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keeping of another, restored it to his pocket again.
"They'll expect to shake hands," said Mrs. Turnworth in a warning whisper.
With a pained and protesting look the scholar once more produced the precious member, extended it limply and reluctantly to each of the visitors, and once more stowed it away in safety.
After a moment's pause he glanced hurriedly round him.
"Won't you—won't you sit down?"
"There aren't any chairs," interpolated Mrs. Turnworth with a laugh.
"That's true," responded Mr. Leslie, looking about him again, but this time with an expression of relief, "there aren't any chairs, so of course, you can't sit down."
"l hope," said Mrs. Hardy timidly, "that you and the young ladies will soon settle down, sir, and begin to feel comfortable."
"Comfortable!" ejaculated Mrs. Turnworth in her highest treble. "it looks like it—doesn't it?"
Her cousin glanced at her reproachfully.
"i'm unpacking my books," he said. "i have no doubt that before long l shall be quite comfortable here. it's quiet, and l am not likely to be disturbed. That's all l ask."
"You must not let us take up any more of your time," said Stephen. "i only called to ask if there was anything we could do for you."
Mrs. Turnworth laughed again with her usual zest.
"lt certainly looks as if a good many things might want doing," she remarked.
Mr. Leslie, who had inclined his head in answer to Stephen's speech, turned towards his cousin with a helpless inquiring look, fidgeted from one foot to the other, and then suffered his eyes to stray to the heap of books nearest to him.
"You are longing to get rid of us, l see," cried Mrs. Turnworth. "Come— shall we look for the girls?" (This to Mrs. Hardy.) "They must be somewhere about the place, though, so far, l have not discovered them."
Mr. Leslie made a faint-hearted attempt to produce that valuable hand again, but failed in the endeavor, and contented himself with once more inclining his head. He found himself, however, quite able to step briskly towards the door and to close it with alacrity after the departure of his guests.
"i don't think the gentleman was so very well pleased to see us," remarked Rebecca in a low voice, and with a somewhat injured air, to Stephen.
Mrs. Turnworth caught the words.
"That's only John Leslie's way," 3he cried. "He's the most extraordinary creature. i've seen him dodge round a lamp-post to avoid his best friend, and he would walk a mile to get out of taking off his hat to a lady. He wasn't a bit pleased to see me either."
By this time they had arrived at the kitchen, where, however, nobody was to be found but Mrs. Green, who was kneeling on the tiled floor, dust-pan in hand, sweeping up some flour. There was a good deal of flour scattered over the table, too, in the midst of which a hard, squat little slab of dough was lying. Mrs. Green rose from her knees with an aggrieved expression.
"l'm sure i don't know what's become of the young ladies," she returned in answer to Mrs. Turnworth's query. "l haven't seen Miss Leslie all the morning. Miss Bess was here an hour ago—she was a-makin' that there pastry"—glancing with a dubious air at the dough—"an' now she be gone to look for apples. They be a'goin' to have a' apple-tart for lunch, an' nothin' else as l can see."
"Dear, to be sure," exclaimed Mrs. Hardy, "haven't they found the hamper yet, poor young things?"
"Oh, e-es, mum, they began unpackin' before breakfast, but they got tired long before the job was done. Miss Leslie found a tinned tongue, and she said that 'ud be enough—i was never in such a place in my life, Mrs. Turnworth!" exclaimed Mrs. Green, suddenly exchanging the coldly detached tone with which she had begun her narrative for one of unconcealed fury. "The whole house be in such a mess as no Christian body ever see'd, an' they don't seem to wish for to make it no better. There's not a bit o' food as is worth namin' in the house. i couldn't sit down to a tinned tongue for my dinner not if I was starvin', an' there's not so much as a tater to be had. When I ax Miss Leslie if I hadn't better go into the town and get a few things as the tradesman hadn't come for arders, she says, 'It'll be time enough by-and-by.' i can't stand it much longer, Mrs. Turnworth, mum."
Before even the quick-tongued lady in question had time to reply, the dismayed little assemblage in the kitchen was startled by the tempestuous arrival of the youngest Miss Leslie.
The youngest Miss Leslie looked very young indeed, being small for her seventeen years, and, moreover, being enveloped in a long blue pinafore. She had a little impudent, elfish face, extremely pretty withal, with its small features and pink and white completion. Her hair, of which she possessed an immense quantity, was of a redgold, more red than golden it must be owned, and her eyes were of a curious indeterminate hue, now blue, now green—occasionally almost yellow, but that was generally in the early morning on wet days when Bess omitted to darken her auburn lashes.
"Oh, Mrs. Green," she cried, as she dashed in, "i hope I'm not late. I haven't found any apples, but I've lost
my heart to two of the darlingest kittens! Oh, is that you, Cousin Marian? How good of you to come so early."
"I thought I had better come and see how you are getting on," returned that lady, visibly unbending as Bess hugged her with a warmth which rather astonished Rebecca. "Mrs. Hardy has had the same idea," resumed Mrs. Turnworth, "and Mr. Hardy, your landlord, has also come to see if he can make himself useful."
Bess, who did not appear to share her father's caution with regard to shaking hands, extended hers with a frank ease to each in turn, and thanked all three visitors very prettily for coming.
"We are getting on splendidly," she announced. "it's a heavenly, heavenly place, and I never saw such engaging kittens!"
"You are not going to have kittens for lunch, I presume?" said Mrs. Turnworth, regaining her customary sharpness; "and according to Mrs. Green, there is nothing else."
"Why, there's the tinned tongue, Mrs. Green," said Bess, "and I've had such an idea. I couldn't find any apples, but i came upon a whole lot of potatoes, all hidden away under earth and straw. Two great lines of them, yards long. So we'll have a potato pie instead of an apple-tart. That will be much better and more nourishing."
Mrs. Hardy cast a questioning glance towards Stephen. They were his potatoes, but the young lady had evidently helped herself to them without any thought that she was committing petty larceny. Stephen, however, only smiled in reply.
But Mrs. Turnworth was not so reticent:—
"My dear child!" she cried, with a delighted cackle. "You can't help yourself to potatoes promiscuously, even if you do come to the country. Those are Hardy's potatoes, of course, and—" turning towards the hearth, on which a fire built entirely of brushwood was blazing and crackling—"l should think those are Hardy's fagots. too."
"Are they, Mrs. Green?" inquired Bess, turning towards her innocently.
"i'm sure l don't know, miss. Miss Leslie told me there was plenty of wood in the yard when l asked her what l was to make the fire of."
'They are your fagots, Hardy, aren't they?" persisted Mrs. Turnworth.
As a matter of fact, they were rather choice fagots, which Stephen had set on one side to serve as pea-sticks, but seeing the growing distress on Bess's face he came gallantly to the rescue.
"There is always a lot of wood lying about a place like this," he said. "l'll have some proper logs sent in, though. l get the men to saw them up on wet days."
"l'm sure my cousins don't expect you to find them in fuel as well as in house-room for fifteen pounds a year," Mrs. Turnworth was beginning, when, with a soft flutter of draperies, another flying figure advanced into their midst.
Kitty Leslie, Kitty, bareheaded and clothed in a pinafore like her sister, but taller, gentler, more sedate for all her rapidity of movement. Kitty was two years older and infinitely wiser than Bess—at least, so she imagined. Her face was paler, her eyes more blue, and her hair dark. lt had in certain lights some ruddy tints, but in general it was of a rich brown, very light and cloudy in texture.
"l saw your umbrella in the hall, Cousin Marian," she cried breathlessly. "l recognized the squirrel on top. You are kind to come and see us so soon."
"it's about time somebody looked after you," responded Mrs. Turnworth with an acid smile. "You seem pretty well at sixes and sevens—and besides that, you are plundering Mr. Hardy in
LlVlNG AGE. VOL. XLl. 2181
the most barefaced way. This is Stephen Hardy, your landlord, by the way, and that's his stepmother, Mrs. Hardy."
ln response to this gracious introduction Kitty turned from one to the other with a pretty deprecating smile.
"i'm so sorry if we've been plundering you," she said. "l didn't know."
"l'm sure you're heartily welcome, my dear," cried Mrs. Hardy cordially. "There, it bain't worth while to make a fuss about a few oddments same as 'taters and fagots. As Stephen do say, there's a lot of wood about a place like this, an' 'tis better for the men to be cuttin' of it up on a wet day nor to be wastin' their time."
"l didn't understand," explained Kitty, bending her limpid, appealing gaze upon the speaker. 'When l saw the wood lying there—l thought—i imagined somehow"
"Kitty and i don't know anything about the country," explained Bess, shaking her head. "We imagined somehow that there always was wood and that sort of thing lying about."
"So it seems," chimed in Mrs. Turnworth. "The potatoes are stored away so that you may help yourselves, and eggs are to be had for the picking up. Perhaps you'll find mutton chops hanging on trees and chickens dangling from the hedge if you look for them."
"i did take some potatoes, you know, Kitty," said Bess, turning with a guilty look to her sister. "l found them just outside our yard, and l thought they were ours. We have got a garden, you know," wheeling towards Mrs. Turnworth again with an explanatory air.
"Oh, yes!" cried Kitty—"such a garden too! lt's lovely even now, though there are only Michaelmas daisies and anemones in it. But it lies so prettily. You ought to go and see it, Bess; it slopes up, up to the most delicious old brick wall, with little mosses and ferns growing all over it, and oh, Bess—there is n sundial!"
"A sundial!" exclaimed Bess. And then the two ridiculous, babyish creatures caught hold of each other's hands and fairly danced for joy.
"Really!" ejaculated their cousin, "one would imagine you were still in the nursery. But how comes there to be a sundial in the garden, Hardy? i thought you told me you didn't possess such a thing."
"Oh, I—I found one," said Stephen, looking so conscious that the girls turned towards him simultaneously.
"i believe you got it on purpose for us," cried Bess.
And Kitty said, less impetuously perhaps, but with real gratitude:—
"We are very, very much obliged."
"Oh, it's nothing," responded Stephen, somewhat awkwardly, "I picked it up for a few shillings."
A pause ensued, broken at length by Mrs. Green:—
"If you please, Miss, we haven't settled yet what's to be for luncheon. Be 1 to use these potatoes?"
"Oh, no," cried Kitty, with a start. "At least—" turning to Mrs. Hardy, "unless you would let us—let us—"
"Pay for them" she was about to add, but her courage failed her, and she tried to indicate her meaning by a deprecating and suggestive smile.
"Lard, no, my dear," returned Mrs. Hardy, laughing, "we don't want no payment for that handful—do us, Stephen? But it mid be better another time if ye just mentioned when you was wantin' 'em."
"Oh, of course," cried the sisters together, "we are not going to rob you any more."
"it was quite a mistake this time," added Bess.
Rebecca, laughing again, caught a hand of each. "'Tis no such thing as robbery, my dears—I was only thinking the frosties mid get at the rest of the
'taters if you took 'em for yourselves, but I'm sure you'm kindly welcome."
Mrs. Green now mutely suggested the evacuation of her premises, by setting to work with many sniffs and somewhat aggressive clearings of the throat to peel the potatoes.
Kitty, turning to her guests with a little hospitable air, suggested an adjournment to the sitting room.
"Sitting room!" echoed Mrs. Turnworth, "the word is hardly appropriate for i don't know where you expect anyone to sit."
When they reached the door Kitty cast a dismayed glance round.
"I am so sorry," she said penitently, "we meant to make it quite tidy before any one came. i just ran out to get some more flowers, and then i so fell in love with the garden I've been rambling about it and forgetting everything else. isn't it dreadful of me?— Oh, Bess, what a mess you've made here!"
"Yes," said Bess, "I know. But don't you think our decorations lovely, Cousin Marian? At least they will be when they're done."
"No doubt," returned the lady addressed, with a sardonic laugh, "but allow me to suggest that any person with sense would have begun by putting down the carpet and unpacking the furniture."
"You've started at the wrong end. my dear," said Mrs. Hardy, tapping Boss on the shoulder.
Both sisters laughed.
"i'm afraid we're always doing that," said Kitty.
"Ah, but don't you think it saves one from being commonplace?" said Bess, turning her little red head pensively on one side, and peeping out of the corner of her eye at Stephen, who stood by in amused silence, looking much too big and too massive for the untidy little room with its feminine fripperies. "i'm sure you disapprove
of us dreadfully, Mr. Hardy," she cried suddenly.
Stephen merely smiled; he did not disapprove. This was a new experience for him, and he appreciated it. The girls were so pretty; their babble was childish, it was true, but quaint for all that, and delivered in the softest little voices, interrupted now and then by trills of laughter, very sweet and low, unlike any laughter he had ever heard. lt certainly was most unlike the laughter with which Mrs. Turnworth greeted Bess's last sally.
"Saves you from being commonplace, does it? Well, it saves you from having any common sense, if that's what you mean. Now listen, girls, we must introduce order into this chaos. i'm going to drive round to the different tradespeople and tell them to come up at once for orders, and you must give up dreaming about Michaelmas daisies and mossy walls and think about bread, meat, and groceries. i'll send two men down to unpack your furniture, and when l come to-morrow l expect to find everything tolerably
(To be continued.)
straight, and then you and l, Kitty, will look into financial matters and see how you ought to portion out your income. Your father is a perfect baby, and neither of you are much better. Somebody must look into things. How did you manage at Oxford?"
"We didn't manage at all," said Bess naively.
"Of course, we were at school most of the time," explained Kitty; "we had a housekeeper."
"Well, it's time you began to learn how to keep house for yourselves," said Mrs. Turnworth. "i'll help you."
"And if l can be of any use," put in Rebecca, "I'm sure l'll be only too glad. There, you could just pop across to me, my dears, whenever you find yourselves a bit short of anything or in any kind of difficulty, and i'll do my best to help ye."
The girls received both offers of assistance with much gratitude, accepting Mrs. Turnworth's, it must be owned, with a somewhat chastened air, but surreptitiously squeezing Rebecca's hands.
MlLlTARY SMALL BEER.
l've had my share of pastime, and l've done my share of toll, And life is short—the longest life a span; l care not now to tarry for the corn or for the oil, Or the wine that maketh glad the heart of man. For good undone and gifts misspent and resolutions vain, 'Tis somewhat late to trouble. This
l know— l should live the same life over, if l had to live again.
Three of the Field Marshals who are now most deservedly at the head of the British Army have written their reminiscences, telling of the great
events in which they have played a distinguished part and of the many adventures which they have met and individuals whom they have encountered in their several careers It may be permitted therefore to an old soldier of a humbler rank to occupy a few pages of the Cornhill in chronicling the small beer of his military life.
"The old order changeth, yielding place to new," and the incidents of a long bygone time, however little important in themselves, may give some amusement to old fellows like the writer, and possibly even to the present generation, who are fortunate in know-