Imágenes de páginas

to begin the nursing again, as if nobody had been better at all, which really was aggravating, not to say anything about our being crossish and tiresome when we were getting better, and Paul and I were very ill, because we caught cold again, for the spring was very late, and then very wet.

So when we were all quite better, poor mother looked so white and tired that father said she must go away for a rest, and he took her away to Florence and Rome, and we were left with nurse and Mriar, which we did not like at all.

One day nurse was to have a holiday too, and she went to take tea at her old home. Mriar was to have a friend to take tea with her, and it was to be Miss Ann Ellen Chantler.

We were quite excited at the thought of seeing her at last, and to make it more interesting still, we were having a party, too, on the same day. But ours was only a make-believe party, for Patricia had invited us to her house, which she had in the pound.

We had clean pinafores on, and we pinned the dolls' jewels on Bobby's jacket for medals, and tied the dolls' sashes round Paul, and pretended that it was the Order of the Bath, like the picture of his godfather. We kept arriving on Paul's horse, which Bobby dragged across the floor with a good deal of noise ; we imagined that it was a brougham, because you never do see ladies come to parties on horseback, especially without a side-saddle. Last of all Bobby came himself, and stabled the horse under a chair.

Patricia received us very elegantly, as like mother as she could make it, and took us into the grandest corner of her house. There was only one room, so we had to pretend that we did not see the middle, where the feast was arranged in the dolls' china on Bobby's drum, because it affronts Patricia dreadfully to see her arrangements before she is ready. While we were talking before the feast, and Patricia was just beginning to be vexed because Bobby would only sit smiling and looking at the things in his pockets, instead of being grand, suddenly the nursery door opened, and Miss Ann Ellen Chantler arrived. We forgot our own party to go to the door of the pound, and look as hard as we could with politeness.

I must say that we were disappointed in her. She did not look at all astonishing, but only like Mriar in her best thingsonly that nurse would never have allowed Mriar to wear such a feather as that.

Bobby whispered, 'I am sure she isn't at all exciting. Let us go back to the feast,' and we went back.

Patricia led the way to the drum, and we all sat round it on the floor, and began. We enjoyed it pretty well, but the smell of tea and hot toast came into Patricia's house in a manner that made us a little discontented, and she was a good deal offended because Annis said, in a loud whisper, 'I don't like warm milk out of the dolls' tea-pot. It does taste so tinny,' and when Paul said he liked real jam better than raisins saved from dessert and cut up with the nursery scissors.

Mriar and Miss Ann Ellen Chantler talked chiefly about their places, and the visit was not as exciting as we had expected. We made the feast last as long as we could, but at last Bobby said, “Is there no more ?'

"You ought to ask in a proper way,' said Patricia ; 'I won't have my feast spoiled.'

I'm sorry,' said Bobby, who is a very good-tempered boy. I didn't mean to spoil it. Mrs. Patricia, is there anything else that I can have?'

• There are a few drops of milk,' said Patricia, taking off the lid of the teapot and looking in, though she could only look with one eye at once. 'I mean, do let me give you another


of tea, dear Major Bobby!'

Yes, please,' said Major Bobby, cheerfully, 'but make it sweeter if you can, Mrs. Patricia; it is so nasty when it isn't sweet, and the last was as sour as sour.'

*There is no such thing as sour tea,' said Patricia, severely, in the way

that nurse says it. 'It may not be sweet, but it cannot be sour. Admiral Paul, I think you might wait till you are asked before you take any more raisins, when you see that they are nearly done. Mrs. Helen, my love, do let me fill your cup.'

We all passed our cups, though the milk was rather cold and very tinny, and Patricia divided it equally amongst us.

May we divide the sugar too ?' asked Annis. 'Yes ; I'll do it,' said Patricia. "They don't do it after mother's

' tea, but it is a pity to lose it. Mrs. Helen one, Mrs. Annis one, Major Bobby one, Admiral Paul one, and me one. That's all.'

'Is it quite all the feast?' said Bobby. “It seems to have been a very quick one.'

You have caten everything up in such a hurry,' said Patricia, indignantly. “I meant it to last much longer. But push the drum under a chair, Major Bobby, and we will wash the things some other time. Now we are going to imagine that we are Indians in our hut, and I am the chief. Now, Bobby, hush.

[ocr errors]

You can be the next chief. Outside there are wolves, a great many packs of them.'

But Annis and Paul soon began to be sleepy and quarrelsome, and Mriar came and put them to bed. We were really and truly very sleepy, but we never offer to go to bed, however much we may secretly want, because it seems a degradation. I think it is rather curious how you never want to go to bed at night, and never want to get up in the morning.

So we pretended to be quite wide awake, and when Annis and Paul were in bed, Mriar and Miss Ann Ellen Chantler drew their chairs to the fire, and sat talking with their heads close together. We pulled the screen more round us to feel cosy, and sat on the floor; beginning to be very sleepy, and occasionally hearing what they were saying at the fire, though on our honours we did not mean to listen.

I think this was what we noticed first.

'We've got neighbours at last at the house over there that I told you of.'

• Why, I wouldn't live there for anything you might name,' said Miss Ann Ellen Chantler, dragging her chair nearer to Mriar. “I can't think who would go to live inside those walls.'

Mriar dropped her voice, and they whispered.

* And it's no use asking that old gardener anything, for he's that deaf that he can't hardly hear no more than nothing at all. And he wouldn't hear that if he didn't want, not if it was ever so.'

Mriar's words kept running into each other, and I began to lose the sense of what she was saying. I was growing dreadfully sleepy, but I tried to keep my eyes open by counting the clover bobs on the wall through the door of the pound ; but they seemed to wave about, and the voices at the fire had run into a buzz that sounded far away. But Patricia has long limbs for her age, and she stretched her leg quite out across the pound, and poked me with the toe of her shoe.

Do listen !' she said. Bobby nodded with a rather foolish smile; he was sitting against the wall of the pound, and his head kept drooping down sideways.

I have heard that he is somebody very queer,' Mriar was saying. But the clover-bobs only waved and danced before eyes, and the voices sounded fainter and fainter.

Patricia poked me again, and I roused up with a start. Miss Ann Ellen Chantler was just saying, "Well, nobody would live



[ocr errors]

so close in that dreadful old place that has been shut up so long, that hadn't something to hide.'

*They do say that he has something to hide,' said Mriar, dropping her voice again, and they bent over the fire, and the shadows of their heads nodded on the wall. “They say he is a most dreadful-looking man.'

* Dreadful? Oh, Mari-ar! You make me turn quite cold. What like?'

Mriar only whispered.

He is Bogy,' said Patricia, sitting with her arms and legs quite stiff with horror. “He is Bogy. I am certain of it.'

*Well ! I daresay ; but I can't help it,' I said, resignedly; for I felt that I must go to sleep whatever happened.

* We can't stop him, you know,' said Bobby, rather indistinctly, and his head began to fall forward.

'I am very glad he has gone out of our house,' I said, trying to be polite to Patricia ; but I said to myself, Only it will not make the dark much easier.'

The clover-bobs were waving round the pound like reeds. The fire sank lower and lower, but Mriar and Miss Ann Ellen Chantler still sat by it, their chairs dragged up to the wire guard, and their heads close together, nodding horribly. It grew darker and darker inside the pound. And at last I believe I must have put my head down on the saddle of Paul's horse, and from the pins and needles afterwards in my knees, I think Patricia must have been lying down on me. I remember seeing Bobby's back propped against the wall of the pound, with his head sunk forward, and I know I heard him snore.

And then someone said-it seemed quite in my ear—'Well, I declare! Mriar, if you haven't let them go to sleep on the floor! They'll all catch their deaths! Dear, dear, what a girl to leave in charge !'

And there was nurse in her bonnet, lighting the lamp, and Miss Ann Ellen Chantler was gone, and I believe Mriar had fallen asleep after it, with her head on the table, and her apron over her head.

Then we were made to get up, though Bobby quite entreated to be left there, and nurse was very angry with us for falling asleep on the floor, and with Mriar for letting us do it, and Mriar was very sulky over it, and we felt very dizzy and sleepy ; so our parties did not end as successfully as they might have done.

(To be continued.)



No person certainly ever leaves Florence without having paid at least one visit to the beautiful Calvario of Pietro Perugino, the finest work of the master extant in the city, the work that inspired that picture by Raphael, known as the Dudley Crucifixion, because the canvas hangs in the famous collection of the English Lord. This grand, noble, and withal so simple fresco, is painted in what was once the chapter-house of the convent of Santa Maria Maddalena dei Pazzi, now desecrated and turned into a Government school, though happily chapter-house, fresco, and cloister have been preserved as national monuments, and visitors can enter them daily in return for a small fee. Even those who have not had the privilege of seeing the original picture must be familiar with this exquisite work of art through the medium of photographs; yet how many of those who admire its perfection of execution and tenderness of sentiment, have ever stopped to wonder what was the history of the Saint to whom the building where it exists owes its name? Yet Santa Maria Maddalena dei Pazzi, that aristocratic Saint, known among the votaries of her own church as the ecstatic virgin of

“ Florence,' is not only the bearer of a great historical name, but was, in her day, a most remarkable woman ; a woman, too, who would have been remarkable in any day, though doubtless in these modern times her energies and aspirations would have taken another direction. To the world at large she is certainly hardly known at all, except by name, and this only in connection with the Perugino fresco. And yet her history is not without interest, even for such as may be inclined to lament that so pure, so noble a character should have been warped and distorted by morbid and ascetic ideas and principles.

But before beginning to speak of her life, it may perhaps be

« AnteriorContinuar »