but p'raps if she did know us was going
to climb to the Beacon, she'd be frightened when
there's no need to be."
' " Yes," said Mattie. She thought there was no-
body so wise and sensible as Bob ; still, deep down
in her little heart I misdoubt me but that there was
a kind of hope that mammy would ask where they
were going. Somehow she felt as if it would be
more ' comfortable-like ' for mammy to know, though
she did not say so to Bob. And the days went
on till Saturday morning came, without any more
being said, for when Mattie once or twice began
to speak of the plan or to ask him something about
it, he just told her to leave it all to him and not
' Saturday was a very fine day. Nothing could be
better, thought the children ; the sky was very bright,
and though there were a good many clouds at one
side, they only made the blue look prettier. And
everything seemed to help their plan. Soon after
breakfast and when their father had gone out again
to work, mother said to them — or to Bob, rather —
' " What are you going to do with yourselves to-day,
IV THE BEACON ON THE HILL 63
children ? I have to be very busy, though I try not
to have big cleanings up of Saturdays, as it's your
holiday and father home early. But this week I
can't help it, "with the kitchen having been white-
washed. It's put me all out. Lucky it's a fine day,
so as you two can be out a good bit."
' " Oh yes," said Bob eagerly, " if you'd give us our
dinner, mammy, I'd take Mattie a nice long walk
and be out of your way till afternoon."
' Mother considered.
* " You'd take good care of sister, wouldn't you ? "
she said. " Where'd you go ? "
' " Not so very far — we'd not get lost, for I'd keep
home in sight," said Bob, quite meaning it; " but we've
wanted a long while — all the winter — to go a reg'lar
good walk, without you being frightened about us.
And of course I'll take good care of Mattie — I always
do, now don't I ? "
' Mother could not say but what he did, and Bob's
rather coaxing tone helped to persuade her, for Bob
was a quiet, rather silent boy usually. So she
smiled as she cut some slices of bread and butter
and two or three of bacon, with a hunch of home-
made cake for each child.
" You'll be getting thirsty too," she said. " I'll give
64 THIS AND THAT chap.
you a bottle of father's cold tea, with plenty of milk
in it, and not much sugar." And this she did, pack-
ing it all up neatly in a little bag to be easier
carried, and standing at the door to see the pair
* " Children is children all the world over, 1 take it,"
she said to herself. " Most big folk would like a rest
of a, holiday, seeing they have their two miles there
and two miles back from, school every day," — for
there was no school in the village, only at Barkmoor
— " but there — their bodies are light and their hearts
light — bless 'em."
'The two children felt as happy and excited as
could be once they were fairly started.
' " And mother won't get worrying about us
neither," said Bob, " so it's all right every way, d'ye
see, AJattie? We'll have lots of time and no call
to hurry. We can rest as much as we like going
up, and coming down we'll not want to — coming
down is only fun."
* " Yes, of course ; we could run all the way ; and I
don't believe we'll want to rest going up neither. I
don't feel as if I could get tired to-day, " said Mattie,
jumping as she spoke. " And it's a good thing that
mammy won't look for us back till late."
IV THE BEACON ON THE HILL 65
* Still, for all she spoke so brightly and felt so
happy, there was the feeling at the back of her heart
of wishing that mother did know a little more — that
Bob had told her exactly where they meant to go for
their walk. And if, as he would have been sure to
say, it was " all right " and no need to speak of the
Beacon, then why not have talked it all over with
her ? Mattie did not say any of this just then to Bob.
She did not want to spoil their pleasure by vexing
him or having anything uncomfortable, but still, as I
said, the disagreeable little prick was there.
' They had a good bit to walk before any climbing
began. But all this first part of the way was well
known to them, and even when they had passed the
last of the scattered cottages between their end of
the village and the foot of the hill, and got over a
stile into a sloping-up field which was really the
start of West Peak, they were still walking where they
had many a time been before. Mattie wanted to
stop once or twice when she caught sight of some
tiny early spring blossoms in the grass, but Bob
would not let her.
"What'd be the good," he said, "of carrying those
stupid little flowers up to the Beacon? They'd be
dead long before they got there," which was quite
66 THIS AND TEAT chap.
true. So Mattie thought in her own mind that she'd
wait till they were on their way back and then gather
a baby posy for mother, who loved all kinds of
flowers — and the first tiny ones the best of all
'After they had crossed a field or two, the climbing
began — there was a sort of a track for some way —
here and there it would go almost level for awhile,
and here and there it was already steep. But they
got on all right for a good bit, not noticing very
sharply where they were going, as Bob had been
told to keep to the track as long as he could and
then steer for himself. " You can't go wrong," the big
boy who told him this had said.
'But Bob knew nothing of climbing hills, and
when, suddenly, the path came to an end, he was
surprised and startled to find that the Beacon was no
longer in sight, neither could he see much of the
way down, up which they had come. They seemed
somehow to have got on to some other hill — not the
West Peak at alL He stood still, and Mattie's face
grew rather long when he stared all round and said
he couldn't make it out Mattie was quickly
*"0h, Bobby," she exclaimed, "supposing us got lost!
IV THE BEACON ON THE HILL 67
Hadn't we better stay on this hill and eat our dinner
and then go home? "We could come again another
day, and first you could ask Ned Stokes to tell you
the way more pertickler. This is a very nice little
hill, and we might stay here a bit after our dinner, so
as we wouldn't get home too early."
' " And give up all we Ve planned for so long," said
Bob. "Not get to the Beacon, not see the sea!
No, indeed. You may go home if you like, but /
* And Mattie of course gave in, and begged Bob not
to be vexed with her, and then to please her he agreed
to stay where they were to eat their dinner, so as to
be rested and refreshed before starting oflf again.
' They were in good spirits when they began climb-
ing again. They could scarcely go wrong Ned Stokes
had said if they kept mounting, and after a bit they
were rewarded by the sight of the Beacon, though it
looked farther off than they had expected. But they
kept on bravely ; it was not hot now, though they
had felt it rather so the first part ; the sun had gone
in, and they were glad of it, poor children, not
noticing how the clouds were growing and darkening,
and a sudden breeze, which often goes before a storm,
beginning to risa
68 THIS AND THAT chap.
' The last bit was really hard work — for there was
a good stretch of slaty, shaly ground which Mattie's
little feet found very awkward — ^and Bob's too for
that matter, though he wouldn't own to it. Once
over this however, they found themselves on short
thymy grass again, the Beacon near in view, and all
their troubles — or so they hoped — at an end. It was
not till they were close to it that a few big drops
began to fall, and a great wave of mist to rise before
them like a stretching-upwards curtain.
' They hurried on however aU. the faster, and at
last — at last — ^they stood on the top. But — I can't
really find words to tell you their disappointment —
the mist, or clouds — were so close and thick on the
farther ofif slope that nothing was to be seen — really
nothing. Not one tiny glimpse of the ocean they
had come so far to peer down at, and even while they
stood there half hoping it might clear ofif again, things
were growing worse. On their own side— the village
side — ^the clouds were rolling up, as if some unkind
spirit of the mountains had called them together just
to spite the poor little couple.
' " It's maybe only a shower," said Bob; "I've often
heard father say there's a shower up at the Beacon,
when it's quite fine down at home."
IV THE BEACON ON THE HILL 69
' And Mattie said " Maybe " too, ' though her teeth
were beginning to chatter with the cold, and her
hands were all purpley-red, like in the middle of
winter. But " Oh, Bob," she went on, with a choke in
her voice, " won't we see the sea ? "
* Bob did not answer at once. Then " Of course we
shall," he said, " if only it clears oflF a bit. We're in
for a shower, Fm afraid," he went on in a big man
tone, " and no mistake. The first thing to do is to
get shelter," and he set to work to look about him for
* The Beacon stood on a pile of stones, or perhaps
it's more correct to say that loose stones were heaped
round it. And here and there some of these had got
loosened and rolled out, leaving little nooks and
comers where they had been. The biggest of these
was on the other side, and after tugging at the stones
to make sure that none of them were likely to come
tumbling down on their heads — for he was a sensible
boy for his age — Bob squeezed Mattie into the hole
so that she could be kept fairly dry, and managed to
smuggle a part of himself in beside her, taking off
his little coat to hold in front as a sort of umbrella.
* ** Oh, Bobby," said Mattie, "you'll catch your death
70 THIS AND THAT chap.
" Cold," answered Bobby, " not a bit," and he began
to whistle — trying from time to time to cheer her up
by saying it was " only a shower," or he thought it
was " clearing off a bit." And Mattie, tired out, and
fairly warm with Bob on one side and the rocks on
the other, shut her eyes and fell fast asleep.
' I don't know how long she had slept — an hour or
so perhaps ; to poor Bob, drenched to the skin on his
outside side, I daresay it seemed much longer — when
she was awakened by a voice in her ear.
* " Mattie," it said, " it's no use waiting any longer.
It's raining as fast as ever, and it's not going
to clear, and it'U be coming night before long, and if
we stay here all night, you'll never get over it. And
— and " — choking — " I promised mother I'd take care
of you, and I did mean to."
* " Oh, Bobby, dear Bobby," Mattie sobbed, " what
shall we do ? How shall we ever get home all that
long way and it pouring so ? "
' Bob was near crying himself, but he felt in his
heart that he was to blame for this sad business, and
that he must be a man and do all he could to cheer
up poor Mattie.
' " It's downhill any way," he said, " not like having
to climb up. And you must have my coat on top of
IV THE BEACON ON THE HILL 71
you, Mattie. It'll not hurt me to get a wetting as it
* He set to work to fasten his little coat on his sister
as well as he could, she crying all the time, for she
was stiff already with sleeping in a cramped position
and half-stupid-like too. But when Bob kissed her
and begged her to cheer up, she did her best, poor
little thing, to stop crying, though the sobs still kept
coming every moment or two. But oh, it was a
dreary walk — I don't think if I — I mean if Mattie
lives to ninety that she'll ever forget it! I don't
know scarcely which was worst — the going down the
steep slopes covered with the short grass which was
so dreadfully slippery with the rain, or the shaly,
slaty part, where, if you did fall, you'd be sure to hurt
yourself pretty badly. And it was lucky for them
that they got off with a slip or two and some scratches.
' At last — and a long at last it seemed — they got
down to flat ground again, but it was still pouring,
and by this time poor Mattie was too tired out and
exhausted even to cry. Her face looked so blue and
queer that Bob was frightened, and she seemed as if
she could scarcely move her little legs. They went
more and more slowly, as if she were going to stop
altogether, and she did not speak a word. So at last
72 THIS AND THAT chap.
Bob picked her up in his arms — not very big ones,
though strong and sturdy, and stumbled along with
her as best he could. And it was like this that they
arrived at home, where their mother was looking out
for them in no Uttle anxiety, the day having turned
out so terribly wet — and growing dusk already,
though it was not late really.
* " Oh, children ! " she began, " what is the matter ?
Has Mattie hurt herself?"
' " Oh, mammy, mammy," Bob exclaimed, " don't be
angry. No, no, Mattie's only tired, not hurt," and he
put her down carefully near the nice bright fire, and
then he could keep it back no longer, but burst into
' Mother couldn't find it in her heart to scold. She
just hugged them both, as she got off their wet clothes
and set some milk to get nice and hot for them to
drink. And when they were dry again and cheered
up by the warmth and the kindness, bit by bit, they
told the story of where they'd been, and how for a
long timejbhey had planned it and been unwilling to
tell for fear it should be stopped.
* " That was my fault," said Bob ; " Mattie wanted to
'"Never mind that now," said mother; "you'll
IV THE BEACON ON THE HILL 73
know better another time. Father and me would have
planned it with you if we'd known you wanted it so.
You'll know now that it's always best for little folk
to ask mother."
' " Yes," said the two of them together.
* So after all no harm came of the great plan " of
climbing up to see the sea.'
Gome, come ! leare off play, and let ns away
Till the morning appears in the skies.
Nurse* s Song. — W. Blake.
NuBSE stopped. This and That drew a deep breath.
* Thank you mry much. It's a beeyoutiful story/
they said, * But oh, Nursie/ Thissie went on, ' did
poor Bob and Mattie never see the sea ? '
Nurse turned her head away again as she had
done once before — and the children caught the sound
of a smothered sigh. But she smiled aa she answered.
' Oh dear, yes,' she said. * Many and many a time.
Mother told father all about it, and when the real
fine weather came he took them up to the Beacon
himself. Mother came too, and they had a sort of
gjrpsy tea there, and saw the sea, beautiful And that
was only the first time. As they grew bigger they
often went up there by themselves ; they got to know
CHAP. V HOUSErHUNTING 75
pretty well when there would be a good view, for it
was always to see the sea they went. And sometimes
it was smooth and clear like shiny blue glass, and
sometimes rippling and dancing, and sometimes even
dark and billowy, with white topped waves rolling in
to break at the bottom of the cliffs, though that part
they could not see from the Beacon. Oh dear,
yes — see the sea they did, though now, her that
was once little Mattie, and father and mother still
living in the Valley village, can scarce bear the sight
'Why not?' asked This, but That touched her
arm and whispered, ' Don't, Thissie.'
But Nurse had heard the question.
' Bob loved the sea more and more the older he
grew,' she said quietly, ' and at last — they gave him
leave to be a sailor. And he was very happy, for all
it was a hard life, and getting on so well. But there
came a last time of saying good-bye to them at home
— he never came back from that voyage. We never
knew quite how it was,' poor Nurse went on, ' but it
was trying to save some one else that he was drowned.
So — we mustn't think it was too sad.'
Thissie and That looked gravely up into Nurse's
76 THIS AND THAT chap.
* Thank you, Nursie/ they said again. But that
'And now/ she said, 'it must be close to tea-time
— oh dear,' as just then the stable clock outside
struck five, *it's later than I thought I must hurry/
* Thattie,' said Cecilia, when the two were alone,
as Nurse had gone down to the kitchen to fetch the
bread and butter and all the rest of it for tea, —
' Thattie, if the oldies fix that they do want to come
to auntie's hill, and it's a secret, it won't be naughty,
will it, not to tell mummy? — not like Bob and
Mattie not telling their mother, I mean ? '
Sandford considered a littla
* No,' he said ; ' mummy's gave us leave to have a
secret, you see, and we know it's quite a good one.
But I'll tell you what us'll do, Thissie. When we
get to auntie's we'll make her come up the n — the
'h-hill with us the first time — she's very kind, you
know — and show us 'xactly how far we may go by
ourselves, and then we'll be sure it's all right.'
* Yes,' said Cecilia ; ' I think that's a very good
pull-an. Now, Thattie, mightn't we look to see if
the oldies have answered ? '
* Thissie ! ' exclaimed That, * what are you thinking
of? Of course not — we must leave it till to-morrow
V HOUSE^HUNTING 77
morning. It's only in the night, you know, that toys
— whether they're old or new, come quite awake
among themselves, talking and walking about and
doing whatever they like. In the daytime they're
just toys, you see, b'longing to us for vs to play with.'
' Yes,' said Thissie again, ' I s'pose so. I know it
says so in some of our verses,' but she did not seem
quite sure about it. 'I fink,' she went on, 'them
must be part awake in the day too. They seem as if
they were, and I don't fink they'd be so nice to play
with if they weren't. Oh yes, Thattie,' and her voice
grew quite eager, ' I'm sure that people toys — dollies
and horses and real alive toys — are awake in the day
too. Fink how sweetly they look at us sometimes,
and I'm sure Bluebell seemed very unhappy in her
eyes if ever I cried.'
'Well, she can't seem so now, for she hasn't
got any eyes or even face,' replied That, rather
' It isn't her fault,' said This, ready to cry herself.
*I p'omised I'd forgive you for always, but you
shouldn't mock at poor darling Bluebell when you
know the last bit of her face that was brokened off
was when you said you'd be a doctor to mend it, and
I didn't want you to. I knowed you couldn't make
78 THIS AND THAT chap.
it grow again, and that was the only fing that could
have been any good.'
Thattie felt sorry at once.
' I didn't mean to mock at her/ he said ; ' and if
you like, This, we'll fix that the oldies does come
awake in the day too, when we play with them.*
'Us never does play wif them now/ said This
dolefully. *Us dursn't, 'cos they'd be took away.
And Thattie/ brightening up again a little, * if they
settle that they do want to go to auntie's hill, we
must find a hidey place for them here, 'afore it's time
to pack them up for goin' away.'
' I know,' said That ; * I won't forget/
Then came tea, for which they were both quite
ready. It had seemed a long afternoon, even though
Nurse's story had made a good part of it pass
pleasantly. And after tea came dressing to go
down to the drawing-room where, to their sorrow,
there was no auntie to-day to help them with their
houses and ' hospillans ' building !
But mamma was always there.
'It would be dreflful if you ever wented away,
mummy,' said Thissie. 'You'll come wif us when
we go to auntie's hill, won't you ? '
' Of course/ said That. ' We couldn't go alone all
V HOUSE-HUNTING 79
that long way in a railway. / wouldn't mind, but a
girl is diflferent ; isn't girls different, mummy ? '
Mamma did not answer at once, and when she
did it was not exactly in reply to what That had
* I am so glad you have seen dear Auntie Win at
last,' she said. * She loves children so much, though
she has not got any of her own.'
' She knows how to build houses and hospillans,'
said Sandford. 'She teached us how to make the
tops with cardses.'
' Not tops,' said Cecilia, * you mean roofs. Isn't
roofs the right word for the covers of houses,
mummy ? '
' Yes, dear,' said mamma smiling.
Thissie looked very pleased with herself. But she
was a particularly honest little girL
' Thissie wasn't kite sure,' she said, ' if it was roofs
or lids. I'm so glad roofs is right.'
'"Lids,"' repeated That, in his big boy tone,
' who'd ever be so silly as to call them houses' lids ? '
'Come now. That,' said mamma; 'you yourself
said "tops" — and remember. This is a year and a
half younger than you. And it was nice of her to
tell us she wasn't quite sure.'
80 THIS AND THAT chap.
Thissie's face brightened up at this. It had begun
to look rather doleful at Thattie's tone.
' Mummy/ she said, ' may we have more cardses if
we want them ? Some of yours — auntie only gived
us twOy and sometimes us builds such lotses of houses
— streets of houses nearly.'
' Yes, dear, of course I can give you some more —
as many as you would like. Playing-cards would do
the best, I think,' said mamma.
This and That considered.
* Plain cards,' Ihey repeated ; ' auntie's wasn't quite
like that, but p'raps they'd do as well.* — ' If they're
thick enough,' added That.
' Oh yes, they would be thicker than your auntie's
ones — any way you can try. I think there are some
in the little bookcase in the library. I will look,'
And most likely she would have done so
there and then, had not the door at that moment
opened and the servant come in to announce the
visit of an old lady, a neighbour, who was very
fond of the children's mother, and of the children
She had not been to see them for a good long
while, as she had had a very bad cold in the winter
V HOUSE-HUNTING 81
and had not been able to go out. So mamma was
greatly pleased to see her.
' Dear Mrs. Lubin/ she said, * how nice it is to have
you here again at last ! '
'And how nice for me to be here,* said Mrs.
Lubin, as she kissed them all. She was a very
pretty old lady, with what Thissie called * snow hair '
and kind blue eyes. ' I have come at the right time
— " the children's hour," to find them downstairs —
just what I love.'
And what This and That loved too, for they had
not forgotten Mrs. Lubin, though they had not seen
her for some time. So they stayed beside the tea-
table to hand her everything she could want — sugar
and bread and butter and toast — and in return she
begged mamma to let them have a little piece of cake
each, 'just as a treat you know.' Better still, she
said they must really fix a day for coming to have
tea with her very soon, and mamma promised that
they should go next Monday, which they were
delighted to hear. For Mrs. Lubin's teas were the
very nicest you could imagine — in summer they were
really too nice to describe — for her strawberries were
the finest in the neighbourhood— and even in winter
they were 'lovely,'* thanks to the home-made cakes
82 THIS AND THAT chap.
and scones, and beautiful strawberry jam which was
almost as delicious as the fresh fruit itsell
When the great question of the day for the visit
had been settled, Mrs. Lubin b^an talking to the
children's mother about Mrs. Eochfort — that was
' auntie/ you remember, and how she wished she had
seen her the day she came over, and how she hoped
auntie would like her new home, and would they all
soon be going to stay with her, and several other
questions, all in a breath.
Mamma answered one or two of them, and then
she said to the children —
* This and That, dears, you had better go over now
to your toys — ^you will not have much time to-night
before Nurse comes to fetch you.*
And This and That trotted off at once, which was
rather good of them I think, as they did want very
much to hear more about auntie's house and about
how soon mamma was planniug for them all to go
there. They did not say
* Why ? ' when mamma told them they had better
go to play, or * Oh, mummy, we don't want to get out
our toys to-night,' or anything like that. They just
simply went, when they saw that their mamma wished
it It would be a very good thing if children did like
V HOUSE-HUNTING 83
this more often than they do. It would be much
pleasanter for grown-up people, instead of having
discussions and * Mayn't we stay V ov *Do let us ! ' or
tryings to get off what the children have been told.
And it would be much pleasanter for themselves too
in the end, as it would make the grown-up people
more ready to have the little ones with them, if they
knew that at any moment the little ones would run
off or do exactly what they were told without any
It was later than usual ; there was not time for a
really good building to-night — not even for one large
house and ' hospillan ' like the evening before. So
they contented themselves with 'rip -rapping' —
setting up tall bricks in a row, like soldiers, and
then gently knocking over the end one who tipped
over the next in its fall, till they all went down with
a lovely rip-rap noise like fairy rockets.
There was not therefore very much putting away
of toys to do to-night when the well-known tap came
to the door, which Nurse was not sorry for. I think
she had had rather a good share of that kind of thing
for one day.
* To-morrow,' said That, as they went upstairs
after saying good-night to mamma and Mrs. Lubin,
84 THIS AND THAT chap.
who was still sitting taUdng at the other end of the
drawing-room, — ' to-morrow. This, we'll have a reg'lar
good building. You see we can make lots more
houses now we don't need to keep the long bricks for
'I hope mummy will 'amember to give us the
plain cards/ said Thissie.
' Well, if she doesn't, we can remind her, or even
we could get them ourselves. She told us where they
are — in the little bookcase in the libery,' said That.
* I'd razer she gaved us them herself,' said This,
'and then there couldn't be no mistook. But oh,
Thattie,' she went on, *I wish it'd be to-morrow
morning quick. I do so want to settle about the
oldies, and where we're to hide them till us goes to
* If they want to go. You forget that,' said her
* No, I don't. I know they'll want to go. Any-
body would. It's much nicer than being frown away
and p'raps burnt or drownded or somefin drefful like
that. They're sure to want to go. But, Thattie, us
must fix too— -about where to keep them till us can
pack them up. I'll fink a lot in the night, and so
V HOUSE-HUNTING 85
' There's no big hurry/ said That.
' Yes, there is. Mummy beginned saying somefin
about looking over the old — that was aU she said,
but I'm sure her was going to say the old toys — this
morning at breakfast. And if the oldies was still
in the comer cupboard I know they'd be frowed
away. Even Nursie'd say they couldn't be took to
In his heart That felt that this was very likely ;
and he felt too even more strongly that the matter
must certainly be decided about, when Thissie went
on to say that it would be too ' curruel ' to let the
dear oldies be taken away to ' somefin drefful,' after
* p'omising ' they should live out the rest of their lives
on the peaceful hiU among the sweet little flowers.
' Well,' he said, ' we'll both think, and then we'll
take them out of the cupboard as soon as evet we can.'
* And if mummy says, " Where are the old toys
gone ? " and Nursie says, " They was in the brush cup-
board," what shall us say ? ' asked Cecilia anxiously.
'We'll just say that's a secret, and you said we
might have a secret, mummy, and mummy'U have to
say to Nurse, " Yes, I did/' and then Nurse can't say
This sounded very settled and clear, so This went
86 THIS AND THAT chap.
to bed comfortably, and to sleep, determined to dream
of a good hiding-place for the homeless ones.
Both the children were rather silent the next
morning while they were being ' bath '-ed and dressed
— silent and grave, which made Nurse feel a little
' Are you quite well, dears ? ' she said. ' You haven't
got headaches or anything the matter, I hope ? '
* Oh no,' they replied together, ' we's quite welL'
' Us is only finking a good lot,' added Cecilia.
'Yes,' said Nurse, for she was rather curious to
know what the 'finking' was about 'You have got
something very nice to think about.*
They looked upquickly — the same idea in both their
minds. Was it settled about going to auntie's, and
did Nurse know, though they had not yet been told ?
Nurse saw the eagerness in the two pairs of eyes
fixed upon her.
* Oh, it isn't a very great thing I meant,' she hastened
to say. ' It was going to tea with Mrs. Lubin I was
thinking o£ It is nice to see the dear old lady about,
like herself, again ; and you always enjoy going to
her house, I know.'
' Yes, we does,' said Sandford.
V HOUSE-HUNTING 87
' Yes, us do/ said Cecilia.
But Nurse could not find out any more. Still her
anxiety calmed down when breakfast-time came, and
both This and That ate and drank quite as heartily
' There can't be much amiss,' she said to herself as
she went downstairs on some nursery errand.
No sooner was she out of the room than Thissie
turned to her brother.
* Thattie,' she said in a low voice, ' has you looked?'
' Yes,' he replied in the same tone. ' You didn't
notish, but I looked just when Nursie was putting
the table ready. It's all right, Thissie ; they does want
'I knowed they would,' said This, nodding her
head. * Was the letter just where you said, Thattie ? '
' Yes, just where I said. Folded up all right, the
way I told them. And they looked quite smiley
and pleased — at least Eacer and the blackey-boys
did. Of course Bluebell was all covered up because
of — ^and Thattie gave a polite little cough — *'cos of
her cold, you know/
Thissie quite understood. She liked Sandford to
be kind and polite about poor Bluebell.
88 THIS AND THAT chap.
'Then/ she said quickly, 'us mTist fix. Has you
fought of any good place, Thattie ? *
Thattie looked £ts wise as an owL
* Has you ? ' he asked.
' Yes, of sembral,' said This. Though she looked
up to her brother with great respect, in some ways
she was quicker than he, and at the bottom of his
heart he knew it.
' What are they ? ' he said.
Thissie sat down on the floor close to the comer
cupboard and made That do the same. Then she
held up her left hand with the little pink fingers
well spread out, and touched them one by one, with
the first finger of her other hand, as she mentioned
the ' hidey places ' that had come into her busy little
'First,' she said, 'there was the old tree in the
garden that has a hole in it. It would be a very
good place for not being found in, for I don't fink
anybody knows of it but you and me, That. But
then I 'amembered that the hole isn't very big; they'd
not be very comfable, and if it rained they'd get
wet, and us couldn't dry them p'operly, and they'd be
all sticky and messy — the ones at the oxitside of the
hole, you know. So that wouldn't do.*
V HOUSE'HUNTING 89
' No/ said That, ' it wouldn't/
' Next/ said This, touching her forefinger with its
match of the right hand — she had begun with the
left thumb — ' next, there was under our beds. I don't
mean on the floor, but 'atween the two matlasses.
But then I 'amembered that Nurse turns them down-
side up '
' No,' That interrupted, ' you're saying it wrong —
it's " upside down/' '
*But it isn*t' said This rather crossly. 'It's
much more " downside up/' for all the downsides do
come up — you can just look/
' Well, if they does,' persisted That, ' that makes
the upsides go down. Any way people always says
" upside down," and not " downside up/' like you/
* It doesn't matter/ said Cecilia, ' it's bo'f, I suppose,
and poor Bluebell and Eacer and the blackey-boys
and the pigs would be frown out the first morning.
So that won't do.'
' No/ said Sandford again, ' it won't.'
* Then,' Cecilia went on, ' I fought of one of the
ter-runks up in the box-room.'
' Yes,' said That quickly, ' that's the best yet.'
' No,' Thissie went on, calmly tapping the third
left-hand finger, *it isn't. The ter-runks will be
90 THIS AND TEAT chap.
brought downstairs and packed when us goes away,
and then the oldies would be turned out, as sure as
sure. I'm comin' to the bestest now/
'Well, do be quick,' said That, whose patience
was getting to an end. ' Nothings easier than to say
things that won't do; I could say hunderds — ^the
dinin'-room sideboard and the oven in the kitchen
and' — as his eye suddenly fell on a ray of sunlight
making its way in through the window — ' the sun and
the moon and the stars wouldn't do, 'cos we can't
reach up to them.*
He thought that a very clever speech, but Thissie
didn't laugh at it. She was too anxious to show
her brother that her fourth thought was the best.
' It's somefin I've seen up in the box-room,' she
said. 'It's been there such an awffly long time —
since last year I should fink — that it must be going
to stay there always. It's the old libery coal-box,
Thattie. Do you 'amember it? It's very pretty
still, 'cos there's a dog's head painted on the shiny
black lid. And I know it's too old to use for coals,
'cos there's a hole inside. But I'm sure there's room
for them all — for they're not as heavy as coals is.
Aud we could put some nice clean paper inside and
make them very comfable.'
V HOUSE-HUNTING 91
* Well/ began That, after he had thought for a
minute— rhe very often began with a 'weir — 'I
think it's a good place. 1*11 just have a look at it,
This, and if Nurse comes up before I'm back again
you can say it's all right — I'll be down d'rectly.'
And he ran off.
Nurse and he met each other on the landing as he
was returning to the nursery, and she saw that he
was coming from the swing door that shut off the
staircase to the attics.
' Where have you been, my dear ? ' she said.
' Up to the big attic, Nursie,' he replied. ' There's
something there I wanted to look at.'
* Not the window on to the roof, I hope ? ' she
asked. ' You won't ever try to get out on to the roof.
Master Thattie, my dear — not unless, of course, your
papa was with you.'
* If papa was with me, it wouldn't be me trying
to get out, it would be papa taking me,' said Sandford
coolly. But hearing that this sounded rather rude,
and as he was anxious not to be forbidden going up
to the big attic, he went on in a friendly tone : ' Of
course I wouldn't go out on the roof by my own self,
Nursie ; I'm not so silly.'
* All right then, my dear,' Nurse replied. ' There's
92 THIS AND THAT chap, v
nothing in the big attic to do you any harm, except
that you may get rather dusty if you get pulling
about the old pieces of carpet in the corner/
' I don't want to touch them/ said he. * It's — it's
only a sort t)f play of Thissie's and mine, and it won't
make us dusty. So we may go up there sometimes,
may we, Nutsie?'
' Well, yes— if you'll not open the high window,
or get yourselves dirty,' said Nurse.
* We won't,' said he, and Nurse knew she could
trust Thattie when he promised.
So he ran back into the nursery in great spirits.
* Thissie, ' he whispered, stooping down to where
his sister still sat on the floor near the oldies' cup-
board, with a kind of feeling, I think, that she was there
to protect them. ' I've rarranged it all splendidly,
and got leave for us to go up there whenever we like.'
' From mummy ? ' asked This. ' How quick you've
been ? '
' No, no, not from mummy. From Nurse,' said he,
which, under the circumstances, Thissie thought even
*How clever of you ? ' she said admiringly. 'And
you think the coal-box'll do, Thattie ? '
* Couldn't be better,* he replied.
And very anxious moments
We passed till all were housed.
A Bee Song,
There was no time just then, of course, to do any-
thing more, for Nurse had been downstairs rather
later than usual, and now she had to hurry to send
the children for their 'Good morning' visit to the
' You look so bright, dears,' said mamma, as she
kissed them. * Is it looking forward to going to tea
with Mrs. Lubin that is pleasing you ? '
* It can't be the weather/ said their father, as he
glanced out of the window. * I'm afraid we're in for
a regular wet day.'
'I don't mind,' said Thissie, edging herself as
close up to papa's chair as she could. * Us has lotses
94 THIS AND THAT chap.
* That's a sensible little woman/ said her father,
carefully giving her the top of his egg as usual, and
a nice * finger ' of toast to eat with it, — * that's a sen-
sible little woman. Busy people haven't time to
spare for grumbling at bad weather or anything else,
have they ? And what is it you are going to be so
busy about ? '
Thissie got rather red, but Thattie came to her
'It's got to do with our secret a little, please,
papa^' he said. * You know mummy's gave us leave
to have a little quite good secret, that can't do any
harm — not even dirty our pinafores if we are carefuL'
'A dirty pinafore or two might be forgiven, I
should think,' he said ; ' but take care not to set your-
selves on fire — it has nothing to do with matches, I
hope ? '
'No, nufl&n' at all — not the leastest bit,' said
'And not even to do with gettin' wet,' added
Sandford. 'It's not a' oxit-of-the-house secret — not
just yet, at least.'
' I rather wish / had a not out-of-the-house day
before me,' said papa, as he got up from the
VI A FLITTING 95
table. ' It does look dreary this morning. However,
" into all lives some rain must falL" Good-bye, my
Thissie's little face looked rather grave after he
'Mummy/ she said, after a minute or two's
thinking to herself, 'what does these words mean
that papa ssCid ? Bain doesn't fall in — ^it falls out-of-
* He wasn't speaking of rain getting into houses,
dear,' she said. ' It was a line of poetry papa was
* Oh, 'nymns,' said Thissie.
' " 'Nymns" Thissie,' repeated That. ' You means
" Ae-ymns." That's quite as worse as me sajdng
*H-ymns, then/ Cecilia corrected. *Was it a
h-ymn, mummy ? '
' Yes, dear, a sort of hymn.'
' About the rain ? I fink I've heard a hymn about
the dewdrops, but I don't 'amember any about the
* It isn't about the real rain,' said mamma. She
spoke slowly, for she wanted the children to under-
96 THIS AND THAT chap.
stand, and it was a little difficult to make it quite
easy. ' It is a verse comparing real rain and clouds
and dark dull days with people's lives, which have
troubles and sorrows and being anxious times in
* Oh yes/ exclaimed Thissie ; ' and then when they
is sorry and unhappy they cry, and that's tears — ^like
dropses of rain.'
Mamma smiled again.
' And when happy times come again, it's like the
sunshine,' she said. * You can understand that, can't
' Yes,' said That.
And ' Yes ' said This. * When you smile, mummy,
it aminds me of the sun. But papa did mean real
rain too, for it is real raining this morning,' and she
glanced towards the window. ' I do under'tand kite
well about being ankcher — what's that word ? '
Thattie began to laugh,
'Thissie says it like a pocket-hankerwich, doesn't
she, mamma ? ' and Cecilia's face grew rather doleful.
* Anxious,' mamma repeated slowly. ' And what
makes you anxious, my pet ? ' she said, so kindly that
Thissie brightened up again, though she shook her
head and spoke very solemnly.
vr A FLITTING 97
' Somefin about our secret — our little good secret,
you know, mamma. But it's coming better now. Is
you ever ank — anksheous, mummy ? '
• Of course mummy is sometimes, you silly girl,'
interrupted Thattie, who had felt rather out of the
conversation. *Her was very anxshus,' with great
care, ' when we had that fever, and when papa forgot
to telegram'when he went to Scotland. It's very
nonsensekal to think big people haven't no troubles ;
I've found that out. At least most has, hasn't they,
mummy ? '
^All* I think, said mamma gravely. * And they
are needed — to make our hearts soft and kind to
others, and to keep us from caring too much for our
life here, though there are so many pretty and good
things in it. It isn't troubles we should be afraid of
so much as doing wrong things — that is what makes
the worst troubles.'
*Dear little mummy,' said both This and That,
squeezing themselves as close up to her as they could.
' If Thattie and Thissie were always kite good, it
would make you very happy, wouldn't it V
' Yes, darlings,' said mamma, as she kissed them*
But Thissie looked rather grave after that kiss. I
will tell you why presently.
98 THIS AND THAT chap.
'And some day, you know, mummy,' she whis-
pered, ' us'll all be kite, kite good, and then it'll be
like the sun always shining, won't it ? '
Then it was time for them to go upstairs again —
more than time indeed — they had stayed down later
' I heard what you whipsered to mummy. This,'
said That on their way up. * You got it out of the
'Well,' Thissie replied, *I didunt say I didunt.
And I said it to make her happy. I'll tell you a
secret. That ; I'm afraid mummy's got a trouble now.
There was tearses on her face when she kissed us.'
* I don't believe there was,' said That. ' You've
got such a fancyin' mind, Thissie. It's a good thing
one way, for it made you think of the coal-box, but
it's a bad thing another way/
* Oh ! ' exclaimed This, * I'd forgot about the coal-
box and the poor oldies. And I fink that's Miss
Wren. Her always comes so early when it rains, to
get out of the wet quick. Thattie, us won't have
time to carry even Bluebell and Eacer upstairs 'afore
* Never mind,* said Thattie. ' I think it's goin' to
rain all day, so there'll be lotses of time. We'll ,get
VI A FLITTING 99
them out of the cupboard when Nurse goes down to
the kitching after dinner, and then we can stay a
good while up in the attic till they get quite becus-
tomed to the coal-box/
'Yes/ said This. 'It'll be like a new house to
them, you see, Thattie. And us even would feel very
strange in a new house all by ourselves.'
She quite cheered up at the idea of a long visit to
the attic. And after all, the front door-bell ringing
was Twt Miss Wren. Nor was any one to be seen
when they ran in to the nurser}^ It was tidied up
and clear for the morning's lessons ; the fire burning
brightly and the side -table drawn out as usual,
but Nurse was not there. So This and That hurried
across to the corner cupboard and got out Bluebell
and Racer and the blackey-boys and the fat pig.
Between them they managed to carry them upstairs
and hide them among the old carpets in the first
place, whispering that they were not to be frightened,
but take a nice sleep till their little friends came
' And then we'll make you quite cosy in a new
house till the time comes for us going to the 'nill,'
added That, too excited to remember about his * h's.'
The oldies made no reply, but Thissie thought that
100 THIS AND THAT chap.
Eacer looked as if he quite understood, and that one
of the blackey-boys smiled.
So it was with lightened hearts that the two
stumped downstairs again, just in time to meet Miss
Wren as she came slowly up from the haU.
'It's all right, Thissie,' whispered That. *You
see, there's only the wheelbarrow and the buckets
and those unalive things still.'
' And oh, Thattie, we forgottened the dear goat !
He must have felled behind the wheelbarrow,' said
This, in distress, and she seemed on the point of
rushing off to rescue poor Billy, but Thattie pulled
'He'll be all right — nobody's going to the
cupboard this morning, you silly girl,' he said, so
Thissie had to sit down quietly to lessons, though
she did say ' g-o-a-t ' by mistake, when Miss Wren
asked her to spell * cat.'
Lessons were o^er at last, however ; there was not
often much trouble about them, for Miss Wren was
kind and patient and the children were not stupid,
and generally tried to be attentive. And if this morn-
ing they were a little dreamy, their governess put it
down to the weather.
' Dear me,' she said, as she got up from the table
VI A FLITTING 101
and began to put on her cloak, which Nurse had had
nicely dried for her downstairs, — * dear me, this is
really a rainy day ! There's no chance now of its
clearing, I'm afraid. The good time of the day for
that is past ; isn't it, Nurse ? '
* Well, yes, miss,' said Nurse, glancing out of the
window as she spoke ; ' they do say it seldom changes,
not with steady rain like this, after twelve o'clock.
It may brighten up a bit towards evening; I've
noticed it often does that, but it would be too late
then for the poor dears to get out.'
* The poor dears don't look very doleful about it,
happily,' said Miss Wren cheerfully, as she stooped
to kiss This and That good-bye.
* No, us doesn't mind — not to-day,' said Cecilia.
'We've got lots to do,' added Sandford im-
' I am very glad to hear it,' said their governess ;
* but you won't forget your two verses and your
spelling words ? '
And nodding to them as she said this, Miss Wren
closed the door behind her.
Nurse did not leave the room before dinner, so
there was no chance of getting out Billy and the
other toys But nothing was said about looking
102 THIS AND THAT chap.
over the old things, which Thissie had been rather
afraid of, for she had noticed before this that rainy
days were often chosen by mamma and Nurse for
'rummaging,' as Thattie called it. 'Looking over
things,' Nurse would have said, and deciding what
new clothes would be wanted, and what should
be given away — how many breakages had been,
and needed making up for, and things of this kind.
And both the children felt very glad indeed when
they had got the rest of their treasures safely out
of the corner cupboard and up into the attic while
Nurse was downstairs for a few minutes after dinner.
Then they ran down again to have their hands
washed and to explain that they wanted to stay a
good long while upstairs in the attic. Nurse had no
objection to this. I think she had been half expect-
ing to be begged for another story, and I don't think
she had one ready, particularly as it would most
likely have had to be about a hill ! And besides
this, she had some cutting out of new pinafores to
do, and cutting out is not a thing you can manage
well if you are telling a story, as it needs your whole
She reminded This and That all the same, how-
ever, of their promises.
VI A FLITTING 103
' You won't pull about the old carpets and stuffs
so as to make yourselves dirty/ she said ; ' and above
all, you'll be sure not to try to open the window that
leads on to the roof? *
* Kite, kite sure,' said This.
* Certain sure,' said That.
So Nurse saw them trot off, feeling quite happy,
as she knew she could trust them. » It is a great
comfort when children can be trusted, and makes
their lives and those of the people about them so
much happier! I wish I could make all children
understand this. Of course accidents may happen
for which liobody is to be blamed, or things may go
wrong in other ways. But a great deal of trouble
can be saved by obeying exactly those whom it is
our duty to obey, even though we do not always
quite see the reasons for what we are told to do or
not to do.
And when troubles do come, they are not so hard
to bear, if we all, big people as well as little ones, can
honestly feel we have done our best, even if we have
failed or made mistakes.
It was quite easy in this case for This and That
to understand that what Nurse asked them to promise
was wise and right. Nobody but a very foolish child
104 THIS AND THAT chap. '
would have thought of trying to get out on to the
roof, where only a very narrow ledge would have kept
you from falling over, and as there was another little
window at the farther end of the long room which
they could safely look out at, as for some reason it
had bars across it, they had no wish to meddle with
the one which Nurse called the * high window.'
And when they drew Bluebell and Eacer and the
others out from the corner where they had lain safely
hidden, just at the edge of the rolls of carpet, they
took care not to pull the carpets and other things
* Oh, dear Billy,' said Cecilia, when she and Sand-
ford were comfortably seated on the floor, which was
quite clean, as the attic was never allowed to get
messy or dirty, with all their friends about them, and
the coal-box ready at hand, * how glad I am to have
you safe up here ! You don't know how unhappy us
was when we finded you'd been left in the old cupboard.
Thattie,' she went on, * do you know I almost fink I
love Billy as much as any of the oldies ? His horn * —
for the goat had only one of his pair left — ' does stick
up 'aside his ear in such a sweet way. Do look.'
Thattie was on his knees by this time in front of
the old coal-box.
VI • A FLITTING 105
* Yes/ he said, glancing over his shoulder ; * he's not
a bad old fellow. But Thissie, we've forgotten some
things. The new house is awffly dusty — ^black-dusty
from the coals. We must have a cloth to clean it
with, and I don't b'lieve it'd ever come quite well.
The best thing would be to have some nice paper to
stick all round it before we put the oldies in.'
'But we hasn't any,' said Thissie. She looked
round the attic as if she rather expected some nice
paper to drop from the roof or creep up from the
floor, but without moving, as her lap was entirely
covered with the toys. ' The on'y fing to do,* she said
at last, * is for you to go down and ask Nurse to give
•us some. You can tell her we're being kite good'
* Yes,' he said ; ' I should think she'd give us some,'
and he jumped up. ' You won't mind staying here
alone while I go ? ' he added.
' Alone,' said Thissie. * I'm not a bit alone with
the dear oldies.'
So That set off again downstairs.
THE UBRAKT BOOKCASE
So neat, 80 neat,
You'd say the fairies kept it.
When Sandford got to the nursery he found there
another person besides Nurse. This was Mildred,
his mamma's maid. She was standing by the table
watching the cutting-out, and speaking of some altera-
tion in the shape of the pinafores. Nurse herself
looked very busy. She was frowning a little, and she
had two or three pins in her mouth, which she at
once took out, saying something about its being a bad
habit she should break herself of.
Sandford was not alarmed by Nurse's frown at all.
He knew that she was rather short-sighted, and she
sometimes frowned when she was not the very least
bit in the world vexed about anything. Still he saw
she was rather extra busy, and he was a kind boy. So
CHAP, vir THE LIBRARY BOOKCASE 107
he hesitated a little before asking what he had come
down to beg for.
'Nurse/ he began, 'are you very, extraly busy?'
'Well, yes, dear, I am, rather,' she answered.
"What is it you want, Master That ? '
' Some nice, quite clean paper — to — to wrap up —
no, not esactly that, but something like that — some
things in,' he replied, thinking it best to come to the
point at once.
Nurse gave a tiny sigh. It is tiresome to be
interrupted when you are really busy about anything.
' Nice, quite clean paper,' she repeated, ' and large
sheets, if it's to wrap up things.'
' Yes,' said That. * Little sheets wouldn't be much
use. And we'd rather not have newspapers. We's
being quite good in the attic. Nurse,' he added.
'Well, I suppose I must go and look for some,'
she said, ' though I don't rightly know where to put
my hand on any. All my stock for lining drawers is
done, but I thought I wouldn't ask for any more till
after the spring cleaning, 'specially as '
She stopped short. Mildred spoke at once, so
quickly that it almost seemed as if she had in-
terrupted Nurse, and Thattie did not notice the
108 THIS AND THAT chap.
'Let me get some for Master Sandford/ she said.
' If you once get those patterns mixed you'll find it a
bother to straighten them again. And I know where
I can get some lining paper. My lady always lets
me take it out of the cupboard where she keeps it,
down in the library. There's beautiful tissue paper
there too — blue as well as white — blue keeps laces
so nice. I might give you a sheet or two of the
tissue paper also, my dear ? ' she went on to Thattie.
Thattie did not quite know what tissue paper'
was, for he and Thissie called it 'flutter paper.'
They had names of their own for many things. But
he was wise enough not to refuse what might turn
out a good offer till he knew more about it. So he
just said —
* Thank you, Milly. I'd like to go downstairs with
you and for you to show me the papers, and then I
And the two went down to the library together.
Mamma was out — she had told the children she
had to go a long drive to have luncheon with a
friend, in spite of its being such a very rainy day.
And perhaps she might not be back even by her
The cupboard in the library was locked, but the
vii THE LIBRARY BOOKCASE 109
key was in a little box on the writing-table. Mamma
always kept it there, so that Mildred could get it
easily if anything was wanted in the way of paper
or envelopes or such things, as she often sent Mildred
to fetch them for her.
Sandford had never seen the inside of the cup-
board as well as to-day, and he stood looking at
it admiringly. It looked so very neat, with the
different piles and packages in nice order.
' It's like a shop,' he said to the maid. * Don't
you think, Milly, it'd be lovely to have a shop for
things like that — all so nice and clean and new ? I
shouldn't like some kinds of shops — ^not a butcher's,
nor, I don't think, a fisher's — except that the big
rocks of ice do look very pretty, with the fishes all
done up with greeny. Thissie says sMd like a toy-
shop, but I think toy-shops is rather messy.'
Mildred laughed. She was a very good-natured
girl, but I don't think she understood the children
as well as Nurse did, though she was a good deal
' When I was as little as you. Master That,' she
said, ' I used to think I'd like to have a confectioner's
shop — the kind where they sell lots of goodies.'
'We don't care for lotses of goodies,' said That
no THIS AND THAT chap.
* We just like a few 'nockasionally. And people
with shops have to sell their things, not to keep
them for theirselves, or else they'd get no money.
Mamma told me.'
Mildred laughed still more.
* Upon my word, Master That,' she said, ' you are
an old-fashioned piece of goods. And I never said
I'd eat all the goodies if I was a confectioner, just
one now and again.'
Sandford did not answer. He was thinking over
what Mildred said. She did use funny words some-
times. * One now and again ' seemed to him almost
like 'always,' for 'now and again' might keep on
without stopping. And ' old-fashioned piece of goods '
was a very queer, and not very polite way to speak
of him. But Mildred was one of the people he did
not feel inclined to tell that he * did not understand/
She was too ready to laugh at him. Yet he knew it
was kind of her to have come downstairs to get him
the paper, so he juat said rather gravely —
* Please show me the paper, Milly.'
She held out a little roll of large whity-brown
sheets, not very thick or very thin. Thattie felt it
with his thumb and forefinger. He had seen Nurse
do so when he was in a shop with her sometimes ; for
VII THE LIBRARY BOOKCASE 111
there was a small town not very far from the chil-
dren's home. It was there Thattie had seen
butchers' and fishmongers' and other kinds of shops,
and when he had noticed Nurse taking oflf her glove
and rubbing the stuff between her fingers he thought
it looked very clever. And though Mildred was
more inclined to laugh than ever, she forced herself
to look grave too.
' Yes,' said Sandford at last, * it'll do very well for
what we want. And now, please, show me the — the
other kind — the blue and the white,' for he did not
want to own that he could not remember the word
' Some people call it " silver paper," ' said Mildred,
as she brought it out.
* Oh,' exclaimed That, ' it's flutter paper ! Yes,
thank you, Milly, we'd like a little of that too — the
white, please. I don't think the blue is a pretty
colour. What a silly name "silver paper" is,' he
went on. ' It isn't a bit like silver. "What we call
silver is what's wrapped round some of the choclits
mamma gives us.'
' This kind is called " silver paper " because it is
often used for wrapping up silver plate in,' said the
maid, — ' forks and spoons, and such like.'
112 THIS AND THAT chap.
' Oh/ said Sandford, seeing the name was not so
silly after all. *Milly, just let me look a minute/
and he peered into the cupboard. ' What's in those
dear little neat boxes ? '
* Cards/ said Mildred, — ' your mamma's cards.'
' Oh/ said Thattie again, and he thought to himself
that it was rather a good thing to know exactly
where the cards were kept, as mamma had said he
and Thissie might have as many of them as they
liked ; and he did not see far back on the other side
of the lower shelf a pile of bigger and thicker cards,
with coloured backs and pictures or spots of different
shapes and kinds on the front. 'Playing cards*
mamma had called them, though This and That had
thought she said ' plain cards.'
Thattie thanked Mildred again, and then she
locked the cupboard and put the key carefully away
where she had found it. And a minute or two after-
wards That appeared in the attic with his rolls of
*Tou has been a long time, Thattie,' said his
sister. * I didunt mind, 'cos the oldies has been so
sweet. Us has been talking lotses together, and
Bluebell finks they'll be kite comfable up here till
it's time to go to auntie's hill. Oh, Thattie,' as he
VII THE LIBRARY BOOKCASE 113
spread out his treasures, 'what loverly papers!*
Flutter paper too ! We'll put that inside the other,
V7on't v^e, Thattie ? It'll be so soft for them to go to
sleep on, v7on*t it ? '
And the next hour and more passed most happily
in arranging and rearranging the coal-box. I cannot
tell you how many times it was filled and emptied
again, nor how carefully, to begin with, the children
cleaned out the queer hiding-place with the old
duster Sandford had brought on purpose, and lined it
with the nice sheets of the thicker paper first, and
then the soft tissue inside.
In the end they settled that the most comfortable
way was for Bluebell to lie down almost flat, with
her tied-up head on a pillow of * flutter,' and Eacer
reposing on her shoulder. Then a kind of railing
round them was made with the spades, while the fat
pig looked very cosy in the old bucket, and Billy
and the blackey-boys still cosier, tucked into the
handleless basket. Then with two sheets of paper,
thick and thin, over all to keep the party warm and
free from dust, the lid was softly shut down, after
the oldies had been told to go to sleep.
'They are really very cosy now/ said This,
with a little sigh. *It seems almost a pity,
114 THIS AND THAT chap.
Thattie, that they'll have to be took out again,
doesn't it ? '
* Oh no/ That replied. * They'd get very tired of
being so squeezed up if it was for always. And then,
think how they'll like the beeyoutiful fresh air on
the 'nill, and seein' the dear little flowers. They can
make theirselves nosegays. And then they covldnt
stay here always ; they'd be sure to get frowed away
some day. For there'll be more oldies, you see,
Thissie ; there'll always be more, and the house'd get
too full of them.*
* I don't fink us'U ever love any as much as theses,'
said Cecilia ; * us has had theses such an awfHy long
time. But I've been planning, Thattie, to be much
more careful of our toys now, so that they'd never
get kite so hurted and brokened as theses, and then
they'd not be frowed away, but gaved to some nice
poor children who'd love them and be kind to them.'
' Yes,* Thattie agreed ; ' I think that'd be a very
good thing. But, Thissie, we'd better go down now,
or Nursie'll be coming to fetch us and wonderin'
what we're doing. We mush push the oldies' house
into a corner, I think.*
They looked about, and at last decided on a veiy
good place, just behind a high wooden case which
VII THE LIBRARY BOOKCASE 115
they knew was never moved. It was far too big and
heavy to take away as luggage, besides which, it was
filled with curtains and blankets and such things,
carefully laid away and covered up. And from where
the coal-box now stood, the lower window could be
seen, so that, as Thissie said, if Bluebell liked, she
could open the door and peep out.
'They'd see the sky any way, and at night the
stars do look so pretty and kind,' said she.
For it was always considered poHte to talk of poor
Bluebell as if she still had eyes to see with.
Nurse had not noticed how long the children had
stayed up in the attic ; she had been so busy about
the new pinafores — white muslin with wonderful
' teeny-weeny ' tucks and lace frills and I don't know
all what for Cecilia, and brown Holland blouses, all
' smocked ' or ' windowed,' as That called it, for the
shape of the smocking reminded him of latticed
papes, for both. Those for Sandford were to be
trimmed with scarlet braid, and those for Cecilia with
white ; that was the only difference in the blouses.
The two children looked at them with interest,
and Nurse was explaining about them, when she
happened to catch sight of the cuckoo clock on the
116 THIS AND THAT chap.
'Oh dear/ she said, 'it's a quarter to five. I
should have had tea ready. And I did hope I should
have got all this cutting-out done this aftemoo^. I
promised not to keep the patterns long, as my cousin
wants them back again.' Her cousin was also a
nurse, in a family in Scotland.
This and That looked sorry.
' It wasn't our fault, was it, Nursie ? ' asked That.
' We have been good, haven't we ? '
* And not bozered you ? ' added Thissie.
* No, no, dears, to be sure not,' said Nurse. ' But
as your mamma's out and won't be in, very likely,
before your bedtime, I don't think I should keep on
at this work after tea. I would like to amuse you —
you've amused yourselves all the afternoon and been
But when they were all seated comfortably round
the tea-table, Sandford looked up seriously.
'Nurse,' he said, 'I've been thinking you can
finish your patterning, if you'll let Thissie and me go
down to the drawing-room the same as if mummy
was there. We can build with our bricks, and
mummy said we might have as many cards as we
liked out of her cupboard — " plain cards," she said.
And I saw them when Milly got out the paper.
VII THE LIBRAE Y BOOKCASE 1 1 7
and the key's there. They'll make such spuU-endid
tops — I mean roofs — to our houses/
*0h yes/ added Cecilia; *do let's, Nursie. Us'll
be kite good, and if mummy does come in, her'U be
pleased to see us playing so nicely/
Nurse considered. She knew the children could
be trusted not to do any mischief, such as touching
the delicate china ornaments, or anything of that
kind. What Thattie said about the cards scarcely
caught her attention, as he had spoken of them being
given or promised by his mamma.
'Well, yes/ she said; *I don't see but what you
may. It will be a little change from upstairs this
rainy day, and you have your downstairs* toys all
ready. And I won't say but that I'll be glad of the
nursery to myself. I'm not one as can cut out
without giving all my mind to it, though it sounds
'It must be somefin like sums,' said Cecilia,
looking very sympathising. 'If Thattie makes the
leastiest squeak I can't count the figures a bit.'
So when Nurse went downstairs with the tray, the
children followed her, and she saw them safely into
' We'll stay in our corner quite quiet/ said Sand-
118 THIS AND THAT chap.
ford, ' 'cept just fetching the cards from the libery.
But that won't take a minute ; I know esactly where
they are now.*
* And you said your mamma told you you might
have them?* asked Nurse, noticing this time more
particularly what he was talking about.
* Oh yes,* said Thattie, looking up brightly. ' She
said we might have as many as we liked. I didn't
know where the key of the cupboard was then, but I
know now,' he added candidly, * and I know esactly
how to open it.'
So it was without any fears of mistakes or mis-
chief that Nurse left her little pair in the drawing-
They got out their great box of bricks and set to
work building very eagerly.
* Us*ll have lotses of time to-night,' said Cecilia,
* with mamma not being in, there's nuflSn to inter-
rumpt us. Us can build a whole street, neely a
whole town, Thattie ? '
He glanced at the bricks.
* It might be a village,* he said ; ' but it would take
two or three boxes-full for a town. You see, Thissie,
we must keep some bricks to cover the cards, else the
houses would look very funny — all flat. We must
■un> WBIKB'B TBI UUUiat' «8EU1 Tl
VII THE LIBRARY BOOKCASE 119
put the bricks to look lumpy-up in the middle, and
' I fink we could make them the way you mean/
said Cecilia, ' wif two cards, put up like big A's.'
* No, they'd keep slippin* down,' That replied, * and
the rain would come in at the ends. I'll show you
the best way^— but we'd better get the cards out now/
Thissie jumped up.
' Let me come too, to the libery, wif you,* she said,
and Thattie made no objection.
The room was just as Sandford and Mildred had
left it, and the key of the cupboard — or more exactly
speaking the bookcase, for what the children called
the cupboard was really the lower, closed -in part of
a high bookcase with glass doors — was in the little
match-box on their mamma's writing-table.
Sandford took it out and fitted it very carefully into
the keyhole. It turned easily, and the lock did not
suffer in any way as locks often do suffer when children
meddle with them, for he was a neat-handed little boy.
'Look, Thissie,' he said admiringly, 'doesn't it
look nice ? All so tidy and clean. Mummy does
keep her papers nice.'
' And Where's the cards ? ' asked Thissie, peeping
over his shoulder as he knelt on the floor.
120 THIS AND THAT chap.
' Here/ Sandford replied, drawing out one of the
little boxes he had noticed before. It was a gray-
box, and when they opened it they saw that it was
nearly full of cards with their mamma's name printed
on, but — to their surprise they were edged rather
deeply with black.
* Mummy didn't say nothing about black on them.
I wonder if these isn't the right ones. She said plain
cards,' he said, looking rather puzzled.
*And these isn't plain,' Thissie agreed. 'Look
again, Thattie. Yes, there behind, there's another
box, just the same bigness, only it's pink.'
Sandford drew it out and opened it. Yes, there,
to their joy, were other cards — not very many, about
twenty or thirty, for they only came up half-way
from the bottom of the box, and these had no black
edge, just mamma's name in the middle, and the
name of the house down in the corner, like auntie's,
that she had given them.
' These is them,' exclaimed Thattie eagerly. ' You
see, Thissie, I were right.*
He had felt a little afraid of Cecilia's saying he
had made some mistake, and held up one of the
cards in triumph.
' Yes,' she agreed, * themes got no black edge. Them
VII THE LIBRARY BOOKCASE 121
must be the plain ones. There's on'y a few, Thattie.
Can us have them all ? '
' Oh yes ; mummy said, " as many as you like,"
There's not many, but I daresay they'll do. Nov^
I want to shut up the cubberd, This. Get out of
the way, please.*
But Thissie was peeping from behind him into
the farther back part of the shelves, just as Thattie
had done from behind Mildred.
'Thattie,* she said, 'I see colours over in that
corner — like as if they was picshur cards, tied round
with string. Do let's look what them is.'
* No,* said Sandford decidedly ; ' we's got what
mummy said. She didn't say nothing about picshur
cards, so it's best not to touch nuthin' more. Quick,
Thissie, or you'll get catched ; ' and Thissie drew back
while he closed the little door and carefully and
slowly locked it again. Then he put the key back
where he had found it, and the two trotted off to the
There they played very happily for a good while
— they made a splendid street of houses, with a
church at one end and a ' hospillan ' at the other —
all roofed with the cards, on which they placed
edgings of bricks and chimneys in the middle. They
122 THIS AND THAT chap, vii
even found that with management they could make
a bigger roof with two or three cards, keeping them
firm with bricks in the corners. So the time passed
very quickly, till Mildred put her head in at the
door with a message from Nurse. Would they begin
tidying away their toys, as it was getting late, and
she was coming to fetcli them in a minute or two.
The minute or two spread to five or six. The
bricks and the cards were all safely put to bed in the
big box before Nurse appeared.
* You have been good children,* she said. * I must
tell your dear mamma. I hope you have not been
dull without her ? I feel as if t should have come
down to play with you.*
* No, thank you, Nursie,* said That. * We haven't
been dull at all.*
' Us has had such a beautiful street of houses,*
And as Nurse went upstairs with them, she
reminded them that the day after to-morrow they
were to go to have tea with Mrs. Lubin.
'That will be a treat,* she said; *and you do
THE WISE PRINCESS
Wise as an owl, but a deal prettier !
The rainy day had been a Saturday, and on Sunday
This and That never built houses in the drawing-
room when they came down there. They had toys
on purpose for Sundays — some picture toys that
matched their 'Sunday stories/ and lots of very
pretty books. Mamma kept these in a corner of the
big music box. By that, I do not mean a ' musical
box * that plays tunes, but a box in which she kept
the sheets of music which she played from.
This and That liked Sundays. They always went
to church in the morning, except sometimes if it was
very, very rainy or stormy, or very bitterly cold. But
that did not often happen. And they liked going
to church. It was never very long, and there was
always something that they could understand, and
124 THIS AND THAT chap.
generally very pretty hymns. And even the having
* best ' clothes on is pleasant, I think.
Then papa was at home all day, and they had
dinner downstairs, and altogether Sunday was just
very nice and happy.
The day after that particular Sunday was the
Monday on which Mrs. Lubin had invited them to
tea, and as they started for the old lady's house by
three o'clock, and she always liked them to stay till
there, was only time to walk home and go straight up
to bed, that made a second afternoon of not playing in
the drawing-room with their bricks as usuaL
They set off, all three of them, for there were few
things Nurse enjoyed more than a cosy tea with Mrs.
Lubin's housekeeper, and it was so long since their
kind friend had been well enough to have them with
her, that the pleasure, now it had come again, seemed
It was a lovely day — a real spring day — ^and so
mild that, in spite of the care Mrs. Lubin had to
take not to catch cold, she was walking up and down
the drive between her house and the pretty little
lodge at the gates, watching for her visitors. As
soon as This and That caught sight of her they set
off running to meet her.
VIII THE WISE PRINCESS 125
* Welcome, my dear little people/ she said, as she bent
down to kiss them ; *itis nice to have you here again.
And what a beautiful day you have brought with you/
* We didn't bring it,' said Sandford, with a twinkle
of fun in his eyes, * it comed of itself.'
' And it stayed at home wif mummy too,' added
Cecilia, who always took up a joke quickly.
Mrs. Lubin laughed heartily. She loved fun, as if
she was still a child herself.
*And is dear mamma well?' she asked, 'and
enjoying the fine weather ? Dear, dear,' she went on,
*what a wet day we had on Saturday! I was so
glad it wasn't to-day.'
* Saturday couldn't be Monday,' said That gravely.
* And mamma is quite well, thank you.'
Mrs* Lubin laughed again, but this time the
children did not quite see why.
Then she took them through her pretty con-
servatory and fernery, pointing out some changes she
had made in tliem since This and That's last visit,
and promising them each a tiny pot of some * dear
little femies,' that they specially admired, ' to keep
for their very own.'
By this time it was a little past four o'clock ; tea
would not be till fiva
126 THIS AND THAT chap.
'What would you like to do now?' asked Mrs.
Lubin, seating herself in her own especial arm-chair,
not far from the bright little fire. * Would you like
to arrange the Indian cabinet, or what ? '
* I know,' said Thissie, pulling forward a footstool
close to Mrs. Lubin. 'I'd like,/rs^, you to tell us a
story, and then to rarrange the cabinet. Wouldn't
you, Thattie ? '
* Yes,' said That, ' if it's a 'nill — I mean a h-hill
* A what story, my dear ?' asked Mrs. Lubin.
And then they explained about the hill behind
auntie's house, and how they were going there one
day, and how pretty it was, and that auntie wanted
them to think of stories about hills, but that it was
' razor difiicul' to make up stories ' theirselves.'
' So Nursie told us one, and if you'd tell us one,
we'd have two ready for auntie, and p'raps her'U have
some ready for us when we go there,' said That.
* So pvil-ease tell us one, dear Mrs. Lubin,' said
Thissie in her coaxingest voice.
Mrs. Lubin looked very 'considering.' She had
often told them stories about when she * was a little
girl,' but none of these had anything to do with hills
that she could remember, and she said so.
VIII THE WISE PRINCESS 127
'Think again, please/ said Thattie, 'perhaps
it'll come/ And suddenly Mrs. Lubin's face
' I do remember a little story/ she said, — * a kind of
fairy story that I read somewhere long, long ago.
Not about a hill, but about seven hills. The name of
it, if I recollect rightly, was "The Wise Princess."
Would you like to hear it ? '
This and That thought for a moment, then they
looked at each other and then at Mrs. Lubin.
* Is it all about lessons, and her being so clever ? '
asked Thattie gravely, and though Thissie did not
speak, it was easy to see that the same thought was
in her mind.
Their old friend smiled.
' No/ she said. ' I don't think you would find it
too learned. We need not say much about all the
princess knew ; it will be enough to tell you that she
was very wise. And being wise does not only mean
learning lots of lessons.'
' It means being sensibul too,* said Thattia ' And
I like sensibul people. Yes, please tell it ua'
' Pull-ease tell it us,' echoed Thissie.
So Mrs. Lubin began, and the two faces cleared as
they heard her first words.
128 THIS AND THAT chap.
* Once upon a time there lived a king and queen
who had only one child — a daughter/
'Oh/ exclaimed the children, 'that is nice!
Stories is always nice that begins " once upon a time/'
Was she a princess ? ' they added.
' Yes, of course/ said Mrs. Lubin smiling ; * the
daughter of a king and queen is always a princess/
'Oh/ said the children again. And then they
settled themselves on their footstools quite satisfied.
' The princess was called " Sagessa/' because, be-
sides being very pretty and very good, she was very
wise, and that name means wise/ .
* But,' began Sandford, and then he stopped. He
was afraid it was rude to interrupt Mrs. Lubin so often.
'But what, dear?' she said kincHy.
' I was only thinking,' he replied, ' that she'd be
named that when she was a little baby, and how did
they know when she was quite a little baby that
she'd grow up so very sensibul ? '
' I can't say for certain,' said Mrs. Lubin. ' Per-
haps I should not have said "because she was so
wise/' Maybe they gave her the name Jwping she
would be. Or perhaps fairies came to her christen-
ing and promised her the gift of wisdom as weU as
of goodness and beauty.'
VIII THE WISE PRINCESS 129
' Yes/ said Cecilia, ' I think that must have been
it. Now jndl-ease don't intemimpt any more, Thattie/
'I cannot say if the fairies had promised that
Sagessa should have all these good qualities/ con-
tinued Mrs. Lubin, ' for I do not think the story said
so. But she had them, and that is enough for us to
know. So when she grew up to be a young lady,
she was both loved and admired by all who knew
her. And, as always happens to charming princesses,
the honour of marrying her was much desired by all
the charming princes who knew or even heard of her.
Strangely enough, this state of things brought our
princess the first trouble of her life, and the first
disagreement between her and her parents, for
naturally the king and queen were very anxious to
see her happily married, particularly as she had no
brothers or sisters, and a good husband would be a
great help to her when the time came for her to be
queen in her father's place.
' But Sagessa had her own ideas on the matter.
* " I will marry no one," she said, " who is not as
wise as, or wiser than I am myself; " and prince after
prince was sent off, looking and feeling rather foolish
after a visit to Sagessa.
* And after a time the matter grew so serious and
130 THIS AND THAT chap.
seemed to be so hopeless that the king and queen
made up their minds to have a long talk with their
daughter about it, and get her to settle something.
' Now I must tell you that the country where these
good people lived, and over which some day Sagessa
would be queen, was called the Country of the Seven
Hills. For the principal city, where the palace was,
and all the great folk had their homes, stood, not on,
but just beside a group of seven hills or mountains.
They were of different heights, but there was one in
the centre a good deal higher than any of the six
others, which were round about it. This mountain
in the middle was indeed so lofty that its top was
seldom to be seen, as it was almost always enveloped
Here the children wriggled a little bit as if they
wanted to speak but scarcely liked to do so. Mrs.
' What is it, dears ? * she asked.
' We doesn't * began That.
* Us don't * followed This, ' understand,' went
on both, 'what you said about clouds and en — en '
' I should have said " covered with," or " wrapped
up in " clouds,* replied Mrs. Lubin. ' " Enveloped "
means covered — -just as when you put a letter in an
VIII THE WISE PRINCESS 131
envelope it is covered by it. And there are very
often clouds up in the sky, not very high up,
so that the top of a tall hill gets in among them.
Sometimes people call the clouds round a hill peak
"its nightcap," for fun, you know. When you go
to your auntie's, I daresay her hill will sometimes
have its nightcap on.'
This and That smiled, and said they now under-
stood. And Mrs. Lubin went on : —
' There were strange stories about this highest hill.
It was said that at the very top there was a treasure
of some kind, though nobody seemed to know exactly
what it was, for it was many, many years since any
one had climbed to this highest point. Only one
person knew what the treasure was, and that was
the Princess Sagessa. She herself had not known
it for very long, and how she came to know it I can-
not say. Perhaps the fairies told her ; perhaps she
found it in some of the old books she was so fond of
studying in the palace library. However that may
have been, she kept the secret to herself and told
' But when the king and queen had the serious
talk with her which I told you they settled to have,
an idea came into her head. She had listened quietly
132 THIS AND THAT chap.
and with great respect to what her kind parents
said — for she was good as well as wise. I mean she
was not only learned and well taught as regarded
lessons and such things, but she had the sort of true
wisdom which knows that goodness is the best thing
any one can possess and should try for. And she
was also quite free from self-conceit.
'So she sat silent for a few minutes thinking
deeply before she spoke. Then she replied in her
usual gentle voice.
* " My dear father and mother, I thank you for all
your loving thought for me, and I will try to meet
your wishes." At this the king and queen nudged
each other with satisfaction. They thought Sagessa
did not see them do so, but she did. " It is true,"
she went on, " that hitherto I have disliked the idea
of marrying, because among all the fine young
princes who have paid court to me, there has never
been one whom I could reaUy look up to, as a wife
should look up to a husband. I know I have some
gifts which every girl does not possess, but, believe
me, I am not vain or proud on this account. They
are gifts — I am grateful for them, but I should cer-
tainly be very foolish and not wise at all if they
made me conceited. Still I feel that I am right in
vm THE WISE PRINCESS 133
being very cautious in the choice of a husband.
Now, my dear parents, I have a proposal to make
to you. I will promise to marry any prince you
approve of who succeeds in climbing to the top of
the centre hill — the hill which is called the Crown
Peak "' But here a sudden exclamation from
Tins and That caused Mrs. Lubin to stop for a
moment, and as they both called out together, neither
could be vexed with the other for ' interrumpting/
*Why,' they said, 'that's the same name as in
Nurse's story — she called the high hill "Peak" too,*
and Mrs. Lubin smiled again as she explained that
* peak ' meant a point or a top.
'"And," the princess went on, "though my proposal
may seem a very curious one, I think you will find
in the end that it is wise."
' The king and queen were delighted to hear that
the princess was really meaning to follow their
wishes, so they promised to let her plan be known
to all the princes who had tried to win her. But
a sudden idea struck the king —
' " My dear child," he said, " how shall you know
that the prince, whoever he is, really has succeeded
* The princess laughed.
134 THIS AND THAT chap.
' " How silly of me," she said ; and it was quite
charming to hear her calling herself silly. " I should
have explained to you that I know the secret of the
treasure on the Crown Peak. There can be no mis-
take or error about it. He who gains it will bring
me the token of his success."
' So, far and wide, was spread the news of the
Princess Sagessa's promise to her suitors. 'And in a
few days a great many princes came to the palace to
hear more about it. But after it was explained to
them, and they were told that to climb up to the top
of the mountain would certainly not be easy and
perhaps dangerous, and that no one in the country
had ever yet done so, nearly all the princes gave up
thoughts of it.
'"It is all nonsense," they said, "just a trick of
the princess's to get rid of us by making us break our
' And in the end only three remained. Two of
these three were very fine young princes indeed, very
clever and very pleased with themselves, and each
quite sure that he could do what nobody else could.
The third was neither very fine-looking nor very
clever, and not at all vain. The great difference
between him and the other two was that he really
vm THE WISE PRINCESS 136
loved the princess for her own sake, though he did
not think himself nearly good enough for her and had
very little hope of winning her, while the two others
• thought far more of what a fine thing it would be to
marry her and help to rule her rich and beautiful
' The first to set out on the journey to the top was
Prince Gallant. He was the eldest of the three, and
was to have two days for his trial, as that was quite
long enough. And the two others were to wait till
* You can imagine that they both felt very anxious
during those two days, though they did not say much
to each other, as they were not special friends.
Indeed, Prince Bravo, as the second was called, looked
down upon quiet Prince Gentil, the third, and Prince
Gentil was quite content to be left alone.
* The evening of the second day came without any
news of Prince Gallant. It was not till night had
fallen that he made his way back, not sorry, I dare-
say, that it was too dark for him to be seen. For he
was in a sad state, limping along with a sprained
foot, his fine clothes soiled and torn, himself in a
very bad temper. He had not got to the Crown
Peak, or anywhere near it ; he had had two or three
136 THIS AND THAT chap.
bad falls, and though he was obliged to stay a night
at the palace to get his bruises attended to, and to
have some rest and food he refused to see either the
princess or her parents, and started oflF home again
the next day as cross as a bear.
' But when the princess heard it she only smiled.
' " It will do him no harm," she said, " and perhaps
some good," for she guessed what had happened to
him. He had tried to make his own way to the top
of the hill instead of carefully looking for the right
'And the next day off set Prince Bravo, even
more pleased with himself and more sure that he
would get to the Crown Peak than Prince Gallant
had been. But even worse troubles happened to
him. Night came — the night of the second day —
without his returning at all. The princess, who had
a kind heart and did not wish any of her suitors to
suffer badly on her account, even though it was their
own fault, sent out messengers to look for him, but it
was not till dawn had broken the next morning
that they found him lying completely exhausted and
not able to move.
' By his own account he had got very near the top
of the mountain where he found a sudden sort of wall
VIII THE WISE PRINCESS 137
of rock impossible to climb. He had not strength to
make his way back and begin again from the start
as he would have had to do, and coming home he
lost his way ! He was not so cross about it as Prince
Gallant had been, for he was better tempered, but he
was very disappointed, and humbly asked leave to bid
the princess farewell
* She whispered a few words to him as she did so.
'"Why, prince," she said, "did you not follow the
directions plainly to be seen by any one who is
anxious to follow the only safe and certain path ? "
* Poor Bravo hung his head.
' " Ah ! " he said, " there was my mistake. I thought
I knew better than those wiser than myself."
* So now there remained only the third prince —
quiet Prince GentiL
' He set off very early the next morning, earlier
than the others had done, for he hoped to make good
way before the heat of the day and while he himself
was still fresh and untired.
'He soon reached the foot of the hills, where the
first climbing began. At first it was scarcely to be
called climbing at all, and he seemed to make little
progress. Any one less patient and modest would
have been vexed and turned oflf the gently sloping
138 THIS AND THAT chap.
path. This was what the others had done. But
that was not Prince Gentif s way — on he went, the
steepness increasing so slowly that it was not for
some time he found out that he really had mounted
a good way, and that he was beginning to get rather
hot and out of breath. Then he made his first halt
and looked about him, and to his pleasure he caught
sight of a sign-post close at hand, on which he read
these words —
* "Well done, so far. Expect no royal road."
* They seemed just meant for him. For you see
he was royal, but he had the good sense and modesty
to know that princes must work their way to wisdom
like other people. And after a while, feeling quite
refreshed, off he started again.
* I cannot say but that, even to him, it was pretty
hard work. Every now and then, however, he was
encouraged by meeting a sign-post with the same
words, or words something like them — now and then,
at some very diflBicult bit, still more encouraging, and
when it grew towards evening and too dark to read
the letters, they were all lighted up as if by fairy
candleSp And early on the morning of the second
day brave Prince Gentil found himself really at the
top, and there, safe in a little hollow among the heap
VIII THE WISE PRINCESS 139
of stones which showed the highest point, he found
' What do you think it was ? '
This and That shook their heads. They couldnt
* It was a crystal glass filled with the purest
water. And on it were engraved some words in a
very, very old language, which the prince could not
at first understand. But his good sense told him
that, as he had climbed up all that way to gain
wisdom, it was plainly to be seen what he was meant
to do. So he raised the cup to his lips and drank
the water — every drop. And then, as he glanced
at it again, he saw what the words meant. It was
something like this—
* Wisely hast thou hither come,
Wisijer still shalt thou go home.
I daresay the verse was prettier than that, but I
cannot quite remember it, though that was the mean-
ing. And now all seemed plain and easy. Feeling
as fresh and strong as when he set out, the prince
turned to make his way down, scarcely able to
believe in his great happiness, and carrying with
him the beautiful crystal cup to present to his dear
140 THIS AND THAT chap.
princess as a sign that he had really done what she
' She was waiting for him, as happy as he was, for
quiet and modest as he seemed, her own wisdom
had told her that he was far the most likely to win,
of all that had hoped to please her, for he had been
ready and willing to follow good advice and not to
set up his own ideas and self-will as the two other
princes had done.
'And the crystal cup was placed in a beautiful
cabinet in the palace, where, if we could find our
way there, I daresay it is still to be seen, though the
story of Prince Gentil and Princess Sagessa is a very
Mrs. Lubin stopped.
This and That gave a deep sigh, which meant that
they were very pleased, and thanked her very mucL
* Did you understand my old story, my dearies ? '
asked Mrs. Lubin. * Perhaps it was a little diflBicult
for you ? *
'It's a very nice story,' they answered. 'Fraps
Nursie's was a tiny bit easier,' added This ; ' but if
you'll tell me about the princess again, when I'm a
little bigger, I fink I'd under'tand it kite well, and I
did like it very mucL*
viii THE WISE PRINCESS 141
* Did you read it in a book ? ' asked Thattie.
' Yes/ said Mrs. Lubin, * in a very old little book
which I had when I was very young, and I found it
again a few years ago at my sister's. That is how I
remember it so welL Some day, perhaps, I could
borrow the book for you, and you might read it your-
selves. These old fairy stories often have meanings
to find out that one does not see all at once/
' Yes/ said Thattie, * I was thinking that,' — for you
see he was older than Thissie.
Then the footman came to say that tea was ready.
When Mrs. Lubin was alone or had grown-up ladies
with her, of course she had it in the drawing-room,
but when This and That came she thought it was
more comfortable in the dining-room, and I am
quite sure they thought so too.
A SAD TROUBLE
That time we were so very sad
Long) long ago, now.
Tea at Mrs. Lubin's was always a great treat, though
I should not like you to think that Sandford and
Cecilia were at all greedy children. But they liked
nice things in a right way, as children should. And
they liked to see the tea all put out prettily, with
flowers and pretty cups and saucers and bright
And the cakes and buns were aU home-made, and
so, of course, was the strawberry jam, and — I was
going to say — ^the honey. But I don't quite know if
you can speak of honey as home-made, though the
bees who made it did certainly live at Moorfield,
which was the name of Mrs. Lubin's house. And
even the bread and butter seemed to taste ever so
CHAP. IX A SAD TROUBLE 143
much nicer than at home, though I daresay there
was a little fancy about this.
At home too This and That had only milk, or, in
cold weather, very weak tea, but at Mrs. Lubin's they
were allowed to have cocoa or chocolate made in
some very delicious way, which they enjoyed almost
the most of anything.
After tea they spent a good long while in arranging
the Indian cabinet. Mrs. Lubin told them she had
been waiting for them to come for it to have a really
good dusting. She was not afraid of trusting it to
them to do, as they were careful children. Besides this,
most of the ornaments, in it were either of very strong
china or of wood or metal or something which would
not break. I rather think Mrs. Lubin had chosen
things of this kind to keep in it on purpose, for
though This and That were her favourite little
visitors, she sometimes had grand-nephews and nieces
to stay with her who were not quite as careful or
' neat-handed ' as the two children of this story.
And so the time passed only too quickly and
happily till Nurse tapped at the door and came in to
say that she was afraid it was 'just upon ' six o'clock,
and that Master Sandford and Miss Cecilia must be
getting ready for their walk home.
144 THIS AND THAT chap.
When they had changed their shoes, and had got
on their coats and hats — the evenings were still
rather chilly, of course — Mrs. Lubin kissed them
very lovingly, and they gave her such a great hug
that I am afraid the lace round her neck and the
pretty ribbons of her cap got rather crushed. But
she was far too kind to mind, and she stood at the
door watching them down the drive, one on each
side of Nurse, hopping and skipping every now and
then as they made their way along.
* Dear children,' thought the kind old lady to
herself, * I am so glad they have been happy. And
it is a lovely evening for their walk home.'
It was a very lovely evening : the simset was
going to be very beautiful. Nurse said, and it really
seemed as if summer was close at hand. I scarcely
think that This and That had ever felt happier in all
their lives than as they trotted along.
And yet there was trouble before them. It
sometimes does seem as if trouble came specially just
when we are "extra" happy, even to children — or
perhaps the being so happy makes one notice it
more. And trouble rrncst come. It would not be
true to hide this from you, dear children, even while
you are still young. For none of us could ever hope
IX A SAD TROUBLE 145
for the best and most lasting happiness except for
the teaching of trouble.
All the same, it makes me feel rather sad to have
to tell you of our poor little This and That's trouble,
though it was not a very big one after all.
Mamma was still out when they reached home.
They felt rather sorry at this, but not very surprised.
For* their mother knew they would not be back till
bedtime, and so she had not hurried, as she generally
did, when she went out to pay calls, knowing that
they would be expecting their 'children's hour' in
Nurse saw a look of disappointment in their faces
however. She was always quick to notice any such
look, and quick to comfort, as all really loving
' Never mind, my dears,' she said. ' Very likely
your mamma will be in before you are asleep. And
even if not, she is sure to come up and kiss you, and
I will tell her how happy and good you have been.'
So it was only with a very tiny feeling of dis-
appointment that This and That laid their heads on
their pillows and fell asleep. They were really
rather tired, you see, though they scarcely knew it.
It happened as Nurse had said. The children's
146 THIS AND THAT chap,
mother looked in at the nursery on her way down-
stairs to dinner. Nurse was a little surprised
that she had not done so on the way up, for she
had heard the carriage drive in some little time
* I suppose it must have been so much later than
usual that she was afraid of keeping their papa
waiting/ thought Nurse to herself.
She did not know that their mamma had kept
away on purpose till she was dressed, not wishing to
find This and That still awake.
How pretty she looked as she stood between their
cots in her white evening dress ! But as Nurse was
gazing at her and almost wishing they would wake
up, she noticed a look on mamma's face which
startled her a little. Was it only the distress of
knowing that in a few days she would have to be
parted from her little boy and girl for several weeks ?
Nurse knew this was going to be, though till now
the children had not been told.
No, it was not that look. It was more like a
vexed and worried expression than just a rather sad
one, and as Nurse grew more sure of this, she too
began to feel troubled.
* They have been so good and happy, ma'am,* she
IX A SAD TROUBLE U7
began in rather a low voice, moving nearer the cots
as she spoke.
But the children's mother made a little sign to her
to return to the other side of the room, where she had
been folding away the 'best* clothes the two had
worn that afternoon.
' I want to speak to you a little, Nurse,' she said.
' I dressed first on purpose because I wanted to find
them asleep. I have plenty of time, and I don't
think they will hear. They seem so fast asleep.'
'Yes, ma'am — they are tired, I daresay, bless
them, though the walk did not seem at all too much
for them. And I was to be sure to tell you, from
Mrs. Lubin, ma'am, that they'd been as good as gold.
She was pleased — and she thinks them so grown too,
and coming on nicely every way.'
Still these pleasant words did not bring a smile to
poor mamma's face.
' Mrs. Lubin is very kind,' she said, * most kind
But I must tell you, Nurse, that I am rather un-
happy about — about the children, this evening.'
Nurse started and her face fell.
'About the children,' she repeated anxiously,
'Is there any illness about? I can get them ready
to go to their auntie's to-morrow if you like, ma'am ? '
148 THIS AND THAT chap.
But their mamma shook her head.
' No, it is nothing of that kind, Nurse,' she said.
' It is that I am afraid they have been rather naughty
about something, and even a little — deceitful/
She stopped before saying the last word, as if it
hurt her to use it. It hurt poor Nurse. Of that
there was no doubt, for her face grew crimson and she
clasped her hands.
' Oh, ma'am,' she said, almost as if she were going
to cry, * don't say that. Such open-hearted, trusting
children. Oh no, ma'am — there must be some mis-
* I will teU you all about it,' said the children's
mother, sorry to see Nurse so distressed, and sitting
down as she spoke. * You know I have a great many
calls to pay just now before going away for so long.
And on many of my friends I have only time to leave
cards. Well, this afternoon, knowing This and That
were at Moorfield, I settled to leave a good many,
and not to hurry home as usual Just when I was
ready to start, I found that my card-case was almost
empty. So I sent Mildred downstairs to the cup-
board in the library bookcase where I keep such
things, to bring me some. I had a good many still.
To my surprise she came back to say she could find
IX A BAD TROUBLE 149
none — only some with a black edge, which I used
when we were in mourning. I could scarcely believe
her, and I went to look myself. It was quite true.
There was not one plain one left — only the black-
edged ones. I could not make it out — nor could
Mildred, and I had to go off with some sheets of note-
paper, which I scribbled my name on, and at every
house I was obliged to ask the servant to say to the
lady I had used all my cards. It was very tiresome.
When I got home, I was just running up to see if the
children were still awake, when Mildred stopped me.
' " I have found your calling cards, ma'am," she said,
and she took me into the drawing-room, and there,
sure enough, was quite a number of them — thirty or
more — just those I had known were in the cupboard.
They were lying on the top of the children's big box
of bricks, which was open, with a good many of the
bricks taken out.
' " They were hidden away underneath the bricks,"
Mildred went on to explain, and when I asked her
what in the world had made her look for them in
such an odd pla-ce, she told me about Thattie
having come downstairs with her the other day
when it was raining so and I was out, to get
some sheets of wrapping- up paper that you had
150 THIS AND THAT chap.
said the children might have. That was all right
' Yes, ma'am/ said Nurse ; * it was on Saturday, and
I knew they might have some paper. But I never
would have taken upon me to say they might have
your calling-cards. Dear, dear ! '
' Of course not/ said her mistress. ' But Mildred
said she remembered Sandford peeping into the cup-
board and asking what was in the little boxes where
the calling-cards were, and peering about a good deal
— you know his way when he wants to notice any-
thing specially. And somehow — she scarcely knows
why — ^it came into her head to look among the toys
in the drawing-room. And in the box of bricks she
saw a bit of card sticking out at one comer, and this
led to her examining more closely, and there, under-
neath the bricks, as I said, were all my cards ! What
I don't like in it, Nurse, is Thattie having said
nothing about it to Mildred, and then going and
getting them in that secret sort of way as he must
But at this Nurse's face brightened up a little.
' Oh, ma'am/ she said, ' I do remember something
about it now. Master Sandford did say to me that
there were some cards — T fancied he meant some old
IX A SAD TROUBLE 161
plain cards you might have had for patchwork or
something of that kind — you gave them leave to have.
He was quite sure he had got leave for them.'
Mamma looked more and more puzzled. For the
time she had quite forgotten what she had said
several days before about the old playing cards.
* I am glad of what you say, Nurse/ she replied, as
she rose slowly from her chair and turned to go
downstairs. * It does not look as if they — or That
rather — had meant to hide anything. Still I rather
wonder he did not ask Mildred about them when he
was at the cupboard with her/
* I daresay he did not think then that they might
want the cards that very afternoon,' said Nurse. ' It
was not till after tea that I gave them leave to go
down to the drawing-room. I was so busy cutting
out the pinafores. And then, you see, ma'am, they're
not used to ask Mildred for anything. I don't blame
her — she's quite a kind girl, would never want to
make mischief, but she's not used to children, and
doesn't understand them— bless their little hearts!
Master Sandford may have said something about the
calling cards to her that she didn't rightly take iu.'
But mamma shook her head.
No ; she had closely questioned Mildred, and was
152 THIS AND THAT chap.
quite sure lie had said nothing about wanting or
taking any. He had only asked to see inside the
box where they were, but without a word more.
Still, the children's mother felt rather happier after
her talk with Nurse. Nurse was so sure that no
harm, no concealing had been mearU, and as mamma
crossed the room again and stood for amoment between
the two cots, the kind woman was pleased to see that
her mistress stooped and kissed very, very gently
each little sweet, sleep-flushed face, instead of stand-
ing there, as she had done before, with the troubled,
anxious look that went to Nurse's heart.
* I think they had better not come down to our
breakfast to-morrow morning,' she said in a low voice.
* Say I will send for them when I am ready, and that
I am tired, I know I shall be, for I have had a
headache all the afternoon. I will explain to their
She was thinking to herself that if This and That
— Thattie especially — Iiad anything on their con-
science, this leaving them to themselves in the
morning more than usual would awaken it more
clearly and give them time to see that they had done
But no— though Nurse watched both faces closely
IX A SAD TROUBLE 153
when she gave their mamma's message, there was no
sign of anything bnt disappointment and surprise on
either of them.
'Poor mamma/ said the two together. 'Is her
headick very bad, Nursie ? She doesn't mind often
if it does hurt her a little if we don't make a noise/
And then they sat down rather sadly on their
little chairs, not seeming inclined to do anything else.
' TJs'll just wait here,' said Cecilia, ' till mummy
sends for us/ and then she and Sandford went on
talking to each other, though Nurse, coming and going
about the room, only caught a word or two now and
then of what they said.
* It seems so funny/ said This ; ' like as if fings
was getting all different, when us doesn't go down
to the diney-room.'
* And we had such lots to tell mummy/ That was
saying the next time Nurse passed near. ' AU about
Mrs. Lubin's and- '
' Shall we go up to the attic ? ' he asked Thissie
a minute or two later, but Thissie shook her head
and said something about not making the oldies
unhappy, which Nurse certainly would not have
understood even if she had heard it all! So half
an hour, three-quarters, nearly an hour passed. It
164 THIS AND THAT chap.
was not till within twenty minutes or so of Miss
Wren's usual time for coming that Mildred at last
appeared at the door with a message that their
mamma wanted Master Sandford and Miss Cecilia
in her own room.
They jumped up and ran off* at once, overjoyed
and yet somehow a very little frightened. As Thissie
had said, everything seemed 'different' this morning,
and this is not always a comfortable feeling. And
when they saw their mamma — though she kissed them
kindly, her face was grave — they were not met by
any little joke or loving words of caress as gener-
'Did you enjoy yourselves at Mrs. Lubin's, my
dears ? ' their mamma asked.
'Yes, thank you, mummy, very much,' was the
But it did not sound altogether as hearty as usual,
and this their mamma at once noticed, and put it
down to quite a mistaken reason, not knowing that
the cause was her own very serious manner, which
added to the chUdren's feeling of something being
wrong and strange.
' As much, quite as much as the last time you were
there, before Mrs. Lubin was ill ? ' said mamma again.
IX A SAD TROUBLE 155
' Yes, quite as much — more, lots more than ever,'
said Thattie, with some surprise in his voice.
* Kite as much, lotses more,' echoed This.
'Oh,' said mamma, 'I was not sure that you
would. You know that if children have done any-
thing not quite right or good, it takes the pleasure
out of the very pleasantest things.'
She looked at Thattie as she said this, and his
cheeks grew red, though he could not have explained
'Yes, mummy,' he said gently, feeling rather
' Well, my boy ? ' she went on quite kindly, indeed
very kindly, but still with something different from
usual in her voice. But Thattie only looked at her,
his cheeks still red and the puzzle growing greater
in his blue eyes.
' Yes ' he began. ' I — I mean, I don't under-
stand, please, mum — mamma.'
' Think a little — don't be in a hurry. Think, both
of you, though I am talking most to you, Sandford.
Have you done nothing — touched nothing — taken
nothing, lately, that you should not have done with-
out leave, and — and hidden what you had done, lest
you should be scolded ? '
156 THIS AND THAT chap.
' Lately/ repeated Thattie slowly ; * does " lately "
mean " late/' mamma ? I'm trying to think. I am,
truly, mamma. But does lately mean late ? '
* No, of course not/ said his mother, and her voice
sounded rather sharper. ' It means not long ago —
just a day or two ago. And what does it matter
whether it was late or early, if it was a wrong thing
* No,' said Thattie ; ' it wouldn't bettem it, I know.
But I on'y wanted to understand, 'cos I'm tryin' to
think. I'm tryin' very hard, mummy.'
' And I'm tryin' too, very hard,' said This.
Both of them were trying very hard not to do
something — not to cry, though they were too puzzled
to know why they felt on the point of doing so.
* It cannot be so very hard to remember — if you
want to remember, ' said mamma slowly. ' It was
not anything you did in a great hurry, for you must
have thought about where you would hide what you
had taken. '
At her first words Thattie had shaken his head. It
was very hard to remember, though with his whole
heart he wanted to do so. And Thissie shook her
head too, just because he did. But as mamma went
on speaking, a sudden idea came into Thattie's mind
IX A SAD TROUBLE 157
— it was at the word * hide/ and what she said about
having thought about * where ' they should hide.
They had thought a great deal about where to hide the
oldies — could it be about the oldies, this strange thing
that mamma seemed so sorry about, and that had been
'naughty'? But then they had not 'taken' the oldies ;
they were their very own and nobody else's; they
were not counted good enough to send to the children's
' hospillan ' ! Still — it did seem to match a good deal,
and Thattie's face grew redder still, as he took into
his mind the idea that they might have to tell all
about their plan, for taking their dear aged friends
to auntie's hiU, where they would run no risk of
being ' frown away,' or burnt, or anything dreadful
Just yet, however, he would not tell. He must
first talk it over with Thissie. But he tried to think
what he covid tell — something to make mummy
understand a little, to make her see they had not
meant to do, had really not done anything naughty or
' 'Mamma,' he said at last, 'don't you remember
saying us might have a secret — quite a good secret ?
It has a little to do with hidin', but '
Something between a sob and a choke from Thissie
158 THIS AND THAT chap.
startled him. She caught his arm and he stopped
*0h, Thattie/ she exclaimed, 'don't, don't telL
It'll spoil it all.'
Their mother turned to her, and for the first time
she seemed vexed with Thissie too.
' Cecilia,* she said, * it is very wrong of you to try
to stop your brother if he was going to tell me the
truth. No secret can be a quite good secret if you
are so afraid of my knowing it.'
Thissie burst out crying. But there was some
firmness about her too.
' Mummy,' she said, ' you gived us leave. And it
wouldn't be a secret if we told it you. And it was
kite a good secret — ^it was, it was.'
' Do not cry like that,' said mamma. 'You know,
Thissie, how difl&cult it is for you to stop if you let
yourself go on. Try to leave off,' and the kinder
tone made This do her best to swaUow her sobs.
Still more perhaps Thattie's next words.
* Thissie,' he said, 'you know I wouldn't tell with-
out your leave. It's yourn too. You are sUly,
Mamma, it's true what she says. You did give us
leave to have a little quite good, pairfitly good secret
And there's some hidin' in it, but there isn't no taJdn*
IX A SAD TROUBLE 159
— truly there isn't. Mummy, mummy/ Thattie's
talking grew very babyish when he was so upset; * oh,
mummy, us wouldn't take anything what wasn't
oum without leave/
' No/ sobbed Thissie ; ' ter-uly us wouldn't/
Mamma looked very unhappy herself.
' Then why can't you tell me all about it ? ' she
said. She was so very anxious not to force the
owning it upon them by showing them the calling
cards hidden beneath the bricks. It would be so
much better, she thought, if she could get them to tell
A ring at the front door made her cross the room
to her own bell, and when Mildred appeared, she
turned to her quickly.
' I think that must be Miss "Wren/ she said ; ' will
you ask her to wait a minute or two in the library ?
I want to speak to her before she goes upstairs.'
* Yes, ma'am/ said Mildred. But though she went
away again at once, an instant's glance had shown
her that the children were in trouble, and it made
her very sorry.
There*8 room to sit
All three . . .
This is what we call fun.
Rocking and TaXMng.
This and That looked at each other when their mother
left the room. Thattie was trying very hard not to cry.
Thissie spoke to him through the tears which
would stiU come, though she too was doing her best
to choke them down.
'Thattie/ she said, 'does you understand even a
tiny bit what mummy means ? '
'N"o, Thissie,' he said, *in course I don't, unless
it's to do with the oldies — about the hidin'. But it
wasn't naughty to take them — they was ourn, our
'And mummy did say us might have a kite good
secret,' said This. ' Mummy is getting not fair.'
CLEARING UP 161
' Thissie/ said Sandford, ' That's not good of you.'
But This was growing excited.
* I don't care,' she said. * It isn't fair, and I '
She stopped suddenly, for just then their mamma
came back. She caught sight of her little girl's
angry face and heard the tone of her voice.
* I am afraid,' she thought to herself, * that some-
how or other Thissie is more to blame than That ; it
may be to save her being found fault with that he
won't speak out. Well, I must be patient and just
wait and see.'
So she took no notice of Cecilia's flushed cheeks
and impatient words.
'Miss Wren has gone upstairs,' she said, 'so I
will not keep you any longer just now. I shall see
you again this afternoon, and by then I hope that
you will have something more to tell me — that you
will have remembered what you have done wrong,
That — and Thissie, though you are still only a very
little girl, I think you are old enough to understand that
it would be very unkind — very unkind to stop your
brother telling me anything he feels he should telL'
To this Cecilia made no answer. She trotted out
of the room in silence and stumped upstairs, making
more noise than usual
162 THIS AND THAT chap.
' Thattie/ she said when they stopped a moment
on the landing, ' Thissie doesn't love mummy when
her calls you " my bruwer." *
Sandford turned to her a melancholy face. He
was looking and feeling far more sad and puzzled
than vexed or angry.
' You mustn't feel that way, Thissie,' he replied.
* It's naughty. P'raps,' he went on, ' if we tell the
oldies about it, they might think what it can be.
Let's go up to them after lessons. Try to be very
good at lessons, Thissie, so that Miss Wren will be
pleased, and then we won't have any to learn over
Thissie said nothing, but she did think that
Sandford was a very good, patient, little boy, — ' Much
gooderer than me,' was the way she said it to herselt
And for his sake — ^partly perhaps out of some
shame that she should seem a ' baby ' to her gover-
ness, who had little sisters of her own at home and
understood about children, as well as big people, try-
ing to be ' brave ' and unselfish — she left off crying,
giving her eyes a good scrub outside the nursery
door before going in.
Miss Wren bade them good morning as usual,
without seeming to think there was anything the
CLEARING UP 163
matter, which both This and That were very glad of.
Nor did they find out that she was rather less strict
than she generally was, for she felt really sorry for
the two troubled little faces, and turned away as if
very busily looking at something else, when once a
big tear fell on Cecilia's slate, nearly drowning a
whole line of figures 1
So lessons were got over smoothly, and when their
governess left she kissed them both and said they
might tell their mamma they had been good and
There was still an hour to dinner-time and it had
begun to rain, so they could not go out into the
garden, as they usually did at this time of day.
* May we go up to the attic, Nurse ? ' they asked
Nurse hesitated. She would have said ' Yes ' in a
moment, but to-day, knowing their mamma was not
pleased with them, and that she was unhappy about
them, she scarcely knew if she should allow them to
leave the nursery. But both This and That looked
pale and tired, and on wet days it was a very good
thing to air the room well by opening wide both
windows and door, which she could not do while the
children were there. So after an instant's thought.
164 THIS AND THAT chap.
she said * Yes/ they might go upstairs for half an hour,
and she would come to fetch them herself if she
thought they were staying too long.
They were glad to be by themselves, and still
more glad when they had opened the coal-bbx lid
and taken a peep at their dear oldies, who looked
very peaceful and comfortable, just as they had left
* We may cry a little ifow,' said Thissie, ' just a
.little. I would like to, Thattie, if you don't mind,
and p'raps you'd like to. / don't mind.'
' Very well,' said That, ' if you won't get into a
' No,' said This. ' I p'omise you I'll cry very
genkly. And I'll take out one of the oldies to comfort
me — not Bluebell ; she's too delikid, and.she's packed
in too tight I think ' ; and she peeped again at her
treasures, ' I fink piggy will do, and he's at the front.'
Piggy was got out easily. Thissie wrapped him in
her handkerchief and hugged him closely, with a sort
of crooning murmur, while the scarcely dried tears
showed themselves only too ready to collect again.
And Thattie, sorrowfully admiring her, sat beside her
on the floor, winking hard, for in spite of Thissie's
invitation he did not, want to break down. ,
CLEARING UP 165
' Oh, piggy, piggy,' moaned Thissie ; ' oh, piggy,
and all dear oldies, us are so very unhappy.
Mummy's not pull-eased, and us don't know why.
What shall us do, oldies ? Us is afaid it's all along
of you/ Here she stopped for a moment and turned
to That : ' Shall Thissie tell them all about it ? ' she
Thattie winked away a tear.
' I don't know what you mean by all about it,' he
said rather gruffly. ' If we knowed aU about it, we'd
know what it are that mummy wants us to say we
did that was naughty. I suppose,' he went on, after
a moment's thinking — ' I suppose, Thissie, it must be
about hiding the oldies. Mummy did say hiding
was the naughtiest part, and it must be naughty,
though we didn't know it was ? '
But Thissie wouldn't give in.
: * No,' she said, ' it weren't naughty, and I shan't
never say it were. It weren't naughty to do it, and
it weren't naughty 'cos it was a secret, 'cos us had
got leave for a secret.'
Then she cuddled piggy again and went on with
her ' So unhappy, piggy, dear, so very unhappy.'
' Thissie,' said Sandford again, ' stop cry-singing,
please, for a minute. I want to say something. I
166 THIS AND THAT chap.
think we must tell mummy about the oldies. It's
comed into me that we must, and then p'raps well
understand what we did that was naughty.'
Cecilia stopped crying and opened her eyes very
* Oh, Thattie,' she said, * tell our secret and spoil
it all, and have the oldies frowed away or burnt !
Oh, oh '
' Hush, Thissie,' said Sandford. ' Mummy isn't a
cruel uncle like the babies-in-the- wood's uncle, or —
or — like a 'ogre. Her'll not burn the oldies if we ask
her. I truly don't think she will. But we cant go
on like this. Mummy knows we've hided something,
and it's all that that's made the mistook. Tes,
Thissie, we must tell mummy, and beg and beg her to
' let us take the oldies away to the 'nill.'
Thissie did not speak. She was beginning to
think it would have to be, but she did not like it at
At last — ' Her gaved us leave to have a secret —
a kite good secret,' she said, as she had already said
* I know,' said Sandford, ' but p'raps, Thissie, it's
more comforbler for children not to have secrets, even
if they do get leave — ^'cept p'raps about birthday
CLEARING UP 167
presents. And' — ^he stopped a little — ^'IVe been
thinking that it might have been very difficult to
take the oldies without anybody knowing. They're
rather big, you know. We'd have had to push them
into comers — we couldn't have took them all to-
gether. And Nursie would have been certain sure
to find some of them when we got to auntie's, and
p'raps she'd have said she mvM frow them away, for
fear auntie's servints thought we had such 'nugly
'They're not 'nugly,' exclaimed Thissie angrily.
She was in the sort of half-tired, half-cross humour
that all children are in sometimes, when they feel as
if they must speak sharply to somebody.
Thattie was so much in earnest that it made him
' They don't seem 'nugly to usi he said ; * but they'd
seem dreffly old and poor to anybody that didn't
understand. P'raps mummy'U promise to be kind
to them before we tell her all the secret And then,
Thissie, they'll be far comforbler than if we had to
push them into comers of the travelling rugs or any-
thing like that, for they might even tumble out in
the railway and get runned over by the train.'
These last words had more effect on Thissie than
168 THIS AND THAT chap.
all that he had said before, though she would not
give him the satisfaction of actually saying so. But
she left oflf her sad song to piggy, and only hugged
him tight and whispered that if he was a good piggy
he and all the others should go in a nice soft^ warm
comer of a trunk to auntie's, and not tumble out in
the railway or have any more * ter-roubles/ Then
she put him carefully back in the coal-box, telling
him he might talk to Bluebell and Bacer and the
blackey-boys about going in the railway, and just as
she had drawn the 'flutter paper' curtain over them
again and shut down the lid, the door of the attic
opened and Nurse looked in to say that their dinner
was ready, and the two little people stumped down-
stairs after her.
They were very quiet all dinner-time, but Nurse
was pleased to see a rather less troubled look on the
two faces she knew so well. Thattie especially
seemed quiet and composed, as if he had made up his
mind to something. And Thissie had left off crying
and was quiet too, though her eyes were still swollen
and her face rather flushed, and her voice not so
sweet and gentle as usual.
For, as we know, she was still feeling sore and
CLEARING UP 169
After dinner they got ready for a walk. If they
had not still been feeling so troubled, they would
have enjoyed it very much; Nurse was so kind,
helping them to hunt in the hedges for the first early
flowers and buds coming out, so that, with the addi-
tion of some of the still remaining prettily shaded
leaves which were to be found in sheltered corners,
they made up a pretty little bouquet for their mother.
It still wanted some time till tea would be ready.
But Mildred came up to the nursery as soon as she
heard them returning, to say that their mamma
wished them to go down to her in .tttfe Kbrary for a
little. This was not their usual time for being with
her downstairs, not ' the children's hour,' and it made
them feel strange and more unhappy again, though
Nurse kissed them and told them to speak out and
not be afraid— that was the way to make things
come right if they had gone wrong. Still they made
their way only slowly downstairs, without any of their
usual springs and jumps of joy.
As Thissie said to That in a low voice —
' Everything seems difFerund to-day, Thattie, and
it makes me ter-rembly,' but That was pleased to see
that the angry look had gone out of her eyes, and
that she spoke quite gently.
170 THIS AND THAT chap.
Mamma was waiting for them in the library, and
though she was grave her eyes looked very kind.
' Gome here, dears/ she said, and she held out a
hand to each. ' We are going to have a quiet little
talk together, to try if we can't get everything
straight and happy again.'
This was comforting, and still more so was the
tone in. which it was said. Mamma was not a very
*old' person herself, though she was quite 'grown-
up,' and she sometimes took things too seriously to
heart, just as many children do. And she had begun
to think that pcarhaps she had been rather too severe
and anxious about what the children had done and
concealed. SomeJiow, perhaps they had not meant to
do wrong. Only why then hide it ?
Thattie looked up at her words. Then, though
his lips were quivering, he drew his hand gently
from his mother's and stood straight in front of her,
speaking out like a little man.
* Mummy,' he said, ' I*se goin' to tell you ail —
about our secret, and if it was naughty we didn't
' 'Cos,' Thissie covldnH help repeating, ' you did say,
mummy, that us might have a kite good secret.'
Thattie turned round impatiently, but mamma
CLEARING UP 171
just gave the little girl's band a squeeze, as much as
to say, ' Let That speak first'
And then he told the simple, funny, and yet rather
touching story of the dear oldies, and his and Thissie's
fears for them, and how they had packed them away
'comfably ' in the old coal-box, meaning somehow or
other to get them out again and pack them in some
comer of the luggage to go to auntie's, where the
oldies had been promised they should have a peaceful
nest of their own in the sweet soft grass of the
femous hill, which, I am sorry to say, became a "niU '
again in poor Thattie's flurry and excitement.
' But, p'raps,' he ended up, ' p'raps it's better for
you to. know, mummy. For Thissie and me's been
thinking we don't know where we'd have packed
them 'cept in the railway rugs, and they might have
*And been runned over by the railway train,'
added This solemnly.
Mamma did not speak for a minute. She just
looked at them both, and her eyes were quite kind,
only there was still a good deal of puzzle in her face.
*And this is your secret, then?' she said at last.
* Have you nothing more to tell me ? *
' No,' said Thattie, shaking his curly head, * nothing
172 THIS AND THAT chap.
more that you don't know, mamma. The secret was
only about the oldies.'
*And if/ This put in again, 'if it was naughty,
mummy, us didn't mean it, for you know you did
say us might have '
'Oh, Thissie,' said Thattie, 'do be quiet about
what mummy said. You've told it such hundred lots
of times.' '
* Never mind,' said mamma, ' it's all right. I have
not forgotten about it. And I promise you now that
the oldies, as you call them '—and here her voice grew
rather ' funny,' as if she were going either to laugh or
cry, the children were not sure which — * shall haVe a
peaceful home somewhere — at auntie's, if you like it.
' On the 'nill — h-ill, I mean ? ' said That eagerly. ' '
' We shall see — wherever you like best. I myself
think the hill would be rather cold-^in winter,' at
least. But you and Thissie shall choose. You may-
make your minds quite easy about the poor dears. But
now, listen to me, my darlings. It is not the secret
you have told me that has been making me unhappy
about you. As Thissie says, it is quite a good little
secret. What I want to know is this. You have
taken something of mine to use among your games
CLEARING UP 173
that you should not have taken. You must know
you have done so, and I should not have been vexed
or troubled, at least not so vexed or troubled, if you
had owned to having done it. I wish you would tell
me now that you are sorry you took anything without
Both children's eyes were opened very wide } they
stared at their mother as if they could iwt understand.
'Tookened something, of yours without leave?'
' Somefin of mummy's wifout leave ? ' echoed This.
' Yes, dears, something^ — or some things — ^that you
have hidden— I am afraid— hidden on purpose.'
The puzzle on both faces increased.
* Hided on purpose ? ' said the two voices together.
/ Yes, dears, so that mummy and Nurse would not
see, as you did not want them to be angry with you,'
She spoke very gently, but stilj the moment she
had said it; she wished she had not. For a pink
flush spread all over little Sandford's face and his
hands clasped each other tightly.
*0b, mammisi,' he exclaimed, 'we wouldn't
ever- ' and then his voice choked.
/ Oh, mummy,' said Cecilia, though, she. did not so
174 THIS AND THAT chap.
clearly understand, * us wouldn't never ' and then
slie flung her arms round her brother, whispering,
' Don't k'y, Thattie/
Thattie had no intention of crying. He just said
very quietly —
' Please, mamma, what was it you thoughtened us
It was best now to speak out plainly.
*My calling cards, my boy — the cards that are
in your big box of bricks— down underneath them,
at the bottom of the box.'
* Oallin' cards,' repeated That. Then his face
cleared. * Oh, ladies' cards,' he said, * like auntie's.
Yes, mamma, you said we might take the plain ones,
as many as we wanted. And these is plain ones,
without no black edge, like you used to have. We
wouldn't have took any with a black edge, though
there wasn't any. We saw in the box when we took
out the plain ones.'
Now it was mamma's face that cleared.
* Plain ones,' she repeated. * Oh, my poor Thattie:
Yes, I remember. I did give you leave to take the
old playing cards — I remember. As many as you
liked. And you thought I meant calling cards. I
see it all now. Look here' — and mamma seized the
CLEARING UP 175
little key, lying in its usual place on her writing-
table, and went down on her knees before the low
cupboard of the bookcase where she kept her stores
of paper and such things — the neat cupboard I
have told you o£ And from the far back corner she
drew out a packet oi playing cards — cards with
coloured pictures of kings and queens and knaves ;
and hearts and diamonds and spades and clubs, in
black and red. * Look here,' she said, ' these are the
cards I meant. Old or at least used playing cards
that papa thinks too old for whist, but too good to
throw away. I kept them on purpose for you.'
That and This stared at the cards as if they had
never seen such a thing before, though they had
once or twice seen their papa and uncles playing
whist in the evening, and even remembered one of
their big cousins trying to teach them themselves
some simple gama
'Oh J' said Thattie, 'I never thought you meant
those, mummy. I thought they were not at all
' No,' said his mother ; ' and I did not mean plain,
but 'phjing — ^you hear the difference, Thattie ?'
''Yes,' he replied slowly, 'I understand it now.
But I didn't understood it, mummy. You does
176 THIS AND THAT chap.
know, now, doesn't you ? I — I am very sorry for
having took the wrong ones, but I didn't hide them,
* No, dear, I am sure you did not,' said mamma.
* And I,' — she went on very gently — ' / am sorry for
having thought so. We are J)oth sorry, but I am
the most, because you have not been to blame at
all — except that — perhaps it would have been better
if you had asked me to give you the cards, instead
of taking them yourself/
' You were out that day, and I thought you meant
we might take them any time,' said Thattie.
* Yes,' said This, * and Thattie turned the key very
* Well, it's all right now,' said mamma. ' Let us
go into the drawing-room and get out the big brick
box, and perhaps my cards will still be fit to use,
for my new ones have not come yet And you may
take these other cards and put them with your toys,
for building houses with.'
'Not houses,' said That, *just roofses, mummy.
We don't want a great lot for that.'
* You may as well take them all,' said mamma ;
' and there are other things you may like them for —
making pancakes is very amusing.'
X CLEARING UP 177
This and That had never made pancakes, and
they felt sure it would be very nice, so they took
the coloured cards and followed mamma into the
The other ones were just where they had left
them, in the big box below the bricks. A few were
rather soiled, but some others were quite clean and
smooth, and mamma said they would last till her
new ones came. Then Nurse, looking rather anxious,
put her head in at the door, to say that tea was
ready if Master Sandford and Miss Cecilia could
"It's all right, Nurse,' said mamma, looking as
glad as the children themselves that it was all right.
* It has all been a mistake, as Thattie will tell you, and
if you can't quite understand, I will explain after-
What happy little hearts This and That carried
upstairs as they trotted beside Nurse ! How extra
good, tea tasted that afternoon, especially the straw-
berry jam which Mildred came running up with as a
little treat from mamma, who had sent her to get it
out of the store-closet. And what a very happy
* children's hour,' they had in the drawing-room
again, when mamma taught them how to make card
178 THIS AND THAT chap, x
pancakes, and when they were tired of that, took
them both at once on her knee and had a good talk
about what it would be best to do with the poor
*You must show them all to fne to-morrow,
darlings,' she said. *I have forgotten about them,
I am afraid.'
' Isn't mummy sweet ? ' said Thattie with a sigh of
happiness, as he was falling asleep. ' I don't think
I ever loved her kite as much before, did you,
' No,' said Thissie ; ' I didn't never love her better
than when she kissed us good-night just now.
But I Jink her should have remembered better about
giving us leave to have a kite '
' Oh, stop,' said Thattie. ' If she didn't remember,
it wasn't for you not remindin' and remindin'
till ' he had begun rather grumpily, but all of a
sudden his speaking turned into a little soft snore,
for he was fast asleep! And Thissie thought the
best thing she could do was to follow his example.
SAD AND GLAD
For glad is never all glad, my dears.
And sad should not be all sad.
And the next morning mamma was introduced to
the oldies, or the oldies to mamma. I am not sure
which I should say ? And after all, it was not quite
an introducing, for mamma had known them all ^in
their youth,* as she said — Thissie would call it
' newth/ as she thought it had to do with being new.
Indeed, several of them had been presents from herself
and papa — birthday or Christmas presents to That
She looked very grave when Thissie explained to
her that Bluebell's head had to be always tied up in
a handkerchief for fear of her catching cold, and said
* Yes,' it was much better to be careful. And Thissie
was very glad that mamma was too polite to ask to
180 THIS AND THAT chap,
see her face, or to have the handkerchief unfastened,
as it would have hurt Miss Bluebell's feelings — and
Thissie's feelings too— to have to say that she had
no face at all to show !
Bacer and the others were not quite in so bad a
way ; still mamma agreed with This and That that
they were all too aged and ' delikid' to be sent to a
children's hospital or anything of that kind, and she
promised to think well over in her mind what would
be the best and most comfortable plan for them.
Then she went downstairs, This and That with her,
for they heard Miss Wren coming upstairs to the
nursery, and they had not yet got their lesson-books
out. As they were doing so, That gave a peaceful
'After 'nail, Thissie,^ he said, 'it's nicer not to
have no secrets — ^not from mummy, any way/
'P'raps,' said Thissie, though she did not seem
quite so sure about it as her brother. ' It's nice to
be kite certing that the dear oldies are safe, and
that nobody can't frow them away. I wonder what
mummy will settle about them/
There was not a very long time to wonder about
this. I think it could not have been more than
three or four days after the day that had begun so
XI SAD AND GLAD 181
iinliappily and ended *all right again/ that one
morning, when the children went downstairs as
usual to the dining-room, ' to help papa and mamma
to finish their breakfast,' they noticed something
unusual about their mother. Her eyes were a little
red as if she had been crying, and she kissed them
in a very hugging sort of way.
*What is it, mummy dear?' said Thissie, while
Thattie glanced at papa, wondering if possibly papa
had been vexed with poor little mummy, though he
had never known him be so. Only he had never
seen mummy's eyes red before, and he couldn't think
of anything else that could have made her cry 1
' Has you been ky'ing, mummy darling ? ' Thissie
went on, for her mother did not answer at once.
* There's nothing really the matter, sweet,' said she
' Only that mummy is rather a silly girl,' said papa.
But his voice was so kind and his smile so nice that
Sandford was quite satisfied that he was not the
least vexed. *It is only that your long-talked-of
visit to auntie is coming ofif at last.'
* But why should that make mummy sorry ? ' said
both children, very surprised. * That's all a nice thing.
You're coming too, aren't you, mummy ? ' said That.
182 THIS AND THAT chap.
• And papa ? ' added This.
' Thank you, Thissie/ said papa.
But 'No, darlings/ said mamma, 'that's just it.
Papa and I have to go abroad — a good long way —
to Italy, to see an uncle you don't know, who is old
and rather ill. He has wanted us for a good while,
and we knew we would have to go before long,
though we put it off in the winter. I did not want
you two to leave home in the cold weather and
perhaps get coughs or sore throats, without mummy
to take care of you. But now the spring is coming
on, and I think you will be very happy at auntie's.
And oh, by the bye, I am forgetting — ^there is a letter
for you, or at least a letter for you to read, inside
mine. One came for me this morning from auntie,
fixing all about your going.'
And out of an envelope lying beside her mamma
drew a tiny little letter written on the sweetest pink
paper with rosebuds in the comer. It was addressed
to — ^whom do you think ? To
' The dear Oldies,
How This and That smiled when mamma read
this out to them, for they could not yet make out
XI SAD AND GLAD 183
writiTig very well, and how they smiled still more
when she read the little letter inside. This was it.
'My dear Oldies — I have heard all about
you from Thissie and Thattie, and I write to say
that when they come to stay with me, I hope you
will all come too. I will do my best to make you
comfortable, and I hope you will stay as long as ever
you like ; indeed, for always, if we can find a cosy
corner to suit you. — Your affectionate friend,
' Thissie's and Thattie's Auntie/
* Oh, mummy, how kind of auntie ! Did you write
to tell her about them ? ' exclaimed the children, and
in their pleasure they forgot the sad part of it all —
that their mamma was not going with them on their
visit, the thought of which had made her poor eyes
But she was too glad to see her little boy and
girl so happy, to say anything more about the sad
part, and she talked brightly to them of all they
would do when they were at the pretty house on the
side of the hill, where auntie lived — the nice walks
they would go, and the flowers — of new kinds, some
of them, that only grow on hills — they would gather.
184 THIS AND THAT chap.
'And/ said Thissie, ' we must think over our hill
stories, the ones that Mrs. Lubin and Nursie told us.
Auntie said we must be sure to have some ready to
tell her, and then p'raps she*ll tell us some.'
After that morning it seemed all bustle for several
days — ^the trunks were brought down from the attic ;
the nursery tables were covered with piles of the
children's clothes, for mamma and Nurse to look over;
€ven Miss Wren, though she was not going to auntie's
with This and That, was busy choosing their books
and toys, which were to be packed in a small box
by themselves. All this was very interesting, but
the most interesting of all, now that there was no
longer any secret about it, was the packing the dear
oldies, and more than once This said to That, or
That said to This, * What a good thing it was that
mummy and Nursie and '* everybody" knew about
* We never could have got them put in nowhere,
wifout you seeing, could we, Nursie ? ' said Thattie
one day with a smile, for Nursie of course knew the
whole story and was as kind as possible about it.
* No^ deary, I don't think you could,' Nurse replied.
'And then, p'raps you'd have thought us silly,
and you'd have said us couldn't take them, and
XI SAD AND GLAD 185
mummy mightened have been in, and the poor oldies
would have been frowed away, and all would have
been miderable,' said This, half ready to cry at the
5ad picture her own words were drawing.
'I'd never have wanted to see the 'nill or to
climb up it, or — or — nothin',' agreed Thattie.
* Well, well, my dears, don't make yourselves sad
about it now that it is all right,' said Nurse, as she
gently poked ' piggy ' into a soft place among That's
knickerbockers. *' All's well that ends well," you
* If only mummy and papa was coming too,' said
Thattie, ' it would be quite nice.'
In her heart Nurse felt the same, for though she
was sure the children's uncle and aunt would be
most kind and good, she did not like the thought of
their mamma going so far away. But she did not
let the little people know this ; she spoke brightly and
cheerfully to them about how happy they would be
at their auntie's, and the nice letters they would
write to their mamma, and the beautiful long ones
she would write back again, and how delightful it
would be when she and their papa came to fetch
them home again when the long bright summer days
186 THIS AND THAT chap.
And Miss Wren showed them on the map of
Europe the country, shaped like a boot, where their
papa and mamma were going ; and all the big people
hoped that little This and That would never think
there was anything to be unhappy about in the part-
ing before them.
Perhaps they scarcely did till the very last. But
that day the big people's hopes turned out rather
mistaken. For when it came to the last breakfast
party in the dining-room, the last buttering of a piece
of toast for mummy by her little boy, the last eating
the top of papa's egg by his little girl, and mamma's
eyes looked again not quite like themselves, and the
children knew that in one short hour the carriage
would be at the door to drive them to the railway
station, then — ah! then — it got too much, and the
tears would come, and mamma and This and That
were all in each others' arms crying together, till
papa said it really would not do ; they must try to be
But papa himself did not look so very brave after
all when he stood on the railway station platfonn,
watching the train as it whizzed away, the children
waving to him till he was quite out of sight, Nurse
anxiously holding them back by their clothes. Then
XI SAD AND GLAD 187
they both burst out sobbing, and she had to take
them into her arms and comfort them as best she
could, though the tears were running down her own
face. It did them all good in the end however to
have had * their cry out,' as Nurse said, and after a
while they were able to sit up and look about them,
and count how long it would be till they got to
auntie's, and to wonder if she would be at the station
herself to meet them, and even, after another half-
hour or so, to eat one of the nice buns — ^home-made
buns — ^which Nurse had got in her bag.
After this everything seemed to brighten up again.
It was a lovely sunny spring day fortunately — and
there were lots of pretty things to look at as they
>vhirled past them. Primroses on the railway banks,
dear little lambkins in the fields, sweet little cottages
with blossoming fruit trees in their tiny orchards —
altogether it was very nice and cjieerful. And the
best of all was when at last, after about three hours'
travelling, the train slackened for the third time since
the journey began, and Nurse told them that they were
now close to their auntie's station and might begin
looking out to see if she or their uncle was waiting.
* We don't know 'nuncle,' said Sandford ; * we've
never seen him.'
188 THIS AND THAT chap.
He spoke rather gruffly, as he always did when
he felt at all shy. Cecilia looked at him lather
anxiously, not sure if he felt that he was not going
to like their uncle. If so, she was quite sure that
she would not do so either.
'No,' she said, echoing her brother, *us hasn't
ever seen him.'
* Well, never mind that,' Nurse was beginning in
an encouraging tone ; ' you will soon ' — when a joyful
shout from both children interrupted her.
'It's auntie — auntie her own self!' they cried.
And so it was— as far along the platform as she
could get, to catch the first sight of the coming train,
and to be caught sight of by those in it, stood kind,
pretty auntie. And when the children had waved
and shouted to her, so that she was quite sure they
had seen her, she set off running back again to the
part of the station under cover, where she knew they
would get out. And oh, joy ! who, or what, do you
think, was running beside her ? Not ' uncle,' poor man,
though the children were not at all sorry for that,
which was rather silly of them, as how can you know
if you will like or not like any one before you have
even seen them ? — but a beautiful big black poodle,
' all shaven and shorn,' like the priest in the nursery
XI SAD AND GLAD 189
rhyme, except for lovely furry ridges here and there,
and beautiful black fur 'buttons,' as Thissie called
them, and of course nice ringlety-looking ears.
* Oh,' said both with a sigh of satisfaction, ' her's
got a loveriy big dog,' and they were so delighted
that almost before they had given themselves time
to kiss auntie, and to answer her questions as to
whether they had had a pleasant journey and so on,
they were patting and stroking the poodle and asking
his name and calling him *You dear, you sweet
doggie,' till he nearly wagged his tail off.
*You never told us you had such a spull-endid
poodle-dog,* said Thattie, very proud of himself for
knowing the right description of the black beauty.
'No, I didn't,' said auntie laughing; 'because
when I was with you I hadn't got him. He was a
present from your uncle on my last birthday, a few
weeks ago, and his name is * Monsieur,' but as that
is a French word '
' I know,' said Sandford, * it means " Sir." '
' Or *' Mister," ' said Thissie, very proud indeed of
her knowledge ; ' don't you 'amember, Thattie, Miss
Wren toldened us that French people say it for bof
**Sir" and "Mister"?'
*Yes,' said auntie, 'you are quite right. Well —
190 THIS AND THAT chap.
as it is rather a difficult word for people who haven't
learnt French to say, we call him "Moss." It
doesn't suit him badly, for his stripes and tufts are
rather like black moss, if there were such a thing/
and auntie stooped down as she spoke and gave an
affectionate tug to one of the furry ' buttons.' * He
is an old darling,' she said ; ' as soon as we get home,
I'll make him show off his tricks to you.'
Then came the little bustle of collecting the
luggage, big and small, and settling which things
should go in the waggonette and which in the cart
that had come for it from auntie's. And at last the
travellers were seated in the waggonette, Moss jump-
ing in first of all, which was not very polite of him,
but then he was only a doggie !
'It was not a very long drive — about three or
four miles, through very pretty country, and the last
part of it, though they went slowly, was very inter-
esting, as they were going uphill, and very soon
auntie told them to begin to look out to see her own
particular hill, about which they had thought and
heard so much, and which gave its name of 'Hill-
side ' to her pretty home.
' It is not a very uncommon name,* she said ; * but
really one scarcely could call it anything else.*
XI SAD AND GLAD 191
And then she made This and That stand up to
have the first sight of it.
' Oh ! ' exclaimed That.
And * Oh/ exclaimed This.
And these * Oh's ' meant a great deal Of course
*0h' may mean almost anything, but these meant
* What a dear, delightful-looking house, and what a
nice garden, and what beautiful trees, and' — best of
all — * what a lovely big hill behind, stretching up, up,
up, almost into the sky ! '
* Oh, auntie, dear,' said Thissie, feeling too pleased
to be the leajst little bit shy now, ' I'm certing sure
Thattie and I'll be very happy here. If only mummy
was here too,' and then came the little sigh, which
might have been followed by a tear, or several tears,
if Thattie hadn't very sensibly spoken in time to
* Auntie,' he said, 'may we climb up the hill
to-day ? — just a tiny bit,' he added quickly, seeing
that auntie looked doubtful, and glanced at Nurse
to see what she thought about it.
' Well,' she replied, ' we must see. You have not
had any proper dinner to-day, you know, and it is
past three o'clock. If you have tea very early, with
a nice fresh egg each, to make up for dinner, and if
192 THIS AND THAT chap.
you don't feel too tired after all your travelling, Moss
and I might take you a little way up the hill, just far
enough to see the view. Eh, Moss — ^you lazy old
fellow — what do you say to that?* for Moss had
pricked up his ears at tlie sound of his own name.
' He says he would like it/ said Thissie gravely.
' I can feel his tail waggling against my boots/ for
Moss was comfortably settled on the floor of the
* He isn't really lazy, is he, auntie ? ' asked Thattie.
Auntie shook her head.
Tm afraid he really is, rather so/ she replied.
*He is very funny in one way — he cannot bear
climbing uphill. He stops short and looks at me
piteously every few steps, as much as to say, " I'm
really not used to this sort of thing. How silly
human beings are ! Why can't you be content to
walk along a nice flat road ? " '
* How funny 1 ' said the children, and the wish to
see Moss's odd way of conducting himself uphill
made them still more anxious to begin their own
The house and garden and trees and everything
were even nicer when they got close to them than as
seen from a little way off* And inside was really
XI SAD AND GLAD 193
most interesting. For, as is often the case with a
house built on the side of a hill, what seemed up-
stairs when you first went in at the front, turned into
not upstairs at all when you got to the back, but on
a level with the garden behind, part of which was,
as it were, scooped out of the hill itself. The
children's rooms, of which there were three— a nice
nursery for the daytime, with a good-sized bedroom
at one side, and a tiny one at the other, looked out
upon this, and to their great delight, on to the hill
beyond — so close indeed to the steeply rising ground
that Thattie felt sure he could get right on to it at
once if he stood on the window-sill outside, and gave
a good jump. But Nurse put a stop to talk of ' any
such tricks' pretty sharply, by saying she would
have to tell their uncle, and as Thattie had not yet
seen their uncle, he felt even more in awe of him than
if it had been papa.
They did full justice to the nice tea prepared
for them, which pleased auntie when she came up,
followed of course by 'Monsieur Moss,' as Thissie
called him, to see how they were getting on. And
Nurse was, I think, not at all sorry to see them set
off for a little stroll with auntie and the poodle, as it
would give her a nice quiet time for unpacking the
194 THIS AND THAT chap, xi
trunks whicli had just been carried upstairs, and
getting all the children's belongings into order.
Faithful little Thissie ran back just as they were
starting to whisper a reminder to Nursie to take
great care of the oldies, and put them somewhere * all
together/ as she was afraid they would be feeling very
' I will see to them, my dear/ said Nurse. * I think
it will be best to leave them in one pf the empty boxes
till you settle about them.'
Then Thissie ran after the others, who were waiting
for her at the front door.
THE GOLDEN STEPS
Humble and teachable and mild
May I, as a little child,
My Master's steps pursue.
Auntie took them out by the front this first time,
because, as she said laughing, she wanted them to
learn a little of the * geography ' of Hillside. She led
them through the pretty sloping garden, past the neat
coach-houses and stables at the back, till they came
to a kind of terrace walk, behind that part of the
house where their own rooms were. This walk had
a wall on one side, and in chis wall was a door, which
she unlocked with a key that hung on a chain which
she wore hanging from her belt. And as soon as they
passed through this door they were really on the hill
They scarcely spoke for a minute or two; they
196 THIS AND THAT chap.
rushed up the short thymy grass till they were out
of breath, and then they stood still and looked about
them in delight. It was such a nice hill — ^not stony
or rough, or uneven, but a real grassy hill, with tiny
little sheep paths here and here, but no cart-tracks or
ruts to spoil it. And when auntie and Monsieur got
up to them — Moss coming very slowly and looking
exceedingly sorry for himself — by which time This
and That had got back their breath again, they both
burst out joyfully —
' Oh, auntie, dear, it is such a loverly hill ! We
really didn't know what a loverly hill it was/
* Go on a little farther, dears. Don't hurry quite
so fast, or you will get too tired and hot. We will
all keep together, and then you can give poor Mossie
a pat now and then to cheer him,* for just as she had
told them, the poodle was standing in front of his
mistress, wagging his tail in a pitifully beseeching
way and looking up with his mournful eyes, as if to
say, ' Oh, why do you bring me up this horrid old hill,
when you know I dislike climbing so ? *
The children could not help laughing at him,
though they felt sorry for him too ; it was plain that
he did dislike it extremely, though not as much as
he would have disliked being left alone at home !
XII THE GOLDEN STEPS 197
And when they had got up a little higher, to a
spot that auntie knew well, she made them stop again
and turn round, and then the ' view ' she had spoken
of was all before them. I don't think children care
very much for * views * ; at least, I know I did not
when I was little, but this view, besides being really
beautiful, was very interesting. There were so many
things to notice in it. The river, far off, like a silver
thread; the railway line by which they had come,
shown by a puff of white steam creeping along,
though in reality it was a fast train they were
watching ; the dear little nestling cottages, with their
blue smoke curling up among the trees, and the old
village church whose clock began to strike at that
' How nice and funny it is ! ' said Thissie, speaking
for once before That.
* Yes, I'd like to live on a *n-he-ill, always,' said
That. ' Up at the very top. May we go up to the
very top to-night, auntie, please ? '
' No, darlings, not to-night. It's much more of a
climb than you think. But some day soon, I hope
you will manage it. We must get uncle to help us.'
The idea of uncle ' helping ' did not quite please
Sandford. He felt himself too much of a man for
198 THIS AND THAT chap.
that sort of thing ; besides — he was not feeling very
sure about this stranger uncle. He got rather red,
but I don*t think auntie noticed it, for just at that
moment she jumped up — they had all been sitting
down, much to Mossie's satisfaction — with a cry of
* There he is,' she exclaimed, as she caught sight of
a figure coming out at the door in the garden wall.
' Oh, Hubert,' as ' uncle,' for of course it was uncle,
came nearer, ' I am so glad you have come. We were
just talking of you. Here they are — ^your unknown
nephew and niece; and this is Uncle Hubert, darlings.'
And the moment This and That looked up into his
face and saw his kind, merry, blue eyes, their hearts
were gained. There was no more wondering if they
would like him or if he would be good to them, or
any feeling at all, except that he seemed a younger,
merrier, kind of second papa. And his voice and
words were just as nice as his eyes.
' I can't call you exactly my " unknown nephew
and niece," ' he said, as he kissed them, and threw
himself down on the grass beside the little group,
'considering that auntie here has done nothing but
talk of Thattie and Thissie for the last few days?
And now, I hope, Lily/ — ' Lily ' was auntie's name —
XII THE GOLDEN STEPS 199
'that you will be content, as they are really here.
What does Moss say to you both ? ' and he gave a
kind little pinch to the poodle's ear.
' He hasn't said nothin'/ Thattie answered.
' No, nuffinV Thissie echoed,
* But I think,' her brother went on, — ' I think
he means to like us, for he waggles his tail a good
* Yes,' said Thissie, ' him does.'
The smile on uncle's face broadened ; he loved to
hear the children's funny way of talking.
* And you like him, I hope ? ' he said.
' Oh yes,' they answered eagerly. ' We think he's
a darling,* ' We like everybody and everything here,'
Sandford went on in a sort of burst ; * 'specially the
'n — the AilL We do so want to climb to the very top.
Will you take us some day very soon up to the very,
very top ? '
' Certainly I will, my boy. We shall all go
together. Monsieur here too ; do you hear. Sir ? We
must choose a fine clear day, so that you can write to
your mother and tell her what a long, long way you
could see from the top.'
*As far as — the country like a boot?' asked
Thissie, her voice trembling a very littla
200 THIS AND THAT chap.
Auntie explained what she meant.
* No, I'm afraid not quite as far as that/ said her
uncle. But he had heard the little shake in her
voice, and he put his arm very kindly round her, and
she nestled in to him just as she did to her father,
and felt that she loved uncle already very much.
And then they all strolled down the hill again,
and in by the door in the wall, and aimtie showed
them a nice little side way into the house which
brought them on to the landing where their rooms
were. There were only two or three steps to go up,
as I explained to you, as their rooms were at the
The next morning the great question of the oldies'
new home had to be settled. Auntie had been
thinking a great deal about it before This and That
came, and now that they had seen the hill, though
they thought it a beautiful hill, they agreed with
auntie that in winter it would be very cold, and on
rainy days even worse, for their aged friends. So
they were very pleased when auntie showed them a
funny little cupboard up in the wall in her linen
room — ^perhaps I should have explained before that
auntie's house was a very old-fashioned one, with
rambling passages and queer-shaped ceilings, and
XII THE GOLDEN STEPS 201
odd cupboards and closets where you would never
expect to find them — high up, so that you had to
stand on a chair to reach it. And this cupboard
auntie thought would be the very place for the oldies,
as she kept nothing in it, and no one would ever disturb
them there. The children thought quite the same,
so there their old friends were comfortably settled,
and there they still are, for all I know to the con-
Some days passed very happily, though their uncle
had not been able to take them to the top of the hill.
He was very busy just then, and the weather rather
unsettled, so he said it was better to wait a little.
There were plenty of nice things to do however.
There were letters to write to papa and mamma, and
letters to read which came from them on their way
to Italy. And every day auntie gave the children a
litUe * lessons,* not as much as Miss Wren did, but
just enough to prevent their forgetting what they had
learnt, and to teach them something more ; best of
all, to keep them from feeling idle and losing the good
habit of giving their attention. Nearly every day,
too, auntie herself took them a short climb up the
hill, unwillingly accompanied by Moss ! And when
they were all settled comfortably for a rest — if the
202 THIS AND THAT chap.
afternoon was fine and dry enough for sitting on the
grass, that is to say — they had such nice talks^ and
auntie made them tell her the * hill stories * they had
heard from kind Mrs. Lubin and Nurse, both of which
she thought very nice.
But when these stories were told, This and That
turned upon auntie, and I think it was quite fair,
with a request for a story— a 'hill story'— from her.
She tried to get out of it — which was rather too
bad, wasn't it ? — ^by saying she wasn't good at telling
* Would you rather wait till the day uncle is with
us ? ' said Thattie. ' You might tell it us when we
are resting at the very top.'
Auntie's face got a little rosy.
' No,' she said ; ' I should feel very shy if uncle was
there too. I'll think about it and try to have a story
ready for you for to-morrow, if it is fine enough for
us to come out and sit here.'
The children thanked her, and went to bed hoping
very much that to-morrow would be fine and dry.
And it was. The next afternoon found them all
cosily settled — Moss looking so pleased when he
found they did not mean to go any higher. He
stood up to let them see how fast he could wag his
Ill THE GOLDEN STEPS 203
tail, and then he gave a great yawn, showing his
beautiful white teeth and red tongue, as much as to
say, 'I really am tired and sleepy,* and lastly,
snuggled himself down by auntie's soft skirts to take
a nap, with no wish to disturb or be disturbed for
some time to come.
* Now then, auntie, please,' said Thattie.
' Auntie, pull-ease,* said Thissie.
* I don't know that you will care for my story,'
said auntie ; ' it is very short and not amusing, I fear ;
but some other day I may remember a more in-
teresting one perhaps. Well — once '
* Upon a time ? ' asked Thattie.
'If you like,* said auntie. 'Once upon a time,
then, there was a little boy. He had rather a strange
name. It was "Faithful." As soon as Faithful
grew old enough to understand what was said to him,
he was told that he had a long journey before him,
and that a great part of this journey would be up-
wards, to the top of a high hill, at the foot of which
he had been bom. This part of the journey would
be bright and pleasant in most ways, he was told, for
he would be steadily growing stronger and bigger and
more active. And if he had to go over rough bits
sometimes, or sometimes stumbled and hurt himself.
204 THIS AND THAT chap.
he would not mind very much, for he would soon
forget it again, and his hopefulness and cheerfulness
would recover themselves. "But" — and here the
friend whose part it was to explain things to him began
to speak very gravely indeed — " but," he said, " one
most earnest counsel I must give you. All the way
up to the top of the hill, though hidden among the
grass and flowers, are golden steps, like the * rungs,'
as they are called, or bars of a ladder. These steps
never go wrong ; if you keep to them you cannot get
astray. Yet it is not always easy to see them;
sometimes you may search for them and not succeed
in catching sight of their gleam at all. Then you
must be patient and not lose courage, for if you
always vdsh to follow them, there is no fear but that
you will soon find them again. Sometimes they will
seem clearest and brightest in the full sunshine;
sometimes they will seem to sparkle out even more
plainly in the darkness of night. But of one thing
you may be sure — they will always be there."
'Faithful listened very attentively, for he was a
thoughtful little boy.
' " I will try to remember," he said. " But tell me,
when I get to the top, what shall I do then ? What
will happen ? "
xn THE GOLDEN STEPS 205
' His friend looked at him with kind, grave eyes.
' " I cannot tell you exactly," he said. " It may be
that for some distance you will walk straight on,
neither upwards nor downwards. Yet the steps — the
golden steps — though neither ascending nor descend-
ing, will be there, and you must never leave off
looking to see their gleam."
' " And then ? " asked Faithful.
'"Then/* his guide answered, "then, after a time,
this wiU certainly happen. Your pathway wiU begin
to slope downwards. At first perhaps so gently and
slowly that you will scarcely notice that you are no
longer treading on level ground. But after a time,
looking backwards, you will see that it has been de-
scending steadily. And even it might be that it would
go down very suddenly and sharply," and here the
gentle guide's voice grew lower and he stopped a
moment. " But even if so," he went on, " you need
have no fear, if you keep looking for the golden
' Faithful listened and thought over the words of
' " I will not forget," he said, " I vnll keep looking.
Only tell me — I should like to know — where will the
steps lead me to at last ? Down at the foot of the
206 THIS AND THAT chap.
hill again, what shall I find ? Will it grow dark
and gloomy ? "
' " It may seem so as you draw near the end of
your journey," said the guide; " but it will only be in
seeming. The steps will grow brighter and clearer.
This is all I can tell you," he went on. " It is not
for me to say more, except this '* — and his face shone
as if the sun were lighting it up — " that better things
than I could make you understand if I tried will
meet you at your journey's end, if you keep looking
for the golden steps, even though they may seem to
lead down into gloom."
' And those were his last words to the boy he
had been sent to teach.
' So little Faithful set out on his long journey.
* All happened very much as his friend had said.
The journey up the hill was mostly easy and pleasant.
Faithful felt so young and happy that even the little
bits of rough walking he sometimes had did not
discourage him, and with every day he seemed to grow
stronger and bigger, as indeed he did. He had
some troubles, but these were generally caused by his
own fault in forgetting to keep looking for the gleam
of the golden steps. Whenever he did so, or when-
ever he was tempted away from the direction where
XII THE GOLDEN STEPS 207
he knew pretty well they were sure to be, he was
certain to stumble and bruise himself, or even to fall
and get more seriously hurt. And then he would
make up his mind not to forget again, and not to be
tempted away from what he knew was the right path,
even though he had to search closely for it sometimes,
by any of the pretty flowers or mountain berries
which he often saw growing just a little way off.
For somehow that little way generally turned out
farther than he had fancied, and it was always much
more difficult to catch sight of the gleam of the steps
once he had strayed to any distance from them. On
the whole, however, he obeyed his teacher's advice,
for, as I told you, he was a thoughtful and good boy.
' So at last came the end of the first part of the
long journey, and Faithful found himself at the top
of the hill. And by this time he had grown to be a
man. For a good distance he walked along flat
ground, and he found it very interesting. There was
such a wide view on every side, and many things
to tempt him away from the straight road, along
which still, whenever he looked for them, he could
clearly see the shine of the steps, for even though
they were neither going up nor down, they were
there to mark his path.
208 THIS AND THAT chap.
* And he found it all just as when he was still coming
upwards. If ever he wandered away it was always
more difficult to find the little golden bars again; the
farther he strayed the more difficult it was. And
he had some great frights that he had lost them
altogether. But things did not get so bad as that ;
on the whole he was true to his name.
'So on he walked, sometimes stumbling, some-
times peacefully and happily, till the level ground
came to an end. At first he scarcely noticed it ; the
slope downwards began so gradually, but before long
he felt it His steps were less sure ; his limbs after
a while began to ache, and his sight was less clear.
' " I am growing old," thought Faithful.
'And the down hill grew steeper, and he grew
less strong, till at last came the day when looking
well before him, he saw the foot of the hill straight
below and knew that he must soon reach it, for the
steps gleamed brightly, more brightly than before, in
the growing darkness beneath him. There was no
mistaking where they led to. And sometimes
Faithful's brave heart grew afraid ; it all looked so
strange and misty — not like the cheerful top of the
hill. But he always took courage when he looked
at the steps.
XII THE GOLDEN STEPS 209
* Then came the moment at which he reached the
very foot, and the steps stopped, and he stood there
wondering what was to come to him now. And a
strange, beautiful thing it was that did happen. He
felt a sort of lifting up — it made him giddy at first
and he closed his eyes for a moment. But when he
opened them again, there before him was the sky,
more lovely than he had ever seen it. He was
higher up now, far higher than he had ever been, for
the long, long ladder of gold had risen with him
without his knowing it, and he stood '
* Where ? ' asked Thattie breathlessly.
*At the gate of the skies,' said auntie softly.
* He saw the gate before him, white with a whiteness
he had never dreamed of ; and though he could not
see clearly what was on its other side, he did not
feel as if he was in any hurry to know. For there,
just outside it, stood his dear guide, his face lighted
up with happy smiles, his kind hands stretched out
* He was a 'angel,* interrupted the children.
* Yes,' she said ; ' I think so. And Faithful
knew that there, beyond the gate, were the beautiful
210 THIS AND THAT chap.
happy things his friend had told him of — more
beautiful and happier than he could fancy, however
he tried. And as he glanced back, he saw that the
golden steps had faded from sight — he needed them
' It is a loverly story/ said Thissie. But her little
face looked rather puzzled. 'Is it a feiry story?'
'No/ answered Thattie, before auntie had time
to speak ; * it's not 'xactly a fairy story. It's ' and
then he too looked a little puzzled.
' Do you understand at all what is meant by the
long journey?' asked auntie. 'Perhaps it was
foolish of me to tell you that kind of story/
* No, no, it wasn't, ' said Thattie eagerly. ' I do
understand a good deal, 'cos of somethin' Mrs. Lubin
said one day — ^that she was going downhill, and
mummy explained that she meant getting old.
And the end part> auntie — was that/ — and here
his voice grew lower — 'was that about going to
heaven? And the gold steps mean beiMg good,
don't they ? '
'Yes/ said his aunt, looking pleased. 'I think
you have understood very well indeed, dear.'
'Shall we see the gold steps, p'raps, when we
XII THE GOLDEN STEPS 211
go up to the top of the hill wif uncle?' asked
'No, darling. I can't promise you that, I am
afraid my story was a little too diflScult for you' and
she put her arm round Thissie and kissed her.
' But some day we will talk about it again, and then
I daresay you will understand it better/
And Thissie did not mind waiting till she was
older to understand it better, for auntie was so
And though there were no shining golden steps
to be seen, half hidden among the grass, on their hill,
they spent a very happy day indeed, when uncle
took them up to the very top, where they had a
beautiful view and quite a little picnic feast of buns
and milk and other nice things.
They wrote to tell their father and mother all
jtbout it, you may be sure.
But a still happier day was one some months
later, when papa and mamma came to fetch them to
take them.to their own dear home again, even though
they were very sorry to leave their imcle and aunt
and the beautiful hill.
I am not at all sure that Thissie felt quite certain
that the golden steps were not somewhere on the
212 THIS AND THAT chap, xii
hill, if she and Thattie could have searched well.
But now that she is some years older, she does
understand auntie's story, and I think it sometimes
helps her and Thattie to * keep on always trying to
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