The Girl's Own Paper, Vol. VIII, No. 354, October 9, 1886
|Vol. VIII.—No. 354.||OCTOBER 9, 1886.||Price One Penny.|
[Transcriber's Note: This Table of Contents was not present in the original.]
THE SHEPHERD'S FAIRY: Chapter 2.
DINNERS FOR TWO.
A DREAM OF QUEEN'S GARDENS: Part 1.
THE WEATHER AND HEALTH.
GIRLS' FRIENDSHIPS: Chapter 1.
MERLE'S CRUSADE: Chapter 2.
THE CONTENTS OF MY WORK-BOX.
BITS ABOUT ANIMALS.
ANSWERS TO CORRESPONDENTS.
Where gold and greed, and trouble and need, make up the sum of life—
A woman lives with her only child,
[Pg 18]And toils 'mid the weary strife.
No end to the ceaseless care—ah! the misery of it all!
While the strongest snatch the hard-earned crust,
The weakest the crumbs that fall.
The stitch, and stitch, and stitch that she knows she dare not shirk!
Her strength is ebbing away so fast
That she scarcely feels it go.
A widowed life, and a mother's love, and the fear of an early death.
While there at her feet a pale boy sits,
And weeps for his mother's woe.
And clung to her neck with a smothered cry and a feeling of sudden dread.
And thus they lie, till the mother strives
To speak with her tears unshed.
How Jesus has sent His angels down to fetch her; that He won't fail
To send His angel to watch o'er him
When love can no more avail.
She speaks no more, he weeps no more, for God knows what is best.
He has taken both from a world of pain
To endless peace and rest.
E. A. V.
p the old oakstaircase threeor four stairs ata time sprangthe baron; thenhe walkedquickly withbeating heartdown the longcorridor to thewest wing, where the nursery was, andpausing at the top of a spiral staircasewhich led to the side door he intendedto go out by, he shouted impatientlyto the housemaid who was left in chargeof the baby.
"Marie! Marie! Vite, vite. Whereis Monsieur Léon's malacca cane? Itwas in my dressing-room this morning.Fetch it directly."
The girl came running to do hermaster's bidding, and no sooner had thewhite streamers of her cap disappeareddown the corridor than the baron dartedinto the nursery. A lamp was burningon a table at one end of the room, andat the other, carefully guarded fromany draught by a folding-screen, stooda swinging-cradle, on pedestals of silver.The framework, the baron knew,was an old family relic, but the cradleitself was a new and wonderful creationof white swansdown and blue satin,lined with lace and trimmed with paleblue ribbons. In this mass of satin andlace lay the baron's tiny daughter, fastasleep, her small fingers grasping alovely toy of pink coral with golden bells,which was fastened round her waist withpale blue ribbon. For one moment thebaron hesitated. To tear the little creaturefrom her luxurious home, and trust herto the tender mercies of some roughsailors for a day or two, and then leaveher in the hands of strangers, who mightor might not be kind to her, seemed hardeven to the baron, whose mind waswarped by jealousy; but then came thethought that all this luxury with whichthe child was so extravagantly surroundedwas bad for her; if Mathilde persistedin pampering her in this way,she would grow up weak and delicate.The life he had chosen for her was farmore healthy; and if she were inured toa harder life in her infancy, she wasmuch more likely to develop into a strong,healthy girl; and as he quieted his consciencewith these thoughts his hesitationvanished, and he stooped to pickher up.
But hark! there was a footstep.Was it Marie returning? What wouldshe think to find him in the nursery, intowhose precincts he had never before intruded,as the servants all knew wellenough? No, it was a false alarm, noone was coming; and seeing that now ornever was the time for him to carry outhis plan, he picked up the baby, foldedthe quilted satin coverlet and the finecambric sheet round it, and covered itsface with a lace handkerchief that layon the pillow; then, feeling that theswansdown quilt might not be warmenough on board the yacht, he glancedround the room, and seeing an Indianshawl which Mathilde often wore lyingon a rocking-chair, he wrapped hisburden entirely up in this, and thendreading every moment the child shouldcry and betray him, he stole out of thenursery to the spiral staircase. Here hepaused for a moment to listen, but allhe heard was Marie's voice far off entreatinganother servant to come andhelp her to look for the cane, as Monsieurle Baron was waiting for it.
"Be quick, Marie, I can't wait muchlonger," shouted the baron, and then,quick as thought, he dived down thespiral staircase, in his haste nearly precipitatinghimself and his little daughter,who still slept peacefully, to the bottom.
To let himself out at the side door wasthe work of a moment; and now, unlesssurprised by any of the servants whomight be loitering about in the shrubberieswith their lovers, he was safe. Hehad only to run down a winding path ofabout two hundred yards across thegrounds to the gate where Léon wasawaiting him. Once the baron startedlike a robber at a rustling in the bushesas he passed, but it was only a cat, andonce again he breathed freely, and inless than five minutes from the time heentered the nursery he stood on the roadby the side of the dogcart.
"Is it you, Arnaut?" asked Léon,anxiously peering through the twilightat his brother.
"Yes, yes, it is all right; here it is,"said the baron, holding the bundle upto Léon.
"How on earth am I to take it?Where is its head? Can't you nurseit till we get to the yacht?" said Léon.
"No; how should I drive with thisthing in my arms? Here, give me thereins, and take hold. This is its head.Thank you," said the baron, with animmense sigh of relief as he handed thebaby to Léon.
Léon took the bundle so reluctantly,and handled it as delicately as if it werea piece of priceless china he was afraidof breaking by a touch, that the baron,who was not in the best of tempers, inspite of his successful expedition, growledout, "It won't bite you; you needn't beafraid."
"I am not, but my dear Arnaut youmight make allowances; I never had a[Pg 19]baby in my arms before in my life. Idaresay I shall get used to it in time; useis second nature, they say. But I say, Idon't believe it ought to be bundled upin this way; it can't breathe; it will besuffocated; I shall open this shawl alittle," said Léon, proceeding to do so,and being immediately rewarded by along, wailing cry from the infant.
"There," said the baron, with animpatient exclamation, "now you havewoke it. Why didn't you leave italone?"
"My dear fellow, it would never havewoke again if I had; the poor littlecreature was choking," said Léon, sittingthe baby up on his knees, as if itwere a year old instead of a few months.
"It will cry the whole way now, and,if we meet anyone, betray our secret,"grumbled the baron.
"Well, I'd rather it cried than haveit suffocated, as it infallibly would havebeen but for me. Baby, in future yearsyou may thank your uncle Léon for savingyour life. Perhaps if I whistle itwill stop howling. I'll try," said Léon,whistling, in which art he was a greatadept.
But whistling had no effect on thebaby, unless it was to make it cry louder,and Léon was in despair, and the barongetting furious, until it suddenly occurredto the former to jump the child up anddown, as he had seen Mathilde do. Thiswas successful; as long as Léon dancedit about it was quiet; the moment hestopped it began to cry.
"I wish old Pierre joy if he has tospend the next twenty-four hours in thisway. Drive on, Arnaut; my arms areaching so I can't keep this game upmuch longer," said Léon, as they enteredthe village of Carolles, where,luckily for them, all the inhabitants hadalready gone to bed, and they met noone till they reached the place wherethe yacht was lying.
A boat was waiting to take Léon onboard with Pierre and the English carpenter,to whom Léon spoke in English,asking him if he were quite sure thebaby would be well looked after wherehe proposed to place it, and on Smith'sanswering that he was certain it would,Léon turned to the baron, who did notunderstand a word of English, and toldhim he need have no anxiety about thechild.
"All right; I don't want to knowwhere you are going to take it; makeany arrangements you like. If you wantmore money than I have given you, letme know and you shall have it. Whendo you expect to be back here, Léon?"
"Oh, not for a month at least; I shallkeep away till all the fuss Mathilde willmake about the baby is over; meanwhile,if you change your mind andwant the baby back, write to me at myagent's and he will forward your letter.Adieu."
And Léon, who had handed the babyto Pierre as soon as they met, nowkissed his brother on both cheeks andthen sprang into the boat. Smithpushed her off and sculled them acrossthe moonlit sea to the yacht, the baronwatching them until they reached herand the boat was drawn up to its davits,when he turned and drove back to thechâteau, wondering greatly how thebaroness would bear the loss of herbaby, and fearing a very bad quarter ofan hour was in store for him when shelearnt what had become of it.
A stiff breeze was blowing, but withwind and tide in her favour the yachtsailed smoothly across the Channel, allon board her, except the baby, being tooinured to the sea to feel ill, and, luckily,the movement of the yacht seemed tolull the child to sleep. When she wokePierre was always at hand with somemilk, so that she was scarcely heard tocry during the whole passage, spendingthe time in sleeping and eating, andthereby enabling Pierre to earn for himselfthe character of a first-rate nurse.
From time to time during the next dayLéon came into the cabin to look at histiny charge, for whom an impromptucradle had been made with some pillowsin an easy chair, and who seemed tohave the happy knack of adapting herselfto circumstances, for she sleptquietly on, with a smile on her little face,all unconscious of the waves from whicha few planks divided her.
"Poor little mite; I hope they'll bekind to her, Smith, these friends of yours.I am half sorry I brought her, thoughthe baron wished it," said Léon, as heleft the cabin; but the next moment hewas whistling on deck as though nosuch thing as the baby existed.
Towards evening they came in sightof Brighton, whose long sea front, evenin those distant days, stretched for amile or two along the coast, and Léon,who knew the town well, and consideredit