Imagens da página
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

liam, who have the Pickwick Papers between them, moves off slowly, Delectus in hand, to the schoolroom.

“Hallo! where are you going to ?” asked Paul, as Barbara moved too.

“ To the house." .« Don't be long."

Perhaps not.

Barbara went on her way, mounted the four steps to the hall door, and then crossed the ball to the schoolroom. Here, as she had guessed, was David at the table, bis elbows upon it, his book before him.

“David !”
“ Well ?” he demanded, impatiently.
“Can't you make it out ?”
“No, nor ever shall.”
“ Let me help you."
“You can't; you know nothing of Greek.”

“No; then I cannot. Is it the same as Monday night "

“Of course it is. They may keep me in every other day for the next year, and I shan't be able to do it a bit the more.

“Can't Harvey help you ?”

“No thank you,” answered David, knowing well the conceited patronage of his clever elder brother.

“ Will, then.”
“He won't.”
“ Yes, if you

asked him." “I tell you he won't. Do go, will you? You've just put out of my head all I had made out."

Barbara's dull cheek flushed. In a large family elder sisters speak and act as in a small one they would never think of doing, nor need to do; and in one where boys preponderate, they venture on truths and lessons, the boldness of which would astonish the sisters of most families.

“David, you may be vexed, but you should re. member that I hoped to help you; and be civil, if you can't be more.”

[ocr errors]

“Hang you and your civility," shouted David, “and go!"

David was so seldom roused to such animation, that Barbara could not but smile at his vehemence, forego her lecture, and follow his wishes.

She went back to the garden, and took her old seat. “ Paul !” “ Yes—wait a minute."

Barbara waited three, but her brother not having even then raised his eyes from his book, she tried again.

“ Paul !"

“Do be quiet! here's little Dombey dying: can't you let me cry in peace ?”

Barbara looked over his shoulder, “ There now it's done, so do come back to life: I want you to help David.”

“ Pooh nonsense. Help him yourself.” “ I can't.”

“ Well, nor can I. I declare this has quite upset me."

“It ought to make you want to help other little boys."

< But it doesn't, it only makes me want to go on and see how Mr. D. will take it," and Paul settled himself into his book again.

“No, Paul, you shan't. That poor boy has been puzzling over his lesson all the evening, he was kept in for his Greek yesterday, and he will be again tomorrow if somebody does not help him.”

“ I'm very sorry for him."
“Then show that you are."

Perhaps I will some day. Now pax! or I must go away from you."

“Paul, how can you be so selfish ?”

“How can you be so provoking? Now I'm not going to answer a word more.”

"I did not think it of you." No answer. "Paul, I wonder you are not ashamed of yourself

crying over a sham sorrow, and not helping a real one.

No answer again. So Barbara gathered her dress around her and withdrew to the further corner of the seat.

There was a dead gloomy silence for five minutes, first broken in upon by Henrietta's bright voice and laugh. “Mr. Cradock, come and help us! Frank can't reach such a beauty, and you are taller than he is.”

“I have never knocked down mulberries in my life, Miss Wynne, and it is too late to begin now.”

• Never too late to learn to turn your hand to something useful.”

“ Useful ?"

“Yes, because—it would please me," answered Henrietta blushing and hanging her head a little.

“So, everything that pleases you is useful! No, I do not agree to that. I think knocking down mulberries is a very idle way of spending an evening. ”

“ Hang the man's sententiousness," muttered Paul between his teeth.

Barbara sighed. “ Eb, what ?” he asked quickly. “I dread that marriage,” answered Barbara, shortly.

Why ?” « Crabbed age and youth-"

“ Can't agree together? or whatever it is. Trust Hetty for agreeing. I never quarrelled with her yet. She's

too good for bim, I know that." “ Hetty is overrated,” began Barbara slowly, but Paul broke in.

Well, save me from my friends! I tell you Hetty keeps the house going."

Barbara shook her head.

Yes she does. You'll see, she and Cradock will get on capitally

« No!”
“ Yes!"

“No! He is selfish and overbearing and cold tempered already.”

“ Hush !"

Why ?” "If walls have ears boys have. Look at Hargrave and Will.”

“ Yes, you are right.”

Paul smiled at her ready honesty, but for all reward moved off book and all, and sauntered to the house. He did not come back; and after waiting a few minutes Barbara put down her work, crossed the garden, opened the side gate and entered the yard which lay to the left of the house, and was formed into a perfect square by the north side of the house itself, and three ivy-covered old walls,-one shutting it out from the garden, another from the drive, and the third from Mr. Nelson's, the Wynnes' next neighbour. Here outside his kennel lay Paul's beautiful dog, Rollo, a Hungarian mastiff who (surely it is an insult to say of such a dog which) who, at Barbara's approach, raised himself, stretched himself, and then sprang upon her, putting his front paws with ease on her shoulders, though the girl was five feet six, and licked her face for love. Now Barbara did not profess to like dogs, but this was Paul's, and moreover such a splendid faithful creature that even Mrs. Wynne admitted him where she had never before allowed the very nose of a dog to appear. Barbara patted his head, called him “

pod fellow;" even, as no one was by, kissed that brave sagacious forehead, then continued her way, teft the yard for the drive, and passed the school-room windows. Yes, she bad guessed Paul aright. His good-humoured sensible face was close to David's bewildered one, and if any one could make David understand the mysteries of the Greek Delectus it would be his patient but determined brother Paul.

“How good of him!” she said, her sallow cheek glowing, "such a headache as he has had all day, and 80 stupid as David is.”

She went back through the yard again and worked

till Paul joined her once more.

He bad but just settled himself when Mrs. Wynne came up to them.

“It is quite time for all to be in,” she began, “Hargrave, Will

, get off that grass, it's as wet with dew as can be !-Stop, whose books are those ?"

“Not ours," said the boys pursuing their way to the house. “ David's," answered Paul.

Will !" Yes, mother,” he answered, turning back. “ Tell David to come and fetch them."

“I'm going in, mother,” said Paul, “ I'll give them to him," and he took them up.

“ No, Paul, put them down again if you please. It is the-second time he has left his books about to-day.”

Paul bit his lip, but did as his mother bid.

Mrs. Wynne smiled, “Now, my dear boy, will you lend me your arm to the house ?”

Paul held out his arm with an eager gallantness very pretty from a son of nineteen and a half to his mother.

“How cold your hand is, mother; you have been out too long."

“ Yes, a little. Never mind, I will lie down when I get in, and be right before papa joins us. But not quite so fast, please.”

The boy slackened his steps carefully. “Mother," he said suddenly in a tone full of affection, "you don't take proper care of yourself.”

“Nonsense, Paul, I won't have my children take up papa's cry. Would any other woman have been alive now after going through what I have ?"

Mrs. Wynne smiled, pleased with her son's affection, but strong in her own opinion; as indeed twenty years of courageously-met ill health gave her good excuse for being

She was now little more than forty years old; her figure rather under middle height, still slight and girlish ; her face still full of charms, indescribable

« AnteriorContinuar »