The Boy from Green Ginger Land
BOY FROM GREEN GINGER LAND
THE BOY FROM GREEN
AUTHOR OF ‘CRAGS OF DUTY,’ ETC.
WELLS GARDNER, DARTON & CO., LTD.
PATERNOSTER BUILDINGS, E.C.
PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN
WELLS GARDNER, DARTON AND CO., LTD.
|I.||THREE CHILDREN AND A DOG||1|
|III.||THE FEUDAL CASTLE||24|
|V.||A VISIT TO MARY||49|
|VI.||DIAMOND JUBILEE JONES||58|
|VII.||TRIALS OF PHILANTHROPY||71|
|VIII.||DIAMOND JUBILEE’S SUPPER||89|
|XI.||THE SPARE ROOM BLANKETS||135|
|XIV.||GREEN GINGER LAND||186|
|XV.||MICKY AT THE FAIR||201|
|XVI.||EMMELINE TALKS THINGS OVER||215|
|XVII.||DIAMOND JUBILEE IS ADOPTED FOR THE SECOND TIME||235|
List of Illustrations
|‘QUITE A LITTLE CROWD GATHERED TO WATCH MICKY.’|
|‘KITTY GAVE SUCH A BOUND OF DELIGHT THAT SHE NEARLY UPSET HER TEA.’|
|‘IT WAS LOCKED AND BOLTED, TOP AND BOTTOM.’|
|‘“OH, WHAT SHALL WE DO?” SHE SOBBED.’|
THE BOY FROM GREEN GINGER LAND
THREE CHILDREN AND A DOG
‘Emmeline, it’s your turn to choose a gameto-day. What story shall we do?’
‘No, Micky; it’s your turn,’ put in his twinsister Kitty. ‘Emmeline chose the day beforeyesterday.’
‘I know it’s my turn really, Kitty, but gentlemenalways let ladies choose,’ said eight-year-oldMicky with dignity. ‘I’d very much advise“Swiss Family Robinson,” because it seems sucha splendid opportunity, now the curtain-rodsare down, to use the short ones as sugar-canes;and Mary’s so sorry we’re going away to-morrowthat she won’t be cross even if the paint doesget a little kicked off the bath when it’s beingwrecked.’
‘Micky, I think it’s horrid of you to talk ofMary’s being sorry like that,’ said Emmeline—‘justas if you didn’t care a bit about ourhaving to leave the home of a lifetime, and theonly real friend who has been with us since wewere babies, to go and live with an aunt whodoesn’t care for us!’
‘How do you know Aunt Grace doesn’t carefor us? She’s always very jolly when shecomes here, and she never forgets birthdays,’said Micky, who had a sense of justice. ‘Shesends such sensible things, too—postal orders, orsteam-engines that really work, or real goodbooks of adventure. She never gives you poetry-books.’This last was a sore point with Micky justthen, for his godmother had recently presentedhim with a gilt-edged volume of ‘The PoeticalWorks of William Wordsworth,’ for which he hadbeen expected to write a laborious round-handletter of thanks.
‘Presents are all very well, but they don’tprove that a person loves you,’ said Emmeline;‘and as to her being jolly when she comes here,she never stays more than a day or two at atime, and always seems in a great hurry to getback to London again. Do you think, if shehad really cared anything about us, she wouldhave left us a whole year after darling motherdied before offering to come and look after us?’
This was rather out of Micky’s depth, so heprudently changed the subject. ‘Well, let’s getstarted with the game,’ he said, ‘else we shallhave to get tidy for tea before we’ve even beenproperly wrecked.’
But Emmeline was not to be put off so easily.‘Micky,’ she demanded solemnly, ‘how can yoube so taken up with story-games when we’re asgood as living a story ourselves?’
The twins’ eyes sparkled. Anything savouringof romance was as the breath of life to them,and Emmeline was really rather impressive whenshe talked in that grave way.
‘How do you mean?’ asked Kitty, eagerly.
‘Why, what I have just been saying,’ repliedEmmeline. ‘Here are we, three orphans, leftto the care of a worldly aunt——’
‘But are you quite sure she’s worldly?’ askedKitty, looking alarmed. Kitty was not altogetherclear what ‘worldly’ meant, but from theway Emmeline pronounced the word it soundedlike something very bad.
‘I’m afraid so,’ said Emmeline. ‘I rememberonce, when mother and I spent a night withher in London, and she and her friend kept talkingabout a ball they had just been to.’
‘But balls aren’t wrong, are they?’ askedKitty. Emmeline was twelve, and Kitty regardedas a great authority on all questions ofmorals.
‘I don’t know that they’re exactly wrong,’acknowledged Emmeline, ‘but they are a great wasteof time. When I’m grown up I never mean to goto them, but shall spend all my time working forthe poor. Besides, it isn’t only her going toballs that makes me think Aunt Grace worldly,but the way she dresses and—everything. Iquite expect that when we know more of her weshall find her just like one of the fine ladiesone reads of in books.’
‘Will she be cruel to us, do you suppose?’asked Kitty with zest. She did not reallybelieve that merry, good-natured Aunt Gracecould be cruel, any more than she really, at thebottom of her heart, believed in a romance ofMicky’s about a certain blood-thirsty burglarwho lived in the spare-room wardrobe, but itmade life more exciting to pretend to herselfthat she did.
‘Of course not. What a silly question,Kitty!’ exclaimed Emmeline impatiently. ‘Idare say she will be too busy with parties and soon to bother herself much about us, but she’llbe quite kind—at least, to us. Punch is theonly one I feel at all doubtful about.’ She flungherself down on to the hearthrug, and restedher head against that of a fox-terrier who waslying there half asleep, and who gave a littlegrowl of remonstrance at being disturbed. ‘Wehadn’t got him when she was here last, yousee, so we can’t tell what she’ll think of him.I shouldn’t a bit wonder if she didn’t let us bringhim to Woodsleigh, or even if she does, she’llkeep him chained up all day, poor darling!People who think much about clothes never dolike dogs, except just silly little toy things.’
Micky and Kitty broke out together in a chorusof indignation and horror.
‘If they are so horrid as to chain Punchup in the kennel all day I shall jolly well stayout with him and keep him company!’ shoutedMicky.
‘Oh, Emmeline, you don’t really think there’sany danger of Aunt Grace not letting darlingPunch come?’ said Kitty, almost in tears.
‘Well, I hope not,’ said Emmeline; ‘anyhowI’ve written to her about it, so till we’ve had timeto get her answer there’s no use worrying anymore.’ There was not, but the very suggestionthat Punch might have to be left behind hadcast a gloom upon the party—a gloom which didnot altogether lift even when the brilliant ideastruck Micky that the brooms in the housemaid’scupboard, if placed upside down and balancedagainst the wall, would make excellent palm-treesfor the Robinsons’ desert island.
On the whole, Emmeline was the happiest ofthe three just then, for, grieved as she was atleaving Mary and possibly Punch, the prospectof going to live with her aunt was not altogetherwithout its secret charm for her. The goodlittle girl who had such a beautiful influence onher worldly relations played a prominent partin several of her favourite books, and it was thatpart which Emmeline pictured herself playingwith regard to Aunt Grace. She would havebeen ashamed to express this idea in so manywords even to herself, far more to the twins, but itnone the less reconciled her a good deal to thenew life which lay before them.
Emmeline Bolton had always been a child ofthe type whose virtue specially appeals to nurses.All the grown-up people, indeed, who had everbeen brought much into contact with her agreed inconsidering her a very good girl. In some respectsshe deserved their favourable opinion, for she wastruthful, obedient, and conscientious by nature,but perhaps the fact that she had never been verystrong had more to do with her reputation forgoodness than she herself or anyone else quiterealised.
The child lived in an atmosphere of warmand constant approval which was not altogetherwholesome. Such had been the state of affairstwo years ago, when all three children hadfallen ill of measles. Micky and Kitty had hadthe disease lightly, but with Emmeline it took aserious form. For two days and nights she hadlain delirious, and there came a moment whenMary, believing her to be unconscious, had sobbedout to the trained nurse: ‘I always had a feelingthat the dear child was too sweet and good to belong for this world!’
This presentiment proved a groundless one.As Emmeline grew better the words which shehad heard in her half-delirious state came back toher, and she dwelt on them constantly. Just atfirst they frightened her a little, but when she hadbecome quite strong and well again she ceased tobe alarmed, and only felt pleasantly elated at beingtoo good to be long for this world. It almost—thoughnot quite—made up for having straightbrown hair and a pale peaked face instead ofgolden curls and glowing cheeks like the twins,who were so pretty that people in the street sometimesturned round to look after them.
If Emmeline’s mother had lived she wouldprobably have perceived that the child was ingrave danger of growing into a little Pharisee, andshe might have done something to check it, butshe had become very ill almost as soon as thechildren had recovered from the measles, and haddied less than a year later. After her death thechildren had gone on living at the old home atEastwich, a great East Anglian town, under thejoint charge of Mary and Miss Rogers, their dailygoverness. The arrangement was never intendedto be more than a temporary one, for their aunt,Miss Bolton, who was also their guardian, wishedthem to go and live with her at Woodsleigh, aplace some twelve miles distant from Eastwich,as soon as she regained possession of a cottagethere, which had been left her by her father, butlet for several years past. Mary was to go toher own home to keep house for a brother,so that to-morrow, when her children, as shealways called them, went to begin their new lifewith Aunt Grace, she would have to be left behindat Eastwich.
‘Come, my darlings,’ said Mary, landing soabruptly on the Swiss Family Robinson’s desertisland