« VorigeDoorgaan »
said, scornfully. “Mamma mates it ing softly and singing low, “ Hush, my nicer than you."
babe, lie still and slumber.” It had not Jane wiped up the milk, and the baby been on her lips, or in her mind for was crying more hopelessly than ever. many years; but it came unbidden now,
“I might have known,” sighed poor and surprised her as much as did the Inexperience. “Never mind my dress tears that had gathered in her eyes, as now, Jane; warm some more as soon as she watched the helpless little one she possible, and sweeten it well. I'm sorry held. for the cup; it was my sister Lizzie's. For half an hour she sat dreamily She drank out of it for twenty years, rocking and singing. Jane peeped in and never cracked it. But it's of no twice, and could hardly believe her eyes use mourning. Oh baby, baby, hush ! ”
At last Nanny closed her and once more rising, she began to pace book with a sudden clap, and, forgetup and down, singing “Little Jack ting her caution, yawned aloud. The Horner,” which was one of the few charm was broken. With a violent nursery-rhymes she could recall from
start the sleeping cherub was transthe long-ago time when she had tended formed into an injured, sobbing boy, Mark. Before her breath was quite and rocking and trotting, singing and gone, the new breakfast was ready. It patting, had all to be recommenced, proved acceptable, and was eagerly taxing Miss Hope's strength and paeaten. The wailings ceased, the tears tience to their very extent. Hush, dried on the plump cheeks, and Miss my babe," was useless now. Linden experienced real delight in min had a little lamb,” was received with istering to the child's comfort at last. yells of impatience. “ Jack Horner,” Hardly was the final drop sipped, when Sleep, baby, sleep," “ Gayly the Trouthe bold blue eyes began to grow heavy, badour,” “Baa-baa black sheep," and and the curly head to nestle towards her “ Araby's Daughter" were all essayed shoulder.
without any apparent soothing effect; “He is sleepy, Jane !” she cried, in a but suddenly, in the midst of the “Last happy undertone. “Pull down the cur- Rose of Summer," baby's cries changed tains, give Nanny that book of Natural to a little accompaniment of cooing History, and shut the door softly.” and crooning, the eyelids fell-rose
“ The child may tear it, Miss,” remon- struggled--and fell again, the cooing strated Jane, jealous for “Mr. Mark's” tapered off softly into silence, and my property.
lord again slumbered, this time so "I will take care of that; this dear soundly that Miss Hope ventured to lay little creature must not be roused," said him on the sofa, behind a barricade of the mistress, decidedly, feeling all a chairs, draw a long delicious breath, mother's sense of the supreme impor- and stretch her cramped arms freely. tance of “baby's nap” over all other Having darkened the room still more, considerations. Jane sniffed, obeyed, picked up the rejected toys, and arand retired. Nanny, well trained to the ranged the disordered furniture, she above-named doctrine, was as still as a stepped to the door to look after Nanny, mouse over her book. And now slowly who had gone out to play after waking the pink lids dropped over the dreamy her brother. A melancholy sight met eyes, gently the little fingers unclasped the lady's eyes. Six stately stalks of their hold on the porringer, softly the pure white Japan lilies, which she and weary head sank down upon the waiting Mark had watched through days of arm, and again Miss Linden experienced slowly-opening buds, had been rudely almost a mother's tender joy as the rosy uprooted, and were replanted in a large little tyrant subsided trustfully into un- mound of gravel, which had heaped up consciousness upon her breast. With a on the lower door-stone. Round the sigh of mental satisfaction and physical base of the pile were set the tops of a relief, she leaned back in her chair, rock- dozen of Mark's choicest balsams and
fuchsias. Nanny was nowhere to be ous manner. Jane returned to her own seen. Hope felt as if at that moment domains, with the airs of a paroled she could hardly bear to see her. Her prisoner; and her mistress realized that flowers were her children. She and her she must not summon her from the brother had spent many hours over mysteries of dinner preparation, but rely them, and for this! Her cheeks burned wholly on her own resources for the with displeasure; but after a momentary amusement of the children until that struggle she turned and went along the meal should be fairly over. Fortunateentry to the kitchen. Jane was paring ly, King Fred was in high good humor, apples.
and made himself very happy, toddling “ Take your work into the other about the room with his sister and the room, Jane, so that you can watch the kittens, while Miss Linden prepared baby, while go and find Nanny. I him some more bread and milk, with thought she was with you.” So saying, which he then allowed her to feed him she stepped out the back-door-a most-only once, with a sportive fling of fortunate circumstance. Near it stood both arms, knocking spoon and contents a half-barrel to catch the rain-water against her silken sleeve. “ French from the eaves; and just visible over its chalk, benzine, or ether," thought the edge were Nanny's little kicking legs. patient lady, “if only he will be good A scream and a spring, and the child till Mark comes." Next cime dinner was rescued from what would soon have for herself and Nanny, a meal rather proved a fatal position. There were ten confused and disorderly, as she afterinches of water in the barrel, and her wards related to her brother. arms could not long have supported her “I was not sure what Nanny ought weight. In one she held fast a tin-cup, to eat, and had to refuse her various in trying to fill which she had lost her things that she wanted. Baby wouldn't balance.
let Jane touch him, so I had to keep “I was on’y dettin' water for my jumping up to attend to him. The dardin,” she sobbed, clinging to her front door must be closed, or he would friend. “I made a 'plendid dardin for run out-in fact, all the other doors Fweddy to see when he wates up; tome too. Once he tumbled against the and see," and she pulled Miss Linden table, and made a big lump on his round the house, and pointed in tri- head, and it took me nearly ten minutes umph to the funeral pile of the lilies. to pacify him. He pulled one of my Her recent danger softened the lady's work-table drawers entirely out before heart, and she only said,
I knew he was near it; and the whole " It is very pretty, Nanny; but next contents poured out upon the floor, time you must ask leave before you pull and had to be picked up in a hurry by Mr. Linden's flowers. See, your sleeves all of us; and I am not quite sure that are wet and your hands are dirty. Come he did not swallow one button in spite up in my room, and I will make you of our care. When dessert came he was nice again.”
so tired of amusing himself, that I had Innumerable questions followed the to hold him in my lap, and let him play introduction to the upper rooms: “What with the sugar-tongs, while I ate my is this?” “Is this yours ?” “Please, pudding-Nanny ate her sauce clear; may I look at that ? "
“May I hold it and I was very thankful when it was in my hands ?” etc., etc., until Miss over, and I could give myself up to the Linden felt her brain begin to whirl. children." At last, however, both she and the little When Mr. Linden came home, at four, girl were freshened and in costume for he was met by a succession of surprises. dinner; and, going down, found the From a distance he saw the front-door baby just awakening, rubbing his dim- was closed, a most unusual circumstance pled knuckles into his eyes, and yawn- in summer. As he drew nearer, the ing and stretching in the most luxuri- sand-mound, bedecked with his cher
ished flowers, made him groan aloud. 'Never mind, sis " (he had not called Entering, he missed his umbrella from her so for years); “ let Jane tidy up, the stand, and the scarlet lamb's-wool and I will take you and the tots to mat from the floor. Peeping into the drive. I stopped at Mrs. Oxford's just sitting-room, he saw his sister's work- now, and found the poor fellow had table minus all its drawers, which were recovered his consciousness, and fallen piled up on one end of the mantelpiece. asleep, and his brave little wife was On the other end stood his own cuspi- asleep beside him, all worn out with dor. His favorite crimson easy-chair, anxiety and the effort she had made to its “tidy” gone, was strewn with control herself." crumbs of moist “cooky," and the floor Oh, that is good news!” cried was scattered all over with cats and Hope; "and I should enjoy a drive of cows and nameless beasts, cut out of all things. I have not been out to-day, white letter-paper from his desk. A for the children couldn't go. Do you confused sound of shouting and laugh- suppose their girl could find their hats ter led him on to the parlor, where, to and things without disturbing any bis utter amazement, he found his dig
one?" nified sister sitting on the foor, the " I'll go and see." missing “tidy” on her head, and her He soon returned with all the neceswhole attention given to rolling two sary wraps, helped Hope to dress the large colored marble peaches over the children ; and soon they were all four carpet to Baby Fred. He sat enthroned packed into the buggy, Nanny on a on the lamb's-wool mat, under the can- cricket in front, and the baby in Hope's opy of the open umbrella, yelling with lap. surprise and delight whenever the cold What a blessed rest it was to that balls rolled against his chubby bare faithful little woman! How glad she legs. In the bay-window kneeled Nan- was to let Mark answer Nanny's unny, building a wonderful castle with his wearied flow of questions, to lean back, own much-prized minerals and shells, and relax the strained attention and of which she had entirely emptied the watch-care she had exercised all day. corner cabinet. Corals and nautili, How she blushed and laughed when fragments of spar, and crystal and they met a carriage full of city acquaintagate, fossil fish and petrified ferns, rare ances, who stared in amazement at the and curling ganoids,--they were all children ! The baby was perfectly mere “stones” to the busy little archi- good, and soon fell asleep, and at last tect; and she had reared her edifice to Nanny did the same. almost her own height, and was just When they reached home it was putting a carved Swiss chalet " nearly six o'clock; and rousing the littop of all, when Mr. Linden's “ Heavens tle ones made them fretful and restless. and earth!” startled them all.
Hope hurried into the kitchen to get “Oh, Mark,” cried Miss Hope, start- bread and milk for Freddy, while Mr. ing up, and blushing guiltily, “I didn't Linden marched up and down the sitknow it was so late. I meant to have ting-room with bim, bravely enduring every thing in order before you came. many an impatient clutch at his hair I had to give them whatever they want- and moustache. Nanny subsided into ed, for they cried to go home.”
low whimpering for “ papa and mamShe looked so young and so careless ma," and refused to be diverted. The as she came forward with her cheeks poor child was really wearied out by a flushed, her hair rumpled into little day of unusual excitement, as well as curly ends, under the forgotten“ tidy,” fretful at having been wakened from the baby in her arms clinging to ber her sleep. Her mournful persistent neck, half disposed to cry at sight of sobbing was harder to bear than even the stranger, that Mark kissed her in- Freddy's exasperated yells, which grew voluntarily, and said,
louder every moment. The kitchenVOL. II.-38
fire was low and the milk long in get- her mother, and was happy too, with a ting warm; and when at last, with share of the embracing arms and showflushed face, Miss Linden appeared with ered caresses. For a brief space Mr. and it, she found her brother almost beside Miss Linden were, and felt themselves, himself with vexation at his own failure forgotten outsiders, wondering spectaas a nurse and alarm at the violence of tors of a rapture which puzzled and the baby's cries.
saddened them. Only for a moment, “ Take him quick, Hope!” he gasped. however; the pretty wild-rose face came " I've tried walking and trotting and up from bending over its buds, all dewy rocking, and singing and whistling and and sparkling after its sun-shower of scolding and coaxing. I'm afraid it happy tears. will be swearing next. I'm all in a per- “Dear, kind Miss Linden! How can spiration ; and I believe he has made a I ever thank you enough for taking care bald place on my head. Just hear him! of my darlings all this long, fearful day! You don't think he's in a fit, do you ?” And your brother, too!. What should inquired the distressed bachelor, sink- I ever have done without such kind ing into a chair, and fanning himself neighbors! I had to be with my huswith a newspaper,
band, you know; and Bridget nerer The sight of the bread and milk could be trusted with children ; but I seemed only to enrage the child still know they have been safe and happy further, and he repelled it with arms, with you. And now Frederick is out legs, and voice.
of danger, I can take care of them and “ He must be hungry," said Miss Lin- him too. Oh! you don't know how den. “See if you can feed him while I I've missed them, and their sweet little hold his hands."
ways! It seems a whole month since I Iler brother accordingly kneeled upon saw them! I began to feel as if I were the carpet before her, ard, holding the a childless widow. Oh, it was terrible! porringer in one hand, solemnly dipped I know now how to pity those poor out a large morsel of the softened bread, things who haven't any children-oh, I and tried his best to guide the spoon beg your pardon-I didn't mean-bat into the little roaring mouth, while Hope you must see, after a whole day with clasped the struggling hands and feet them, how charming they are, and how as firmly as she dared, and tried to lonely it is without them.” And she make audible her assurances that “he clasped and kissed them, as if fearing a was a poor tired lammie, and he should new separation. Her hearers had no have his good supper.”
suitable reply ready; but she did not At that moment the door was thrown wait for it. open, and in ran little Mrs. Oxford, still “ You must come over often and see in her morning wrapper, her girlish face them, if you find you miss them. I shall quite haggard with anxiety. In an in- never forget how good you were. Now, stant she had snatched her baby from I must take them home, and put them between its well-meaning tormentors, to-bed, the dear little tired things. You and was cooing and crying over it—the didn't think I could spare them all brave self-control she had exercised night, did you ? " throughout the day now all broken * Oh, no!” said Miss Hope, very down.
earnestly. “ Mother's blessed own, own com- “I know I couldn't sleep without fort,” she murmured, almost devouring bearing their soft breathing beside me. him with kisses; and the little rebel's Good-night, dear Miss Linden," and cries were hushed at once. He clung holding up her baby's and then her own to her in happy silence, only now and artless face to be kissed, she allowed then catching his breath in a pathetic Mr. Linden to carry drowsy Nanny, and little sob, the ebbing wave of his storm hurried away before him, through the of passion. Nanny flung herself upon fading daylight, to her own house.
Miss Hope sat on the door-stone, and without communication. It was often looked after them with a strange min so with them. At last, however, when gling of relief and regret. She was un the darkness made it easier to speak feignedly glad to be set free from the from the inner self, when, in the hush day's new responsibilities, and yet- of the night, the barriers between heart was there not a longing envy in the and heart were melted away, Mark sudsigh she drew, as she remembered the denly said, mother's rapture ? She recalled the "Speak out, little woman; tell me dinted bell, the ruined brush, the broken the question you've been puzzling over cup, the interrupted dinner, the disor all this time.” And Hope replied, dered rooms, the uprooted flowers, the “I was remembering how I half degreased dress and carpet, the whole spised Mrs. Oxford yesterday, for being day passed without reading or garden so absorbed in her housekeeping and ing or music. All these things had tried nursery cares, and how she seemed to her orderly spirit severely; and yet, and think lightly of my gardening and Geryet,
man and reading; and now I have spent When her brother returned, and sat to-day in her way; and somehow I feel down on the step beside her, there was better satisfied with myself than I someno fretfulness or complaining in the times do when I have disposed of my face she lifted towards him. Weary it time according to my taste. I feel as was, very weary, but he thought he had if” never seen her look more beamingly “Yes, Hope" sweet, more womanly, and gentle. [What Hope said is the moral of our Neither spoke for a long time. The little sketch. Curiously enough it is twilight deepened and the stars came needless to repeat it. For once the lesout. Both thought their own thoughts, son must inevitably be clear to every happy in being near each other, content one who needs it.]
THE MOUNTAIN OF KNOWLEDGE.
Far, far above
And slowly up I move,
Because I know
For mortal foot to go.
There is no end
What boots it that they spend
Long toiling years
of alien atmospheres.
All is the same.
Give us a nobler aim !