Chapter IV. Turned in Among Them
 

'Do you like pets?' asked Mysie eagerly, as her mother left the two girls together.

'I never had any,' said Dolores.

'Oh how dreadful! Why, old Cockie, and Aga and Begum, the two oldest pussies, have been everywhere with us. And, besides, there's Basto, the big Pyrenean dog, and,--oh, here comes little Quiz, mamma's little Maltese--Quiz, Quiz.'

Dolores started, she did not like either dogs or cats; and the little spun-glass looking dog smelt about her.

'I must go and feed my guinea-pig,' said Mysie; 'won't you come? Here are some over shoes and Poncho.'

Dolores was afraid Poncho was another beast, but it turned out to be a sort of cape, and she discovered that all the cloaks and most of the sticks had names of their own. She was afraid to be left standing on the steps alone lest any amount of animals or boys should fall on her there, so she consented to accompany Mysie, who shuffled along in a pair of overshoes vastly too big for her, since she had put her cousin into the well-fitting ones. She chattered all the way.

'We do like this place so. It is the nicest we have ever been in. All that is wanting is that papa will buy it, and then we shall never go away again.'

It was a pleasant place, though not grand; a homely-looking, roomy, red-brick house, covered with creepers--the Virginian one with its leaves just beginning to be painted. There was a bright sunny garden full of flowers in front, and then a paddock, with cows belonging to a farmer, Mysie said. It was her ambition to have them of their own 'when papa came home,' when all good things were to happen. Behind there were large stable-yards and offices, too large for Lady Merrifield's one horse and one pony, and thus available for the children's menagerie of rabbits, guinea-pigs, magpie, and the like. On the way Mysie was only too happy to explain the family as she called it, when she had recovered from her astonishment that Dolores, always living in England, could not 'count up her cousins.' 'Why they always had been shown their photographs on a Sunday evening after the Bible pictures, and even little Primrose knew all the likeness, even of those she had never seen.'

The catalogue of names and ages followed.

Dolores heard it with a feeling of bewilderment, and a sense that one Maude was worth all the eight put together with whom she was called on to be familiar. She found herself standing in a court, rather grass- grown, where Gillian, with little Primrose by her side, was flinging peas to a number of pigeons, grey, white, and brown, who fluttered round her. Valetta and Fergus were on the granary steps, throwing meal and sop mixed together to a host of cackling, struggling fowls, who tried to leap over each other's backs. Wilfred seemed busy at some hutches where some rabbits twitched their noses at cabbage leaves. Mysie proceeded to minister to some black and rust-coloured guinea- pigs, which Dolores thought very ugly, uninteresting, and odorous.

Then there were dogs jumping about everywhere, and cats and kittens parading before people's feet, so that Dolores felt as if she had been turned into a den of wild beasts, and resolved against ever again venturing into the court at 'feeding-time.' A big bell gathered all the children up together into a race to the house. There was another scurry to change shoes and wash hands, and then Mysie conducted her cousin into a large, cheerful, wainscoted room on the ground floor, with deep windows, and numerous little, solid-looking deal tables. There were Lady Merrifield and a young lady in spectacles, to whom Dolores was presented as 'your new pupil,' and every one sat down at one of the little tables, on which there were Bibles and Prayer-books.

Lady Merrifield took the two youngest on each side of her. Dolores found a table ready for her with the books. A passage in the New Testament was given out and read verse by verse, to the end of the subject, which was the Parable of the Tares, and then Lady Merrifield gave a short lesson on it, asking questions, and causing references to be found, according to a book of notes, she had ready at hand.

'Just like a charity school,' thought Dolores, when she was able to glance at the time-table, and saw that two days in the week there was Old Testament, two days New, one day Catechism, one day Prayer-book. Only half an hour was thus appropriated, but to her mind it was an old- fashioned waste of time, and very tiresome.

Then came a ring at the door-bell. 'Mr. Poulter,' she heard, and to her amazement, she found that Gillian and Mysie, as well as their brothers, had Latin lessons in the dining-room with the curate. The two girls and Fergus only went to him every other day, Wilfred every day, as Gillian was learning Greek and mathematics. What was Dolores to do?

'Have you done any Latin, my dear?' asked her aunt.

'Not yet. Father wished to be quite convinced that the professor was a good scholar,' said Dolores.

'Very well. We will wait a little,' said Aunt Lilias, and Dolores indignantly thought that she was amused.

Mysie was sent off to her music in the drawing-room, whither her mother followed with Primrose's little lessons, leaving the schoolroom piano to Valetta, and Fergus to write copies and to do sums, while Miss Vincent examined the new-comer, which she did by giving her some questions to answer in writing, and some French and German to translate and parse also in writing.

The music was inconvenient to a girl who had always prepared her work alone. She could do the language work easily, but the questions teased her. They seemed to her of no use, and quite out of her beat. No dates, none of the subject she had specially got up. Why, if Miss Vincent did not know that people were not to be expected to answer stupid questions about history quite out of their own line, that was her fault.

She did what she knew, and then sat biting the top of her pen till her aunt came back, and there was a change in occupations all round, resulting in her having to read French aloud, which she knew she did well; but it was provoking to find that Gillian read quite as well, and knew a word at which she had made a shot, and a wrong one.

She heard the observation pass between her aunt and the governess, 'Languages fair, but she seems to have very little general information.'

General information, indeed! Just as if she who had lived in London, gone to lectures, and travelled on the Continent, must not know more than these children cast up and down in a soldier's life; and as if her Fraulein, with all her diplomas, must not be far superior to a mere little daily governess, and a mother! It was all for the sake of depreciating her.

At twelve o'clock, to her further indignation, she found there was to be an hour of reading aloud and of needlework-actual plain needlework. The three girls were making under-garments for themselves; and on Dolores proving to have no work of any sort, her aunt sent Gillian to the drawer, and produced a child's pinafore, which she was desired to hem. Each, however, had a quarter of an hour's reading aloud of history to do in turn, all from one big book, a history of Rome, and there was a map hung up over the black board, where they were in turn to point to the places mentioned. Before Gillian began reading, the date, and something about the former lesson was required to be told by the children, and it came quite readily, Valetta especially declaring that she did love Pyrrhus, which the others seemed to think very bad taste.

Dolores knew nothing about ancient history, and thought it foolish to study anything that did not tell in a Cambridge examination; but she supposed they knew no better down there; and when it came to her turn to read, she mangled the names so, that Val burst out laughing when she spoke of A-pious-Claudius. Lady Merrifield hushed this at once, and the girl read in a bewildered manner, and as one affronted. She saw he aunt looking at her piece of hemming, which, to say the truth, would not have done credit to Primrose, and the recollection came across her of all the oppressed orphans who had been made household drudges, so that her reading did not become more intelligible. As the clock struck one, a warning gong was heard; everybody jumped up, the work was folded away, and with the obeisance at the door, Gillian and Val ran away.

Mysie stayed a little longer, it being her turn to tidy the room; and Lady Merrifield said to Dolores--

'I must teach you how to hold your needle tomorrow, my dear.'

'I hate work,' responded Dolores.

'Val does not like it,' said her aunt; 'nor indeed did I at your age; but one cannot be an independent woman without being able to take care of one's own clothes, so I resolved that these children should learn better than I did. Do you like a take a run with Mysie before dinner? Or there is the amusing shelf. Books may be taken out after one o'clock, and they must be put back at eight, or they are confiscated for the ensuing day,' she added, pointing to a paper below where this sentence was written.

Dolores was still rather tired, and more inclined to make friends with the books than with the cousins. There were fewer than she expected, and nothing like so many absolute stories as she was used to reading with Maude Sefton.

'Those are such grown-up books,' she said to Mysie, who came to assist her choice, and pointed to the upper shelves.

'Oh, but grown-up books are nicest!' returned Mysie; 'at least, when they don't begin being stupid and marrying too soon. They must do it at last to get out of the story, and it's nicer than dying, but they can have lots of nice adventures first. But here are the 'Feats on the Fiords' and the 'Crofton Boys' and 'Water Babies,' and all the volumes of 'Aunt Judy,' if you like the younger sort. Or the dear, dear 'Thorn Fortress;' that's good for young and old.'

'Haven't you any books of your own?'

'Oh yes; this 'Thorn Fortress' is Val's, and 'A York and a Lancaster Rose' is mine, but whenever any one gives us a book, if it is not a weeny little gem like Gill's 'Christian Year,' or my 'Little Pillow,' or Val's 'Children in the Wood,' we bring it to mother, and if it is nice, we keep it here, for every one to read. If it is just rather silly, and stupid, we may read it once, and then she keeps it; and if it is very silly indeed, she puts it out of the way.'

Mysie said it as if it had been killing an animal.

'Have you got many books?'

'Yes; but I don't mean to have them knocked about by all the boys, nor put out of the way neither.'

'Mamma said we were to be all like sisters,' said Mysie, with rather a craving for the new books; but Dolores tossed up her head and said--

'We can't be. It's nonsense to say so.'

To her surprise, Mysie turned round to Lady Merrifield, who was looking at some exercises that Miss Vincent had laid before her.

'Mamma,' she said, 'is it fair that Dolores should read our books, if she won't give you up hers to look over, and be like ours?'

'Mysie,' said Lady Merrifield, 'you can't expect Dolores to like all our home plans till she is used to them. No, my dear, you need not be afraid; you shall keep your books in your own room, and nobody shall meddle with them. I am sure your cousins would not wish to be so unkind as to deprive you of the use of theirs.'

By the time Dolores had made up her mind to take 'Tom Brown,' it was time for the general flight to prepare for dinner, and she found her room made to look very pleasant, and almost homelike, for her books and little knickknacks had been put out, not quite as she preferred, but still so as to make the place seem like her own. She was pleased enough to be quite gracious to Mysie and Val who came to visit her, and to offer to let them read any of her books; when they both thanked her and said--

'If mamma lets us.'

'Oh, then you won't have them,' said Dolores; 'I'm not going to let her have my books to take away.'

'You don't think she would take them away, when she said she wouldn't?' said Mysie, hotly.

'Why, what would she do if she didn't happen to approve of them?'

'Only tell us not to read them.'

'And wouldn't you?'

'Why, Dolores!' in such a tone as made her ashamed of her question; and she said, 'Well, father never makes any fuss about what I read. He has other things to think of.'

'How do you get books, then?'

'I buy them. And Maude Sefton, she's my great friend, has lots given to her, but nobody bothers about reading them. They aren't grown-up books, you know.'

'How stupid,' said Val. 'You had better read the 'Talisman,' and then you'll see how nice a grown-up book is.'

'The 'Talisman!' Why, Maude Sefton's brother had to get it up for his holiday task, and he said it was all rot and bosh.'

'What a horridly stupid boy he must be,' returned Mysie. 'Why, I remember when Jasper once had the 'Talisman' to do, and the big ones were so delighted. Mamma read it out, and I was just old enough to listen. I remembered all about Sir Kenneth and Roswal.'

'Tom Sefton's not stupid!' said Dolores, in wrath; 'but--but the book is stupid and out of date! I heard father and the professor say it was gone by.'

Mysie and Valetta looked perfectly astounded, and Dolores pursued her advantage.

'Of course it is all very well for you that have never lived in London, nor had any advantages.'

'But we have advantages!' cried Val.

'You don't know what advantages are,' said Dolores.

'There's the gong,' cried Mysie, and down they all plunged into the dining-room, where the family were again collected, with Hal at one end and his mother at the other.

Dolores was amazed when, at the first pause, after every one was help, Valetta's voice arose.

'Mamma, what are advantages?'

'Don't you know, Val?'

'Dolores says we haven't any. And I said we have. And she says I don't know what advantages are.'

Hal and Gillian were both laughing with all their might. Their mother kept her countenance, and said--

'I suppose every one has advantages of some sort, and perhaps without knowing them.'

'I'm sure I know,' cried Fergus.

'Well, what are they?' asked Harry.

'Having mamma!' cried the little boy.

'Hear, hear! That's right, Fergy man! Couldn't be better!' cried Harry, and there was a general acclamation, which inspired gentle Mysie with the fear that her motherless cousin might feel the contrast, and, though against rules, she whispered--

'She will make you like one of us.'

'That wasn't what I meant,' returned Dolores, a little contemptuously.

'What did you mean?' said Mysie.

'Why, you've no classes, nor lectures, nor master, and only just a mere daily governess.'

Dolores did not mean this to be heard beyond her neighbour, but Mysie demanded--

'What, do you want to be doing lessons all day long?'

'No, but good governesses never are daily!'

'That's a pity,' said Gillian, turning round on her. 'Perhaps you don't know that Miss Vincent has a First Class Cambridge Certificate in everything, and is daily, because she likes to live with her mother.'

'I think,' added Lady Merrifield, with a smile, 'that Dolores has been in the way of seeing more clever people, and getting superior teaching of some kind, but we will do the best we can for her, and try not to let her miss many advantages.'

Dolores felt a little abashed, and decidedly angry at being put in the wrong.

The elders kindly turned away the general attention from her. There was a great deal of merry family fun going on, which was quite like a new language to her. Fergus and Primrose wanted to go out in search of blackberries. Gillian undertook to drive them in the cart, but as the donkey had once or twice refused to cross a little stream of water that traversed the road, the brothers foretold that she would ignominiously come back again.

'Gill and water are perilous!' observed Hal.

'Jack's not here,' said Gillian; 'besides, it is down, not up the hill, and I'm sure I don't want to draw a pail of water.'

'No--Sancho will do that.'

'The gong will sound and sound, buzz and roar,' said Wilfred. 'No Gill! no little ones! We shall send out and find them stuck fast in the lane, Sancho with his feet spread out wide, Gill with three or four sticks lying broken on the road round her, the kids reduced to eating blackberries like the children in the wood.'

'Don't Fred,' said Gillian. 'You'll frighten them.'

'Little donkeys!' said Wilfred.

'If they were, we shouldn't want Sancho,' said Val.

It was not a very sublime bit of wit, but there was a great laugh at it all round the table. Val and Fergus declared they would go too, till they heard that Nurse Halfpenny said she would not let the little ones go out without her to tear their clothes to pieces.

Every one unanimously declared that would be no fun at all, and turned to mamma to beg her to forbid nurse to come out and spoil everything.

'That's just her view,' said mamma, laughing; 'she thinks you spoil everything.'

'Oh, that's clothes! Spoiling fun is worse.'

'But were you really going with the old Halfpenny, Gill?' said Mysie, turning to her.

'Yes,' said Gillian. 'You know I can manage her pretty well when it is only the little ones and they wouldn't have any pleasure otherwise.'

'Oh come, Gill,' intreated Fergus, 'or nurse will make us sit in the donkey-cart all the time while Lois picks the blackberries!'

'Mamma, do tell her not to come,' intreated Valetta, and more of them joined in with her.

'No, my dears, I don't like to vex her when she thinks she is doing her duty.'

'She wouldn't come if you did, mamma,' and there was a general outcry of intreaty that mamma would come with them, and defend them from Mrs. Halfpenny, as Fergus, who was rather a formal little fellow, expressed it, and mamma, after a little consideration, consented to drive the pony-carriage in that direction, and to announce to Nurse Halfpenny that she herself would take charge of the children. Whereupon there was a whoop and a war-dance of jubilee, quite overwhelming to Dolores, who could not but privately ask Mysie if Nurse Halfpenny was so very cross.

'Awfully,' said Mysie, and Wilfred added--

'As savage as a bear with a sore head.'

'Like Mrs. Crabtree?' asked Dolores.

'Exactly. Jasper called her so when he wanted to lash her up, till at lash she got hold of his 'Holiday House' and threw it into the sea, and it was in Malta and we couldn't get another,' said Mysie.

'And haven't you one?'

'Yes, Gill and I save for it; but mamma only let us have it on condition we made a solemn promise never to tease nurse about it.'

'And does she go at you with that dreadful thing--what's it name--the tawse?'

'Ah! you'll soon know,' said Wilfred.

'No, no; nonsense, Fred,' said Mysie, as Dolores' face worked with consternation. 'She never hits us, not if we are ever so tiresome. Papa and mamma would not let her.'

'But why do they let her be so dreadful? Maude's nurse used to be horrid and slap her, and when her mother found it out the woman was sent away directly.'

Nurse Halfpenny isn't that sort,' said Mysie. 'Her husband was papa's colour-sergeant, and he got a sun-stroke and died, and then she came when Gillian was just born, and so weak and tiny that she would never have lived if nurse hadn't watched her day and night, and so Gillian's her favourite, except the youngest, and she is ever so good, you know. I've heard the ladies, when we were with the dear old 111th, telling mamma how they envied her her trustworthy treasure.'

'I'm sure they might have had her at half-price,' said Wilfred. 'She's be dear at a farthing!'

At that moment Mrs. Halfpenny's voice was heard demanding if it were really her ladyship's pleasure to go out, fatiguing herself to the very death with all the children rampaging about her and tearing themselves to pieces, if not poisoning themselves with all sorts of nasty berries.

'Indeed I'll take care of them and bring them back safe to you,' responded her ladyship, very much in the tone of one of her own children making promises. 'Put them on their brown hollands and they can't come to much harm.'

'Well, if it's your wish, ma'am, my leddy; what must be, must, but I know how it will be--you'll come back tired out, fit to drop, and Miss Val and Miss Primrose won't have a rag fit to be seen on them. But if it's your will, what must be must, for you're no better than a bairn yourself, general's lady though you be, and G.C.B.'

'No, nurse, you'll be G.C.B.--Grand Commander of the Bath--when we come home,' called out Hall, who was leaning on the banister at the bottom, and there was a general laugh, during which Dolly tardily climbed the stairs, so tardily that her aunt, meeting her, asked whether she was still tired, and if she would rather have the afternoon to arrange her room.

She said 'yes,' but not 'thank you,' and went on, relieved that Mysie did not offer to stay and help her, and yet rather offended at being left alone, while all the others went their own way. She heard them pattering and clattering, shouting and calling up and down the passages, and then came a great silence, while they could be seen going down the drive, some on foot, some in the pony-chaise or donkey-cart.

Her things had all been unpacked and put in order, and her room had a very cheerful window. It was prettily furnished with fresh pink and white dimity, and choice-looking earthenware, but to London eyes like those of Dolores it seemed very old-fashioned and what she called 'poked up.' The paper was ugly, the chimney-piece was a narrow, painting thing, of the same dull, stone-colour as the door and the window-frame. And then the clear air, the perfect stillness, the absence of anything moving in the view from the window gave the city- bred child a sense of dreadful loneliness and dreariness as she sat on the side of her bed, with one foot under her, gazing dolefully round her, and in he head composing her own memoirs.

'Fully occupied with their own plans and amusements, the lonely orphan was left in solitude. Her aunt knew not how her heart ached after the home she had left, but the machine of the family went its own way and trod her under its wheels.'

This was such a fine sentence that it was almost a comfort, and she thought of writing it to Maude Sefton, but as she got up to fetch her writing-case from the schoolroom, she saw that her books were standing just in the way she did not like, and with all the volumes mixed up together. So she tumbled them all out of the shelves on the floor, and at that moment Mrs. Halfpenny looked into the room.

'Well, to be sure!' she exclaimed, 'when me and Lois have been working at them books all the morning.'

'They were all nohow--as I don't like them,' said Dolores.

'Oh, very well, please yourself then, miss, if that's all the thanks you have in your pocket, you may put them up your own way, for all I care. Only my lady will have the young ladies' rooms kept neat and orderly, or they lose marks for it.'

'I don't want any help,' said Dolores, crossly, and Mrs. Halfpenny shut the door with a bang. 'The menials are insulting me,' said Dolores to herself, and a tear came to her eye, while all the time there was a certain mournful satisfaction in being so entirely the heroine of a book.

She went to work upon her books, at first hotly and sharply, and very carefully putting the tallest in the centre so as to form a gradual ascent with the tops and not for the world letting a second volume stand before its elder brother, but she soon got tired, took to peeping at one or two parting gifts which she had not yet been able to read, and at last got quite absorbed in the sorrows of a certain Clare, whose golden hair was cut short by her wicked aunt, because it outshone her cousin's sandy locks. There was reason to think that a tress of this same golden hair would lead to her recognition by some grandfather of unknown magnificence, as exactly like that of his long-lost Claribel, and this might result in her assuming splendours that would annihilate the aunt. Things seemed tending to a fracture of the ice under the cruellest cousin of all, and her rescue by Clare, when they would be carried senseless into the great house, and the recognition of Clare and the discomfiture of her foes would take place. How could Dolores shut the book at such a critical moment!

So there she was sitting in the midst of her scattered books, when the galloping and scampering began again, and Mysie knocked at the door to tell her there were pears, apples, biscuits, and milk in the dining- room, and that after consuming them, lessons had to be learnt for the next day, and then would follow amusements, evening toilette, seven o'clock tea, and either games or reading aloud till bedtime. As to the books, Mysie stood aghast.

'I thought nurse and Lois had done them all for you.'

'They did them all wrong, so I took them down.'

Oh, dear! We must put them in, or there'll be a report.'

'A report!'

'Yes, Nurse Halfpenny reports us whenever she doesn't find our rooms tidy, and then we get a bad mark. Perhaps mamma wouldn't give you one this first day, but it is best to make sure. Shall I help you, or you won't have time to eat any pears?'

Dolores was thankful for help, and the books were scrambled in anyhow on the shelves; for Mysie's good nature was endangering her share of the afternoon's gouter, though perhaps it consoled her that her curiosity was gratified by a hasty glance at the backs of her cousin's story-books.

By the time the two girls got down to the dining-table, every one had left the room, and there only remained one doubtful pear, and three baked apples, besides the loaf and the jug of milk. Mysie explained that not being a regular meal, no one was obliged to come punctually to it, or to come at all, but these who came tardily might fare the worse. As to the blackberries, for which Dolores inquired, the girls were going to make jam of them themselves the next day; but Mysie added, with an effort, she would fetch some, as her cousin had had none in the gathering.

'Oh no, thank you; I hate blackberries,' said Dolores, helping herself to an apple.

'Do you?' said Mysie, blankly. 'We don't. They are such fun. You can't think how delicious the great overhanging clusters are in the lane. Some was up so high that Hal had to stand up in the cart to reach them, and to take Fergus up on his shoulder. We never had such a blackberrying as with mamma and Hal to help us. And only think, a great carriage came by, with some very grand people in it; we think it was the Dean; and they looked down the lane and stared, so surprised to see what great mind to call out, 'Fee, faw, fum.' You know nothing makes such a good giant as Fergus standing on Hal's shoulders, and a curtain over them to hide Hal's face. Oh dear, I wish I hadn't told you! You would have been a new person to show it to.'

Dolores made very little answer, finished her apple, and followed to the schoolroom, where an irregular verb, some geography, and some dates awaited her.

Then followed another rush of the populace for the evening meal of the live stock, but in this Dolores was too wary to share. She made her way up to her retreat again, and tried to lose the sense of her trouble and loneliness in a book. Then came the warning bell, and a prodigious scuffling, racing and chasing, accompanied by yells as of terror and roars as of victory, all cut short by the growls of Mrs. Halfpenny. Everything then subsided. The world was dressing; Dolores dressed too, feeling hurt and forlorn at no one's coming to help her, and yet worried when Mysie arrived with orders from Mrs. Halfpenny to come to her to have her sash tied.

'I think a servant ought to come to me. Caroline always does,' said the only daughter with dignity.

'She can't, for she is putting Primrose to bed. Oh, it's so delicious to see Prim in her bath,' said Mysie, with a little skip. 'Make haste, or we shall miss her, the darling.'

Dolores did not feel pressed to behold the spectacle, and not being in the habit of dressing without assistance, she was tardy, and Mysie fidgeted about and nearly distracted her. Thus, when she reached the nursery, Primrose was already in her little white bed-gown, and was being incited by Valetta to caper about on her cot, like a little acrobat, as her sisters said, while Mrs. Halfpenny declared that 'they were making the child that rampageous, she should not get her to sleep till midnight.'

They would have been turned out much sooner, and Primrose hushed into silence, if nurse's soul had not been horrified by the state of Dolores' hair and the general set of her garments.

'My certie!' she exclaimed--a dreadful exclamation in the eyes of the family, who knew it implied that in all her experience Mrs. Halfpenny had never known the like! And taking Dolores by the hand, she led the wrathful and indignant girl back into her bedroom, untied and tied, unbuttoned and buttoned, brushed and combed in spite of the second bell ringing, the general scamper, and the sudden apparition of Mysie and Val, whom she bade run away and tell her leddyship that 'Miss Mohoone should come as soon as she was sorted, but she ought to come up early to have her hair looked to, for 'twas shame to see how thae fine London servants sorted a motherless bairn.'

Dolores felt herself insulted; she turned red all over, with feelings the old Scotchwoman could not understand. She expected to hear the message roared out to the whole assembly round the tea-table, but Mysie had discretion enough to withhold her sister from making it public.

The tea itself, though partaken of by Lady Merrifield, seemed an indignity to the young lady accustomed to late dinners. After it, the whole family played at 'dumb crambo.' Dolores was invited to join, and instructed to 'do the thing you think it is;' but she was entirely unused to social games, and thought it only ridiculous and stupid when the word being a rhyme to ite, Fergus gave rather too real a blow to Wilfred, and Gillian answered, ''Tis not smite;' Wilfred held out a hand, and was told, ''Tis not right;' Val flourished in the air as if holding a string, and was informed that 'kite' was wrong; when Hal ran away as if pursued by Fergus by way of flight; and Mysie performed antics which she was finally obliged to explain were those of a sprite. Dolores could not recollect anything, and only felt annoyed at being made to feel stupid by such nonsense, when Mysie tried to make her a present of a suggestion by pointing to the back of a letter. Neither write nor white would come into her head, though little Fergus signalized himself, just before he was swept off to bed, by seizing a pen and making strokes!

After his departure, Lady Merrifield read aloud 'The Old oak Staircase,' which had been kept to begin when Dolores came, Hal taking the book in turn with his mother. And so ended Dolores' first day of banishment.