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Full text of "This and that: A Tale of Two Tinies"

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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. 
Christmas-Tree Land. 
The Cuckoo Clock. 
Four Winds Farm. 
Grandmother Dear. 
Herr Baby. 



Little Miss Peggy. 

The Rectory Children. 

Rosy. 

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 



BY 



MRS. MOLESWORTH 

AITTHOR OF ' CARROTS,' ' CUCKOO CLOCK,' KTC 



ILLUSTRATED BY HUGH THOMSON 



Hontron 

MACMILLAN AND CO., Limited 

NEW YORK : THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

1899 

AH rights reserved 



A 



733320 



^^ 



4 



p 



4 



TO 



MY MARY AND MAY 



155 Sloane Street, 
21s£ May 1899. 






1 



CONTENTS 



CHAP. 

I. Down in the Dbawing-room 
II. Up in the Nursery 

III. CONSITLTING THE OlDIES 



IV. *The Beaoon on the Hill 



V. House-hunting 



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) 



FAOX 

1 

18 

35 

52 

74 

93 

106 

123 

142 

160 

179 

195 



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 



CHAPTEK I 

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 
Winifred. 

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, 
IE B 



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 
voice again. 

'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 
chimney. 

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. 



/ 



V 









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 
laughing-at-you smile. 

'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 
you.' 

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 ? ' 
she said. 

This put out her hand and stroked auntie^s feather 
' pussy ' that she wore round her neck, and looked at 
That. 

'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, 
grave voice. 

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 
hill/ 

* 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 
long/ 

' 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 
place.' 

' And was the hills very high, very high ? ' asked 
That eagerly. 

' 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 
children eagerly. 

* 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 
to sleep. 

' 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.' 



CHAPTEE II 



UP IN THE NURSERY 



Jack and Jill went up the hill. 

Nursery Rhyme, 

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 

looks. 

'Now, listen, Master Sandford,' she said, 'say 

after me 

* 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' 
a little.' 

'What for?' asked This, who liked to get an 
answer. 



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 
us.' 

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 
away. 

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 
over him.' 

' 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 
brokened.' 

' 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 
neely finished.' 



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- 
lade. 

* What made you both so late ? ' asked mamma in 
her turn; Cecilia had not yet answered papa's 
question. 

' 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 



rt^ 



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 
talking. 

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 

D 



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. 



CHAPTEE III 



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 
over. 

* 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 
comes.' 



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 
disheartened. 

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 
all back.' 

* 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 
the slate. 

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 
tried. 

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, 
Thissie?' 

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.' 

That considered. 

'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 
without any.' 

* 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 
dinner.' 

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 
story.' 

* 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 
lots.' 

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 

last. 

* 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 
smile. 

' 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 



CHAPTER IV 

— 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 ! 

Bayard Taylor. 

' 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 



ago.' 



*So they must both be big now — quite big,' said 
That. 

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?' 
That persisted. 

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 
mummy.' 

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 
Nurse. 

' 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. 
Xurse nodded. 

* 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 
that. 

* " Such big bonfires," said the mother, " that they 
could be seen flaming away by ships quite out at 
sea." 

' " 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 
too. 

' " If only we could see it," Mattie would sigh. 

And sometimes Bob would grow a bit cross with 
her. 

' '* 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 
got there. 

* 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- 
thing more. 

* " 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 
bother. 

' 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 
off. 

* " 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 

F 



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 
perhaps. 

'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 
frightened. 

*"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 / 
won't." 

* 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 
this. 

* 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 
of cold." 



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 
would you." 

* 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 
tears. 

' 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 
tell." 

'"Never mind that now," said mother; "you'll 



{ 



k 



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.' 



>t 9 



CHAPTEK V 



HOUSE-HUNTING 



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 
of it.' 

'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 
face. 



76 THIS AND THAT chap. 

* Thank you, Nursie/ they said again. But that 
was alL 

'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 
cruelly. 

' 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 
said. 

* 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,' 
said mamma. 

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 
too. 

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 

G 



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 
' fuss/ 

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 
roofs.' 

'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 
auntie's.' 

* If they want to go. You forget that,' said her 
brother. 

* 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 
must you.' 



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 
auntie's/ 

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 
nothing more.' 

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 
anxions. 

' 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' 
And— 

' 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 
as usual. 

' 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 
to go.* 

'I knowed they would,' said This, nodding her 
head. * Was the letter just where you said, Thattie ? ' 

Thattie nodded. 

' 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 
brain. 

'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 
better. 

*How clever of you ? ' she said admiringly. 'And 
you think the coal-box'll do, Thattie ? ' 

* Couldn't be better,* he replied. 



CHAPTEE VI 



A FLITTING 



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 
dining-room. 

' 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 
to do.' 



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 
help. 

'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' 

Papa laughed. 

'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 
Cecilia. 

'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 
pets/ 

Thissie's little face looked rather grave after he 
had gone. 

'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- 
doors.' 

Mamma smiled. 

* He wasn't speaking of rain getting into houses, 
dear,' she said. ' It was a line of poetry papa was 
saying/ 

* Oh, 'nymns,' said Thissie. 

' " 'Nymns" Thissie,' repeated That. ' You means 
" Ae-ymns." That's quite as worse as me sajdng 
"'nills"for"Ae-ills."' 

*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 
rain/ 

* 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 
them.' * 

* 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 
you.' 

' 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. 

H 



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 
than usual. 

' I heard what you whipsered to mummy. This,' 
said That on their way up. * You got it out of the 
BibelL' 

'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 
lessons begins.' 

* 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 
back again. 

' 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 
her back. 

'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- 
portantly. 

' 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 
attention. 

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 
about. 

* 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' 

Thattie considered. 

* 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. 



CHAPTEE VII 

THE UBRAKT BOOKCASE 

So neat, 80 neat, 

You'd say the fairies kept it. 

Miss Prwi, 

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 
sudden stop. 



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 
could choose.' 

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 
usual tea-time. 

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 
younger. 

' 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 
" tissue." 

' 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 
paper. 

*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, 

I 



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 
wall. 



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 
no trouble.' 

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 

silly/ 

'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 
the drawing-room. 

' 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- 
room. 

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 
for chimneys/ 

' 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 



»i 



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 
drawing-room again. 

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,* 
said This. 

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 
deserve one.' 



CHAPTEE VIII 



THE WISE PRINCESS 



Wise as an owl, but a deal prettier ! 

Old Play. 

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 
doubled. 

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 
story.' 

* 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 
lighted up. 

' 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 

E 



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 
in clouds.' 

Here the children wriggled a little bit as if they 
wanted to speak but scarcely liked to do so. Mrs. 
Lubin stopped. 

' 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 
nobody. 

' 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 
incUmbingtothetop?" 

* 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 
necks." 

' 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 
country. 

' 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 
he returned. 

* 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 
path. 

'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 
the treasure. 

' What do you think it was ? ' 

This and That shook their heads. They couldnt 
think. 

* 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 
had desired. 

' 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 
old one.' 

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. 



CHAPTEE IX 



A SAD TROUBLE 



That time we were so very sad 

Long) long ago, now. 

Childish Memories, 

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 
shining spoons. 

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 
the drawing-room. 

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 
nurses are. 

' 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 

L 



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 
before. 

* 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- 
take.' 

* 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 
of course/ 

' 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 
have done.' 

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 
papa.' 

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 
wrong. 

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- 
ally happened. 

'Did you enjoy yourselves at Mrs. Lubin's, my 
dears ? ' their mamma asked. 

'Yes, thank you, mummy, very much,' was the 
reply. 

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 
why. 

'Yes, mummy,' he said gently, feeling rather 
puzzled. 

' 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 
you did?' 

* 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 
like that. 

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 
disobedient. 

' '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 
suddenly. 

*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 
of themselves. 

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. 



CHAPTEE X 

CLEARING UP 

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 
very own.' 

'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 

M 



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 
this afternoon.* 

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 
attentive. 

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 
very meekly. 

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 
them. 

* 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 
you-can't-stop-yourself way.' 

' 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 
asked. 

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 
wide. 

* 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 
all 

At last — ' Her gaved us leave to have a secret — 
a kite good secret,' she said, as she had already said 
so often. 

* 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 
toys/ 

'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 
wonderfully patient 

' 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 
almost angry. 



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 
mean it.' 

' '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 
tumbled out/ 

*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. 
best.' 

' 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 
leave/ 

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?' 
said That. 

' 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,' 
answered mamma. 

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 
had hided?' 

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 
plain* 

' 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, 
mummy?' 

* 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 
carefly, mummy.' 

* 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 
drawing-room. 

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 
come now. 

"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- 
wards.' 

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 

N 



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 
dear 'oldies/ 

*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, 
Thissie?' 

' 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. 



CHAPTEE XI 



SAD AND GLAD 



For glad is never all glad, my dears. 
And sad should not be all sad. 

Old Song. 

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 
and This. 

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 
little sigh. 

'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 
at last. 

' 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, 

'CoALBox House.' 

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 
red. 

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 
them.' 

* 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 
know.' 

* 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 
had come. 



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 
brave. 

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 
prevent it. 

* 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 
carriage. 

* 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 
mountain climbing 

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 
strange. 

' 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. 



CHAPTEE XII 



THE GOLDEN STEPS 



Humble and teachable and mild 

May I, as a little child, 
My Master's steps pursue. 

Charles Wesley. 

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 
itself! 

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 
moment. 

' 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 
pleasure. 

* 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 
deal.' 

* 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 
back. 

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- 
trary. 

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 
stories. 

* 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 
steps." 

' Faithful listened and thought over the words of 
his friend. 

' " 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 ' 

Auntie stopped. 

* 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 
in welcome.* 

* He was a 'angel,* interrupted the children. 
Auntie smiled. 

* Yes,' she said ; ' I think so. And Faithful 
knew that there, beyond the gate, were the beautiful 

p 



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 
no longer.' 

' It is a loverly story/ said Thissie. But her little 
face looked rather puzzled. 'Is it a feiry story?' 
she asked. 

'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 
Thissie. 

'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 
kind. 

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 
be good.' 



THE END 



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